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New Definitions for Life and Love

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Viktor's always done this. He goes to the hospital nearby his modeling studio once every week and visits the children there. It's a casual routine he finds himself enjoying more and more as time goes on. Everyone there is so nice to him, even if it's only because they know who he is. His status of being the most requested model is fairly obvious, even to those who don't follow up on that kind of industry. Another reason he likes the hospital is because everyone knows that, and they don't pester him. He's signing himself in as a visitor like he usually does. The lady behind the counter - Anna? Alyona? He can't remember - stares a little too long like always as she puts on her best smile for him. Just like always, he responds back in kind, smiling just as warmly as she is. He can see that it's busier today than it's been in awhile, which stirs his curious mind. Noticing him taking extra glances around the bright white room, Alina - that's what her name is he remembers - speaks up. "We received a new patient."

 That should quell his curiosity enough, but as he's come to realize, a new patient doesn't usually throw this hospital into a panic like it is now. "Am I allowed to ask what kind of patient? I've never seen everyone as busy as they are." Viktor looks around again to find a few doctors whispering in hushed tones to one another as they hurry down a corridor. He's never been down that wing of the hospital, since it's reserved for patients in the ICU or other important matters. For once, he finds a new desire to walk that way and see what's happening for himself.

 Alina looks around cautiously before leaning over the desk. Viktor leans in as well, knowing that whatever she's going to tell him, she probably shouldn't be. "I don't know a lot, but I can tell you what I've heard so far." Viktor nods, a silent notion to continue. "A friend of mine told me that the new patient is carrying a new virus. They don't know what it is yet, so he was brought here for examination. He came all the way from Japan. Isn't that crazy? I'm surprised that they've sent him here and not America. I've also heard he's cute." She giggles at the last part as she pulls away, standing up straight like she was before.

 Viktor leans back and ponders on the news. "When did he arrive here?" He knows these aren't questions he should really be asking, but he can't help it. It is odd. A patient all the way from Japan? That couldn't be good if he needed to be sent to Russia. If anything, Japan had more advanced medical personnel than they had, and to send him to this small hospital was a tad alarming. They must want to keep it under wraps. She did say it was a new virus. Viktor shrugs and finishes signing in, walking in the direction of where he knows the kids are usually kept.

 By the time Viktor leaves the kids, it's almost three in the afternoon. He stayed a little longer than usual today, his mind occupied with the thoughts of the new patient. It shouldn't matter to him as much as it does, but the patient's presence confuses him to no end. He's on his way out of the hospital when he pauses, watching a nurse flit down the other wing. He knows he probably should just turn away and walk out of the building, his studio probably looking for him around this time, but he keeps his eyes on that hallway as if drawn to it. Whatever it is compelling him, Viktor finds himself glancing around to see if anyone notices him and the terrible decision he's about to make. He brushes his platinum bangs away from his and puts on an air of confidence before strolling down that wing of the hospital. A few of the nurses side-eye him, but when they notice his visitor's badge, they turn back to whatever they're doing. He doesn't really know where he's going, but he figures he's close. The amount of doctors rushing around seems to increase the further down he gets.

 And then he can see the room the chaos is coming from.

 The room is at the end of the corridor, right before the hallway takes a right turn. A clear glass screen showing the room to it's entirety is placed in the center of the wall with double doors sitting to the window's left. As he steps closer to the window, he can see plastic screens hung up around the room that doctors push aside every few seconds. Everyone in the room is wearing safety equipment, almost like hazmat suits, as they circle the bed where the patient must be. Viktor stands there for a minute longer. He's about to walk away when one of the doctors shift to look over medical equipment at the foot of the patient's bed. Then he can truly see the one at the root of the conundrum.

