Author's Note: Ah, we're finally on the last oneshot in the series. Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed Seasons over the past few months. I really appreciate it! (And as a side note, there are end of game spoilers in this entry.)
Although Flynn felt as though he had run from Zaphias to Halure (and back again) without a single break, he still couldn't bring himself to regret his decision to stay out late patrolling despite the rain.
It had been particularly cold and wet all day, certainly not the kind of weather a commandant would go out in – Alexei himself would've stayed inside without a second thought. But, as Flynn Scifo had already established time and time again, he wasn't a regular commandant. He seemed to enjoy his walks through the city, rain or shine.
He patrolled the streets of Zaphias that day – sometimes with Sodia, but usually alone – in his free time in spite of the downpour, which had grown progressively from a light morning drizzle to a freezing winter cascade.
At some point, when the gray, watery daylight was beginning to fade, Flynn found himself beside the fountain in the lower quarter. The only other person in the small plaza was a dark-haired child – Ted, if Flynn was remembering his name correctly – who was too focused on his simple task of collecting drinking water to notice the knight.
No, he wasn't there to see Yuri; or, at least that's what Flynn kept telling himself. His work kept him busy, and he had only seen his old friend once or twice – and fleetingly at that – since the kitchen incident several months prior.
Flynn had finally decided to return to the castle after a quick walk around the lower quarter when he heard a shriek from nearby. His head snapped up, blue eyes scanning the plaza with sudden urgency.
Ted lost his balance and fell into the nearby canal with a sickening splash. Flynn rushed forward and flung himself into the cold water after the boy without a second thought.
The current – which was a lot stronger than Flynn was anticipating – swept the commandant up and tossed him through the canal like a rag doll. But he couldn't let this stop him; he had to save Ted before either of them drowned.
Flynn swam closer to the child, threw out his hand, and grabbed him by his wrist. Ted's head was barely bobbing above the surface, and Flynn was having just as much trouble as he tried to keep his mouth and nose above the water. His earlier training to become a knight hadn't prepared him for anything quite like this.
Flynn pulled Ted to his chest and forced his way to the side of the canal. He reached out for the wall, but his gloved fingers found no purchase and only skimmed the rain-slick stone.
An uncharacteristic spike of fear settled somewhere in his stomach. In his panic to save the child, he hadn't quite thought of an alternate way out. He mentally cursed himself – this wasn't like Flynn Scifo at all. Why wasn't he thinking clearly?
Another hand suddenly wrapped around his outstretched wrist and yanked him up. Seconds later, Flynn found himself sprawled out on the dirt path, surrounded by the denizens of the lower quarter and the boy he had been trying to save.
"Ted!" A woman rushed to the boy's side and scooped him up in her arms. "Ted, are you all right?"
She waited for Ted's subdued response before she turned to Flynn, her smile deeply appreciative but creased with motherly concern. "Thank you so much, Commandant. Are you okay?"
The others joined in with a chorus of thank-yous and anxious are-you-all-rights as Flynn nodded and pushed himself to his hands and knees, feeling less than glamorous when he coughed up a stomachful of clammy canal water.
A partially gloved hand touched his shoulder. "Hey, you all right?"
Flynn turned. "Yuri. You...?"
Yuri's lopsided smile answered Flynn's unspoken question. His friend had saved his life...again.
The good news was that Ted was safe and sound once more in the lower quarter. The bad news was that Flynn had developed a nasty bout of the flu because of his escapades in the winter rain, and now he was too sick to keep up with his regular duties. His throat was raw, his entire body ached, and his eyes and nose hadn't stopped running for several long days.
He had a feeling that Yuri's presence wouldn't do much to remedy all of this.
Yuri showed up early the following evening with a steaming bowl in his hand and an ominous smile on his face. Flynn was bedridden, so he couldn't get up and run; his only option was to close his eyes, pretend to be asleep, and hope for the best.
"I'm not falling for that one," Yuri said, much to Flynn's dismay. Flynn forced his heavy eyelids open and looked up at his friend blearily.
"I'm really not in the mood," he croaked.
Yuri grinned. "Well, too bad. I don't really care. Besides, don't you sort of owe me for saving your life?"
"Not when I feel like this..."
"Indulge me for a few minutes, and then I'll be on my way."
Flynn only nodded weakly. He didn't feel up to an argument, much to Yuri's obvious satisfaction. This was one battle Flynn knew he couldn't possibly win.
"I brought you some soup," Yuri said, finally brandishing the bowl in his hand. "I made it myself too, for your sore throat and everything. It's your favorite...I think."
Flynn stared at the bowl. He decided not to speak and let his hollow, sour stomach protest for him with a loud growl.
