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on a scale from one to zero: are you happy?

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They’re laughing again.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laughity laugh laugh-

 

Why were they laughing? Viktor wonders and he mentally kicks himself because duh, they’re laughing at you, you dimwit.

 

Were they supposed to laugh at me? Viktor thinks, now a little nervous and unsure. Where am I?

 

And he remembers.

 

They’re in a theater.

 

He’s on a stage.

 

In front of hundreds, thousands, of people.

 

Oh, right. He’s a comedian.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor shakes his head and grips the microphone in his hand tight, and then he realizes he’s already gripping it too tight, with sweat forming in his palms and between his fingers and sticking unto the smooth microphone’s exterior and-

 

Ew.

 

Wait, what?

 

Oh, right… Jokes.

 

Viktor’s eyes, blue blue blue, scan the crowd. There, he sees people staring up at him expectantly with their eyes wide and waiting and not seeing how much of a mess the man on stage has been.

 

Viktor wishes he hasn’t seen how much of a mess the man on stage has been either.

 

He was forgetful, if you couldn’t already tell. But he forgets, and then he remembers, and then wishes he could just forget forever.

 

But he couldn’t. Sucks, right?

 

But wait, what would he like to forget, you may ask?

 

Everything, really.

 

Majoring in making people laugh until they shit themselves have their own pros… and cons. Lots and lots of cons. You’re funny and people laugh at your attempts of self degradation… Until they don’t. Sure, you’ve made them laugh tons and tons of times before, what would one moment of silence differ to all that?

 

That’s what Viktor thinks too; when he’s awake on sleepless nights whilst trying to carefully analyze whatever roofing the room he was currently in has.

 

He wishes he could forget what he sees, what he’s been through, maybe he’d be happier.

 

But isn’t he already happy? One little puppy, he’s on Viktor’s shoulder or inside Viktor’s brain or whatever, asks. He’s rich and famous and really funny-

 

Yeah, that’s the question, little puppy.

 

Is he happy?

 

Viktor sighs, and says another witty comment that sends the audience choking with laughter.

 

Viktor chokes on his words.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

 

 


 

 

 

Amazing performance, like always!”

 

“That death joke you did? Funny as hell, man!”

 

“I loved that skit you did! My favorite part was-“

 

Oh my god, shut up.

 

Of course Viktor didn’t say this out loud; however, he was horrified of himself once the phrase had set into his mind. He was talking to a nice fan after the show, and she was merely congratulating him and his immediate response was to backlash at her-

 

Dear lord, what is happening to me-

 

After a brief existential crisis, Viktor hugs her and smiles and agrees to take a selfie with her. In the morning, Viktor would probably see the picture online with it only captioned with nothing but heart emojis and screaming via caps lock.

 

Somebody, help me-

 

No, stop. Some part of Viktor’s brain says, the stern and albeit funny person who he always displays on the stage. Comedic, but harsh. You’re perfectly fine and happy. You don’t need help. You don’t need anyone. Shut up shut up shut up-

 

He loves his fans. They’re sassy and squishy and they love Viktor, and Viktor loves them back. The question is, do they really love Viktor at all? Maybe they love his jokes and his futile attempts at humor, but… that’s it, isn’t it?

 

After the show, Viktor immediately flops down unto his hotel bed. Where was he? Viktor gradually remembers that no, he isn’t lost in the void of existential crisis; he’s actually in some city namely called California. Yakov, his manager of sorts, tells him (growls at him, to be honest, but it’s alright because Yakov growls all the time) to rest because he’ll be flying his ass all the way to Japan for his next show.

 

Viktor doesn’t rest; instead, he watches the dust mites waltz across the ceiling.

 

Whoosh, whoosh.

 

 


 

 

 

You see, Viktor’s life was full of laughs.

 

Guffaws and overly enthusiastic expressions of laughter accommodated almost 80% of his life. What was the other 20%, you may ask? Viktor doesn’t know. The thing is, Viktor doesn’t know jack shit and he knows everything at the same time. It’s a little conflicting, but the happy little things that were in his life were enough to mask it up.

 

Laugh, laugh, laugh.

 

Viktor saw the sparkling eyes and the sore cheeks, too tired from laughing. You know that raspy voice you get when you’re trying to talk in the midst of laughter? Viktor hears that all the time. That stomach pain you get when you laugh too hard, the tears that prick your eyes. Viktor’s life was full of these happy little mundane things…

 

It would've been nice. Now if only those things came from Viktor himself...

 

 


 

 

 

 

Food was good.

 

Food was nice.

 

Food was his main anchor in this world to prevent him from spiraling further into his internalized doom.

 

Wait, what? What doom? There is no doom. Why would there be a doom? He was happy. Happy happy happy happy happy-

 

There’s no time to think of that now, for fuck’s sake. Now where was he? Oh yeah, he was eating.

 

Yakov had scolded him for having food as the first thing on his mind when they touchdown on Japan. He immediately bought those Hello Panda crackers, the one with the cute little pandas on the outside of the cracker with chocolate on the inside, at the airport. He offered Yakov some, the man refused.

 

Oh well, more for him then.

 

Munch munch munch. Maki and sushi and all the rice bowls he had ever wanted in his life. He bought these cute little chopsticks with purple emblazons by the sides, swirling with craft glitter glue.

 

The kind waiter giggled at his joyous grin when she arrived with the food. He couldn’t help it, can’t he? He’d been waiting for half an hour whilst enduring the amazing smells and aromas the surroundings have enticed him with. He exclaimed a profound ‘vkusno!’ when he bit into the dish. He happily ate, trying hard to forget the fact that he was eating alone.

 

See? He was happy. Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy-

 

 


 

 

 

People often asks about his soulmate's first sentence.

 

If Viktor would've been a much more cruel person, he would've responded with a standard 'mind your own fucking business'.

 

But he was nice. And people were naturally curious... Especially when it comes to soulmate marks.

 

The first sentence the fucker that you're supposed to spend the rest of your life with will say is written on... some part of your body. Viktor once saw a guy with his soulmate mark on his forehead. It would've seemed as a cool face tattoo, if only the sentence wasn't 'back off you dickwad' and written in swirling calligraphy. 

 

Viktor was, fortunately, a lucky man. His soulmate's first words were written across his wrist, small and nothing too significant and written in small, dainty print.

 

Good morning, what would you have today?

 

Oh great, his soulmate is a barista. Or a waiter? A cashier? Who fucking knows. Viktor wasn't bothered by whatever job his soulmate would have, mundane or not. But that's the unlucky part. (there's always a downside in things, of course). Every time Viktor walks in a McDonald's he's always on the lookout like an overly excited mouse.

 

As a famous persona in this fucked up society, of course people would keep on jabbing at him about it. Viktor's always been lighthearted about it and made a few petty jabs at his soulmate's words, albeit it backfired sometimes. Now more than a handful of people actually think his soulmate's words would be 'imma pick dat dick with chopsticks'. and even a few of his diehard fans took it to the extreme.

 

(note to self: don't joke about your soulmark using a cupcakke song)

 


 

 

 

He was in the middle of his show when he snapped.

 

He held his show in a surprisingly enormous Japanese theater with having hundreds of people with funny accents as his audience.

 

The Japanese people were very friendly, to be frank. He’d been to almost half the globe, but Viktor had known that Japan would always hold a place in his heart. Maybe one day, when he eventually decides to settle down, he’ll stay here.

 

Maybe.

 

So he’d gone through almost his usual show routine: introduce himself in the most Extra™ manner possible, make a few jabs about Japan, say a witty comment about the current social status, interact with the audience, blah blah blah blah-

 

It went smoothly, nothing seemed wrong. However, it was like a little fly, nothing too serious, but like a little fly had perched itself in his ear.

 

Buzz buzz, motherfucker.

 

He was in the middle of a joke about racism or homophobia or anything for the matter, he does not remember, when he chokes on his words.

 

His throat bobs, up and down up and down, and his mouth runs dry. Why? What was going on? What why who where-

 

He reaches for the little standard stool every goddamn comedian has and grabs the water bottle every goddamn comedian has. He takes a series of tiny, tiny little sips… At least, that’s what it seemed like from the audiences’ perspective. Viktor was actually taking giant gulps, enough to drain the whole fucking ocean.

 

What happened? Where am I? Help help help help help-

 

He nearly chokes on his last gulp, laughing as he returns to the audience and says how he’s always choking on something.

 

The audience laughs once more.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor nearly drops his microphone every five minutes after that.

 

 


 

 

 

Drip, drip.

 

Baths… Baths were nice.

 

You’d pretend you could be anything. When you’re shoulders deep into water, you can pretend to be a mermaid and splash around.

 

Splish, splash.

 

Viktor rakes his fingernails through the soft foam of his bubble bath, trying hard to not notice how hard they are shaking, trying hard to not clench them into his palms and leave crescents into his skin.

 

Too bad. He likes the moon, likes the stars, and likes the way they shine. He thinks they're pretty. Viktor likes pretty things.

 

What happened awhile ago? The little puppy wonders, barking adorably. Viktor didn’t know either. All he knows is that, once he left the stage, he was shaking so hard even Yakov had asked him if he was alright,

 

He was alright.

 

He was happy.

 

Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happ-

 

Viktor sighs shakily, letting the overhead shower punch him in the face with its tiny little water droplets. Drip, drip. Where was he? In Japan? Viktor wasn’t sure.

 

He felt lost.

 

Which was bad, because Viktor never had a good sense of direction.

 

Lost. God, where was he? He… He’s so lost. Was he in a theater? Was he forcing himself to give people what he couldn’t give himself again? Was he… No, he’s not in a theater. Theaters don’t have porcelain tiles and a very nice marble sink. Where was he? Help help help help help help-

 

“Vitya!” A gruff voice of a seventy year old man thankfully distracts Viktor from his doom from the other side of the door. Viktor jumps, sending suds and water unto the previously dry floor of the bathroom. Viktor winces.

 

He gasps when he extracts his fingernails from the outside of his thighs, from where they were previously burying themselves in. Viktor rubs the spots that now had begun to sting, running his calloused fingers across them and every new small little jab of pain makes him wince.

 

-help help help help help-

 

“Stop hogging the bathroom! I swear to god if the hotel charges us for draining their water I am going to kill you-“

 

Drip drip drip drip drip-

 

 

 


 

 

The moon was very pretty.

 

Very pretty, very bright. Viktor remembers that one time he stuck a tortilla on his glass window and Makkachin ate it five minutes later. Ah, good old memories.

 

Viktor takes a big ol' gulp of fresh air. If Yakov found out that he snuck out (at 12 pm? 1 am? 2 am? He doesn't know) the old man would probably lose more of his hair. And he knew it was a bad idea, but Viktor finds himself in the unfamiliar streets of Japan with nothing but his wallet, his phone, and the high probability that he might get mugged. Or kidnapped... who knows?

 

The silver haired man was lounging on his bed that night, mindlessly scrolling through his phone like any other human. Suddenly the four walls felt like they were chasing after him, closing in and removing any sort of air that Viktor needed, and he went fuck it, I'm going out. 

 

He called events like these 'cosmic explosions'.

 

Lately, he's having more of them now.

