Once there was a time when all they had was each other. Left to fend for themselves at a young age, the two children learned far sooner than many of their peers what it was like to lose someone dear. And at the same time, they knew what it meant to cherish another's company. Bound by the need to survive, they grew to accept and to depend on one another. They were never seen apart.

Until one day, that all changed.
"Yuri, what do you mean you're quitting the knights?" he demanded. Yuri rarely heard Flynn raise his voice, therefore, he knew he was in for it. "I won't allow it, you... you coward!"

Yuri sprinted down the stairs towards the Lower Quarter, Flynn in hot pursuit. There was no way he'd ever lose his tail, but that didn't discourage Yuri. In fact, it only served to fuel his determination. Quickly he hastened his pace. Looking over his shoulder he retorted, "Now is that any way to address me, Flynn?"

"I shall address you as I deem appropriate! And right now, 'coward' is the best word for you," the young knight barked in response. Yuri chuckled, amused by how lost in the act Flynn was. He'd be the perfect leader one day, a man not afraid to scold nor criticize his men. It was a good trait in his opinion.

A hint of admiration escaped with Yuri's words: "You better catch this so-called coward before his disappearance ruins your reputation." A challenging smirk followed suit.

Flynn accepted. "I'll do just that. Watch me!"

The two reached a standstill as Yuri dove behind the fountain. He gestured for the right and sharply ran for the right, only to be cut off as Flynn crossed his route; Yuri backtracked and maintained a safe distance from him. Cheekily he remarked, "Oh, I'm watching all right. And I like what I see."

"Wh-what? Yuri!"

"Live a little! Come on, let me hear you laugh!"

"If I find it amusing then I'll humor you. Until then, I won't participate in your little games." Flynn suddenly broke out into a mad dash, provoking Yuri into abandoning his strategic checkpoint. There'd been enough 'ring around the rosy' for those two young men.

--

Past the town borders, and outside of the protection of the city's barrier blastia, they ran off unaware of the dangers beyond Zaphias. No one had bothered to warn or stop them, assuming from their uniforms that they were on some sort of mission issued by the knights. So they kept running and running when finally, Yuri came to a stop. Before Flynn had a chance to scold his companion for his reckless behavior, he was stopped by a meaningful glance. Sapphire eyes mingled in the depths of storm grey orbs. They spoke volumes about his longtime friend in place of the emotions Yuri couldn't reveal by himself.

Suddenly, without warning, Flynn broke the trance, embarrassed as to why he'd been staring so intently for so long. Yuri chuckled to himself as if he could read minds. He quipped, "Cat got your tongue?"

Flynn rushed his answer, "No, not in the least! Ahem. I believe you owe me an explanation, Yuri Lowell."

Yuri feigned offense. "Ouch. Full name basis? Man, I feel like I just got demoted. I don't remember being paid to be your friend."

Flynn stammered, "N-no, no! It's not like that! Not at all!" - he stopped apologizing as something dawned on him - "Wait, you're avoiding the subject! Yuri, answer me!"

Awaiting an answer, Flynn didn't realize he was holding his breath, very much like he would cling to whatever left Yuri's lips.

"I wouldn't make a good knight." That wasn't what Flynn was expecting to hear.

"Well, you've a few problem areas when it comes to etiquette and proper greetings, but those are easily--"

He was cut off, "Flynn, I don't want to be a good knight." They took a moment before anymore was said. Neither knew where to begin, let alone stop.

As he was used to it by now, Flynn took upon the burden of ending the silence, "What are you saying?"

Yuri rolled his eyes and repeated himself, just as tired of the redundancy as Flynn. "I'm saying I quit."

Back to square one, Flynn let out an exasperated groan. After chasing Yuri through just about every nook and cranny of the capital, he still wouldn't relent. It was driving him insane. Using all of his willpower to remain calm, Flynn took a deep breath and let it out. That helped a bit. It was up to him to be the rational one, seeing as how Yuri was always getting into trouble.

