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King in Disguise

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Somebody… Help me…

Yuuri’s desperate plea for help fell on deaf ears. He tried to shout once, but soon gave up after lethargy limited his actions. Confined in a dark, small space, he was trapped under a pile of rubble too heavy for his tiny 7 year-old body to move. Yuuri had been stuck there for hours, his eyes swollen from excessive crying and irritation from the debris. There was nothing he could do.

“Okaa-san…”

He was in a shopping mall with his mother, when he heard a thunderous sound followed by the feeling of flying, and then nothing. When Yuuri regained consciousness, he found himself buried in debris, ankle throbbing with pain, and dirt filling every crevice and pore of his body. He was terrified. He prayed for his life, his mother’s safety, too. He wasn’t ready to die.

Save me…

Yuuri’s hope had faded as a blinding white light flashed before his eyes, penetrating the cold, tiny space his body occupied. Surely , he thought, I must be dying . Except, he heard the crumbling of stone, the shrill of sirens in the distance, and felt the faintest warmth of sunlight on his cheek. He opened his eyes again, halfway expecting to find himself being carried off to heaven by an angel. Instead he saw a teenage boy effortlessly balancing the concrete slab that had once pinned Yuuri in place above his head with one hand. Yuuri gasped, amazed of the teen’s strength.

“Are you alright?” his savior asked.

The teen had long silver hair tied into a ponytail and eyes as blue as the sky if not more vibrant. He was the most beautiful person Yuuri had ever seen. Slowly, Yuuri began to recognize who his savior was, wearing the unmistakable, crisp white military uniform of the Holy Knights.

Victor Nikiforov, the youngest Holy Knight in history.

“You must’ve been scared. Here, come closer,” Victor said gently, extending a hand out to Yuuri.

Thanks to Victor’s magically-enabled superhuman hearing, Yuuri’s brief, strangled cry for help was heard. Victor knelt towards Yuuri to help him out of the rubble, but Yuuri suddenly started to cry. Panicked, the teen immediately pulled the child into his arms, trying to calm him down.

“Shh, it’s okay… You’re safe now, trust me.” Victor gently stroked Yuuri’s back, consoling him.

“Okaa-san…” Yuuri wailed in Victor’s arms, “I want Okaa-san…!”

He is the one last victim we were searching for, Victor thought. He wrapped his arms around Yuuri’s waist and picked him up like a toddler, carrying him away from the rubble to where the other victims of the terrorist attack were gathered. As he walked, he saw another Holy Knight attending to a distressed woman.

“Please, sir…! My son! My son is still somewhere inside there, he’s not dead yet!”

Recognizing her voice, Yuuri called out, “Okaa-san!”

“Yuuri?! Oh God, Yuuri!!!”

Victor held Yuuri out for his mother to scoop him up in her arms, finally reunited. Hiroko tightly hugged her child, crying tears of joy seeing him alive. Yuuri was equally happy, crying loudly into her chest. If it weren’t for Victor’s help, he would have died there.

“Thank you for saving me,” Yuuri called out to Victor; Hiroko thanked him as well with a small bow.

“No problem, I’m just doing my job.”

“You’re so cool!” Yuuri wholeheartedly praised. “I think I wanna be a Holy Knight just like you!”

“Really? Then go for it! It’s a really fun and satisfying job, you know!” Victor patted the child’s head in encouragement.

“Remember, always be there to save others no matter what happens. Okay?”

“Okay!”

Even though the day was traumatizing, Yuuri never wanted to forget. He grew to admire Victor more and more since that day, placing him as the role model for his newly acquired dream. Yuuri gleefully imagined himself wearing the same white uniform as Victor in the future.

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“Thousands of people could be Holy Knights, but only one, the strongest among us, shall be called King and rule us all .

Gwendall lamented to himself. He couldn’t help but wonder how long it had been since this country, Cervantes, had a king – probably almost a century. If the capital, Metropolis, was any indication of the health of the nation, the situation wasn’t ideal. But he had to wait. He was waiting for a special individual to make their appearance, a person worthy of the kingship.

“Is everybody here?” He said to the Holy Knights lining up behind him in his office.

The knights quickly turned all their attention towards the striking man. He was young with long white hair and apple green eyes. He was usually seen wearing exquisite silk robes straight out of the middle ages. Despite his youthful appearance, his antiquated choice in attire was a subtle reminder that he was, in fact, centuries old. He served as an aid to the country’s kings for almost 2000 years and founded the Holy Knights after the death of the recent king left the position empty.

Yakov saluted, “Only some of us, Sir. The rest are still in maintenance.”

“It’s fine,” the Gwendall gently smiled.

“So… about this recent terrorist attack,” Gwendall’s eyes shifted to the briefing, “do you mind reporting the details?”

Victor stepped forward, “A bomb was planted in the building, Sir. There were various injuries, but no lives lost.”

“That’s good to hear, Victor,” Gwendall praised. “You’re doing a good job despite your age.” Victor blushed in response.

Some of the veteran Holy Knights frowned, uneasy of Victor’s presence. He was much younger than them but was making more progress than they could have managed. While this jealous group saw him as a threat, they were outnumbered by the seniors who treated Victor respectfully.

“Please be prepared for tomorrow’s missions. We have several more planned. I’m afraid these next few days will be more tiring than usual. More of you will be required to report in tomorrow.” Gwendall casually flipped through the stack of briefings one by one as the Holy Knights obediently nodded.

“Now,” his eyes flicked upward, “meeting dismissed.”

All of them saluted before leaving the office. “Yes, Sir!”

“Sir, here are some more applications,” Lilia gracefully swept in behind the exiting Knights and placed some more documents on the table.

“Thank you, Lilia. I will look at them later.”

The number of people applying to be a Holy Knight increased every day. Of course, applicants had to sit through several exams and best many trials before being fully approved for the job. The daunting stack of applications, full of young hopefuls, would dwindle by the end of the “interview” period. Gwendall was tired. More so, he was afraid that this cycle would never end.

“This wasn’t supposed to be my job. It’s gone on too long.” Gwendall muttered to himself, alone in his office.

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“And that’s how I met Victor!”

Yuuri couldn’t contain how proud he was, as Yuuko and Takeshi listened. At some point the two wondered if Yuuri was telling the truth, but he rarely lied. After that incident, Yuuri became Victor’s undying fan and everybody knew it. He was eager to discover his Ability, so he could fight alongside his idol sooner. Yuuko and Takeshi had just discovered theirs, prompting the trio’s get together for the day.

He saw Yuuko using her Ability to instantly grow flowers from a bed of grass, Manipulation type. Multiple flowers of different species magically emerged and bloomed. Yuuri clapped his hands in amazement towards his crush. A sweet scent from those fresh flowers filled Yuuri’s nostrils, as he deeply inhaled.

“Amazing, Yuu-chan!”

Abilities were categorized into three types – Enhancement, Psychic and Manipulation. The Enhancement type will improve or change physical conditions or capabilities - one of the most popular examples was Victor’s enhanced strength and five senses. The Psychic type consisted of mind-based Abilities. Takeshi’s Ability to understand animals fell in this category. Finally, the Manipulation type enabled the user to control or create specific things, just like Yuuko’s flower growing Ability.

“I wonder when will I know what my Ability is?” Yuuri sadly sighed.

“Umm, maybe your Ability is something that doesn’t seem to be a superpower at all?” Takeshi shrugged. “But doesn’t mean it will be bad. I know this person who has a photographic memory, B-class, Psychic type. He’s always acing in tests and now he’s a renowned surgeon.”

Yuuri pouted. “But I want to be a Holy Knight…”

“You don’t have to be a Holy Knight to become a hero, Yuuri-kun. There’s a lot of other ways.” Yuuko felt bad, but she couldn’t help being realistic. A Holy Knight was one of the most challenging jobs in the country. Naturally, it was highly competitive to obtain a position. The vast majority of people wouldn’t make the cut due to its strict terms for eligibility, the most important criterion being a decent Ability.

“It’s not about being a hero…” Yuuri shook his head. “I just want to follow Victor’s footsteps.”

Takeshi also tried to cheer Yuuri up, “Why don’t you learn some martial arts, then? Even if you don’t have a combat-specific Ability doesn’t mean you can’t fight at all. Besides, Abilities drain stamina, so you can’t rely on it completely during battles.”

“But I would need to figure out their weaknesses first then,” Yuuri lowered his eyelids, “or find a way to defend against their Abilities all the time.”

Yuuko placed a flower crown she made on top of Takeshi’s head just to annoy him. “Yuuri-kun, it’s really rare for people to have strong Abilities like Victor does! Gosh, you’re reading too many comic books, I guess.”

Yuuko was right, Yuuri resigned. His sister’s and his parents’ Abilities have no combative purposes. Come to think of it, his entire family’s’ Abilities were Psychic type. Did that mean his Ability would be, too? He didn’t want it. Psychic type was always regarded as the weakest among the three categories.

“Yuuri-kun, can you fetch me an apple?” Yuuko asked, snapping him out of his focused stupor.

Yuuko pointed to the bag of apples she just bought. Yuuri took one freshly-picked, bright red apples out. Hungry, he thought about asking Yuuko for one as he briefly observed it before handing it over. She took a bite, then gagged and spat it out unceremoniously.

“Eww! What is this?!” Yuuko shrieked at the bitten apple.

The apple was clearly bright red when she bought it, now it was wrinkly and brown. The apple was clearly rotten. Only in mere hours?

“How could this be?!” Yuuko threw the rotten apple into a nearby trash bin. “I checked them first before buying!”

“That’s weird…” Takeshi muttered.

Yuuri took another apple to replace Yuuko’s, but he noticed something weird happening in his hands. The fresh apple was slowly morphing before his eyes – until the trio saw a rotten apple in Yuuri’s hands. They sat agape for a moment, not having fully processed the event.

“Yuuri… Is that your Ability…?”

Takeshi raised an eyebrow in surprise as he diagnosed Yuuri’s ability, “Enhancement type. Obviously a C class. Hmm, ‘Food Spoiling’, I guess?”

C class was the lowest rank. “Useless” Abilities were classified here. B class Abilities were not considered magical but were still very useful in one’s profession – for example, high creativity, strong empathy, photo memorization. The elite rank, A class, had rare and desirable Abilities found in comic books and fairytales. This is where the ranking scale effectively ended.

Yuuri tried touching Takeshi, but nothing happened. Nothing when he tried touching other things too. But when he touched the remaining apples, they turned rotten in an instant. Yuuri stared at his hands in horror, unable to accept his discovery. Was that his Ability?

“No, no no .”

“I’m a C class? How am I supposed to catch up to Victor when I’m so useless? Victor is definitely an A class!”   Yuuri thought to himself, clearly upset by the implications of his discovery.

Yuuri didn’t want this at all.

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Hiroko could hear sobbing from Yuuri’s room.

“Yuuri… are you okay dear?” she nervously asked outside his door.

She poked her head in to find her son’s face buried in a pillow, feebly curled up in bed. Hiroko managed to get him sitting upright. His eyes were bloodshot, his nose was running, and his cheeks streaked with tears. She pulled him into a hug and rocked him back and forth.

“What’s wrong, Yuuri?”

“Okaa-san…” Yuuri croaked, “my Ability…I discovered my Ability.”

Hiroko beamed to hear it. “Really? What type is it??”

“It’s Enhancement type, but…”

“Oh God, Yuuri! You should be happy!” Hiroko wiped Yuuri’s tears with her thumbs. “Enhancement type? That’s really good!”

“But it’s C-class… the Ability to make food rot faster…” Yuuri continued to sob like this was all some cruel joke.

“Eh…”

Hiroko took some time to process what did she just heard. “S-show me, then.”

She took Yuuri to the kitchen. Hiroko placed a plate containing a slice of white bread on the table for Yuuri to demonstrate his Ability. Yuuri hovered his hand over the bread, focusing his energy onto it – black mold started to appear on the bread.

“Wow,” Mari blankly spouted, startling Yuuri who hadn’t realized she had followed him. She wasn’t helping.

“W-why don’t you try reversing it, Yuuri?” Hiroko suggested, still visibly shocked.

Yuuri touched the moldy bread, then suddenly it was pure white again.

“It’s not that bad, Yuuri! You can keep food fresh like this!” Hiroko clapped her hands.

Yuuri’s Ability may have been the respected Enhancement type. But of course, Yuuri was not happy. This was not the kind of Ability he wanted to have.

“But I can’t be a Holy Knight like this…” he whispered, still frowning.

Mari prodded his back, “but this is good for our family’s business!”

Yuuri’s parents nodded in agreement. But hearing it only made him more upset. He grew quiet, staring metaphorical holes through the bread as tears welled in his eyes.

“Yuuri, when we have enough money, we will send you to Terra Stellata to learn more about your Ability. Okay? It may have more uses than this.” Hiroko wanted to support her son with whatever route he wanted to pursue in life.

“Eh?!” Yuuri snapped his head around to meet her eyes, “but that school is expensive!”

Yuuri’s brain whirred. He would have a bigger shot at becoming a Holy Knight if he graduated from there. It was a school for the elites.

“Money doesn’t matter, dear. We will find a way.” Hiroko cupped Yuuri’s puffy cheeks with her hands. “As long as you’re happy then we’re going to be happy too.”

She pulled her son into a hug.

“I believe that you will be the best Holy Knight out there. I’m sure of it.”

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“Okaa-san? Otou-san?”

Yuuri roused from bed, woken by a loud sound. Still in his pajamas, he walked out from his room and searched for his family. He smelled burning.

“Mari-neechan?”

He began to sweat as the house grew hotter. Yuuri’s field of vision darkened when he stepped into the hallways, still searching for his family. Where was everyone? He stepped into the living room and discovered the source of the foul smell. It was engulfed in flames.

”Okaa-san! Mari-neechan!!”

Smoke inhalation sent Yuuri into a coughing fit. Through his watering eyes Yuuri saw his family lying on the floor awkwardly. Hiroko was face down in a pool of blood. Mari’s eyes were wide-open and small holes in her chest were dribbling blood between her stiff fingers. Toshiya wheezed shallowly gripping two gunshot wounds on his stomach and chest.

“Otou-san!!!”

Yuuri rushed to fading father on the floor. Toshiya limply mouthed, “Yuuri, run away…” as his eyes rolled back into his head.

“Hm? There’s still one left?”

Yuuri turned to face the source of the foreign voice. Two grown men stood before him. One had a gold tooth, while the other wore a tattered cowboy hat and donned rifle. He pointed the gun between Yuuri’s eyes.

“You’re next, kid.”

Yuuri screamed.

Toshiya and Hiroko, shaken by the sound of their son’s blood curdling cry, quickly rushed to his room. Yuuri was fitfully asleep in bed hysterically screaming and crying. Hiroko violently shook Yuuri to wake him up from the nightmare.

“Yuuri! Yuuri wake up!” she pleaded.

Yuuri’s eyes shot open, to see his parents hovering over him, quite alive. Relieved, he stopped screaming, but the tears continued to fall.

“You had a nightmare.” Hiroko stroked Yuuri’s hair. “What did you dream about?”

“I dreamed t-that our hou-house was burning… T-Then I you and Mari-neechan were k-k-killed by robbers… And they were going to k-k-kill me too…” Yuuri stuttered between his uncontrolled sobs.

Toshiya hugged Yuuri securely. Yuuri’s crying calmed, muffled by his father’s shoulder.

“It’s just a dream,” he whispered gently, “we’re all alive, Yuuri. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. You can sleep in our room if you want to.”

“I want to sleep with Otou-san and Okaa-san…” Yuuri said between sobs.

Yuuri was too young for such a vivid, violent dream. His parents were disturbed. Without breaking the embrace, Toshiya picked Yuuri up as Hiroko switched off the lights in Yuuri’s room. The child was carried to his parents’ bedroom as promised. With Toshiya and Hiroko on either side, Yuuri felt safe again.

He finally fell asleep, exhausted from the ordeal, only to have the same dream again. It carried on for three days.

Except for Yuuri’s nightmares, his days carried on with relative normalcy. He still hadn’t recovered from the shock of discovering his Ability. Some of his classmates found out their Abilities as well. Much to his embarrassment, their Abilities were much cooler than his own. But, he already knew that, everyone’s would be. When his friends asked about his Ability, Yuuri dodged the question.

But, Yuuri was too young to understand the extent to which his parents were secretly very grateful for his Ability. Yuuri’s powers helped their family’s business save a lot of money on food waste. They, unfortunately, never expected Yuuri to become a Holy Knight – this was more than enough for them.

Keeping up with his routine like nothing happened, Yuuri continued to attend school and feign ignorance about his Ability. After school one day, he ran to his house as fast as his little legs would allow him. He wasn’t sure why, but he had a bad feeling, the same kind of gut wrenching feeling he got from his nightmares. Upon arrival, much to his relief, the house was not engulfed in flames. But he overheard a heated conversation taking place in front of the door.

“When will you pay-up, Katsuki?”

Toshiya shouted back, “Like I said, next month! I’m paid up through this month, so leave us alone!”

“Sorry man, but we’re short on money too. Don’t you think you should be a ‘lil bit more generous?”

The distinctive click of a rifle lever being pulled back was heard. Judging from Toshiya’s silence, Yuuri could tell his father was frozen in fear. He rushed into the yard to find his family cowering behind Toshiya. Their assailants were two adult men he completely recognized - one holding a rifle, wearing a tattered cowboy hat, and the other with a devilish gold-toothed grin.

“Hmm? You got a son, too?” The men commented on Yuuri’s dramatic entry.

Hiroko shrieked, “Yuuri!!”

“No! Yuuri! Run away!” Toshiya exclaimed, but it was too late.

The man with the rifle tightly clasped a hand around Yuuri’s neck. Holding him in midair while the family watched their youngest suffocate. He tried to pry at the man’s fingers with his hands, but he was no match for an adult. Toshiya fell to his knees and begged the man to release his son.

“Please! Let go of my son! I’ll pay! I’ll pay you however much you want, just don’t kill my son!”

Mari started to break down into tears at the sight of her brother turning purple. Hiroko raced into the house and reappeared with a rake in her hands.

“Let go of Yuuri! Or else I will…!”

Vicchan, Yuuri’s pet poodle could sniff the danger his owner was in. The toy poodle pounced onto the man, sinking his teeth firmly into the intruder’s leg. The man recoiled in pain, and he dropped Yuuri. His parents quickly pulled him away from the men.

“Why you little…!”

The man with rifle swatted Vicchan away with the butt of the gun. The poodle went flying with a loud “Crack!” and smashed into the side of the house. Yuuri pushed his parents aside, running to comfort his injured, whimpering dog. Yuuri couldn’t stop his tears from falling as he scooped his limp little friend into his arms.

“Vicchan… Please don’t die…!” Yuuri begged, his eyes shut tightly in desperate prayer. Please don’t take Vicchan away . The little ball of fluff began to glow in his arms.

“Yuuri…?” Hiroko was stunned, and so were the rest of the Katsukis.

“What the!?” The man with rifle yelled, as he was blinded by the glowing light emanating from Yuuri’s direction.

The light died down as quickly as it begun. Vicchan was breathing again. He licked Yuuri’s tears, and jumped out from his arms, showing no sign of injury. His family and the two men who watched the scene unfold, were both briefly paralyzed in surprise.

“So you got a healing Ability, huh? That’s some A-class Ability you have there.”

…Healing Ability? Yuuri’s brain short-circuited at the utterance of those two words which gave him hope. He was distracted just long enough not to notice the change in the atmosphere. Their attacker started to speak again.

“I’m curious, now. Can you revive your dead family?” he snickered as he pointed the barrel of the gun towards Toshiya.

There was nowhere to run. The man generated bullets with his Ability, Bullet Manipulation, and fired. He fired four times, each aimed at a different member of Yuuri’s family. They closed their eyes anticipating the end. Yuuri tearfully screamed, reaching towards his parents. In a split second, the tragedy of his family’s deaths flashed before his eyes.

No.

No…

NO!!!

“Stop it!!!”

The harsh ringing sound of the gunshots made the Katsukis cling to each other more tightly. They winced, bracing to feel the searing pain of a gunshot wound. Toshiya slowly opened his eyes after too many seconds had passed, not sure what to expect. The two men were uncontrollably trembling in front of him. And then, he saw the reason why.

The bullets were suspended in midair.

As the bullets were fired, Yuuri had been off to the side, clutching Vicchan, eyes shut tight in terror. When his parents turned to look at their child again, it was like a switch had flipped in the boy. Yuuri was exhibiting a side of himself that no one had ever seen. He was now standing, expressionless, with an arm raised as if commanding the bullets. He pried his eyes back open to reveal that his warm brown eyes had turned a glowing blood red. His glowing eyes indicated that he was utilizing his Ability to a high degree, and it was terrifying.

“Take it back,” Yuuri commanded in an icy monotone.

Yuuri swung his hand. The bullets moved in accordance to the movement of his hand towards the attacker. The bullets penetrated him instead. He collapsed on the ground, gargling briefly before becoming lifeless on the ground. The man with gold tooth scrambled to pick up the gun. Trembling, he pointed it at Yuuri.

“D-Don’t come any closer…! O-Or I-I’ll s-shoot y-you…!”

Yuuri eerily turned his attention to the other guy, causing him to take a step back rather than make good on his promise. The remaining criminal’s pants were becoming wetter. He was face to face with a red-eyed demon. Yuuri approached and cornered the man against the fence. The Katsukis were terrified by their child. It was like he was indeed possessed. Yuuri opened his mouth to speak.

“Die.”

The man with gold tooth was alarmed to see the skin on his hands growing wrinkled and dark. His whole body began to sag, and his jet-black hair turned whiter and whiter. His teeth rotted out of his mouth and unruly facial hair rapidly grew on his face. He fell to the ground, a lifeless shriveled prune. He looked like a mummy a few centuries old.

Yuuri, who stood before his family, was not a murderer. Though he had taken the lives of two men in an inexplicable fashion, it was all in self-defense. Yuuri saved their lives… and was looking very pale.

He closed his eyes and collapsed.

“Yuuri!” Toshiya ran towards his son, his wife and daughter followed him.

Hiroko cradled her unconscious boy in her arms. She shook him, but he wouldn’t wake up. “Yuuri! Oh, my baby…! Wake up please!”

“Yuuri…” Mari held her brother’s hand, he was still warm. “What did you do?”

The Katsukis could only hope that he would wake soon. Hiroko wrapped her arms around her husband and son to hug them. Vicchan tried licking Yuuri’s face to wake him. They all cried with conflicted feelings, unable to process what just happened. The only two things they were sure of was that they were still alive and Yuuri would hopefully be okay, fainting after using what it seemed to be… his Ability.

Is that your true Ability, Yuuri…?

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Yuuri finally woke a few days later.

Once he regained enough of his strength, Toshiya and Hiroko brought Yuuri with them to the Headquarters of the Holy Knights. The clerk quickly gave them approval for a meeting after seeing the frazzled, terrified family barge in and try to explain what the problem was. Gwendall was sitting behind his desk working as the family was ushered in with a flurry of confusion. He calmed the room with a friendly smile.

“Hello there,” Gwendall invited them to step further inside his office. “Please have a seat.”

The Katsukis nervously bowed to him first before sitting on the chairs provided in front of the desk. “So, what brings you here to see me?”

“We are here about our son. This is Yuuri,” Hiroko said, introducing Yuuri to Gwendall.

“Hello, Yuuri.” He replied warmly. He always had a soft spot in his heart for children.

Toshiya deeply bowed his head, “I’m begging you. Please make my son a Holy Knight.”

“Pardon me?” said Gwendall. Surely, they knew of the application process.

“Please,” Hiroko bowed as well, “My son will be a good Holy Knight. He won’t disappoint you.”

“Well, he should fill out the application and sit for the exams like everyone else. He shouldn’t be here,” Gwendall tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. This was the first time in a long time someone barged into his office and brazenly made such request.

“Would you listen to our story first?” Hiroko asked.

“Sure… I can enjoy your company for the time being.” Gwendall placed the pen back on the table, deciding to humor them.

“Thank you, Master Gwendall.” Toshiya bowed again.

Yuuri’s father began to recant the events of the last two weeks. It started when Yuuri discovered his Ability to control the freshness of food.

“Interesting,” Gwendall remarked. Such an Ability did exist, and this was the first time he heard of it. He jotted it in his notes. “If you are unsure of your son’s true Ability, you can either send him to Stellata or consult a specialist. I don’t how I can help him.”

“What do you think of his Ability, Master?” Hiroko held Yuuri close to her, who was silent throughout the conversation.

Gwendall quickly replied, “Maybe concerns the freshness of food, Enhancement type. Or maybe, he can control food-borne bacteria, Manipulation type.”

“But he healed our dog back from the brink of death!” Toshiya interjected.

Gwendall’s expression changed as he began to process the new information. How did healing a dog relate keeping food fresh. He could smell something unusual here. His interest in Yuuri’s case was officially piqued.

“Go on.”

Hiroko cleared her throat. “Our dog nearly died after an… incident in our home with two violent invaders. They kicked our dog and shot at us. Yuuri saved Vicchan’s life and stopped the bullets from killing us.”

“The bullets were frozen in air!” Toshiya exclaimed, fear creeping into his voice as he relived the traumatic experience. “I saw them right before he swept his hand to the left and sent the bullets in the opposite direction.”

There was a pregnant pause in the conversation. “…He reversed the bullets, right?” Gwendall finally spoke up. His expression was a façade of perfect calm.

This was too complicated, even for Gwendall. He wondered if the Katsukis were stretching the truth.

“Master Gwendall, what is your Ability?” Yuuri asked out of curiosity.

“Me? I have Immortality, B class Enhancement type. I’m going to turn 2000 years old this summer.” Gwendall was amused with the child’s expression, shocked to find out how a man who deceptively appeared to be his twenties was actually ancient.

“Is there any more information you can give me?” Gwendall turned his attention back to the parents of the child.

“The final attacker died on Yuuri’s command. He fell to the ground and looked like he was 1000 years old. Then Yuuri collapsed and went into a coma for four days.” Toshiya ended the story.

Gwendall’s naturally gentle features stiffened. He was working through the puzzle in his mind, placing the pieces one by one. He sat, statuesque for some time as the family watched for any change in his expressions. His eyes narrowed the more he thought, and then they went wide in a look of disbelief. His lips slowly curled into a smile. He clearly found the solution.

“I think pinpointed your son’s true Ability.”

“My child,” Gwendall turned to Yuuri. His parents grew impatient to hear the verdict.

“Look at the clock up there,” he pointed to the wall where an antique clock was hanging on it. “What is the time now?”

Yuuri raised his chin to examine the clock. “It’s 12:30 PM.”

“Good. Now I want you to imagine it coming back to 12:00 PM.”

The child did exactly as was told. He slipped into a blank, expressionless state akin to that day . The minute hand of the clock began to fidget as it dialed itself back from 12:30 to noon. Like a spell that had just been broken, the moment was disrupted by the chiming of the noon bell.

CUCKOO CUCKOO CUCKOO CUCKOO CUCKOO CUCKOO –

“Yuuri, my child. That is your true Ability – Time Control.”

Toshiya and Hiroko spontaneously checked their phones unconvinced. 12:00 PM was clearly displayed. It was simply unbelievable.

Gwendall couldn’t stop smiling. Certainly, the Katsuki couple made a right decision to bring their son here. Admittedly, he felt a bit guilty for giving them such a hard time early on.

With Gwendall’s judgement, it all became clear. Yuuri accelerated the shelf life of food, he reversed the time around his dog to a point before the injury occurred, he stopped and reversed the time surrounding the bullets thus giving them the appearance of changing directions, and, finally, Yuuri sped up the lifespan of the second attacker. Death by aging.

“I thought it was just a legend!” Hiroko exclaimed.

“Does that mean I have an A class Ability now!?” Yuuri asked excitedly.

“No.” Gwendall shook his head. “Your Ability… is S class.”

S class? Yuuri had never heard of it. His parents looked at him like he was a freak with their jaws on the floor after hearing Gwendall’s verdict. Was something wrong with him?

Yuuri started to cry. He didn’t understand what was happening. “What’s wrong with me,” he sniffed, clearly misreading his parents shock for disgust.

Yuuri was too young to have learned about the elusive S class just yet, how it didn’t fit the standard A-B-C Ability classification scale the rest of society used. He was too young to know how much of a big deal it was, the legendary S class. There have never been any instances of multiple S class users alive at the same time in recorded history. It was that rare.

“Nothing is wrong, Yuuri. You are incredibly gifted,” Gwendall said to calm the boy down. “S-class is described as an ability which fits all three categories at once. Control of food freshness is surely Enhancement. Bullet control and reversal is like telekinesis, so it’s Psychic. And what you did just now is Manipulation. Do you get it?” Gwendall explained further.

Yuuri couldn’t process the implications of his Ability. He had one thing on his mind, “Can I be a Holy Knight, now?”

“No, my child. Being a Holy Knight doesn’t suit you.”

Yuuri’s smile faded. All his hopes were crushed all over again. Gwendall saw defeat written all over his face and couldn’t help but ask, “Why do you want to be a Holy Knight?”

“There’s a Holy Knight I owe my life to. I’m very thankful that he saved me.”

“May I know who it is?” he asked.

“Victor Nikiforov,” Yuuri stated it crystal clear.

“Oh…” Gwendall nodded. “And?”

“I think that it’s cool to save people’s lives. People would be happy if I could help them, just like how Victor saved me. He made me and my mother happy.”

“You don’t need to be a Holy Knight in order to be a hero, my child.” Gwendall assured him. “You saved your family, remember?”

Yuuri clenched his fists tighter. “I… just wanted to fight next to Victor.”

“I like your motivation, but I’m afraid I must refuse your request for a position with the Holy Knights. Like I said, I don’t think it suits you.”

Gwendall’s tone was kind, but each word was a needle stabbing into Yuuri’s heart. “Why it doesn’t suit me?” he sniffed.

The smile on Gwendall’s face curled just a little bit more. “Don’t worry, you can still become a hero and fight with Victor in the future – but in a different way.” Gwendall said cryptically. “Why it doesn’t suit you, you ask? …Because I think there’s a better position you can fill. If you become a Holy Knight, you can’t have this cooler one.”

Yuuri was caught off guard. “What is it?”

“A position which has been vacant for a long time.” Gwendall announced. “And for the time being, you’re the only acceptable candidate.”

Gwendall turned towards Toshiya and Hiroko. “The new Holy Knights will be trained by their retired seniors. I will be stepping down to take over his training personally.”

Toshiya and Hiroko, with mixed feelings, understood what was happening while Yuuri was still confused by Gwendall’s vagueness. The couple was reluctant at first to give up their son, but eventually relented, realizing the bright future ahead for their child.

Gwendall stood up. In front of Yuuri, he went on his knees placed a hand on his chest and bowed deeply. Yuuri was frozen awkwardly watching.

“From now on, I, Gwendall Aravyne, shall be under your service.”

“W-What are you doing??” The change in Gwendall’s behavior made Yuuri restless.

“I’ve been waiting for someone like you… Allow me to offer my loyalty to you to the fullest.” Gwendall said reverently as a look of nostalgia and relief crossed his face.

Gwendall took Yuuri’s fingers and kissed them. “Your Majesty.”

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Several years later

Yuuri lazed in his bedroom. The sheets slid off of his bed as he rolled to his side. His alarm was blaring annoyingly. He hit “snooze” and continued to sleep. He only slept 5 hours last night. After dealing with mountains of works, a packed schedule, and chronic sleep deprivation… he deserved 10 more minutes.

The curtains covering his bedroom windows were pulled away. Morning light abruptly scattered throughout the room, blinding him.

“Gwendall… Close the curtains… I want to sleep…”

“No, it’s time to wake up.” Gwendall tied the curtains to the side. “I have your bath prepared.”

“Gimme just five minutes then…” Yuuri murmured, drifting back off.

“You can’t, Your Majesty. You have an important guest today. She will be arriving in an hour.”

Yuuri sat on the edge of the bed, groggily rubbing his eyes as he stretched. “Don’t forget my coffee…”

“Never,” Gwendall bowed to him with a warm, fatherly smile.

Some maids entered Yuuri’s room to tidy his bed. They bowed in greeting, “Good morning, Your Majesty.”

The raven headed to the bath house. He took off his clothes and left them on the floor. Yuuri descended into a large marble soaking tub. The perfumed scent of the soap and steamy water was refreshing. After the bath, he got dressed, and made his way back to the castle dining hall for breakfast.

Yuuri sipped the piping hot coffee as his advisor Gwendall joined him by his side. “So, today’s schedule?” He asked unenthusiastically.

Yuuri only partially listened as Gwendall went over the important details for the day. It was in quiet mornings like this where he would briefly remember his past. Everything had changed when Gwendall began to foster him. His life was a lot busier now, but he didn’t usually mind. In a way, he was helping more people in a day than a Holy Knight could in their lifetime. He had far surpassed his initial dream, possessing a better option.

“Are you ready now, Your Majesty?”

Yuuri smirked, broken out of his reverie. “If it’s for the best of my people, I’m always ready.”

 

Since Yuuri discovered his Ability, the country of Cervantes celebrated the birth of its new King.

Chapter Text

Victor and his friends were playing in a park, tossing and failing to catch a ball, now stuck underneath a car. Victor offered to retrieve the object. After all, it was partially his fault the ball was down there in the first place. He crouched down by the rear bumper and reached for the ball. His fingertips grazed its surface, but it was just out of arm’s reach.He pressed against the car, wedging his shoulder underneath to help give him just a few more inches to work with. He grabbed the ball and pulled out from underneath the car when he saw the rear of the car fall to the ground and heard the metal moan from the shock of impact. The car alarm started going off.

“Whoa, Victor!” In awe, a boy exclaimed. “Your Ability!”

Victor lifted the car and, apparently, hadn’t even noticed.The obnoxious sound drew some attention from other passersby. All eyes were on Victor. Victor stood agape, not convinced that Ability had anything to do with what happened.

“That’s… an Enhancement type, right?” His friends pressed on.

A girl pushed Victor by his back. “Cool! Victor, do it again!”

Just as he was told, Victor hesitantly reached for the angry car again. He doubted what his friends saw. It was probably an illusion. Yes, an optical illusion, he thought.There was no way his puny arms could lift a heavy car like this. He placed his hands on the car and took a deep breath, expecting to struggle and fall. Instead, he pushed the car upwards until it was literally above his head.

A round of applause greeted his ears.

The news of Victor’s rare Ability quickly hit his parents. They were excited for his promising future and worked to make his dreams a reality. Victor had always wanted to be a Holy Knight. He was enamored with the chivalry of fighting crime and protecting the public. Without wasting time, they brought him to Headquarters. He immediately sat for the tests.

 Despite his young age, Victor, passed with flying colors.

He could always hear the whispers in Headquarters as people discreetly threw glances his way:

“There is Victor Nikiforov. Can you believe he became a Holy Knight at the age of 11?”

            “Yeah, it’s crazy! Makes me wonder what I did when I was the same age…”

“But I wonder if a child can handle it? He is too young to be under this kind of stress.”

The job was indeed tiring and stressful. He quit school to continue his training under the Holy Knights full time to ease the burden. It all paid off when he saw smiles return to the faces of people he saved. He became a hero straight out of a comic book. It was truly fulfilling.

…Until a day came along that changed everything.

He had just sat down for lunch in Headquarters, famished after completing a mission to take down a particularly nasty Demon lurking around the Metropolis area. Demons were defined as creatures that existed, but usually unseen by the human eye. Some of these Demons were harmless, but many were malicious – causing disasters and taking innocent lives. Some were weak and easy to kill but others, while rare, would manage to murder a couple of Holy Knights before finally being brought down with a strong Ability. This was one of the few reasons why Gwendall founded the Holy Knights.

“You know the recent bombing incident at the mall?” Victor’s ears attuned themselves to some whispers he picked up on.

“I heard it was secretly plotted by us.”

The silver haired teen almost choked on his food. Luckily his gossiping comrades were far away and wouldn’t be suspicious of his super hearing. He strained to hear more.

“Really?!” The other woman shrieked. “It wasn’t Demon related?”

“I was shocked to hear it too! I didn’t believe it at first, you know.”

“But why would the Holy Knights would do such thing?”

She shook her head. “Oh no, by ‘us’, I mean the higher-ups. At the time the Holy Knights were running out of money. When the mall was bombed our organization was flooded with government funding to compensate us for our services. It is rather convenient, eh?”

Demons were not the only evil creatures in this world.

“That is too horrible!” The other woman covered her mouth in shock. “You wouldn’t believe how many victims I saw that day! I still can’t forget their traumatized looks…”

“And Master Gwendall is clueless. I feel bad.This isn’t what he intended…”

After a long moment of silence, the other woman finally responded. “But at least we are here to save people, right?”

“I heard the higher-ups will only accept missions if they were paid. They won’t approve charity missions.” Another voice joined the hushed conversation.

“Eh?!”

Victor was devastated.His spoon fell out of his shaking hands and onto the floor with a clatter. He wanted to believe that what he heard wasn’t true, that the Holy Knights selflessly helped others.His impression of the Knights began to waver, tarnished by this gossip.

“Now that you’ve said it, I feel like quitting now…”

Someone else overheard their conversation, and finally felt compelled to speak. “Are you stupid? Regardless of the money, we can’t save everyone.”

“That’s not the problem here!”

“Even hospitals charge you if you want them to save your ass. A surgeon won’t operate on you unless you pay them first.”

The group went silent.

“We have no right to complain about this, since this is how we manage to make our living, too. Be realistic, guys. Even with our Abilities, this isn’t some fantasy where we can save mankind in a flashy costume for nothing in return. We have limits.”

The women couldn’t disagree with him. As unpleasant as the notions were, Victor also thought the man made a disturbing amount of sense. The Holy Knights weren’t gods or angels; they were as human as the people they helped. Even though exterminating Demons and aiding in humanitarian crises were their main responsibilities,society saw them as superior beings, and thus placed unrealistic expectations on them all.Swept up in his boyhood dream, Victor, too, realized that he misunderstood the true role of a Holy Knight.

Even as the day wore on,Victor was still visibly shaken by what he had overheard. Yakov could tell something was bothering him. He was going to ask, but commotion broke out in the halls of Headquarters before he got the chance. Out of curiosity, they looked over to the source of the ruckus, hoping that it wasn’t serious enough to for them to get dragged into.

“I’m begging you! Please get someone to heal my daughter!” They heard a man’s desperate pleading fall on deaf ears.

“I’m sorry Mister, but we don’t have anyone with such an Ability here.” Yakov spoke up, apologizing to the man. “Why don’t you try sending her to the hospital?”

The man went on his knees. “I did! But the doctors said they couldn’t help me, they wouldn’t be able to cure her! Please help us! If it’s about the money, I’ll pay as much as you want!”

“My deepest apologies, but there’s nothing we could do for her.”

“No! Please! Anything for my daughter!”

The security guards had to drag the man away practically kicking and screaming. Victor watched the man get dumped outside and felt sick. He was just trying to help his daughter, causing a scene surely wasn’t his intention. Victor would’ve reacted the same way if he was in his shoes, completely helpless to save his loved ones.

“See, Vitya? This is what happens when they overestimate our job, Yakov grumbled. “They think we can make all their problems disappear if we felt like it.”

Victor wished he could help.

“Hey, Yakov…” Victor prompted a question.

“Hm?”

“…do you think there is someone out there that can help that man? Someone powerful enough, someone who would help anyone without expecting anything in return?”

 Yakov played it safe, “Whoever it is, it’s definitely not the Holy Knights.We can’t do much more than protect people from Demons.”

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Many Holy Knights were on duty today.

“You will be guarding a very important guest,” Gwendall said and continued described the mission.

Victor was one of the Holy Knights in charge of security. In the grand hall of the Metropolis Convention Center, he stood alongside the other Holy Knights on duty as he waited for the guest to appear. In the hall various political figures had already taken their seats and cameras from several broadcasting studios were crowding around the bottom of the stage.

“This is gonna be boring.”

Truthfully, this was Victor’s least favorite type of mission. He remembered one of his past assignments much like this one: standing guard at a conference in the very same building, struggling not to fall asleep while on duty.

The hall began to grow quiet when several men were seen placing a heavy object on the stage for everyone to see.

Victor recognized what that thing was, the remnants of a long forgotten,once-famous, centuries-old statue destroyed by a Demon. Gwendall was probably the only person left alive who might have seen the full form of the statue. He taught the Holy Knights that the statue used to be a symbol of strength, but never did reveal what the statue looked like.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Gwendall announced, stepping up to the podium on the stage. “Please greet the arrival of our guest in silence.”

The remaining murmurs in the hall died down completely, leaving a lingering suspenseful atmosphere in the Hall. Gwendall left the podium briefly and walked to the edge of the stage. He returned accompanying a hooded figure. The guest wore a dark, sweeping cloak with an oversized hood covering most of their face, they were completely unrecognizable. Not to mention they were short and small in stature – a child, perhaps?

“That’s our guest? Isn’t that a kid?” Victor whispered over to Yakov, the teen was bewildered. “Why he’s dressing like that?”

One of the Holy Knights standing to Victor’s other side opened his mouth, pausing, deciding if he should speak or not. When he finally made his decision, his tone was anxious. “I heard a rumor, that’s the King.”

“The… King?” Victor whipped his head around to face the other Holy Knight. “We have a King?”

Back on stage, the hooded figure was observing the large broken statue, running their hand along the cracks and jagged edges curiously. Gwendall whispered something in the hooded figure’s ear, and they nodded in response.

“Please watch till the end,” Gwendall said, disturbing the powerful silence. “What you are going to see is something you will never forget.”

Gwendall turned back to the guest and the statue. Everyone curiously watched on the edge of their seats. The suspense and mystery grew with every passing second. The hooded figure took a deep breath and...

Rewind.

As if invisible hands began to work, the statue gradually rebuilt itself, pieces of stone began appearing out of thin air and were attaching themselves onto the remaining stump of a statue. Even if Gwendall hadn’t ask them to watch, it’s impossible to look away anyway. Before the audience stood a fully restored likeness of Alexander the Great on horseback.

Victor had never seen something like this in his whole life. He stood there, watching, and suddenly began to enjoy his assignment a whole lot more. He shuddered trying to comprehend the amount of power that required, or rather what kind of power that required. A very strong Ability was clearly the explanation, but even then, he was still amazed. People were nervously murmuring around him after the spectacle had ended.

“Behold,” Gwendall presented the hooded figure to the audience as the hall grew silent once more. “It brings me great pleasure to introduce to you our new King.”

New King. The words rattled around inside Victors head. The man with the greatest power, the man holding the whole country in his hands, the man that no one shall dare to bemoan his name – the King.

Gwendall paused momentarily to allow their guests to process the information, “He has come before you all today to make a pledge! He cares very much for the people of Cervantes and vows to use his power and position for the betterment of Metropolis, its citizens and this nation.”

It was inevitable. Victor’s brain - and likely the rest of the audience’s brains - broke. “Anyone could be a hero and help others, protecting peace in different ways, but a king could offer them so much more,” Victor thought.

Holy Knights fight Demons, help in crises and disasters, and handle other missions too dangerous for the public. Doctors cure ailments and diseases. Police arrest criminals and protect the peace. Soldiers bravely go to war. But a king, a king had the power to tend to any types of needs his people had.

The hooded figure, the so-called King, was silently staring at Victor and Victor started to notice. “Oh god, did I offend him somehow?” Victor nervously thought. He was pretty sure he and the other knights had followed every procedure Gwendall gave them perfectly. What did he do? Other people were starting to notice, too. The stare was becoming too much. He had to do something.

Victor stepped forward to the hooded King and went to his knees with a hand pressed against his chest. He bowed before him.

“Your Majesty…” he addressed him, “long may you reign.”

The hooded figure gasped at Victor’s actions, but that went unnoticed by everyone. Without hesitation, the entire audience followed suit with a deep bow. The public, as Gwendall had assured the still young and inexperienced King, harbored no doubts. They were acutely aware of the significance of being King, Cervantian citizens had always, unquestioningly accepted an S class member as their leader.

The King’s worries became an afterthought, he was much too distracted. His gaze never left Victor.

The historic moment suspended the room in a thickly reverent atmosphere. Abruptly cutting through it all was a man cradling a sickly young girl rushing to the stage. Victor recognized this man from several days ago. As did the many other knights who ran to stop the man from advancing.

But, they were quite quick enough. The intruder had already made his way up onto the stage, shouting, “Please, I’m begging you, Your Majesty!” the man grabbed the hooded figure’s hand, crumpling to the ground in utter submission. “Please, you are the only one left who can help my daughter!”

“Hey! You can’t go up there!” A knight yelled.

Victor was nearly sick. If an old man lugging his kid around could reach the King before they could intervene, what would have happened if it had been someone dangerous. “Security reviews will be taking place after this,” he thought with a groan.

“Let him be,” the hooded figure finally spoke. Everyone froze.

The father readily took off layers of clothing from the girl to reveal her plate-like,scaly, mangled skin –a severe case of treeman syndrome. It was devastating, even disgusting to look at.The young girl was ashamed to be the center of attention, aware of how people felt about her. The hooded figure walked over to her, knelt down, took her hand and examined her skin. “Poor girl”, he thought. He couldn’t imagine living with the burden of such an ailment every day.

The hooded figure held her hand and mustered his energy once again. He reversed the mutated gene she was born with. Slowly, the hard flakes and warts on her skin began to retreat and disappear, replaced by brand new soft skin. The girl couldn’t contain her happiness.

Her clingy father broke down into tears, he pulled her into a hug. The audience burst into applause.

“Thank you, thank you!” the man said finally releasing his daughter from his embrace. He quickly bowed to the hooded figure; his daughter scrambled to stand up and copy her father’s movements.

He took out a large sum of money and tried to hand it to the hooded figure. “Your Majesty, please take this in return. We are forever grateful.”

The hooded figure pushed the man’s hand back, pressing his fingers around the money as if silently telling him to keep it. He didn’t need to receive gifts for anything he did for his people. What mattered most was his ability to be for them in situations such as these. The family bowed again before leaving the hall. There was no doubt in the public eye what kind of King the hooded figure would be. He proved that he would be there for his people as he had vowed.

Victor began to idolize the King that day. As days passed and the public began to interact more with their new sovereign, that admiration only grew.

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He always strove to give customers the best service.

An old man made a living for himself running a vegetable stand in the wet market. He’d make sure the vegetables were fresh before selling them. He never snuck wilted or rotten plants into customers’ bags when they weren’t looking like some less honest sellers did. He had more honor than that.

A high-school aged, bespectacled boy carrying a basket approached his stall.

“Looking for some greens, eh boy?” the old man greeted him. “I picked these just this morning.”

Yuuri suddenly became hungry for stir fried vegetables. “I would like some of these, please.” He said pointing to some red kale and spinach.

The old man weighed Yuuri’s greens and the electronic scale reflected back the appropriate price. He packaged them while the kid reached for his money. Yuuri completed the transaction and bowed to the old man saying his thanks. The shopkeeper smiled in return. It was rare to see such a respectful young man shopping in a wet market like this. Typically, his customers were housewives.

“That’s a lotta veggies you bought.” The old man noted. “Havin’ a feast?”

“I’m currently on a diet. Less meat, more vegetables…” Yuuri blushed, scratching the back of his head.

“You look to young to be on a diet, you’re a growin’ boy. How old are you?”

Yuuri didn’t expect to strike up a conversation, “I’m 23.”

“That old? I thought you were 16.” The old man laughed heartily, Yuuri was embarrassed but not surprised. He got the comment often enough. “Are you cooking for yourself, then? Or buying for your wife?”

“No, I can’t cook, and I’m not married yet,” Yuuri shook his head.

“So, you’re buying for your mother then? Attaboy!”

A painful wave of nostalgia hit Yuuri in the guts. He used to help his mother when he was a child, but that was all in the past.

“Well, kind of,” Yuuri replied, not wanting to get caught up in details.

“You’re a good kid,” the old man patted Yuuri’s back. “I wish there were more young’uns like you.”

Being this familiar with a civilian never failed to put him at ease, Yuuri thought happily to himself. People could casually touch him, call him by his name, hold an unfiltered conversation with him, look him in the eye, and, above all, see a being stand before them.

Yuuri was about to walk away when he heard the butcher across from the old man’s stall lamenting over something.

“What’s going on there, sonny?” the old man asked the butcher.

The butcher sighed deeply, “My electric grinder just broke. Guess I’ll have’ta pull out the manual one. My back’s gonna kill me tonight.”

Yuuri leaned off to one side to make some inspection of the machine in question. Yuuri stopped by the market often enough to know that machine was practically the butchers best friend, he loved that thing. The extent of his admiration was little creepy, but beside the point. He always saw him dicing and grinding meat with it throughout the day. It clearly made his job easier and improved the speed of his customer service. It looked expensive. Yuuri thought it would probably be a while before the butcher could amass enough savings to repair or replace it. It was written all over the poor guy’s face, too. He called for a moment of silence to honor his deceased comrade.

“Poor guy,” the old man turned to Yuuri.

But, the brightest rainbows appear after the gloomiest days, or so the saying goes.

The very next day, the old man planned on visiting the butcher’s stand to offer words of encouragement. Instead he saw a shiny new electric grinder sitting on the counter. The butcher was busy prepping for the day ahead, barely able to contain his enthusiasm. He couldn’t believe the butcher managed to replace the broken machine within a day.

The old man blurted out, “Ya bought a new one already?” breaking happy the silence.

“Hey!” the butcher waved to the old man. “No, I didn’t. It’s the King’s doin’!”

The old famer knew he was lying but appreciated the humor. “The King? You’re hilarious! Now, tell me what really happened.”

“I ain’t lyin’! Some fella came to my home.He told me he was here on the King’s order to replace my grinder! I even have a paper to prove it.” The butcher said smugly as he whipped out the royal order and handed it to the old man.

The vegetable farmer’s eyes went as wide as saucers as he read the very official looking paper containing the King’s seal.

The butcher added, “You don’t know how thankful I am. I was never fond of the idea of havin’ a king on the throne again, but if it wasn’t for him… well he saved me and my shop. Metropolis has been improvin’ lately too. He’s got my support now.”

The situation in Metropolis, the capital, had greatly improved since the King’s reign begun. Lower crime rates, fewer homeless and impoverished citizens, an improved economy, and less Demon sightings. Cervantes was not without conflict, and the King not without opponents, but generally, the King had won over public opinion.

“Am I the only one who thinks the King is a little creepy?” the butcher’s wife snorted, thinking about the King’s hooded face. “Sometimes I wonder if he’s truly human with such Ability.”

In coincidence Yuuri happened to stop by the old man’s vegetable stall again around the same time. He saw the butcher return to his work and his wife slink back behind the counter. It put a small smile on Yuuri’s face to see the difference he was able to make.

The old man filled the boy’s bag with extra vegetables. “Whoa!” Yuuri widened his eyes. “Isn’t this too much?”

“Boy, just take it all. My treat for today.”

Grateful, he thanked the old man and bowed before leaving the market.

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“I’m home!”

Yuuri closed the door behind him and walked through the entrance hall of the castle, carrying the basket of goods from the market. The maids he passed paused to bow and Yuuri inappropriately bowed in return. The head maid came running down the hall towards Yuuri.

“Your Majesty!”

“Martha,” Yuuri addressed the old maid. “I’m home.”

“Your Majesty! Why did you leave the castle alone by yourself without letting any of us know where you were first? I’ve been worried sick!” Martha began to scold him.

“I went shopping,” Yuuri shrugged and showed her the contents of the basket.

Martha was not amused. “You can just ask me or one of the other maids to take care of this for you! It’s part of our job. You don’t know what could happen to you out there!”

“Stop being such a mother hen, Martha. His Majesty is literally stronger than all of us combined.” One butler, busy cleaning the foyer, casually interjected without even looking over.

“That’s not the problem here!”

Martha brought her hand to his forehead underneath his bangs. The slight fever the raven had still hadn’t broken. She, aside from Gwendall, knew him best. She had just started working for the palace a few years ago when the country was thrown into crisis. Metropolis was struck by devastating earthquakes injuring people, tearing up farmland, and destroying buildings. Yuuri had to work overtime to contain the problem and collapsed from Ability exhaustion. Martha took care of him directly back then. Being one of very few people to see him in such a vulnerable state, she began to realize – he is just a boy. She fought to protect him ever since. She even worked up the nerve to argue with Gwendall when she thought he was pushing too hard.

“Don’t worry, Martha. I’m fine.” Yuuri assured her in a tone that befitted a child groaning at its mother’s fretting.

“Welcome back, Your Majesty.” Gwendall said, descending the stairs. “You really like to go outside and disguise yourself as a normal citizen, eh?”

“I hardly call my own face a disguise.” Yuuri retorted with a friendly smile. “If I never left the castle, I wouldn’t know what’s happening in their lives. It’s easier for me to perceive their needs and problems when I can walk amongst them.”

Yuuri turned and handed the basket he was still holding to Martha and shrugged his coat off, hanging it on the rack. “Martha, vegetable stew please. Please give the extra portions to the staff.”

 “Please don’t push yourself too hard, Your Majesty.” Martha left the final word, before leaving to the kitchen.

Yuuri knew all the extra vegetables the old man gave him would go to waste if he alone sat at the grand table and ate stew. Instead he made a habit of inviting his servants to join him at mealtime. The servants were delighted to frequently receive such high-quality cooking for free. Yuuri tried to make the castle feel like one big family in little things like this.

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Sometimes, Yuuri’s fate felt like a curse. It was the price he had to pay to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero.

Sometimes he hated everything. He hated his Ability. He hated his position. He hated the castle. Sometimes he just wanted to lie on his bed and play video games without the weight of a nation and a crown on his shoulders. Sometimes he just wanted to sleep in past noon or walk the gardens without a care in the world. Sometimes he wished he could get a full night rest without waking up to a nightmare.

Yuuri missed being normal.

Tonight, he was woken by a nightmare - buildings in ruins, grotesque-looking creatures roaming around with mangled human limbs in their mouths, and many more hunting down their own human prey. Strangely, the victims were all wearing the same clothes. Yuuri could smell blood, the unforgettable metallic scent that made him want to wretch.

He pulled the sleeping Vicchan closer, and slowly found the courage to drift back off to sleep - only to wake to the same nightmare a few hours later.

“Gwendall…” Yuuri said, stumbling into his office at an hour much earlier than he would usually be up, “I had a vision just now...”

Having such a versatile and powerful ability, Yuuri would sometimes discover or notice new things he could do. One of which was his visions masquerading as nightmares. His first was when he unknowingly predicted the death of his family several years ago. Since then, they had only increased in frequency.

Yuuri continued to address Gwendall, “…but I don’t recognize where it would take place.” Yuuri crossed his arms. “And the people were wearing the same clothes.”

“Same clothes? Don’t you mean a uniform? Start looking into schools.” Gwendall said taking on a serious tone.

This was why Yuuri shared his visions with Gwendall. He was probably right. Yuuri wasn’t familiar with this particular uniform, but the information most likely narrowed down potential locations significantly. This was helpful. He immediately went back to his room and opened his laptop.

“Do you need breakfast first?” Gwendall followed him. He now stood at the threshold of his room. “You can’t work on an empty stomach.”

“Just leave it on the table. I’ll eat later.”

Yuuri searched online for school uniforms and pulled up countless images. He paid attention to the characteristics of each while trying to remember the vision. One outfit struck him the most. A perfectly tailored black blazer with white embroideries and matching black pants. This was the uniform he saw in his dream. He could feel it.

Yuuri clicked on the image and was redirected to the respective website. It was a purchasing site. He read a description of the outfit and saw a hefty price tag. But it wasn’t until Yuuri’s eyes scanned over the title of the site that he found his answer, neatly scrawled across the top of the page in a stylish cursive font.

Terra Stellata.

The school where the future stars of society are born, where people find hope and confidence in themselves and their abilities. It was that prestigious school reserved for the elites, the place his mom promised to find a way to send him to once he was older, back before… well he’d rather not dwell on what would have been. He had to keep his head up and live in the present. Stellata was about to be attacked by a significant Demon threat and he was going to neutralize it.

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“Please watch over the castle.” Yuuri said, bowing to his servants politely.

“I will be at Terra Stellata, posing as a student on a mission for a while. I will drop out and return once I complete the job.”

Martha smiled, “Have fun, Your Majesty.” It was the closest thing Yuuri would get to a vacation for probably quite some time. She beamed imagining him making friends with boys his age.