 

Viktor remembers taking a train... And that's about fucking it. He doesn't know jack shit where he is. He doesn't know the name of the town he's in, all he knows is that he's currently passing by a highway bridge. It would be fairly easy to find out where he is via Google Maps...

 

If only he could use Google Maps on his own fucking brain, that is.

 

Tap, tap, the whole road was so fucking deserted; he could hear his own shoes tap against the stone pavement. There were a few stores and buildings and signs of human life, but he was mostly alone.

 

He didn't know if he wanted to be alone or not.

 

Viktor looks up, sees the giant glowing tortilla hanging by the stars. Honestly, why is the sun brighter than the moon? The sun was great, really, but it was harsh and unforgiving and could actually kill you if it had the chance. The moon was like a soft caress, bright but it doesn't punch you in the face with its harsh rays. 

 

Viktor heard that people used the moon to navigate back then. Like, how fucking awesome would that be? One day you'll be like 'oh no, I lost my way. But it's alright! Because, coincidentally, the moon's out and I can find my way like a motherfucking Jungle Jim' They said that the moon was like a beacon, able to make the lost found again, even if they lost their way in the midst of the deepest of forests.

 

And so Viktor looks up, eyes are blue blue blue, almost like two different moons in the midst of the dark night.

 

He’s very lost.

 

Can the moon help him find his way again?

 

I can help you! The moon says. Imagine those little cartoon kid commercials with the weird anthropomorphic mascot. Yeah, that’s what the moon sounded like. To Viktor, anyways. Because he’s honestly a giant man-child, also apparently he’s going insane. Come to me! I’ll make all your problems go away!

 

Viktor finds his hands gripping the railing of the bridge, feeling the rust scrape against his gloves. His stare remains glued shut to the talking rock in the sky. There’s just something about it that makes Viktor want to go closer.

 

And closer he got.

 

Come to me, Viktor! Viktor could now imagine a little cartoon face on the tortilla in the sky, beckoning him with sweets like a perverted psycho with a van. Come on! Jump! Jump! Jump! Ju-

 

Jump?

 

When he said he wanted to get closer to the moon, he literally unknowingly got closer to the moon. Viktor finally takes in on himself, seeing the way he prevented himself from plummeting into the waters by just holding onto the railing. His feet, barely by the edge of the bridge, felt like they could slip off at any moment. Viktor knew that if a very strong breeze flew by, he’d probably be plummeting head first into the waters.

 

Oh, well, would you look at that.

 

Viktor is 24, and he’s going to kill himself.

 

Viktor lets out a laugh.

 

It was a laugh unlike any other laugh he had laughed, and let me tell you, Viktor had laughed a lot. He was a fucking comedian, what did you expect? And yes, maybe most of them were forced and fake but he still laughed. There were a few genuine ones though, like a gauntlet of sunshine in the midst of his shitty life.

 

This laugh was maniacal, almost psychotic.

 

Now the tortilla in the sky has shut up, and Viktor is left to lament on his own thoughts.

 

He has definitely thought of this before, maybe more than the usual human being. But admit it, even if you weren’t suicidal, you’ve thought of what it would feel like if you loaded a bullet in your head, or maybe even jumped off a bridge.

 

Now Viktor, being the funny little shit that he is, occasionally made jokes about the certain topic. He tried not to in the fear of triggering someone in the audience. But when he does make a joke about chugging bleach or shoving your head in an oven, the audience fails to realize that maybe Viktor has actually thought of doing these things before.

 

It was scary, to be honest.

 

“So this is it.” Viktor whispers, his voice sounding like you processed it through a cheese grater. “I’m killing myself.” Viktor shrugs. Viktor is terrified of himself at how casual he treated the situation. “A little anticlimactic, but it’s better than driving myself insane, I guess-“

 

“Really?”

 

Viktor nearly loses his grip on the railing, jolting at the voice. There are three things that Viktor hate in life: people with bad hair, random existential crisis’s, and people who think they could just pop out from out of nowhere without warning.

 

Viktor takes a sharp intake of breath, closing his eyes shut as he feels his hands shake.

 

“Wow, I thought you wanted to jump?”

 

It was, in all honesty, a very petty sentence. But the way this man has said it… Like a curious child, a voice that did not hold any malice, nor did it hold the supposed pettiness the sentence was supposed to have. Like… Imagine someone saying ‘you shot a bullet through yourself?’ but in a way that Jennifer Lawrence would say it.

 

Viktor let out a small chuckle.

 

“What can I say? The ocean is pretty. I think a refreshing dip would be nice, no?” Sarcasm has coated his words, dripping into the ocean with its golden irony.

 

Viktor hears a soft sigh from behind him. The silver haired man, for some reason, made no move to see whoever this mystery intruder is. All he knows is that the man has a very nice voice.

 

“There’s a shore over there. You can swim in the ocean like any other normal human being.”

 

“Funny.” Viktor murmurs. “I’m not ‘any other normal human being’.”

 

You’re fucked up. The puppy in his head now says, voice low like a burly black man. Think: Samuel Jackson, or maybe Morgan Freeman? Anyways, it was fucking crazy. You’re fucked up. You’re about to kill yourself. You’re not normal. You’re fucked up. You’re fucked up. You’re fucked up. You’re fucked up-

 

They’re filled with a sense of silence, quiet but with the sound of waves crashing and seagulls flying in the background. It would’ve been nice and therapeutic, if only… oh, I don’t know, if only Viktor wasn’t hanging off the bridge with his life on the railing? Yeah.

 

“Me too.”

 

Viktor finally glances behind him, seeing soft brown eyes staring aimlessly into the ocean. He was young, soft, dark hair fluttering in the night. He was beautiful.

 

“Why?” Viktor says softly, blue eyes shining in the midst of their situation. “Do you plan on killing yourself too?”

 

The man inhales, eyes still trained on the crashing waters. Viktor was thankful for the moon, he would not have seen the pretty brown of this man’s eyes in the midst of darkness. He looked so calm, so serene, it was almost ethereal.

 

“Isn’t it pretty?” The man says, voice soft.

 

Viktor scoffs, smirk tugging at his lips. “Thank you.”

 

“The ocean, I mean.”

 

Viktor lets out a laugh.

 

Huh, would ya look at that.

 

Another genuine laugh.

 

Genuine laughs were nice, Viktor thinks, he wishes he could have more of them.

 

“It is.” Viktor says, a little surprised that the man hasn’t laughed at his antics yet. He usually had a knack for making people laugh, why not now? Maybe it’s because he was hanging off a bridge? Who knows.

 

“Is that why you want to jump into it?” The man says, finally flickering his gaze to Viktor’s blue irises. The man wore these glasses, blue framed, (what brand were they? They looked pretty.) The moment they meet eye contact, Viktor felt a shiver down his spine. It wasn’t a terrified shiver, or the ones you get when you’re having sex, it was… something else.

 

Something about this man was off.

 

“I’m always attracted to pretty things, what can I say?” Viktor says, gaze returning to the ocean. The moon started to sink, touching the horizon with its giant tortilla surface. The harsh and unforgiving sun began to rise, kissing the sky with its golden rays.

 

The man goes quiet again; Viktor sees a flash of dusty pink lips behind a scarf.

 

“Life’s pretty too.”

 

Viktor lets out a scoff.

 

Life was not pretty. You want to know what’s pretty? Shiny cars or jeweled shot glasses, mountain high buildings with golden chandeliers, women and men who are basically 30% plastic cyborgs, Makkachin after some spa treatment, those things are pretty. Not the crushing reality of our stupid social norms, nor were the people who made his supposed paradise a living hell.

 

“To me, at least.”

 

Oh.

 

Viktor needs to stop thinking about himself too much.

 

He hears another soft sigh from the beautiful man who thought that living was pretty, his brown eyes unmoving, stone, and soft at the same time.

 

“There’s a hot springs further down this road. It’s also a little restaurant. If you don’t plan on jumping, they sell good food there. I recommend eating the pork cutlet bowl, it’s my favorite.”

 

The giant rock tortilla finally fades away, the sun rises high into the horizon.

 

Just like the moon, the man was gone.

 

 


 

 

Later, Viktor finds the hot springs. Very cute, very quaint, the nice old couple were extraordinarily courteous. The hot springs were heaven sent, also, the pork cutlet bowl was amazing.

 

Viktor eats whilst thinking about the strange man from earlier, thinking that maybe it’ll be enough to make himself believe that he wasn’t eating alone.

 

 


 

 

Viktor was 25 and he nearly (not-so) kills himself.

 

It wasn’t even suicide to be honest, it was an accident.

 

(Viktor wasn’t sure)

 

All he knows is that he was driving home after buying some Chipotle (he lived a sad, sad life) and then BAM! Some teenage drunkard thought it was okay to demolish Viktor’s car and the dignity that came along with it.

 

Viktor remembers glass, tiny little shards that struck him in the face. Was his car a parkourist? Because the number of flips it did was terrifying and impressive at the same time. Viktor remembers the feeling of his backseat digging into his back and the feel of the steering wheel bashed into his face.

 

In spite of this, Viktor was still alive.

 

God, he wished he wasn’t.

 

He was in pain, mentally and physically. He floated in and out of consciousness like an unsure balloon, feeling the scratchy hospital blankets under him. The doctors weren’t that much comforting, hailing praise to his miraculous air bag. The sedatives didn’t help either, plunging him into his nightmares and the dreams that he could not have in real life. It was sad.

 

What was sadder, however, is the fact that nobody came to visit him.

 

Sure, there was Yakov, bless that old man, who was generally concerned for him. Viktor figured out the man was just waiting for him to heal up so Viktor can sprout money with his shows again. Then there were the full trash bags that the hospital staff sent him, full of fan letters and gifts and possibly the usual pair of panties. Viktor didn’t know if Yakov didn’t let the few of his friends come visit, but he felt like dying of loneliness.

 

Viktor was damaged, but still alive.

 

The amount of times Viktor has thought of pulling out his IV is astounding.

 

“Ah, not such a good idea, now is it?”

 

Viktor jolts awake at the sound, eyes flying open at the familiar voice. His eyes flicker to the man sitting on a stool by his hospital bed, resting his chin on his hand as he observed Viktor rather warily with his brown eyes.

 

Viktor sits up to his full extent, wincing at the tremors that ran up his legs. He’d been terrified of the possible permanent paralysis, but the doctors reassured him… well, to their full extent, at least.

 

“W-Who…” Viktor chokes out, voice raspy. “Who are you-“

 

“Don’t rip it out, really.” The man continues, his eyes trailing after the rows of bouquets that adorned the side of Viktor’s bed. “The blood flow is terrifying… at least, that’s what I’ve seen in the movies. Have mercy for the hospital staff, at least? Washing out blood is hard.”

 

The condescending voice was so familiar, and so were the brown eyes and glasses. Viktor is not sure whether to be terrified or amazed.

 

“You’re…” Viktor rasps out, slightly coughing. “You’re-“

 

“The man by the bridge? Yes.” The man continues, smiling at him softly. “What am I doing here? I… I honestly don’t know either.” He sounds a little lost at the second sentence, like he didn’t just appear in Viktor’s hospital room from out of nowhere.

