:Striped Neko walks in and gives a cheerful, "Yo!": Ok, so, this is a one-shot, Yuuri/Yozak...because, well, dammit, I fell in love with Yozak, too, in Desperate Times, and just had to give him a little bit of snuggly happiness. So, while it's not my usual ConYuu (the pairing to which I am devoted, of course), it's still an alternate pairing, and we all know that I am a fan of those. So, by request as well, please enjoy a little cuddlin' this afternoon. See you at the bottom of the page...

Cyrano – a love story.

Information. Intelligence gathering. Noticing the tiny details that are unnoticed by others. Silence. Observation. Strength and Courage. The ability to remain cool and collected when events were spiraling out of control. These were the tools of Yozak Gurrier's trade. He had built a life around these very skills, and it was, therefore, impossible for him to miss the signs—although he could hardly believe it to be true. In fact, had he been watching recent events as merely a bystander, he would have wagered more than his yearly salary that Yuuri-heika, the young Maou, was in love. His hesitancy, however, stemmed from the fact that it appeared that the king was in love…with him.

As he sat in front of his small campfire, alone as usual, deep in the heart of enemy territory, he carefully noted the arguments to support that premise.

One: Gifts.

Yozak had never been a man who acquired material possessions. He had to move fast, travel light, and apart from his lucky dress, he rarely carried anything with which he was loathe to part—even his sword was disposable, since he could always purchase or commission another. Now, however, he had a blade of great value. He stared at it, as it lay across his knees. The long sword was flawless, the balance and heft exquisite and had been forged, it seemed, to complement him perfectly. It was neither too heavy, nor too light. The grip was the exact shape of his hand. It wasn't ostentatious, but to anyone with any experience, it was clearly of royal quality. When the Maou had given it to him, blushing as he held it out to the spy, he had said, "I don't know exactly what you do, but I've been here long enough to know that it's dangerous. I worry when you're gone, and I'll feel better knowing you have a strong blade to protect you. I hope that's ok?" Yozak had taken the blade, thanked the king, sincerely, and counted the weapon as a treasure.

Two: Accidental Meetings.

Never one to enjoy the social whirl that surrounded Blood Pledge Castle, Yozak preferred to enter and leave the castle by various means—never using the same door twice in one day. How was it then that he'd begun to run into the young Maou two, sometimes three times in the same day—all seemingly by coincidence? He was happy to explain it as such, until he ran into the king between the flapping sheets still hanging to dry on the clothesline outside the kitchens. The boy hadn't really said anything, just smiled gave him a shy wave and bolted for the castle door—but, considering they were both supposed to be elsewhere, Yozak began to wonder if he was the only one in the castle watching the moves of the inhabitants.

Three: Curiosity.

During brief snatches of conversation held in the usual places, walking down the hall, in the lulls between meetings, traveling to different countries, Yuuri had asked him perfectly normal questions. Questions like: What's your favorite color? What kind of food do you like? What do you like to do when you're not working? Where do you live when you're not at the castle? That sort of thing. Then, slowly, over several months, Yozak noticed that his favorite dinner—fish stew was served three times in one month (all on evenings he happened to be in the castle) when it had never been served before. There were, also, decks of new cards and shiny, round coin-like objects made of some material called plastic from Yuuri's world, now stored in Conrad's office. Apparently the plastic discs, called chips, could be substituted for money (to be traded in later for cash), and he found it much easier to use them for his card games with the Captain. Conrad played cards well, but it was not his favorite past-time. What finally moved the spy to acknowledge there may be some affection for him was the fact that when he arrived back at the Castle after his last mission—he was turned away from the soldiers' barracks. He had been exhausted, and all he really wanted was to sleep, so in irritation, he presented himself to Gunter as instructed. The beautiful man had smiled at him, gently, and explained that he had been given a room of his own in the castle. One of the maids led him to the room, and while it was not in the royal wing, it was still not many minutes' walk to the chambers of the main inhabitants of the castle. The room was small, not even a little impressive, but the view was pleasing—the window opening out over Cheri-sama's flower garden—the path through which was one of his favorite walks. What sealed his suspicions, however, was the décor. The furniture was simple, nothing over-stated. The window hangings, bed covers and upholstery were all made of complementary blue fabrics. His favorite color was blue. Spending a moment more on consideration of these facts, Yozak decided that these details could be cross-catalogued as gifts, as well.