“I will.” Yuuri slung his bag, packed with his clothes and toiletries over his shoulder. “Gwendall, I’m counting on you to hold down the fort.”

He waved goodbye and walked off. He thought everything through. He was casually dressed and ordered a taxi to take him to Stellata to appear as ‘normal’ as possible.  

He arrived on the school grounds and stepped out of the vehicle when he realized he had already made a mistake - he assumed this school was normal. It was definitely not normal. Most students were being dropped off in limousines.It hadn’t been five seconds and he was being stared at for all the wrong reasons.

“Hi,” Yuuri made a meek first impression as the new kid. The students turned back from him and whispered amongst themselves.

“Why is a commoner here?!”

“Ew, look at his cheap clothes.”

“Is he really a student here? I doubt it.”

Yuuri couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. Him, a commoner? He found it a bit funny. His “disguise” worked. It was honestly refreshing to be out from under the King’s hood no matter what people said about him.

Whomever designed the school was a massive fan of gothic architecture - Yuuri felt like he was in a history book. Stellata was one of the most beautiful schools he had seen, granted he hadn’t seen many. The school grounds were lush with colorful flowers, perfectly trimmed green bushes, and a large fountain. The school was also very clean, he could probably eat off the wide white marble floors he was now walking on.

Yuuri entered the headmaster’s office. A middle-aged man with slightly greying hair, presumably the headmaster,was sitting behind the ornate mahogany desk. He shook hands with the man, the latter kindly smiled at him. Then, the headmaster gave him some forms to fill within the week to be submitted to his desk, all standard procedure.

“Show me your Ability.” The headmaster asked him.

Oh crap.

Yuuri looked around the office frantically, trying to figure out what he could do to pass off a fake Ability without drawing suspicion. He obviously couldn’t demonstrate Time Control. Only the King had that ability, and Yuuri was not the King right now. He couldn’t blow his cover before setting foot in a single class.

“Do you need anything for it? Do you still not know what your Ability is? Or is it a minor Psychic type?” The headmaster concernedly pelted him with questions.

“Oh no, I’m fine.” Yuuri took out an orange from his bag.

“I can make food rot faster.”

In a split second, the orange in Yuuri’s hand turned black and whiteish. As headmaster, the man had seen many Abilities cross Stellata’s doors, but this was one of the weirdest. He tried his best not to be disrespectful with a dumbfounded look on his face.

“Okay. You’re in C class.” the headmaster said as calmly as possible.

The headmaster was clearly flabbergasted and sympathized with Yuuri for his tragic Ability.The raven-headed boy had to bite his lip to hold in his laughter. Yuuri was quickly becoming a fan of his situation. He was ready to have some fun.

“Welcome to Stellata, my boy.” The headmaster clapped his shoulder as a warm welcome. “I hope you will enjoy your time here. If you have any problems here, feel free to consult me.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Yuuri bowed.

The door of the headmaster office was still open and Yuuri heard a new pair of footsteps enter behind him just as he was about to leave. “Hm? A guest?”

Yuuri jolted to hear the third person’s voice. He knew that voice but hadn’t heard it in a long time.‘No, it can’t be,” he thought to himself. There’s no way that person could be here, he should be busy with his duties. He froze in place.

“Oh, he’s a new student here!” the headmaster replied.

Yuuri reluctantly turned around to face him. The person looked right back at him. There wasn’t much distance between them. Yuuri couldn’t believe it. No doubt, it was him, it was really him.

“My boy. This is your homeroom teacher– Victor Nikiforov.”

Chapter Text

Today Yuuri would make his public debut. Nervously hunched over his smartphone screen watching puppy videos, he was preparing himself to face the masses. Gwendall said it would steady his nerves, distract him. Yuuri really wanted Gwendall to be right, he hadn’t been able to stop shaking since he woke up.

His anxiety was always his toughest opponent. It required all Yuuri’s willpower to conquer it - his Ability couldn’t save him. It was his greatest weakness, truthfully. He had trouble controlling his Ability when he got too worked up. On one of the most important, and most televised days of his life, he needed to be in control.

“Your Majesty,” Gwendall retreated backstage. “It’s time.”

The child threw his specially made oversized hood on to cover his face. He insisted on remaining anonymous to protect his privacy. As he got older, he was convinced that it was the best decision he ever made. That thin veil did so much more than protect his privacy, it liberated Yuuri, the dime-a-dozen kid on the streets of Metropolis, from the burden of kingship.

Yuuri stood up and walked towards the stage. Then, he paused.

“Gwendall, I can’t…”

He was starting to hyperventilate. It was painfully obvious that Yuuri was far too nervous to face his people.

Gwendall knew if he could give the boy enough confidence, he could do anything.

“You’ll be fine, I promise.” Gwendall knelt to meet Yuuri at eye level, “There’s nothing to be scared of.”

“Here, take a deep breath… and let it all out.” Gwendall massaged Yuuri’s back, prompting him to do the breathing exercises he was taught.

On the outside, Yuuri had stopped shaking, but on the inside, he was still a nervous wreck. Getting his shaking under control, though - that was a start. In the end, Yuuri asked Gwendall not to let go of his hand as he walked out on stage. It couldn’t be helped that Yuuri was scared. He was still just a young boy. But, he could do this. All he had to do was fix a statue. Simple.

“Don’t worry – just show them your Ability and they won’t dare to belittle you, Your Majesty.” Gwendall reassured. “You’re the strongest person in the room.”

Stage lights flooded Yuuri’s eyes, followed by the sparkling of dozens of camera flashes from reporters crowding the stage. Finally, thousands of little eyes watched him intently from below. Once Yuuri had stepped on that stage, he knew, there was no turning back.He was going to mess up and that would simply be the end of him. He didn’t know where he found the courage to agree to this stunt. In that moment Yuuri was quite aware that he was far too young and in this far too deep. He may not be King officially until he turned 18, but this first step would send him hurtling down a course which he could not veer off. He would already have the word ‘KING’ boldly stamped across his forehead.

The audience was looking at him, waiting. Never more than in this moment did Yuuri wish to find some hole to crawl into and die. Victor, his lifelong idol, was here to watch him crash and burn, too. It was all too much.

It was time. On that stage, He was either going to be a king or a clown. He would do everything in his power not to be the latter.

The time between starting and finishing his demonstration was all a blur. He woke up from his stupor absentmindedly staring at Victor who was now bowing at his feet, much to his dismay. He gasped, hopefully not loud enough for his idol to hear. Before he could blink, the rest of the audience followed suit.He gulped nervously from all the attention. It must have gone well enough.

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Yuuri’s memory of his first time up on stage came crashing back to him with perfect clarity as he stood in front of Terra Stellata’s entire student body, expected to introduce himself. “Curse this school,”he thought.

The students of all three Stellata classes, A-B-C, gathered in the assembly hall. Even though the elite school had a small student body, it gave him little comfort. If the atmosphere of the room could do an angsty apathetic eyeroll, it would. He was on the stage alone, on a chopping block and was expected to break the ice with an introductory speech. Sure, he had spoken publicly before, and to much larger crowds, but now he was standing without his cloak on.

Without his cloak on.

And Gwendall couldn’t be there to support him either. He had a weak moment and wondered if he could simply stop time and disappear. But then, everyone would wonder where he had fled to and how he managed to disappear in a way that clearly defied physics. No, he couldn’t, the damage control would be impossible to manage. His Ability wasn’t the answer for everything.

“H-Hello there…” Yuuri stuttered, “N-nice to meet you all…”

“M-my name i-is Yuuri Katsuki and um… My hobby is playing video games… Ah, um… Well…”

How embarrassing. To think he was the most powerful man in the world but was stuttering under the weight of the judgement of students. Yuuri heard someone laughing at him, making him blush furiously.

“Ah… That’s it?”

It’s finished. Time to get away from here!

Someone from below shouted so Yuuri could hear them, “What’s your Ability?”

ARGH.

Otabek Altin, the Student Council president,seated in the front row, tossed Yuuri an apple nonchalantly. Yuuri marveled at the fact he had noticed it and caught the thing. On a normal day it would have hit him square in the face. Yuuri held out the apple, silently inviting the crowd to watch it. The apple slowly turned brown, then black in his hand. It was soft, misshapen, rotten. The audience cringed in response.

“I can make food rotten in an instant!”  Yuuri boldly exclaimed.

“Eww! Gross!!!”

An A class student flinched at the sight of the rotten apple. “What kind of Ability is that?! Disgusting!”

“Be respectful, please.” Otabek hissed with emphasis lingering ever so slightly on the “please”. He was pissed by their unwelcoming behavior, especially fromthe cocky A class students.

“C class is pathetic,” a voice came out of nowhere.

The slight cut through the low rumble of whispers going around the room like a knife, silencing the hall. A teenage boy, probably younger than Yuuri, and his gang of cohorts snorted. The owner of that comment was leaning back in his chair with his feet propped up on the seat in front of him. Smug bastard.

Otabek became stern. He unfortunately knew that voice and the boy it belonged to for far too long. He was the school’s resident delinquent, but nobody dared oppose the son of Stellata’s biggest donor. He had more power than the headmaster and wielded it abusively.

“Shut up, Kyler.” Otabek warned him, “If you don’t then I swear to God I will –“

“What will you do, Altin? Call the police?” Kyler stuck his tongue out, Otabek was at a loss for words.

“Hey, new kid. I heard you took a taxi here.” Kyler shouted with a mocking grin.

 “Did you whore yourself out to afford this place?”Kyler and his friends roared into laughter.

Kyler had overheard some girls chippering about how cute the new kid was. He wouldn’t let some poor outsider steal even an ounce his popularity. In Stellata he’d always be the king. He wouldn’t let Yuuri stay here long and was confident he could force him to leave. He had already succeeded in making several other students drop out that he didn’t like. He could do it again.

Yuuri’s brows twitched, but he still managed to maintain his composure. He was used to facing unpopularity and hostility. He briefly recalled the time when somebody attempted to kill him after Yuuri stripped him of his Ability. Kyler would have been just a little kid back then.

“Well, my enrolling fees are paid by scholarships.” Yuuri fed them a lie, drawing from his wit.

Most students gaped in awe, but Kyler looked like he was going to have a conniption. While Yuuri had been admitted via academic excellence, most students were there on their parent’s dime. His feat was something that could be attained only by hard work. It was a feat indeed because, at this School, having one meant you were practically a descendant of Einstein.

“Hmph! What a sad life little bookworm!” The insult was a little lacking, but Kyler was just getting warmed up.

“Listen here pathetic commoner, you have no idea how much better my life is than yours. Heck, my bedroom is as large as this hall! Just because you wormed your way in, doesn’t mean you’re one of us,”Kyler spat onto the floor.

My bedroom in the castle is larger than this hall, Yuuri held himself from laughing.

Kyler raised a hand; a ball of energy was building on his palm. Students unfortunate enough to be seated around him shrank away in fear of being collateral damage. Yuuri knew Kyler was showing off to intimidate him. While it appeared that he was going to throw it, he immediately extinguished it just as Yuuri had expected. If everyone knew just how much Yuuri was thoroughly enjoying this, people might think him a masochist.

Kyler finally delivered his ultimatum, “I’m warning you, new kid. Keep your head down, or I’ll ensure your time here comes to an end.”

Kyler blasted the door open with an energy bomb and dramatically left the hall. Nervous murmuring broke out as soon as he left. Otabek sighed. His favorite delinquent just destroyed school property… again.Why couldn’t just one thing go right when he was around? Everyone nervously looked towards Yuuri who they thought was frozen in fear.

Yuuri missed school.

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Otabek gave Yuuri a tour around the school grounds and a campus map. It was quite a walk to the class rooms from his dorm, but he didn’t mind.Upon reaching the dorms, Otabek handed him the room key, thus marking the end of the tour.

“Thanks for your help,” Yuuri spoke with gratitude.

“My pleasure,” Otabek gave a friendly smile. “I hope you have a good time here.”

Otabek thought Kyler had ruined Yuuri’s first day, so he felt compelled to try to help him out. “Remember, if Kyler is making a fuss again, feel free to come and see me. I’ll do my best to stop him.”

“Haha, he’s just a dumb kid. I can handle him.”

After seeing Otabek out, Yuuri took the elevator back up to his room. The dorms, matching the grandeur of the school, were more like fancy apartments. Yuuri was surprised to find that his door was already unlocked. Opening the door, it was confirmed. Yes, an apartment more than anything.

There were some smaller rooms inside for the bedrooms and bathrooms of course. In the common area was a well-equipped kitchen, a dining table and a living space outfitted with a couch and television. The white marble floors and gothic style decorative windows from the main buildings continued into the dorms. Luscious oriental rugs were used in the living room and bedrooms to give the spaces a cozier atmosphere. As expected of an elite school, the apartment was decorated exquisitely, like it was taken straight out of a model home.

“Hey there!”

A sudden voice rang out making Yuuri jump, “AHHH! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“Sorry sorry,” Yuuri’s roommate playfully apologized. “My name’s Phichit Chulanont,” the roommate held out his hand.

“Hi, I’m…,” Yuuri was about to reply, extending a hand out to return Phichit’s gesture.

“Yuuri Katsuki,” Phichit abruptly finished his thought for him.

“You’re the kid Kyler was tormenting at the assembly this morning. Of course, I know who you are,” Phichit was sympathetic. “I wish he would just get expelled already, no one can stand him.”

Yuuri responded with a smug look. “Don’t worry, I have thick skin.”

“But you know, Kyler only targets people he feels threatened by. For a new student, to already be on his hit list, that’s unusual.”

Great. People were threatened by Yuuri even if they didn’t know he was their King. His position made him prone to drawing attention like that, but Yuuri thought it only happened because of his Ability. He was disappointed, he wished he could have stood out less on his first day. It sucked to be the Chosen OneTM.

“And now you are all over the school news!”

Yuuri wished he misheard Phichit. “What?!”

Phichit opened up his admin account on Stellata’s gossip blog, pulling up its latest posts.  Yuuri peeked at Phichit’s phone and his eyes went so wide they could have popped out of their sockets.

Breaking news: Kyler Targets the New Kid

By Phichuchu,

No love story lasts forever just like the tale of two star crossed lovers, Kyler, the village asshole, and endless drama. However, this couple far surpasses Juliet and her beloved, Romeo, to more closely embody Jack and Rose in a tragedy of Titanic proportion - leaving bodies floating in their wakes.

Today, they sailed off on a new adventure together to find more students to victimize and threaten more bright futures to go up in blazing fireballs. Consequently, today, a new character made his debut -“the new kid”a.k.a. Yuuri Katsuki –adding more kindling to their fiery passion. Just when you thought the flames of this steamy relationship couldn’t get any higher, Kyler reaches a new climax with his provocative speech during assembly. While you’re reading this, he is jerking off to the sweet memories he made earlier today with his romantic partner.

Kyler, threatened by the new kid with rotten food abilities, was clearly trying too hard to show off his machismo and Aporophobia using his A class Psychic type Energy Generation Ability. When will he learn that a C class Ability beats an asshole any day.

Do you think Kyler will ever learn his lesson? Leave your comments down below!

There were pictures and videos liked at the bottom as well, much to Yuuri’s dismay. “You have time to do all of this?”

“Thanks to my Ability, Technology Manipulation.” Phichit beamed in pride. “I have cameras secretly hidden throughout Stellata, except in the bathrooms of course. Students always refer to me for information, heck even teachers too. That’s why I’m a part of the disciplinary committee.”

Wow. He was not someone Yuuri could allow his identity to be revealed to. He would have to be careful.

“Are you sure it’s fine to post something like this about him?” Yuuri reread the post, giggling.

“No worries, with my Ability I can make sure Kyler is blocked from accessing it no matter what device he uses. Even with a VPN. However, currently he doesn’t even know this site exists.”

Yuuri headed to his room to cool off after today’s theatrics. Yuuri placed his bag into the mahogany wardrobe, switched on the air conditioner and flopped on the bed. It was no match for his bed in the castle, but it would do just fine.

His phone rang. Yuuri answered after checking the caller ID, “Hello Gwendall.”

“Your Majesty, how’s school?”

“Great,” Yuuri sarcastically snorted. Yuuri kept things vague not to prod at Gwendall’s protective father side.

“Have you eaten your lunch yet, Your Majesty?”

“Hmm… Not yet.”

Despite being careful not to trigger Gwendall’s “dad mode”, Yuuri had still managed to flip that certain switch,“Your Majesty, you are currently in a place beyond my reach and I can’t help if anything happened to you.”

“Sorry, I’ll take my lunch soon. I just sat down in my room.” Yuuri remembered Gwendall could be as scary as Martha, particularly if he skipped meals. He may appear calm, with that lovely gentle cadence to his voice, but being on the receiving end of his sharp words is traumatic.

“Anyway…” He paused for long enough to politely incite enough awkward silence to warrant switching subjects, “How’s the castle while I’m gone?”

“It’s fine, but it feels empty without you here. Martha keeps asking me when you’re coming back.”

“So, you admit you called because you miss me?” Yuuri chuckled.

Yuuri only said it jokingly, but Gwendall was serious. “I do.”

The raven-haired boy went silent for a moment. This was the first time he was separated from his faithful assistant. He would go days, possibly even weeks, without seeing him in person. Gwendall who’d never opposed him, complied to all his orders, and cared for his wellbeing like a parental figure trained him for moments like these, to be the man he was now.

 Yuuri changed the topic abruptly this time, “Gwendall, do you have any children?”

“I used to.” Gwendall replied. “They all passed away centuries ago.”

The ultimate curse of the immortal. For someone who has lived as long as he had, Gwendall must have lost more loved ones than he could ever keep track of. Maybe he feared having children of his own again because he didn’t want to go through the pain of outliving them. Yuuri could tell, though, the way Gwendall’s heart softened around him, that he couldn’t help but think of Yuuri as one of his own. Despite his youthfulness, he too was vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation just like the elderly.

“I love you Dad,” Yuuri said spontaneously. A small, warm smile was growing across his face.

Gwendall was caught off guard. Silence filled the other end of the phone. Yuuri’s heart lurched when he envisioned the face Gwendall was making, too precious.

His assistant laughed gently from the other side of the line. Yuuri suddenly couldn’t tell if he was happy, he found it funny, or maybe realized how awkward it was. Yuuri wondered if he was wrong to say it. He might have reopened an old wound, unbeknownst to him.

Gwendall’s laughing died down, and a brief silence filled the line once more. “Love you too, son,” he replied with a warm, richness to his voice.The minute pause before “son” he hoped went undetected.

It had been a while since Gwendall was addressed as “dad”. Hearing it once again unexpectedly put a smile on his face. It had also been a while since Gwendall addressed someone as his son. Uttering it once again, while it filled him with fatherly love and joy, served as a stark reminder of the day his child would leave him alone in this world like all the rest had before him. It was a guilty, bittersweet moment. Nevertheless, he was happy to call Yuuri his son.

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Yuuri attended his first class,“Basics of Ability”.

Gwendall had taught him everything he needed to know with expert level instruction, sparing him not even the tiniest detail. This class, “reading” this textbook while listening to Mr. Giacometti’s lecture was boring. The only thing worth his attention was that his idol and homeroom teacher, Victor Nikiforov was co-teaching today.

Christophe Giacometti used his Ability, Shape shifting (Enhancement type), to turn the tip of his pointer finger into chalk to begin writing notes on the blackboard. Victor was reading aloud selections from the textbook, explaining some finer points while Yuuri’s classmates listened.

The women sitting behind Yuuri were trying to be discreet, shocked that Victor, the captain of the Holy Knights, was currently teaching their class. Yuuri was relieved that he was not the only one who found it unusual.

Ending the first chapter, Victor looked out towards the class. “Any questions so far?” He asked.

Yuuri raised his hand before continuing with his question, “Mr. Nikiforov, are you retired from your position with the Holy Knights?”

The whole class was silent, awaiting his answer. Victor only meant questions related to the syllabus, but it wouldn’t be hurt to answer this one unrelated question. Victor expected to receive it, being such a well-known figure.

“No, not yet. I’m currently on vacation, and this is my part time job.”

“Part time job?” Another boy was puzzled.“I thought Holy Knights were rich!”

“I wanted to try something new for a while,” Victor replied with a wink and a secretive finger placed to his thin smile.

Chris just sat there with a mocking grin for his longtime best friend. Then, he stood up and stretched a little bit, signaling the start of a new subject. It was time for Ability Counseling. This was Chris’ favorite subject. He had been looking forward to it all day. The Swiss motioned for his students to flip to a new page in the textbook while he began his lecture.

“Well, class. This is a very important lecture and one of my favorites. It is very important to accept your Ability regardless of what you are blessed with. There is no such thing as the most useful Ability, and there is no such thing as the most useless ability. All Abilities will require your creativity to unlock their maximum potential.”

Victor added, “Once you know what you can gain from using your Ability, it will be your most trustworthy friend.”

Yuuri could see some of his classmates in the C class were depressed, clearly unhappy with their respective Abilities. Yuuri had no right to judge, he could relate perfectly to them in his childhood. After Chris and Victor’s lectures, he saw a faint glimmer of hope in their eyes, proving everyone secretly yearned to be special. But, Yuuri knew having even the most desirable ability, didn’t guarantee a better or easier life.

“First thing first,” Chris drummed his fingers on the table. “Let’s discover the envy within your heart for someone else’s Abilities.”

Victor continued, “We are going to talk about who’s abilities you admire the most and why. Anderson, you first.”

The young man in his 20s named Anderson stood up and began his story.

“My idol is my dad. His Ability is Enhancement type Heat Endurance. He works as a firefighter and always saves more victims than his co-workers. He is also brave, the first one to charge into a building without hesitation.”

Everyone in the room, teachers and Yuuri included, clapped for his heart-warming story.

“See? This is a perfect example of how believing in your Abilities will grant you an advantage. Every ability is versatile and applicable, as long as you’re smart and confident in yourself.” Victor beamed.

“Next!” Chris commanded.

One of the women sitting behind Yuuri stood up. “My idol is the King!”

Yuuri wished he could die of embarrassment.

“The King always helps his people and he never uses his own power, Ability, and money for personal gain. His Time Control Ability even allows him to loop his wealth by reversing cash flows at the end of the day, effectively giving him infinite money. He uses his power to make donations to the community. He even covers his face to show how much he doesn’t care about fame.”

Well, it’s because your King is too cowardly to show his face to the public, Yuuri self-deprecatingly murmured.

“Did you say something about the King, Yuuri?” the woman asked.

Oh, she overheard him making fun of her King. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it’s just I don’t think he’s a good King yet.”

Yuuri’s response created a ripple of shock throughout the classroom. He didn’t expect the criticism be this intense. Great, he attracted unnecessary attention again. It was very unusual to hear someone sharing negative opinions about the King. Though, the other people in the class were not growing as agitated as this woman was.

 “Why do you think so…?”

“Not all people will have the same opinions. He still had a long path to go, towards perfection. People look at him like he is a God when even he isn’t above making mistakes.”

The woman involuntarily raised her voice trembling with anger. “You can’t say that about the king! …Or His Majesty will punish you!”

“If the King was so petty as to act on my comment, then it truly shows he’s not a good King.” Yuuri defended.

Victor also disagreed with Yuuri but chose to remain a mediator in the discussion. “Your reasoning for your counterargument is weak, Katsuki. You’ll need a more convincing one to represent a better view of a different perspective.”

“Oh?” Yuuri knew his reasoning was weak. Well, he always thought whatever he did for Metropolis was never enough and was dedicated to improving himself every year. “Mr. Nikiforov, what would you say about the King?”

“He’s my idol as well.”

The air fled Yuuri’s lungs. Out of all the other people in this world he could have possibly chosen, Victor Nikiforov, his childhood hero, reciprocally stated that his idol was the King – It was a dream too good to be true. Sure, people admired him for his power and position. But, if he was a nobody would he still receive that same level of respect just as a fellow human being?

“For some of the many reasons I heard from others, so do I admire the King.” Victor said. “His numerous qualities making him a good King never fail to amaze me. I am willing to bow my head down to the floor before his presence.”

How unreal. Victor’s words made his heart soar. Yuuri questioned if his ears were working properly or if someone had cast a spell on him which caused him to hear what he wanted. With this mutual level of respect between them, Yuuri finally felt like he was on the same level as Victor. It took him far too long to recognize his own self-worth.

“May I know who you take as an idol, Katsuki?”

After the longest time bottling it up, Yuuri finally had an appropriate, if not perfect,opportunity to get everything off his chest. The words in his mind were waiting to be spoken, the feelings in his heart were soon to be revealed, and the truth he wanted that particular person to hear was sitting in this very room. Yuuri was flush with gratitude even to this day to Victor for giving him another chance to live.

“My idol is Victor Nikiforov, the brave and strong Holy Knight.”

Victor stared at Yuuri as if the latter had made a love confession.

“My reason for admiring him is… Well…” Yuuri blushed, “My mother and I were victims in that bombing incident of a mall many years ago.”

The classroom was filled with audible gasping sounds. Everyone knew of the aforementioned tragedy and the following conspiracy theory that the Holy Knights had planted the bomb. Their public reputation badly damaged, Holy Knights were no longer seen as god-like figures. It was rare and surprising to have a Holy Knight for an idol now.

Yuuri continued his profession, “And at that time, I met Victor for the first time. He was the one who found me and dug my out of the rubble. He saved my life. Ever since that day I grew up wanting to be just like him.”

The raven-haired boy smiled towards his homeroom teacher.

“I feel like I never got the chance to properly express my gratitude that day. Thank you for saving my life.”

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After paying at the cash register, Chris carried a tray containing fast food and two large cups of lemon soda to a table for two people. Victor occupied the second chair, waiting for Chris and the arrival of his lunch. He could smell his lunch from far away due to his Ability. The aromas were teasing him while Chris sauntered over at a pace for too slow for his liking. Finally placing the food on the table, Victor scarfed down his meal without waiting for his friend.

“So,” Chris munched on his chicken nuggets. “You never did tell me why you became a teacher all of the sudden?”

Victor swirled his fries into a small pool of ketchup, and pushed them into his mouth. “Some Demons sightings were reported at Stellata. I came to investigate.”

“R-Really?! Are you serious?” The Swiss almost choked on the nuggets.

The Russian nodded, his expression unchanging. “Strangely enough, I couldn’t detect their presence. I only have a week for this mission, so I need to work quickly.”

“Wow, so you actually are on a mission… I guess I saw that coming…” Chris added more nuggets into his mouth.

“This mission’s gonna be tough. If the reports are true and I don’t get to those Demons soon enough, Stellata will be in deep trouble.”

Chris’ appetite died while listening to Victor’s grim report. “Many in Stellata are unable to fight Demons of a dangerous caliber. If they are, in fact, the monstrous type, then I’m afraid many students could die like lambs to the slaughter.”

“That’s why I’m only telling this to you, Chris. I may need your help in the future.” Victor looked to Chris in a mixture of hope and deadly seriousness. “Will you help me?”

“Sure, you can count on me if they do appear. But don’t expect me to become a Holy Knight after this.”

Chris’ Ability was strong enough to qualify him for a Holy Knight position, but he always refused. Just listening to Victor’s rants throughout the years was enough convincing for him to not get involved. Besides, Chris preferred teaching, and managed to turn most of his students from nobodies into somebodies.

“Teaching today was more fun than I expected,” Victor noted. “I still think in the long run it’ll be boring since you teach the same thing every year.”

Chris smirked. “The best part of teaching is interacting with your students. They will never fail to amuse you and you get to meet so many different people.”

Among the students he met today, Victor was reminded of Yuuri. The dichotomy between the brave, choice words he had for his King and the kind and passionate words he gave Victor personally was brave and memorable. It had been a while since he was appreciated for his job. In that moment Victor truly felt his hard work was paying offand it warmed his heart. Yuuri made his day.

Chris noticed Victor’s creepy empty stare, smiling into the distance combo. “Are you thinking about that Katsuki boy?”

“Chris,” Victor hung his head low. “I realized just how lonely my life is since I became a Holy Knight. I barely have time to spend with others, and the time I do have I spend trying to prop up failing relationships that never last more than a year.”

“Hmm? What’s with the talk about your dating life all sudden? I thought we were talking about Katsuki.” Chris found Victor’s behavior odd.

Victor embarrassedly smiled while absentmindedly running the tip of his finger around the rim of his soda, “He’s my type. I wonder if he’s single?”

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It’s time for the lunch recess.

Yuuri headed to the cafeteria already brimming with students and teachers. Phichit waved him over to a corner table, inviting him to share it. Yuuri saw Phichit’s tray for food, so the he turned around, headed to the cashier to order first.

Phichit urged him to come to the table instead, “Yuuri! No need to do that, come here!”

“Wha?” Yuuri was confused. “But I’m going to buy food…”

A man hollered “Just wait at your table, new kid. I’ll service you later!” Yuuri looked over to identify the source of the voice. It was the cafeteria owner, a young man wearing gloves and an apron behind the counter with a printed name tag – J.J. Leroy.

“Yuuri, here. Write your order on this paper along with the table number.”

Phichit shoved a piece of paper and pen at Yuuri as he took his seat next to him. Yuuri glanced at the menu pasted on the table before scribbling on the paper - curry bread and oolong tea. Wondering what he should do next, Yuuri turned to Phichit who motioned for him to just wait.

Before his eyes, the paper started to levitate in midair.

“Eh?!” Yuuri almost jumped from his seat due to shock.

The flying paper made its way into JJ’s hands. He read its contents. “Curry bread and oolong tea, eh? Coming right up!”

JJ had a Telekinesis Ability and used it to move things around with his mind. After several seconds of waiting, a plate of curry bread and a glass of iced oolong tea slowly landed on the table in front of Yuuri. They were labeled JJ Style Pastry and JJ Style Drink. Yuuri noticed the drink was rather large despite asking for “regular”.

“It’s my treat, new kid.” JJ waved to him from behind the counter. “Welcome to Stellata!”

“I see, thanks.” Yuuri bowed his head to the owner.

The raven also saw dirty dishes being gathered from empty table before being moved into the kitchen. Several other workers came out to clean the tables and the floors.

“Convenient, isn’t it?” Phichit said while chewing his food, “We don’t need to stand in long queues to buy food, the service is quick, and everything is delicious!”

Yuuri took a bite of the curry bread, and he agreed. The warm, chewy dough and crispy outer crust of the bread paired well with the savory, mildly spiced curry, the sweet potatoes and soft bits of beef. He was famished and made short work of demolishing his food. He immediately ordered another serving.

The raven placed money on the table, it was picked up and the change was returned to him. What a satisfying and entertaining service. Yuuri was about to finish his remaining oolong tea when the glass was snatched away.

“I got no money and I’m really thirsty,” Kyler chugged the remainder of the oolong tea before slamming the glass back on the table with a dramatic thud. “Too bad, new kid.”

Ah well, Yuuri was too full to finish his tea anyway. Kyler, despite his rude approach, at least prevented wastefulness. Phichit, though, was pissed on Yuuri’s behalf. Receiving dark glares from around the room, it was clear - nobody liked this brat. Everyone held a secret desire to see him arrested or murdered by Holy Knights, mistaken as a disguised demon.

Kyler had already moved on to pick on a different student.

He was throwing insults towards a short, blond-haired boy, and his groupies laughed on cue to mock him further. The blond balled his trembling fists, holding in his anger with every ounce of self-control he had. The students in the cafeteria hungrily watched the scene unfolding without interfering. No one thought to defend the blond.

“Yurio Plisetsky, the so-called model student of Stellata.” Kyler snarked at the blond. “What a cowardly weakling.”

Yurio gritted his teeth. In one hand, a ball of flame was about to appear. Kyler noticed, but continued to goad him, “go ahead, try fighting me, you teeny-weenie. My Dad will fire your family’s sorry lot and let you all die in starvation.”

The ball of flame extinguished at the thought of Yurio’s sickly grandfather. Kyler’s father employed his parents and paid for Yurio’s enrollment here. Yurio knew Kyler got anything he wanted. He was his family’s only child, and sole heir to their fortune. He became paralyzed in silence, realizing his defeat.

Yuuri looked around. The students were watching as if this were a spectacle to bring popcorn to and Yurio was the humiliated circus animal in a comedic act. He had to, no, he wanted to act. Yuuri, wanting to get back at him for the tea, had a brilliant idea. Licking his lips in a sly demeanor, Yuuri focused in on Kyler’s bladder, using his true Ability to speed up its function.

“Plisucksky, you know that – ”

Kyler was going to throw more insults, but he felt suddenly unpleasantly… wet? Something warm and runny was streaming down his leg and he panicked. Kyler couldn’t control it. A puddle of yellowish green fluid began to form on the floor underneath him.Everyone stared at it for a hot second, dumbfounded, before exploding into laughter. This was the worst moment in his life.

Serves you right.Yuuri thought, triumphantly.

Phichit was taking pictures of it, and Yurio was no longer shamed. Seeing Yuuri’s smug face made Kyler’s blood boil. The delinquent rushed the raven and grabbed him by the collar of his blazer.

“Fuck you, new kid! You added something to that tea, didn’t you?!”

“Well, who knows.” Yuuri just shrugged. Seeing him so unphased by his menacing presence pushed Kyler beyond his limits.

“No!” Phichit frantically interrupted, “I saw it with my own eyes. Yuuri drank it first and nothing happened to him!”

JJ also was there to add up Phichit’s defense. “He’s right. He was surprised you stole it from him. He wouldn’t have had time to do anything. Just treat it as Karma, man.”

Kyler’s massive ego was bruised and he currently lacked someone to blame. He snapped. Kyler roughly released Yuuri’s collar and pointed a sharp finger towards him. Yuuri was still eerily serene when, normally, any other student was cowering in fear before him. Damn, Yuuri blighted his existence like no one else knew.

“Listen here, new kid! You haven’t even been here a week but you’re damn sure a cocky bastard standing up to me!”

He continued, “If you really want to show you’re the boss, then I challenge you to a fight. You better not run away, or I’ll find you and drag you back kicking and screaming! Heck, I might even feel compelled to hire assassins to kill your family.”

Yuuri never said a word, still standing like there was a mosquito buzzing around his ear, completely unphased by Kyler’s threats.

Yurio exclaimed. “Cut it out, Kyler! He’s just a C class, he couldn’t beat an A class like you! Why don’t you fight me instead? We’re both A class. It’ll be a fairer fight that way!”

Correction, I’m the one and only S class. Yuuri snorted.

“Shut up, Plisucksky! I am going to put the new kid in his place after giving him a through pounding!” Kyler went on again, “Tomorrow, 10 AM, school courtyard. You better show up, new kid!

“I hope you’re ready for a beating,” Kyler devilishly smirked, confident about his Ability and eager to show it off. He couldn’t wait to torch Yuuri.

When Otabek appeared at the cafeteria to break things up, it was already too late.

“I accept your challenge, Kyler.”

Chapter Text

“Dad, why is he always wearing a cloak?”

His father always brought him to these kinds of events, and each time he came he saw this mysterious hooded figure accompanied by someone called “Master Gwendall”.The hooded figure didn’t look scary, like everyone else said he did. He was more curious than anything.

“Son, he is the King.” Kyler’s father crouched down to talk to his 5-year-old son. “He wears a cloak because he doesn’t want his true identity to be known.”

Kyler knew what the word “King” meant. He imagined the fictional kings he frequently saw in cartoons, games and children books. But this King didn’t fit his imagination at all. He wasn’t clad with expensive clothes and accessories; he was covered up with a plain black cloak.

“Why doesn’t he want anyone to know who he is?” the inquisitive toddler pressed for a better answer.

His father patted his head with a chuckle, “That is what makes him a good king.”

Today was the inauguration of a brand-new museum. A large red ribbon was tied between two decorative pillars in front of an antique vessel placed on a display pedestal. The crown jewel of this exhibition, the two centuries old vessel, was pure gold and wrought with delicate expert craftmanship.  The hooded figure held a pair of scissors, walked towards the ribbon, and cut it slowly and deliberately so the press could get their shots in. Blinding camera flashes surround him while he shook hands with the curator.

The adults were chattering amongst themselves, “The King is only 12 years old.”

“I know right? Man, what an extravagant life for a child…”

 “Mom, can I be a King?  I’m 12 years old too.”

“You can’t honey, you’ll need an S class Ability like the King’s Time Control.”

The ceremony was over. Before leaving, the hooded figure made the first move to bow to the crowd. While very odd for a king to do, it spoke volumes about his character and showed how much he respected his people. Upon raising his head, the crowd, in silent synchronization,bowed deeply in return. Kyler followed suit listening to the instructions of his father.

As the lingering sensations of the reverent atmosphere faded away, the hooded figure turned his back to the vessel to prepare for his departure. A man, seeing his window of opportunity, sprang from the crowd and lunged towards the pedestal. He snatched the vessel and swiftly ran off with the national treasure. When the hooded figure turned back to the pedestal, the vessel was gone. Gwendall caught sight of the thief before anyone else did.

“Don’t let him get away!” Gwendall exclaimed to the police.

The thief had an Enhancement type Superspeed Ability that allowed him to evade the cops with ease. That was when the hooded figure stepped in and used his Ability to regain control of the situation. He slowed time to the point where everyone around him was frozen like statues, and the thief was moving in slow motion. The hooded figure, acting quickly, raised his hand and hurled a ball of energy towards the thief.

“Ahh!! My legs!!!”

It hit him in the legs. Effectively frozen in time, they stopped functioning. Even though his legs were frozen, the rest of his body wasn’t. His massive forward momentum pulled him to the ground, his face smacking the concrete. The precious vase spilled from his arms on impact, bouncing once, twice, three times before rolling to a stop some distance away. Yuuri allowed time to resume its normal course, the matter now well under control. The police grabbed the thief’s hands and cuffed them behind his back. Sufficiently subdued, the hooded King partially released the spell bewitching the thief’s legs.

In a fit of desperation, the thief tried to use his Ability again to run away. It was to no avail. No matter how much effort he poured into his Ability, he was unable to achieve the superspeed he once possessed. It was incredulous. His Ability, a gift he had mastered with a level of familiarity akin to his heartbeat or breathing, no longer obeyed his whims. It was like his ability never existed and all he had were memories that seemed more like dreams.

“For the time being, I’m suspending your Ability.” The hooded figure announced. “If you steal again, this temporary punishment will become permanent.”

Losing one’s Ability was a fate worse than death. The thief, thoroughly defeated, relented and allowed himself to be miserably dragged away by police without further obstruction.

Seeing the hooded figure in action gave Kyler the chills. “So cool…”

“Did you see that, Dad!” Kyler tugged at his father’s sleeve. “Look at how he owned that thief!”

Kyler thought he, too, could wield his ability to form an energy ball with some practice, “Dad, I want to throw my energy beams just like the King! He is so cool!”

Without listening to his father’s warnings, Kyler ran towards the hooded figure and blocked his way to the limousine. The hooded figure paused in the middle of the aisle in silent observation. From his backpack Kyler took out his favorite wristband and a marker, then held them out for the hooded figure to take.

“Autograph?” Kyler asked, eyes glittering with hope.

Kyler’s father was embarrassed by his son’s indecent act. He tried to recall his boy, “Kyler, come back here!”

“Eh?” the hooded figure nervously scratched his neck. “I-I don’t give autographs…”

Kyler pushed the wristband and marker closer to the hooded figure. “Pleaseee?”

“Your Majesty.” Gwendall placed his hand on the hooded figure’s shoulder, and gently nodded.

With Gwendall’s approval, the hooded figure gingerly took the wristband and scribbled something onto it with marker haphazardly. Kyler watched with wide eyes and increasing enthusiasm. Even though the autograph was a rough squiggle on the boy’s wristband, when the King returned the items, Kyler pranced around with glee, thanking the hooded figure wholeheartedly before saying his goodbyes and running back to his dad.

Kyler was practically married to his wristband the next few days. He wouldn’t stop staring at it like it was a trophy he had proudly won. The first thing he did when he arrived at home was show the wristband to his mother.

“Mom, look! Look! It’s from the King!”

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Today was the promised day.

Kyler pulled out the drawer. Inside lay a dusty wooden box with inlaid flower carvings on all sides and a large square cut ruby atop the center of the lid forming an opulent handle. It was an expensive jewelry box containing Kyler’s prized treasure resting gently on soft maroon velvet. It wasan old wristband of his, so old that the color had dulled and the ink from a certain man’s autograph was fading.

Strong nostalgia struck him as he slowly gripped relic of his childhood. He couldn’t help but smile everytime he looked at it, reminded of his idol. The wristband was as important to Kyler as his own life, an extension of his soul. If anything were to happen to it he had almost lost it once – he would be distraught, depressed even. It symbolized so much for him, marking a turning point in his life, inspiring him to be stronger and find the courage to rise above those that beat him down. He kept the wristband in a locked jewelry box to keep it safe. He would not risk misplacing it again.

“I want to be strong just like you.” Kyler said a silent prayer, squeezing the token one last time.

He clasped the childish bracelet around his wrist to keep the King’s inspiration close to him. He always wore it during rough patches in his life. It was the thing that made him stronger. It was what he believed in most since the first day he received it and every day thereafter.

“I’m not the person I used to be, Your Majesty.” Kyler softly whispered, caressing the wristband with his fingers.

Thanks to his Ability, Kyler was strong.

Ever since Kyler discovered his Ability, nobody dared to pick on the A class boy again. Nobody dared to throw a punch his direction. He began to throw the punches instead, flinging off the yoke of his oppression. He was once bullied by a large boy with hard, crackling fists any boy his age would fear. After discovering his ability, Kyler fought back. He generated a ball of energy in his palm which sent the bully cowering in fear before he had to throw it. Pushing back against the bully felt good, amazing even.

Kyler couldn’t get enough. After spending years as a weakling, trashed by bullies of his own, he was finally free and drunk on power. He couldn’t satisfy his new addiction - seeing smug people turn tail and run, trembling at the sight of his power. Soon, it wasn’t just other bullies he terrorized, it was anyone who managed to catch his eye, anyone who could give him his next thrill.

“You know, Your Majesty? I don’t remember the last time I cried. Can you see how much stronger I am now?”

Nevertheless, Kyler was still nervous for the day to come. Despite his infamous reputation at Stellata, he never had to formally fight someone. It was so unlike Kyler to make such a brazen challenge. Honestly, it was a rash decision he made after his friend informed him of a crime that he couldn’t allow to slide.

“Kyler, I heard the new kid just insulted the King.”

Kyler hated the new kid so much.

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The school courtyard was usually crowded during Physical Education classes or Sports Day, but today more people were filing into the seats than usual - not just students and faculty were in attendance. Kyler’s parents hired atelevision studio to broadcast the upcoming fight to boast to the entire nation how strong their son was. It was a first in Stellata’s long history.

“Wow…” JJ’s girlfriend, Isabella, was stunned to see the intensity of the crowd. When her JJ invited her today to help work the concession stand, she wouldn’t at first believe how worked up the country could get over a single fight. “What a crazy day…”

Kyler’s parents forced the headmaster to make today a school holiday, thus forbidding any classes to take place. Everyone’s schedule was now freed to enjoy the spectacle and were expected to attend. The headmaster felt bad for Yuuri. He made sure the school infirmary was fully stocked and prepared to properly care for the boy in the likely event he was injured.

Victor and Chris arrived on campus, learning about the sudden school holiday on their way in. Clueless as to what was going down, they followed the gathering swarm of people in the main courtyard and took a seat, waiting for some clarity. Then they saw Kyler, the obnoxious A class student in the middle of a makeshift fighting ring facing another boy, that C class student, Yuuri Katsuki.

“Hey, Chris! Isn’t that Katsuki?!” Victor’s wordstrembled with alarm.

“It really is him!” Chris stood up and leaned forward a little to take a closer look and report the situation. “What the hell are these kids doing?”

Despite what was seen as a death sentence by anyone else, Kyler’s menacing glare directed towards raven failed to ruffle his feathers. Yuuri held his ground with an air of indifference, as he nonchalantly waited to get on with his life. The other students found it odd, Yuuri should be crapping his pants right now. Their difference in ability was enough to ensure Kyler’s brutal victory.

Chris and Victor heard two students talking behind them. “Hey,” asked a student leaning towards his friend, “What percent of chance would you give the new kid of winning?”

“It’s close to zero, I afraid.”

At least, it wasn’t zero.

“I will show you all that not all Psychic types are weak and not all Enhancement types are strong!” Kyler proudly announced. The fight would begin soon.

“Fuck you, Kyler.” Otabek cursed under his breath. “This fight is too unfair…”

Yurio remained silent. He put in his earphones, blocking out the harshcacophony of the rowdy crowd. Some spectators were anxious, some came to boo Kyler, but several more cheered, ready to see new kid get ground into the pavement during his first week here. Yurio was simply annoyed that their attendance was compulsory. He was livid that Kyler took things so far as to ensure the entire world was watching, ready to humiliate the assured looser of this fight.

Yuuri was ready to fight. Kyler cast one last glance down at his wristband, and then he, too, was ready. “I hope you are out there, somewhere, watching me. Let me show you how strong I’ve grown.”

After that, Kyler raised his hand, generating his trademark energy ball. It grew larger in size until it reached a critical mass when he released the energy, flinging it towards Yuuri. Half of the students were screaming in vain for Yuuriuntil someone jumped into the battle field, simultaneously shielding Yuuri and sweeping the energy ball aside with the flick of their wrist.

Yuuri felt more threatened by the presence of that certain person in front of him rather than his showdown with Kyler.

“That’s enough, Kyler Mortensen.” Victor guarded the dumbfounded kid behind his back. “I would like you to stop this fight.”

Kyler, briefly faltering at Victor’s presence, managed to maintain his composure. “Stay back! I’m fighting him!”

“He’s my student,” Victor stiffened his tone. “If you really wanted to fight, take me on instead.I also have an Enhancement type Ability.”

Thinking about Victor’s superhuman capabilities made Kyler squeamish. Victor wasn’t just blessed with enhanced strength and senses, he was also highly durable, able to mitigate damage from bullets, blades, and fire. Victor deflected his energy ball with his hand like it was a gnat that merely happened to bother him. He couldn’t take this guy.

“Stay away! Or else I’ll – !”

Victor was not scared of Kyler. “I won’t let you touch my student.”

“Victor is so close to me…”, Yuuri couldn’t process what was happening, Victor’s proximity shut his brain down.

Yuuri needed to shove Victor out of the way or Yuuri wouldn’t be able to function later. Being so close to his idol, feeling the heat radiating off of this man’s body was driving him insane. Did Yuuri mention that Victor was protecting him? His heart couldn’t take it. He didn’t start out nervous, but with his idol interfering on his behalf, the stakes may have just been raised a little.

“Mr. Nikiforov, I’ll be fine. Please don’t worry.” Yuuri assured. He claimed success for delivering the line in without hyperventilating and collapsing into the silver-haired man’s arms, as much as he would have loved to do that. “I wanted this too.”

Victor turned to face his student. “But, Katsuki! This is too dangerous for you!”

“I won’t kill him,” Kyler raised both hands in an oath. “The one who gets knocked out first loses.”

“I won’t kill him,” Yuuri wished he could have delivered that line aloud. Reveling in the irony, Yuuri took a minute to himself to savor the thought, then steeled his resolve.

“Please let me show something to everyone, Mr. Nikiforov.”

Victor now held Yuuri by his shoulders. The raven gasped, this was the first his idol touched him. No, no, no - He mentally begged Victor to leave. He had just gained the upper hand in quelling his blossoming crush. But now like divine punishment, his space was intimately being invaded by his idol, and Victor would be the one to knock him out before Kyler got the chance. Yuuri was obsessing over the feeling of Victor’s warm hands pressing against his body. He only hoped that he wasn’t trembling, or Victor would surely notice and act more drastically.

“Don’t be foolish. I refuse to allow one of my students to get hurt.” Victor said, his expression softened along with his tone.

Yuuri stayed firm by his decision. “I will fight –”

“You can’t!” Victor cut him off. He needed to put a stop to the fight before Yuuri could try to reason with him any longer.

“Mr. Nikiforov,” Yuuri removed Victor’s hands from his shoulders. His expression darkened just a little.

“Do you think I am weak?”

Victor sighed in defeat. He had no right to insinuate that Yuuri was weak despite having a C class Ability. The fight would unfortunately go on. Victor decided to watch from the sidelines instead of from the audience to step in if things got out of hand. It was the least he could do.

“I’m watching you boys,” Victor warned, directed to Kyler.

Yuuri readied himself again, and Kyler prepared for another attack. He smirked, confident in his chance of winning. One of the rules forbade either of them to wield weapons, putting Yuuri at an even greater disadvantage. Yuuri looked fearless, but Kyler was certain that one hit would send him off running in the opposite direction.

“New kid, if you lose then you’re going to leave Stellata by the end of the month!” Kyler upped the ante for the fight.

Victor clicked his tongue, tch. Otabek generated a baton using his Manipulation type, Weapon Materialization Ability. He, too, was ready to intervene in case Kyler went too far. He didn’t trust him with Yuuri’s life. Phichit was holding back tears, siphoning strength from the hamster plushie he brought along. Chris didn’t want to watch - he wouldn’t normally care - but he had to be there since it was his student involved. JJ planned on treating Yuuri to free food and drinks for a month if he lost. And, Yurio felt like burning Kyler alive next chance he got.

“Deal,” Yuuri replied with a cheeky grin, adding more fuel to Kyler’s anger and more excitement for the audience to feed on. The chips were on the table, and the cards dealt.

“Still so cocky, little brat.” Kyler gritted his teeth. “Your Ability is useless in this fight, you know!”

Yuuri’s cocky smile remained. If only you know the truth, kiddo.

“I’ll suppose I’ll fight without my Ability, then.” It was time for the flop.

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Martha was working diligently to get her mind off Yuuri’s absence. She couldn’t help but miss the boy.

A lot of other people appeared to be absent as well. Wondering where they went, it didn’t take long for her to discover the rest of the staff crowding into the castle’s theater room. How unusual. Even Gwendall was th-, “Master Gwendall?!” she exclaimed with a surprised squeak. She entered the room and swiveled her head to the massive, 170-inch TV to see what major motion picture had the entire castle in a tizzy.

“H-H-His Majesty???” She shrieked.

On television, Yuuri was facing off against a teenage boy in a fighting ring. Judging by the uniforms and gaudy, pretentious architecture in the background, this was Terra Stellata. Martha nearly fainted seeing her baby like this. A maid invited her to take a seat, to which she happily complied. What was going on?

“I wonder if that kid is going to be okay… Does he realize that he is asking for a death wish?” Minami, one of the butlers worried. “If I had to fight the King one-on-one like that, it wouldn’t be much of a fight. All his Majesty would have to do is snap his fingers -” Minami snapped on que,“- and I’d be dead.”

The other servants agreed. Martha was restless, “What are they doing?” she hissed incredulously,“Is His Majesty fighting that child?”

“It seems to be so…” a maid nodded, eyes still glued to the screen.

“That kid has some nerve…” another voice chimed in. The audience bobbed in agreement.

“Master Gwendall, are you okay with this?” Martha asked.

While the servants were worried about the fate of Yuuri’s opponent, Gwendall was eager for the fight to commence. Yuuri had let Gwendall know in advance that he would be fighting without using his ability, so his eyes were sparkling in carefree anticipation, much like a proud Papa. He wanted to see the effort Yuuri put into his cross-training bear fruit.

“Show me everything you got,” Yuuri said, cameras rolling.

It was one of Yuuri’s favorite lines. It chilled the castle staff to the bone when they heard it. If he ever said it to your face, run for your life. Seriously, run. While this was Yuuri’s first handicapped fight, it wasn’t his first fight, nor would it be his last. Yuuri was never cruel and never killed pointlessly, but the demonstration of the fearsome S class Ability against his opponents never failed to terrify anyone who dared to challenge it.

“Fear not, my children.” Gwendall shifted in his seat to get comfy for the match.

“This is another chance for us to see what else our King is capable of.”

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“Gwendall… Is there a way for me to increase my energy capacity so I can use my Ability longer and more often?”

“I afraid there isn’t a way, Your Majesty. S class Abilities are fated to be the most taxing. You’ll either have to use your Ability wisely… or sacrifice yourself for the sake of others.”

Yuuri couldn’t use his Ability for more than one purpose at a time. He also couldn’t use it for an extended period of time. Overdoing it meant he would face Ability exhaustion and faint afterwards, just like when he saved his family from robbers. He could slip into a coma for days because of overuse. The greater the powers, the harder they were to handle indeed.

“That is why, I have a different training regimen for you.”

Yuuri made sure he didn’t miss his daily morning exercise routine today.

He did push-ups right after he woke up, and he didn’t skip breakfast. This would be the first time he fought without using his Ability, putting his other skills to the test. He was confident Gwendall’s training had prepared him well for the task. Phichit saw him as an inmate heading to the guillotine. All his roommate could do was gush concern and caring to the point where he was nagging at him for accepting a stupid challenge.

“Your Majesty. Get rid of all the fears in your heart. They only hinder you.”

Kyler was setting up his attack again, winding his arm. Yuuri stood and waited and watched.

“Read the movements of your opponents.”

Kyler raised his hand, a ball of energy formed quickly on his palm in a matter of seconds. The size of it made the audience hold their breath. “Take this, new kid!”


“Katsuki, look out!” Victor exclaimed. He had grown more nervous for his student the larger the ball had gotten.


Yuuri was calm, his face never once hinted at fear even as the attack hurtled towards him. Instead, Yuuri’s lips twisted into a smile. This will be too easy. He serenely tilted his head to the side and let the energy ball zing by, hitting the ground behind him in place of his precious face. He dodged it like a pro much to everyone’s amazement. The audience greedily looked on in disbelief.


“Wha…” Kyler opened his mouth in surprise. But, he wasn’t giving up just because some kid managed to jump out of the way of one attack.

Kyler prepared another energy ball and tossed it again. He carefully read the trajectory of Kyler’s arm and dodged the energy ball, quickly jumping to the side. Kyler was pissed. He generated more energy balls and Yuuri dodged every single one every single time. Kyler’s arms were starting to get tired.

The audience never felt so wrong about someone in their lives.

They thought Yuuri was going to get crispy fried by Kyler’s Ability. But, the tides had turned and the longer the fight went on, the more it seemed like an impossible task for the A class student. The fight showcased Yuuri’s experience with self-defense. Everyone’s gravest error was underestimating the raven.

"Go Yuuri!" Phichit cheered, and so were the rest of Yuuri's classmates.

As a Holy Knight, Victor admired the flexibility and nimbleness Yuuri possessed while he dodged Kyler’s attacks, none hitting their mark. Yuuri didn’t show any signs of stopping either. He had impressive stamina, one PE teacher noted. More audience members noticed as well. Every time Yuuri managed to slip just out of Kyler’s reach, the louder the cheers from the crowd became.Yuuri, clearly with the upper hand, was having fun.

Kyler paused once to catch some breath. Yuuri prompted the question, “Why don’t you try and do something else with your Ability? Isn’t it boring to just throw them like that?” Yuuri pointed out the obvious; the crowd saw it too. Kyler’s attacks were worthless.

The memory of how the King used his Ability many years ago flooded Kyler’s mind. No, he liked to use his Ability this way and didn’t want to change it.

Seeing Kyler winded, Yuuri let his guard down – it was a grave mistake of his. Kyler hastily created a new ball of energy and hurled it towards Yuuri. It was smaller compared to the previous ones - not given enough time to marinade in the bully’s hand - but Yuuri didn’t see it coming.

“Nghh!!”

Yuuri dodged the brunt of it in time, but the fraction of a delay was enough to cause injury. The ball grazed his left, putting him into a considerable amount of pain. The audience screamed when Yuuri got hurt. The raven fell on one knee and clenched his opposite hand to his left arm. He groaned in pain. Victor jolted up from his chair, poised to intervene.

“Yuuri!” Yuuri heard Phichit’s cry from the audience.

When Yuuri removed his hand from his arm, his blazer and shirt were dyed red, and blood was dripping from his fingertips. Guided by gravity, the oozing red liquid ran down the raven’s arm. Small drops fell to the ground, forming a trail of blood leading straight to Yuuri. Thank goodness it wasn’t a deep wound.

With an incapacitated arm Yuuri was nearly finished in this fight, but he held out just long enough. Kyler couldn’t generate attacks anymore. The energy forming in Kyler’s hand popped, crackled and sizzled pathetically before fizzling out.  Everyone knew what was happening – Ability exhaustion. This bought Yuuri enough time to make his final move. Seizing the opportunity, Yuuri charged towards Kyler and threw a low punch aimed for his stomach. His fist connected and sent Kyler flying to the ground with a loud gurgle. The impact was strong.His head bounced on the pavers on impact.