 From what he can see, the patient is very thin, and he can't tell if it's from all the bright lights or the white walls drowning him, but he looks sickly pale. His mussed raven hair is a dark contrast from the white he's surrounded by. It almost makes him look even sicker, Viktor notes in his head. He steps up to the window to get a better look, only to have his view of the supposedly Japanese man obstructed. Viktor frowns and tries to get a glimpse of him one more time before he heads out. When the doctor finally moves again, he can see the patient shifting in the hospital bed he's stuck to. He must be trying to figure out where he is and what's going on because he tries to sit upright in the bed only to get pushed down by a nurse also where a protective suit. Viktor finds himself feeling miserable for the poor man, which is even odder than his impulse to come down this corridor when he isn't supposed to. Someone comes out from the double doors and when they notice Viktor standing there, they immediately rush up to him explaining that this part of the hospital is off-limits to visitors at the moment. Viktor apologizes and claims to have accidently ended up down here. The doctor rushes him back down the corridor and drops him off at the front desk, explaining that he should be more careful next time. Viktor apologizes once again and stares down the doctor, who rushes back down the hallway they came from.

 He finds himself wondering when visitors will be able to stop by. It's intriguing. The whole ordeal is. Almost painfully so. He wants to know more about the new patient, but now isn't the time to ask. Not when he was just stopped by a doctor telling him to leave. Next week, he promises himself. When he visits again, he'll have to ask someone about him. Maybe a few of the nurses will know. There were a few in the room with him, so maybe if he's lucky enough, he'll have the opportunity to talk to one. Even just getting his name would work good enough. Viktor is a little more desperate than he wants to be to find out the new patient.

 .

 . . .

 .

 "Let's take five and set up for the next shot!" Viktor releases a sigh he didn't know he was holding as the words ring throughout the studio. The over-dramatized military clothing he's currently stuck in feels like it's suffocating him, making him down the water bottle he's been giving faster than usual. He knows there's something wrong when he leaves the set and his manager is glaring daggers at him. "Uh oh..." He can almost hear the impending stream of swears on Yakov's tongue already. "Hi, Yakov!" Despite the anger rolling off of the other, Viktor smiles and waves anyway, giving his water bottle to someone walking past him.

 "Screw your head on right, Vitya! I'm tired of having to start from square one again. Even Yuratchka is able to handle himself better than you." Yakov jabbed a thumb in another model's direction currently on set. Yuri Plisetsky. He's a almost thirteen years younger than Viktor, a natural hothead, but he's a natural. Did he mention that he's a hothead?

 Viktor glanced over at the teen taking part in a photo shoot. He was scowling, but by the time his makeup department leaves him, he's all smiles for the camera. A hothead indeed but a natural, Viktor repeats to himself. "I thought it was going well." Viktor shrugs and continues to watch Yuri's shoot.

 "You're an idiot if you think that. Go take a break and then come back prepared. No more dozing off, got it?"

 Viktor knows not to defy his manager, so he nods in understanding. It isn't long before they start again, redoing whatever shot the company he's working for says they need to. It lasts longer than he would like, but he isn't in a position to complain.

 By the time they finish, he's thoroughly wiped out but excited. He's excited because now he can visit the hospital. It's only been a week, but somehow it felt longer than it ever has before. That may be due to the mysterious new patient. Viktor just wants to find out more about him. That's all. He quickly changes out of the military attire and back into his street clothes, waving to and thanking everyone as he passes them. Before he can leave, Yakov tries to call him over, but he decides to just talk to Yakov later. After all, he will see him later at the dinner he's forced to go to that night. He won't get yelled at plus he can explain it then. Well, explain it as best as he can anyway.

 It doesn't take him long to reach the hospital in his '57 Cadillac. Okay, the car is a bit much, but he still loves it. Even if the bright pink paint on it makes it stand out more. He parks the car and all but jogs into the entrance. The lady from the last time is working behind the counter again, and she recognizes him in a heartbeat. He grins and slows his pace to a stop in front of the counter. After greeting one another, she signs him in and tells him he can go ahead. He stands at the desk for another minute, gaining her attention. "Do you by any chance know the name of the new patient? I understand if you aren't allowed to tell me, but I am curious." Viktor leans against the counter and turns the charm on just a bit more than usual. It's kind of manipulative, but he needs it right now. It seems to work because Alina is beyond flustered.

