Wolfram was perplexed by Yuri's abrupt work ethic. He was always one to be conscientious, but not to the point where he would sit down and do paperwork. Usually he took every change he got to eschew the dread of sitting through Gunter's overly informative history of the Demon Kingdom. It was apparent that something was amiss.
Whenever Wolfram tried to find out, Yuri dismissed it as business and sauntered off. This made Wolfram furious. It made him wonder if Yuri knew how ostensible it was that he was blowing him off.
Wolfram put his foot down and went to go confront Yuri. He located him in the hallway, reading over some papers. Wolfram still couldn't shake off the feeling of how abnormal that image was. That angered him. So much so that he whacked the papers out of Yuri's hands to get his attention. As the papers scattered to the floor, Yuri was caught off guard. Recollecting what had just happened, he glowered at Wolfram.
"Wolfram, what did you do that for?" He sounded like Wolfram was the last person he wanted to deal with. This had Wolfram foaming at the mouth from the mere thought.
"Why don't you give up the charade? I'm sick of it!" He shouted. Wolfram made ascertain that his foot stomped on the papers, deterring Yuri from picking them up.
"Charade?" Yuri asked, incredulously. "I don't pretend that I'm serious about my duty. I would think that you'd know that by now, Wolfram."
"Since when have you ever cared about plopping down in a seat and putting your signature on copious amounts of paper, much less reading it?!"
Instead of replying, Yuri just stared him down. No complaints came from those luscious lips. It was unnerving. The look on Yuri's face was a combination of irritation and dour. It made Wolfram's blood boil to be regarded as a pest by the one person he had dedicated his very life to.
Perhaps a direct approach was more in order.
"Why have you been so negligent towards me?" Wolfram's voice shook with melancholy. It was a weakness that he was cursing himself for having. At the moment, all it seemed to accomplish was his debilitation. Wolfram never was one for being subjected to such vulnerability.
"Negligent? Is that what you think; that I don't care about you?"
"How could I not? It's like you're more empathetic towards this country than you are to me. That's certainly no way to treat your fiancée."
Yuri sighed, exasperated. "Please, Wolfram, give me a break. These people need me. I am their king, after all."
Wolfram's fists shook at his sides. Here they were - all alone in the hall - and Yuri still looked past him. "Don't make it sound so cut and dry because it's not! They're not the only ones who need you, Yuri. I need you too…" Time and time again he had put himself out there for Yuri: to protect him and provide him with any needed assistance.
It hurt to think that those poignant feelings weren't mutual.
"Could you quit being so selfish? There are other people in the world besides you, Wolfram." Saying that was tantamount to a punch in the gut. Wolfram took a few steps back in shock, watching Yuri garner his papers, in disbelief.
With one last sullen glance, Yuri walked past him.
Filled with rage, Wolfram ruthlessly lunged at Dekauscas with his sword. His many years as a solider went to shame as his sword flew out of his hand. Dekauscas fell onto his rear, having failed to balance himself after Wolfram's onslaught. He rubbed at his bald scalp in sheepish embarrassment. "And I call myself a solider. King Yuri would be so disappointed if he could see me now…" A soldier's pride was expressed through his fighting abilities. It was safe to say that he felt a humiliating sense of defeat, especially at the hands of someone much younger than him.
Wolfram huffed before sheathing his sword. He sauntered over to Dekauscas and offered him a hand to get up. "He's too benevolent to pay mind to such a trivial matter." He pointed out. "Besides that, he's quite the pacifist. Not really willing to fight for anything…"
"What's got you all ticked off? Lovers' quarrel?"
"You could say that. Can you believe his mannerisms in our courtship these days? They're preposterous. I mean, even more so than usual."
"That bad, huh?" Dekauscas asked, cupping his chin. "Come to think of it, King Yuri has been exhibiting peculiar behavior lately, hasn't he? I wonder what could be bothering him?"
"Well…whatever his dilemma is, I don't care."
"You know you don't mean that, Wolfram. You care too deeply about King Yuri to mean such a thing."
"My affections are meaningless to him…" Wolfram pondered on that for a moment. The cruel truth stared him right in the face. It had been quite a while, but that didn't make it any less painful. The fact that his love for Yuri wasn't enough tore his heart to bits.
A deep breath escaped his mouth before he declared. "The engagement is off."
"Just what is his problem anyway?" Yuri asked.
Under the blue, sunny sky, he was playing catch with Conrad. He had assumed the position of catcher while Conrad pitched the baseball to him. This had become a diurnal routine. It was a way Yuri was able to evoke his passion for the sport; a passion that rekindled every time he thought of his home back on Earth.
Yuri's throw exemplified his vexation. Conrad appeared to be amused by this as he listened to Yuri construe. "I mean, he's always nagging me about something. I slack off, he patronizes me about it. And now that I'm finally working hard, he accuses me of caring too much. He always has some kind of problem with me."
"It's not that black and white, Yuri." Conrad supplied. "Wolfram has a habit of taking in information too personally. He's probably angry because he thinks that you're using your responsibility as a means to avoid him."
"…I am avoiding him." Yuri confessed.
"Because I don't want him…I don't want to let him down."
"What do you mean?"
