He’s gotten more handsome over the summer. Michiko sighs softly as he passes, ducking her head into her files to hide her pink blush. He lost most of his baby fat, his face sharpening, cheekbones prominent enough for her to cut herself on. If only he didn’t wear such ugly blue frames, so she could see his soulful brown eyes more clearly.
Katsuki Yuuri, sixteen, strides down the corridor purposefully. He meets nobody’s eyes and looks determinedly ahead, which was more than she could say for most of the male population in her school.
Michiko sat behind him during Economics. She desperately wanted to work up the courage to congratulate him on his gold medal in the Junior Grand Prix final last year, but it had been so long ago and would hardly be relevant to the conversation.
“I don’t know how to talk to him.” Michiko slumps against the wall. Her friend, Chiyo, shares her sentiment.
“He’s so far away.” She says, watching the slim figure turn the corner and disappear. “Katsuki only talks to Yuuko and Nishigori, all we ever get are scraps.”
“Have you read his interview in JapanGo? He mentioned our school.” Michiko had a copy of that magazine at home, and wonders if she could get her classmate to sign the poster inside it. “He’s amazing.”
Chiyo shakes her head, but she was smiling fondly as well. “He only said he wanted to focus on his studies.”
“He’s still amazing.” Michiko presses a hand against her forehead dramatically. “I wish I could see him skate in person.”
The bell chimes, once then twice. Michiko bids farewell to her friend and walks to her class, all the while thinking about the aloof Katsuki Yuuri.
“The results of the Japan Figure-Skating Championships are in.” The newscaster says, reading from his script. “Held in Nagoya this year, the winner is Daisuke Takahashi. Meanwhile, Hasetsu’s own Katsuki Yuuri got silver in his senior debut.”
Michiko drops her bowl of rice at seeing the picture of the podium, leading to the disapproving stare of her mother, and dashes to the bedroom to call Chiyo.
She picks up after two rings. “Yuuri-kun won.”
“It was on the news.”
Michiko makes a sound like a dying fish into the phone and flops onto her bed, smiling.
The week after Yuuri’s silver medal was announced, Michiko enters her Economics class armed with her poster of Katsuki Yuuri hidden in her thick binder.
Everything had been going fine, until she had tripped on a bag on her way to her seat and dropped her binder, notes and papers fan out onto the floor.
Somebody helps pick her things up. Numbly, she takes them and looks up to thank the person.
She slaps herself internally, of all the people to witness her accident it had to be Katsuki Yuuri. It was like she lived in one of those terribly cliche Hollywood teen romances.
“Sorry.” His voice was much deeper than she thought it would be, but still gentle. Michiko has the urge to swoon. “That was my bag.”
“Eh?” Michiko is gaping, torn between thanking Yuuri-kun and asking him about what brand of moisturizer did he use. Up close his skin was clear and glowing. She stammers. “Thank-thank you.”
“Is that a poster of me?” Yuuri asks, his tone slightly bemused.
Michiko turns a violent shade of red that she can feel heating up her cheeks. She exclaims before she could get a hold on her thoughts. “I don't always carry it around with me!”
There is a moment of silence. Out of the corner of her eye, Michiko could see her other classmates watching them interact silently, judging the small girl and the closest thing their town had to a celebrity talking with each other.
“I mean,” She takes a deep breath, regrouping her thoughts. She reaches down to get the poster. “I watched your performance again at Nationals on TV, it was beautiful.”
Yuuri’s face pinks, Michiko could see the pleasant surprise behind his eyes. “Thank you.”
She bites her lip, now for the hard part. “Can you please sign my poster?”
“Of course.” Yuuri nods with a small smile, Michiko thought it suited him. “Do you have a pen? All of mine are in my bag.”
“Here.” Michiko thrusts out a silver marker, and their fingers brushed as she handed over the pen. She manages to not overthink the brief contact.
Yuuri writes his name in kanji in deft strokes, he had such steady hands, Michiko could only imagine what it must be like for him to skate.
“勝生勇利.” Michiko reads, grinning. “Thank you, Yuuri-kun.”
“I’m sorry,” He turns pink again, and she is struck by how pretty he looks. “But what’s your name?”
“Daimon Michiko.” She says, it was alright for him not to know her name, she hardly ever spoke in class.
