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hey isn't this easy?

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One long look around made it official: moving was way more tiring and messy than Victor had thought it’d be. Right now the whole place looked more like a post-apocalyptic dystopia than an actual bedroom.

He turned off the lights and threw himself on the bed (and Maccachin threw himself on Victor, knocking all air out of him for a couple of desperate seconds), ready to sleep after an entire Sunday of dragging boxes around.

Just as he was drifting off, a faint light oozed through his window and became present enough in his bedroom that he couldn’t ignore it. He turned his head on the pillow: it was coming from the house right next to theirs, from one of the bedrooms on the second floor. He’d seen their new neighbors – a nice Asian couple – but that particular bedroom had been empty all day and he hadn’t seen its owner.

The two houses were so close to each other that the empty bedroom was closer to his than his parent’s room down the hall. If there were a plank balanced on both windows, Victor could cross the distance in around ten steps.

He sat up to get a better look: it was a guy in sweatpants and… a t-shirt stuck on his head, his bare chest completely exposed as he unsuccessfully tried to tug it down. He wriggled and twisted the fabric even more, ending up with his arms pinned above his head, and Victor snorted; he’d feel sorry for his new neighbor’s predicament if it wasn’t so funny – and if that bare chest wasn’t so good to look at. So, so good. He could stare at that bare chest all night and straight on ‘til morning.

The guy gave up and took off the t-shirt, revealing a mess of black hair, crooked glasses and an amused smile that – oh, that smile had no business being better to look at than those abs, and yet it was. It was. That smile was worth losing sleep for.

The guy put on his shirt, this time swiftly, and it was too big for him, making him look smaller and Victor’s brain short-circuit. In only one minute that guy had gone from “Good, Good Chest” to “Dream Smile”, and then to “Cutest Thing In The Whole Damn Town”. All it had taken was one t-shirt.

(And now that he could see the guy actually wearing clothes, didn’t he know him? He’d definitely seen him around school. Didn’t they have a class together?!)

He kept on staring as Cutest Thing put on earbuds and scrolled down his phone and – Victor’s breath hitched.

He was dancing.

Ridiculously.

Wonderfully.

Victor kneeled on the edge of his bed.

Cutest Thing was dancing, but not doing any specific dance moves; he was just free dancing, like most people do when they think no one’s watching. He did a ballet-like twirl and then – oh my god was he twerking ?!

Victor was this close to getting out of bed and pressing his nose against the window, a smile stretching from ear to ear so hard that he might never be able to use his jaw again. He might have to feed on liquids through a straw for the rest of his life, and he was more than okay with paying that price.

Because this was fantastic.

When Cutest Thing grabbed a deodorant tube and used it like a microphone, lip-syncing to whatever he was listening to, Victor’s smile slowly turned into something else and he clutched his chest.

His entire world had just shifted somehow.

 


 

Yuuri was sending Phichit a message about his change of schedule when Victor Nikiforov walked into the classroom; Yuuri instinctively looked away, his shoulders moving inwards in a futile attempt to make himself smaller.

Whatever you do, do NOT look at him. Do not look at him do not –

He looked at him.

He looked at him because it was inevitable, because it was impossible to look at anything else when Victor Nikiforov was in the vicinity. Because he hadn’t been able to do anything else for the past year and a half of high school. When Victor walked in everything else was muted, and when he walked by, Phichit and Yuuko had to steer him so he didn’t run into a door or a locker. Again.

Unfortunately, this was the one class he didn’t take with any of his friends – and as Fate had never seemed to be particularly fond of him, it was also the one class he took with Victor.

He instantly changed the message he was about to send. Phichit could text him through his normal Monday-morning-Victor crisis until Mr. Cialdini arrived. As usual.

But when he tried to steal another glance, he found Victor looking at him.

He looked away. Victor had caught him looking, he had never caught him looking before, Yuuri was always so careful! Dammit!

He sent Phichit the message and looked out the window instead, watching the never-ending stream of students make their way into the building at the last minute. Some arrived on bikes, some by car, some on foot, some – Victor was still looking at him.

Why was he still looking at Yuuri? He never looked at Yuuri. Had never known Yuuri existed. Yuuri had made sure of that by turning away or even hiding whenever it seemed like Victor might get too close.

Okay, think of something else. His new schedule. Yes, good, focus on that. He’d be going to the gym earlier today, so that he and Yuuko could practice. The recital was coming, more practice time was good.

Another gla – he was still looking.

What was happening?!

Mr. Cialdini entered the classroom, finally, Yuuri was about to go into spontaneous combustion. Everyone settled in their places.

But Yuuri thought he could still feel a pair of blue eyes glued on him every now and then.

 

~

 

Pas de deux practice done, Yuuri went through his post-exercise stretches on auto-pilot, his mind going over his day. Miss Okukawa’s instructions, that ridiculous group selfie Phichit had insisted on uploading to Instagram, Leo’s new song, the way Seung-gil had blushed but still remained impassive when Phichit had complimented him, how Victor’s eyes had seemed to follow him when he’d left the classroom that morning. But that had to be a hallucination, right? Victor couldn’t possibly be looking at him, Victor –

– was at the door looking at him.

Yuuri shrieked and clamped a hand over his mouth.

Victor took a couple of steps into the room. “Sorry! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you! I just… thought you might need some help? To stretch?”

Yuuri had never stood up so fast in all his life.

Victor used the Nishigori Gym, Victor used the Nishigori Gym. And now they apparently used it at similar times? How long had he been standing at the door? And he looked so. good. in workout clothes, just like he did in anything, and Yuuri was this horrible mess of baggy clothes and sweaty hair because Fate had to hate him.

“No no, I, uh… I’m good, thanks, I’m done, I’m sorry, you can use the room, I’m so sorry.”

He slung his bag over his shoulder, grabbed his shoes and almost bolted out the door, barely registering what Victor was saying.

He only noticed he was still barefoot halfway home.

 


 

Victor locked his phone with a sigh. Chris was being so difficult about this, but it was not his fault. Well, it was , but not only his. Both of them were being impossibly stubborn. Mila had said time always fixed a lovers’ quarrel. Did it really, though?

He looked up when the lights in the bedroom across from his were turned on. Cutest Thing was back!

Yuuri, he’d found out today. His name’s Yuuri.

Yuuri, who wore the (very appropriately) cutest oversized sweater to school and who looked A Vision in his workout clothes – and Victor didn’t even want to dwell too much on how good he looked with that sweaty hair clinging to his forehead. Or on how impossibly flexible he was.

Or on that delicious blush spreading from the tip of his ears all the way down his neck when Victor had offered to help him stretch.

Today the lights in Victor’s bedroom were on, and Yuuri saw him there the minute he walked into his own bedroom, freezing on the spot.

Victor waved at him and beamed. That was just being a good neighbor, right?

Yuuri seemed uncertain for a few moments, even looking around to make sure Victor was waving at him – which… was beyond adorable, there was only Yuuri there for him to wave at.

He finally waved back with a small smile, and Victor’s chest constricted that little bit more.

He needed to talk to him now. Now.

How?

He held up a hand asking for Yuuri to wait, looking around until he found the perfect tool: a large sketchbook. It was a relic from his art classes and something he would’ve never been able to find that easily, if his whole world hadn’t been turned upside down by the moving.

(And by Yuuri.)

Victor grabbed a red marker and wrote his message on the paper, turning it so Yuuri could read it.

I just moved in!

 

Yuuri’s eyes widened and he smiled, and it was his turn to tell Victor to wait. He left the bedroom and came back with a sketchbook and a blue marker of his own.

Welcome to the neighborhood

 

Thanks! :) Btw, we go to the same school!

 

Yeah I know :)

 

I’m sorry I scared you today!

 

It’s ok!

 

Victor put down the sketchbook and grabbed his backpack, pulling a blue water bottle out of it.

You left this behind!

 

Omg thanks

 

Give it to you tomorrow?

 

Thank you! ^_^

 

Jesus, even his hand-drawn emoticons were adorable.

My name’s Victor!

 

Yuuri wrote something on the paper, hesitated and changed the page, writing a new message instead.

I’m Yuuri

 

Nice to meet you!

 

Same here

 

See you tomorrow at school?

 

Yeah see you :)

 

Victor closed the sketchbook, and with a final wave and a smile, drew the curtains shut. Both of them needed their privacy after all.

But when he peeked an hour later, Yuuri’s curtains were still open and he was dancing and singing again – only this time he was kneeling on his bed, moving his hips and using a hairbrush as a microphone as he sang to his dog: a tiny brown poodle that looked like a maquette of Maccachin.

Yuuri was a poodle person. Because Fate loved Victor that much.

School had never held so much promise before.

 


 

“Victor Nikiforov is your new neighbor?!?!”

Shhhhh, Phichit!

“Yuuri, this is incredible!” Phichit had the decency to lower his voice to a whisper. The cafeteria was bustling with people, and even if Yuuri was not the type to attract attention, Victor’s name never failed to do the opposite.

“Well… kinda, yeah.” He smiled shyly. He hadn’t been able to get Victor’s adorably enthusiastic sketchbook messages out of his head since last night.

“And he’s super nice?” Yuuri continued, his voice betraying the awe he felt at this new discovery. Victor had never seemed to be a jerk, exactly, but Yuuri had always assumed that being that popular was bound to go over someone’s head, and yet Victor was… kind of a dork? He hated the word “adorkable”, but…

Phichit stared at him slack-jawed when he heard the sketchbook story.

“Yuuri. Seriously, this the cutest thing ever.”

“Right?!”

As if summoned by Yuuri himself, Victor and his friends walked into the cafeteria, sitting only two tables away from them. Yuuri stared hard at his own food, repeating his two-step plan in his mind like a mantra.

How To Interact With Victor And Friends

Step 1: Do not.

Step 2: Please refer to step 1.

It wasn’t a fail proof plan, though: that aggressive freshman he kept running into at the Baranovskaya studio saw him and grudgingly nodded, which in turn made Emil look at him and wave enthusiastically. Emil, of course, didn’t count as “interacting with Victor and friends”: he was like a giant puppy who jumped at the chance to talk to anyone within a ten-meter radius. As Emil’s former English tutor, Yuuri always got either a giant hello or a hug from him.

But Emil’s enthusiastic wave made Sara look and smile at him. Yuuri liked Sara, she was always nice to him – what he did not like was to be on the receiving end of her brother’s dirty looks. Any guy who talked to Sara got one of those, and if you didn’t see Mickey barking at some poor unsuspecting soul who’d accidentally glanced at his sister, then you simply hadn’t been to school that day.

But the minute Sara exclaimed “Hi Yuuri!”, he saw Victor’s head turn, his eyes grow wide and a smile follow suit. And then, “Yuuuuuuri!”

And just like that, Victor was sitting at their table.

By Yuuri’s side.

His knees touching Yuuri’s knees.

And Yuuri… Yuuri was currently ignoring step 2 of his own personal guide. And step 1. And the existence of the guide as a whole, because Victor’s eyes were too blue and easy to get lost in.

