Naive

Shay Sheridan

Fandom: Kyou Kara Maou, written for the Yaoi Challenge 2006. Conrad and Yuuri.
In which Conrad Weller does something entirely out of character: he panics.


The first time Conrad introduced His Majesty the Maou to a representative from one of the more remote regions beyond the kingdom, Yuuri goggled at the man so overtly that Conrad feared a diplomatic incident. "Conrad," Yuuri whispered hoarsely, grabbing a handful of uniform, "er, ah, he's only wearing a loincloth! And feathers! Did that person think we were having a costume party?"

Conrad extricated himself carefully from Yuuri's grasp and fought the urge to pat him on the head. The boy was so naïve about these matters! "Oh, Heika," he murmured, "that is the national dress of Tabrizia. It is their custom to appear this way for diplomatic functions."

"Oh, I see," Yuuri said, perhaps not really understanding but at least visibly relaxing. "Stick close, okay? In case he tries to take anything else off."

Conrad managed to hide his smile. "Of course, Your Majesty."

"And please," Yuuri said, with a mildly pained expression, "don't call me 'Your Majesty.'"

"As you wish, Your—Yuuri."

~*~

The first time Yuuri attended a royal ball, Conrad observed the young king surrounded by dozens of chirping, flirting, fluttering girls, each eager to impress him with her beauty and charm. Yuuri paled and backed out of the room in terror, taking flight with one last imploring look over his shoulder directly into Conrad's eyes. Conrad found him shortly thereafter, a quivering ball of nerves tucked into the small cupboard beneath the stairs.

"Heika?"

"Waaa—oh, it's you, Conrad! You scared me."

Conrad waited in silence for a few moments. "Are you coming out?"

"Are they gone?"

"Not yet."

"Then, no."

"I see." Conrad considered a moment, and then squeezed himself into the closet beside the king and closed the door behind him. Yuuri was warm against his flank, a vibrant presence despite the near-total darkness, and for some reason Conrad found himself grinning. "Would you mind telling me what has upset you?"

"I'm not upset," Yuuri sighed, "just a little freaked out. See, there were all those girls, so many of them, and they all wanted to be with me! Yaaghhh, girls." He sighed again. "I don't get them."

"Ah, Yuuri," Conrad replied, and this time he did pat the shaggy head, and let his arm close around the narrow shoulders. "I see you're still a bit naïve about these things. I'll be happy to explain about—"

"Conrad," Yuuri said with just a hint of sharpness, "I don't need a talk about the birds and bees. I'm fifteen. I know that stuff."

"You do?" And maybe there was just a whiff of surprise in Conrad's voice, so Yuuri elbowed him in the ribs. "Sorry. I didn't mean to suggest—"

"That's okay. I just needed a little space, and some time to myself."

"Oh. I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone." He started to move, but a hand closed on his arm.

"No! I mean, you…you're okay, Conrad. I like being with you."

"Thank you, Heika."

"Jeez. Don't call me that, Conrad. It's weird."

"All right." The silence was now a comfortable one, and Conrad considered just remaining where he was until the party concluded, Yuuri tucked against his side. It was an appealing thought. But… "So," he said at length, "shall we go rejoin the party?"

He felt warm breath against his neck as Yuuri snuggled closer. "Do we have to?"

Conrad shivered. "I wish we didn't have to." He squeezed the boy's shoulders one last time. "But I'm afraid so. Besides…if you stay here, eventually Wolfram will come looking for you."

"Wolfram! Jeez, that guy," Yuuri muttered, pushing the closet door open and scrambling into the light. "I don't get him, either. Why is he always chasing me?"

Conrad looked at the person before him and was flooded with affection. Was it possible Yuuri really didn't know his own appeal? "Ah," he murmured softly. "You're so naïve."

~*~

The first time Conrad realized he was in love with Yuuri wasn't, as he would have expected, on an occasion when the Maou appeared to dispense judgment, or one of the many times Yuuri stood up to bullies, or the first time he spoke with authority and even Gwendal and Wolfram were silenced. It wasn't even when Yuuri faced him, willing to fight him to bring him home, or when, bloodied and weak, he opened his eyes and found Yuuri holding his hand, a look of utter devotion on his face. In those moments Conrad felt pride and love for Yuuri as his king, and as a goodhearted – if innocent – person, one as brave as any soldier in Conrad's command.