 "N-No, it's alright. I do know. His name is..." She fumbles through a few of the papers on her desk before typing something into the computer in front of herself. If he wasn't so needy for information, he would laughing at how dazed she seems to be. "Yuuri Katsuki! His name is Yuuri Katsuki."

 So his name is Yuuri. Just like Yuri! He'll have to text the teen later and tell him. "Thank you. Would I be allowed to visit him at all while I'm here?" He leans in closer, sending her back to her computer. The frown on her face is a bit discouraging, but he tries not to let it show.

 "It would seem that only family is allowed to visit him at the moment. I'm very sorry, Mr. Nikiforov." She looks up from the computer, the frown more evident now.

 Well, that isn't going to stop him. "Ah, I see. I wouldn't want to get you in trouble either. I just felt so bad for him. I was really hoping to visit him today, but I can understand if it's not possible." Really, what Viktor's doing isn't fair, but it's the need to see the patient that thrums in the back of his mind that forces him to press further. "Thank you so very much for your time, Ms. Korotkova. I appreciate your time." He listlessly begins to walk down the hallway where he knows the kids will be, when she stops him with a quick shout.

 "Wait, Mr. Nikiforov! I..." She bites down on her lip as he steps back towards the counter looking hopeful. She peeks around the lobby before settling her eyes back on him. "I can try to get you in. I don't know if I can, but I definitely can try."

 "Really? Thank you so much!" He happily steps back up to the counter and watches as she types a few things into the computer. It takes her a few minutes before she gives him a visitor's badge and tells him he can go. She looks very uneasy, but he can't bring himself to mind because he can finally see Yuuri Katsuki. Viktor walks down the corridor that leads to Katsuki's room. There are less doctors rushing around but still a good number of them. By the time he makes it to the same window from the last time, he can see only a nurse checking up on Yuuri Katsuki. He notes that Katsuki looks exactly the same as he did last week. The nurse finishes up whatever examination she was putting him under and starts to pack up. A few minutes later, the nurse walks out and notices him, eyes blowing wide.

 "Excuse me, Mr. Nikiforov?"

 "Yes?" Viktor looks away from the window and meets her eyes with a smile. This is it. This is where he gets kicked out. Except...

 "Wow, it really is you! M-May I please have a photo with you?" Except he won't be kicked out. Nice.

 "Of course!" He smiles for her and glances into the front facing camera on her phone, laughing when she pockets the device and thanks him profusely.

 "It's a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Nikiforov! What are you doing here?" Oh shit.

 "I'm here to visit Mr. Katsuki. I always visit this hospital, but when I heard his condition, I just had to see him." He plays along with his words, acting as heartbroken as possible. He isn't really lying, so it works.

 "That's very kind of you, but you aren't allowed in the room. Until we suppress what he has completely, no one is allowed near him without protection. There's a small room on the other side that lets you talk to him through the glass, and he can respond. You'll need his permission to do so, though. I can ask if you would like."

 Oh. That makes sense. Viktor feels a pang of sadness for the man again, only it hurts him more this time. His chest feels like it's restricting. To ever be able to talk face-to-face to someone must be disheartening. Who knows how long he's been like this, too. He finds himself wondering how long he was in quarantine back in Japan. When did they find out he had this? How much longer will he be stuck like this? They must've started creating a cure by now, right? "Would you be able to?"

 The nurse must've noticed his change because then she nods and turns to walk back through the doors she came through. He waits patiently as the nurse approaches Yuuri Katsuki carefully in the hazmat suit. He feels the pang of sadness again as he watches them interact. He can only ever talk to people directly if they wear that. He stares in confusion as the man practically jumps out of the bed and then glances through the glass right at Viktor. He smiles and waves, which only causes Yuuri Katsuki to look away quickly. He must be shy.