He wondered wildly if he’d still be drowning in them if he’d taken up swimming last semester. He had to be drowning, because he sure as hell wasn’t breathing, his chest was filling up and some mouth-to-mouth would be great right now, thanks.

“Yuuri, I got your water bottle, but it’s in my locker!”

“That’s… fine, um… don’t worry about it.”

Phichit was unabashedly staring, and Victor extended a hand.

“Hi, I’m Victor! I’m Yuuri’s new neighbor!”

They shook hands; between Victor and Phichit, Yuuri wouldn’t need glasses ever again: he was going blind with those thousand-watt smiles.

“You are?!” Phichit was the worst at faking surprise. “Lucky you!”

“I know, right? Yuuri’s a great neighbor! Sorry, you are…?”

“Phichit Chulanont, Yuuri’s Official Best Friend. You can talk to me about all your Yuuri needs!”

“Really?” Victor leaned over the table excitedly. “Then, can Yuuri walk me to my locker after lunch? Then I'll–”

“Jesus Christ, Victor!”

They turned as one: Christophe Giacometti was frowning at his own cell phone and beckoning Victor over with an impatient hand. “Chéri , come read this now!”

Victor shot them an apologetic look as he got up from their table.

“Sorry, it’s an emergency. But Yuuri, I’ll see you at the gym?”

“Um, yeah, maybe?”

“Great! Bye Phichit, see you around!”

As soon as Victor was out of earshot, Phichit turned back to Yuuri. “Okay, you were so right, he is nice,” he whispered, going back to his food.

“Isn’t he?!” Yuuri wanted to bang his head against the table, because that was simply not fair.

“Yeah, a shame about him and Chris, or I think you really might have a shot.”

Yuuri stared. “What about him and Chris?” He discreetly looked over at their table, where Chris and Victor had their heads close together reading something on Chris’ phone.

“Uh, they’re dating?”

“They’re what ?!”

Phichit put down his fork with a frustrated sigh. “Yuuri, you’ve known everything about him since day one, how can you not know this? They’ve been dating for, like, a month?”

Yuuri laid his head on the table with a thud. Really, really not fair.

 

~

 

As he walked home from the ballet studio, Yuuri wondered how he could’ve been so blind. All the signs had been there: he rarely saw Victor without Chris, and vice-versa – and he could swear he’d already seen Chris grabbing Victor’s butt.

It made sense, really. Chris was unfairly handsome, fashionable and exuded sex-appeal, while Yuuri… was an awkward sack of potatoes. He had no idea what he’d been thinking in the first place.

Shower, dinner, bedroom and one hopeful look across the yard: Victor was already in his own bedroom, in a loose pair of sweatpants riding distractingly low on his hips, no t-shirt and an unfair claim on Yuuri’s sanity.

He didn’t see Yuuri though: he was on the phone, pacing back and forth and gesturing impatiently. Whoever was at the other end of that conversation was obviously frustrating Victor, and Yuuri wished they weren’t.

Wished he was the one on the other side of the line. If it were him, he’d never upset Victor like that.

He forced himself to not stare at that tantalizingly shirtless Victor that was just so, so close. So close Yuuri could be in his bedroom in the blink of an eye if only there were a plank between their windows or something.

But there wasn’t, so he couldn’t, and that was that. Better to focus on his own life.

He texted Yuuko about their costumes for the pas de deux, but didn’t expect an answer right away: she was probably with Takeshi right now, on their date night. With more and more rehearsals taking up Yuuko’s time as the recital approached, she barely got to see her boyfriend. If only Takeshi went to their school…

When he threw himself on the bed, he looked out the window again, and saw Victor throwing his own phone on the bed with an eye roll. When he caught Yuuri’s eyes his face brightened up and he smiled – that heart-shaped smile that had been haunting Yuuri since freshman year.

Victor pointed at his own sketchbook and raised his eyebrows in a question. Yuuri laughed and got his own.

You ok?

 

Victor showed him his answer with a lopsided smile.

Tired of drama.

 

Sorry :(

 

Victor shrugged, seemingly resigned, and changed the subject:

Didn’t see you at the gym :(

 

I was at the studio

 

Studio?

 

Yuuri hesitated. He’d been mocked enough for it in junior high, so it wasn’t the kind of thing he usually told people unless he knew them well. On the other hand, Victor was the star of the figure skating club, he’d probably taken a few dance lessons himself.

Ballet

 

Wow, amazing! *_*

 

Yuuri laughed.

Not really. But thanks!

 

Ofc it is!

Another page:

You’re a dancer!

 

Yuuri laughed.

You skate, right?

 

He had to say it as a question, as if he weren't sure - as if he weren't the creep who’d been paying attention to Victor for more than a year and attended all the local figure skating competitions to cheer for him. As if Victor skating were something he’d vaguely heard about.

Victor’s face lit up:

Yes! Do you?

 

Yeah, it's fun!

 

We should go skating!

 

Who?

 

You and me!

 

Yuuri blinked, his mind drawing a blank. Short-circuiting might be more accurate. Whatever face he made - damn him if he knew - prompted Victor to add:

If you want to, ofc

 

Sure. Sounds fun!

 

The conversation went on for a few more minutes before a huge yawn broke out of Yuuri. Victor made a sympathetic face and wrote:

Yeah, same.

Another page:

See you at school?

 

Yes

 

Great! Sleep well!

 

You too! :)

 

Victor closed his curtains, and Yuuri was left with a sketchbook in his hands and a weight in his chest.

Yuuri had had fantasies like this before. Scenarios where he and Victor would be thrown into each other’s company for one reason or another (Victor needed private ballet classes, for figure skating reasons; Victor needed tutoring, never mind his 4.5 GPA; Victor put on an ad asking for cooking lessons, and Yuuri would teach him how to make katsudon; the possibilities were endless), and all of them ended with Victor being nice, warm and funny, someone who could get along with his friends and never mock him for doing ballet.

Someone who would like Yuuri back.

Well, Dream Victor had turned out to be true. Except for that last part.

He lay half-sitting on the bed, still writing on the sketchbook.

I like you

 


 

“Victor. Victor? Victor, are you even listening?”

Victor snapped out of it – out of the trance he was in as he watched Yuuri walk down the hall, laughing at something Yuuko had just said. His laugh was so… beautiful . Like everything he did and everything he was.

“Victor!”

“Sorry Georgi, I’m sorry, you were saying?”

Georgi closed his locker with a sigh. “Never mind, it’s not important. What are you staring at?” He followed the direction of Victor’s eyes and found his answer. “Ohhh. Got a crush on Yuuri too, huh?”

Victor’s heart rate sped up. Too ? “What do you mean? Do you know him?”

“What are you talking about, everyone knows him. But yeah, I worked with him last year. Remember the musical we put up in June?”

Victor had to think fast. He’d long perfected the art of paying just enough attention to Georgi’s activities at the drama club so he’d know what to say, but not enough that it’d take up room in his memory.

A sudden vision of Georgi in a black leather jacket came to his rescue.

“Uhhhhh… Grease ?”

“Yeah! So, the dance club helped us with the choreography of all the numbers, and Yuuri was the main dancer. He led the rehearsals with Yuuko and all.”

Chris caught up with them as they started walking towards their classroom. “Who are we talking about?”

His eyes were glued to his phone as usual, and Victor wanted to yank it away from him and throw it in the nearest trash can. Half of their problems would be over if he did.

“Yuuri Katsuki,” Georgi said. “Victor doesn’t know him.”

“Of course I know him!” Victor replied, offended. As if there were anything or anyone else more worth knowing in that school than Yuuri. Though he did wish he’d known him sooner. “I just… wasn’t aware that ‘everyone knows him’.” Victor made the air quotes to accompany.

Chris hummed, typing a reply. “You never know anything, chéri. But yes,” he added, putting his phone away momentarily, “most everyone knows him. Well, more like, most everyone has a crush on him.”

Victor’s eyes widened. That was the very last thing he needed, but on the other hand, few things in this life made as much sense as that. Who wouldn’t have a crush on Yuuri? He was smart, funny, had a million-dollar smile and was gorgeous from head to toe.

“I mean… have you seen his legs?” Chris continued, as if reading his mind.

Victor nodded solemnly. “I saw him in tights once.”

“Lucky you,” said Georgi. The other two stared at him, and Chris raised an eyebrow.

“Have you been expanding your horizons beyond Anya, sweetheart?”

Georgi shrugged. “No, but I’m not blind. You should’ve seen how little got done when Yuuri showed up for rehearsals. In tights.” He cleared his throat. “And it’s not just the legs, either.”

Victor ran smack-dab into a locker.

 


 

“So Yuuri, did you start the assignment?”

Yuuri looked up as Victor took the desk next to his and yawned, his long legs lazily stretched out in front of him. Victor had legs for days.

He shook his head a bit in order to focus.

They’d been talking for more than a month now, and Yuuri had been doing his best not to fall too far down into the venus flytrap that was Victor’s charm and enthusiasm – a task made all the harder when Victor insisted on being his very attractive and kind self and talking to Yuuri at every possible opportunity.

He focused on Victor’s question instead of Victor’s legs.

“No, not really, I was working on my History paper. I’ll probably start tonight, though.”

Victor sat up straight, his eyes sparkling all of a sudden:

“Wanna do it with me?”

An intelligent and appropriate answer to that: 404 Not Found.

“Um…”

“The assignment! We can work on it together! I can go to your place, or you can go to mine! It’s not like we live far from each other, right?” he finished with a wink.

No no no no, don’t wink at me like that.

“Yeah, sounds great!”

“Really? Okay, so then we can –”

“Victor,” a voice interrupted him.

Both the voice and the interruption had become way too familiar at this point: Christophe was a couple of desk rows away, moodily looking at his phone. He glanced at Victor – Chris’s boyfriend, Yuuri reminded himself – and after a curt nod to Yuuri, he made an impatient gesture at the desk next to his. The implication was clear enough.

With a thumbs up to Chris (and an eye roll when his back was turned again), Victor stood up, suddenly deflated.

“Talk to you later?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Watching Victor walk away from him and towards Chris was a staple of all their interactions at school. Yuuri should be used to it by now.

So why wasn’t he?

Because I’m stupid and I keep hoping for miracles, that’s why.

He slouched on his chair, and was getting his phone out to text his miseries to Phichit when he noticed someone taking the empty seat next to him; he looked up hopefully, but to his disappointment it was only Matthieu.

Not that Matthieu wasn’t nice, he was – he was quiet and smart and made funny comments about Mr. Cialdini’s hair every now and then. But he was no Victor.

Matthieu plopped down on his seat looking a little sulky. When his phone vibrated, he frowned at it and turned it off. It seemed like no one was having a good day.

They exchanged a few words before Mr. Cialdini entered the classroom, and their brief conversation ended with Matthieu taking one look at his hair and muttering “Simbaaa. Remember who you aaare.”

Yuuri snorted loudly, quickly grabbing his backpack and hiding his face in it while pretending to look for the book.

Yuuri spent the rest of the class trying not to focus on Mr. Cialdini’s uncanny resemblance to Mufasa. Or the way Victor beamed at Yuuri when their eyes met. Or the way Chris looked in his direction way more than at the teacher.