Four: Embarrassment.

Since he first arrived in Shin Makoku, the King and Yozak had shared countless baths and dips in hot springs. However, for the past three months, whenever Yozak walked into the large, open bath, and the king happened to be there, the boy would stare at him for a moment, turn blood red, then explode out of the water, disappearing from the room with some kind of muttered excuse. At first, Yozak had thought he had done something to offend the king. He felt awful about it. The last time it happened, however, Yuuri had not been quite so strategic with the placement of his towel…the visual evidence provided by the young man's body gave Yozak much to think about while he had his own bath. The fantasy his brain concocted for him, and the subsequent release, left him breathless and wanting—and determined to continue his observations. It was the first time he dared to whisper to himself that the silent feelings he nurtured for his Maou might be returned.

Five: Concern.

For years, whenever he had to leave the castle on an assignment, which was often, and when he didn't know how long that assignment would last, which was every time, Conrad and the Maou had always said goodbye to him—a genial clasping of hands and friendly farewells. In the past months, however, the only person to see him off was the Captain. At first, he thought the King was just busy, but now he wasn't so sure. Just before leaving this last time, he chanced to run into the king, this time truly by accident.

"Yozak," the boy had said softly. "Are you leaving again?"

"Yeah, headed out now, Kiddo."

"Will it be dangerous this time?"

He had shrugged and winked at the king. "I sure hope so, or else Von Voltaire-kyo might cut my salary."

Instead of laughing, the boy had turned pale as milk, then reached out with trembling arms to hug the tall man. "Please be careful, ok? I…we can't afford to lose you. Shin Makoku, I mean. So, come home safe, right?"

"Hey…" he'd said, surprised, and confused. "What's the matter, Kiddo? I'll be fine, you know I always am."

The boy had nodded against his chest. "Well, you better be."

Then the King had bolted…again.

Yozak added up all these stray observations and thoughts, the sum result in his mental accounts column seemed to add up to love, or at least interest, but he didn't see how that could possibly true. He turned his attention to the negative side of the balance sheet—the arguments against the Maou having feelings for him.

One: The Extant Fiancé

Wolfram. The blonde brat was the acknowledged lover of the king. Even though there seemed to be little affection between the two, Yuuri still hadn't ended the engagement, but Yozak couldn't quite bring himself to believe that fact stemmed from any great passion the Maou held for the arrogant prince. He would have been a fool to miss the signs of the king's irritation when it came to the games Wolfram played. Still, he existed and while it was not likely, it was still possible that Yuuri's reticence in public where it concerned Cheri-sama's youngest child masked an abiding passion the two shared in private. He didn't think Yuuri was that sophisticated, but, still, the possibility made jealousy spring to life in his chest and caused a scowl to form that would have frightened more than one strong man.

Two: The Perfect Protector.

The Maou had a crush on Conrad—Yozak would have wagered heavily on that statement as well, but in these past long months, the two men had seemed to become closer, though not romantically. He knew that Conrad was devoted to Yuuri and would protect him no matter the cost, but he also knew that Conrad was involved in a very discreet affair with a certain young human hero with electric blue eyes and a holy sword. Strange bedfellows, yes, but that didn't mean that if the Maou snapped his fingers, the Taichou wouldn't drop Alford like yesterday's scraps. Frowning, Yozak turned that over in his mind. No, something about that didn't fit quite right—because this past winter, while they had been celebrating an earth holiday called Christmas, he had seen Yuuri hand Conrad a small box—along with a secretive smile. Not being above a little clandestine investigation, Yozak had investigated the contents of the box while Conrad was out of his room—in the bath with the king. It had been a medallion, simple and small—the kind of gift Conrad would choose, and clearly fashioned on earth. It had the Taichou's initials and Alford's, too, engraved in a cunning style that linked the letters together. No. If the captain was gifting the human boy with jewelry, then there was something serious afoot—and if Yuuri had given him the piece in question, then the king was in on the scheme. Yozak crossed the Taichou off the list of negatives. Thinking about it, however, reminded him of the gift that Yuuri had left for him in his own room—a beautiful scarf made of something called cashmere (the explanation coming in the form of a cute little card the Maou had left with the gift). There had been a broach, too fashioned from rose-gold and bright blue gemstones. The scarf was warm, practical and beautiful—Yozak had worn it all winter and had it with him even now. The broach—well that was just the sort of pretty, feminine piece he'd always secretly coveted. Again, he cross-catalogued those into the gift category and moved on.

