El Tango De Yuuri
Hello, everyone! BE here with a kind of character study of Yuuri, and the role of being a ruler. I wrote another fic like this called Inner Turmoil, also about Yuuri. I should try to write more about the other characters, but Yuuri just fascinates me, and I don't think he gets enough representation in this fandom archive. Please read this fic, and tell me what you think. It's the second time I've done something like this, and its considerably darker than my last attempt. Please enjoy, and don't forget to review.
Summary: What could a king and a prostitute have in common?
Warnings; dark themes, prostitution, drug references.
Pairings: Yuuram, implied YuurixOthers
* * * * * * * * * * ETDY * * * * * * * * * *
'It is quiet now,' He thought to himself as the wind whispered through the hallway outside his room at the late hour, the only sound he heard at all others were gone for the night. It was only him, and the crickets awake at this time of night, like every night.
White sheets contrasted against the coverlet that was colored black in the darkness in the large room. The only weak light was from the moon that cast blue beams against the walls and the ornate rug. Everything was colored black, blue, grey and white, shadows loomed beyond the foot of his bed. The fire in the hearth went out hours ago, the room was just beginning to cool down, evening itself to the cool, early fall temperature outside.
Tonight was the night, his first taste of freedom in almost four weeks. He had stopped his nightly activities after his retainers grew suspicious of the leaves, and twigs caught on his pants in the morning, now he went out less, and made sure to pick his clothing of all detrimental materials before he crawled back into bed.
He slowly sat up with a groan, a dull ache shooting down his spine into his rear, a sharp reminder of his earlier encounter after a tense dinner with his in-laws. The sheets easily give way at his movements, revealing his tanned skin, but the darkness hid the various bruises, and love bites that peppered the smooth expanse of his chest, his back against the pillow hid the scratches from his very eager husband. Kiss-swollen lips sigh heavily as he arched his back to stretch away the stiffness, and sore muscles from his earlier escapade.
A snort, a grunt, Yuuri froze in place as his blonde spouse shifted roughly in his sleep. A sluggish arm reached out to him, but Yuuri leaned away from the groping hand. He was no longer in the mood for affection. He had spent the entire day indulging Wolfram's advances and appeasing his in-laws. He didn't have the energy or the patience to do it in his "off-time."
When the groping hand stilled and the other man's breathing returned to normal, only then did Yuuri dare to swing his legs over the side of the bed and with a final cautionary glance, he stood and made his way to his wardrobe. He suppressed a shudder when his bare feet touched the cold floor, reminding him that the maids were cleaning the rugs today and hadn't returned them yet. He knew he should feel irritated at their unpunctual behavior, but he wasn't in the mood to care. He wasn't in the mood for a lot of things anymore.
He reached out to open the heavy wooden door of the wardrobe. Out of habit, he opened it slowly, even though he religiously oiled the hinges himself everyday. He even kept a little bottle in his underwear drawer should the opportunity to silence the hinges present itself.
He had the layout of his clothes memorized. His cloak was always at the very end of the right-hand side of the wardrobe, his scarf, hat and gloves were shoved in the pockets. He carefully lifted the cloak form its hanger, occasionally glancing back at his bed, paranoid of each gentle little swish the cloth made as it moved. He doubted if Wolfram had superhuman hearing, but he did have a sixth sense when it came to his husband's movements. Wolfram had the unique ability to locate Yuuri anywhere from any spot in the castle, no matter what. This ability only heightened when Yuuri deliberately hid himself in the bowels of the palace.
With a practiced air, Yuuri donned his cloak, gloves, hat and scarf. He threw on some socks, then his boots, and then, possessing uncanny stealth, slipped out the door the bedroom.
When his retainers asked him once why he kept the hinges oiled, he told them that the creaking bothered him and that in Japan it was considered lowbrow to neglect the door hinges. Yuuri was actually amazed that they believed him and let him keep oiling the hinges as he saw fit, thinking yet another aspect of their king's eccentric upbringing. Yuuri didn't press the issue, making a note that he could exploit their ignorance of his culture to his advantage some other time. One perk for no longer bothering to educate them about his life on Earth. It was just as well, no one ever showed any interest in his native culture if it wasn't to mock it in some way. So he didn't bother and used it to his profit.
A gentle click and he was out in the hallway but far from home free. The hall was pitch black, the torches had been put out hours ago. He had timed his escape perfectly, the guards were changing posts, thus giving him a minute or two of no guards to hinder his journey. He knew he could just order them to be quiet and they would have to obey, but he didn't trust them not to mention it to his chief of state in the morning.
He pondered briefly that he shouldn't be so distrustful of them. They were after all, under his rule and they were obligated to obey him. He still felt that they would easily give under the intense glare of the general despite the orders of their soft-hearted and far less intimidating King.
