"You can't keep him, Yuri." If he were anyone else, he'd be angry, but Flynn just sounded disappointed as he held up the ruined leather for Yuri's inspection. "Look what he did to my boot!"
"You mean to what used to be your boot," Yuri quipped, lips twitching perhaps that slightest bit too much. It shouldn't be funny, but it was. Maybe it was Flynn's expression that amused him – just a little too close to that of the innkeeper when she'd been exasperated with something Yuri had done when he was younger. Or now – he still had a gift for annoying people, even when he wasn't trying to.
Flynn gave him that look that always managed to make him feel slightly ashamed of himself and sighed. "I'll have to requistion a new one. It will come out of my pay."
Which was true and Yuri knew just as well as Flynn did that money was a serious matter. He was right: it wasn't really funny. Yuri sighed, too, and glanced at Repede, who was looking up at them as though he were following the conversation. "He's a puppy, Flynn. Puppies chew." Also true, even if it were beside the point. "He's just bored. There's not much here for a puppy to do. We should take him out more – then he'll be less destructive."
Flynn looked between the two of them, both of them staring at him with nearly identical expressions, and couldn't help but smile. "All right. We have today off. We'll give it a try."
"Okay, Repede, we're going out!" Repede promptly trotted over to pick up his pipe, already clear on the meaning of "out", while Yuri finished putting on his own, miraculously unchewed boots. "We'll be waiting for you outside."
By the time he had completed the paperwork and had his new boots firmly on his feet, it had been long enough that Flynn half expected Yuri and Repede to be gone, off getting into trouble somewhere, doing something he'd hear about later and half-wish he'd been there (and half be glad he hadn't been). But this time, he was mistaken – they were still waiting for him, Yuri sprawled out against a wall and Repede draped across his legs. They'd obviously been up to something, but whatever it was, they were done, though Yuri still grinned and got to his feet when he saw him.
"I was beginning to think they weren't going to let you out of there today."
"They nearly didn't," Flynn replied, but he was smiling as he said it. Somehow, the bright sun and the prospect of spending the rest of the day with Yuri and Repede made the frustrations of bureaucracy seem distant and unimportant.
There was a time when Yuri would have shied away from going outside the barrier, when it wouldn't have even occurred to him as something they could do. And even if it had, Flynn would never have gone along with it; even when they were kids, there had always been limits to how far he was willing to go when it came to things that were supposed to be dangerous. But now that they were Knights (well, Knights-in-training, but it was close enough to the same thing as far as he was concerned), he didn't think anything of it. Why shouldn't they go outside? They could handle themselves. Even Flynn didn't protest, and Repede just looked pleased to be there at all, holding his tail high and walking determinedly, pipe clutched tightly between his teeth.
"I figured we could let him chase some things, maybe get rid of some energy."
"You want to let him fight monsters?" Flynn gave Yuri a look best described as "doubtful", with overtones of "are you insane?" - an expression that Yuri answered with the cocky grin he often reserved for just such occasions.
"Why not? We'll be here to back him up. He'll love it." Yuri put his hand on his hip, still grinning. "I'd thought you'd like the idea – we'd be training on our day off."
"That's hardly training, Yuri," he pointed out, but Flynn was smiling as he said it. He never could quite resist that grin, especially not when he was right. As long as they didn't go too far from town, they'd probably be just fine.
In the time it had taken him to say it, Yuri had already turned to Repede and sent him off in pursuit of an interesting scent trail, not bothering to wait for Flynn's assent. There wasn't any reason to wait; he already knew he'd agree.
Flynn watched Repede run off for a moment before he started after him, shaking his head a little as he walked. "How is it that he understands you perfectly when you tell him something like that, but you can't get him to stop chewing my boots?"
Yuri was already ahead of him, nearly running, just as though they were still in Zaphias and perfectly safe. He didn't turn around when he answered, but Flynn could still hear the smile in his voice. "Maybe your boots are extra delicious and he just can't help himself."
"My boots are exactly the same as yours," he protested, but his heart wasn't in it – despite himself, Flynn was grinning, too, as he followed Yuri to see whatever adventures Repede could find for the three of them. He could already hear him barking; he must have found something. Out here, it was unlikely to be anything too big and, as he increased his speed to catch up with the two of them, he found himself grinning in anticipation. However much he might protest - always insisting on worrying about rules and safety because he knew someone had to do it - he enjoyed this kind of thing every bit as much as Yuri did.
Afterwards, when they finally returned to their room in the barracks, they found themselves with a different problem. All three of them were tired and dirty – a problem that was simple to remedy for the two humans. For Repede, however, it was more complicated.
Yuri stared at his dog thoughtfully. It was almost impressive that one small dog could get so dirty so quickly, the white sections of his fur a dingy gray after only a single afternoon. "Maybe we could just leave him that way?" he asked hopefully, but he already knew the answer.
"Only if he's sleeping on your bed. And you have to be the one to explain what happened to your sheets."
As much as he didn't like the reply, Yuri couldn't even be upset with Flynn for it – not when he was right. "He's not going to like this," he said, to no one in particular, before squatting down to more easily pick up the puppy who was already giving him wary looks. "Okay, Repede – time for you to take a bath."
Bath, luckily, was a word Repede didn't yet know, though he gave Yuri some trouble just for picking him up: growling a warning, though he didn't quite snap at him. "I know, I know – it's undignified. Just tolerate it for awhile."
Once they reached the bathroom, though, Repede took one look at the tub of water and started to struggle in earnest, even dropping his pipe in his efforts to get away. "At times like this," Flynn commented, catching him before he escaped and dunking him in the water, "I wish he weren't so smart."
"You and me both." Yuri approached with the shampoo, squirting it haphazardly at the squirming dog and, naturally, managing to hit Flynn with it as well, leaving a long streak of shiny white along one bare forearm. "Oops, sorry, Flynn." Though he wasn't that sorry, as both his tone and expression made perfectly obvious. "Guess it's a good thing you remembered to roll up your sleeves." Yuri, of course, hadn't and his were already wet, soaked nearly to the elbow just from Repede's splashing.
"Just hurry up and rub that in."
Yuri smirked at that statement, but let it go for the moment – that one was way too easy. Instead, he dropped to his knees and reached for the dog, rubbing shampoo into blue-and-white fur as quickly as he could with the way he was struggling. "All right, that's probably as good as it'll get. Hold him just a little longer so I can rinse this off."
Rinsing it off, of course, mostly involved splashing water over all three of them, not just Repede. Yuri didn't bother to apologize this time; Flynn wouldn't have believed it if he had. For good reason, of course – he wasn't even trying to be careful. Flynn got his own back, though, abandoning their task entirely once most of the shampoo was gone in favor of splashing Yuri. By the time they were done, all three of them were soaked and the bathroom was a mess, but it had been enough fun that Yuri didn't even complain about Flynn insisting they clean it up before going back to their room. A still-damp and glaring Repede accompanied them, refusing to look at either human.
As he watched Repede crawl into his dog bed, already yawning, Yuri looked over at Flynn with a smile. "I bet he won't chew your boots again for at least another week."