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Notice Period

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It was three years that Yuuri had worked at the same desk in the same corner office of the same elaborate office building in the business heart of Barcelona, Les Corts. It was three years he had worked all the hours he could, sitting behind the same computer screens and behind the same white glistening desk. It was three years of the series of suits and ties, of shining shoes and slicked back hair. It was five years of early mornings, of gym sessions in the early hours and late nights spent doing more and more work on his laptop in bed. And now Yuuri was done.

When Yuuri had been a boy, he had never planned on the career path that he had followed. He had planned on doing something far more romantic. He had wanted to be a figure skater and had practiced all the hours he could at the local rink. Yet that dream had soon floundered after injuries and he had given up to pursue a career path in international business.

He had always been good at numbers. Ever since he had been eight, he had done the accountancy for his parent’s inn and hot springs. He was better and more business-minded than his father and his mother soon came to rely on Yuuri more and more. By the time he was ready for university, Yuuri had been running his parent’s business and he was more than capable of doing their books in his sleep. He required a challenge. And he had found one.

Yuuri had been the top of his class at university and had soon found himself working in Tokyo for a large international investment firm after a Professor put in a good word with one of his old students. This had lasted six months until a position had become available in Barcelona and due to his impressive track record, he had been given the opportunity to move there. He had been unsure of the opportunity initially yet Yuuri was pragmatic enough to know that if he declined, he would never be offered something again so he accepted and found himself at the other side of the world in an unfamiliar city surrounded by a people who spoke a language he barely knew.

He spoke English well and found most of his colleagues spoke the language too but he disliked going into the city and feeling so clueless so Yuuri tried to teach himself Spanish. Yet he was not able to devote the time to it so he ended up living a dull existence of moving between his soulless white apartment and the soulless white office. He had barely spent any time seeing Barcelona during all the years he had lived there and he had developed a home sickness that had become all-consuming. All he wanted was home and Yuuri made the decision. The decision to quit his high flying finance job and return home.

Due to his position in the firm, Yuuri had to give an extended notice period yet he had negotiated this down to a month with his manager, Christophe after signing a non-disclosure agreement and a contract that stated he would never work for a rival firm. This was fine with Yuuri. He didn’t want to work anywhere else doing the same job and he was returning home to run his parents business. It didn’t matter to him.

It surprised many of his colleagues. Yuuri was known for his dedication and known for his ability to work through the night if there was important work to be done. He was loyal, fair and hard-working. And he made a lot of money. But Yuuri didn’t care about that. Not anymore. He had not had more than a day off in so damn long and he missed the hot springs and his mother’s pork cutlet bowls and he wanted nothing more than to read books and sit around and get fat. And maybe he would even skate again. He missed that.

It was now the start of his official month notice period and Yuuri felt weird as he arrived at the office and went through the usual security processes. He felt like he no longer belonged and he no longer did. This month was going to be a period of transferring all his knowledge and skills to his successor, a process that Yuuri was not looking forward to.

They called him “the Russian” and he was well known within the company for his flamboyance and the disregard he showed towards the company expenses policy. He had negotiated his transfer to Barcelona for himself and his assistant who was apparently rude and aggressive with anyone who dared to approach “the Russian”. Everyone around Yuuri were eyeing each other nervously and had been doing so since the news of Yuuri’s departure and the imminent arrival of “the Russian” yet Yuuri felt removed from it, ignored it and just tried to figure out what he needed to do in the weeks he had remaining.

When he arrived at his office, Yuuri smiled at his own assistant/receptionist and offered a smile to Phichit who looked particularly upset this morning.

“Don’t- !” he started to stay but it was too late.

It seemed Phichit wanted to give Yuuri a warning. And really Yuuri would’ve appreciated one. His morning had felt odd from the moment he had woken up, his life suddenly out of the old routines and he had a heavy feeling in his stomach on his journey into work. He had been trying to just get on with everything, knowing that it would soon be time to return home, yet now the equilibrium he had managed to establish vanished the second he pushed on the door and stepped into his office.

As it wasn’t his office anymore. It hadn’t been as though Yuuri had made his office “his”. It was stark and it had very few possessions in it. He had never really felt like he was staying so Yuuri had never seen the point in framing photographs or buying art. Phichit had bought Yuuri a plant some time ago that was still alive but apart from that there was very little of Yuuri’s in his office. Yet despite the fact there was little of his own possessions in his office, it was still Yuuri’s. But apparently it wasn’t anymore.

As right now, his few possessions (and his own computer and two large screens) were in a cardboard box on the floor and his office chair was now occupied by someone else. This someone else was sat on it with his feet on the white shiny desk in front of him. He wore a tight black suit from what Yuuri could see and his silver hair was styled in such a fashion that it fell over one eye dramatically.

Currently, he was rocking in the chair (Yuuri’s chair!) and he watching as his assistant was hanging up a large painting on the wall.

“There, yes there, Yurio…!” he said as he spoke in heavily accented English. “I think we’ll need to find another chair or get mine shipped from Moscow… I don’t think this one has enough support – ah!”

It seemed Yuuri had not been noticed, the pair too absorbed in their own activities, yet now it seemed “the Russian” had realised that he was there.

“Sorry! Didn’t see you there.”

With that apology, he got out of the chair and soon Yuuri was looking up at the man who was taking over his office and job.

“I’m Victor Nikiforov and you must be Yuuri?”

Yuuri nodded dumbly, his balance off kilter still, and looked up Victor. He could note, despite his compromised situation, that Victor was ridiculously good-looking and he suddenly understood some of the rumours that had pervaded about “the Russian”. Ruthless, gorgeous and charming. He was a threat and if Yuuri had been staying with the company, he would’ve felt intimidated. As it was, Yuuri only felt annoyed. And suddenly homeless. His office had been where he had spent the majority of his time in Barcelona and seeing it suddenly transformed gave Yuuri a strange feeling in his chest. It made it real.

He really was giving it all up. He really was returning home. None of it mattered but still… This Victor was already erasing Yuuri’s life for the past three years. And he already felt invisible and forgotten.

“Sorry for taking over already… I thought it would be best to get my interior decoration organised prior to you leaving when my workload will be too high for me to focus on this. You don’t mind?”

“Ugh… no,” Yuuri replied as he glanced at the possessions that already littered the office. Victor seemed to like gold. Yuuri felt very inarticulate in front of “the Russian” and it made him dread the next month with even more trepidation.

“Good…” Victor said, his eyes now looking past Yuuri to the wall. “No Yurio… that does not look right there. We’ll have to start again…”

It seemed Yuuri had been forgotten and rather than stay beyond his welcome in his own office, he departed with his cardboard box of belongings and dumped them onto Phichit’s desk unceremoniously.

“I’m sorry… I couldn’t stop them.”

Yuuri could see his assistant looked anxious and Yuuri could quite easily have exploded at Phichit but he didn’t. There was no point. “No problem. Can you hook up my computer and find a laptop I can use? I’m going to get a coffee…”

“Yes, sir!” Phichit said quickly, scurrying off to acquire whatever he needed.

Yuuri looked over to his office, gazing through the glass and he put his hands in the pockets of his tight suit trousers before he turned away and went in search of much needed strong coffee.