Kyler was unable rise after taking the hit. Yuuri stood victorious.

The raven heard a single pair of hands clapping, breaking the incredulous silence. He turned to the sound to see who it was – Victor. A second set of hands clapping rang out in the arena, Phichit. One by one, others slowly followed until the clapping became a thunderous standing ovation. Yuuri was embarrassed, he waved his hand for them to cut it out, but they wouldn’t stop. Yuuri had just beat all their expectations to win a most impressive battle of stamina.

“Fuck…” Kyler, still lying on the ground, slammed his fist back down onto the pavers. “How did I…?!”

The audience anticipated and shared his question.

Yuuri heard it. “You depend too much on your Ability and you don’t know how to adapt. You’re an amateur when it comes to fighting.”

“See what happens when you run out of energy and can’t use your Ability anymore? You become useless.” He added.

Yuuri, the C class Ability user, was able to beat Kyler, the A class, into submission without even the mention of his Ability.

“I am more than just my Ability, you know. It doesn’t define who I am.”

All the training Gwendall put him through since he was little had paid off. The push-ups he did every morning increased his upper body strength for that powerful punch he just delivered. Gwendall had also taught him martial arts, and exercises which built up his stamina in the unlikely event he had to run a gauntlet or fight a prickly A class student. Gwendall gave Yuuri all these tools and experiences so he did not have to depend on Time Control. Being so naïve as to think his ability was the answer for everything would get him killed.

“Crap…” Yuuri hissed, sucking in a deep breath.

Yuuri forgot about his arm. Blood was still dripping from his wound, dirtying the school courtyard. Kyler could barely stand, but he managed it after quite some effort. He stood with wobbly bent legs, readying his stance once again. He was going to resume the fight, unable to accept defeat. Already pushing past his limits, he fell back onto the ground due to exhaustion.

Seeing this, Yuuri made an unexpected decision. He raised one hand up.

“I surrender.”

The crowd was loud. They were cackling. They couldn’t believe what they just heard. Yuuri gracefully admitted his defeat right after Kyler slumped over. It was too humiliating, beyond humiliating. Kyler wanted to publicly shame Yuuri and pulled all the stops just to do so. Yet, this kid managed to not only beat him, but also kick him while he was down.Yuuri knew exactly what he was doing when he made such an incredulous statement, he knew exactly the effect it would have, but why he followed through, knowing it meant resigning from Terra Stellata was a mystery to them all.

Yuuri was simply bored of winning.

The raven walked towards Kyler and offered a hand. “It was a nice fight, I had fun.”

Yuuri paused, assessing Kyler’s strength, “Can you stand?”

Kyler slapped Yuuri’s hand away.

Yuuri just shrugged off Kyler’s hostility. He was going to take his leave when he saw something on the ground. Yuuri picked it up to inspect it – a wristband. The raven brushed off the dust to reveal some horribly scribbled ink. He did remember Kyler wearing this, so he went to return it.

“Is this yours?” Yuuri asked, holding up the wristband in front of Kyler.

Kyler eyes went wide, “Give it back! It’s mine!”

Yuuri tossed it at Kyler, the latter caught it and clenched the wristband firmly in his hand, attentively fixating over it. It was covered with dirt and sand. If he washed the wristband, the ink would disappear. Kyler’s eyes began to swell with tears. He thought he had become stronger through his Ability. He thought his Ability completed his life. He thought with his Ability, he wouldn’t experience shame like this again.

Yet, he was defeated by someone who didn’t even use theirs.

“Katsuki, come with me to the infirmary.” Victor pulled Yuuri along by his good arm without wasting any time. Phichit, Chris and Otabek followed in hot pursuit.

Kyler curled up onto his side. Clutching his treasured wristband close to his heart, he cried his soul out. Nothing mattered in that moment. He was so distraught, he forgot about everything and everyone else, even that he personally requested this event to be televised and the cameras were still rolling.

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“Take it all off.” Victor commanded.

“Ehh?” Yuuri shrieked, blushing a deep red color.

Victor pointed at his bloody blazer and shirt. Oh, Yuuri understood, now. His line of thinking diverged significantly from Victor’s. Watched over by Chris, Otabek and Phichit in the infirmary, Victor treated Yuuri’s arm. He cleaned the wound first, before finally bandaging it. Thank goodness it wasn’t deep, or he would have been rushed to the hospital.

“Don’t do something this stupid ever again,” Otabek warned Yuuri, though impressed by his tenacity and cleverness.

“But I had fun,” Yuuri playfully bantered.

“Well you technically won, but…” Chris crossed his arms. “Why did you surrender? You’ll have to leave Stellata by the end of the month.”

“Umm… I didn’t plan on staying much longer anyway.” Yuuri shrugged, inciting shock in the room because he just dropped a bomb on all of them.

For Phichit, upset was an understatement. “Yuuri, why!” he groaned.

“I have, uh… another responsibility, out there?” Yuuri didn’t know how he could formulate his situation into words.

Victor had his own set of theories. Since Yuuri was a commoner, maybe the scholarships weren’t enough to support his studies here for years. Maybe the existence of Kyler, and the general discrimination of C class students contributed to his decision more than he was letting on.

“I’m sorry that you couldn’t have a good time here,” Victor apologized to Yuuri on behalf on the group before him.

Chris placed a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder, “Katsuki, what you did was really something. This school is going to lose a real treasure.”

“Eh? Really?” Yuuri tilted his head.

“You proved your own worth, which is not solely based on your Ability.”

Victor nodded in agreement, “Impressive, Katsuki.”

 Phichit and Otabek, B class students, were also touched by Yuuri’s fortitude. He was able to defeat Kyler with his intelligence instead of his Ability. Yuuri’s battle would help change a lot of student attitudes regarding their Abilities.

“If you really want to leave, then it can’t be helped,” Phichit stood up from the chair, not ready to lose his friend, but ready to leave the infirmary. There was nothing he could do. “Get lots of rest, buddy.”

Phichit left first, followed by Otabek and then the two teachers. Now alone in the infirmary, Yuuri lay in bed skimming through Twitter until Gwendall started calling. Yuuri let it ring a few times. Since the fight was broadcasted on a major news network, Yuuri knew Gwendall saw everything, including his injury. He mentally prepared for an earful.

Yuuri picked up the call. “Hello, Gwendall, I’m really sorry –“

“For what, Your Majesty?” Gwendall answered in a cheery tone. “I just wanted to tell you how proud I am.”

“Eh? B-but I thought it’s pretty immature of me to pick a fight with a kid…”

“No, Your Majesty. Judging from that child’s attitude, everyone knew he started it.”

Something Yuuri was relieved to hear. “Thank you, Gwendall…!”

“How’s your arm? Is your wound stitched?” Gwendall asked in concern.

“Umm, it’s not that serious. I can take care of it, so don’t worry.” Yuuri said, suddenly remembering he could heal himself. “Tell that to Martha too just in case.” He added. He knew she was probably pale with worry.

“Of course. Anyway, you really remembered everything I taught you and proved your benevolence as King. You are not useless without your Ability.” Gwendall praised him.

Gwendall was not only proud because of Yuuri’s strength, but also because Yuuri guarded the pride of the C class. He taught a valuable lesson to his people today, showing the nation that one’s Ability did not pre-determine one’s chance of success. He also managed to show that he wasn’t dependent on his Ability to be a strong leader.

Yuuri scratched his ear. “Well, my Ability is only for the sake of my people. Not for tormenting them.”

“That’s a good way of thinking.”

“You’re the one who told me,” Yuuri ceased to accept more praise. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am now.”

Gwendall was the wisest man Yuuri had ever known. Gwendall had thousands of years of experience built up, thus, he knew how the world worked better than anyone. As his advisor and aide, he was invaluable. If anyone ever wanted to praise the King for his improvements of the state of Cervantes, Yuuri thought Gwendall deserved all the credit.

“How’s the castle? And Metropolis?” Yuuri couldn’t help but ask.

“It’s not something for you to worry about now. Just leave everything to us.” Gwendall vaguely said, not wanting to further burden Yuuri while still on a mission.

“I don’t want to leave Cervantes without my supervision for too long.” Yuuri said with a guilty sigh.

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Yurio intercepted Victor on his way back to his office with a paper bag in his arms.

“How is he?” Yurio brusquely asked, referring to Yuuri in the infirmary.

Victor just had to smile to give the teen all the answer he needed. “He’s fine. Do you want to see him?”

“I just want to give him these pirozhkis my Grandpa made.” Yurio shoved the contents of the paper bag into Victor’s arms. “I have no time to see him. My schedule today is very tight.”

“Let me do the favor, then.” Victor chuckled.

Message en route, the Holy Knight headed back to the infirmary. He was happy he had a reason to see Yuuri again today, and in a much less crowded setting. The boy was truly fascinating. It was too bad that he was only teaching at Stellata for the rest of the week. If he stayed longer, he would have had a chance to get to know Yuuri better. Learning that Yuuri was only 4 years younger than him, Victor’s heart fluttered at the possibility he could take their relationship to the next level someday.

He wanted to ask Yuuri out badly.

Victor approached the infirmary and heard Yuuri talking to someone on his phone. He, politely, waited outside to not interrupt the conversation. He, not so politely, eavesdropped on his conversation. Victor would apologize later in case it was something private, but it seemed like Yuuri was just talking to a concerned parent.

“Of course. I will find those Demons as soon as I can, Gwendall.”

Demons? Gwendall?

Gwendall - as in Master Gwendall? There’s only one person named Gwendall in Metropolis if Victor was not mistaken. He wondered what the chances were that there was someone else named Gwendall out there Yuuri happened to be talking to. But if it was really the person in question, then why Yuuri was merely addressing him by name? Only the King could be so familiar, otherwise it was considered incredibly rude. Wait, what?

Yuuri was done with the phone call. Planning on pretending he had not just heard any of that conversation, Victor took a step forward to enter the infirmary. But, upon looking through the crack in the doorway, he froze, privy to the incredulous scene unfolding before him.

The raven-haired boy unwrapped the bloodied bandage from around his arm. He placed his hand over the wound, and Victor could see a light being emitted underneath Yuuri’s palm. All Victor could do was stand there transfixed. There was no logic in the world that could explain what he just saw.

Victor thought Yuuri’s Ability was C class, Enhancement type Food Spoilage.

The Holy Knight saw Yuuri’s wound slowly diminish in size before it completely closed up and the dried up blood evaporated into thin air. There was not a trace of injury remaining. No bloodstains, no scars. Yuuri’s arm back to normal, healed perfectly – as though it was never wounded in the first place.

H-How…?

“Right, all healed up.” Yuuri said to himself, checking his arm.

Victor just stood there, frozen solid.

Who are you Yuuri Katsuki?

Chapter Text

The live footage of Yuuri and Kyler’s fight had gone viral within a day.

Yuuri sat at the breakfast table, a spoon in one hand, absentmindedly shoveling corn flakes and milk into his mouth, and Phichit’s phone in the other, re-watching the fight on YouTube. Phichit hovered behind him enjoying his 6th replay of the video.Yuuri’s popularity had dramatically increased since that day much to his dismay. He didn’t understand why, he didn’t do anything particularly interesting. The footage confirms it.

“Yuuri, you were so cool back then~!”

The raven was not happy with the compliment; he was not happy with the attention. Though his message was receiving positive and powerful press, he was more anxious than thrilled. The main reason he donned a cloak was because the public eye made him uncomfortable. Being out from underneath it’s protective guise left him permanently on edge, worn thin.

“I wish people would just stop…” Yuuri paused to slurp the dregs of the milk out of his cereal bowl, “I mean, it’s no big deal. I didn’t pull out any impressive moves to fight Kyler.”

Phichit clapped Yuuri’s back. “That’s what makes it even more special. People are going to stop glorifying A class Abilities after seeing your video.”

Humans can survive even without fancy Abilities, Yuuri thought. After all, their true gift was their intelligence, creativity, and adaptability. Without those three qualities, your ability would be weak and ineffective anyway. Apart from proving that his worth was focused more on those three qualities, independent of his apparent C class ability, he also wanted to see how his years of hard cross-training paid off.

Yuuri switched to his own phone, checking out his social media feeds to try to forget about things for a while. Oh wait, he was all over the news now. He couldn’t escape it, reading about himself. It doesn’t take long for him to find international news articles in multiple foreign languages, confirming his suspicions that the fight video had spread beyond Cervantes’ borders. Yuuri hoped that the hype would die down soon, buried by time and millions of other noteworthy pieces of news and events. He was now deprived of his quiet civilian identity he once enjoyed. He wanted it back.

“Phichit-kun… random question, but… Would you like to see the King’s face someday?” Yuuri asked somewhat out of the blue.

Phichit let out a slow sigh. “Who doesn’t want to?”

“Er…” Phichit’s response surprised him. “Why?”

“Because people want to know him better as a person. He is… well… should be the face of Cervantes and…” Phichit trailed off, his idea was sufficiently conveyed without the need to finish the thought. Yuuri internalized the response but made no motion to interact with Phichit further. He retreated to his thoughts.

Yuuri, in silent apology, felt guilty but had no confidence to reveal himself to his people. What would reactions be if they knew it was him all along? If he knew they really loved him and could accept him as a person, then he would want to strip off his cloak before them. From all his experiences he was far from being assured of that ideal. He wanted to be selfish and enjoy his time spent as Yuuri Katsuki just a little longer. It had its advantages.

Yuuri resurfaced and looked up to see the younger boy flipping through a booklet in his hands. “What are you reading, Phichit-kun?”

“Say, Yuuri…” the Thai flipped another page, “What major do you think suits me the most? Should I take Engineering or Computer Science?”

There were three academic levels in Stellata.The first was obligatory classes, then came choosing a major to determine one’s major specific coursework. Finally, the last level was career counseling and preparation. The two choices Phichit, entering the second level, had proposed fell in line nicely with his Technology Manipulation Ability.

“Hmm… I think Computer Science? Since you love social media, and I hear Engineering’s tough.”

“Okay, Computer Science then.” Phichit hummed in agreement.

What an advantage, Yuuri thought. His ability would allow his to excel in all his coursework effortlessly. He was born for it. Although Phichit was a B class student, his Ability was powerful and had wide range of uses which he was already exercising.

“See you later!” Phichit waved and darted out of the apartment and off to the administration building to register his decision.

Yuuri would have to walk to class alone this time. Carrying a sling bag across his back, he walked, noticing the uncanny serenity of Stellata just a day after the unforgettable fight. He passed by a pack of girls who giggled when he caught them staring and gently smiled back at their way.

This was the calm before the foretold storm. Yuuri knew the pattern all too well.

The raven deep in thought, chewing over how to find the elusive Demons hiding on campus. Failure was not an option. He shuddered, vividly remembering his nightmares, the fate of the school if he couldn’t work fast enough. All his nightmarish visions haunted him, but they only served to further solidify his resolve when on mission.

“Hey, new kid.”

It wasn’t Kyler’s voice, though the tone and choice of words were quite similar. Yuuri turned to find Yurio Plisetsky.

“Hi, Yurio.” Yuuri greeted, his slight hesitation going undetected. Yurio’s sharp gaze unsettled him.

Yurio combed through his bangs and tucked them behind his ear. A nervous tick? “The homemade pirozhki. Did you eat them?”

“Oh, so it was from you?” which surprised the raven. “Thank you, they were delicious!”

“Of course, they were delicious. They are my favorite! My grandpa makes them.”

The blonde’s expression drastically changed, his sharp features melting and softening at the mention of his grandfather. Yuuri couldn’t believe the difference it made. The raven no longer felt threatened by his presence. The smile allowed a sense of ease and familiarity to creep in.

“Homemade food always tastes better,” Yuuri sent his complements to the chef. “- But why did you give them to me?”

“I want to repay my debt.”

The cogs in the raven’s head began to turn, trying to figure out what debt Yurio was referring to.  He spent most of his time with Phichit, the C class students, and his teachers. He had never interacted with Yurio before this very conversation. If Yurio knew that Yuuri caused Kyler to magically piss his pants… Oh no. He could be found out already. Yuuri prayed it was something else.

“What debt?” Yuuri asked desperately, giving up searching the catacombs of his memory for a clue.

Yurio laughed scornfully. “For kicking Kyler’s ass. I hate that fucking bastard.”

“Oh…”

Yuuri breathed out a sigh of relief - his identity was safe. Even if his identity was safe, he wouldn’t be safe from Mr. Giacometti’s wrath if he was late to class. The conversation at a respectable endpoint, Yuuri walked off, losing himself in his thoughts. Yurio seemed like a quiet kid at first. He had expected the teen to respond to his questions in curt one-liner’s, but he was surprisingly quite chatty.

“See that? Plisetsky is walking with someone!”

“How unusual…”

“With the new kid!”

Yuuri began to question the authenticity of the whispers he was overhearing. He surreptitiously glanced over his shoulder. Yurio was really walking next to him. Maybe he also had a class to get to, in the same direction I am heading to? The raven needed to know. He knelt and pretended to tie his shoelaces – Yurio paused, clearly watching and waiting for Yuuri to finish. Despite his tough exterior, it was in moments like these where he really did seem like a lost kitten.

Perhaps being under Kyler’s thumb had affected an otherwise pleasant kid.

Continuing down the hallway – now no longer unintentionally ignoring his walking companion – Yuuri asked what Yurio’s Ability was: Heat Manipulation. He could generate enough heat on the surface of his palms to cause oxygen to combust. In short, he could throw fireballs. Yurio had other skills, finer controls over his powers, too. He kept the pirozhkis heated so Yuuri could eat hot, fresh ones, and claimed he could even make popcorn.

Yuuri stopped in his tracks once the duo reached the school’s training grounds. Yurio asked, “What’s wrong, Yuuri?”

“It’s Otabek.”

Yurio saw Otabek, his childhood friend, out practicing with the Archery Club. Otabek was standing before a circular target with numbers and spirals of varying colors painted on it. In his hand, a bow and arrow appeared out of nowhere.

“Wow,” Yuuri marveled. Thinking aloud, “I wonder what Ability that is...”

“That is Weapon Materialization, Manipulation type. He can summon any type of weapons for personal use.” Yurio responded.

“That’s cool. Is he an A class like you?” Yuuri was amazed. Otabek’s proficiency with weapons even enabled him to strike true at the heart of the bullseye.

“Nope. He’s in B class like Phichit.”

It had been a while since Yurio had last talked with Otabek. Not that they were fighting or anything, but rather they were simply too busy with their lives now. Otabek had his responsibilities as the student council president and Yurio tended to his family’s needs. The blond nostalgically reminisced on old times, when he used to play with Otabek on the playground as children.

“How is Victor doing as a teacher?” Yurio started to change the topic.

Yuuri was shocked to hear Yurio refer to him by name. “Eh?! Great… I guess? I’m happy to be in his class. He has been my idol since I was little”

“You know,” Yurio was one of the rare people who knew too much about him. Hearing someone fanboying about such an annoying guy made him cringe. “He’s my cousin.”

“Eh???”

What a small world!

A devilish grin spread across Yurio’s face seeing Yuuri quietly freak out about that.

When they both arrived at their respective classrooms Yurio took out a small piece of paper, wrote his phone number on it and shoved it in Yuuri’s hand. He was indirectly asking for Yuuri to become his friend. Yuuri wasn’t completely terrible.

“If you ever wanted to know some of Victor’s most embarrassing secrets, I’m your man.” Yurio turned his back to Yuuri before giving him a thumbs-up and walking to class.

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Chris checked the stack of returned homework. His face contorted with an unknown emotion seeing something he assigned yesterday in the stack.

He couldn’t believe this. “How did you get this done within a day, Katsuki?”

He was the first one to turn it in, well before the deadline. Yuuri even had to skip classes after his fight with Kyler. He should’ve spent the whole day resting in the infirmary after getting wounded like he did.

“I, uh…” Yuuri rubbed the back of his neck, unsure of what he could say that would be considered remotely believable. “I had plenty of free time? Plus, I hurt my left arm, not my right.” Yuuri wiggled the fingers on his right hand out in front of the teacher almost like proof.

He hoped Mr. Giacometti would buy it. Yuuri couldn’t help but do the work out of a habit Gwendall had drilled into his brain. Every day Yuuri had to sift through hundreds of documents while acting as King, of course. He could get everything done in a day by stopping or slowing time a little. Slowing time when working alone at night gave him the freedom to pursue more important matters during the day. He spent time with Vicchan and his family and he could walk the streets as Yuuri Katsuki observing his people’s welfare discreetly. Taking care of this assignment was child’s play.

Chris questioned it briefly, if it was possible. But, in the end, he was proud. “Congratulations, Katsuki. You are a very diligent student.”

It greatly saddened a teacher like Chris, to know that such an outstanding student was leaving so soon. It couldn’t be helped since it was Yuuri’s choice to leave Stellata. Nobody could force him to stay. Chris, Victor and the headmaster even spoke briefly the day before to decide if they wanted to try to convince the remarkable boy to stay.

“I’m sorry Katsuki, but I’m asking for one last time.” Chris put the stack of homework down, “Are you sure you are leaving?”

Yuuri nodded. “Yes, Sir. I’m leaving.”

The whole class gasped inutter disappointment. Yuuri didn’t know how much his classmates respected and thanked him for proving that the C class wasn’t as worthless as everyone thought they were. They were proud when the A class stopped mocking them and began to address them more respectfully.

A girl broke the tenuous silence in the classroom. “How about a farewell party soon?”

“Eh?” Yuuri was surprised at such suggestion. “There’s no need, I –”

“Good idea. I’ll talk to JJ later, he’d surely be happy to cooperate.” Chris thought of booking the café for the event and paying JJ for the food later.

“We need money for that. I think we should start collecting now!”

It began to spiral out of Yuuri’s control. No, the thought of leaving this school already made him sad, but now his new acquaintances were going to multiply his sorrows a hundredfold. He felt guilty. He wished he could apologize to them for making such a selfish decision, but it couldn’t be helped. He had a larger responsibility to fulfill.

If only he could tell them the truth.

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Yuuri finished patrolling a part of the school.

He set the flow of time back to normal and everyone around him began to move again. As usual he was exhausted after using his Ability and headed to the café to replenish his energy reserves. JJ treated him to free food when he showed up. Yuuri still tried to pay and JJ firmly refused his money.

“New kid, my motto is bringing smiles with my food! It’s JJ style!”

In the end Yuuri left with a bag full of snacks and a carton of juice. He settled down on a bench outside, letting out a deep breath as he melted into the wooden surface. Sitting felt great. Yuuri needed to rest for about an hour before he felt comfortable patrolling again.

“Where the hell are you Demons…” Yuuri complained. “Just go ahead and appear already. You’re wasting my time. Urgh.”

Yuuri took out the carton of apple juice and slurped greedily. It was freshly squeezed and perfectly chilled. Just a simple thing made Yuuri feel like he was in heaven. He proceeded to tear open a bag of potato chips. He savored the first salty, crunchy bite. One bag wouldn’t be enough, luckily, he had plenty more where that came from.

Placing a chip into his mouth, he browsed his phone searching for something to entertain him. Yuuri avoided the words ‘King’ and ‘Yuuri Katsuki’ like the plague. He wished people would stop giving his civilian form too much attention, it defeated the point of having a civilian form.

The raven absentmindedly picked up another chip. It hovered, pinched between his thumb and pointer finger, while distracted on his phone. He finally brought the chip up to his mouth when, “Huh…?”

Yuuri stared at his empty hand. Where did the chip go? He at the ground in case he dropped it, but the chip was nowhere in sight. He took another chip from the bag. This time he was distracted by the sound of someone screaming, a guy being pranked by his friends. His eyes returned to his hand – it was empty.

His food was stolen for sure. Whatever did take it worked fast.

He was curious to know who the culprit was. The way the chips disappeared was inhumanly fast. Yuuri held out another chip as bait this time. He pretended to look at his phone, holding the chip in the other hand. He had replenished enough energy for this chance.

Yuuri slowed time.

At a certain point, Yuuri saw the culprit – a small, winged creature slowly flew towards the chip. The raven was surprised because he had no clue what kind of creature he was looking at. It wasn’t human, and it didn’t seem to be an animal either…Then what was it? Yuuri caught the creature in a tight grip, resuming time normally simultaneously.

“Po! Po!!!”

“Hey there, you little thief.” Yuuri greeted the struggling creature.

The creature shrieked and wriggled in Yuuri’s hand trying to break free. He tilted his head. The creature was marshmellow-y, like a stuffed animal with exaggerated features. He looked like a cross between a puppy and a human baby – it has white fur, wearing a white hat and a blue shirt. A pair of delicate little wings at his back. There was no mistaking it… This creature was a Demon – a very cute one at that. This was not the same kind of Demon that would attack the school; it was entirely too weak. It was pure chance Yuuri had come across it. 

“Pocha…”

The creature’s stomach grumbled - It was still hungry. The creature began to visibly tear up, then went limp in Yuuri’s hand. How dramatic, but it worked. Yuuri felt as guilty as if he had tormented the poor thing over stealing a few chips.

“Aww, poor thing.” Yuuri cooed, placing the Demon on his lap and affectionately stroking its head.

Yuuri removed the wrapping from a hamburger and handed it to the Demon, offering his lunch to it. The Demon perked up immediately, and snatched the burger, eating joyfully. Seeing the Demon smiling made Yuuri smile too.It looked way cuter when it was happy. Yuuri wiped the mayonnaise off the Demon’s mouth occasionally while it was eating.

Yuuri was too absorbed with his new friend to notice Phichit hovering behind him. “Yuuri, what is that? It’s so cute!”

“Po?”

Yuuri jumped a little. He didn’t like being startled. “Ah, Phichit-kun,” he said, pausing to let the boy take a seat beside him. “I think it is a Demon.”

“Is it really? Damn, it’s so cute! Are you going to try to keep it?”

Yuuri had heard of people taking harmless Demons as pets, but he never knew anyone that had done it. He might like to. It would give Vicchan a friend to play with other than him.However, he didn’t know the first thing about caring for a Demon. Were they like other pets? Thinking about the responsibility made Yuuri a bit hesitant.

“Pocha… Po…”

The Demon finished the burger. It sprouted small wings and flew upwards to snuggle against Yuuri’s cheeks in appreciation. Its small paws and legs tightly clenching on to Yuuri’s face in an attempt at an embrace. Yuuri couldn’t handle it. It was simply too cute.

“You should keep it, Yuuri. It likes you… and it’s not easy to find a Demon this cute.” Phichit said, moving the Demon to his lap.

“I think I want to keep it, too.” Yuuri gave up. “Let’s give him a name then, Phichit-kun.”

After thinking for a while, Phichit perked up. “Let’s name him Pochayuu!”

“P-, Pochayuu…?” Yuuri quirked an eyebrow.

“Pochayuu, because ‘Pocha’ is the sound it makes kind of like a Pokémon. And ‘yuu’ is from Yuuri because he reminds me of you.”

The Demon wagged its tail, having at least a vague grasp of the situation. It would finally find a safe place to live, a constant supply of food, and, most importantly, someone to take care of it – a companion.

“Okay, Pochayuu then!”

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“What do you think, Gwendall?”

In his room, Yuuri showed Pochayuu to Gwendall via a video chat. He thought Gwendall was the best first person to show the Demon to. Gwendall must know something about adopting Demons. Pochayuu mimicked Yuuri, waving his paw to Gwendall. The elder man’s face lit up. He was friendly, adorable and tame, unlike the usual portrayal of Demons.

“He’s a very cute Demon, Your Majesty.” Gwendall smiled. “Where did you find him?”

“He was, uh… Stealing my food. I felt sorry for him, so I shared some of my lunch.After that he took a liking to me and wouldn’t leave me alone.” Yuuri chuckled, nuzzling the little beast with his fingers.

Gwendall nodded. “I see. Your magnetism to charm others is strong. It’s good to gain the respect of your people.”

“So,can I keep him?” That was the all-important question.“It’s not going to be hard to keep him as a pet, right Gwendall?”

“Of course not. He will only require food and water.” Gwendall nodded with approval.

Yuuri was relieved. He could keep Pochayuu. “Thank you so much, Gwendall…”

“You know… keeping a Demon could help you to track the presence of other Demons.”

Yuuri didn’t expect it.

The bewilderment in Yuuri’s face amused Gwendall. He flashed a wider smile. It was incredibly fortuitous to discover Pochayuu during this specific mission. He could be Yuuri’s secret weapon to track down the Demon’s and save the King many more days of struggling on his own.Demons can only be sensed by other Demons. While humans must rely on opaque clues and their personal tracking skills. Having a Demon among one’s ranks is akin to having a bloodhound.

“Pocha, you’re going to help me for this mission, right?” Yuuri asked in a tumbling, bubbly babbling voice.

“Po! Po po po!”

Pochayuu rose proudly up on his hind legs. With a determined face, he thumped a paw to his chest as if saying ‘Leave it to me!’. In return for Yuuri’s kindness and food, Pochayuu readied himself to become a loyal subject.

Yuuri felt lucky to meet his new little companion. He offered a hand to Pochayuu.

“Let’s work together from now on, Pocha.” He ruffled the space between the creature’s velvety ears.

“Po!”

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Victor returned to campus one night for some items he had left behind.

Chris would usually accompany him – it wasn’t all too infrequently that he left work behind – but he had a romantic date already planned with his boyfriend. So, Victor drove alone to Stellata. The harmonious silence of the car and desolate parking lot, only punctuated by the brief, crisp slam of a car door, was practically therapeutic. Victor walked the halls like a specter, floating along, undisturbed, one with the air surrounding him, indulging in the nothingness. How long had it been since he last had the courage to maintain a clear mind if even for just a second? His Ability worked too well sometimes, usually he could never be unalert. He had never been to Stellata like this before today now that he had properly thought about it. He gained a new appreciation for this environment.

En route to his office, Victor felt a gentle disturbance like careful, delicate rings radiating outward from a pebble thrown into a pond.Looking to the epicenter of the gentle ringed waves in the atmosphere, he saw the silhouette of what seemed to be a student.

It was Yuuri, walking to an uncertain destination with a Demon on his shoulder.

“Lead the way, Pocha.” He breathily exhaled, not quite a whisper but too soft to be a normal speaking voice.

“Po!”

Normally, Victor would have apprehended Yuuri and sent him back to his dorm. But, Victor’s curiosity for the boy outweighed his sense of duty. Yuuri was an enigma he wanted to solve… no, needed to solve, because solving the puzzle that was inexplicably Yuuri, he felt, would bring him one step closer to meeting his crush on the same ground. Abandoning his original mission to retrieve some ungraded homework, Victor decided to follow him.

Maybe he could find the answer to who Yuuri really was.

Victor tiptoed discretely a distance away so Yuuri couldn’t detect the sounds of his steps. He hadn’t been paying enough attention – Snap! Victor stepped on a twig, too concerned with looking ahead. The raven jumped a little, then turned around. Nobody was behind him. Victor ducked behind a tree and evaded Yuuri’s line of sight just in time. Yuuri carried on walking, unsuspecting. To him, it was just another sound in a noisy world; at night you could just hear them more clearly.

Victor released his breath slowly in a staggered manner. He was relieved but also shaken up. He couldn’t be found out just yet. The silver-haired man carefully snuck out from his hiding place and continued to follow Yuuri. This was harder than he expected, Victor didn’t have a personality suited to stealth.

Yuuri followed Pocha until his companion stopped and twirled in a small circle indicating that they had reached their destination.

It was a building Yuuri had never seen before and never would have found on his own: an old, abandoned, unused storeroom of Stellata.

“So, this is the place, huh?”

“Po po po!” Pochayuu chirped in an affirmative tone.

The door to the dusty, old storeroom was secured with rusted locks. The grime was thick enough to make Yuuri cough. Victor wondered how Yuuri would get inside, surely the key was lost to the ages and he had brought no lock cutter. To answer Victor’s silent questions, another inexplainable event occurred. Yuuri touched each of the locks one by one, and at the suggestion of his touch the locks fell onto the ground. The boy was revealing more of his tricks, more clues and layers that would ultimately help Victor wind his way through Yuuri’s labyrinth.

Yuuri pushed on the door and it swung open in a groan of protest.

“So, this is where you’ve been hiding…”

A pungent stench flooded out from the open door. A nest full of Demons were roaming inside the storeroom. They were small but numerous like a swarm of bees. Victor gasped, but hastily covered his mouth. He couldn’t interfere now even though these were the Demons he was assigned to exterminate. Pochayuu started to tremble in fear, clinging to Yuuri closely. He didn’t wish to be associated with this breed of uncivilized beast.

“Thank you for showing me the way, Pocha.” Yuuri gently stroked Pochayuu’s head. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe.”

These Demons looked like oversized flying centipedes. They were mostly black with individualized dark green banding covering the length of their bodies and razor like fur covering their spindly legs. Each head was dotted with thousands of little red eyes all turned towards Yuuri with hostility. They flexed their jaws, flashing their fangs in anticipation.

The Demons greedily fed on rat carcasses. Yuuri had barged in on meal time it appeared – he caught one Demon in the act of tearing a living, shrieking rat’s head from its body, sharp fangs sinking into the matted fur and flesh, spraying blood all over the ground. There’s was no doubt that these were the malicious man-eating Demons Yuuri had dreamed about.

Seeing the way the rats were tortured was disturbing enough to watch. Unfortunately, Yuuri knewthat, if left unchecked, what Yuuri had seen in his dreams would come to pass – a scene far more malignant than the one unfolding before his eyes. Breathing out a sigh of relief, Yuuri could be a little bit happy knowing that he had made it in time.

His relief was short lived. All the Demons’ eyes gravitated towards Yuuri’s frame. A new, more satisfying meal was before them.

Acidic drool fell onto the floor,the wooden planks hissing at the stinging sensation of being devoured and dissolved. Victor crept closer and was now peeping through the doorway situated more closely, diagonally behind Yuuri. It was a gamble. If the raven turned around now, he would be found out, but it was worth it. There was still something he wanted to confirm. He needed this vantage point. Victor readied himself to fight just in case, but he resolved to allow scene to unfold without his intervention.

What will you do now? Victor’s question begged at the back of his mind.

The silver-haired man was more interested in Yuuri’s facial expressions. His face said that he was fully aware of his and the Demons’ difference in power. Victor studied Yuuri enough to know that the boy hadn’t tapped into the depths of his true potential. He wore a mask in public that consciously and carefully hid away his true strength, but why?

Yuuri’s eyes began to change color – from their natural amber brown to a blistering blood red, matching the hue of the Demons’ eyes.

“Show me everything you got,” Yuuri challenged them with his signature line. A smirk spread across his face and electrified his aura.

When Yuuri spoiled the orange during the school assembly, his eyes didn’t change color. When he healed his arm, his eyes, still, remained their preferred shade of amber brown. But now…

His true Ability is showing, Victor whispered to himself, heart practically leaping into his chest.

The Demons charged towards Yuuri, baring their fangs, poised to strike and take a bite of his soft, youthful flesh. Victor nervously watched, lingering a few paces behind. He wasn’t sure what made him more nervous, the sight of those vile Demons swarming Yuuri, or the anticipation of seeing the boy’s true Ability demonstrated.

“Die.”

Yuuri calmly narrowed his red eyes, holding Pochayuu close to him. A shockwave flowed forth from his form, spreading greedily, taking over the space. It hit the flying Demons like fierce gust of wind. The monsters were briefly stunned by the wave. Frozen in midair for the span of a single, steady heartbeat, the Demons then dropped ground like flies, turning to dust upon impact.

He’s… strong.

Victor had seen this before. He hastily combed through the catacombs of his brain to retrieve the memory.

He was known as the icon of kindness and strength by his people, nurturing others without expecting anything in return. An unconventional superhero, he lacked a trademark suit to adorn his name. Befitting his humble personality, he kept his identity hidden, deeming himself unworthy of thanks and gratitude. As warm and gentle as his nature was, his Ability foiled his character. It subjugated him to the constant fears of others.

Underneath the hood lied the King’s red eyes of judgment.

“Gwendall,” upon competition of his mission Yuuri immediately gave his aide a phone call. “Target annihilated.”

Yuuri was satisfied with the outcome. Erasing the existence of those despicable creatures was easier than he had initially hoped for because they were corralled into one small space. Now his mission was over. Terra Stellata was safe. Pochayuu purred loudly against his master’s side, the burden of fear lifted from the winger creature’s shoulders. His master would always protect him.

Yuuri detailed to Gwendall the specifics of the Demons he encountered.They were building a nest in an unused storeroom in Stellata. Their presences went undetected for a long time apparently, considering how large they had been able to grow by the time Yuuri had found them.

“Okay. I’ll return to the castle by tomorrow.” Yuuri ended the call with a click.

Pochayuu excitedly jumped onto Yuuri’s shoulder. “Let’s get back to the dorm, Pocha. I’m hungry too.”

Yuuri turned around and accidentally ran into someone standing in front of him. The raven fearfully lifted his eyes to see who it was. Their eyes met – oh gods, no… – Victor. This was bad news.

Victor was in too much a state of shock to remember to hide after Yuuri was finished. All he could do was stand there limply trying to process what he had just seen. Yuuri’s eyes met his and all he could muster was to dumbly stare back, slack jawed.

 

Yuuri was failing to keep calm. He was shaking all over, caught red handed. Pochayuu scampered down Yuuri’s shirt to hide. “Aah, uh, Mr. Nikiforov… T-Trust m-me, I-I didn’t do anyth–”

“Yuuri Katsuki,” Victor voice resonated firmly, adding to Yuuri’s anxiousness.

“Is that your real name?”

“Huh?” Yuuri was not in a state of mind to properly internalize Victor’s meaning. “Y-yes…” he stammered out.

“Oh, God…”Victor softly cried out, falling on his knees.

This sudden action startled Yuuri and he jumped in response. The older man buried his face in his hands and convulsed a few times. Yuuri was unsure if he could leave now. He really, really wanted to leave, but that would be rude. Yuuri braced for a good scolding but tensed up even more when he heard Victor sigh. Then his idol suddenly started laughing. It was a light, ephemeral laugh laced with delightful undertones. Yuuri felt very uncomfortable.

Victor, still on his knees, tentatively extended an arm out towards Yuuri and took the raven’s hand in his. He may have stroked the back of the boy’s hand once with his thumb, as he pulled him closer – he couldn’t help himself. Finally, Victor brought the rigid hand up to his lips and kissed the younger’s fingers delicately. Yuuri didn’t know what to feel, but he knew what was happening. He was found out.

“I apologize for my lack of manners… Your Majesty.”

There was no use denying it anymore. Victor had absolutely seen everything. Yuuri was busted right at the very end of his mission by none other than his lifelong idol.

“Mr. Nikiforov…”

“Oh no, just Victor is fine, Your Majesty.” Victor’s words nervously rushed and tumbled out of his mouth.

“Please stand up,” Yuuri blushed lightly. Victor’s deeply submissive behavior was making the moment very awkward for the raven. He wasn’t wearing his cloak, so it felt wrong to be addressed as a King like this. Victor stood, his gaze never leaving Yuuri’s, and his hand still desperately latched on. Without Yuuri’s warm hand anchoring him to reality, he might have drifted away in the surreal moment.

“You will never understand how happy I am to finally see who you really are. Your benevolence as a ruler, your fight with Kyler, and everything I’ve known about you as my student up until this point has added up to more reasons for me to idolize you.”

Yuuri’s blush deepened. To be serenated by his idol with such words and respect made his heart pound out of his chest. Victor’s warm, large hand was gripping his tightly. The older man looked radiant when he smiled like Yuuri was the only person in the world that mattered. It stole his breath away at the sight. Perhaps, Victor discovering his identity wasn’t so bad at all.

Yuuri started to question whether his feelings for Victor were purely out of admiration.

Yuuri looked back at him, Victor Nikiforov, a simple Holy Knight, starry-eyed. It dream was come true, or the closest Victor could ever come to describing the feeling. He felt that his life was finally complete. He could die now without regrets – okay, maybe just one regret. He had always seen the King as beautiful, a beautiful, pure, divine soul. But, standing before him, his true visage revealed – oh gods –  he was a beautiful man. His face, his hair, his body, his eyes, oh those eyes… The thought of Yuuri’s eyes, those powerful eyes, glistening like rubies made his heart skip a beat.

“I can’t help but think about the day you told me I was your idol. The meaning is so much different now. I am truly honored. I am forever thankful, astounded for your kind and compassionate words.” Victor took Yuuri’s remaining free hand in his and brought them both to his lips one more time for a kiss. “Please allow me to continue to do justice to your fond feelings towards me.”

Staring down at the raven’s hands, he confessed,“Your Majesty… I am completely in love with you.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri was nine years old when he first started learning about Cervantian Kings.

He curiously entered the library and was immediately overwhelmed by the number of books and scrolls piled high on shelves extending up to the 30ft tall ceilings. He marveled. How could one person expect to be able to read this many books in their lifetime? One book caught his eye. It was low to the ground – in Yuuri’s line of sight – and the spine glinted with weathered embossed gold leaf. He dragged his little footstool over and climbed the steps to reach up high enough to pluck the well-loved, thick tome off the shelf. Once in hand, he brushed off the accumulated dust and read its title: History of Kings by Gwendall H. Aravyne.

Amazing! Gwendall never told him that he had written a book. Yuuri rushed to a nearby couch, took a seat and flipped the book open. Just like the title insisted, it featured the biographies of all ofthe Kings Gwendall had served before him.

Gwendall really has been alive for thousands of years, Yuuri remarked.

Beneath their names, the Kings also had depictions done in full color illustrations and descriptions about their rule. Yuuri skimmed through their descriptions quickly as he was more interested in their S class Abilities. The book was no different from a standard History textbook, a subject that never failed to bore him in school. He hungrily devoured the pages.

Sophea, the high priestess.

Some of the Kings were female, like the woman currently displayed on the page Yuuri had turned to. She had roughly the same Ability as Yuuri, but she had different strengths. She prominently used her Ability to predict the future, whereas Yuuri was incredibly gifted at present time manipulation and seeing into people’s pasts. As far as the future was concerned, he only received vague symbolic nightmares. He was surprised to find that a lot of previous Kings shared some variation of the Time Control Ability.

He also discovered Kings with more uncommon abilities including Elemental Manipulation, Soul Empowerment, Omnikinesis, Absolute Intelligence… and many other unfathomably strong Abilities as expected of the S class. If they were still alive, he thought these people were the only ones who could rival his power. Some might even be stronger than him.

“Wow… They all are so remarkable…” Yuuri murmured, as he flipped to the next page, another King was featured.

King Giancarlo had the Ability of Great Luck. As his Ability suggested, he was gifted with automatic, continuous, guaranteed good luck. All the aspects of Giancarlo’s life were improved drastically, and he rarely found himself in troublesome, his Ability invisibly intervened to resolve matters in his favor no matter how impossible the scenario or how great the odds were against him. In gambling he consistently won jackpots and when he walked the streets he could always find money if he just looked down.

Yuuri’s admiration of the past Kings increased the more he read. It was unbelievable to think that one day he would be among these pages. What would Gwendall have to say about his reign? Yuuri pondered curiously, allowing his imagination to run wild in possibility.The deeper into the book he got, the older the Kings became in the annals of Cervantes’ history. He wanted to reach the last King in the book, the first king Gwendall served almost 2000 years ago. His name was Ivan the Fourth. An exquisite full-page illustration was dedicated to him, posed, sitting atthe dining table.Beside him was a young white-haired boy holding a pitcher of red wine.

Yuuri thought that face looked familiar. Is this Gwendall…? He was drawn to the pages even more now. He was not familiar with this King. Gwendall occasionally talked about some of his memories with the past Kings, especially Sophea, but he never spoke about Ivan.

King Ivan had a Mind Control Ability according to the tome. Gwendall had also mentioned that this was the first King he had served under, confirming that the boy in the illustration was truly him. This King had the shortest description out of the other Kings, only making up a quarter of a page strangely enough. There was not much to learn about him; the sentences were terse and unemotional.

As if he was not a King to be fondly remembered.

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Gwendall rubbed the rapidly forming bruises and red welts on his bottom.

He was punished thoroughly after breaking a stack of plates by accident – 20 lashes by the King’s order. His father, Sir Thorodin, the King’s current advisor, was apologizing on his son’s behalf before the King, haughtily sitting on his gilded throne. Thorodin was not ashamed by his son’s mistake – it was trivial at best, yet he cowered in fear at the Kings feet in apology, begging for a lesser sentence for his 10-year-old boy.

“I beg for your mercy, Your Majesty…” Thorodin bowed his head low, “Please forgive my son for the mistake. It was simply an accident.” The young father was desperate to ensure his only son’s safety.

“Aye, Thorodin. I could have killed him. There is your mercy! Next time he blunders, I won’t hesitate to reach for that more severe punishment.”

Ivan the Fourth cackled. Holding his pipe, he obnoxiously let out rings of smoke into the air with each bellowing laugh. He was delighted to watch the young Gwendall while he was abused, to watch the father’s face contort in every direction possible, and then to finally see the elder man beg on his knees. Gwendall never committed any wrongdoings in the castle. He was a model servant, but when he carelessly dropped the plates, the King was more than eager for a chance to finally punish him.

King Ivan took pleasure in seeing the pain and suffering of his own people. The worst thing was that no one could stand up to him.

No one could match Ivan’s Ability, Mind Control. Once a command was spoken, it was absolute. The victims free will disappeared instantaneously. It enabled him to treat everyone underneath him like ragdolls, bending to his will. Nobody could stop him from creating misery for his people. Citizens lived in fear every day. Poverty and suicide rates climbed every year as the King drove the country into the ground, more interested in satisfying his own sadistic and greedy whims.

 Gwendall balled his fists behind his back while the King laughed in his father’s face, his nails dug into his palm so hard he drew blood as he held in his fury. But, unfortunately, the King was not lying. This was one of the lightest punishments he could have received. Some servants had been tortured more creatively, so he considered himself lucky enough.

The pain he received from the thrashing wasn’t what was really bothering the boy, hearing the prodding laugher ringing in his ears. Even Thorodin knew that his son wasn’t the problem.

Thorodin tried to brighten his son’s day once they returned home. “Gwendall, my son. I cooked your favorite soup for lunch.”

Gwendall was not happy with the oxtail soup, how could he be? His father and he had been living frugally every day of their lives. This fancy dish meant that his father spent up more of their daily allowance than usual. It was his mother’s favorite dish, too… until the King went and snapped her neck for resisting when he forced himself on her. Today, it was yet another painful reminder of the King’s maliciousness.

Gwendall angrily spooned the soup. Ivan paid them very little, too little to be eating such a fine soup. They usually ate the scraps from the castle. The ruthless King thought permitting them to live in the castle was more than they deserved. He probably couldn’t pay them much more anyway if he wanted to keep up his usual luxuries. The economic state of Cervantes under his care was defunct, not that the King cared. Ivan used his fortune merely for his own enjoyment and everyone else could go to hell.

“I’m sorry about what happened to you,” Thorodin patted his son’s back while he was sipping the soup. “I think you should stop working in the castle from now on.”

Gwendall shook his head. “I can’t, Father. We can’t afford to. I don’t want to be useless and I want to help you for our living.”

The boy was not the only one to loath the King wholeheartedly. Gwendall couldn’t voice his negative opinions publicly – the walls had ears. If he so much as whispered under his breath, he would somehow be reported to Ivan who would be thrilled to punish him again. He opened his mouth, tempted to complain about the King, but immediately changed the topic.

“If only I had an Ability. Maybe I could be more useful.” Gwendall sighed.

Thorodin was quick to correct his son and give him a little more hope for the day, “Eh? No, an Ability is something everyone gets eventually. You just haven’t discovered yours yet.”

Gwendall begrudgingly finished the soup; he was quite hungry after all. He rested his chin on the table as Thorodin went to wash the dishes. He wondered what his Ability would end up being. Would it suit him? There was no way he could have an S class Ability since the current King was still, unfortunately, very alive. Instead, he dreamed of having an A class Ability – flying high in the sky like a bird would be nice.

“I would be a lot stronger if I had my Ability, then.” Gwendall continued to dwell on his unknown Ability, “The gladiators tell me that I have the strength of an average girl. I’m so disappointing.”

Thorodin took a seat opposite of his son at the table.

“A man’s true strength is not based on their Ability or physical prowess, my son.”

Gwendall raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“I never told you about the tale of David and Goliath, did I?” His father asked, to which Gwendall shrugged.

Thorodin summoned a book into his hand with a brilliant poof, his Ability, and flipped to the desired page with ease. He couldn’t believe he had overlooked telling Gwendall one of his favorite childhood stories. It was the story of how Goliath of Gath, a monstrously powerful warrior was defeated by the young David, a ten-year-old boy. It was the story of a champion who was defeated by an underdog.

“Is this even a true story?” Gwendall asked skeptically. As Thorodin read, his cadence did not falter at the interjection, choosing to ignore the question until the end.

Goliath was one of the biggest, strongest giants in the land, over nine feet tall. Every morning, he offered a challenge to the townspeople. He would shout, demanding for someone to fight him. The wager was this: If he won,he would force the folk into his servitude, and if he lost the giants would go into their village’s servitude. Nobody dared to accept his challenge, fearing his monstrous size and strength.

A young boy named David eventually rose to face him. His father, Jesse, was reluctant to allow him at first. After all, David was only a boy - Goliath had been fighting for years, a seasoned warrior. But David persisted, someone needed to stand up to this menace. Despite his youth he had fought lions and bears to protect his father’s sheep from harm, he made his father aware of this fact and the man eventually relented. God was with him.

The day of the fight, Goliath made his appearance. The monster was covered in thick armor from head to toe. Behind him, he slung along a massive great sword, its sharpened edge glinting in the morning sun. It would cleanly decapitate the boy in one heavy swing. To contrast, David refused to don armor. All he brought with him was a sling – a weapon that could launch small projectiles – and 5 smooth stones he plucked from the river earlier in the day. It was small and homemade, consisting of a stick, a pouch, and two cords to hold everything together.

David knew what he was up against and had a plan. He knew such heavy armor would slow a warrior down. Instead of foolishly charging Goliath headfirst, he calmly picked a stone out of his pocket, placed it in the sling, and launched stone towards the only exposed patch of skin on the giant – his forehead. It was a simplebut highly effective weapon. The stone, when cast at high speed in a sling, could be deadly if it struck just right. David knew – he used one to chase off wild animals who would frequently attack their flocks of sheep.

David’s stone hit true. Goliath swayed and lost his balance, the stone striking him squarely in the forehead. The heavy armor caused him to come crashing to the ground. The courageous and clever boy was deemed the victor of the battle.

“Yes, this is a true story, Gwendall.”

Gwendall widened his eyes in disbelief while listening to his father’s story. The way David defeated Goliath without the use of magic or luck was different from the fairy tales, myths and legends he had heard before. It made a frightening amount of sense. After finishing the story, Thorodin gently closed the book. He placed his pointer finger over Gwendall’s heart.

“This is where a man’s strength truly lies, my son.”

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Gwendall thought that today would be one of those rare peaceful days.

He and Thorodin had a day off. A festival was being held in honor of a national holiday. The entire castle and most of the town was there to celebrate – traditionally the King and his court presided over the festivities of the day. It was supposed to be a jovial occasion. However, with Ivan in the vicinity, there was never much hope they could be so lucky.

The second Thorodin thought about the King, the devil came to call with his booming voice, “You will die in my hands right here, right now you Devil!” Ivan’s thunderous roar could be heard distantly, over the crowds.

Thorodin and Gwendall moved quickly to the area of commotion. One brave had just threatened the King and charged at him head on to put an end to his cruel, miserable reign. Ivan looked annoyed. The soldier was like a mosquito that buzzed around his ear.

The warrior used his Ability, Psychic type Energy Generation to form a sword shaped laser in his hands, one that could cut through anything. Gwendall and Thorodin spectated among the crowd as the fight took form. The warrior charged towards Ivan, nearly close enough to cut the King down with his sword.

Ivan’s eyes turned gold. The people dubbed those eyes the golden eyes of bloodthirst. Gwendall had seen Ivan’s eyes turn gold only once before when he compelled a successful foreign merchant to surrender his fortunes.

“Drop your sword and kneel before me, you imbecile.” He commanded.

At the King’s command, the warrior dropped his sword and it disappeared into thin air. He knelt before Ivan, unable to move his body freely with the King’s Ability acting on him. Everyone could see the contorted emotions on his face as the man used every ounce of his willpower to try to fight his body, fight the commands. The warrior couldn’t do anything but tremble in fear.He couldn’t counterattack, he couldn’t run, he was paralyzed. He was defeated far too easily by the King.

Ivan approached the warrior and sneered. “Now, what should I do with you?”

The crowd nervously watched, waiting to hear the warrior’s fate. Gwendall prayed Ivan would spare him his life. He felt sorry for the warrior who earnestly sought justice.

“I command you,” Ivan stared right into the warrior’s eyes, “to live as an animal for the rest of your life.”

“No, no, no!!!”

The warrior lost his ability to talk. What came out from his mouth instead was barking growling, akin to a dog’s. He began to move around on all fours and the hair on his body rapidly sprouted until it began to look like fur covered him. The soldier had lost his mind.

Ivan laughed like a maniac after the warrior’s transformation. “Hahaha! Now I command my men to banish you to the jungle, a fitting place for you to live now!”Some men, at the King’s commands, chained the fallen warrior up and dragged him away.

The warrior was bestowed by fate worse than death. Thorodin wished he could have rescinded his prayer. Upon seeing his fate, Thorodin knew death would have been much more merciful.

It was horrible. Gwendall clung to his father fearfully. It was scary how easily a man could be toyed with by their almighty ruler. Instead of using his power to help his people, Ivan used it for his own selfish purposes and trampled on his people in the process. As long he had his luxuries, nothing else really mattered.

“Is there anything we can do, father?” Gwendall asked, after the public chaos had quieted down to a low simmer.

Thorodin knelt to his son’s eye level, placing his hands onto his shoulders. “I promise, I will do something.”

The Aravyne family traditionally served as the primary advisors to the King and had been doing so for generations. Once Thorodin retired, it was Gwendall who would replace him and continue the legacy. The Aravynes were responsible for shaping and molding the rulers as they saw fit, well… if the King was willing enough to listen. Ivan always disobeyed Thorodin’s advice, but he never gave up.

Their duties, their dynasty in some respect was more important that the King’s because they, their family line, was eternal while the King’s position was non-hereditary, ephemeral. Their family shouldered much of the responsibility for the success and failures of their nation’s leader and would continue to influence the country long after the death of Ivan and all his successors.

“Father,” Gwendall narrowed his eyes.

 “One day, when I inherit your position, I will do everything in my power to educate them as best I can. I’ll swear to make sure that future Kings never end up like him. I don’t want to see our family and this nation face this brand of hell again.”

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It was an exciting day – Gwendall was permitted to have the leftover mutton from the castle for dinner with his father. It had been a while since they had eaten meat.

Gwendall tried to slice the mutton with a knife.The knife only managed to pierce through the skin, not to the core of the flesh. He tried cutting it again and, upon failing a second time, checked if the knife was blunt.

“Gwendall, what are you doing?” Thorodin entered the kitchen, to find his son rubbing his thumb across a knife with a plate of meat in front of him.

“I’ve been trying to cut this thing for ages,” Gwendall said, this time, more violently stabbing the meat with the utensil.

Thorodin took the knife from Gwendall’s hand. “You’re doing it wrong. Watch me.”

Gwendall watched attentively, as Thorodin held the knife at a precise angle to stab the meat, blade sinking into the flesh cleanly. He showed his son the proper way to grip and use a knife, one, so he wouldn’t make a fool of himself at the table, and, two, the lesson would double as a bonus basic self-defense lesson.

 Thorodin allowed Gwendall to try again until he succeeded.

After his own dinner, it was Gwendall’s turn to serve supper to the King. He pushed the cart containing Ivan’s favorite dishes to his bedchamber. He slowly nudged the door open to find the King at his desk, counting his monthly tax income. Gwendall wondered how many more people this man had bankrupted or murdered this month to collect his greedy, selfish tax. The boy’s knuckles turned white as he gripped the cart more tightly, trying to suppress his rage.

Ivan turned towards the white-haired boy standing in the door. “You little gremlin,” Ivan let out a puff of smoke towards the child serving him. “What do you have there for me? You better not disappoint.”Gwendall coughed, forced to inhale the smoke from the King’s pipe. He managed to maintain his composure, though.