Flynn tried again, "Why do you want to quit, Yuri? We made a commitment when we joined the knights. We even - don't you remember? We made a promise!"

"And I intend to stay true to my word, just in my own way."

"Your own way? What does that mean? Are you going to just... waltz off on your own, trying to change the world without even thinking about it?" Contrary to popular belief, Flynn Scifo did, in fact, have a temper. Right now it was being tested to its limits; Flynn grit his teeth.

Yuri smirked and nodded. "That's the plan."

He snapped. "You're insane! You're not thinking this through! You're--!"

"I'm taking action. Either I do it myself, or I die trying."

The words struck a chord within Flynn. Something deep inside of him began to panic.

Nervously, Flynn laughed, his voice wavering, "Yuri, you're acting like..."

"Like I'm going to die for what I believe in? That's damn right."

"Don't be so reckless!"

Yuri scowled, his bottled-up rage flaring for the first time in months. "Why don't you stop being so cautious? We aren't getting anything done."

"It's only been three months. You have to give these things time." Flynn looked up. "Yuri? Yuri! Don't you dare walk away from me, Yuri!"

Flynn watched as his only friend walked away. "Yuri..."

--

Years passed. On the rare occasion they saw one another, few words were exchanged aside from the casual greeting and polite exchange, meaningless things. Their bond, like a string, had been stretched taut, threatening to snap at any minute. Flynn assumed Yuri was avoiding him, and Yuri believed the same. Yet they never forgot the note they left off on, mid-breath, just before a rest.

Playing it over and over again in his head, Flynn wondered what he could have done to change the outcome.

"Estelle, let the others know that I'll be out for a while." Flynn spun around on his heel, and gasped - speak of the devil. He wanted nothing more than to run down towards Yuri and grab him by the shoulders in order to shake him senseless. It would've been the perfect opportunity to scold him for all his foolishness, and to ask why his face was plastered in nearly every city.

But of course, Flynn did just the opposite. He waited, praying for Yuri to be the one to come to him. Closer and closer he came. Flynn closed his eyes anxiously.

And when he opened his eyes, he realized that Yuri had just walked right by him. I feel like I've just been stabbed.

"Oh, Flynn. I didn't see you at first." A wave of relief washed over him. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Yes, it has. You seem to be doing well." Flynn tried to ignore the fact that Yuri always looked so happy with his new comrades, so full of life and joy. It wasn't right to think that he'd been left behind, but he couldn't help but feel that nagging twinge of envy. "I take it you've stayed out of trouble?" he asked even though they both knew the answer.

Yuri lied, "Of course."

"That's... good. I'm proud of you, Yuri."

"No, you're not!" Flynn took a step back, startled. Yuri muttered something under his breath and continued, "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap like that."

Hesitantly, Flynn asked, "What's wrong?"

"You tell me."

"Yuri..."

"I had to get away from it all. The regulations, the ignorance, the flaws - it wasn't perfect, nothing is."

"Is that all there was to it?"

Yuri laughed. Bitterly. "Of course not. I... I had to get away from you."

Crestfallen, Flynn held up his hand. It silenced the words still building up in Yuri's throat. He took a deep breath and forced a smile. Flynn murmured, "That's too bad. All this time I've been chasing after you, whether it be on foot, by boat, or in my thoughts. You've such a strong hold on me, Yuri Lowell. I simply cannot stay away. Not unless you give me a reason."

Not until you hate me.

"Flynn, you make things so difficult. Even after all this time...!" Yuri took a step forward. "I'm in love with you. I always have been and always will be."

Flynn stared at him in shock, his cheeks filling up with color. "I-I beg your pardon?"

"Don't make me repeat myself!"

"Yuri..."

"What?"

He took a step forward. He took his hand. He took his breath away.

"You need a little work on that, Flynn."

"Yuri Lowell!!" Yuri grinned and kissed him back.