Instead, Conrad was surprised to discover his feelings one afternoon during batting practice.

The two of them were taking turns pitching and hitting the ball in the newly-cleared baseball diamond behind the castle. They'd done the same thing dozens of times: Conrad would throw, Yuuri would bat – then they'd reverse. Sometimes they'd rope Dorcas or one of the others into joining them. Sometimes they'd even get a game going. But the best times were when the two of them played alone.

Conrad wound up and threw a fast ball, and saw Yuuri turn gracefully with the bat, and heard the crack as it connected with the ball. He raised his hand and ran back, eyeing the trajectory, calculating where it would come down, but the ball sailed over his head, so far above him it disappeared into a clump of pines. Openmouthed, he looked back at the plate and found Yuuri pumping his fist happily and doing that little "look what I can do!" dance he routinely performed when he smacked a ball exactly the way he'd planned. Conrad grinned; Yuuri caught his eye and grinned back, and came barreling across the field to grab Conrad and swing him around delightedly. Yuuri's black hair was askew, his eyes gleamed, and a pleased flush colored his skin.

Something slid sideways in Conrad's heart. Suddenly he was dizzy, more so than could be explained by their exuberant movements across the field. Without any preamble the affection he'd always held for Yuuri shifted and tilted on its axis, turning itself inside out, transforming into something entirely different.

It was also immediately recognizable, because he'd felt this way once before. Yet this time was somehow different. His love for Julia had been of the purest, most chivalric kind, a stirring of the heart…whereas what Conrad was feeling right now also involved stirrings of another, lower-placed organ. Aghast, he had no recourse but to conclude that desire had been added to his feelings for Yuuri.

So Conrad did something rather out of character. He panicked.

Fortunately his imperturbable countenance gave no hint of the churning emotions inside. Conrad was practiced at holding a "poker face," as they called it in Yuuri's world; such a talent came in handy when facing an enemy while armed with nothing but bravado. Now, apparently, his only enemy was himself. Surely the Maou deserved an equal as a lover, not a half-demon, half-human with no extraordinary powers! And certainly if he acted on his desires he would be taking advantage of a young boy whose own sexual feelings hadn't yet awakened. Why interfere with Yuuri's natural progression to girls, wooing, marriage, just because of his own yearnings? No. To abuse the closeness he had with Yuuri was unthinkable. In that moment Conrad vowed his love would remain forever couched in terms of affection and friendship. Yuuri deserved no less.

Of course, it was difficult to remember his resolve as Yuuri finished spinning and hurled himself bodily into Conrad's arms, knocking both of them to the ground, with Yuuri on top in a tight and totally arousing shoulder-to knee clinch. As carefully as he could, Conrad untangled himself and climbed to his feet, well away from the person whose squirming had had a predictable effect on his loins.

"Conrad…" Yuuri stood up to dust himself off, and regarded Conrad shrewdly. Panic flared again; the boy might be clueless, but he was observant. "Is something wrong?"

"Oh, no, Your Majesty." Conrad tried not to sound breathless. He tugged at the hem of his uniform jacket. "Congratulations on hitting it 'out of the park.'"

Yuuri's face crinkled. "Yeah! Wasn't it great!"

"Indeed great, Your Majesty."

And that would have been that. Except—

"Eh, Conrad!" Yuuri stepped into his personal space again, and looked up at him through long dark lashes (and why hadn't Conrad noticed before how long Yuuri's lashes were?) "How many times do I have to tell you, don't call me 'Your Majesty!' I mean…after all this time, we know each other pretty well, right?"

Conrad stepped away again and bowed slightly, surreptitiously relieving the pressure on his groin. I wish he'd stop looking at me like that – he has no idea what an effect it has! "Right, Yuuri."

He received a delighted grin as reward. "See, Conrad? Easy!"

~*~

But easy wasn't exactly the word for Conrad's subsequent state of mind. After that it seemed just being in the same room as Yuuri was difficult for him – not to mention the way Yuuri seemed always to be standing a little too close, touching him a little too much. If only someone would speak to the king about how his innocent touches and close proximity could be misinterpreted by incipient hentai like himself. Maybe Günter could have a word with him—

Conrad rolled his eyes. No. Not Günter, for Shinou's sake! One could only imagine what sort of nosebleed-spurting behavior would occur should Günter attempt to address Yuuri about anything involving sex. Günter was a very bad choice. A very, very bad choice indeed.