He unveiled the night’s dinner selection and placed the platters on the desk one by one. Tonight’s menu was shepherd’s pie, fruit salad, and cheese tarts. Finally, Gwendall lifted a pitcher of red wine and brought it to the King to taste.

“Your Majesty, this is an imported Italian wine – one of the finest,” Gwendall presented the wine to Ivan. “I hope it suits your taste.”

Ivan’s eyes sparkled and his mouth watered at the thought of being able to sample such a delightful wine. Before he got too ahead of himself, however, he remembered to test for poison, using his server as the guinea pig. “Boy, go and taste some of it first. I won’t drink it otherwise.”

Gwendall was curious to know what wine tasted like, but he remembered that is father prevented him from drinking it, citing that he was too young. However, he was more afraid of Ivan, the King, standing before him making demands. It couldn’t be helped, now. He hoped his father would understand. He took a spare glass off the cart and poured out a small amount.He took a sip.

The flavor was too strong! He felt like throwing it up, but he forced himself to swallow it instead. It was apparent on Gwendall’s contorted, scrunched up face that he couldn’t enjoy the taste of wine.

Ivan took glee in bullying him - he lit up watching the brat’s face contort in disgust. Seeing that the child was still alive, the wine obviously wasn’t poisoned either. The night was off to a great start. The King quickly demanded a glass of his own, to which the servant obliged.

“Now this is a quality wine!” Ivan exclaimed after quickly downing the entire glass immediately after his first sip. “Fetch me some more!”

Gwendall smiled. He dared not disobey his King. He poured out more wine, as much as the King had requested,and returned the cup. Ivan finished the second glass of wine nearly as quickly as the first. He felt so good. He was able to eat a scrumptious meal, drink as much of the finest wine in the country as he desired and was surrounded by money. He drank nonstop, swept up in the hedonism of the moment, until the pitcher was empty, and Ivan was blackout drunk.

“Hic… More wine… Hic…”

That was when Gwendall spotted a dagger with peculiar handle resting on a cabinet in the room. If he was not mistaken, this was Ivan’s treasured, poisoned-infused weapon. He always had it on his person, even though he never used it, opting to use his ability instead.

“Hey midget, gimme more…” The King slurred out, pointing a pudgy finger towards his empty wine glass.

Ivan was too inebriated to react and in his most vulnerable state, too drunk to focus his Ability. Before he realized what was going on, an immense pain radiated throughout his back.That brat had stabbed him with his own dagger. Blood gushed out from the wound and stained his clothes. Gwendall knew once wouldn’t be enough, so he pulled the dagger out and stabbed Ivan again, twisting the blade as it sunk into his flesh.

This is for the people, for all the misery you have caused.

“AAAAAHHHHH!!!”

The scream echoed throughout the hall. Within the room, you could hear the sticky squelching sound the blood made as it poured out of the King’s wounds, dripping on the floor and soaking both the king and the boy. Blood splashed towards Gwendall’s face, but he didn’t bother to wipe it.

I won’t let Kings like you to exist anymore.

Thorodin heard the scream and went pale. He knew his only son was currently alone with the King in his bedchamber right now serving dinner. He rushed towards the bedchamber expecting to find his child dead on the floor, one more family member murdered by the King. He didn’t bother to knock, rushing in, adrenaline pumping as inextinguishable anguished cries rang in his ears. The room was a bloodbath. Thorodin’s eyes locked onto his son’s figure. He was soaked with blood from top to bottom, but alive much to the worried father’s relief. He then turned his eyes to the source of the blood. The King’s lifeless form lay splayed out over the table, with a knife sticking out of his back.

“Gwendall…?”

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Thousands of years had passed.

Gwendall just had finished cleaning Thorodin’s grave, located not far from the eastern lawn of the castle. He removed the cobwebs, dried leaves and weeds, and swept off the dust with a broom. Beside his father’s ancient, crumbling grave was a plot reserved for himself. If he ever did pass one day in the future, he wanted to be reunited with his father.

“Gwendall, I know you have an Ability. I believe I will get to see it someday.” Gwendall thought of Thorodin’s words to him, in remembrance of his father, still crouched over his grave. The thousands of years separating them was a harsh reminder of the less desirable aspects of his Ability.

“Father…”

It took Gwendall a while to discover his ability. It was not immediately obvious. He had stopped aging roughly after turning 25 years old. Unfortunately, he had lost his father when he was in his 40’s, so he never did get to learn what his son’s Ability was just like he had wished. It took Gwendall another few years to be suspicious of his ability and an additional 60 years to confirm those suspicions. He fully believed that he was born without an Ability, but his father was always the stronger believer between them both.

“I’m sure you are still proud of me, eh Father?”

Gwendall missed his father so much. But, he was the first in a lineage of beloved family members he had outlived and subsequently left behind. His Ability was a curse of chronic loneliness. At one point he feared loving others – he couldn’t bear the thought of losing them, outliving them, as they hurtled towards an inevitable death and he was forever the lone constant adrift in the world. It couldn’t be helped. Fate had chosen him to live through these years to take care of the reigning Kings. He would not break his promise to his father or his people, even if he had to trudge along this path forever.

“Gwendall?”

Gwendall turned to the source of the voice. He saw a child, whom he thought of as his own child rather than someone he was serving. The child bumbled towards him, trying not to stumble with a big book in his arms. Gwendall’s smile appeared automatically as the child approached him.

“Your Majesty,” Gwendall ruffled Yuuri’s hair, still sitting on the grass in front of the grave. “I’m sure you are hungry. Why don’t we get inside and have lunch? We’re having your favorite pork cutlet bowl today.”

“Gwendall, is this you?”

Yuuri pointed towards a picture in a page of the book. There was no doubt. This was the book Gwendall had written. He nodded an affirmative, yes. The picture was him as a ten-year-old boy, serving under King Ivan before his final moments. While that memory was thousands of years old, it remained painfully fresh in his mind as one of his best decisions, yet most traumatic experience. The lives of the townspeople rapidly improved after Ivan’s death. Gwendall was seen as a hero in the aftermath.

Holding Gwendall’s hand in his, Yuuri walked together with him back to the castle.

“Gwendall…”

“Hmm?”

Yuuri looked upwards innocently to his loyal assistant’s face. “I don’t think I know that much about you. You don’t tell much about yourself, aren’t you?”

 “Because you never ask?” Gwendall teased, before letting out a small burst of light, gentle laughter.

“I noticed King Ivan’s story is very short.” Yuuri said, in a concerned tone. “Is it because there is something you don’t really want to remember?”

A brief silence overtook Gwendall. This kid was too precocious sometimes.

“Maybe.”

Ivan was the worst King Gwendall had served, and surely, if the people who lived in the same era were still alive, they would wholeheartedly agree with him. He was thankful to have murdered the cruel and ruthless King.The helpless, poor, and needy were no longer tormented.The stress his father had endured in his advising position to the most dangerous man in the world had lifted. Gwendal saved countless lives for his heroic act, and never once felt even the smallest tendril of guilt for claiming another man’s life in such a circumstance – he would do it again if, god forbid, he needed to.

“Do you think I will be a good King?”

Yuuri looked down on the ground, unconfident.

To think that he will one day bear such heavy burden, Gwendall lamented the child’s fate. Even for a young boy like him, Gwendall knew that if he made a mistake, even now, it would lead to heavy consequences and suffering. But, this child never wanted to be a burden to others. He was a pure hearted, considerate kid.

“Of course, you will,” Gwendall gently stroked Yuuri’s hair, assuring him.

Gwendall burned the memory of serving under Ivan into his head, so he would be forever motivated to take his responsibility of educating the future Kings seriously. Living through the reign of such a cruel and terrible King was a traumatizing experience. He refused to allow that same hell to repeat itself ever again. Especially since he had the unique privilege of guiding and raising so many monarchs, if a second Ivan were to come to power, the blame would fall on him for not being careful enough as he groomed future young men and women for the throne.

“I will make sure of it.”

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Did THE Victor Nikiforov just make a love confession to him?

Victor clapped his hands over his mouth as his eyes went wide. He couldn’t believe he just said that out loud.

Regaining his endless confidence and suave Victor owned his slip up, “Well,” Victor blushed, “What would you say, Your Majesty?”

“Eh? Umm… Ah…”

Yuuri was undeniably good-looking – all the female students were right. The more Victor knew about Yuuri, the deeper in love he fell with this man. Victor was proud to finally let Yuuri know his feelings. The raven deserved his appreciation and respect and Victor hoped that he might want a little more than just those two things as well.

“Ah, it’s okay if you don’t return my feelings,” Victor assured him, backtracking a little sensing the younger’s panic. “My feelings for you will never change.”

Yuuri frantically shook his head. “No, I mean…”

“I will wait for your proper response, then.”

Victor knew Yuuri needed some time to think, to sort out his actual feelings since this was all happening so rapidly. For his sake, the silver-haired man was willing to wait for Yuuri’s response. At least he would finally know how much Victor loved him. He was sure, at least, Yuuri would be absolutely flattered to know that his idol was in love with him. It’s almost like a dream for anyone.

Yuuri knew it well enough the kind of ‘love’ Victor was referring to. When did Victor start to fall for him? During their first class together, maybe? He racked his brain searching for an answer. Judging from the looks Victor gave him throughout his time at Stellata. Then, that explained much about Victor’s protectiveness around him when he was going to fight Kyler and when he treated Yuuri’s injured arm. Things were starting to click into place.

Victor watched as Yuuri silently worked through his thoughts for a few seconds. He tried to translate the facial expressions the boy was making. He was about to open his mouth to offer to walk him home, when Yuuri disappeared before his eyes. It was like magic, one minute he was there, the next he wasn’t. He had to admit that he was a little hurt, but he knew that Yuuri was a sensitive person. He wasn’t going to hold it against him.

Yuuri stopped time and ran. Once he got a reasonable distance away, he set things back to normal and kept running. He didn’t know what to do. He became overwhelmed and panicked. He probably shouldn’t have done that; he would try to apologize later. With some distance between himself and Victor, his rapidly beating heart started to calm, and he let out a breath he had been holding in. Victor was in love with him.

Yuuri couldn’t sleep for the whole night.

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Victor’s love confession played through his head like a broken record.

Yuuri walked to the bathroom to start his morning. He brushed his teeth while Pochayuu stood on the counter next to him, imitating his actions with a tiny toothbrush of his own in front of the mirror. Instead of wearing his Terra Stellata uniform, Yuuri wore casual clothing. He had finished packing before he handled the Demons the night before, so all he had to do was put on the clothes he had laid out the night before.

Today, Yuuri was leaving Stellata.

The promised farewell party taking place in the school’s cafeteria was grander than he expected. All students minus Kyler, the teachers, and even the headmaster were in attendance. Pochayuu, the little glutton, was drooling over the amount of food on the table. He made a bee line for the buffet and started to shovel as much delicious food down his throat as he could before someone kicked him off the table.

“To Yuuri,” everyone toasted.

Yuuri, decided not to drag Pochayuu back. Instead he just let the little guy eat everything in sight, until the Demon lay on the table in a food coma. Phichit fondly poked his ballooned belly. Victor was there, of course, and Yuuri was surprised to find himself engaging into a normal conversation with the man, like last night never happened. Hopefully Phichit and Chris didn’t notice the shift in the air between them.

“You are a good student,” the headmaster said, cupping Yuuri’s cheeks in his hands.

Yuuri smiled. “My experience here was a wonderful one. I’m grateful to have been able to enroll as a student.”

“Take care of yourself, Yuuri.” Phichit pulled Yuuri into a hug, which the latter returned.

“Good luck with your new school,” Chris ruffled Yuuri’s hair. “Next time you see me, just call me Chris.”

Yurio prodded Yuuri at the arm. “Don’t forget to contact me. And let’s play some MMO sometime.”

“I wish for your wellbeing and success out there,” Otabek also gave his share of farewells.

“Yuuri,” Victor whisked Yuuri off out of the center of attention and sadly gazed at Yuuri’s face, millions of thoughts and emotions flying behind those complex eyes. “I’m going to miss you. Please don’t forget about me.”

“Victor…” He whispered, just loud enough for the other man to hear, “never.”

In the end, nothing lasts forever.

Yuuri would have loved to stay longer, but it couldn’t be helped. He had completed his mission here and there was no reason for him to remain any longer when he had a country that needed him. With Pochayuu at his side, Yuuri entered the taxi that had just pulled up to the curb and closed the door behind him. Everyone waved goodbye as he rode off.

Victor was smiling a painful smile as the distance between him and Yuuri increased with every revolution of the taxi’s wheels. It was a bittersweet moment.

Now, out of sight, Victor’s smile slowly started to fade. Yuuri nostalgically was reminded of a dream he no longer had, and the one never came true – To fight alongside his idol. Yuuri’s dreams had since changed course, yearning for more of Victor’s presence in his life but in a different way.

“Po…?”

Pochayuu was worried by Yuuri’s silence. He tried to console him by snuggling their cheeks together. Tickling Yuuri’s skin with the soft, short fur, broke him out of his daze. For a Demon, he was very intelligent and sensitive to Yuuri’s feelings. He always tried to make his master happy in the best ways he could. Pochayuu knew that Yuuri loved his warm hugs.

“I’m fine, Pocha. Thank you for the concern.”

In the taxi, Pochayuu dozed on Yuuri’s lap. It took about an hour to reach the castle gates. Yuuri showed his face on the intercom upon arrival and was immediately buzzed in. The gigantic gates slowly opened, towering above Yuuri, Pochayuu, and his luggage patiently waiting curbside. Carrying Pochayuu in his arms, Yuuri walked into the castle, abuzz with energy due to his arrival, where he was greeted by the servants. They all bowed.

“Welcome back, Your Majesty!”

As usual, Martha came to him running. Not to scold him this time; she tackled him with open arms and hugged both him and Pochayuu. She kissed both of Yuuri’s cheeks, before tightly sweeping him up into another hug. Martha started to tear up and buried her face into Yuuri’s shoulder.

“God, Your Majesty…” Martha sobbed, “So good to see you again…”

“It’s good to see you too, Martha.” He smiled. He sure did miss this place and all of these wonderful people.

Gwendall met Yuuri in the hallways. Minami hastily barged into his office, in the middle of a Holy Knight’s meeting, informing him of Yuuri’s return to the castle. Without hesitation, he left the meeting, putting everyone else on hold just to see Yuuri. The Knights would surely understand. Gwendall’s heart swelled at the sight of the boy.

 “Welcome home, Your Majesty.”

“Hey Gwendall,” Yuuri smiled at his assistant, “I’m home.”

It was the first time Yuuri left the castle for more than a day, no wonder his servants greatly missed him. Pochayuu was well received by the servants, particularly by the maids and Minami who squealed at his cuteness. He would have no troubles fitting in here. Yuuri could guess that the Demon would be spoiled rotten by everyone in no time.

“What’s with everyone? I haven’t been gone for years!” Yuuri laughed at the eagerness of his servants.

“Your Majesty, we were all worried about you, of course.” Gwendall explained, “You promised you would come home by noon, but you didn’t show up.”

“Oh… I’m sorry, they held a party for me before I left, so…”

The lunch planned for Yuuri’s return was pushed to dinner. Gwendall intended to let Yuuri rest for the whole day after finishing suck a taxing mission… until a servant frantically came rushing up frantically.

“Your Majesty! Bad news! We need your help!”

“Sergio,” Gwendall glared. This was not a right timing.

“It’s okay, Gwendall.” Yuuri asked the servant to continue. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s a riot breaking loose on 5th Avenue… It is a total bloodbath, I swear! They are fighting each other to death!”

Gwendall held Yuuri back just as he was about to stand up and make his move. “There is no need for you to help, Your Majesty. I can get the Holy Knights or the police to stop the riot.”

“But I don’t think they will appear in time… And there are too many people getting into the riot…” Sergio lamented. If the crisis was big enough, it would surely need Yuuri’s intervention.

“Gwendall, go and get my cloak.”

Gwendall gave up and complied with Yuuri’s orders. He didn’t remember teaching Yuuri to be this stubborn, but he and the rest of the servants prepared to support their King if he ended up over-exhausting himself again. While Yuuri was away, Gwendall had upgraded the plain, old cloak he always wore.

Yuuri looked at his reflection as he slipped on his gloves. He was wearing the same black cloak he had worn since childhood over a plain grey shirt, basic black pants and a pair of black knee-length boots to match. A belt was strapped around his waist which held the royal sword for self-defense. Gwendall’s style was so gothic, Yuuri thought.

“Don’t forget this, Your Majesty.”

Gwendall handed a white mask over to Yuuri to complete his disguise. The mask had holes for his eyes and nostrils, as well as curves to fit the shape of his mouth and nose. Yuuri put it on, covering his face, then placed the hood over his head. Dang I look cool, Yuuri muttered to himself, turning in the mirror one last time.

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Blood was running through the streets and into the gutters. Roars of anguish and wrath could be heard over the clashing of metal, wood, and flesh. The atmosphere was suffocating under thick layers of hatred. Occasionally sparks would fly as rare Abilities and simple Abilities alike clashed relentlessly, used in increasingly creative ways. Amidst the modern war, some soldiers had already fallen, lying unconscious in the streets, covered in wounds.

Pedestrians who got caught in the middle of the brawl fled, dodging and weaving through the angry mob. Some hid inside the buildings and covered their ears to block off the noise. Some reached for their cellphones and tried calling the police.

A burly man with a metal folding chair squared off with his opponent, holding a broken, jagged wine bottle. The burly man prepared for a counterattack to honor his fallen comrade. A man from his posse was severely beaten down with that broken wine bottle until there was a gash on his head, bleeding out profusely. All the men in the brawl tossed their lives to the wind. It was better to die in triumph and blazing glory than to live in shame after not being able to rival the opposing gang.

“Hiyaahhh!!!”

He was going to smack his opponent across the head with the folding chair, but his body suddenly betrayed him as his arms came to a screeching halt. He couldn’t move his body, nor could anyone else in his line of sight. The whole riot became instantly frozen in place. They stood there, static, paralyzed as if they were bound by invisible steel threads.

Silence conquered the square, replacing the menacing battle cries. Soon, the sound of police sirens swarmed the distance, growing closer. First responders were rushing to the epicenter of the disturbance. The offenders could no longer run away from the police. Something was holding them back, from resuming the riot, banning them from fighting each other to death.

“Arrest all of them at once,” a police officer commanded. “Take the wounded to the hospital, now!”

Somewhere above the square, glowing red eyes glared down at them all. The white mask he wore made him faceless, only adding to his feared image. The rioter, soon, all realized why they couldn’t move. They had fallen under his red-eyed judgment, suppressed by his unbeatable Ability.

“I told all of you to stop.”

Chapter Text

“Theresa,” Senator Hewlett turned to his daughter, “Today we are going to meet His Majesty in person.”

“The King?”

I would be a princess right now if the line of succession were inherited.

Theresa mumbled to herself. Her luxurious life as the only daughter of a senator wasn’t enough it seemed. Today she was with her father and Captain Nikiforov, their security detail, riding through town in a limousine. This was not the first time she accompanied her father to work, but this was something new.

She wasn’t nervous – not up until the point where her father’s words were proven true, and there he stood in the flesh. The King wore his signature cloak with his advisor, Gwendall, by his side. Even though she heard nothing but positive things about the King, seeing him face-to-face still made her hairs stand on end.

“Nice to meet you, Your Majesty.” Senator Hewlett bowed his head, Theresa mirrored his actions with a little less grace.

Wordlessly, the King respectfully bowed back to them in his usual style. It didn’t do much to curb Theresa’s nervous energy though. Her C class Ability was no match for his S class Time Control of course.

Yuuri was quick to notice the unfamiliar face, the girl who stood beside Senator Hewlett. “May I ask who is this?”

His tone was casual, but Theresa couldn’t see behind Yuuri’s masked expression. She couldn’t help but let out a small gasp when he asked about her. Senator Hewlett introduced her as his daughter and youngest child to which Yuuri nodded in return. He exchanged some brief words with Victor before being whisked off to the main hall.

“Eh, we are in a court?” Theresa whispered to her father as she entered the hall following closely behind.

Senator Hewlett’s face took on a gloomy expression.

“A friend of mine is on trial.”

A famed politician and a friend of Senator Hewlett was the defendant in a criminal case taking place today. He was arrested after his ex-wife reported him to the police for murdering their 5-year-old son. The floor of the courtroom was already set up with both party’s lawyers and the judge present. Yuuri, whisked away just moments earlier, was already seated next to the presiding judge, helping to oversee the trial due to it’s high-profile nature. The trial must have started as soon as the King took his place. Within a handful of seconds, the trial was well underway.

“I saw it with my own eyes, Your Honor!” The man’s ex-wife tearfully screamed. “He murdered my child! He’s a demon!”

Yuuri silently listened to her story, crossing his arms in his seat. Murder was a grave crime. For premeditated or particularly malicious crimes, a guilty sentence was punishable by either life imprisonment or the death penalty. For negligent homicide or reckless manslaughter, the defendant would be heavily fined and expect a sizeable prison sentence.Neither option was appealing.

Concerning the defending politician, while there was no obscurity in the fact that his son died on his watch, what wasn’t certain was if the father had malicious intent or if the death was negligent and accidental. The man hired several top lawyers to convince the court in favor of the lesser murder charge. With his deep pockets, it wouldn’t be difficult to manage a fine and some parole.

The politician finally took the stand to testify, “I didn’t mean to kill him, I swear! I accidentally pushed him over and he died all the sudden. Why would I kill my own son?”

Yuuri watched as the ex-wife buried her face in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably after being asked to dig up traumatic feelings for the sake of the trial. As a King, it was unconventional for him to take part in a trial, but his Ability was needed because the trial was based mostly on hearsay. The presiding judge at this point was a formality. With no conclusive evidence, Yuuri would have to draw from his skills reading the past to determine the verdict.

“What would you say, Your Majesty?”The judge prompted him.

This was the moment of truth. Yuuri rid his mind of as many distractions as possible to focus solely on the defendant. Using his past vision, he could peer into the man’s life, the memories of another person. Yuuri’s “Past Vision” was one of his specialties within his Time Control abilities.

Yuuri looked through the defendant, rewinding through his memories until he found what he was looking for, the truth behind his testimony. The politician was terribly uneasy with the King’s red eyes piercing through his soul. There was no way he could lie, no way he could hide while under the King’s judgment.

Yuuri began to tremble uncontrollably. His erratic heart could’ve stopped beating.

A child was shrieking loudly in pain. In front of him stood the defendant, a leather belt in hand. The child’s body was marred all over with swollen red welts and dark purple bruises. The defendant, ignoring the screams of pain,continued to lash him mercilessly. The belt loudly slapped against the child’s skin. The boy tried to run, but the defendant reached out and caught him. Dragging the boy by his hair, the defendant marched his son over to a fleet of stairs, and…

Stop.

Yuuri fell to his seat, hyperventilating and shaking violently all over. Gwendall and Victor ran to his side to calm him down. This was not his Ability; this was caused by the traumatic scenes Yuuri had watched unfold just moments before.

All the little eyes peppering courtroom stared at him with bated breath, watching his reactions, waiting for his verdict.

“…Guilty, malicious intent.” Yuuri finally eked out after catching his breath.

Relief washed over the ex-wife’s face as she assumed a more bittersweet, grateful expression. Simultaneously, the defendant gasped in terror. He gazed over to his attorney, clutching his sleeve, looking for any glimmer of hope in the man’s eyes for his case. But, the attorney was at a loss for words. He thought of anything that could possibly save his client.

“Objection, Your Majesty!” The attorney shrieked in desperation, “He didn’t mean to kill him! At the time he was intoxicated and lost his sensibilities!’

Yuuri turned towards the defendant, his red eyes were still glowing through the mask. “I watched you. You drank nothing that night.”

So, the King could even tell that the incident took place at night. He really did see everything with those red eyes of his. The defendant’s attorney slumped his shoulders in defeat while the prosecutor smirked back. After hearing such an overwhelming verdict from the highest law of the land, his hands were tied. Yuuri’s word was law, the man’s situation was hopeless.

The defendant, like a cornered animal, began to lash out.

“You don’t know how tough it is to raise a hyperactive child!” The defendant slammed his fists on the podium before him, “that brat’s tantrums are uncontrollable!”

He continued, “Can you imagine me, with my stressful, tiring job, having to come home to wrangle that impossible kid and his outbursts? Can you, you fucking masked creep!?”

Everyone in the courtroom was paralyzed. No one dared to speak to the King that way, the most revered and powerful man in Cervantes.

“Watch your mouth!Don’t you realize who you are talking to?” Victor shot back furiously, unsheathing his sword in the process. “I should have you executed right now.”

But the defendant was not intimidated. He jabbed his finger menacingly towards Yuuri, “You, King… you are not a parent! You shouldn’t have the right to judge me over something you have no experience with!”

“Your Honor,” Yuuri calmly glanced towards the judge, “Tell me, are there many cases where parents murder hyperactive children?”

The judge shook his head. “There are very few, Your Majesty. This is the first in several years.”

“I see…” Yuuri hummed in a low voice.

In the end, Yuuri’s decision stood. The ex-began to cry tears of relief – her boy would get justice. While Senator Hewlett was sympathetic, he was far more shocked by his friends behavior. It was a stark contrast to the man he thought he knew. Before the trial began, Hewlett planned on offering to help his friend post bail, but now he thought better. This man was not deserving of his charity.

“You are guilty of murder with malicious intent towards a minor, your own child. I sentence you to life imprisonment without the possibility of par-” The judge began to pass the sentence without hesitation.

“-No,” Yuuri interrupted the judge.

“He will have the death penalty.” Yuuri’s words had an icy undercurrent.

In just a moment, the defendant’s fate became infinitely worse. With life imprisonment, he would at least have had a life to live. He could have received visitors and kept a daily job in the minimum-security prison he was expected to be housed in.

Most of the room was stunned by Yuuri’s sudden escalation of the penalty. However, the ruler had no regrets. Based on what he saw, he felt that it was the appropriate price to pay for his cruelty against an innocent, powerless child. Yuuri could only stand by and watch the horror unfolding before his eyes, and that was painful enough. It was nothing compared to the suffering of the poor abused child.

One of the defendant’s acquaintances sprang up from the audience exclaiming, “Please, Your Majesty! Give him another chance!”

“My decision is final.” Yuuri stiffened.

“Bullshit!” The defendant screamed at Yuuri. “Even if I die, that won’t change anything! It won’t bring that dumb shit back to life! You son of a bitch!”

Yuuri, outwardly, remained calm, but his blood boiled, and his heart brimmed over with anger. “Your son needs justice. Allowed to live, you would never understand the pain you inflicted or the grief you’ve caused for so many people. Our actions today would all be for naught. The death penalty is appropriate for your crimes.”

“Ahh, fuck!”

The defendant sprang up from the bench and tried to run for his life. He tried to escape via the main door at the back of the room, but Victor guarded it just in time and swiftly blocked his way.He was soon pinned down by several policemen and restrained. All the defendant could do was nervously ponder how much time he had left.

“Your Majesty! Don’t you feel sorry for him…?”

Yuuri glared towards the source of voice. “I don’t. I sympathize more for the poor child he murdered.”

“What are you waiting for?” Yuuri asked the hesitant judge.

“If you don’t charge him with the death penalty now, then I will execute him myself right here.”

The King’s execution – the room paled. Just the thought of it scared the living daylights out of everyone present. Yuuri had executed someone with his Ability once in public – he stopped air from entering their lungs and they died from suffocation. It was a deserved punishment for raping and murdering his own wife and abandoning his children.

In contrast to Midas’ touch of gold, anything the King touched would grant immediate death.

“Under His Majesty’s order, I shall sentence you to the death penalty.”

Once the judge’s sentence was officially passed, Yuuri could breathe again and the room burst into low chatter, the tension mostly broken. The defendant’s ex-wife ran towards Yuuri to thank him. The police drug the defendant away, Victor trailing closely behind. The defendant castone last glare towards Yuuri.

“Fuck! Fuck you, you crooked King! FUCK YOU!”

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Gwendall paused briefly to exchange a few words with Victor before continuing his walk back to the royal limousine.

Senator Hewlett, spotting his opening, intercepted the man. He wished to speak with him briefly, the second most important man in the room. Gwendall didn’t wish to keep Yuuri waiting but permitted the conversation so long as it was quick. He wondered what could be so important that the man had frantically come over to him to say – it probably had something to do with Yuuri.

“Master Gwendall, about His Majesty-”

Gwendall was right, he usually was. “- Do you have any problem with his ruling, Senator Hewlett? I understand the defendant was a friend of yours, but what he did is still unforgivable.” Gwendall answered the most likely question the man had to save himself some time.

“Eh, no…” The senator waved his hand in denial. This is completely unrelated to that.

“I just thought… Isn’t it too much to keep his identity hidden? I don’t see why you should ask him to do this.”

Gwendall shook his head.

“It was not my choice, and I’ve never asked the Kings before him to do such thing. It is solely His Majesty’s idea.” Gwendall said.

Hearing Gwendall’s reply, Senator Hewlett let out a sigh.

“You know, I think if he reveals his identity, people will finally see him as a person.” Senator Hewlett stated his opinion, “Going on like this, he is but an entity to everyone. I can’t say if it does more harm than good.”

Gwendall somewhat agreed. “I see your point, but for the time being His Majesty isn’t prepared to reveal himself.”

“You’re so lucky, Master…” Senator Hewlett said, sadness mixing into his tone.“I would like to see what His Majesty looks like, too.Someday…”

Shortly after they parted ways, Gwendall retired to the limousine. He opened the car door and found Yuuri, disheveled and sobbing with his hands buried in his face. His entire body was shaking; it jolted whenever he choked past a strangled sob. Putting his “dad” cap on, Gwendall pulled Yuuri towards him, burying the young King’s face in his chest.

“Your Majesty…” Gwendall wrapped his arms around Yuuri, stroking his back rhythmically to calm him down. “What did you see?”

Yuuri was sobbing into his assistant’s chest and wet blotches began to stain the ancient man’s robes. “That poor child… I could hear his screams… in pain…. I couldn’t do anything… I was useless… a bystander…”

“You did well. I trust your decisions. I believe you’ve done the right thing.”

“Gwendall… The thought of people suffering out there… And I can’t do anything to help them…” Yuuri’s cries became softer. As their King, it pained Yuuri’s heart. He wanted nothing but the best of them, but his work would never be enough. No matter how much sleep lost,no matter how much time he sacrificed,no matter how much money he gave to others, how much energy he used – up to the point of fatigue, how hard he trained…

…It will never be enough.

“Your Majesty. You are one of the best Kings I’ve ever raised. I believe in you.”

Yuuri needed Pochayuu – he didn’t know why. Maybe the child in his vision reminded him to take good care of his own adorable little ball of fluff. His request was soon answered, for once they arrived at the castle, Pochayuu burst through the palace doors, drawn by the familiar scents, to excitedly greet his master.

“Yuuuwiii!” Pochayuu exclaimed.

“Pocha!” The small winged creature was the perfect antidote for Yuuri’s grim mood. The boy began to smile again, he couldn’t help himself.

Yuuri welcomed the little Demon with open arms, and he tightly hugged him. The Demon returned his affections, and sensing his distress, started to softly lick the tear stains streaking his face. After today, Yuuri was even more resolved to protect everyone that he loved.

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Theresa, her niece, and her sister-in-law were gathered in her family’s living room watching TV. The local news droned on playing second fiddle to Theresa’s harrowing story. Her relatives were eager to hear more about her encounter with the King.

“I still can’t get over how scary he seemed” Theresa confessed.

Nadia sat in her aunt Theresa’s lap, tugged on her sleeve, and innocently asked, “Why is he scary? Because of his mask?”

“Because his Ability can cause people to die. It gives me goosebumps every single time I think about how easy it would be for him.”

“Just like that guy?” Nadia pointed to the television.

The news station was busy replaying the viral video from Terra Stellata where a C class student defeated an A class student in a fight. Therese was confused by Nadia’s comparison, although she tried to understand the little one’s logic. She couldn’t understand why her young niece would say that.

“Nadia dear, that’s a Food Spoiling Ability. And it’s a C class for crying out loud.”

“But it looks the same to me,” Nadia said, defending her statement. “The food ‘dies’ when he touches it.”

Theresa and her sister in law glanced towards the television. The apple in the C class student’s hand was slowly turning from red into black. A useless looking Ability indeed, but there’s quite a similarity on how it happened. How the food spoiled was quite similar to His Majesty aging his opponent to death, come to think of it.

“Look! I’m not wrong, right Mama?” Nadia looked up expectantly waiting for attention from her mother.

“Ehehehe,” Theresa’s sister-in-law snickered. “You’re very right, honey. What if he was actually the King too.” There was no amount of seriousness behind her words, but the thought was amusing. She seemed to satisfy her daughter at least. The girl started giggling.

Theresa’s phone started ringing. She left her relatives in the living room to take the call privately. Walking through the doorway, she glanced at the caller ID –  it was her friend, Sharon.

“Well, Sherry? Have you found a part time job for me?” Theresa picked up the call in the stairwell while headed up to her room.

Sharon loudly snorted. “I checked up on the cashiering job at the supermarket. Too bad, all of the positions have already been filled.”

“Ehh???” Theresa shrieked, before quickly clapping a hand over her mouth. Hopefully her sister in law and niece didn’t hear her. “Please say you are joking! That job was my last hope!”

“Um, why do you even want a job in the first place? I thought your family was rich.”

After a brief silence, Theresa confessed, “Well yes, but I want to prove to everyone that I’m not overly dependent on my Daddy. I need to buy a new laptop and want to pay for it myself.”

“Oh, you still haven’t gotten it replaced? Didn’t you spill coffee all over it?” Sharon snickered.

“Yeah.” Theresa said with a guilty sigh.

“Heh,” Sharon sneered at her best friend. “Well, there are no vacancies for the time being. So, what are you going to do about it?”

“Ugh, I wish I knew.” Theresa moaned.

“Why don’t you try working in the castle, then?”

“Heh?!” Theresa was not up for Sharon’s sarcasm. “Are you kidding me?”

“I’m not joking, Terry. Try applying for a position as a maid serving the King. It couldn’t hurt.”

“The… King…?”

Just the mention of His Majesty was enough to traumatize her. From what she heard, the King performed countless good deeds for the country and his community, but the thought of seeing him in person terrified her nonetheless. She envisioned showing up to turn her application in and immediately falling under his judgement, pierced through by his glowing red eyes. But, the most terrifying prospect was, indeed, his unrivaled S class Ability. He could kill her without so much as snapping his fingers if she messed up.

“Sherry, I’m scared of the King.” Theresa was replied dejectedly.

“I used to be, too. I showed up for my first day ready to piss myself.” Sharon assured her. “Once I started working there, I no longer feel that way.”

She paused before adding, “Did you know…the King doesn’t wear his mask around the castle.”

“What!” Theresa piped up excitedly, “So, the rumor is true?!”

“Yes. I know what he actually looks like. He isn’t scary at all once he is out from underneath all that garb.”

The next question bubbling to the forefront of Theresa’s mind wasn’t all that surprising, “So… What is he like? Do you have pictures of him?”

None, Sharon said over the phone, laughing at her friend’s sudden eagerness. When working in the castle, the servants weren’t allowed to take pictures of the King for a number of reasons. With the castle’s tight security and rules, none had been leaked thus far.

“So, what does he look like then?”

Sharon giggled. “I’m not telling you… It will ruin the surprise! You really need to see him for yourself.”

“So? Are you going to take this job or not? I can tell you’re a little bit interested now.”

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Theresa really had run out of options.

She just wanted to earn enough money to get a new laptop. She desperately needed it to finish her master’s thesis. No, she wasn’t particularly interested in learning what the King looked like, but she did consider it a perk of the job opportunity before her. While she might have been a tiny bit curious, Theresa was sure that she would rather meet her favorite pop singer in person.

She was aboard a train bound for the station closest to the castle. With every stop she passed, the train grew more and more crowded. She was lucky enough, and had gotten on early enough, to secure herself a seat. As she glanced up from her phone, she noticed that most of the passengers were housewives, gossiping schoolgirls, and salarymen headed to work. Theresa spotted one boy holding a cute little baby in his arms.

“Ah, a baby…” She put her phone away to admire the baby, “So cute…”

“Po, pocha.” The toddler babbled while waving around a lollipop it tried to give it to the older boy.

“Again?” The boy laughed as he unwrapped the small candy. “How can you stand that stuff? It’s too sweet for me.”

The train stopped at yet another station. The doors slid open and passengers flowed freely, entering and exiting.Amidst the controlled chaos, an altercation broke out on the train– if you even want to call it that. A grown man was fighting an elderly woman over the empty seat next to Theresa; he snatched practically right out from underneath her. The woman didn’t have the vitality to fight back, but clearly looked disheartened.

“What are you looking at, old hag? I saw this seat first. Fuck off or I will ask my bodyguard to kick you out.”

Judging from rude man’s expensive taste in clothing, Theresa could tell he might have had some money, but clearly not enough to afford his own private car – she practically snorted, secretly wishing to call his bluff, but her outrage overrode her thoughts.She sent a quick prayer of thanks to her father in the moment for raising her to be better than that, to never to consider the common populace beneath her. No amount of money gave people the right to treat others like trash.

The boy with the toddler stood up from his seat.“Here, ma’am.” The boy offered his seat to the old lady. “Please sit here.”

He was a harmless, normal-looking boy. Being normal wasn’t bad, nor boring she thought. He probably lived a normal, peaceful lifestyle, free from large responsibilities and the worlds burdens. She analyzed him closely now that he had her attention for his common chivalry. His clothes were unbranded and casual, he had plainly styled raven hair, and simple blue frames that fit his face rather handsomely.

Everything about him from what she saw was normal.

In the amount of time Theresa spent stuck in her thoughts and surreptitiously studying the boy with blue glasses, the train pulled into the next stop. After only one stop the rude man got up and vacated his seat.More fuel was thrown onto Theresa’s fire. She couldn’t believe his selfishness. The boy quickly retook the vacated seat and was now sitting just inches away from her.

Now, she got to take a closer look on him. Theresa found, upon closer inspection, that she was wrong about one thing.

Everybody had a distinctive feature even if they were normal. In this boy’s case it was his face. Observing at a very short distance, Theresa’s heart skipped a beat as she tried not to stare too openly. His fair porcelain skin was flawless – untainted by pimples, scars, wrinkles, or large pores. He had naturally delicate, plush pink lips and deep, brown doe eyes full of innocence. Seeing the baby sitting on the boy’s lap beside Theresa made her heart melt from cuteness. She wanted to try holding the baby.

 

“Umm… Excuse me?”

Crap…Theresa was caught staring; the boy noticed. She recoiled at her obvious indecency and quickly apologized. Not that the boy thought she was suspicious anyway, he quickly laughed off her awkward behavior citing no need for apology.

“Po pocha,” the baby said, adorably. How cute.

“So cute…” Theresa leaned closer towards the baby. “Hiya little one… What’s your name?”

“His name is Pochayuu. He’s my… um… little brother,” the boy introduced the baby with some hesitation.

Too absorbed by his cuteness, Theresa’s brain glossed over the fact that his “little brother” didn’t look all that human in the moment.

“And… yours? If you don’t mind, ehehe.”  She turned her attention back to the handsome boy.

“Just call me Yuuri.” It was a gentle, normal name. It really suited the boy’s soft-spoken and down to earth nature, she thought.

For the rest of the train ride, Theresa made pleasant conversation with Yuuri. She was drawn to him – there was something a little curious about his demeanor that she couldn’t quite put her finger on – and she wanted to know more.

“I just came from my family’s house, and now I’m heading back to my home.” Yuuri told her. “How about you?”

“I’m heading to the castle.”

Yuuri found himself staring at the girl for a few seconds. She could tell he was taken aback by her answer. Then, he tilted his head in confusion. “Why are you going to the castle? Do you have business there?”

“Well, I’m job hunting. I heard about some vacancies for positions as maids.”

“Oh…” he paused, “You know, Miss? I’m actually going there too.”

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Yuuri, Pochayuu and Theresa finally made it outside the castle gates.

“I will be heading inside first,” Yuuri turned to Theresa. “Help yourself with lunch before going to the main office. The maids will serve you.”

“Eh?”

Yuuri waltzed through the main gates like he owned the place and she was stuck at the gate having her identification checked. Who was this guy? Maybe he worked there already? she quickly tried to find a logical conclusion.

Now trailing several seconds behind the man, Theresa saw everyone bowing to Yuuri once they saw him. Like a prophecy – and true to his word – Theresa was served lunch and was given the key to an overnight room which had been prepared for her.Her overnight bag slipped from her hand and it hit the cold wooden floors with a loud thud. She jumped – startled.

The room was complete with necessities, and multiple servant’s uniforms were hanging in a small closet. Whoa.

She changed into a uniform, instructed to do so after lunch by the castle staff. She picked out a vest, coat, pants – a butler’s uniform – pointedly ignoring the maids’ skirts. She was never fond of flowy clothing.

Absentmindedly, she reached for her phone, before quickly blushing in embarrassment. Her phone had already been confiscated by the head staff for security reasons. A sponsored telephone sat on one of her night stands in case she wanted to contact her family.

Theresa, now fully dressed to look the part, headed down to the main office following directions given to her along the way. She marveled at the high ceilings, large floor to ceiling windows, and perfectly polished hardwood floors. The long halls were lined with decorative sconces and small chandeliers hung in evenly spaced internals to light the way with gentle, radiant light. Opposite to the windows were beautiful lifelike portraits of past Kings. She had just seen one of the castle’s many hallways and the place already took her breath away. When Theresa thought nothing more could possibly surprise her, she arrived at the main office.

At the King’s desk, sitting in the King’s chair, Yuuri sat twirling a pen. He invited her into the room with a warm greeting and she stumbled in with confusion written all over her face.

“Your Majesty, here’s her form.” Gwendall placed some papers on the table for Yuuri to see.

“Your Majesty” …The words rattled around in Theresa’s head. And then, it dawned on her.

She couldn’t believe the boy she ran into on the train, the boy currently reviewing her job application was the King of Metropolis. He was completely unmasked the whole time. Theresa stared at him, utterly lost for words.

“Hmm?” Yuuri noticed Theresa’s skittish behavior. He lifted his gaze from the application, “Why aren’t you sitting down?”

Wordlessly, Theresa pulled out the chair in front of the large desk and sat down. She was unable to look straight at Yuuri. This boy is the King. Gwendall’s attitude confirmed it. She felt more unprepared to see the King and his face than she ever thought possible. A small voice in her head still questioned everything she saw. It was unreal, but she was too shocked to speak up.

“You’re Senator Hewlett’s daughter, eh?” Yuuri asked, eyes still skimming through the form.

“Y-Y-Yes.”

Theresa’s skittishness devolved into nervousness. Yuuri smiled warmly. This was, unfortunately, the norm when anyone learned of his true identity. Without missing a beat, Yuuri began to gently lead the conversation so Theresa could get used to his company.

“I hope I will not be a nuisance,” Yuuri softened his expression, “if there’s something bothering you, please feel free to let me know.”

Instead of putting expectations on her as an employee, Yuuri was prioritizing her comfort. How strange. To be a maid, it was supposed to be the other way around, she should be pleasing and offering comforts to him.She thought back to how he treated her upon their first meeting in the train as total strangers.

Without her knowing who he was, without her having to mind her manners, without her having to bow her head before him she could act so natural and relaxed. But, of course, nobody else knew he was the King either. Anyone could have been offensive or could have mistreated him completely oblivious to their vast difference in power and social standing. Why?

The man she met on the train was not the King she was scared of.

“Y-Your Majesty… I’m sorry for my lack of manners while we were in the train. I didn’t know that you’re…” she stammered out nervously.

Yuuri shook his head. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I do what I have to do to fly under the radar. I did not expect anyone to recognize me. I definitely would have been more concerned if you had.”

“B-But…”

Yuuri looked straight into her eyes, he was serious.Yuuri knew he was intimidating. He hated it, but it was the truth. Originally mistaken as a C class Ability user as a child, he could completely sympathize with what it felt liked to be looked down upon. He knew fear, he knew the pain of being hurt by people who were stronger than him, and he knew the feeling of being powerless to stop them. Now, with this great power, he never wanted to be that person. He lived humbly so that he could never be the cause of such pain. He worked incredibly hard to prevent others from pulling away from him out of terror.

“No matter how many differences we have,” Yuuri said firmly. “I’m just a human being with a role and responsibility to fulfill.”

After exchanging words with Yuuri and finishing her employment paperwork, Theresa scurried back to her room helplessly. Her fingers flew across the keypad as she dialed Sharon’s number from the telephone inside her room. “Hello? Sherry!”

“Hey Theresa,” Sharon clacked her tongue. “What’s up?”

“I saw his face!”

“So what do you think? Hmmmmm…. He’s really good-looking, isn’t he??” Sharon clapped her hands, but Theresa wasn’t prepared for that line of questioning.

“That’s not the problem here! Man, I’m too shocked right now! I just met him in the train and I didn’t even know it was him, for crying out loud! I saw him at that desk and my brain broke!”

“Met him on the train, huh? What a coincidence! Hahaha, but I can assure you, you’ll get used to it pretty soon…”

Easier said than done.

The next morning she was thrust right into learning what would be her new routine and new life at the castle. She was introduced to Minako, one of the senior maids and Yuuri’s aunt. She was the one who helped watch over the young King on behalf of his family.

“Here’s the order of the soaps to be added into the water,” Minako handed a piece of paper to Theresa. “And you will clean the tub right after Yuuri finishes bathing. Got it?”

“No problem.”

As Minako was on her way out, Theresa overheard some of the maids headed to the kitchens. “That new maid, she gets the best task on day one! I’m so jealous~!”

“What are they talking about?” Theresa was puzzled and a little flustered. It was her first day on the job and other maids already seemed to dislike her for some reason.

Minako let out a small giggle. “Just wait and see~”

She was not the only one working in the bathhouse. Other maids and butlers were attending to other tasks, minding their own business. As if on cue, just as Theresa finished prepping the bath water, Yuuri came inside. His whole body was covered in sweat from his morning workout and his hair was plastered to his face. Pochayuu followed along behind him like a small shadow donning his own miniature matching workout clothes.

After a quick exchange of bows between the King and his staff, Yuuri wasted no time. He first helped Pochayuu out of his outfit, then began to take off his clothes.

Theresa had zero warning. Zero. She didn’t anticipate him to just strip in front of at least 6 people without batting an eyelash. But, if anyone should have the confidence to pull it off, it was him. Theresa, caught so off guard, could help gawking. Yuuri’s form was lean and petite, but underneath all that clothes was a perfectly chiseled Adonis. He had perfectly shaped muscles like an athlete and fair, smooth skin like a model. Theresa could almost picture him as a marble statue.

Yuuri slowly lowered himself into the warm, fragrant water and let out a seductive moan.

Everyone was drooling over Yuuri’s naked body – even the guys – Theresa thought with a blush. The moan helped bring Theresa back to reality. She began to feel something dripping from her nostrils – blood.

This job really was the best.

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“Uwah~ The King is so hot~”One maid sighed.

“I know right? Man, if I could just get a commemorative picture with him… I could die happy.”

“Commemorative picture? Pshh… I want nudes. Like, at least 60 copies.”

All the maids took time out of their schedules to recoup in the aftermath of Yuuri’s bath time with some restorative gossip and girl talk. While sipping tea at breakfast, Theresa just listened in. She was still trying to reboot after her nosebleed, so she was at a loss for words.

“Come to think of it,” a butler wrapped his arms around a younger server with a bright blonde streak in his hair. “Minami’s the only one here who hasn’t seen His Majesty naked.” He teased.

Minami blushed deep red at the thought. “No! My pathetic eyes don’t deserve such beauty, so…”

“Oh Minami, everyone here already knows that you’re crushing on the King HARD.” The maids laughed at him.

“Well duh, who doesn’t? Don’t pick on Minami-kun when all of you are crushing like little school boys,” A maid defended.

“This is why I love working here. The King’s face is like forbidden fruit... and we get to see that every day.”

“Right? Every time I look at him, my heart is seriously going to explode.”

“My eyes are blessed.”

“I feel so lucky to be one of the few people who can actually see his face.”

The servants were very open about how much they adored – and wanted – the King. While Theresa was still unsure of her fledgling, complicated feelings, the longer she was around him, the more awkward she felt.

But one thing she was sure of – she was no longer scared of him.

Chapter Text

Today, Yuuri was acting strange.

He woke up as usual, get changed and stuff but he went out without saying a word. He greeted none of the servants before he left, and he didn’t even bring Pochayuu with him. As one of the people closest to Yuuri, Gwendall could tell something was odd. Yuuri left the castle in a haste, he skipped breakfast and gone as soon as he woke up, very early in the morning.

“Eh? His Majesty isn’t having his bath today?”

The servants who were anticipated for it every morning, were left disappointed. But one thing to be sure of, he will be back at noon for lunch and resuming his work. The morning was the only time he will be out to observe his people, and he never left the castle at night. All of his daily activities were solely dedicated for serving the Metropolis, and rarely he did things for trivial reasons.

Yuuri was not the kind of person to indulge himself in the worldly pleasures and luxuries.

“Sheesh, when I thought the life of being a King is very convenient.” Theresa mumbled to herself, some maids did hear it. “Well, with wealth, power and fame in hand.”

Minako sighed while sweeping the floor. “Yuuri did have them all, but he didn’t monopolize them for his own gain, you know?”

“He’s busy all the time. Can’t he have a day off at least once?” Theresa asked in concern.

“Right? I mean, it’s not like we cannot manage without him. I mean, I heard it’s almost a century the Metropolis didn’t have a King until he came.”

Minami barged into the conversation, “But it’s thanks to him things are going better these days.”

Thank goodness she was not a princess now, Theresa thought to herself. She seriously couldn’t imagine herself in Yuuri’s situation. Especially regarding his insane daily work schedule that was technically impossible for humans to do within a day, if not for the help of Yuuri’s Ability to make it possible. He even rarely got enough hours of sleep, but thankfully his physical stamina was another factor for his endurance through it.

“Hey guys, I’ve been thinking…”

One butler ended up changing the topic.

“Do you really think a C class can defeat an A class?” The butler scratched his ears while speaking, “I mean, look at it closely. It’s actually an A class against an S class.”

All of the servants dining in the kitchen were silent, which he didn’t expect them to. As much as the butler admired Yuuri, he was afraid somebody would strongly disagree with him. After giving some thought into it, some of the maids nodded, whereas some of the servants held looks of disapproval. All indicated mixed opinions from them.

“I think you’re right. Besides, His Majesty is physically strong because he had been training for years. More than an average person would.”

Minami protested. “That’s a lot of bull! His Majesty doesn’t even use his Ability while fighting that A class student!”

“But what if he did, in a Psychic way? Like, reading his opponent’s movements with his Ability? He could do that too.”

“I really doubt that, his eyes remained brown throughout the fight.” Theresa stated her opinion. “And he ended up with an injured arm in the end.”

This was not the first time a debate occurred regarding Yuuri’s fight with Kyler. The C class community used it in their movements to stop the Ability shaming frequently initiated by those of the higher classes, proving that everyone was equal regardless of their Abilities. Yuuri’s quote, “My Ability doesn’t define me” was used as a slogan to defend their rights.

“As a C class, seriously I want to see more positive representations of us,” Theresa sighed. “It’s always the A class that ended up saving the day depicted in media, or B class as the hero in mundane situations and there’s barely of us. I’m tired.”

“I know right? And when there’s a C class, they will be always pictured as terribly weak. They will either the ones to die first, or reduced to pushovers or comic reliefs.”

A maid rested her chin on both hands. “Or simply a burden to shoulder all the time. Honestly, it’s really damaging.”

“My son spent two hours crying when he found out he’s a C class.”

“But hey, Master Gwendall murdered a King when he was only ten!” Minako tried to brighten things up, “and he was yet to discover his Ability at that time!”

“But Master Gwendall is a B class.” a servant pouted.

“No, the point is, a strong Ability isn’t everything.” Theresa added, “I mean yeah, it’s not like you’re going to have a better life with an Ability of the higher class.”

“I agree with you, just look at our King. He’s busy all the time.”

Gwendall tried to cease the discrimination of Abilities that were deemed undesirable by forming Stellata, as he was very experienced on the matter. In the end, human’s Abilities doesn’t make up the whole of their lives and weren’t the solution for everything. As convenient Yuuri’s Ability may seem, but he had to use it wisely for his own good.

“Hey, I heard His Majesty’s fight with that Kyler kid will be made into a movie soon, demanded by the C class community.”

“Seriously???” Minako dropped the broom from her grasp. She wished her ears had fooled her.

Theresa snickered. “Oh, the irony…”

“Just wait until they know the real identity of the C class student, aka their so-called hero…”

The message could be easier to deliver if Yuuri was truly a C class Ability User. Now the movie was in production, and it was beyond anyone’s power to stop it. They began to wonder, if came the day where Yuuri unmasked himself, will the message was still acceptable to others? Was the intended awareness still effective? Or maybe, since the King himself said so and nobody had the right to oppose him.

Yuuri himself doesn’t even know when he will be prepared enough for his identity reveal.

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Today was supposed to be a happy day.

It’s not everyday he could spend a full day with his family, first he had to beg his boss to give him a vacation just for today, so he could celebrate his wife’s birthday. All the picnic equipment stuffed in the trunk, and the beach was only a mile away. He and his wife singing to the radio’s tune, and his children playing with toys at the backseat.

Curse that drunken driver from taking everything away.

The world went upside down all sudden, his car was easily toppled and bounced backwards, smashing the windows and crushing him and his family inside. All went in a flash much to his confusion and now he could only feel nothing but pain. A strong stench was penetrating his nose. He tried to move his body, but he couldn’t as he was trapped inside the damaged car.

He glanced at his family. He wished he didn’t.

The shards of the broken windows were plunging through the skin of his wife. Her white skin, was smeared by the color red. He switched to his children – he couldn’t see them. Only one of them was seen, but their arm limply extending out from the car seat flattened altogether, of course his children were trapped in between. No. They won’t able to breathe like that.

He feared of the reality.

He knew, everything was already helpless by this point. He knew he couldn’t do anything about the current situation, and his family was beyond helping. Too many things he lost within a day, when he already made plans for today to be one of the best. He was not the one who easily cried, but tears unstoppably dribbling down his eyes.

“Are you okay??”

He was closing his eyes, wanting to fall sleep immediately as he expected a sweet dream to come after – as soon he heard the voice, his eyes were wide open. From an opening, he saw a boy with raven hair checking at him while crouching down. The boy was extending a hand towards him, which he grabbed and gripped it with all might.

“Please… My wife… My kids…” He said, choking between sobs.

He stared at the boy in utter desperation and hope. At least, something positive will came after he made his plea, even if it was too small to guarantee his happiness. He doesn’t want to think anymore. He wanted to escape from this horrendous fate. Before he slowly closed his eyes, he casted one last look towards the boy, as if the latter had everything he could depend on.

If death was a better option, he didn’t mind.

When he came to, he was surrounded in white. The walls were white, and same goes to the floors, the curtains, the sheets and the bed he was lying on. Time surely had passed, he left home in the afternoon and now the sun was setting, as seen from the window. He noticed he was not alone in the ward, people were crowding around him.

“Hey! Daddy’s awake!”

His kids were there sitting on chairs beside the bed, and his wife was sitting at the opposite direction of them. She was reading a magazine, stopped once she noticed her husband was waking up. They all were dressed similarly like him, in white gowns. Minus his brother who was also attending him. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

This all gotta be a dream.

He threw away the blanket covering half of his body, checking his whole assets. His limbs were unbelievably unharmed, just like how they had been in the beginning. He averted his gaze towards his family, they were fine. Not even a single wrapping of bandage was spotted on them, and they didn’t seem to be in pain.

As if the whole tragedy never even happened.

“Thank goodness! It’s all just a dream!” He exclaimed, throwing himself back onto the bed.

“No it’s not,” His wife corrected him, “The accident really had happened. I couldn’t forget any of it.”

“Eh?”

His brother shook his head. “You must be wondering how did all of you end up uninjured after that accident, right? Well, that’s something I would like to know too.”

“And the car is parked outside. Also currently as good as new,” his brother added.

“W-Why…?” He grew nervous; though it’s good they all were safe in the end. “H-How…?”

His wife and brother just simultaneously shrugged. His brother asked, “Did you see anything strange before you fainted?”

After silencing himself for awhile, he finally spoke.