He should probably be harsher. He should probably exercise more authority when dealing with his subordinates. However, that would threaten the careful visage Yuuri had created out of his innocent image, which had as many benefits as it did burdens. He could get away with more for one thing. He was held less accountable for his daily actions and had servants who would willingly do things for him rather than look to him to do things.
That's why it was so easy to go on these nightly escapades, no one suspected the sweet child king to ever contemplate such a reckless act, much less carry it out with the same surreptitiousness that rivaled Yozak Grie, the go-to spy for all things secret and covert.
He walked down the hall with silent steps, keeping his feet on the long carpet to silence the clicking of his boots. He counted one-two-forty paces in the darkness and turned left, hand feeling for the fifth tapestry on the left side of the hallway. His fingers caught a woven fringe and lifted the corner, revealing the narrow door disguised as a wooden panel. He felt along the ornately carved edges until he felt the sixth ivy leaf from the top. He gently pushed it in and the door creaked open. He would have to oil that again soon. It was harder to oil the secret doors, there was too much risk of being seen during the day and time was precious at night if he wanted to make it out of the castle grounds in time.
He glanced over his shoulder and was satisfied that no one had caught him. He ducked into the short passageway, pulling the little door shut behind him, leaving the hallway as if he had never been there.
One hand gripping his cloak tighter, the other blindly feeling along the wet stone, cursing when he nearly stumbled to his death over a loose brick, Yuuri trudged along the dark escape tunnel. For maybe the umpteenth time, he wondered by he didn't bring a torch or flashlight from earth or something. For maybe the umpteenth time, Yuuri told himself that it would be too risky; the sharp light from a torch or flashlight would stand out against the inky blackness of Blood Pledge castle at two in the morning. He couldn't risk someone seeing the light from under the cracks of the little escape door. It would cause an uproar and then he would be caught, his adventures brought to a crashing halt and the last of his freedom would be gone.
He could feel the passageway grow colder, and a weak draft brushed against his face, he knew he was close to the bottom now. Three more steps and his hand touched another little door. This time, he could see the dim light from the outdoor torches gleaming through the spaces.
A few more steps and he was home-free. His escape was timed perfectly. The night guards were changing posts and there was a two minute gap where he could sneak out one of the centuries old escape doors that had rotted away and made for an easy get away.
Slipping past the unmanned guard post and out the rotten door, Yuuri was met with the wide expanse of the Demon Capital at night. The stars were bright and clear, the half-moon hung lazily above the stone and thatch roof houses of the city that stretch out almost to the horizon. Beyond that, Yuuri could see the mountain range that marked the edge of the Bielefeld territory.
Yuuri stole a brief glance at the palace. The great towers loomed over the city, the black silhouette blocked the stars from his view and created an intimidating outline against the purple-black sky.
For the briefest of moments, Yuuri felt guilt and anxiety. He really shouldn't be doing this. He shouldn't be risking his safety. He was ultimately being very selfish and careless. What if he was caught? What if Wolfram awoke in the night and noticed he was gone? They would be so worried.
Yuuri frowned and shook his head. They wouldn't awake. Wolfram had drank plenty of wine at dinner – his own method for dealing with his difficult and imposing relatives - and was out of commission until morning when Yuuri would appear, all smiles and cheerful words, holding a remedy for a hangover while Greta chirped in that adorable way and they were all one happy family.
Wolfram…if Yuuri knew that anyone would be hurt by his actions, it would be Wolfram. The blond had not let go of his jealousy and maybe Yuuri was really to blame. He was the best spouse he could be to Wolfram and felt genuine affection for the other man, but their relationship was tinged by distrust on both sides. As long as that distrust existed, they could never be a true couple.
His decision made, Yuuri turned his back to the ornate palace that he had come to know as home and as prison. He left behind his duties, his family, and his identity to mingle among those that polite society forgot and scorned. The people who truly understood him.
It had been on a whim the first time he ventured into the gutters of the Demon City. After an argument with Wolfram and an accusation of being "wimpy and timid" Yuuri wanted to get back at those who still saw him as a sweet child and prove that he was an adult and their equal.
Yuuri felt that they only respected him as far as he was their king. It was simply out of duty, not personal conviction that made the likes of Gwendal, Gunter and Wolfram adhere to their rank. Conrad was a little different and patronizing in his own way. Yuuri had come to dislike the always present smiles because they had become a source of suspicion rather than comfort as Yuuri knew that Conrad hid secrets behind those gentle smiles.