 

Viktor’s mouth is agape, dull blue eyes taking in the man from his shoes to the top of his head. He wore what seemed like a suit and tie which looked rather nice, save from the horrendous blue tie. Lots of things were whirling inside Viktor’s head despite the fact that it may be damaged, the logical ones were starting to take over. The intense need to call security in the probability of this weird man killing him is too high…

 

But he doesn’t.

 

The man gives him another small smile, soft and beautiful and it makes Viktor’s heart do something funny. He doesn’t feel like he’s in danger, for some reason, He knows he should because hello, this man just freaking appeared out of nowhere like mothereffin Harry Potter, and also coincidentally, he sort of talked Viktor out of killing himself a year ago.

 

“What are you?” Viktor asks, because what seems more logical than who.

 

The man’s smile drops.

 

He looked sad.

 

Oh no, Viktor didn’t mean to make him sad.

 

“You won’t believe me.” The man says, a breathy laugh escaping his mouth.

 

Yeah… Viktor’s seen these scenes in movies. Judging from what he’s seen, this person would soon tell him that he has secret powers, or that he’s actually a ghost, or that he’s the son and heir of some hidden civilization’s king and they need him for sacrifice.

 

Viktor chuckles. “Try me.”

 

The man’s eyes flicker to him, their gazes interlocking. Viktor gasps when the brown irises began to glow, spinning and snowballing into something brighter, something that’s much more ethereal.

 

“I am death.”

 

When Viktor was a child, he remembers his father shaking him awake with a stony look on his face. Little did baby Viktor know that he would soon be told that his mother had died from an accident. He remembers some weird lady in scrubs talking to him slowly, followed by his father’s iron fisted grip on his arm as they walked out of the hospital.

 

Viktor remembers being shocked and a little confused, not able to comprehend the concept of death back then.

 

Seems like it’s happening all over again.

 

The first thing that entered Viktor’s mind was: what the fuck? Because honestly? If someone told you that, you’d probably just laugh until you fall unconscious once again. The second thing that entered Viktor’s mind was: what the fuck? Because those eyes were literally glowing-

 

“Mr. Nikiforov? Are you awake?”

 

Viktor gasps when the door swings open and a woman in scrubs pops in with multiple cups of shredded ice chips. Viktor later shovels multiple truck’s worth to try and accept the fact that 1.) The man had suddenly dissapeared without a trace and 2.) He was apparently going insane.

 


 

 

 

A few weeks later, Viktor was alright.

 

Yeah, if only his fucking doctors realized that.

 

Viktor could now fully function as a human being but they still won’t discharge him from the hospital, despite the fact that he could walk around freely now. He could eat, sleep, read a book, watch funny dog vines, anything that an obviously healthy person could do. But did they let him go? No, no they didn’t. Viktor was rather terrified that they’re actually keeping him here so they could inject him with radiation and experiment on him-

 

Yakov had tried on reassuring him, and uh… Comforting people weren’t always the old man’s strong suit.

 

Well, unfortunately for his prickly doctors, Viktor has begun to sneak out when nobody was watching him, which was… rather easy, since nobody was there to visit him anyways.

 

Aw shit, that was sad.

 

Viktor shakes his head, skipping down the hospital corridor, trying to leave the sad thoughts to his steps. He shoved a baggy sweater over his hospital gown, looking like a school girl with a pale sweater and a shitty white skirt. The nurses he’s passed by usually left him alone, too tired to usher him back to his bed for the umpteenth time this week.

 

Viktor usually did nothing but wander down the hallways, peering into open rooms and sometimes talking with other patients. He was fairly easy to get along with, plus he was hot as fuck. What would you do when a handsome Russian man suddenly started talking to you like you were best friends? Well, first you’d think he’s crazy, and then find that you’d jump on that mentally unstable ass at any time of the day.

 

Just kidding, Viktor wasn’t insane…

 

Maybe?

 

Oh fuck it.

 

Viktor peers into a room, smiling. He’d talked to this patient before, her name was Natalie. She was nice and sweet, but sadly, the elderly woman was terminal. Viktor made her a flower crown using the bouquets in his room one time, and the old woman cried when Viktor placed them on her graying hairs.

 

Viktor expected many, many, things when he looked in the room. He’d expected to see an old woman on her bed, the wilting flower crown by the bedside table, she’d smile at Viktor when he enters and she’ll probably tell him a story that she’s already told before, Viktor was just too courteous to correct her.

 

Well, let’s say he saw the majority of those things. What he didn’t expect to see was Natalie, standing up with… A different Natalie on the bed, eyes closed and not moving.

 

Viktor’s eyes widened. What the fuck? There were two Natalie’s? Wait, no, three- wait, that’s not Natalie. Natalie doesn’t wear suits and doesn’t have dark hair-

 

What the fuck?

 

The weird man was there talking to her softly. Natalie seemed confused at his words, but as the seconds progressed, she grew calmer and understanding, nodding at every word the man has said. The man’s voice was hushed and gentle, as if trying not to wake anyone in the room up. The man gives her a tender hug, as if careful not to crush her in his grip, before she disappears in a flash of white smoke.

 

What. The. Fuck.

 

The other Natalie is left, on the bed, cold and unmoving with the high probability of being dead. The possibly imaginary man looks at the possibly dead corpse, and Viktor was by the doorway, possibly insane.

 

“She’s a lucky one, isn’t she?” Viktor jolts when the man lifts his gaze to meet Viktor’s eyes, his chocolate brown as soft as ever. “She got to do what she wanted in life. Did you know she was a weightlifter in her twenties? That’s fucking amazing.”

 

Viktor takes a few cautious steps in, eyes narrowing at the man. “Yeah… She told me.”

 

“Twice, thrice, four times? She had Alzheimer’s.” The man says, daintily touching the wilted rose petals of the crown. “You made this for her? She meant to say thank you, by the way. But she probably has, thousands of times, she must’ve forgotten?”

 

“What are you?” Viktor whispers. “Are you a figment of my imagination? Am I going insane-“

 

The man sighs, looks down at his shoes.

 

“I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

 

Viktor looks at his bare feet for a moment, eyes filled with disbelief. “But… But you can’t be-“

 

The man sighs, rolling his eyes. “I met you when you tried to jump off a bridge a year ago. I was in your room when you were hit by a car. Hell, I sent a dead spirit to the afterlife right. In front. Of you. How much proof could you want?”

 

Viktor makes a move to open his giant mouth and protest, but… but yeah, that was rather logical. Uh, actually no, it’s the exact opposite of logical. This is the epitome of anything not-normal.

 

Being the stubborn shit he is, Viktor crosses his arms over the pale pink of his sweatshirt. “Prove it more. Give me one thing that nobody knows about me.”

 

The man, the grim reaper, fucking death, he does not know, gives him a look that screams out ‘are you fucking kidding me’ and it’s so obvious Viktor tried not to crack up laughing.

 

“I’m the hand you hold when you cross to heaven or hell, I’m not a psychic.”

 

Viktor scoffs, bottom lip pouting.

 

“That’s not very impressive, isn’t it?” Viktor murmurs. He knew it was stupid, because he’s talking to death, the guy that could kill him off at any given moment. Being petty and stubborn wasn’t exactly the smartest thing he could do right now.

 

The man gives out an incredulous sound, something between a scoff and a cough… A scough!

 

“Do not test me, Nikiforov.”

 

“What if I do? What would you do?”

 

“What would you do when the entirety of your fanbase finds out that you talk to your dog on a regular basis because of your unending loneliness?”

 

Viktor shuts up at that.

 

The man smirks at him, his dusty, pink lips tilting. He presses the call button by the bed.

 

“I suggest you go. The nurses are going to come in. Wouldn’t want to get caught talking to nobody with a dead woman in the room, now would you?”

 

“Wait.”

 

The man looks at him expectantly, eyebrows raised as they locked gazes once more,

 

“When can I see you again?” Viktor asks, surprised at how hopeful his voice has gotten. He doesn’t know why he sounded a little desperate, or why he even asked in the first place. He doesn’t know.

 

The man seemed a little surprised at the question, his eyes widening as his cheeks dusted red.

 

Viktor raised an eyebrow at the reaction.

 

… Huh.

 

To be fair, the man did looks adorable when flustered. Which was saying something, because this was death he’s talking about.

 

“U-Uh, well…” The man says, gaze flying everywhere. His eyes widen once more, looking at something behind Viktor. “Why?”

 

Viktor could faintly hear the sound of rushing doctors in the corridor.

 

“I need to ask you something.”

 

The man looks at him in disbelief, the sound of rushed voices and running figures echo throughout the hallways.

 

“Someday.” A promise flies out of the man’s lips, before disappearing, along with the entire man’s form. Viktor is stuck, staring at the place where the man used to be.

 

A battalion of doctors and nurses stumble in the room, half of them nearly knocking Viktor over, the other half harassing him and asking him what the hell happened. Viktor just sighs, takes the wilted flower crown, and walks out the door.

 


 

 

 

The moment he was fully recovered, Viktor threw himself back at entertaining.

 

Lots, lots, of people were generally concerned. It was a miracle that Viktor’s god face wasn’t damaged by the crash, still as fabulous as ever, even with a few faint scars. Viktor hasn’t changed much; he was now back as a human epitome of shitposting.

 

Now, Viktor is finishing up his stand-up show in Sochi. The whole theater was packed, eager to hear more from their favorite Russian meme. It was a successful one, you know that moment when you thought you would fail something but you apparently win at said thing? Viktor’s hands were shaking the entire time, the impending fear of the inevitable loneliness slowly crept up unto him, hissing at him from every corner…

 

But enough of that. Who cares about your existential crisis when you can have dick jokes!

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor hops off the stage, chugging back some water whilst doing so, feeling his sweat pores cover him with every disgusting object in the universe. He honestly needed a shower, but he thought a lot at showers, so he either loses the little that he had using his body odor or succumb into the void while hot water pelts at him… hm…

 

He slips into his dressing room (why does he even need a dressing room? All he wore was a coat, jeans, and a shirt. Well, they were designer, after all) and once he steps inside, he chokes on his water, sending a few droplets spraying unto the man that sat on his seat.

 

Viktor shudders, gulping back the water. The dark haired man that was lounging on his seat raises an eyebrow at him, brown eyes amused.

 

“What are you doing here?” Viktor asks, closing the dressing room door shut as he gives the man an incredulous stare.

 

The man fiddles with the little figurine on top of Viktor’s dressing room counter. “You said you wanted to see me?”

 

Viktor purses his lips. “Well, yeah, just…” Viktor winces as the man raises an eyebrow at the ridiculous fur coat that hung by a nearby chair.  Damn him and his impulse buying. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

 

The man smiles, eyes raking fondly over the array of objects on the counter. “You do shows?”

 

Viktor takes off his coat, wiping at his face. “Stand-up comedy, talkshows, hosting, you name it.”

 

The man nods thoughtfully, eyeing the bouquet of flowers and gifts on his stand. “Why do you want to see me?”

 

Viktor throws away the water bottle, not before crunching it up for a moment.

 

“I told you, I needed to ask you something.” Viktor says, looking at the man in the eye. “But not here, please.” Viktor scowls at the sound of avid fans trying to get through security in the background.

 

The man chuckles, his eyes crinkling up adorably.

 

“I’ll meet you by the diner down the street, the one with the little truck on the window? See you there.”