 

~

 

At the cafeteria, he and Phichit had just sat down with their trays when Victor happened to sit at the table across from theirs, waving happily at him. Five minutes passed before Yuuri decided that he’d had enough of the torture of trying to eat tacos and steal glances at Victor at the same time, and only managing to look like someone who had no idea how to eat a taco in public.

He switched places with Phichit. With his back now turned to Victor & Friends, he could at least eat the rest of his sorry meal in peace. The table across from him now held nothing of interest, only that blond freshman (also Yuri, he’d learned) sitting with Otabek. Funny to see Otabek smiling, he never did that in class.

Yuuri’s peaceful meal plan was soon thwarted when Victor materialized by blond Yuri’s side, giving him a teasing smile and saying something that made the boy scowl. Catching Yuuri’s eye, Victor flashed him another bright smile and a wink. Yuuri had no option but to wave back and answer with a smile of his own (a smile he couldn’t help anyway), hoping he wasn’t blushing too obviously.

Phichit sighed, looking mournfully at his own taco. “If only the tomatoes in this were as red as you right now,” he said.

Another hope down the drain.

 

~

 

The plan had been to take Victor to the living room as soon as he arrived; the books and Yuuri’s laptop were there already waiting for them.

Said plan had to be put on hold, however, when he opened the door and Vicchan stuck his head between Yuuri’s legs, to take a look at the guest. Victor gasped before he’d even said hello. “And who is this total dear?!”

He crouched down on the floor and offered his hand to Vicchan – who enthusiastically started his attempt to lick a hole through Victor’s hand. The smile in Yuuri’s face was so large it hurt: when would he ever have thought that Victor and Vicchan would be –

Oh.

No.

The smile died way too young.

Vicchan was now licking Victor’s face, to Victor’s apparent infinite amusement.

“What’s his name?”

“Uh.” Well. Yuuko was always telling him to take a leap of faith, so. Surely Victor didn’t speak Japanese? “Vicchan.”

“Vicchan! What a cute name! Just like you, isn’t it? Yes, it is! You’re the cutest thing! I mean, um…” Victor seemed flustered for a second, but quickly shook it off. “Yuuri, he’s precious, did you know that? And he looks just like a mini-Macca!”

“A mini… what?”

Victor froze and stared at him in horror. “You… you haven’t seen Macca?”

“What is a macca?!” said Yuuri, confused.

“Maccachin! The best dog in the whole world? I mean, besides Vicchan, obviously.”

“Obviously. You mean… you have a dog? And we haven’t met? Victor, how dare you.”

Victor’s eyes grew wide. “I thought you’d seen him in my bedroom already!”

“Clearly not, since you’re hiding him from me,” Yuuri replied drily. He scooped up Vicchan and walked away with him in his arms. “Come, Vicchan, we’re not talking to him anymore.”

“Yuuri, no! I’m sorry! Come back! Yuuriiii!”

 

~

 

“But they don’t really have anything in common other than they’re both poems by the same author! One is narrative, the other is lyric…”

“They’re both about the same theme,” Victor pointed out.

Yuuri sighed. “Barely.”

They stared at the books in front of them on the rug, the dining room table long abandoned in favor of sitting on the floor.

“Okay.” Victor started with a long sigh. “Let’s… gather what we have so far.”

Yuuri sat up straight, trying not to wake Maccachin, currently sleeping with his head on his lap; Victor had readily agreed that meeting Vicchan and not introducing him and Yuuri to Macca was a criminal offense, and he’d hurried to remedy that. Sure, they’d lost some time trying to get Maccachin off Yuuri, but it had been worth every second.

Meanwhile, Vicchan had become a ball of fur all curled up in Victor’s lap.

Agape is about God’s love for man.”

“Relatable,” Yuuri mumbled.

Victor’s laugh was so sudden it woke Vicchan up, and they spent a few moments soothing him back to sleep. He still threw Victor one or two hurt looks before deciding to trust him once more and bury his head on his lap.

“Oh God…” Victor chuckled. “I know, right?”

Yuuri smiled, trying not to be too obviously proud of the fact he’d made Victor laugh.

“And it’s also about…selfless love. And look at the end,” Yuuri tapped lightly at the last verse in on the page. “What they want is eternal happiness.”

He flipped the page, going to the next poem. “And then Eros.”

“The good old playboy tale.”

Yuuri snorted. “Yeah, not exactly selfless. So we have the story of the playboy and the woman, and how he leaves her. But what’s the overall theme here?”

Victor shifted a little, and suddenly his leg was pressed flush against Yuuri’s.

“Passion.”

Yuuri nodded, not saying a word. Wishing Victor was not so close and wishing he were closer was keeping him too busy to speak.

And then half of his wishes were fulfilled when Victor leaned in to show a couple of lines in the book, the smell of his shampoo delicious and tempting right under Yuuri’s nose.

“See these lines here, Pleasure followed by pleasure / One just drowns in it ?”

Where, where was the off switch for his heart? Or his thoughts? Or just… all of him?

“That’s the theme. Sexual love.” Victor said, his voice low and intimate.

“Mmm.”

“Do you agree?”

“Yes,” he answered, trying to swallow as silently as possible and not move at all.

The silence hung in the air, heavy with all of Yuuri’s desperate hopes and everything he knew Victor would never want from him.

Victor, who had yet to move away.

Yuuri cleared his throat and looked away. “So, um… the poems. They’re… like… different kinds of love. Right?”

Victor moved away.

“Yeah,” he said agreeably. “They’re… almost opposite.”

“Wait.” Yuuri frowned. “Would you say they’re opposite sides of the same coin?”

Victor cocked his head. “Hmm. Elaborate.”

“I mean…” he stopped, trying to organize his thoughts. “Because… eros is about wanting, so… it’s selfish, right? And agape is selflessness. But they’re both love. So if you put them together…”

Victor’s face lit up. “You have just… love. You want to be with someone…”

“…but you also have to put their wants and needs above yours.”

He’d barely finished when Victor gently took his head between his hands and kissed his forehead enthusiastically.

“Yuuri, you’re a genius. That’s it, that’s our essay! Just… in five pages, Times New Roman 12, double-spaced.”

Do NOT clutch your chest now. Wait until he’s gone.

“Yeah, that’s it!”

 

~

 

Yuuri had just turned off his computer when a familiar writing in red, in a sketchbook that was fast approaching its end, showed up through the window on the other side of the yard. Right below a heart-shaped smile that, ironically, did bad things to Yuuri’s heart.

How’s your essay going?

 

Done :)

 

Wow, so fast!

Another page:

I was walking Maccachin

 

Yuuri finally realized why he’d never noticed the dog in Victor’s bedroom before: he’d seen him sleeping in a far corner and vaguely thought it was a particularly fluffy comforter thrown on the floor.

Now, though, Maccachin was happily panting with his nose pressed up against the window, looking at Yuuri and Vicchan on the other side and even pawing slightly at the glass.

Victor laughed:

“Dad, why are they there?”

Another page:

“Bring them here!”

                    - Maccachin XD

 

Yuuri smiled, laughing hysterically inside. At this point, being in control of his facial expression was all he could hope to achieve near Victor. Forget not falling for him all over again each time they met (i.e., every day, a thousand times at school, sometimes at the Nishigori Gym and every night through the window). That ship had long sailed.

He wrote his own message, not sure if it was a good idea or just twisting the knife a bit further inside:

We could walk them together sometime

 

I’d LOVE that!!! :D

 

Same :)

 

Tomorrow night?

 

Sure!

 

It’s a date!!

 

Fate hates me. HATES me. I must’ve been an awful person in another life, and now I’m paying for it. Why am I paying for Past Life Yuuri’s crimes???

He gave a pointed look at Vicchan, snoring away on Yuuri’s bed. With a crooked smile, he showed his answer:

Vicchan says he can’t wait

 

Victor’s shoulders shook in what was evidently a snort.

Yes, clearly.

Another page:

See you tomorrow?

 

See you!

 

♡♡♡

And with those hearts, Victor waved and closed his curtains. Yuuri stared at the other window, at the light still leaking through the thin crack in the middle, where the curtains didn’t quite come together.

Maybe if he stared hard enough they would open again.

They would open to reveal Victor holding up the sketchbook with a new message in his slightly messy writing, in that red that had been vividly bright two months ago, but was now quickly fading. A message that would mirror the one he’d just written in blue on his own page.

I really like you

Chapter Text

Victor clicked his tongue, disappointed.

“How can a stationery store be out of red markers?!”

“Just grab whatever color and let’s go,” complained Yuri, hands deep in the pockets of that tacky leopard-print jacket he loved so much (and that Victor hated with the fire of a thousand suns). “I’m starving, and you promised me pizza.”

“Not so fast, Yurio,” said Victor, examining the markers. “This is important.”

Yuri stared at him as if he’d just sprouted as many heads as a hydra (and was now considering how to best cut off all the heads, if that murderous intent flashing behind his eyes was anything to go by).

“It’s a marker,” he growled between gritted teeth. “Any of them will do!”

That was, of course, absolutely not true.

He’d used red in his window messages to Yuuri because it was the only marker he had available, but he’d quickly committed to it. Red was nice. It was pretty, bright, easy to read and a nice contrast to Yuuri’s blue. Now, though, what color should he pick? All the other bright colors – orange, pink, that ghastly neon green – were too flashy and not reader-friendly, especially to someone who already wore glasses.

He could use blue, like Yuuri. It’d make for a good conversation starter: “Look, we match!” Like a couple wearing matching corsage and boutonniere for prom.

Except they were not a couple.

Not yet, he told himself.

He couldn’t be hallucinating that connection, right? Every time they talked and laughed together it felt like what he’d always thought a relationship should feel like: light, comfortable, instinctive.

Easy.

He just… needed an opening.

Yuri rolled his eyes. “This is stupid," he said, shoving a black marker into his hands and trying to push him towards the cashiers. "We’re in 2017, not the 50’s. Just text like normal people!”

“We do text,” he answered, planting his feet on the ground and stopping, despite his cousin’s best efforts to push him. “We text a lot, actually, but… I don’t know, this is our thing,” he finished with a shrug.

That had never been explicitly said, but it was more than implied in the way they immediately went for their sketchbooks when they saw each other through their windows. Texts were for the rest of the day – for when Victor was bored out of his mind in trig class, for example, or when Yuuri found a picture of a cute dog and sent it to him with a thought of you! :) . It was for jokes and quick questions, and omg he’s wearing a hair band today from the other side of the classroom when one of them couldn’t cope with Mr. Cialdini’s hair choices.

Not for when they could see each other in their bedrooms.

(And it was nice to have something they shared only with each other, something that was “their thing”. Couples usually had a Thing, right?)

Ignoring Yuri’s huffed “you’re too much, I’m losing my health”, Victor turned around and went towards the shelves in the back.

“Wait, where are you going?!”

“I need a sketchbook too, Yurio,” he replied, not even bothering to check if Yuri would be following him. He would be. He’d spent his entire life following Victor and complaining about it, just like now.

“And what’s with that ‘Yurio’ shit?!”