Yuuri had many roles to play, and many things to be for different people. He was a godson to Conrad, playful, happy, innocent and always ready for a run or a round of catch. He was a pencil pusher for Gwendal, signing papers, going over treatises, documents, proposals and declarations from dawn to dusk to keep the kingdom going. He was the dutiful student to Gunter's maddening lectures that were more fluff than anything substantial. This lineage versus that lineage, the 12th Maou's favorite drinks. It was all superficial to Yuuri as he grew older, he steadily lost patience for Gunter's babbling.
This was Yuuri's only opportunity for freedom. The underbelly of the city cared little for runaway kings, not when there was sex and booze to be had. They really couldn't care less who was among them as long as they got their drinks and women.
He reached the bottom of the steep hill upon which the castle sat. He continued on his way into the city streets, the sounds of the capital nightlife met him as he strolled down the main road that cut through the center of the city.
It was very late. The streets were mostly empty except for the occasional stray cat and homeless bum leaning against a building. Yuuri tightened the hood around his head to hide his dark hair – not that anyone could really tell in the lack of light.
Yuuri walked a few more blocks before turning sharply to the right down a narrow alley way. It was here, he always become nervous as the shadows could easily hide any thief or murderer waiting for an easy target. The bag of gold coins jingled at his side dangerously and he hoped that they wouldn't alert his presence to any unwanted eyes.
He felt his magic ripple up underneath his skin like an electrical current coursing through his veins, ready to defend himself at the slightest notice. Luckily, Yuuri went unbothered and he stepped into a wide street lined with red tinted lamps.
He was in "downtown Shin Makoku" as he called it. Here was where the untouchables and the unwanted thrived, out of the light and out of the sight of the upstanding citizens. The streets were crowded with con artists, deformed freaks, prostitutes, pimps, and smugglers, weaving among the booths that made up the Shin Makoku black market.
Yuuri turned a blind eye to the crime going on around him. He would have tried to better the lives of the working class and poor, but right now, he was just one man and this was the world they had created for themselves when the upper-class abandoned them to their own devices and survival. Yuuri sympathized with these people, Japan still had very strict class systems despite being one of the most advanced nations in the world. There were still racist sentiments towards immigrants, especially Chinese and Koreans. The same could be said for here - these parts of the city were populated by the half-breed bastard children of the nobility and their disgraced kin.
Yuuri felt no fear as he walked past the booths loaded with smuggled goods and the rough slang that was spat back and forth between the hagglers. A few roughly shoved each other out of the paranoia of being swindled. Yuuri expertly weaved around them, completely unnoticed, doggedly set on his destination.
A left turn around an opium den, straight down an alley lined with prostitutes and Yuuri reached his destination.
As if she was was expecting him, the house Madame stood in the doorway to the "inn." She made no indication that she knew who he really was as he walked up to stand before her. She already knew – Yuuri was one of her regulars and he paid her handsomely for her ignorance.
"Good evenin', sir," She drawled, voice raspy from years of heavy smoking. "You're a little later than usual."
"Took a little longer to leave," Yuuri said as he walked past her into the house.
The Madame grinned knowingly. "The missus couldn't sleep, eh?"
Yuuri visibly tensed at her words. He pushed away the familiar pang of guilt and shame at his own selfishness. Wolfram was sleeping safely in their room and he was out here, risking his life without his retainers knowing.
Yuuri threw his cloak roughly onto a hanger as he walked quickly up the stairs. The half-clothed women – and young men - draped over the laps of the other patrons held no interest for him. He already had his pick and he knew exactly where he was.
Yuuri stopped at the second door to the left in the long hallway. The dull sounds of laughter, drinking and raucous music echoed behind him as he knocked on the narrow door. He only had to wait a moment before the door slowly creaked open and revealed the small room's single occupant.
A bright smile greeted him and the tightness in Yuuri's heart loosened a little.
"Yuuri," the young man breathed, happy to see his first and only customer.
"Hello, Mikhail," Yuuri said just as warmly. "May I come in?"
"Of course you can!" Mikhail said, standing back to let Yuuri enter and gesturing towards the edge of the narrow bed, the room's only piece of furniture. "You can always come into my room, dear Yuuri."
"Thanks," Yuuri muttered and sat down heavily on the bed with a loud creak. "May I have something to drink? It's a little hot tonight."
"Of course," Mikhail said and immediately went to the cabinet on the wall to fetch some wine. "It's been a hard summer."
"It has," Yuuri mumbled absently.
Yuuri watched Mikhail glide about the room as he prepared his drink. Mikhail moved with the practiced grace of a courtesan, his every move meant to entice and tempt his patrons, but so far he remained completely untouched by lustful men, thanks to Yuuri's intervention and money.