He adds neatly beneath his own figure: You are the first person to ask me to sign a poster in school! Thank you, Michiko-chan.
She reads it silently. “This is very nice, Yuuri-kun.”
“It’s nothing.” He shrugs. “I don’t have a lot of fans, so it’s nice for you to ask me.”
Michiko raises an eyebrow, not a lot of fans? The entire town was plastered with posters of him skating in cherry blossoms and he dared to say he didn’t have a lot of fans?
She tries tentatively. He had to see just how good he was. “Do you know we have a Katsuki Yuuri fanclub in school?”
Yuuri ducks his head and says in a murmur, almost too soft for her to hear. “I know.”
Michiko opens her mouth to speak (To do what? Invite him to one of their meetings? God forbid.) when their sensei enters and she quickly slips into her seat.
“Sensei, onegaishimasu.” They greet their beaming teacher, who waves at them all to sit before gushing.
“Katsuki-kun, come out please.” Their teacher is showing more enthusiasm than he had in two months.
Yuuri weaves through the desks, his head held high. The light hit his hair just enough to bring out the brown highlights, which led to a quiet sigh among her classmates.
“He got a silver medal at Nationals, mark my words, he’s going to be the next Viktor Nikiforov!”
Yuuri pushes his glasses up without saying a thing, pointedly avoiding their gazes while the entire class claps.
“Can we get back to our lesson please, sensei?” Michiko raises her voice before he could go on a rant about Yuuri.
“Yes.” The man nods absentmindedly, to himself more than to them. “Katsuki-kun, back to your seat.”
Yuuri walks back to his seat, her classmates discreetly put away their bags from his path. Michiko could see the grateful look in his eyes, and resolves to keep an eye on him for the rest of the year.
Michiko smiles wistfully as she watches Katsuki Yuuri dance across the ice, her class is enraptured by the elegant movements on tv, more silent than ever.
“Do you know him, Sensei?” One of them asks.
She thinks about the dog-eared poster framed on her wall that her husband and herself both refuse to take down and the fading silver words and the one time they talked. Michiko does not know Katsuki Yuuri, but she is proud of him.
“He was my classmate.”
Poor guy, he looks terrified. Even in Evan’s caffeine-riddled brain he could see the wide, doe-like brown eyes filled with uncertainty through the glass as the freshman walks slowly to the doors.
Evan, not known for his chivalrous acts (just ask his exes), is overcome with protectiveness for the young man. He dashes to the door and opens it, a little while before the freshman even reaches it.
The man, who smells like laundry soap and shampoo, glances up at him as he passes. Evan almost didn’t catch the thank you said in a soft accent and his heart lifts a little.
He follows the freshman, who is keeping his head down. “Would you like a drink?”
That successfully got him to look up in shock and Evan could see the pink blush on his cheeks.
He quickly backtracks. “No, not like that, not now, maybe sometime later.”
The freshman is eyeing him with something like caution and nervousness, he’s bouncing slightly on his feet, like he wanted to run away, but it wouldn’t be polite.
“I’m Evan.” Smooth, man. “And I think you look really tired.”
The man frowns, pinching his face into a cute expression. Honestly, the bags under his eyes didn’t look too bad, they really made his brown eyes pop.
“Would you like a Red Bull?” He holds out a can of the cursed substance, the kid accepts it with a curious look at the silver and blue packaging.
“Thank you.” This time it’s a bit louder and he wasn’t blushing when he said it. Evan counts it as a win.
“Can’t fault a law student for wanting some energy, huh?” He tries for a winning smile.
The student returns it, the smile seemed to light up his entire face, and Evan’s gone just like that.
“What’s your name? Are you ok?”
“Sorry, I have a class.” The man apologizes, his voice returning to its original quietness. “Can I speak with you later?”
“Su-Sure.” Evan says. “Just come round to the library, I’m usually here after hours.”
The man nods, readjusts the strap of his bag and walks off. Evan sees him navigate the mill of students, reminding him of a newborn fawn.
He opens a can of monster energy and chugs it down, only the first week and he already had a semi-date.
Evan takes it back.
There is nobody more cruel than freshmen with large eyes and sweet smiles. Even his last girlfriend had texted him when she was unavailable. Another week into the semester and the student he had held the door open for was nowhere to be found in the library.
