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The Courtesan

Chapter Text

 

“Watch where you’re going, fatso!”

Yuuri let out an involuntary gasp when the bucket he’d been carrying crashed to the floor, splashing all over the place. He fell to his knees, as if he could capture the water with his bare hands and stuff it back into the bucket. No such luck. Instead, all he got were sore knees, a wet robe and a healthy dose of taunting laughter from the boy who’d knocked into him.

He looked up to see Yurio there. Yurio who looked absolutely beautiful, as always. Yurio whose pale skin and blue eyes captured the attentions of Guests of all ages, genders and wallet sizes. Yurio, who was Untouchable, but desirable.

“S-sorry,” Yuuri stammered. The angelic face stretched into a cruel smirk.

“Know your place.”

As Yurio walked away, his long, pale-blue robe sashaying behind him, Yuuri found himself wishing again for it to be nighttime. At night, he could just stay in his tiny closet of a room, curled up on the floor, and not have to face people. At night, he felt like less of a waste of time and money. At night, he didn’t have to work – unlike the true residents of the House.

The Courtesans’ work extended deeply into the darkness of the night, long after the sun bid its goodbyes. They entertained, they performed, they fucked; to Yuuri, they were elusive creatures who only existed in the world of luxury.

He, who had been brought into this House with the same expectations, had fallen short due to his nervousness and resulting klutziness. His first time as an apprentice had been marked with disaster quite like what had just happened. Eager to try out an Apprentice for the first time, the superintendent of the district himself had booked his services. He hadn’t taken too kindly to being scalded with tea.

Since then, Yuuri had become little more than a servant. He wasn’t chagrined by it necessarily; he preferred staying out of sight. He wasn’t beautiful, neither was he graceful or smart. Being a Courtesan was for people like Yurio, people like Phichit. People like Viktor.

Yuuri scrambled to clean the water up just as the door slid open into the hallway, and he found himself staring at a pale white leg. A while leg that extended into an equally pale white body of a man whose very presence seemed to change the atmosphere in the room.

Yuuri struggled to keep his head down as Viktor gracefully over the mess and practically floated towards his destination. The Courtesan paid him no attention whatsoever, and Yuuri was perfectly content with that. Goddess knows, if Viktor had so much as looked at him, he would have messed up again somehow.

He carefully mopped up the water on the floor and went back to refill the bucket before finally reaching the front entrance. He was supposed to be scrubbing the porch, which he knew was just an excuse to make him feel like a waste of a person. Nobody used manual labor to clean porches. That was work for the robots, just like cooking and dusting and changing the sheets. But Minako loved seeing him struggle – something about strengthening his character or whatnot. So he cleaned dutifully. His hands were torn to bits with the amount of time he had dipped them into cleaning agents, but that was okay.

Once he was done, he wiped his forehead and emptied the bucket, finally letting the black sleeves of his simple robe fall over his wrists. He deposited the bucket back into the tool shed and then returned to the main building to see the entertainment area illuminated. Of course, Viktor was working tonight.

Without a single droplet of hesitation, Yuuri made a beeline for the corner he usually occupied when Viktor worked. It was a strange hobby that he had – watching Viktor; but he knew that many shared his enthusiasm for the spectacle.

He watched through the crack between the door and the wall as Viktor, dressed in luscious silks of pink and purple, danced for his customers – a group of nine men, seemingly of the government. Viktor’s Guests were the cream of the crop. He had a waiting list of months in advance, and only the most cherished customers got to see him outside of that frame.

Yuuri’s breath hitched as he watched Viktor dance, his hand pressed to his mouth. He was afraid of letting out a single noise, so afraid to be discovered, but his eyes stayed glued to the lithe figure of the Courtesan who had become a living legend. Yuuri remembered being excited when he’d been told he’d be living in the same House as Viktor himself. At the age of sixteen, Viktor’s virginity had been traded away to a member of the Supreme Council, for an undisclosed amount of money that had allowed Minako to expand the House grounds by acres.

Viktor’s performances were never boring, they were never uninspired; every single time he stepped up to pleasure the eyes and bodies of his Guests, he became a living, breathing work of art.

Everything about his screamed grace, and Yuuri found himself wanting to both be him and be with him.

It was a silly thought. Yuuri was not made for greatness; and that was necessary to become close to someone like Viktor.

The music died down, and Yuuri’s eyes widened when he saw Viktor’s robe fall to the floor, exposing his body to the lecherous eyes of his Guests. Goddess, how they looked at him. They were taking him with their very eyes, and one Viktor laughed minutely and sunk down onto the pillows scattered around the dinner table, it was as if Yuuri were witnessing birds of prey rip apart a cadaver.

What a beautiful cadaver he was.

Viktor’s moans reached his ears, accompanied by the monkeyish, unrefined grunts of his custmers, and Yuuri looked away, blushing furiously. He couldn’t stay for this. He wouldn’t be able to walk if he did.

He scrambled to his feet, running for his room. Once his heartbeat slowed down a little, he threw himself on his back and bit his lip, cupping his strained cock. It only took what seemed like a second of stimulation to have him coming with Viktor’s name bitten firmly between his teeth.


It was a hobby he had. Dancing. Though he had made peace with the fact that he would never be able to do it as a Courtesan, he couldn’t keep away from the deserted garden after he’d done his chores. He hitched his black robe so that it would resemble that of a dancer, and rolled his sleeves up, exposing skin.

He touched his worn-down personal assistant’s screen to replay the memory of the night before. The music. Oh, the music that had been played to Viktor’s dance was beautiful, and invited Yuuri to dance. He stopped the memory and then played it again from the start, paying close attention to Viktor’s movements.

They were quite simple; yet there were small nuances here and there that made the entire performance enthralling. Yuuri tried his best to copy Viktor’s movements, closing his eyes once he had the routine committed to memory.

He danced and danced and danced until his feet hurt, bare against the grass of the garden. The sun fell to the horizon, and he reluctantly picked up the PA, switching off the memory he knew he would never be able to delete. He had a whole library stored of Viktor, from the first time he’d played Peeping Tom on one of Viktor’s sessions, until this very day.

He still had to help cook dinner, so he pocketed the PA and let his sleeves and robe back down, dragging his feet all the way to the kitchens.

Yuuko greeted him with her usual enthusiasm and set him to potato-peeling. Today, they would be entertaining some off-planet Guests, which was a huge deal for a House as small as theirs. Yuuri didn’t even need to ask whom they had requested. It was pretty obvious that there was only one point of interest in Hasetsu House.

“I wish Minako gave you a second chance,” Yuuko drawled thoughtfully as she checked on the roast duck in the oven.

“Why would she?” Yuuri replied absently. “You know I’m a nervous mess around people. I can’t even imagine getting naked for them and dancing and doing, you know, other stuff with them.”

His face went red at the memory of the night before.

“You can dance just as well as Viktor does and you know it,” Yuuko said. “You just lack confidence.”

“I’m okay when I dance alone. But with the Guests watching… how am I supposed to ignore that?” Yuuri mumbled. “It’s not going to happen and frankly… I’m okay with that. There are Untouchables who are so much more worthy of becoming Hasetsu Courtesans, anyway.”

“You mean like Yurio?” Yuuko asked with a scoff. “The kid has a terrible attitude. And he’s not going to be ripe for another year.”

“He’s amazing,” Yuuri said dully. “I’ve seen him rehearse. I’m sure he can adjust his attitude too, and then we’ll be looking at Viktor 2.0.”

“There can only be one Viktor and you know it.”

“He’s going to retire one day. Probably purchase his freedom and live as a fancy Lord somewhere off-planet.” Yuuri sighed. He was pretty sure Viktor already had enough money to buy his freedom, given how many wealthy guests he’d entertained. More and more Yuuri was convinced that Viktor just did this for fun now. He loved the attention. He bathed in it. Sometimes, Yuuri thought that Viktor could survive on people’s hungry gazes alone.

“And there will be an empty space waiting to be filled. Too bad about the whole Couresans can't buy Courtesans thing, I'm sure he'd love to get his hands on you when he does become free,” Yuuko said, touching her PA to life. A projection of Yuuri dancing in the garden appeared in thin air, making the young man drop the knife in horror.

“You were watching me?” He hissed at Yuuko, trying to grab her PA. “Erase it, please!”

“Nope,” Yuuko replied, holding it behind her back. “You’re good! Admit you’re good and I will turn it off.”

“Yuuko!”

“Yes, sweetie?”

Yuuri let out a frustrated huff.

“Fine. I’m good. Now will you please delete that?” He asked in a begging voice. He couldn’t have Minako finding out that he danced his days away when he was supposed to be working. The projection stopped and shrank back into Yuuko’s PA.

“Thank you,” Yuuri said forcibly, returning to work. He got the potatoes peeled in record time and as soon as he was done, he shoved them towards Yuuri and ran towards the door.

“Yuuri!”

“What?!” He snapped, tears of humiliation stinging his eyes.

“You’re good.”

He slammed the door extra hard.


There was no logic to this. One second he was asleep and the other he was probably still dreaming, but seeing a very realistic vision of Viktor himself.

A very naked Viktor, in all his pale, silver glory, his arm stretched out towards him as if he were about to serenade him.

Viktor who apparently knew his name.

“Yuuri,” he said, his voice shimmering, washing over the younger man and making him scramble to his feet, terrified. What was Viktor doing in his tiny room? What was Viktor doing with him? What the hell was Viktor doing?

“Starting today, I will be your Mentor. I will make you the best Courtesan on Earth.”

 

Chapter Text

There were so many things that were just wrong with this picture that Yuuri didn’t even know where to begin. For starters, Viktor, the Viktor, was in his teeny-tiny little room. Second, he was quite naked. Third, he had actually just spoken to Yuuri. As in, he’d opened his mouth and words had come out.

“What?” Yuuri blurted out, trying to surreptitiously pinch himself to make sure this wasn’t just some sort of drug-induced mirage. Who knew what Minako put in those incense bowls of hers?

But even as Yuuri felt the sting of the pinch against his skin, Viktor didn’t disappear. If anything, he became more vivid as Yuuri’s eyes adjusted.

“I want to be your Mentor,” the man said slowly as if Yuuri was a child. “I want to teach you. Understand?”

“N-not really,” Yuuri whispered, pressing his back against the wall. He briefly wondered if Yuri had put Viktor up to this, but then cast the thought aside. After all, the famed Courtesan wouldn’t waste time on a prank. Especially not a prank directed at someone like Yuuri.

Viktor seemed slightly annoyed at the younger man’s lack of understanding, so he huffed, reaching for the pink and purple robe he’d discarded on the floor. The silk rustled as he slid his arms into the sleeves in a perfect motion, tugging the robe closed and tying it with the belt loosely. His chest was still very much exposed and very, very much causing Yuuri to stare.

He realized that this was the robe that he’d first seen Viktor work his magic in. Back when still hadn’t lost his hopes to become an apprentice, he’d witnessed Viktor entertaining. The pink and purple had twisted around his body like exotic snakes, trapping the attention of the greedy men in the room whose hands had been itching to touch at least the hem of Viktor’s attire. Oh, how he’d danced that night, for those Guests, how he’d offered himself to their pleasure; their pleasure, and, unwittingly, Yuuri’s. How he’d cast the cloth off his shoulders casually, lying on the very table the men had dined on, splayed out like a rare bird, ready to be consumed. How red Yuuri had been in the face when he’d realized what he’d been watching.

Viktor sat down onto the bamboo floor, looking at Yuuri expectantly. The younger man flinched out of his reverie, and practically fell to his knees. Viktor tittered.

“This is not how a Courtesan should sit,” he said, lifting an eyebrow. “Again.”

Yuuri, in his stupor, couldn’t do anything but obey the command, scrambling to his feet. Then he tried to recall from muscle memory how Minako had taught him to slowly lower himself to his knees, tucking his robe beneath his legs to prevent much creasing.

“Much better. Quite sloppy still, but I suppose that is to be expected,” Viktor said in an almost bored voice. His eyes were piercing, making Yuuri feel like he was being passed through a scanner. A scanner that saw through his innermost fears and thoughts and fantasies and oh gods, he was sweating too much for it to be appropriate.

“W-what are you doing here?” He found the courage to ask. Viktor let out a charming little laugh, both derisive and light as a feather.

“I did not assume you’d be this slow,” he said breezily. Am I supposed to be offended? Yuuri thought, incapable of feeling anything other than awe.

“I told you, little piggy,” Viktor said, reaching forward to cup Yuuri’s jaw. Viktor is touching me. Viktor. Touching. Me. “I want to become your Mentor.”

“W-why?”

“Because you are a diamond in the rough,” Viktor said, still not retracting his hand.

“A diamond?” Yuuri mouthed.

“Oh, it’s a jewel from the olden days of Earth,” Viktor explained, seemingly amused by Yuuri’s ignorance of rare gems. “Very valuable, you see, and yet, made of the same carbon as coal.”

“So I am coal?” Yuuri asked, and Viktor laughed again.

“I will make sure to rectify that, piggy,” he said, sliding his hand down from Yuuri’s cheek to his stomach and patting it. “That is, if you are willing to work on this body of yours. If you were a bit neater, tighter, you would be the talk of the system.”

Did he just call me a dirty fatso?

“Um… Why would you do this?” Yuuri asked. “I mean, you have… you have your pick from the Untouchables, why someone like me?”

“You have talent,” Viktor said simply. “You can be very graceful, Yuuri. Your friend showed me her memory of you. Dancing in the garden to my own choreography. It was quite flattering, too, to know that I had a fan so devoted they were willing to spy on my closed sessions with the Guests.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened in horror.

“Yu-uko!” He stammered out. “I d-didn’t mean, I mean, I did but-,”

“It’s all right, Yuuri,” Viktor said, the look on his face clearly indicating how pathetic he thought Yuuri was. “It is all right. I understand. Perfection is something that has a bit of a magnetic pull to it, isn’t it? I cannot blame you for wanting to touch it.”

Yuuri looked down at his knees, incapable of saying a word, he was so mortified.

“Therefore, I am taking a hiatus off work and devoting myself to mentoring you,” Viktor concluded. Yuuri shook his head.

“I am not even… considered anymore,” he whispered, ashamed of his failures. “To associate yourself with someone like me… You would… Your reputation-,”

“Do you really believe that the reputation of someone like me would suffer from taking on a little piggy as an Apprentice?” Viktor asked haughtily. He placed two fingers beneath Yuuri’s chin and forced the younger man to look up, right into his eyes. As if he wanted to hypnotize him into saying yes to this insane affair.

“But I’m no good,” Yuuri said quietly. “I’m a klutz, and I’m fat and I can’t talk fancy like you do, and… There’s Yuri, why don’t you take him, he’d be happy to be your Apprentice, I’m sure he’d-,”

“He’s good enough to find someone to Mentor him on his own,” Viktor said. “He’s pretty and he had an attitude. But you, Yuuri, you have an innocence to you that I am quite sure will sell very, very well.”

Yuuri bit his lip, feeling smaller by the second.

“You don’t have much to lose, do you, piggy?” Viktor said, making Yuuri bristle for the first time. The young man looked at him defiantly, and instead of admonishing him for it, Viktor smiled. Fuck, Yuuri lived for that smile. Not the fake one Viktor put on for his customers – it was a masterful smile, of course, but to someone who lived in the House, it was obvious that it was not sincere. But this one, this smile, it was genuine, it was pure, it was almost as if Viktor himself was hopeful that the outcome of this conversation would be Yuuri’s assent.

In the end, Yuuri knew he’d been doomed from the moment he saw Viktor, naked and glorious, in his room.

“All right,” he whispered, terrified of everything: himself, Viktor, the situation, what Minako would say about it, what Yuri would do… Everything was uncharted territory and Yuuri was very good at digging himself into his comfort zone, thank you very much. He didn’t do crazy things like this.

Apparently, though, he did now.


The next morning found Yuuri stretching in the garden with Viktor watching him dutifully. The elder man kept pacing around his Apprentice, examining him with a critical eye.

“How long has it been since your last Training session?” He asked finally, sighing deeply as if Yuuri’s lack of practice were a universe-level tragedy. The younger man bit his lip.

“Um, three years,” he mumbled.

“Please do speak up, Yuuri,” Viktor said brusquely, tugging on the younger man’s leg so that his muscles complained at the stretch.

“T-three years,” Yuuri repeated, wincing at the burn in his thighs. Viktor sighed again, looking much like a tragic faerie prince. He was quite lovely in his grey domestic robes, the color only a shade different from his hair, now tied back into a ponytail.

“Far too long,” Viktor said, crossing his arms and leaning against the side of the house. “You do realize that with this amount of work to be done-,”

“If you want to quit on me, just do it now,” Yuuri said, feeling hurt by the assumption. He hadn’t neglected his studies, he had just thought that he was of no use to the House as a potential Courtesan anymore. It wasn’t his fault Yuri was so pretty and Viktor so popular.

“Relax, piggy, I am only saying that we have a long road ahead of us.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened.

“Why are you doing this?” He asked, his voice shaking as he strained a little more to lift his leg over his head. Suddenly, Viktor was all up in his face again, his tea-scented breath ghosting over Yuuri’s face as he held the young man’s leg, stretching it even more.

“Because I want to try something different. And you are just different enough, Yuuri. You are going to be a star and I will be your Mentor.”

“What about your work?”

“I have more money on my account than I know what to do with even after I retire,” Viktor said dismissively. “It is of no consequence.”

“Still, it’s your life, you are the Viktor and-,”

“I suppose one day you and I could compete,” Viktor drawled. “But by then, I will make sure that you are known as the Yuuri as well.”

Chapter Text

“Yuuri, you’re cute.”

“What?”

Viktor rolled his eyes, shifting closer to Yuuri as they sat together in the garden, taking their tea after a long day of dancing. Viktor’s tutelage was a grueling process – every bone in Yuuri’s body ached, every muscle stretched to its very limit. But he felt more alive than he had done in so many years; ever since he had been told by the owners of the House that they did not want failures among their Courtesans, the finest in the system. That day had been the start of Yuuri’s ghostly existence in the House – not as an Apprentice, nor a servant, officially, since he was still an Untouchable; but somewhere in between, somewhere undefined. He had an inkling that Minako had hoped some rich bastard would think him adorable or something and buy him from the House to minimize problems for everyone.

“Don’t say what, say pardon,” Viktor corrected. “And I said you are cute.”

“Um… thank you?” Yuuri offered, unsure of how to respond. Being told by Viktor that he was cute was probably-

“Not a compliment,” Viktor said.

“Ah.”

Yuuri pursed his lips, looking down at his lap.

“Yuuri, being cute comes natural to boys like you. Small and pretty and wide-eyed,” Viktor said, smirking as he sipped his tea daintily. His long fingers wrapped around the cup snugly, and Yuuri found himself momentarily mesmerized yet again. How did a man simply drink tea and yet manage to look so ephemeral?

“But being cute will only get you this far,” Viktor continued. “You need to be seductive.”

Yuuri nearly choked on his tea.

“Your dancing technique is not bad, but when it comes to a Courtesan’s main selling point, their sex appeal, you have, well… very little.”

Leave it to Viktor to manage being charming even as he put him down.

“S-so what should I do?”

“Find the eros within you, obviously,” Viktor said, placing the cup back onto the table and stretching his arms above his head. Yuuri’s eyes followed his sleeves as they slipped down to reveal two perfectly pale wrists.

“The what? Um, pardon?”

Eros. Sexual love. Your inner sex appeal, what makes you seductive, what brings men to their knees when they see you,” Viktor said, his voice sultry. Yuuri shifted uncomfortably.

“Have you seen me? I’m not… sexy,” he mumbled, looking down. “I’m twenty-three and still Untouchable. That should tell you something about the amount of sex appeal I have.”

“All I hear right now is you being obstinate,” Viktor said. He turned halfway so that he was looking at Yuuri. The younger man gulped nervously, unused to such scrutiny. Especially from someone like Viktor who positively oozed sex appeal. He was sex on legs, and Yuuri was not afraid of admitting to himself that if he had been born into a different station in society, he would be the one requesting Viktor’s company for money every other night.

“Let us try this,” Viktor said, making Yuuri’s eyes widen as he looked up at his idol. “Here we are, having tea, as you will undoubtedly do with many of your customers. Now, Yuuri, seduce me.”

“Viktor, I-,”

“As your Mentor, I am telling you, Yuuri. Seduce me. Prove to me that you are not just a servant boy. Minako’s keeping you around for some reason, and I think that reason is that she sees your potential. You haven’t uncovered it yet, though. So prove to me that you at least have the beginnings of a Courtesan. Show to me that you can seduce men and cast them away with the flick of a wrist or a sideways glance.”

Yuuri’s breath hitched. Seduce Viktor. Seduce seduction itself.

“Pour me some tea, won’t you?”

That he could do. Even though he had scalded the first and last Guest he’d ever had, Yuuri had practiced long and hard to prevent his hands from shaking even in horrifying states of nervousness.

He picked up the teapot and made to fill Viktor’s cup.

“See, Yuuri, that is how a waiter would do it,” Viktor said gently. His voice was teasing, but his eyes remained burning – Yuuri could feel them on him. “A Courtesan does it differently.”

He pried the teapot out of Yuuri’s hands and repositioned it in his own.

“Tell me, Yuuri, why do Courtesans wear such flowing clothing?” Viktor asked, poising the teapot in his hands.

“Um… because then we – uh, you, can… expose your… body without actually exposing it,” Yuuri said, remembering the few lessons he’d had.

“Exactly,” Viktor said. “So when you pour tea for a Guest, try to make it so that your sleeve slides down just a little. Like so.”

He demonstrated, hitching his sleeves up with ease and stealth, allowing Yuuri another glimpse at his wrists.

“They go wild for it,” Viktor said, smiling. “And if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can always bend your neck a little and do this.”

He leaned over to pour tea into Yuuri’s cup and by doing so, gave the younger man an eyeful of his nape, perfectly creamy and smooth. Yuuri felt his face heat up. That was a gesture as intimate as anything, the teasing display of Viktor’s bare skin, a suggestion of what was to come.

“See?”

Viktor had already straightened up and was looking at Yuuri expectantly.

“Of course, these are the most common tricks of the trade, but if you don’t have the confidence to do even that-,”

“I’ll do it!” Yuuri said hurriedly. “I’ll do it.”

Viktor’s mouth stretched into a smile as he handed over the teapot once more.

“Now, Yuuri, pretend I’m one of those rich bastards who come in here looking for a good time. Pretend that I am the one paying for the services of the newest, most mysterious Courtesan in Hasetsu House,” he drawled, making Yuuri feel somewhat stiff beneath his robes.

Well, very stiff.

“I have just come in and sat down,” Viktor said, all business, as he set the scene for Yuuri’s seduction. He got up and then sat back down again, his demeanor entirely different. He tipped an invisible hat to the younger man.

“Hello there,” he said, his voice deeper and more authoritative, a perfect copy of the men who came into the House after a long day of signing contracts and trading deals. “What is your name, pretty?”

“Um, Yuuri,” the younger man said, bowing his head to his Guest, peeking at him through his thick dark eyelashes. He saw the way Viktor’s mouth curled up encouragingly.

“Would you pour me some of that fragrant tea?” Viktor asked, going along with the charade. “I’m afraid I am quite parched. Too much to even enjoy the company of someone as beautiful as you are.”

They were standard pickup lines, cliché words used by many a Guest, Yuuri knew that, after his years of peeking in on the private entertainment sessions, but when they came from Viktor, they were different. He had to remember that he was the one who was supposed to seduce the other man. But it was difficult, considering Viktor’s sensual… everything.

“Of course, danna-sama,” Yuuri replied, adding a little breathiness to his voice as he picked up the kettle. He lifted it a little more than was necessary, allowing the sleeve of his simple black robe to slide down, revealing his wrists. He glanced over his shoulder at Viktor as he leaned in to pour the tea, and then tilted his head a little more to expose more of his neck – not just the back of it, but the side as well, in a perfect display of submission to his Guest.

Judging by the way Viktor’s pupils dilated a little, Yuuri was doing a good job.

He placed the kettle back onto the table and picked up Viktor’s cup with two hands carefully. A sudden stroke of inspiration came to him and as he offered the teacup to his Guest, he shifted just a little so that the side of his hip pressed against Viktor’s own thigh.

“You are playing with me, little Yuuri,” Viktor breathed. Or rather, the Guest. It was the guest, not Viktor, Yuuri reminded himself with reluctance. “Perhaps you would like a chance to let me drink from your hands?”

Yuuri’s eyes widened, but he took the challenge in his stride, bringing the cup gently to Viktor’s parted lips, tilting it gently, incredibly careful not to choke the man. Viktor took a few sips and then leaned back, smirking at Yuuri.

“You seem lost in thought, Yuuri,” he said, frowning in an uncharacteristic gesture, a parody of the way the Guests feigned concern for the Courtesans to get on their good side and perhaps score a bonus.

Yuuri licked his lips tentatively, feeling crazy for even thinking about what he was going to say.

“Yuuri?”

“Um… They say tea is sweeter when drunk from the mouth of a beautiful Courtesan,” he said, forcing himself not to rush the words. Viktor looked at him for a long moment and then smiled, nodding his assent.

“Then perhaps I should try.”

This was a challenge. A test to see if Yuuri was really going to go through with what he had advertised. Though he was a nervous mess on the inside, there was a certain clarity to his thoughts that hadn’t been there before. Under Viktor’s watchful eye, his brought the cup to his lips and took a small sip before putting it down and tilting his face upwards, offering himself to Viktor.

His heart hammered in his chest as their faces got closer and closer together. Viktor was leaning in torturously slowly, enough to unnerve Yuuri, but he held on fast, knowing that he had to do this. He couldn’t lose this chance.

He could smell Viktor’s rose-tinted breath now and count the pallid freckles on his nose. Up close, Viktor was even more beautiful, his eyes dark as he approached Yuuri. They were so close that Yuuri could sense every tiny bit of heat radiating off the older man’s body-

“Excellent,” Viktor said, pulling back and clapping Yuuri on the back. Yuuri was forced to swallow the tea and nearly choked, coughing.

“Oh, dear me! Sorry,” the older man said, concerned as he clapped Yuuri on the back to let him breathe again. Yuuri leaved a breath, finally, squishing down the disappointment he had inevitably felt.

“You are pretty adventurous for a little piggy,” Viktor said, as if it were the highest praise he could afford Yuuri. The younger man smiled sheepishly.

“I do like winning, you know,” he said quietly. “Even though I don’t look it.”

“Yes, that must be remedied. Tomorrow, I shall take care of your looks,” Viktor said decisively.

“Take care of them?” Yuuri squeaked. Viktor nodded.

“Your hair is in desperate need of some pampering, and your skin needs to be polished. Diamond in the rough, remember?”

Yuuri nodded mutely. Well, at least he was sexy. Ish. But still apparently ugly.

“And we will have to get you a whole new wardrobe. These black robes are for servants,” Viktor said, eyeing Yuuri’s grab as if it carried the deadliest of plagues.

“Minako-san wouldn’t pay for new clothes for me,” Yuuri mumbled, picking at a stray thread off his sleeve.

“Well then, I suppose I have more than enough robes from my day as an Apprentice to fit you,” Viktor said breezily. “For now, that should do.”

Yuuri looked up at Viktor in wonder. The older man laughed, petting his cheek.

“You showed me you can do it today. I do not intend to let your potential go to waste, Yuuri. You will be a great Courtesan one day, I know it.”  

Chapter Text

“And since when is Yuuri an Apprentice?”

Minako’s voice was like steel. Yuuri found himself inching closer to Viktor’s side even as they kneeled on the mats in front of the manager of the House. Viktor had decided to finally bring it to Minako’s attention that he had been teaching Yuuri the ways of Courtesans – mostly because Minako had called Yuuri out on neglecting the servant duties he had been assigned.

Now, all Yuuri wanted was to flee and possibly bury himself under a mountain of autumn leaves.

“Since I took him on as my Apprentice,” Viktor replied calmly. Minako let out an irritated little sound, clearly displeased with her best Courtesan’s disobedience.

“I was planning for Yurio to be your Apprentice,” she said, her eye twitching in irritation. “You know he has far more potential than pork bowl over here.”

Yuuri felt himself flush. He had prayed that Viktor would never find out about his embarrassing nickname.

“Perhaps so,” Viktor said, glancing at Yuuri as if he hadn’t heard the comment. For that, Yuuri was eternally grateful. “However, I must say that I disagree. No doubt young Yurio will make a fine Courtesan, he has all the… visual appeal. Yet he lacks the sweetness.”

“And you think Yuuri has it in spades? The boy doesn’t know his left foot from his right.”

“Actually,” Viktor said, retrieving his PA and scrolling through the most recent memories to find Yuuri’s prior rehearsal. “You’d be surprised.”

Minako watched the memory impassively, humming along to the tune with an almost vacant expression on her face. Yuuri hoped she was drunk enough to at least let him retreat to his closet-like room in peace and live out the rest of his days as a servant. This was a bad idea.

“So he isn’t bad at dancing,” Minako said, frustrated, when Viktor pocketed his PA. “That does not a Courtesan make. You have seen the disaster that was the banquet – the boy could barely pour tea!”

“We have been practicing,” Viktor said, sounding almost proud. That, at least, gave Yuuri hope.

Minako looked at the two of them for the longest time before sighing. She lit her long pipe – the fragrant smoke made Yuuri’s eyes water.

“So you think he might actually be able to bring profit to this place?” She asked, eyeing Viktor with some doubt in her eyes. The elder man nodded, glancing at Yuuri. Minako sighed again, tapping out the ash. “You know he doesn’t look like much. We never bothered with dressing him or doing his hair. Since he wasn’t promising from the get-go.”

Yuuri’s heart sank. He knew that he wasn’t good-looking. He was not as ethereal as Viktor or Yurio, and his features were not memorable at all. It would take a miracle for him to stand out with this face of his and his black servant’s clothes. He was too average to stand out.

“But doesn’t his plainness mean that he is a blank slate?”

Yuuri looked up at Viktor whose face was bursting with a wide smile. Minako lifted an eyebrow.

“Go on,” she said, leaning in.

“There is plenty we can do to enhance Yuuri – and given the fact that he is all natural, so to speak, we can truly make him shine with absolutely anything!” Viktor’s excitement was almost contagious – even Yuuri wanted to feel like smiling, just a little. Minako surveyed them, and finally sighed.

“Fine. But I won’t give a single credit to his makeup and costume before the first display,” she said. “Until then, Viktor, I believe you have enough resources to scrape something together for him.”

Viktor nodded, completely unaffected by the frank rebuttal.

“I have enough robes and powders to fill a museum,” he said, looking at Yuuri who fought the urge to break eye contact. It was still very intimidating to be in the same room as Viktor, let alone be spoken to so directly and openly, as if they were long-time friends. If anything, Viktor had to have been creeped out by Yuuri’s blatant voyeurism of his sessions; but he had never mentioned it again, not since their first conversation.

“Then it’s settled. Next week, we will have the Mars Senator here with a couple of his guests,” Minako said, eyeing Yuuri like a hawk. The boy gulped nervously. “It would be a perfect opportunity to give him a spin.”

Next week? So soon?

“Perfect,” Viktor said, bowing his head shallowly to the manager and standing. Yuuri belatedly did the same, bowing much deeper, which elicited a tut of disapproval from Minako.

“If you want to be a Courtesan, stop bowing like a commoner,” she said by ways of a goodbye. Yuuri only exhaled when they were out the door – and Minak’s earshot. His knees turned to jelly and he found himself being propped up by Viktor’s hands.

“You all right there, Yuuri?” Viktor asked, his face way too close to Yuuri’s for comfort.

No, he had to get used to this. Get used to being incredibly close to people. Even people as dazzling as Viktor.

“I-I’m okay,” Yuuri stammered out. Viktor gave him another small smile and grabbed him by the wrist, already dragging him halfway down the hallway.

“Splendid! We have so many things to do! You need to try on some robes and then there’s the makeup, and oh, you definitely need to do something about that hair of yours, it’s far too short to be proper for a Courtesan!”

Yuuri would have sighed if he could have been able to catch a breath. This was going to be a very, very tiring week.


The next morning found him and Viktor seated dangerously close together as the Courtesan taught Yuuri the intricacies of makeup. Though he himself hardly ever wore any, or it had seemed so to Yuuri’s untrained eye, there was indeed a whole plethora of products involved in making Viktor look beautifully casual.

“And this darker powder goes into the crease here, see?” Viktor instructed, dabbing the powder onto Yuuri’s left eyelid with his finger. “It makes your eyes more pronounced. You have pretty eyes, so you should flaunt them more.”

Yuuri blushed as he opened said pretty eyes and looked at himself in the mirror. It didn’t look too hard, from where he was sitting, so he nodded, turning towards Viktor.

“What next?”

“Lips.”

The next moment, Yuuri’s lips were being touched. By Viktor. Viktor himself was touching Yuuri’s lips.

“I think for next week, we don’t need to go too red,” the Courtesan said, eyeing Yuuri’s face critically. “You’re supposed to radiate innocence; we can save the harlot image for later.”

Yuuri almost bristled at the idea of him ever appearing as a harlot, but was distracted by the loss of Viktor’s fingers on his mouth. Gods, he really had to stop thinking about every single thing Viktor did to him as faintly sexual – even though it seemed impossible, given the fact that Viktor dripped sex appeal with ease, as if he had been born to make men and women alike swoon with a single glance.

“Here,” Viktor said, picking up a small tub of lipstick. “Virgin Pink. Perfect for a pretty little Apprentice.”

If Yuuri could get more embarrassed, he would have. Virgin. Of course, to Viktor, and to most of the House, it was laughable that someone of his age had never been touched before. Even the servants, the actual servants, all had their illicit affairs here and there. Yuuri’s monk-like lifestyle had definitely earned him the reputation of an undesirable weirdo. One did not just work at a Courtesan House and not fuck regularly.

Viktor used his ring finger to spread the lipstick onto Yuuri’s nervous mouth. He carefully traced the outline, expertly avoiding putting on too much. Once he was done, he sat back, admiring his work.

“I don’t suppose you will need any blush, considering you have a healthy one of your own,” he teased. Yuuri looked down at his knees, fighting the sucking feeling of shame that had settled in his gut. Viktor’s fingers took his chin and forced him too look up back at the Courtesan’s face.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of,” he said seriously, and Yuuri’s heart seemed to skip a beat. “Preserve your purity while you can. It is easy to lose it, Yuuri. Make sure you lose it to the right person. And for the right amount of money. At least then, you won’t have to live with the guilt of being someone like me.”

“W-what do you mean?” Yuuri asked, wide-eyed, confusion washing over him. “Everyone wants to be you. You’re… you’re you.”

Viktor’s fingers slipped from his chin. The elder man offered Viktor a smile that was… different. Not the show-smile he put on for his Guests nor the sincere smile Yuuri had grown accustomed to that meant Viktor was having fun. It was a sad sort of smile. Almost as if Viktor was working through something in his mind but the need to laugh it off had just come through automatically.

Yuuri knew that kind of smile well. His were pretty much all that kind of smiles.

“Someday, Yuuri, we will have this conversation once more,” Viktor said quietly, putting his makeup away into the designated boxes. They were meticulously organized by make and shade, and Yuuri found he envied this kind of organization, even though it seemed a little out of character for the breezy Viktor he had come to know.

“I will make you proud, Viktor,” Yuuri said quietly. Surprised blue eyes met his.

“I want to make you proud as a Mentor. I know I… I’m not the ideal student, and I know I have tons to learn, but I… I really want to share the stage with you one day. Entertain together with you and be known as much as you are.”

He’d never told this to anyone, his desire for glory. For Viktor’s glory. It was both a relief and a sadness to share it with someone who knew what this life was like.

Viktor’s small smile twitched and he stood, offering Yuuri a hand. The younger man took it graciously and rose to his feet with care, just like Viktor had taught him. Not too fast, rolling his body up so that the viewer, whomever it might be, could appreciate the lines of his body.