It was by accident Yuuri had met Mikhail. It was during his first night sneaking out of the palace. He had felt stifled and oppressed by the constant eyes of his retainers and in a burst of teen rebellion decided that he would explore the city on his own. At the time, Yuuri told himself that it was so he could observe the citizens of Shin Makoku in their natural state without the pretenses and protocol of an official tour of the city.
It had been a wake up call for Yuuri. It was then he was introduced to Shin Makoku's underbelly and those whose poverty and destitution ultimately supported the wealthy people who surrounded Yuuri every single day. Yuuri had seen the sick, the wounded, the outcasts and the dangerous that lurked beyond the smiling faces of the "decent" folk that Yuuri came in contact with regularly.
It was during this revelation that Yuuri happened upon an auction. He came upon a rickety wooden stage surrounded by people. A burly man stood on the stage, holding a long chain attached to Mikhail's collar.
It was a "special" going on at the brothel. They had acquired a new prostitute, a virgin boy from Dai Shimaron, "completely untouched" the seller bragged as he forced the naked boy to turn around and show off his slim frame to the leering crowd.
Yuuri was outraged at this, and without thinking, he outbid the other men and threw the coins at the surprised and very pleased seller who graciously showed Yuuri into the brothel and the Madame led him and his new "whore for the night" to the room where they now met nearly once a week.
Yuuri didn't know why he did it. He guessed it was pity and outrage at the boy's fate. Mikhail was so young and frail looking, like a small animal thrown at the mercy of the predatory crowd. Yuuri wanted to save him from his horrible fate and in his classic impulsiveness, paid for Mikhail and he would continue to pay for Mikhail every night to ensure that he never fell victim to those perverts.
Mikhail finished preparing the wine, which consisted of pouring into a faded copper goblet. With great ceremony, he handed the cup to Yuuri's waiting hand and watched him expectantly as the king took an experimental sip and sighed in satisfaction before setting the cup down at his feet.
"Will you take your pleasure from me, my lord?" Mikhail asked huskily, but there was a hint of sarcasm in his voice. He already knew Yuuri's answer.
"No, Mikhail," Yuuri said as he always said when he came to visit the young man. "I just came to see how you are doing."
Mikhail shrugged and plopped down next to Yuuri. "There's nothing new to say. I am comfortable here. I dress, eat, and live better than the other whores in this place. No one bothers me and the Madame makes sure that the other patrons don't touch me, as per your orders, my Lord."
Yuuri grunted in satisfaction. He paid the Madame every week out of his personal account to Mikhail's care. He sent clothing, books, food and anything else he could think of to make Mikhail's life just a little easier – just shy of actually letting him move to the castle.
"That's good," Yuuri said after a short pause.
"Yes, it is," Mikhail said sweetly. He reached up and brushed a stray lock of hair out of Yuuri's eyes. The gesture reminded Yuuri of the countless times Wolfram had fixed his hair and fussed over his appearance.
"I wish there was some way I could repay you, my kind Lord," Mikhail purred, hand drifting down Yuuri's chest.
"You repay me with your friendship," Yuuri said, gently taking Mikhail's hand and placing it in the other boy's lap.
Mikhail sighed. "You know, most patrons expect something in exchange for their financial support, especially patrons who can afford to pay as much as you."
"I don't want that from you," Yuuri said. "I have a husband."
Mikhail laughed mirthlessly. "Every man who comes to this place has a husband or a wife and yet it doesn't matter. They pay for sex and we give it to them. And yet you pay more than all of them combined to not have sex. How does that make sense?"
It really didn't…from a business standpoint, but that wasn't the issue for Yuuri.
"My married sex life is gratifying enough for me," Yuuri replied, ignoring the pain in his posterior from his earlier encounter with Wolfram's affections.
"So why are you here and not with your beautiful husband, King Yuuri?" Mikhail asked, pinning Yuuri under his intense stare.
Yuuri picked up the previously forgotten cup and swirled the liquid around nervously. "I needed to get away. I needed an escape."
Yuuri had never explained to Mikhail why he visited the man or why he paid to make sure that no one touched Mikhail when he was absent.
Mikhail was quiet for a moment and looked away from Yuuri thoughtfully. "Madame checks my bed sheets every morning after your visits. She asked me why they are always so clean and she accused me of not doing my job properly."
"She hasn't realized you're still a virgin," Yuuri filled in the blanks. "What do you tell her?"
"That you take your pleasure from my mouth."
Yuuri couldn't help but blush at Mikhail's blunt response. To this day, any frank talk of sex made him slightly squeamish. He was still very Japanese and such talk was improper.
