On the boat ride to Japan, Yuri escapes from the ship in an attempt to have a break from his seasickness, but he can't get away from Joachim's watchful eye.
"I'm not seasick," Yuri said, glaring at Joachim with the vain hope that maybe this time he'd be listened to and left alone.
"Don't worry Yuri!" Joachim said just a little too loudly, like he was every time he opened his mouth. He gave Yuri a friendly slap on the shoulder, oblivious to the way his face went green at the jostling. "No one will think you less of a man if you admit that boats make you ill! Didn't I tell you that every hero needs a weakness or two?"
"Then I'd like to pass on being a hero, thanks," Yuri grumbled under his breath, before flinging himself to his feet. Much to his embarrassment he would have fallen straight down again just as quickly at the crippling wave of nausea the movement brought on if Joachim hadn't been at his side in an instant, wrapping a steadying arm around him. All right, maybe the 'muscle-bound' part of the meathead wasn't so bad, because he knew there was no way he was going down with that sort've strength supporting him, no matter how much the ship might roll, and shake, and twist his insides until they found their way outside. "C'mon," he said. "I want to get out've here."
"Ahh, you think that the fresh air might help cure you?" Joachim said knowingly. "I will be glad to assist you to the deck, my friend!"
"Yeah, something like that." Yuri started for the door, and really wished he could manage the walk without Joachim's continued support.
- - -
For all that his friends might occasionally make fun of him for being more muscles than brains, Joachim wasn't entirely unobservant, and could easily see that Yuri wanted to be left alone. But he could also see that he was pale and shaking from his seasickness, and though he knew Yuri was strong, he also knew from four-hundred years of living among them just how weak humans could be at times.
He lead Yuri to a spot on deck out of the sight of the various crew members taking care of the ship, mindful of how the man wouldn't want strangers to see him so weak. "The perfect spot! Now, let the night air sooth your sickly body and weary mind!"
"...Yeah. Right." Yuri gave him a look/, then pulled a potion bottle out of his pack and tossed it at Joachim. "Look, you wanna watch over me? Then you /better be able to keep up."
Joachim just had time to recognize the potion in the bottle as Bat's Gold before his attention was drawn back Yuri, whose body began to shift into a form Joachim had never seen before. A wind-fusion, certainly--the wings and insect-like shape were proof of that--but somehow this one, with it's soft colors and shimmering wings, was almost beautiful, where he'd always found the similar Grano garishly ugly. He found himself staring as Yuri's wings caught the wind, unsteadily at first but getting stronger almost as soon as he'd risen above the deck of the rocking boat, before realizing what Yuri's plan was and hastily downing the potion.
Yuri didn't even wait for him to begin his own transformation before pulling away from the ship and into the sky. Joachim could hear the shouts of the sailors behind them as he followed a moment later, but since they didn't seem to want to attack them he turned his mind to other things. "I hope you know how to find our way back if you plan on flying far, Yuri," he called out as he closed the gap between them, needing to beat his wings hard to keep up even with the lazy way Yuri was flapping his own. "A superhero should be able to fly across oceans on his own, but I'm afraid I haven't gotten there just yet!"
Yuri could only screech wordlessly in response, but Joachim hoped he was right in thinking it sounded like an affirmative shriek. Not, like part of him suspected, an annoyed one.
- - -
Yuri didn't like to admit that ships really weakened him so much (sure, it was obvious to anyone with eyes, but that didn't mean he had to fess up to it), but there was no way to ignore how much better he felt just by taking to the air, Libertis's wings keeping him more steady than a boat on the stillest waters ever could.
Joachim's chatter, which he kept up even though Yuri could tell he was getting breathless, was the only thing keeping it from being the perfect break. And, though he would never admit it out loud, the talk wasn't actually all that bad.
But, Yuri realized, Joachim was really gasping now, and his voice was growing fainter because he was getting left behind, and since when did vampires even need to worry about getting short of breath?
He grunted (or would have, if this form were capable of noises that low-pitched), and wheeled around to return to him. 'I told you to keep up if you wanted to come,' he wanted to say, but in his current form all he could do was glare. He didn't know if even that would have the right impact with whatever this fusion made his face look like.
"Forgive me, my friend! I must leave you now, or I won't have the strength to return!" He made it sound like it was the most tragic sacrifice anyone had ever made, making Yuri wish, not for the first time, that there was some way to stop him from overdramatizing every word that came out of his mouth.