“Then, Yuuri, let us choose the robes in which you will awe your Guests,” Viktor said. He turned towards his closet and pressed his palm to the sensor, making the doors slide open and reveal a multitude of colors. So many colors and shades that Yuuri’s head almost spun off its axis.

“Wow,” he breathed, watching in awe as Viktor walked into the closet, absently brushing his hands over the various pieces of fabric. Robes from all eras of Viktor’s fame and for all occasions hung neatly, waiting to be tried on and shown off.

“Come now, Yuuri,” Viktor said, looking back at the younger man. For a moment, Yuuri felt like this was it. To follow Viktor into that wardrobe would be to finally give himself over to this job, heart and mind and body.

He took that step without hesitation. After all, Viktor was there.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was stifling, that was sure. Not the robe, which flowed around his body freely, almost as if it were a curtain, just barely shielding his naked body from view. Nor his hair, which Viktor had told him to let fall over his shoulders, cascading around his face. He wasn’t used to the long hair, but the extensions were seamless, some sort of new product Viktor had bought with his immeasurable resources. Yuuri found that he liked it, probably because it made him look more like his Mentor.

The atmosphere, however… that was stifling. The feeling of expectation that hung in the air between them as Viktor combed Yuuri’s newly long hair with care, murmuring small encouragements under his breath. Once he was done, he placed a flower behind Yuuri’s hair and surveyed him critically, only to remove it.

“Why not?” Yuuri asked.

“It’s a distraction,” Viktor replied. His fingers found Yuuri’s chin, making the young man look up into his own blue eyes. A pretty blush spread over Yuuri’s cheeks, and Viktor chuckled, stroking the smooth skin of Yuuri’s face – and thank the gods for that, Yuuri thought absently; the skin-cleansing procedures Viktor had put him through on the eve of his first outing as an Apprentice had been ghastly.

“You don’t need flowers to draw attention to your face,” Viktor said, cocking his head to the side and inspecting his creation one last time before letting Yuuri, now properly flushed, move away. The younger man gracefully walked over to the mirror, careful not to step on the robe. This was one of Viktor’s, from his younger days fresh out of being an Apprentice. This was the robe that Viktor had worn to his own deflowering, the evening when his virginity had been given to the highest bidder and equated to its weight in gold. When Viktor had presented him with the choices he had, Yuuri had immediately spotted this one – it was just as beautiful as it had been the one time he’d gotten the privilege to see it, in Yuuko’s memory, snuck in secret.

It was a simple thing – black, just like the servants’ robes, but with silvery decorations that made it look almost as if it was supposed to imitate some exotic off-planet bird. It was flashy enough to satisfy his Mentor, who had almost tried to force him into a see-through robe of white and silvery satin; but it was also humble enough to make Yuuri one small bit more comfortable.

“You look beautiful,” Viktor said, stepping up behind him and placing his arms around Yuuri. The Apprentice nearly flinched – he was still not quite used to Viktor’s lack of personal space. The man was as tactile as he was cheerful, and part of Yuuri was starting to suspect that it was actually a front that the silver-haired man put up in order to maintain his reputation.

He didn’t bring it up with Viktor; he hadn’t and he wouldn’t.

“You’re the one who’s beautiful,” Yuuri mumbled, looking down at his feet. Viktor squeezed his middle none-too-gently, eliciting an indignant yowl from him.

“This is your night, Yuuri. Show me your eros, show me how you can seduce without even batting an eyelash,” he whispered hotly into Yuuri’s ear, making the younger man shudder. Being around Viktor the past few weeks had been an exercise in keeping his arousal at bay, that was for sure. Yuuri couldn’t even imagine not finding Viktor ethereally beautiful as he was. A man had to be blind and deaf and devoid of a heart to ignore the magnetic nature of Viktor’s presence.

“I-I… I don’t know if I can,” Yuuri breathed, voicing his fear for the first time in weeks. He had persevered for a while, struggling under Viktor’s tutelage, trying on robes and makeup and stumbling through dances and seduction techniques. He had never let himself disappoint Viktor by saying that he didn’t believe in himself.

“You are a seductive Courtesan,” Viktor said insistently, his voice still maintaining that sultry quality that he was known for, the one that made most people weak at the knees. “You enthrall men. Repeat after me.”

“I am… a seductive C-courtesan,” Yuuri stammered, looking at himself in the mirror, his stomach in knots. Damn his anxiety and social awkwardness and… god, how he wanted to stand on equal footing with his Mentor, who had most of the system down on their knees, begging him to spare a second, a glance, a brush of his fingers.

“Yuuri, you’re making me sad,” Viktor whined, pouting at the younger man in the mirror. Yuuri sighed and forced himself to look at his own face, painted with light makeup – yet again, not to invite too many distractions. His eyelashes were slightly elongated, and his lips pink with Viktor’s pick of lipstick; his eyebrows prim, his cheekbones dusted with a bit of silvery powder that would gleam in the right lighting, illuminating his features (Viktor’s words, not his).

“I am… a seductive… Courtesan,” he said deliberately, staring himself down. “I enthrall men.”

“Good,” Viktor murmured approvingly. “Now, with feeling.”

“I am a seductive Courtesan. I enthrall men,” Yuuri repeated, firmer.

“Again.”

“I am a seductive Courtesan who enthralls men.”

“Again.”

“I am a seductive Courtesan who enthralls men.”

Viktor’s face split into one of his domestic smiles – the ones that the public didn’t get to see, for they were too wide and too sincere to be considered appropriate. But Yuuri treasured each one he was given, so he lapped this one up as well like a faithful puppy.

The weight of Viktor’s arm around his waist became a comforting force as the two of them walked towards the main hall where their company for the evening was situated. The door slid open upon their arrival, and Yuuri found himself wrapped up in a barrage of smells – fine food, candles, incense, expensive perfumes. His eyes adjusted to the new lighting.

“Ah, there they are,” a gruff male voice sounded as they stepped into the dining room. The door slid closed behind them, and Viktor let go, making Yuuri feel something akin to loss.

“I apologize for the delay,” the older man said smoothly, bowing to the guests and Minako who watched them critically. “I’m afraid my Apprentice was quite nervous to make his debut.”

The men sitting around the table laughed, amused by Yuuri’s youthfulness.

“Viktor, a vision, as always,” one of them, who seemed to be the one in charge, stood and pressed a kiss to Viktor’s knuckles. The Courtesan inclined his head to the side, smiling.

“Senator,” he murmured. Yuuri’s eyes widened minutely. A Senator? He was supposed to entrain a Senator? “I believe the vision today is not me but my Apprentice here.”

“However,” Viktor paused, wrapping his hand around the man’s tie seductively and inching closer. Yuuri watched with rapt attention as the man’s face became bare, open, his mask gone as Viktor worked his magic on him. “If you do want the benefit of my company later, I believe we can arrange it.”

The man appeared dazed when Viktor side-stepped him and used one hand to surreptitiously push Yuuri closer to the center of the room.

“My Apprentice, Yuuri.”

Yuuri bowed, remembering not to go too low. They are here because they want my company, he reminded himself, not the other way around. I am not going to beg for scraps off the table. They want me here. They want me. I enthrall men.

The people at the table murmured their approval as the Senator kissed Yuuri’s hand as well.

“Charming,” he said, his beady black eyes following Yuuri’s face. The younger man smiled just a little, just enough to let the Senator know that his compliment was well-received. Just like Viktor had taught him.

He was led to the table and once there, he sat down with as much grace as he could muster, ending up sandwiched between the Senator and his assistant whose eyes were unabashedly scanning Yuuri’s robed body. Viktor had taken his seat on the Senator’s other side, as he had always been the man’s Courtesan of choice whenever he came to visit.

The evening erupted into conversation over food and drink soon after. Yuuri felt like he was an insect being examined under a microscope from all angles: by Viktor, by Minako, and by the Guests.

“So, Yuuri, how come we haven’t seen you before?” Sakamoto, the assistant asked, as Yuuri poured him tea, making sure to expose a sliver of his wrist. He could feel Viktor’s approving gaze on him as he did so.

“Ah, I am afraid Yuuri is quite the late bloomer. He is quite a bit older than the rest, twenty-three,” Viktor said, stepping in before Yuuri could open his mouth to reply. “He has only just now come under my tutelage. We have many years to catch up on, but with his natural talent he is sure to become a success.”

“Not to mention his pretty face,” Senator said, leering at Yuuri in earnest. The Apprentice inclined his head, accepting the backhanded compliment. “He looks quite a bit like you in this robe, don’t you think, Viktor?”

“Quite,” the Courtesan replied, smiling his trademark smile. “He would not let go of it when I let him choose from my clothes! It was quite endearing, actually.”

Yuuri blushed, making the men at the table laugh, their mirth fueled by the multiple rounds of alcohol Minako had plied them with.

“It was a good choice, Yuuri,” Sakamoto said kindly. Yuuri glanced up at him, ducking his head. The man had a nice face – even though he was old enough to be Yuuri’s father, of that he was sure, he seemed to be… decent. Yuuri decided he would focus his attention on Sakamoto tonight.

“Thank you, Sakamoto-san,” Yuuri said in a breathy voice, noting how the man’s Adam’s apple bobbed a little at that. “I do my best to honor my Mentor.”

“And honor him you will!” Another man from the company, Jones, said boisterously, raising a cup to toast Yuuri almost mockingly. “Soon enough you will be the talk of the town. Now, do you dance?”

Yuuri had to struggle not to bite his lip.

“Yuuri does not have the privilege yet,” Viktor said smoothly. “He is, after all, Untouchable.”

The atmosphere around the table changed immediately. The men perked up, all of them, as if they were wild animals who had managed to sniff out potential prey.

“An Untouchable? In Hasetsu House?”

“We have two, actually,” Minako interjected, glancing at Viktor with irritation. “The other is Yuri, a very talented Apprentice under Yakov.”

“Two Untouchable Yuri’s in one House?” The Senator asked with a small chuckle. “You have quite the pretty flowers to harvest this season, Minako.”

The woman bristled but said nothing. She couldn’t say anything, really, considering the idea of an older Untouchable, for some reason, attracted the Guests instead of repulsing them as she’d supposed.”

“And when would Yuuri begin to dance, then?” Sakamoto asked, now seemingly eager to know all the nitty gritty about Yuuri’s looming career as a Courtesan. This was a good thing, Yuuri reminded himself as he let the man’s hand slide over his knee. He saw Viktor’s eyes follow the gesture. It wasn’t inappropriate. Not to a Courtesan.

“We are yet to decide,” Minako said hurriedly. She glanced at Viktor, eyes narrowing. “Perhaps we should have the two displayed on the same night. Make it an exciting event for the entirety of the system.”

Viktor’s face seemed to harden for just a moment before he let it go, glancing at Yuuri with smooth confidence.

“I am quite sure that my Yuuri will be the belle of the ball,” he said conspiratorially, stroking the Senator’s hair – the man had ended up with his head in Viktor’s lap after another round of drinks. Viktor’s robe had fallen a little more open to expose a delicious sliver of skin on his chest. Yuuri marveled at how natural it seemed even though he knew that Viktor always calculated every move. Their eyes met, Viktor’s hand in the Senator’s hair, Yuuri preening under the touches of his assistant.

 “You know, Yuuri is quite the dancer.”

Chapter Text

Shame was unnecessary. Yuuri had learned that on day one. Being a Courtesan meant discarding the shame that most people would feel at being exposed like they were. Society on most planets in the system was conservative: everyone buttoned, zipped, tied themselves up from neck to toe. Intricate outfits with buttons and ties to remind the universe of a time long past were held in high regard by fashionistas on every planet.

Courtesan Houses, however, stood an exception. The whores themselves were free to wear flowing, sheer robes of light materials, exposing slivers of skin teasingly until the time came for them to dance or service their Guests. The Guests themselves were free to divest themselves of their stifling clothing – perhaps this was also part of why Courtesan Houses were so popular among the elite. The rigid atmosphere of the system didn’t exist here, in this palace of pure sensation and pleasure.

To Yuuri, though, sexual shame was of no consequence. He had discarded that when he had made peace with the fact that one day he would be servicing Guests with his body. However, there was a different kind of shame that ate away at his consciousness – the shame of his own body.

Looking at Viktor right now, clad in nothing but his own skin, Yuuri shuddered to imagine himself naked in front of these esteemed guests. He wasn’t exactly a troll, of course, but there were many things that he found to be unattractive in his body. Though Viktor had done his best to make him up and slim him down, there were standards among Courtesans: they were lean, pretty, enticing with their long-fingered hands and their v-shaped hipbones.

Yuuri was still just a little… pudgy. He hated it even though Viktor had called it cute once. He hated the fact that his face was so plain and that his hands were small and that his legs were not as proportionately long as Yurio’s or Viktor’s or Phichit’s. His eyes were too mundanely brown and his mouth too small and his ears too big and… gods, he could find so many things wrong with himself when he looked at the perfection that was Viktor.

While Yuuri could not dance yet, given his status as an Untouchable, his Mentor had taken over the main entertainment for the night. Yuuri, on the other hand, had the responsibility of keeping the men’s glasses full and their bellies sated. Besides, though he found it quite incredible, Sakamoto kept on watching him out of the corner of his eye instead of focusing on the beautiful undulation of Viktor’s body on the dais.

The Courtesan’s plain robe had sunk low on his arms, pooling around his elbows, open to expose his bare skin. A fine sheen of glitter decorated Viktor, making him shine in the varied lighting of the room as he twisted and turned and sank down to the floor only to lift himself up and extend his hands towards his greedy audience with a free sort of charm that anyone, anyone would envy.

Yuuri had to force himself to focus on his own job as he knew Minako was watching him like a hawk.

He shifted uncomfortably to hide his own arousal. Sakamoto’s lips turned up into a smirk. The man leaned in, brushing Yuuri’s ear with his hot breath.

“He is quite a vision to look at, isn’t he, Yuuri?” He whispered, making Yuuri shudder involuntarily. The younger man turned his head, nodding briefly. Sakamoto laughed, placing his hand on Yuuri’s knee once more.

“Yet I cannot keep my eyes off you,” he said, completely serious.

This man wanted Yuuri. Yuuri, not Viktor. Even though Yuuri knew this was flattery, an attempt to get into Yuuri’s good graces for the future, when he became a full-fledged Courtesan, he felt slightly intoxicated by the praise.

“I would like to become your Patron, Yuuri,” Sakamoto breathed as the music ended and Viktor sank to the ground gracefully. Yuuri knew what was coming next. He had seen it happen before. Even though he wasn’t going to participate, he would have to watch. Watch and entertain those not engaged with Viktor at the moment.

He forced himself not to look at Viktor when the Senator took his first steps towards the naked form on the dais, already working on the complex fastenings of his suit.

“Would you?” Yuuri asked, inclining his head in deference to Sakamoto. “It won’t be cheap. Minako-sensei is hoping to fetch quite the price for my virginity.”

He had no idea how he had managed to say that without blushing furiously. Instead, his voice had come out all thick and sultry – no doubt an aftereffect of having watched Viktor dance.

Sakamoto’s fingers slipped under Yuuri’s chin and for a moment, the Apprentice wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and pretend that it was Viktor doing it. Viktor who made it a habit to touch Yuuri, to prepare him for the tactile nature of his future work. Sakamoto’s fingers were rougher, bigger, thicker on Yuuri’s newly-scrubbed skin. It was not an unwelcome touch, for Yuuri had been starved for affection for way too long; but still, still, his eyes were inevitably drawn to the scene Viktor and the Senator were making on the floor.

“You seem quite taken with the proceedings, Yuuri,” Sakamoto said, studying his features. “Perhaps you are picking up tips from your Mentor? I cannot wait to see you apply them.”

At this, Yuuri did blush.

“I can only hope to be as good as Viktor-,”

“Your innocence, Yuuri, is refreshing. Come now,” Sakamoto said, patting the mat between his legs, offering his chest for support as Yuuri sank down gracefully against him. The man put his arms around Yuuri from behind.

“They do make quite the show. Let us watch together, Yuuri.”

Yuuri made a conscious effort to keep his body still. Technically, this was allowed, even with Untouchables; but if Sakamoto were to start touching him, he would have to reject his advances. Yuuri wasn’t good at rejecting people, considering how much time he had spent on this Earth to try and get accepted.

“Watch them closely, Yuuri,” Sakamoto breathed into his ear, and Yuuri clenched his hands into fists inside the long sleeves of his robes. He didn’t know how he could watch Viktor and then look him in the eye, knowing that Viktor knew he had watched, knowing that he had seen the man’s naked body, had seen him work his magic on the body of a man who wasn’t someone he loved.

“He is beautiful, isn’t he?” Sakamoto asked, but Yuuri had already tuned him out, focusing on the developments in front of him. The rest of the Guests respectfully hung back, allowing the Senator to take his fill of Viktor’s body.

From where he was sitting, Yuuri had a perfect view of what was happening. He could see the Senator roll Viktor over onto his back, pushing him down into submission. Viktor looked anything but, with his long hair splayed beneath him, his arms looped around the Senator’s neck in a mockery of a lover’s embrace.

The Senator’s lips danced over Viktor’s collarbone, careful not to mark him, for that was subject to penalty. He raked his hands up and down Viktor’s sides, his arms, mapping out the smooth, lean muscle of the Courtesan’s body. Viktor wrapped his legs around the Senator’s hips, urging him on with a theatrical, wanton moan that made Yuuri want to both roll his eyes and throw himself at the Courtesan.

He watched with wide eyes, scared of blinking, as Viktor’s back arched off the dais, when the Senator’s cock penetrated him for the first time. The man grunted, stilling inside of Viktor for a moment, before pulling out and thrusting in one more time.

It was then that the real show began. Viktor suddenly flipped the Senator over, straddling him playfully. He bent down, eyeing his Guest with a distant sort of affection which, no doubt, to the older man, looked like pure adoration.

Yuuri gulped nervously, his mouth suddenly dry.

His mind was already playing tricks on him, sending signals to his body that weren’t there. His head was filled with what-if’s, images of himself behind the one underneath Viktor. The one touching the man’s silver hair, his bare body, skimming his chest with his fingers and dropping kisses along his neck. He imagined Viktor riding him like he rode the Senator, with dedication and abandon, not a single movement out of place.

He wondered how long it would take for someone like himself to come just from Viktor’s proximity.

He found himself wanting to be the Senator, to have the kind of money that would guarantee Viktor’s sex only with him.

Yuuri was brought back to Earth when Sakamoto’s hand ventured closer to the prohibited. He startled a little, placing his fingers around the man’s wrist gently.

“Not yet,” he breathed, managing a seductive tone, made breathless by the vision of Viktor speeding up on top of the Senator, letting out long moans of practiced pleasure.

Sakamoto chuckled into his ear.

“Not even a taste? I would like to know what I am paying for later,” he murmured into Yuuri’s ear. The younger man wanted to protest so badly, but his attention was inevitably scattered, focusing on Viktor. The Courtesan arched his back, throwing his head backward and groaning, come splattering between him and the Senator who looked practically blissed-out.

They sank to the floor, boneless – just a moment for Viktor, who was soon drawing upwards, releasing himself from the Senator’s body. He helped the man up affectionately and reached for his robe, leading him back towards the table.

“Sakamoto-san, I believe you are pushing your luck,” he said playfully, spotting the way the man was touching a dazed-looking Yuuri.

With a mock-guilty chuckle, Sakamoto finally released Yuuri, allowing him to scramble away (as slowly and as respectfully as he could). Viktor’s fingers found his.

“Just a preview,” Sakamoto said lightly. Viktor’s grip on Yuuri’s wrist tightened minutely, and Yuuri did his best not to look surprised.

“I’m afraid you would have to sample Yuuri in full once you buy his First Time at the auction,” he said with a sly smirk. Yuuri wasn’t buying it – Viktor was quite mad at Sakamoto. For some reason, the notion warmed his heart immensely.

They departed the dining room soon after, with Viktor leading Yuuri away gently back to the room he had insisted Yuuri would share with him throughout his Apprenticeship.

Silently, they washed each other’s make-up off. Viktor helped Yuuri out of his robe, which he threw into the hamper carelessly, with his own to followed. Yuuri averted his eyes when presented with the view of Viktor’s bare body once more.

“Sakamoto is a good man.”

At that, Yuuri couldn’t help but turn his head to see Viktor’s back, the man’s hand poised at the entrance to the bathroom.

“But he is not always a good man, Yuuri,” Viktor continued. Yuuri frowned.

“What do you mean?”

Viktor turned to look at his Apprentice, his eyes unbearably soft.

“I found myself thinking tonight that I wish I could choose whom you will spend your First Night with,” he said quietly before slipping into the bathroom. The door closed behind him with a hiss.

Yuuri stood in the middle of Viktor’s room, bare as the day he had been born.

“Me too,” he whispered, folding in on himself. He hugged his knees, burying his face between them as he replayed the memory – not the recorded one, but the one in his mind, the unreliable, beautiful memory – of Viktor dancing. For now, he could pretend Viktor had danced for him.

 

Chapter Text

Being officially accepted as an Apprentice meant that Yuuri was finally allowed to sit at the common table with the other Courtesans and those to be during mealtimes. He couldn't lie, it was damn intimidating, considering he had worshiped pretty much everyone at the table at some point or other.

There was also the matter of Yurio.

The blond angel sat across from Yuuri, practically draped across the lap of his Mentor, Yakov, a tall, burly old man who, rumor had it, had been quite the looker back in the day. Personally, Yuuri kind of thought he was ancient, and his status showed for it – Yakov was technically free, not tied to the Courtesan House anymore, and had only come in to Mentor Yurio upon Minako's request. It was also rumored that she had paid him quite a handsome sum to take on the recalcitrant brat.

Meanwhile, Viktor seemed not at all bothered by the fact that everyone at the table seemed more focused on his young charge rather than the food.

"Cheese, Yuuri?" He asked, taking a piece between his thumb and forefinger and offering it to his Apprentice. Yuuri blushed but remembered that everything was a test with the man, so he graciously accepted it, picking the cheese from Viktor's fingers with his lips, slipping it into his mouth and chewing politely with his mouth closed. Viktor seemed entertained by that and rewarded Yuuri with running his fingers through the younger man's hair.

As the rest of the table sighed in admiration, Yurio’s scowl deepened.

“Don’t you think that the pig should keep an eye on his weight instead of feasting on cheese?” He sneered. Yuuri tensed up. He knew that Yurio was just baiting him, that the other Apprentice was very displeased by the fact that another, much older, Apprentice, would be presented at the same time as himself. And that Yuuri was already the talk of the town, because of his age and the tutelage of one Viktor, the most sought-after Courtesan in the Solar System.

“Methinks we should auction anti-venom off together with Yurio,” Phichit said lightly, casting the blond a scathing look masked as a patronizing smile. He was incredibly good at playing nice even though his words stung more than a slap across the face. “Given the fact that lying with him would be about as risky as doing it with a poisonous snake.”

While Yurio sputtered in anger, his young years preventing him from coming up with a good retort, Phichit winked at Yuuri from across the table. The Apprentice smiled at his friend gratefully. Phichit and he went way back: Phichit had been brought into the House a year later than Yuuri, but he had become an instant success, his sweet nature allowing him to become a beloved Apprentice and later, a Courtesan famous for his softness and mild disposition. He was a tremendous dancer as well. Despite Yuuri's initial failure, the Courtesan had never stopped being friends with him. Though they didn't get to see each other much because of their work, whenever they had a rare moment of free time, they would get together and gossip. Phichit was a wealth of information. He knew everything about everyone worth knowing.

He was also ecstatic that Yuuri had finally earned his place among the Courtesans, if only a future one.

“Now, now, Yurio is just being a little kitten, isn’t he?” Viktor teased. The blond bared his teeth at him. “Showing his claws. It’s quite adorable, isn’t it?”

Yuuri didn’t think so but he said nothing. What struck him at that moment was the strange look on Yurio’s face.

He was worried. He really was worried. Which meant that he considered Yuuri a threat.

The thought warmed him a little more than it should have.


"You shouldn't let Yurio tread all over you with those pretty feet of his," Viktor noted later that evening after they had returned from yet another petulance-filled supper with the rest of the House. Yuuri had been naturally quiet that evening, his head in Viktor's lap while the man had fed him smoked meats and asparagus from his fingers.

“Let him say what he wants,” Yuuri said with a shrug. “It doesn’t bother me.”

“The boy knows his craft well, Yuuri, you would do well not to underestimate the power he may have over men someday,” Viktor replied, glancing at himself in the mirror out of habit. He sat down on the edge of the wide mat he shared with Yuuri. He had insisted that the Apprentice had to learn to be in the intimate presence of another body and that sleeping together with someone else was the best way to do it – Yuuri wasn’t sure whether that was the truth. Regardless, he had become accustomed to being Viktor’s body pillow.

“A single whisper into the right ear from a lovely creature like him could send rumors spreading like wildfire,” Viktor said, frowning. “I would know. In my day, I was not above doing things like that to up my position. And look where it got me.”

"And here I thought you were a sweetheart to everyone, not just your Guests," Yuuri said teasingly, sitting down on the mat as well. Viktor laughed.

“I have done some horrible things in the past, Yuuri. But I do believe that Mentoring you has changed the way I see the world, quite radically too,” he said, brushing the hair out of Yuuri’s face.

The younger man found himself staring just a bit too much at the Courtesan.

“Now,” Viktor said, making Yuuri flinch back a little in surprise.

“I do believe it is time to start teaching you the intricacies of intimate service, Yuuri.”

Yuuri’s mouth felt very dry all of a sudden.

“W-what are you-,”

“Sex, Yuuri,” Viktor said. The word came out all sinful falling from his lips, both sibilant sounds extending far too much to be innocent.

“Sex?” Yuuri asked. “But I’m not supposed to do that before my First Night.”

"Still, what do you intend to do during your First Night?" Viktor asked. "You do realize that you will be judged on your performance, Yuuri and that it would also prove as a tool for judging me as your Mentor."

Yuuri hadn't thought about that. Well, he had, of course, he had, but he hadn't thought that his performance specifically in the bedroom would also reflect on Viktor. He couldn't let the man down, not now, not since they had gotten so far.

“So what… should I know?”

Viktor smirked.

"I can teach you. All of it, besides penetration, of course. That is reserved for your Patron," he said, smiling as if he were talking about the weather. Meanwhile, Yuuri was going through multiple existential crises at the same time, all of which ended up funneling down into the same thought: Viktor wants to teach me to have sex. Viktor will have sex with me. Viktor. Sex.

“But Yuuri.”

Their eyes met.

“You need to trust me.”

A moment of silence, then-

“I trust you,” Yuuri breathed. He didn’t know whether he believed what he had said superficially, but he did, deeply. Down deep inside, he knew that he trusted Viktor with his life.

A hand was touching his cheek, the hand that Yuuri had grown so used to over the past months. Except now it was touching him for a different purpose and he didn’t really know what to make of it. Except that he maybe liked it way too much.

Viktor’s face was inches from his. Yuuri had to make a conscious effort to breathe.

“Yuuri, tell me something,” Viktor said, his mouth curled up a little in a warm, affectionate smile.

“Hm?”

“Why do powerful men, who could have anyone they want with the money they have, come to us? Why do Senators and businessmen and lawyers come to Courtesan Houses instead of buying the company of willing women with credits and jewels and gifts?” Viktor asked.

Yuuri searched his face as if the answer had been written on it. The realization dawned on him slowly, together with the image of Viktor’s nonchalant flirting as he had danced for the Senator and his company just a week before.

“Because they can’t have us,” he replied finally. “Not really.”

Viktor’s smile spread.

“Exactly, Yuuri. Very good. They can’t have us,” he said, cocking his head to the side. “Just like they cannot have something like the Sun, or the rings of Saturn no matter how many stations they build there, no matter how many solar panels they own. “

“It is them who come to us, not the other way around,” Viktor continued, touching the tip of Yuuri’s nose affectionately.

“They are the ones who are starved for our presence. They come to us to experience, if only for an hour or two, the company of the unattainable.”

“We are living works of art. We exist for momentary pleasure, for memories. They cannot tame us and conquer us.”

“Which is why, Yuuri, when they come to us,” Viktor said, pausing to gauge Yuuri’s reactions, “we must show them what we are worth. Yet, we must maintain our pride. Keep the distance. Touch and go, that’s what it is with them.”

“There are two things a Courtesan may never have of his own.”

Viktor’s hand cupped Yuuri’s chin. Yuuri could feel the man’s breath ghost over his lips, he could smell the puff pastries Viktor had eaten for dessert. He could count the silver eyelashes framing blue eyes that bore into his own.

“Two things, Yuuri. Life and love.”

The gap between them closed, and Yuuri’s head spun. Viktor’s lips on his were warm and inviting, but as soon as he tried to clumsily deepen the kiss, somehow remembering that this was supposed to be a lesson, Viktor pulled away, teasing.

“Never throw yourself in like this,” he said, smiling gently at the younger man. “You don’t want to end up in a position where your heart might be broken.”

I already am in that position, Yuuri thought to himself.

He was pushed down onto his back, and then Viktor straddled him, already working on the fastenings of their robes. The soft fabric fell down Viktor’s shoulders down to his elbows, revealing the alabaster skin of his chest.

“Show me,” he whispered, leaning over once more to touch his lips to Yuuri’s. The dazed Apprentice found himself desperate to please.

“Show me your true eros, Yuuri. Show me why they would keep coming back to seek your services again and again.”

"Seduce me, Yuuri. You already have with your dance and your conversation. Now it is time to seduce me with your body."

The final frontier, Yuuri thought to himself humorlessly. He was wide-eyed, lying on his back, trapped beneath the attentions of his Mentor, the most accomplished Courtesan in the system. Gods, what was he going to do?

His hand traveled up and he gingerly touched Viktor’s chest, as he had wanted to do for the longest time. His fingers slipped over a dusky nipple and he thought he heard Viktor’s breathing hitch a little. He took that as a good sign.

“That’s it,” Viktor encouraged as Yuuri’s hand slid down, shaking. His fingers met hard flesh long before he had thought it would. Viktor’s gasp at Yuuri’s touch was a catalyst.

Suddenly, Yuuri was on top of Viktor, having flipped him over powerfully and gracefully as he had seen Viktor do during his performances. He was in control now.

 “Very good, Yuuri,” Viktor panted, a faint look of surprise on his face. His cheeks, usually pale and calm, were now flushed pink. It was the most beautiful sight.

Yuuri brought his hips down decisively, his own arousal growing a thousand-fold when their nether regions finally touched. He let out a little moan, perhaps a little too theatrical, and leaned back, allowing Viktor a full view of his upper body.

He treated sex as he had seen Viktor do it – as if it were a dance, a beautiful, raunchy dance. He moved his hips and dropped kisses down the line of Viktor’s jaw. He whispered sweet things into Viktor’s ear and found them echoed back into his own.

He kissed Viktor’s lips and now, he was the one who pulled away, and Viktor followed, whining when he realized Yuuri was just teasing.

“Good, so good, Yuuri,” Viktor encouraged, breathless and perfect beneath him.

For a moment, it seemed he had forgotten his part in this. That moment was almost the same for both of them – Yuuri first, then Viktor followed, just a split-second later.

They lay on the mat, on their backs, panting.

“I did good, Viktor, right?” Yuuri asked, breathless. His question was answered by smiling blue eyes and a kiss so sweet it curled his toes.

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

“Tha-that’s good, very good, Yuuri…”

The Apprentice looked up, his gaze warm. He then doubled his efforts, taking Viktor’s cock into his hand and using it to aide his inexperienced sucking. The hands in his long hair pulled and squeezed, spurring him off in a way he had never thought would be effective.

He wished he could just concentrate on the expression Viktor was showing him, the bare, needy, lustful expression on his face – but this was a lesson, just a lesson, he reminded himself, and that meant that he was supposed to be polishing his (thus far non-existent) skills, and not making eyes at his Mentor.

Which was very fucking hard, considering how beautiful Viktor looked, in throes of controlled passion.

Yuuri wanted to make him lose that control. He wanted Viktor to show him what his end of the experience was like; instead of the polite, purse-lipped feedback the man usually gave his Guests at their feeble attempts.

“Watch the teeth, darling,” Viktor breathed, and Yuuri nearly jolted at the endearment. Darling, indeed, he thought to himself, trying so hard not to reach down and start jerking off to this. This was going to be masturbation material for months, maybe even years.

He tried to cover his teeth as much as he could and tried delving deeper down, only to cause himself to go into a coughing fit. He pulled back, sputtering as he wiped his mouth.

“There, there, Yuuri,” Viktor cooed, his voice both tender and mocking. “You don’t have to go all out yet. This is your first time; we must take it slow. You don’t want to end up vomiting all over your Patron, do you?”

Yuuri bit back a retort. Not everyone is a natural at cock-sucking, he thought bitterly, nodding. Viktor’s fingers touched his chin gently, and Yuuri was forced to look up into the man’s face.

“Yuuri, I asked you a question. You must always answer the questions directed at you,” Viktor drawled. “It’s only polite.”

Yuuri pulled on a neutral expression.

“Yes, Viktor.”

“A smile, Yuuri. A smile always makes everything better, even if you’ve caused a blunder.”

A blunder. Nice to know my fellatio skills rank as high as a blunder, Yuuri thought.

“Yuuri, you’re upset.”

The Apprentice sat back on his heels, his face downcast yet again.

“What is it?”

“I can’t do this. You know I can’t do this,” he whispered. This was a new one: having a bout of anxiety while still tasting dick in his mouth.

“Nonsense, Yuuri,” Viktor said lightly. “Of course you can! It’s only head, anyone with enough experience and tutelage can do it properly.”

Excuse me for having a gag reflex.

“I mean all of this,” Yuuri bit out, embarrassed. “I can’t be sexy and desirable and all… Viktor-like.”

The older man’s eyebrows shot up.

“Viktor-like? What in Venus’ name do you mean?”

“I mean… I can’t be as good as you!” Yuuri bit out. “I can’t! As much as you want me to be the perfect Courtesan, I can’t! I’m average, I’m ugly, I can’t even suck cock properly!”

He panted, somehow glad to have finally gotten this off his chest. Viktor looked at him motionlessly, as if he were reading Yuuri. He finally sighed, closing his robe and inching forward.

“Yuuri, look at me,” he said, his tone gentle. Yuuri was too weak for Viktor’s eyes not to obey.

“What?” He asked bitterly.

“I wasn’t always perfect,” Viktor said quietly. He glanced out the small window at the garden, a small smile playing on his handsome face. “Actually, I was a bit of a disaster in the beginning. Much like you.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Yuuri said with a bitter chuckle. Viktor grinned fully.

“Trust me. I once tripped over my robe and fell.”

“Bit deal.”

"I managed to grab hold of something to stop myself from toppling over completely. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the High Commissioner's robe."

Yuuri stared at his Mentor in disbelief.

“How did you not get kicked off the planet?” He asked. Viktor smiled genially.

“Oh, I was!”

Yuuri frowned.

“I wasn’t born on Earth, Yuuri,” Viktor said with a smile. “I was produced on Neptune.”

Neptune?” Yuuri asked in disbelief. “B-but, everyone says you’re an Earthling-,”

“Due to Minako’s very good PR work, no doubt,” Viktor finished.

“Whoa.”

“Yeah, whoa,” Viktor said teasingly. He shrugged. “It’s all about reputation in this world. It doesn’t matter how many times you mess up. When you’re a Courtesan, there will always be someone willing to buy your body. I got lucky enough to become an elite whore at the right time. Yakov was the one who Mentored me, and his gamble paid off.”

“I knew about Yakov,” Yuuri said proudly. Viktor laughed.

“That is another skill which you are perfectly in control of,” he said. “Information is very important currency in this world, Yuuri. The more you know about the right people, the better footing you have.”

Yuuri managed a small smile.

“And another thing you have to offer,” Viktor said fondly, pinching Yuuri’s cheek much to the young man’s dismay. “You have a beautiful smile, Yuuri.”

A blush colored Yuuri’s cheeks.