Mikhail locked gazes with Yuuri. His grey eyes bored into Yuuri's soul and the king felt that the young prostitute could see right through him and his secrets. This young human male stolen from his country seemed to perceive Yuuri with more clarity than his closest friends. Mikhail could see that the sweet, innocent, and cheerful king everyone thought Yuuri to be was an outdated notion.
"Why does the preservation of my innocence concern you so, your Majesty?" Mikhail asked, genuinely curious and unable to hide the confusion at his only patron's actions any longer even though he was taught to never question his clients' motives. Especially not when they paid as handsomely as Yuuri.
Yuuri really didn't know how to answer the simple and yet not that simple question. Mikhail did deserve to know why Yuuri had taken such an interest in him and not want to fornicate with him at all. It went against the logic of this underworld that Mikhail called home and Yuuri called his sanctuary.
"Because you remind me of how I was before I became the Demon King," Yuuri said finally, staring into the cup of wine. "When I was young and innocent like you…"
"I…don't understand…" Mikhail whispered, watching Yuuri intently.
Yuuri sighed, he really didn't know how to put it into words. "You and I….have a lot in common…"
"We do?" Mikhail was clearly confused. "You, a king, have something in common with a virgin whore like me? That makes no sense!"
"I know it doesn't make sense," Yuuri said apologetically. "But…we kind of do…"
"Please, explain this to me…"Mikhail waited patiently for Yuuri's answer.
"Well…" Yuuri gestured vaguely as he searched for the right words. "You are innocent yes and you've been thrown into this world where you're forced to sell yourself to people. You have to play into their fantasies, their desires and perversions in order to survive. You pretend to be their devoted lover. You talk with them, flirt, play games, dance and sing for their entertainment. You create this illusion for them and you immerse yourself in it…but at the end of the day, you left alone. They don't love you or care about you. They only care about what you are to them, not what you are in reality. "
"But, you are the Demon King!" Mikhail countered. "The historians hail you as the greatest king this kingdom has ever known! You are beloved by all and certainly, your retainers are devoted to you."
Yuuri smiled sadly. "Yes, everyone has fallen in love with my ideals of peace and friendship….I came during a time when Shin Makoku's future was threatened, the people needed a savior and I unwittingly became that for them. They fell in love with the idea of what I was and could do…they never really loved me for me."
"But your ideals came true!"
"But, it's never infinite…"
"Nothing is infinite, your Majesty," Mikhail said gently, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. "But that fact that you were able to accomplish what you did...and at such a young age…You defeated the odds that were set against you and that is what made the people adore you."
"I know," Yuuri sighed. "I…I really don't want to sound selfish or ungrateful. I love that the people look up to me and believe in me. I'm glad that I was able to better their lives and create the stability they craved…but now…I can't keep it up."
"What do you mean?" Mikhail's brows were furrowed in his attempt to understand his odd patron. He couldn't comprehend why someone so powerful and successful could be so unhappy. Lesser men than the king had come in the brothel, bragging and flaunting their marginal wealth as if they were gods and not men.
"I became this child prodigy…the perfect Demon King, chosen by Shinou himself to herald in a new era and rule the Golden Age of the Kingdom. I am undefeated, unchallenged….I created this image that played into everyone's expectations. But when I did there was nothing left for me."
Yuuri sighed in misery and leaned on his hands, propped up on his knees. "I can't deal with the pressure sometimes…my old life was taken from me. I was a simple student who liked to play baseball – that was it. Nothing more was expected of me, except that I was to grow up and became a salaryman like my father. I never meant to be a king."
"But I still did it," Yuuri said after a long pause. " I became their king, I learned how to read, write and speak a language I had never heard of…I tried to learn politics and customs to varying degrees of success. I was so eager to please that I never stopped to think about what I was doing to myself."
Yuuri stopped to pick up his goblet of wine and finish it off in one big gulp. He grimaced at the burning sensation and handed the cup to Mikhail who dutifully refilled it and returned it to Yuuri's waiting grasp.
"Even my marriage was just to please others. I caved under the pressure from my husband's family and allies who wanted us to marry."
"You…do not think that Lord Bielefeld cares for you?" Mikhail asked cautiously. The fact wasn't uncommon in their culture of arranged marriages, but he had always assumed, based on rumors, that the young lord was madly in love with the king.
"Oh god no, that's not it at all!" Yuuri said quickly, waving his hands empathically. "I know Wolfram loves me. He has never done anything it make me feel otherwise…"
Yuuri calmed down and sighed. "I just allowed the marriage to go through. Instead of it being my decision, I made it because that's what everyone wanted. I had to make good on my promise."