For a moment he considered just letting the vampire head back on his own, leaving him to fly on his own on and on, as far as he possibly could before he had to go back to the damn boat and finish up the miserable trip to Japan. But he could tell just by looking that the time when Joachim could have made it back on his own had really already gone by, and, even if he would have passed on being a hero if he could have, he'd somehow ended up becoming one anyway. A hero wouldn't leave a friend behind to potentially drown in the ocean.
Hell, anyone who wasn't a grade-A asshole wouldn't, and Yuri wasn't more than grade-C at his worst.
He caught Joachim's small bat body between his talons, gentle in a way he never was as he carefully made sure his claws didn't dig into him, that his grasp didn't close too tightly. It was harder to do than he'd cared to admit; he'd never tried handling anything delicately in a form as inhumane as Libertis before. He had ramming into things hard enough to break their bones down, but trying not to hurt them was hell of a lot tougher.
Joachim was talking again, bullshit about how Yuri should save his own strength and leave him, how he was underestimating him, how Yuri should believe that a hero like himself knew how to judge his own strength. Yuri just gave him a warning squeeze and then ignored him, flapping quickly toward a small rock of an island they'd passed just a short time before.
He let go of Joachim in the air over it, watching as he tumbled down only to catch the air just above the rocks and land lightly on them, then flew down after him, changing back as he got close and letting himself fall the last few inches to his human feet. And then just let himself fall, not fighting the wave of dizziness that always accompanied the change back to himself as it pulled him to the ground. "Thank God for solid ground," he said, glancing at Joachim out of the corner of his eye as he changed back to almost-human himself and sat down beside Yuri. "What the hell sort've weak-ass vampire are you anyway, if you can't even manage to fly for a couple've hours?"
Joachim looked hurt. "I'm still just a person, my friend. And your wings are much stronger than mine."
"Huh. Well... sorry." He rolled himself onto his side and propped himself up on an elbow. "Would, you know, blood or something help?"
Joachim looked uncomfortable. He always did when his vampirism was brought up. "The extra energy would be... good. But, as you can see," he gestured to the rock around them, "there are no monsters here to feed from."
"Learn how to take a hint, idiot," Yuri said, letting one arm flop out toward Joachim and tilting his hand back so the veins stood out from the wrist.
Joachim jumped away as if Yuri's hand was on fire, clearly shocked by the implied offer. "My friend... I cannot..." he stammered, then drew a deep breath and managed to get a full sentence out. "I do not wish to see you as a meal, Yuri."
"Man, you might be pretty pathetic sometimes, but I know you aren't bad enough to turn into some crazy human-eating machine after just one drink. I've seen you drain people from Sapientes Gladio before."
"But those people were not friends, Yuri. It would be like--"
Yuri cut Joachim off before he could get into whatever stupid speech or metaphor he'd been planning on blathering out. "Look, I'm not planning on sitting around on my ass on a rock in the middle of nowhere until you have a nap or whatever it is vampires do when they're wiped out. So either you drink, or I'm taking off and you can find your own way back to the boat, but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to do that." When Joachim still didn't look convinced, Yuri began gathering his energy to transform again. He wouldn't actually take off and leave the guy stranded, but as far as he was concerned flying until he was out of sight long enough to make Joachim worry would be totally fair play.
"Wait!" Joachim said just before Yuri's body could begin to change. Yuri watched him silently (internally trying to remember if there was any food in his travel bag now that he was somewhere where he'd be able to hold it down for a few minutes, but he figured he could at least look like he's paying attention) as Joachim's face twisted with whatever argument was going on inside of him before he finally said, "It will be quicker if you would let me drink from your throat."
"Whatever, man. Just get on with it."
Joachim was so hesitant about leaning forward to bite him that Yuri almost wondered if there was actually something to his whole 'I don't want to see you as a meal' thing other than Joachim's weird sense of heroism, but he hadn't gotten to where he was in life by changing his mind after he'd come to a decision, so he didn't allow himself to worry.
But he did start to wish that he had decided not to go through with this after all when Joachim's lips grazed his throat and Yuri began to realize that it had been way the hell too long since the last time he'd had a woman. There was no way he'd normally be more aware of the feeling of Joachim's mouth moving against his throat than he was of the fangs digging into his neck (and, god, even that felt good in a way though he'd never really been into the rough stuff). If it had been Keith he'd allowed to do this way back when, if it had been Alice waiting back on the ship for them instead of Karin, he was positive it wouldn't have felt like anything more than a chore that he had to endure. But that would have been before he'd spent two years feeling like something inside of him was being ripped open from the wrongness of it every time things started getting hot and heavy with a girl and it wasn't her. The wrong scent, the wrong shape, the skin that was never soft enough, the hair that was never that same shade of moonlight-silver, and then he just needed to get the hell away from whatever girl he was with before his mind could throw even more comparisons out.