 The nurse bows to him and leave. She comes out a few moments later, the hazmat suit off as she faces Viktor. "Follow me, and I'll lead you to where you can speak with him." She leads them through the double doors and down a short path off to the left. The path leads to a small rectangular room where the hazmat suits hang off the wall at the entrance they just came through and on the wall opposite of them. He gazes around the space as they pass through it, now turning right through another small corridor that mirrors the one on the other side. The corridor opens up a little, giving them both more space. The right side of the wall is mostly glass, and when he looks through it, he's surprised to find out how close they are to Yuuri Katsuki. The nurse hovers at the entrance of the space before ducking out, telling Viktor how much time he gets before he'll be asked to leave. He answers in kind and goes to look through the glass again, meeting a pair of caramel-colored eyes.

 He sucks in a breath and breaks into a light smile. Yuuri Katsuki seems to be stuck in some kind of awe because he can't stop staring at Viktor, like he's not real or he's going to disappear at any moment. It shatters his heart into more pieces again because then Viktor thinks that he's the first actual person besides doctors and nurses who'll be talking to him. He tries not to let it get to him too much. Right now, at least.

 "Hello." Silence. "I'm Viktor Nikiforov." Even more silence. He doesn't know what he was expecting, but silence definitely wasn't it. "We don't know each other." That wasn't already obvious. Way to go, Nikiforov. He swallows hard before giving a light chuckle. "I usually just visit the children here, but I thought you might like some company." He's trying to garner something from the other, but it's almost impossible. He's only staring as Viktor speaks, not saying anything in return. "How are you?" Did he really just ask him that? He's suffering from a new virus no one but him has contracted without a cure having been made yet. Of course he's not fine. This was a dumb idea. He hates himself for having actually gotten this far without getting caught or told to leave. He almost wishes he was. Until the man before him, hooked up to hundreds of different machines and stuck in a hospital bed in a foreign country, laughs. It's one of the those laughs you can't help but laugh along with. It's light, almost like a breath of fresh air, and it sounds like small bells going off in unison. It's honestly endearing, making it even more surprising.

 Viktor is now the one staring, and he can't help it. Not only has he just insulted the very man he was desperate to see, but now he's being laughed at. He should've been kicked out. No one should've helped him get this far.

 "I-I'm sorry." Yuuri Katsuki is still giggling. Yes. Giggling. That's the only way, Viktor finds, to describe the sound he's making."I d-didn't mean to laugh like that." And he's apologizing? Why? The puzzlement on his face most likely shows because the man before him finally stops giggling. "I didn't mean to offend you or anything!" He thinks he's the one who made the offense?

 "What?" He doesn't mean to ask the question out loud, but how can he not? Yuuri Katsuki deadpans as he watches Viktor's expression, taking it the wrong way entirely.

 "I understand if you want to leave now! I'm very sorry!"

 He watches as the tufts of raven hair flow downward as he bows. The movement is graceful for someone as supposedly sick as him. Interesting. "Why would I want to leave? I'm more surprised you haven't asked me to leave." The question sends the other off-balance, making him lift his head up. The movement is, once again, graceful. Maybe that's just Viktor reading too much into such simple gestures.

 "Why would I do that?" Maybe he didn't hear Viktor then because there's no way he isn't mad of some sort over the dumb question he asked earlier.

 "Because I insulted you?"

 They are both severely confused. They sit there in silence again, until Viktor breaks it with a laugh of his own. Yuuri Katsuki joins in moments later after him, and they just stay where they are and laugh. Any awkward tension that held them dispelled entirely.

 "I-I'm Yuuri Katsuki. It's nice to meet you, Mr. Nikiforov."

 "You sound like every businessman I've ever met. Just Viktor is fine." He grins as Yuuri Katsuki turns an obvious pink. And then he realizes why. The man is Japanese. From his experience of the time he had in Japan, no one calls each other by their first name unless they know each other really well or are in love. Another screw up to add to his on-going list.

 "Alright, Just Viktor."

 Did... Did he just...