He asks around. Predictably, his friends had no idea about an Asian student on campus, though some of them had seen a wide-eyed freshman wandering the campus, looking so lost that they too had offered him help and a Red Bull, both of which he had declined.
“I don’t know if that was your guy, man.” Sean says over his bowl of mac and cheese. “But he had the nicest smile. I guess I didn’t even notice if he was Asian or not.”
Then, the night before the midterm exams began, his roommate had switched on the sports channel, and Evan wondered if he could ask him to turn it down without yelling and breaking the TV.
“Some of us are trying to study, you know.” He snaps, stomping into the small rec room. Evan looks at the screen, where a small figure is gliding across the ice in fast steps, spinning around smoothly.
“Sorry, I’m only here to watch Yuuri Katsuki. The connection on my phone is shit so I really hope you don’t mind.” His roommate explains, but it falls on deaf ears.
Evan knows the figure skater on the ice, could it be? “Does he go here?”
“Yeah, he trains nearby with some Italian. We’re in the same American Lit class.”
Evan sits down on the couch in a daze and focuses on the skating. Yuuri’s skating is gorgeous, even to his untrained eyes. And the jumps he was doing were impressive, according to the awed commentary.
He winces as Yuuri falls onto the ice after managing a shaky ‘quad toeloop’ and he smiles as he transitions fluently into another fast-paced step sequence. Evan makes a note to look up figure skating online.
“He’s good.” His roommate notes, making unnecessary commentary to the event. “Yuuri’s so much more open on the ice, in class he’s distant, like he thinks you’re not good enough to be in his presence.”
“I’m not complaining.” Evan breathes, struck by how at peace Yuuri appeared.
“I think he might at least get bronze, the thing is Yuuri’s got some sort of anxiety that keeps him from winning.”
Evan ignores him, tuning out the noise. He’s discovering the joys of men figure-skating for the first time in his life.
He openly seeks out Yuuri Katsuki after the exams, just to ask him for the drink he had offered in freshers week.
“Yuuri!” He calls outside the lecture hall. One head in the crowd turns and Evan is treated with the sight of Yuuri Katsuki strolling towards him like a majestic stag, slowly and gracefully.
“Hello.” Yuuri says. “You’re Evan, right?”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were a champion figure skater?” Evan demands sternly.
Yuuri’s eyes flash and he bites his lip. “I’m not a champion figure skater.”
With that and a polite: It’s good to see you again, Yuuri Katsuki walks away. Leaving Evan disappointed and he vowed never again to pursue international students with pretty eyes and hearts of stone.
That said, he still enjoys watching ice-skating competitions. There is something nostalgic about skating now, making him recall memories of Yuuri Katsuki and his fragile smile.
The party is in full swing by the time Luke gets there, the music pounding, the drinks nowhere close to running out.
Immediately grabs a red cup of dubious-looking wine and feels the liquid travel down his throat. Luke might as well get blackout drunk for tonight, it was easier to dance when drunk.
Like his instructor said, “A little looseness is good for the soul.”
He joins forces with his three people he vaguely recognizes from his hip hop class. They clear a wide space, because damn frat houses were larger than his entire complex.
The music on is some generic rap, but no matter. Luke’s body moves with the music, he arches, spins, and even does a headspin, for show mostly. He had only learned that move two months ago, and it was hard to do sober, much less with wine warming his stomach.
A few more dance majors join in the fun, while the other party-goers are doing some awkward shuffle two-step, they are windmilling and flaring to their heart’s content.
Sometime around a slender man yells something illegible in another language and tags along. Luke didn’t care much for him, outsiders usually gave up after a few attempts, but his classmates were slowing down, clearing more room for the guy to do his thing.
Eventually Luke stops and observes. The man was amazing, he seemed to be picking up moves like he was born for dance. He could see that the asian man had been trained in ballet before, but no ballet dancer could have such sleek moves, they were always so rigid.
Dimly, he realized that he was cheering along as the man effortlessly pulls off a jackhammer, seemingly without breaking a sweat.
“Who is he?” He asks his fellow classmate, Jackson.
Jackson pauses in his whooping before holding his hands up. “I don’t know, but he’s good.”