 

In a flash, the man is gone. Viktor blinks blearily for a moment, trying to understand physics once more, and then he realizes that he just talked to death, the guy could probably whip up a truck filled with slurpee with a snap of his fingers.

 

Well… Probably not.

 

Viktor’s eyes widened as he felt his chest contract, feeling another cough climb its way up his throat. He coughs into his fist, thankful that there wasn’t any nasty phlegm again, and goes to clean himself up.

 

Viktor fixes himself up for a bit before throwing his coat back on, throwing out a standard excuse to Yakov before the old man even begun to protest. Grabbing a beanie and a medical mask, he prays to whatever omnipotent presence above to not let his rabid fan girls see him.

 

As Viktor walks down the street, he has begun to let the situation sink in, and multiple questions have begun to claw their way up his mind. There are multiple probabilities in his situation: Firstly, this could all be a hallucination, and Viktor’s mind may still be fucked up from the car crash. He could go to the café and see that no one is there, or he’ll be by the diner and people will see him talking to nobody.

 

Second, he could actually be talking to the Grim Reaper. The man was nothing like Viktor expected. In all honesty, Viktor expected more dark clothing, a skeleton, and a scythe, not some cute brown eyed man who had soft smiles and wore pastel sweaters and had a blush that reached his neck.

 

(Viktor would pick the pastel sweater over the scythe any time)

 

If so, then why was the man entertaining him? The man was probably busy; thousands of people died every single day. Why did he visit Viktor in the hospital, when he was lonely and with nobody to talk to? Why did he agree to meet up with Viktor in some silly café? Why didn’t he kill Viktor when he almost died, twice already?

 

Why did he talk Viktor out of killing himself on that lonely night in Japan?

 

Viktor stops short, seeing the diner by the distance. There, he sees the man in a booth by the window, talking to a waitress, maybe declining to order since his friend wasn’t there yet.

 

Viktor blinks, seeing the waitress nodding and talking to him, obviously real.

 

Yep, definitely not a hallucination.

 

Viktor takes a deep breath, recollecting his courage, and walks in the diner. The man smiles at him, brown eyes soft, like he was just any other normal person.

 

Viktor slides in the booth, prepared to have small talk and ask questions.

 

Little did they know that they would do much more than have small talk and ask questions.

 


 

 

 

“Can you make an entire truck full of slurpee appear?”

 

“Viktor, what the hell.”

 

 

 

“Where’s your black robe… and scythe?”

 

“That’s very racist and stereotypical, Viktor. If you ever ask that again, I am going to use an actual scythe on you.”

 

 

 

“Do you have a leader? Like… The supreme reaper?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What’s his name?”

 

“I can’t tell you.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“If I do, this whole place will burst into flames.”

 

 

 

“Is God real?”

 

“I can’t answer that.”

 

“Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me.”

 

 

 

“What is life?”

 

“Baby don’t hurt me.”

 

“Okay, first of all, you used that meme incorrectly. Second, what the fuck?”

 

 

 

“Are any of you leading actual, normal, human lives?”

 

“We couldn’t. If we did, who’d do the ‘walking around in black robes and scythes’ part?”

 

“Ha, ha.”

 

 

 

“How many of you are there?”

 

“Hundreds, thousands, who knows?”

 

“Are they all as cute as you?” (insert wink here)

 

(insert eye roll and faint blush here) “Very smooth.”

 

 


 

 

 

“Alright, alright, last question.” Viktor says, biting into the last of his burger.

 

The man in front of him raises an eyebrow. “You’ve said that for the last few questions.” He takes a fry, swirls it into ketchup. Who knew supernatural entities loved fast food? It was definitely a fun fact that was actually ‘fun’ for once.

 

Viktor smiles sheepishly.

 

“Why’d you put up with me?”

 

This question seemed to spark an interest in this man’s mind, his fry almost half way to his mouth before freezing in place. The man’s eyes seemed to look unreadable for a moment, walking on a tight rope in between ‘conflicted’ and maybe a hint of ‘confused’.

 

“I mean.” Viktor wipes at his mouth for a moment, removing any traces of unhealthy grease. “You’ve got people to… people to reap? Is that correct? Anyways, you’re probably busy; also, you have the power to apparently kill me off at any given moment.”

 

Viktor takes the initiative to stare at the man in the eye, blue interlocking to brown. For some reason, every time they locked gazes, a pleasant shiver ran up Viktor’s spine. When you were face to face with death, you’d expect to be struck with fear.

 

How could Viktor’s knees shake when he’s face to face with a man who likes anything deep fried? We will never know.

 

“Why’d you talk to me on that bridge a year ago?” He starts. “Why did you visit me? And… And Jesus Christ, why are you talking to me right now?”

 

The man chuckles, finally shoving the last of the French fry up his mouth. His eyes crinkle behind the lenses of his glasses, pretty and soft and bright.

 

“You’re lonely.”

 

Viktor scoffs.

 

“Bullshit.”

 

The man raises an eyebrow.

 

“I’m not lonely.” Viktor says, chin rising in stubbornness and eyes shining with pettiness. “I have millions of adoring fans. I have a steady career. I have all the money I could ever pray for. I’m not lonely.”

 

“Yeah, right.” The man says, picking up another fry. “I bet that’s what you tell yourself at night too, when you can’t sleep again.”

 

Viktor’s mouth opens, moving to whip out a witty answer. He was good at those, right? He was a fucking comedian with a foul mouth and occasionally dark humor with a fucked up brain. He could positively burn everything and anything around him with nothing but his mouth, his comments and witty jabs were enough to either make people laugh until they shit themselves or make them cry an entire river overnight.

 

But Viktor could not say anything. Deep inside, he knew that the comment was true on all means, no matter how self deprecating it was… which was ironic, since he degrades himself on stage all the time, sometimes the exact opposite. But what the man said was true, and Viktor knew that.

 

Judging from the look the man across from him was giving, he knew that too.

 

“Alright, you have me there.” Viktor says, a little struck by the thought that this man knows a lot about him. “And so what?”

 

Right after Viktor finishes that sentence, he feels another cough climb its way up his throat. Viktor covers his mouth with a tissue before he can spray his nasty virus to anyone near. Damn it, where did he began to get this weird coughing virus? He did not know.

 

The man finishes the last of his fries, pushing the plate away, looking at Viktor in the eye.

 

“You needed a friend.”

 

Viktor raises an eyebrow.

 

“What does death have to do anything with it?”

 

The man raises an eyebrow, looking a little impatient.

 

“If you don’t want to, I’m leaving-“

 

Viktor has never shot his hand out so fast in his life.

 

Death looked down at the hand that clutched at his wrist, Viktor’s grip soft albeit firm. He looked a little affronted, if only the blush on his cheeks hadn’t made everything cuter.

 

“Wait.”

 

Viktor gasped when he felt a sensation up his hand, sharp and tingling and spider like, latching onto his arm and crawling its way up. Viktor didn’t know what to feel, but it was there, and it was real.

 

Viktor pulls away his hand, shaking it experimentally as the feeling has started to ebb away, leaving nothing but a slight tingle. Viktor gives the man across from him a confused stare, and sure enough, the man looked confused too.

 

“Huh…” The man says, looking down at his arms, where Viktor grabbed him. “That’s strange.”

 

“What happened?” Viktor asks, fixing his incredulous gaze on his arm.

 

“You’re not… You’re not supposed to touch me.” The man says, looking solemn. “Death and the living should not reconcile.”

 

“Huh.” Viktor says, gaze still fixed on his hand. “What happens when I do?”

 

“You die.”

 

Viktor’s face drops.

 

Well, so much for being blunt.

 

“How’d it felt?” The man asks slowly, cautious and curious at the same time. Viktor shrugs, seemingly nonchalant about possibly dying.

 

“Fuzzy.”

 

Fuzzy?” The man scrunches up his eyebrows, looking at him in disbelief. “Like i-it… It doesn’t hurt?”

 

Viktor shrugs, shaking his head. The man leans back at his chair, looking a little confused and in disbelief.

 

“Huh.”

 

“Why? What am I supposed to feel?”

 

The man purses his lips, looking out the windows thoughtfully. “Phichit told me the man who caught him died of a heart attack the moment he tried to touch him.”

 

Viktor could’ve felt horrified, knowing that a single touch from these entities would be enough wipe away everything he has worked for, his life. But strangely, it didn’t affect Viktor much due to the sheer number of times he has thought of death, and the number of times he has nearly experienced it.

 

“Ah…” Viktor says, and then something catches up to him. “Wait, Phichit? You have names?”

 

The man nods as he sips from his soda, diet soda. Grim Reapers were apparently conscious about their health too.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

The man’s eyes flicker for a moment, like he was figuring out if he should say or not. Viktor hoped this man would. He bet he would have a lovely name-

 

“Yuuri.”

 

Viktor licks his lips, saying the name himself and drawling out the vowels experimentally. The ma- Yuuri, blushes from across the table. Viktor chuckles, and offers a hand.

 

“Hi, Yuuri. I’m Viktor. Official sad ‘lonely’ person and in need of a Grim Reaper friend who hates stereotypes and loves picking on sad ‘lonely’ people. Would you like to help me out?”

 

Yuuri laughs, hiding his pretty smile behind a cuffed sleeve of his sweater. For the whole majority of the day, Viktor learned two things: 1.) He’s (thankfully) not going crazy and 2.) Attractive beings aren’t only limited to humans. Look at this fucking godsent in front of him!

 

However, Yuuri’s smile falters when he sees Viktor’s outstretched hand. His mouth forms into a thin line, looking at the hand with a conflicted look on his face.

 

“Well?” Viktor shakes it enticingly. “Take it!”

 

“I don’t want to hurt you.” The man says softly, looking like he wanted all the physical affection in the world but could not have it. Viktor chuckles.

 

“I’ve already touched you, it’s fine.”

 

“We can’t be sure.”

 

“Oh come on, just take it.”

 

Yuuri presses his mouth further into a thin line; his eyes conflicted, mixing with the deep brown. After several moments of silence and enticing hand shaking from Viktor, Yuuri takes the hand. Viktor shudders at the sudden feeling passing through them, once again, not hurting but rather… unexplainable.

 

For some reason, touching this man didn’t kill him, even when it was supposed to. Nothing was there except for a spark, an electric jolt that ran through each other as they touched. Viktor did not know what to think of it, what to feel of it, but he looked forward to being with this man again and maybe even mistake him for someone he had a chance with.

 


 

 

 

 

Later, Viktor is staring up at his ceiling again.

 

Honestly, why were ceilings so interesting when you can’t sleep? It’s like they were a magnet for insomniacs, pushing and pulling and pushing and pulling-

 

Drip drip drip drip drip-

 

Viktor stares longingly at the brown poodle by his side, jealous for Makkachin’s ignorance on this world. He was just another doggo in this world of poverty and discrimination, he didn’t have to worry about jack shit except for his water bowl and passing cars on the street. Never has the dog stayed up late, thinking and thinking and thinking-

 

Instead of drowning himself in his existential doom, he thinks of soft brown eyes.

 

When they parted earlier that day, there was a promise of another meet-up between them. Viktor was looking forward to it. The hours that he spent with Yuuri were possibly the best he ever had. Usually people would say it’s sex, or the high feeling of being in a club. But Viktor found that spending time with the supernatural entity, drinking milkshakes and fried food and talking about everything, was the highlight of his day.

