title: My Brother's Father
fandom: Kyou Kara Maou
characters/pairings: Konrad, Yozak, one-sided Gwendal/Günter
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Gwendal comes to Konrad's rescue, and they talk
notes: for my aisoku, for his request on fic on demand, which also corresponds to a bunny i've had for a while...

He took a hit across the face, and staggered back, pulling his sword up for defense. He had to shake off the lurching feeling of dizziness... Dust and blood clouded his eyes and nose. This human captain... was stubborn. Konrad spit, and narrowed his eyes, getting ready to strike.

He took one step forward, and lost his balance. The human captain did as well, tumbling backward. So... it wasn't just him...

"Yozak! Fall back! Now!" he screamed out, jumping back. Sure enough, the ground all around them was shaking.

Yozak looked at him, obviously surprised by his order, but he relayed the call. Even as they pull back, the human army tried to follow, but the earth itself seemed to reject them. Konrad kept at the head of the line, screaming for everyone to fall back. His attention was diverted, and the human captain raised his sword to slash Konrad's head. Yozak was there, though, of course, pushing him back. Konrad lost his footing, though, so he could see the axe being raised over Yozak, but he wasn't able to do anything more than cry out.

Then, the earth shot up in a pillar, ejecting the axeman from the battle scene. Yozak yelped, and fell back, but Konrad scrambled to his feet, and dragged Yozak along until he could catch his footing.

"Guess big brother came to save our asses, huh, Captain?"

"Are you going to call him big brother to his face?" Konrad asked, laughing.

The crevasse rumbled loudly, and closed up, finishing off the human army. Konrad kept running, though, until he got to where his older brother was bent over, hand to the earth, concentrating hard. He put his arm around Gwendal's shoulder. "It's done. You finished it, Gwendal. Don't overdo it!"

Grunting, Gwendal lifted his hand from the ground, and the rumbling stopped, but disconnected from the earth, his maryoku spent, he collapsed into Konrad's arms.

Yozak ran up to them, but came to a halt just short of where Konrad was holding Gwendal. "Well, look. Big brother's gone and fallen asleep. We~ll, we can't really complain, can we? Look at the job he's done!"

Konrad shook his head, positioning himself behind Gwendal's shoulders. "Help me, will you? Get his feet. We need to take him to my tent. Since he doesn't know his limits..."

Going to Gwendal's feet, Yozak looked over his shoulder, briefly, at the mass of rubble and newly overturned earth that now blocked the human army from taking the city on the other side of them. "Still... the show-off really did the job."

Konrad set his mouth into a firm line. Certainly, Gwendal had saved the city, but... Quickly, they moved Gwendal to Konrad's tent, and set him on Konrad's cot. Konrad wiped his forehead. "Please, Yozak. Set up a perimeter... Gwendal's personal guard should be here at any moment, if no one else. Coordinate with them to secure the city. And... if a healer comes by, send them here."

"No problem, Captain," Yozak nodded and winked. "Though, I don't think they can heal a man who just can't help overworking himself. Of course, maybe he was just making sure his precious little brother got through ok."

"Maybe you should make sure your precious little ass doesn't get kicked by getting it in motion," Konrad teased.

"Yes, yes, Captain! Ah, you're a slave driver!" Yozak whined dramatically on his way out.

Konrad smiled as long as Yozak was still in the tent, but as soon as he left...

He sighed heavily, and pulled Gwendal's hair tie out. "You fool. You didn't need to put your life on the line for a half-human, did you?"

He woke up slowly. He knew he was on the front lines; the smell was unmistakable. He should probably be awake, be leading... whatever drive or campaign they were engaged upon, but the temptation to just keep his eyes closed for a moment or two longer was great...

It was cowardice, so Gwendal opened his eyes.

This... was not his tent.

"Aha, well, finally. Captain! The sleeping prince awaketh. And now, I'm going to leave you two alone, so he won't kick my ass for that prince comment." Yozak winked at Konrad, and waved goodbye.

It was dark out. The battle... it had been late afternoon. Was it the same day? He'd closed in a crevasse, and perhaps done untold damage to the area. His heart got heavier and heavier as he pushed himself up on his elbows. What of the human army? Had he...?

Konrad pushed him back down onto his back. "Just lie still. You expelled all of your maryoku. It's time to take it easy. Now, before you ask me... your guard arrived, and the city is secure. Scouts report that the human army continued to retreat, and are completely out of Mazoku territory. Apparently, they thought the 'Earth mover' was just the start of the Mazoku second wave. A team has examined the area around here for ecological damage. Early reports are that the forest is essentially destroyed, but the river's course is largely unchanged, and reforestation should not be that difficult.

"Oh, and since you foolishly used up all your maryoku, you're officially medically incapacitated, which means I'm still in charge here until someone from the healers' unit declares you fit for duty again, so just stay in bed and leave things to me." Konrad smiled tiredly at him while he pushed him back down on the bed, but Gwendal could see no trace of humor in Konrad's eyes.