“See, Yuuri? You have your own kind of charm. You are quite sexy when you want to be, yet you are incredibly innocent when it comes to certain things. A lot of men fall for this kind of thing. It wouldn’t work for someone such as myself precisely due to my reputation,” Viktor said conversationally. “Neither would it work for Yurio because of his obvious temper. What I am saying is… there is a niche market for your youthfulness. You must exploit that. The skillset will catch up with you eventually.”

“That’s a very roundabout way of saying I’ll suck good cock one day.”

Viktor burst out laughing, which put a smile on Yuuri’s face again. He couldn’t stay mad at Viktor or himself for long, not when the man laughed like this.


Working with Yurio was a challenge. The boy was as beautiful as he was impatient and slightly impolite – but apparently, there were many masochists among their Guests of tonight who enjoyed the little blond’s sharp tongue.

One of the men, in particular, stood out – well, not a Guest per se, but his master seemed to be quite all right with him joining in the fun. One of the men’s bodyguards, a somber-looking young man with a black undercut and brooding eyes which seemed to be glued to Yurio.

And Yurio did nothing to discourage his staring, even though he kept his head in the game and went on to charm the man’s master, the head of a large transportation conglomerate. The man was quite attractive too, though there was something strangely harsh in his eyes that made Yuuri shrink back. Yurio, ever the stubborn one, seemed to be even more motivated by that to throw himself into the seduction process.

Surely, he was hoping to be bought by the man on his First Night. Yakov had caught on as well and was doing his best to advertise the recalcitrant Apprentice. Not that any advertisement was needed. Yurio was magnetic in his wispy beauty, his silvery robes swishing around him as he lifted himself off the mat and made his way out of the room to get more tea.

Meanwhile, Yuuri tried to pay less attention to Viktor and more to Sakamoto, who had requested to be squeezed into the party at the last moment once he’d heard that Yuuri would be entertaining.

The man’s hand was on his knee yet again, but instead of comfort, Yuuri felt a light anxiety pool in his stomach. It didn’t help that Viktor was watching the two of them like a hawk, his features a perfect marble replica of calculating calmness.

“So, when is the big night?” Sakamoto asked Yuuri, nearly whispering the question into his ear. His breath sent shivers down Yuuri’s spine.

“We thought Christmas Day would be quite symbolic,” Viktor said, a bit too loudly. Sakamoto leaned back and away from Yuuri.

“The birth of a new star,” Sakamoto mused, pushing a strand of Yuuri’s hair behind his ear. The young man squirmed.

“Two new stars, actually,” Viktor said, interrupting the moment yet again. “Yurio will be on display as well.”

"The blond child?" Sakamoto asked an air of disregard about him. "Yes, I do suppose he may find himself a decent suitor. My eyes, however, will be just for you, angel."

“Gratitude,” Yuuri said, smiling in the most sincere way possible. It’s good, he reminded himself. It’s good. Getting selected by Sakamoto is good. He’s rich, he can bring me good fortune. And he’s good-looking. He’s good. He’s good.

He’s not always good, Viktor’s words echoed in his ears, and Yuuri found himself tensing again.

“I must go help Yurio with the tea,” Yuuri said, rising to his feet and hurrying away in the most dignified way possible. He couldn’t as well run in his robes, so he took small hasty steps out of the room, resisting the urge to slam the door against the frame as he left.

He slowly walked down the corridor, trying so hard not to freak out.

His crush on Viktor was definitely making him see Sakamoto in a less favorable light. That disturbed him. He couldn’t be biased against the man, not now. Not when he was so close to charming his way into the man’s bed for his First Night.

His thoughts were rudely interrupted when he stepped into the kitchen only to see Yurio and the bodyguard locked in a tight embrace, their mouths pressed together desperately. Yurio’s leg was thrown over the man’s hip and his ass was seated on the counter. Their chests were pressed together and his robes were halfway down his shoulders.

Not knowing what to do, Yuuri cleared his throat.

Their embrace broke within the span of a split-second. Yurio’s horrified face would forever be engrained in his mind.

“Shit!”

Yuuri stared at the two of them. He hadn’t even noticed the bodyguard had left the room and followed Yurio.

And now he’d caught them doing something so against the rules, it could get Yurio thrown out before he could open his filthy mouth.

“Tell anyone and you’re dead,” Yurio gritted out, taking the bodyguard’s hand defiantly. Yuuri looked at the two of them for a long time.

His chest ached.

“I won’t tell,” he said quietly.

“I’m serious, pig, Otabek can’t-,”

“I’m not telling,” Yuuri repeated. He picked up the tea tray and stepped back towards the door.

“Your future Patron is waiting, though,” he said as it slid open. “For both of you.”

Two minutes later, and all three of them were back in the dining room, sharing tea as though nothing had happened.

But something had happened.

Yurio was human.

Otabek was disobedient.

And Yuuri was jealous of what they had.

Chapter Text

“I was right,” Viktor said fondly as he gave his Apprentice a once-over. “Midnight blue really does compliment your appearance. You look beautiful, Yuuri.”

The younger man felt a faint blush flood his cheeks, but he kept on eyeing himself in the mirror critically. This was supposed to be his getup for his first dance, his presentation, his debut in the world of Courtesans. The teaser that would lead into the auction where eager patron-wannabes would place their bids on his virginity.

“I don’t know,” he said, turning sideways and smoothing the silk down his torso. “I just don’t know. I don’t know if I look good or not.”

“Do you trust me?”

“Always.”

The word was out before Yuuri even had the chance to think about it. His blush deepened. Viktor laughed lightly.

“Then trust me when I say that you look positively divine,” he said, winking at Yuuri from behind, his reflection haughty and confident. The younger man sighed, eyeing his own long-haired, robed reflection in the mirror. He was well aware that the robes had cost Viktor an arm, a leg, and then some. He didn’t want to appear ungrateful; he genuinely had no idea whether he looked good. In his mind, it was a hard feat to accomplish.

“Minimal makeup, I think,” Viktor said, cocking his head to the side. “And perhaps loose hair as well. You have beautiful tresses of your own, now that they've grown out. They frame your pretty face quite well.”

“Must you say such things?” Yuuri asked, turning away from the mirror and shrugging the robe off in exchange for the simpler one he wore around the house. Viktor followed him as he sat down and neatly folded the robe he’d wear for the debut.

“Tea?” Viktor offered and Yuuri hummed in agreement. He watched with rapt attention as the Courtesan poured, glad to suck up every single modicum of skill he could. He had the privilege of learning from the best, after all. He wasn’t going to shame Viktor.

“I was wondering, Yuuri,” Viktor began, setting the teapot back onto the low table. “Were you made here?”

Yuuri’s eyes widened in surprise but he nodded.

“Yes, I…” He looked down, fidgeting. He hadn’t told many people about his life before the Courtesan House, and he wasn’t sure if telling Viktor would be oversharing.

“You have interesting features. That’s why I asked,” Viktor said, nodding at Yuuri thoughtfully.

“Oh, uh… My parents were Asian,” Yuuri said. Viktor’s face blanked in surprise.

“You had parents?”

Yuuri nodded.

“They were Asians from Earth, and they wanted a child so… they had me developed from their DNA,” he said. “But then my father’s job fell through and they had to give me up since they didn’t need another mouth to feed. So they brought me here and that was that.”

Viktor’s eyes narrowed.

“How cruel.”

Yuuri shrugged.

“It’s not uncommon. I can’t blame them. I think they really did love me,” he said. “From what I remember, anyway.”

Viktor’s eyes seemed a little too wet, so Yuuri smiled hastily.

“Really, Viktor, I don’t blame anyone for ending up here.”

“You could have been part of the elite, you know. Being born and all,” the Courtesan said.

“I don’t think that kind of life would agree with me anyway,” he said. “Those outfits of theirs are way too stiff.”

Viktor laughed.

“I suppose if you look at it that way…”

“What about you?” Yuuri asked. “I mean, if you don’t mind telling me.”

“Oh, I never had parents,” Viktor said casually. “I carry DNA mixed from three hundred and ninety-seven people. Most were Eastern European, I believe.”

“I knew you had to have been modified,” Yuuri said with a grin. “You’re too good-looking to be born.”

“Most Courtesans are,” Viktor said with a shrug. “Yurio is a mod too. As is Phichit. You’re quite the exception.”

“I don’t think it makes me special,” Yuuri said sheepishly. “We’re all human beings in the end. Being born is nothing special.”

“Society sure doesn’t think so.”

“I do. And I think you’re much more… beautiful and intelligent and everything,” Yuuri said in a rush. Viktor looked at him for a long time before he burst out laughing.

“Really? You think I’m intelligent?”

At least he didn’t deny being beautiful. Viktor’s innate vanity was Yuuri’s comfort point. When Viktor wasn’t being humble, that was when he was understandable and familiar. Seeing Viktor cowed would rattle Yuuri way too much.

“I’m intelligent when it comes to tea party conversation and sexual tricks, Yuuri. Charm is not the same thing as intelligence.”

“I don’t care what you say,” Yuuri said hotly, looking at Viktor with staunch determination. “I think you’re intelligent.”

“Well, I thank you then,” Viktor said, inclining his head graciously.

He sipped his tea daintily.

“Don’t you think it’s quite strange, though, Yuuri?”

“What is?”

“That humans are said to be social creatures, in need of company and yet… we are born alone,” the silver-haired man said, placing his cup back onto the saucer.

Yuuri frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“Think about it,” Viktor said. “We are born into this world from a test tube. We are combinations of DNA, all of us. Even if you had parents, they weren’t there when you took your first breath. I took mine in a laboratory too, and I never even thought about the benefits that having parents could bring me, as a human being. I was never imprinted with that need for parental comfort. In a way, neither were you.”

Yuuri shrugged.

“That’s how it works. It’s better this way. There’s no disease that way. We’re born clean.”

“We’re created, Yuuri. We are not even born. Birth is… birth is what humans used to do before we created our own sterile little world.”

“Not that sterile, is it?” Yuuri said with a small smile. “After all, we still exist.”

“We?”

“Us, Courtesans,” Yuuri said. “We are still here. Even though what we do is unclean.”

“Yuuri, we are a mere shadow of what this profession used to entail,” Viktor said. Yuuri lifted his eyebrows, eager to hear more. He had read a couple of history files, but Courtesans were never mentioned in them, just briefly, in passing, as if to say yes, they were there, but we’re not going to waste our breath talking about them.

Viktor saw the hunger in Yuuri’s eyes and laughed, toasting him with his tea.

“Courtesans had many forms. We took our roots from different cultures, from the whoring prostitutes of Greece to the artful geisha of Japan.”

“Japan?”

“Asia,” Viktor clarified. “It was a country in Asia.”

“I read about countries,” Yuuri recalled. “What a bizarre concept! Little plots of land that went to war with each other for even smaller bits of land. Doesn’t that sound… unproductive?”

Viktor shrugged.

“To humans of old, it wasn’t. It was a goal. They wanted power, they were greedy for it. But that gave them something to live and die for.”

“We have something to live and die for now,” Yuuri protested. Viktor lifted an eyebrow.

“Interesting that you would think so. Considering all we do nowadays is trade commodities. Or, in our case, we are commodities.”

“We make people happy, though,” Yuuri argued. Viktor smiled at the younger man.

“I suppose we do, in a way. They come to us to get a bit of that old greed, that… lust that is still in their genes, somewhere; even though they don’t act on it.”

“See? We’re useful,” Yuuri said, glad to have proven his point. He found himself scooped into an embrace.

“That we are.”


Yuuri shook as he returned from dinner, back to Viktor and his room. Strange how he had come to view the quarters as theirs over the short span of time they’d spent together. Funny how he knew that he would miss Viktor’s doting and his backhanded compliments, his advice and his support when Yuuri needed him the most.

After tomorrow night, Yuuri would have a room of his own. He would be an independent Courtesan. And Viktor would be a colleague, instead of a Mentor.

What made the notion even more bitter was the fact that Viktor hadn’t shown up to dinner.

Yuuri had nibbled a little on some cheeses before getting kicked out by Minako, who said he looked too miserable and that the look on his face would make the milk go sour. So he trudged back to the residence, pensive and tense.

The door slid open and he found himself looking at a compelling sight of Viktor, wrapped loosely in his robe, too loosely even for a Courtesan, an empty bottle of sake lying on the floor, uncorked and empty.

“Yuuri,” the man drawled, reaching his hands out to the younger man, as if he were a child. Yuuri sighed, sitting down by Viktor’s side. He winced at the stench of alcohol on the man’s breath.

“Viktor, what is this?” He asked, disappointed. He had thought his last night in Viktor’s room would be special. That they would talk a little and perhaps, perhaps, they would practice a little more before calling it quits and falling asleep dangerously close to each other.

Instead, Viktor had gone and gotten himself shitfaced.

“Miss you already,” Viktor mumbled, pushing himself up with his hands a little clumsily and crawling towards Yuuri. He threw his arms around the younger man, making them both lose balance and tumble to the mat.

“Viktor, you’re drunk-,”

“I know,” Viktor said, his eyes strangely clear for one brief moment.

“Why d’you have to-,”

“I miss you already,” Viktor repeated, wrapping himself around Yuuri like a vine. The younger man hated his body for reacting the way it did to Viktor’s touch. Gods forbid that Viktor would feel his arousal.

“I missed you at dinner,” Yuuri countered. Viktor let out a noisy half-chortle, half-sob.

“I’m gonna miss you at dinner too.”

“Viktor, we’re still going to see each other, we live in the same house,” Yuuri reasoned. The older man shook his head defiantly.

“I’ll miss kissing you.”

Yuuri’s eyes went wide. Viktor’s eyes were fixed on him.

“I wanna kiss you all night long today, Yuuri.”

“W-we can’t,” Yuuri stammered out.

“I wanna be your Patron.”

Gods!

“Viktor,” Yuuri began gently, prying the man’s hands off his shoulders. “We can’t do that, remember? A Courtesan can’t buy another Courtesan’s services. Especially not the First Night.”

Viktor looked hurt, of all things, and Yuuri’s heart seized in his chest.

“I will miss you too, Viktor,” Yuuri said, almost as if he were pleading, as he stroked his hands through Viktor’s hair. The man arched into the touch.

“You’re gonna be a great Courtesan, Yuuri,” he said finally. Yuuri tried to ignore the fact that the man’s face was wet.

“Not greater than you.”

“No, you’re already great,” Viktor argued petulantly. His hand cupped Yuuri’s cheek, and the younger man stopped breathing for a moment.

“You make me happy. That’s what you said, right? We make people happy. And we’re all people. You make me happy. So you’re a great Courtesan,” Viktor concluded with the simple logic of a small child.

It didn’t matter that they didn’t sleep a wink that night. That they ended up grabbing at each other halfway through Viktor’s sobering. Yuuri’s hands scorched Viktor’s skin, grasping him so tightly they knew it would leave bruises. Viktor’s fingers tangled in Yuuri’s hair, pulling almost painfully. Yuuri didn’t mind at all. He begged Viktor to touch him more, to impress the memory of his fingertips into Yuuri’s skin.

It didn’t matter that they kissed wetly, dripping tears into each other’s open mouths. Viktor was careful not to leave marks even as he kissed down Yuuri’s sweaty neck. Yuuri was careful not to stray below the belt lest they lost control.

It didn’t matter that they didn’t have sex, despite the carnal need sparkling between them like static. That Viktor, the perfect Courtesan, pushed against Yuuri’s chest and shook his head no despite his painful arousal.

It didn’t matter that Yuuri felt the gaping hole in his chest, one he had thought was borne of anxiety, widen. Because it hadn’t been anxiety to begin with.

In the morning, all traces of the pain were gone from their faces. All that was left was a calm resolve. Sort of what like a dying man would feel before pressing the euthanasia button.

And if Viktor had called him beautiful and wonderful and mine, Yuuri pretended not to remember.

Chapter Text

When Yuuri woke up the next morning, Viktor was gone. He found the Courtesan in the breakfast room, already chatting away with Minako about the last preparations for the Apprentice Dance. There was no evidence of what had happened last night on his face bar a slight tiredness only Yuuri could recognize due to his meticulous study of the man’s features.

He greeted the rest of the people in the room and sat down gracefully. His stomach churned at the sight of food, but he let Viktor pour him some tea and took a proffered rice cracker from his hands.

“Thank you,” he mumbled, the dull ache behind his eyes reminding him of all the tears he had shed the night before, when Viktor had been so much closer, embracing him, kissing, cuddling. The cheerful person by his side right now was not that Viktor. Yuuri didn’t know if he felt like it was a good thing or not. There was but one fact that he knew for certain: if Viktor were to revert to his vulnerable state from last night, Yuuri would break.

The older man seemed to understand that, so he kept up his perky chatter, doting on Yuuri in a most patronizing manner. Yuuri accented his attentions, for what they were worth.

It was only in the preparation room, right before the ceremony began, that he turned to look at Viktor who had been pinning his hair.

“Will you miss me?” He asked, his voice shaky. His hands trembled and his knees refused to stay locked upright, but he stood before the mirror, his back turned towards his own reflection, eyes fixed on the man he had fallen for so many years ago but whom he had only come to truly love most recently.

Viktor’s blue-green eyes met his and for a moment, the cheery smile slipped. Yuuri appreciate that.

“Always,” the Courtesan said, his voice small and hoarse. Yuuri wanted to say something in return, but he was sure that in the room, silent but for the hushed lilt of conversation outside and the crackling of the electronic fire in the corner, his words would be too loud. Too obnoxious. They would disturb the final moments of peace they had left together.

“You’re ready,” Viktor said after a while. He brushed Yuuri’s hair out of his face and used his thumb to carefully adjust the lipstick Yuuri had on. It was a faint pink, just like what he’d worn for his first outing with Viktor as an apprentice. His robes were a dark, bluish green with a simple pattern on them. They fell open, revealing his chest. Yuuri found himself wishing Viktor had left some sort of mark on his skin so that the rest of the world would see whom his heart truly belonged to.

Yuuri the Courtesan by @mahameni

“Viktor-,”

“You’re ready,” Viktor repeated firmly, interrupting Yuuri’s pleading statement. “You’re ready and I’m so, so proud of you. Remember, Yuuri, you are… You are a magnificent creature. I look forward to competing with you.”

Yuuri wanted to bite his lip. It would ruin his lipstick, though, so he didn’t.

“Viktor, I just-,”

“There’s no need for gratitude, Yuuri. Repay me by becoming the best Courtesan in the universe.” Viktor’s voice cracked a little at that and his eyes shined just a little too much for Yuuri’s comfort. The older man stepped forward and carefully embraced him, so as not to crinkle the robes.

“I will be watching you, Yuuri. From the back of the room, I will be watching you,” he said quietly. “Dance as if you want to seduce me.”

Yuuri pulled away and nodded, eyes stinging with unshed tears.

“I know whom I’m dancing for, Viktor,” he said quietly. He bowed his head at his Mentor one last time, and then turned towards the door.

This was it.


The hall was crowded, and Yuuri found himself performance-anxious for the first time since he had started preparing for the ceremony. He had to not only make Viktor proud, but boost the man’s reputation by showing how fearsome he could be as an Apprentice. He had to get a high bid for his First Night.

Even if it did come from Sakamoto.

He watched Yurio dance, his red-and-black robes on fire with the passion of his dance. Yurio was good, if only a little angry, but he danced to beguile. He danced to keep the audience’s eyes glued to him, and he was good at it, too. Everyone’s head turned with each time he bounded across the stage, arching his back and extending his hand towards the men who’d gathered in the room. They ooh’ed and aah’ed when he passed by them, teasingly showing off bare skin to an almost scandalous degree, walking a thin line between inappropriate and teasingly tame.

His blond hair cascaded down his shoulders, tied up in braids at the sides. His face was a mask, neither smiling nor angry, but his energy was unmistakable. He was here to win the wager he himself had set against Yuuri.

When he finished, the hall thundered with applause. He bowed deeply, and then sashayed past Yuuri who stood waiting in the alcove behind the stage, his face a sneer. Yuuri only nodded his head at him and smiled, knocking the younger boy’s carefully schooled rancor off-balance.

“Freak.”

That made Yuuri smile even wider, and as he walked out onto the stage, his mind was blissfully blank save for this strange feeling of warmth that had spread in his chest. Yurio’s attitude had made him realize something in the short amount of time he’d spent walking out to greet the hungry audience.

They weren’t parting. They weren’t really saying goodbye. Viktor was still going to be there. In a different role, yes; but they were both residents at Hasetsu House, and that wasn’t going to change. Even though they were rivals now, Yuuri knew they would still be able to see each other, and eat together, and spend some time off braiding each other’s hair and talking in hushed voices about their origins.

That was what he danced about.

The music struck its first chord and he threw himself into it, a spirit of hopefulness and a stranger kind of maturity accompanying him as he twisted and turned, his bare feet slamming onto the stage. He shamelessly wore a smile on his face which stirred conversation among the audience, urging them to become ravenous, eager to bid and taste.

Yes, look at me. I am worthy of being Viktor’s competition, Yuuri thought to himself, and as he turned once more, he found his eyes locked with a turquoise pair at the back of the hall.

I know whom I’m dancing for. He extended his hand towards Viktor’s general direction and saw the man’s face split into a smile. That was enough to fuel him through the rest of the dance. He clapped and he touched himself, he bared his skin and he lifted his robe to murmurs that overcame the music that accompanied him at times.

I was born to do this. No matter what society says, we’re all humans, Yuuri thought. And I am a human who was born to make people happy. I was born to dance. I was born to please.

He finished his dance with a kneeling bow, and the hall went deaf with applause and shouts from the rowdy onlookers. His own eyes, though, were fixed on Viktor until he disappeared behind the stage.

It was over.

Now came the bidding.

Yurio and him sat in the back room together, sharing a tense pot of tea. The younger man seemed to have watched his performance, even though he denied it vehemently; and he was visibly tense.

“You’re going to get a higher bid that me, probably,” he offered to the young man. Yurio’s eyes flashed.

“Don’t patronize me, pig.”

Yuuri only smiled gently.

“I’m not. I watched your dance. You… it’s improved. Emotion-wise.” He sighed, remembering the passion that had flooded the room with Yurio’s movements.

“How’s Otabek?”

Yurio nearly spat out his tea.

“Are you fucking nuts, asking me that?” He demanded, slamming his cup down. Yuuri simply shrugged.

“Might as well ask after our clients. To pass the time.”

“Otabek is not a client,” Yurio said reluctantly. “He is a client’s bodyguard.”

“Yes, but he is special, isn’t he?” Yuuri asked gently. “I don’t mean to pry.”

“You pry a lot for someone who doesn’t mean to,” Yurio replied venomously. He sighed, leaning back, his face strangely… soft. Yuuri didn’t believe he had ever seen the boy so ill at ease inside his own head.

“He said he would come and see me with his master when he can.”

“That is the best you could hope for, I suppose,” Yuuri offered. The blond snorted.

“I guess.”

He glanced down into his empty teacup.

“Does it get easier?” He asked finally. Yuuri lifted an eyebrow in surprise.

“What does?”

“The pain. When you’re in love with someone you can’t have.”

Impressed by Yurio’s directness, Yuuri found himself at a loss.

“Cut the crap, pig, I know you’ve been pining after Viktor for years. You thought I didn’t notice, but I knew you watched him. I watched him too,” Yurio admitted. “Not in the creepy way you did, though. I was admiring the craft.”

“As was I,” Yuuri made to protest, but the blond boy cut him off with a snort.

“Right. You were panting for him to give you the time of day.”

He sighed.

“I guess it worked out for you. At least a bit.”

“A bit, yeah,” Yuuri said, wringing his hands in his lap nervously.

“Who do you think’s gonna bid for you?” Yurio asked. The other Apprentice shrugged.

“I don’t really know. Sakamoto, probably.”

“That guy gives me the creeps,” Yurio said with a disgusted look on his face. “You have shitty taste in men. First Viktor, the self-centered diva, not this creepazoid.”

Yuuri cracked a smile at that.

“I suppose he is a bit self-centered, isn’t he?” He said, grinning fondly.

“Like the fucking Sun,” Yurio said, allowing the corners of his mouth to twitch upwards.

“What about you? Who’s bidding?”

“Like, everybody,” Yurio said haughtily. “I’m the hottest piece of ass this side of the Milky Way.”

Yuuri hid his smile behind his teacup.

“You nervous?” Yurio pressed on. “I bet you didn’t get to do much practice with Mr. I’m So Good at Sex I Don’t Even Have to Move a Muscle.”

Yuuri’s smile only widened.

“Holy shit, you did practice!” Yurio yelped, his eyes wide. He leaned over, staring Yuuri down with his large blue eyes.

“Spill.”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” Yuuri replied, feeling like he had somehow gotten the upper hand in this conversation.

“Pig!”

“No way.”

“Yuuri!”

“So you do know what my name is.”

“C’mon,” Yurio whined. “Was it at least good?”

“It was fantastic,” Yuuri ventured. Yurio meeped.

“Apprentices! It’s time to clean up!” A harsh voice startled them out of their conversation. They stumbled to their feet and ran for the door. Yurio pushed through first but before Yuuri could head off to his appointed room, he grabbed the older man’s wrist.

“Does it get easier?” He asked, his eyes hard. Yuuri studied his features for a moment and then offered him a melancholy smile.

“It doesn’t.”

They looked at each other for a long moment and then Yurio let go.

“Good.”

They went their separate ways. 

Chapter Text

It was quiet in the room and slightly cold, Yuuri noted absent-mindedly. He lay on his back on a soft mat spread over the floor of the chamber, his body covered by nothing but a long piece of white silk, from the neck down. His eyes, too, were blinded with an impenetrable piece of pitch black fabric – and he was supposed to keep it on throughout the entire first act of… copulation, as he preferred to call it in his head. He was not supposed to know the identity of his Patron until the deed was done. Something about being able to service any kind of customer regardless of their name and status. Yuuri knew it was all rot because hiring a Courtesan was no cheap feat, therefore, it was impossible to service just anyone. Only the chosen few were rich enough to afford such a luxury.

He lay on the mattress for what felt like hours, his skin covered in fine goosebumps because of the uncomfortable temperature.

He wondered who had gotten the privilege of his First Night. Or perhaps it was no privilege at all. Perhaps nobody had wanted to bid for him in the first place. Because he was old and fat and ugly.

Beautiful, Viktor’s voice reminded him, pushing through the haze of anxiety that shrouded his naked, tense body. Yuuri forced himself to relax. He breathed in deeply and breathed out slowly, his fingers drumming on the surface of the mat at his side.

That’s right. I’m beautiful. This man, whoever he is, is here to see me. To fuck me. Not the other way around, Yuuri reminded himself, placating his anxious thoughts with the memory of Viktor’s hands on him. Not the desperate, wild making out they had engaged in the previous night – gods, had it only been one day? – but the long evenings they’d spent together, Viktor’s fingers carding through his long hair, making up his face, smoothing the creases in his robes. 

He was startled by the hiss of the door opening.

This was it. His Patron was here.

He forced himself to lay still. Per custom, Yuuri was supposed to follow the man’s guidance. He was supposed to let the Patron be his lead into the world of pleasure. Or some rot like that. In any case, the man had to make the first step and offer the journey to Yuuri. The Courtesan-to-be, of course, could theoretically reject the invitation; then again, that had never been done, and it wasn’t like Yuuri could even find a reason to say no to the man, given that he had no way of seeing his face, of knowing who he was.

Perhaps that was a good thing. This way, Yuuri could think about whomever he pleased as the Patron touched him.

He heard the rustle of fabric as the man sat down by his side and lifted the corner of the sheet covering him to expose one collarbone. He struggled not to shiver against the cool air of the room. It wasn’t going to stay cool for a long time, he knew that; but hell, this scrutiny which he felt but could not see was torturous in a multitude of ways.

The sheet slid down further, uncovering his chest and his belly. Yuuri’s toes curled, and the man stopped.

For a moment, they lost contact, and then a gentle hand spread over his sternum, stroking the skin there with a curious sort of caution. Yuuri’s heart sped up. The hand explored him slowly, gingerly, slipping from rib to rib, circumventing one nipple, then the other, then touching the junction between his neck and his shoulder, and then dipped down lower again. This was too damn slow. Too damn close.

And Yuuri liked this too much.

He realized that even though he had wept bitterly for Viktor the night before, this was… different. What he had shared with Viktor had been special, always would be special.

This was going to be special in its own way.

A way that would be ingrained in his bones to make him the best damn Courtesan in the system. He was going to dance on the same stage as Viktor, he was going to entertain a high caliber of guests together with Viktor.

This was a way to get there. The way to get there.

The sheet slipped down a little more. Then, Yuuri was completely exposed.

The same careful, long-fingered hand traced his stomach muscles, and then slid down, down, down, torturously close to making Yuuri embarrass himself in his lack of experience, but then, instead, the fingers kneaded the inside of his thigh, making his tense leg muscles relax a little.

He heard the man’s own clothing slide to the floor, landing onto the wood with a small, soft sound.

“Beautiful.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened beneath the blindfold. The man had whispered the word, thus masking his voice, but this was a breach of protocol, and the man had so casually cast aside the centuries-old rules simply to make a warmth blossom in the center of Yuuri’s chest.

The Patron was an interesting man, Yuuri concluded, a little excited at the prospect. Of course, in his head, he had standards for interesting, but this… this man was already starting to intrigue him.

While he mused at the nature of his Patron, the man’s hand finally took hold of him, making him let out a small, surprised oh!

His Patron’s hand held him gently, slowly stroking over his rapidly hardening length. Yuuri’s heart pumped blood towards his cheeks and, much more so, to his nether regions. He arched into the touch, planting his feet onto the ground and lifting his ass off the mat just a little to thrust into the soft, warm hand.

He was already leaking, making the hold on him slippery, more maneuverable. It felt good. Too good.

He reached out blindly, and his hands found purchase on the man’s forearms.

“P-please,” he whispered, the darkness enveloping him in warmth. “Please take me, Ser. Please.”

“Shhh.”

A finger pressed against his lips and Yuuri parted them, sucking the finger in. The man seemed pleased at his initiative, so Yuuri closed his eyes under the blindfold and sucked with more enthusiasm, running his tongue over the edges of the long, delicate finger.

He heard the Patron’s breath hitch, and then his legs were spread farther apart. The man pulled away and Yuuri whined in protest, drawing a chuckle from his Patron. He heard the chime of the glass vials which housed the oil they were supposed to use.

Then he felt fingertips at his entrance, the only place that Viktor had not dared touch when Yuuri had been under his tutelage.

“Please,” he whispered again. His hands strained into fists as the man’s finger stroked over his hole. He bit his lip.

“Please.”

And finally, finally, his plea was heard. He was breached, and the numbing agent in the oil made his spine tingle with a slight coldness. His Patron pressed into him gently, slowly, carefully, and Yuuri found himself lost in the sensation. As a Courtesan, he would be required to be slick and ready before he set out to entertain for the night; yet, this first time, it was the Patron's privilege to get Yuuri's body accustomed to the sensation.

One finger was replaced by two, and then three, as the Patron worked quietly, seamlessly and so carefully, as if Yuuri were a tiny bird with fluttering wings, trapped inside his gentle hands.

As if Yuuri were precious.

The large hands hitched up his legs and held his knees. Yuuri reached out to place his palm against the man’s cheek, seeking more intimacy than he was entitled to right now, but he man grabbed his hand and lowered it. Not yet.

Soon enough, Yuuri would forget his first time. The sensation of being taken would become a blur of experiences, and this ritual would lose its charm in the new Courtesan’s memory. But for now, for now, this moment, this slightly painful and incredibly real, human moment, was the most beautiful thing in the world.

He let out a small sound when the Patron thrust in fully, seating himself within his body for the first time. The man stilled, seeking Yuuri’s approval for movement, and even though it stung, Yuuri nodded, urging the man to move.

His Patron’s pace was languid, nothing like the urgent, rabbit-like lovemaking Yuuri had envisioned. As an Untouchable, he had often thought his First Night would be filled with pain and loss and quick, mechanical movements.

But this was… caring.

Courtesans were precious in the world, in spite of the nature of their work; and this man’s actions proved it.

Yuuri leaned up and placed his hands on the man’s shoulders. The shift caused the angle to change, and he saw stars. So that was what it felt like, to be pleasured from the inside. Viktor, of course, had explained the mechanics of penetrative sex to his Apprentice, but he had never told Yuuri it felt like this.

Yuuri soared. The man’s breathless chuckle of amusement and tenderness accompanied his steady thrusts right against Yuuri’s sweet spot. Soon enough, the Courtesan could no longer discern pleasure from reality, and his eyes widened when he felt his release approach – so much stronger than it had been before.

“I-I-,”

He felt the man’s breath on his lips, and it took all of his willpower to turn his head away.

Kissing was not for Guests. He had only ever kissed Viktor, and that was how it would remain. The man seemed to understand and instead planted his lips on the crevice of Yuuri's neck, kissing gently there. They weren't allowed to mark, of course not, but this was enough to tickle Yuuri's skin and add to the pleasure.

The man’s movements became erratic, and Yuuri squeezed him between his thighs, urging him to spill as well.

Bliss came almost unexpectedly, as the man withdrew, about to thrust back, brushing over his sweet spot one more time. Yuuri felt his own back bow, and he froze, his mouth open in a silent moan. He felt his Patron tense as well, and at the last moment, the man pulled out, spilling himself over Yuuri’s stomach and thighs.

There was silence in the room, bar their hitched breathing, and then Yuuri felt the mattress dip next to him as the man collapsed.

Yuuri lay on his back, basking in the afterglow, for what felt like years, the feverish shivers spreading down his spine and over his skin.

He was a Courtesan now.

He turned his head, still blindfolded, towards the Patron. His tentative hand found the man’s face, and this time, he didn’t push it away.

Yuuri explored the smoothness of the man’s skin with the pads of his fingers. He traced his cheekbones and dipped into the slight Cupid’s bow over his mouth. He thumbed the man’s brow and raked his fingers through the long hair.

He knew who his Patron was before the blindfold was tugged off.

FirstNight

His lay on his side, staring at the face of his former Mentor in shock.

“V-Viktor?”

Viktor’s face was flushed, and his eyes were dark, a testament to what they had done together. The blush on his cheeks made him look even more like a mannequin than ever.

“I don’t understand,” Yuuri whispered, reaching to cup Viktor’s face with both hands. “How are you here?”

Viktor’s face was solemn as he grasped Yuuri’s wrists.

“I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else taking your First Night,” he said quietly. His eyes searched Yuuri’s face for a sign of anger, of disapproval, but all Yuuri could offer him was confusion.

“Courtesans can’t-,”

“This one can,” Viktor replied. “Just for this First Night, I can be your Patron.”

His mouth smiled, but there was something in the skin around his eyes, the whiteness of it, that made Yuuri feel dread pool in the pit of his stomach.

“Viktor, what did you do?” He sat up. The silver-haired man followed him, his smile dropping slightly.

"I paid but a fraction of the price your First Night is worth," he said quietly. He started when Yuuri grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him so that they were facing each other.

“Viktor, what did you do?” His voice was panicked, hands shaking.

Viktor took hold of his hands, prying them from his shoulders. He placed a kiss on the left one, then the right. Then, he finally looked Yuuri in the eyes.

“The Senator paid the money. Formally, he will be your Patron,” Viktor said, his voice slightly strained.

“Why would the Senator pay for me?” Yuuri asked, frowning. “It doesn’t make any sense, he never liked me-,”

“Oh, but he liked me. He likes me.”

“Viktor… what did you do?” Yuuri asked, fearful of the answer. He felt Viktor’s lips brush his own, and terrified, he swallowed the answer with the open-mouthed kiss that Viktor gave him.

“He gave me your First Night in return for my hand in marriage.”

Yuuri pushed and pushed against Viktor’s chest for what felt like hours. He cried and screamed and twisted his fingers into the man’s hair. Viktor couldn’t… he couldn’t!