 The tinkling of bells sound is back. His expression must've said everything he was thinking because Yuuri Katsuki became a mess of laughter. "I promise I'll stop now." He still kind of giggling, but not as hard as he was a moment ago. Then suddenly he's coughing and violently at that. Viktor presses closer to the glass, wishing he could help, but is instead resigned to watching the coughing fit die out slowly. He wipes at his mouth when he manages to calm himself, grimaces, and faces Viktor again. Viktor would be relieved if it wasn't for the blood on his lips.

 "Should I go call for someone?" He's terrified. He doesn't know what to do in these kinds of situations, but he does know that he isn't qualified enough to be able to do anything. What should he do? The fear dissipates as Yuuri - can he call him just by his first name? Is that okay? - shakes his head and waves his hands frantically. The little coughs in between every movement aren't helping his case.

 "No! I'm fine! Really, I am!" He puts a hand to his chest as he fights to get air into his lungs.

 If there's one thing he knows, then it's to calm him down. Getting worked up isn't going to help at all. "Okay, you're fine. You're right. I won't call for anyone. I'll just stay here." This seems to help because not long after, Yuuri finally settles and takes slow breaths to even out his pants. He glances back at Viktor with a sad smile, one he vouches that he never wants to see again.

 "Thank you." He takes a tissue from a tissue box on the tiny side table that's placed next to his bed and wipes at his mouth and hands. Viktor can see the blood but pretends that he didn't. He's still just as scared, and how is he so calm after what just happened? But along with the other thoughts he's figured out on his own, Viktor comes to realize that maybe this is normal for him. He wants to know what the other symptoms of the virus are, but that won't exactly make either of them happy right now. And happiness is what Yuuri needs. The nurse will know, so he vows to himself to ask her afterwards.

 Yuuri throws the napkin into a bin next to the side table on the floor and checks everywhere else for little red stains. He sighs in relief and turns back to Viktor like he had a moment ago, the same sad smile still plastered on his face. "It gets bad sometimes, but it's nothing I can't deal with." Somehow that statement makes Viktor want to wrap his arms around Yuuri despite the possibility he'll get infected. "I've gotten used to it." And that's something no one should ever have to say about something so awful. "This whole situation," Yuuri gestures around the room and at Viktor behind the glass window, "is becoming normal to me." He laughs, but it's humorless. Not a joke. Just harsh reality. His voice is cracking in some places from all the coughing he's done, but he doesn't seem to care.

 "I know you've heard this a lot, but I'm really sorry you've been put in a situation like this and were forced to accept it." The words seem to hit Yuuri hard because even though there's a thick window of glass between them and some distance, he can still see his eyes glaze over with newfound tears. Did he just make Yuuri cry? He's not doing well, he realizes. He needs to stay quiet more.

 "Thank you." The words seem forced out, like he made himself say something to stop the impending stream of tears that are to come if he doesn't. "Really. That means a lot to me." And again he's confused because all he's done is say something everyone else had said and gotten him upset. Again.

 "I... I'm glad." He smiles genuinely, and thankfully gets one in return. He needs to change the topic, but every single one he comes up with could possibly make him cry or angry. If he knew he would be let in, then he would've thought of something before. "Yuuri," said male blushes bright enough for him to see with the amount of space between them with peaks his interest, "what do you like to do for fun?" That's good, right? It's not too personal, and it's fair. Right?

 "Well..."

 They spend the rest of Viktor's visiting time just talking about everything and anything. Viktor doesn't even realize time's up until the nurse backs in sporting a huge grin and tells him it's time to go. Yuuri has to go through a few procedures, which elicits a groan from what he discovers to be the younger male. Being completely honest with himself, he doesn't want to leave. Despite Yuuri's situation, Viktor finds himself missing their conversations already.

 "Bye, Just Viktor."

 "Goodbye for now, Yuuri Katsuki." They both simultaneously wave to each other as Viktor is led back the way he entered from, exiting through the double doors he was standing outside of mere hours ago.

 .

 . . .

 .