Gwendal narrowed his eyes, and scooted up in the cot enough so that he could lean back on the thin metal frame. He looked around the small, tidy tent. "Well, it seems you have everything under control."

"Not quite everything," Konrad said, sitting down heavily on the small chair that he had pulled up to the cot. "I needed my big brother to come and save my unit."

Gwendal watched Konrad from the corner of his eye. "I doubt you needed my assistance. All Mazoku are together in this war, are we not?" he asked Konrad sharply.

Konrad looked exactly as he always had when his brother had corrected him. "True. I am Mazoku, aren't I?"

"What else would you be?" Gwendal asked scornfully, closing his eyes and leaning his head back.

"My father was human," Konrad gently reminded.

"You are not him," Gwendal quickly rejoined.

Konrad laughed bitterly, and Gwendal opened his eyes. "No, that's certainly true."

"Konrad..." Gwendal began, but the tent flap opened just then, and Günter burst in like a typhoon.

"Gwendal! Oh, Konrad, thank goodness... All I was told was that Gwendal fell during the battle! They didn't even tell me how Konrad was! How are you feeling?" Günter sat down on the cot, and touched Gwendal's face, looking into his eyes, concerned.

Gwendal blushed, and looked away, straightening up. Stupidly, he felt his throat close up. And of course, Konrad was watching him, amused...

"See? The General is fi~ne," Yozak yawned, standing in the entry of the tent. "He just overworked himself. As always. Everyone is talking about how the General is always overworking himself. They say the Maou is looking for better skin creams for the wrinkles around his eyes."

"Yozak, thank you." Konrad was grinning. That second of his was useful for something, at least. "Please continue to coordinate the troops. We'll be a bit longer."

"Yes, sir!" Yozak smirked, and he moved away, beginning to whistle off-key, which must have been on purpose.

Konrad really gave his men a great deal of freedom.

Günter sighed heavily, and tossed his hair over his shoulder. It whipped past Gwendal's face, leaving him breathless for a moment as he tried to cling to that aroma. "Really, Konrad, your men are so relaxed." He sighed, and leaned closer, trying to look Gwendal in the eye. "Gwendal. How are you feeling, really? They should have sent a proper healer! I'm not going to be able to do much on my own!"

"I'm fine," he insisted, turning his head away. He closed his eyes, but that wasn't a good idea. He had the crazy image of Günter leaning over him, his hair falling down in waves, tending to Gwendal's... wounds.

Konrad patted Gwendal on the head. "He just needs rest. He wants to bring an end to this war on his own."

Gwendal was about to say something cutting to his younger brother, but Günter sighed dramatically, cutting him off. "You need to take better care of yourself, Gwendal. It won't make the Maou at all happy if her son gets himself killed on the battlefield. And don't smirk at him, Konrad. That goes double for you." Günter furrowed his brow. Gwendal wanted to reach out and smooth out those lines... "In fact, Konrad...

"When the rest of the supplementary guard arrive, you should take your unit back to Blood Pledge Castle. Things... are happening..." Günter's whole body tensed up, and he gripped the sheets viciously.

Gwendal sat up. "What's going on?"

Sighing, Günter leaned back. "It's that Geigen Huber! No offense, Gwendal, I know he's your cousin, but... he keeps spreading lies about half-Mazoku! And of course, since his intelligence has, until now, been absolutely perfect, anything he brings to court is instantly accepted as fact. I tried to speak against what he was saying, but that damned Stoffel..." He exhaled sharply, annoyed.

Gwendal watched Konrad. His face was stony and blank. Their mother would hate to see such an expression on her son's face; hell, even that man wouldn't want Konrad to be closed off around family and friends.

"This isn't surprising," Konrad replied neutrally. "The general feeling towards half-humans may even be slightly improved from what it was."

Gwendal frowned. Did Konrad just accept that he was being targeted?

"Ah, where did I go wrong?" Günter whined. "My students drag me out to the fringes of the country, pretending to be dead, they ignore me, even when I'm trying to help... It's so pitiable!"

"Don't worry," Konrad assured Günter with false humor. "You've always got newer and better students to take our place, right?"

Günter rolled his eyes. "Please. At any rate, just look at me! I left the castle with hardly any preparation. My clothes are all in disarray. Mm. I didn't even bathe this morning. My hair is a mess." He picked up one perfect strand of hair and regarded it with disgust. "Konrad, did I see that you had a bath set up behind your tent?" he asked, hopeful.

Konrad blushed. "Ah... well, actually, yes... Yozak set it up as a joke... But you're more than welcome to use if it you like, Günter."

"Thank you!" Günter beamed, and stood up, immediately starting to undo the buttons on his cape.

Gwendal swallowed hard.