 

He wonders why he isn’t afraid. Why he isn’t questioning life itself, wondering why he seemed so alright with having this deadly being with him. LOTS of people feared death, shaking in fear whenever the thought of the inevitable crossed their mind.

 

But Viktor doesn’t fear death, doesn’t fear Yuuri.

 

He doesn’t know why.

 

And it was alright. Viktor was smart, but even he did not know that many things.

 

The image of those eyes passes by his mind again, shining and soft and crinkled up with a laugh. Viktor smiles softly, and for the first time in forever, he drifts off to sleep.

 

 


 

 

Viktor finds himself in Detroit to perform his show, ‘Stammi Vicino’.

 

Now, that may seem too formal and symbolistic for a stupid show that you could binge off Netflix, but that was the sheer hilarity of it. He may seem the lighthearted and too meme-y to be taken seriously, but there were lots of instances where he put his heart out onto the stage, every word meant from his soul. Sure, he may have mixed those statements with pure comedy, but that was how he did things.

 

Everything he did had to be portrayed by some means of lighthearted banter. Now, actually talking to someone and actually letting his feelings out in a totally healthy way? Instructions unclear, dick got caught in a ceiling fan.

 

Yes, he knew it was destructive and unhealthy, but did he do anything about it? No. No he didn’t.

 

Fortunately for him, the American weather wasn’t as horrifying as the last time he was here. California nearly had him running for the hills back then. It was a nice chill in the air, sunny and cold at the same time. Viktor loved these types of weather. What to wear, a crop top or sweatpants? How about both!

 

After his show, Viktor finds the means to actually be a tourist and wander down the streets of Detroit. In all honesty, who does he do this to himself? One day he’s going to get absolutely fucking rekt and possibly kidnapped. I mean, who wanders down unfamiliar streets with no one to accompany them? Viktor, apparently.

 

Viktor has spent the last few hours restaurant hopping and window shopping. A few fans have approached him and asked for pictures, thankfully, not that many paparazzi. Viktor, being the kind fucker that he is, always smiles and agrees to take a picture. After a momentary illusion that he’s not alone, he finds himself wandering down the streets again, on his own.

 

Drip drip drip drip drip drip-

 

Viktor sighs, wishes Makkachin was there. At least the poodle’s presence would make everything less… lonely. Oh for fuck’s sake, he really needed to get a boyfriend. Maybe that would quench the unending existential crisis in him. His chest claws at him, feeling another cough session come up. He grabs his handkerchief and violently heaves into it.

 

Yakov has been rather… worried about his cough sessions. Viktor had no idea why or where he got them, but suddenly his chest starts to contract more, his lungs started to fold in on himself, and sometimes he coughs out nothing at all or this weird, disgusting phlegm. Yakov had tried multiple times to force him to go to the doctors but Viktor never had the time. Viktor knew that there’s a possibility that something bad may be crawling up his lungs, but Viktor had shows to do.

 

He knew it was destructive. He knew he was ruining himself and one day he might fall over and faint on stage, but he poured his heart out unto the audience and there was no way he’s stopping on them now.

 

The silver haired man perks up at the sight of a nearby bookshop, quaint and pretty and looked like it smelled amazing. You know that orgasmic moment when you walk in a bookstore and you get a big whiff of old books and new books and everything good in life? Why don’t people make a perfume line purely based off book smells? He’d surely buy, like, 20 bottles of each fragrance.

 

He walks in the store, smiling cheerily at the man by the counter. He inhales deeply, smelling his favorite smell… Well, aside from the cinnabons, of course, but that’s a whole other story.

 

Yes, famous Viktor Nikiforov is a nerd. How’d you know, you may ask? Well, ask that to the three full bookshelves in his home. Since he has no apparent love life or somebody to fuck, he spends the rest of his abiding free time reading the Shakespeare version of Star Wars.

 

So he does what every other person in a bookshop would do. He wanders down the aisles, touching book spines for no apparent reason. He flips a couple open, sees the price tag, and of course he’d be able to buy everything in the store. There are people who stare longingly at the overpriced albeit socially good books, whispering ‘I’ll get you someday’ as they’re getting hauled out of the store. Not Viktor. Viktor could get the entire Lord of the Rings series alongside with the Harry Potter books in a snap.

 

It could possibly be the best blessing he has ever received.

 

You know those teen rom com movies where the guy is peeking through the bookshelves (totally not creepy by the way) and he sees a totally cute nerdy girl on the other side?

 

Yeah, Viktor had found himself in that situation.

 

He pulled a book from the shelf with the intention of possibly buying it when he sees a familiar head of dark hair on the other side.

 

Viktor sees something better than a cute nerdy girl.

 

A smile breaks out on his face, too surprised to even wonder if this was a coincidence or Yuuri was stalking him. Either way, it was fucking great. But before he could even call out to the brown eyed man, he surveys him for a moment.

 

(totally not creepy either)

 

Do reapers usually wear this casual? Yuuri wore a blue jacket over a shirt and jeans, nothing like the fancy suit and tie from last time. It was like wearing a sparkly dress to the purge, ridiculous but totally awesome in Viktor’s point of view. His glasses perched high on his nose, his hair slicked back with tiny little stands kissing his forehead as the man surveyed the book he was holding.

 

Not even looking up from the book, Yuuri’s voice rings out. “Are you done staring at me? It’s… It’s a little awkward, you know.”

 

Viktor feels himself blush, a hot rush running up his cheeks.

 

Huh, this was new.

 

Usually it was Viktor who did the panty dropping, the one able to make a whole crowd blush with just a simple sentence.

 

Yuuri closes the book and gives Viktor a smirk before sliding the book back in the empty slot, obscuring Viktor’s view. Viktor coughs into his fist awkwardly before ducking into the next aisle, running up to the man whilst smiling sheepishly.

 

“Is it true? Are you stalking me?” Viktor says haughtily with a seductive smirk on his face, leaning against a bookshelf as Yuuri moves to observe another book.

 

Yuuri raises an eyebrow, reading the book summary. “Says the man who likes to peep at other people through bookshelves.”

 

Viktor sputters, his cough getting stuck in his throat. “I wasn’t peeping.”

 

Yuuri just hums, unimpressed.

 

Viktor grins, rolling his eyes.

 

“What are you doing here anyways?”

 

Yuuri returns the book, sighing. “Detroit is one of my main stations.”

 

Viktor’s eyebrows raise. “Whoah, so you guys have, like, little shifts? Like at a fast-food restaurant?”

 

Yuuri chuckles. “Yeah. Sort of.”

 

Viktor tsks, shaking his head. “You’re obviously not doing your job.”

 

Yuuri sputters, Viktor chuckles at the small blush on the other man’s cheeks. “I was!”

 

“Says the man who was hanging out in a bookstore.” Viktor smirks, picking up the last book Yuuri just returned. “I didn’t know Grim Reapers liked ‘Pride and Prejudice’.”

 

Yuuri blushes a beet red at that. “O-Only me, actually.” Yuuri sighs, almost forlorn. “I’m one of the few who’s into… ‘pop-culture-y things’, almost everyone’s a prude.” Yuuri rolls his eyes. “I’m like, the Little Mermaid of reapers.”

 

“Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?” Viktor sing-songs and Yuuri laughs, his giggle like a tinkling bell.

 

“Exactly.”

 

Viktor pouts.

 

“I’m hungry.” Viktor says. “And bored. You wanna get fat?”

 

Yuuri smirks, a challenging look on his face.

 

“Oh please, Nikiforov, you’re the only one who has the ability to get fat between the two of us.”

 

You’d find them later on in a café, eating muffins and drinking caffeine even though it was already late in the afternoon. Yuuri was lying. Reapers could actually get fat. Oh well… EQUALITY!

 

 


 

 

“Do you have a soulmark?”

 

“Of course I do, Yuuri. I am human, after all.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“How about you? Do reapers have soulmarks?”

 

“We don’t.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I don’t know. But they said we can’t feel love, and that we’re never meant to.”

 

“That’s bullshit. And hey! Stop stealing my waffles!”

 

(insert sheepish grin here)

 

 


 

 

 

Viktor realized that being with Yuuri had a major effect on him.

 

“Your smile’s been prettier lately, Vitya. Care to tell why?” (insert suggestive wink here)

 

“This show has been amazing! One of your best yet!”

 

“Mr. Nikiforov! We have a business proposition-“

 

It was like a ray of sunshine, a droplet of gold in the still water of Viktor’s life. The more time he has spent with Yuuri, the more his smile widened, the more his eyes shone, the more there was a spring in his step. Viktor’s genuine laughs have slowly increased in number, and even though the majority of them came from Yuuri he found himself laughing along with his other friends.

 

He became kinder, no longer being cynical in his mind and much more genuinely friendlier. He started to work harder, no longer dreading the shows he did for a living and instead being much more engaging in them. And sometimes, he finally gets to sleep at night, no longer fearing the dark thoughts that were threatening to poison his mind.

 

But Viktor knew he couldn’t pour every credit to Yuuri. Yuuri wasn’t the main reason why he’s gotten better in life.

 

Viktor did this to himself.

 

Not that he was cynical once more, but Yuuri helped him choose to be better. Viktor figured that lamenting on his past, choosing to jump off bridges, and fantasizing about chugging down bleach wouldn’t help him in life. Yuuri inspired Viktor, made him choose to be happy, challenged him to become a better person than he would ever be.

 

The whole ordeal kind of reminded Viktor of the time when Lilia, Yakov’s wife, has told him something that he couldn’t quite understand before but he understood it now… It was a quote about soulmates.

 

“Listen here, boy.” Lilia says. Viktor remembers making a rather cynical comment about soulmates, scowling on how useless they are. Lilia begs to differ. “That person written on your wrist has the power to change your life, and it doesn’t even need to be romantically. Your soulmate does more than love you, they inspire you to be a better person. Don’t you forget that, alright?”

 

On multiple accounts, Viktor sometimes could not help himself but wonder if there were possibilities that he and Yuuri could… you know, be soulmates. But it was impossible and Viktor knew it. The other man was a supernatural entity, someone that had no soulmates. And besides it’s not like Yuuri’s first words to him were fucking ‘Good morning, what would you have today?’.

 

And Viktor thinks: do I like Yuuri? The answer is yes, because he isn’t one to deny his feelings. Liking someone was fun, sort of addicting. He likes the way Yuuri’s eyes shine in the light and likes how soft his hands were. He likes the little snort Yuuri does when he laughs too hard. He likes the way his dark messy hair is like an untamable beast, never laying flat. He likes the way he’s witty and sharp-minded and timid at the same time.

 

But he falters, knowing that they cannot be. He takes pity on his soulmate, the person who’s first words were written on his wrist.

 

But Viktor still thinks and fantasizes, because Yuuri has done nothing but inspire and challenge him, helping Viktor morph into a better person.

 

And Yuuri didn’t even do much. It was because of the simple get togethers. That one time Yuuri visited Viktor in France, that other time where Viktor introduced the reaper to Makkachin, when they hung out by the Japanese ocean when Viktor chose to visit Japan for a vacation. These little moments that he had with Yuuri made Viktor… well, it made him happy.