“I-I think I did…”

His wife and brother strained their ears to hear further information from him, even his children were curious to know as well. What he had seen last might be the answer for everything, even if it offered the smallest hint. They were curious of what seemed to be a passing miracle that might be the reason behind their survival. He doubted, if what he saw was human.

“Maybe… I saw an angel descended from the Heavens?”

They all were giving him weird looks. “More description about what you saw, please.”

“He… has red eyes.”

A red-eyed angel?

“Red eyes?!” His brother was startled, he jumped in his seat.

“Don’t tell me…?”

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“The moon is so beautiful tonight, Grandpa~”

In a park, an elderly couple was sitting on a bench while holding hands. They were gazing altogether towards the moon, in its full form and shining brightly in white when the rest of the sky was dark, but peppered with dimly lighted stars. Thousands of stars were spreading above their heads, and crickets chirping to add on the serene atmosphere.

The old man gripped his wife’s hand back. “But you’re more beautiful, Grandma.”

“You’re lying,” The old lady pouted. “You said grannies aren’t hot…”

“Grandma, I said that… Like, almost 50 years ago? Of course I would say that while I was still young and handsome, like Hugh Jackman~” The old man said, defending himself.

The old lady leaned on her husband’s shoulder. “Hehehe, I’m just kidding.”

“But I had to admit, you had proven me wrong. Even as a granny, you are still my beautiful wife.” The old man caressed the old lady’s fingers.

“Aww~”

“I used to remember the many ways you do to express your love to me,” the old lady fondly mused. “You used to like biting me on places. But now you never do it just like the old times.”

“I can’t now, I don’t have teeth anymore~”

Too many changes came throughout the years. There were a lot of things that just wouldn’t stay the same, which they both got to witness and learned to accept. After all, they lived their lives for long. But only one thing remained the same when everything else where changing – the fact they together, to this day. That now they were holding hands just like the first day they were in love.

The old man noticed someone walking in an odd manner towards them.

“My, who is that boy. He’s coming here.” The old lady also saw him. “I wonder where his parents are.”

The old man was still smiling. “Kids nowadays do love walking out alone at night.”

“But you did that a lot when you were young too, Grandpa...” The old lady pointed out his habit during his younger days.

“Then I went illegally driving without a license,” The old man recalled, after the past was mentioned which made him felt nostalgic. ”But there were too many holes on the roads which forced my car to stop, and I was caught by Yakov in the end. All the fun was ruined by a Hole-y Night. Get it?”

“Grandpa, you’re not funny.”

He stopped walking. He fell onto his knees – fainted right before them.

“Oh my!” The old lady jolted, she and the old man stood up from the bench and rushed towards the fainted person.

“What’s the matter, son?” The old man turned him over, “Are you okay?”

Yuuri could barely open his eyes; he was unable to raise himself from the ground. His head was spinning, his eyesight was blurry despite wearing glasses and he couldn’t clearly see the faces before him. His body was not only heavy; it also felt numb all over the places. He felt immensely cold and he couldn’t stop shivering. His heavy eyelids gradually began to close.

“Hey! Get a hold of yourself!”

The old lady placed Yuuri’s head onto her lap. She saw how pale Yuuri was, and her hand reached for his forehead. Placing her hand on top of it, she found Yuuri was burning hot. “Grandpa! He’s having a fever!”

“Let’s take him to our home first.” The old man said, after thinking for a while. “If it gets worse, we’ll take him to the hospital.”

The old man wrapped Yuuri’s arm around his shoulders, and he wrapped his arm around the raven’s waist, helping him to stand up. The old lady also had Yuuri’s arm around her shoulders, altogether the couple led him to their car and got him inside. Yuuri was laid in the backseat; he was covered by the old lady’s coat. The engines were started and the old car quickly left the park.

Yuuri fell asleep halfway in the journey. The elderly couple carefully settled him on a bed.

“Poor boy,” the old lady took off Yuuri’s glasses and placed a damp towel on his forehead. “I wonder if he has his phone with him? We should try calling someone he knows, to pick him up later.”

The old man searched in Yuuri’s pockets and found his cellphone. The old lady left towards the kitchen to cook something for the raven, to help replenishing a bit of his energy. Almost a hundred of missed calls, surely someone was worried of Yuuri’s condition and his whereabouts. The old man picked the first number he saw in the contact list out of convenience.

Whoever was picking, the old man wanted to assure them that Yuuri was in safe hands.

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So many missed calls.

Gwendall was frowning at his phone, it was very rare for somebody who smiled often like him. Today he almost didn’t get to see Yuuri for a whole day, and this time he didn’t know the reason why. This was a first. He glanced towards the window – the skies had gone dark, it was no longer a day now. When he returned to the castle from the Headquarters, Yuuri was nowhere to be seen.

“Master Gwendall!!” Martha hastily rushed to him. “His Majesty! Have you seen him??”

Gwendall was showing another unusual expression.

Minako barged in, “He’s not here, I swear! We tried calling him several times, but he didn’t pick up at all!”

Color was drained from Gwendall’s skin after hearing their replies. Just like his instincts were telling since the beginning of the day, something unpleasant was definitely going to happen. Oh no, he was going to panic now. Calm down, he slowly took a deep breath. He needed to think of a solution fast. Yuuri was no longer an 8 year old child he adored like his own in the past.

Trying to think of a solution altogether, every of the servants gathered at the main hall.

“Now this is what happened when nobody but us knows his identity! If something happened to him, who will be there to help?? He even refused a bodyguard!” Martha burst in anger; the other servants silently listened to the head maid’s wrath in fear.

“But His Majesty is strong…”

“And he’s also reckless, for God’s sake.” Minako said, crossing her arms defensively. “You know what happens once he gets Ability Exhaustion?”

One’s spiritual energy was spent every time their Ability was used, but it will not consume much energy like S class Abilities. Thus, Ability Exhaustion was a sickness only S class Users will get to suffer after overusage of their Abilities, and usually took at least three days to recover. The symptoms of the sickness and its severity varied by User – just to show having a powerful Ability wasn’t convenient as it seemed.

Thank goodness Yuuri’s Ability Exhaustion was mild; he only will be stricken down by fever and days of sleep, as Gwendall had seen one of the previous Kings ended up crippled – another even died slowly after a sudden terminal disease. One of the Kings who had the least severe Ability Exhaustion was Ivan the Third, much to his chagrin. In his opinion, he was the worst.

Still, everyone was worried.

“Po…” Pochayuu in his dinosaur costume was flying towards the main hall, clutching a rabbit plushie with him. He landed on Gwendall’s lap.

“What’s wrong, Pocha?” Gwendall gently stroked Pochayuu’s head. “Why you’re not asleep at this hour?”

Pochayuu sadly looked into Gwendall’s eyes. “Yuuwwi…”

The little Demon slept with Yuuri in the same bed every night. Yuuri will tuck Pochayuu in, give him a goodnight kiss at the cheek and cuddle him until morning. The thought of sleeping without Yuuri’s warmth scared Pochayuu, he tried searching for him everywhere in the castle, but he couldn’t find him. Pochayuu was exhausted from searching, but he can’t sleep at the moment.

Pochayuu will not sleep without Yuuri.

Minami picked Pochayuu up into his arms. “I’m sure His Majesty will come back home soon. Why don’t we play some games while waiting, Pocha?”

“Po!” Pochayuu was happy with Minami’s suggestion, he perked his ears.

In the castle, nobody had the heart to hate Pochayuu. Seeing him happy helped to warm their heart a little bit, though their worries for Yuuri were still condemning them. Minami bowed to Gwendall in respect before leaving the hall to his room, taking Pochayuu with him. Minami was playing a game console with Pochayuu seated in his lap, watching the gameplay.

Playing the game was not doing anything to brighten Minami’s mood. Concerns about Yuuri’s safety were the only thing in his mind, and he couldn’t calm down, the game failed to serve as an escape. He couldn’t think of anything else, it was sad that the only thing he could was praying, for Yuuri to appear at the door unharmed even by the most illogical reason.

“Yuuri-sama…”

Not everyone will see their home as a safe place.

Not all people will feel happy if they were surrounded by their family.

Some homes serve as a torture chamber, and some families treated a member like an animal.

Minami wanted all of it to over, he couldn’t bear more pain any longer. He was only 7 years old, an age normally too early to have depression. He didn’t do massive crime to deserve abuse and bullying from the ones closest to him. He wasn’t a spoiled brat who asked to be treated like a vvip – he only wanted to be treated like a human being, with feelings.

“Come back here you little piece of shit!!!”

He ran away as far as possible from them. They tried to chase him, but he ran and ran as far as his feet could carry him. He wouldn’t stop running. There’s no turning back. If he did, he will be hurt again. Amongst the crowd, he saw an oddly dressed teenager in midst of running. Strange enough… He saw a ray of hope within the teen. His instincts made him aware of whom the teen was.

Minami ran towards the hooded figure, and hugged him tight.

“Please save me, Your Majesty! I’m begging you!!!”

Yuuri was shocked to see a child tackling him out of nowhere, he almost fell onto his butt if not for Gwendall who supported his back. Minami hugged Yuuri for dear life and cried into his stomach, expressing his bottled feelings for so long. They appeared, catching up to him, but they were frozen with apparent fear on their faces due to Yuuri’s presence.

“Your Majesty, I’m sorry about my stubborn son. Kenjirou, come back here.”

The thought of returning home again with them scared Minami. He hid behind Yuuri’s back. “No!!! I don’t want to!!!”

“What’s wrong, boy?” Yuuri asked.

“I don’t want to go home and be with them anymore…!” Minami tearfully exclaimed with cracked voice, “Or else I will kill myself!!!”

They began to falter, in case Minami was going to spill the truth before their King. “Kenjirou, look. We won’t do anything to you, okay? You’ll just need to behave next time.”

“NO!!!”

Yuuri was unsure of which side he had to take. He hated to see his people in trouble without him doing anything; he had to do something to help. But in order to help, he must see the whole picture first. Gwendall was silently watching him, seeing what the young King will do in this situation. Still holding Minami close to him, Yuuri cleared his mind.

In a blink of an eye, Yuuri’s eyes turned ruby red.

Some of the citizens ran away from the place, fearing of what was Yuuri going to do with his Ability. Some stayed to watch the scene unfolding, wasn’t something they could easily see in their everyday lives. Minami gasped – Yuuri’s red eyes were beautiful. And he was really lucky to see them from a close distance.

Yuuri knelt down and raised Minami’s shirt up. Fresh bruises and marks in a not small quantity on the latter’s body. Yuuri widened his eyes in disbelief, then slowly glanced towards them who started to tremble in fear as the red eyes of judgment were giving them a piercing glare. A dark secret of theirs were out, in front of the most powerful person in Metropolis.

“Would any of you kindly explain this?”

Even his parents had never beaten him. The worst thing Mari had done to him was pinching his cheeks for ruining her school project. There’s nothing Minami did to deserve such treatment, even if from the ones who gave birth to him. He decided to save the child from an abusive family, so he made his judgment –  Yuuri won’t let Minami to stay with them ever again.

In the end, Yuuri took Minami to the castle.

It doesn’t take long until Minami got the see Yuuri’s unmasked form. Much to Minami’s awe, Yuuri definitely looked better without the mask. He was more pleasant to look at, and more of a soothing presence. The mask was too ugly on him, it was concealing too much of his true beauty. He was beautiful, both his face and his heart. He was not scary and threatening like people always thought of him.

The mask didn’t do him justice. It showed an improper image of Yuuri to people’s eyes.

Minami was served with food, the servants’ treatment of him was kind. Then, he was summoned to Yuuri’s office to have a private moment with him. Minami took off his shirt as ordered, and Yuuri placed his hand on his tummy much to his confusion. Not until when he saw his wounds disappearing – as if they did never exist in the first place.

“From now on, you’ll be staying in the castle.” Yuuri smiled, after removing his hand from Minami. The child checked his wounds in disbelief.

“Eh?” Minami raised his chin. “I’m staying here…?”

“Welcome home, Minami-kun.”

Home. This was his home.

After Yuuri healed Minami, he no longer could feel any pain. Pain from the past was gone. As if everything that used to hurt him will only be in the past – and never in his future. Tears were welling in his eyes without him realizing it. Minami jumped into Yuuri’s arms, and cried loudly into his chest to let go all of the remaining pain in his heart.

“Your Majesty… I love you. I will do anything you said. I will never betray you. I will always follow you. I will protect you.”

Minami had never loved someone else the same way.

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Gwendall’s phone was ringing at last.

He nervously reached his phone, wondering who could’ve called at this hour – seeing the call was from Yuuri’s phone. Gwendall tapped the answer button in a haste. Thankfully he was not the first to speak as he would address Yuuri by ‘Your Majesty’, as the caller was not the person concerned. An old man was speaking instead of Yuuri, further suspicion was raised.

“Oh… Hello? Are you a family member of the owner of this phone?”

“Y-, Yes I am,” Gwendall bluffed. “May I know what is currently happening to him? Is he fine?”

“We found him fainted on the ground, so we brought him in. He’s having a high fever now, and currently he’s sleeping.”

Gwendall widened his eyes, and he was silent for a while much to the anticipating servants’ restlessness. Then, he let out a heavy sigh. At Yuuri for making everyone worried about him all day long. But thank goodness, it was nothing serious. Gwendall thanked the old man for taking care of Yuuri, and asked for their address to pick up Yuuri soon as he will be too weak to move by himself.

Bringing Yuuri back to the castle was a task to be entrusted to someone.

Minako asked Gwendall in desperation, “How’s Yuuri???”

“An elderly couple found him fainted somewhere, and they took him in.” Gwendall explained, but the servants gasped before he even finished. “But he’s fine, no need to worry.”

“My! I knew this would happen!”Martha blurted out, her instincts were right all along.

After thinking for a while on who he should ask for help, Gwendall could only think of one person. The one he felt he could truly trust right now. Gwendall dialed a different number in his phone. He placed the phone to his ear and waited for that person to pick up the call, which they did after the first missed call. Gwendall will apologize immediately soon.

“Hello, Victor?”

“Nnnh… Master…?” Victor said as his voice was groggy. “Is there anything I can help you…?”

Gwendall knew, from the tone of Victor’s voice, that he had recently woken up from enjoying his beauty sleep. “Victor, I’m sorry for waking you up in the middle of the night. And to think you’re having a day off too…”

“His Majesty. He was found unconscious somewhere,” Gwendall said it straight.

“WHAT?!”

From being obviously sluggish, Victor was energized all sudden. The mention of something related to Yuuri’s threatened safety. No. He won’t allow any kinds of harm to reach Yuuri, never. Victor knew he had to escort Yuuri safely back to the castle without even Gwendall telling him what to do first. He got the address of the couple’s house sent via a message.

“Pomuu~?” Pomvik who was lying on Makkachin’s fur was shaken awake, rubbing his eyes.

Victor was done dressing himself with the appropriate attire before leaving. “Pomvik, Makkachin, I’m leaving. Don’t leave the house while I’m gone.”

He grabbed a bunch of keys and exited the penthouse he was living in with Pomvik and Makkachin. Victor started the car up and drove to the intended location, his eyes regularly switched to the navigation app in his phone. The streets were too quiet with barely any breathing thing was spotted. He could even bypass the stoplight turning red since his car was the only vehicle moving on the road.

Victor drove faster than he usually did. All for Yuuri’s safety.

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“Ngghh…”

Yuuri pried his eyes open, to see a surrounding unfamiliar to him and some new faces. A wet, cold towel was placed on his forehead. He glanced to his side, found his glasses on the nearby cabinet. Yuuri tried to raise himself, but his body was immobile on the bed. An old lady was walking towards him while carrying a tray with a steaming soup cup in it.

“My, you’re awake!” She placed the tray on the table to check on Yuuri. “You’re having a high fever, my boy. It’s 39°C!”

The old man took a seat near the bed. “We found you fainted on the ground, sonny. Thank goodness it’s not something too serious.”

“I’m sorry, our house isn’t much, but we will send you to the hospital if you need it. We were too desperate to make sure you’re safe,” the old lady shyly let out a small laughter.

“The family…” Yuuri had a concerned expression blatant in his face. “The family… How are… they?”

“The family?” The elderly couple said in unison. They were confused, Yuuri was not being clear.

“Car accident… Are they okay…?”

The elderly lady stroked Yuuri’s hair to assure him. “My child, I don’t know what are you talking about, but you need to worry about yourself first.”

“I’ve contacted your family. They are going to come here and pick you up soon,” The old man informed him.

His family? Yuuri wondered who will it be. Judging from how they were treating him, it seemed they weren’t aware of his identity, much to his relief. The old lady handed a cup of homemade corn potage to Yuuri and urged him to drink it. He could barely taste, but he ended up finishing the soup until the cup was empty, how indecent of him if he didn’t appreciate her cooking.

The doorbell was ringing. The old man rushed towards the door to see who it was.

“Oh, you’re coming for him? Sure, come inside!”

Yuuri was lying back on the bed after finishing his meal, his eyes were drowsy again. He was going to fall asleep again until he heard foreign footsteps coming nearer to the bed. He cracked his eyes open to see a glimpse of silver hair and icy blue eyes. Yuuri thought he was already fallen into a sweet dream – he saw him bearing a face he had never seen before.

“Your Majesty,” Victor whispered to Yuuri’s ear. “I came to pick you up.”

Victor…

Yuuri was not the only one to see an unexpected side of Victor; the latter also experienced the same regarding the one he admired for a long time – Yuuri was pale and sickly, completely betraying the general image he always had of him. After briefly thanking the elderly couple, Victor carefully scooped Yuuri up from the bed. Instead of using his Ability, Victor was lifting Yuuri up with his raw strength.

 In his arms, Yuuri was vulnerable. And too fragile.

“Victor… I’m not heavy…?” Yuuri asked, as he was laid in the passenger seat.

Victor helped to fasten the seatbelts for Yuuri, “No, you’re just fine the way you are.”

They left the elderly couple’s house and headed to the castle.

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“Do not ever dehumanize His Majesty no matter what happens.”

Whilst waiting for Yuuri who will be returning to the castle soon, Gwendall was sharing some advices to the servants regarding him. They all were quiet and listened in obedience; some took some notes either by jotting it down in a notebook or typing it in their phones. Some only nodded in response, but at least everyone showed different forms of feedback.

“Do not put too much expectation on him,” Gwendall said firmly, “or else he’ll be hard on himself.”

Yuuri’s anxiety was the main reason why he cared about the Metropolis and his people more than himself. Also the reason why he insisted to hide his identity, for some reasons he can’t face them fully as himself, the mask made him more confident hence the vast difference between his masked and unmasked selves. Though he had succeed in doing good deeds more than failing them, he still thought it wasn’t enough and will be ashamed at himself for the smallest mistake he did.

“We should keep in mind that in the end, he’s nothing more than a human being just like us.”

Gwendall added more, “We as humans are not made to live alone. We need each other to survive. That is how we are constantly evolving through these years.”

“I’ve been with His Majesty since he was little,” Gwendall crossed his hands, leaned closer towards the servants. “Do you know what he needs the most?”

Nobody had a clue, so none was answering the question.

“He needs someone to protect him.”

Yuuri needed someone to protect him when he was sick from Ability Exhaustion. When he was in danger and he was defenseless. Someone to tell him to love himself and take upmost care of his own body, someone to tell him that he already did a great job as a King. Someone to tell him when to hold himself back, so he won’t go too far on himself. This kind of person had to be by his side all the time.

“You don’t need a strong Ability to protect him. We can protect him in different ways,” concluded Gwendall’s advices to them for tonight.

Minami was the first one to abide. He stood up from his chair, “I will protect him at whatever costs.”

This castle was Minami’s home. Everyone in the castle was his family. He was now only the boy who worked under the King in the castle. Everything that happened before he lived here will not be written in his life dictionary. Minami owed Yuuri everything, and he offered his own life in return for the latter’s kindness. He didn’t mind working here for the rest of his life.

The main door of the castle was opened.

Everyone rushed towards the door, to see the one they expected to come to the castle at last. It was Yuuri indeed much to their gratitude, but in the most vulnerable form they had seen. He was unconscious and looked obviously sick, cradled like a baby in Victor’s arms. Victor entered inside, and carried Yuuri to his room where he laid him on the massive bed.

“Oh Victor,” Gwendall bowed to Victor as thanks for his help. “Thank you so much for today, I owe you everything. I’m sorry for causing you trouble.”

Victor shook his head. “No, thank you for informing me about him. If it’s about His Majesty, I’ll gladly do anything.”

The first time Minami met Victor in person. He peeped through the doorhole, seeing him and Gwendall engaging in a conversation. But he was not going to spend longer time in the castle, now judging from his body language he was leaving soon. Fortunately Gwendall left the room through a different door, so Minami wasn’t caught for peeping.

Victor was casting a look towards Yuuri on the bed before leaving.

Minami felt something was off. His senses were tingling. Something was telling him that Victor was acting odd around Yuuri, and he was suspicious on why he was gazing at his sleeping form in silence, for quite long. Not sure if it was Minami’s imagination, but Victor was having a particular expression in his face.

Victor took Yuuri’s fingers in his hand. He kissed them.

“I love you,” Victor said, not noticing Minami’s existence from the other side of the room. “I will always protect you, Your Majesty.”

Victor kissed Yuuri’s fingers again, this time he went ahead by kissing them longer than he should. Minami was dumbfounded, he stared at them speechless. Minami couldn’t help but wonder, if the reason he wanted to protect Yuuri was because of his admiration of him plus his gratitude – or the fact he did love Yuuri in a certain way. His feelings for Yuuri were conflicted.

Minami slowly fell to his knees, in his head the words of Gwendall about the one to protect Yuuri were echoing in his head. “I am not strong enough…”

Maybe Victor was the ideal one all along.

Chapter Text

Pochayuu peeped into the kitchen.

He saw the maids busy with chores but didn’t seem to be too tired. They were chatting away while scrubbing floors and washing the dishes. Pochayuu flew towards them and landed on a table. Seeing the Demon enter, they dropped what they were doing to coo at the little guy. Pochayuu was holding a book in his paws.

Pampering the lovable Pochayuu was one of the perks of working in the castle. It was ranked just below spying on Yuuri during bath time, of course.

“Hey there Pocha,” Theresa said, her face brightened after seeing him. “Do you want us to read that book for you?”

“Po,” Pochayuu handed the book over. It was a cookbook.

The maids were confused. Pochayuu asked them to read a cookbook for him? “What is this, Pocha…?”

“Mooffins,” Pochayuu spluttered with much effort.

They still didn’t understand what he wanted from them. Until Pochayuu started raiding the kitchen for miscellaneous cooking utensils he thought looked helpful. The maids understood him, at last. Pochayuu wanted help baking muffins.

“Oh, you want some muffins? Sure thing!”

Theresa dressed Pochayuu in a mini pink apron while the maids prepared the required ingredients. When Pochayuu tried to pour the flour into the mixing bowl, it ended up all over his face. He accidentally inhaled the fine particles up his nose, ACHOO! It made him sneeze. The maids giggled in delight. It was too cute.

“Now, why don’t you try mixing it?”

Pochayuu batted the spatula around the bowl with his paws, clearly trying his best. As funny as his methods were, he got the job done. Batter made, the maids divided the mix into muffin tins and put them into the oven. They taught Pochayuu how to do the frosting and decorations.

The double chocolate banana muffins with vanilla frosting were finished, piled high on a silver tray accompanied by a cup of tea.

As soon as he received the tray, he disappeared before taking a single bite. It was unlike him. The maids followed him curiously to one of the most important rooms in the castle, one that not just anyone could dare barge into without warning or permission – The King’s bedroom.

“Yuuwwi!”

Yuuri was still weak from yesterday’s Ability Exhaustion and he lay, sprawled out on the king-sized bed. He turned towards the door, “Pocha?”

Pochayuu flew inside the room, carrying a tray with him. The raven noticed his little companion was wearing an apron and his face was smeared with flour. His companion came to a screeching halt beside and gentle put the tray down. The sudden delicacy of his actions to contract his earlier excited, frantic movements was adorable. Pocha picked up a muffin and pushed it into Yuuri’s mouth, much to his surprise. Yuuri made a muffled squeak with his mouth full of muffin. Pochayuu either didn’t know to or was in too much of a rush to take the paper off the bottom of the desert. Yuuri extracted the whole muffin from his mouth, peeled the paper off, then weakly re-opened his mouth to take a proper bite.

The smell of homemade muffin freshly from the oven, the creamy, bittersweet taste of banana and dark chocolate, and the sensation of soft, spongy cake sent Yuuri’s taste buds tingling. Delicious.

“This is good,” Yuuri moaned in pleasure. “Did you bake this for me, Pocha?”

“Po! Po pocha po!!” Pochayuu nodded, feeling very proud of himself.

“Thank you, Pocha.” He chuckled at his little friend’s zeal.

Yuuri stroked Pochayuu’s head, a gesture he really loved. Yuuri compliments made him even happier. He couldn’t stop his little tail from wiggling with joy. Realizing there were some muffins left, Pochayuu continued to feed Yuuri the muffins, carefully making sure to copy his master and remove the wrappers first. The Demon never took a bite. After all, Pochayuu made them solely for Yuuri. He knew Yuuri loved sweet things as much as he did.

“Awww!” Minako couldn’t contain her delight, peeking through the doorway of his bedroom, for the heart melting scene, “They are so adorable!”

“It is hard to believe Pocha is a Demon, he is so sweet…” Martha was smiling so much watching her “son” and his companion that her face hurt.

Baking muffins exhausted the poor creature. Pochayuu jumped onto Yuuri’s chest to which the raven affectionately received the gesture and began to pet him. Pocha couldn’t help his tail’s wagging, being pet was such a nice feeling and those feelings needed an outlet. Yuuri did notice the presence of the maids ogling him through the slightly ajar door to his bedroom. He was fine with it until he saw Theresa among them.

“Theresa, can you please come inside?”

Yuuri said it as gently as possible, but it was still the order of a King to his servant. Theresa didn’t expect to be summoned so no matter how nicely he said it, she still quaked with fear as she willed her legs to march themselves meekly into the room. Was Yuuri mad at the maids for peeping? It can’t be - only she was requested. Minako assured her that Yuuri had never scolded the servants before, but her words provided little comfort.

“Excuse me…” Theresa tiptoed inside. Yuuri appears calm. Good, he’s not going to berate me for something I did… I hope.

However, his expression stiffened once he saw her approaching. She gulped.

“Umm… Your Majesty…?” Theresa tried her best not to stutter before him, but she wasn’t doing a great job hiding her nervousness. “Is there anything – …? Er, wrong…?”

The extreme duality the King of Cervantes exhibited was disquieting. At times he is a powerful, feared man, and at others he is a complete sweetheart – so harmless he couldn’t hurt a fly. Minako was standing with the other maids in the doorway, hawkishly watching, awaiting the fate of their comrade. She trusted Yuuri wouldn’t hurt the poor girl, not without an excellent reason anyway, but she was also curious as to why she was singled out.

“Next week is your birthday.  Am I correct?” Yuuri asked her.

Oh, shoot. How did Yuuri know? Minako wondered. And to think she will ask him for a day off soon to attend her birthday party…Don’t tell me, he’s mad at me? Minako had assured her it was fine to ask for a vacation day from him! What should she do? It was an important day for anyone and was already too far planned to be cancelled. Of course, if she skipped her own party to remain at work, it would be meaningless.

“During the night of your birthday party,” Yuuri folded his hands into his lap, “Someone will kidnap you.”

“Eh…”

Yuuri was being serious. It was a dream that had been stressing him all night. Theresa was aware Yuuri had the same Ability as her ancestor Sophea, so she didn’t question the news. It was disturbing, but she believed him completely. Theresa had done nothing wrong much to her relief, but she traded one worry for another.

There was one thing Yuuri hadn’t told Theresa – the rest of her family would be murdered, too.

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Among the descendants of a King’s bloodline, a child can be born who inherits a fragment of the ruler’s original S class Abilities – such children are called Blessed Children. These children carry the remnants of a King’s spirit long after his death, so they won’t be forgotten. Their legacies will continue even if none of their descendants inherit the throne.

“You know I am the descendent of Sophea, right?”

Yuuri nodded.

“But I am not,” Theresa involuntarily raised her voice, “…certainly not, a Blessed Child! But people always think I am!”

It was probably the reason why people would want to kidnap her. Yuuri tilted his head in confusion, “Why would anyone make such assumption?”

“Maybe because I’m the only daughter in the family, and the youngest one to boot. I swear it isn’t me, it’s my grandmother Janette!” Theresa felt free to voice her frustrations without minding her manners before Yuuri. Not that the latter cared.

“What’s your Ability, Theresa?” Yuuri couldn’t help but ask out of curiosity.

“I can read faster than an average human could. I can read a whole page in the same amount of time a normal person reads a single word. Psychic type, C class.”

Yuuri saw her embarrassment when she confessed she was a C class. He always felt that the Ability classification definitions were flawed, especially when the C class was defined as “seemingly useless”. To Yuuri, all Abilities were beautiful, and no class should feel ashamed for what Ability they were born with regardless of its powerfulness.

“I am going to help you through this,” Yuuri crossed his arms, his decision made. “That is to say… I will need to attend your birthday party.”

“H-how…?”

Yuuri glanced towards her; Pochayuu was still cuddling lazily on top of his chest. “I’ll go with my civilian identity, of course. I think –”

“I heard everything, Your Majesty.”

Yuuri planned this mission and set it in motion before bothering to tell his trusted assistant. Gwendall remedied the situation quickly when he revealed himself out from behind the door, standing with the other eavesdropping maids. Yuuri was paralyzed, it was already too late, nothing could be done. Gwendall was not amused.

“Your Majesty don’t forget that I am responsible for your wellbeing.” Gwendall was unusually firm. He was not smiling. “You haven’t fully recovered from yesterday’s incident and you could barely walk this morning.”

Yuuri knew Gwendall was right, his body was indeed still not in proper condition, but Yuuri’s stubbornness was legendary. “If I went out again, what would you do?”

“Easy. I’ll hire Victor to join your mission as extra protection.”

The room went silent. The more seconds that ticked by, the deeper the shade of red the raven’s face turned. He regretted underestimating and provoking his wise assistant. Mentioning Victor made his lose his mind. Yuuri could still feel the sensation of Victor’s strong arms wrapped around him yesterday. His idol never failed to make his temperature rise.

“I love you. I will always protect you.”

Those words echoed in his brain. Even the tips of Yuuri’s ears were burning red hot now. However, Yuuri was not going to let Gwendall embarrass him into submission on a matter this important. He fortified his mind to accept the possibility of awkward encounters with his idol again to give a confident response. “Gwendall, you do understand how my Ability works, right?”

Sure, he did, but Gwendall allowed him to continue and make his point.

“You don’t know how badly my Future Visions can scare me. I can’t sleep at night when they start up.” Yuuri balled his fists, clenching the sheets, hard enough for his nails to dig into his palms, “I keep having the same nightmare over and over again. It won’t stop… not until I settle the matter. That is why I need to do this.”

Yuuri’s nightmares were always bizarre and disturbing to the point where he would rather have sleepless nights than to have to re-experience them again if he drifted back off to sleep. There were some instances where Yuuri would wake only to rush to the bathroom to vomit, or to find his face streaked with tears, crying in his sleep. Gwendall was sympathetic to the poor boy and granted his permission but under one condition.

“Promise me you won’t set out before you get at least three more days of rest?” Gwendall sternly demanded.

Yuuri nodded, “I won’t.”

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Theresa was looking forward for her upcoming 28th birthday party, but after hearing Yuuri’s vision, dread began to seep in. It was too late to cancel the party. Preparations were made long in advance and invitations had already been sent out. She wanted to inform her family members of the situation, but Yuuri was adamant not to allow it. He did not want to draw more attention than necessary.

The raven wanted to help the party go on smoothly while he captured the attackers discretely. He feared that if the party attendants knew the truth, it would ruin the atmosphere and potentially make it harder to capture the would-be culprits. They may abort the mission in favor of attacking her on a different day if they suspected something was amiss.

“He is a very reckless and impulsive young man, really.” Minako sipped her tea slowly. “Once he makes up his mind, nobody can stop him.”

“Isn’t it better to get more people involved? I mean, I’m sure Daddy will hire more security guards for the night if I tell him to,” mumbled Theresa. She had her head buried in her arms on top of a kitchen counter.

Minako firmly placed the empty cup on the saucer. “He really is a glutton for punishment, huh.”

It was easy for anyone else if they got injured or sick; Yuuri could cure almost any ailment in existence with a little creativity. But if Yuuri fell ill and was in a state where he was too weak to heal himself, the only option was to rely on doctors and their treatments to nurse him back to health.

Yuuri assured Theresa with his usual warm smile, that everything was going to be fine as long he was involved. He didn’t want to seem like the problem here, even though all the servants wished that their King would be more self-conscious sometimes.

Theresa’s melancholy thoughts and emotions cloyed the atmosphere of the castle’s kitchen. One could’ve thought that someone had died in there between Theresa, moping about her impending kidnapping, and the servants, lamenting the recklessness of their King. Travis, a teenage butler around Minami’s age, felt like he needed to do something about it, “Guys, why don’t we do something a little more exciting for a while?”

Theresa began to pay attention, anything to get her mind off Yuuri’s prophetic vision.

“Look, we will all be in on a little secret,” Travis held out a candy with red wrapper for the servants to see in one hand. He brought the pointer finger of his other hand up to his lips in a secretive gesture. “I bought this from Fletcher’s Trick Shop.”

Just like the store’s namesake, Fletcher was a man who knew how to make good use of his C class Ability to imbue objects with the power to transmutate. Naturally, he opened a prank shop utilizing such skills. Business was booming for the man, and Travis was a regular customer. Today, he bought a prank candy from the store.

“Let see which unfortunate soul will eat this,” Travis giggled, placing the single red candy into a bowl already full of other green candies. To those who knew, it was obvious to spot the pranked candy, but to those who didn’t it would seem like someone had just picked out and eaten most of the red ones.

Everything resumed to normal. The servants busied themselves with other tasks, their minds astray from the impending prank. Yuuri walked into the kitchen some time later to get a glass of water. He was still scuffling around in his pajamas and a blanket since this morning. He was sick, so no one would fault him for getting cozy. Yuuri still looked pale but seeing him up and walking around was a large improvement in his condition.

“Your Majesty!” Theresa approached him in a concerned tone, “Why you are here? If you need something, please just press the button to send for one of us!”

Yuuri croaked, “I’m curious of what we’re having for lunch today. I’m hungry.” His throat was still sore, and he grimaced at the sound. It made him sound a lot worse than he felt.

“We’re having creamy chicken and mushroom soup,” another maid informed. Disappointment was written all over the young King’s face. He was tired of eating soup and porridge whenever he got sick.

Nevertheless, Yuuri was too hungry and too tired to put up a fight over soup. After receiving his answer, he was chased out of the kitchen by the worried maids. He thought to move to the living room, so he could at least be laying down, resting, and entertained. Yuuri wanted to curl up in a mountain of blankets on a couch while watching his favorite TV shows.

“Ah, candies.”

On his way out of the kitchen, Yuuri saw a bowl of candies. He always had a bit of a sweet tooth and thought the candies might cleanse the bitter medicinal taste from his mouth. Yuuri assumed the candies with green wrappers were mint-flavored which he hated. But then, he noticed a bright pop of red buried in the bowl. He dug out the red candy and assumed it to be strawberry or cherry, either he was fine with. They were clearly delicious because someone else had already picked out most of the red ones. He felt lucky to get the last one. Yuuri unwrapped the candy and popped it into his mouth while waddling out of the kitchen.

 “Hey! Somebody took the candy!”

Travis had been checking the bowl periodically throughout the day. He pointed to the candy bowl and then to the small red wrapper left on the pedestal beside the bowl. He couldn’t stop grinning, excited that his day was about to get a whole lot more interesting. He drew the attention of the other servants, they became curious to what the commotion was about. Everyone in on the secret was now eager to witness the outcome though they hated to admit it. They just needed to find the unwitting victim.

 “Does anyone know who ate this candy just now?” Travis asked loudly, waving the red wrapper for the other servants to see.

Minami wasn’t in on the joke and didn’t know why he would ask such a trivial question but was able to answer nonetheless. “His Majesty ate it.”

“WHAT?” Travis’ face went as white as a sheet. “Noooo!” He shrieked.

Minami cluelessly scanned the room. Half of the servants looked as confused as Minami, but the rest were as pale as Travis. Minami tentatively asked, “What’s with the candy?”

“The candy was a prank!” Travis exclaimed in panic. “Oh gods, if His Majesty ate it…” Travis started muttering under his breath.

Minami became livid. What Travis had effectively told him was that he and a handful of other staff had done something to his Majesty. It was beyond a bad idea to pull a prank on Yuuri given his position in the castle. The fact that he was sick made this catastrophe even worse.

Minako was worried, “Oh gods, what’s going to happen to Yuuri!”

Minami turned into a little fire breathing dragon. Pissed was not quite enough to describe his feelings. He took out a breadknife, holding it precariously in his hand. He pointed it at Travis like if Minami didn’t approve of his answer he would be prepared to kill the other boy for his transgressions, “Travis, I swear to God… If something happened to Yuuri-Sama…!”

“Gyahh!! No no, the candy won’t hurt him! Calm down!” Travis shied away from the blade, shielding his face with both arms. “The prank will only last for 15 minutes and there won’t be any lingering side effects.”

Minami stopped marching towards Travis. “So, what exactly did you do to him?” He said, dropping the blade.

“His Majesty will turn into a cat!”

Huh…?

Well, it didn’t sound that bad. Who doesn’t love cats? The level of tension in the room dropped, and the servants began to picture Yuuri as a cat: what breed would he be, what color would his coat be, etc.…etc.… based on his personality.

Then, they heard Martha’s shriek echoing throughout the entire castle, “AAHHHH!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, YOUR MAJESTY!?”

The candy had officially taken effect.

The servants sprinted towards the living room, following the sound of Martha’s blood curdling exclamation. Their jaws synchronously hit the floor upon seeing their King in... an unexpected state.

The candy hadn’t worked quite like everyone had envisioned. It was still Yuuri, but with a few feline alterations. His ears had disappeared, and a pair of black cat ears had taken their place, sitting atop his head. He had a long, black tail sticking out of his backside several inches above his arse, and it moved like it had a mind of its own. Yuuri’s fists were balled to act like paws. He glanced around at all the commotion while sitting on the couch. Mentally, now, he was a cat, too.

“Meowww?” Yuuri innocently mouthed.

The servants screamed in shock.

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“Is His Majesty there?” Victor asked through the intercom.

Victor was still worried about Yuuri’s health. Today he planned to stop by and visit. He bought a bouquet of flowers halfway to the castle as a gift. He hoped the younger boy liked red and white Chrysanthemums. The shopkeeper took one look at him and helped him out, giving him what he thought was best. The main gates opened for Victor and he made his way inside. News of Yuuri’s transformation hadn’t yet made it to the guard towers. With his super human hearing, Victor could hear lots of people screaming and freaking out. He ran into the castle headfirst, hoping that Yuuri wasn’t in any danger.

“Martha!” Victor called out to the first person he recognized, “His Majesty….!”

With a trembling hand, Martha pointed to the living room. Victor’s adrenaline coursed through his veins as his stomach bottomed out. What happened to his precious Yuuri?

When Victor reached to the living room, Yuuri seemed fine, if not too calm given all the screaming he heard. He was relieved at the very least. But, it still didn’t explain why the servants couldn’t keep their heads on straight.

Victor observed Yuuri carefully as he walked around the couch to stand in front of him. He was wondering why the King was wearing fake cat ears and a cat tail – until he saw them twitch and move. Victor now understood why people were freaking out. He was beginning to freak out a little too.

“His Majesty was half cat!”

Victor extended his hand towards Yuuri carefully, to which Yuuri nudged his head into it, silently asking the older man to stroke his head. As requested, Victor hesitantly stroked Yuuri’s head. Enjoying the treatment, Yuuri smiled and purred, his tailing flicking back and forth happily behind him. Several maids fainted watching the scene. It was too cute.

S-so c-cute… Victor thought, he was blushing a vibrant red colour to starkly contrast the paleness of his skin. Yuuri was too much for his heart to handle.

From the couch, Yuuri leapt towards Victor surprising the man. He stumbled backwards and fell on his back, thrown off balance by his feline friend. Finally coming to his senses, Victor processed what just happened. Then, he realized… Yuuri was now hovering over him, straddling his lap. He was plopped right on top of where Victor’s bulge was situated. Victor horniness level escalated from half-staff to full-mast painfully quickly. Victor was deeply flushed, and his heart was thumping so fiercely that he could hear it. Victor needed to control himself, but Yuuri was pushing his own limits with ultimate seduction.

“~Meow~” Yuuri buried his face into Victor’s chest, snuggling him in affection.

Victor wanted to touch Yuuri so bad. He was in a public space, but that didn’t stop his mind from running wild with all the things he wanted to do with his crush. It took every fibre of effort in his body to resist responding to his King’s advances. Calm yourself down, dammit!

Yuuri was relentless, however. The raven leaned closer, stuck his tongue out, and began licking Victor gently from his chin up to his cheek using his petite, velvety tongue. Yuuri’s tongue had touched Victor’s lips. Victor couldn’t take it anymore, blood gushed out from his nostrils like fountains. His head lolled onto the floor and his soul escaped through his mouth. Victor Nikiforov died and was ascending to heaven.

The servants ran around trying to catch Victor’s soul, a little white ghost donning victor’s face, a heart shaped smile, and a small golden halo, to get it back into the knight’s body.

“No, Victor! Don’t die on us!” He suddenly heard the servant’s cries. He must have blacked out from rapid, sudden blood loss.

Victor felt too mentally weak to handle this on his own. Regaining his senses, Victor scooped Yuuri up and rushed him to Gwendall’s office. “Master!!!”

Gwendall was in midst of watering his beloved potted daffodils when Victor barged in. “Hmm? Is that you, Victor?”

“Please do something about him!”

Gwendall roamed his eyes over to the red-faced Victor with blood still streaming from his nose, and then to the feline Yuuri meowing and purring in his arms. Gwendall too, was at a loss for words.

Not long after Victor had kicked down Gwendall’s door to rush the newly minted kitty to a responsible adult, did he begin to revert. His ears and tail “Poofed!” out of existence in a magical puff of smoke as quickly as they had appeared, and after fluttering his eyes a few times, the young King regained his senses.

He moaned groggily as both men, Gwendall and Victor, watched carefully to see if he really had snapped out of it. Yuuri looked around, he was in Gwendall’s office and the man had an uncomfortable look on his face. He looked up at Victor… Why am I so close to his face? Why is he covered in blood? Yuuri’s nose and cheeks were already turning pink at their proximity. Then he realized – and Victor did too – that “Oh god…” he was in his idol’s arms in a particularly compromising princess carry.

Yuuri’s face went completely red as he yelped and began to thrash. Victor was caught off guard by the sudden movements and dropped his King on the floor.

“Your Majesty!” Victor shouted as Yuuri hit the ground with an inelegant thud. He scrambled to help the younger man up, grabbing his hands to pull him up off the floor to atone for his grave sin.

“OhmygodwhatdidIdo?!” Yuuri spluttered out all at once, snatching his hands away from Victor. He couldn’t handle the man’s hot touch right now. He doubled over, his head foggy as his memories of the last fifteen minutes crashed like a tsunami wave back into his soul.

“Victor, oh my god! I am so sorry.” The King was grovelling at his feet. Victor was blushing hard and felt very awkward to see the King kneeling before him. “Please, what can I do get you to pretend like this never happened??? I’ll do anything to make it up!”

“Anything?” Victor’s response had a coy edge to it which went undetected in Yuuri’s frantic embarrassment.

“Yes, please. Anything.” Yuuri was now on his feet, but still pleading. He wasn’t really processing what he was saying or what was being said. It was all a flurry. Gwendall was calmly sitting at his desk watching the drama unfold, holding back his amusement.

“Go on a date with me?” Victor spontaneously spouted.

“…Sure.” Yuuri said, frenzied to settle the matter. And then he realized what he said, what he agreed to. His eyes bugged out of his head, “What!?”

“You promised~” Victor danced around him once, replying in a giddy and flirtatious tone.  “I’ll see you later!” Victor pranced out the door walking, no, running on air, not giving the young King enough time to take back what he said before Victor disappeared.

This was the single most embarrassing day Yuuri had ever experienced… AND his idol was involved. Yuuri spent the rest of the day locked in his bedroom. He couldn’t face the rest of the world today after that ordeal. Tomorrow, he would be stronger. Even though he felt terrible, his guilty pleasure was secretly replaying the moment Victor asked him out. Curled up in his blankets, he couldn’t help but smile stupidly.

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Yuuri and Theresa arrived at the Hewlett residence.

They stepped out from the taxi, and Yuuri paid the driver much to Theresa’s embarrassment. The three days Gwendal required had passed and Yuuri was now back in perfect health.  The party was taking place tonight. He ended up bringing Pochayuu, too,on Theresa’s – and the rest of the maids’ – insistence. The rest of castle staff would have had to deal with the Demon’s tantrums otherwise.

“I’m home!” Theresa entered the mansion, Yuuri following closely behind.

“Welcome home, Theresa.” Her grandmother, Janette was happy to see her. Moreso when she saw Yuuri beside her granddaughter. “Oh my, you brought a friend with you?”

“Hey Nana, this is… um…”

Theresa was going to introduce Yuuri to Janette, but she had forgotten his real name, embarrassingly enough. She had never referred Yuuri something other than “Your Majesty” the entire time she worked in the castle. Instead, Yuuri saved her and introduced himself like a gentleman, bowing to Janette. “Greetings. My name is Yuuri Katsuki, nice to meet you.”

Sharon was in the house to help with last minute party preparations. Her blood drained from her face once she saw Yuuri. Yuuri recognized Sharon as one of his former maids. He knew that the two girls were best friends. In a smooth, convincing gesture, Yuuri quickly waved to Sharon once he saw her. “Hi there, Sharon! Long-time no see!”

“Your -, I mean, Yuuri!” Sharon raced towards Yuuri in glee. She missed the cute King so bad. “I didn’t expect to see you here! I missed you, kyaahhh!”

The maids who worked in the castle loved talking to Yuuri – most harboured a massive celebrity-like crush against him. They enjoyed casually chatting with him during mealtime. They frequently teased him, pleasing them to see their King blushing and shyly laughing in return to their teases. It was one of the few things Yuuri enjoyed about the castle and frequently brightened his day.

After a brief reunion with her favourite employer in the world, Sharon dragged Theresa to a corner and whispered to her best friend, “Why is HE here?!”

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later, Sherry…!” Theresa whispered in the lowest voice she could. She couldn’t risk anyone overhearing them.

“Theresa, who is this?” Theresa’s father appeared in the doorway once news of her arrival hit his ears. The first person he saw was not his beloved daughter, but some stranger – Yuuri Katsuki.

Yuuri recognized who he was as this was not their first encounter, albeit in very different circumstances. But, Theresa’s father obviously wouldn’t recognize Yuuri. “Hello, Senator Hewlett. My name is Yuuri Katsuki, Theresa’s friend.”

“Is he your boyfriend?” Senator Hewlett asked, scanning Yuuri from top to bottom. “I didn’t know you were into the nerdy types, Theresa.”

Nerdy type? Yuuri couldn’t help but chuckle at the comment. It never failed to surprise him as to the comments he received when he was not donning his signature cloak and mask. Senator Hewlett wasn’t serious, just teasing his daughter to get a rise out of her.  Yuuri wasn’t bad-looking, but the father was suspicious, noticing that the boy was obviously much younger than his daughter.

In all the awkward commotion caused by the boyfriend comment, Yuuri failed to notice Janette attentively looking at him.

“B-B-B-Boyfriend!? Noooo! Daddy, he’s not my boyfriend!” Theresa frantically denied. She blushed, face steaming. The idea of Yuuri being her boyfriend was too much – he was miles out of her league.

“Theresa, if you don’t want him, then let him be my boyfriend instead!” She teased her best friend. Sharon playfully wrapped her arms around Yuuri’s waist and rested her head in the crook of Yuuri’s shoulder in a clingy manner.

Yuuri was always clueless, much too dense, when a servant – of any gender – was flirting with him. And, there were a lot of people who enjoyed doing so, much to Gwendall’s displeasure.

Caressing his chin, Senator Hewlett silently watched Yuuri. “…Have we ever met before?” The older man said, deep in thought.

“Eh…?” Yuuri’s eyes unintentionally widened. His complexion grew pale in a split second. “I… don’t think so? I believe this is our very first meeting… yeah.”

Senator Hewlett raised a brow sceptically. “I feel like I’ve heard your voice before, … but I just can’t figure out where.”

Yuuri, Theresa, and Sharon became increasingly nervous at Senator Hewlett’s reply. It was subtle, but the raven was shaking. Theresa and Sharon, knowing Yuuri’s personality in general, understood well enough on why he wore a mask and adopted an anonymous identity to the public. Watching the rapidly unfolding intense scene, Janette just stood there and smiled coyly.

“Hmm, maybe it’s just my imagination. I can’t remember.” The father finally gave up.

The three breathed out a sign of relief, letting out the tension in their shoulders simultaneously. Thank goodness Yuuri’s voice was muffled by the mask, making his natural sound harder to pinpoint. A delighted Janette giggled at their antics.

“So, are you attending the party as well?” Senator Hewlett began another round of questions.

Some of the servants passed by while carrying tablecloths with them. Yuuri saw many decorations already in place within the mansion. “Yes. I’m looking forward to it.”

“Ah!” Theresa hesitantly paused, a hand raised to her mouth. “I forgot to tell you that this is a formal party, so…”

Yuuri understood the problem here. “Crap, I didn’t bring a formal outfit with me.”

He was dressed rather lamely now. He couldn’t attend the party looking like a “nerdy type”. Yuuri always found a way to attract unwanted attention, and the trend didn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. What bad luck. He couldn’t fail the mission over a wardrobe malfunction.

“Oh, no worries! Theresa’s brother has a lot of old suits that no longer fit him. I can lend you one!” Janette approached Yuuri with a wide smile, a saviour when Yuuri needed one most.

“Eh? Nana, where are you taking him?” Theresa asked her oddly cheery grandmother.

“Theresa, let me borrow your friend for a while.” Janette whisked Yuuri away by the hand, leaving Pochayuu behind with the girls. “Let’s go, young man. I’ll do your makeover!”

Senator Hewlett checked his watch. “Please make it quick. The party is starting in an hour.”

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Yuuri was seated in front of a large mirror set in an ornate, carved dressing table. There were several different cosmetic products sprinkled about the counter. All he could do was stare at his reflection while he waited for Janette to fetch his outfit.

Returning with a garment bag, the older woman draped it over the countertop, then gently took Yuuri’s glasses off. She pulled back his raven hair, applied some gel, then gently combed it out of his eyes. Next, she placed some moisturizer on her palms and rubbed them together to warm it up, before applying it to Yuuri’s face. Yuuri’s naturally fair skin was free of pimples and spots. Janette felt like she was working with a piece of porcelain art.

She applied a light layer of foundation, mostly underneath his eyes to hide the dark circles, and then some lip balm to rehydrate his chapped lips. “Now, open your eyes.”

Yuuri slowly opened his eyes as instructed. Another version of himself was now reflected by the mirror. It was still him, but with little makeup and a different hairstyle. He took some time to examine his own face. It felt foreign to him. He had never undergone such a beautification treatment in his life – he had no need.

“Oh my…” Janette cupped Yuuri’s face with her wrinkled hands. Even without makeup, Yuuri was already attractive. Only a little was required to highlight his natural beauty even further, making him stunning to look at. “You look so handsome… Whoever becomes your future partner will be so lucky to have you.”

“Really?” Yuuri asked, tilting his head.

Yuuri was wearing a Maastricht blue suit with a white shirt and icy blue tie that matched the colour of Victor’s eyes, all buttoned up and fitting surprisingly well. He couldn’t be happier with Janette’s choice. His hair was neatly slicked back, the gel making his raven hair look shiny. His appearance went from peasant to prince with Janette’s magic touch. The older woman couldn’t take off her eyes off Yuuri.

Janette looked around quickly to make sure that they were still alone. Once she was assured that nobody else could overhear them, she whispered into Yuuri’s ear.

“This is how a King should be dressed.”

“Wha-” Yuuri jolted in shock. He wasn’t prepared for that. “H-How…”

“Your identity is safe with me, don’t worry. Please to meet you, Your Majesty.” Janette made a small curtsy before him.

“I knew it was you the second I laid eyes on you.”

It had finally dawned on Yuuri, remembering what Theresa told him – Janette was the Blessed Child. She, apart from her Abilities which she lent to psychology back in the day, she could also see a glimpse of a person’s past – Sophea’s legacy. The second she laid her eyes on him, she saw a young man wearing a cloak and a mask. It was immediately obvious. Of course, she was paralyzed by the truth, afraid of the man himself, in the flesh. But after seeing Yuuri interact in civilian identity, she began to relax her perception of his as all others who came to know him had. The fear of the King morphed into a desire to know him better.

“What brings His Majesty here… to meet lowly ones such as ourselves?” Janette said in a very self-deprecating and humble tone in respect to the country’s most powerful person.

Yuuri didn’t know what to tell her, whether he should speak plainly about the danger at hand or keep his cover and state that he was only there for a little fun. He searched to the corners of his brain to carefully craft the right message. He didn’t necessarily want to lie, but he could not brutally honest either. He didn’t want to break the poor woman’s heart. Images from his vision flashed across the forefront of his mind again.

Theresa was being smuggled out of the house in a sack through a back door. As the getaway car sped off, a bomb was detonated, and the Hewlett residence was reduced to ashes.

Chapter Text

Days passed at the Holy Knights’ headquarters in relative peace, that was until a rabid Demon decided to make its appearance.

It was only one Demon, but for what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in size and ferocity. It was over 10 feet tall and resembled a velociraptor. It had thousands of tiny, red, blinking eyes dotting its head; razor sharp talons that could slice through concrete like cheese; and thick, scaly plates covering its vitals like armour. This armour covered its chest and head. Apart from the gleaming talons, scales, and eyes, it looked half rotted. The non-vital organs and body parts were left unprotected. In these areas, its fleshy tissues,bones and internal organs were exposed for all to see. It was magic-like that the beast didn’t simply fall apart since nothing substantial seemed to be holding it together, and nothing was stopping its organs from falling out of the gaping holes gouged in the creature’s form. It deftly protected its weaker, unarmoured areas with its otherworldly speed.

The beast roared. The deep sound reverberated through the ground, causing it to quake, throwing the battalion of Holy Knights off balance. The monster coupled its bellowing cry with a flick of its thick tail, sweeping back the ant-like knights charging it.

Some of the Holy Knights ran for their lives, too scared to fight the nightmarish creature. They quickly saw how outmatched they were. The others who remained to confront the wretched being braced to attack valiantly despite their difference in strength. They preferred to die an honourable death rather than flee and put Cervantian civilians at risk.

“Ngh…! Die!”

A knight reloaded his gun and aimed for the Demon’s heart. With trembling hands, he pulled the trigger – he missed, rather the fly away bullet struck one of the demon’s eyes. Blood began run down its face, bright red and a little sticky.It was always unsettling to be reminded that Demons bled red just like humans did.The monster let out a shrill cry from the searing pain.

The bullet only served to further agitate it. Writhing in pain, it raised its talons and scratched wildly in the direction of the bullet’s origin.

“AAAAAHHHH!”

The impact was too strong, the beast was too quick. The Holy Knight responsible for the shot couldn’t get out of the way in time for the rampage. He was sent flying backwards several feet, returning to the ground with a thud, landing unconscious in a bloodied pulp. His chest was marred with a massive diagonal gash bleeding profuselyfrom hip to shoulder. Other injured Holy Knights littered the ground, trying their best to keep up the fight.

 “Cheeky little bastard, isn’t he?” A confident foreign voice joined the fray.

The knights turned – “Captain…!”

He was a quick man to spot in the melee donning his trademark silver hair and unique captain’s uniform.  He had a billowing captain’s cape floating behind him and several pins peppering his coat, indicating his difference in rank.

The grand entrance ended as quickly as it begun as Victor leapt out of the way of the demon’s thrashing tail with effortless grace. It had its sight set on this fresh blood now. The Demon charged at Victor, but he stood his ground, unshaken by the threat.

“You’re a pretty strong guy, huh” Victor could make a quick judgement based on the Demon’s appearance and his years of experience in battle. “And leaving quite a nasty mess too.”