They made love again, this time with a ferocious, angry urgency that made Yuuri physically sick. He kissed Viktor, all tongue and teeth, wanting to remember the man as a man.

Tomorrow, Viktor would not be a man anymore. He would be a Senator’s Spouse.

When Yuuri awoke the next morning, tangled in the white silk that had been soiled with bodily fluids, a pounding headache reminding him of the tears he’d shed, Viktor was gone.

Chapter Text

Springtime on Earth was supposed to be quite indulgent, a time for flowering and lovemaking. At least that was what people who had never been there said, sequestered away off-planet on some station. In April, tourists and slacking businessmen from Jupiter, Venus, even Pluto, gravitated towards the open-air gardens of the Earth to watch flowers bloom and spend their money on frivolities Earth had to offer in spades. Somehow, throughout centuries of expansion, the planet had become a center for entertainment, as the industries had been pulled towards less blessed places.

It was in spring that the Courtesan business flourished as well. Drunk on pollen allergies and real, Earth-vine alcohol, the Guests poured in through the gate as if they were flies, drawn to the smell of something sweet.

Or something nasty.

Yuuri ran his brush through his hair absently, glancing at the holo which had been delivered to his PA the night before.

A spring wedding. Supposedly the height of earthling romanticism.

He wanted to scoff at the image, but the breath wouldn’t leave his lungs. Ever since Viktor’s departure, he had been busy, sharing a huge lump of work with Yurio whose young face had become somehow drawn and tense even when he wasn’t working. Viktor’s absence was felt by all. Even Minako wasn’t as jolly when she drank anymore.

His eyes felt unnaturally dry as he stared at the image of his former Mentor, his long hair tangled in intricate braids, wearing all white. The robes of an innocent virgin, indeed. The Senator had even made him wear a veil. As if nobody knew what Viktor had been doing before his engagement.

Their vows were standard, book-clipped verses from the Writings, and then a promise to love, cherish and obey. Yuuri’s mouth twitched when he saw a small spasm pass Viktor’s face when he uttered the words.

You did this, Viktor, he thought, even though he had no energy left for spite.

“Pig, have you seen my-,”

The door slid open to reveal Yurio’s tall, pale form. A year ago nobody could have predicted that the young Courtesan, fresh from his First Night, would become so lanky. It suited him, though; and his features were still as delicate as ever.

“You’re not watching this again, are you?” The blond asked softly, kneeling on the floor, slightly more subdued. Yuuri shrugged in response, putting his brush aside.

“I haven’t played it that many times.”

“Did you even sleep at all?”

“Who needs sleep?” Yuuri asked, forcing himself to smile.

“You know he did it for you, right?” Yurio asked. “Whatever they may say, he made a deal. For your First Night.”

“And now what? He’s a free man now. A free married man,” Yuuri said. He sighed, glancing at Yurio’s face. So much youthful naïveté. “It’s not like he can come waltzing in here and whisk me away. Former Courtesans can’t buy our services.”

“It’s a stupid law. He’s married to a Senator, I’m sure-,”

“The Senator is not a nice guy,” Yuuri said, placating. “I’m sure he has a lot of questions about why Viktor wanted to be my First so desperately. He knows something’s up. And he’s been in love with Viktor since forever.”

“He wanted to own Viktor since forever. That’s not the same thing,” Yurio said. The dark-haired man snorted.

“Your infatuation with a certain bodyguard has made you a romantic at heart, you know that?”

Yurio’s cheeks flushed.

“Shut up.”

“It’s cute,” Yuuri said, leaning back to get a better look at his colleague. Yurio rolled his eyes.

“I’m sorry if my relationship is not as riveting as your whirlwind one-night romance.” Yuuri winced, much to the blond’s satisfaction. The younger Courtesan hunched over, hugging his knees to his chest and resting his chin on them.  “It’s not like anything can come of it.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Otabek’s master says he wants to leave Earth soon. Apparently, land prices on Venus have fallen enough for him to consider retiring there. Which means that Otabek’s leaving.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened. The younger man put up a hand.

“Don’t say anything.”

“How long have you known?” Yuuri asked quietly. Yurio sighed.

“Long enough to think of all the possible unfortunate outcomes.”

“Any fortunate ones?”

“For whom? Me? The whore from Earth?” Yurio asked. He let out an unhappy laugh. “Otabek’s a good bodyguard. He takes all kinds of shit from the guy, and soon enough, he’s gonna have enough money to retire and find himself some nice girl or some daddy’s boy from Luna, and then what?”

“You know all that, but you can’t stop seeing him,” Yuuri said gently. “That’s not how love works.”

“Fat lot you know.”

Yuuri shrugged, glancing back at the holo just in time to see the happy couple kiss.

“Sometimes, I feel like I know way too much.”

Yurio grimaced.

“I wish I weren’t as pathetic as you are.”

The older Courtesan smiled at him sadly and stood, stretching his arms over his head. He checked his expression in the mirror and brushed his hair out of his face. He had kept it long, as a tribute. An unwilling one, really, because he had thought about cutting it so many times. But he pushed that desire down telling himself that long hair was commonplace among Courtesans, even appreciated; an aesthetic feature he could potentially exploit to get more customers.

Right.

“It’s time for us to take the floor, Yurio,” he said as he shut down the holo. He wondered when he would delete it. He had already grown attached to this one piece of news about Viktor that he’d gotten in almost a year. Whom was he kidding? He was pretty sure he’d keep it as an heirloom or something.

“You sure you’re up for entertaining?” Yurio asked, brushing off his already impeccable robe. He reached for Yuuri’s brush. “I wonder where mine went…”

“Maybe Otabek stole it,” Yuuri teased. “To keep a lock of your hair or something.”

“That’s disturbing,” the younger Courtesan said with a disgusted expression. “Otabek is much more refined than that. He’d go for pubic-,”

“Never mind. Pretend that last bit of our conversation didn’t happen,” Yuuri said quickly, even though he was smiling. They walked out of his room together, arms brushing as they treaded softly side by side.

Yuuri wouldn’t have ever thought that Yurio would become a friend. A confidant. Someone who understood, by a large margin, what Yuuri had gone through. Was still going through.

He knew that Viktor couldn’t come to the Courtesan House. He couldn’t buy Yuuri.

Yurio knew that Otabek couldn’t become a customer. He couldn’t make Yurio free.

But they walked on.

That night, Yuuri danced a routine of Viktor’s that he had made his own. None of the Guests ever paid attention to such things, feasting their eyes on the near-naked forms of the Courtesans. But Yuuri had coveted every single step and turn and gesture that Viktor had made, committing it to memory. Not just his PA memory, but the unreliable, fleeting memory of his natural neural circuitry, and the muscle memory within his own human body.

Sakamoto, who was still very bitter about not getting his hands on Yuuri’s virginity, had become a frequent client of his, and tonight his passions were heightened by copious amounts of alcohol. He touched Yuuri’s knee and slid his hand down the Courtesan’s chest, right into the V-shaped opening of his robe. He breathed harshly, noisily against Yuuri’s neck, making the Courtesan recoil – but only inwardly.

Inside, Yuuri knew that this was for the best. He had always wanted to be the best Courtesan. To entertain with the likes of Viktor.

Except with Viktor gone, the glitz and glamour of the profession itself seemed to have dulled, fading from jewel to practical cold steel.

This was the best he could hope for. To work day by day, and give his company to rich men, and save every single credit that they paid which didn’t go to the House, so that one day, he would be able to buy his freedom and perhaps get a glance at Viktor in his new, fashionable, important life as the Senator’s Spouse.

“Is it just me, Yuuri, or are you becoming more beautiful every day?” Sakamoto asked breathily. Yuuri suppressed a shudder and inclined his head graciously as he fed the man another piece of fruit from his fingers. The rest of his friends had already succumbed to the lure of the booze and dozed off, leaving an irate Yurio to watch over them so that they wouldn’t choke on their own vomit should they throw up in their sleep.

“Perhaps it is because you are quite melancholy as of late,” Sakamoto continued. Yuuri froze.

“Perhaps the departure of your Mentor was too much to bear for your fragile glass heart.”

It took a split-second for him to pull on his mask and laugh it off.

“The only departure I would lament would be that of your money, Sakamoto-san,” Yuuri replied, all traces of shock gone from the muscles of his face. Sakamoto, drunk as he was, seemed to accept his words, and then leaned over to try and kiss him.

Yuuri turned away subtly, and Sakamoto’s lips landed on air.

“Perhaps I should divorce my Spouse and make you an offer you cannot refuse,” Sakamoto said, pulling away and eyeing Yuuri with speculation. “Then again, you’re probably too much of a whore to want to be tied down.”

“I really am, Sakamoto-san,” Yuuri said. His stomach churned, but he reached for the man’s clothing, already fingering at the fastenings of it. A handjob was a good way to shut him up, Yuuri had learned, especially when he drank.

“But you like me that way, don’t you?”

He avoided looking at Yurio as he made quick work of Sakamoto’s arousal. The man’s orgasm signaled an end to the evening, and the two Courtesans fled the hall, running for the baths. They stripped themselves of their clothing and dived right in.

“You’re right,” Yuuri said, as he surfaced and leaned back against the stone wall of the bath.

“Hm?” Yurio turned, looking at him wearily as he scrubbed at his own hand with a hard sponge.

“I am pathetic.”

Chapter Text

He wasn’t even sure if he loved Viktor. After all, things like love were a fleeting, momentary concept, and they had nothing to do with the material, corporeal world of a Courtesan. He didn’t know whether Viktor’s feelings for him had gone beyond that of a Mentor or a close friend. The memory of their last night together was already slipping away, but Yuuri was even glad that he had been required to turn his PA off and not record it.

It was more genuine that way. He supposed the human, the old human side of him was showing.

He sighed, flipping through the book Yuuko had downloaded for him from the main library server. He was way overdue reading about politics and history anyway; though some people thought it was uncouth for a Courtesan to be educated in such matters, he himself disliked feeling like an ignoramus around his customers from the Senate.

He supposed it was a fitting punishment for his having lusted after his Mentor that most of Viktor’s former clients had become his clients after Viktor’s departure. They were high-standing people: officials, businessmen, representatives of various kinds. Sakamoto, of course, remained his most loyal customer, and Yuuri was almost thankful to him for being there. Sakamoto was all his. He had never been particularly interested in Viktor as a Courtesan, and Yuuri was glad of it.

Even if the man was a complete swine.

 Being cut off from the outside world was half-comfort, half-torture. On the one hand, he didn’t have to see the news and catch glimpses of Viktor hanging off the Senator’s arm. On the other hand, he didn’t see the news and thus had no way of knowing whether Viktor was even in the System. Perhaps the Senator had retired already and left the planet or found another star to orbit. Together with his new Spouse.

Yuuri wondered what Viktor looked like now, decked out in the stifling clothing of the men and women who walked the streets of the System. Perhaps he even had gloves to cover him down to his fingertips. Or perhaps, he carried around a parasol. All Yuuri knew for sure was that Viktor would miss the freedom of a Courtesan’s garb.

“You seem lost in thought.”

He turned his head sideways, exposing his neck casually.

“Apologies, Crispino-sama,” he said dutifully. He found himself growing curious when the man barely spared his naked skin a glance. Interesting. Perhaps Crispino was not as dull as he had thought him to be, when the young man’s father had practically frog-marched him into the Courtesan House and requested Yuuri’s company for his son. Apparently, Michele had to man up and stop dreaming about things he can’t have, per Crispino-senior.

Yuuri had been a bit doubtful that his company would help, because Courtesans were notorious for dealing in dreams.

“I am boring you, aren’t I?’ Michele asked, leaning back against the padding on the wall. “I suppose I’m not as interesting as most people you see. I mean, you’re the Yuuri.”

The young Courtesan’s face flushed and he bowed his head, accepting the words.

“I assure you, you are not boring,” he said, smiling gently at the Crispino heir. “But something tells me it is not my company you desire in your heart.”

Michele’s lips parted and he looked at Yuuri for a long moment.

“I suppose I understand why you are so popular,” he said. “You are a keen observer, aren’t you?”

Yuuri’s smile widened minutely.

“As any quiet child, I grew up observing people, I’m afraid.”

Michele’s expression softened a little.

“That is something I wish I had learned, in hindsight,” he said. “It would have spared you the pain of my company.”

“No pain at all,” Yuuri said, reaching for the tea. “Now, I do know your father has a certain… plan for what our evening together should look like, but a Courtesan’s business with his client is his own. Therefore, if you would just like to talk, I am willing to listen.”

“Really?”

Michele’s face was close to his now, eyes sparkling.

“You’d listen? No sex?”

Yuuri chuckled.

“No sex. I promise I will not violate your virtue, unless, of course, you would like me to.”

He poured another cup for Michele.

“I’m in love with my sister.”

He wondered how on earth he’d managed to keep his hands steady. A Courtesan’s training really was ingrained in his bones.

“Before you run out on me screaming pervert, let me explain,” Michele said hurriedly. Yuuri placed the teapot back onto the table and offered the cup to Michele. The man downed it without even realizing that it was piping hot.

“Sara… she’s not really my sister. We were raised together because my parents… they wanted another child, but Sara was… they had her made. Not even with their own genes, that was me, they wanted someone who resembled me but wasn’t like me. So they got her made.”

Yuuri nodded. He had heard of some rich families who’d done a similar thing before. Those who wanted more children to have a lot of fingers in a lot of businesses without inheritance disputes as to who would be the main heir.

“I never even got to see her regularly until we were teenagers,” Michele continued. “But when she moved back into the mansion with my parents and me, something changed and… I cannot explain it.”

“These things happen,” Yuuri said, shrugging. “Living together in close quarters does contribute to one’s affection.”

“You think so?” Michele asked. “But is it… wrong of me to have feelings for her? Feelings of a nature that-,”

“I am not the one who should advise you on matters of the heart,” Yuuri said gently. “After all, I am a Courtesan. I must be careful not to love.”

“Have you ever?” Michele asked eagerly, moving closer again. He leaned his elbows on his knees and looked at Yuuri with curiosity. “Have you ever loved anyone?”

Yuuri found himself wanting to tell him. But he couldn’t. That would mean putting himself in danger. And making the Courtesan House look bad. But gods, he wanted to tell someone besides Yurio, who’d known from the beginning. He wanted the world to know about his feelings if only to validate them. To have them on record, to know that they were real. They had been real all along and they were still real.

“Love is not for someone like me,” he replied quietly, looking down. He worried his bottom lip with his teeth.

“You look sad.”

“There is your answer, then. Please do not press further.”

“I won’t,” Michele assured him. “But… how do you deal with these things, is there a-,”

“There is no cure for heartache. That I know for sure. Centuries and millennia of human experience documented in prose and poetry and the visual arts and music… all of it points towards the fact that love, whatever one might define it as, has no immediate cure,” Yuuri said. His throat felt tight. Damn it, keep it together. He doesn’t need you to spout sentimental idiocy. He wants you to hear him out. That’s all. You can do that.

“So… do I tell her how I feel? I have refused any suggestion of Courtship by my parents, but they are suspicious already,” Michele said. “They are the ones who thought a night with a Courtesan would make me more amenable.”

“I can tell you that a night with a Courtesan can make you many things,” Yuuri replied, forcing himself to look up and smile at the man. “But I do not believe they can turn a loving man into one who can be easily swayed towards a political marriage.”

If only that were true. Right, Viktor?

“Then I have no more time to lose,” Michele said, clambering to his feet. “I must find a way to be with her-,”

“Does she feel the same?”

“Pardon?”

Michele stopped short and they stared at each other.

“Does Sara feel the same about you?” Yuuri repeated. “Have you ever asked her about her own feelings?”

“Well, no, but I am sure that-,”

“Crispino-san-,”

“Michele.”

“-Michele, then,” Yuuri said, sighing deeply. “I do believe that real love involves some form of reciprocity.”

“Are you saying she may not love me back?”

“Do you know if she does for certain? Do you believe that she may throw her life away and run with you if needs be?” Yuuri asked, growing tired. Damn the rich and their caprice.

“I know she loves me, she looks at me-,”

The alarm sounded suddenly, making them both startle. Lights flashed red and the deafening screech of the siren, coming from the hallway, make their teeth hurt. Yuuri rose to his feet, frowning. His hand inched to the small knife he was required to wear on his garter, just in case a Guest got out of hand, or there was trouble.

“What is-,”

“Stay here, all right?” He said, going for the door. It slid open beneath his palm and he stepped outside, glancing back at Crispino. “I’m sure it’s just… something. Wait here.”

“Should I go with you? You’re-,”

“I am perfectly capable of defending myself,” Yuuri said sweetly. He smiled at the man. “An intruder doesn’t stand a chance against a Courtesan of Hasetsu.”

He slipped out of the room and down the hallway. He ran towards the source of the alarm, almost tripping on the long robe he was wearing, his fingers fumbling with the knife…

…only to come face to face with a rather bizarre picture.

Yurio, crawling on his hands and needs between Otabek’s legs as the dark-haired man struggled against the shutting doors of the House. The doors that led outside, into the real world. The metal and glass doors were effectively crushing the bodyguard, who cursed under his breath as Yurio pulled on the hem of his robe that had got caught under his foot.

“What-,”

“Quiet!” The little blond hissed dangerously, eyes flashing.

“What are you doing?” Yuuri whispered, alarmed. The sight of the snowy night outside made his heart race. The fresh winter air which he hadn’t inhaled properly, if only through the filters of the garden, made his head spin.

“We’re escaping, dumbass!”

“You’re going to get caught!” Yuuri protested. “Minako-,”

“Won’t know anything if you won’t tell her,” Otabek finished through gritted teeth.

Yuuri stared at the two lovers, not knowing what to say.

“Please!”

His eyes widened as he looked at the little blond whose face was scrunched up in supplication.

“Did you just say please-,”

Pig, there’s no time! Please, let us go!”

He knew that he had to stop this madness. Even if they escaped now, they would be caught within minutes, maybe hours, at the most. Otabek would be fired and shamed, and Yurio, god, he had no idea what would be done to an escaped Courtesan.

But what if they didn’t get caught?

It was the blue of Viktor’s eyes that did it, appearing in his mind even as his own eyes watered.

He had no right to impede someone else’s happiness just because his own had been crushed. He reached into his pocket and pressed down the power button on his PA, shutting the memory recording feature down.

“Go!” He whispered.

Yurio and Otabek looked at him with wide eyes.

“What are you waiting for? Go!”

The doors slammed shut and the alarm went quiet. He wasted no time in returning to Crispino, his mind blissfully blank.

“What was that?” Crispino asked as he settled down into the pillows.

“Nothing,” Yuuri said, tugging on a smile. “It’s all taken care of.”

As Crispino prattled on about his semi-incestuous feelings, Yuuri found himself nodding along, even if he wasn’t exactly following his words. Instead, he thought of what had just happened.

He thought of Otabek, who had taken off running with Yurio in his arms, wrapped in his Courtesan’s robe and barefoot.  

He thought of their pleading faces.

He thought about the way the two had looked at each other every time they had had a moment or two together.

He thought that for once, what he’d done felt like the right thing to do.

Be safe. Be happy. Take care of each other, like you’re supposed to. For all of us.

Chapter Text

“You do know that this is the best look so far?”

Yuuri twisted around, turning away from the mirror to look at Phichit who was unabashedly staring at him as he dabbed golden powder onto his arms, finishing up on what he had started about an hour ago.

“Me covered in gold doesn’t exactly feel modest,” Yuuri said sheepishly. The other Courtesan snorted.

“Who cares about modest, Yuuri? Ever since Yurio ran away, you’ve been the hottest bitch on the block. And I say that with every ounce of respect you deserve.”

Yuuri eyed his friend, unimpressed.

“Look, you need to embrace it. You know that you’re not going to be young forever, so I suggest you do what the Guests want and then roll around in the credits they pay you,” Phichit said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Yuuri sighed, turning back to the mirror and eyeing himself critically.

“I’m pretty young,” he mumbled.

“Not as young as most Courtesans. You started late, you know that.”

“You make me sound like I’m about to keel over and need a hip replacement or something,” Yuuri said, rolling his eyes.

“Well, you know… you might just be the next Viktor.”

Yuuri winced. Phichit, of course, like the rest of the House, knew nothing about the fact that something had happened between them. Hell, Yurio had only found out because he was damn perceptive. Too damn perceptive for his own good, Yuuri thought, trying to imagine where the hell the little blond was now. He didn’t harbor any illusions: most likely, Yurio and Otabek had gotten themselves caught and either carted off to a treatment center for psychological rehabilitation or worse, imprisoned. Someone as pretty as Yurio wouldn’t do well in jail among thieves and murderers.

He shuddered, trying not to think about the fact that he had been the one who had let them go. If only he could get his hands on the password for the news console, he could make sure. But Courtesans weren’t allowed. All he knew was what Minako wanted them to see on the big screen.

And Minako had been beyond pissed when Yurio had fled. The woman was capable of quite the rage, and for a moment, her face had grown so red, Yuuri had almost called a medic. Still, the House had withstood the loss of one of their top attractions and was now raking in Guests, mostly thanks to Yuuri.

“I don’t understand why they want me to be covered in this,” Yuuri said with distaste, eyeing himself critically. “This stuff gets all over the place.”

“I think it’s because you’re a prize,” Phichit said casually. “Think about it, you’re the top Courtesan now, everyone wants you, but not everyone gets you. Those that do want to make you look like you’re a jewel.”

"So I'm not jewel-ly enough?" Yuuri asked, smirking coyly as he finished up. Phichit grinned.

"You can't fool me. You may act vain with the rest of them, but I know that down deep inside, you're a sweetheart. I bet some rich man will sweep you up in his arms like the Senator did with Viktor, and you will make the perfect Spouse for him. Hell, you even know how to cook!"

Yuuri tried not to let the sadness show on his face as he draped his faint pink robe around himself. Well, it wasn’t necessarily his, but since Viktor had been his Mentor, most of Viktor’s things had gone to him. Including his robes and makeup. Yuuri found himself not wanting to wash them just because he could fool himself into thinking they still bore some of Viktor’s scent.

He was a fool.

“This looks better on you than it did on him,” Phichit drawled.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not true. This was made for Viktor,” Yuuri said, touching the fabric of the sleeves fondly.

“Pink suits you better, I think. You’re more innocent.”

“Right,” Yuuri said, rolling his eyes. “I forgot that all those perverts in there got off on me being a recent virgin.”

“Can’t blame them,” Phichit said. He stood up and offered Yuuri a comforting hug. “Now, go knock ‘em dead.”

Yuuri nodded, smiling at his friend, and then walked out, checking whether his earrings were in place as he walked slowly towards the grand hall. Tonight was supposed to be a huge going-away party, and he couldn’t help but wonder whom it was for. He knew nothing, besides the fact that there were going to be a lot of people and the man of the hour had requested him specifically. He was happy to do it, of course, since the payment for this night’s entertainment would be more than generous.

The door slid open for him and he stepped inside, a trained smile on his face already.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” he purred, stepping inside.

“Ah, Yuuri! How good of you to join us.”

His blood ran cold. A heartbeat passed as he tried to scramble whatever charm he had together, and somehow, somehow, managed to squeeze out:

“Senator.”

The man looked good. He looked like someone who was taken care of. Someone who wasn’t as formal as he had been when he’d frequented the House for his weekly top-up with Viktor. He looked like a man who was happily married, relaxed in his committed state. 

Yuuri walked forward slowly, as if asleep, and sat down on his knees without as much as a rustle of his robe.

The Senator leaned forward and brushed a kiss against his cheek, much to the other Guests' approval. It was only then that Yuuri noticed how many people were in attendance – several dozens, at least, all with drinks in hand, their top buttons unmade.

“This robe brings back memories,” the Senator said, pinching a bit of Yuuri’s sleeve between his fingers. “I do believe I have seen something similar on another Courtesan.”

“it is the same robe, Senator,” Yuuri said quietly, properly subdued.

“I do believe it compliments you well. I wish you could see it, darling, it is quite dazzling,” the Senator drawled. Yuuri’s eyes widened as his gaze slid to the motionless, straight-back figure sitting next to the man. His mouth fell open in surprise, he couldn’t help it, but he knew, he knew that he could not afford to make a mistake.

After all, the Senator held all the power in the world over him and the person sitting next to him.

“Viktor, I would say he pulls it off almost as well as you do,” the Senator laughed, his eyes sharp on Yuuri. The young Courtesan bit the inside of his cheek as he looked at the man he loved, blindfolded as per protocol. Former Courtesans could not see the House. They could not have contact with others of their profession. And the Senator had circumvented those rules by bringing Viktor here, with eyes covered. The pitch-black cloth his Viktor’s eyes, but Yuuri could attach his memory of them easily to the handsome face of his former Mentor.

Viktor looked different, though, to what Yuuri remembered. He was all buttoned up stiffly, clad in a long outfit of slate gray. His sleeves were all made up, not a hint of a wrist, and his clavicles, the clavicles that Yuuri had once kissed, were obscured from view.

He sat rigidly, none of his former relaxed nature to be seen.

The biggest change, though, the one that broke Yuuri’s heart, was the hair.

It was gone.

Viktor’s beautiful, beautiful long hair was gone, replaced by a short cut which suited him, yes, but it wasn’t the Viktor Yuuri remembered. He was every inch a citizen of the System.

“Please pass on my compliments,” Viktor said. He could not speak to Yuuri directly, neither could the Courtesan respond, and it was torture.

"My Spouse compliments you," the Senator said as if Yuuri hadn't heard the silver-haired man himself. He managed to bow his head gratefully. Viktor said nothing else, back rigid.

“I supposed it would be nice to bring him here, given his history. One last time, so to speak.”

“One last time?” Yuuri asked, finally ripping his attention away from Viktor’s impassive face.

“Yes, we are going off-planet. Time for me to resign and all, and I have just bought some lovely property on Luna,” the Senator said. Yuuri’s heart stilled in his chest.

This was the Senator’s way of making them say goodbye to their dreams.

The man was certainly suited for politics.

“How wonderful,” Yuuri squeezed out. Viktor’s face spasmed for just a split-second. He clung onto that minute movement.

All throughout the night, Yuuri tried to keep his eyes off his former Mentor, but he was inexplicably drawn to him. As he danced for the approving, drunken crowd of businessmen and politicians in the room, honoring the Senator’s resignation, he desperately wished for the blindfold to come off. For Viktor to see him.

Look at me, Viktor. Don’t take your eyes off me.

But Viktor was motionless by his husband’s side, accepting drink and food from the man’s fingers. His head was turned towards Yuuri whenever the Courtesan spoke, but he could offer no response.

Yuuri danced, clapping and stomping his feet loudly, and he thought that for a moment he could see Viktor nod along to the rhythm. He wondered what the man thought of his success as a Courtesan. But most of all, he wondered how Viktor felt now. Was he happy?

What if he was happy with the Senator?

What if Yuuri was the only one who was desperate to reach out?

The thoughts plagued his mind even as he shed his clothing, exposing himself to the ravenous Guests. Sakamoto, of course, was the first one to lunge for him – the Senator, given the presence of his Spouse, hung back. Yuuri let the assistant’s hands roam over his body under the scrutiny of the other men, but gods, what wouldn’t he give for just one other gaze to be fixed on him.

He cried out in a way that he knew Viktor would deem emotionless, but he did not care. It satisfied the Guests.

He let Sakamoto take him, mere strides away from where his former lover sat. He bit his lips not to cry out Viktor’s name.

As the night drew to a close, Yuuri pulled on the pink robe, almost lamenting the fact that the golden paint had all but disappeared from his skin, smudged away by roaming fingers.

The Senator stood, offering Yuuri another kiss on the cheek.

“I believe this is goodbye,” he said, watching Yuuri closely. The young man managed to keep his eyes fixed on the Senator even though they tried to slip off to his left side where Viktor stood, eyes still covered.

“I believe so, Senator,” Yuuri said, bowing his head. “May you find happiness.”

The man glanced sideways.

“You as well.”

Yuuri ran upstairs to his room and watched them walk through the front door. He pressed his face to the cold windowpane and held his breath as the Senator stopped his Spouse and peeled away his blindfold. He wished he wasn’t that far away, to see every nuance of Viktor’s face and commit it to memory.

But he wouldn't be able to anyway since his tears blurred his vision.

The Senator pulled on Viktor’s hand, and they headed for the gate.

Yuuri tasted metal.

And then, then, Viktor turned his head and looked straight at him.

Viktor, who remembered which window belonged to his old room. Viktor, who knew that Yuuri would take his quarters once he was gone.

Their eyes met and there was such sadness between them that Yuuri clutched at his chest. He almost wished that Viktor would lift a hand up and wave.

But he did not.

He just stared at Viktor for as long as he could, even after the man had looked away. Even after he had turned his back and followed the Senator through the gate.

Yuuri did not sleep all night. He stared at the gate, fingers smudging away the rest of the gold on his skin.

Chapter Text

“I do wish at times you had been allowed to keep your Courtesan robes.”

Viktor turned around at the sound of his Spouse’s voice, ripping his gaze away from his own reflection in the steel-framed mirror. His fingers played with the tight sleeves of the slate-grey outfit.

“Does this not please you?” He asked, cocking his head to the side and pulling on a smile. The Senator laughed, walking into the room. He picked up Viktor’s hand and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

"You look good in absolutely anything; you know that. You are a smart man, Viktor. Thus, you must understand the lack of boundaries of your beauty."

A blush colored Viktor's cheeks, and he turned away, mocking bashfulness.

“I cannot wait to show you off at the ball tonight,” the Senator said, smiling at Viktor as he put his arms around the former Courtesan from behind, leaning his chin on Viktor’s shoulder. Blue eyes met brown in the mirror and Viktor sighed.

“I do not know if it is a good idea,” he said.

“Why not? You are sure to be the star of the evening, darling.”

“Perhaps,” Viktor replied. “Yet my reputation precedes me. I wouldn’t want the attendees to talk unfavorably about you because of your former Courtesan Spouse.”

The Senator pulled away, sighing.

“Viktor, you are not a Courtesan anymore. And what is more, I picked you out of the lot because even as a Courtesan, you were exceptional. Even if your heart belonged to another.”

It still does.

“Much obliged,” Viktor said, ducking his head.

“You know, the looks he gave you were quite similar.”

“Hm?”

Viktor turned around to face his Spouse.

“I said that the looks that boy gave you were quite like the ones which overtake your face whenever you think of him,” the Senator said.

“I don’t-,”

“Viktor, I do not mind that you suffer an attachment to him. In fact, I am grateful for it,” the Senator said, putting up a hand to stop Viktor’s blubbering.

“Why?”

“Because it is that attachment that finally led me to you. Even if you did take his First Night, you married me. You belong to me now, and the life you left behind also includes that boy. That Yuuri.”

Viktor bit his lip and turned back towards the mirror. The robe was tight on him, all the way from the middle of his neck down to his toes. Grey as it was, the borders were emphasized by chrome-colored details, and the buttons were a stark silver. Almost the same as the color of his own, now short, hair. He reached up half-consciously, tugging on the shorn strands.

"I do not mind that your heart will never fully be mine, Viktor," the Senator said, offering Viktor his arm. The younger man sighed and reached to take it, looking their elbows. He gave his reflection one last longing look before turning away and walking towards the door.

At the exit to their villa, a space car stood, waiting to take them to the venue. Tonight was the night of the Senate Ball, an annual occurrence to celebrate the foundation of the Solar Government, and the unification of Earth's peoples in a collective endeavor to expand into unknown realms of space.

How many hundreds of years had it been? Viktor did not know. He had requested some information to be delivered to him from the Library Server, yet he had been too busy with social entanglements to sit down and sift through them.

"Do you really not mind?" Viktor asked once they were in the car. The vehicle whirled to life, and the autopilot greeted them with a pleasant mechanical voice. Sometimes, Viktor wondered whether he sounded the same way whenever he talked to his Spouse. The Senator was quite… organized.

“I do not mind, Viktor. Your purpose in this is to be charming and beautiful to the people around me. You are the ultimate jewel in my collection. I do appreciate you being friendly with me, though,” the Senator replied evenly as he pulled up some government document or order for inspection while they rode.

“What of love?" Viktor asked, his chest squeezing when he thought of that small, sad wave Yuuri had given him as they'd left the Courtesan House after a night of infinite longing. The longing which Viktor had been too late to recognize when he had Mentored Yuuri. The longing upon which he should have acted the moment Yuuko had shown him that memory of Yuuri, small, innocent, Untouchable Yuuri, dancing his dance in the garden among the trees and flowers of the Earth's Orient.

"What of it, Viktor?" The Senator asked, apparently slightly irritated at being distracted from his work.

“Do you not require it? Crave it?”

The Senator glanced at his Spouse and sighed.

“You are a tragedy, darling.”

“A tragedy?”

“You are a romantic living in pragmatic times.”

Viktor did not say another word throughout the entire journey. As he walked up the stairs of the Senate Hall with his Spouse at his side, he tried not to appear too melancholy. The Senator’s colleagues greeted his Spouse from left and right, saluting him and tossing him uncomfortable, semi-formal jokes.

The grand ballroom, which was made to contain the festivities, was decorated with the most elaborate ornaments of the Old Earth, collecting items from what looked like the entire globe. Traditional streamers, glass balls, various decorative knick-knacks from the old continents hung around the vast room. It was quite beautiful, yes, and very symbolic.

And quite kitschy, too, Viktor noted, but said nothing.

He was offered a flute of what looked like rosewater champagne, and he accepted it. Gods knew he would need something to pass the night as he was paraded around and presented to the Senator’s friends, enemies, and insignificant others.

One thing he appreciated about the man was that he did not strive to make Viktor unnecessarily uncomfortable.

By the end of the evening, though, he did feel dead on his feet. The robe was suffocating around his neck and chest, and he began to lament giving up his Courtesan clothes. Those, at least, had allowed his ribs to expand fully.

His knuckles were kissed so many times, they felt like they’d been polished, and the number of glasses with his DNA on the rim was growing exponentially quickly in relation to the time they’d spent here.

While the Senator spoke to another representative, Viktor excused himself to the bathroom, hoping to at least splash some water onto his face.

He located the ornate door (why did a bathroom, of all things, have to be so presumptuous?) and stepped inside.

Only to be attacked by what felt like a small animal.

Before he could let out any sound, he was pressed into a stall with a hand pressed over his mouth so he could not speak. His eyes widened when the vertigo of surprise stopped, and the door snapped closed.

“Yurio?”

The little blond looked almost unrecognizable. He was wearing a waiter’s clothing, his long hair cut and styled into the standard men’s cut #3, and his features looked far more ragged than Viktor remembered.

"Be quiet; someone may hear," Yurio whispered, and Viktor snapped his mouth shut, inspecting the boy with curiosity.

"What are you doing here?" He asked in a whisper. "Dressed like this? Like a waiter? What is-,"

“I ran.”

“You ran?” Viktor repeated, incredulous. “How is that even possible?”

“Ask the pig. He helped Otabek and I escape.”

"Otabek? Otabek the bodyguard?" Viktor asked. He glanced over Yurio once more, noting the registration earring on his right lobe. "Yurio, how in the gods' name did you manage to get a marriage approved?"

“Otabek knows people. In the shady businesses. They helped us forge our registrations. We have last names and everything now,” Yurio replied, clearly more than a little smug.

“But why are you here?”

“This is my job now.”

“Your job?”

“Catering to rich assholes like your Spouse.”

“Sh, you don’t want them to hear-,”

“Please, Viktor, spare me,” Yurio replied, rolling his eyes. It then struck Viktor just how relaxed the young man was. Tired, yes, probably run into the ground with exhaustion due to the nature of his new work, but so, so relaxed. As if he had something that kept him afloat even when he could no longer breathe of fatigue.

Something told Viktor he knew what that was.

“I’m happy for you,” he breathed, reaching out to pat Yurio on the head. The boy bristled but accepted his affections.

“Thanks,” he said. “I imagine you wanna hear about the pig?”

Viktor bit his lip.

“How is he?”