"It's selfish, I know," he dropped his cape across the bottom of the cot Gwendal was using, and started to undo his tunic. "A bath is unnecessary on the battlefield. But we're currently secure here, so it's all right, isn't it?" He tossed his tunic aside, which left him clad in only a skin-tight black shirt, and his white pants.

He sat down on the edge of the cot to undo his boots.

Gwendal felt like his head was going to float right off his shoulders, and Konrad's stifled snickers weren't helping anything. That brat.

"All right, I'll be back shortly. Gwendal, I expect you to be in much better spirits when I get back. After all..." Günter stopped, and stared at Gwendal, a wistful smile slowly spreading across his face.

Gwendal blinked, self-conscious. "What?"

Günter laughed, and reached out to wrap a strand of Gwendal's hair around his finger. "I just noticed. How foolish of me. I don't think I've ever seen you with your hair down, have I? Like this... you really do resemble your father." Günter let Gwendal's hair fall away, smiling brightly. "Ah, sorry, sorry. I've been pushing myself too much as well. I'll take my bath, and be more sensible. Excuse me."

They watched Günter leave, letting the silence stretch out for a few moments before they turned to look at each other.

"I didn't know that you looked like your father," Konrad said softly.

Gwendal shrugged. "He died shortly before I was born, so I didn't know him at all."

Konrad nodded, and looked to the back of the tent, where Günter had gone. "You know, I'm sure he wouldn't think twice if you wanted to join him in the bath... Yozak made sure it was big enough."

Gwendal chose to ignore that. "Don't be ridiculous. You'll be taking your men back to the Blood Pledge Castle?"

"Well," Konrad pushed his hair back. "I don't have much choice, do I? After this campaign, we're almost out of supplies, and we could use the services of some real healers."

"You'll see Julia," Gwendal stated, and Konrad felt no need to say anything, one way or another. "What will you do if are forced to answer to Huber's lies?"

Konrad shrugged, and looked away. "What do you think?"

Gwendal furrowed his brow. "It seems it will be a long time before we see Mother happy again."

"The Maou's happiness should be the first priority of every Mazoku," Konrad said, leaning back, and closing his eyes. "Maybe we need to wait for the next Maou to appear before we can see Mother's real smile."

"The next Maou should hurry up and appear, then," Gwendal grumbled. "We're waiting."

Konrad looked away, smiling bitterly. "Julia believes there will come a Maou who will unite the world."

"We're all supposed to believe that, aren't we? A Maou to finish His Majesty Shinou's work." Gwendal stretched out a bit, shifting his foot out from under the sheet to poke at Günter's cloak. "You know... If I look like my father, and you look... just like that man, it's a good thing Wolfram looks just like Mother."

He looked up when Konrad started to laugh. It was a hideous sound.

"Still... you can't just say... 'your father.' Did you really hate him that much? If that's the case, why did..." Konrad bit off what he was saying, and narrowed his eyes, looking away.

Gwendal's eyes widened, and he felt his blood freeze. So. "Are you finally going to ask me about it? Or will you continue to hold this indignation in your heart?"

"It was always possible for you to just tell me what I needed to know!" Konrad shot back.

"Was it?" Gwendal narrowed his eyes. "But the thing you need to know the most... is not something that can just be said."

"Do you even know? Why? Why you? Why did he take you to the Nameless Village? If he went there to die... why..." Konrad's voice broke, and he stared down at his hands.

"Why didn't he take you? His son... Why would he take his stepson, who hated him, when he could have died in his son's arms?" Gwendal watched his younger brother, feeling guilty. He was being cruel, perhaps. And there was plenty of misery and pain to share; he didn't need to add to Konrad's trouble. But he knew of no other way.

"Do you know?" Konrad leaned forward, sounding desperate.

"Are you going to try to convince Julia to break off her engagement?" Gwendal asked harshly.

Konrad blinked. "What the hell does...?"

"If I could tell you why he took me. If I could explain why he left Mother at home to chase his 'legacy.' If I could understand what his solution to that was. If I could... but his life is a mystery to me. I can only tell you that he did ask me to be with him." Gwendal sighed softly, and closed his eyes.

"He wasn't... an easy man to understand," Konrad said slowly, begrudgingly.

Gwendal shifted on the bed. "He was... the man that Mother loved. Perhaps... she understood him best of all."

Konrad looked away. "I can't ask Mother about him."

"Are you intent, then, on becoming him in order to understand him? If that's the case... keep in mind. He was a lowly human, but he courted and won the Maou. And it made her happy." He blushed, and looked down at the foot of the cot, where Günter's clothes were.

"Tell you what. If you get into the bath with Günter, I'll think about talking to Julia." Konrad winked, smirking.

Gwendal raised his chin. "I think I'll pass on reminding Günter of my father any more today."

"Family," Konrad sighed. "It's wonderful, isn't it?"

Gwendal just raised his eyebrow wryly.