Who then? Perhaps a woman – yes! And not just a woman, a mature, motherly woman. A mother. Hmm, maybe Mother could talk to—

No, no, no! What was he thinking? She'd probably try to seduce the boy herself.

What about Gwendal? Conrad tried to imagine his elder brother having "that" conversation with Yuuri, but failed to get past the image of Gwendal twitching…and then beating him to a pulp for merely suggesting it. And Wolfram was obviously out of the question; Conrad had no wish to incite Wolfram to violence against poor unsuspecting Yuuri for crimes as yet uncommitted.

No. If he wanted it done, he'd have to do it himself, no matter how awkward the conversation might be, or how uncooperative his own body. Which meant, Conrad reflected glumly, that no conversation was likely to take place. Right now talking wasn't exactly what he had in mind to do to Yuuri.

No. Maybe it was just best for him to keep his distance from the boy.

~*~

After that, Conrad found reasons to venture out alone on great many hunting expeditions and scouting missions. But he couldn't avoid coming to the castle altogether, particularly when Yuuri sent others to find him and bring him back if he'd been gone more than a few days. He wondered if after his unfortunate episode with Great Shimaron there were still doubts about his loyalty. Certainly he caught the occasional sideways glance from his soldiers and servants, and once or twice even from his brothers.

But from Yuuri he felt nothing but trust, and that trust warmed and sustained him on cold nights by too-small campfires, though it also made him feel somewhat guilty for his unspoken desires. Of course, he dared not bank his own internal fires too high; there was a fine line between feeling warmth towards his king and burning with lustful thoughts about him, particularly when he was certain Yuuri would be horrified by them.

On each trip, he would open his food pack, or his bedroll, or his saddlebags, and invariably a note would fall into his hand. The notes would read something like "Please be careful, Conrad, and hurry home," in Yuuri's awkward hand. Sometimes there were small packages containing a favorite sweet, a scarf, a baseball. These small gifts touched Conrad's heart, and reminded him that his love for Yuuri was not just sexual in nature. It was as if Yuuri were saying, please don't forget me, Conrad. As if that were possible.

All the time Conrad spent alone was meant to clear his head, but though he controlled his thoughts while awake, the solitude unfortunately gave rise to wildly erotic fantasies in his dreams. After one particularly vivid dream that had something to do with leather…and licking…and Yuuri yelling faster, faster! Conrad awoke in his sleeping bag in a cold sweat (at least he hoped it was sweat) and realized it was time to come home. Perhaps he was going about this the wrong way. Perhaps if he saw Yuuri more often he could defeat this unfortunate infatuation by burning it out of his system like a fever.

He doubted the efficacy of that choice, but he was a desperate man.

So Conrad returned, and tried to sublimate his passion in intense swordplay and physical training. For a while this seemed to work…until Yuuri insisted on joining him, stripping to the waist and facing him with his sword. That was very nearly too much to take…as were sparring matches, horseback riding (there was that leather thing again) and Yuuri's request that Conrad teach him hand-to-hand combat. When Yuuri brightly suggested he'd like to learn wrestling, Conrad demurred, grabbed his tunic and fled in the most undignified tactical withdrawal of his career. Yuuri's confused expression was not lost on him, but at a certain point any soldier who wished to survive knew when to cut and run.

~*~

Conrad yawned and closed the adventure novel Yuuri had given him as a welcome home present, marking his place with the leather bookmark that Yuuri had given him for his birthday. He reached across the table by his bed to turn down the lamp, and settled under the down comforter, willfully emptying his mind of disturbing thoughts. He'd worn himself out today with exercise and military drilling; perhaps tonight, at last, he might be spared improper dreams and actually get a good night's sleep.

Tonight he found himself lulled into sleep, as he so often had been years before, by memories of Julia. As his body relaxed and he fell into peaceful slumbers Conrad found himself basking in the warmth of Julia's radiance, feeling her presence all around him. It was a precious, comforting sensation. It brought him back to a simpler time when his love had been pure and his way clear. For a while he lingered in the memory, his dreams free of anything except the memory of Julia's light and warmth.

