There were days when Yuuri felt like he was part of some strange conspiracy to achieve the world record in 'Longest Sustained Game of Play-Pretend House'. When he thought about it (which, admittedly, wasn't very often) it occurred to him that it might be a little bit odd. But then, he'd become King of a demon nation, made dragons out of water, and owned a sword with a lot of literal personality, among other things. So in the long run it was probably one of the least unusual aspects of his life.

Somehow, though, the water dragons and the royalty business had been much easier to get used to than Wolfram. Especially when the blond was on one of his tirades. Like now.

"You were holding her hand!" Wolfram accused, hands on his hips and eyes bright with anger. Yuuri shrugged helplessly.

"She fell down, Wolfram! I was just helping her up!" he insisted, although, really, it wasn't any of Wolfram's business if he wanted to hold a pretty girl's hand, no matter if they were 'engaged'.

"Cheater! Don't think I didn't see the way you were looking at her. How many times am I going to have to remind you that I'm your fiancée…"

And off he goes, Yuuri thought, as his brain unconsciously turned the sound of his friend's ranting into unintelligible white noise. The meaning of Wolfram's words was lost, but it wasn't hard to get the gist of it. For one thing, this was perhaps their nine-millionth rehearsal of the same song and dance. For another, the enraged mazoku's body language could write books if it were translated. It's like he thinks that there's some rule which says he has to fly off the handle at every little thing, Yuuri mused. If he didn't know any better, he might think that Wolfram was doing a very intentional impression of the typical 'nagging housewife' as part of some drawn-out form of revenge. But Wolfram was every inch legitimate in his behavior. He's honestly a nag.

Well, I love him anyway.

Yuuri's brain stuttered to an abrupt halt.

Out in the real world, Wolfram continued to gesture and rant and generally carry on, but inside Yuuri's mind was doing the rough equivalent of an engine that couldn't start. Had he just thought that? No, he couldn't have. But it had popped up nonetheless, like some horrible gopher. A demon gopher, with horns, and teeth, and… and… argh! No, no way, even if he had thought it, it had been in a strictly non-romantic sense, right? Like how he loved Conrad or Greta or Shori.

Yeah, that worked. He loved Wolfram in a strictly casual, friends-only kind of way. After all, Wolfram was a guy. Even if the more time he spent in Shin Makoku, the less that seemed to feel like it should be an issue, it still was. Right? Sure, Yuuri liked to think he was open-minded, but he just wasn't gay. If Wolfram was a girl then they wouldn't have a problem.

Argh! Brain, you did not just do that to me! Leaning over, Yuuri suddenly grabbed his head and squeezed his eyes shut. Of course there would be a problem even if Wolfram was a girl, it would just be less of a problem, because Yuuri wasn't in love with Wolfram and wouldn't be no matter what his gender was. That was just bizarre, to think that you would go for one of your friends if they suddenly turned female. He drew some comfort from the fact that the mental image his brain had conjured of a girl Wolfram was actually kind of disturbing. He'd probably be even more like his mother, after all, and he was pretty enough as it was. No, Wolfram was more appealing as a guy.

But not like that!

"Yuuri!" Wolfram's voice finally penetrated the haze of his thoughts, and glancing up, Yuuri realized that he must have been out of it for a while. It sounded like he had been trying to get his attention. Green eyes met his own, and their emotion had somehow slowly bled away from anger to concern. Almost immediately a warm hand, somewhat rough-skinned from his sword practice, was pressed against his brow. "What's wrong? You didn't get sick, did you?"

Yuuri's throat went dry. In that moment, as he looked at Wolfram, it was like he was seeing him in a whole new light. The lines and angles of his body, straight and narrow and well-defined by the afternoon sun, seemed to form a compelling shape. He was at once familiar and beautiful, comforting and engaging. There was nothing about him which required delicacy or formality. Even at his most refined and elegant-seeming, there was a permanent air of approachability to him, which Yuuri knew for a fact had not always been there. It had come up between them with time and the progression of their relationship, so that now when he saw the same shade of blue as Wolfram's uniform, it was 'Wolfram-blue', or when he heard someone scolding their boyfriend for his wandering eye, it was 'Wolfram-like'. Because we're friends, he told himself, and even though that statement was true he suddenly felt keenly aware of how much like an excuse it sounded.

"Yuuri?" Wolfram asked again, more genuinely concerned this time. His hand moved from his brow to his shoulder, giving it a slight shake, as though to wake him. But Yuuri found that he was stunned. He tried to disconnect himself from this new little window which had opened, unbidden, before his very eyes, but he couldn't do it. "Yuuri, snap out of it! What happened? Are you hurt?" Wolfram demanded, and upon those words began to thoroughly check him over.

Finally, Yuuri came to his senses enough to choke out a reply. "No," he said, although his voice sounded weird when it finally drifted past his lips. Wolfram scowled.

"Then what just happened?" the blond demanded.

"I…" Yuuri trailed off, not really certain on how to explain that one. I think I love you? Yeah, that'll go over well.

Actually, it probably would.

"Nothing," he settled for instead, trying to manage a sheepish smile but coming across more as shaky and uncertain. Wolfram gave him a look of patent skepticism.