“But let us see who is stronger between the two of us… shall we?”

Victor’s lips twisted into a smirk. The Holy Knights stood by as their captain transformed into his own brand of devil, moving to attack. The Demon charged closer and lowered its head like a battering ram, ready to shatter every bone in Victor’s body. Victor put out his hands, palms towards the raging beast and his eyes changed colour – from blue to turquoise. With his two hands he stopped the demon’s advance dead in its tracks. The captain clamped his fingers around the plating on the Demon’s head and violently twisted, snapping the Demon’s neck with an audible pop.

In one swift motion, Victor then ripped the Demon’s head from its body, a section of its backbone was pulled along with it like the root of a tooth being yanked from the gums. Blood rained down, turning almost every warrior’s uniform sticky crimson. Victor was never one for messes – he sprinted out of the blast radius to prevent his uniform from getting dirty.

The fountain of blood began to dwindle, and the warriors had a moment to collect themselves. There he stood, shining before them all in a crisp white uniform hardly breaking a sweat. The Knights stood agape, forever amazed by their captain’s strength.

Victor single-handedly defeated a Demon in less than a minute. That was a new record.

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“Wow Victor, you were amazing back then!” Mila clapped with glee.

She was a newly minted Holy Knight, now hanging out with her seniors, Victor, Yakov, and Georgi at the cafeteria eagerly listening to their most recent adventure.

Victor smiled. “No, Mila. It was nothing. I believe the other knights weakened it before I came. I just finished it off.”

“Vitya, so far you’ve been the only one capable enough to fend off a Demon like that alone.” Yakov sipped his tea, “That beast was something even professionals have a hard time against.” Georgi rolled his eyes just a little bit, unamused by his long-time rival.

He slurped on his drink after twirling the straw around the glass, condensation dripped down the glass creating a puddle at the base of the cup. “But I know someone who’s greater. He can simultaneously destroy multiple Demons without even touching them.” Victor deflected, feigning further compliments.

“Ohh?” Mila’s interest was piqued. The senior knights were holding their breath to see who could possibly outshine their most powerful warrior. Even knights sitting at neighbouring tables stopped whatever they were doing to listen in.

“Who is it? I can’t imagine such person to exist!” Mila squealed.

“His Majesty, of course.”

Victor’s smile matched the swelling of his heart. The room let out a collective groan, let down by the lack of surprise in his statement. The person in question was obviously miles out of their leagues. He shouldn’t even be allowed to be considered. However, with Victor’s comment still lingering freshly in the air, fear of the young, anonymous ruler was further clarified to those in the room. If Victor and his strength were practically god-like in their eyes already, then the King was far stronger than anyone could possibly fathom.

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Something was off about today, definitely.

While changing in the locker room, Victor was trying to put his finger on exactly what that was. Removing his cape, he inspected it and sighed dramatically – there was a small drop of blood on the hem. I’m losing my touch. Maybe it’s because I am getting old… He thought with a whimper of displeasure.He wanted to be wrong, but when he smelled that unforgettably odorous demon blood following him around for the rest of the day after his battle, a small part of him knew. That smell never ceased to irritate his hyper sensitive nose.

Now, he had to launder the cloak immediately or the stain wouldn’t lift, but he didn’t have time to drop it off. At least he wouldn’t have to wear it for his next mission. Walking around with that blood spot marring his flawlessly white cape would wound his image. Annoyed, he balled up the cape and threw it into the locker, then proceeded to take off the rest of his uniform.

Starting from the top button, Victor slowly began taking off his over coat. His fingers moved down from the top, to the second, to the third button. He made eye contact with himself in his mirror and slowly came to a halt. Compared to the crisp, bright whiteness of his uniform, Victor Nikiforov stared at his faded and washed out appearance. The colour made his hair look dingy when it should be shining, and his eyes seemed to glow less vibrantly than they normally did.

He abruptly shut the door to his locker, thus hiding the mirror, so he could focus on the task at hand, changing. Victor had a freshly pressed three-piece charcoal grey suit laid out waiting for him on a nearby hanger. This was his uniform for the evening.

Gwendall talked fast and didn’t give out a lot of details. All he knew was that he needed to be in formal wear and he was keeping the peace at a household for the evening. It was definitely suspicious, Victor thought, as he went through the motions of dressing himself. Even though Victor now looked polished and well put together in his perfectly tailed suit, a lot underneath the surface was in disarray. Everything about this mission was quite disjointed. It seemed like a hastily put together, off-the-books style mission in his mind, more like a personal favour to the ancient man.

“I want you and the rest of the team I have assembled to guard a certain household from harm throughout the night. Make sure no lives are lost,” Victor played back through Gwendall’s exact words. The man spoke with a faint undercurrent of desperation and worry.

Someone had to have unsettled the man.

Victor reopened his locker to put away his standard issue white uniform. It was weird not having it on now. He felt lighter out from underneath the many stiff layers of starched fabric and his thick cape. He carefully folded the clothes and plopped them on the upper shelf. He grabbed his gel and was forced to look in the mirror again, so he could clean up his hair. He combed down a few unruly, disobedient hairs and pushed his long dramatic bangs back behind his ear.

Victor took one last long look at himself in the mirror. He still looked a little wilted in his opinion.

“I’m getting too old for this,” he sighed to himself.

Three quick rasps against the door frame broke the stillness of the atmosphere, “Victor, you are 27. You are hardly “old”. Are you done yet? Everybody’s waiting.” Georgi came to drag him back to his mission group for the evening.

Victor shuffled into the waiting room, meeting the gaze of his fellow teammates. Yep, something larger was at work here. It was confirmed. Victor escalated his impression of the mission from fishy to concerning. He had evidence. One: Gwendall was jumpy. Two: All of the top brass were here – he confirmed it as he surveyed the room, Mila, Yakov, Georgi, and himself. Finally, three: He was placed on this group mission. Gwendall was well aware that he hated group assignments and rarely worked with others.

“You look hot Victor!” Mila whistled. At the sound of his name, Victor’s attention drifted over to the young, talented recruit.

“I was shocked when Master Gwendall told us to wear formal clothing. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this would you? Hmmmm?” Mila raised a brow to which Victor silently denied her claims. “But, I can’t complain!” she prattled on,“I’ve been meaning to find an excuse to wear this dress for a while now.” Mila gave a model-esque twirl to show off her flirtatious little black dress, with its low-cut neckline and strappy back design.

“How do I look? I look good, right?” Georgi proudly showed off his purple suit while adjusting his tie. Victor thought his sense of fashion was dreadful.

Mila feigned a verbal answer, opting for a tenuous thumbs-up instead. Moving away from the awkward interjection, Mila continued to profess her excitement, “I’m really looking forward for the mission! I bet we will be like private agents at a fancy gala just like in the movies!”

“I bet you are looking forward to the private party,” Georgi quipped playfully, wiggling his eyebrows. “I won’t stop you from chasing that high-class ass. Love knows not social constructs.” Georgi crooned.

Yakov’s temple was pulsing. “There will be no ass chasing! We are working, we have a mission. Don’t let the party distract you and keep your eyes open.”

“Yes sir!” Mila and Georgi giggled. Yakov said “ass”.

“Stop giggling like children, you aren’t five!” He loved these kids, but gods they goaded him like no one else could.

“The car is here.” Lillia slinked in, adjusting her loud red lipstick based on the view from her compact mirror. Befitting the lipstick she wore, Lillia had on a daring red dress that fit her lithe, this frame like a glove. A generous slit went up the side revealing one of her well-toned legs from all of the years of dance she invested her time into.Paying no mind to the gaping of her team, she waved he hand like she was waving away a displeasing smell, “I afraid Demons aren’t my strongest suit, so I don’t know why I am here.”

Why are any of us here? Victor thought while being corralled into the vehicle. The details they were given were too vague, all they knew was what they observed, and Victor observed that the team’s specialties were all over the place. Georgi possessed A-class emotional manipulation, and Mila possessed B-class perfect balance but was better known for her prodigal combat skills. Lillia’s rare skill, A-class future prediction, made her a master tactician, and her ex-husband Yakov – with a slightly similar ability to Victor's superhuman strength. Gwendall threw together a little bit of everything like he wasn’t sure what to expect from the evening.

Victor sighed, frustrated. The drive was well underway when he found himself mindlessly staring out one of the car’s windows.  There were on an overpass. The lights of the city at night were like thousands of twinkling stars to weakly illuminate the impressive skyscrapers in the city centre. It was a mesmerizing view of Mother Nature and man-made constructions meshed together, capturing the awe of those who saw it. It was the city Victor fought with blood, sweat, and tears to protect. Not that people cared anymore. The thought almost escaped as a mutter under his breath. He was tired of taking orders from people who could care less about the welfare of his city.

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“Stay close to me the whole time, okay?”

Yuuri’s words a royal decree for Theresa to die a slow, painful and excruciatingly sensual death. While there were no romantic undertones in his words, it sounded intimate, like something he would say to the love of his life. The sweet words and worry were only wasted on her. Yuuri was simply protecting her, but Theresa still had a hard time reigning in her feelings from distorting his intentions into a romantic sense. Just looking at the man, how well he presented himself right now in that stunning formalwear, sent Theresa’s heart thumping wildly and erratically.

“Hey Theresa…” Sharon whispered, “I worked for quite a long time in the castle, and… this is the first time I’ve seen His Majesty groomed to such extent. I heard from some of the older maids even that he has never worn a suit before!”

Theresa gulped. “Oh God. I think I know why. Him… that suit… it should just be illegal.” She blushed.

“Right? Seriously, the cape and the mask don’t do him justice…”

Sharon stealthily snapped some pictures of Yuuri and shared it to the servants’ chat group. Everyone there saw the uploaded pictures of their beautified King, and promptly forgot how to behave like normal, rational, sane human beings.

Eliza

HIS MAJESTY IS SO HOTTTT!!! WTF *fire emoji*

Peter

OMG OMG OMG OMG !!!!!!!!!

Ryan

HOT!!!!!! SO HOTTTTT AAAAAAAAHHHHH MY EYES

Timothy

I saw a man so beautiful I started crying

Argus

GIVE ME BACK MY BLOOD *anime girl with nosebleed image*

Travis

welp im gay

Garett

Nooo my boner

Tania

THOSE PICTURES ARE ILLEGAL ASDFGHJKL WHY HE SO BEAUTUFUL

Tania

AHH FUCK CAN’T SPELL

Candace

*people lying on the floor face down image*

Fiona

*old man having a heart attack and rushed to an ambulance image*

Tom

*yellow cartoon dog in a burning house saying this is fine image*

Alice

*nuclear explosion image* my ovaries right now

Travis

Minami where is Minami

O the King’s biggest fanboy I summon thee

Minami

Wxilmuzk.cjxprcjpr,[o-23do1lp[;jndcienmijwimxis

Darius

Oh no Minami

Lola

Minami has fallen

Darius

Cant blame him, he has seen the depths of inferno

Rory

I would happily descend to the seventh level of hell to taste those flames.

Mark

The secret to the erasure of the human race had been found

Mary

LET ME FUCK HIM ALREADY *my body is ready gif*

Andrew

NO! BACK OFF BITCH I’LL FUCK HIM FIRST

Rene

I NEED TO RIDE HIM OR ELSE I’LL DIE

Mary

THEN GO DIE WHILE I FUCK HIM WITH A STRAPON

Brittany

Heyyy it’s not good to fight over him why don’t weall share and have a group fap instead

Travis

Too late I jerked off as soon I saw the pictures

Yuuri was already attractive as is. But Janette transformed him, turning a delicious strawberry that made everyone’s mouth water into a tantalizing strawberry parfait that made everyone foam at the mouth. From a normal-looking harmless nerd, Yuuri bloomed into a sex god incarnate. Even though he was carrying the birthday girl on his arm, he was still the center of attention. Guests tracked his every move, staring hungrily or jealously. Even Senator Hewlett couldn’t believe the astonishing transformation.

“Oh my! Is that young man Theresa’s boyfriend? What a looker! I wonder what family he is from…”

“Boyfriend? But, he looked young… Theresa is nearing her 30s, right?”

Oblivious to the eyes all over him, Yuuri attentively looked around for anyone suspicious, particularly the guests. He stopped the flow of time for as long as his body could stand it and began searching. Yuuri checked the guests – their bodies and belongings – for concealed firearms and bombs. He allowed Theresaand Janette to help him scan so they could cover more ground faster. Theresa, floating around the room like a spectre in frozen time, she was truly in awe of his ability.

For a “small, elite party”, there sure were a lot of guests.  “I’ve checked as many as I could and found nothing. I need some time to recover now.” Yuuri turned to Theresa while resuming time around them.

“Your Majesty, no need to push yourself so hard. We don’t pay body guards for nothing,” Theresa’s voice was laced with concern. Yuuri was clearly suffering from early Ability exhaustion. He was draining himself too quickly.

Sharon walked up. “You look terrible Your Majesty!” She was well aware of what he was up to. “It’s really hard for us maids to take care of you whenever you get sick. You shouldn’t try to do things by yourself all the time. It’s so selfish.” She chided.

“You’re right, but I just can’t help myself! Maybe I am a little selfish.” Embarrassed, Yuuri laughed depreciatingly.

In all seriousness though, Yuuri did regret trying to complete the mission alone. Only an hour passed since the party had started and more guests were pouring in by the minute. There was no way he could check them all in time… not without killing himself.For the first time in his life, Yuuri began to realize just how reckless he was being and he deeply regretted it. If this mission failed because of his selfishness, his stubbornness – he could never forgive himself.

I’m sorry, Gwendall.

“Don’t worry, dear. I’m helping too,” Janette placed a reassuring hand on Yuuri’s shoulder. “It saddens me to see such a handsome young man like yourself with a scowl.  Here, smile. You’ve helped up more than we could ever imagine. Now it’s our turn.”

Yuuri smiled. Half genuine and forced. “Thank you, Janette… I’m sorry for getting you involved.” At some point Yuuri entrusted his vision about the bomb to the elder woman. She took the news with a surprising amount of grace and determination.

“No problem. I’m just happy to be useful at this age.”

Yuuri had never used 100% of his ability before. Prolonged usage of even a quarter of it was enough togive him a high fever and put him in a coma for days. What price would he pay if he used his full power? What Armageddon would have to occur for him to make that choice? Yuuri shivered.

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The knights’ prediction was correct. It was a party indeed – and a lively one to boot.

The grand hall was as large as a football field. Buffet tables piled high with mouth-watering appetizers, entrees, and deserts lined the far wall. Towering in the corner stood a gigantic 10-layer birthday cake adorned with lifelike pink, mauve, and magenta sugar flowers cascading down a background of pale green fondant and intricate piped frosting patterns. Guests whirled around the room in expensive, designer gowns and suits, shining as brightly as the decorations. Delicate fresh flowers cascaded down columns, lined hand-railings, and starred in magnificent centrepieces, all bathing the room in their sweet fragrance. A crystal chandelier about the size of a small room floated effortlessly above their heads, standing as the focal point of the hand painted ceiling. It’s thousands of delicate crystals enveloped the room in soft, diffuse light. Dramatic silk curtains were hung to accent the floor-to-ceiling windows and grand double doors which led to the outside. They daintily danced in the breeze as their natural sheen was emphasized by the soft lighting and gentle movements.

“Wow…” Mila’s eyes flipped back and forth as she soaked up all of the details of the room she just walked into. “So many people here…”

“So, this is what an elite gathering is like, huh. How fancy…!” Georgi ogled the lavish decorations and lavishly dressed people ready to run off and join the fray.

While even Yakov was surprised by the level of luxury they were surrounded by, he had to be the older, experienced voice of reason for the group. “Do what you want within reason, but don’t forget we’re on a mission. Stay sharp and don’t lose your heads.” The double meaning was not missed by the rest of his team.

Victor had been in the room for a total of six minutes. Six minutes, and he was already developing a headache. This is going to be a long night, he thought with a disgruntled groan.

He was never very fond of large crowds: they made him anxious and sent his already superior senses into overdrive. The dancing lights; the whirling movements of hundreds of people; the cacophony of sounds; and the clashing scents of the perfumes, colognes, foods, and flowers were a sensory overload for the man. To further compound the problem, everyone had a scent. It was ingrained into their blood, into their bones, as unique as was a person’s name and personality. Mingling with hundreds of unique scents was like meeting hundreds of unique people. It was beyond overwhelming to say the least.He wanted to vomit. But, he had a mission – he would have to endure it for now.

He belonged on a battlefield, though, not in a ballroom. Victor felt incredibly out of place as woman after woman invited him and to dance – so they could be seen with a handsome piece at their side – and men would drag him into their circle of conversation to hear him recount his glorious battles. Everybody wanted something from Victor Nikiforov, the greatest Holy Knight in history, and he hated it–he hatedhow selfish people could be sometimes. So, he politely declined as many offers as he could with a charming light-hearted smile and kept to the fringes of the room to avoid pointless interactions.

While it was not common knowledge, the man was an introvert. He had lived nearly his entire on a pedestal of excellence, too far out of reach for any man to touch his brilliance. Alienated, he stood alone and unparalleled. Whether by nature or nurture, he didn’t trust people with his true self, he kept them all at arm’s length.

The longer the party raged on around him, the more distant Victor grew. His mental fortitude began to slip as he allowed darkness to creep into and fester in the bubble of positivity he carved out for himself. That bubble was the only, flimsy thing keeping him sane. Memories he had suppressed began to seep into the forefront of his mind. He couldn’t escape it.

When Victor was tasked to exterminate a village plagued by diseases, instead he contacted medical teams to save them and let the higher-ups to pay the bills – rather than letting more cash into their greedy hands.

“You may be the top knight in this whole organization, but you’ve disobeyed us – blatantly – and that can’t be overlooked. That’s insubordination! Grounds for expulsion and jail time!” A panel of stodgy older men sitting up at a long table were looking down at Victor with contempt.

“If I had to do it again… I. would.” Victor narrowed his eyes and spat back with an icy tone. “Master Gwendall agr –”

“THAT OLD BLOKE DOESN’T CALL THE SHOTS AROUND HERE ANYMORE!” The tension in the room was palpable and escalating as the two parties went back and forth.

An administrator on the end of the table spoke up, “You may be his golden boy, but that won’t protect you much longer. You’ve nearly bankrupted the Holy Knights. This is your final warning.” He stuck a threatening finger back at Victor who was now seething with rage.

“How can you talk about money right now! How can you in your right minds try to punish me for doing the right thing! YOU weren’t there. You didn’t hear their begging, their screams. You sit behind your desks all day, crunching numbers, and make people like me do all your dirty work to line YOUR pockets. It’s despicable!”

“Mr. Nikif–”

“SHUT UP! I’M NOT DONE!” He roared.

“Why don’t you go put a gun to a sick child’s head and try to pull the trigger. Could you do it? A mercy killing? They will stare through your soul, wide eyed, defenceless. What kind of mercy is that?” He took a breath, “Putting them out of their misery? That’s a load of shit. I will NOT follow corrupt orders. I will not all allow that to happen under MY command.”

Victor’s voice dropped lower, venom dripping in his every word, “If you try this again, I’m going public. If you try to dispose of me, I’m going public. You can’t handle another scandal. It would be the end of you.”

“If you are going to assign me missions, they will ONLY be demon related from now on. Don’t try to contact me for at least a week unless you want me to rip at least one of your heads off.”Victor turned and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him, cracking it in two on impact. He held back his grief just long enough so that the administrators never saw the salty tears begin to streak down his face.

He was at his limit. That day made him realize that he was teetering on the precipice. While on the surface, Victor portrayed the cool, collected, powerful Knight that served as the poster boy for the whole agency, it was a front that took a lot of energy to maintain. He felt trapped in his position, in this farce of a façade, and in his own body. He wanted to end it all and quit, but then he would lose his only purpose in life.

Which would destroy him more? He wondered.

“I need some air,” He gasped out.

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Yuuri was always on watch, looking for anything amiss. He didn’t want to blink and miss the moment that could potentially save or ruin everyone’s life. So, when he saw two children attempting something dangerous, that definitely drew his attention.

“Hey Nate, wanna make the cloud thing again? I wanna make clouds and show my new friends” A young girl tugged on her little brother’s arm.

Little Nate excitedly jumped up, “Yes! Clouds! Can we make a lizard this time? I demand a lizard!”

The older sister rolled her eyes,“Come on, let’s just harmonize already. Grab my hands!” She held her hands for her brother to take.

“Harmonize? Sasha, what is that?” Nate pouted, a little confused.

Sasha cleared her throat and puffed herself up with importance, “I learned the word for it at Stellata, but it’s what other people call our cloud thing. I use my water ability and you use your freezing ability and we combine them to make clouds.”

Nate seemed to buy her explanation, nodding along dumbly, and grabbed her hands. Yuuri had been watching up until this point and began to edge closer to the pair. He hadn’t yet decided if he would need to intervene in on their fun on not. If anything went wrong, things could get messy. They were a little to young to be harmonizing with a remotely comfortable level of success.

Small clouds began to form between the two siblings clasped hands. When Yuuri was startled by Sasha’s shriek.

“Gyahh, you stepped on my foot! Nate what are you doing!” She yelled at him with impertinence.

“I didn’t step on your foot!” He yelled back. “Don’t lie! You meanie!”

And, things began to deteriorate just as Yuuri suspected would happen. He chuckled a little at the pair’s ridiculousness. Yuuri began setting up time wards around the pair to discretely contain the aftermath of an imperfect harmonization.

As the children were yelling larger and larger clouds began to form. They were dark, almost black, not at all natural looking, and very ominous. Water began to leak and pool on the ground, and frost traveled up the boy’s hands. As if the black, infected clouds could no longer contain their energy, they exploded with a small thunder-like “BOOM!” that turned heads in the vicinity of the explosion.

Water rained down in a small radius, drenching the children, now shrieking in surprise. When they disentangled their hands, they saw that for such a large explosion, there was surprisingly very little mess left behind.

“Oh, good there isn’t a lot to clean up.” Sasha sighed as her new-found friends giggled at her failure.

Yuuri smiled. No one seemed to notice. He created a field of slowed time that the rain would deflect off of and fall to the ground. He then sped up time on the floor, allowing a reasonable amount of water to quickly evaporate. Little mess, little impact, and no one noticed his interference. All in a day’s work.

As Yuuri watched the girl, Sasha, clean up what water was left behind, he couldn’t help but think about his own harmonization attempts. He had never done something quite so innovative himself, but when he partnered up with Gwendall to boost his healing abilities to heal patients in hospitals he occasionally visited, it helped him conserve his own strength.

He sighed.

It was just one more reason he was starting to regret taking this party on as a solo mission. He was tired and would kill to borrow another person’s strength right about now.

The girl had just finished cleaning. Their mother quickly dove onto the scene to give both of them a good scolding. Her brother was beginning to cry. Truthfully, Yuuri had never experienced a “bad” harmonization. It was impossible for an S class user to experience that. But, none of his partners were five years-old either. That helped.

Most people weren’t so lucky. Like these two, there was a lot of trial and error involved. Bad things can happen, explosions even, if your partner’s concentration is broken.The process can fail entirely if Abilities are incompatible. Mishaps and explosions happen more often than not because of this.

“Po…”Yuuri was broken out of his distraction. His ears perked up in recognition of his companion’s call.

Yuuri’s pant leg was being tugged on now. He looked down to see Pochayuu with droopy eyes looking at him. Pochayuu was too tired to fly, so he looked up towards Yuuri with extended paws, silently asking to be picked up. “Po…”

“Ah, Pocha.” Yuuri picked up Pochayuu and nuzzled his friend affectionately. “It’s okay, just wait a little bit longer. I know you are sleepy. We’ll be going home as soon as Yuu-chan finishes his work.”

Comfortably surrounded by Yuuri’s warmth, Pochayuu’s eyelids became heavy. He curled up by Yuuri’s shoulder and tried to sleep, but the hall was too loud. He tossed and turned and openly admitted his displeasure with a small moan in annoyance.

A small bubble of laughter escaped Yuuri’s lips. For a second, Yuuri forgot just how worn down he was staring at his precious, adorable companion.

Maxing the executive decision that the world wouldn’t end in the next ten minutes, Yuuri escaped the party to find a quiet spot on the balcony so he could replenish his energy and Pochayuu could sleep.

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Despite the Holy Knights’ tarnished reputation, at least at this party, people’s admiration of Victor never faded in the slightest. Victor was amazed just how hard it was to escape the throngs of people for some alone time. He was being pushed and pulled every which way, all the guests thirsting for his attention.

Everyone here seemed to love Victor Nikiforov, the greatest Holy Knight, the only Knight the government - he politely declined another offer to dance - trusted, the champion of the people. He had to admit that he was a little afraid to announce his retirement. It seemed like the world forbade him from stepping down from his position. He was the only one who could keep the organization from shattering into pieces.

Nobody wanted Victor to retire – he could hear a man calling him over to his table. He pretended not to hear and walked faster – more than Victor himself. Nobody knew his pain and suffering. He had no one to confide in over these dark secrets he harboured.

Yakov had spotted him and was marching over. He really couldn’t catch a break. Finding out the profession he admired so much as a child was not as glamorous as it seemed felt like betrayal. He was done pushing himself so hard for a job he was no longer passionate about. He couldn’t align himself with the Knight’s values.

“Where are you sulking off to, Victor. You have a job to do!” No one else might have noticed it, but Victor’s years of experience working with the older man gave him the power to distinguish between Yakov’s yells. This was his concerned tone.

“To get air. I’m about to vomit.” He stalked off without another word.

He felt empty most of the time now. He felt helpless about his life, like he no longer had control over his dreams. His limbs felt heavy, every miniscule task felt like a chore. Nothing excited him anymore about his life anymore, it was replaced with a lingering sense of disgust and dread. And, the worst of all, his hair! His hair was thinning right on top. He could feel it.

He was finally close to the doors to the back yard. The fresh breeze was already beginning to give him reprieve from the overwhelming scents of perfume and musk.

He took in a deep breath, his headache already beginning to subside just a little when he caught a hold of a scent, the most delectable, tantalizingly sweet scent he had ever come across. He wanted to eat whatever it was.

Using his well-trained nose, like a hound, he followed the warm, sweet familiar scent. And then, it hit him! Among all people Victor had been in contact with, there was one person who had the unforgettable scent. It was him! Why was he here?

The scent was too sweet, too tempting. Every time he caught a whiff, Victor had to restrain himself from going into a lustful frenzy.  It was like a drug, invoking every of Victor’s positive emotions – pleasure, happiness, comfort – he couldn’t get enough.

He walked, allowing his nose to guide him closer, letting his brain take the back seat. He all but forgot about wanting to escape for some air. Then, he stopped. The smell was right in front of him, on the balcony.

He was humming a lullaby, softly cuddling a little ball of fluff in his arms – Pochayuu – he recognized. For a split-second Victor envisioned him crooning over their child. Gods, he really had it bad for this man. His voice enraptured Victor’s heart, laying all of the turmoil in his head to rest. He had a moment of pure clarity, like the fog had been lifted and his spirt was one again fulfilled.

The moonlight gently washed over the man, accentuating his stunning figure in the dark blue suit, and illuminating his neatly combed raven hair. He glowed softly, elegantly like a prince.

Yuuri was the light that shone through Victor’s darkness. When he felt, trapped and buried, Yuuri was the one to take his hand and lift him up. He warmed Victor’s heart, like delicate rays of sunlight filtering through the cracks in his cold prison to give him hope for the future. He gave him a reason to get up in the mornings. He filled Victor with the energy he had lost to years of abuse in his job. He granted Victor a new chance at life.

It all started with a small, heartfelt confession, but Victor cherished that moment with his whole heart because it was the most important memory in the world.

Victor had heard that when you look at your soul mate you just know. He yearned only to be by his side, every thought of him was intoxicating and bursting with uncontainable happiness. That was the man he was going to marry.

Victor had been staring, unable to focus on anything except for drinking up every detail of his beloved Yuuri. Then, Yuuri turned around and time froze.

Yuuri’s eyes met his own, responding mutually to his affections. This man was an angel. Was he dead? He was going to be spirited off to heaven by that man’s hand.

No, Victor cleared his head. This was reality. He was in love with Katsuki Yuuri, the cherished King of Cervantes.

Chapter Text

Chapter Text

Pochayuu drifted off quickly while wrapped up in Yuuri’s warm arms. His fluffy tummy rose and fell in a contented cadence. Every so often he would make a small snoring sound or suck on his paw like an infant as he slept.

Yuuri stopped humming once he saw his furry companion’s breathing even out – asleep. He held the little Demon close to his neck and gently stroked his ears and exposed tummy. He stayed outside for as long as he could to let the little guy sleep, but he knew he had a job to do and couldn’t stay away for much longer. Yuuri would have to make it up to Pochayuu later. Before he turned to go inside, Yuuri kissed Pochayuu on the forehead. The little demon twitched lightly in his sleep, responding to the featherlight brush of Yuuri’s lips.

Yuuri was startled when, out of the corner of his eye, he realized a man was standing behind him in the doorway, watching.  He slowly turned around –

Victor?

He was handsome standing there wearing a striking three-piece charcoal grey suit. His features were bathed in moonlight – he looked ethereal. It was the first time Yuuri saw him dressed in anything other than some variation of his uniform. His bangs, which typically hid is beautiful face, were pulled off to the side. Shamelessly, Yuuri couldn’t tear his eyes away from the man. He was swooning where he stood, but who wouldn’t with such powerful and handsome features as those? Yuuri’s heart beat faster in nervous, excited anticipation.

“Victor…?” Yuuri’s breathy voice was a whisper just above the dull drum of the ambient noise. His lips and hands were trembling.

Victor closed the distance between them. Nothing would be able to wipe that gentle, intimate smile off his face. It swept Yuuri off his feet.

“Your Majesty…”

The silver knight took his King’s free hand and kissed it in greeting, lingering just a little bit longer than was polite and appropriate. Victor wanted to savor every second he had.  If Victor could have gotten away with it, he would have preferred to allow his lips to linger there forever – unless of course Yuuri would rather want to put them to use somewhere else.

“Victor?” Yuuri was instantly flustered by the sensual gesture, “What are you doing here? Were you also invited?” Yuuri wasn’t ready to face his crush after everything that’s happened between them, all the half-finished conversations and sexual tension begging for address.

Victor shook his head. “In a way… I’m currently on a mission.”

“I’m on a mission too...” Yuuri’s thought trailed off and he paused – he was suspect. “Did Gwendall send you?”

 Victor mumbled as the sudden revelation hit him, “That explains a lot…”

Sometimes Gwendall’s anticipatory nature was irritating. But today, for once, Yuuri was glad that Gwendall was always right – and eerily insightful, too, to send Victor of all people to his aid. Yuuri was pretty sure that was very intentional, every detail planned by that man was not without thought. But the important thing was, Gwendall, once again, read him like a book and knew that he pridefully and regretfully charged off to complete a challenging mission alone. Yuuri made a mental note to give that man a bonus when he got back to the castle.

“Your Majesty, I…” Victor began to speak, still prostrated in front of the young king. 

Yuuri frantically shook his head, beet red, “No, Victor! Just call me by my given name…”

“I can’t do that!” Victor stood up and shot back almost immediately, resolutely. “I mean,” He softened his words, “you’re a king. I can’t address you so lightly like that –“

A very annoyed Yuuri cleared his throat, silencing the knight. Victor looked up expectantly.

“Captain Victor Nikiforov of the Holy Knights,” Yuuri started, swelling to gather the appropriate aura of a true monarch, “by my command, as King of Cervantes, as your King, you have left me no choice. You are ordered to refer to your King as ‘Yuuri’ instead of ‘Your Majesty’. His majesty’s judgement is absolute, and thus you are condemned to abide by this selfish command.”

Victor, startled by the order, leapt into action, “Y-yes, Your Majesty! I mean Yuuri!” It was a conditioned reflex, no less could be expected of one of the country’s finest knights. But, gods Yuuri was so cute, looking away with a beet red blush on his face after being so delightfully selfish.

“But..” Victor started, “What does that mean for you? What do you want me to be to you?” Victor took Yuuri’s confused look and pinched eyebrows as an invitation to continue, “A friend? An advisor? A lover?”

Yuuri bit his lip taking a moment before he responded, “I want you to stay who you are, Victor.”

“Okay then…Yuuri.” Victor smiled warmly. It wasn’t the kind of warm smile that you would have when your feelings are returned by a lover, or the kind where you get to experience something magical and precious. It was the rarest kind – the kind of smile that you would only experience when, whether you knew it or not, somehow you heard exactly what you needed to hear.

Even though he had commanded it just moments ago, Yuuri still wasn’t prepared to hear Victor say his name so plainly. His heart did a quadruple flip and he flinched in embarrassment. It was such an impulsive desire – why did he want Victor to say his name so badly?

Yuuri had always looked up to him, and even today he was still amazed and starstruck by his fame. But, they both idolized each other. A part of him wanted to have Victor meet him where he was and maybe he, too, could start to do the same.

 Victor broke the heated silence between them, “Who would’ve thought you’d appear when I needed you the most?” Yuuri made the mistake of looking back at him. It reignited his blush.

Under his breath he whispered, “I could say the same,” to himself. But, then, Yuuri spoke up and stammered out, “I-It is fate, I guess...?”

“So this is fate, huh…? Victor leaned against the railing and looked up at the stars. To get to see you again, Yuuri…” He turned towards Yuuri. Their bodies were pressed compromisingly close together at this point.

He brought Yuuri’s hand to his lips one more time and let them linger there. He looked up at Yuuri through his silver lashes and they locked eyes. Yuuri nervously stared back doe-eyed and nervous, but unflinching.

The look, the kiss – it was smoldering. Victor might have been kissing Yuuri’s hand but they both were thinking about all the places where those lips could be instead. Those shameless thoughts were driving Yuuri wild with embarrassment and Victor wild with desire. Those intentions were not lost to his young king.  

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“Let’s see… Georgi, Lillia, Mila, Vitya… Hey!”

“Where the fuck is Vitya!?” Vakov boomed. His team was supposed to be gathering for a strategy meeting.

After a few brief moments of scanning the crowd, Mila spotted him first. “He’s over there!”

“What?! Where?! Vitya!” Yakov’s temper was running short. He did not have time to baby-sit an irresponsible, carefree man-child.

“There,” Mila pointed outside. All directed their gazes in unison. They saw flirting with and kissing some random – albeit cute – boy.

If Yakov was angry before, now he was ready to go nuclear. “What the fuck does he think is he doing!?”

“He’s flirting with a cutie over there! Ob-vi-ous-ly!” Mila edged forward, hoping to get a better view of their Casanova.

“Fucking hell!” Yakov cussed. He bellowed more loudly. He was going to make sure Vitya could hear him all the way from Mars if it was the last thing he did. “Vitya! You son of a bitch! Get back here this instant!”

Victor heard Yakov – Yakov knew that Victor heard him – but then again Victor heard everything. That was one of the blessings – or curses of which now would be such an instance – of his ability. But Yakov could wait. Yuuri, his precious moments with Yuuri were more important.

Lilia scoffed, “He’s ignoring you. I don’t blame him.”

 “Grrr!!!” Yakov balled his fists together as uncontrollable rage overtook his senses. More severe measures had to be taken. He stormed over to the DJ’s table, snatched up the microphone, and screamed into it at the top of his lungs.

“VITYA!!!!!!!!!!”

The entire hall fell silent. Guests threw disdainful looks over to the group of knights. Yakov ignored the looks while the rest of his team wished they could pretend that they didn’t know him. At least he managed to get ahold of Victor’s, now rather annoyed, attention.

A small cry rang out right before the party resumed its rightful course.

“There there,” Yuuri cooed, consoling the crying Pochayuu in his arms.

Mila had always had a soft spot for small cute things. She used that to justify approaching the flirty pair. “Aww, baby! Don’t cry…” she babbled on trying to cheer Pochayuu up.

“Look what have you done,” Lillia threw a piercing gaze towards Yakov.

“I’m sorry for scaring your bab- demon,” Lillia apologized on Yakov’s behalf. “He’s always like this unfortunately. But, if he does it again…” she threw some painfully sharp side-eye his way. Yakov gulped.

“Oh no, he’ll be fine.” Yuuri waved his hand. “Lookie there, Pocha! Ice cream! Do you want some ice cream? They’re adding more with lots of flavors and toppings!”

Pochayuu stopped crying and looked up. Indeed, the desert table was being refreshed. He looked at Yuuri with sparkling, hopeful eyes, “Aish kweam!”

With a chuckle, Yuuri caved to his small companion’s desires and went to get some ice cream. Strutting right by the group of knights now gathered around Victor, he walked off with eyes only for his Pochayuu.

 “Hey Victor,” Georgi nudged his arm discreetly. “So you’re into single fathers now? Is that an old age thing or what?”

“A father that young? Kids these days…” Yakov commented offhandedly.

Victor shook his head in disagreement. “He’s not married. And that is a Demon – weren’t you paying any attention to Lilia? It’s even the same species as my Pomvik.”

“Still a baby,” Lillia cooed. “It would take hundreds of years for it to grow into a substantial adult form.”

“Ohh, we didn’t say anything about being married!” Mila grinned as wide as a Cheshire cat.

“Mila…” Victor’s voice had an edge of danger.

In her signature fashion she countered quickly, “He must be pretty well off. Adopting a demon is expensive. I’ve always wanted one, so I know.”

She paused. Her grin grew just a little brighter, “Sinfully handsome, sexy dad vibes, and rich?” Mila teased, “You’ve picked a winner!”

All Victor could do was sigh in return. He really had it bad. But, he didn’t want to unbox that statement though. Not right now. Not with Mila.

Luckily new stimuli drew Mila’s attention away. Yuuri now joined Theresa, Sharon and Janette in conversation. He held a bowl of ice cream with every single topping they offered in his hands and Pocha sat on his shoulder liking the ice cream off his mouth and paws.

Then, a tough looking, burly man with sleeves of Tattoos came marching up next to Theresa.

“Oh! Yuuri! This is Theo, my brother.” Theresa took the liberty to make introductions, “Theo, this is Yuuri. My, uh, friend in college.”

“Hi Theo,” Yuuri greeted him with a small wave and a smile. But, Theo didn’t smile back – he squinted. Yuuri started to shift nervously in place.

“…You got a nice body structure.” Theo finally spoke, still intently observing Yuuri.

“Uh…” Yuuri wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Thanks, I guess…?”

Theo went to grab Yuuri’s biceps. “Such muscles. You must work out a lot.”

“Y-Yeah…  I work out every day…”

Then, Theo’s sudden advance… lower… made him shriek in embarrassment.

Theo’s hand deftly migrated from Yuuri’s biceps, snaked around to Yuuri’s backside – and that’s when he felt a hand squeeze his butt.

“Ah…” Yuuri yelped and flushed deeply. Many well-known eyes peered at the unfolding scene with eyes as large as saucers.

“This is a good shape too.” Theo finished his report before finally removing his hand.

Georgie leaned over and whispered to Mila in disbelief, “He touched the forbidden fruit.”

Mila giggled. “The peach.”

The glass in Victor’s hand shattered as his eyes flashed turquoise. He wasn’t going to lie – he envisioned that glass to be Theo’s head instead. When the other knights saw his eyes, that murderous intent, that’s when the rest of his team casually took a step away.

He opened his fist to find powdered glass sticking to his palms and lining the wrinkles of his hand. Not even whole shards remained. He wanted to do so much more. Hewas willing and ready to commit murder to preserve the sanctity of Yuuri’s glorious ass – even though he was usually against such extreme measures. At the very least, he wanted to punch Theo in the face and teach him to never touch his Yuuri again.

But, then again, that was the other sore point of his. Yuuri wasn’t his Yuuri. Not just yet.

He sighed again. The lengths he would go to for love.

Theresa, tomato red, frantically pushed Theo as far away from Yuuri as possible. “Go away, Theo! Sheesh! You’re being weird with my friends.”

Theo finally smiled, he looked much less threatening. “You know, you should join the military. Your body is in far better shape than any trainee I’ve seen at the camp where I work.”

“Haha, no thanks.” Yuuri shyly rejected the offer. “But when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a Holy Knight.”

Theo shot the lithe man an inquisitive look. “That would be good too. Are you one now?”

Yuuri shook his head. “Ah, no. We don’t always get what we think we want,” Yuuri smiled fondly, “But everything has a way of working itself out.”

The ones who knew the truth were intrigued by his cryptic answer. Was this how he talked around his profession to hide his identity? Those who knew him rarely saw his inconspicuous persona in action.

“I don’t know what you do for a living, but,” Theo voiced his response, “I hope giving up on your dream was worth it.”

“It most definitely was.” Yuuri smiled. A collective sigh of relief was felt within the inner circle. Yuuri’s response, his conviction was touching.  It was almost hard to believe, though. Those who knew Yuuri knew how miserable his job was at times.

The spotlight finally shifted away from Theo and Yuuri’s… meeting, giving the young king a few seconds to himself to re-center his focus for the mission. Even though he continued to engage in casual conversation, he never let his guard down.

He felt a lot of weight riding on his shoulders tonight – all the lives filling the room were in his hands, under his protection. He could not - would not - fail them, even if it meant that he spent a longer, more dangerous amount of time in a coma. Thankfully, Theresa was lingering close by and he could count on Victor and the knights to help too – a few less things to worry about at the moment.

Since this was a kidnapping, she was obviously the attackers’ main priority. They wouldn’t bomb the mansion without getting her first at the very least. Yuuri thought to himself grimly.

A loud, sudden crash broke the silence.

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 “GET ON THE GROUND!” a one of the masked intruders roared. He had broken through a window and was now standing on a balcony above the crowds pointing his rifle down menacingly on the guests.

Falcon gestured with his chin to the second attacker, a woman, “Make sure everybody stays in line, Viper.”

The scantily dressed woman began to act. Viper clicked her tongue twice. Men wearing suits and masks donning large guns at their hips seemed to have practically emerged from the shadows, flooding the hall and surrounding the guests. As the henchmen multiplied, the panic level in the room was swelling. Yuuri and the knights felt the aura of fear multiplying in the civilians behind them, but they stayed calm. A few foot soldiers were well within their abilities to handle. But as more men piled into the room, even their confidence began to waver. It nearly defied physics how many men came swarming around them.

They were trapped and would have to fight their way out.

“Hey! How did you get in here?!” Senator Hewlett leapt up and brazenly asked. The question, while posing it was a bad idea, sparked Yuuri’s interest. Yuuri hadn’t seen either of the instigators amongst the guests while making his rounds earlier.

“Security! Security!” Hewlett called out. The only response he got was a disdainful laugh from the one called Falcon.

“What happened to my security?”

“What do you think happened to your security?” Falcon mocked. “They’ve been...” Falcon paused, clearly enjoying toying with the powerful man’s spirit, “taken care of.”

He pointed his gun to the mortified senator, now the only one left standing among the normal civilians. He was now an easy target, and completely defenseless to attack.

“You are too high and mighty for my taste. Allow me to put you in your place.” Falcon said with contempt dripping from his words.

“No! Daddy!!!” Theresa released a bloodcurdling, desperate cry. “Not my Daddy!!!”

Yuuri wrenched Theresa’s shoulder, holding her back just as she started to bolt off. “Theresa, no!” They were clearly using him to bait her.

“So, you must be the cute daughter I’m looking for,” He turned to the sound of the wail, “Don’t distract me, hun… or I might miss.” He winked before refocusing his attention on his prey. With a haughty smile tugging at the corners of his lips, Falcon swiftly pulled the trigger.

Senator Hewlett shut his eyes and gritted his teeth. The ringing of a gunshot echoed in the enclosed area was quickly followed by the pervasive screams of guests. And then, it was silent, like the whole room was shocked to silence.

Hewlett didn’t feel any pain. Did he miss?

He opened his eyes – a silver-haired man stood in front of him. The man had his hand over his chest, just a little bit south of where his heart would be. If that bullet had found its mark, on the shorter senator, it would have found it’s mark.

The senator trembled, this man was probably going to die because of him.

His savior, pulled his hand away in a clenched fist, holding it out in front of him. He released his fingers, and in the silent room, everyone heard the distinct sound of a small metal bullet hitting the tile floor and bouncing around.

Falcon looked visibly surprised. Although he tried to hide it, his trembling hands gave it away.

This man moved fast enough to intercept a bullet. That very bullet bounced off him like a hacky sack

He wasn’t human.

Victor glared at Falcon – a warning and a challenge.

“Freeze!” Yakov shouted, “We are the Holy Knights! Put your weapons down!” He flashed his badge.

“The… Holy Knights…?” Viper was now paralyzed in fear. She glanced towards Falcon, who was equally anxious. This wasn’t in the briefing they had received about the party’s security detail.

Falcon steeled his resolve and pointed towards the guests. “Attack!!!”

They were far larger in number and had a lot more people to ensure the safety of. Their plan could still work.

Each of the knights drew their respective weapons, and fell into a defensive formation prioritizing the protection of the guests against the onslaught from the minion army.

Victor surveyed his surroundings. None of the guests had been harmed yet. Mila, the rising start of the Holy Knights, was doing a stellar job fending off the wave of attackers with her baton.

She was incredibly agile and much stronger than she looked.Victor almost laughed as he saw her picking up and throwing one of the attackers back into the mob. But the most impressive thing about her was that she didn’t really rely on her ability in combat like the rest of the knights did. Nearly everything she did was all her own skill that she developed through training and practice. Her ability, was just barely B class –perfect balance. While it had come in handy for her a time or two, it nowhere near explained her superhuman fighting prowess.

Lilia barked at Georgi, “Georgi, deal with the crowd!”

“On it!”

Lilia stood like an elegant stone column amidst the fighting, calmly shifting around the room a few steps at a time. No one would ever touch her, dodging every attack, stray bullet, and tumble effortlessly. She was the perfect operational lead for the evening, and one of the best strategists in the organization. Her ability was rare and powerful, and probably most like a lesser version of Yuuri’s “Future Vision”. She was able to “see” the top most likely outcomes of any event small or large and give a confidence level for that outcome. Lilia, once, had tried to explain to Victor how her ability actually worked, but it went over his head. She generally stuck to telling people that she could “predict the future” to spare herself the trouble.

Georgi, like a wizard, cast a spell over all the party guests blanketing them in a calm, relaxed stupor thanks to his ability – emotional influence. If Victor ever called him a wizard to his face, though, he would never hear the end of it.

Everyone was accounted for except for the man Victor had sworn to protect with his life.

Where was Yuuri?

He frantically scanned the room but was interrupted by a new order from the assault leader, “Grrr! someone go get the girl! Now!”

Many of the henchman turned their eyes towards Theresa, cowering behind Yuuri. Then, like vultures they descended to devour their prey.

Victor’s heart lurched – Yuuri. He wanted to go to his side, but he couldn’t let his team down by breaking formation.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Yuuri was fending off the attacks as well as any holy knight. Yuuri’s combat prowess was on full display. He easily toppled men larger than him and kept the vultures at bay.

Theresa suddenly screamed at the sight of a knife descending quickly towards Yuuri from outside his field of vision. Yuuri turned and noticed the knife in time.

“Divert your attention away from the weapon, Your Majesty.” Gwendall’s words during his training went into his mind. “Once you gain control of the hand wielding it, the weapon will be useless.”

Determined, Yuuri dodged – the knife sailed past him, throwing his attacker off balance. He quickly grabbed the attacker’s arm, and, using the convenient forward momentum, pulled the man over his shoulder and threw the attacker to the floor. The knife went sliding across the room.

Yuuri looked confused though, rather than triumphant.

“Hey, not bad.” Theo clapped Yuuri’s back, finally swimming through the maelstrom to reach his sister’s side. “Make sure not to let them scar your pretty face.”

Yuuri smirked, as he sent another flying from a kick. “Thanks.”

Then, his expression went serious again, “They are too light.”

“Well, after throwing that guy, no one doubts how strong you are,” Theo laughed, finding the silver lining in the chaos.

“No, they are too light!” Yuuri said again, emphasizing the unusualness of it.

Something felt off the whole time they fought. The bodies were too light, the men were reckless, abandoning concern for their own lives. And, no one screamed in pain.

“Argh, just how many of them are there?” Mila complained. “I’m getting tired! I can’t keep this up forever!”

That was the final thing that just felt… off. There were too many of them.

Georgi stepped up. It was his time to shine. “Leave it to me!” He drew attention to himself just as his eyes began to change color – from dark blue to a light pink color. Mila rolled her eyes at his grab for attention.

Georgi cast his next spell, a spell to strike crippling fear into the hearts of his foes. He was ready to watch a legion of grown men drop to their knees and cower in terror in front of him.He would be the hero that finished them all off at once. He couldn’t wait!

“Wha…” Georgi took a step backwards. “It didn’t work?” It was both a question and fact. He was struggling to comprehend where he went wrong. No one had resisted his manipulation before.

“Georgi, there’s no time for you to fret, you drama queen!” Yakov screamed, seeing Georgi collapsing on the floor face down with gloomy aura above him. “Did you use your Ability on yourself accidentally?”

The tide was beginning to turn in favor of Falcon and Viper. This army was anything but ordinary. Victor felt it was time to use his trump card. He snapped the pendant off from around his neck with a quick jerk and laid the decorative ruby pendant in the center of his palm.

After a few momentsof Victor muttering under his breath the ruby began to shine. He was mouthing chants.

Come and shine in the dark sky,”

“Victor…” Yuuri saw the glint from the stone from afar. “Is that your Empatheia?”

 “…under your feet where they always lie.”

The young King was in awe. He was going to see his idol use his rare, soul bound magical weapon in person. What a dream come true!

“I summon thee – Moonslayer!

At the sound of its name, the ruby flashed with blinding white light as it became larger and took form of a massive gun-scythe. The crescent blade was gold, and spiraling, decorative gold inlay dripped down the sturdy maroon handle. A trigger mechanism was situated near Victor’s grip on the weapon, and large gun barrel could be seen protruding just above the blade.

“Wow…” Yuuri mouthed in admiration. It was rare to be an Empatheia wielder, and even rarer to watch one fight.

Moonslayer was a weapon that only a handful of people in the world would have a compatible enough ability to be able to wield successfully. Generally, Empatheia were rare magical items, and the majority of them went unused for generations. Each weapon was uniquely compatible with very specific, high level abilities. Victor alone had demonstrated the level of super strength required to wield it due to how tremendously heavy it was; Victor’s endurance enabled him to resist the massive kickback of the cannon-like gun at the tip of the weapon.

Victor swung Moonslayer towards the men; it was large enough to swipe a dozen of them in half in a single hit. Yuuri watched as Victor cut down an army like slicing through butter. It was gruesome, but the display of power was truly awesome and unworldly. It was the power of demons, so the legends say.

Something was wrong – this was the damning evidence. Victor cut multiple people in half and not a drop of blood was spilled. It had to be that none of these men were human. Demons? Very unlikely.

Janette realized it too. She whispered, “Your Majesty, I think it’s the one upstairs.” She pointed to falcon.

Yuuri blinked, and then he understood. They were thralls. He was the one controlling them. If Yuuri took him out, then the rest would vanish.

Not wanting to waste precious seconds on a wrong bet, Yuuri stopped time and ran to the spot on the balcony where Falcon stood. His eyes were orange – it had to be him. He couldn’t simply kill him, though. If he did, he would lose much of his chance at learning the location of the bomb. He searched the man frantically to find another key to stopping the small army.

His left hand. It was bent behind his back and hundreds of unconnected threads appeared to be dangling taught against his skin. He was an elaborate puppet master. Yuuri’s final act in frozen time was to sever all the threads. When he resumed time, the humans began to move, but the thralls remained still, inanimate.

The knights gaped at the sudden mass “deactivation” of the puppets, confused. Georgi poked one for good measure. Were they all safe now?

“F-F-Falcon…” Viper stuttered while falling to her knees. They had been found out more quickly than they had anticipated.

Falcon, however, couldn’t acknowledge Viper.

He was pushed face first against the nearest wall with his hands bent dangerously far up his back. With one hand, Yuuri kept him immobile. With the other, Yuuri held a small handgun to his temple.

“Where’s the bomb…?” Yuuri whispered to Falcon, his voice was sharp.

“B-B-Bomb??” Falcon sounded surprised. “I don’t know anything about a bomb!”

Yuuri applied pressure, bending his arms further until he heard the man wince in pain. Yuuri furiously asked him again, louder this time, “Let’s try again. I said… Where’s the bomb?!”

“P-Please! I don’t know! We never even planned on using a bomb!” Falcon pled.

“You lie! I already know it exists! WHERE – IS – IT!” Yuuri yelled this time. Theresa and Sharon were unsettled. They had never seen their beloved king this enraged before. He could be terrifying.

“Ahhh! Please! I don’t know… I swear…!” He begged.

Falcon may not have been lying, but Yuuri thought he was. He was fed up with this man wasting his time groveling in front of him, so Yuuri rashly decided that he had enough energy to stop time once more and take matters into his own hands. With everyone now surreally frozen once again, Yuuri rushed down the stairs and began his futile, frantic search for the bomb.

He was so anxious and frantic about the bomb that he didn’t stop to think through his actions. He felt like he didn’t have a choice. All he knew was that somewhere a bomb was ticking away and a lot of people would die if he didn’t act fast enough.

“Ah, come on…!”

The mansion may have been smaller than his castle, but that didn’t mean much. The sprawling grounds still held countless rooms, nooks, and hiding spaces. A piece of his subconscious knew that he wouldn’t be able to check it all in time, before his body gave out. But, he clung to the sliver of hope that he might stumble upon it before that happened. It was his only hope. He had to press forward.

Maybe it was in the attic, or in the basement? Or possibly, outside? Yuuri ran combed the halls first, going through every room and door he came across. But in every room there were more rooms and more doors. The magnitude of his search was quickly spiraling out of control. He could sense the edges of his vision going blurry; he felt the pounding headache, and the protest in his limbs begging him to stop.

Yuuri’s legs grew weak and everything went dark. No matter how much his willpower protested, the floor grew closer.

“Yuuri!”

Yuuri was disoriented. He felt the newly blossoming bruise on his back and hips from his fall, but it paled in comparison to his headache. Everything felt warm and soft, maybe he was going to sleep again. That would be nice.  But, a distant voice plunged into the depths of his fuzzy consciousness and fished for a response. Something, someone was demanding for him to forsake sweet rest.

“Yuuri! Get a hold of yourself! Yuuri!”

Yuuri’s eyelids were heavy as he forced them open. His cloudy vision slowly cleared, and the scene of Theresa, Janette, and Sharon huddled around him came into focus. Yuuri looked up and saw Victor. He was lying weakly in his arms.

“Yuuri… Oh, thank God…” Victor brushed Yuuri’s hair from his face. “I was so worried!”

“What happened…?” Yuuri weakly asked, regaining his energy bit by bit.

Janette gently collected Yuuri’s hand and held it reassuringly, “Your Majesty, you disappeared before our eyes. Victor found you collapsed in the hallway.”

“Po…” Pochayuu nuzzled him, equally worried.

“Ughhhh,” Yuuri groaned as he tried to get to his feet, “the bomb…” Yuuri croaked out, “I need to get to the bomb...”

The world went spinning just as Yuuri started to put weight onto his feet. He wobbled and fell crashing back into Victor’s arms. Sharon began to tear up, “No, Your Majesty!”

Yuuri winced at being called by his title. Everyone in this small circle may have known, but it was still unsettling.

“I’ve seen you sick far too often. Please,” her plea became an emotional whisper, “you push yourself too far. I couldn’t bear to stand by and watch you destroy yourself.”

Blood drained from Yuuri’s face. He was drenched in sweat, and his breathing was weak. Nobody was hurt from the attack, but Yuuri was left to be the one in the most pitiable condition. One could easily dismiss his identity as the King from his current fragile appearance. But who cares, for now it’s still too early for him to faint. His job was not done yet.

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri looked up at Sharon begging for her to understand. She wasn’t going to like his answer.

“I can’t give up just yet. I have to end this.” he gritted his teeth, professing his stubbornness.

“You’re so selfish, Yuuri.” Victor said weakly.

Yuuri looked up at Victor, shocked at the choice words he had to give. His eyes were watery. Victor was trying not to cry.

“I suppose I am,” he tilted his head back and laughed weakly, drunk from exhaustion. With that fleeting laugh, Yuuri protests the absurdity of it all, and, if anything else, tries to diffuse the tension surrounding his stubborn choices.

 “Victor?” Yuuri was caught off guard when he felt his idol’s large hand slip into his, their fingers naturally seeking to intertwine.