“Cute, isn’t it?” he said, vaguely flashing a smile in his general direction and kneeling down to look at the sketchbooks on the bottom shelf.

Yuri huffed. “It’s stupid. Why are you calling me that?”

“I can’t call you ‘Yuri’ now, it’s confusing. I have to call one of you something different.”

“Then call him something different!”

“But his name is Yuuri,” replied Victor distractedly, grabbing a sketchbook he liked – pretty, with pages made of recycled paper – and finally going towards the cashier.

What do you think I’m called?!” Yuri hissed.

“If you just stand there, I’m gonna leave you here and have pizza all by myself.”

Yurio ran after him, still complaining.

When didn’t he?

 


 

Yuuri looked at the phone: 7:30. Phichit would be there in around ten minutes, which meant they’d get to school with only ten minutes to spare (five, if you considered the time it took to find a decent parking spot). Not late, but not their usual early hour, either.

Well, maybe now Phichit would learn not to livestream until 4 am.

(“But Yuuri, I have an obligation to my fans!” “At 1 am?” “Time zones!”)

He sat on an old bench - a decaying memento of the bus stop that used to be in front of his house - and yawned. Hard. He’d barely slept, thinking about the upcoming recital and all the little ways, and big ways, in which he would probably screw it up and disappoint everyone. The more he tried to stop worrying about it, the more it slithered into his every waking moment, like his personal brand of cyclical, eternal torture doled out by the gods.

Good thing no one could tell. Otherwise everyone would be going “why don’t you try and forget about it a little?”, and he'd have to supress all the eye rolls. If he could forget…

But all he could do was wait, like a deer caught in headlights coming straight at him.

(They called it “fight or flight response”, but what did you call it when you only… stood there?)

All of that disappeared in a puff of smoke when his favorite sound rang in his ears:

“Yuuuuri!”

The promptness with which his heart lurched in his chest would’ve made Pavlov proud. Looking inexcusably good in a plain t-shirt and slightly worn-out jeans, with his backpack slung over one shoulder and Yuuri’s peace of mind in his teeth, Victor plopped down next to him: “Morning! Welcome to my bench! To what do I owe the pleasure?”

Yes, by all means, wink at me and be charming first thing in the morning. I mean, I did have “combusting” scheduled for today, so. Thanks for the help.

Yuuri cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I think you mispronounced ‘Yuuri’s bench’.”

Victor raised an eyebrow. “‘Yuuri’s bench’? Says who?”

Wordlessly, he pointed at the backrest behind Victor: carved on the wood a long time ago, and partially fading now, were the initials Y.B.

“See? Yuuri’s Bench.”

He’d done it years ago, back when he was in middle-school and that was still a bus stop; noticing no one liked to sit on the rickety old bench, 12-year-old Yuuri had taken pity on it and decided to give it a name, using his sister’s pocketknife.

Victor looked at the carving, seemingly baffled by that plot twist. Then he comfortably slouched on the bench and scooched a bit closer, his shin casually coming to rest under Yuuri’s calf. He cracked a smile. “Wow, Yuuri! Why would you carve my initials backwards?”

Yuuri’s eyes went wide. “What –”, he stifled an ill-timed yawn and started again. “What do you mean your initials?”

“Yes, look: Binktop Yulianovich.”

He let out a groan that was, much against his will, partially a laugh, and buried his face in his hands. “Forget that already!”

Victor grinned. “Never, it’s too good!” He then did what he clearly thought was an accurate imitation of Yuuri’s voice: “Victor, why does your notebook say ‘binktop’?”

“Not everyone can read Cyrillic,” said Yuuri, giving out a pale imitation of a glare.

“I can always teach you,” he answered, offering him Russian lessons, a smile, a wink and a heart attack all at once. The offer was too close to one of the numerous Victor Daydreams Yuuri had entertained before: Victor tutoring him in French (a scenario that always involved Yuuri asking for French lessons, and Victor enthusiastically agreeing to French kiss him. There was also a pun somewhere with the word langue meaning both ‘language’ and ‘tongue’ – a stupid pun that, now that he knew Victor, turned out to be the one realistic part about it all).

Yuuri quickly blinked his hopes and dreams away, his brain frantically scrambling for something smooth to say in return – but that attempt at a train of thought derailed, dived off a cliff and went up in flames when Victor reached out and gently tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear for him.

It seemed to happen in slow motion – Victor’s thumb brushing against Yuuri’s cheek, lingering there for a single moment and stealing more of his heartbeats than it should be allowed – but by the time his brain had finally caught up, all that was left of Victor’s touch was a distinct absence of air in Yuuri’s lungs.

He could ignore their legs tangled together under the bench, or how his heart was beating out what was definitely a samba, or the way his own toes curled in his sneakers, but there was no pretending he wasn’t blushing. And nothing to do about the smile that came unbidden, like the little traitor it was.

“Um, thanks,” he said, trying to tuck away more loose strands of his own hair. It’d been a while since he’d had a haircut. “It’s too long, isn’t it?”

Victor hummed, looking at Yuuri’s hair like it was fascinating. “I like it. It suits you.”

You suit me.

He gazed back into Victor’s eyes for a moment – and in what reality was that fair, the way those eyes looked back at him, almost making him believe he was special? – and he stuttered his way into something else to say.

“Um, so, uh… what are you doing here?”

Victor put his arm around the backrest behind Yuuri with all the easy grace of a cat, grazing against Yuuri’s left shoulder. Yuuri felt like dying. He was so awake now. Too awake. “Well, Mr. Katsuki, I’ll have you know I’m always here at 7:40. That’s when Chris picks me up.”

Oh. Of course.

Chris.

Yuuri managed to forget that detail way too often, and it always fell on him like a ton of depressing bricks – the kind that you made castles in the air with.

When Yuuri merely hummed in acknowledgement, Victor continued: “What about you? You’re never here at this time.”

“No, Phichit usually picks me up at 7:20, but he overslept today.”

“Really?!” Victor replied, inexplicably excited to hear Yuuri’s ride was late. He leaned forward. “Well in that case, why don’t you –”

A car horn.

Yuuri swallowed a sigh. That was not Phichit’s car.

That was the Fates reminding him he was always on borrowed time when it came to Victor.

Christophe pulled up in his black convertible BMW (which… really? No teenager needed a car like that), an expensive pair of sunglasses and the serious case of Resting Bitch Face Syndrome he had contracted this semester. Out of the corner of his eye, Yuuri noticed Victor’s smile fading a little.

Without bothering to say “good morning”, Chris impatiently beckoned his boyfriend to hop in the car, and vaguely nodded towards Yuuri with a disinterested “hey.”

Yuuri hey-ed him back and waved. Victor grabbed his backpack and got up – but instead of getting into the car, he turned to Yuuri.

“Why don’t you come with us?”

Yuuri stared.

Getting a ride with the guy he was head over heels in love with and that guy’s boyfriend?

Sure. It’s at the top of my to-do list, right between picking up my costume for the recital and chopping off my hand.

“Um… Phichit’s on his way already, so I’m gonna wait for him. But thanks,” he said, this last bit directed at Chris, who just nodded again and opened the door.

“Come on, Vic.”

A bit reluctantly, Victor slid into the passenger’s seat and gave him a small wave. “See you in a bit?”

“Yeah, see you.”

One last indifferent wave from Chris, one last smile from Victor that made Yuuri’s chest clench, and they were gone, leaving him alone with one last intrusive thought.

Stay with me.

 

~

 

Yuuri eyed his dry veggie wrap dejectedly, while Phichit made noises at his sloppy joe that were definitely not PG-13. With the recital looming over his everyday activity, the only thing that kept Yuuri going was the promise of post-recital katsudon.

“Yuuri,” Phichit whispered, a bit of sauce running down his chin, “Russian Torture at 3 o’clock.”

One day, one day, Victor Nikiforov would walk into a room and Yuuri’s head wouldn’t turn faster than lightning, and hope wouldn’t spring eternal when he saw him.

Today was not that day.

A shame Victor had the inevitable Christophe attached to him as they walked into the cafeteria – Chris’s eyes glued to his phone, Victor’s scanning the cafeteria, as if looking for something.

Hoping he didn’t look too disappointed, Yuuri went back to his meal, and found Phichit watching him with gentle pity.

“Yuuri, you need to do something.”

“I know.”

“You can’t keep pining forever.”

“I know.”

“So what are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know,” he whined.

Phichit put down his sandwich with an annoyed sigh. “We’re doing something right now. Give me pen and paper.”

By the time he was done, there was an actual plan written down:

 

Plan Out of Sight, Out of Mind

  • Avoid Victor in World Lit: go to class 1 min before the bell
  • Avoid Victor at the Gym: change gym schedule
  • Avoid Victor at Home:
    o   no more dog walking dates
    o   keep your curtains closed (wtf)
  • Avoid Victor From a Distance: don’t answer texts as soon as you get them (it reeks of desperation, fyi)

 

The plan made absolute, unfortunate sense. He needed to cut down on his daily dose of Victor; at that point, he was as much a part of Yuuri’s routine as going to school.

Or more, because on the day he missed school due to a cold and a fever, Victor had still sent him tons of texts during the day, and written about the highlights of the day on his new eco-friendly sketchbook at night:

 

Omg get this

Another page:

Mickey yelled at Jack!

 

Jack?

 

Dark hair, blue eyes, obnoxious?

Another page:

Going out w/ Isabella Y.

 

Jean-Jacques

 

Victor had seemed puzzled, slowly mouthing the name as if he’d never heard it before, even though he’d been studying with JJ for three years. He shrugged, continuing his tales of gossip.

(And it was so weird reading his messages in black; Yuuri was used to that red that was just as vibrant as Victor himself.)

So yes. Out of sight, out of mind. Surely he could pull it off.

When he raised his eyes from the paper, though, he saw Victor looking at him from a few tables of distance. Catching Yuuri’s eye, he smiled a heart at him.

Yuuri smiled back (and maybe whimpered a little) because, well, when you realized you were the modern rendition of Tantalus, you just had to roll with it.

He was also acutely aware that he’d meet the Eye Roll to rule all eye rolls when his eyes met Phichit’s again. He could practically hear them rolling in the back of Phichit’s skull.

Without a single word, Yuuri carefully folded the paper with the plan on it.

“You’re not gonna follow the plan, are you?” asked Phichit, emotionlessly.

“Nope,” said Yuuri, neatly ripping the paper along the line of fold.

 


 

Victor threw himself on the bed with a sigh, his phone still open on Christophe’s message:

>>> we’re back ♡♡♡

Yes, finally. About time that godawful Christophe/Matthieu soap opera ended. Chris had been close to unbearable these past few months; every day it was a different “you’re not gonna believe this!”, every day a different text drama that shouldn’t even be happening in the first place. Every day a catalogue of all the ways in which Matthieu was Wrong (except that one time Chris had gotten drunk and cried on Victor’s shoulder about all the ways in which Matthieu was Perfect).

Thank God that drama had only lasted one season. Hopefully, they wouldn’t renew it for a second, because Victor had been the only one watching it and he was done.