 "Old man, are you listening or what?!" Yuri kicks Viktor's leg from underneath the table, sending him spiraling out of his own mind. Oh right. They're in a meeting. Viktor's never been one to enjoy them, but usually he pays close attention and even pitches in a few ideas of his own. Today's meeting is for... maybe the shoot earlier this week? He can't seem to remember or find the energy in himself to care. Sitting at the head of the table is his manager and boss of the company he works for, Yakov Feltsman. To his right side is Mila Babicheva and next to her Sara Crispino. On the other side is Georgi Popovich, whom he is sitting next to. Yuri is stuck between the Crispino siblings, Sara at his right and Michele, her brother, to his left. Next to Viktor was Yuri's one and only friend Otabek Altin, who was silently berating him for yelling at Viktor. They're all models for the company that Yakov personally hired, while the rest of the table is filled with department heads, who work in the company.

 He smiles at Yuri, which only angers the blond further, but because of Otabek, he keeps his thoughts to himself. If he was thinking straight, he would find it amusing. But he's not. So he doesn't laugh. His thoughts are only on the Japanese male he met yesterday. It was awkward at first, but then Yuuri made a few jokes that helped break the ice between them. He learned a few things about him, too. Like he had an older sister, who's very overprotective of him, parents who are nothing but kind and understanding, and once had a dog, which Viktor immediately regretted asking about. The poodle reminded Viktor of Makkachin, so of course when the topic was breached, he pulled out photos of his own dog. Another painful kick to the shin brings his focus back to the odd silence of the table. He then realizes that Yakov must've asked him something. Oops.

 "Err... Can you repeat that again? I was thinking about how the shoot went before with that magazine." He thanks the heavens that he remembers they're talking about the magazine that interviewed him last month. Yakov would've wanted to kill him more than he probably does right now. Yuri scoffs from where he sits and leans back in his chair, feet up on the table.

 "Vitya, pay attention. They asked for you again later this week. I wanted to know if you liked their work." Yakov must've stood up at some point because now he's at the head of the table, all but glaring at Viktor with his arms crossed. At least he isn't furious. That's a start.

 "Oh. Right. Of course. I wouldn't mind working with them again. They knew what they were doing and stayed true to whatever I said. They're work is decent." A few others at the table reply to what he said with their own comments, talking back and forth about the different possibilities. They reach an agreement towards the end of the meeting, or at least he thinks so. Viktor zoned out again towards the end. Another oops. He's walking out with Yuri on his left and Mila on his right as they head for the exit of the building they're in.

 "Can you at least pretend like you're paying attention? You weren't even trying today. What gives?" Yurio huffs in annoyance as they continue to walk down the street.

 He wants to mention Yuuri, to just gush about him, but he isn't sure that's going to make Yurio happy. As if reading his mind, Mila gives him a sly smile as she puts on her favorite pair of black sunglasses. "I bet he's met someone."

 "Hmm... what makes you say that?" Viktor is humming the words, a smile of his own tugging at the corners of his lips. He must be pretty obvious if Mila's noticed that quickly. Then again, she's always been one to catch on quickly to anything. It's hard keeping secrets from her. "Maybe I've just been having a good week."

 "Well cut it out. Whatever it is, it's grossing me out." Yurio narrows his eyes and throws on his own sunglasses. Viktor just notices how bright it's gotten. It's like the word knows he's about to visit Yuuri again today. "I should've just gone with Beka after the meeting. I already can't stand hanging out with you two."

 Viktor laughs and takes his Gucci sunglasses off the top of his head, settling them along the bridge of his nose. "My happiness grosses you out? Maybe I should be happier more often." It's not that he hasn't been happy. He's just felt like life has become mundane and completely ordinary. Nothing ever changes, and no matter what offer he takes up, everyone acts the same. That's why he likes days like today. Usually after meetings with the agency, Viktor, Mila, and Yurio go to a nearby cafe to talk about their most recent jobs and the people they've met. Viktor never really contributed to the conversations, since nothing interesting ever happens anymore, but today he finds himself excited for their little get-together.

 "I definitely should've gone with Beka. Georgi can take my place instead." Mila throws her arms over Yurio as they push open the doors to the cafe, almost knocking the teen down with the sudden action. He pretends not to notice the side glances she gives him, waiting for the chance to talk about it himself without someone asking. They order their usual, sitting down at an empty table near the windows. Viktor's almost bouncing in his seat as he waits for the other two to settle down at the table with their orders.