 

And now, when he thinks to himself: am I happy?

 

He finally gets to answer.

 

Yes. Yes he is.

 


 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks later, Viktor was at Italy to rest and prepare for his show, when he sees the news.

 

The day was supposed to be normal, with Viktor relaxing on his hotel room. He had a few more days in Italy before he had to fly back to Russia. Instead of walking around Italy like any other tourist, he is lounging on the fluffy hotel beds, flipping through channels.

 

It was supposed to be a normal afternoon, until he goes to the news channel.

 

Viktor’s eyes have widened when he sees the headlines, sees the smoke and the screams and the frantic reporters with the saddened news anchormen. What was more horrifying, however, is that there was live footage of the events, meaning Viktor got a glimpse of the screams of terror and the sound of buildings being completely destroyed.

 

Massive 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake hits Japan: 117 deaths tallied, 40 still missing

 

Viktor was disheartened at the news, feeling a certain stone drop into his chest. Japan obviously had a special place in his heart, the people and the bright colors and all the wondrous foods he has tasted made it easy for Viktor to love the country.

 

Even if Viktor wasn’t fond of the country, he’d still feel disheartened. All those poor people, the ones who lost their lives, their homes, their loved ones. It was too much to bear. Viktor had no idea what he would do if he’d have to go through that.

 

But what made him worry more… Was Yuuri.

 

Yuuri had carefully explained the process of making a reaper, and it was simple enough. Yuuri told him, over a cup of coffee and some baguettes, that reapers have been human. They have felt emotions, joy, hurt, sorrow, happiness, you name it. Yuuri had been a male Japanese man who died of unknown reasons, and when it was time for him to go nobody was there to escort him to the afterlife.

 

So Yuuri became a reaper.

 

Albeit reapers don’t have the memories their past selves had, Yuuri knew he came from Japan. And that’s why he loved it with his heart’s content, with the land holding the last remnant of his past life.

 

Yuuri loved that country, loved it more than Viktor ever could. He knew that Yuuri often visited the beloved nation, relishing in its culture and its environment. The dark haired man spoke fluent Japanese and even knew its pop-culture, yes, even the weird ones. Not only that, but Yuuri was sanctioned to reap at Japan frequently. That was obviously understandable. All the while, Yuuri would obviously be devastated, hurt beyond repair upon knowing that more than half of his country has been demolished.

 

There’s a reason why Viktor didn’t believe Yuuri when he said that reapers weren’t meant to feel love.

 

Gritting his teeth, Viktor realizes that Yuuri would probably be very, very, busy right now.

 

Viktor’s heart drops at the thought. He just flops back onto his bed, eyes latching on the ceiling once more. Oh cool, the hotel was actually clean and there are no dust mites for Viktor to watch. Viktor shuts the T.V off, drowning in silence. He soon realizes that the silence was suffocating him, and he turns the T.V back on again.

 

Viktor grabs a nearby Kleenex and coughs into it, feeling the nasty phlegm climb its way up his throat. He feels his chest heave and nearly rip itself apart with exertion, hurting and hurting and hurting. Finally, Viktor pulls back, nearly tearing up due to how hard he just coughed.

 

Viktor stares at the Kleenex, eyes wide as he sees the prominent red on the white tissue.

 

He had coughed up blood.

 

Holy shit

 

Alright, Viktor was destructive and also a little stupid, but not that stupid. He definitely knows that something is wrong with him and he finally had the initiative to do something. He was destroying himself, and he had to do something about it…

 

Viktor shoots the bloodied tissue into the trash, flopping back unto his bed.

 

But what if he didn’t?

 

What if he let the blood build up in his lungs? What if he let his ribs cower within themselves? What if he let his lungs tear themselves apart, puncturing holes into his heart? He didn’t know what was wrong with him, but what if he didn’t do anything? What if he let his insides slowly destroy what is left of him? What if what if what if-

 

Cough cough cough cough cough-

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor drifts off to sleep, feeling his chest hurt and his mentality cry.

 

 


 

 

He wakes up a few hours later, with the sun gone and the giant tortilla back up in the sky.

 

He would’ve gone to order some room service and see any updates on the news about Japan and probably try to contact Yuuri in… some way, he doesn’t know, hut he has to do something.

 

However, when he looks at the hotel balcony, he realizes that he doesn’t need to.

 

Viktor cautiously walks over to the glass sliding doors, sliding them open and approaching the man sitting on one of the wicker chairs, still and unmoving, but glowing in the midst of the moonlight.

 

“Yuuri?” He calls out, voice soft and cautious, as if not to wake anyone from slumber. The dark haired man does not move, staring out onto the horizon like it was the last time he’ll see it.

 

Viktor worries on his bottom lip, not minding if he draws blood. He takes another wicker chair by the side and sits next to the reaper, not saying anything. Usually he’d babble and talk but Yuuri does not need that now, judging from the still aura Yuuri was giving off.

 

Viktor steals a peak at the brown eyed man and sees the most neutral of expressions, brown eyes unmoving and still as the moonlight shines off them. Viktor sighs, looking out onto the horizon. There was a nearby ocean, the waters rippling the moonlight that bounced off the waves.

 

“Are you alright?” He asks quietly, knowing that it was a stupid question but that was the only thing he could forgo for the moment. He knew Yuuri deserved much better means of comfort than a standard ‘are you alright’ but Viktor was never really good at comforting people, so this was a problem.

 

He is met by silence, with nothing but the wind answering him. Rustling, whoosh, and Viktor is reminded of the incident about a year or two ago, when two people are somehow fated to meet on a bridge, one fighting for the other’s life and the other wanting to end his own.

 

“Do you know how many people I had to reap today?” A quiet whisper, like how a child would say. Viktor steals a look at the man beside him, a tired smile on his face. “Tell me, Viktor, do you know?”

 

Viktor does not answer. He can’t answer. He could not dare fathom what Yuuri is feeling, because he had no right to comprehend what the other man is going through.

 

A small choked off laugh escaped the other man’s mouth; it sounded more of a sob.

 

“There was this little kid… She was seven, I think? It was her birthday.” Yuuri continues quietly, voice still undeniably soft but now rougher at the edges. “She was looking for her mother, and her mother was looking for her.”

 

Viktor is a little confused on the context of Yuuri’s story, when Yuuri finally closes his eyes.

 

“It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? For a person to die on their day of birth.”

 

Viktor’s heart falters, feeling his stomach drop at the sentence.

 

Viktor could pinpoint the exact moment Yuuri breaks. It was like a tiny dam, tiny cracks fizzling and climbing up the wall until it all breaks loose. First Yuuri lets out a crack, a tiny sob, and before Viktor knew it tears were beginning to rain down Yuuri’s face.

 

“I… I was alone, Viktor.” Yuuri says, voice shaking. “No other reaper was there to help me escort them to the afterlife. I had to answer to two hundred confused souls.” Yuuri grits his teeth, the tears dripping onto Yuuri’s lap.

 

Viktor stares at the reaper, blue eyes a little panicked. He was never good at comforting people, nor was he good with people crying in front of him. He was never the one to show his true, real emotions and actually pour his heart out sincerely to a certain person.

 

Nobody has actually poured their heart out sincerely to him either.

 

But here Yuuri was, crying and giving out emotions that were far more complex than any other human could ever have. Viktor didn’t believe jack shit that reapers were never meant to feel love or emotion, because Yuuri had a heart filled with them and it was fragile, like glass, and those types of hearts were always the best ones.

 

And so Viktor reaches out, placing a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder. Viktor doesn’t jolt at the buzzing feeling he gets, already quite used to the sensation. Before Yuuri could protest, Viktor pulls the other man close, bending over the wicker chair’s arm to pull the man to his chest.

 

A soft gasp of surprise emits from Yuuri, obviously surprised that his face was now buried in Viktor’s chest. Viktor slightly jolts as the buzzing feeling that has now spread to mostly his upper half. Yuuri makes a confused sound, but Viktor just continues to hold him tight.

 

Viktor never knew how to comfort people, never had the chance to help someone get better, but this was all he knew how to do (he watched a LOT of rom-com movies) and from what he knew, hugging was like, the epitome of comfort.

 

Thankfully, Yuuri does not protest. There was one time that Viktor tried to hug him, he nearly got punched in the face at that. It wasn’t like Yuuri was against hugs, he has told Viktor, but physical comfort was… still new to the reaper.

 

But now, he let Viktor hold him like that. Viktor lets the Japanese man shake and sob into his pajamas; letting his tears stain into Viktor’s cotton shirt (Viktor wonders if reaper tears were magical, like unicorn hair) and Viktor doesn’t mind. He doesn’t mind the way the chilly air bit into his skin, the way the buzzing feeling started to climb its way up Viktor’s chest, nor did he care about how hard it was to hold back as stinging cough.

 

They stay there for a few moments, with Viktor holding the other man close. All his life, Viktor had no one to think about, no one to comfort and hold but now he did. And Yuuri needed him. After a few moments of endless sobbing from the other man, Yuuri lets out a small whisper that Viktor had barely heard but it was there.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I wish I was human.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Viktor wakes up, feeling his spine crack with every single move he makes. It was like Bucky decided to shove his whole metal arm up his back, and it did not feel good.

 

He yawns, stretching. He expected to be on a hotel bed, under soft covers. What he realized is that he’s actually curled up on a wicker chair on the balcony, alone with the sunlight blinding his eyes.

 

He looks around, seeing if he was alone. He was, and he could’ve believed that he actually imagined the whole of last night if only there wasn’t a soft blanket wrapped around his form, obscuring him from the chill Italian air.

 

From behind him, he registers the sound of Yakov sliding the glass doors open. The man spots him and gives him an incredulous look.

 

“What are you doing, boy? Why did you sleep on the balcony? Get in here, for god’s sake!”

 

Viktor crawls in the hotel room, dragging the blanket with him, craving for macaroons, feeling his chest hurt, missing Yuuri, and overall feeling very shitty.

 

  


 

 

A few days later, Viktor is already on the plane home to Russia.

 

Yuuri has not contacted him since the Balcony Incident™. Sure, they’ve been apart for a much longer period of time but Viktor could not help but worry his fucking ass off.

 

Cough cough cough cough cough-

 

Viktor stares at the tissue, thankful that there wasn’t any blood. Yakov was seated next to him, surely the old man would flip his shit when he sees that his star comedian has something fucked up in his lungs.

 

Viktor takes a few sleeping pills, chugging them down with the help of some champagne, like that one scene in that one sad book. He could never sleep in plane rides, no matter how hard he tried. So he had the choice to bore his ass off or get knocked out with drugs. Viktor always choice the drugs.

 

Don’t worry kids, they’re good drugs.

 

Before Viktor fades into the void, he closes his eyes and thinks for a moment.

 

He has to tell Yuuri that he likes him.

 

When he watches the movies and the dramas, the main character is always like ‘oh no what if I confess to my crush and he/she/it rejects me? Oh no oh no oh no-‘ but Viktor does not think that. Sure, Viktor feels a sense of fear when he thinks about it, Yuuri rejecting him, but for some reason he was sort of anticipating for it.