Yuri took a spoon, dipped it in the soup, and sampled it himself. "See? I'm not dying. And it tastes pretty damn good, if I do say so myself."
Flynn didn't respond. All he could do was pull his lips into a frown.
"Oh, come on," Yuri said. He ladled out more soup and held the spoon closer to Flynn's mouth. "And don't be a five year-old and say you won't eat from this spoon because I just did and it would be like an indirect kiss."
Flynn felt his face grow hot, and he was glad for once that his fever-flushed cheeks disguised the embarrassing red tinge.
"Eat," Yuri commanded, forcing the utensil between Flynn's tightly clamped lips.
The warm, tangy soup felt as though it had brought Flynn's flu-deadened taste buds back to life. Yuri was right – it was good. The sick commandant swallowed that mouthful and eagerly accepted the next, trying to ignore the fact that he was being spooned the food like a child. When he thought of what the scene would look like to one of his subordinates if they suddenly walked in, he took the utensil with a scowl and fed himself.
"There. That soup always makes me feel better," Yuri said when the bowl was nearly empty.
"Thank you for helping me out the other day," Flynn said, a little less painfully than before. The hot soup was doing wonders for his throat.
Yuri smirked again. "No problem. Thank you for being there for Ted."
"I was lucky I was down there when he fell in."
"Yeah, you were," Yuri said, raising his eyebrows suspiciously. "Why were you there? None of the other knights come to the lower quarter...well, unless you ask them to, I suppose."
"I was lucky," Flynn repeated. "No, I was not looking for you," he added when a sly smile crossed his friend's face.
Yuri snapped his fingers with mock disappointment. "Well, damn."
They sat in a somewhat comfortable silence for a while longer. Flynn was wondering why Yuri had pushed the bowl of soup so far out of his reach when his friend finally spoke up.
"You just jumped in without really thinking, didn't you?" Yuri asked.
That snapped Flynn's eyes away from the bowl. "C-Come again?"
"You just jumped in that freezing water to save Ted without thinking about what would happen to you. I mean, I'm not saying it was a bad thing to save Ted – I'm really glad you did – but it's just-"
"You would've done the same thing if you had been there instead of me."
Yuri laughed. "Yeah, that's true. But damn, Flynn, if you hadn't been pulled out..."
"Any knight would've-"
"You're more stubborn – and hardheaded and prone to justice – than the others. That's why you're a commandant now."
Flynn sighed heavily, wishing he were young enough to bury his head under the covers and block everything out. "Yuri, I'm too sick to discuss this. Can you give me a hard time when I'm well enough to stand and stay awake for longer than ten minutes? Besides, you're being hypocritical."
"Yeah...yeah, I know. I don't need you to tell me that." Yuri paused and looked down at his folded hands. "I know I've been pushing it, but I really think you need a break for a while to take your mind off things."
"I still would've saved Ted even if I had absolutely no training as a knight. My work has nothing to do with all this."
"I know that! I'm just saying, you really do need a break even if you are the commandant. You're at the point where you've worked yourself sick. No one in the lower quarter sees you anymore because you're so busy with these 'knightly duties' of yours."
"I think it was just the rain and my little swim that made me sick. I was out for a good part of the day walking around. And besides-"
"No, no, don't try to deny it," Yuri interrupted with a quick, knowing grin.
Flynn's sullen frown only deepened. "You're not going to give this up until I finally throw in the towel, are you?"
Flynn leaned his head back against his pillows and mentally weighed his options – he could lie to Yuri, ignore him, or agree with him. Of course, Flynn wanted nothing more than to return to his work as soon as he recovered – which he was hoping would be soon – but on the other hand-
He stopped himself from overthinking the situation and took another long, slow breath. Maybe his and Yuri's little run-ins over the past few months weren't just happenstance. Maybe he could get something out of these friendly, seemingly insignificant meetings.
And if a little more downtime meant less time feeling this sick (and less time with Yuri badgering him with food, even if it was good), he might just be all for it.
"Well?" Yuri impatiently tapped him on the forehead. "You still awake, sleeping beauty?"
"Fine, fine," Flynn said exasperatedly, brushing him away with a free hand. "I'll take a few more breaks here and there. And I'll come visit the lower quarter more often."
"And so the hopelessly stubborn commandant finally gives in to the pestering of a local peasant! But I'll probably have to pop in every once in a while to keep an eye on you and make sure you're keeping your promise," Yuri said triumphantly as he dipped the spoon back in the not-so-warm bowl of soup and handed it to him. "Now, eat the rest of this and appreciate it. I finally managed to sneak into that big castle kitchen and cook without your lackeys catching me."