 "Alright, Viktor. Tell us what happened since you look like you can't hold it in anymore." Mila crosses her legs and leans one elbow on the small round table as he other hand holds an iced hazelnut coffee. Yurio rolls his eyes as he stares down at his own iced coffee. Viktor pays him no attention as he sets down his hot coffee and leans against the table himself.

 "You know how I always visit the hospital, right?" After nods of acknowledgement, he decides to speak again. "Well, I might have met someone there." Giddily, Viktor watches their expressions as Mila's changes into one of interest and Yurio's into one of disgust and confusion.

 Almost in sync, they both respond. "In a hospital?" Mila now looks concerned as she eyes Viktor down. "You may want to elaborate, Viktor."

 Their reactions almost dishearten him, but then he remembers Yuuri's face again as he laughed along with one of Viktor's dumb jokes. "It turns out he's contracted something no one's ever had before, so he was brought to the hospital I always visit. I felt bad, so I decided to visit him. After getting the clearance to do so, I got to meet him, and oh my gosh Mila, you have no idea how amazing he is. He's funny, cute, kind - have I mentioned he's cute? - and he gets embarrassed so easily. It's very endearing. You should meet him! His family sounds so loving, too. I wish I could meet them..." Viktor sighs into his hand as he leans against it on the table, almost mirroring Mila's position. He remembers Yuuri like he knows how to breathe. Everything about him was enchanting to Viktor.

 "Alright, I'm leaving. Viktor, I think you've caught something from going there every week. You might want to get that checked out." Yurio pulls out his phone, probably sending a text to Otabek, before settling it back into his pocket and making his way to the door with his coffee in hand. "Bye, hag. Good luck with this nutcase." He gestures towards Viktor and leaves without another word. Mila waves goodbye before gazing back at Viktor.

 "Are you serious, Viktor? I'm happy for you, but..."

 "But what?" Viktor notes how more serious Mila seems to get, but as usual pays it no mind since he doesn't see any reason to be so concerned.

 "How serious is his condition?"

 Viktor can't tell what Mila's getting at, so he stares blankly at her as he answers her question. "I don't know much other than he has a serious illness, and there's no known cure right now. They are working on it apparently, though." Why does she want to know about that?

 The question he has yet to ask aloud gets answered as soon as Mila hears what he said. "Viktor, what's his chance of survival?"

 "Oh..." Every happy thought he had about Yuuri gets left behind as he processes what she said. That's why she's concerned. Now he can't help, but think about Yuuri as he suffers through the pain of whatever it is he has. It pains Viktor to think that Yuuri has to deal with that while he's able to go everywhere and do everything.

 "I really, really love that you're happy, Viktor. You need it. You seem more like yourself now, but this is... If this is what you're ready for, then I'll support you through it. I just don't want to see you suffer. That's why I'm worried." Mila's eyebrows knit together as she folds her hands around her iced coffee.

 Viktor looks down at his own drink, unsure of what to really say now. His mood takes a sharp turn downward, and it takes him a few minutes to even think right. "I don't care how long he has." The words surprise even himself, but it's what he wants. What he truly believes. He wants to be there for Yuuri no matter the situation. Viktor will help him through it all. This is the decision he makes and plans on sticking with it. The thought hurts that someday Yuuri won't... He immediately drowns the thought out. It's too hard to think about now.

 "Okay then. Just know I'm here for you. We all are." He's no longer looking at Mila, but he can feel her smile trying to pry his thoughts away from the darkness. She offers a gentle hand on his arm and pushes her chair back loudly, probably leaving now. "Promise me you'll be careful, Viktor."

 He can't find it in himself to answer her, but he makes the promise in his head.

 "See you tomorrow." He can hear the tingle of the bell on the door as she walks out, leaving him to sit alone at the now vacant table.