He was, the shirt the man was wearing had slipped up and his toned stomach was in full view for the onlookers. Luke grabs a can of beer and drinks it down in one go. “Bet he can stand a dance off?”
Jackson gives him the once-over. “Sure, man, if that’s your thing.”
Luke steps into what he had mentally deemed the dance-zone and yells down at the man. “You! Dance off!”
The man stops mid whirl and hops on one hand to his feet, Luke tries not to look too impressed.
“You?” The man slurs, his eyes bright as he looks at Luke. “I’m sure I can beat you.”
“We’ll see.” Luke replies testily.
Luke goes first, the music on is a classic, with a man speaking out lyrics at top speed. He makes himself do a couple of flares and an agile twist, before getting to his feet and shooting the other man a pointed look.
The man winks and drops to the floor, his moves are as close to technically perfect as break-dancing could get. Though still relatively simple, it was mind-blowing at how quickly he took to the dance. It wasn’t just the spins and jumps, his footwork was miraculously nimble for a drunk.
At last he had to concede defeat, the drunk smiles brightly, a million watt smile that sends something course down Luke’s spine, and does a victory lap, high-fiving everyone in the vicinity eagerly. He recognizes the language he was shouting in to be Japanese, hopefully something complimentary.
At one point, Nicole, another classmate with a sketchy part-time job, hauls out a silver pole. Luke gives her his are-you-sure look but doesn’t interfere, he’s interested to see how this plays out.
From the look the Japanese man gives it, nobody’s going to be disappointed.
Nicole is frantically trying to dissuade the drunk from hopping onto the pole, but gives in. Luke could see her lips moving, probably giving the man Pole-Dancing 101.
“Who is this guy?” Luke asks again, this time in awe as the man does a perfect jade split, despite being only a beginner.
“I might just be gay.” Jackson whistles. The man executes a beautiful flying spiral, somewhere along the way he had discarded his shirt and for the love of God, Luke was not complaining.
“Is that a Gemini?” Nicole joins their little group with three cups of beer that they take gratefully. “I might just be in love.”
By the end of the night, when the man finally gets tired and was leaning heavily on the wall, Luke swore that there was at least twenty people trying to get him to come home with them. Even he wrote his number on the man’s arm with the silver marker provided, but he wasn’t about to take advantage of the man.
“Hey you, kid.” He says, directing his words at a boy who looked barely old enough to be here, much less witness what the man just did. Less likely to be a murderer by the innocent face. “Do you know him?”
“I know him. We see each other sometimes.”
“Do you know where’s his dorm room?”
“It’s in the same building as mine I think.”
“Great.” He carefully leads the drunken man and the boy takes him without complaint. “Take him back safely.”
The boy nods. The man lifts his eyes, and Luke freezes at the sight of half-lidded eyes the colour of wine. The man grins at him, breaking the moment, and waves his arm giddily. “I beat you!”
“Yeah you did.” Luke says. “Nice job.”
The two hobble off into the night, but Luke stops them before they could get any further. “Hey kid!”
The boy turns around, all the while keeping the other man on his feet.
Luke desperately hoped he wasn’t about to send the Japanese man off with a complete stranger. “What’s your name?”
The boy yells back. “Phichit Chulanont!”
“Who is he?” Luke finds himself asking for the third time in the last twenty four hours, nursing a mild hangover.
“Shhh.” Jackson has his face smothered in a pillow. Luke sighs and takes a deep breath, his head hurt. Never drink cheap booze again.
Mentally he flips through the names of all the people he knew while making ramen. Was he a dance major? Had he trained in breakdancing and pole-dancing previously?
Luke finds himself flicking through the memories of last night, the confident smile and the lithe figure, and sighs.
“My standards have been raised.”
Jackson, apparently not as sick as he thought, snorts. “What standards?”
A week later, a short video is uploaded onto Instagram by an account (phichit + chu), of a man shaking his hips to Beyonce’s Flawless while washing dishes. Luke wouldn’t admit it, but he had felt the slightest catch in his heart when he watched it.
Luke can never show his face again. Katsuki Yuuri, a guy with his own Wikipedia page, however brief it may be, was out of his league.
It is universally acknowledged that hockey is far more superior than figure skating.
For one thing, it had a larger fanbase. Hockey also was manlier than figure-skating men in sparkly leotards.