This time, however, the warmth was more than a memory. It was more tangible than usual, the ribbons of light becoming more substantial as they cocooned about him and held him close. It was a wonderful, soothing sensation, and Conrad turned in bed and smiled into his pillow.

The pillow was feathery. The feathers were silky, and smelled of fresh air and soap. The pillow sighed in contentment and snuggled into his neck.

Conrad's eyes flew open.

Instead of feathers, it was silky black hair that tickled his nose. Instead of ribbons of radiance, tanned young limbs wrapped about him to hold him tight. Both were attached to a snuggling young man who just happened to be the Maou.

Conrad was out of the bed and across the room before Yuuri could do more than open one quizzical eye. "Conrad?"

"Heika! You mustn't come here!"

Yuuri sat up, a perplexed frown on his face. "Why not?"

Honestly, could the boy be any more ignorant? "It's not right."

"What do you mean, it's not right?" Yuuri smiled at him winningly, and Conrad's heart flip-flopped. "You're my friend, aren't you, Conrad?"

"Of course, Your Majesty. But you shouldn't be here with me. Alone."

"But why?" Yuuri slid to the edge of the bed and Conrad was relieved to see the boy wore pajamas; if he'd been naked, or even shirtless like he himself was, Conrad feared he'd be incapable of resisting the urge to molest him. "You told me I could come see you any time, night or day. Isn't that true?"

"Of course, Your Majesty. Just not…in my bed!"

"Why?" Yuuri persisted.

"Well," Conrad improvised, his mind racing, "what if I, ah, mistook you for an assassin, and attacked you?" His back came in contact with the wardrobe. It was a nice, solid piece of furniture and he felt relatively secure here, far, far away from the bed, which was currently occupied by the object of his lust. "Or what if I were…dreaming—" right, that's it! "—what if I were having a nightmare and strangled you in my sleep?"

"Did you have a nightmare, Conrad?" Concerned, Yuuri was up and out of the bed, walking towards him. "I'll be happy to stay with you until you fall asleep."

"No, I'm perfectly all—" Oh no, don't come closer—! "No! It's not safe!" Dear heavens, Yuuri was next to him again, close enough for Conrad to feel the warmth radiating through his pajamas. Thin silk pajamas. Thin silk pajamas that hugged Yuuri's rear end and in front, revealed— Shinou, help me! Conrad clenched his eyelids. This is terrible. This is awful. "Really, Heika, It's not safe for you to be near—"

"I feel safe with you, Conrad," Yuuri said, looking down shyly and then peering up through those devastatingly long lashes, causing Conrad's insides to turn to mush. "I've always felt safe with you."

"No, really, Your Majesty. Believe me. I'm not safe at all. I might stab you, or hurt you, or bruise you, or kiss y—" Conrad choked. "That is, I might—"

"Conrad," Yuuri said, coming so close that Conrad had trouble focusing on his face. He caught the whiff of Yuuri's soap again, and heard the tinkling of bells and saw the flashes of light he'd always associated with Julia. But it was Yuuri here before him, Yuuri who'd been in his bed, Yuuri who'd embraced him and held him close—

Conrad's eyes opened wide. Yuuri who'd come to his bed and embraced him."Your Majesty," he said very slowly, feeling the peculiar thrum of his racing heart, "why exactly did you come to my chambers?"

And the strangest thing happened. Yuuri's shy eyes began to twinkle with amusement, and the expression on his face transformed from open sincerity to something very like the sly grin of a fox. "Con-rad," Yuuri drawled, "after all this time, after all the clues I dropped, how can you honestly not know?"

"Your Maj—"

"Stop calling me that," Yuuri growled in a voice that was mostly Maou and not very much like a teenager at all.

The voice coupled with the look Yuuri was sending his way sent tingles through Conrad that went straight to his belly and the important bits nearby. He swallowed. "Yuuri?"

Yuuri moved closer; Conrad had the distinct impression Yuuri was trying not to laugh at him. Dark eyes that were very wise indeed examined him critically, and the wide mouth curved into an indulgent smile. "Jeez, Conrad," Yuuri said. "I had no idea you were so naïve. Now shut up and kiss me."


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