Three: Social Convention.

This one was easy. Yozak was a common soldier—with no special claim to anything like birth or breeding. His father had been nothing special, just a mazoku who loved an equally uninteresting and unimportant human woman. Every good thing he had ever gained in his life had been wrested from the greedy fingers of a hate-filled populace. He knew very well that he held his position only because Gwendal, Conrad, and Gunter believed in him. He wasn't even supposed to be alive, much less have the audacity to love someone as important as the king. Yeah. That was a big negative.

Four: Stupidity.

What if, in fact, he was wrong and this love he seemed to see in the king was nothing more than his hopeful fabrication, the vain ravings of his own overactive imagination. Yep. He could be wrong. And that would break his heart.

Well, he thought, time to man-up and grow a pair. He settled himself into his cold bedroll instead of doing what he burned to do—which was jump on his horse and ride for three days straight, burst into the castle, find the king and kiss him senseless. But, he was still himself, so, he closed his eyes and worked on a plan that made more sense. He would be back at the castle in a week—that was enough time to come up with something better than "Hi Yuuri, can I kiss you, because I think you like me, and I know I love you, so…what do you say, want to come back to my room and let me show you just what I do when I think about you—which I do, all day, every fucking day?" Duty before personal commitments. That was his motto. It always had been. No, he would come up with something, and if it didn't work—well, he could always fall on the exquisite sword given to him by the only man he'd ever dared to love like this.

By the time Yozak returned to Blood Pledge castle, a week later—ok, five days later, because he'd finished his assignment early and possibly pushed his horse harder than he strictly should have, but who's counting? He had a plan in place. He waited for the opportune moment, which happened to be at dusk, in the orchard, where Yuuri was fond of walking, and waylaid the Maou.

"Yo! Kiddo," he said, appearing from behind a tree. "Got a minute?"

Yuuri was startled, that much was obvious—although the resulting blush that settled over the king's features made Yozak's heart pound.

"H—Hi!" the boy exclaimed softly. "I heard you were back. Everything ok?"

"Not really," He replied, making sure to look at the horizon and not into the beautiful eyes of the king, or he'd lose his nerve. "I have a problem and I need a little help."

"Sure," Yuuri replied, his voice filled with concern. "What can I do?"

"Well, you see, the thing is, I like someone—a lot. Well, that is to say, I'm in love, and this person—well, I want to write a letter but I'm not at all good at that sort of thing. I was hoping I might be able to persuade you to give me a hand?"

"Oh." The boy sounded crestfallen. That was a good sign, right?

"Well, what did you want me to do?" Yuuri asked.

"I was thinking maybe you could write a letter for me—you know if you were to imagine someone you cared for a great deal—maybe even loved? Are you in love, Kiddo?"

The young Maou looked positively miserable. "Yeah," he said, after a long moment. "But why not ask Conrad, or even Gunter—he's the best choice when it comes to things like this. He is poetic, thoughtful. I'm just a kid, I guess. Why do you want my help? I never would have thought you needed help anyway."

Because I love you. Because I want you. Because I'm too fucking scared to ask you right out. Because I doubt there's any way you really want me, and I'm too used to hedging my bets…Yozak discarded all those true statements. "Because, I think, out of everyone, you're the one who understands what I feel. Gunter's poetry will never sound like me, and everyone else would laugh, I think. I have a reputation, Heika—doesn't make it true." And this was honest, too.

"Well, I could try. So, you want me to write a letter…?"

"Yes. Just write it like you would to the person you love."

"Man or woman?" the king asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Do you love a man or a woman."

Yozak paused, finally looking into Yuuri's eyes. He didn't like what he saw there, the tinge of sadness. Hang on, Yuuri, he thought. If I'm right, I'll make it up to you. "A man," he answered softly. "A wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous, silly, funny, well-meaning man. He's way out of my league, Kiddo. I am stupid to even try, probably. But, I'm hoping…just hoping things might work out."