Besides, he had his own story to take care of.

It’d been three months already, and he hadn’t moved forward. Mila kept nudging him every time she saw Yuuri (his ribs were bruised at that point, she really had no self-control), and Yurio had already mumbled a couple of “do something about it and stop bugging me” under his breath. Even Chris had taken time from his busy schedule of trading barbs with Matthieu over text to grumpily tell him “chéri, I know his ass is a piece of art, but this is not a museum: you can get permission to touch it, just ask him out already.”

(It was definitely a piece of art, but this was not about Yuuri’s ass.)

(Well. Not only. It was much more than that.)

It was just… sometimes it felt like it was happening, like all he had to do was reach out and Yuuri would say yes and let him kiss him and that’d be it. At other times, though, Yuuri seemed to… retreat. Draw back from whatever was about to happen between them.

Or maybe it was Victor who was creating a whole “we’re so in love” delusion in his head.

With a surge of energy, he got up from the bed and opened his curtains. Maybe Yuuri was home already.

Maybe it was time he Did Something About It, after all.

 


 

By the time Yuuri got out of the shower and into his pjs, there was nothing he wanted more than his bed – forget reading that text for Spanish, he’d simply ask Phichit about it tomorrow.

The minute he walked into his bedroom, Vicchan woke up and barked once, thumping his tail on the bed at top speed. Yuuri scooped him up and threw himself on the bed, letting Vicchan lick his face to his heart’s content. Yes, he would have to go back to the bathroom and wash up again, but it was for a worthy cause.

It was only after a couple of minutes of cooing and playing that he thought of the house next door, throwing one terrified look at the window; to his relief, Victor’s curtains were closed. He hadn’t seen Yuuri embarrassing himself and allowing Vicchan to cover him in slobber.

Victor would probably understand, he was pretty much the same when it came to Maccachin. Still, the less he saw the better.

“I’m sorry, Yuuri, I can’t kiss you. That’s the same mouth Vicchan licked last night.”

“No, you don’t understand, I brushed my teeth! I used Listerine, too! The purple one!”

Of course, that would entail Victor wanting to kiss him in the first place, and why would he, when he already had Chris? Tall, handsome, rich Chris, who could probably still feel his own tongue because he didn’t use mouthwash from hell.

(Chris, who never made Victor smile.)

He grabbed his phone and scrolled down his playlist.

(But Victor smiled with Yuuri, though. And laughed, too.)

Yuuri put on his earphones and pressed play, his eyes closing and his hips moving as soon as the beat started. This, at least, was right. Dancing always felt right. And here, there were no rules – no port de bras, no alignment, no one for him to drop. No one to disappoint except Vicchan (and he was 89% sure Vicchan didn’t understand basic ballet techniques, so). He loved ballet, but it also drove him crazy more often than not; sometimes, he needed to dance without anyone watching, critiquing, correcting. Judging.

Yuuri mouthed the words of the song when they echoed in his ears, still dancing, still lightly moving his hips, and when the chorus exploded, the cell phone became a mic and he pointed at Vicchan, his number one fan and lonely audience member:

I know I can treat you better than he can

And any girl like you deserves a gentleman

Vicchan barked once again, and Yuuri ruffled his head.

When you should be with me instead

I know I can treat you better

Better than he can

Yuuri jumped on the bed, one hand on his chest, the other holding the “microphone”, still staring longingly at his dog. There was no point in singing a love song if you weren’t going to act it out, right? Vicchan would simply have to do in the absence of Victor.

(And wasn’t he a Victor, after all?)

I’ll stop time for you

The second you say you’d like me to

Vicchan seemed more preoccupied with licking Yuuri’s foot than with the performance, but that was honestly for the best.

Yuuri jumped off the bed when the chorus started again, dancing with all of his body and well, maybe he was singing out loud now, but his bedroom was far from his parents’ anyway.

Better than he can

He swung around, facing the window and —

He froze.

Better than he can

Victor had opened his own curtains at some point and was watching Yuuri.

He was watching Yuuri serenade his own dog and dance.

Ridiculously.

Pathetically.

They stared at each other for five seconds, Yuuri’s mind racing through a thousand possibilities, his heart going AWOL.

Victor waved hesitantly.

Yuuri squealed and threw himself on the floor, laying flat on the rug.

Oh my God.

Oh my god, oh mygod, ohmygod, ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod

Take my hand, we’ll be fine

Promise I won’t let you down

Now what?!

He couldn’t just get up and pretend Victor had seen nothing – or that he hadn’t thrown himself on the floor, like someone ducking from the blast of a bomb.

But what else was he supposed to have done, wave back and calmly close the curtains?! Victor had seen him. Victor had seen him.

(Victor had seen him shaking his ass.)

How long had he been standing there? How long had he been watching his clumsy, idiotic dance? Why hadn’t Yuuri closed his own curtains?!

(Actually, ha, he knew that one, it was because the house next door had been empty for five years before the Nikiforovs came along and he’d gotten used to doing whatever he wanted in his bedroom with his curtains open which was so, so beyond stupid and this was the result – this, this was the result, he’d made a fool of himself in front of Victor.)

Cause I know I can treat you better than he can

(Not in front of his eternal crush Victor Nikiforov, which would’ve been par for the course, but in front of Victor, Victor, the real person. The guy that was better than all his wildest daydreams put together because he was real. The Victor that talked to him and made him laugh, but didn’t laugh at him when he rambled, that loved poodles and thought ballet was awesome. The Victor that had the cheesiest, cutest, funniest lines and made a point of talking to him a thousand times a day – and now would never talk to him ever again, because Yuuri was pathetic.)

Better than he can

Yuuri pressed pause on the song that was basically taunting him now and rolled around, laying on his back and staring at the ceiling. What should he do now, get up?

He couldn’t crawl towards the door, Victor would see it.

His phone vibrated in his hand.

Incoming call

Victor

No no no no no no no

He rejected the call.

Noooo, why did I reject the call?!

Now Victor would think he didn’t want to talk to him! Which… was kind of true? He didn’t want to talk to him again, because how could he, but not talking to him was the very last thing he wanted.

Incoming call

Victor

Don’t reject this one, DON’T reject this one

But should he answer it? What would he say?! Victor would probably apologize for having watched him, but that was not his fault, it was Yuuri’s! Yuuri should’ve closed his curtains if he wanted privacy, Victor had all the right to open his own at any time!

(Although Victor didn’t have to keep watching him, truth be told.)

Okay, fine, they were both to blame. So what? What happened now?

The call went to voicemail.

He didn’t listen to it – who listened to voicemail anyway? You had to pay for it.

Message.

Victor

Yuuri

Another message, but he didn’t look at that one. Or the other one. Or the next one. Or all the other fourteen that followed.

Instead, he made a call.

“Yuuri?”

“…Hi mom.”

“Where are you, I didn’t see you leave?”

“No, I… didn’t. I’m in my bedroom. I just, I need a favor. I need you to come here.”

“Honey, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine! I just really need your help now.”

He could hear her hurried steps down the hall already.

“When you come in, could you, um… pretend I’m not here in the bedroom at all? And then close the curtains?”

 


 

It wasn’t Monday, which meant they didn’t have a class together, and Victor had no idea of where Yuuri would be in first period.

(He’d thought of going around asking, but Chris had stopped him. “Chéri. Stalking. Not even once.”)

The task of getting his books from his locker was considerably slowed down as he watched people go by instead, hoping he’d be able to catch sight of Yuuri in the crowd – but no luck. He saw a couple of sophomores he knew hung out with Yuuri and Phichit, but nothing of Yuuri himself.

…Chris was right, wasn’t he? Of course he was right. Yuuri had chosen to not read his messages or take his calls, he clearly didn’t want to talk to him anymore. Going around looking for him would be saying he couldn’t respect Yuuri’s wishes or boundaries (and wasn’t that the whole problem, after all? That he hadn’t respected Yuuri’s privacy?).

He could do that now. He’d keep his distance until Yuuri decided to let him in again. He would wait and –

– Yuuri was there.

There, at the door, shoving Phichit out of his classroom and laughing, while Phichit smiled and grabbed the door frame, trying (in vain) to hold his ground. With all the hustle and bustle in the hallway, it was impossible to hear what Yuuri was saying, but he could still see his smile clear as day.

That smile could light up whole towns and inflict irreparable damage to a heart.

(Victor was pretty sure he’d been in sore need of a pacemaker since he’d first seen Yuuri’s smile.)

How did Phichit even manage to go about his day after being on the receiving end of those smiles? How was he not madly in love with Yuuri? How was not everyone in love with him?

(According to Chris, everyone kind of was.)

(But if they were, they wouldn’t be walking down the hall after seeing him. No, they’d stop everything and stare at that devastating smile, wishing they were the ones it was aimed at.)

Their eyes met, and the smile instantly withered and died.

Victor straightened up and waved a little; Yuuri nodded at him – maybe? Kind of? – and turned away, disappearing into the classroom with an unreadable face (and an unmistakable blush). Phichit looked around, searching for the reason of Yuuri’s sudden change of mood. Finding Victor, he frowned and turned away as well.

Victor leaned against the row of lockers with a heavy clang, his eyes still glued to the door through which Yuuri had disappeared. As if staring would magically bring him back. He took out a carefully folded piece of paper from his back pocket.

Maybe tomorrow.

 

~

 

Yuuri hadn’t talked to him for two whole weeks.

He’d barely looked at him in World Lit, after getting to class a couple of seconds before Mr. Cialdini – almost like he’d been lurking, waiting to time his entrance with the teacher’s. He hadn’t even been having lunch in the cafeteria, at least not that Victor had seen him (and boy had he looked).

To top it all off, he must’ve changed his schedule at the gym, because there had been no sign of him here either. This was the second time this week Victor had taken longer than necessary to get his workout done, totally not trying to see Yuuri, of course, just… hoping.

He slung his duffel bag on one shoulder and left the locker room. It was late already, time to go home and stop quasi-stalking Yuuri. He should simply send him a note in class, like a normal person. And if Yuuri still decided not to –

The Sleeping Beauty.

That music coming from one of the rooms at the end of the hall was definitely The Sleeping Beauty. You didn’t get Lilia Baranovskaya, former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi, as your godmother and come out unscathed on the other side: Victor would recognize Tchaikovsky’s ballets anywhere.

His feet moved before he was fully aware of it, because that wasn’t just the wedding pas de deux in act 3. That was Yuuri’s pas de deux, the one he’d been rehearsing for months, to the cost of his feet and his sanity (pfff, Yuuri probably thought no one could tell he was losing nights of sleep over it, but those bags under his eyes screamed for attention).

Victor hurried past all the empty rooms with treadmills and stationary bikes behind giant window panes, the silence of the gym only vaguely interrupted by the music that got clearer with each step. He stopped in front of the dance room, finding what – who – he’d been looking for on the other side of the glass.

More, in fact.

He found Yuuri and Yuuko sitting cross legged on the floor in front of each other, their eyes closed and their foreheads touching; they were so close he could practically see them breathing nothing but each other. Yuuri nodded from time to time, while she talked and held both his hands to her heart. Victor automatically echoed the gesture, holding his own hands to his heart, as if looking for something that was suddenly not there anymore.