Even if he didn't regret his marriage to Wolfram. Yuuri still felt a slight tinge of bitterness at the way he was treated during their engagement. It seemed that everyone had a disturbing habit of forgetting that Yuuri was not of their world. Yuuri grew up in a different culture and society with different standards. However, his friends thought that he should have tossed aside everything that made him who he was and instead mold himself into what they thought he should be. Yuuri had received very little understanding and sympathy from his new family of the struggles he went through. What came to them naturally was always a challenge for Yuuri and he often felt inadequate and stupid when he felt that they were losing patience with his inability to adapt quickly enough to his new life.
"I did everything to make them happy at the cost of my own happiness," Yuuri continued after a long heavy silence. "Every decision I made was for the good of someone else…even my marriage… I married Wolfram to save his reputation."
"You don't love Lord Bielefeld?"
Yuuri made a pained expression. That was the hardest question he had ever been asked. He honestly didn't know. He didn't know of anything else. All of his relationship experience involved the blonde demon prince.
"I never experienced love or desire before I met Wolfram," Yuuri explained, twirling the liquid in his glass absently. "I had never experienced sexual attraction to anyone, male or female. I just said I liked girls because that was expected. There's never been anyone else before Wolfram and I doubt there will be anyone after him. Because he's all I've ever known. He's been the only constant thing in my life and I can't take any more changes."
"But do you love him now?" Mikhail pressed.
"I don't know," Yuuri said, shaking his head sadly. "And I know I'm an asshole for being that way. After all this time, I don't know if I love him or not…I just know that I would rather have him than a stranger."
"Why is that?"
Yuuri sneered in disgust at his own cravenness. "Because I'm a selfish coward…always have been…but it's…just that I…" Yuuri scoffed, frustrated at his own inability to explain his complicated feelings.
Yuuri got up from the bed and paced the room in his frustration. Mikhail watched him patiently, not wanting to interrupt Yuuri as he tried to communicate his erratic feelings.
After a long time of pacing, Yuuri came to stand in front of the small window in Mikhail's room. He stared out the window into the inky blackness of the early morning hours. In his mind, he could imagine the outline of Blood Pledge castle looming over the city. He would have to return soon before the castle woke and his absence was noticed.
But he wasn't ready to return yet. He still had to confront his emotions and explain them to the waiting prostitute on the bed behind him.
"Whatever deep feelings I may have for Wolfram." Yuuri began slowly and quietly, staring out in to the dark abyss. "There will always be doubt in my mind as to my own sincerity."
Mikhail frowned on confusion. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Every time Wolfram says he loves me…I will always wonder if he says it because that's what is expected of him." Yuuri turned away from the window to stare at the young man. "And when I say I love you…I die little inside because I know I say it because that's what Wolfram wants to hear."
When Mikhail only stared back blankly at him. Yuuri let loose a dry sob and raked his hands through his hair in turmoil.
"I've already given them my body, my identity, my language and my life…Do they want my feelings too? I've been harassed by Wolfram's fans about my feelings for him. I'm expected to love Wolfram! I'm expected to fall head over heels in love with him…Because he's Wolfram! Because he's the most beautiful person on the planet and what kind of idiot am I to not realize that?" Yuuri growled in anger. "Who cares about how I feel? You don't not fall in love with Wolfram von Bielefeld!"
Yuuri resumed his restless pacing.
"And what of Wolfram?" Yuuri wondered aloud. "I will always wonder if he says he loves me because he means it or if that's what he's expected to do! I took away his choice a long time ago - what if he's just making the best of it? Am I supposed to do the same? How does that make sense?"
Yuuri plopped back down on the bed with a heavy sigh. "I sell myself everyday to an expectation. I pretend to be what they want me to be…I lie about who I am everyday to please them…at the end of the day I feel cheap and empty."
Yuuri looked up sadly at Mikhail, who had remained silent and attentive during his rant. Yuuri reached up and stroked the soft dark hair and ran his fingertips over the small glass beads woven in the strands.
"That's why I come here to this desolate place. I feel more at home among the prostitutes and their pimps than I do at the palace. Because here I can do something that is of my own volition…not because it was expected of me….This is where I can forget everything and just be me for a little while. Does that make me a bad person Mikhail?"
Mikhail smiled gently down at the king and took his hand from his hair and held it lovingly in his own. "No…I don't think you are a bad person, my Lord. Quite the opposite…I just think you are a sad and lost man who has given much to the point where there is nothing left to give and you are embittered because you have nothing now."
Yuuri looked away to the floor. Mikhail watched his patron intently. He didn't know that kings could have such feelings. In his mind's eye, royalty had no problems. They didn't have to think about their next meal or where the rent money would come from. They didn't have to have sex with strangers just to survive. They didn't have the kinds of problems people like him did. But he could understand why the king felt the way he did. From what the king had described, he spent his entire day playing a role until he lost sight of who he truly was. That was indeed a sad thing.
