It wasn't every day that the Commandant himself was required to resolve a simple case of disorderly conduct. True, the man in question was infamous for his numerous counts of "disrespecting an officer on duty" and resisting arrest and various other minor misdemeanors, but with enough men on the job, even he would be caught eventually.

Busy and buried in paperwork as he was these days, Flynn had still quickly stepped in before Sodia could round up a decent-sized force and head off to storm the Lower Quarter; he wasn't sure why, but he didn't quite trust her where his best friend was concerned, and it was more than just her initial impulse to arrest or attack him without question when they'd first met in the inn at Capua Nor. Also, Yuri was a member of a Guild now, and while that didn't make him exempt from the Empire's laws while he was in Imperial territory, they couldn't simply snatch him up and throw him in jail like they used to either. This matter required a sort of delicacy, especially considering the Union's still somewhat shaky relationship with the Empire.

Besides, Yuri was his best friend. Flynn knew him better than anyone, and if Yuri was in a tavern somewhere getting drunk off his ass, there had to be a reason for it, in which case he'd probably appreciate having a good friend there at his side, even though Flynn also knew he'd never admit as much aloud.

The tavern wasn't hard to find, and it turned out that the reports of "disorderly conduct" and "disturbing the peace" had been more than a little exaggerated. Yuri wasn't completely plastered by any means (Flynn knew all too well what that looked like—he'd seen his share of utterly wasted people, and had been called in to break up more than a few drunken brawls and bar fights during his days as a lieutenant), but he still looked more than a little tipsy. Not far enough gone to really be a danger to anyone, but just drunk enough that getting home on his own would be a challenge. Just drunk enough for Flynn to be concerned.

Yuri was in the process of raising a new mug of ale to his lips when Flynn reached his table.

"Don't you think you've had enough for tonight?"

Yuri's shoulders tensed, but he didn't lower the mug until he'd downed the whole thing, which didn't take too long; a few quick, audible gulps and he was slamming it back down on the table.

"Must've if 'm imaginin' tha high 'n' mighty c'mmandant comin' inta a dive like this." He went to take a drink from the mug and seemed surprised to find it empty, even though he'd only drained it seconds ago. He scowled at it for a moment before adding, almost as an afterthought, "Don' you haff s'mewhere better t'be? 'S not yer business 'nyway."

He pushed the empty mug aside to join the already impressive collection littering that half of the table, accidentally knocking one or two others over as he did so. He started to raise his hand to signal for another one, but his arm suddenly seemed far too heavy to lift. Looking down, he found himself staring muzzily at his reflection in a polished silver vambrace. It took a moment, but he followed the arm down to the gauntlet at its end, which was closed around his own arm, and holding it down.

He turned a bleary glare upwards, but didn't try to free his arm. " 'm not one a' yer empire's citizens 'nymore, you can't tell me wha' t'do."

Flynn didn't say a word aloud in reply, but the look on his face was a grim just watch me. Yuri tried to take another drink from his (still empty) mug with his other hand, but before he even managed to grasp the handle, Flynn dropped a significant pile of coins on the table and took him firmly by the elbow, hauling him up out of his seat, through the tavern, and out the door.

As soon as they had gotten out into the street, Yuri tried to twist free. "Leggo a' me," he growled, his words slurring into each other. " 'm not breakin' 'ny laws."

"Yes, you are--being drunk in a public place comes under the heading of disorderly conduct. But I'm not here as a Knight," Flynn said, both his voice and his grip on Yuri's arm steadfastly firm. "I'm here as your friend."

Yuri, who hadn't really ceased his attempt to jerk his arm free, just snorted. "Yer 'lways ev'where 's a Knight 'n' you know it."

Flynn didn't deny it. Yuri was more than half right, after all, and both of them knew that, too; his silence only underlined that fact.

"What were you doing in there, Yuri," he sighed after a moment, finally relinquishing his hold on his best friend's arm, only to have him stumble sideways and slide down the nearest wall in a slump. "You know better than this...and I know you know how to drink a lot and not get drunk." We both do, he thought but didn't say. "So what's this all about?"