Nathaniel, or Nate as he preferred, was hanging around with his buddies after practice. Their first competition was two days away against a team they had lost to before and the atmosphere was tense.
“Look at me!” One of them, Klaus, says in a high-pitched voice in an attempt to get the others to lighten up. “I’m Viktor Nikiforov!”
Klaus does a half-spin on the ice, more a curve than a proper spin, flips his hair, and winks. It’s funnier to imagine those movements being done by a ripped man with a buzzcut and a chipped tooth.
Everyone laughs, happy to let off some steam, even if it was by belittling another sport. Nate doesn’t want to point out on why Klaus would know about Viktor Nikiforov, when he had said he never paid attention to figure-skating.
Someone glides onto the ice, Nate give the new man a quick look up and down, before deciding he was probably not going to be worth his attention.
There is a small snick of blades cutting the ice and Nate turns his head away from Klaus, who is still doing an on-spot imitation of Viktor Nikiforov, just in time to see the man launch himself into a jump.
“Wow.” He couldn’t stop the word from leaving his lips. That jump really had been something, he counted three rotations. That was a good thing, right?
But the man didn’t seem to be satisfied, Nate watches slack-jawed as he jumps again, this time he counted four rotations. The landing wasn’t as steady as the last one, resulting in the mysterious man touching the ice, but he was already stunned.
And he wasn’t the only one.
His teammates stop their chattering as the man steps across the ice in quick, almost frantic steps. That speed and the gentle ferocity with which he danced across the ice was nothing Nate had ever seen before.
The man loops around the rink, delicately avoiding the hockey players, he was showing emotion, even Nate’s untrained eyes could see the cry in his gestures, the sadness, and the call for someone to help him. The Asian man was wearing a baggy hoodie and loose sweatpants and still skated more feeling than he had felt in the past year.
“Let’s go.” Klaus says quietly.
“Who is he?” Misha inquires, as they get off the ice, the mood suddenly somber.
“Who is he?” Alan echoes as the man lowers himself into a camel spin.
Nate only sighs and continues staring, feeling like he was spying on something private as the man reaches up mid-spin, but unable to look away.
He wants to laugh, tough hockey players mesmerized by a figure skater, something Klaus would probably joke about, even if he looked like he was just as bewitched as Nate was.
The man was lovely, the way something untouchable is lovely, with angular features and expressive hands.
Someone squeaks as the man slides across the ice in a spread eagle before leaping off into a neat jump. Nate fumbles for his phone, his fingers were going weak, to take a video. He doesn’t know why he has the impulse to record the man skating, but there were some moments in life you wanted to remember.
The team trickle out a while later, when the man has stopped and is gazing at his skate-clad feet with something akin to despair. Nate wants to go up to him, to talk to him, maybe become his friend.
But he doesn’t. Even in the cool air of the rink, he smelled like sweat and that wasn’t the impression he wanted to leave on the skater.
Nate’ll try again some other day.
He doesn’t forget the man, who had not spoken a word to shoo he and his teammates off the ice, but instead made them want to leave the ice empty for him.
Nate supposed if there was something hockey players and figure skaters could agree with is that the ice is a cruel mistress. They all are drawn to it, they leave for some time, but they always come back.
Nate hardly ever sees the skater who had domineered the ice with ease, but he’ll always keep an eye out for the Asian man after practice.
“Hi.” A lightly-accented voice says, near the start of their practice. “Do you mind if I stay for a while longer on the ice? I have a competition next week.”
“Of course not.” Who was Nate to deny this man- who had to be wearing mascara because there was no way lashes could be so long without makeup- from skating on the ice? “It’s a free country.”
The man nods and gives him something resembling a smile before moving along.
“That’s Yuuri Katsuki.” Klau provides helpfully, a note of awe in his voice. “He’s a professional figure skating champion certified by the JSF.”
“You looked him up?” Nate asks, surprised.
“I asked around. There’s this Thai kid, Phichit Chulanont, on campus. They’re best friends.” Klaus adds. “He’s won Japan Nationals for the second time.”
That’s more than I’ve done in my entire life. Nate shakes his head, feeling way out of his league. He wasn’t even gay, for starters, but there was something this man bought out in him.
“You ok?” Misha inquires in concern.