"I think that's why I had to save you that day, Mikhail," Yuuri whisper jolted the prostitute form his thoughts.
"When I saw you that day on that stage…I felt like I could understand the fear and sadness in your eyes. I felt that…if I couldn't help myself then I could help you and that would bring me peace."
"And I will be forever grateful that you did," Mikhail said sincerely. It was true. Without Yuuri's patronage, Mikhail had only a life of drugs, rape and violence to look forward too. "You are my savior."
"I want you to be happy, Mikhail," Yuuri said with a smile, reaching up to stroke Mikhail's hair affectionately. "I need you to be happy…Because I'm not."
Mikhail turned his head to gently kiss the king's palm. He heard the sharp intake of hair and he glided his lips along the creases of Yuuri's hand before pulling away.
"You make me very happy, my Lord…But…may I be so bold as to tell you my thoughts?"
"Of course, Mikhail," Yuuri said easily. "Your thoughts matter to me."
"Then, listen to me when I say this," Mikhail began. "You should share these feelings you have with your retainers, at least with your husband. Mayhap they think you are you and you are happy because you are so good at hiding your true feelings. How will they know your heart if you keep it hidden from them?"
The soft smile on Yuuri's face died at Mikhail's words. Mikhail feared that maybe he had stepped over a boundary. After all, whores don't have opinions…. their mouths are good for pleasure – not talking.
"You're right," Yuuri said with finality. "I just wish it were that simple."
"Why is it not simple?" Mikhail pressed.
Yuuri shook his head miserably. "I've been keeping these feelings to myself for so long, I don't know how to begin with them, especially with my husband."
"How about saying 'I need to talk to you about my feelings?'" Mikhail suggested with complete seriousness.
The innocent way he said that and the earnest expression on his face made Yuuri laugh and he moved over to embrace the surprised boy.
"Oh, Mikhail!" Yuuri said lovingly as he nuzzled the boy's hair. "I could say that…but the words will never come it seems. Why would I disturb the careful peace that we have now?"
"But you are not at peace!" Mikhail protested, pulling away from the king's gentle arms. "When the king is not at peace, the kingdom is not at peace either! If you continue to keep these feeling inside you they will only fester and make you even more miserable."
Yuuri knew Mikhail was right. He had already begun to feel the growing resentment in his gut every time he smiled or talked with his friends and family, hating that they believed his ruse and being angry that they didn't see what was so obvious to him. If he did nothing, that anger would grow into something ugly and poison everything he loved.
"As you must escape the chains you created for yourself," Mikhail continued. "As must I escape this place."
"I can help you escape this place," Yuuri promised. "I can take you away from here."
"I bet you can," Mikhail replied sweetly. "As I can help you find the words to tell others how you really feel. We can help each other."
"Yes, we can," Yuuri agreed.
They sat in each other's arms for a long time, taking comfort in each other's touch. There was nothing sexual about their caresses, only the touches of two sad people trying to find comfort in each other's friendship.
Soon, much too soon, Yuuri pulled away and stood up from the bed, adjusting his clothes and fixing his hair.
Mikhail was sad to see him go. "You must leave now?"
"Yes," Yuuri said just as sadly. "It's late and they will be waking up soon."
"Okay," Mikhail said, unable to hide his disappointment. "Will I see you again soon?"
"As soon as I can," Yuuri replied as he gathered his things. "And someday, I promise I will bring you back to the palace and save you from this place. You will be happy there, I know it."
Mikhail smiled. "I will hold you to that promise, my Lord."
"I swear it," Yuuri whispered and with that, he was gone, leaving behind the young catamite who secretly loved him.
Yuuri mumbled a rushed goodbye to the Madame as he pushed his way out of the now crowded brothel. The night was just getting started for many of the brothel's patrons and would last well into the early hours of the morning. Yuuri weaved in and out of the crowd that choked the narrow streets and stealthily made his way back to his own home.
Mikhail's words replayed in his mind. The feelings he had divulged to the young prostitute had been swirling in Yuuri's soul for years now. He had become so good at hiding them that he wasn't even sure how he could even start to vocalize them and communicate them effectively to those who mattered the most.
Everything was going so well with the kingdom. He had created a stable environment and his relationships with Conrad, Wolfram and the others were amicable, if not going very well.
"But at what cost?' he thought sadly to himself as he turned down the familiar labyrinth of alleys and streets.
How could he break his years' long silence and actually tell everyone the truth? He was a fraud., his smiles and jovial words that he uttered each day were not form sincerity, but from years of practice and playing into the stereotype of Yuuri the Dense, The Happy-go-lucky, and Innocent. He didn't dare to think what the others would say when the realized that underneath the smiles and gentle words was a lonely, bitter young man.