“Please don’t shoulder this all by yourself,” Victor’s eyes were filled with worry.

“Let me help you.” Victor, always one for the dramatics, chose that time to invoke his ability and allow his eyes to shift from that beautiful icy blue to a rich turquoise.

“Let’s do this together.” Victor invited Yuuri to take his other hand.

Two clasped hands, two powerful abilities activating, intertwining into one – Harmonization.

In their Harmonized states, they worked together to combine Yuuri’s Time Control and Future Vision, with Victor’s enhanced senses. Victor flooded Yuuri with new energy, in part to give the bond strength, but also to return some color to his King’s face. Yuuri shared his vision of the bombing with Victor who reanalyzed it. Victor layered his super senses on top of the vision to get a lead on its “scent”. Victor had it. He picked up Yuuri and followed the trail, moving swiftly through frozen time.

Victor looked down at Yuuri. It was just the two of them alive and moving in a frozen world. He could feel the massive amounts of energy being sapped from him brutalizing his body. How did Yuuri cope with this for so long?

“So, this is what it’s like?” He half asked, half observed.

“Oh yeah, I guess. I don’t think much about it anymore.” Yuuri dismissed.

“It’s kind of lonely.” He commented.

The pair were in the kitchen now.Victor made a beeline for a high cabinet and ripped it open. Target acquired.

“Let’s get Lilia, quick.” Victor said as he raced back to the ballroom.

“It’s in the kitchen!” Victor exclaimed, “The bomb! It’s in the kitchen! Someone get Lilia!”

As soon she heard him, Victor had never seen Lilia move so quickly before. She was always the picture of unhurried grace.

As Lilia flew past in dramatic exit, Theo emerged, dragging a short, balding man behind him. He was a third attacker. The immobilized man was thrown next to Falcon and Viper, who was greeted with dagger like glares.  They clearly knew each other.

“Fuck you Scorpion! What the hell are you doing here!”

“Ngh!” Scorpion groaned, “Boss isn’t happy that you were going behind his back with this and cutting him out of the profits. Once he found out, He sent me to come clean house.”

Theresa was not amused. She stormed up to her attackers and stomped on Scorpion’s crotch with her red soled stilettos. “Thank you SO MUCH for ruining my party and putting everyone in danger! Why do you guys want me so much, huh?” she goaded the three as Scorpion howled on the ground in pain.

“Why do people do anything, babe?” he snorted, “Money and sex. Blessed Children sell for small fortunes on the black market.”

Theresa let out a long sigh, she curved her lips into a thin frown. “I am not the Blessed Child.”

“Huh…?” The three attackers were no longer smirking at their own insolence. “Then who is –“

“That’d be me… babe” Janette giggled as she bounced up to meet the three criminals.

“This is my Nana, the Blessed Child,” Theresa said, trying to hold back her laughter. “I’m sure should would fetch you a whole lot as a sex slave.” Theresa’s words were dripping with sarcasm.

“Theresa! I take offense!” she protested dramatically, “I may be a little bit wiser than the rest of you, but I’m still quite the catch!” Janette teased.

Falcon started to shriek. “I’m going to KILL Gopher.”

The situation resolved itself as peacefully as it could have. Yuuri couldn’t help but smile, feeling the weight of the burden leaving his shoulders as the would-be kidnappers were hauled away by police. He smiled, too, because how amazing was it to have friends such as his? He couldn’t have succeeded without them, he owed them infinite gratitude.

Swept up in the moment and the rush of victory, Victor pulled Yuuri into his arms and enveloped him in a tight embrace.

“You did it, Yuuri!”

Realizing what he had done, Victor embarrassingly pulled away. He couldn’t simply touch his King as he pleased. “Ah, Excuse me.” He blushed.

Yuuri spoke up, taking a step forwards. He would prevent Victor from drifting too far away after backing down from the hug. “No, Victor…”

“I definitely think you did it.” He praised his genuinely. “Had you not gotten me to calm down and then had you not taken over the job of finding the bomb,” Yuuri angled away a little, anxiously twiddling his fingers, “I probably wouldn’t be standing here conscious right now. Things would have been a lot worse without you tonight.”

“You’re being too modest,”Victor protested, “Why don’t we compromise?”

“We did it, Yuuri.”

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The ornate party hall was in shambles after being battered and trampled during combat. The guests, after rousing from their ability induced stupors, were slowly all sent home. 

Victor stood in the center of the room watching people leave.

Theresa approached him, “Hey, we are all moving out to the lawn, so our guys can clean up.”

She took a step to turn and walk away, but then she stopped abruptly. “Thank you… by the way. I’m kinda bummed that this kidnapping attempt ruined the party, but you kept me and my family … and His Majesty safe. That’s more important than any cake and fireworks.”

“It was my pleasure to serve on this mission tonight. I think all of the knights found a few perks of the job they could indulge in this evening.” A light pink dusted victor’s cheeks as he was reminded of his own… indulgences. “But, who said the party has to end? Up until now everyone left in this room has been working. We should throw a little after-party to celebrate a successful mission. We still have cake and fireworks I assume?” Victor winked.

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Theresa scuttled off to go salvage what was left of the evening.

Eventually, the last of the gusts were escorted out to their vehicles and sent home. Victor stepped out onto the lawn to find everyone left out there waiting for him.

Even though there were outside, the lawn and gardens held a different kind of beauty. The wafting scent of roses and lilies filled the air. The night sky was littered with millions of stars all twinkling with perfect clarity. The fountains, statues, ivy walls, and shrubbery created a cozy, intimate atmosphere where one could relax to the sounds of splashing water. Evenly spaced garden lanterns illuminated the mansion grounds with a desolate eerie beauty.

Victor was appreciating the moment of quiet, soaking in the details of the lovely gardens when reality caught back up to him.

“Ahhhh! Nothing beats a cold beer after a rough mission,” Georgi set the now empty glass bottle down on the grass. He had been looking forward to that beer all night – he had to stay sober for the mission.

“This might seriously be the best mission ever!” Mila gleefully helped herself to a plate full of leftover desserts and appetizers. “The perks are just juff dewishus.” She didn’t wait to finish her sentence before stuffing her mouth full of food.

Georgi snickered at Mila’s behavior. “I can just imagine how jealous the other knights will be once they find out about this.”

Georgi’s ears perked up once he heard the music change – Serenade for Two.

“Milaaaa” Georgi flopped over on the ground, “Dance with mee.”

“Ew, no.” Mila dramatically scooted backwards away from Georgi,“So this is what you’re like after one beer? You light weight” she teased.

“But I love this song!” He begged, “and I don’t have a date. You’re the only one I can count on!”

“Oh dear, what a waste for such a lovely song, then” she giggled. Trampling on a tipsy Georgi’s emotions might have been the highlight of her evening.

“Oooh but look over there.” Mila grinned coyly.

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“Dance with me?” Victor outstretched his arm in invitation.

Yuuri took up his hand. Victor brought Yuuri’s hand to his lips again in a kiss. Even though he had done it many times before this evening, it never ceased to make the young King blush.Beginning the dance, once Yuuri cautiously placed his other hand on Victor’s shoulder, Victor brought his free hand to rest on Yuuri’s waist.

This was Yuuri’s first dance ever – and it was with his idol of all people! Following Victor’s lead, the raven carefully watched his feet, so that he wouldn’t embarrass himself by stepping on the knight’s foot on accident. In silence, Victor observed Yuuri’s eyes, deep in adorable concentration. Victor noticed that Yuuri was softly humming the tune under his breath.

After several measures, Yuuri began to get more comfortable with the pattern of dancing and chanced to look up.

“Umm, Victor…”

“Hm?”

“How can you smile like that?” Yuuri asked shyly.

“Because I’m overflowing with happiness” Victor explained his heart shaped smile. “I finally get to dance with you. I’ve been dreaming about it for so long.”

“R-really?” Yuuri stammered, forcing himself to avert his gaze to hide his blush.

“Of course.” He said with conviction. “But, just having you by my side is enough to make my heart swell like this.” He sighed in contentment, “I’m such hopeless man when you’re around.”

Victor was in love with him. The Victor Nikiforov, the greatest Holy Knight of all time, who happened to be madly love with him, said it to his face like was the most natural thing in the world. It left Yuuri spinning, dazed from the radiant smile and overtures of affection. Yuuri wondered if Victor’s super hearing was powerful enough to hear how loudly his heart pounded in his chest. But, little did Yuuri know, he wasn’t the only nervous one.

In the middle of the song, Theresa stood up on a concrete bench and shouted over the music, “The fireworks are still a go! They will be happening in just a few everyone.”

Victor looked up to the sky at the mention of fireworks, but Yuuri made sure to get his attention and keep it this time. “Umm, Victor…”Yuuri finally worked up the confidence to confess to his idol and needed to do it quickly before the fireworks became a distraction from telling Victor how he felt.

“Yes, Yuuri?”

Yuuri gulped, “I haven’t given a proper response yet…” he trailed off.

Victor knew exactly what he was talking about – the response to his confession. He was excited, but nervous. Yuuri had made up him mind. Victor’s heart started to race, but to Yuuri, he displayed a calm assuring smile. He was prepared to hear whatever Yuuri had to say whatever the outcome.

“Get ready for the fireworks! In a count of 3… 2…”

Yuuri intently looked into Victor’s eyes. “Victor…”

The raven felt like beating himself up for not getting his thoughts together before opening his mouth.

“Actually, I…”

“1!”

The garden lights were switched off and the first round of fireworks were released with a deafening pop and crackle. The sky was alight with red and green hues.

Victor wasn’t paying attention to that though. Even with his super human hearing, he was watching Yuuri’s lips move and couldn’t hear what he was saying. The sharpness of the fireworks’ sound drowned out all the others. He cursed mentally for not being able to hear the single most important thing that Yuuri would ever say to him.

Victor watched Yuuri’s expression rapidly change from confused to understanding to frustration. And then… he did something surprising.

Without an extra moment’s hesitation, Yuuri charged forward, closing the distance between them. Much to Victor’s surprise and amazement, Yuuri used the base of Victor’s tie to propel himself upwards.  They were so close now that Victor closed his eyes. His heart leapt into his throat in anticipation of having his feelings returned by the most exquisite man he had ever met.

A second wave of fireworks illuminated the lawn and painted the dark sky with vibrant colors. The dim intermittent lighting and deafening sounds of the fireworks created a small sense of privacy for the two to share an undisturbed moment.

Yuuri kissed Victor. Before he had a second to reconsider the boldness of his actions, he did it. He did it without thinking. Yuuri was secretly glad that the fireworks had interrupted them. Nothing he could have told Victor was going to be as powerful as this. Nothing would have communicated his feelings quite so accurately.

The kiss was light and timid. Victor quickly transitioned from surprise to joy as he relaxed and melted into the kiss. He brought Yuuri closer in response, wrapping his arms tightly around the raven’s waist.

Reservations, worries, and uncertainties were cast aside under the colorful lights of fireworks and stars.

Chapter Text

Children with their boundless imaginations never ceased to dream.

Ms. Yukimura watched her class 2nd grade class closely and she saw flickers of hope and wonder alight in her young students’ eyes. Some children dreamed of following in their parents’ footsteps as doctors or engineers; some had fantastic dreams of becoming a princess or a robot. Hearing each of her students’ ambitious aspirations always put a smile on her face.

A boy named Ishigami excitedly piped up, “I want to be an astronaut!” His declaration wasn’t surprising. He was a science freak, and this may or may not have been the first time that he proudly professed his dream. “I’m going to make a spaceship and head immediately to space now. I guarantee it’s 10 billion percent going to happen.”

The lively atmosphere of the classroom died at the “oddball” kid’s remark and many students rolled their eyes. Everyone in the class knew that the Ishigami kid spent most of his time conducting scientific experiments instead of playing with kids his own age. It wasn’t fair – he was just following his passions – but kids could be ruthless.

“What about you, Katsuki-kun?” Miss Yukimura asked, trying to liven the conversation back up. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Yuuri rolled his eyes. “…great…” he muttered. He wasn’t thrilled to go next. Ishigami made the whole thing weird by just being Ishigami – too serious.

Yuuri stood up hesitantly – he never liked talking in front of big groups and after the Ishigami incident there was a massive spotlight plastered on his back. But despite his hesitations, once he started thinking about his own dream, his eyes started to glitter, and he felt his spirit tap into a deep well of confidence as his heart soared. He felt like he was one of the most motivated students in the whole class to achieve his dream even if he wasn’t working on it now. It wasn’t an “if” it would happen – much like Ishigami – it was a “when”. Maybe that’s why he sympathized with the other boy, even if he didn’t outwardly express it. He understood the obsession.

“I’m going to be a Holy Knight when I grow up. I want to be strong and save lots of people just like Victor!”

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Though several days had passed after the incident at the Hewlett Residence, it was fresh in Victor’s mind. He walked around the Holy Knight’s headquarters with a lively smile on his face.

Flipping through the numerous pictures he took of his beloved Yuuri, he fantasized over the sensation of the raven’s plump, soft lips lingering passionately on his own.

Reminiscing over what he considered as the best moments of his life, he fondly ghosted his fingers over his lips.

The other knights with him, Georgi and Mila, couldn’t help but gape at Victor’s behaviour. This Victor was so much softer and vibrant than they were used to. The years of messy work as the organization’s top operative seemed to just melt off his shoulders.

Georgi was not jealous, not at all, as he fervently claimed. Mila, above all, was happy for Victor because up until he came along, Victor had been notoriously single and lonely. However, she was equally excitable about the development, and was hungry for all the details she could get her nosy paws all over.

“So…” Mila drummed her fingers against the cafeteria table. “Is he a good kisser?”

The directness of Mila’s question took Georgi by surprise, and he choked on his drink. “Wow, Mila you don’t waste time,” Victor beamed as he spoke over the ensuing coughing fit. “He’s great,” Victor held two thumbs up pridefully. He would have raised another two if his toes could also count. Words alone are not sufficient to describe the perfection of Yuuri’s kisses. Georgi bit the hem of his sleeve, to try to stay quiet. People were starting to look at him now that he was violently coughing.

Ever since the party – Victor will forever remember it as the best party of his life – he couldn’t stop thinking about Yuuri. He missed him; he couldn’t get enough of him. Victor yearned to hear Yuuri’s melodious voice again, and to wrap the raven up in his arms and breathe deeply, surrounding himself in Yuuri’s scent. He wanted to indulgently taste his lips, and explore every inch of his soft, perfect skin. He was completely in love with him.

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“Oi, kid! Are you spacing out? Stop that and go and serve that table over there!” the owner of the cafeteria barked, pushing the new hire over to Victor’s table.

The boy could do nothing but meekly comply as he was given forceful encouragement, “Yes, sir!”

“Hello,” the new waiter bowed politely. He took out a small notebook a pen from his back pocket. “May I take your order please?”

Mila and Georgi quickly recognized the waiter, but Victor did not. He was lost in thought and grinning like an idiot.

Mila coughed. “Ah, Victor…”

No response, “Victor?”

Mila kicked him from across the table, “Victor!”

“What! Jeez!”

Mila simply pointed and allowed Victor’s eyes so slowly follow the line from her finger up to the waiter’s face.

Victor’s eyes went wide in recognition, “Yuuri?”

“Hey, Victor,” He bashfully gave a small wave.

His appearance was such a contrast to the party. His hear was down, sweeping across his forehead and his face was neatly framed by striking blue rimmed glasses. He looked no less handsome, however.

“Yuuri!” Victor’s face lit up, thoroughly enjoying the surprise, “What are you doing here?”

“It’s my new part time job!” Yuuri smiled innocently.

“Part time job?”Georgi questioned, “I would’ve expected you to be rich since you were at Hewlett’s party.”

Yuuri laughed and waved his hand, “Hahaha no, no, I’m just a friend of Theresa’s. I borrowed some nice clothes from her brother, so I wouldn’t stand out too much.”

“Oh, no,” Mila teased, “You definitely stood out.”

Victor was mesmerized by his new look. The crisp white button down and black vest accentuated his lovely figure quite nicely. Sure, everyone on the cafeteria staff worn this uniform, but Yuuri really–

Victor suddenly looked around. Everything was too quiet, everyone was too still. He looked back at Yuuri and was met with red eyes.

“I’ll tell you everything later,” Yuuri winked. Unlike his waiter persona, the person Victor had met, the King, was so commanding and confident. The red in his eyes dimmed away, and the smile on his face grew. Time resumed.

Victor blinked and the world around him reanimated. His colleagues were moving and talking again, carrying on their conversations without missing a beat.

“Sir? May I take your order?” Yuuri looked at Victor retaining an acceptable level of professionalism. “You spaced out there for a little bit.” He innocently tilted his head.

The stark contrast in character was frightening, but Victor was defiantly aroused by it. He decided to perceive it as a challenge. Victor abruptly stood up and wrapped an arm around his boyfriend’s waist, much to his surprise. Victor grabbed Yuuri’s chin and held his gaze, demanding the raven’s attention. Their eyes locked.

“What do I want to order, hmm?” Victor’s voice rumbled seductively.

Yuuri couldn’t help but tremble uncontrollably in Victor’s hold at their very close proximity. He remained professional as best he could, “W-What is it…?”

“Well… I think I’ll have the beef bowl. And for dessert...,” he tapped his chin thoughtfully, “I think I’ll take you. To go please,” Victor’s thumb gently caressed Yuuri’s lips as he served the raven an electrifying smile.

Yuuri blushed deeper, his lips quivering. “B-but I’m n-not on the menu…”

Victor let out a small chuckle, then pulled Yuuri even closer, to the point they were almost kissing. He whispered, “Pull some strings for me would you?” he winked.

Just when Victor thought he had regained the upper hand, he felt Yuuri rubbing his knee against his crotch. It was a movement too subtle for anyone else to notice.

“Challenge accepted,” Yuuri whispered to Victor’s ear, smirking devilishly.

Yuuri pulled away, winked quickly, and hummed, practically skipping back to the kitchen.

Victor fell back to his seat, flustered. He had completely forgotten who he was up against. While flirting in public was something Victor was completely comfortable with, he wasn’t expecting Yuuri to ooze that kind of confidence and keep up. But then again, he was none other than their king – all, including Victor, were powerless before him.

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“Oh my god!”

Yuuri hid in the corner of the kitchen dying of embarrassment. All they had done so far was kiss – and those kisses were amazing – but the level of teasing he suggested went way past anything they had experienced together in their fledging relationship. What if he made Victor uncomfortable? Did he go too far? Yuuri’s mind raced in a panic. He couldn’t believe he did that.

He felt he should apologize to Victor later on, when he will clear things up. Victor had to hear Yuuri’s actual reason of suddenly appearing in the cafeteria of the Headquarters as a part-timer, and probably he will require his help again in the future.

“Katsuki! Table no. 5 needs more ketchup!” a co-worker shouted. Yuuri jumped, startled. Right, he had a job to do still.

“Uh…Yes!” Yuuri nodded, grabbing the new bottle.

He rushed out to what he thought was table five, “What? You didn’t request ketchup? Oh! I’m sorry!”

As time went by, the number of customers multiplied, and the chances of anyone making it through the lunch shift unscathed were next to nil. Running around the cafeteria in circles like a madman gave him a throbbing headache. Once he realized that no one would able to stop and catch their breath he began to panic and had to stave off a panic attack.

An irritated Holy Knightslammed his fist onto the table. “Hey! I’ve been waiting for ages! Where’s my goddamn food!”

“Ah! Please wait for just a bit longer sir,” Yuuri assured him, “The chef is still preparing it!”

“This is ridiculous! I could make food faster than this. Your job is nowhere near as hard as mine, fucking morons.”

He belligerently confronted Yuuri, making the raven recoil reflexively. The other waiters were fairing no better than he, unfortunately. Who would have thought the customers here, the Holy Knights, would be so brutish. How did Victor put up with this? Yuuri thought. Victor was nothing like; he would never do this.

“Get my food out FASTER! I just came back from a mission and am drying of hunger over here!” The man continued to rant and rave at Yuuri.

“I will see what I can do sir!” he screeched before walking – no running – away as quickly as possible.

What a harsh working atmosphere, he thought. Do most servers have to put up with this terrible treatment? Yuuri hoped to god that his own servants never felt as terrible and overwhelmed as he did.

Victor watched him slowly unravel from afar, unable to really do anything to make his life a little easier. The mention of Yuuri by name from someone across the room piqued his interest, and stole his attention away from the young raven.

“Hey Minami, are you sure he’s going to be okay?”

“Don’t ask me! I don’t know what to say… this is kind of painful to watch.”

A third female voice joined the chorus, “How dare people treat our King this way!”Victor could hear the anger seeping out of her voice, despite keeping her volume to a low whisper.

Victor found the source of the three voices to be coming from a table stowed away in the back corner of the cafeteria.  He recognized two of Yuuri’s younger teenage butlers. They brought a third maid with hot pink pigtails with them. It would have been easy to gloss over them had he not recognized the guys because they were not wearing their distinctive palace uniform. They were definitely here to watch Yuuri work, but did he know about it?

The noise in the cafeteria suddenly dipped, sputtered and died. All eyes gawked, turning to glimpse at the disruption to the atmosphere.

The raven brightened up, “Gwendall!”

The pressure of hundreds of eyes fells on Yuuri.

Ah… crap.

Yuuri knew he screwed up. The eerie silence only furthered his discomfort with the situation and the slip up. The room held their breath waiting for the scene to play through.

“It’s ‘Master Gwendall’, you little maggot!” the boss stormed up and slapped Yuuri across the back. People sitting at nearby tables could hear the sound of the impact. “Don’t dare me so familiar with him! Who do you think you are, the King?!”

“Aaaahhh! I’m… I’m sorry!!!Yowch…” Yuuri apologized, rubbing the tender spot on his back as best he could. What a day, his back and feet were killing him, and now this. Yuuri could swear that he was never this sore after training.

Sever patrons burst out laughing at the unfolding scene, mocking Yuuri for his incompetence. Victor clicked his tongue, but he knew that it was not his place to intervene. Rushing in to save his boyfriend would only make it worse – Yuuri would probably kick his ass later for trying to do that, too. Nobody knew Yuuri was their King after all, he took great care to keep his low profile.However, Victor smirked at the thought of how different everyone’s reactions would be if people actually knew the force of nature standing amongst them.

Mila leaned over and asked the group, “What’s Gwendall doing here?” Victor looked at her, but didn’t respond.

He glanced back at the castle servants. How were they handling this?

“And it’s only his first day,” Minami’s voice quivered, “He is so brave for putting up with this kind of crap. If I could take his pain away I would!” He clasped his hands together in admiration and dramatic sorrow.

“Minami…” Travis started, “I think you need to admit that you’ve got at least a teensy crush,” he pinched his fingers together, “for the King.”

Minami recoiled, “I-I-I could n-never think of myself…” his face was bright red, “w-with t-th-the King… l-li…” Travis started to see steam pour from his ears again. He sent a quick text to the group chat.

            Guys… minami.exe has crashed again. Any advice on a reboot?

The pink haired maid bent a fork in her tightly clenched fist. “That is my King!” she hissed, launching up ready to march over and stab someone with that mutilated fork.

Travis stuffed his phone in his pocket, and quickly shot out tograb Mary’s wrist. He yanked her back down to the bench. “Mary, you need to shut it and calm down!” he hissed back. “Do you want his cover to get blown?” he paused, “Do you want OUR cover to be blown? We aren’t even supposed to be here. If his Majesty… oh god… if Master Gwendall finds out... we are going to get an earful!”

It was unsettling for the three to see Yuuri so out of his element. He was always the one in control, the one giving orders, the feared and respected man. But here, his powerful, regal air was gone. It was like he was a completely different person.

“That’s not the problem here!” Mary shrieked at the boys causing them to flinch.

“His Majesty’s back is not yet fully recovered! And that prick goes and hits him right where it hurts.”

Victor recoiled a little from his eavesdropping session after hearing that. He had to admit that their anger – and they were rightfully angry – was starting to rub off on him more and more.

He gritted his teeth. The memory of how pale and vulnerable Yuuri was lying in his arms instantly flashed to the forefront of his mind. All of the pain he felt to see Yuuri in such a state came flooding back.

“Ah, may I have a word with the owner please?” Gwendall requested politely.

Wide eyed, the waitress he spoke to turned and frantically ran towards the kitchen to call for the owner. He quickly emerged with a nervous smile on his face. “Y-yes, Master? It’s such an honour to speak to you! I assure you that my cafeteria surely will offer you the finest service!”

Gwendall had a pinched expression as he carefully folded his hands together on the table top. “The manners I witnessed just now….”

“The rude newbie?”the owner cut him off mid-sentence, “He’s still new, I promise I will knock more lessons –“

“It’s not him,” Gwendall’s tone stiffened. “It’s YOU.”

The owner was taken aback. Gwendall’s gentle smile said one thing, but his sharp, piercing gaze said another.

“My child, we should also be mindful of how we treat our minors. They, too, are people just like us.”

Gwendall was glad in a round-a-bout way that he decided to go out of his way to check on Yuuri. He hoped for the future treatment of the cafeteria employees. None should be subject to such dismal overlording.

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Victor ran off after Yuuri who had since scuttled off to hide and lick his wounds in the employee locker rooms.

Yuuri was laying down on the sofa to relieve the pressure and pain in his back when he heard Victor call out looking for him. An instant later, he then appeared in the doorway with a frantic look in his eyes. “Victor? Wha-”

Before Yuuri could finish his thought, he found himself being hoisted into Victor’s strong arms. He let out a small yelp of surprise as he was tossed into the air like a bag of potatoes. Wordlessly, Victor sprinted away from the cafeteria with Yuuri, ignoring the appalled stares from the passers-by.

“V-Victor! Where are you taking me? Put me down!”

“The food was taking too long,” Victor said nonchalantly. “I decided I wanted to skip to the desert portion of the meal.”

“Hah!?” Yuuri’s temperature and blood pressure shot up in an instant.

Yuuri was left blustering and speechless. Teetering on the edge of protest and acceptance, Yuuri ultimately kept quiet, which he rationalized to be not quite the same things as acceptance – he was too self-conscious for that. Causing a larger scene would’ve been a worse outcome, so silence – and hiding his face buried in Victor’s chest – seemed to be the most reasonable response. The tips of his ears were bright red think about all that “dessert” would entail.

Victor took Yuuri to his personal office.

He set Yuuri down on the small cot in the corner of the room. Yuuri wondered how many times he has crashed here after a hard mission while he sat and watched Victor flit around the room making adjustments – locking the door, closing blinds, silencing his phone. He wasn’t nervous just yet, there was just this tingling sensation in his gut, a small bubble of thrill building deep in his core. That excitement had not yet overwhelmed him and morphed into anxiousness.

Once Victor flung off his snowy white cape, draped it over the back of his chair, and began working on the buttons of his coat, he could feel the nervousness beginning to creep in. He didn’t know what Victor had in mind, but he knew what kinds of things happened at times like these. Yuuri tried to hide the trembling in his hands as best he could while he untied his apron and unbuttoned his vest. He stopped just short of taking off his shirt. His hands fell slowly to his lap as he shamelessly raked his eyes over Victor’s body. What an Adonis! Those perfectly toned muscles only highlighted the model-like quality of his statuesque figure; the jewelled Empatheia hanging around his neck drew the eye to his long, lean lines and regal collarbones. He would have been more pink and embarrassed if his blood supply hadn’t completely shot straight to his erection. He thought better of taking his own shirt off; he was pudgy and undesirable compared to whatever god decided to grace himself with his presence.

Victor descended into the bed and crawled to sit behind Yuuri. Wrapping his arms around the young King from behind, he ushered him up into his lap, resting his chin on the raven’s shoulder. Victor’s icy blue eyes quickly noticed Yuuri’s sweaty hands nervously playing with the hem of his shirt. He reached out and stole the edge of fabric from the raven’s grasp. Victor could feel his partner tense up in response.

Ghosting a cool puff of air over Yuuri’s neck, Victor telegraphed the soft kiss he soon planted there. “Let me.” He whispers, half in question, half guiding.

Yuuri hesitantly allowed Victor to expertly pull off his shirt and toss it aside. Yuuri waited half a beat before trying to turn around and look for Victor. His touch had been strangely absent, he was expecting something more – well he wasn’t sure what he was expecting – perhaps frantic?

 “Don’t move.” He said softly, but firmly. Victor inspected the bruise on Yuuri’s back. Seeing the mottled purple and blue skin dampened Victor’s spirits. If he had taken better care of Yuuri that night, if he had done more, Yuuri wouldn’t have felt compelled to push beyond his limits and injure himself. The silver lining was that the hot-headed servant, Mary, was overreacting. It was no more than a bruise, a very large ugly bruise. It just needed time to heal.

Victor stooped over, gently planting kisses on Yuuri’s back. He lingered longer where the bruising resided.

Victor’s cold fingers brushed back and forth across Yuuri’s skin while he peppered him with soft kisses. Yuuri felt the electricity sparking through each kiss; the jolt was like ice, awakening all of his senses, making him painfully aware of how quickly his body temperature was rising in contrast. Each touch and gesture ignited his desire more and more. He wanted more. 

“Mmm,” a small satisfied moan escaped Yuuri’s lips unexpectedly.

Victor pulled Yuuri back in close, pressing their bodies together. His skin tingled at the contact, feeling the heat pouring off ofhis Yuuri. Victor kissed and nipped at his neck, driving Yuuri wildly impatient. The nervousness of before was abating in favour of sexual frustration.

How sweet. Yuuri tastes so sweet.Victor thought to himself.

“Victor…” Yuuri’s begged between heavier breaths. Victor smirked proudly at the dichotomy between Yuuri’s tremendous Ability and the powerlessness Victor has rendered the man to his touch. Only he would hear these lustful pleas and taste those sweet lips. Yuuri would only melt for him.

Yuuri’s alluring voice, his seductive smell, his sweet taste; Victor couldn’t resist. He pushed Yuuri down onto the bed, and hovered dangerously above him on all fours. Yuuri was beet red, but had cast inhibitions to the wind long ago. A devious, sultry look began to burn in his eyes. It was tempting and challenging.

“Yuuri…” Victor lowered his face to Yuuri’s.

Warm cinnamon eyes met the longing, hopeful gaze of pale, crystal blue.

This was the second time that Yuuri initiated a kiss. Victor was caught off guard, but regained his ground quickly. Yuuri’s kiss was light and wary, but Victor’s response, deepening the kiss, gave the raven the confidence he sought to be needier in his desires. The first kiss turned into two, then three, then a blur of passion between their ravenous lips.

Victorpulled away and smiled down at him, his eyes still trained to his now swollen pink lips. He wanted to kiss Yuuri again. “Yuuri… gods, you look so beautiful.”

Yuuri blushed again. “Hardly, I should be telling you that,” he flirted back, stubbornly deflecting.

“Yuuuriii,” Victor drawled out in a pouty fashion, “You’re definitely the most beautiful person in this room.”

Before Yuuri had the time to respond, or even blush, Victor dove in for more kisses.

The heat between them built more quickly this time.Yuuri wrapped his arms around Victor’s neck, his fingers playfully coiled around the Empatheia’s chain. Victor dared to push things a little further if Yuuri was sane enough to toy with him.  He wanted to drive him into an absolute frenzy.

Victor ran his pale fingers through that soft jet-black hair. In their kisses Victor allowed his tongue to surge forward, demanding entry. Yuuri submitted to the hot, wet sensation as Victor’s tongue eagerly explored and teased his mouth and lips. Hips ground together as they both allowed themselves to submit to the heated haze overtaking them both. 

Soon out of breath, Victor pulled away, a string of saliva formed between their mouths.

“Victor, please…” Yuuri’s head was angled back against the pillows. “More…” Sounds of frustration and want only aroused the knight further.

Victor didn’t have to be told twice. Smashing their lips together again, Victor’s hands flew to Yuuri’s waist band, unbuttoning, unzipping, and finally freeing the impatient bulge trapped under the stiff fabric. Taking it in his hand, Victor went over the silky, sensitive skin with feather light touches, looking to Yuuri’s face for any signs of discomfort. If this was his first time – one of many first they would share together, Victor thought gleefully – it would have to be perfect for Yuuri.

Yuuri’s hips began to roll and thrust into Victor’s hand instinctively – his body knew what he wanted. Yuuri’s cute blush was a permanent fixture, realizing the lewdness of this display. But it felt so good, too good for him to care about how embarrassing it looked.

“Ngh,” Yuuri moaned.

“Yuuri…” Victor hesitated. He didn’t want to push things further than Yuuri was comfortable with.

“Are you sure?” There was no edge of seduction in his voice. Victor knew that Yuuri was the only person he wanted to be with. He just knew. He didn’t want to fuck it up before it even began.

“Yes,” he held the “s” with a slight hiss, “Please…” he begged, “Fuck, please.”

“Shushhh,” Victor silenced him with a kiss.

Keeping up the activity in Yuuri’s lower half, Victor kissed, licked and nipped at Yuuri’s skin. Slowly he made his way down lower and lower. By the time he had reached his belly button Yuuri was a squirming, incoherent mess.

Good. Victor thought.

Using surprise to his advantage, Victor sank further to the raven’s hips and took up his length in his mouth.

“Ah!” Yuuri’s breath caught in this throat.

Victor had prepared him well enough, if this was his first time he shouldn’t last too long. He bobbed up and down taking immense pleasure in the lewd moans that Yuuri could no longer supress. He wanted everyone in the hall to hear, to know what they were up to.

Yuuri’s climaxed for him not long after. His hips writhed and protested, trying to find and outlet for the immense surge of pleasure now coursing through his veins. Victor swallowed it all without a second thought.

Victor gave Yuuri a moment to regain his senses, and then he sat up in all his dishevelled glory. “This was your first time, right?” Victor looked down at Yuuri; an arm draped across his face in white hot embarrassment.

Victor removed Yuuri’s hands hiding his face and gazed down at him with an expression of pure love and adoration. He helped the raven sit up before planting a tender kiss on his forehead.

“You’re beautiful.”

♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥

Before they had a chance to become too concerned by his sudden disappearance, the servants spotted Yuuri eventually returning to work. Victor was noticeably absent, however.

He continued taking orders and serving without missing a beat. Nothing in his behaviour seemed amiss, nor did he seem to be in pain. However – it was Mary that noticed it first – something did indeed happen.

“Uwaahhh...” Mary spotted a purple blotch on the base of Yuuri’s neck, just peeking out from his collar. She cupped her cheeks with both hands, blushing. “D-Don’t tell me... His Majesty and Victor just now were...?!”

It didn’t take long for the other two to recognize what Mary was freaking out over.

Travis tried to stifle a shit-eating grin behind a twitchy smile. “I’m pretty sure that wasn’t there before, eh?”

Now that they knew what they were looking for – come to think of it – Yuuri’s hair was dishevelled, his shirt was crinkly, and his fair skin had an unusually pink tinge to it. Above all of that though, his energetic, bright and refreshed attitude couldn’t have simply come from a 10-minute nap either. How far did they go? The gears in the servants’ brains began to click into place as their imaginations ran rampant.

Travis kept his voice low to prevent himself from screaming. “Mary, are you thinking what I’m thinking...?”

“Holy shit… His Majesty and Captain Nikiforov are... F-U-C-K-I-N-G!” Mary shrieked into her covered mouth. “Holy shit!” She was at a complete loss for words.

Mary and Travis whipped around to look at Minami’s reaction. Would he need consoling? How would the teenage butler would react to his beloved king making love with another man?

Uh oh.

Judging from the face Minami was making, he had already departed from this world. Rest in peace, His Majesty’s most loyal servant.

Auld Lang Syne for the King of Metropolis’ virginity of 23 years.Once the news breaks officially the castle servants will surely host a mourning period. Wailing will be heard echoing through the drafty halls for at least a week.

Before long, with lunch service ending, the servants were shooed out by the manager. The remaining knights were filing out. If they didn’t leave now, they would surely be spotted. The three dove in with the small crowd to hide.

It did not, however, stop them from watching over Yuuri. They just found a better hiding spot. Currently, Yuuri could be seen sweeping the floor behind other staff member who were placing chairs upside down on tables.

“Good job for your first day!” said an older waiter to Yuuri.

“Ah, thank you!”

“Kid, here’s your pay for today.” The owner walked up and placed an envelope filled with cash into Yuuri’s hands.

“Thank you, boss.” Yuuri bowed to him. Though, the raven would rather not receive any pay he would draw more attention to himself if he hadn’t.  He opened the envelope and checked its contents. A look of confusion flashed across his features.

“Umm, boss?” Yuuri was puzzled, his fingers counted the money in his hand. “Isn’t this more than what my actual salary is?”

“Just take it as a bonus, kid.” The owner said while walking away. With his pride and ego in the way, this was the best he could to apologize. He was a good, hard worker.

“Oh... Thank you, boss...!”

The embarrassed tone in Yuuri’s voice was obvious, he bowed to the owner again. The owner waved him off, treating it as nothing. Yuuri smiled with understanding though.

Yuuri’s politeness was too much for the owner so he picked up his pace, headed for his office. But, with his thoughts elsewhere, he ran into something.

He turned and looked. How strange. What is this black thing?

Initial curiosity dissipating, the fear quickly sunk in, “Aaa... Aaahhh...”

The ‘thing’ he ran into revealed itself before the owner’s eyes. A black creature resembling a sea anemone with a giant single eye floated before him ominously. Its large eye was staring directly at the owner’s plump figure. Greenish saliva began drip from the bottom of the creature. The owner was frozen in place and cowering in fear, too afraid for his legs to work properly. He couldn’t run.

The creature began to swell and bloat. It fired poisonous spit at the owner when it contracted.

“Look out!”

Yuuri caught up to the owner just in time. He grabbed him and pulled him away from the lethal goo. The green spit hit the floor and began to hiss and bubble, corroding the stone, much to the horror of everyone watching.

“Everyone, get into the kitchen! Now!” Yuuri commanded. People began to frantically scramble.

With the civilians out of the way, “Now it’s time, Victor!” Yuuri yelled out.

Victor rapidly materialized, bursting back into the room with Yakov following closely behind him. They rushed the creature.

Ensuring the safety of the staff, Yuuri ran into the kitchen, locking the door behind him. In his current condition, he was still too weak to fight, so he was glad he asked for Victor’s help before he went back to the kitchen. He also made sure the windows were tightly shut, pushing past the swarm of people watching the ensuing battle.

All of them were shaking in fear, but slowly grew more relieved the more victory seemed clear to be in the knight’s hands. “It’s a demon. It’s pretty weak, but it’s very intelligent and hard to detect.” Yuuri explained to them to try to ease their fears. “We know it has been hiding in this cafeteria waiting for all of the Holy Knights to leave, so it could devour us weaker targets without much resistance.”

According to the future vision Yuuri had a few days ago, his co-workers were supposedly killed by the demon, leaving the cafeteria a bloody mess. To stop this, Yuuri applied to be a part-timer. He planned to work there until he could draw it out of hiding because he wasn’t able to predict when it would strike. He was lucky that it hadn’t lashed out sooner, before he had officially received the job. 

“God, I’m scared to death, but look at Victor!” A waitress couldn’t contain her amazement.

“We’re safe! Captain Nikiforov is here! We’re going to be safe!”

Do you realize how amazing you are? You are my hero and will always be. Yuuri fondly thought to himself. Watching Victor in action never failed to make his heart beat faster.

Victor landed a blow on the demon, and then another, then another, until it finally fell onto the floor akin to a swatted fly. From the kitchen, the staff cheered in triumph.With bated breath, Yuuri waited another minute before unlocking the door to let everyone out. He wanted to be sure that it was dead.

Yuuri made eye contact with Victor through the window and smiled, signalling the success of the mission.Yuuri then unlocked the door to let everyone else go home while the knights cleaned up the mess. The first thing the raven went to do was thank the knights properly for their help.

“No, it’s thanks to you that we were able to track and kill this demon before there were any causalities.” Yakov shook the boy’s hand out of respect.

“Boy...” The owner fell to his knees before Yuuri. “You saved my life... And others’...”

“Ehh? No... I didn’t do that much...” Yuuri waved him off. Embarrassed, he stared at the ground, unable to receive the praises thrown at him all at once.

Yakov put a firm hand on Yuuri’s shoulder to get his attention again. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while now... Would you like to join the Holy Knights?”

“Eh?”

Yuuri looked at Victor, at his bizarre expression. Nope, he did not hear that wrong.

“But, I...” Yuuri stumbled, completely caught off guard by the offer.

“There’s no need to worry! I will send a letter of recommendation to the higher ups tomorrow!” Yakov reassured the boy noticing his pensive attitude.

It was the chance of a lifetime – he recognized how surreal the situation was. Yuuri thought back to the past.A wave of nostalgia hit him. He felt like he was a 7-year-old kid just yesterday with his dreams of donning the signature white uniform of the Holy Knights and fighting demons next to Victor.

“I’m going to be a Holy Knight when I grow up. I want to be strong and save lots of people just like Victor!”

Yuuri’s lips slowly curved into a bittersweet smile.This was the closest he would ever get to obtaining his now deceased dream. He shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Sir. But, I have to politely decline your offer.”

Yakov features quickly morphed, and obvious disappointment coloured his face. “Why, young man? You are clearly qualified for the job. ...even more so than a lot of our new recruits. You’ve done things expected of veterans like me and Victor – like what you did at the Hewlett’s party.”

“Being a Holy Knight doesn’t suit me,” Yuuri breathed out at once.

Yakov sighed. “But don’t you want to work alongside Victor all the time?”

Yuuri’s eyes widened, and a faint blush spread across his cheeks. Was he really that obvious? Seeing that he couldn’t convince Yuuri any further, the middle-aged knight decided to take his leave. Before he walked away, Yakov stopped walking just after passing Victor, and turned to say one last thing.

“I like this one. Hold onto him.” In a rare display of fatherly gentleness, Yakov confessed his thoughts.

Yuuri stretched his arms in the air, feeling great after the mission ended successfully despite not being able to fight. He would have to say his good byes to the staff as he would return to the palace now that the job is done. Before he could do anything, a large pair of arms wrapped around him from behind.

“Victor?” Yuuri leaned back into the embrace. The hug around him tightened.

“I know you had to turn Yakov down, but it’s true.  I want to protect you and fight by your side all of the time.”

“Eh?” Yuuri was unsure as to where he was going with this. Victor knows why he can’t be a Holy Knight. “You know my reasons, so you know it’s impossible. What more can we possibly do about it?”

They were both important figures in the world, and doing this, going on missions, was one of the only chances they had to see each other. The rest of their time was eaten up by helping those in need. The lack of time to dedicate to each other, it could ultimately drive a wedge in their relationship. Such thoughts were making Victor uneasy. He didn’t want their relationship to be over before it even began over something like work. He quickly spun Yuuri around to kiss him, catching the raven off guard.

He pulled away and looked at him desperately.“Yuuri, please make me yours.”

“What?” Yuuri became anxious at the sudden declaration.What did he mean?

“I am a Holy Knight, but that chapter of my life is ending.” Victor took Yuuri’s fingers to kiss them. “You are my king, let me be your knight. Let me be yours.”

“From now on, I won’t take orders from anyone else. I am solely dedicated to you.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri sighed.


He glanced to the clock, then the calendar on his desk, and back again. It had gone on like this in odd intervals the whole evening. He knew it. Eventually his eyes would return to the papers piled up in front of him once again to read half-heartedly before the cycle renewed itself. Yuuri sighed again. Each time he looked back at his work, he was reminded of the disarray playing through his mind. He was unfocused. His drifting, scattered glances were proof of this.


Finally reaching his limit, he cast aside the unfinished paperwork, pushing it to the far corner of his desk with an irritated glare. Only then did he feel the tiniest amount of respite. He shifted in his chair, tilted his head back and breathed.


“Your Majesty?” Minami poked his head through the doorway leading to Yuuri’s office. “I brought you dinner.”


Yuuri didn’t bother to even acknowledge his presence. “Just put it on the desk. I’ll eat later.” He sighed despondently. With his eyes still fluttered closed, he waved his hand in the general direction of the sound of Minami’s voice.


Minami winced while he pushed his way inside, the squeaking wheels on the dinner cart disturbed the king’s fortress of suffocating solitude. Lately the cooks had gone all out to appease his sour mood. The cart was laden with a rich meal, an assortment of appetizers and sweets, and beverage options including orange juice and wine.


On the lower level of the cart, the crystal plates and silver cutlery clinked and chimed together softly, jolting at every small imperfection in the antique wooden flooring. Minami gulped when he saw the King’s brows furrow.


Glancing away, he brought the cart to the side of his desk before quickly and politely retreating. He shut the door behind him with a soft thud followed by the inescapable grinding of a torqued metal doorknob.


“Minami, how’s Yuuri?” Minako asked hurriedly once Minami left the office.


Minami shook his head. “I don’t know… He doesn’t seem to be okay,” he clasped his hands together, tight with worry and his voice trembled with worry, “It’s like he is not really here.”


The whole castle was aware of his persistently ominous demeanour. But nobody knew why, not even his trusted assistant Gwendall – nor did anyone dare to ask. Obviously, he was troubled, but he learned to bear his burdens alone to spare everyone the stress of his position. Little did he know that it stressed those around him more rather than less.

Yuuri’s phone pinged softly on his desk. He frantically unlocked it for the umpteenth time that evening and swiped to view the notifications. His hopeful gaze soured once again in disappointment – just more spam. In low spirits, he buried his face into his folded arms on the desk in front of him.


The aromatic feast before him did nothing to whet his appetite. The smell was borderline obnoxious given his current state of tantrum. He briefly picked his head up to do something about it, and his mind whirred away thinking about how he could use his ability to stop the scent from spreading. In that moment, it was a decently pleasant distraction.


In the end he decided to put the dome covering back over the food and freeze the air underneath it. It might even keep the food warmer for longer – the adrift thought floated curiously across his mind.


His phone pinged again. “Victor…” he sighed in discontent. It probably wasn’t him.


Every other message he had received for the past few months hadn’t been his. This one was no different. He was tired of being let down.


Glancing to his remaining work – well remaining implied that he at least did some of it – he decided that it was time for bed, daunted by the possibility of starting a fresh pile given the lateness of the hour. Yuuri took the bottle of red wine, pored himself a glass, and swirled it around in his hand.


It was a generous glassful, but he knew a little wine would help him sleep better. He was irritated, exhausted, and tense all the time these past few months without Victor around to brighten his day. He wouldn’t usually drink, given his low tolerance and his bizarre drunken odysseys of memories past, but this time he was banking on it to send him right to sleep. It was just a little wine – Yuuri took another sip – not nearly enough to put him at risk for what happened last time...


“The chef picked an excellent year…” he murmured, tipping the cup up to his lips, draining the last dregs of his pour down his throat.


The king’s signal bell chiming away in the kitchen startled Minami and Travis. The two young butlers walked together to Yuuri’s office to presumably gather his dinner dishes.


“I’m going to bed,” Yuuri mumbled, “I bet it’s still warm if you want it,” he lazily pointed at the food before standing up with a little bit of uncharacteristic sway.


The butlers looked to the suspicious cup on the desk and then back at Yuuri. They were at a loss for words. Their king was flushed, clearly tipsy if not drunk.


“Y-y-your majesty,” Minami stepped forward to grab the dinner cart with taught white knuckles. “How many of those have you had?”

“Minami!” Travis hissed quietly.


“Oh? Just one… well technically two” he giggled. “It was a really big glass.”


This time it was Travis that spoke up, “…and you didn’t eat dinner, right?”


“Nope! I didn’t eat lunch either,” Yuuri beamed, “I gave it to Pochayuu,” suddenly Yuuri’s eyes went comically wide and he clapped his hands over his mouth at the realization of his mistake.


“Oops,” he giggled.


The butlers sighed in unison.


“Alright,” Travis huffed, “let’s get you to bed. I won’t tell Gwendal if you don’t cause any trouble.”


“Awww,” Yuuri lunged for the pair dragging practically draping his body over theirs as he flopped into a big hug, “You guys are the best.”


Travis snickered while watching the steam pour out of Minami’s ears.


“M-m-majesty!”


“Minami, you take that side.” Travis snapped him out of it, peeling the king off his back and repositioning the raven’s arm around his shoulder.


Minami shyly complied. He pulled him closer and wrapped the king’s arm around his waist. “Please f-forgive me, your majesty,” he stuttered nervously.


Together they started walking towards his bedroom.


“Hey, remember when his Majesty was drunk last Christmas?” Travis grinned capriciously.


“No!” Minami let out a squeal. His face was beet red. “Don’t remind me of that, please!”


But it was too late.


The images of Yuuri drunkenly stripping, and lap dancing on him raced through his mind. No one had bothered to step in and help him either! Instead everyone queued for their turn to have a moment with Yuuri. Apparently, there were some recordings floating around – not that anyone would agree to show him – much to Minami’s dismay.

“I was too embarrassed to go outside for three days after that!” He squeaked uncomfortably.


“Yeah, I bet you were,” he laughed heartily.


“Travis, please don’t mention that again!” Minami begged. “It was so embarrassing!”


Travis chuckled, pushing the door open to Yuuri’s bedroom. “Have you…” he jests dramatically, “…seen those photos yet?” Travis grinned wolfishly. They have known each other far too long for him to simply leave Minami be.


“… no,” Minami practically whimpers – defeat.


“All right, all right,” Travis thoroughly enjoys the hopeful look that the other boy is giving him. It makes it so much more delicious when those dreams get dashed.


“I’ll stop teasing you now.” And, as if on cue, the hope drains from Minami’s face and he becomes vaporous. Travis howls and shakes with laughter.


“ohmygodyouresomean!” Minami cries dramatically.


“You’re tickling me,” Yuuri mumbles during their exchange.


“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry.” Travis unhooked the arm slung over his shoulders, “We are gonna put you down now.” His expression goes soft and motherly, a dubious shift from his usual antics.


“Travis,” Minami gave him a jealous look. “Are you in love with his majesty too?”


“Too?” After swinging the King’s legs up into bed, he turns arounds raises a questioning eyebrow in jest, of course. Minami goes pale after the flippant confession.


“Ah… well I mean that there are so many people…” Minami starts to pick at his fingers nervously.


But Travis put him out of his misery, “No? Why would I?”


Before he had a chance to respond Travis asked him a question, “Minami, why are you here – at this castle? Why did you become a butler?” Travis began walking towards the door, their job done.


“Umm, well,” Minami looked down, flush with embarrassment. “Ever since I was little the King was my idol, and when my mom told me that they were accepting kids close in age to the king to train as butlers, I begged her to let me go. She only agreed if I promised to visit every weekend until I turned 16. I wanted to meet him in person so bad. I’m still so in awe that I get to see him and talk to him almost every day.” The embarrassment melted into a soft smile.


“Do you know why I’m here?” He asked softly.


“No,” Minami admitted, “But you were one of the first people I met when I first came, so you’ve been here longer than me.”


“You know,” he continues on his tangent, hints of longing lingering in the small pauses in his voice. “When you mentioned your mom – I’m a little jealous. I don’t even know what my mom looks like.” He leaned against the wall in the hall way.


“Are you an orphan?” Minami’s eyes were watering. He never knew that about his friend and he has known him for longer than he hasn’t.


“Basically. My parents were killed when I was a little kid. Home invasion - robbery” Travis talked about the tragedy without a hint of emotion – like a well-practiced line he had to give, unfortunately, all too often.


“His Majesty appeared just in time to save me, but...”


“He couldn’t get to your parents in time?” Minami supplied, wiping his eyes with his sleeves.


“Mn.” He confirmed. “Don’t cry,” he let out a lone, “ha,” resembling a chuckle. “I don’t remember anything. I tell myself it’s a blessing because I’ve overheard things about that night, and…” He shook his head, “it’s better this way.”


“So, he took you in? out of guilt?” Minami sniffled.


Travis smiled thinly and nodded. “But don’t get me wrong, you make it sound worse than it is. He has never pitied me. Living here has been a wonderful experience.”


“So, to answer your question, if you ask me if I’m in love with him, I’d say he feels more like my dad – or maybe an older brother, or an uncle, since the age gap isn’t significant enough.” He started to ramble.


“But, no matter who he is to me, I definitely care about him.” Travis paused, “He has so many people who care about him even if he doesn’t realize it fully.”


Minami nodded astutely.


“I just wish he didn’t do this to himself. I’ve watched him fall apart and put himself back together again serval times. He’s the king, but he’s a person too. He was flaws and weaknesses, and we all worry for him, you know?”


The castle bell chimed.


“Someone’s here,” Minami noted.


Travis took off for the door, a full stride ahead of Minami.


“I can’t lose you, too. You’re all the family I got left.” He muttered to himself.


Behind him, Minami yelped.


Yuuri heard the bell and jolted up from the mattress like it was on fire. He swung his legs around and stood up with a stunning amount of precision.


Travis felt a gust of wind and a dark streak race past him.


Yuuri.


All he could do was sigh. What a handful.


With a drunken King sprinting around the castle, the two butlers had no choice but to follow him in hot pursuit and eventually coax him back to bed.


They could hear snippets of the exchange at the front door as they approached the foyer.


“Yuuri…?”


“Victor!!!” Yuuri exclaimed with an infectious smile spreading across his face.


Yuuri ran and jumped into Victor’s arms. The look of surprise on his face was priceless, and Victor almost fell down, but he rebalanced himself and caught Yuuri, hoisting him up around his waist. “Yuuri! Did you miss me?”


“Victorrrrr… You idiot!” Yuuri cried, angrily pounding on Victor’s shoulders like a child. “I thought you said were gonna quit the Holy Knights… But… Uwaaaaaa…”


Victor snickered, tightening his hold around Yuuri. He could smell alcohol on his breath. It explained a lot about his current behaviour. “Yuuri, are you drunk?” he teased.

 

“Just one glass,” he pouted, whilst waving a single index finger around until he bopped Victor on the nose. The enigmatic raven then brought his hands to Victor’s face in scrutiny.


After just two months, there was evidence of a few changes that drunk Yuuri clearly couldn’t ignore. Victor’s hair was longer, nearly brushing against the tops of his shoulders. His face, too, was covered with course stubble.


Victor laughed, “I was hoping to clean up a little before I saw you.”


“I don’t care. I get to see you faster this way,” he nuzzled into Victor’s neck.


“Gah! You’re itchy!” He recoiled immediately.

It had been so long since Victor had seen his adorable Yuuri. His heart ached, desperate for his warmth and light throughout his mission. Now Yuuri was literally in his arms again, he cherished every moment of it.


He drew eyes to Yuuri’s soft, quivering lips. He thought about Yuuri every day he was gone and hated how distraught he had become in his absence. He wanted those lips to smile for him, laugh for him again. Victor placed his lips on Yuuri’s chastely. His heart soared in response when he felt those raven’s lips turn up into an infectious smile. And then, Yuuri eagerly returned the kiss and wrapping his arms around Victor’s neck, drawing them impossibly closer together. Loud gasps echoed throughout the main hall of the castle. It was quickly followed by boisterous cheering. Right – they hadn’t exactly made anyone aware of their relationship.


“Yuuri, would you let go?” Victor said, blushing, after retreating from the kiss. “It appears that we have drawn a crowd.”


Yuuri responded by coiling his legs more tightly around Victor’s waist. He was petulantly defiant. “Noooooo! I don’t wanna let go!”


“It’s nearing bedtime now,” Victor tried to reason with his drunken lover, “Why don’t I take you to bed.”


Yuuri pulled back his face a few inches and thought about this new request. It was clearly a plot to get him to let go… or was it? The different thoughts and emotions going through his head were on display as his face shifted through a series of adorable expressions until he finally arrived at an answer.


“Take me to bed!” He commanded.


Out of the corner of Victor’s eye he could see Minami losing face. Victor snickered openly at the insinuation. “Alright, let’s go,” He cooed.


Victor began to walk forward with as much grace as a person could with a fully-grown man wrapped around him like an octopus. Thankfully, the servants, seeing that the eventfulness was drawing to a close, they enough tact to scamper off and give them more privacy. As they walked Victor could feel Yuuri’s short, shallow breaths tickling against the skin of his neck, how it hitched when he sniffled, and how his fingers dug and kneaded at the skin of his shoulders.


Alone, Travis stood watching from a distance. He couldn’t help but smile.


♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥.·:*:·.♥.·:*¨¨*:·.♥

 

With a cardboard box in his arms, Victor took once last look around his office. He barely recognized it anymore. Stripped bare of his every trace, all that remained was the desk, chair, and small cot. He was hit with a pang of nostalgia. He knew this was the last time he would set foot in here. It was exciting, but nevertheless it was goodbye, closing a very large chapter of his life. The quiet, anticlimactic farewell made its passing all the more reverent.