"You expect me to believe that?" he asked, not releasing his hold and his fiancée. "Knowing what a wimp you are you probably got bitten by some spider or something…" As he muttered this, Wolfram checked over the top of the bench which Yuuri had sat on in order to listen to his ranting in relative comfort. He seemed to become slightly alarmed as this idea of a bug-bite took hold of his mind. "There are several kinds of poisonous insects in this area. Do you feel anything? Dizzy, nauseous? We should get you inside so Gisella can look at you."

As Yuuri was about to object, Wolfram suddenly went pale. "Oh no. What if it was a horned wasp? Did you hear a buzzing?" he demanded, grabbing Yuuri's face and examining his eyes carefully.

Yuuri had every intention of batting him away. He was going to do it. Any minute now, he would reach up, grab those two warm hands, and move his face so that it was nowhere near that close to Wolfram's. Because if he didn't, then he was pretty sure he would start running out of excuses as to why his cheeks were steadily heating up, and why he seemed to be hyper aware of the proximity of the blond's lips to his own.

Unfortunately, the blushing didn't go unnoticed. "You're flushed," Wolfram murmured, clearly displeased. Then he opened his mouth, on the verge of making some other declaration, and Yuuri decided that now was probably a good time to move away. He fully intended to, shifting on the bench with the plan of standing, but unfortunately the action also brought him forward slightly.

Miscalculation could only be held responsible for part of the action, however, as in the moment his mouth passed so tantalizingly close to Wolfram's, some urge gripped him with a sudden wild impulse. It felt uncommonly natural to simply close the distance between their lips.

The kiss was not a long one, merely a brushing gesture, tentative and soft. A moment later Yuuri moved away, feeling impossibly flustered and confused. His first instinct was to run. Wolfram was looking at him in shock. Slowly, the blond raised a hand to his mouth. He didn't touch his lips, but his fingers hovered over them, as though he could still feel Yuuri's. Or as if he were wondering whether it had been real or not.

Run. Yes, running time is now. Go! Yuuri's flight reflex screamed, as his sudden boldness seemed to vanish and left him fearful of what happened next. One didn't play with Wolfram, after all. That, he knew. It would be beyond cruel to kiss him if he didn't mean it, but then again, did he mean it? He'd already done it now, and maybe he shouldn't have. The muscles in his legs tensed, and he got ready to sprint, wondering if he could even out-pace his aggressive fiancée…

As if sensing his plan, Wolfram suddenly grabbed him, and once again their lips met. This time it was different. The hot mouth against his seemed yielding and demanding all at once, followed in its passion by the hands which gripped his waist and held him close. He felt with unusual heat the press of Wolfram's thumbs and the spread of his fingers, the taste of his breath, which was accented slightly by some citrus fruit he must have eaten earlier that day.

It seemed an eternity before they broke apart, but it was, in fact, only a brief moment. Yuuri felt a conflict of emotion. On the one hand, there was that nagging, slightly over-bearing voice in his brain which was telling him this was wrong and weird and he could start being grossed out any minute now, please. On the other, there was an abrupt and undeniable disappointment which came when the kiss was over. He felt it with a sharp pang, so real and raw that he couldn't pretend it didn't exist. Over top of all of that, however, remained uncertainty. What happened now? What would Wolfram do? What if he expected more from him, and Yuuri wasn't sure he could give more, or if he could even give what he had almost-accidentally offered already. He didn't know if he was dreading or anticipating another kiss.

But Wolfram just smiled, a real smile, and his eyes shone with an unfamiliar giddiness before he stepped away. "Wimp," he muttered affectionately. Yuuri was too hopeless to even bristle at the unappreciated nickname. "I'll see you at dinner. But don't think I'm letting you off easy, I'm still mad about you mooning over that hussy!"

As Yuuri watched, Wolfram then turned and walked away, a spring in his step. For the second time that day, he was gifted with a sudden moment of clarity. For all that he acted jealously and could be very pushy, Wolfram would never press him for more than he was ready for. Not when it really mattered. Regardless of what he wanted, he always let Yuuri make the first move.

I think I might be a very lucky man, Yuuri decided, putting aside for a moment all of his quandaries and insecurities and watching his fiancée's retreating form.

In a little web underneath the bench he'd been sitting on, a tiny grey spider was having a very bad day. First, a moth had flown through its trap, and had been big enough to wriggle loose, causing great damage to the web as it did so. Then it had nearly been eaten by a bigger spider which had happened along while it was making repairs. Finally, to top it all off, some giant dressed all in black had sat down on top of the bench and put the back of his shoe through a day's worth of work. Fed up, the spider had decided a little vengeance was due. It had wriggled onto the giant's ankle and promptly bit him, before crawling away.

Had Gunter, Gwendal, or indeed, even Wolfram seen the spider, they would have been able to identify it as a 'True Vision Spider', due to the unique effect its venom had on individuals with mazoku blood. But of course, the spider didn't know this, and Yuuri didn't even realize he'd been bitten. So its contribution to the love life of the 27th Maou would go forever unknown…