Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Kyo Kara Maoh, this is purely fan-made!

Chapter 8: For What It's Worth

Later that evening, after they left Berias and Sara alone for awhile, Yuri couldn't help but feel an odd sense of wonder. Of course, all of them had been startled by the unexpected revelation, but Yuri seemed to have taken it the most personally. Especially because how it had affected Sara to finally learn what his dreams meant; that his long lost twin brother, Yelshi, was reaching out to him, desperate to be heard.

He kept thinking about the way Yelshi looked at Sara in the vision. The way he held Sara's hand like that; holding it in the way that Yuri always envisioned twins doing. Yuri remembered how when he was little, he used to hold Shori's hand just like that. His tiny hand would get lost in Shori's larger one and it always felt so warm. So safe, protective, and loving...

There had been a time when Yuri worshiped his elder brother, looked up to him, and tailed him wherever he went. But as Yuri grew older, he had started to want to be more independent. So the hand that Yuri had first been seen as safety soon became something that was holding him back in his eyes. Shori, however, had never grown out of his big-brother-mode. He remained overprotective of his younger brother.

Nowadays, it was always Shori who was tailing after Yuri all the time...

So it wasn't like Yuri didn't understand what it was like to be brothers. However, he DID still have a bit of a hard time picturing Sara as a twin. Twins, after all, were an entirely separate breed of brother to Yuri. There were all sorts of other twins, like fraternal twins, and there were even triplets too. Yuri could sort imagine what it was like, to be a twin because he had a brother, but Sara had always given off that 'only child' vibe.

Even when Sara was around Yuri when he was talking about his own brother, he never seemed to be the type of person who would understand what it meant to have siblings. It was like the words 'family' or 'brother' didn't register with him. Of course, that made sense since Sara had never had either in his life before.

The way Yuri saw it, twins in general usually had an entirely different bond with each other than normal siblings did anyway. They were born together at relatively the same time so there was never that much of an age difference between them. Also, twins hardly ever kept secrets with each other because somehow, they always seemed to know what the other was thinking or feeling; Yuri had even heard once that when one twin was hurt, the other felt it too.

Yuri was jolted back to reality, after having been lazily pondering all this, when Conrad called his name and asked, "Is something wrong Yuri? You've seem unusually quite."

He blinked, "What? No, I'm fine. I was just thinking about brothers..."

"Brothers?" Conrad asked, gaining a questioning look from Wolfram when they stopped.

"Yeah," Yuri nodded, "I mean, we SAW Yelshi and I'm sure he really is Sara's twin because they look exactly alike but I'm having a hard time picturing Sara as the brotherly type. Yet, when he talked about Yelshi, Sara seemed so affectionate even though they've never actually met before. Although maybe that's only because I'm not a twin and I don't understand that kind of unexplained feeling. And then I was thinking about how the three of you aren't exactly your typical trio of brothers either. You, Gwendal, and Wolfram all have difference personalities and backgrounds. But Sara, he's just-" Yuri sighed, sounding frustrated at himself for not being able to find the right words before he finally said, "-I dunno, Sara's just so self assured about his life. Or at least he was up until now. I mean, if I had a twin that I didn't know about, I'd feel kinda hollow inside without them. You know, because that person was once a part of me. Sara doesn't seem to feel like that though, at least, not that I can tell. Even now, he seem so certain of who he is and what he wants out of life. And I begin to wonder..." he avoided Conrad's eyes as Yuri asked them unsurely, "...when Sara finally did start to become my friend for real, was he just projecting that unconscious longing for Yelshi on me? Am I just a stand in for this long lost brother of his? I'd like to think I'm not but I'm just not sure. Although-" Yuri laughed nervously, "-I never know what Sara's thinking. He's too good at hiding things from me. Even when Sara told us that he feels compelled to tell me the truth about himself, I can't help but think that there's a lot more to that feeling that even Sara doesn't realize. Maybe he was searching for someone like Yelshi in me. Someone he could trust and share his friendship with like he would have with him. I can't hold that against Sara because even though it kinda hurts to imagine that right now, Sara is still using me to replace his brother, I want to help him. And I think the way to do that is to help them find Yelshi. Wherever he is..."


Yelshi moaned when he was finally able to force his eyes open. It was always like this after Alaric punished him. His whole body felt feverish and sensitive to any sudden movements. At times, Yelshi would shutter as a wild rush of heat rippled across his skin whenever he shifted too quickly, only to go numb again a moment later, feeling colder than before. Yelshi's mind buzzed pleasantly though, as if he were drunk, and for a moment, he could almost forget the pain that had torn through him only hours before.

That was Alaric's favorite method of torture; he would break through Yelshi's defenses and leave him as raw and exposed to the elements as an unfurled rose. Blooming with an inebriated beauty, only distantly aware of the bitter frost biting at its skin. It was to remind Yelshi that not only could he hurt him, but he could give him such bliss that it drowned everything else out of his mind. Sort of like a twisted version of exposing Yelshi's sins and then granting him the relief of repentance...