“Hell if I know,” Yurio said, his face darkening. “We don’t get much news from the Courtesan Houses around here. But from what I saw before I left, he was… quite miserable.”

“What happened? Is he all right? Did a Guest do something inap-,”

Yurio cut him off with a snort.

“Viktor, you’re either stupid or naïve, but you’re probably both,” he said, poking Viktor in the chest. “He missed you. A lot. We even talked about it. Get it? He talked about missing you to me. That’s how much he missed you.”

Viktor felt his eyes begin to sting with tears and he had to resist rubbing them. The Senator was too observant a man not to notice redness.

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I still do,” he said finally.

“That makes you even more stupid. And selfish, too. Yuuri’s not been himself since you left. He’s this… he took your place. He’s the best Courtesan now.”

“I know,” Viktor said dully. “My Spouse took me to the House once. As a farewell when we left Old Earth.”

Yurio’s mouth fell open.

“Well, shit,” he said, and Viktor had to fight an old impulse to tell the blond not to swear. “You know that probably destroyed him, right? Not being able to talk to you?”

“How do you think I felt?” Viktor said miserably. “It wasn’t my choice. I never thought I would have to… be around him again.”

“Well, life is unpredictable, idiot.”

Viktor sighed. Yurio observed him for a moment and reached out, patting him on the shoulder awkwardly. What made it even more uncomfortable was the height difference.

“Viktor is dead,” he declared, staring the man down. “For better or for worse. Don’t worry about Yuuri. He’s… he’ll survive. He has surprising resilience.”

With that, Yurio was gone.

By the time Viktor returned to his Spouse’s side, he had calmed down a little. But the sound of Yuuri’s voice, which he’d heard just a few months ago in the Courtesan House, and that tiny, sentimental little wave, seemed to weigh more heavily on his chest than ever.

He had to see Yuuri again.

He caught Yurio’s eye across the hall.

He had to be happy. 

Chapter Text

“You know, there is something hateful about your beauty.”

“Pardon?”

Yuuri turned his head to look at his patron, perplexed. Sakamoto only laughed, tucking a flower behind Yuuri’s ear. His fingers ghosted over the shell of it, down to the lobe, and then Yuuri’s neck, raising whispers of shudders up and down his skin.

“Your beauty,” Sakamoto said, cocking his head to the side as if he were seeing Yuuri closely for the first time in his life. “It is quite… disturbing.”

“How so?” Yuuri asked, reaching for a drink to lift to Sakamoto’s lips. The man took a sip and then hummed thoughtfully.

“It is the kind of beauty which would make men commit terrible acts, just for the sake of gazing upon it. Having the pleasure of your company is a prize some would pay dearly for,” Sakamoto replied, a small smile on his lips. Yuuri found himself to be distracted by how serpentine Sakamoto’s face suddenly seemed. Almost as if a moment later, his tongue would peek out – a forked tongue.

“I do not believe my beauty is that extraordinary,” Yuuri said, a nervous laugh bubbling in his throat. He had become quite accustomed to Sakamoto’s frankly bold advances, but they still managed to unnerve him more often than not. He had heard from some of the other Guests who usually accompanied the man to the Courtesan House that some referred to Sakamoto as The Scourge, a man who would take up the most unpleasant jobs in the government. He would be the kind of man who fired another without a single glance in their direction, without accounting for the fact that getting sacked from a good job would mean an inevitable return to an outer planet, or worse, to the mines on Pluto.

Either way, Sakamoto’s charm was not one that Yuuri was ready to fall under. The man was a mystery, the kind of mystery that was better left unsolved.

“Oh, but it is,” Sakamoto said, placing some finger food into his mouth. “It is the kind of beauty that starts wars.”

“I do not believe any amount of beauty could do that,” Yuuri said with a laugh. “We have had no wars for centuries, after all!”

“You have heard of Helen of Troy, perhaps?”

“Helen?”

“Oh, yes,” Sakamoto said, leaning closer. “You see, her beauty was so renowned, and so… enthralling, that two great peoples went to war for it. For the sake of her, people died in bloody battles. That is the kind of power a pretty face can hold.”

“I am sure she was an extraordinary woman,” Yuuri said politely. “But I don’t think she was just her face. She must have been an intelligent one, too, if she managed to charm kings into war.”

“The myth doesn’t speak of her intelligence, I’m afraid,” Sakamoto said, slightly miffed by Yuuri’s rebuke. “In any case, women were only good for their faces for the longest time. Not that much has changed.”

Yuuri suddenly felt sour from the inside.

"There are plenty intelligent women out there," he murmured. "Some serve in the government; some are successful at business."

“And some, like your dear owner, run whorehouses.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened.

“Please refrain from speaking about Minako-san in such a way.”

“You would get me thrown out for disrespect, I assume?”

"I would," Yuuri replied firmly. "This business accepts you as a Guest. You must be mindful of the language that you use to refer to the people involved."

Sakamoto let out a derisive laugh. Yuuri found his chin trapped between the man’s fingers, the harsh touch smearing his makeup.

“You would not. I am a useful man to have around.”

Yuuri narrowed his eyes at Sakamoto.

“I would take those chances.”

Sakamoto tutted.

“I am a very bad man not to have on your side, too," he said, glancing at his companions who were already blissfully drunk. Phichit, who had been entertaining in the corner of the room, glanced at Yuuri worriedly but said nothing. It was technically not out of bounds for a Guest to touch a Courtesan, after all. Unless Yuuri screamed.

“What do you mean?” Yuuri asked, gulping nervously. Sakamoto’s gaze slid to his pale neck.

“I mean that I know certain things about you and… a number of other people here that could ruin all of you.”

“Things? We have nothing to hide,” Yuuri said boldly.

“Oh, but you do.”

Yuuri's gaze met Sakamoto's, and at that moment the young Courtesan realized what it was like to be truly afraid of someone. Of something. Of the promise of something big, bigger than himself that could leave his entire life in shambles. Sakamoto just had those kinds of eyes – expressionless, dead, like a fish which had been rotting at the market for days. They lacked warmth and humor, but there was a certain twist to Sakamoto's lips that betrayed his amusement. It was unnerving. Yuuri wondered how he had never seen this before. Perhaps he had tried not to look Sakamoto in the eye. Like a small critter would refuse to look directly at a larger predator.

“I know who your First Night was with.”

Yuuri’s heart stilled in his chest.

"It was the Senator," he said, even though his voice shook. Sakamoto chuckled.

"We both know that is not entirely accurate."

“You do not have proof.”

“But who would the Guests of this esteemed House believe? A whore, like yourself, or someone whose status has risen significantly throughout the past months?”

Yuuri bit his lip.

"Now, don't be foolish, dear boy," Sakamoto said, finally letting go of Yuuri's chin and patting him on the cheek in a familiar, almost fatherly way that chilled Yuuri's blood.

“I will not tell your secret. Neither will I tell anyone that you allowed Yurio to escape with his lover.”

“How could you possibly know about that?” Yuuri asked.

“Well, I did not know for sure, but now that you have made a de facto confession, I have it all neatly recorded in my memory storage.”

Fuck. How dumb can you get? Yuuri asked his panicked mind. It did not have an answer for him since it was too busy freaking out.

“What do you want from me?” Yuuri asked, his lips strangely numb, almost as if he had just had teeth pulled.

“I just want you to do favors for me, Yuuri,” Sakamoto said, smiling at the Courtesan benignly. “You see, people tend to… underestimate the power of seduction. The power of beauty. Even those to whom it belongs.”

“Meaning?” Yuuri asked, feeling cold flush inside of him. Almost as if someone had forced him to drink a vat of icy water. This couldn’t be good.

"Meaning, many a wall collapse when a man sees a beautiful body dance. When beautiful hands serve good booze, and beautiful lips trail down his skin," Sakamoto said, inching closer still. His breath skirted over Yuuri's ear, and the Courtesan felt like he was about to either run off or throw up. Or both. Both was good.

“What is this about?”

“This is about power. Hidden power, I told you. This is about you helping your most loyal patron out.” Sakamoto’s teeth were unnaturally white in this light.

“Why would you want my help?”

“There are certain things one cannot do in a boardroom,” Sakamoto replied, still smiling at Yuuri as if he were talking about the most lucrative deal in the universe. “Some require the other party to be more agreeable to one’s terms than they can be when wearing a stuffy suit.”

“You want me… to get to someone? A Guest?” Yuuri asked, cautiously. After all, he had the best connections of all the Courtesans here, since Viktor had left and abandoned his entire client pool only for it to be picked up by Yuuri.

“I want you to be my agent here,” Sakamoto said, smiling slyly at Yuuri’s face which had now taken on an expression of wonder. “All this time, I have been courting you… and recruiting you.”

“Recruiting me?”

“If you do as I ask, your life, and that of your friends here will be safe. I promise not to touch Yurio or Viktor or any other people you might care about if you pay attention to your surroundings and do as you’re told.”

“You want me to… do things to my Guests? For your benefit? What? Spy on them? Rob them?” Yuuri asked, aghast. The thought of something this ludicrous happening inside the Courtesan House, a safe place for fantasies of men and entertainers alike, was unthinkable to his childlike mind.

“Exactly,” Sakamoto said, grinning at Yuuri. “Perhaps you were right, Yuuri.”

"What do you mean?" The boy asked, shaken up to the core. He knew this was madness. He couldn't agree to be Sakamoto's pawn; he was a Courtesan, a mere entertainer for all, he was not supposed to be loyal to only one man.

But long before Sakamoto had made his offer, he had already become loyal to another.

Viktor.

Do this for Viktor's sake. Sakamoto couldn't be allowed to ruin the Senator and his Spouse. It would devastate both of them. And Viktor was happy. Yuuri wanted to believe that Viktor was truly happy in his marriage. After all, he hadn't waved back.

“Perhaps Helen of Troy was not just a pretty face. Perhaps, like yourself, she knew that there were bigger things to play with. And bigger things to win.”

The Courtesan bit the inside of his cheek. Sakamoto sighed and tugged on Yuuri’s wrist, pushing him down onto the mattress. As deft fingers worked on the loose fastenings of Yuuri’s robe and lecherous eyes skirted over the young man’s fair skin, Yuuri felt a certain detachment, a lightheadedness which only came when he felt trapped.

He had no way out of this. He

“What do you want me to do?”

Sakamoto’s mouth split into a grin which made a shark look like an innocent guppy.

“For now, I would like to partake in your body,” the man said, throwing the open robe off Yuuri’s shoulders and untying the Courtesan’s long hair, making it spill over the silk of the mattress beneath him. Yuuri’s body was hot and cold, flushed with fear and anxiety, and for a moment he contemplated pushing Sakamoto away, consequences be damned.

But he didn’t.

Those detestable lips covered his own, and he forced himself to kiss back, drinking in the sighs of pleasure from the man who sought to ruin him and everyone he loved.

“And tomorrow, I would like you to do your first job for me.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri hated himself for agreeing to this. It only took a day for him to be consumed by his conscious, and only two to consider telling Minako everything Sakamoto was planning for him.

Of course, all that went out the proverbial window when he remembered what he had hanging over his head.

So here he was, sitting by the side of a prominent politician, Leroy, who had come to visit Earth, crooning sweet nothing into his ear and getting his fill of the man’s attention. His hand shook in the pocket of his robe, clenched around a small vial.

Put it in his last drink.

Delayed action, Sakamoto had told him. Nobody would suspect him, for the man would die within several days. There would be plenty of opportunities for other people to come in contact with him.

It didn’t mean that Yuuri wasn’t scared. And so, so angry at himself for agreeing to poison an innocent man.

“You are a quiet one, love,” Leroy drawled, dragging his thumb across Yuuri’s cheek as he tilted the Courtesan’s face up to meet his gaze. “Quite surprising, considering the reputation you have.”

“A-and what reputation would that be?” Yuuri asked innocently, batting his eyelashes at the man.

"That of the best Courtesan in the universe," Leroy said with a broad smile. "Of course, I was quite skeptical from the beginning. You see, when people say something – or someone – is the best, they are usually comparing to mediocrity."

“Am I… mediocre?" Yuuri asked, pouting. Gods, this was so easy. Just going with the flow of the flirtatious conversation and oozing charm at the customer. This was something Yuuri could do with his eyes closed and his mouth sewn shut.

“Far from it,” Leroy said, smiling at the younger man. He released Yuuri’s face. “You are quite the gem.”

“But if I am so quiet-,”

“You are not quiet in bed, are you?” Leroy asked, stroking his way up Yuuri’s arm through his sheer robe. “You have shown me that. You can be quite vocal in some settings. It’s always the quiet ones that are the most… beastly in the sack.”

“You speak from experience, then?” Yuuri asked, pouring himself more tea.

Leroy shrugged.

“What can I say? I need to have my fill of experiencing various forms of love before I am turned over to my fiancé for the rest of my life,” he said.

“You are to be married?” Yuuri asked, feeling the weight of the vial in his pocket.

“In two weeks,” Leroy replied, glancing around the room. His associates were certainly enjoying Phichit’s attentions.

“Is it a loveless marriage, then?” Yuuri asked. Leroy snorted.

"Quite the opposite. She is the light of my life. However, I find myself drawn to other… people and what they have to offer."

“That sounds quite contradictory. If you don't mind me saying," Yuuri commented. Leroy shrugged.  

“There is nobody in this world that I would do more for than my fiancé. But she is not the only woman in the world. She is not the only person for me. She is one of many. And she understands that. Currently, I believe she is exploring her way through the colonies of Jupiter.”

“You have a… polyamorous relationship?”

“An open relationship, for now,” Leroy corrected. “But after we tie the knot, we are to be faithful to each other. These last few months have been a wedding gift to ourselves.”

“That’s quite… unorthodox,” Yuuri said. “Then again, who am I to judge your relationship? I do this for a living.”

He reached into his pocket and emptied the contents of the vial into Leroy’s empty glass while the man looked away. Hurriedly, he splashed some sake over it and stuffed the vial back into his pocket.

Leroy hummed.

“It is a pity to see such beauty go to waste,” he replied, eyeing Yuuri’s face intently. “After all, you are quite brainy too, aren’t you, in addition to your beauty and grace.”

Yuuri blushed.

“Aren’t there any suitors who have promised to take you away?” Leroy asked curiously. “If I were not engaged, I know I would be one of them.”

“Oh, I get proposals every other hour," Yuuri laughed. "So far, nobody has made good on their promises. I suppose such things should not be done under the influence of alcohol."

“No, perhaps not,” Leroy said, glancing at his cup. “Speaking of, I suppose I should be getting home.”

Yuuri’s heart sped up.

“Um, won’t you have one last drink with me?” He asked, biting his lip in what he hoped was a seductive fashion. “After all, we shall never see each other again.”

Leroy laughed merrily, sliding closer to Yuuri’s side.

“You’re right. Where are my manners? I suppose this is the least I can do, for someone as pretty as you.”

“Have a drink?”

“Offer my impeccable company.”

Someone’s quite full of themselves, Yuuri thought. Even though that may have been true, he still couldn’t understand why Sakamoto would want to have Leroy killed. He seemed relatively harmless. And Yuuri didn’t want to have a hand in his death.

He gave the vial in his pocket a squeeze.

“On second thought, I suppose I have already had a little too much,” he said, taking Leroy’s glass before the man could reach for it.  

Sakamoto can’t kill me yet. He can’t tell my secrets to anyone.

Leroy’s confused glance was remedied by Yuuri’s lips covering his own. The young Courtesan kissed the man with some desperation, finally pulling away to see a dazed expression on Leroy’s face.

"I believe, love, you are… quite intoxicating by yourself," the politician said, standing. He offered Yuuri his hand, which the Courtesan took, careful to place the glass where he would remember it. He had to wash it out afterward, properly… or, perhaps, even dispose of it.

“Thank you for tonight.”

“You’re very welcome. Good luck on your marriage,” Yuuri said with a smile. “And… stay safe, all right?”

If Leroy frowned, Yuuri pretended not to notice.

The moment the man left, he made a beeline to the kitchen with the cup in hand.


 

“You didn’t do it,” Sakamoto said by ways of greeting the moment Yuuri sat down next to him on the mat. The Courtesan gulped nervously, reaching for the tea.

“I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m sorry, but… killing is wrong,”

Sakamoto laughed.

“This is why you’ll never be out of this place, Yuuri,” he said. “You have absolutely no foresight.”

“At least I have a conscience.”

“That’s another thing a person cannot have if they hope to be successful in our day and age,” Sakamoto said, taking a sip from his cup. “And, anyway, I don’t think you’ll get to keep your conscience.”

Yuuri looked up at the man sharply.

“What do you mean?”

“Because what you were supposed to give Leroy was the antidote.”

Yuuri’s insides went cold.

“The… what?”

“The antidote, love," Sakamoto said, apparently mocking the man's pet name for Yuuri.

The Courtesan’s hands shook violently as he sat there, numb.

“B-but… I don’t understand. It was… you wanted me to poison him,” he whispered shakily, grabbing onto Sakamoto’s wrists. The man ripped himself away from Yuuri’s grip.

“The poison was slipped to him a couple of days ago.”

"It was a test," Yuuri said, his eyes widening as realization dawned on him. Sakamoto's mocking smirk was sure to haunt him for all eternity.

“It was,” the man said, patting Yuuri’s cheek in a patronizing fashion. “And you failed quite spectacularly, dear.”

“I… I didn’t want to kill him,” Yuuri whispered, tears in his eyes. “Please, let me… let me fix it.”

"And how would you do that? You cannot leave the Courtesan House," Sakamoto said, apparently taking pleasure in Yuuri's distress. "You can't leave here because you're nothing but a common whore tied to this place."

“He’ll die by tomorrow morning. Just because you don’t know how to obey the rules, whore.”

The words didn’t sting nearly as much as they normally would. Yuuri felt his chest tighten and he keeled over, clawing at the collar of his robe. His mind went blank, all for a single thought: he’s dead, I killed him, he’s dead, he’s dead…

“Yuuri!”

Phichit's concerned face swam into view. Through a haze, Yuuri felt himself be lifted into someone's arms.

“What’s wrong with him?” Sakamoto asked, feigning surprise.

“Panic attack,” Phichit said hurriedly. “Please, dear Guest, let me through, I need to see to it that-,”

“Yes, yes, of course.”                

Sakamoto’s smirk was the last thing Yuuri saw before he succumbed to his mind’s torture.

It was all a blur. Yuuri’s thoughts were all jumbled, all but one, and his lungs couldn’t draw in air, so he clutched at his throat as if he could rip it open and let the air in. He felt hot and cold all at once, and gods, he couldn’t even move, he was so terrified of his own mind.

He felt someone carry him somewhere, and then place him on his left side. He shivered when a blanket was placed over his legs. His eyes hurt from straining.

Yuuri finally managed to get control of his breathing a quarter of an hour later. He came to, lying sideways, curled up into a ball of shivering, sweat-soaked courtesan, in his room.

“Yuuri!”

It was Yakov.

“W-what happened?” Yuuri asked hoarsely, trying to sit up. The man pushed him down by the shoulder.

“You shouldn’t be on your feet.”

“W-what…?”

That was when he remembered.

"Yakov!" His hands seized the bottom of Yakov's gray robe. The man looked at him, perplexed. Yuuri had never been too handsy, and certainly not with him.

“What is it, boy? Don’t work yourself up into another frenzy.”

“Yakov, you need to warn- you need to tell-,”

“Yuuri, you’re babbling,” Yakov said, placing an uncharacteristically gentle hand on top of Yuuri’s head.

“Now, I’ll go get us some tea, and you stay here.”

With that, Yakov was gone. Yuuri was alone in the room – alone but for the thought of Leroy’s smiling face.

He had to find a way to warn him.

Yuuri's legs wouldn't carry him, so he crawled all the way to the door, pushing it open with an effort. He managed to make it out into the deserted hallway.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Yuuri froze. He looked up to see his mistress standing over him, her face disapproving.

“Mi-Minako-sensei, Leroy, you need to tell them-,”

“I believe you are in no position to tell me what to do.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened. Minako’s face changed into an expression he couldn’t quite identify – but that didn’t stop him from being very, very afraid.

The woman kneeled next to his shivering form.

“And you are certainly in no position to contradict our dear Guest.”

The last thing Yuuri felt was betrayal.

That and a needle plunging into his neck.

Then everything went black.

Chapter Text

Consciousness did not come easy. Yuuri felt like he was swimming through molasses. His breathing felt somehow labored and not like his own. He felt lead in his limbs, and his eyelids were like heavy shutters.

Finally, though, he managed to push through the haze and open his eyes with difficulty.

He was lying on a tatami, still clad in the same clothing as he had been during his entertaining. He tried to sit up a little, but the stiffness in his arms did not allow him to push off the floor.

“You’re going to feel like that for a while.”

Heavily, Yuuri turned his head to look at the source of the familiar voice.

“Minako… san…” He breathed. The moment of confusion was replaced with a sudden, painful kind of clarity. “Minako-san, what… what happened? What was that all about? Why did you…”

He stopped for a moment, frowning.

“Why did you bring me here?”

Minako’s face was unreadable as she reached for a cup and gently lifted Yuuri off the tatami to pour water into his mouth. Yuuri had no choice but to accept – his throat was parched, anyway. He allowed the woman to do as she wished, all the while trying to reorganize the confused thoughts in his head.

“Good boy,” Minako said, removing the cup once it was empty. She placed Yuuri’s head in her lap and liberated his hair from the ribbon it had been tied with. Yuuri closed his eyes against the harsh light coming from the overhead lamp. The buzzing from it made his ears ring.

“If only you had been so good when Sakamoto-san asked you for a favor.”

Yuuri's eyes snapped open, and he started forward, only to have Minako yank on his hair, making him fall back into her lap.

He looked up at her, not so much confused anymore but afraid. Her face was too calm, too stoic, not the usual bored expression he was used to. It was almost as if she had no emotion as if she were a blank slate.

“M-Minako-san?”

“Yes, Yuuri, yes,” she replied, her voice just as monotone as her face. Yuuri didn’t know what it was about the fact that she did not emote that scared him – but it did, on a purely visceral, human level. Human beings were made to run from people like this. People who showed no emotion, no empathy, nothing. People who could switch it off at the drop of a hat.

“You have been quite disobedient, child,” Minako said. Her eyes were fixed on Yuuri’s face, and he could not escape their scrutiny.

“I have done nothing-,”

“You allowed yourself to love,” the woman replied. Yuuri froze.

“I swear, nothing ever-,”

“I know what happened between you and Viktor during the First Night,” Minako said. “If you were so naïve as to think I would not find out, you are more of a fool than most people think, Yuuri.”

The Courtesan tried to come up with an answer to that, frantically searching his mind for a loophole, for an excuse, a way out-

“But it is not just Viktor I am talking about, child,” Minako said, continuing to stroke his hair as if nothing were wrong. As if they were best friends, having this conversation over hair-braiding and makeup.

“it is also the fact that you let Yurio escape with that bodyguard.”

“H-how do you know about that?” Yuuri asked, his lips strangely wooden.

"Yuuri," Minako said, and her face almost took on an expression of patronizing tenderness. Perhaps her face did, yes, but her eyes remained glossy and impassive as if she were a sick fish. Her finger snuck behind Yuuri's ear, finding the bump there. "I have your memories."

“You cannot… it’s illegal!”

Minako quirked an eyebrow.

“So is helping indebted Courtesans escape, and yet, you did it,” she replied casually. “Monitoring your memories is the only way in which I can control this House. You must understand, it is all for your own good.”

Yuuri looked up at her, aghast.

“You spy on us? On all of us?” He asked, eyes wide. Minako reached into her pocket, pulling out something small and black.

A memory processor.

“This one belonged to Yurio,” she said casually. “I discovered it ripped out in an alleyway several blocks away from here. Or rather, it was discovered and handed over to me. The last face on this memory reel is that of the bodyguard. The one before is what interested me the most. It is the face I see in front of me right now, Yuuri.”

“I swear, I… I didn’t mean to,” Yuuri whispered.

“Nonsense, child,” Minako replied. “Of course you did. You have always had quite a faint heart. Even as a little boy, before you became Viktor’s apprentice, you have always been… sensitive. Perhaps that has to do with your human nature. The human nature that exists only thanks to the sentimentality of the people you used to call your parents.”

"You know nothing about my parents," Yuuri snapped, trying to push himself away from the woman. She let him go, allowing him to fall onto his side. He groaned painfully.

"I know that you were not made in a laboratory. That you were meant for two people, who would have loved you as their child and given you all you wanted. Too bad they went bankrupt."

“You don’t know anything about my life before I came here,” Yuuri breathed, attempting to sit up again.

“On the contrary, dear, I know everything. I know more than you do, Yuuri. I know that you are entirely human, compared to the man you fell in love with. Or the boy who became your friend."

“Viktor and Yurio are just as human as I am,” Yuuri replied angrily. “Who cares if they were made in a lab?”

“How cute,” Minako replied, feigning a yawn. “In any case, dear, this is not why I brought you here.”

“You mean drugged and brought me here?” Yuuri retorted, crawling towards the wall and using it to prop himself up. Minako seemed unimpressed with his display of willpower.

“I brought you here to tell you that if you pull another stunt like you did with Leroy, you will be very, very sorry.”

Yuuri frowned.

“Wait, Leroy? I thought-,”

“Oh yes, dear. You do realize that as a Courtesan House, we cater to every whim of our Guests. Our dear, dear Guests and benefactors, who make our lives worth living.”

Ah.

“You’re working with Sakamoto?”

“Under him, yes. Sakamoto-san has been most generous with us, ever since you became an Apprentice. I do not understand what he sees in you, personally, but he has taken quite a shine to you. Which means that you are the one who will make him happy. Do you understand, Yuuri?”

Yuuri shook his head vigorously.

“He wanted me to kill a person!”

“Perhaps. You ended up doing it by yourself, though. Because you did not follow orders.”

"He is a Guest; he's not supposed to order-,”

"Yuuri," Minako sighed as if she were explaining things to a child. A very slow, petulant child. "Let me make it quite clear. You are to serve Sakamoto-san hand and foot… and any other part of your body he desires."

“I won’t murder people on his behalf!”

“Your morals, dear, are irrelevant. For if you don’t do this, there will be consequences.”

"He can't do anything to me," Yuuri hissed. "He can't! I am already at the bottom of the food chain-,"

“But your darling Viktor is not. And neither is Yurio,” Minako said, reaching into her pocket for her PA. “You see, according to Sakamoto-san’s extensive intelligence network, Yurio is currently living off-planet with his boy toy and enjoying a life of anonymity. You wouldn't want to destroy that now, would you?"

“You wouldn’t dare-,”

"Or imagine what would happen if someone accidentally slipped poison into the glass of a particular Senator over breakfast?"

Yuuri clenched his fists.

“Of course, he has plenty political opponents who would fall under suspicion. Then again, he also has a reluctant Spouse who is rumored to have romantic entanglements with a certain Apprentice of his own.”

Yuuri sat there, slumped against the wall, speechless.

“You see, dear, this is the sentiment that I warned you about. People like you are quite vulnerable to manipulation, I am afraid.”

"Why are you doing this?" Yuuri asked bitterly. His heart felt as if it were about to shrink in on itself and disappear into a speck of dust. Yes, yes, it was true that he was easy to push around. Because he was capable of loving people that weren't even there, the people who had been a fixture in his life, the people who had become his family ever since he had started his Apprenticeship.

It wasn’t fair.

“Because I want to keep this business afloat,” Minako replied. “And Sakamoto-san is very generous with his donations.”

“Minako-san, please,” Yuuri breathed. “I am not a murderer.”

 Minako sighed and pointed her PA at the wall, opening a projection.

This morning, J.J. Leroy, a wealthy businessman and aspiring politician from Mars, was found dead in his hotel room. The circumstances of his death appear suspicious. The interplanetary police are opening a full investigation on the grounds of possible homicide.

There was a hole in Yuuri's stomach, a sucking, gaping hole which threatened to consume all of him. Leroy's garish demeanor and broad smile pushed themselves to the forefront of his mind.

“I believe you are a murderer now.”

“I never meant to kill him,” Yuuri whispered. “I thought I was giving him poison.”

“Your place is not to think, Yuuri,” Minako said, standing. She walked over to where he sat, shrunken against the wall, and pulled him up by his hair, making him yelp.

“Get yourself cleaned up and prepare for work,” she breathed into his face, every bit the viper he had never suspected her to be.

“Sakamoto-san will be expecting you tonight.”

Chapter Text

Viktor had never felt so lost before. Frankly, he’d never even had the opportunity to feel lost, since his life had been comfortably predetermined and cushy for quite a long time. Until, of course, Yuuri had come along and messed the perfectly laid-out plans for him.

Viktor had decided a long time ago to forgive him.

It had been months since his encounter with Yurio at the banquet, and yet, he had found absolutely no way to get back to Yuuri. The Senator, a kind but intelligent man, was very careful about not bringing Viktor on any kind of trip to even remotely close to where the Courtesan House was. Not to mention the army of bodyguards he had employed on seemingly every planet they ever visited.

It wasn’t like Viktor’s life was horrible. It was quite comfortable, really. He was the Spouse of a prominent politician and spent his days lounging around the estate or shopping for the same kind of boring attire he'd been forced into since marrying the Senator. He had tried so hard to be interested in the things that other Spouses were interested in, but for the life of him, he could never actually pay attention to their superficial conversation.

“Viktor, honey, am I boring you?”

His eyes snapped out to look at the pouty face of Christophe, an unlikely companion he’d acquired as he’d oozed his way through banquets, balls, and dinner parties.

Christophe was… well, he wasn't exactly unpleasant. He was a genuinely nice person, but his shallowness sort of clouded over that most of the time. Still, Viktor sought out his company regularly – Christophe was an excellent and expensive drinking buddy. He was married to one of the Senator's lobbyist friends and though that made him slightly below Viktor's station, they still hung out on occasion.

“Sorry, Christophe,” Viktor exhaled, stirring his drink with the straw idly. He didn’t even know what it was, but it tasted fruity and looked like something he would have used on his hair back in the day. Back when he had not been out of his depth.

"Something on your mind, love?" Christophe asked, leaning in a little too close than was acceptable in the stiff-necked society Viktor was now a part of. That was one of the things that he appreciated about Christophe. He wasn't afraid to cross lines and be touchy-feely or frank or, well, slightly inappropriate. Viktor sometimes wondered if the man had any background in being a Courtesan. Of course, he'd never ask something this scandalous. That just wasn't done.

“Nothing, just… daydreaming,” Viktor lied.

“Didn’t look like nothing to me,” Christophe drawled, sipping on his severely mutated version of a Martini which featured six decorative cocktail umbrellas and what looked like half an avocado on the edge of the glass.

Viktor sighed, leaning back in his seat. He looked around the bar, hating how drab it appeared.

Everyone wore various shades of silver and slate gray. The only thing that was different were the accessories. Everyone’s hair was short. Everyone was so mundane in stirring their drinks or listening to their equally mundane companions. There was no music.

What kind of bar has no music? Viktor thought to himself, frustrated.

“You know, you’re very easy to read when you’re sad,” Christophe’s accented voice drawled. Viktor winced.

“I’m not sad. I’m just pensive,” he said. “Anyway, what were you talking about?”

Christophe gave him a look that clearly stated he wasn’t buying it.

“I was talking about how hung up you are on a particular prostitute from Earth-,"

“What?!” Viktor snapped. Christophe smirked.

“Gotcha.”

The silver-haired man groaned a sound that drew attention from other tables, making him feel very, very small.

“You know, it’s really easy to tell when you’re thinking about him,” Christophe said thoughtfully. “You get this look on your face.”

During a drunken night when their Spouses had been off doing business, Viktor had confessed his feelings for Yuuri – and what he had done on the young man's First Night – to Christophe. To his credit, instead of being surprised, Christophe had burst out laughing and planted a noisy kiss on Viktor's cheek. The next morning, a horrified Viktor had made him swear not to tell. Christophe had kept his word.

That was another thing that Viktor appreciated about him.

"I can't help it," he said finally. "It's been months, and I'm getting nowhere. The Senator has these hounds on my heels all the time, and I can't even access the messaging system to try and get in contact."

Christophe lifted an eyebrow.

“He sure has you on a leash.”

Viktor sighed.

“He’s a good man. A man who deserves far better than me and my half-assed attitude towards this marriage,” he said, sipping his drink.

“He doesn’t think so. Apparently, he’s been giddy with happiness, according to my Spouse,” Christophe said. "Signing deals and advocating for the purposes of his friends. The word is, you've made the Senator soft… In a metaphorical way. Not the physical."

Viktor rolled his eyes.

"We have sex on a schedule," he said. "We do everything on a schedule. Eating, going out, even watching stuff on the info stream. It drives me nuts how structured everything is.”

Christophe shrugged.

“You get used to it after a while.”

Viktor arched an eyebrow.

“When I arrived in this life, it was from a seedy bar on one of Venus’ moons,” Christophe said. Viktor hummed, glad that he had been correct in his assumption that Christophe hadn’t been born into this life of luxury and boredom.

"My Spouse stumbled into the bar nursing a broken heart. His intended had dropped him and gone for a younger, more handsome man from Pluto. Pluto, can you believe it?" Christophe scoffed. "So I served him a drink and let him fondle me and a week later, he took me away, and I never looked back."

“Your point?” Viktor asked.

"My point is that I got my happy ending. I like this. I like being surrounded by gray and dull. Because I know that I am not that. I am the one who stands out and does outrageous things like wear a golden pin."

“How exciting your life is,” Viktor replied sarcastically. Christophe toasted him with his drink.

“I was made to be a butterfly in this world of months. You were made to be a butterfly among butterflies. Hell, you were made to fall in love with one just like yourself.”

Viktor sighed.

“What’s the difference? We’re both still here.”

"Let me tell you this: I'm not leaving this place. Ever. Even though my husband is about as exciting as a moonrock sample, he is mine, and he pampers me, and that's enough for me to keep my wings spread wide open here," Christophe replied. He looked at Viktor pointedly.

“But you… you want to move on. This is not enough for you.”

“I made a deal,” Viktor said, his voice wavering. “One night with Yuuri in exchange for all this.”

“That was a stupid deal,” Christophe said. “The Senator is well-versed in getting what he wants.”

Viktor shrugged.

“I just wish I could… I don’t know, just keep tabs on Yuuri,” he admitted. “Watching from a distance is enough.”

“Will it always be?” Christophe asked. Viktor didn’t say anything to that.

The blond looked at him for a long moment and then sighed.

"What if I told you I knew someone who can find these things out?" He asked, biting his lip. Viktor's chest was filled with a soaring warmth, and he nearly knocked over the table in his enthusiasm.

“You do?”

Christophe sighed.

“An old friend, working in the same district as your Courtesan House. He’s a… hired man, of sorts. He basically does anything you pay him to do. He could… stake things out for you. Theoretically.”

“Oh, Christophe,” Viktor whispered, eyes filling with tears. “It would mean the world.”

“Of course, he doesn’t really come cheap.”

Viktor nodded, too elated to let the words affect him.

"Especially considering you don't have access to your money."

Shit. That was true. After all, Viktor had left the Courtesan House and married the Senator. And thus, the only funds he now had were his Spouse’s. The Senator signed off on every transaction he made – food, shopping, even the drink he was having now.

“I’ll come up with it,” he said decisively.

“Oh?”

“I will. I promise. Just… I want to know how he is,” Viktor whispered, trying to picture Yuuri in his robes and his makeup, magical as ever.

Christophe nodded.

“Alright. Then I will try to get in contact with him. It might be hard, considering my spousal situation is similar to yours.”

Viktor grabbed Christophe’s hands.

“Thank you,’ he said honestly, looking at the man’s face.

Christophe smiled.

“I have my happy ending. Maybe you’ll have yours. One day.”

“I will,” Viktor breathed. “I will. I will do anything to see him again.”

“You’re quite obsessed.”

“I’m… I am,” Viktor admitted. “But I can’t let it end like that. I can’t leave him in there when we both know that he belongs by my side.”