Yuuko’s hand came up to cup Yuuri’s cheek, and Victor finally turned on his heels, moving as far away from the room as possible; he could make an educated guess as to where that was going, no need to actually see it.

He made his way back into the lobby, mechanically going through the turnstile and out in the warm June evening without fully realizing it, the scene he’d left behind frozen like a snapshot into his memory. In hindsight, it made sense: he’d seen Yuuri and Yuuko hanging out tons of times at school, and they were always together at the gym. Childhood friends and dance partners rehearsing for the recital, Victor had thought then. It was true, just not… the full picture.

Yuuri was The Cutest Thing In Town, and Yuuko was downright perfect. She was pretty, kind, smart, while Victor… was apparently the creep who couldn’t be bothered to close his curtains, like decency dictated. Clingy. “Too much”, as Yuri never failed to remind him.

As for his Plan… it was still in the back pocket of his jeans, inside his gym bag. He brought his Plan with him every day, just in case Yuuri talked to him again. Just in case Yuuri decided he liked Victor back.

Just in case.

He should find a trash can for it.

 

~

 

Victor lazily played with the salad in front of him, not really sure when he’d chosen to eat that in the first place, and trying his very best to tune out the cacophony in the cafeteria. It was the same as usual, but in his mood, it grated on him more than never.

“Get a room already,” said a sullen voice next to him.

He knew what he was going to find before looking: Yurio scowling at Chris and Matthieu. Still in the afterglow of their reconciliation, the couple were taking a selfie, with Chris giving Matthieu a peck on the cheek.

(As if having lunch together at school was something new and rare.)

The bitterness caught him off-guard, but it was nothing personal: Chris and Matthieu were only one drop in the ocean of happy couples populating the school. The last thing he needed today was to be surrounded by couples in love, so he kept his head low and tried not to look around – not to let his eyes wander all over the place in the futile hope of finding Yuuri.

Because finding Yuuri could very well mean finding Yuuri and Yuuko, which… no. Just no. Now that he knew they were together, he’d probably see them everywhere. It was a huge Baader-Meinhof effect begging to happen.

A widespread aaaawwww echoed throughout the room: on the other side of the cafeteria, Joshua-Jacob was kneeling and holding a poster saying Will you be my prom queen? A teary Isabella nodded, and the entire school erupted in applause.

“Fucking JJ,” mumbled Yurio. Victor agreed wholeheartedly.

Promposal season. It was officially here, ready to rub salt on Victor’s wounds. He hadn’t even bothered to buy tickets. What was the point now?

On his right, Georgi sniffed. “Hope he’s happy while it lasts, and that she doesn’t leave him with a shattered heart and a useless ticket to prom.”

Mila rolled her eyes, but everyone else stayed quiet (maybe Yurio groaned a little). They could all see Anya at a distant table with her new boyfriend – some guy from the hockey team. Georgi had ranted enough the past few days; the less they encouraged him now, the better for everybody.

Victor decided he’d had enough when Chris and Matthieu started feeding each other fries, in front of God and everyone. He stood up in a hurry, saying something about going to the library, and left, leaving his salad almost untouched.

Hungry was the last thing he was feeling.

 


 

>>> Yuuko?

<<< Sorry! I’ll be out in a sec

<<< Wait by the car!

Figures. Yuuko couldn’t be happy juggling a perfect GPA, ballet and a boyfriend, no: she just had to be in the yearbook committee as well. With no alternative except to wait, Yuuri leaned against her car and watched the mass of students leave the building, some in a hurry, some lazily, all 100% done.

He looked without really seeing, his mind wandering back to last night: after his meltdown during rehearsal, Yuuko had twisted his arm into taking today off. He’d agreed with only mild complaining: she did have a point, and his feet were killing him.

(Thank God for Yuuko, talking him through his panic. Years of practice makes perfect.)

So instead of rehearsal, they’d visit Takeshi. But that meant Yuuri would have the rest of the day for himself and nothing to do with it. Maybe he’d get a head start on a couple of assignments and binge-watch something until he fell asleep.

(And maybe wonder for the hundredth time if he should just open the curtains and pretend nothing had happened. It had been almost three weeks ago, after all. Maybe Victor had forgotten what a moron Yuuri was?)

(Although… considering the lengths to which Yuuri had gone in order to avoid running into Victor, maybe he’d forgotten Yuuri as a whole.)

Coming back from that chain of thought, his eyes focused on what he’d been distractedly staring at without realizing: a black convertible right in front of him, with two people kissing in the front seat.

Oh God.

His fingernails dug themselves into his arms, as if that pain could help him forget the new one that was about to happen. That was it, wasn’t it? The one scene he’d always counted himself lucky enough to not have seen yet. The one he hoped he would never have to.

It was probably long overdue on the Fates’ schedule anyway: let Yuuri Katsuki see Christophe kissing –

(Chris broke away from the kiss and started the car, allowing Yuuri to see the smile on the Matthieu’s lips.)

Matthieu?

As if to confirm the reality of it to an incredulous Yuuri, Matthieu leaned in and gave Chris one more peck on the lips before Chris started maneuvering the car out of the spot.

Matthieu and Chris.

Victor’s Chris.

So now he was… Matthieu’s Chris? When had that happened?!

What about Victor?

 

~

 

“I think we had the five-star deluxe version of a tango! VIP treatment all the way! Glossy, elegant, sophisticated… I love the –”

Yuuri closed the tab and put away the laptop. Seven episodes into his binge-watch of Dancing with the Stars and only now did he realize he’d been watching Nancy Kerrigan dance. For all the attention he’d been paying, Obama himself could’ve been one of the contestants and Yuuri would’ve been none the wiser.

(And that tango hadn’t been that great anyway.)

But it was finally 8 pm. Heart going at a thousand miles an hour, he marched towards the window before he could change his mind.

In one single, purposeful move, Yuuri yanked the curtains open, triumphantly baring all of his bedroom once again – well, almost: a couple of the rings got stuck and refused to budge.

He fought the old curtains for a minute, his brow furrowing in concentration as he pulled the fabric this way and that (not strength, Yuuri, precision!), until he finally got the rings unstuck and carefully pulled it the rest of the way.

When he finally managed, it was to find a surprised Victor through the window across the yard, sitting on his bed with a book and blinking at him. Slowly, like it was winning a fight, the corners of his mouth curled up in a small, amused smile. A smile that Yuuri was only too happy to mirror, even if he didn’t quite notice it at first.

One moment later and the familiar sketchbook put in an appearance:

Need help with that?

 

Yuuri snorted.

Hey you too XD

Another page:

How are you?

 

Fine

 

Pff, Victor was not “fine”. First of all, where was the omnipresent ! that littered most of his messages? And that smile was more than a little off. Yuuri knew perfectly well what a True Victor Smile was supposed to look like, and that was not it. It wasn’t some frozen perfection beneath lackluster eyes. It was warm, contagious, reaching all the way up to his eyes and crinkling his nose a little.

He was not “fine”.

But what could he say? “I’m sorry you got dumped”? “Chris was wrong for you”? “Hey, here’s a crazy thought, how about you date me, now that you’re single again”?

(He’d need at least three pages for that one.)

In the end, he went with:

So. Mr. Cialdini.

 

IKR?!

Another page:

A BUN! SO BOLD!

 

Yuuri raised his eyebrows, and chose his next words very, very carefully.

Didn’t you have long hair?

 

You remember that?! :D

 

Yeah

“Remember” was a word for it. Another, more accurate definition was “Victor’s long hair had haunted his dreams for the entire last year, and the day Victor had tied it in a messy bun one day after ice skating practice had almost been Yuuri’s last day on Earth”.

But you know. Potato, potahto.

Another page:

Did you wear it in a bun?

 

Sometimes I did!

 

Victor then clutched his chest, and the accompanying pout was too adorable, making Yuuri grip his own sketchbook harder than necessary. He cursed his own decision to reopen the curtains. Was he trying to find his way into an early grave?!

Victor continued:

I’ll have you know

Another page:

I wore it much better

 

No arguing with that. Yuuri resisted the urge to write back “#facts”.

No one wears it better than Ciao Ciao

 

Victor spluttered.

CIAO CIAO?!

 

Phichit calls him that

 

It’s perfect!

Another page:

I’m officially adopting it!

 

The smile that came after that was much, much closer to the real thing, and relief tinged with heartache washed over Yuuri: he might not be what – who – Victor wanted right now, but he could still do in a pinch. Was still good enough for emergencies and nights through the window.

As the minutes flew by and the conversation went on, neither of them brought up the Dancing Incident. It was like the past three weeks of silence had never happened. One by one, the pages on Yuuri’s sketchbook turned, and even using front and back of each one, he could already foresee a trip to the local stationery store, in search of his second sketchbook.

 

Now: how is it going?

 

Yuuri froze for a split second, and then prayed Victor hadn’t noticed, putting on his best confused expression:

What?

 

Victor’s raised eyebrows told him he wasn’t falling for it (had the head tilt given it away?).

Your pas de deux

 

Fine

 

You don’t look fine

 

Yuuri felt his own brow furrowing. How could Victor tell? Was he that transparent?

As he stared at the blank page where he was supposed to reply, he wondered how he could possibly answer that. Revealing all the ways his mind twisted realities and possibilities into nightmares should be out of the question. Victor already knew what Yuuri did when no one was watching, he didn’t need to know what went through Yuuri’s head when no one was asking. Didn’t need to know the self-consuming depths into which Yuuri’s mind delighted in plunging him time and time again.

Didn’t need to see what was behind those particular curtains of mental weakness.

Yuuri started writing his answer, a simple Just tired, but then he looked up: Victor was still there, following the movement of his pen on the page. Waiting. All blue eyes and earnestness.

Still there, despite seeing how incredibly stupid Yuuri was behind the curtains.

Yuuri didn’t have, would never have, much of Victor, but he at least had that. He had those windows and sketchbooks, had messages sloppily scribbled on blank pages even when both of them felt their eyelids heavy with sleep, but were still brimming with things to say.

He had someone he wanted to hold on to.

Crossing out his Just tired and holding up a hand for Victor to wait another second, he wrote something else.

If he was going to open his curtains, then he should open all of them.

Anxious

 

Victor nodded, but didn’t write anything back. Waiting. Listening.

 

If I fail

He stopped. Hard enough to write if instead of when, even harder to continue that clause, a conditional that seemed an absolute certainty.

it’ll reflect on others too

 

Your teacher?

 

And Yuuko

 

Victor gave him a smile just a tad on the side of dry and shook his head.

You won’t fail

 

What if I do?

 

Victor just pointed at his You won’t fail emphatically, and in return Yuuri underlined one word:

What if I do?

Another page:

What if she wants to quit?

Another page:

What if she wants a new partner?

 

Of course she doesn’t

 

Yuuri sighed, annoyed at himself. He knew exactly how ridiculous he sounded.

I know

 

Victor stared at those two words for a couple of seconds, and then dropped the sketchbook on his bed.