When he heard the door hinges squeak as he shut and locked it for the final time, the only thing he could do was smile a bittersweet smile. He set the last box on the dolly waiting patiently outside his office and slowly wheeled his way to the front desk and receptionists.


It seemed as if the entire branch had showed up to see him off. It had been a whirlwind resignation – shocking to those who didn’t know him; comforting to those who did – but, in true Nikiforov fashion, he surprised the world with his rapid announcement. He was impressed so many were able to show up on such short notice. He only expected a small intimate send-off. Instead, people – people he didn’t even recognize – flocked in the halls clapping for him as he walked by. His core team waited for him beside the royal escort vehicle under the porte-cochere.


“Take good care of yourself, Vitya.” Yakov shook his hand. “I hope you’ll be happy with your new job.” He didn’t want to see Victor go. He was his most accomplished student after all. Yakov couldn’t hide the slight terseness and frustration in his capitulation. But, he knew couldn’t keep him, not from the King. He truly was the best knight he had ever and would ever know. So, begrudgingly, he knew that this day would eventually come – when his talents exceeded his station and he would move on.

Victor caught his long-time mentor off guard when he yanked him into a hug. “I will. Thank you for everything, Yakov.”


Yakov stepped out of the hug after a polite amount of time. He was never big on touching and invading personal space – the complete opposite of Victor. He sat back on his heels and kept a stony face, watching the silver legend make his rounds saying good bye to everyone else.


Victor laughed when Mila offered to put his bag in the car for him. “I know I’m leaving, but you’re really rushing to get rid of me? I’m hurt!” He feigned melodramatic disappointment.


“Of course, I am!” Mila called his bluff, tossing in a wink for good measure.


“Yakov, we will be in touch,” Victor leaned in and whispered. Finally, casting one last look at his team, he set one foot in the vehicle.


Mila rolled her eyes, “Get out of here already!” she teased playfully, “Before we need to request a second car for that ego of yours.”

Georgi snorted at that.


“All right, all right,” he waved. “I’m sure I’ll see you around. Maybe I can invite you to the castle sometime?” He flashed a bright smile and dove into the black SUV.


The car rolled down the bumpy paved driveway. He turned around and watched as the gathered crowd and imposing building faded into the distance. Loneliness tugged at his emotions. He would miss this place – he would. He couldn’t deny the void in his heart as he drove away. The Holy Knights were all he knew for so long. But he also knew that he would never regret it. Soon, the sadness would abate, and his heart would be filled anew with so much life, energy and passion awaiting him in his next adventure.


Soon, he would be free.


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“Georgi! Georgi!” Mila playfully thrummed her fingers across his shoulder.


“What do you need? Can’t you see that I’m a little busy?” Georgi said with mild annoyance.


“It’s Victor! He’s on!”


Wordlessly, Georgi spun around and began marching for the door. Mila giggled and practically raced her way down the hall to the lounge with the nearest TV.


They could hear the sound coming from the speakers pouring out into the hall way as they approached.


“…he King is finally appointing his first royal knight. In an unusual move, one unprecedented in the line of succession extending back several generations, he has postponed this honour by over a decade.”


“Well, Morooka, it seems like he was waiting for the right candidate.” A second reporter chimed in.


“Perhaps he was! You couldn’t ask for anyone more revered and famous than Captain Victor Nikiforov, formerly of the Holy Knights.” Morooka added.


“While this whole thing seemed to develop really quickly, chances are…”


Georgi scoffed. It was all Victor this and Victor that since the news first broke of his appointment. It was finally starting to get on his nerves; many of the older knights, in fact, were also bristling at the news. No one could deny the rampant jealousy going through the organization like the flu. He was already in a slump that his dearest Anya had broken up with him. Why must he be subjected to watching others great successes too! He was ready for his turn in the lime light! The silver lining to all of this, at least, was now that Victor was gone, Georgi mused; he would no longer be forever lurking in that tall shadow. Who would they turn to now for all of the tough jobs? None other
than Victor’s former right hand!


Mila swatted at Georgi’s arm. “You’re grinning to yourself like an idiot. Pay attention!”


Yakov briefly appeared on screen, grumpily ignoring the zealous reporters as he walked through the palace gates.


“I can’t believe that Yakov gets to go!” Mila whined dramatically, “I thought we were friends!”


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Victor was in the dressing room, neurotically combing his hair. He had to look flawless, since this was literally the biggest day of his life, thus far anyway.


“Victor I think you look perfect, calm down.” Yuuri floated over in his billowing royal robes. Victor hadn’t ever seen Yuuri in them before – not without the mask anyway – he noted. Seeing Yuuri dressed as the king felt foreign. Yes, he knew Yuuri was the king, but the significance of that fact hadn’t solidified in his mind until the very moment. It felt surreal.


“Earth to Victor,” Yuuri waved his hand in front of Victor’s face.


He reddened, “I’m sorry! I just – I guess I’m nervous.” He paused, “I’ve never seen you fully dressed up until today. You really are the king.” He laughed dryly.


“Sometimes even I think it’s hard to believe,” he spoke quietly.


Shifting Victor’s focus, “What do you think?” Yuuri asked, laughing as he twirled around.


“Mmmmm, I think it doesn’t do you justice. We have the sexiest king in the nation’s history sitting on the throne…” he paused for dramatic effect, thoroughly enjoying Yuuri’s blush in the process, “and he dresses like a monk.”


“Well… I-” Yuuri started.


Knocking at the door killed to conversation. Yuuri could feel the nerves building up within him too.


“Your majesty, it’s time.” Travis disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.


“Well,” Yuuri looked at Victor, “I guess that’s my cue.” He turned around and started for the door. “I’ll see you in the throne room.”

He exhaled forcefully once he heard the heavy oak door slam shut.


Victor took the liberty to pace back and forth a few times to give Yuuri a head start before he finally worked up the nerve to pick up his signature white cape and wrap it around his shoulders.


It was time.


He walked through the empty castle halls to the antechamber. When he pushed open the heavy gilded door, Yakov and a young servant he had recently become familiar with, Minami, were waiting for him.


“Yakov, I’m so glad you could make it!” Victor tried to lunge into a hug with the older man.


Sidestepping him, he politely cleared his throat, “Of course I would be here. This is a huge honour and I would never stand up the King at an event like this.”


The two followed a pair of maids to the main entrance of the throne room. They respectfully asked them to keep their voices down, because sounds travelled so easily in the spacious and drafty chambers of the castle. Before long, their steps began to slow as they approached a guarded door, grand in its stature and heavily gilded with age old carvings done by the history’s finest artisans. This must be it.


The maids retreated into the bowels of the castle. With a sharp nod of affirmation to the guards, they pushed open the heavy doors. Warm, bright light flooded through. He and Yakov were alone, all eyes perfectly trained on them as they boldly walked up the centre aisle dressed ethereally in the signature Holy Knights’ white uniform.


Victor could only look ahead.


He saw his beloved King poised on the overbearing throne with his legs crossed and his dark cape dramatically swept off to the side. His heart clenched at the sight of his Yuuri’s immaculate display of power.


When Victor arrived at the threshold of the reception he dropped to his knees as Yuuri slowly uncrossed his legs and stood.


“Captain Victor Nikiforov of the Holy Knights” a deep voice boomed throughout the throne room, thanks to the help of microphones and voice altering equipment. The stark contrast of this deep menacing voice, and Yuuri’s soft and sweet one was jarring. Victor practically leapt back up to his feet like a startled cat.


“Bestowing the mantle of Royal Knight is something I take no frivolous pleasure in. It is a position of honour and notoriety, true, but also one of unending commitment, responsibility, and sacrifice.

I deliberated long and hard over your appointment after weighing the merits to your name and the values residing within your spirit. I have witnessed the good you have done, and the potential for good you have yet to accomplish.


This position, like my own, is not one of transience. We are bound eternally to our choices, the wise and the misguided alike. It is not something we can escape nor evade. This is the weight that you must now bear with a humble spirit.


With this oath, I will entrust my life into your care. Think about this – the weight of a life, how you might have to take one, how you might have to save one, how you might have to offer up your own.


These sacrifices demanded of you are not easy. I choose to put my faith you, because I know you have come to deeply understand what it means to serve honourably and loyally. If you truly wish to commit to this burden, if you understand the significance of this noble office, if your love for king and country outshines innate selfish desire, then the time has come for you to recite your oath.”


Victor took a day to memorize them – his oaths – and a week to practice. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t scared shitless in the moment, but he put in the time and effort
to make sure everything was perfect. The whole country was watching after all. He needed to prove himself to the world, to be known undeniably as the one worthy enough to be called a royal knight – the first royal knight.


“I, Victor Nikiforov, understand the commitments, responsibilities, and sacrifices being asked of me. I understand that my appointment is a lifelong commitment, one offering no means of honourable severance.


I swear to uphold my noble office with the honour befitting one of royal station. I swear to be a loyal, honest, and genuine servant for the advancement of my country, and to put its interests above my own. I swear to defend this nation, these people, and above all his majesty the King of Cervantes even at the cost of my life.


I have heard the demands of my King and I rise to meet his challenge with only love and sincerity in my heart.”

 

Victor finished his oath in ease, it's not as hard as predicted and he guessed he was too nervous over nothing. He took Yuuri's hand to kiss it in devotion before everyone who were watching - he wanted his feelings for his beloved king to be known by the world.


Gwendall emerged with a dark cloak draped over his right arm. Behind him trailed an older servant, Minako, carrying a sword evenly balanced between her two outstretched hands. The King took the cloak with a slight bow. Victor felt Yakov’s hands come to his shoulders as he removed the loosely done clasps to his white cape. He felt its familiar weight slide off his body.


Stepping forward, Yuuri brandished the rich black royal cloak with a flourish and allowed it to float down evenly around the knight’s shoulders. He clasped it in front before standing to receive the sword passed up from Minako, to Gwendall, then finally to Yuuri’s gloved hands.


Swiftly and expertly, He swung the blade down hard in a single motion. Those present in the room could hear the way the blade cut the air, the intent to kill reflected in its long razor edge. The point of the blade just missed the crown of Victor’s head causing the baby hairs around his face to dance and tickle his skin. It hovered there ominously before finally resting on Victor's shoulder.

The traditional method of granting accolade for bestowing knighthood.


Staring up the length of the blade into the void beneath the King’s expansive hood, even though they had practiced this numerous times before, he felt a chill go down his spine.

“I, the King of Cervantes, dub thee Sir Victor Nikiforov, First Royal Knight.”


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Through the handful of weeks leading up to the ceremony, Victor had slowly wormed his way into palace life. He claimed a room next to Yuuri’s “because a King’s knights should never be too far away in the event of a crisis.” This was how Yuuri rationalized their growing closeness and not too infrequent sleep overs to Gwendall.


Victor flopped into bed wearing nothing more than an undershirt and underwear.


“Can I sleep for the next week?” He huffed. His voice was muffled by the sheets his face was currently buried in.


“Hahaha, unfortunately not,” Yuri laughed wryly. “Now that you’re a part of the royal family, you have to follow my schedule.”


“Can we address that I still can’t get over the fact that you wearing sweatpants in the ceremony!”


“The throne is cold,” Yuuri shrugged, “besides, it’s not like anyone knows what I’m wearing under there. I could be naked, and no one is the wiser!” He smiled playfully. Victor felt his face heat up, “h-have you?”


“No!” Yuuri marched over and thumped him on the head.


Victor saw their proximity as an opportunity. Jutting his hand out in surprise attack, he grabbed Yuuri’s arm and sent him tumbling into the bed.


“Fwahhh!”


Victor brought him in against his chest and wrapped his arms around the Yuuri’s, nuzzling his nose against his lover’s neck.

“We should get a bigger, softer bed in here,” Yuuri blushed, “since I spend almost every night in here anyway.”


“…Or,” he looked away, blushing, “you could just move into my room.”


“Nonsense, the smaller the bed, the closer we can snuggle.” Victor protested playfully.


“You –” But, Victor halted his train of thought with a soft peck to the lips.


“Unless there is something more you need to do tonight,” Victor’s hand seductively trailed its way down Yuuri’s back to his glorious ass. “We’ll have a long day tomorrow, no? Let’s rest up.”


“L-l-let’s sleep!” he squeaked. Victor smiled, loving all the cute squeals and squirms he could elicit from his Yuuri.


They slept in each other’s arms. Victor held Yuuri close until the sun came up, breaking up the night. That next morning was sluggish and quiet, both still recovering from the ceremony and all the press, parties, and social events in its aftermath.


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“Are you sure we bought everything?” Victor asked as he unlocked the car and slid into the driver’s seat.


“Yeah,” Yuuri said after slamming the trunk, now full of groceries and shopping bags, shut. He then walked around and settled into the passenger’s seat with Pochayuu in his lap.


Yuuri leaned to his seat. “We should go somewhere to eat. My stomach is grumbling.”


“Po!” Pochayuu excitedly jumped. The little demon was also hungry.


The car started up, and music began to blare out from the speakers. The air conditioning hummed to life, at first blowing the warm stale air around from a car left parked in the
sun too long, but soon became crisp and chilly.


“Sure, what do you want?” Victor started thinking about all of the different higher-end restaurants he had visited with Chris to be able to make a quick recommendation.


“Uh…” Yuuri played with his hands nervously, “could we get fast food maybe?” He said it like he was guilty.


Victor looked at him with a surprised and questioning gaze.


“You wouldn’t believe how long it has been since I’ve had a chicken nugget okay!” He defended, “I want some,” Yuuri looked out the window with a childlike huff.

How could Victor say no to him though. “Is drive through okay?” Victor said with a tired chuckle, “I’m kind of done playing celebrity for the day.”


“You’ve been a celebrity your whole life, don’t give me that,” Yuuri quipped, “But, yes,” he smiled softly, “drive-through is fine.”


While chatting with Yuuri en route, his phone rang.


“Sorry, give me a minute, it’s probably Gwendall wondering why we are taking so long,” Yuuri fumbled for his phone in his pocket.


Victor watched as Yuuri squinted ominously at the caller id. He clearly recognized it, but it was not who he was expecting.


“Hello? Mari-neechan?”


Then Victor heard Yuuri slide seamlessly into speaking his native language and couldn’t follow along. He made a mental note to try to learn some Japanese in the future.


“Eh? Okaa-san is…” Yuuri’s eyes went wide.


The tone of Yuuri’s voice changed immediately. And the, he fell silent completely. Victor could hear rapid chatter coming from the other end of the line – the call was still going on. Victor glanced to Yuuri beside him, to see what his boyfriend’s expression was. Yuuri was hanging off of every word.


“Victor…” Yuuri ended the call and turned to Victor. His lips trembled, and his hands shook. “T-turn back…” He said with urgency and distress.


Victor looked at him, hesitating.


“Please! Turn back!” He repeated more frantically, “It’s my mother! She’s…!”


Victor pushed his phone into Yuuri’s hands, so he could type in an address. His fingers flew across the keyboard before he clipped it onto the dashboard mount.


The made a sharp U-turn before getting on the highway. Victor was glad he was with Yuuri today. He hoped he could be a source of safety and calm even when he felt like things were about to fall apart.


The seconds felt like the stretched on for hours in the time it took for Victor to race to Yuuri’s house.


When they finally arrived, Yuuri leapt out of the car before it even came to a complete stop and raced inside. Victor, by contrast, slowly got out of the car and walked around to the other side to get Pocha and shut the passenger’s side door before walking up to the entrance. He heard muffled voices from the doorway that he couldn’t decipher.


“Okaa-san!!!” Yuuri cried out.


“Yuuri!” Hiroko beamed, watching her only son dashing into the house. She fanned herself casually after hours of strenuous work. “It’s so good to see you!”


Hiroko gladly welcomed Yuuri into her arms when he ran right to her side. She hugged him tightly, stroked his hair, and kissed his forehead.


“Are you okay, I heard from Mari-” Yuuri rambled anxiously.


“I’m fine, Yuuri. Don’t worry.” Hiroko assured her son. “She must have exaggerated,” Hiroko smiled clearly more than fine with the extra attention.


“Mari-neechan!” Yuuri looked at her accusingly.


“Hey, if I hadn’t said anything, we probably wouldn’t see you for at least another year.” Mari defended her choice.


Yuuri bowed his head. “I’m sorry…”


“Don’t apologize dear! As long as we know you are doing well, we couldn’t be happier!” Hiroko said, assuring him again.


Since it seemed that all had been resolved, Victor slowly walked inside with Pochayuu in his arms. Heads obviously turned at the unexpected entrance; their eyes widened with surprise. They knew perfectly who he was, of course. Victor, used to the attention and staring, calmly went to Yuuri’s side without missing a beat.


“It’s Victor Nikiforov!” Mari shrieked, shifting to English immediately, “Please wait a moment; I’ll put on some tea!”


Victor waved his hand, “No, it’s okay! I’m just tagging along. Don’t mind me!”


“Hello, Victor.” Hiroko always kept up with any and all news about her son. She recognized the new visitor immediately. “It is nice to meet you!” Hiroko greeted him with a warm smile.


“Really? Thank you, Ma’am.” Victor blushed. He couldn’t help but notice how much Yuuri took after his mother.


Victor was prompted to ask, “Umm, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, really! Yuuri’s big sister probably told him I was dying, but I only strained my back a little while I was working,” Hiroko shook her head. “I had just been standing for too long. It’s not like I even slipped and fell.” She laughed.


Then turned to Pocha, sitting in Victor’s lap. “Pocha! Come here you cute little boy! Aww, what’s with the frown?”


“Hungwy…” Pochayuu whimpered.


“We were on our way to eat lunch when we got the call,” Victor explained, patting Pochayuu's head. The affectionate gesture doesn't seem to lift the little demon's mood in the slightest.


Without breaking her concentration on spoiling the little demon, she cooed, “Aww, you poor, poor little thing. This is all your Aunt Mari’s fault. Come with me, Baa-chan will cook something for you!”


“Po!!!” Pochayuu’s eyes sparkled. He started following Hiroko around while she prepped the kitchen and took out ingredients.


“Victor,” Hiroko sang teasingly, and poked her head out of the kitchen’s doorframe.


“Would you like to try Yuuri’s favourite food?”


Yuuri blushed deep red. His mother was doing this on purpose. At least it wasn’t baby photos, he thought.


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While Hiroko was in the kitchen, Yuuri waited in the living room.


He watched Victor chase Pocha around to get him out from underneath his mother’s skirts. Once his energy finally puttered out, he darted out onto the tatami mat and flopped over. Victor soon caught up with him and peppered him with kisses and tickles at his fluffy stomach, causing the little demon to giggle in glee.


The sight of it all warmed his heart. How long it had been since he had felt this way? It was all so blissfully domestic like they were a real family. It was tempting – he wished it was real, that it was more than this.


He sat there until he heard his father calling him, breaking him out of his daydream. “Yuuri can you come with me to the storage room for a minute?”


“Uh..,” He fumbled, regaining his focus, “Okay, sure–”


Yuuri quietly followed Toshiya to the dusty storeroom.


“Wait here,” he stopped Yuuri in the doorway, “I think I remember where I set it down last…” He trailed off, eagerly diving into the messy maze of forgotten and rarely used things.

“I found this a while ago.” Toshiya climbed out from behind the wall of boxes with amuch smaller, dusty one in his hands. “I was looking for some special glass ware for your mother when I came across it. I’ve been meaning to give it you, actually” Yuuri’s interest was officially piqued, but his heart hurt too. How long had his father been waiting for him to come home? How long had this been on his mind?


When the box was pushed into his hands, he peeled off the lid and peered inside. “What is this, Otou-san?” He squinted at the hunk of metal, thoroughly confused.


“It’s the hilt of a sword,” Toshiya explained. “I’m happy that I still held on to it after all these years.”


Yuuri examined the whole structure of the handle. “But where’s the blade?” Yuuri saw a hollow cavity at the base of the hilt where the blade was supposed to be.


Noticing Yuuri’s confusion, Toshiya spoke up, “Ah, it’s broken for sure. Don’t worry, it is not supposed to be like that.”


“What was it?” Yuuri continued to inspect it and turn it over curiously.


“It was an Empatheia.”


“Eh???” Yuuri was shocked and nearly dropped the object in response.


Toshiya laughed at his son’s franticness. “It used to belong to a king long ago. But, now it’s just a hunk of metal. How sad, really. I got it from a friend who bought it at an auction years ago – long before you were born. I completely forgot about it until I happened to stumble upon it recently. I thought of you.”


“Does it have a name?” Yuuri was trying to think back on all his history lessons from Gwendall and figure out which one this was. Only a few Kings used an Empatheia in their prime. Further, most of them were lost or missing. The few left that were unmatched were sitting underneath glass cases in museums.


“Izanagi,” Toshiya said. “The King at the time, Matsumoto imbued his blade with lightning that he called from the sky. They say that anyone who came in contact with the metal blade was instantly electrocuted and often died as a result of their injuries. How brutal.”


“I-I-Izanagi?” Yuuri felt his hands begin to tremor with nervous excitement. This artifact had been missing for centuries. To think that his own family was in possession of it. It was surreal – if it was the real deal of course.


“If the blade was strong enough to channel lightening, what happened to it? Do you know why it broke off like this?” Yuuri asked, hoping the owner of the Empatheia might know something more about its history.

“Now, that is the million-dollar question. No one knows for sure. But, you’re right, it shouldn’t have been able to break like this.”


Yuuri tried to fix it with his Ability to no avail.


Toshiya placed a hand over Yuuri’s own to stop him from wasting his energy on the artifact. “Yuuri, please take a good care of it. Think of it as an amulet from us for your reign. Though Matsumoto faced many challenges, he overcame them all and lived for a long time.” Toshiya placed his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders. “I believe it should rightfully belong to you, now. Perhaps you will find it a better purpose and a better home.”


The raven nodded. Lagging behind his father after exiting the storeroom, he ducked into his old childhood bedroom and contacted Gwendall via video call. He wanted to verify it immediately. He hoped it really was that missing Empatheia because what a find that would be! But, it was also not unheard of for people to try to produce fakes just to make a quick dime at auction. He wanted to be sure before he got his hopes up.


“Certainly, this is Izanagi…” Gwendall verified much to Yuuri’s amazement and relief.


“Do you know where the blade is? What happened to it?” Yuuri asked knowing full and well that Gwendall was his best and only shot at learning the truth of its catastrophic demise.


Gwendall shook his head, “I have seen it all in one piece long ago. It was truly a sight to behold when Matsumoto conjured up lightning and made the blade sparkle and dance with such pure energy. But, I don’t know where the blade went. It’s probably disintegrating in a shallow grave on an old battlefield now. He never did tell me how it happened.”


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Two large bowls of steaming hot pork cutlet bowl were set before them at the dining table.


“Wow,” Victor’s mouth watered, taunted and teased by the divine smell. He had never seen such a scrumptious meal.


“Can you use chopsticks?” Yuuri asked hurriedly, handing him a pair before picking up his own. “If you can’t, I’ll find you some cutlery.”


Victor didn’t bother with a reply. He greedily grabbed the chopsticks and dove in for a bite, unable to wait any longer. When the mingling of rich flavours touched his lips, his eyes sparkled. “Vkusno!!!”


“I know, right?” Yuuri chuckled.

Pochayuu made the same face after taking his first bite, he and Yuuri were sharing the same large bowl. Seeing his reaction made Yuuri smile.


When Yuuri finally took his first bite, his response was far more complex. He knew this inimitable taste. It was nostalgic and warm – delicious of course – but packed with emotion and memories. He gave up try to get the cooks to make this for him. It was only his mother’s katsudon that ever tasted just right. He missed it; he missed them. He
thought about all his childhood years with them. It was a simpler and easier time.


“Ma’am, this is delicious!” Victor interjected, “No wonder this is Yuuri’s favourite!”


Victor gave her a thumbs up after practically licking his bowl clean. “Yuuri is so lucky to have a mother like you!”


“Really? I’m flattered. Victor Nikiforov is eating my cooking! You’re the biggest celebrity in this household, you know!”


Victor coughed. Only in the Katsuki household could they say such a thing with the King sitting right in front of them – even if he was their son.


“So, are you two friends now?” Mari pointed her chopsticks at Yuuri and Victor.


Mari finally began to touch on the elephant in the room. Yuuri and Victor stiffened.


“Well…” Victor cleared his throat, unsure what to say. “You can put it that way, I guess…”


Yuuri’s face stiffened. “…We need to talk.” He paused and quietly mustered up his courage.


“Otou-san, Okaa-san, umm…” Yuuri stuttered a little. “There’s something I need to tell you…”


His parents both waited patiently, their expressions mild, not betraying their curiosity, confusion, and hopes.


“…Victor and I are dating.”


Finally, Yuuri said it. Immediately it was as if a large weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He wanted them to know, but it was so nerve-wracking.


Mari leapt up from the table and pointed at the couple, “I freaking called it!”


“Mari!” Hiroko scolded her outburst.


“I swear on my life I will protect him,” Victor jumped in, reaching to take up Yuuri’s hand in his own. “I vow to keep him safe from all harm.”

Victor bowed his head deeply to the old couple. Pochayuu looked around, sensing the tension in the room. It confused him. He couldn’t understand what was going on. He looked to Yuuri for answers, but he only held him closer to his chest.

“I have always deeply admired Victor, and I don’t think that is going to change, but now I realized my feelings have moved beyond that – it’s love.”


Everyone stared at Yuuri speechless after such a bold declaration. Victor already knew it in his heart, but to hear Yuuri proclaim it out loud was another thing entirely. He gripped his hand tighter while Yuuri continued.


“Yes, that is how I will put it. Love is the only word to name my feelings for Victor. The first time I met him, he saved my life and I admired him so much for that. But after getting to work with him side-by-side, I realize that it’s so much more than that. He cares about me, protects me, uplifts me.”


Victor felt so moved, he had to respond to this grand declaration, the embarrassment of onlookers be damned. In that moment it was just the two of them. “For the first time in my life as well, I have found someone that I to protect without anything in return. I love you too.”


They ran out things to say altogether. Both Yuuri and Victor blushing, tongue tied, and silent.


“Oh my,” Hiroko began to chuckle. “I guess I did see it coming. We have a new family member now, eh?”


Hiroko cupped Victor’s face in her hands. “My baby is hooking up with a very handsome and strong man like you. How could I not be happy?”


“H-h-hooking u-up?” Yuuri stuttered in response. Were his mom’s insinuations always that directed?


Yuuri was afraid if his parents were reluctant to hand him away since they already saw him so little, afraid that they would be disappointed in him for removing their hope of having grandchildren one day. Victor worried that maybe Yuuri’s parents couldn’t find anyone worthy enough to be with their son. It was what Mari said that quieted all their nervous anxieties.


“You two were made for each other. Not that I particularly care or anything,” Mari crossed her arms.


“Everyone…” Yuuri was beginning to get emotional. They accepted him, they were his family – they always had. “Thank you!”

Victor bowed to them again, he bowed repeatedly as much as he could. “Thank you!”


“Oh no, Victor. We’re also your parents now from now on. You can call me Mama,” She inched closer to give him a kiss on the cheek.


“We’re leaving our son in your care,” Toshiya bowed.


Mari patted Yuuri’s back. “So, you finally landed that hottie in all of your posters? I wonder what Victor would think.”


Victor caught the tail end of Mari saying something in English when he heard his name.


Whatever is was had riled her little brother up considerably. He wished he had been paying more attention.


“What would I think about what?” Victor hoped to clarify.


“Mari-neechan!” Yuuri spouted angrily. He turned a mixture of red and purple in embarrassment.

Chapter Text

Today marked the first week of Victor’s stay in the castle as a royal knight.


In an official capacity there were several duties he had already adjusted to and did his best to perform, but it was only a fraction of the lifestyle he had yet to get accustomed to. In a personal capacity he would say something similar about his adjustment period, but with far more enticing perks. It was a wonderful experience to get to know more sides of Yuuri that he had never seen before. It was equally as eye opening to shadow the daily life of a king – it was not an enviable position.


Today, and for the next few days, he “stood guard” in the royal office at his majesty’s behest and Gwendall’s assent – until he had transitioned into the full scope of his duties.


“Your Majesty,” Gwendall thumbed through the booklet of notes in his hand. “Here is the list of tasks I have compiled for you to complete today. First, you’ll be reviewing and signing off on petitions that the other advisors deemed acceptable.”

“Hmm,” Yuuri acknowledged, his eyes never leaving the paperwork immediately in front of him.

Victor’s smiled blossomed, a gentle warmth of affection spread in his chest, watching hisbeautiful and determined boyfriend working with so much focus and diligence.

Gwendall carried on to the next point – the pair was undoubtedly a well oiled machine. “Next,the governor of Rosecoast will come to pay a visit. You’ll have a meeting with Human Resources Association to discuss about the recent bridge construction project in Wingston. Then, you have the meeting with the Holy Knights to review the annual safety report.”

Yuuri’s brows twitched, “Give that one to Victor.” He replied effortlessly, the cadence of his pen scrawling across the current document in front of him went unaffected.


Victor perked up at the sound of his name and watched Gwendall pause to scrawl a note down before resuming the bombardment.


“…Tenth, the Lower West District is asking for more medical supplies to tend for the injured in the recent terror attack.”


What, it was tenth already? Yuuri didn’t quite catch the rest, his mind and focus were already beginning to swim.


“…the election of a new captain of the Holy Knights in place of Victor. Next is your routine visit to the hospital, and after that the launch of the new park on Avenue 338. And then…”


“Aaaarrrrggggghhhhh,” Yuuri groaned before collapsing on the desk. Victor heard the slap of his pen against the hard wood, followed by the thud of his king’s head against the surface.


Gwendall paused flicking his eyes upwards, unaffected. “Are you alright, Your Majesty?” He feigned concern – this seemed to be a regular occurrence. He smiled deviously, “That was only the first quarter of everything. You don’t usually pitch a fit until halfway.”


“Give me a break…” Yuuri whined. He had been up since dawn and thought that just maybe his efforts yielded a dent in his pile of work. But, numerous new ones suddenly get thrown right into his face - he wanted to vomit. The lack of end in sight was beyond depressing.

Yuuri abruptly stood up; the chair kicked out from behind him and skidded across the hardwood floors in hyena-like groans.


“Yuuri?” Victor looked concerned. Ah he made Victor worry about him already.


“I will take a break and have my bath.” Yuuri swayed over to the door. “I won’t be long Gwendall.”

“Victor, come. I will need your help.”

And so he fell into step beside him.


Victor was becoming familiar with Yuuri’s routines. Usually it was the servants who assisted Yuuri during baths, so as he walked next to him, Victor was jittery, toying with the explanation for the unknown deviation in his pattern. Victor patiently waited outside while he cleaned up.


Yuuri said he would be brief, but Victor didn’t mind if Yuuri took his time. He was intimidated by the sheer amount of work Yuuri was burdened with. It was far more than he ever had to deal with even with his illustrious position in the holy knights. So, if he wanted a little personal time to escape that burden, who was he to blame him?


“Hiiiiii Victor. Whatcha doin’?” Victor jerked his head up and saw Travis approaching with a dustpan in hand.


“Oh -Travis right? Hello,” he said why a shy wave. “I’m waiting on Yuuri.” He glanced back at the door.

Travis snickered.


“What’s so funny?” he asked, genuinely confused. Was something wrong with his hair? Was it a bald spot!? Subconsciously, he brought a hand to the top of his head.


“Oh nothing, “ He rocked back on his heels mischievously, “Have fun~”


Travis skittered away, not wanting to interrupt. Leaving Victor further confused. He massaged his scalp – nothing seemed out of the ordinary… well, maybe it is getting a little thinner…. Then, he heard the deafening absence of sound when the water to the showers was shut off.

Victor heard Yuuri speak, “Victor, towel.” It was muffled through the door.


Without wasting time, Victor obediently turned the knob and cracked the door to push the clean, dry towel he had been holding onto through the crevice. The first thing to greet him was foggy steam and pleasant heat pouring from the doorway. The water condensed slightly on his skin and tickled. He was then hit with the scent of mint and rosemary.


To Victor’s surprise, the door was wrenched open from the other side and Victor practically fell into the bathroom. When he regained his footing, he was falling again. Every one of his senses felt as if they were invoked simultaneously. The heat, the scent… the view. He was so far gone with this man.


Before him stood Yuuri, who had, since Victor began his shameless gaping, turned around and nonchalantly checked himself out in the full body mirror from across the room. Victor was completely unprepared for the feast he had literally stumbled right into and that feeling left him frozen in place. He would gladly savor this sight forever. His heart pounded, his mouth dried out, and he felt his temperature rise. It was definitely NOT due to the steam.

Yuuri’s hair was damp and slicked back to reveal his forehead. His whole body was dripping with small beads of water practically sparkling underneath the soft lighting of the washroom. He gulped as his eyes traced the water dribbling down his body tracing every curve with elemental precision. His lean and petite, yet muscled form was God’s magnum opus.


Why on earth had he tried to hide himself earlier!?


Victor felt an erection rapidly growing in his parts. He desperately tried to use the only thing he had available – the towel – to hide it. Yuuri held out his hand, “Towel,” he demanded with an amused smirk.


While not sure if Yuuri was doing this on purpose, Victor was vaguely reminded of Travis’ words and knew that the little brat somehow knew of the trap he was walking into. Pleasantly distracted, with eyes fixated on Yuuri’s body, Victor didn’t realize that he was keeping Yuuri waiting. Yuuri grew impatient.


“What’s wrong?” Yuuri approached Victor and caressed his chin. “You don’t want me to cover up? Is that it? You like what you’re seeing, don’t you, Vitya.”


Yuuri’s eyes flicked down briefly before he slid his hand down to meet Victor’s bulge. “Oh, I think you do.”


“Yuuri…” Victor blushed deeper. Yuuri was boldly, shamelessly stroking him softly, careful not to apply too much pressure – the pressure he desperately wanted. This man would be the death of him.


Seeing he was getting the upper hand, Yuuri smirked and fluttered his eyes. He lunged forward and pushed Victor’s head lower so he could kiss him. “Victor, don’t be shy~”


Don’t be shy, eh? Victor saw the challenge in his words. Sure, Yuuri’s advances made him weak with pleasure, but still not weak enough to roll over without putting up a fight!


In a swift move, Victor bent down and grabbed Yuuri’s legs, easily tossing the younger man into his arms. Victor haphazardly threw the towel in Yuuri’s lap and walked out of the bathroom carrying his prize. The Yuuri who was once confident and assertive, quickly became a blushing and embarrassed mess.

“V-V-Victor…!” Yuuri shrieked in embarrassment. “Put me down! Everyone’s looking!!”

Victor ignored his pleas. He strode through the halls, happily humming with greedy pleasure. It was Victor’s turn to confidently smirk given the turn of events.


Though the servants were supposedly used to seeing Yuuri naked, this was new. Many of them stopped whatever they’re doing and stared at Victor and Yuuri with beady, interested eyes and gaping mouths. Out the corner of Yuuri’s eye, he spotted Minami’s body sprawled on the floor surrounded in a pool of blood.


YUURI-SAMA IS NAKED!!! Was scrawled inelegantly in crimson with his finger.


Victor kicked the door to Yuuri’s bedroom open and marched inside. He threw Yuuri onto the king-sized bed and crawled on top of him, pinning Yuuri beneath him so that he couldn’t escape.

Victor had a devilish smile plastered across his face while he unbuttoned his shirt to join Yuuri in his state of undress. Yuuri was unsure if he felt nervous or excited.


“Yuuuuri,” he drawled, “You’ve had your fun, now it’s my turn…”


It didn’t take long for Yuuri’s loud moans to echo through the drafty halls and chambers of the castle. It was clear that Victor was doing…. questionable things to him and the sinful noises he elicited from his fair king were gobbled up ravenously by the servants sipping tea in the kitchen located on the lower floor. They knew not to expect anyone to come calling for them for a little while.


Travis took a sip of his chamomile tea. “Castle life has never been livelier.”

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Victor heard his phone ringing and dug it out of his coat pocket. He flashed a wide, bright smile when he saw the caller ID.


“Sup, Yurio?” Victor playfully greeted his cousin. “It’s been a while since you’ve called!”


“Yo, old man.” Yuri was as harsh as ever.


Victor snickered. He had a long time love-hate relationship with that nickname. Only Yurio could ever get away with calling him that – it was a testament to their bond. He was like a little brother to Victor, even if their relationship had been strained in recent years. As Captain of Holy Knights it was an unfortunate fact that he had less time to spend with the growing boy. And in those years of his absence, he had grown up so much – too much – so fast. Sometime it really did make Victor feel old.


Victor bet Yurio was secretly missing him, not that he would evet admit to it. “Yurio, did you hear? I’m the King’s personal knight!”


“So? Am I supposed to be jealous?” Yurio snorted. “Who cares.”


Victor expected this kind of answer from his cousin. He laughed. “You could at least pretend to be happy for me!”


“How could I? I’m getting tired of hearing your name. My family won’t shut up about you. It’s all anyone ever talks about anymore.” Yurio cared not to hide his annoyance.


Victor could understand Yurio’s indifference perfectly. How many times had he heard other people whispering that Yurio would be his successor after he graduated from Stellata? It was something even Yakov pressured. He did see Yurio’s potential; his Ability was a textbook example for a what an ideal Holy Knights captain should possess.


“So, how’s school?” Victor asked to keep the conversation moving and away from Holy Knight affairs.


The line went silent while Yurio decided how to phrase his answer. “Fine I guess. School is normal and stupid Kyler doesn’t bother me anymore.”

“That’s good to hear! So things are getting better for you now, huh? And Otabek is finally getting a break too probably!” Victor applauded.


“Dunno about Otabek,” Yurio scoffed, leaving Victor confused.


Victor was prompted to ask, “Aren’t you and Otabek close? We used to play at the playground altogether when you were a kid.”


“Not anymore perhaps…” Yurio blurted out. “I don’t even remember the last time we talked. We never fought or anything though.”


Yurio calmly added, “It’s not like I’m lonely without him anyway. I have many other friends and I see him with Phichit all the time. We’re cool I guess.”


“Why don’t you try talking to him sometime? Even if you aren’t lonely don’t you miss him? You always demanded me to take you to the park just so you could meet him back in the day!” Victor pressed.


“… ughh, just stop.” Yurio evaded.


Being a teenager was a temporary phase but a lot of things could happen at such short period, it was a weird stage for everyone to experience. Maybe this was the most legit explanation to things going this way for Yurio and Otabek. Victor wondered for a while if he had been through such phase in his life. Maybe not, he was immediately expected to shoulder the responsibilities rightfully belonged to an adult right after he joined the Holy Knights, while he was only in his teens.


Victor fretted as his long-time fears bubbled back to the surface. All of the things he sacrificed while to be a Holy Knight, all of the times and opportunities he missed – just what was the price he had to pay to get where he was now?


“I heard you got a new boyfriend too, Victor?”


Dang, Yurio. Victor thought. What timing. No conversational skills.


“This one I heard from Mila,” Yurio made some popping sounds with his tongue. “She’s annoyingly enthusiastic about it.”


Victor laughed. “Look at how lucky I am now. I’ve gotten a promotion and a boyfriend! Isn’t that cool? I’m killing two birds with one stone!”


“Well, don’t screw it up this time,” Yurio huffed. Victor’s love life was always a major point of gossip in the news. “Not like I care, but it’s embarrassing when you get plastered all over the tabloids. I’m interested to see how long this one will last - with all of that extra baggage.”

“Your exes weren’t just nobodies, you know.” Yurio added, noting Victor’s impossible tastes in men.


“True,” Victor nodded. “Rest assured, my new boyfriend isn’t like any of them. He’s even better,” Victor declared it proudly.

Victor changed partners like people changed clothes. Victor himself had lost count on how many people he had burned through. From clashing personalities, lack of time, differing statuses, and – worst of all – dating him only for the publicity, Victor could probably list every reason in the book why his relationships failed. In the end, he sometimes secretly thought that one-night stands with prostitutes whenever he felt lonely would be less messy and painful than the hurt of struggling though countless fragile and doomed relationships.


“I’m decided on this one, Yurio. I’ve never felt this strongly about someone before. I’ll never let him go.” Victor pledged. He pictured Yuuri’s brilliant smile and his heart warmed with affection.

“I’m not sure if I can believe that.” Yurio responded. “You have impossible standards.”


Victor smirked. He recalled his most recent ex, the son of the CEO of the Holy Knights. His good looks, cleverness, and charming personality would be considered as “impossible”. He could admit that Alexander was a good person inside and out, yet their relationship didn’t work.


“So, what magical being is your new boyfriend to have ensnared the infamous Victor Nikiforov? He can’t possibly be human.” Victor could hear Yurio’s eye roll from the other end of the line.


“Yurio, isn’t that too much? I’m hurt,” Victor said with a feigned sulky tone.


Victor lightly laughed, “You’re still too young, you don’t understand. You’ve never dated anyone before. Am I right?”


“… Bring up my virginity and I’ll kill you. You horny old man.”


“Let me tell you, Yurio. He’s the only one for me, and we’re perfect for each other.” Victor took on a more serious tone that left Yurio silent on the other end of the line. “I don’t think I’ve ever said that about any of my past boyfriends.”


Victor blushed. He was embarrassed, so he slowly added “After I fell for him, I realized what was missing from my previous relationships.”

“He is not a perfect person, unlike any of my exes.” Victor softened, thinking about his Yuuri.


“But I realize that a ‘perfect person’ was never what I needed. I see that I’ve always wanted – and needed – someone who loves me for being myself. Not as the legendary Holy Knight Victor Nikiforov… just Victor.”


Victor’s heart ached with emotion. To get to this point, he had to learn from past mistakes – so many mistakes. At times he felt like it would be an endless cycle – to lose someone he loved over and over again – until he put a stop to it, until he gave up completely.


“For the first time in my relationships, I feel like I want to fight for us.” Victor finished and heard a pregnant silence from the other end of the phone.


“Yeah, you better hang onto this one and make him happy. It’s not like I want to ever hear you rant about your love life again or anything” Yurio muttered.

Victor smiled. Yurio, in his weird way always cared.

“When are you going to start showing him off to your friends? Not that I care who he is! I just don’t want to watch all of your gross fawning over each other.”


“He is a little shy. So for the time being, I’m keeping my relationship private.”



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Yuuri intently scrolled to the next paragraph on the iPad.


“Victor was sitting there, all chained up and powerless. The knight was usually strong and unrivaled in terms of strength, but this time… He couldn’t even lift a finger. He was stripped bare from up and down,” Yuuri read the paragraph out loud, his face carefully expressionless.


Victor bit his lips in a desperate measure not to laugh. Yet, a quiet hiss, “Pfftt,” escaped.


He quickly composed himself and read his line trying not to fumble over the words, “Uh, Victor was blushing madly at the presence of his king. ‘Y-Your Majesty…’ Victor shivered uncontrollably in fear, tears swelling in his icy blue eyes.”


The servants eagerly watched this spectacle: Yuuri and Victor at the dining table reading aloud the angsty contents of their shared iPad over breakfast. They giggled quiety amongst themselves, all while impressed with Yuuri’s perfect composure and nonchalant tone.

“…Then, the King – Victor’s only master and the most powerful man in the world, stepped forth.”


Yuuri scrolled again, and carried on reading, “He was menacing and threatening in his black coat and mask, his red eyes shone brightly in his dark, personal playroom. The room was filled with tools to punish Victor whenever his personal knight was misbehaving.”


Yuuri continued, “The King, without mercy – nudged Victor’s dick with his steel boot. Victor moaned in pleasure at its coolness, his limp dick rose up like the break of dawn instantly. The King said, in a dark and booming voice ‘Sir Nikiforov, how in my name you dare to defy me. It’s time for your rightly deserved lesson…’ In his right hand, he was holding a horse whip to discipline a certain misbehaving little pup –“


“Bwahahahahaha!!!” Victor burst out cackling at the top of his lungs, it echoed through the halls. “Yuuri, I can’t! -with that tone!”


“Victor,” he drawled, “It’s your turn. I think things are getting good,” Yuuri continued to egg him on with his teasing. Victor couldn’t bring himself to read any more though.


“Gods, that had to be the worst fanfic I’ve heard read!” Mary wheezed out between fits of laughter.


“People are writing fanfics about you guys like crazy,” Travis commented while pouring tea for the King. “I’ve… I did read some of them, and some of them… they have the craziest imaginations.”


Yuuri sipped his tea with grace, unbothered with the suggestion of the numerous lewd fantasies floating around in the dark recesses of the internet. “Even if they are crazy, certainly there is a shred of truth in these. We’re dating for now.”

“But your relationship is definitely not at all like… this,” Travis motioned to the open page on the iPad, not willing to say it aloud. “Am I right, Victor?”


Victor smiled and slowly nodded. “Hm, yeah…”


“So, how is exactly his Majesty when he’s with you then?” Mary raised her eyebrows repeatedly in a suggestive manner. She was fishing for a juicy piece of gossip.


“Well,” Victor wrapped an arm around Yuuri’s shoulder and pulled the raven closer to him. There are some huge differences, but I found one thing that happens to be similar.”Victor paused with a shit eating grin for dramatic effect.


“Contrary to how the outside world views him, Yuuri is sooooo cute! He never fails to make my ‘dick rise like the break of dawn.’”


Yuuri spat out the tea he was drinking. His face gradually turned red, as red as the strawberry jam spread on the toast before him. Victor smirked in victory. He managed to prove his point to the servants, showing how adorable his beloved Yuuri is. Not to mention he reaped the benefits of witnessing such an adorable flustered expression. Victor found that it never took much to have his king blushing like a young maiden. While nobody outside the castle would’ve imagined their king as such, it was a nice side to him.


“Shush, Victor –“ Yuuri glared at Victor with red eyes, everything around the pair froze. “Do you want me to spank you for real, just like in the fic?!” He hissed.

Yuuri was trying to be like how the fic depicted him. How cute.


Victor leaned towards Yuuri and tilted his head – his lips pressed against the raven’s in a chaste kiss. Yuuri’s eye color reverted to warm cinnamon, and everything around them came to life once again. Victor pulled away to see Yuuri blushing even redder then before. His freshly kissed lips formed a trembling pout and steam poured from his ears.



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Throughout the date, Victor kept a keen eye on Yuuri- not that target in question noticed.


The experience was wilder than Victor had expected. At first he was overly focused on providing firm support as a bodyguard, but it never failed to surprise him how eerily well Yuuri fit himself into the masses as a harmless everyday citizen. He had this ability to become invisible in a crowd, and no one spared him a glance.So, he relaxed a little bit, fell in step with his date, and a contented smirk slowly spread across his face behind the facemask he was wearing.


To think that their king was walking among his people, and that they had no idea. If they did, how would they react?


This was a side of Yuuri he hadn’t seen. Yes, he had seen Yuuri as a pedestrian, but never as a king acting as a pedestrian. This was undoubtedly different. Never before did he have the privilege to watch this dichotomy at work. It made these moments, and his joy all the more special – seeing how he spent his life cooped up behind a stack of paper and burdened with stress, it gave new meaning to his juvenile mirth and gratefulness for the smallest of moments.


And he loved to see these different sides to Yuuri – eating cotton candy, white knuckled grips on the fast roller coasters, and dragging him around to take pictures with the mascots. Victor happily obeyed his whims. Seeing him happy, his smile was more important than experiencing the thrill of any game of ride. Victor wanted the chance to spoil Yuuri as much as possible while he still had the chance. The day was fleeting despite their eagerness to seize every moment.


“Victor!” Yuuri latched onto Victor’s sleeve, “I want to go there! The haunted house!”


Victor looked up from his glittering smile. The entrance was decrepit, made to look like an old, dilapidated wooden house right out of a horror movie. It must be a good attraction – the admission line was long.


“So what’s inside? Are we seeing actual ghosts?” Victor asked curiously. He had never been inside a haunted house before.


“No,” Yuuri said confidently, all while tightening his hold around Victor’s arm. “It’s just people in costume and lots of places for them to hide.”


Yuuri added, “But I heard this one is not so bad. I heard of this one from my sister where they have actors that will kidnap you and try to torture you! It’s all pretend of course! But I think I would still be terrified of something like that.”


“Let’s give it a shot then,” Victor agreed. Yuuri seemed to like haunted houses.


The actual experience wasn’t as bad as Victor imagined it would be.


Within the haunted house, different rooms had different scenarios. First they witnessed an ugly witch cooking people alive in a cauldron. The wailing cries of the victims were enough to make even Victor’s skin crawl – never mind the assault to his hyper sensitive senses. The second one, though, was his personal favorite. It was a serial killer’s torture chamber. The third was a mad scientist’s lair and caged human specimens. Victor, for the most part, enjoyed the aesthetics and the talented actors. It wasn’t particularly scary.


Yuuri, on the other hand…


“VICTOR! I’m scared!” Yuuri wrapped himself like an octopus around Victor’s waist, balling his fists into his overcoat. “Hold me!” He whined nervously.

Yuuri jumped at every creak, crack, and swaying movement.


Now they were in a zombie apocalypse setting. All of the zombies were blue-skinned, having dot shaped pupils and dried wounds all over their faces. Some of them limped to scare the other visitors, while some banged on the wooden walls to add the scare factor.

“I know all of this is fake – I know! But…” Yuuri was trembling. “This is really scary!”

“Guaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhh!” A zombie leaped out from behind a curtain.

“Eeeek!”


Yuuri buried his face into Victor’s chest. Currently, cowering in Victor’s embrace, the silver legend was surprised to see yet another new side of Yuuri.


Tenderly stroking his head to comfort him, Victor couldn’t help but let out a small laugh. “I thought you had been in one of these before.”


“No!” He whined, “What made you think that!?”


Victor laughed softly, not wanting to make fun of him. “I guess I was swept away by your confidence.”


He looked down at the trembling mess plastered to his chest. This person is our king, Victor thought. The all-powerful king of Cervantes, who can control time, who inspires both awe and fear is scared by a mere haunted house. Doesn’t he realize his power? The situation was endearing. It made him more human, more real. Yes, Yuuri was a person, too, with fears and vulnerabilities and insecurities. He loved this side of Yuuri too.


“Yuuri, we’re almost there.” Victor murmured in his ear, urging Yuuri to walk forward.


Yuuri raised his chin up daring to look ahead. He saw the harsh red glow of the exit sign and the light pouring through the open door. “Finally…!”


As one last huzzah, a masked burly man burst out of nowhere with a chainsaw. Victor had to admit, he was so focused on the exit and on Yuuri that he didn’t perceive him as quickly as he probably should have. He suppressed a jolt.


“No, no, no! No!!!” Yuuri screamed, jumping into Victor’s arms again, pleading for his protection.


“Victor!!! Please, don’t leave me!!!”


Victor smiled and played along. “Shhh, Yuuri… As long you’re with me, you’ll be safe. I’ll never leave you.” He nuzzled against the side of his face.


“Ohh, Victor!” Yuuri returned the hug, he hugged tighter. “I knew I could depend on you!”


“Anything for my Yuuri…!” He cooed.

“…Sirs?” The man with the chainsaw broke character. “There are more lovey-dovey rides you can try once you leave.” He pointed towards the exit.


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“Vicky!!!” Yuuri heard someone squeal in delight as he and Victor walked hand in hand though the food court. “It’s you! My Icky-Vicky!”

They had decided to head to the food court to eat a most scrumptious deep fried carnival style lunch. When Victor turned around, he never thought that here, of all places, he would be met with such a familiar face.

“Darrin?!” Victor seemed to know him, but Yuuri was at a loss. All he could do was smile and bow politely at the vendor. To address Victor with such familiarity, it must be someone that Victor had known for a long time. He watched them exchanging hugs and kisses on each other’s cheeks.


“I haven’t seen you for so long, dearie! My, I wonder what’s bothering you these days?” Darrin clapped Victor’s shoulder. He had a flamboyant attitude. Not only his personality, his curly shoulder length hair and flowery pink shirt added more to it. Yuuri thought he was probably a fun person to be around.

“Sorry, I’ve been busy.” Victor chuckled. “But no worries! Things have gotten easier for me now.”

Darrin noticed Yuuri standing beside Victor with their hands entwined. “And who is this cutie?”

“Darrin, meet Yuuri, my boyfriend.” Victor introduced Yuuri to Darrin. Yuuri bowed again.

Darrin was more delighted to hear it. He wasn’t shy to let his excitement to be known. “Ohhh! Vicky, I’m so happy for you!”


“Hello darling!” Darrin cupped Yuuri’s cheeks in his hands to get a better look at him. “Aren’t you a cutie pie! You look like a fresh apple strudel powdered with fine sugar. Vicky has good tastes, I swear.”


“Yuuri, this is Darrin – my… ex.”

Yuuri wasn’t expecting it. He was beyond shocked. He was baffled to see how casually Victor and Darrin acted around each other despite being exes. He wasn’t jealous, but his curiosity bloomed.

“Why did the two of you break up? Did something happen?” Yuuri blurted it out, but quickly began to regret asking something so invasive.

Victor was lost at words. “Ahhhh…”


“Aww, sweetie!” Darrin waved his hand. “We broke up on good terms I’d say. Just lost interest in one another. These things happen. Am I right?” He turned to Victor.

“Darrin, thank you…” Victor was relieved. He felt awkward when he thought about trying to explain it to Yuuri.

Darrin placed his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders. “Even though we aren’t together anymore, I can assure you that Victor is a sweetheart - your modern knight in shining armor.”

For the sake of his old friend Victor he gave them two of his special extra-large corn dogs at a generous discount. After paying for the food, Darrin waved them goodbye and blew flying kisses towards them, wishing them luck in their newly formed relationship. They decided to sit down at the lakeside park to eat.


“Don’t forget to invite me to your wedding, darlings~!” Victor and Yuuri heard the boisterous voice calling out from behind them. Yuuri blushed.

“He’s a nice guy, Victor…” Yuuri leaned over and said after they sat down and unwrapped their lunches.


“He is.” Victor started to eat. “…To add on the story, there was barely anything between us when we were dating back then.” Victor took another bite and swallowed, “I could count how many times we kissed… and we never had sex.”


“I see…” Yuuri mumbled with food in his mouth, “You don’t have to explain yourself, you know.”


“But since he’s so nice, I’m glad nothing bad happened – between you two that is,” Yuuri continued after swallowing his food. “I’ve heard unpleasant things about your relationships.”


“Yuuri… You know…? H-how much did you know –“ Victor paled. This meant that Yuuri certainly knew of at least a fraction of his history and past shames.


Yuuri laid his head onto Victor’s shoulder, “It makes me wonder… what should I do to keep our relationship going. I don’t want to lose you,” he sighed.


Yuuri was scared to bring it up – it wasn’t really appropriate to discuss in a newly blossomed relationship. But Yuuri was only being cautious – he wanted to be cautious for their future. Victor understood. Victor turned and pulled Yuuri into his chest.


“I’ve been thinking too, Yuuri.” He stroked Yuuri’s hair gently. “I do have the experience… But you are not like my past boyfriends. You are on a higher level compared to them – you’re a king. A king like you needs the highest level of service.”


“If you need anything of me, just say it. I’ll happily offer everything. My life? No problem. I can easily die for you without hesitation – I swore this to you on that day.”


Yuuri cupped Victor’s cheek with his hand. “Victor… I guess I will need only one thing from you.”


“What is it?” Victor leaned into Yuuri’s hand, holding it gently in his own.


“Please… drop the king and knight act when it’s just the two of us.”


“Please forget anything about me as a king when we’re together like this.” Yuuri begged.


Victor noticed that their surroundings quieted down, so he chose to whisper with a smile, “I will take that as an order, Yuuri.”


Yuuri stiffened. “Can’t you love me as someone other than the king? I want you to just be Victor.”


“Yuuri, I…”


Yuuri placed his forehead onto Victor’s.


“I, as Yuuri Katsuki will love you in no matter sides or shapes you have. I will embrace all of your perfections and imperfections because I know you’re not just the famed knight everyone sees in you. You’re Victor, you’re so much more than that title.”

Yuuri’s little speech made Victor blush. “Yuuri…”

“I know… most of your exes dated you because of your title - the legendary Holy Knight – am I right?” Now, Yuuri let their noses touch. “I’m the one person who has nothing to gain from your title. You are more than just my personal knight. I’m going to love you more than that.”


Victor was touched. “Yuuri, why this all sudden…?”


“I never want us to break up. I don’t want our relationship to end.”