With Joachim, however, his body didn't seem to care about that. Maybe because having the body of a muscle-bound man against his was so different than anything he ever thought he'd be interested in that even his memory of Alice couldn't even match the weirdness already in play.
"Hey, Joachim?" he asked.
Joachim made a humming noise in response, his teeth still buried in Yuri's neck so he couldn't speak.
"Those stories about vampires putting people they drink out of under a, uh, thrall are a pile of crap, right?"
Joachim laughed against his throat, the huff of his breath against Yuri's skin another not at all unpleasant experience. Yuri figured that that was probably meant to be a 'no'. It was what he'd expected, but it would have been nice to have an explanation for the way his body was reacting that didn't put the blame on his own emotions.
"Guess it's dumb to ask about that now anyway, isn't it?" he said, mostly to himself, then tilted his head slightly so he could see the edge of Joachim's face (well, his ear, really) and asked, "Hey, you like men, right?"
Joachim pulled back at last, just leaning in one last time to lick away the blood welled up as he pulled away, seemingly oblivious to the shudder that ran up Yuri's spine at the feeling, then healing the small puncture wounds he'd left. Yuri was suddenly very glad that Anastasia thought it was funny to have a member of the living dead healing people and insisted that Joachim carry some of the crests that allowed him to do so, because he really wouldn't have wanted to explain those marks when they got back to the ship. When that was done Joachim finally said, "Don't fear, my friend. I was not attempting to seduce you."
"Hey, that's not what I meant!" Yuri hastened to assure Joachim, though if that was the vampire's way of saying that he just plain wasn't interested it made getting horny over him even worse. "I was just wondering how it's, you know, different from being with a girl."
Joachim's face twisted. "I'm afraid the closest comparison I can make is to my time at Veronica's mercy, and that is something I would like to forget. I hope you won't look down on me for that weakness, Yuri; I know that a hero should be able to face hard memories of all their past trials, but in the one case I'm willing to be not quite as heroic as I usually strive toward."
"Don't worry, crazy S&M broads totally don't count." Yuri lean back, staring up at the sky. "So, you're saying you've been around for a few hundred years but still have no clue."
"I'm sorry that I can't answer your question, Yuri." Joachim looked at him then, seeming to realize for the first time that this was a strange line of questioning. "Yuri..." he said slowly, seeming to feel out his words are he spoke them, "is there a reason why you're asking this?"
Yuri was glad to find that at least whatever the hell was going on in him hadn't screwed his brain up enough to make him blush like a little girl being called on a crush. If that had happened he'd have had to go ahead and kill himself then and there rather than live with the embarrassment. At least then the mistletoe wouldn't have been able to gobble down whatever was left of his soul. "I was just wondering because, you know, I just..." he stumbled through his words, not even knowing what he could say to explain the way he was acting without coming out and admitting the truth, so he was incredibly glad for the interruption when Joachim decided to lean forward and kiss him. He knew that it should be weird for him to feel that way, but it had been too damn long and having another warm body pressed up against him and teeth nipping at his bottom lip and a tongue teasingly sliding across the bites just felt too good to care about.
But still it wasn't quite right, and a minute later he bucked up, throwing Joachim off of him. Joachim's eyes were wide and, Yuri almost thought, worried as he looked up at him. "I'm sorry, Yuri! I must have read the signs wrong, or I would never..."
"Shut up." Yuri pushed himself forward, propping himself up on his arms so he could look down on Joachim. "If we're gonna do this," he said, "like hell am I going to let you be the one in control." He shoved Joachim back onto the rock and lowered his head to kiss him once more.
It was a stupid place to be doing this, Yuri knew. The stone under Joachim's back was hard and ice cold, not even the thinnest layer of dirt on it to act as a cushion, and the wind blowing over them from the ocean was frigid. But if he tried getting back to the ship first he'd just end up too sick to do anything, and if he waited until they landed in Japan and got a hotel room, Yuri was sure he would have convinced himself that there was no way he'd ever do anything with a man no matter how desperate he was.
So he silently apologized to Karin, her soul which had once walked through his a bright beacon in the direction of the ship, that he'd be able to do this with a member of their group other than her, prayed that Alice, wherever her soul might be, could forgive him if he didn't hate himself for this once it was over, and lead Joachim's hand to the buckle of his belt.