“I’m fine.” Nate replies, picking at the ice with his toe pick. He decides to jump right into the suggestion. “Do you and the guys want to come and watch the Trophee de France on Friday night?”
Misha looks surprised for a second. “Is that some figure-skating competition?”
Nate nods wordlessly.
“Sure.” Alan shrugs. Nate is half-surprised, he didn't expect it to be this easy. “We could all go down the bar on Friday.”
There is no mention of Yuuri Katsuki being the reason behind the team’s sudden surge of interest in figure-skating.
Still, it becomes a habit for the Detroit Red Wings to file down to the local bar on some nights, demand the resident tv to be switched to a proper figure-skating channel (there were so few, Nate laments) and spend the rest of the night watching men in sparkly leotards jump and glide around, cheering whenever Yuuri Katsuki’s name comes up.
"Чем я могу вам помочь?"
Andrei glances up from the counter at his mother tongue being spoken in such hesitant tones and feels his heart lift at the sight of shimmering brown eyes and messy black hair.
“Да.” He answers. “Чем я могу вам помочь?”
The foreigner continues to give his order for a latte with an uncertain tinge to his voice. Andrei wants to tell him that he needed more confidence, that he was far more polite than half the people who come by for their daily cup of coffee.
He gives the man his change, and sees the golden ring gleaming on the customer’s finger.
Andrei wonders who had the luck to be married to this gorgeous man.
“Не отвлекайся!” The manager snaps as he hesitates for far too long with the coffee machine.
Andrei ducks his head in embarrassment, miffed at the reprimand, he hadn’t been so distracted since his first days as a budding barista. His co-worker is giggling quietly and shoots him a knowing look.
“Это не то, о чем ты подумала!” He moans and finishes off the latte with extra cream, like the man had said.
“Спасибо.” The foreigner replies with a small smile directed more at the cup than at Andrei.
““Пожалуйста! Заходите еще!” He adds as an afterthought while handing the cup to the man, returning the smile.
He could see the gears turning inside the man’s head as he translates the Russian, hopefully Andrei hadn’t spoken too fast.
“Ah!” The man exclaims. "Непременно.”
He gives a jaunty little wave to Andrei before turning on his heel smoothly to walk to the exit. The man leaves the cafe, Andrei exhales.
“Andrei.” His co-worker says teasingly, wiggling her eyebrows, as he moves onto the next customer.
"Не придумывай, ничего не было." He mutters and forces a cheery smile for the impatient woman at the counter. "Чем я могу вам помочь?"
The man comes in every day, brightening up the entire room with his pink cheeks, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even without his tea. Turns out he hadn't learnt the Russian equivalent of green tea back then and was too ashamed to backtrack and ask for it in English.
Anna and the manager seemed charmed by the Japanese man. It was hard not to like him, he was quiet, never complained and spoke in old-fashioned Russian that would make his бабушка proud.
One day, someone crashes into the little cafe in the afternoon. Andrei had seen no sign of Yuuri (three spelling mistakes was all it took for the man to correct him shyly) today.
He would recognize that head of silvery grey hair anywhere. While Andrei was not as interested in figure-skating as half the country was, he hadn't been living under a rock for the past decade. He knows who is Viktor Nikiforov, and has some knowledge of the living legend's achievements on behalf of his country.
But that hardly explained why he had suddenly appeared in the quaint cafe, trademark silver hair disheveled and blue eyes rimmed with red.
"Is he here?" Nikiforov demands in accented English, voice hoarse.
"Могу ли я помочь вам, г-н Никифоров?" Apparently Anna was the half who regularly watched national figure-skating competitions.
"Is he here?" He repeats, still in English.
"Who are you talking about, Sir?" Andrei pipes up from his spot.
"Ah, Yu-Yuuri." The man stammers, clearly distraught.
"Yuuri? Японец?" He says.
Nikiforov nods, his blue eyes filled with worry. "Have you seen him?"
"Вы с ним знакомы?" Andrei is instantly suspicious, what sort of person was the retired skater to Yuuri?
"Он мой муж." Nikiforov replies sharply, an icy smile coming onto his face.
Andrei raises an eyebrow, analyzing the current mess that was Viktor Nikiforov.
"He did not come today." Andrei says in slightly stunted English, deciding best to tell the truth.