The perfect way to desensitize him...

Truly, Alaric was a very iniquitous man indeed, but he was not above a small amount of genuine compassion. Despite his cruelty, in a contorted way, Alaric really did cherish Yelshi in a way that others would never understand. Yelshi was everything to Alaric. And he deeply desired to be viewed as a father to him. Perhaps, even something more, given time.

Dizzily, as Yelshi laid there in the soft folds of satin around his body, he wondered, What have I done this time to upset him?

Yelshi hadn't forgotten about Sara; that was beyond Alaric's power to take from him. Yet, there was a strange gap in his memory that was unmistakably made by Alaric. So, Yelshi reasoned, he must have done something that Alaric didn't want him to. The thought made Yelshi grin for a moment but he felt lightheaded and was forced to close his eyes again until it passed.

He felt smothered in those heavy layers of cloth wrapped around him but couldn't muster the will to try and get up. The weight soon became so oppressive that Yelshi feared that it would consume him. Yelshi felt so hot. Yet he knew that his skin was actually cold so it was better for him to remain where he was or else his skin would become dangerously chilled.

It was about then, when Yelshi began to sink into a fitful sleep and his eyes fluttered closed, he became only dimly aware that someone was talking to him softly and holding his hand sympathetically. His fingers twitched slightly as a pair of smooth, kind hands gently folded around his.

When Yelshi gathered the strength to tilt his head in her direction, despite the flushed feeling it left to do so, he stared at her with an unfocused gaze. He had no idea who it was, but she seemed oddly familiar...

Then Yelshi realized it was that same servant girl from before, the one from the gardens...

She was young, only about in her early twenties or so, and had only just begun working at the Manor. All of the servants here usually went through vigorous interviews by Alaric personally or one of Yelshi's other Keepers before even being remotely considered to work here. And once they entered, each one had to swear never to leave the grounds. At least not unless accompanied by a guard who knew how to get through the barriers that Alaric had personally erected around the place.

Yelshi's other Keepers, consisting of several others that served directly under Alaric, were not as involved with Yelshi as he was and the servants weren't either. Which Alaric agreed was very wise of them; knowing what he would do if they tried to get too close to Yelshi when they knew that he belonged to Alaric. But this girl was different, maybe only because she was new there...

The other servants usually kept their distance from Yelshi. And on the rare occasion when they did make any contact with him, it was all strictly formal. Full of false smiles and pleasantries that masked their contempt towards Yelshi. They all thought that Yelshi was spoiled and apathetic. The other servants knew nothing about his past except that Yelshi was a prince that had only been kept in such strict isolation because of his frail body.

Part of this WAS true, but otherwise, the rest of it was a complete lie. Yelshi wasn't here for his health. Alaric was waiting for something to happen, to awaken in this young man. And he would keep Yelshi there until it surfaced. A time which, Alaric sensed, was approaching quickly...

As for the girl, Yelshi wanted to ask for her name and apologize for his behavior before but before he could stop himself, he slipped into oblivion. Where he soon discovered to his horror that he couldn't enter Sara's dreams anymore. Not that Yelshi remembered having had recently created a new link thanks to Alaric, who had managed to sever their first tie connecting them through their dreams.

But, at least Yelshi was still able to sense Sara's emotions, his thoughts. Even though it was just as faint as before, at least, Yelshi knew that in a small way, he had thwarted whatever Alaric had tried to steal from him...


At first, Sara only thought that Berias said he was tired in order to be able to talk to him alone for awhile, but it soon became clear that he actually was. This sort of thing had happened before, when Sara was shot. Berias had worked nonstop through those sleepless nights trying to heal his King, blacking out several times. This time was hardly any different...

Only this time, what had happened to Sara was beyond his ability to heal...

The matters of the heart cannot be healed by magic. Only words, and only feelings have that sort of power. Yet, it had been words that Berias had been unable to express to Sara. At least, until now.

That regret of allowing Yelshi to supposedly die had always haunted Berias in a way it had never haunted his sister. She was always the strong one. Able to go above and beyond her own guilt to do what was best for their Kingdom; even at the cost of losing both of her beloved children. One, to the grave, and the other, to the human King of Small Shimaron that she had once loved.

Berias had always been duty bound and in all other regards, he was able to keep his emotions in check. But, when it came to his family, the people he loved the most, Berias could not contain himself. He had a strong sense of duty, however, his sense of family was stronger still...

His family was the most important thing to Berias. That's why he had accepted King Gilbert being a part of his elder sister's life because he was the first person to make her that happy in such a long time. Although Berias had never felt inclined to start his own family, he had look forward to helping raise the twin princes that were soon going to enter their lives. And despite the protests of the Council and the slow decline of Seisakoku's magic, they had been happy.