Oh God. That was it, he’d done it. He’d finally done it. He’d exhausted Victor’s infinite patience with his bullshit. Victor –

– was stretching towards his nightstand, partially hidden from Yuuri’s view, and grabbed his phone.

Victor pointed at it with a small smile and typed. And typed and typed.

Yuuri’s phone vibrated next to him, and then one more time as Victor went on relentlessly.

>>> We don’t believe in you bc we think you’ll never fail. We believe in you bc no one works harder than you. If you fall, and you feel you can’t get up on your own, we’ll help you with that.

“We”.

Victor included.

>>> If you can’t believe that you won’t fail, that’s fine. I have more faith in you than you do.

A pause. New message.

>>> Yuuko does too

>>> (Sorry, too long for the sketchbook XD)

Yuuri took a deep breath and blinked faster than human eyes probably needed. He’d already cried in front of Yuuko the other day, the least he could do was spare Victor.

Thank you

 

The heart Victor smiled at him went straight through Yuuri’s. For those three weeks, he’d allowed himself to forget that talking to Victor was an exercise in self-torture, but now that old knowledge was hitting him with a vengeance.

When both of them closed their curtains, almost an hour later, Yuuri still had a final, unsent (unshown?) message on the pages.

Still like you

Another page:

In case you’re wondering

Another page:

(You’re not)

 


 

Lying on his bed, one hand buried in Maccachin’s brown fur and the other under his head as he gazed at the ceiling, Victor was trying not to feel anything.

Except for that underlying irritation that had only been somewhat soothed when he muted his phone. No more pings, vibrations, nothing.

The messages he had seen were more than enough.

 

Chris

>>> Chéri, are you sure?

>>> You could really use a night out

 

Georgi

>>> Let me know if you change your mind!

 

Mila

>>> Come on Victoooooooor. He’ll be there!!!

 

Yeah, he would. That was the whole point.

Who needed to watch Yuuri and Yuuko wearing matching tie and dress, dancing and kissing all night? Certainly not Victor.

(Yuuri in a tux, being his disconcertingly beautiful self and disconcertingly not Victor’s.)

(Okay, maybe he desperately needed to see the “Yuuri in a tux” bit.)

As proof that the Fates liked to listen to the prayers of mortals and mock them, he noticed the light in Yuuri’s bedroom were on, and he turned his head in his pillow: Yuuri was standing in the middle of his room, still in sweatpants and a t-shirt too adorably loose on him, with a garment bag in his hands – his tux, most likely. Very much not on Yuuri, to Victor’s eternal frustration.

When their eyes met, Victor waved and sat up, sketchbook already at hand.

Getting ready for prom?

 

Yuuri nodded, his eyes big and too brown and gorgeous even from that distance.

 

Going with Yuuko?

 

Yuuri nodded once again, with a small smile that Victor tried to reciprocate. Useless: he could feel a grimace forming where a genuine smile was supposed to be.

Great. He was so clingy and generally awful he couldn’t even be happy for the person he liked. New lows achieved. Yuuri deserved better than that.

Yuuri grabbed his own sketchbook.

Are you going?

 

No :(

 

He showed his answer with a shrug and what he hoped was a friendly smile, but Yuuri merely frowned - and then resolutely wrote something else for him

Wish you were

And with that, he put down sketchbook and garment bag on his bed; with a final wave and timid smile, he closed his curtains on a basically petrified Victor.

“Wish you were”

Victor flopped down on the bed and buried his face in the pillow.

 

~

 

8:12 pm.

They’d all be inside by now and having fun, while Victor was still in his bedroom – totally focused on his World Lit assignment, as he should be, and pfff, definitely not thinking about Yuuri in a tuxedo, taking pictures with his girlfriend and slow dancing with her. Far be it from him.

His eyes focused back on the poem he was supposed to be analyzing:

If I could see you, eternity would arise from hope

Stay close to me, don’t leave

I’m afraid of losing you

Goddammit. Was it okay to hate Mr. Cialdini?!

With a groan, he got up to get his notes from his bag – but they weren’t there. Maybe on his desk?

Nope, not there either.

He scratched his head. Had he left them in his locker at school? If so, he’d have to wait until Mon–

Shit.

He’d lent them to Yuuri, after he’d spent the entire last class sleeping with his eyes open – courtesy of his pre-recital nerves, no doubt, but Victor had decided not to ask. Instead, he’d offered him his notes.

Well, he had two options. It was either knocking on the Katsukis’ front door and going after his notes, or staying alone in his bedroom pining after one specific Katsuki.

 

~

 

“Of course, Vicchan! Make yourself at home, you know where his bedroom is, right?”

“Yeah, thanks Mrs. Katsuki!”

He went upstairs wondering why Yuuri’s mom called him Vicchan, all the while with the original Vicchan close on his heels.

Yuuri’s bedroom was the first one on the right. He’d been there with Yuuri a couple of times before, so it wasn’t something new. But it still felt slightly confusing to see things from that angle, though, like a modern-day Alice through the looking-glass. What he found there looked like his reality – same bed, same nightstand, bookcase and desk – but a reversed one all the same.

The desk was an organized chaos of notes, books, a couple of bags of dog treats, a music box and a picture in a frame – Yuuri in a costume black as night, with a flash of red and a few scattered crystals on the shoulder, looking like… the best kind of torture. Victor swallowed and looked away.

He started going through the notes on the desk in as orderly a fashion as possible, trying to identify his own handwriting among the mess – but got immediately distracted by something much more relevant to his interests: Yuuri’s first sketchbook.

Unlike Victor, Yuuri had used the front and back of the pages from the start, and his sketchbook had never been used before (Victor’s had some attempts at art on the first pages), which meant it had lasted way longer. Even so, they’d talked so much during the last week that Yuuri had finally been forced to buy a new one – Victor had watched him struggle with the plastic wrapping, trying to rip it open with his teeth before they could continue.

(I’m buying you scissors tomorrow.)

Smiling before he could help himself, he flipped through the pages and old words with something akin to nostalgia. Sure XD; Yeah, no; you better think again; to let you get away with it; If you think that I’m going.

Reading the messages backwards was weird, but a funny weird. Every conversation where each sentence belonged, every answer he’d written on his own pages, it was all so fresh in his memory. Soon he made a game out of it, trying to recall the sentence he’d see next, the one Yuuri had written just before.

Wish you were

Skipping that one.

(You’re not); In case you’re wondering.

Those two made him stop. Where was it from? “In case you’re wondering (you’re not)”? What wasn’t he? He wasn’t wondering, was that it? He racked his brain for a moment, trying to locate that conversation in his mental files, but just couldn’t place it.

And then he stopped breathing.

Still like you

He had never seen that. Why had he never seen that?

No, that was… it probably meant that something or someone was like Victor (was it directed at Victor? It had to be, right?), and not… not Yuuri liking Victor.

(There was a ♡, though.)

He turned the page – what had he said before, what conversation had that come from?!

Night :)

Sure!

Same

Just Yuuri’s usual goodbyes. The conversation had been clearly over after Night :). It always was. So much so that the first message after In case you’re wondering (You’re not) was Hey, initiating a new conversation altogether.

Those three pages belonged to an in-between-conversations limbo.

A limbo not meant for Victor’s eyes.

But did that mean what he wanted it to mean?

What else could it be?

Turning a couple more pages, he realized that convo was the one they’d had after their three-week hiatus (after he’d seen Yuuri and Yuuko at the gym. How did this fit into that?).

As he kept on flipping one page after another, he looked for anything else that might clue him in, while his guts clenched in anxiety (was that how Yuuri felt all the time?).

He stopped.

I really like you

That was right after they’d talked about walking Macca and Vicchan together for the first time.

More pages.

I like you

After Victor had invited him to go ice-skating, so many weeks ago.

Each one of those “I like you” was squeezed between a goodbye and a hello that belonged to Victor. Did those confessions belong to him as well?

But how could they? They should be Yuuko’s, right?

It was only when Vicchan stuck his head between his legs, asking for attention, that Victor realized he’d spent way too long in Yuuri’s bedroom, staring at words and getting nowhere.

He carefully put the sketchbook down in the same position he’d found it (he hoped), and crouched to play with Vicchan.

“You don’t know anything about it, do you Vicchan? Hmm?”

But the dog kept on trying to lick his way through Victor’s hand and gave him no answer. “Tsk. Yeah, I thought so.”

On his way out, he ran into Yuuri’s mom again.

“Did you find what you needed, Vicchan?”

“Uhhh, no, not really.” Shit, he’d forgotten to even look for his notes. He made up his story on the fly. “I must’ve left them in my locker. I’m sorry to have bothered.”

She gently patted his hand – and he was pretty sure she would’ve patted him on the head, if she could reach. “You could never bother! But are you sure it’s not there? We can call him, see if he knows where he put your notes.” She shook her head sadly. “His desk is a mess, don’t know how he finds anything there.”

Victor waved that possibility away with a smile. “No, that’s okay. He’s out there having fun, I don’t wanna get in the way.” Also, the fact I didn’t find the notes is utterly and completely my fault, so.

Mrs. Katsuki pinned him down with a look that would’ve been fierce, if it weren’t so unbearably kind. “And why aren’t you there, having fun too?”

Now I’m not so sure anymore?

“Well, I…” he shrugged. A simplified truth was always easier than a lie. “No one to go with.”

She sighed. “Yes… I guess no one wants to go to prom alone. When Yuuko’s boyfriend broke his leg, she said she wouldn’t go by herself. That’s why Yuuri offered to go with her.”

Wait.

“Um… Yuuko’s boyfriend?” Victor gawked at her, wondering wildly for a moment if she could possibly be referring to her own son by a weird epithet, like a badly written book.

“Yes, the Nishigori boy. You know, from the gym? He went to middle school with Yuuri, he’s always here playing video games!”

If he died now because his heart was trying to escape through his throat, Victor would never forgive God.

“So you’re saying…” because he had to make absolutely sure, “Yuuko has a boyfriend? And Yuuri doesn’t? I mean, Yuuri… isn’t…?”

“No,” she said with a quiet smile, “Yuuri is not dating anyone.”

They stared at each other for a beat, Yuuri’s mom looking at him with affectionate eyes and patiently waiting for the other shoe to drop.

He took a deep breath. “Mrs. Katsuki, would you mind if I went back upstairs? I think I forgot to look in a couple of places.”

His Plan was suddenly, miraculously, back on track.

 

~

 

Victor hastily flung his wardrobe doors open. Cradling his phone between ear and shoulder, he started searching in the ocean of pants and jackets and dress shirts in there.

A familiar voice answered the phone, with an annoying beat of electronic music in the background.

“Georgi, hi! Yeah, it’s me!”

Where was it, where was it… aha! There!

Victor carefully pulled a garment bag out of the wardrobe.

“Listen, do you still have that extra ticket?”

 

~

 

The plain red doors of the school gym were now covered in shiny white fabric, with the Trig teacher, Miss Park, standing guard. He handed her the ticket he’d gotten from Georgi’s mom and walked in, the loud music already an assault on his senses.