Nikiforov dips his head, his eyes averted to the interesting floorboards. "Спасибо за помощь."
Andrei's eyes trail after the silver-haired man as he leaves, his steps heavy, like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Of course. Andrei thinks with a sad smile. Only Viktor Nikiforov will do for Yuuri.
That said, he still thought the Japanese man deserved better.
"Как вы себя чувствуете?" He asks the usual customer, looking at Yuuri with something like awe in his eyes. His favourite customer was an internationally acclaimed figure skater and Anna was already disappointed that she hadn't recognised him sooner, brushing her embarrassment off by claiming she wasn't that big of a fan to disbelieving ears.
"I'm fine." Yuuri says softly in English, eyes dark-rimmed and downcast. "Thank you. I'll have a medium dark roast, cream on top, bit of almond milk, a pump of caramel syrup-"
"Slow down, sir." Andrei holds his hands up in the universal stop sign. "Would you like your usual cup of tea?"
Yuuri visibly deflates in relief, or some other emotion Andrei couldn't place. "Yes, please. Thank you."
"Your husband was very worried about you." He adds before he could think as Yuuri hands him the money for his green tea.
"Viktor is like that." Yuuri says, opening his lips slightly in a sigh.
"He loves you very much, I'm sure."
Yuuri gives a half-hearted chuckle at the statement. "I know he does, but it's hard to believe that I'm married to him sometimes."
"Can you take a picture here?" Andrei hears his manager ask the man as he collects his steaming hot tea, made with two teabags for strength.
"I'm sorry. I have practice, I'll come earlier tomorrow. Is that alright with you?"
His manager nods, slightly starstruck. Yuuri Katsuki was probably as close as the humble cafe had to a resident celebrity.
"Thank you." Yuuri says, beaming. He had the sweetest smile, reminding Andrei of a smiling puppy.
"Come again soon!" Anna sings out, in surprisingly fluent English.
Yuuri halts at the door, twists his head back to look at them and white teeth flash as he flips his long black hair to wink charmingly.
Anna makes a quiet keening sound at the back of her throat, somewhere between a squeal and a sigh. Andrei lets loose a small laugh and returns his gaze to the counter before his manager can yell at him.
He didn't think much about Yuuri after that.
The very next day he comes at the usual time, but this time there is a familiar silver-haired man holding his hand. He almost didn't recognise Viktor Nikiforov because of how happy he looked. Their respective smiles rival the glint of their matching gold rings.
A short blonde boy comes in a moment later, his face twisted into a scowl. Andrei hides a laugh when the boy steps directly in between the two men, wrenching their hands apart and stomping to the counter loudly in his-
Andrei does a quick double take. Were those leopard-print shoes?
"Я могу вам помочь?" He speaks up, feeling the heated glare the blonde teen was sending him all too much.
"Can you get me a ticket away from these two morons?" He says the last word in a yell directed at the morons in question.
"Yuri!" Yuuri says, but Andrei could tell he wasn't offended.
"Are you here for the picture?" His manager materialises from the storeroom, camera in hand.
"Yuuri!" Nikiforov's personality seemed to have done a complete 180 spin from the first time Andrei had seen him. "You didn't tell me the coffeeshop people were fans!"
"You arrogant asshole!" Yuri, the blonde boy, huffs, though Andrei thought there was no real bite behind his words. "Not everybody worships the ground you walk on."
"Yes." Andrei mutters under his breath, and still his lips turn up obediently as the camera flashes.
And to this day the picture is still hung up proudly on the wall. Two men smiling beatifically into the camera with a boy's angelic features turned into a look that would've seemed almost fond were it not for the middle finger he was holding up. Andrei is behind the counter, a wistful look on his face.
He tells Anna that he wants them to take the photo down, because he was looking so dopey in the frame.
Privately he likes the photo. A reminder that he had met Viktor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki, who was winner of last year's GPF winner, esteemed Olympic medalist and one of the top-ranked skaters in the world.
He finds that he doesn't mind two men in a couple. Yuuri and Nikiforov were clearly enamored with each other, deep in love. Truly the Russian didn't deserve such a man, yet he wondered who did if Nikiforov didn't.
"Andrei?" Anna is tapping on the wood of the table she was wiping. "Stop thinking."
Yes, Yuuri Katsuki was in good hands.