Yuri, eyes closed and head leaned back against the wall, didn't answer, and after a considerable amount of time had passed, Flynn decided that he wasn't going to, be it from alcohol-dulled wits or his usual stubbornness. So much for drunkards having loose lips. He stared down at Yuri's slack face, noting the circles beneath his eyes, the slight worry-lines starting to form around his mouth, the way his clothes hung on his slim frame just a little more loosely, and wondered just how much of all this was his fault. It was tempting to take on so much of that guilt. Yuri would be angry at him for that, of course, but that had never stopped him before. Besides, it wasn't like Yuri would ever know just how much he blamed himself for how things had turned out.

"Come on," he sighed at last, dragging Yuri back to his feet and slinging one of the other man's arms across his shoulders. "Let's get you home."

"…It's just a lot to think about sometimes."

Flynn nearly staggered in surprise at that softly-spoken admission, but he recovered admirably, maintaining their more or less regular pace and silently waiting to hear if Yuri would add anything more. A few steps later, his patience was rewarded, though the words were almost too quiet to hear:

"I guess I just wish that everyone who died around me would stop telling me that they'll see me in hell. It's getting pretty damn annoying."

Flynn turned his head and started to say something, but it lodged unexpectedly in his throat as he caught a whiff of Yuri's breath. It was…sweet, almost, though he hesitated to apply that term to anyone's breath really. But decidedly not alcohol, regardless. And that ridiculous drunken slur had been absent from his words just now too and most of the stagger was gone from his strides—

Beside him, Yuri tensed slightly, instinctively, perhaps realising on some subconscious level that the jig was up. But before he could catch more than a glance of his best friend's suddenly cold, implacable face, Flynn had given him a hard shove--more like a shoulder-check really, and considering the Imperial Knights' apparent habit of adding more and more armour to the shoulder area of the uniform, the higher the rank of the officer, Yuri knew he'd be lucky if all he had were bruises.

…And a second later, he also knew that they'd been walking a lot closer to the edge of the canal than he'd first thought, because the stones beneath his feet abruptly seemed to disappear, and no amount of flailing could prevent him from taking a very undesired dunk in the chill, sluggishly-moving water.

Flynn watched impassively as the rings of ripples spread out, rebounding crazily from the sides of the canal; the surface of the water had only just started to smooth out again when Yuri resurfaced, sputtering and spitting.

"What the hell—?"

"Drinking plenty of water can keep you from getting a hangover, as I'm sure you know." He crossed his arms over his chest, tilting his head speculatively. "I don't know about its effects on someone who's been drinking too much ginger ale...but I can't see what it could hurt."

"Dammit, Flynn—"

"See, you're sounding more like your regular old self already."

Yuri growled a few very creative curses under his breath as he splashed his way to the side and started to climb out. The night wasn't that cold, and neither was the water, but together they were enough to make him start shivering a bit already.


Something in Flynn's tone made him pause and look up, his arms on the lip of the canal's edge in preparation of hauling himself up and out, his legs still idly kicking against the slow but inexorable current. Flynn wasn't looking at him though—he wasn't looking at anything really, staring sightlessly down the canal, his expression tired and almost pained, but determined and somehow unyielding for all that.

"No matter what, you're my best friend. You always will be, and nothing will ever change that." His gaze shifted back to Yuri, and he gave him a fiercely bright smile that was more than half smirk. "So just so you know, if you end up in hell, that's where I'll be going, too--and we'll fight our way out of there. Together."

Yuri blinked, looking momentarily startled. "And you say I talk too much," he snorted after that moment had passed, rolling his eyes and shaking his head in something like disbelief. Then he laughed, low and partly muffled against his arm at first, then suddenly loud and clear, his shoulders shaking until he had to cling to the side of the canal to keep from slipping and going back under. "Guess I couldn't get rid of you that easily, huh?"

By now Flynn's smile had become a full-fledged smirk. "Of course not. Things would be too boring without Yuri around. And who else would I fight with to make sure I wasn't losing my edge?"

"Well, if you're that determined to follow me," Yuri said, still chuckling a bit, "All right." He held up a clenched fist. "To raising hell together again someday."

Flynn had to lean down a bit to meet Yuri's fist with his own. "Just like old times," he agreed, his smile going warm and inexpressibly fond as he offered Yuri a hand out of the canal.

With a matching smile, Yuri reached out and took it--and promptly yanked his best friend, Commandant of the Imperial Knights, down into the canal with him, sword, armour, fancy cape, and all.