 

All his life, he’s done nothing but bottle up his emotions and never actually dealt with them in a healthy manner. He’s been hiding his wants, his fears, his desires behind a silly persona that never really took anything seriously. But now, he is changing all of that. He’s become a better person, a person that has let go of his destructive capabilities and is now trying to be a healthy person in society. And he’s starting off by telling an important person in his life the truth.

 

Viktor likes Yuuri. Likes him a lot to be honest. However, he respects the other man and whatever boundary he sets. If Yuuri reciprocated his feelings, then whoop-de-skippee-doo, good for the both of them. If not then… Yeah, Viktor would probably be a little heartbroken, but if Yuuri doesn’t like him, then he’ll be alright with them just being friends.

 

Suddenly, Viktor just understood what the dramas and movies meant. Just friends sounds good, but was it really? He had an uncle that was divorced by his wife; he lived the rest of his days as an angry drunkard who loved Mac and Cheese more than anything.

 

Yeah, you think Viktor will want to be like that?

 

But no. Viktor was strong. Well, uh, stronger, at least.

 

‘Just friends’ would be alright.

 

Even if it hurts.

 

Viktor feels the inky tentacles of darkness creep onto his sight, the sleepiness that was starting to creep up unto his consciousness. He grabs another Kleenex, two or three just in case, and coughs into it. He tries not to notice the deep red he sputters out.

 

Cough cough cough cough cough-

 

He goes to sleep, with pain in his heart and blood in his lungs.

 


 

 

 

When Viktor arrives in Russia, he waits.

 

Viktor and Yuuri never had any means of communication; it wasn’t like reapers needed cell phones or any other electronic device to use as means of communication. Usually Yuuri knew where Viktor was and he would just… teleport? Was that the word? But Yuuri would appear with Viktor on the whim and they’d hang out and eat whatever they could.

 

Viktor didn’t know when or where Yuuri would meet him up once more. Every day Viktor has anticipated, waited, longed to see the familiar head of black hair and talk to him about what he’d felt. All the while, he worried more and more about his condition. His coughing has worsened, his chest heaving even more and his lungs hurting. Yakov has already yelled at him to go to the doctors, and Viktor has partially lied when he told him he already has an appointment.

 

He’ll go to get a check up, of course, but he has to tell Yuuri first.

 

And so when, one night, Viktor walks out of the shower to see a familiar head of black hair in his room, sitting on the edge of his bed playing with Viktor’s beloved pet, Viktor could not help but break out into a smile.

 

“Hey!” Viktor says, grinning wide.

 

Yuuri gives him a stiff smile. Usually the other man would respond with an equally enthusiastic greeting back. Viktor’s grin drops, morphing into a pout.

 

“Yuuri? It’s nice that you’re here. I have to tell you somethi-“

 

“Viktor.” Yuuri says, voice soft but monotone at the same time. Viktor begins to worry, nervousness creeping up into his already aching heart. “I must tell you something.”

 

The last time somebody has said that they ‘must tell him something’ was the day the nurses told him he’ll grow up without a mother, so do not blame him if the feeling of dread starts to find its way up Viktor’s heart.

 

Viktor gives Yuuri a curious look, sitting down onto the bed with him. “Is it important? I have to say something too-“

 

“Yes. It’s important.” Yuuri says, voice rushed.

 

Viktor worries at his bottom lip, biting into the skin. It was a nervous habit, he could not help himself. “Alright, what is it?”

 

Yuuri has never looked this conflicted in his life, his brown eyes no longer filled with warmth but was now swimming with uncertainty and fear. Viktor knew this wasn’t good, and he’s already anticipating for the worst.

 

“Let’s end this.”

 

You see, Viktor Nikiforov once had a loving family. The constant feeling of ‘love’ was a thing he used to feel. His mother’s kisses made the day better and riding on his father’s shoulders were the best feeling ever. Until one day, life decided to randomly pick a person in those draw hats and whomever life got was now bestowed with the shittiest life possible.

 

Let’s just say that Viktor got picked that day.

 

But it was alright. Viktor had gone through almost everything in life. He’d endured his father’s beatings, he’d endured the late night shifts he had to work in a restaurant just so he could eat something, he’d endured the numerous failed auditions and the snake-like managers, he’d gone through life’s ups-and downs and even then Viktor still wasn’t strong enough to handle even one simple sentence coming from a man that had his life in between his fingers.

 

“What…?” Viktor whispers out, his voice strangely flat.

 

Yuuri looks strangely stoic and broken at the same time, his brown eyes filled with so much conflict. He looked like being in the same room with Viktor was suffocating his lungs. Or maybe it was the blood in his lungs? Who knew?

 

“We can’t be together anymore.” Yuuri continues, looking at Viktor in the eye, like he wasn’t breaking down Viktor with every word he says. Yuuri lowers his head, as if he’s in a respectful bow.

 

“I am a reaper, you are a human. We are two things that are not meant to be together, never meant to be together. We are breaking the balance and it’s time we stop it.” Yuuri says, almost reverently. However, one could not mistake the crack in his voice.

 

“Viktor, you have been a great friend and I know I can trust you with my life. But it hurts me to tell you that this will be the last time we will ever speak again. I am ordered to erase every single memory that you have of me-“

 

Drip.

 

Yuuri looks up, surprise evident in his expression.

 

Drip drip drip drip drip-

 

Viktor swallows thickly, blinking once more so the tears fall off his lashes. “Wow.” He says flatly, his blue eyes finally connecting with brown.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

The audience in his brain laughs, mocking him for his weakness. Pathetic, isn’t it?

 

Viktor swallows once more.

 

“I am sitting next to a selfish man.” He mutters to no one in particular, hoping that Yuuri hears. Surely, the other man should’ve.

 

“This is for your own good, Viktor.” Yuuri says, and Viktor is hit with a silver of hope because Yuuri sounds just as broken as he does. Yuuri doesn’t want things to end between them, Viktor knows that.

 

“How? How could it be good for me?” Viktor now says, voice a little harsher than intended. He forces Yuuri to look at him in the eyes.

 

Yuuri jolts, his bottom lip trembling as his brown eyes fill with an emotion that Viktor could not place.

 

“I… I just want you to be happy-“

 

“But you make me happy.” Viktor whines, feeling more tears come up his eyes. The little audience in his brain cackle. What a stupid, stupid man!

 

Viktor could pinpoint the exact moment Yuuri breaks, like a dam once more. First with the little cracks, like his bottom lip trembling and his eyes shining with tears, the dam breaks. Viktor wishes that he could hold Yuuri like what he did back then, but that seemed highly inappropriate right now.

 

“You… You don’t understand.” Yuuri says, voice shaking. “I’m hurting you-“

 

“You’re not hurting me, Yuuri. You’re making me better-“

 

“No, really. I’m hurting you.” Yuuri emphasizes his twisted point by placing his hand on Viktor’s chest. Immediately, Viktor feels the buzzing feeling once more but is now met by a suffocating sensation in his chest. Yuuri immediately removes his hand to make room for Viktor coughing. It was a terrible, terrible sound, like a man losing breath, which technically was.

 

Viktor heaves and heaves, feeling his chest fold in on himself and slowly squeezing himself dry. Finally, Viktor hacks up blood, sputtering unto the floor and staining his lip with a dark red.

 

The realization dawns on Viktor, and he could not help the widening of his eyes as gives Yuuri a horrified stare.

 

Yuuri chokes on a sob, hiding his grimace behind a hand as the tears had begun to flow freely dripping off his chin and staining his eyes red. Viktor could not help but feel his heart break when Yuuri began to stand up, trying to get as much distance away from him.

 

“Yuuri…” Viktor calls out, throat still lodged with blood. Yuuri sobs, and Viktor’s heart continues to ache with every single sound.

 

“So they were right…” Yuuri wheezes, horrid realization set in his mind. “I’m hurting you the more time you spend with me… I’m slowly killing you, oh my god…” Yuuri bites on his palm, trying hard to muffle his sobs. Viktor shakily stands up, desperate to hold Yuuri and his deathly touch, surprisingly not scared for his own fate.

 

Yuuri backs away, fear evident in his eyes. “No, don’t!” He shrieks, eyes pleading and shining with tears. “Please, don’t…”

 

“Yuuri, please-“

 

“We can’t do this anymore, Viktor.” Yuuri pleads. “I’m hurting you-“

 

“But I love you.”

 

It was like dropping a small little rock in still, unmoving water, creating ripples and waves and setting everything in motion. Yes, Viktor has said it. Viktor loved Yuuri, and he has said it in the worst possible moment ever.

 

Viktor smiles, his smile so soft and so sad.

 

“Remember when you told me you thought the ocean was pretty?” Viktor says, voice cracking as the blood in his mouth sends him dizzy. “Well, at that moment, I thought you were pretty.

 

Yuuri’s eyes do not change; they stay the same heartbroken state as they were before.

 

“At first I thought your eyes were pretty, then your lips.” Viktor continues, tears still dripping from his lashes. “Then I realized that everything else about you was pretty.”

 

A soft sob escapes from Yuuri’s mouth, the heartbreak in his eyes swirling with a new unnamed emotion that Viktor could never, ever place.

 

“And then you told me that life was pretty.” Viktor says, softly smiling against his tears. “I thought that was the most bullshit thing that I’ve ever heard.”

 

“But you proved me wrong. You’ve always proved me wrong. Life was pretty.” Viktor says, stepping forward and hoping that Yuuri does not back away.

 

“You want to know what else is pretty?” Viktor asks, lifting Yuuri’s chin so they are directly looking at each other. Viktor takes Yuuri’s shaking hand in his own, not minding the buzzing feeling that was starting to make his chest hurt.

 

“Love is pretty.” He says, trying not to wheeze in pain when he puts Yuuri’s heart on his chest, hoping that Yuuri could hear his heart beat even though it was damaged.

 

Yuuri smiles at him, sad and tired but genuine and Viktor felt his heart swell in the midst of all the pain he’s been holding back. Even though what Yuuri had just said could be true, Viktor would never give up on this one person that helped him become a better person.

 

Yuuri tentatively removes his hand and Viktor sighs in relief. Yuuri looks heartbroken at the sound, and Viktor was too late to take it back.

 

“I-I’m sorry.” Yuuri says, voice still shaking.

 

Viktor’s eyes widen with dread. “Yuuri-“

 

Please go to a doctor soon. It’s not too late.” Yuuri says, backing away before Viktor can stop him. “I’m sorry… for… for everything.”

 

“Yuuri, wait, please-“

 

“Goodbye Viktor.”

 

When Viktor was a child, he had these little plastic toys that made him feel like he was passing through time. He enjoyed playing with them so much that he hasn’t realized that hours have already passed and his mother was already scolding him for staying up so late.

 

It was like this.

 

Viktor didn’t know how long he stared at the ceiling, imagining little dust mites swirl around his lights. How many hours has it been? Two? Three? Seven? He doesn’t know. All he registers was the pain in his heart, and even the blood did nothing to start it.

 

Life was a beautiful, beautiful rose, and every time Viktor tried to appreciate the petals all he got were thorns pricking into his skin.

 


 

 

 

 

You know those moments when you make fake promises to yourself? When you’re in that point of your life when you began to bullshit everyone, including your own brain? Only fucked up people did so, and it was understandable if Viktor did it too.