"Ok," the king said after a few minutes. "I'll try. I want you to be happy, so I'll try. It might take me a day or two…I'm not really experienced at this kind of thing."

Yozak nodded, his heart pounding in his chest. "Thanks, Kiddo. So, you want to take a walk—it's a nice evening."

"N—No. Thanks, though. I think I'll just go inside. I'll find you in a couple of days, all right? I mean, you're not leaving again soon are you?"

"Not that I know of." Yozak replied, unhappy that his offer had been turned down. Then again, maybe Yuuri was a little sad because he thought the spy had someone else in mind…? Well, a man could dream.

"Ok. See you, then."

Yozak watched as the young man walked, slowly, back to the castle. His feet felt heavy, as though he was rooted to that very spot. It always hurt, no matter how many times it happened. He hated it when Yuuri walked away from him. Silly, he knew, but in his fantasies, Yuuri never left him behind.

Two days later, after he'd bathed and returned to his room, Yozak was in the middle of getting dressed when he heard a soft knock on his door. Still toweling his hair, he opened it and stood chest to face with the king. It was stupid really, for a man his age to blush, (and did not appear to advantage on a man with orange hair, he knew), but the king was staring and he realized he was only wearing his trousers, and those unbuttoned, his bare chest, and feet, on display. It was with some male pride (and it was that more than embarrassment that made him blush) that he found himself trying to appear taller, more strongly built in a vain effort to impress the young man he loved so much.

"Come in, Kiddo. I'm just getting dressed," he said, forcing himself to stop preening in front of the Maou.

"I see that," the boy whispered, his face as red as Yozak's.

The king stepped inside, and Yozak closed the door. The younger man's shoulders twitched when the doors latched. He was as skittish as a baby hare, the spy thought. Yuuri took a seat in the only chair, at Yozak's invitation, and after the spy tossed his now damp towel over the window sill, the boy stared at him again and swallowed hard.

"What brings you to see me?" Yozak asked.

The king didn't answer immediately, but his eyes darted back and forth as though hesitant to engage the tall man staring at him.

"Yuuri?" Yozak questioned, his voice softer still.

"Oh. Sorry. Here, I brought this for you."

The young man held out a letter, which Yozak took from his fingers, then started to stand up.

"Wait a minute, Kiddo—let me read it, ok?"

"Oh…well, sure. Ok. I did the best I could. You know—like you said, I just thought about the ma...person I love, and I wrote it."

Yozak nodded, and opened the folded paper.

Dear ,

I didn't think I'd ever have the courage to sit down and write a letter like this, but, I really don't want to go another day without telling you how I feel. Since I realized how much I love you, how necessary you've become to me, I've been scared. It's not easy for me to talk to you like I used to, when we were just friends. I trip over my own tongue now, and feel foolish when I speak because the words I say to you aren't the ones I'm thinking.

When I first knew you, I was simply glad that we were friends. You were always there for me, strong and steady, and you never tried to make me into something I wasn't. I know that you were unsure about me at first, and thought I'd end up just being another useless, easily led man. I guess I wanted to impress you after that. A lot of what I did, the actions I took, weren't so much because I was so brave or anything. I've always just wanted you to be proud of me—I wanted you to think well of me.

I can't tell you when I started liking you as more than a friend, when I began to love you. It just seemed natural, to think about you that way—and who wouldn't? You're smart, courageous, daring, loyal, trustworthy, and so unbelievably handsome. I love your smile, and the way your head cants to the side when you laugh. I love the sound of your voice, the way it booms out of your chest when you're happy. You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen, and I stare at you too much, I know, but I can't help myself. I've always felt safe when I'm with you—like nothing could ever harm me. And I know, that no matter what, you'll always watch over me.

I do ok, most of the time. It's when you're gone that it gets hard for me. Before, when we were only friends, I would think of you when you were far away from me, and I would wait for you to come back—I could handle that. Now, though, I worry and I don't sleep. I think about everything you and I have been through together, then I imagine things that are probably not even true. I worry that you might be hurt, or get lost, or captured—yet I wouldn't ever ask you to change because what you do is a big part of who you are. I still hope, though, that every morning will bring a pigeon mail with a message that you're all right—that you're safe. I wish I could be with you, always. And I wish I was brave enough to tell you, to your face, how dear you are to me, how essential—how much I love you. But I don't have that kind of courage, and the only thing I'm really afraid of is your laughter, so I'm glad I don't have to see you while you read this letter.