“Does he know that?”

Viktor bit his lip, remembering that moment when he hadn’t waved back. The moment which wouldn’t have changed things, not really; but now, he wished that he had reciprocated Yuuri’s attempt at communication.

He’d been an idiot.

“I’m sure he knows,” he finally said. “I know it was real for both of us. It still is.”

“Then the butterfly will help you,” Christophe said with a grand motion of his arms. Viktor found himself laughing genuinely for the first time in months.

The moths stared at them, making them giggle even harder.   

 

Chapter Text

The funny thing about a conscience is that one never knew whether they had one until it began to act up. Yuuri had always considered himself a person of normal morals – well, as normal as they could be, considering his line of work. Even so, selling his art and body to men, he had always felt right in doing so. Not happy, necessarily; but right.

Working for Sakamoto, on the other hand, felt nothing but right.

The man had evolved from a slightly sleazy, somewhat awkward customer of which Yuuri had always had many into a monstrous chimera with thousands of ugly, disgusting, dangerous heads. Every time Yuuri satisfied one, another one appeared.

For now, the man had stopped giving Yuuri orders that the Courtesan was simply too weak to carry out. Stealing, making his Guests drunk enough to spill government secrets which he at a later date related to his newly-found master; these things, Yuuri could do. He hated doing them. That was when his conscience kicked in, reminding him of much simpler times.

Back when the most difficult choices he had made had related to his choice of robe for the evening.

Back when Viktor had been there to guide his hand and show him the way. He sometimes wondered whether Viktor would spit on him if he ever were to find out what Yuuri had been up to lately. Other times, he questioned whether Viktor himself had ever participated in shady dealings. Perhaps he had been the one who had aided the Senator's rise to power behind the scenes.

Yuuri had no way of knowing. Minako had chosen to treat him as if he were nothing but furniture and honestly? Yuuri was not really angling for a heart-to-heart with the woman.

The sting of her betrayal was still quite fresh in his mind. Call him dramatic, but Yuuri did not forgive too quickly.

After a while, the work Sakamoto had him do on the side became almost numbing. To the point where Yuuri was capable of stifling the tiny voice of right and wrong in his head. He no longer took pleasure in his nightly activities, nor did he particularly hate them. They were just part of everything, part of life, part of his schedule.

A schedule he was to keep until he became too old and unattractive to perform as a flower for these men to lecherously hold and gaze upon.

It went without saying that nobody else knew about his extra work. Not sweet Phichit, not Yuu-chan He suspected that not even Yakov knew what it was that Sakamoto had demanded of him. Nobody knew. He was completely alone.

He had wanted to start a diary, but then, just as his memory chip, it could be hacked, found, discovered and used as a weapon against him or worse, against Sakamoto. If Sakamoto went down, the entire Courtesan House would capsize with him.

Yuuri could not afford that to happen.

So he did his best. His utmost. He put on lavish robes and broad smiles and touched, danced, kissed, fed the men who came to see him from all the corners of the Solar System. He listened to their woes and their prideful stories and wheedled information out of them with the mastery of a surgeon and the charm of a true Courtesan.

He had to admit, Sakamoto’s plan to use one of their kind was ingenious – Courtesans virtually had access to any sort of information; men spoke quite a bit when they were plied with drink and carnal pleasure.

Whenever he wasn’t working, Yuuri tended to the garden outside. The old gardener robot had been retired due to old age and severe mechanical malfunctions that had caused it to spontaneously combust several times, once, unfortunately, over some old foliage which had caught fire immediately.

So Yuuri had taken on the role of the robot, clipping branches and trimming trees, tending to the roses and rearranging the stones by the stream. Minako didn’t seem to mind – she had only told him to be careful not to damage his body doing it.

He hummed to himself as he worked, trying very hard not to think about the fact that he was supposed to steal a very valuable microchip from a very prominent government official tonight.

“Your green thumb is growing bigger and bigger.”

He whipped around, stumbling a little as he dropped the watering can.

“Oh, it’s you,” he sighed with relief.

Oh, it’s you? That’s not very nice,” Yuuko said with a scoff as she perched herself on the steps leading up to the main building. Yuuri sighed, picking up the can and rolling up his sleeves. “Whom did you expect to see, anyway?”

Yuuri shrugged. He had become pretty jumpy after all.

"You know, Yuuri, something's up with you," Yuuko observed, cocking her head to the side as she watched him intently. Yuuri tried not to look too nervous as he glanced away, pretending to be very occupied with the orchids.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he mumbled.

“You haven’t come to see me in ages. And I know you love it when I make your favorite,” Yuuko said, knitting her brows.

“I can’t really afford to eat pork cutlet bowls all the time. I have to stay in shape,” Yuuri said, shrugging.

“Are you saying the only reason you would visit me is because of the food?” Yuuko pouted. Yuuri sighed.

“I’ve been busy.”

“Not during the day. You’re gardening, for gods’ sakes! Nobody does that anymore.”

“I like it.”

Yuuko gave him a skeptical look.

"Well, fine, whatever. When you feel ready to talk about what's been eating your ass, you know I'm there to listen," she replied. Yuuri turned around to look at her, softening up a bit. It wasn't Yuuko's fault he couldn't handle himself properly after all.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, looking down at his feet. “I just can’t tell you yet.”

"Well, if you won't talk to me," Yuuko said, standing up, "maybe you'd like to speak to a friend of mine."

Yuuri wrinkled his forehead in confusion.

“Why would I do that?”

“Just come to the kitchen after your last Guest is done,” Yuuko said with a small smirk playing on her lips. “Trust me on this one, okay, darling?”


Yuuri did. As soon as he chip was in his sleeve and the man whom it belonged to had been carted off to sober up at home, he ran downstairs to the kitchens. Yuuko was already there, pouring tea for a figure clad in all black. Yuuri couldn’t see who it was because of the frankly ridiculously large hood they were wearing.

“Ah, Yuuri, you’re here!” Yuuko said cheerfully, pulling another cup out for him.

Yuuri sat down on a rickety stool, weary of the new acquaintance.

“You asked me to come here, so I’m here,” he said uneasily.

“Right. Well, I want you to meet someone. This here is Sara.”

The person lowered their hood to reveal that they were a very, very attractive young woman with bright eyes and a cunning smirk. The kind of smirk that did not belong on the face of an obedient woman. Sara was clearly trouble and all the more fun for it.

“I’ve wanted to meet you for a while, Yuuri,” she said, bowing her head to him. He responded in kind, lost.

“D-do I know you?” He asked, wracking his mind.

“Oh, only by extension. You are the one who cured my brother’s unhealthy obsession with me, after all.”

Oh. Oh!

“You’re Michele’s sister,” Yuuri realized, eyes wide. “You’re the one he was talking about.”

“Indeed,” Sara replied, smiling at him. “And I daresay, you gave him enough food for thought to make him stop his advances. Which is more than I could have asked for. I’m free to date again!”

“More like sleep around,” Yuuko muttered, receiving a friendly slap on the hand for that.

“There is not a Lady in town who doesn’t know about one-night Sara.”

Yuuri tried not to let his surprise show.

“In any case, that’s only part of why I am here,” Sara continued. She looked at Yuuri intently. “I have a message for you.”

“A message?” Who would leave him a message with a noblewoman? Surely, Sakamoto had easier ways of communication?

“A message from my good friend Christophe who relays it on behalf of one noble Spouse by the name of Viktor.”

Viktor.

“You know Viktor?” Yuuri asked, nearly grabbing Sara by the wrists. He managed to stop himself before he did, though – thank the gods.

“Not personally. If I did, it would be hard for me to relay messages from him to you,” Sara said. “The Senator is keeping very close watch on him. But he’s alright. He’s doing fine, Yuuri. He says he misses you and he wishes he could see you every single day.”

A lump formed in Yuuri’s throat.

“H-he does?”

Sara shrugged.

“That’s what Chris told me to tell you. And another thing, Yuuri…”

She leaned in, urging him to do the same.

“He’s coming for you.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened even more.

“W-wait, how-“

“I have no idea, and I think that’s for the best,” Sara replied quietly. Her features softened and she looked at Yuuri with a compassionate sort of woe.

“He really does love you, you know.”

His heart was beating a mile a minute, but Yuuri did not care. Viktor was alive, he was alright, and he was going to find him again.

“When?” He asked eagerly. He had to get out of here before Sakamoto blackmailed him into something terrible. Before he did something Viktor would not condone.

“I don’t know. That’s all I was asked to tell you,” Sara replied. Disappointment flooded Yuuri, but he nodded, understanding. It was ridiculously dangerous, what they were doing.

“C-can I give him a message back?” Yuuri asked. Sara’s lips parted into a smile.

“Sure.”

Yuuri thought long and hard about what to tell Viktor. There were so many things, so many stories, so many words that he wanted Viktor to hear. There was no time for any of them.

So he just reached out and placed one finger on top of Sara’s head.

“Just that. Tell him his hair is still thick and shiny.”

Chapter Text

Time trudged on by, sluggish and sickly sweet. Yuuri sometimes looked back on his earlier days at the Courtesan House, when he had been nothing but a failed Apprentice and a servant for all intents and purposes. When he had wished for a Courtesan’s fame, above all; when he had desired reverence, all eyes on him. When he had been young and foolish and when he had not known the burden of beauty.

Yuuri was not vain; he knew there were Courtesans in the universe who were much prettier than him; younger, better at what they did, perhaps. He also knew, though, that not even one of them tried as hard as he had when Viktor had first given him his chance.

Sometimes, he wished he had just told Viktor no. Insisted on it. Told him to get out. Ignored his advances and barred himself in his room when Viktor had performed. Out of sight, out of mind with the temptation. Perhaps then, he would have been free.

Now, though, when he walked down the hallways of the Courtesan House, all eyes were on him. Stony cold eyes, filled with businesslike calculation, courtesy of Yakov and Minako. Jealous eyes of Apprentices and fellow less successful Courtesans. Smiling eyes of his only friend, Phichit, who remained blissfully ignorant of the darkness brewing in Yuuri's head.

The worst eyes were Sakamoto's. Whenever the man looked at Yuuri, the Courtesan felt as though he was being enveloped in a pit filled with venomous snakes. Terror coiled in his stomach, and his knee-jerk reaction was to smile, laugh it off, to continue entertaining.

Sakamoto continued to make love to him after every night of dance and food, and Yuuri somehow managed to erase the man’s face, to distort his features when he did so. Sakamoto knew this, of course, so time and time again, he would tell Yuuri, look at me. See me. See only me.

After that, Sakamoto would take a cigarette and light it up, exhaling the toxic smoke into the sweat-slicked atmosphere of the room. His associates, whose numbers grew day by day, would pass out drunk and sexed-out on the floor, with Yuuri's fellow Courtesans tending to them robotically. They would clean the men up and send them home on drone taxis, leaving Yuuri to deal with Sakamoto alone. They all seemed to think that Sakamoto would one day take Yuuri to Spouse and make him a rich, pampered pet. Sakamoto, of course, had no intention of doing so.

They all thought Yuuri had the most hopes – they did not know he was almost hopeless.

Well, he had been, until a few weeks ago; when Sara had delivered the news that made his spirits soar once more. Sure, he had no idea how it would happen that he and Viktor could be together again; but that wasn't the point. He didn't care about technicalities. He wanted to believe that one day, Viktor would just come and take him away. As passive and unrealistic as that was, Yuuri wanted it to be true.

Pathetic.

"You know, Yuuri, you are the smartest Courtesan of your generation," Sakamoto drawled one day as Yuuri dutifully wiped his release off his skin. They were alone in the main entertainment hall – Sakamoto's people had already been shipped back home. It was a lovely night, too – cherry trees had begun to blossom in the indoor patio, and their sweet smell was magnified by the household robots, making it almost seem like they were outside. The glass roof overhead boasted a magnificent view of the stars. Yuuri ignored it, focusing entirely on Sakamoto. If he just did his job, perhaps the man would go home and leave him soon.

“Why is that, Sakamoto-sama?” Yuuri asked in a murmur.

"Because you are intelligent enough to know what's right for you," Sakamoto said, tugging Yuuri on the wrist and bringing him closer. Yuuri let out a small sound of surprise.

“Because you are also clever enough to let my plans come to fruition without a hitch.”

Yuuri's stomach pooled with dread. Sakamoto wasn't going home anytime soon.

“I heard the rumors, you know. The ones the little whores spread, about you and me. That I’ll be your Prince Charming and take you away and make you my little Spouse for the rest of your life,” Sakamoto continued, smirking as Yuuri glanced away.

“They’re just rumors,” Yuuri mumbled.

“What if they weren’t?”

Their eyes met and a whole moment past before Sakamoto barked out a laugh. Yuuri sighed.

“Of course not. What would I do with a whore for a Spouse?” Sakamoto laughed. “The Senator was senile enough to think that his precious Viktor wasn’t going to spread his legs for everything that moved.”

Yuuri bit back a retort. Viktor wouldn’t do that. Even if he didn’t love the Senator, he wouldn’t sleep around. He knew how much was at stake for the man’s reputation and his own to boot.

“Oh, are you pouting at me?” Sakamoto laughed, grabbing Yuuri’s face and forcing the Courtesan to look him in the eye. His gaze narrowed. “Did you really think that your kind can stay faithful? Please.”

“My kind is human, just like the rest of the world," Yuuri murmured, tugging away from Sakamoto. "We don't just… f-fuck like animals.”

“Please, kitten,” Sakamoto said, laughing. “You live to be taken and made to moan. You proved that tonight, yet again.”

Yuuri looked Sakamoto dead in the eye, his heart hammering in his chest.

“I was faking it,” he spat.

Sakamoto's laughter stopped abruptly. Yuuri knew that he had just done the irreparable – he had damaged the man's gigantic yet fragile ego. Sakamoto would laugh and boast to his friends whenever he came here that he made the best Courtesan in the System moan and pant like a bitch, after all. Yuuri had never taken kindly to those words, but this was the first time he had ever dared say anything.

“What did you just say?”

“I said I could never take pleasure in someone as vile as you, Sakamoto-sama,” Yuuri replied stubbornly. The man’s hands contracted into fists for a second, and Yuuri scrambled away, expecting to be hit.

But Sakamoto’s hands relaxed, and the man settled back down.

“What’s it matter if you like it, anyway?” He muttered, taking a puff off his cigarette. “It’s not like you matter.”

I matter, Yuuri wanted to scream. He knew he mattered; Viktor had taught him that. Even if he did sell his body for money, he mattered. He mattered. He was human. He was alive.

Sakamoto probably didn’t think so.

“Whatever, kid. I’m only here for a warm hole to fuck and a plan to put in place,” Sakamoto said, tossing the cigarette into the ashtray. “You’re gonna like this one.”

I sincerely doubt it, Yuuri though, but listened anyway.

“A friend of ours is coming back to town.”

He didn’t like the sound of that.

“The Senator is doing an exclusive tour of the System. Can you believe the old fart? He still thinks people care about whatever the fuck he is up to. As old as he is, he was the best fucking Senator this System has seen in ages. Piece of shit.”

Oh, no.

“Naturally, he wants to see the House. His assistant is very susceptible to my kinds of persuasive methods, and she was nice enough to hand over his schedule.”

Oh, no.

“As annoying as he is, people seem to like him,” Sakamoto continued, relishing the dawning look of horror on Yuuri’s face. “Which means that they are making him popular. I say the idiot should just retire somewhere on fucking Uranus and spend the rest of his life fucking your pretty little teacher.”

“I thought he was,” Yuuri whispered.

“Yeah, so did I. I have no idea if he’s coming back to politics or this is just an old man’s indulgence. Either way, it’s annoying. I want him out of the way.”

"Honestly?" Sakamoto turned to look at him. "I just fucking hate the old fart."

"Why do you want him dead so much?" Yuuri asked, biting his lip. He felt like crying.

He couldn’t breathe.

“Please don’t make me do this,” Yuuri whispered.

"Don't worry, it's all taken care of," Sakamoto said, smirking at the Courtesan. "He's gonna come in here, you're gonna sit in his lap, and once he's drunk enough, you're gonna poison him with that late-activation stuff you're so familiar with. Deed done."

“W-what’s… what would happen to-,”

“Viktor?” Sakamoto interrupted. “Eh, who cares? They’ll probably suspect him of doing it. It’s not a big leap, after all. You know, whore Spouse wants to get all the money after his elderly patron dies? Makes sense, no? So don’t worry, nobody’s gonna be able to tell it’s you.”

Cold rushed into his lungs. His fingertips prickled.

“I won’t do it,” Yuuri said.

“Viktor-,”

“I don’t care!” Yuuri’s voice rose to hysterical notes, and he slammed a fist into the thin bamboo wall, making it shake. “I won’t do it! Not because of Viktor, but because the Senator never did anything to me! He’s a good man! I can’t kill an innocent man!”

“You’ve already killed innocent men for me, Yuuri,” Sakamoto said, lifting an eyebrow, apparently amused by Yuuri's emotional display. “What’s one more?”

"You're a monster," Yuuri told his Guest, who merely shrugged.

"I never pretended I wasn't," he replied. "And you will do this if you want this fucking House to stay afloat. Once the Senator's out of the way, my hegemony in politics will be undisputed."

“No. N-no, I won’t do it,” Yuuri said, shaking from head to toe. He scrambled to get his silk robe back around his shoulders, needing something to shield him from Sakamoto’s eyes. He tugged it around himself closely, feeling like a small critter about to get hunted by a large predator. Sakamoto’s face turned blank.

“If you don't do this, I will burn this House down," Sakamoto said. "I will kill every single person in here, and I will make sure that none of your little friends get out alive. And you know what else? I’ll come after that little escapee friend of yours. Yurio, right? Maybe I’ll even let the boys have a round with him when they catch him before they gut him like a fish.”

Yuuri didn’t doubt his words for a second.

“Next week,” Sakamoto said, getting up. He knocked over a bottle of expensive sake, right onto Yuuri’s silk robe. The stench made Yuuri’s eyes burn.

"You're smart enough to know what's right for you, Yuuri," the man said, repeating himself as he left. "Don't you dare disappoint me."

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri was a mess. There was no other way of putting it – everything he had done since opening his eyes this very morning had been a disaster. He ended up stubbing his toe on a table leg, spilling tea on one of his most favorite robes, stabbing himself in the eye with eyeliner, and then somehow managing to get his pin-straight hair tangled up so badly he needed Phichit’s help with it.

Not a good day.

He knew that his luck had to take a turn for the better because tonight was incredibly important. Tonight was the night he got to see the Senator. Murder him, effectively.

Except he had no idea whether he really could do it.

Yuuri didn’t really hate the Senator. There wasn’t anything to hate about him as a human being – he was a politician through and through, and he was a rare breed of politician who actually could be taken at face value. He didn't mince words, nor did he make promises he couldn't keep. The Senator had never promised Viktor the stars; he had given him a deal. Yuuri knew that. He was aware that it was the best deal Viktor could have taken. Viktor had a good life now. He was Spouse to one of the most influential people in the System.

And Yuuri’s mission was to ruin that.

He glanced at himself in the mirror, feeling for the first time in his life that he couldn’t face going to work tonight. Sure, he found his job quite unpalatable at times, especially since Sakamoto’s addenda to it had started trickling in to dilute the monotone stream of performances and having sex with faceless billionaires. But now… now he felt like he would lose it again if he went back.

But he had to.

His eyes slid to the robe that had been set out for him to wear tonight. Minako was really pulling out all the stops on this one. Yuuri wondered if she knew what Sakamoto had asked him to do. She hadn’t said anything, but she hardly ever did. She just watched silently from the corner as Yuuri did Sakamoto’s dirty work and pocketed the extra money, content just with that and the fact that the man recommended the place to all his powerful new friends.

His PA pinged, letting him know that it was time to get ready for tonight. With a sigh, Yuuri turned back towards the mirror. Leaning in, he inspected himself carefully. Something was different. He didn't know when it had changed – back when he had first become an Apprentice, when he had grown closer to Viktor… or perhaps more recently, when he had been involved in Sakamoto's shady dealings.

The lines of his face were harder now, more defined. The childish softness that had accompanied the slight flab of his stomach when he had worked as nothing more than a servant around the Courtesan House had disappeared. His lips had become fuller, a development probably fueled by the countless hours he had spent kissing men and servicing their bodies.

The one thing that had changed the most were his eyes. They were tired, somehow. Weary. The chocolate brown that Viktor had complimented so many times had turned dull.

Perhaps that was what the eyes of a murderer looked like. Yuuri didn't really know. He had never seen a killer. Not before Sakamoto had come along and not before his own face had begun to look sinister in the mirror.

With a sigh, he reached for his lipstick, applying it meticulously to his mouth. Usually he wouldn't go to such lengths as to agonize over every line, but tonight, his Guest was the Senator himself. For some reason, Yuuri felt like he had to prove to the man that he was worth something.

Like he was worthy of Viktor.  

Maybe he did hate the Senator a little. Even if he had no real, tangible reason to hate him, he couldn’t help it. After all, jealousy was a feeling that all humans were susceptible to, be it politicians, businessmen, or flowery Courtesans. And he was jealous. He envied the Senator for being able to just be around Viktor. To touch his pale skin and watch his face light up when he ate something he enjoyed. To dance with Viktor at some gala or other – of course, it was a different kind of dancing, not at all like what Viktor had tutored him in.

Yuuri sometimes wondered how much Viktor had changed. Did he now wear only gray? Did he like his short hair? Did he eat things that had long names and were served in teeny-tiny portions? Did he have a private driver and a bodyguard to accompany him when he went shopping with other Spouses of notable men?

Did he sleep well at night?

Did he still take two sugars in his tea?

Did he even drink tea anymore, or was that too plebeian for him?

Did he think of Yuuri, just a little bit, just sometimes, when no other thoughts came to mind?

Before that train of thought could take him to an even darker place, Yuuri shook himself out of it and reached for the robe, tugging it on. He made sure it wasn’t creased anywhere, turning left and right to see if the mirror would show him any flaws.

He looked at himself, his jaw set.

He couldn’t kill the Senator. Could he?


That night, Yuuri found himself alone with the man pretty quickly. All the Senator's Guests had made it a short evening, and so, Yuuri was left with the star of the party. The two of them hardly looked at each other as Yuuri served drinks and participated in the mindless conversation, masterfully dancing around the proverbial elephant in the room.

Yuuri still hadn’t found the courage to uncork the small bottle hidden in the interior pocket of his gown. The Senator’s lined face was just too… it was too much.

Finally, the air between them go too thick and just as Yuuri was about to pour the Senator another cup of sake, he found his wrist in the man’s grasp.

Yuuri forced himself to look up.

“You certainly are a difficult person to be around, Yuuri,” the Senator mused, his lips stretching into a small smile. Not a mocking one, never a mocking one. Just… strange. Small and somehow humble.

“A-am I not to your liking?” Yuuri stammered, not knowing what to say to that. “Shall I call someone else?”

“No, of course not,” the Senator said, letting go of Yuuri’s hand. “After all, you and I have a special connection.”

“We do?” Yuuri asked, confused.

“We are both fond of one particular person, are we not?”

The vial of poison in Yuuri’s pocket suddenly felt like it was filled with lead.

“A-are we?”

The Senator’s face softened minutely.

“You do not have to pretend with me, Yuuri. I still remember the look you had when you saw him here,” the man said, eyeing the Courtesan with curiosity. “Frankly, I was quite surprised you didn’t do something youthful and brash like kidnapping him or following us outside, at the very least.”

“Would it have worked?” Yuuri asked, looking at the Senator challengingly. The man chuckled.

“Of course not. But I would have enjoyed the show. Viktor wouldn’t have, though. After all, he does not enjoy anything that would put you in danger.”

Yuuri’s heart stuttered.

“You’re wondering if he ever thinks about you,” the Senator said speculatively, leaning back in his seat. Yuuri glanced at him sharply. The Senator paused for a moment, probably for drama’s sake, and then sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“To be quite honest with you, I do not know what he thinks of these days. Ever since he came to live with me, he has been quite distant.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Yuuri asked sharply. The Senator smiled at him.

“I was young once. I was even in love once. I understand what longing feels like.”

“Then please don’t tell me,” Yuuri said firmly, his eyes burning with tears. He looked down into his lap. “Please don’t… don’t do this to me.”

“You would pass up an opportunity to know how he is, just because of your own selfish feelings?” The Senator asked politely. Yuuri frowned. 

“It’s not about that.”

“It’s exactly about that and nothing else,” the Senator said. “Viktor has been like that as well. Refusing to even mention your name, especially after our visit here.”

“You did that to him,” Yuuri burst out. The Senator chuckled.  

“I wanted him to say goodbye to his former life properly. I suppose I was foolish to think that something so procedural would bring him closure.”

“The not being able to see any of it or talk to anyone part didn’t help,” Yuuri muttered. The Senator chuckled at that, making the Courtesan flush.

“You can be quite brutally honest sometimes, Yuuri. But yes, you are correct. He resents me for what I did.”

“Are you here to make amends to him, then?”

The Senator shook his head.

“I am simply here to speak with you. Let you know how he has been. It is the least I can do.”

“You did nothing wrong,” Yuuri said with a frown. “You offered him a deal. It was his… his fault for saying yes.”

The Senator arched an eyebrow.

“You blame him? For wanting to share one night, the most important night, with the love of his life?”

Yuuri found himself unable to breathe. He looked up at the Senator, speechless, eyes wide.

“He- what?”

“That is what he said to me when we made the arrangement. I think it was partly because he didn’t want me to have any illusions,” the Senator replied. He glanced at Yuuri. “You do understand that this is a very awkward position for me to be in. Talking to the man who holds the heart of the person I am married to.”

Yuuri sighed deeply, trying to process the words. The Senator observed him, humming thoughtfully.

“You thought he would be over you by now.”

"Yes," Yuuri murmured. "I really did. I mean, you're… uh, you're great, you know?"

“I’m a politician. I know,” the Senator said with a small laugh. “And I do treat him well. As well as I can. He has everything he could ever want. Anything he asks for, I give.”

Yuuri paused, processing that.

“What do you get out of this?” From where he stood, a loveless marriage was quite the trap.

“Well, I don’t have eligible bachelors knocking down my door, for one,” the Senator laughed. “Plus, the company of the most beautiful Spouse I could have asked for.”

“He’s more than just a pretty face,” Yuuri said sharply.

“Oh, I am well aware. I’m afraid that he has been reluctant to share his conversation with me, though.”

Yuuri nodded.

“So, what do I do, Yuuri?” The Senator asked, glancing at the Courtesan. “What do I do?”

"You go on with your press tour and continue giving to Viktor," Yuuri murmured. "That is the only thing you can do."

The Senator seemed impressed by that.

“You’re not going to try to get him away from me?”

“Would I be able to?” Yuuri asked with a sad laugh.

“No.”

“Then what is the point? I would rather he had a home with someone who can give him all those wonderful things.”

“Even if he is miserable?”

Yuuri bit his lip.

“Even then.”

The Senator nodded thoughtfully, eyeing Yuuri with a new expression on his face.

“You are very different to what I thought you would be, Yuuri.”

“I get that,” the Courtesan admitted. He knew there was nothing he could offer to Viktor. Sure, love was a great thing, whatever, but he was tied to this House, to Minako, to Sakamoto’s will. He was going to continue performing and sleeping with Guests until he was no longer able to. And then he would probably have to go to Pluto for a mining job or… who knew?

But he was definitely not going to be able to provide for someone as high-maintenance as Viktor.

And that was somehow fine.

A sense of calmness washed over Yuuri. Somehow, everything made sense now. Months of heartache and confusion gave way to acceptance. His heart no longer ached.

He could do what he had to do.

He reached into his pocket and placed the vial onto the table.

“What is that?”

“Poison,” he said quietly. “Poison given to me by Sakamoto-san to put into your drink.”

Chapter Text

A sense of calmness washed over Yuuri. Somehow, everything made sense now. Months of heartache and confusion gave way to acceptance. His heart no longer ached.

He could do what he had to do.

He reached into his pocket and placed the vial onto the table.

“What is that?”

“Poison,” he said quietly. “Poison given to me by Sakamoto-san to put into your drink.”


The Senator’s eyes widened minutely.

“What are you-,”

"Sakamoto-san gave me this to give to you," Yuuri murmured, looking at the vial of poison on the table. "He told me that I was supposed to kill you."

The Senator’s handsome face went from confusion to distress to worry to a look of curiosity.

“Why are you telling me this?” He asked, glancing at Yuuri. “I’m sure he has leverage with you.”

Yuuri sighed, wiping his sweaty hands on his robe. He glanced at the flame of the candle between them. It danced, reminding him of one of Viktor’s more passionate dances, the one in the red robe, with wax dripping over his pale skin. Enticing, fiery.

Viktor.

“I won’t do it,” Yuuri said, looking up at the Senator, his heart hammering in his chest. “I refuse to do it. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to do it, but now I’m sure. If you want to have me arrested, I won’t resist. But you don’t deserve to die, just because you are a much better man than he is.”

“Who says I'm a much better man?" The Senator asked, seemingly impressed by the direction Yuuri's thinking was taking.

“I know how Sakamoto treats Courtesans,” Yuuri said darkly. “And you are a much better man.”

“He might kill you,” the Senator said.

Yuuri shrugged in response.

“Let him. My life is worth far less than yours.”

"Not to Viktor," the Senator corrected. Yuuri gave him a small, sad smile.

"Does it matter?" He asked. "Viktor is with you. And with you, he is safe. If I did this, the police would suspect him and then what? Killing a Senator is treason. Treason means death or the mines off Pluto. We both know he is not suited for a life like that."

“So, you did not save me out of the goodness of your heart, did you?” The Senator asked, smiling gently.

Yuuri shrugged once more.

“Does it matter?” He repeated. “I did not save you, anyway. I just didn’t kill you. But you should watch your back. And Viktor’s.”

The Senator nodded, looking at Yuuri thoughtfully.

“You could have gotten rid of me and become Sakamoto’s mistress.”

“Sakamoto’s married,” Yuuri said with a frown. “That is a line I am not willing to cross.”

“You’ve slept with him, though,” the Senator said.

"I am a Courtesan. That is what I do," Yuuri replied calmly. "I sleep with wealthy men, such as yourself, and they leave their marriage at the door when they come here. That is the arrangement of this place. It always has been this way. You, of course, defied those rules with Viktor."

“You know the circumstances in which that happened,” the Senator pointed out. “You know that it was Viktor who defied them. For your sake.”

“Something I still don’t think was worth it,” Yuuri replied with a sigh. “But if you can make him happy, and if he can be free, then who am I to judge the choice he made?”

“And now you’re making another one that will leave you in the dust yet again. Tell me, Yuuri, what is it about you and self-sacrifice?” The Senator inquired, gazing at Yuuri warmly. A passing thought entered Yuuri’s mind – that this man looked like he would be a good father. He had that look about him, firm yet soft at the same time. Nurturing and strict. He was probably a good Spouse to Viktor. Viktor was probably as happy as he could be, even if his heart longed for Yuuri.

“I guess I am just one of those people who know that others are worth much more them,” Yuuri said, glancing around the room.

“Yuuri,” the Senator said, standing up. He offered the Courtesan his hand and helped him up as well. He held Yuuri’s hand firmly, his palm warm and dry.

“I have met many men on many worlds. But I am yet to find someone as good as you.”

Yuuri’s face softened with a smile.

"Then remember me for that. And let Viktor remember me for that as well," he muttered, letting go of the Senator's hand.

“I could get you out, somehow. Pay someone to smuggle you out. Buy you from Minako,” the Senator said, looking at Yuuri with worried eyes. “I have worked long enough with Sakamoto to know he is not a forgiving man.”

“Will you report him to the police?” Yuuri asked. “That he planned to kill you?”

“That might implicate you. He would be quick to blame you, a Courtesan, and the police are likely to lap it up,” the Senator said regretfully. “I assume he had you wipe the memory of your conversation from your PA.”

Yuuri nodded.

“I am asking you this, because you are a stakeholder in this situation, Yuuri,” the Senator said quietly. “What do you think I should do, knowing what you told me?”

"I think…" Yuuri paused, glancing up at the Senator. He studied his features, wondering what they looked like to Viktor when he saw them every morning. When he woke up next to this man and acted in his puppet show. When he dined with him and danced with him at soirees.

“I think you should go home and be happy,” Yuuri finished. The Senator’s eyes widened in surprise. “Sakamoto won’t bother me. My place is here. It has always been my dream to be here. So here I will stay.”

He opened the door, leaning against the frame expectantly.

“Could you do me a favor?” He asked. The Senator looked at him with a small frown.

“Anything, Yuuri.”

“Tell Viktor I love him.”

His throat ached with tears as the Senator nodded slowly and then walked out the door, tipping his hat.

“Good night, Senator.”

Farewell.


“You did what?

“I didn’t. I didn’t give him the poison,” Yuuri said quietly. He turned his head away from the window overlooking the cherry garden outside just in time to have himself grabbed by the hair and thrown onto the floor. His skull hurt with a dull ache, but it felt satisfying, even as Sakamoto’s eyes burned into his face. The man was livid. Yuuri had never seen him like this before – Sakamoto had always maintained an eerie calm about him, even when he had been at his angriest and happiest. But this… this made Yuuri feel good about what he did.

This showed that Sakamoto was a human being. He was not omnipotent, as he would have Yuuri believe. He was not all-knowing. He was a powerful man, yes. But even the most powerful men were men. Flesh and blood. Emotions.

“You little whore, you had one job to do!”

“My job is to serve drink and sex to fine men like you,” Yuuri replied, pushing himself up off the floor. He daintily tucked his legs underneath himself and looked up at Sakamoto with a blank expression on his face. It was strange, but the anxious buzzing in his head, what he had experienced before Sakamoto had walked into this room, was gone.

His mind was perfectly in control. Numb. Almost amused, even. Amused by this man who had put so much faith in his power over a single Courtesan.

"And I told him what you were planning to do too," Yuuri murmured.

“You what?!”

The blow had been expected – but it still hurt. Yuuri doubled over, clutching his stomach where a mere split-second before, Sakamoto’s boot had made contact.

“You bitch!”

The abusive words kept coming, but they washed over Yuuri with the same strange calm as the rest of Sakamoto’s presence. It wasn’t that he was completely insensitive to it, numb wasn’t really the right word, but it felt as though it was all distant. It didn’t faze him at all anymore.

Sakamoto didn't faze him because Yuuri knew that what he had done had been good. Honestly good.

That was the most a lowlife Courtesan could do.

Sakamoto lifted him off the floor by the front of his robes.

"I'll kill you. You know that?" He spat into his face, slapping Yuuri across the face with his free hand. The Courtesan felt his skin break – that was sure to leave some bruises and scrapes. Sakamoto's ring split his lip, and he sucked it into his mouth instinctively, tasting the metal.

The tang of it in his mouth was sobering.

“If that will make you feel better, go ahead,” he hissed back, refusing to be intimidated. He had spent far too much time being silent, being meek, obeying a man whose very existence spelled trouble for his principles.

“Go ahead and kill me,” he repeated. “You know rumors will start. You know that. Minako won’t stand for this, even with how much you pay her. She won’t let you live it down.”

“Who cares?” Sakamoto fumed. “Dead’s dead, it won’t bring you back if I just slit your throat.”

“Then do it,” Yuuri challenged, looking at Sakamoto challengingly. “Kill me. Slit my throat. Do what you wanted to do since day one. And then go back to your Spouse. Look them in the eye and tell them that you finally got your hands dirty. And on whom? A Courtesan.”

Sakamoto breathed hard, his face a mask of absolute rage.

Finally, he let Yuuri go, dropping him to the floor.

“You’re not worth it,” he spat, sitting back. Yuuri sat up as well, the adrenaline in his veins causing his ears to ring.

A laugh came from the odious man, and Yuuri turned to see his shoulders shake. Not a good sign.

“Might as well go after the bigger fish. Might as well hurt you where it really matters,” Sakamoto said, smirking at Yuuri. “Might as well kill your precious lover and do away with you and the Senator in one move.”