 

Just one more show. He promises. Just one more show, then I’ll get myself checked. Just one more-

 

It was a futile attempt at making himself believe that he’s gotten better. Maybe a week ago he was, maybe once upon a fucking December he has been happier. Maybe he’s gotten less destructive, maybe he’s began to become a healthier person. Maybe he stopped bullshitting everyone, himself most importantly.

 

Maybe he did those things. He does not know.

 

Viktor was an idiot.

 

And so he bounces on the stage, clutching this stained handkerchief that he now brought with him everywhere he went because Kleenex ran out quickly. He grabs the microphone and starts being the obnoxious person that he always is on stage.

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor wants to fucking rip all their vocal chords out. The laughing was obnoxious. But it was rather hypocritical of him, since he was the one who made them laugh in the first place.

 

Viktor was always the one to blame.

 

Viktor coughs into his microphone for the tenth time and it was only thirty minutes into the show. Holding it in was tough, making his chest hurt and his words sound choked. He knew his audience was starting to notice too, and Viktor caught more than a few concerned faces directed at him.

 

Since when did you all care? His mind hisses, the cynical fucker in him rising once more. You all payed for this shit, and now you’re getting it.

 

He was angry. He was hurt. He was confused. His mind and chest were both in sync with pain, muddling his thoughts with heartbreak and hurt and making everything he did irrational and cynical, it made Viktor want to punch himself. He knew he was returning back to his destructive ways, but did he do anything about it?

 

He didn’t.

 

Viktor was an idiot.

 

Before the audience could do anything about his coughing spree, Viktor beat them to it. Viktor always beats them to it.

 

“Sorry for the cough, had a nasty bug. It sucks; the good side is that my abs are now as rock hard as ever.”

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

Viktor grits his teeth, tasting the blood in his mouth. He sits on the standard wooden chair every comedian has and swigs from a water bottle, hoping it was whiskey.

 

He was tired.

 

He was tired of life breaking him down and breaking down life in return. He was tired of laughing and smiling and giving everyone happiness even when he couldn’t even give it to himself. He was tired of thinking and breaking himself down all over again. He was tired of letting life unknowingly hurt him, all because Viktor lets it happen.

 

But then Viktor realizes something.

 

It’s his fault,

 

Everything was his fault.

 

He was the reason on why his chest hurt, why his lungs bled, why he tortured himself with a type of fleeting happiness that would never last. Viktor let it all happen, let it flow through and let it sway him into thinking about suicide, thinking about depression, thinking about a permanent solution to a very temporary problem.

 

Viktor realizes that he has nobody else to blame but himself. He couldn’t blame the audience, he couldn’t blame Yakov, he couldn’t blame Yuuri.

 

It was all him, all Viktor, it was Viktor who did it all.

 

And it was Viktor that had the only power to change it all.

 

And so Viktor sits down, and finally lets his heart bleed into the audience one last time. He spoke with a certainty that he’s never had before, his words echoing throughout the theater. The topic was very deep but Viktor always had that sense of light heartedness in him. You could talk to Viktor about bombings or the election and not get bored, even though every word that Viktor said was truly heartfelt.

 

He spoke about true happiness.

 

True happiness was either fleeting or could last forever. It could be pranking your friend or being with a lover, true happiness was everywhere. What was sad, however, is that people often mistook true happiness for momentary ones.

 

“Even when you’re eating food, for fuck’s sake.” Viktor says. “Like, you could be having the best meal of your life, every bite an orgasm, but you try so hard to forget that you’re eating alone. To be honest, eating ramen with somebody that you love is much better than eating a five star meal in some fancy hotel with the waiter giving off pretty rape-y vibes, ya know?

 

Viktor remembers all those times he ate alone. His mind wanders back to that one time he ate katsudon in a quaint little hot-springs, and Viktor registers the fact that maybe he wasn’t alone.

 

“But even then, you can’t have true happiness from someone.” Viktor continues after another five second cough session. “I know, it sounds fucked up, but if your happiness comes from what somebody else does, then there’s something wrong with you. That makes aaaaall of you, fucked up.”

 

Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh-

 

For once, Viktor laughs too.

 

It was a genuine laugh.

 

“So, let me ask you all…” Viktor says, looking at the audience, full sincerity in his heart.

 

“Have I made you happy?”

 

He didn’t need their answer.

 

He did.

 

He made people happy.

 

It was nice.

 

Life was nice.

 

Life was pretty.

 

That was the last thing Viktor thinks of when he finally sputters out blood and falls to the floor, like a fucking rag doll.

 

 


 

 

 

The doctors were baffled.

 

“Your records say you don’t smoke or engage in any dangerous activities or habits.” The doctors say, looking at their standard little clipboards, baffled. “So why do you have lobar pneumonia?”

 

Viktor, pretending to be the clueless little shit that he is, shrugs as he shoves another spoonful of ice chips down his aching throat.

 

 

 


 

 

 

For once, Viktor is relieved when the doctors said that he had another chance to live.

 

Fortunately for him, the pneumonia hasn’t developed into full blown lung inflammation yet, giving more time for treatment and recovery. It took lots of therapy and medication that made Viktor want to barf, but he was starting to be alright.

 

He was going to be alright.

 

Yakov has been with him throughout the whole process, acting as a means of comfort. Viktor has realized that the old man had actually cared for him the whole time, despite the cold demeanor the elder man always shown. Yakov was there to talk him through therapy, there to help him take medications, there to just be with him through the scary processes of ‘trying-not-to-be-a-sick-little-shit-anymore’ and for once, Viktor does not feel alone.

 

Especially when his friends finally visit him. There was Chris, Mila, Georgi, and the few other fellow entertainers he had bonded with throughout their entire careers. They all sang and snuck some vodka in for Viktor when the nurses weren’t looking. Viktor took the time to read a few fan letters, reveling in the amount of love and care his fans poured into their writing.

 

Viktor finally realized that he deserved love, he deserved happiness, and he was finally going to let himself have it.

 

Now, if only he could get a certain brown eyed man out of his mind…

 

And Viktor almost does, after some intense soul searching in his hospital bed for a few weeks; he’s finally watched enough sad romance movies to move on. Yes, Viktor was fucking hurt, but he knew Yuuri did the right thing and it was for the best. And while he would never, ever forget what the other man has given him, an opportunity to be a better person, he knew he had to go on.

 

Viktor was in the process of… what you would call a ‘healing from a “breakup”’. He was almost done with it too.

 

That is, until a man in a suit shows up in his hospital room.

 

However, it was not Yuuri.

 

The green eyed man looked like every single angsty and brooding teen’s poetry poured into actual human form. Judging from the blond hair prominent against the dark of his suit and the glowing green eyes, this man (prepubescent boy????) is a reaper.

 

“I hope you’re happy.” The man says in Russian, his accent thick. “I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done to Yuuri, you shit.”

 

Viktor raises an eyebrow, narrowing his eyes at the man. “What I’ve done?”

 

The man rolls his eyes. “Yes, what you’ve done.” The man levels a glare at Viktor, green eyes intense. “He’s broken. He’s broken because of you.”

 

Viktor’s eyebrows raise, a scoff coming from his mouth. “He doesn’t even care-“

 

“Don’t bullshit me, you old fart.” The man growls. “He’s cared about you more than his actual job. He’s never left your side the moment we found out you passed out on stage because somebody decided to not take care of himself.”

 

Viktor’s eyes widened, jolting at the statement. Yuuri was with him? But… But Viktor didn’t see-

 

“He’s been missing for the past few weeks.” The man says, looking down a little. “Nobody could find him. Most of us have given up.”

 

Viktor could feel the guilt starting to find its way up his chest, worrying for Yuuri. His Yuuri. Where was he? God… Where was he? If a bunch of over powered reapers could not find him then… then-

 

“If he’s not in here with you, then he’s probably dead.” The man says, voice cold. “Actually, dead.”

 

Viktor’s eyes widened at the thought, his sick heart dropping to the bottom of the ocean. No-

 

“He’s been tearing himself apart ever since you two started hanging out.” The man says, glaring once more at Viktor. “Being with you hurt him just as much as he hurt you.”

 

The man sighs, eyes briefly closing, not even caring about how hard Viktor’s heart has been beating.

 

“But… you made him happy.” The man says, voice a little quiet now. “And that… that was the only thing Yuuri ever wanted in life.”

 

Viktor, in the midst of dread and guilt, feels a silver of hope in his heart.

 

“So… I guess I’ll have to thank you for that.”

 

 

 


 

 

 

Cafes were nice.

 

Viktor didn’t drink that much coffee in his spare time now, with the doctors warning him that too much sugar could lead to intense palpitations since his heart was newly healed. Usually Viktor would still do what he wants to do, drink whatever what he wanted to drink, but no.

 

He’s decided to take care of himself now.

 

But a good muffin couldn’t hurt, right?

 

Viktor walks in, inhaling the fresh scent of sweets and caffeine. This almost reminded him of a scene, years ago, when a certain brown eyed man has told him about his love for sweets.

 

Viktor smiles, albeit it was a little sad, but his heart doesn’t hurt anymore.

 

There’s a difference between ‘forgetting’ and ‘moving on’, and over the months, Viktor’s learned that moving on was much better than forgetting.

 

But enough of that. He was hungry. He feels his phone buzz in his phone pocket, and he digs it out whilst mindlessly walking to the counter. It was Chris. He wanted someone to help him pick out a suit for the wedding? He’s already told the man that dark navy would be better than-

 

“Good morning, what would you have today?”

 

Viktor freezes, his thumb stuck on his phone screen as he stops moving altogether. He was now sending Chris a flurry of the same emojis over and over again.

 

He looks up.

 

He was young, soft, dark hair fluttering like it belonged in the night. He was beautiful. And the main encore were these beautiful brown eyes behind some cheap blue frames, holding every emotion in the universe.

 

And the man was holding his hand up, fingers prepared to type Viktor’s order into the machine. There, Viktor sees a perfect view of his wrist, where tiny print could be seen. Albeit small and looks a little insignificant, Viktor could read the words well.

 

“What can I say? The ocean is pretty. I think a refreshing dip would be nice, no?”

 

Oh.

 

And judging by the man’s bewildered look in his bright brown eyes, Viktor knew he was thinking the same thing.

 

They both stare at each other, and it was like the café has dissipated into nothing and was now replaced by a starry Japanese sky, with the ocean rumbling below them and the moon high above the clouds. It was just them, fated against the odds.

 

Viktor lets out a smile, blue eyes finally bright for the first time in months.

 

“I’ll have some waffles.” Viktor says, digging out his wallet. The man seems a little struck for a moment, before shaking his ehad and typing the order unto the screen.

 

When Viktor goes to pay, they touch hands for the briefest of seconds.

 

The buzz is there.

 

But it doesn’t hurt, it was like a pleasant thrill, spiraling into Viktor’s spine and making his heart warm.

 

Viktor receives the pastry, and before he could say anything else, the man beats him to it.

 

“My shift ends in ten minutes.” The man says, leaning over just a bit with a challenging smile on his face. On his nametag, the emblazoned ‘Yuuri’ sat on the faux golden plate.

 

Viktor smirks.

 

“I don't know who you are, but I have a feeling you know me too well.”