The door clicked quietly shut behind Leo as he slipped off his sandals before stepping into the house itself. Summer evenings at the school were always quiet; most of the students stayed around for the summer, but not all, and of the ones who did, only the most dedicated still showed up regularly at the dojo. Which meant small, intense, lessons that were surprisingly draining.
"A shower, first," he informed the purring cat rubbing against his ankles, "then I'll get us both dinner."
Tsuki meowed, probably in disagreement, and trotted off to the kitchen.
Chuckling, Leo headed upstairs, mentally reviewing the progress of his current students as he took a quick shower. They were doing well, of course, being the most motivated of the lot, and he hummed cheerfully to himself as he headed to the bedroom to get some clothes.
Even after several weeks, the gleam of gold on his dresser still startled him when he walked into the room. He paused in front of it, looking at the collar - gold, custom made to sit on his neck, with Cya's thorn motif trailing over it in relief. He reached out and touched a finger to one of the two amber gems set into the front: his own addition.
He hesitated a moment longer, looking at it, then turned away to put on pants - hesitating as he reached for a shirt, and glancing at the collar again. This time, with a small smile, he picked it up - almost reverently. It was, after all, the most valuable thing he owned - and not because it was made of gold. Slipping it around his neck, he let himself enjoy the small shiver up his spine as the lock clicked shut.
A glance at the mirror showed the spell going active, the gems changing from their ordinary amber color to a mix of light, slightly silvery blue, and a bright mint green. He smiled a little; he didn't usually think of emotions as colors, but a lot of people did and it was easy enough to translate via Workings. And Cya wanted so much to be able to read his. A small splash of silvery pink - affection, of course - appeared, and he gave the collar a final brush with his fingers before leaving to make dinner.
Put on the rice, first, and then dish out Tsuki's food. The end of his ponytail brushed against his back as he trotted down the stairs - a still-unusual sensation, since he didn't normally go without a shirt, but orders were orders: no shirt while wearing Cya's collar. It went well with the cool weight around his neck, a reminder that, even if not under the Law, he was hers. The thought - more of a feeling - gave him a thrill, the same as every time; like the moment before a fight, except instead of a feeling of tension, it was more... calm. Both, however, made everything seem sharper, more intense; more immediate. The hair against his back; the pull of the still-healing cuts from her knife; the rattle of dry rice as he poured it into the pot.
He worried, a little, sometimes, if she was hurt that he'd wanted to keep the collar with him and to wear it even when she wasn't the one putting it on him. But... he'd wanted it. He'd wanted this; not "just for play", but a way to work it into his everyday life without the constant explanations or misunderstandings from having to wear it all the time. Cooking dinner, feeding the cat, eating dinner, watching anime. And the collar sitting around his neck, his oath to her in solid form; more than a reminder, it was like Cya was there, even when she was busy with her own life, her Kept, being the Mayor.
Even if he was still alone, he wasn't lonely anymore.