"You told me once that I had to decide whether to reside here or on Earth. Remember?" Yuri asked. At Conrad's nod, he continued. "My time is running short on that decision. I still don't know where I truly belong. I mean, I know that it's my responsibility to rule this kingdom. But I can't just leave my home either. I know it's selfish, but to give up my ordinary life would just be…" He couldn't fathom his life without the normalcy that he adjusted so well to. Earth has so much to offer. There were video games, computers, all sorts of technological advances this world hadn't experienced yet. On the other hand, the Great Demon Kingdom had it's fair share of blessings to. Yuri had met so many tender-hearted people here. He had made more friends here than he did at home. This was where Yuri had discovered his gift in being able to wield water using magic. Here, he felt like one of those super heroes in one of those comic books at home.
Having the reasoning all jumbled up in his head, Yuri suspected that Conrad thought this decision should be a no-brainer. "I'm sorry, Conrad. I know what I'm saying doesn't make much sense."
Conrad shook his head, giving Yuri a reassuring smile. "It makes perfect sense. Believe me, we'd love to keep you here. But ultimately that is your choice to make. It's your life. Nobody else's. Just keep in mind that I'm behind whatever decision you make one hundred percent."
"Thank you, Conrad." Yuri smiled. With that pep talk, he felt like he had enough resolve to go and talk to Wolfram. Whatever confidence he had was short-lived once he recalled how Wolfram vented. The image of being under the wrath of his blade didn't appeal to him in the least. "Uh, Conrad? You think you could tell him? I'm afraid that my life will be in danger if I'm alone with him."
"Sorry, Yuri, but I can't help you out on this one. This is something you need to do yourself. But not to worry. Wolfram likes you too much to decapitate you."
"Gee, thanks for the reassurance." Yuri dryly. As if to prepare himself, he slapped his cheeks and took a deep breath. "Here goes everything!" He shouted dramatically before running off.
While searching the castle for Wolfram, Yuri had gotten wind of a disturbing rumor. He heard everyone gossiping about how Wolfram had annulled their engagement. That sent a shock to his system. Typically Wolfram was hell-bent on making it known. Was one dispute really worth giving that up? Or was there something more to Wolfram's actions than he originally thought? These questions fueled him to find out. Yuri inquired Wolfram's whereabouts at every turn to find that he was watering flowers in the garden.
"Aren't they beautiful?" Wolfram murmured, his back to Yuri.
"Yeah." Yuri replied. Hesitantly, he walked over to Wolfram's side. "Listen, I'm sorry about earlier. I know I was being harsh. It's just that…I've been out of sorts lately. Not like that's any reason to take it out on you."
Wolfram finally looked at him, attentively. "What's been bothering you, Yuri?"
Yuri fiddled his thumbs together. His stomach was tangled up in a craze. His heart was beating a mile a minute. Wolfram had been devoted to him since day one. That caring look - Wolfram rarely projected it to anyone else. It made him nervous. It made him scared. Even so, he was excited and full of joy. He never imagined anyone having such an affect on him, much less another guy. Yuri was so accustomed to the idea that he'd end up with a girl. He'd live the remainder of his life in his ordinary world, where the only real threat to his life were the neighborhood bullies.
Nothing could have prepared him for the day when he was literally flushed into another world. Everything was topsy-turvy. Dragons sounded like cats, cats sounded like sheep…
Everything was upside down, including how to be engaged. Yuri recollected that a slap across the face was proportional - in it's bizarre way - to a proposal of marriage. If Wolfram wanted to end it, Yuri would let him. Sure, his cheek would be swollen, but that would heal up in no time. His heart wouldn't, though.
"Wolfram, here's your chance to end it."
Yuri guided Wolfram's hand to his cheek. Wolfram blushed at the physical contact, enjoying the feel of Yuri's velvety skin. Those black eyes captivated him to a standstill. "One slap and you're free of me. I'm sure there are far more refined suitors for you than I."
"You think I feel obligated to betroth you?"
"Well, don't you?"
"You really are a stupid wimp." Wolfram softly accused. He slowly closed the gap between their lips. There was no reaction from Yuri's end for a few seconds, and that worried Wolfram. So he began to pull away. It was a pleasant surprise to have Yuri's arms wind about his waist. It took his breath away; the gentle way Yuri returned his kiss with one suckle delivered to his lips. "Is that enough proof for you; that my feelings for you are genuine?"
"I never doubted it." Yuri laughed, his chest filled with warmth. "I just couldn't understand why. I mean…" He used his hand to caress Wolfram's face. The sparkle in those green eyes surpassed that of the greatest diamond. "We're a world apart. We might end up that way…"
"Elaborate. You're not making any sense…"
"Once I hit sixteen, I need to decide whether I should stay here or go home. Permanently. It's been on my mind for quite some time now and I wasn't so sure I could be the one to satisfy you. I might choose to live back in Japan and leave you, along with the rest of the Demon Kingdom behind."
Wolfram's fingers curled into the black fabric of Yuri's shirt. He was shaking under the weight this news bore. He embraced Yuri, not wanting him to be transported through any water portal nearby. Not alone anyway. "That's fine, but I'm coming with you. I don't care where you go just so long as I get to be by your side."
"Wolfram…" Yuri murmured, embracing him back.
The decision still remained intricate, and up in the air. But Yuri knew that whatever choice he made was well worth the hardship as long as Wolfram was there with him.