People came from all over to visit the small but well-known cupcake shop located in the heart of St. Petersburg, owned by world-renowned pastry chef Victor Nikiforov. Not only did they come to try his delicious sweets, but nearly everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the man himself. At 27, Victor was young, successful, and very handsome, but despite having plenty of suitors he remained single, with only his poodle Makkachin for company in his studio apartment located above the bakery. He preferred it this way, he always told himself. Victor loved what he did, and he always stayed so busy that he didn't really want a relationship. He did sometimes get lonely on especially chilly nights, but he was grateful to have Makkachin's excited, slobbery kisses to come home to, as well as the love of his friends and support of his customers.
On an unusually slow afternoon he was leaning on the counter, playing absentmindedly on his phone with a sigh. Maybe he could close the shop early and take Makkachin for a walk. It was a beautiful, sunny, not too warm day, he was feeling restless, and as the owner there was nothing stopping him from locking the door and taking the evening off.
Nothing, that is, except for the customer talking on his phone and walking inside at the exact moment Victor grabbed his keys. He looked like he was in his early twenties, Victor noticed, and very obviously not from the area. In fact, he didn't look like he was from Russia at all; if Victor had to guess he would say the man was Japanese.
“All the signs are in Cyrillic,” he overheard him tell whoever he was on the phone with, in heavily accented English. “I don't know if I can read much of it...just get you anything? Okay.” After hanging up he nervously approached Victor, anxiously chewing his lip.
“Welcome! What can I get for you today?” Victor asked him with a dazzling smile.
“Oh, h-hello...you speak English too?” the Japanese man asked, suddenly looking much more relieved. “I, um...s-sorry, I don't speak much Russian, so I may need a minute...”
“Take your time,” he assured him with a wave of his hand. “You must be on vacation then, da?”
The other man blinked in surprise. “Oh, um...I”m here for school, actually,” he explained. “Just for a year, then I'll be finishing up back at home...”
Victor nodded. “I see.” He could tell by the way he nervously chewed on his bottom lip that he was still struggling with reading the signs and smiled patiently. “You can take a look at the display case here if you like,” he said. “Just point out anything that appeals to you, or I can even give you some samples!”
“Really? Thank you...” He nodded and smiled back. “Everything looks delicious...”
Victor blushed a little at the compliment, despite hearing it nearly every day. Maybe it was the cute accent, he thought. While his customer examined the contents behind the glass window he took a moment to get a closer look at him. When he had walked in, Victor immediately noticed he was a few inches shorter than him, and behind a pair of blue plastic-framed glasses was a pair of pretty, dark brown eyes. He appeared to be a little on the pudgy side, with round cheeks and a slight belly that, while camouflaged by his coat, was still pretty noticeable. Victor couldn't deny that he was adorable.
“Um...this one in the front looks good. What flavor is it?” the younger man asked, snapping Victor out of his reverie.
“Oh! That's actually one of my best sellers, as well as a personal favorite,” he said cheerfully. “It's dark chocolate with strawberry filling and strawberry frosting.”
The customer's eyes lit up. “That sounds amazing! I'll take two of those, please. But only one wrapped up to go.”
“Coming right up,” Victor grinned before ringing up the order. The cute foreigner handed him his credit card and he quickly looked at the name before sliding it in the machine and handing it back to him.
He took two of the chocolate-strawberry cupcakes out, put one in a gold-trimmed purple to-go box, sat the other one on top of it and slid them across the counter. “Here you go, Yuuri Katsuki.”
Yuuri blushed and gave him a surprised look when he said his name. “Oh, um...t-thank you.” He picked up the unboxed one and poked his finger into the icing, then slowly licked it off. The gesture made Victor's breath catch in the back of his throat, but he tried to play off the choked noise he made as a giggle.
“So, what does Yuuri think?” he asked with a smile.
“It's just as good as it looks!” he replied, returning the smile. He took a bite and checked his phone. “Oh, my roommate is outside, I should go. Thanks again!”
“It was my pleasure! Feel free to come visit again anytime!” Victor said cheerfully as Yuuri picked up the box and headed for the door. As he watched him leave with another dark-haired young man around his age, he locked the door and went upstairs to his apartment, where a large brown poodle was eagerly waiting for him.
“Oh, Makkachin! You have to hear about the customer I met today!”
"Oh my god, this is amazing!"
Yuuri smiled at the way Phichit's face lit up after trying the cupcake he gave him. "Well, you said you'd heard really good things about this bakery so I figured it was worth a try," he said, finishing his own.
"The owner looks pretty delicious too, if you ask me."
"You're unbelievable," Yuuri chuckled dismissively, throwing his cupcake wrapper away. The blush dusting across his cheeks was subtle, but Phichit, ever alert, noticed before he turned to face the other way.
"You can't lie to me, you noticed too didn't you?" he teased, nudging Yuuri playfully. "He's totally got that silver fox thing going on but there's no way he's over thirty. And..." he paused for dramatic effect, smirking before he continued, "...he was totally checking you out."
"What? No way," Yuuri scoffed as they made it to the bus stop. "I mean...maybe I caught a lingering glance or two but I probably just had, oh I don't know, a stain on my coat or something in my hair..."
"Yuuri, you know I wouldn't let you out of the dorm if that were the case."
Yuuri laughed, unable to argue. He was actually grateful for his friend's sometimes brutal honesty; it had spared him from embarrassment more times than he could count. And he was definitely right about the bakery owner being quite attractive, with shiny silver hair, eyes that reminded him of the ocean back home in Hasetsu and a million-dollar smile.
Combining all that with the delicious cupcakes he made, Yuuri knew he would definitely have to come back.