It was better for Yuuri to hide behind his smiling mask and indulge his tumultuous feelings on his own. Whether through booze or visiting virgin prostitutes, Yuuri would ameliorate his feelings in secret… if only to maintain the peace.
It was here that Yuuri felt some resentment towards his friends. A part of him wondered why they hadn't picked up on the subtle changes or the forced expressions, when they constantly accused him of being dense? It was so obvious to Yuuri that his outward appearance was a cover-up, so he wondered why his supposedly more astute friends would not have noticed or said something by now.
No, it was probably better this way. What could he expect from them? Conrad would probably smile in that gentle way and tell Yuuri that he was doing fine and there was nothing to worry about. Gunter might overreact as usual and make him see Gisela for his "unbalanced humors." Gwendal would probably tell him to suck it up and get on with his work and that a king should always be strong. Wolfram would likely roll his eyes and call Yuuri a wimp, again.
Yuuri felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness and he almost turned around to return to Mikhail's side – the only person he could really talk to. But the hour was very late and the castle would be waking soon and his window was closing rapidly. He had to go back lest he wanted absolute chaos to break out.
Deep down, Yuuri realize he was being a little unfair. His friends certainly couldn't help him if he kept quiet about it. He knew that they meant him no harm and they dealt with his chaotic life as best they could. Yuuri knew he wasn't the easiest person to deal with. He constantly had to be walked through the more abstruse aspects of demon customs and he often made a fool of himself in public, so he knew he gave them all a run for their money on a daily basis all to make sure he kept the kingdom running smoothly.
Yuuri reach the secret entrance to the palace. The walk had seemed much shorter as it usually did. As if time itself was too eager for Yuuri to return to the dregs of kinghood and prolong the façade he had to create.
Yuuri pushed the door in with a creak. His inner turmoil was making him a little sloppy, but at the moment he really didn't care. He was tired and sad and just wanted to catch a few hours of sleep before he was awoken for the day. He was just in the nick of time as the changing of the guards was in process and the hallway to his room was left momentarily unattended.
His thoughts wandered back to Mikhail. Yuuri vowed that he would find a way to bring the younger man into the palace, safe from all the perverts that harassed him when Yuuri was absent. The boy was so sweet and kind, Yuuri would never forgive himself if he ever got hurt.
Yuuri knew that what Mikhail said was true. He couldn't hide forever and one day his feelings would eat him until he collapsed. One day, they would realize that he wasn't what he made himself out to be and they would demand answers. As much as Yuuri knew that, he still wasn't ready. He wanted to enjoy the relative calm as long as he could before causing any more drama.
Yuuri finally made it to his bedroom. He slowly opened the door with nary a sound and tiptoed into the dark room.
Yuuri stopped. Something was…off about the room. Something wasn't right and he couldn't place it. He felt like something was missing that should be there –
Yuuri was suddenly blinded by all the candles in the room lighting at once. His blood ran cold as he blinked his vision back and a calm, yet deadly, voice spoke from beside him.
"Yuuri," came the quietly livid voice of his husband. "Where the hell have you been?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * ETDY * * * * * * * * * * * *
What do you guys think? Very angsty no?
I wrote this piece as a kind of exploration of the darker side of Yuuri becoming king. I wanted to look at the affects of the responsibilities and sacrifices of being a ruler would have on Yuuri emotionally and mentally. I always felt that, while certain things were played for jokes in the anime, Yuuri had a lot of responsibly heaped on him at once. Place that on top of adopting a new culture, country and language and you have a serious case of emotional/mental over-strain. This could lead to Yuuri engaging in reckless/dangerous behavior and feelings of guilt mixed with apathy (symptoms of depression in young males).
I felt that over time, Yuuri would grow accustomed to his new role, but feel a sense of alienation and loneliness from having to essentially abandon his own family, culture and country. I mean, has anyone ever wondered what Yuuri's life was like before he got sucked down a toilet (In addition to the stock character bullies in the first episode). Did he have friends? What was he like in school? Does he ever get homesick? So many aspects of Yuuri's development went unaddressed and it irritated me a little.
Even though Yuuri can travel between worlds at will, he can't do it whenever he wants to and I'm sure the drastic time differences would cause him to feel disconnected from his old life as his family and friends on earth stayed the same, while he (now accustomed to Demon time) would grow older.
Yuuri never really got any sympathy from the other characters and none of these issues were ever acknowledged in the anime (I've never read the novels so I wouldn't know how this issue is handled by the author).
Well, I hope you enjoyed this one shot. Please leave a review, they do mean a lot to me. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are.