Wow, Sara did not play around when it came to decorations, did she? From the main door there was a short path marked by small snow-covered trees; white snowflakes of all shapes and sizes hung from the entire ceiling, glistening in the delicate blue lighting, and on the tables, white flowers with sparkling silver tips. Everything looked either crystallized or covered in snow.

But he was a man on a mission. He hurried past the large groups standing in the way and the couples dancing, his eyes scanning the room like a hawk, searching, looking for that familiar mop of black hair and the Dream Smile.

A hand landed on his shoulder. “Look who decided to show up after all! Don’t you clean up nicely!”

He turned around as if on wheels. “Chris! Have you seen him?”

An eyebrow raised, and Victor wanted to murder him. “Oh? Him who?”

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Have you seen him or not?”

Chris giggled, and then delicately turned Victor around, pointing at a table on the other side of the room.

“Did you mean, the belle of the ball?”

Yuuri.

Yuuri in a tux and a blue tie, no glasses and his hair slicked back (and a couple of flyaway hairs Victor really, really wanted to tuck back in place, just so he could have an excuse to weave his hand through that hair.)

Yuuri, laughing beautifully and drawing Victor to him like a magnet.

 


 

“Um, Yuuri? I, uh, I think your fairy godmother heard your prayers.”

Yuuri sighed. “Phichit, for the last time, I’m not Cinderella.” He made a gesture towards the entire gym. “We all have to leave at midnight. That’s when prom is over.”

“No, not that, look!” Yuuri turned to his left, to see what Phichit was pointing at.

His breath hitched.

Victor.

Victor, definitely looking like the answer to all of Yuuri’s prayers, so dashing in a suit and a purple tie that Yuuri felt like crying.

Victor, smiling and walking towards him, him. Smiling at him, Yuuri.

(Hurrying rather than just walking, actually.)

“I’m sure you can take it from here!” Winking at him, Phichit disappeared into the crowd.

Victor had come to prom. He’d actually come to prom. Why? Had he come by himself? God, he hoped he’d come by himself. Maybe they could dance? Dancing was fine, right? Yuuri was a dancer, it was normal for him to want to dance, Victor wouldn’t take it the wrong way. They could –

“Victor, hi!”

Victor stopped so close to him he almost towered over Yuuri. “Yuuko has a boyfriend.”

Yuuri gaped. “Uhhhh…”

“Some guy from the gym?”

“Um, yeah? No, he, uh, he’s not from the gym, his family owns the gym. Actually.” Yuuri blinked. That was… not the kind of conversation he’d ever visualized having with Victor at prom. But oh well. The Fates and all that. He cleared his throat. “Why do you ask? Were you, um… interested?”

Great, everything he needed. Victor going from Christophe to Yuuko, of all people.

Maybe Yuuri could become a Tibetan monk. He could shave his head and take a vow of silence, spend the rest of his life trying to atone for his past sins, the ones he was clearly being punished for. Maybe then the Fates would forget him and leave him alone.

Victor frowned. “Interested?”

“In… Yuuko?”

“What, no!” Victor seemed appalled by the mere thought of it. “No, not at all, but I –” He stopped. Licked his lips. Blurted out “I thought you were her boyfriend.”

“Me?!” Yuuri’s eyes flew wide. “No, she’s a friend! Childhood friend. Jesus, Takeshi is my childhood friend!” He shook his head, amused. “God, what gave you that idea?”

Victor shrugged, a small smile playing on his lips. “It doesn’t matter. Anyway,” he reached into his inside pocket, coming out with a few pieces of paper. He unfolded one of them. “I was wondering if this was yours.”

Yuuri’s heart took a swan dive off a bridge.

I like you

That was his note. His note. The one he’d written with his own hands in his own sketchbook, months ago. Why, why did Victor have it now?! Why had he –

I really like you

Oh dear God he had another. Yuuri could feel his eyes getting wider with each passing second, and breathing was too outlandish a concept right now.

He watched in horror as Victor slowly unfolded a third one.

Still like you

Yuuri was going to pass out. He was going to pass out, they’d have to take him to the infirmary, call his parents, he’d be out of here in a hot second. Passing out was a great choice.

“I… This was… it’s not…”

Extra assignments. Yes, maybe his family could talk to the headmaster and come to an agreement. He could get extra assignments and just finish his sophomore year at home, then he could either transfer or be homeschooled.

Sure, his curtains would be closed forever, but that was fine. Sunlight was overrated.

“Yuuri.”

The softness in Victor’s voice stopped him from chasing those thoughts into a downwards spiral and forced him to look up at him again.

“Were these for me?”

He opened his mouth, then closed it again, under the clear gaze of those blue eyes. They did not judge. They were kind, earnest and dazzling as usual, but still. What could he say, what could he come up with that would convince Victor this was not what it looked like? What could he say so as not to ruin everything?!

“Yes.”

Dammit.

He’d never been good at lying under pressure.

When Victor started unfolding a fourth page, Yuuri felt his stomach tying itself up in a knot. Yup, he was definitely sick now.

“Victor, please, I don’t… I don’t need to see more, I just… I’m sorry. Okay?” He looked away, hoping the tears stinging his eyes would stay exactly where they were, and not come out like they were threatening to. Victor moved, trying to catch his eyes, so Yuuri moved his head the other way, escaping as discreetly as possible. “I’m sorry, I should’ve never written that, and I wasn’t gonna show it to you, that was just –”

“Yuuri, can you just look? Please?”

He did, already dreading the words he was about to see on the paper.

I really, really like you!

Just as ridiculous as the others. Why was Victor being so insistent, he never would’ve imagined him to be so cruel as to – wait.

That wasn’t his handwriting.

“This is… this isn’t…”

“Yours? Nope.” He tapped the page with one finger, giving him a wink and one of his dazzling smiles. “This one is mine.”

But it was in red. Victor hadn’t used red since, what, May?

“When… when did you write this?” Yuuri stared at the paper like he was spellbound. He might as well be, with his head spinning with the implications in red on that one single (slightly wrinkled) page.

“Oh, I wrote this back in March, I think! Been carrying it in my pocket to show you for a month now!” he replied, beaming at him.

“But… but you were with Chris!”

“I was… with Chris?” Victor seemed confused. “Doing what?”

“No, I mean…with Chris,” he said, a little desperate. “You know… dating?!”

“Me, dating Chris?!” Victor’s eyes were the size of saucers now. “God forbid! Why would you ever think that?”

They blinked stupidly at each other for a second, and then burst into laughter.

“I guess… it doesn’t matter?” Yuuri wrinkled his nose. “I had unreliable sources.”

Victor smiled, his eyes never leaving his, even though there was so much around them to look at. “Definitely unreliable.”

And if Victor’s smile seemed to go on and on, Yuuri’s chest suddenly felt too small to safely store his heart, with it growing ten sizes and all.

(No other option but to place it in Victor’s hands, then.)

Victor meticulously folded Yuuri’s messages and put them back in his pocket. “I’ll keep these, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure,” said Yuuri, feeling his face flushing hard, but he couldn’t be bothered with it, not right now – not when Victor’s nose was also adorably dusted with pink.

“And…” Victor folded his own page and offered it to him. “If you’ll have it?”

Yuuri nodded, smiling so hard he wondered if his jaw would still be in place by the end of the night, and took it. “I will,” he said, lovingly placing it in his pocket as well. He looked back at Victor. “So, um. Do you want to… I mean, we could–”

Victor kissed him.

Yuuri made a surprised noise, his brain not processing the kiss for a second. But when Victor made as if to back away, Yuuri grabbed him by his tie and pulled him back in.

And gods he’d never thought anything could feel as good as this. He melted against Victor’s lips – soft, heady, he couldn’t get enough of them – and felt Victor’s arms wrapping themselves tightly around him, as if trying to tell him he was exactly where he belonged. Right there, with him.

He didn’t know how long they spent losing themselves in each other, but Yuuri eventually pulled away when he heard a wolf whistle so loud that not even the music could drown. Victor didn’t allow him to go far, though, and brought their foreheads together, eyes still closed.

“Yes,” he whispered, his voice a little hoarse. “I want to.”

“Same, but… I was actually going to ask you to dance?”

Victor let out a breathy laugh. “Of course you were. Sorry.”

“No, uh,” Yuuri bit his lip. “That was… don’t be sorry.”

That was infinitely better than dancing.

“Does that mean I can do that again?”

He swallowed. “If you stay.”

Victor opened his eyes. “As if I wanted to go anywhere else.”

Yuuri tried not to laugh – he didn’t know if what was stuck in his throat was a laugh, a sob or his heart. Probably all three.

As a slow song filled the gym, a most welcome interlude from the loud pop songs, Yuuri took a step back. “Let’s?”

He wasn’t sure if he meant dancing. Could be more than that. Could be anything. What wouldn’t he invite Victor to?

But whatever he meant didn’t apparently matter. Victor laced their fingers together and followed him. “I’m ready.”

 

~

 

For Xmas ofc!

 

What he wanted for Christmas? Victor was utterly absurd.

Vitya it’s your bday

 

But it’s still xmas!

Another page:

You deserve a present

 

So do you!

Another page:

What do you want?

 

Nothing

Another page:

I already have you

 

Yuuri told himself to breathe again. Had to, because Victor had that power of disabling all of Yuuri.

Sometimes, he wondered whether he had the same effect on Victor. On a good day, he knew he did; on lesser days, it was not a given.

Today, it didn’t matter. He turned his sketchbook.

I love you

 

Victor went still on the other side.

Yuuri hurried to add on a new page that Victor didn’t have to answer, but when he looked up again, Victor was gone.

Vanished. No sign of him other than an open door and a distinct absence of Maccachin.

He’d scared him away. He’d scared his own boyfriend away. It was too soon, wasn’t it? He should’ve waited, should’ve –

Doorbell, and a minute later, a knock on the door.

Yuuri exhaled. Thank God.

He opened the door and leaned against the frame, trying to ignore how stupidly handsome Victor looked in old sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt. He’d look irresistible even in a burlap sack.

“You know it’s the middle of the night, right?”

“Yuuriiii! It’s 9pm!”

“On a school night,” he pointed out.

Victor smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll be quick.”

Giving Yuuri the weirdest sense of déjà-vu, he took a piece of paper and unfolded it right before his eyes.

I love you too

Yuuri stared, wide-eyed. He’d answered so soon. So… immediately.

So effortlessly.

“This was the only thing I could think of to surprise you more than you’ve surprised me,” said Victor.

Yuuri smiled. “Really?”

“Yeah. You’re impossible, did you know that? Pretty hard to one-up.”

“You’re the one to talk.” He gently grabbed the hem of Victor’s t-shirt and pulled him closer. “I could search the whole world and still wouldn’t find anyone better than you.” He stood on tiptoe, bridging the final distance between them and watching that smile that ruined his sanity from up close. As Victor met him halfway, Yuuri whispered into his lips, “You’re the impossibility.”

It’d been six months already, but that feeling? That feeling of his heart being brought to its knees by a couple of words, a look, a single smile? That had not gotten any easier, lighter or older with time. Yuuri hoped it never would.

And he knew, with sudden clarity, that it never would.