Just know that it's from my heart, even if what I've written doesn't make much sense. I gave my heart to you a long time ago, and it's yours to do with as you please. Take it, leave it, keep it, throw it away—it's my gift to you, but what you do with it is your decision. I'll wait to hear from you, and probably won't sleep until I do, but I don't mind. Until I know for sure how you feel, I can keep hoping that you love me, too. I do hope that. I hope with all my heart—that is in your hands. And even if you don't love me, even if you don't care at all, I hope you know that my wishes for your happiness and joy go with you on every journey you take. Even if you don't want me by your side, I will always think of you as the most wonderful man I know. I love you. I always, always will.

Yozak looked up from the letter, his chest tight with hope and his throat aching. Yuuri was looking out his window, his expression somber.

"H—heika," he whispered. "This is…beautiful."

"You think so?" The young man's lips turned down slightly, into a tiny frown. "Well, I hope it gets you who you want."

"Me, too." Yozak took a deep breath. The limb was staring him in the face, and he might as well step out on it. "Kiddo, do you have that pen-thing you use with you?"

Yuuri nodded, reached into his pocket and handed Yozak the pen, his expression now confused. The tall spy tried to stop the trembling of his fingers, but it was no use—every nerve in his body was alive with energy. This could go so wonderfully right, straight into a happy ending, or so abysmally wrong—straight into despair. There was no in-between to be had here. So, he swallowed, gathered his courage, and wrote something on the paper—in the space Yuuri had left for a name in the salutation.

"Here," he whispered, handing the paper to the king.

Whatever the kiddo had been expecting, Yozak was sure by the young man's expression that it wasn't this. The Maou stared at the letter, then a lone, shining tear slipped from the corner of his eye.

"Am I right, Kiddo? Please, God don't let me have just made the biggest ass of myself ever seen in all the worlds."

The young man didn't reply, merely held out his hand, twitching his fingers until Yozak put the pen in the Maou's outstretched palm. The boy put the paper on the desk, the scratched out the word Yozak had inserted into the letter. The spy felt each stroke of the pen like a knife slicing into his heart. He'd been wrong. He'd made a mistake and all his skills were for nothing, because the man he loved was rejecting him. He stood there, at a complete loss, feeling empty and…abandoned, watching as the King leaned over and wrote something else on the paper. The boy handed it to Yozak.

The spy stared. He blinked, cleared his vision and looked again.

"A man shouldn't have to write his own name on a love letter written to him." The Maou's whisper was barely audible.

"Kiddo…?" Yozak said, unsure of what to say next. All the plans he had considered, the schemes, the fantasies of how this moment would end flew out of his head and left him there, more stunned than happy, even though he didn't think he could ever feel quite as good as he did right now.

"I'm in love with you," The king said, his voice stronger now, but his face still so beautifully pink with a scared flush.

"Wolfram has to go," Yozak blurted out. Now where the hell had that come from? He took a step toward the beautiful black-haired boy.

The Maou nodded. "Yes, he does." And he took a step closer to Yozak.

He took another step. "It is socially unacceptable to want me, to have me. Some people, most, will hate you for it."

The king mirrored his action. "I've talked about it with Conrad. I never dreamed it could happen, but just in case somebody up there likes me, we have a plan."

Yozak pulled the younger man against his chest. "I love you, so goddamned much," he muttered.

"I love you, too," the boy replied, curling into his arms and staring up into his eyes.

"Yuuri…my Yuuri," he whispered, his lips a scant hair's breadth from the Maou's.

"Always," was the soft reply that finally set the spy's fettered heart free.

When he kissed the man he loved, Yozak closed his eyes for the first time ever in passion—and took a leap into an unknown future filled with infinite possibilities.

Well, there you have it...my favorite spy and the Maou. I'm a sucker for romance, especially star-crossed, socially unacceptable pairings. I have had a serious request for a gunter/yuuri fic, and I'm thinking on it, but I will be back to ConYuu soon, because, you know, they're just like my mom's christmas trifle--addicting. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it, and feel free to review, good or bad, comments are always welcome. Be seeing you! SN