For pyrrhicvictoly. Prompt theme: water gun fight. It was going to be only a drabble, but then I got carried away. ;)
Yuuri was not your typical king.
Then again, 'typical' was not really a word that Conrad would have used to describe Yuuri in any context. The fact that Yuuri was not some pampered, over-bred lordling could come as no surprise to anyone so long as they took this one single point into account.
Certainly, Yuuri was not perfect. Like any other person, human or demon, he had his flaws and weaknesses. Asked to name the most obvious of them, any given person might quickly list the following: Naïve. Uncompromising. Accident-Prone. Possibly in that exact order.
What Conrad knew that many others didn't was that each of these three words could be flipped to reveal things equally as true about Yuuri's character. Idealistic. Straight-forward. Lucky.
In other words, the very qualities that had saved the peaceful future of Shin Makoku, and of demon-human relations, numerous times already.
Consequently, these were also some of the very qualities Conrad had fallen in love with.
Neither was Yuuri particularly physically delicate.
Conrad had lost count of the number of rescue attempts they had made on Yuuri's behalf at this point, it was true. Yuuri was simply the kind of person who managed to get himself in dangerous (and increasingly peculiar) situations.
It would be just as true to assert that Yuuri was no soldier. Far from it; he had, after all, been born and raised in a world, country, and time where mass conflict, if it occurred at all, was limited to non-civilians. Yuuri had not grown up wielding a sword because he had not needed to. He had not been raised a warrior because, up until his arrival in this world, he had lived a relatively sheltered life within the confines of an unreservedly loving family. It was for this reason, perhaps, that Yuuri was underestimated by some at first – although usually to the detriment of those who refused to take him seriously.
Yes, Yuuri was young. Inexperienced. His life thus far had been easy.
Yet Yuuri also was, by his very nature, tenaciously determined and hard-working once a motive had been presented to him. He was happier by far to be in the midst of whatever action was taking place than ensconced safely within the walls of the castle, or shut in his office with only the harmless tedium of paperwork to deal with.
And he was strong, when it counted. Those hands had already been callus-hardened when Conrad had first held them again. That skin had already been bronzed by many hours spent under an unforgiving sun. Those eyes, whilst wide and innocent, had sent a clear message that had resonated within Conrad's soul, for all Yuuri's initial protestations. I am here. I will do what I can. Don't give up. And Conrad had not done so, not ever again.
Neither, to his credit, had Yuuri.
These things and more being the unspoken knowledge of one Conrad Weller, he was only slightly taken aback when Yuuri, drenched and hauling himself out of the nearest pond one day, brought with him a curiously-shaped package. The others, Wolfram and Greta among them, crowded round to examine it.
"Tah-dah!" Yuuri pulled off the plastic to reveal a collection of brightly-coloured objects. Conrad recognised them for what they were almost immediately, and was only taken aback for the briefest of moments before he hid his smile behind a cough.
"What are these… things?"
"Water guns", said Yuuri proudly.
"What's a gun?"
"It's a kind of weapon we have in my world. Only these aren't real guns, they're just toy ones."
Wolfram was scornful. "Why would we want practice weapons? I haven't used such a thing in years."
"I didn't say practice weapons. I said toy weapons."
"What do you- argh!"
Greta stared, round-eyed, as the unsuspecting Wolfram was hit in the face by a steady stream of water. The prince spluttered. "What- you- how did-" Greta giggled, and Yuuri gave a triumphant grin.
"I told you. Water guns. You pump them full with water like this" – he demonstrated quickly – "then you just make them squirt by pulling on this bit that sticks out here." This time it was Greta who received a playful squirt.
"Oooh!" she said, and Yuuri handed the toy over with a flourish.
"I figured", he said as he presented another water gun to Wolfram, who still looked comically flummoxed, "that it wasn't fair to be the only one to get a soaking all the time. Conrad?"
Conrad looked down at the proffered gift and then across to Yuuri, who was practically wriggling in boyish excitement. He hesitated for an instant, then shook his head in amusement and took the toy. Yuuri could not help but laugh at the image; the impeccably dressed Conrad, not a hair out of place, holding a florescent orange-and-green water gun and yet somehow, looking for all the world like he did this kind of thing every day.