Yuuri’s heart stuttered.

“Oh,” Sakamoto breathed, seeing the look on Yuuri’s face. “That would be the best kind of revenge.”

“You wouldn’t do it,” Yuuri said, a little less confident now. He was well aware that Sakamoto was as unhinged as a person in his position and of his status could be. Which meant that he was capable of nearly anything.

“Try me, you little cunt," Sakamoto breathed, looking at Yuuri triumphantly. "I will do it with my own bare hands. Sneak into his house under the pretense of dropping off some paperwork. The whore won't even remember my face; he's had so many between his legs."

Yuuri gripped the edge of his robe, feeling anger coil within him. Sakamoto stood, arms open, palms up, almost as if he were praying to some twisted god.

“And then, I will pin him to the wall by his pretty little throat. I will choke him until his tongue is hanging out, like the filthy mutt he is! And then… oh, and then… and then I will make sure that I am the last man to sample his ass.”

Yuuri felt white-hot rage fill him as he listened on to Sakamoto’s words, horrifying in their clarity.

“I will fuck him raw while he dies.”

“Until he turns blue.”

“I will drop his corpse off in the bedroom, so the Senator sees what his beloved Spouse really looks like without all the whore makeup.”

“And maybe I’ll fuck him after that, just for the hell of it.”

Something snapped inside of Yuuri. Before he knew what was happening, he saw white. He tackled Sakamoto to the floor and the rest…

The rest was red.

A blur.

The anger consumed him until he could no longer see or feel anything, nothing but the man beneath him who was yelling and struggling under his weight.

He only came to several moments later when he realized that his pale robe was taking on a new color.

It was wet.

Red.

His mind returned to him in waves, shocking him back into reality.

The small knife, the safety precaution that he carried in his garter, was sticking out of the side of Sakamoto’s neck.

There was so much blood. So much blood. Sakamoto’s face, painted with it, looked up at him like a mask. His mouth gurgled something, and his grip on Yuuri’s hips went slack.

“N-no… no, oh, gods, no,” Yuuri whispered, trying, futilely, to use his robe to staunch the wound. Unthinkingly, he pulled the knife out, causing blood to gush everywhere even harder.

Only when Sakamoto’s eyes took on a strange, polished air to them, did he scurry away from him, his entire body vibrating with horror, eyes wet.

But his chest was strangely light.

Sakamoto was dead.

Chapter Text

Sakamoto was dead. Truly dead. Yuuri’s wide eyes took in the picture in front of him, the picture he had painted himself. Sakamoto looked even more grotesque than he had alive: his mouth gaping open, Yuuri’s small knife sticking out of the side of his neck, eyes glossy and strangely flat at the same time. He looked like a fish, a gutted one – Yuuri had seen Yuuko gut a fish many times, and that was exactly what Sakamoto looked like right now.

Fuck, what was he thinking?

Scrambling to his feet, Yuuri looked down at himself. His robe was stained with red, just like the tatami mats below. His hands were thankfully clean, somehow having avoided the spurt of blood that had hit when he’d stabbed Sakamoto.

Sakamoto was dead.

Dead.

Sakamoto was dead.

Yuuri knew he had no right to be happy; not only because he was a murderer because he had been that even before, having done Sakamoto's dirty work for him. But also because he knew this would be the end of him.

He was a murderous whore who had killed his own patron. There was no surviving in this world.

He had to run.

He quickly shrugged off his robe with numb, shaking hands, and placed it over Sakamoto’s motionless form. Light pink wasn’t his color.

I think I’m losing my mind, Yuuri thought to himself, feeling his chest begin to seize up with panic again. He leaned against the wall heavily, trying hard to calm down – which, of course, only served to make his panic worse.

Get out of here. Run.

He’d never been one for self-preservation, but somehow, somehow, he managed to make it to the door. He ran down the hallway, feet bare and body naked, adrenaline zipping up and down his synapses, making him feel high and strangely unafraid.

He skidded to a halt by the main door. Knowing Minako, he only had five minutes, tops, before someone would discover Sakamoto’s body. Yuuri glanced longingly at the security panel on the side of the door. He didn’t have the clearance to get out. He made his way over to it anyway, his hands trembling as he tried to will the thing to work, pressing his fingers to it, his face, his entire body, hoping it would somehow scan him and fool itself into–

The door slid open with a soft hiss, revealing the dark night outside.

Fresh air.

Yuuri had not tasted fresh air for so long. Even the garden wasn't the same; it didn't smell of a city night.

This did.

He took a step closer towards the door in wonder, knowing that if he tarried any longer, it would just slam shut and leave him trapped with the corpse he'd made.

“What the hell are you waiting for?”

Yuuri whipped around. His blood ran cold.

“Mi-Minako,” he whispered, his mind blank as he scrambled for excuses.

Minako’s gaze was piercing.

“Get the hell out of my House,” she said, her voice steely. Yuuri’s eyes widened in surprise.

“What?” He mouthed, unable to find his voice. He didn’t even think to have the decency to cover himself in her presence. He just stood there, naked as the day he was born save for the smudged makeup on his face, staring at the woman who had personally ensured his lack of freedom.

“Get the hell out, Yuuri,” she repeated. Her face softened somehow, and Yuuri was suddenly struck by how tired she looked. Much older than usual.

“Why?” He asked, his mind not computing what was happening.

“Because you’re the only one who can fix this now,” Minako replied. “Come back when you know what to do.”

Yuuri frowned, the stress not allowing him to understand what she was saying.

“What-?“

What happened next would have been quite comical if he hadn't been a murderer. Minako's entire foot connected with his chest, hitting him with enough force to push him out the door and onto the cold ground outside. He landed on his naked ass with a definitive thump, so surprised that he even forgot to yell out in pain.

The door slammed shut.

He sat in front of it for a long time, shivering in the cold of the night. As far as he knew, it was almost summer, but for some reason, it was cold tonight.

Perhaps it was because he was buck naked.

Something made him get to his feet. He put his arms around himself, realizing, for the first time, it seemed, that he was bare. His hair was the only way he got any warmth, but having his shoulders toastier than his ass was not a good thing.

 Slowly, he turned around.

The road leading up to the Courtesan House, one he had just seen glimpses of when walking his Guests to the door, was empty. It was badly illuminated too, the only source of light being a lone street lamp which emitted a steady, low glow.

The grass surrounding the road was damp. The parking lot empty, save for a service vehicle Minako sent to restock on groceries.

Yuuri glanced back at the closed doors of the Courtesan House, shivering.

He felt as if he was inside a dream, a strange, semi-happy, semi-nightmarish dream.

He turned back to look at the road.

Then he took the first step, his pampered, soft feet not used to the harshness of the asphalt.

it wasn’t until several hours later that the shock wore off and the real impact of what had occurred hit him, sending him into another panic attack in a deserted alleyway. Somehow, he had managed to reach what looked like the edge of town, and collapsed against the wall of a residential building, hiding in the shadows of the alleyway.

I killed him, he thought to himself, his hands shaking with excitement and terror. These very hands had killed Sakamoto, and all Yuuri could feel was fear for his own life.

No regret.

None whatsoever.

I'm a monster. I killed him, and all I feel is self-pity.

I’m a monster. I abandoned Minako to deal with it.

I’m a monster. I don’t feel sorry about any of it.

I’m a monster. I deserve to be caught.

I’m a-

“Psst!”

Yuuri whipped around, searching for the source of the sound. He squinted when he spotted a slight silhouette standing against the light in the far end of the alley.

They already found me.

They’re going to take me away.

Arrest me.

Send me to the mines.

Blindly, he grabbed for the first thing he could get his hands on, which happened to be a trash can lid. He had no idea how he would use that to defend himself, but it was worth a try.

The silhouette started to approach him, and Yuuri forced himself to clear his throat.

“Don’t come any closer!” He rasped.

A giggle followed his words. He frowned.

Did guardsmen giggle? He really didn't know. He'd never fucked one. 

“I mean it!” He insisted, his voice wavering slightly when the figure didn’t stop.

Another giggle.

“Stop!”

“You know, you kind of lose credibility as a scary alleyway thug when you’re buck naked.”

The humiliation was enough to make him hesitate.

Naturally, he had no way of seeing the person who snuck up from behind him and hit him over the head, sending him sprawling on the filthy ground. His vision swam, and then went completely dark.


His head hurt.

That was the first thing he was certain of as awareness returned to him in punishing waves, making his temples ring with pain.

He groaned, trying to will his eyes to focus on something, anything.

“He’s awake.”

The same voice from before, he thought to himself. Maybe. I don’t know. He tried to push himself up, only to realize that there was a cold compress on his forehead and that he was also weak as a baby bird.

“He woulda been awake sooner if you hadn’t hit him this hard,” a second voice said irritably. Someone snorted.

“How about next time you do the knocking out, then?”

“Please… d-don’t knock me out… again,” Yuuri managed, groaning as he sat up. Someone rushed to his side and placed a pillow behind his back to prop him up.

Finally, the darkness receded from his vision, and he turned his head painfully to look around.

A round, young face swam into view, grinning broadly at him. Yellowish hair, obviously dyed, with a playful red streak in the middle. This person was probably around Yurio’s age, maybe even younger.

Either he was amnesiac, or he didn't know this boy.  

“Don’t look so confused,” the person said, pulling a blanket over him. Yuuri realized that he had been dressed in a coarse cotton shirt and shorts.

He hadn’t worn shorts in years.

“Who are… you?” He asked, frowning as he took the compress off his face – it was starting to slide down onto his eyes anyway.

“Name’s Minami,” the boy said, still smiling. "And you are Yuuri, the most fantastic Courtesan in the System!"  

Yuuri stiffened immediately, his eyes going wide. He knew it. They were with the guard – there was no way he could escape now, not with what felt like a major concussion. His chest squeezed painfully, and Minami's face took on a look of worry.

“No, no, no, please don’t freak out!” He whined, grabbing Yuuri by the wrists. That was a bad move – in his panic, Yuuri kicked out, pushing Minami off the stool he had been sitting on and to the floor.

“Good job talking to him.”

Yuuri whipped around, ready to attack – well, probably not, but he could at least try.

A tall youth was leaning against the opposite wall, his longish hair tied up in a ponytail. His eyes were soft despite the sarcasm dripping from his words.

He didn’t look like he was a guardsman.

Minami stood, rubbing his butt with a hurt look on his face.

“Yuuri, it’s okay,” he told the panicked Courtesan, eyeing him with some resentment. “We’re not gonna turn you in or anything,”

"H-how do I know t-that?" Yuuri asked, his voice shaking. He whipped around in his perch, the room swimming. It was a dingy sort of place. Peeling paint here and there. Clearly a makeshift home, put together with the carelessness and warmth of someone who didn't have much money. It reminded Yuuri of his home right before his parents had been forced to give him up – when they had become so poor they had hardly been capable of affording one meal per day.

“Because this guy here is your biggest fan," the tall young man said, poking a finger at Minami who blushed furiously – it was evident even in the dim lighting of the room.

Yuuri frowned. What the-?

“Don’t believe me? Look.”

Yuuri's barely focused gaze followed where the young man was pointing – to the wall on his right where framed by the ugly mustard yellow of the paint and placed on a makeshift pedestal of what looked like plywood, was a full-sized hologram of him.

In ornate letters, the caption beneath the holo read: Yuuri, First Night. Hasetsu Courtesan House.

It was a good holo of him, albeit heavily edited. As the Yuuri in the hologram moved, dancing his first dance, his eyes fixed on one point – Yuuri knew that point was Viktor who wasn’t in the holo –  the Courtesan felt longing.

And then he felt terror.

“Why would you have this?” He breathed, looking back at Minami who had been playing with the hem of his shirt, eyes downcast. The second the question left Yuuri’s lips, though, the boy was on his knees again, grabbing fiercely at Yuuri’s hand.

"Because you are amazing! I look up to you so much, you're… you're so beautiful, Yuuri, I wanna be like you, I wanna dance like you and dress like you, and oh, I'm so lucky Leo knocked you out and brought you here!"

Yuuri had a hard time comprehending about ninety-nine percent of what he’d just been told.

“Pardon?” He choked out, his good manners not permitting him to curse.

"He's a nutcase but he means well," the tall youth said, sitting down on the side of Yuuri's makeshift cot. "And he does have a point. You're pretty. And famous. And my name is Leo."

Yuuri found himself shaking the young man’s hand before he even had time to think about it.

“Oh, he’s up?”

The three of them looked to the door where a third boy stood, holding a tray of what looked like homemade bread and cheese.

His gentle smile made Yuuri feel sorry for suspecting them of being guards.

“Name’s Guang Hong. Welcome to the den, Courtesan Yuuri.”

Chapter Text

“See? I told you he’d like it.”

Yuuri nodded along even as three pairs of eyes watched him carefully. He slurped down the noodles as if they were the first and last noodles he'd ever had in his entire life – and with how hungry he was, he wouldn't have been surprised if that had been the case. Gods, this was fantastic.

“I’m sure he’s just hungry. He’s used to far better food, as a Courtesan,” Guang-Hong said with a small smile. Yuuri paused for a moment, almost done with the noodles already.

"Not really. I mean, we only got to eat fancy stuff with the Guests," he said, reaching out to grab his glass and down the water that had been left in it.

“Really?” Minami asked, sounding positively disappointed. “And here I thought you were eating sweetmeats and mochi ice cream all day long.”

Yuuri snorted.

“If I did that, I’d be back to being a piggy,” he joked. The boys looked at him in confusion. He bowed his head, feeling sadness swoop over him. “Uh… inside joke.”

“Right.” Leo looked at him weirdly.

“Anyway, what are you… I mean, when I saw you out there, I thought I was dreaming,” Minami said, looking at Yuuri with wide eyes. “And then it was really you!’

“I, uh… I had to leave the House.”

Yuuri suddenly felt like the noodles were about to come up. The trio looked at him expectantly, and he found himself wanting to hide away beneath the ratty blanket they had given him. Luckily, though, they didn't seem too enthusiastic about pushing him to fess up.

“It's alright," Minami said, patting his arm sympathetically. "We've all got stories here. There are many people in the streets, all of them have stories. We don't ask questions if you don't want us to. Even though I'm super-curious."

Yuuri sighed.

"Look, I… did something wrong, and I had no choice but to go," he said, clearing his throat as he looked around the room. It was very understated, to say the least; but somehow, it felt more like a loving home than the Courtesan House had ever done. At least, since Viktor had left him there.

“Something wrong?" Minami pressed on, his eyes wide and inquisitive.

Yuuri sighed, putting aside his chopsticks. He was so tired of all of this. Running. Lying. Being involved in things he had no business being involved in.

So, he just told it like it was.

"I killed a man who threatened my family," Yuuri murmured. A small gasp traveled around the room. Whatever Minami had wanted to hear, it definitely hadn't been this.

“Oh.”

Yuuri leaned back, looking at the now wide-eyed trio.

“If you don’t want a criminal in your house, it’s understandable. I’ll leave.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Leo said, frowning. “From what Minami tells me about you, you don’t seem like the kind of person to do something like that without having a pretty good reason to do it.”

Yuuri pursed his lips.

“And family is the most important thing in the world,” Guang-Hong chimed in. “I’d kill for Leo.”

“You wouldn’t kill for me?” Minami pouted.

“You’re the one who hasn’t even bothered to find someone special because you were so hung up on becoming a Courtesan,” Leo told him. Minami stuck out his tongue.

Yuuri's heart twinged painfully. This was too reminiscent of the times he and the other Courtesans had spent time together, bickering like a set of very, very different-looking siblings.

Fuck, whatever would happen to Phichit? To Yuu-chan? To Minako and Yakov? Were they all going to be implicated in his crime? Would the Courtesan House have to close its doors, leaving them desolate? Would they get arrested and sentenced to be sent to the organic reactors, for reprocessing?

He felt the pressure in his chest rise.

“Yuuri, you alright?” Leo’s voice snapped him out of his reverie.

“Uh, yeah. Sorry about that.”

“You’re sad,” Minami commented.

“You don’t say,” Yuuri replied bitterly. “My entire life is… it’s over.”

“Courtesans,” Leo sighed exasperatedly. “So dramatic.”

“Part of the trade,” Yuuri said dryly.

"Be as it may, but you're not a Courtesan anymore. Which means that you don't get to complain. That is if you want to stay with us."

They all looked at the older boy.

“What? It’s not like he has anywhere to go. Not with that chip still stuck in his neck,” Leo said, poking Yuuri’s PA receiver, embedded under his skin. Yuuri drew back, wincing. “One step outside of this bunker will bring you right into the radars’ range.”

“Wait, you don’t have them?” Yuuri asked, frowning. The boys shook their heads.

“I never had one,” Guang-Hong replied. Leo tilted his head to show off a ragged-looking scar.

"Leo helped me get rid of mine too," Minami said, revealing his own neck, which was marked with an angry-looking, puckered line.

“How come they didn’t find me, then?” Yuuri asked, touching his neck. “They would have had time.”

“Considering you spent your entire life in the Courtesan House?” Leo asked, snorting. “The tracking feature was probably not even on. It would have taken them at least a couple of hours to set it up.”

“But now, you think they’d come after me?”

"If you're the evil-ass murderer you say you are," Minami said lightly. Yuuri gave him a dark look, and the boy shivered. "Fuck, that was a lovely glare. Do it again!"

“Leave the kid alone,” Leo said with a sigh. “Sorry, Minami gets very passionate about things.”

“I can see that,” Yuuri commented without any real malice in his voice. It was just strange; but refreshing, he supposed.

Leo got up off the decrepit couch and going to rummage through a chest of drawers in the corner of the room. He returned with what positively looked like a bunch of torture devices.

“What the hell is that?” Yuuri asked, leaning back instinctively.

“That is going to help me get that chip out,” Leo said. Yuuri gulped nervously.

“Uh… do I at least get an anesthetic?”

"Right, Princess," Leo snorted. Minami looked at Yuuri sympathetically and reached under the couch, pulling out an unopened bottle of what looked like very cheap sake.

“This is the best we can do on such short notice,” he said, pressing the bottle into Yuuri’s hands. “Didn’t think we were going to have to do surgery today.”

Yuuri had never drunk more than the limit for Courtesans – which was one cup of sake, distributed throughout the night. Therefore, this was a very, very bad idea on so many levels. Naturally, by the time he reached even half the bottle, he was already beyond hammered and very close to losing consciousness. Leo snickered at him, pulling out his tools as they turned him over on the floor, on top of a grimy-looking and odd-smelling cotton sheet (‘To save the upholstery.'). 

"Hold him down for me, in case he starts moving around," he told the other boys, and they nodded, with Guang-Hong sitting across Yuuri's legs and Minami grabbing his wrists.

"This is going to sting, Princess," Leo warned. Yuuri mumbled something incoherent, floating on top of a cloud – which came crashing from under him as soon as he felt the first slice of the scalpel.

He screamed, the pain bringing a weird kind of clarity and ripping through his drunken stupor. Leo cursed, grabbing the top of his head.

“Keep him still!”

Agony. It hurt so much that Yuuri couldn’t even make himself scream. It was so, so painful – much more than anything he had been forced to endure in his entire life.

Was this what the real world was like?

Did it really hurt people in exchange for freedom?

He didn’t remember it being like this.

“Sh, it’s okay,” Minami whispered to him, his grasp on Yuuri’s wrists bruising. The pressure was hardly there, at least, by comparison to the horrendous burn Yuuri felt. The burn shifted every time Leo grabbed a new tool, poking around in his neck. There was so much blood.

He didn't really remember the rest of it. At one point, it got too much, and he managed to lose consciousness. He felt his body go slack first, sagging in Minami and Guang-Hong's hold, and then his mind receded as well, haunted by images of blood and Sakamoto's gaping mouth.


He woke up the next morning with a terrible soreness in his neck and a pounding pain in his head.

It was still early, judging from the clock on the wall – it was an old analog one; and the only reason why Yuuri knew how to read the time off one was that he'd read about them in novels, back at the Courtesan house. Viktor had been the one who had introduced him to the world of reading. Romance novels, mostly; and the gallant gentlemen in those novels would always have an elegant pocket watch with them, measuring the time until they could return to the lady of their dreams.

The reality was far less romantic.

Yuuri sat up, glancing around. The three boys were piled up in a heap on the small bed. Leo was on his back with Guang-Hong snuggled up against his side. Minami had somehow managed to drape himself over their legs. Somehow, this looked more comfortable to Yuuri than his luxurious futons back at the House.

He had to stop thinking about that place.

His hand went to his neck and came in contact with a wad of cotton. A bandage. A really crude one, but he supposed it would do.

He stood shakily, finally feeling the hangover hit him, making his stomach squirm.

Yuuri stumbled over to the small mirror in the corner of the room, holding on to the other furniture for support.

It was a good thing he was holding on to something because the moment he saw his own reflection, he nearly collapsed.

His face, covered in grime and leftover makeup, looked back at him somberly. His eyes had bags under them – even though he’d slept, or at least, he’d been passed out. He lifted his sleeve – a crudely sewn shirt made of rough cotton – and tried to wipe away the remaining blush and lipstick that had cracked in the corners of his mouth.

Little by little, it came off. He peeled off the layers that had once constituted Yuuri the Courtesan, leaving himself bare. His neck hurt every time he moved his head even a little, so he tried to keep still as he rubbed violently against his skin until it was an angry red color.

“This is who you really are,” he whispered to himself.

His heart clenched at the thought of the House. Phichit was probably sick with worry. If he was alive.

If they hadn’t taken him because of Yuuri.

This is where you belong.

Not among Courtesans.

Not among members of high society.

Not among people like Viktor.

Viktor.

Oh, gods.

Yuuri closed his eyes painfully. What would Viktor think, if news of Yuuri’s crime reached him?

He would be disgusted. He would probably curse the day he’d offered to be Yuuri’s mentor.

He would hate him.

No.

Framed by darkened sockets, his eyes opened. He looked back at himself, staring his own reflection down.

You’ve made a mess, Yuuri, Viktor’s voice echoed in his head. If you make a mess, you need to clean it up.

“I need to clean my mess up.”

I need to get to Viktor and finally tell him how I feel.

And if he wants, I will take him away.

Yuuri glanced at the table on which Leo’s scalpel lay, the one he’d used to remove his chip, now smashed into smithereens next to it. He took it into his hands, examining its weight.

Courtesans weren’t allowed scalpels. Or knives.

He wondered if that was because they didn’t want them taking the chip out.

Or because they didn’t want them escaping their misery in other ways.

Hacking away with the scalpel was tedious work, but he did it, gritting his teeth even as his hand clenched in a cramp. By the time he was done, the lights were on.

Minami was up, looking at him with wide, terrified eyes.

As Yuuri turned to face him, the boy’s eyes filled with tears.

“Yuuri… your hair… W-why w-would you c-cut your hair?”

Chapter Text

The mysterious death of Sakamoto-san, one of the most high-profile government officials in the system, has garnered much media attention. The circumstances surrounding Sakamoto-san’s death are shrouded in secrecy. At this time, very little is known, besides the fact that Sakamoto-san’s body was found drifting in the river several miles outside Neo-Tokyo, a city Sakamoto-san frequented due to his preference for male Courtesans. At the moment, several Courtesan Houses are being inve–

“Hey, I was listening to that!”

Yuuri gave Minami a dark look. The young man just glanced at him sheepishly, clearly aware of the change in temperature between them. Guang Hong paid them no attention as he continued on humming along to his rhythmic stirring – it was his turn to make dinner. Leo was out running errands that would potentially keep the four of them fed for another week.

“I don’t want to hear any more,” Yuuri said hoarsely, glancing at the old HoloStream as if it had personally insulted him. It was a stationary one, probably several decades old, from way back when people hadn’t had chips implanted beneath their skin to facilitate information exchange. The thought made Yuuri’s neck twinge. The jagged wound there was healing, slowly but surely. It still stung; whether physically or emotionally or both, Yuuri was going to take some time to get on his own two feet.

This was probably why the trio who had rescued him hadn’t tried to force him into any chores. Yuuri had spent the past two weeks just wondering around their little den aimlessly, his eyes fixed on nothing in particular, humming tunes to which he had danced before. Minami seemed to be the one who understood him best of all, but even he chose to play it safe and simply left Yuuri alone. 

“I wonder if they’re ever going to catch the killer," Minami said thoughtfully. Yuuri winced. He supposed he was lucky that the trio hadn't pieced two and two together: that the mysterious murder of Sakamoto and his mysterious flight from the Courtesan House were connected in a very morbid way. He felt guilty at having to hide things from them, but then again, he wasn't hiding things, really, was he? It was more of a… lying by omission kind of situation. 

Anxiety twisted his stomach.

“I’m sure they won’t,” Guang Hong said with a snort. “The guardians have enough on their hands. They’re not going to investigate a case that will probably lead to someone who shouldn’t be messed with anyway.”

“What do you mean?” Yuuri asked, perking up at that a little. Guang Hong looked at him over his shoulder.

“Well, it’s pretty common knowledge that Sakamoto was doing some shady stuff on the side. It’s just that he paid all the important people off so he wouldn’t get put behind bars or kicked all the way to Pluto,” he said, shrugging.

All of that was brand-new information for Yuuri. Considering the fact that he had spent most of his life in the lap of luxury as a servant, then an Apprentice, and finally a Courtesan, it was a miracle that he had figured out how to dress himself in clothing that wasn’t a robe. Minami had been kind enough to show him the ropes and had even offered Yuuri some of his make-up after having thrown a fit over his freshly-cut hair. Yuuri had been tempted to accept, but two things had stopped him: the first being that the makeup Minami had offered him was of very poor quality and would probably turn his face into very rough terrain; the second was that Minami had probably paid a lot for it. Well, not a lot in Yuuri terms, but a lot in Minami terms, anyway.

Yuuri really had to stop thinking like that.

He was no longer a Courtesan. He hadn’t been rich as a Courtesan either, as he had never touched the money he’d earned, but at least, he had never wanted for anything.

Anything but freedom, he supposed. Well, now he had it; and with freedom came responsibilities and challenged he had never considered before, not as a sweet Courtesan basking in the attention of various powerful men.

“Y’know, maybe tomorrow Yuuri should make dinner,” Guang Hong suggested. Yuuri looked up at him in alarm. Cooking? “Oh, don’t you give me that look. I know you can’t cook. Hell, you’re probably so pampered that you’ve never even held a knife in your– Yuuri?”

A knife.

Fuck. Yuuri bit his lip, trying desperately to keep the horrified expression off his face. A knife in his hand. Sakamoto on the floor. Blood, blood, blood. Running down the hallway and into the cold street.

Pain. Blinding pain in his neck.

Sakamoto’s dead eyes.

He cut his hair.

He cut Sakamoto.

“-ri? Yuuri?!”

He snapped back to reality only to realize that he was lying flat on the floor, his breathing irregular and vision dark around the edges. Guang Hong and Minami were both kneeling over him, their faces concerned.

“Hey, hey,” Minami whispered, reaching out to pull Yuuri halfway across his lap. His small fingers carded through Yuuri’s badly-chopped, short hair in an attempt to soothe. “Just breathe for me, alright, Yuuri? Just breathe. You’re alright. You’re with us.”

I’m with them now, Yuuri thought. That was true. He was now part of this strange, weirdly functional family. He now lived in a den with misfits. He didn’t eat nearly as much as he had back in the Courtesan House. He didn’t have fancy robes or makeup anymore. He didn’t have to dance or entertain or feign interest in conversation he found dull.

He didn’t know if he was freer here or not, being confined to the den and too terrified of having the guardians chase him down to go out. But he sure as hell was happier.

“You okay, buddy?”

Yuuri glanced sideways at the door to see Leo there, his hand wrapped around what looked like a turkey leg. He nodded slowly, not wanting to cause any more of a commotion.

He had already embarrassed himself enough as it was.

“Catch of the week,” Leo announced proudly, slamming the leg onto the kitchen table emphatically. He walked over to where Guang Hong had already resumed his cooking, having almost burnt it because of Yuuri's little freak-out, and placed a casual arm around the smaller man's shoulders, kissing his temple. His lips lingered there for a bit longer than was strictly necessary, and Yuuri's chest seemed to ache even more, despite his small anxiety attack being over.

"I know, right?" Minami muttered to him. "Those two are so disgustingly sweet; I have no idea how I survived living with them without developing some monstrous form of diabetes."

Yuuri forced himself to laugh – a weird, squeaky noise that left nobody convinced. Minami gave him a sympathetic look and helped him to his feet. Yuuri's shaky knees held him up, but he still chose to lean against the table, just to be safe.

“You ever been in love, Yuuri?”

What?”

Yuuri’s gaze snapped to an amused Leo, who was still standing right next to Guang Hong, their sides pressed together, arm around his shoulder, as if it belonged there permanently. Yuuri wondered briefly what it would have been like if he had had something like this with Viktor. Something this casual and open. Something that would have allowed them to kiss and touch and hug and be in love among other people, instead of just sneaking around like common thieves.

Like loving another human being, Courtesan or not, engineered or not, was a sin.

Minami’s eyes lit up.

“Oh, yes! Yuuri, you must have had so many gallant noblemen come in to try to sweep you off your feet and–,” 

“Yes.”

Three pairs of eyes looked at him inquisitively. Yuuri found himself once more uncomfortable under the scrutiny and cleared his throat.

“Yes, I… I was in love once.”

Minami aw’ed, clapping his hands together excitedly.

“Who was he? Do we know him? Was he someone super-famous? Oh, oh! Was he a she?!”

Yuuri snorted at that last one. He was pretty sure that he was as male-oriented as they came, but he did appreciate Minami’s thoughtfulness. He wondered if Yuu-chan or Minako would have found that as amusing as he had.

“He was… uh, someone I couldn’t have,” Yuuri said finally. He glanced up at the holo Minami still had on the makeshift pedestal he had made especially for it, despite Yuuri’s extensive please to take it down as Minami now had the original to look at during every hour of the day. The holo of Yuuri during his First Night dance. The one in which he knew that he was looking at Viktor.

He was always looking at Viktor. Or for Viktor.

Sometimes he wondered if all of it was pointless. If he was just supposed to die alone and unhappy or fall in semi-love with someone else. Or just stay here, with these three, and let his jealousy of their contentment eat away at the lining of his stomach.

“Well, duh! You were a Courtesan!" Minami said with a big smirk on his face. "I'm sure many tried to take your heart, and all of them failed! Oh, the drama! But seriously, who was he?"

Yuuri shook his head, glancing at the floor. He bit his lip, trying to stop himself from lashing out and telling Minami to mind his own damn business. The temperature in the room seemed to shift, and he was eternally grateful for Leo being there, as an uncomfortable moment later, the young man stepped in.

“Minami, drop it.”

That night, Yuuri didn’t go to sleep. Instead, he made sure that the other three were all settled in for the night, wrapped around each other to preserve some body heat, before he slipped out of bed and pulled his shirt and pants on. He grabbed a small bun of bread from the table, hoping that the three wouldn’t miss it too much, and then gave the room one last glance.

The holo of him dancing on his First Night seemed to mock him with its steady, bluish glow.

I need to go before they find out whom I killed.

And whom I loved.

Yuuri turned towards the door, his hand grasping the door handle shakily. He knew he had already overstayed his welcome – the trio was struggling enough as it was, they didn't need him there eating up their food. Minami and Guang Hong thought he hadn't noticed, but he had caught a glimpse of them rationing their meal out to make it good for four. It had been barely enough for two. 

It was time to make a life of his own. It was time to try to get a fresh start, with or without the Courtesan House.

With or without Viktor.

He had to find a way to survive. Perhaps he could get off-planet and head to one of the colonies. Perhaps he could even do something similar to what he'd done before – maybe on a seedier, baser level, but he could try.

How have the mighty fallen.

He pushed the door handle down and let the night air inside. The moonlight overhead, illuminating the stairs he would take to the street, seemed particularly bright tonight. The drowsy lull of the night city filled his ears, and for a moment, he felt like maybe, just maybe, life wasn't so bad.

He took his first step out the door, his hands trembling with anticipation and fear.

“And what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Chapter Text

 

Viktor’s life as a Senator’s Spouse was pretty good, at least, at face value. He had everything he could have ever wanted – and everything he had wanted back in the day, when a naïve boy, he had been released from the laboratory alongside other elfen-like waifs and declared a soon-to-be Apprentice to a renowned Courtesan House. He hadn’t ever considered another kind of life – but he had aspired to much more.

To become the best, and then, one day, to be free, and rich. Oh, how rich he would have been! He would bathe in gold and take trips all over the System every other day. He would have mansions on every planet, and his Spouse would show him off as arm candy to all the most influential people in the known universe.

Well, some of his dreams had come true.

Rich, he was. Free, not so much.

He couldn't really go out – not by himself, at least; he had to have someone accompany him, be it Christophe, or the driver, or even his Senator himself. He couldn't wear clothes that weren't ridiculously stifling. He couldn't voice his opinions on anything that mattered – and he had them. He had so many of them. He had shared them with people before; he had shared them with Yuuri.

Yuuri.

The reason why this lack of freedom was most certainly unbearable was because of Yuuri. Viktor had selfishly thought that he would be able to erase Yuuri from his mind after the First Night, that he could do one last good thing for the boy and then leave, carried off into the sunset by the Senator’s private transport.

Apparently, his heart had other plans, for it had stayed behind in the Courtesan House. The topmost room, to be exact, the one in which Viktor had taught his greenhorn of an Apprentice how to make love. The one which Yuuri had taken over after his departure.

The small piece of news he had managed to receive from Christophe’s friend about Yuuri had not been enough – but it had been more than what he could have ever hoped for. To him, seeing Yuuri again, touching him, talking to him, was an impossibility. The worst part was that the younger man probably had no idea just how much of Viktor’s heart he had stolen.

All of it.

So he enjoyed whatever freedom he could. It wasn't much – most of it consisted of drinking and shopping with Christophe and sometimes having dinner with the Senator when the man wasn't out in business meetings. Most nights, though, were lonely. Viktor spent them curled up in bed, listlessly rifling through the HoloStream for any sort of…

Hell, he had no idea what he was looking for there.

But one such night, he found it.

His eyes widened when he saw it, the report on the scandal which had occurred in the Hasetsu Courtesan House.

The mysterious death of Sakamoto-san, one of the most high-profile government officials in the system, has garnered much media attention. The circumstances surrounding Sakamoto-san’s death are shrouded in secrecy. At this time, very little is known, besides the fact that Sakamoto-san’s body was found drifting in the river several miles outside Neo-Tokyo–

Sakamoto was dead.

Sakamoto, the man who had been a little more than just friendly with Yuuri. The man who, for all Viktor knew, had betrayed the Senator’s trust by trying to get him out of the way and step into his shoes – socially and politically speaking, at least.

Viktor closed his eyes when the image of the Courtesan House appeared in front of his face as if teasing him with the memories of it.

And the mystery of what had happened.

He wondered what had happened there. Perhaps nothing had. Perhaps the Courtesan House had nothing to do with it. Perhaps Sakamoto had just struck a sour deal with someone and had paid dearly for it with his life. It was very likely, considering the shady dealings the man had been involved in, according to the Senator.

Viktor wondered what Yuuri thought of all this. He had lost some Guests over the course of his career, but all of them had left on good terms, mostly because of marriage or relocation. There had never been anything like this – and Yuuri was quite impressionable. Perhaps he even mourned the death of his most favored Guest.

Viktor tried to ignore the stab of jealousy that made his chest ache at the idea of Yuuri bent over on his knees and weeping over another man – a man who wasn't him.

You need to let him go one day, you know, Christophe had told him over drinks the other day. Viktor had perhaps taken on a bit too much and had reduced himself to a sloppy, slurring mess; a mess filled with tears and regret and pretty horrendous hiccupping.

I know, Viktor said to him, his mind weirdly bright for just that split-second. Still, though, he remained hopeful. It was all he could do: to hope that one day, he would be able to sit down with Yuuri again, to comb his hair for him, to kiss his lips and make love–

No.