That in turn, made Berias happy.

The two of them had been so in love that Berias thought that nothing could tear them apart. But after Yelshi's passing, something had changed in his sister. She began to blame the loss of her first born child on failing to restore Seisakoku and their powers.

Alazon came to believe that losing Yelshi was her punishment for failing in her own duty to the Kingdom and not having enough power to save him. Therefore, Alazon grew more distant and less loving in her regards to King Gilbert. He sensed this, and in turn, King Gilbert began to close his heart from her knowing what was going to happen next...

Alazon sent King Gilbert and their remaining son away, having had agreed at last to the will of the Council. Although, it could hardly be called a Council anymore because Alaric hadn't been the only one to leave. Several others had followed soon after, as the country fell further and further into despair.

Soon, there was no Councilmen at all and only Alazon remained to lead their people. That's when Berias and his sister departed in hopes of recovering the Divine Sword and perhaps saving Seisakoku and the memory of the happiness they had once known...

"Berias..." Sara called, shaking him slightly.

Berias blinked, not having been aware that he had fallen asleep until he felt Sara shaking his shoulder. Apparently, Berias had dozed off and fallen over sometime after Yuri and the others had left. And Sara would have let Berias sleep if it wasn't for the fact that he needed to talk to him.

Sitting back up and then standing, Berias apologized, "Forgive me King Saralegui, I didn't notice that I was falling asleep."

Sara smiled sweetly, "Don't be. You really do seem very tired, and I wouldn't have woken you just now but-" he tossed his covers aside and swung his legs over the end of the bed before attempting to stand beside Berias when, unexpectedly, his legs gave out and he staggered right into Berias's arms.

"Saralegui!" Berias gasped in alarm, "You're still unwell and you haven't eaten anything for the last few days. Please, get back into bed."

Sara blinked, surprised at the fatherly tone in Berias's voice just now and obediently sat down. Feeling confused, Sara pointed it out to Berias, "You've changed..."

"What?" Berias gaped, standing before Sara and looking down at him, "How so?"

Shaking his head, Sara replied, "Everything is changing, Berias. Things I thought were certain have all changed before I even realized it was happening. For example, just now, you used my name instead of calling me 'Your Majesty' or 'Your Highness.' You've become emboldened," he chuckled weakly, "So, you've decided to abandon your distance between who I am as your King and as your beloved nephew is that it? I never asked you to do that..."

"But Your-" Berias began but Sara snapped-

"Don't! Just don't..." Sara bent forward and gripped his shoulders, as if to brace against a wave of cold, and several strands of golden hair fell across his face. Then, laughing, Sara's eyes narrowed and he stared unfocused at the floor as he said, "I understand why you kept Yelshi a secret from me. Just as I understand now why you've been serving so loyally by my side all these years. You were afraid of losing me and leaving me in the hands of my father, a man that you knew wouldn't be able to understand me or how I felt because Yelshi was gone. But, it's more than that, isn't it? You knew I would feel this awful emptiness, that's why when I took an interest in Yuri, you saved him. It was all for my sake. Everything you've done since leaving my mother, all of it, was for my sake. And I've never even properly thanked you for any of it. Still-" he looked up and tossed his hair out of his face, "-even knowing all that, it feels wrong to have you act this way. Like we're family. I know we're related but, I need you as my bodyguard, Berias, nothing more. Because if I allow you to be more, then I won't be able to stop myself from treating you as something more and others will use that against me. Even when Lord Weller captured you, I felt your absence like a hole in my chest. I never realized how much I depended on you until you were forcefully taken from me. I can't afford to feel like that again. You've kept secrets from me, however, you're still the only man I can trust with my life. Yet, if I am to remain as I am, even once we figure out what to do in regards to my brother, I have to ask you to resume that emotional distance between us. Please, I can't keep letting members of my family keep leaving me so shaken when they're the ones who decided not to be a part of my life. Yelshi didn't have a choice, and maybe he didn't know I was alive either but still, I can't let these events dictate my future as Small Shimaron's King..."

Berias had expected as much but he was still stunned. He hadn't even realized he had been acting that way either. In fact, Berias was sure he wasn't. So perhaps, Sara was interpreting his behavior that way, instead of what it actually was...

Even so, Sara had a point...

Therefore, taking Sara's words to heart, Berias knelt before Sara once more and vowed, "I am yours, my King, in whatever way you wish me to be. If you wish me to remain in your service as your faithful guardian, I shall do so. That's all I want." But, a rare smile touched his lips and Berias said warmly, "For what it's worth though, I will always be your uncle whenever you need me to be. I will always be prepared to lay aside the bodyguard and tell you more about my life as it truly was. How my sister, truly was. I'm sure that once we rescue your twin brother, he'll want to know as well."