It did not take long for the idea to catch on. Teams were formed (although as people kept switching sides as it suited them, who was attempting to soak who was under constant debate), and passersby were quickly assimilated into the game by an enthusiastic Yuuri before they could work out what had happened. The late afternoon air became punctuated with the lively squealing of children and adults alike in play. Very soon, the courtyard resembled more of an aquatic-themed playground than anything else, with clothes strewn everywhere as they grew damp and heavy, and people on the sidelines shouting encouragement at their chosen champions. (Yuuri swore he glimpsed Lady Celi make use of an object that looked very akin to binoculars as she delightedly observed the fun. She took to cheering on whichever grown male was next to remove an article of clothing, regardless of which side they were currently playing for.)
Yuuri did know how much time passed this way, but at some point found himself pressed tightly against Conrad as they huddled for shelter behind a not-quite-large-enough piece of cover. Breathing heavily, attempting and woefully failing to still their laughter, they made hushed and breathless plans of attack.
"If you… can run over there without getting hit… we could have… a clear shot at Dorcas", Yuuri managed to say.
"Not quite", Conrad pointed out. "If Annissina… spots us from over there…"
Yuuri nodded gravely. Annissina had joined the game just as soon as she had discovered it, and had quickly become a force to be reckoned with. She rallied the troops like a seasoned professional, striking terror into the hearts of her enemies.
Yuuri glanced at Conrad, then back at the game before Conrad could notice him blushing. The soldier had long since removed his military jacket, and his white shirt was now thoroughly wet. The effect was more alluring than if Conrad had been completely bare-chested; the material clung to his body in a way that Yuuri could only describe as indecent. Almost, but not quite, see-through. It did not help matters at all that Conrad carried off the wet-hair look with damnable aplomb.
"Um?" Yuuri, aware that he had been staring again, took a breath. His chest was almost flush against Conrad's. He cleared his throat. "I think I can make it", he said huskily. "I can run fast enough, Annissina doesn't even know we're here, she's too busy trying to convince Gwendal to join in-"
"I know you're there, Conrart! It'll do no good trying to protect Heika, I have you both in my sights!"
Yuuri groaned, and Conrad pulled Yuuri closer, aware that exposure would result in another soaking. Their thighs brushed. Yuuri's second groan had a slightly different tone to it.
"Yuuri! Don't give up, we can still do this."
"How? She has us covered, and we can't stay here forever." He swallowed as Conrad leant down to whisper secretively into his ear.
"It seems we're left with only two choices, Heika."
"… Yes?" Yuuri replied weakly. He wished Conrad wouldn't have the audacity to look so nobly sacrificing as his hand moved to brush an errant lock of hair out of Yuuri's eyes. His fists clenched as Conrad's fingers hovered there for a moment longer than strictly necessary, barely grazing the side of Yuuri's face before removing them completely.
"We could split up, and hope that we both make it to better shelter. Annissina can't chase us both."
Yuuri whimpered. He didn't like this plan, not at all. Separation from Conrad. The loss of the damp warmth against him. The look in Conrad's eyes when-
"And the second option?" he all but gasped.
Conrad sighed and gazed downwards in defeat. "We retreat."
"A good soldier must always know when best to make a tactical decision. Yuuri… it's either retreat now, or…" Conrad trailed off dramatically. His hand strayed to slip just beneath the collar of Yuuri's shirt.
The effect of this direct skin-to-skin contact was instantaneous.
Yuuri practically dragged Conrad off the field, now utterly unmindful of the spray of water dousing his back, and tossing his gun to a startled Dorcas.
"Get Annissina for me, Dorcas!" he ordered.
There was an outraged shriek from behind him a moment later. "Betrayal!", he heard before the shadows from inside the castle enveloped him.
Yuuri lost no time in making the most of their escape. Conrad did not seem to mind. Then again, in weighing up the cost of their retreat to its very immediate and altogether satisfying reward, Yuuri could not quite bring himself to mind either.
It did not occur to Yuuri until afterwards that this, too, had been one of Conrad's neatly planned 'tactical decisions', and probably had been from the moment the water fight had begun.
It was lucky indeed, he told himself, that Conrad was not your typical soldier.