Viktor touched the skin behind his ear and switched off the HoloStream, suddenly wary. Nothing good would ever come of it, he knew, but he couldn't just… leave the Senator. That was unthinkable. The house was an impenetrable fortress, inside and out. The only way he could leave was with someone following him around – or with his husband. He needed a plan and the means to execute it. That was something a Spouse couldn't afford to have – not when his entire fortune wasn't actually his. Not when he had the reputation of a common whore. Well, fine, not a common one; but a whore nonetheless.

A shrill sound rang out, shattering the drowsy silence of the bedroom. Viktor sighed, turning over onto his back and looked up at the ceiling before letting the call come through.

“Viktor!”

Christophe’s face appeared blown up in size about ten times, covering the entire ceiling. Viktor gave him an annoyed look.

“It’s almost two in the morning, Chris. Couldn’t this wait until–“

“It’s Yuuri!”

Viktor sat up so fast he almost hurt himself. His back twinged in protest and he grimaced, rubbing his lower spine.

“What–,”

"He's missing!" Chris whispered urgently, glancing around – probably to make sure that his own Spouse wasn't in the earshot. Viktor's eyes went wide, and his blood ran cold.

“What do you mean?” He asked, his voice strangely quiet even to his own ears.

"He's not in Hasetsu anymore. Sara went back, and he wasn't there – and the chef wouldn't tell her where he went, claimed she didn't know, just that he disappeared one night and that was it."

Viktor's breathing was labored – he felt like the gray ceiling of the bedroom was about to collapse on top of him.

"Chris, we have to find him, we have to–,"

“There’s something else,” Chris said, his face expressive in its urgency. Viktor swallowed thickly – he didn’t like the sound of that.

“Yuuri went missing on the twelfth.”

Ba-dump.

BA-DUMP.

“W-wait,” Viktor breathed, his hands clutching the sheets as he shivered – not that the room was freezing in any way. It was just the right temperature, all perfectly calibrated and climate-controlled. He felt like there was ice in his veins.

“Isn’t that the night when–,”

“Sakamoto was found dead the next day,” Chris said grimly. “Viktor… I don’t know what to make of it, but please, please, don’t do anything stupid.”

Viktor exhaled heavily. He forced himself to nod and thank Chris for the news before ending the call.

He tumbled out of bed, his legs weak as a newborn foal’s.

I am going to do something stupid.

Chapter Text

“Viktor, we have had this conversation before–,”

“I know, I know, I just… please. Just this once.”

Viktor knew for a fact that his eyes had an effect on most men. Well, they had had an effect, back when he'd been a Courtesan when every movement of his body could have been interpreted as an invitation to something more, something that involved the movements of two bodies together.

But his Courtesan days were over. The cold, formal shape of his clothing, coarse against his skin, and the tickle of shorn hair against his nape were good reminders of that. Painful ones.

The Senator sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“You do realize that my heart is breaking here.”

Viktor scoffed, folding his arms over his chest defiantly.

“Don’t pretend that you love me,” he said quietly. “I know you want me, you wanted me, and that’s why you married me. But don’t pretend that you understand just how deeply–,”

“I gave you that one night, Viktor,” the Senator said sternly, his features marred by a frown. “I gave you one night with him, and you agreed. That was our contract, and I expected you to honor it. And now I find out that you were keeping tabs on him this entire time? That you had a whole network of people–,”

“Don’t make it sound like it was one of your system operations,” Viktor cut him off irately. He plopped down onto the stubbornly uncomfortable chair in front of his Spouse’s desk ungracefully.

A moment of silence passed between them.

“You know, Viktor, when we first met, you were so free. Unburdened.”

Viktor shifted uncomfortably.

“I was young and foolish.”

The Senator shook his head. "No. You were… You were something everyone in this society wants to be, in a way. Perhaps not as, um, promiscuous, but you were–,”

“I was a whore,” Viktor said quietly. “Once a whore, always a whore.”

“You are the Spouse of a distinguished politician,” the Senator said, his jaw tense. “You should not forget that.”

"And here you want me to be free," Viktor said with a small scoff. "When you are the one who keeps reminding me of my station, the one who dresses me and tells me how to act and–,”

“I was not the one who took away your freedom,” the Senator said quietly, observing Viktor over the rim of his glasses. Viktor looked back at him stubbornly, refusing to back down. His chest clenched with a familiar feeling of sadness, so profound that it almost took his breath away. Deep inside, he knew that it was true. It hadn’t been the Senator. The Senator had only completed it, his imprisonment. He had been a means to an end.

Viktor regretted nothing.

"The one who took your freedom away was that boy. Yuuri," the Senator said, opening his HoloStream to display Yuuri. Viktor's stomach only clenched harder at the sight of him. The image was quite old – it was from one of the very first dinners Yuuri and he had done together, back when Yuuri had been his Apprentice. Carefree and laughing, his face was devoid of any sort of burden. The silk robe he wore – Viktor's, no doubt about that – fell from his shoulders, exposing a teasing preview of a delicate collarbone. His beautiful black hair, combed to perfection, not one out of place, cascaded down to dip into the opening of his robe, adding an ethereal sort of quality to his already exotic features.

But the most striking thing about this image, this Yuuri, was his smile. It was a smile for which Viktor would be willing to marry a thousand Senators, if only it meant that he could see it one more time.

The Senator watched him contemplatively before sighing and removing the image.

"When you came to me, I thought you were insane, Viktor," he said quietly. "You threw yourself into the arms of the one man who could never say no to you, and you asked for something I could give but wasn't willing to."

“Yet, I did it. I gave you one night to tie up loose ends, I bought your boy, and I gave him to you. That was meant to be the end of it.”

"You speak as if you ache that I still want him," Viktor said, allowing the admission to slip through his lips finally.

I still want him.

I still love him.

I will never not love him.

“I don’t want any scandal,” the Senator said with a small shrug. “You must understand that if any of your… networking gets back to the government, or worse, the press, that would mean that you are committing not only a breach of contract but are inching towards adultery."

"The morality clauses of my employment are essential. Even when I do eventually retire, which I cannot, thanks to Sakamoto being dead–,"

“I think the two are connected,” Viktor blurted out. “Yuuri’s disappearance and Sakamoto’s death, I think something happened.”

The Senator laughed at that.

“Dear Viktor, I do believe that your love for the boy has made you quite unreasonable. Sakamoto’s body was nowhere near the Courtesan House, and besides, why would someone kill Sakamoto and kidnap your boy? He has no real value.”

Viktor made a face. Yuuri definitely had more of a value than the Senator suspected.

“You make the mistake of underestimating us Courtesans,” he said tersely.

Former Courtesans, in your case,” the Senator corrected. Viktor fought the urge to roll his eyes.

“If you are so ashamed of having a Courtesan for a Spouse, perhaps you shouldn’t have married me in the first place,” he said, quite spitefully. The Senator sighed. Viktor was somewhat happy that he seemed to be giving the man a headache.

“I am not ashamed, simply stating a fact.”

“In any case,” Viktor said, ignoring the man’s words, “it seems to me as though you don’t understand what goes on in the Courtesan House every time a Guest comes around. Besides the dancing and the fucking.”

“Would you care to enlighten me?” The Senator asked, obviously uncomfortable with the subject matter. “And watch your language.”

Viktor snorted. “You seemed to enjoy my language back in the day.”

“Viktor!”

“Alright, fine. Besides the dancing and the… Horizontal dancing?”

“You made it sound even worse now,” the Senator said. Viktor was relieved to see a little smile emerge on the man’s face. At least his sense of humor still hit home sometimes.

“Well, besides that,” Viktor said, shrugging. “We Courtesans know a lot of things about a lot of people. Men talk a lot when they are happy, and we are in the business of making men happy.”

“So you are saying that Yuuri made someone powerful talk and that is why he disappeared? And somehow, Sakamoto’s death is connected to it?” The Senator asked.

Viktor shrugged. “It is a legitimate possibility.”

“Or perhaps you want to lend your boy more importance than he is worth just to make me go out looking for him,” the Senator said quietly. He looked down at his PA, humming softly.

“He is quite an unusual boy, too. Engineered from two actual humans,” he said, looking through what little information there was on Yuuri. “I did not think that such people were employable as Courtesans.”

“Not normally, no. But you can thank me for seeing his potential.”

“Oh, I do believe you saw much more in him than just potential,” the Senator said, a little scathing. He sighed, leaning back in his seat. Their eyes met and held for a long time as he contemplated Viktor.

"I will not stop you from looking for him, but I will ask you to be discrete," he said finally. "I will not help you, either, as that violates my own morals. And I want you to remember that when you do find him, if you find him, nothing changes. You will still be my Spouse, and I expect you to behave accordingly." 

Relief flooded Viktor’s body. He understands. Well, a little, at least. A little was enough.

"I promise I won't… I won't run off with him," he said, reaching out to take the Senator's hand. It twitched as if the man intended to pull it away, but instead, their skin made contact.

“I don’t love you,” Viktor said quietly. “I hope you understand that. I hope you’ve always understood that.”

The Senator smiled, a little sadly.

“I understand. Perhaps I was naïve in thinking that one day, you could look at me the same way you looked at him.”

Viktor’s lips turned up at the corners melancholically.

“I only want to know that he is safe. That’s all,” he said. “Knowing that he is alive and well is enough for me.”

“Nothing is ever enough for you, Viktor,” the Senator said, pulling his hand away from Viktor’s grasp gingerly. He looked down at the PA and bit his lip, contemplating something.

“I will tell you this, Viktor. Yuuri’s chip is nowhere to be found. It seems as though it has been deactivated or destroyed by some means, which definitely points to criminal intent. There are no legal ways of removing those, you understand.”

Viktor frowned, his fingers skimming over the slightly raised skin on his neck. He could almost feel the electricity pulsating beneath his touch, constantly working on pinpointing his location and storing information about where he had been, whom he’d talked to.

Constantly reminding him that whatever he was, free was not it.

“Believe me, I know.”

 

Chapter Text

He pushed the door handle down and let the night air inside. The moonlight overhead, illuminating the stairs he would take to the street, seemed particularly bright tonight. The drowsy lull of the night city filled his ears, and for a moment, he felt like maybe, just maybe, life wasn't so bad.

He took his first step out the door, his hands trembling with anticipation and fear.

“And what the  hell  do you think you’re doing?”


Like a deer in the headlights, Yuuri swiveled around to find the entire trio – sleepy and grumbling, but quite alert enough to have grabbed a makeshift weapon, a knife, off the table – staring at him.

“Going somewhere?” Minami asked, looking at Yuuri with what could only count as disappointment. The former Courtesan felt his cheeks flood with red. He had hoped to avoid this kind of situation. As past experience had taught him, confrontations were not his forte.

“I…” He trailed off, biting his lip as Leo and Guang Hong elbowed each other in the tiny doorway, trying to get a better look at what he was up to.

“I didn’t want to overstay my welcome,” Yuuri said finally, bowing his head. The three boys looked at him in slight confusion.

It was Leo who spoke up. “I thought you were staying with us forever.”

Yuuri’s wide eyes met his.

“What?”

"Well…" Minami began, glancing at Yuuri's face through his thick bangs. "I mean, we all thought you knew that you were welcome here. For as long as you wanted to, we wouldn't… Kick you out or anything. We're not terrible people."

Yuuri’s chest burned with something he hadn’t experienced in a while. Gratitude. Real, overpowering gratitude. Nobody had ever gone to such lengths for him – nobody but Viktor, who had given up his entire life just for one night, just to make sure that Yuuri wouldn’t have to spend his initiation with someone he didn’t know or want.

Although perhaps, in retrospect, Viktor had been quite selfish back then.

“I, um,” Yuuri began, his mouth dry even though his eyes were brimming with water. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll stay!” Guang Hong demanded.

Yuuri exhaled a small semi-sob, leaning against the doorway heavily.

"I don't think I should. It wouldn't be fair to you guys," he said. "You're barely surviving on your own; you don't need me to eat through your pockets."

“You’re not always going to be a free-loader,” Minami said demandingly. “You can work too! Or steal, we don’t really care about the law–,”

“I do care,” Yuuri said quietly. He glanced at the trio with a heavy heart. "And I can't work legally. You know that; a lot of people know my face, and I don't have a chip anymore–,"

“Neither do we!” Leo interrupted impatiently. He sized Yuuri up with a frown. “What is it really about?” He asked finally.

Yuuri’s chest tightened. He couldn’t tell them the truth. He couldn’t. But he owed them as much. These boys had risked their lives without even knowing it; they had taken him in, a fugitive, and fed him, nursed him back to, well, if not health, then at least mental stability. He owed it to them – they needed to know the reason guardians could show up at their door any moment.

“I killed Sakamoto,” he whispered numbly, his hand tightening on the doorway as he felt his knees start to weaken.

There was a moment of silence as the three boys looked at him with wide eyes, their surprise at his admission undisguised. He wanted to say something, anything, perhaps even laugh it all off as a joke, if need be; he just… Fuck, he couldn't stand to be in this situation anymore–

“Yeah, we figured,” Minami said, scratching the back of his head.

Yuuri’s jaw hit the floor.

“Y-you knew?” He stammered out, this time really having to catch himself before he collapsed.

The trio exchanged looks.

"Well, it doesn't take an intellectual to know that something was fishy. First, you show up, a famous Courtesan covered in blood, and then you get all skittish and shit around knives… Next thing we know, Sakamoto's corpse is on the news," Guang Hong said, listing off the occurrences on his fingers.

Yuuri felt like he was going to throw up. “And you still let me stay with you?”

Their eyes softened, and Minami reached out to put a hand on Yuuri’s elbow gently.

“Well, it's not like you're a hardened criminal," he said. "That's Sakamoto. The man was evil. Everyone this side of the system knows that. Sure, I mean… Uh, disclaimer here, we don't support casual murder, but… you might have done us all a favor, really. He was starting to crack down on the underworld, ourselves included, so, uh… It's not all bad, you know?"

Yuuri’s head felt heavy with all the new information. Apparently being a murderer was sort of okay, under certain circumstances? At least with these three, the most innocent-looking kids on the block.

“Uh, so… you don’t really care that I–,”

“Sliced him up like mama’s ham?” Leo provided with a shrug. “Not really. I mean, you won’t do that to us, will you?”

Yuuri shook his head numbly.

“Then we’re good.”

“And plus,” Minami said, punching Yuuri in the shoulder gently. “It’s kinda cool. You’re like a super assassin spy or something. Courtesan turned killer turned fugitive, it’s kinda romantic, in a way?”

Yuuri failed to see how. But he ended up staying for another night. And the night after that, and the one after that as well.


He left almost a month later, having said goodbye to the kids properly. There were tears (on his part and Minami’s, mostly), but he promised to visit as much as he could. For now, though, his primary mission was to find something to do with himself – and preferably, off-planet.

That was how he ended up in the Space Port, glancing around nervously and pulling up the hood on the outfit he had borrowed from Leo. In his bag were just a few credit coins and some pretty redundant glasses. Definitely not enough for a ticket, a fake ID chip or a disguise. In sum, he was quite screwed: he had to get through the toughest security on the planet with a meager skillset of sweet-talking and dancing. Well, sex was also on the table currently; but he preferred not to resort to that option when he had the opportunity not to.

“Shuttle three-zero-delta, departing for Venus, now boarding at gate three-hundred-and-forty-six.”

Venus. Yuuri’s eyes widened as he listened to the announcement, his hand clutched around the strap of his bag.

Venus had always been the dream. Even when he had been nothing but an Apprentice, Venus had been a distant, glimmering sliver of hope. Venus was the center of everything. Sure, the Earth may have been the beginning of humankind, but now, Venus was the place to be. Venus with its lush gardens and shopping promenades and a plethora of entertainment and beautiful adornment.

Venus, where the Senate sat.

The Senate, which the Senator was, quite unironically, part of.

And Viktor, who was the Senator’s Spouse, was quite probably also there. On Venus.

Yuuri knew that this was a terrible idea, but at the same time, his entire life seemed to be comprised of those. He had indulged in them from the moment he'd become apprenticed to Viktor, and he wasn't about to stop now.

The only problem was getting on that shuttle.

He stepped into the line at the boarding gate, gulping nervously. There was no way – the guardian at the gate didn’t look like someone who was prone to compromise of any kind, and the stupidity of his own ideas struck Yuuri one more time as he inched closer to the man.

“Turn your head, I need to scan your ID and your ticket,” the man said dryly without looking up from his P.A. He did, look up, though, when Yuuri failed to obey.

“Boy, let me scan your ID. And your ticket,” the man ground out.

Anxiety flooded Yuuri’s limbs as he tried to find words – the truth, a lie, anything–

“Ah, there you are, darling!”

The line was unceremoniously pushed aside as a quite flamboyantly dressed man elbowed his way through, a purse in one hand and a delicate electronic smoker in the other. His gray Spouse's robe was only half-buttoned up, revealing what could only be described as a fishnet tank top, accessorized with a pretty gaudy-looking cross encrusted with rubies. His hair, a two-tones mess of tousled locks, was just as outrageous as his make-up, and yet, when he appeared, everyone in line seemed to part to allow him through.

Yuuri just looked at him, open-mouthed like a fish. He could swear on his own life that he had no idea who this man was.

“Spouse Giacometti!” The guardian’s face seemed to change several shades as he stepped out from behind his booth and sloppily saluted the newcomer who grabbed Yuuri by the arm and shook him.

“You shouldn’t run away like that, cousin Katsudon,” he chided. Yuuri’s appalment was almost replaced by anger – katsudon, really? – but he just nodded numbly as the man continued to chitchat at the officer at the speed of a thousand miles per second.

“He’s a bit disturbed, you see, my cousin, sir Guardian, sir,” he said, batting his eyelashes at the guardian who just shook his head in the affirmative as if that had been the honest truth he'd known from day one.

“We don’t really let him out alone, but he really wanted to go to the gift shop and look at the stuffed octopi there, and we lost track of him,” the man continued. Yuuri tried his best to look like a disturbed, never-leave-him-alone type guy. Between his filthy clothes and sloppy hair, as well as his wide eyes and shaking knees, that wasn’t too hard to fake.

“My apologies, Guardian, sir, I will take him away at once,” the man said, shaking Yuuri again for good measure.

The officer only nodded quickly, glancing around to see if anyone had spotted his faux-pas. People in the line were glaring at him, apparently; so he could do little else but bow to the newcomer and let him go with a multitude of apologies about how he had never intended to traumatized the angsty cousin named Katsudon.

Yuuri had no idea what had just happened – all he knew for sure was that he was tugged into a person craft and made to fasten his belt before he was blasted off into space.

Seated across from him, was the flamboyant man, who was currently touching up his mascara (something completely unspeakable for a Spouse to wear). Yuuri just gaped at him, and the man snapped his little mirror closed with a sigh, before leaning in to inspect the younger man.

"And here I thought you were extra-spicy," he said, a hint of disappointment in his voice.

Yuuri wanted to feel defensive, but his brain was only big enough for the vast amount of confusion he felt.

“Uh… Who are you?”

The man smirked, leaning back in his seat as he knocked on the glass separating them and the pilot and told the unseen figure to floor it because he had a waxing appointment at three.

“My name is Christophe Giacometti,” he said, cocking his head to the side. “And Viktor is going to be indebted to me forever when I bring him his boy toy.”

Chapter Text

Venus was everything Yuuri had imagined and more. He looked on with wide eyes as their hovercar landed onto the highway and continued its journey towards the capital. Surrounding them were buildings of immeasurable size – for some, he couldn't even see where they ended, stretching far into the very sky they had just landed from. 

Christophe smirked when he saw the wonder on Yuuri’s face. “I was in your shoes once. The first time you see all this, it can be overwhelming.”

Yuuri could only nod numbly, focused entirely on the steel and glass around them. “Do people… live in these houses?”

Chris laughed. “No, Yuuri. Those are office buildings. The suburbs are a much nicer area.”

“There’s something nicer?" Yuuri asked, glancing up to see the faint markings on the artificial sky overhead, where the human-made ozone layer protected the planet's fake atmosphere. Venus was an incredible feat of design and technology; and it had been the first colony that had settled into this new, scientifically-supported way of life. It had since then bloomed into a planet filled with amazing landmarks, extraordinary achievements, and incredible riches.

Earth was a mere shadow now, compared to this.

“Yeah, well, you know that there’s this whole new nature revolution thingy going on,” Chris said with a shrug. “Glass and steel are no longer in fashion, we’re into flowers and trees again. Too bad they weren’t back in the day when humanity had just left the Earth.”

Yuuri looked at Chris in surprise. “But the Earth’s fine, I think?”

“Sure, unless you count the fact that you guys used to live under a dome,” Chris said casually. His eyes widened when he realized that Yuuri was being serious. “Wait, you didn’t know?”

Yuuri shook his head mutely. “We don’t really… talk much about this kind of stuff where I’m from. I know enough to get by when people talk about politics, but–,”

“Bullshit,” Chris said.

“Pardon?” Yuuri blurted out, a little taken aback by the man’s profanity. It was clear that Chris wasn’t your standard demure Spouse, but to curse like that? What kind of person was he? What kind of person was his… whomever it was that he was married to?

“I’m saying that I know you’re smarter than you seem,” Christophe said. "I know because Viktor trained you. And because he's been talking my ear off about you since day one. It's kind of annoying, really. And here I thought that maybe I stood a chance." 

Yuuri was too dumbfounded to even feel jealous.

"Your so-called Mentor is one gigantic sap, and he loves you too much for his own good," Chris muttered, glancing out the window where the scenery was beginning to change; transitioning from urban to somewhat suburban, with more green and less grey. It was quite fascinating how humanity had managed to turn such an unfriendly environment into paradise. Science sure is fantastic, Yuuri thought to himself, very impressed.

“How is he?” The former Courtesan asked. Christophe gave him a long look and then sighed, shrugging.

“Well, clearly insane, since he’s been trying everything in his power to find you. Can’t believe I’m going to be the one getting you delivered to him,” he drawled. “The man already owes me and Sara big time.”

"Sara? You're the Christophe who's friends with Sara?" Yuuri asked, eyes wide. Christ nodded, smiling gently.

"Yeah, we go way back. She's got bigger balls than any damn Senator in this entire system; I can tell you that," he said. “That might get her in trouble one day, mark my words.”

Yuuri, for some reason, doubted that. Sara had appeared to him as a survivor – he was sure that the woman could get herself out of any situation. Perhaps he was just naïve.

“Anyway, I’m not going to take you to Viktor’s house, because I’d rather keep my head attached to my neck,” Chris said. Yuuri glanced at him curiously. There were very few places which were willing to take in a fugitive. Especially one that suspiciously enough didn’t have a chip.

“Yeah, we’re going to have to fix that,” Christophe said, noting the way Yuuri was absently running his fingers over the jagged scar on his neck. “That’s where we’re going now. Some mutual friends of ours who know how to procure some… How should I put it? Faux identification.”

Mutual friends? Yuuri thought to himself blankly. He didn't have friends on Venus. Hell, he didn't have friends anywhere save for a small basement back on Earth which he'd abandoned just previously. He only hoped that the trio was safe. He'd have to get word to them somewhere about where he was; but for now, he had to lay low. It was far too dangerous – for him, and for them also.

“You'll see. I'm sure you'll like it," Chris promised, making Yuuri smile instinctively. It seemed like the two-toned man had a gift for making people trust him. Hell, this could all be a trap, Yuuri realized just now; but for some bizarre reason, he still couldn't bring himself to want even to begin doubting Chris right now. The man had rescued him from a sticky situation with the guardians at the depot. Yuuri could trust that much.

“Why are you helping me?” He asked finally, biting his lip.

Chris' gaze met his, and for a moment, they just looked at each other. The atmosphere in the hovercar turned serious.

“Because Viktor is my best friend and I hate to see him hurting,” the elder man said. “And because I know that he’d never fall in love with a bad person. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, kid, and you don’t deserve to be hunted the way they’re doing to you. As far as I’m concerned, Sakamoto had it coming.”

The denial froze on Yuuri’s lips even though his heart dropped to the pit of his stomach.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Chris said, offering Yuuri a sad smile. “I know what you did. And I don’t blame you. I just wish I’d had the balls to do that when I was your age.”

Yuuri frowned as Christophe pushed down the neckline of his robe and his ostentatious fishnet tank top. There, on the pale skin, was a jagged scar, crisscrossing over the man’s collarbone. Very close to his jugular and then lower, all the way to his shoulder.

It was strange, to see such a scar on such a handsome man; when Chris could have easily had surgery to remove it.

The former Courtesan looked up at Christophe, frowning. What was–?

“I said no to Sakamoto once. I didn’t do it again until he’d had enough of me,” Chris said quietly. “You don’t know how many boys, now men, would thank you for ridding the world of that monster.”

Yuuri’s pained gaze fell to the scar once more. “I’m sorry he did that to you.”

Chris pulled his robe back into place. “Don’t be sorry. Be proud. Be proud of making sure that vermin never touches another boy again.”

Yuuri nodded, biting his lip as he looked down at his lap.

“And Yuuri?”

“Hm?”

Chris’ gaze became suddenly warm.

“Your secret is safe with me.”


They stepped off the hovercar at what looked like a small gated community. It was slightly less rich than the other ones they’d passed; but to Yuuri’s eyes, it was impressive, nonetheless.

"Let's go," Christophe said when the driver opened the door of the car, and the two of them stepped outside. It was warm, much warmer than on Earth; and Yuuri could feel himself begin to sweat in his ratty outfit. He definitely didn't belong among all these riches.

“Where are we?” He asked, glancing around as Christophe pressed a hand to the panel by the gate and opened it.

“A summer home of my Spouse’s,” Chris said casually, as they walked in. “One of the many. He doesn’t visit. Thinks it’s a bit… ghastly.”

He’s a snob, then, Yuuri thought to himself, but said nothing. It wasn’t his place to judge the very kind of people that had fed him and given him business for years.

They headed for a small, two-story house at the very end of the lane; it was the tiniest one, dwarfed by the others which seemed to crowd around it, imposing, four-to-six stories high architectural marvels – or nightmares, depending on whom you asked.

Yuuri watched curiously as Chris withdrew a key out of his pocket. That sure was unusual; keys were pretty much obsolete at this point – there was no need for them since all locks were biometric or chip-activated.

It was an interesting choice for security.

“Rather old-fashioned, isn’t it?” Christophe asked, smiling mildly at the young man who just nodded shyly. Perhaps he knew little of the outside world. Perhaps it was that. Or perhaps wealthy people were more extravagant than he had thought.

The door swung open, and they stepped into a brightly-lit house, complete with rustic furniture and one-way French windows. You could see out all you want, but nobody could look inside.

There, against the light, stood a silhouette, their head turned away from them.

“Brought you a little present,” Chris said, and the person whipped around. Yuuri squinted to see who they were. Short. Definitely shorter than he was.

Thin.

And – fucking strong, when they slammed into him and crushed him in an awkward hug.

Pig!

Yurio?" Yuuri gasped when he realized what this familiar figure in his arms was. Somehow, the two of them had ended up on the floor, locked together in an embrace.

“I can’t believe it’s you, Yurio, how–,”

“Long story,” Yurio muttered, finally sitting up and letting Yuuri up as well. They gave each other once-overs.

A lot of things had changed.

Yurio was taller than he had been when he’d fled the Courtesan House. His hair was shorter, now cut in a pretty blond bob. His eyes, though, were still blue ice, like they had been; only now, they were so much more alive.

So that was what love looked like on people.

“You cut your hair,” Yurio accused.

The other man shrugged. “So did you.”

They stared at each other for a little longer before Yurio finally broke into a smile. “Fuck, it’s so good to see you.”

“You too,” Yuuri said, smiling right back. Having Yurio here, right in front of him, felt like home. Except better, because they were finally free, the two of them.

“Where’s–?”

“Beka’s at work,” Yurio said. “He’ll be back soon.”

“You live here?” Yuuri asked, looking around in awe.

Yurio nodded. “Chris is letting us stay here, for now. Viktor put us in touch with him, as a favor, I guess.”

“That’s Viktor for you,” Christophe said with a laugh. “Now, you two catch up, and I’ll go deliver the good news. And Yurio?”

“Yeah?”

“Give this boy a bath and proper clothes to wear. He looks like he crawled out of a mine on Pluto.”

With that, Chris turned around and walked out the door, leaving a sputtering Yuuri behind as he typed out a message to Viktor on his PA.

One steaming bowl of katsudon, coming right up.

Chapter Text

There were very few things Viktor looked forward to nowadays. Watching the news was one of them, surprisingly enough: before, as a Courtesan, he wouldn’t have been bothered, but now, he waited impatiently for the feed to refresh every morning after the Senator went to work. Perhaps, there would be some news about Yuuri? Perhaps, something would surface, and he’d finally find some semblance of peace.

There were other things he looked forward to. Breakfast was lovely because the Senator made it a point to have him try every conceivable dish from every conceivable world in the System. Sometimes, going shopping was lovely too – particularly when he was able to get away with buying something flashier than his standing would permit. Like a brooch, or a hair band. Even though his hair was short now, as it was the appropriate style for someone like him, a member of high society, decked out in silvery grey, he still spent a long time in front of the mirror, pressing a bit of lace or a bow to his hair and wondering what they'd look like, if he still had his long locks.

Talking to Christophe was nice, too; even though the other man was slightly overbearing and ridiculously outlandish. His demeanor reminded Viktor of everything he had left behind; and sometimes, it made him smile. Other times, it hurt so much that he had to excuse himself to the bathroom and breathe heavily while leaning against the meticulously polished marble of the bathroom wall. Christophe knew about this. Sometimes, Viktor wondered whether his friend provoked him on purpose just to see whether he'd combust and just run off like he so desperately wanted to.

But no. As eccentric as Christophe was, he would never do something like that to him.

Which was why Viktor almost had a heart attack when he got Christophe’s message.

One steaming bowl of katsudon, coming right up.

Getting away from the guards was easy enough – Christophe rang the doorbell casually and loudly declared for everyone in the vicinity and then some to hear that he was taking Viktor shopping because he was tired of ‘Vitya here being such a damn downer.’ Viktor was too numbly excited to give the man a proper tongue-lashing, so he just followed him outside, promising his guards to be home before his Spouse returned.

He wasn’t so sure about that anymore.


There were many things Viktor missed about the Courtesan House. Some of them, like Minako, were just fleeting memories that sometimes provoked a feeling of ennui deep in his belly, while others, like dancing, made him yearn for time travel to be possible.

And then there was Yuuri.

He knew as the doors opened to Christophe's vacation home, that this would be a moment he'd remember forever.

Yuuri was the first – and only – thing he saw before he dropped his ridiculous composed Spouse image and launched himself across the floor. He had no idea at that moment, but he was crying huge, gross tears, and slobbering all over Yuuri as he blabbed something about missing you and oh, gods, Yuuri. Thankfully, Yuuri had always been a smart young man, and he saved Viktor from embarrassing himself even further by silencing him with a kiss.

Kissing Yuuri was one of the many things Viktor missed.

His arms squeezed around the younger man's torso and he moaned into Yuuri's crying, open mouth. He noticed how much stronger Yuuri's hold was around him, and the thought of what Yuuri had gone through to get here made him mournful and thankful, and he felt so, so blessed to–

“I love you,” Yuuri breathed against his lips, and Viktor’s heart clenched in his chest. These were the words that they had never said to each other. These were the words he had kept under wraps all these months, hoping to be someday able to let Yuuri hear them and of course, the little brat just had to steal his moment.

He found that he couldn’t be mad at Yuuri.

"I love you so much," Yuuri repeated, finally pulling away. Their eyes met, and Viktor realized that Yuuri wasn't a pretty crier. His face was red and covered in tears, and probably snot, and his nose was all big and swollen, and the crying pulled at the corners of his mouth, but fuck, if he wasn’t the most beautiful thing Viktor had laid eyes on.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Viktor breathed – it almost felt like Yuuri was a mirage; like he would disappear if Viktor let go of him.

Best not to let go, then.

He knew that the two of them were in a heap on Christophe’s floor, with the host and Yurio – oh, hello, Yurio – watching them with amusement (well, it was more like disgust for Yurio, but let's keep this moment sweet and romantic, shall we?). Yuuri's clothes were way too small for him, apparently borrowed from the little blonde, which made Viktor's body tingle in all sorts of delicious places.

Well, at least that part of me still works, Viktor thought fondly as he pushed Yuuri's shaggy hair behind his ear. It was apparent that the young man had cut it a while ago and it was growing back, framing his face in a weird, disorganized black halo.

“You cut your hair,” Viktor murmured. Yuuri looked at him with surprise – as if he hadn’t expected those to be some of the first words out of Viktor’s mouth after their long-awaited reunion. Then his face changed to amusement: he should have known.

“You cut yours,” he retorted, his crying mouth shifting into a bashful smile as he ran a hand through Viktor’s short tresses.

“You're beautiful," Viktor breathed, his chest tight. There were so many things he wanted to say and do with Yuuri, so many things he had planned in his head for this unlikely occasion, and yet his brain was blissfully void of any activity besides noticing how right it felt to hold Yuuri again.

The young man blushed, and Christophe snorted. “C’mon, kid, I think we should give the happy couple some time alone.”

“Gross,” Yurio grumbled, but retreated to the kitchen, following a laughing Christophe.

Viktor and Yuuri looked at each other for a long time before bursting out laughing.

This was another thing Viktor had sorely missed.


Yuuri played with his fingers as the two of them lay awkwardly on Christophe’s guest bed. Their lovemaking had been hurried, interspersed with awkward declarations of affection and Viktor’s elbow landing right into Yuuri’s solar plexus. All the finesse, all the lessons the two of them had learned at the Courtesan House, were gone, replaced by a need so deep and visceral that they wanted to take advantage of every minute they had together.

“I love you,” Viktor breathed, for what felt like the hundredth time today, and Yuuri’s entire face just lit up like the brightest sun.

"I love you too," Yuuri replied, his voice confident as if he had cultivated those words inside his chest for a long time now, just waiting for the right time to deliver them.

Viktor's bare leg wrapped itself around Yuuri's waist, and they inched closer together. His grey Spouse's robe was draped over them carelessly to preserve a semblance of modesty – although Viktor was quite sure that neither Christophe not Yurio would try to walk in on the two of them.

“I don’t know what else to tell you,” Yuuri said quietly, his eyes searching Viktor’s. There was doubt in them – and Viktor knew exactly what it felt like. They had been apart for such a long time, what if all these feelings were just… fleeting anticipation? What if there was nothing they could offer each other, after months of no contact?

What if this love had been a fantasy and the two of them were going to wake up tomorrow morning and–

“You’re thinking too loudly.”

Viktor’s surprised gaze met Yuuri’s.

“I know,” he said finally. “But so are you.”

Yuuri nodded minutely. “It took me a long time to get here. And I did some bad, bad things.”

Viktor had figured as much. “Sakamoto.”

Yuuri’s lower lip wobbled. “Not only.”

"You know I don't care about any of that stuff, right?" Viktor asked. He wanted to think that it was just the romantic in him talking but he found that – yes, he didn't care. He didn't care that Yuuri had slept with other people. That he had been the one to send Sakamoto floating down the river. That he had been the one to destroy the Courtesan House's reputation single-handedly.

“I don’t care,” Viktor said. “You’re here now. You’re here with me and I… I wish I had found a way sooner–,”

“Don’t.” Yuuri’s finger pressed up against Viktor’s lips. “I understand. I know why you did what you did. I spent a long time being mad at you for it, but I… I can’t be mad anymore. Not at you, not at the world. I’m done being mad. I want to be happy.”

Silence passed between them.

“You know, I might not be able to do that. To make you happy.” There was the Senator to consider, and Viktor’s debt to him, and the fucking structure of society itself–

“You don’t have to,” Yuuri said, interrupting his train of thoughts. Viktor’s eyes widened a little when the younger man leaned in, pressing a small butterfly kiss to the corner of his mouth.

“Just stay by my side.”