 Viktor doesn't make an effort to get up just yet, instead focusing his gaze on something far away out the window to his left. His blue eyes are now clouded over with reality, not really understanding how to take anything in. Mila's right, and he knows it. This will only hurt him in the end, but for now he doesn't want to worry about it. All he wants to think about is Yuuri's smiling face.

 Sighing, Viktor stands up and decides that it's his turn to leave now. He planned on visit the hospital, but he'll be cutting it short if he leaves any later than now. Throwing his shades back on, Viktor grabs his coffee and heads out the door, walking in the direction of the hospital. It annoys him a little knowing that he can't stay and talk to Yuuri for long, but five minutes is better than nothing at all. Viktor tucks that phrase away for later as a reminder that it doesn't matter what time Yuuri has left.

 It doesn't take him long before he reaches the hospital. It's the reason why he goes there every week. It's so close to his modeling agency's main headquarters that he's able to walk there if he has an early break or nothing planned for the day. The automatic doors slide open for him as he nears them, shifting his sunglasses from in front of his eyes to the top of his head. The lady working the counter isn't one he's met before, most likely a trainee or someone newly employed. With the buzz Yuuri's created with just his presence, it would make sense that they're hiring more staff members.

 "Good morning." Viktor gives her a bright smile and receives one in return. "I'm Viktor Nikiforov. I'm here to visit Yuuri Katsuki." He thinks he won't get tired of saying Yuuri's name.

 The frown on the woman's face is reminiscent of the one of the lady from the last time who told him he couldn't visit Yuuri. "I'm sorry. He's not taking visitors at this time." She doesn't seem to know him either, so wooing her over isn't going to work. He needs a plan. Or at least he did.

 Remembering quickly that on his way out the last time, the nurse gave him a pass to use, so that visiting Yuuri would be easier when he came again. Thanking his lucky stars, Viktor reaches into both coat pockets, praying that he left it in his jacket. "I have a... a pass. It was given to me the last time I was here." The search isn't turning up anything, and he frowns at the notion that he might not be able to visit Yuuri. "I know it's here..." Viktor's fumbling around with the different pockets in his coat before he finally pulls out the blue card he was given. Proudly, he hands the lady the card and watches her type something into her computer as she looks between the screen and the plastic she's holding.

 "I see... Alright, Mr. Nikiforov. You may visit him. Wait patiently for a nurse or doctor to escort you to where he's being held. I'm very sorry about making you wait." She hands the card back to Viktor, who eagerly takes it. "Visiting hours are almost over, so please keep track of the time. Someone will tell you when time is up and escort you out."

 He nods and stands off to the side of the counter before a doctor, Dr. Katagawa, ushers Viktor to follow him. Most of the walk is silent, save for their footsteps echoing in the hallway and the hum of the lights above them.

 "We finished testing him for now, but you may have to leave earlier than when visiting times end. We're very sorry about that, but as you must know, there is a lot of work that must be done centering around him. It is crucial that we obtain all that we can before the inevitable occurs." The inevitable, meaning when Yuuri passes on. Is everyone trying to destroy his mood today? Or are they all working against Viktor to keep him away from Yuuri? Is this what they tell everyone who tries to visit Yuuri? "You may have to wait a bit longer before you visit him yourself as well. Nurse Antonova may not have told you, but he has family visiting him right now. I'll let them know you're here, but you'll have to wait."

 Family. Someone in Yuuri's family is visiting him. He shouldn't be too surprised at that, but he is considering that Yuuri is from Japan. The city's name has slipped from his memory, but he does remember hearing about that. They made the trip just to visit Yuuri. They must be as loving as Yuuri said they were. Viktor feels a pang in his heart, it's cause a little unknown to him, but it's existence is there.

 The doctor leaves him by the doors to the room he knows Yuuri is kept in and pushes them open. He watches as the doctor disappears behind them, leaving him out in the hallway by himself to think. He tries not to do much of that, but instead keeps his thoughts on what Yuuri must be like with his family. Is he more outgoing? Is he just as shy? Maybe he laughs a lot more. No, not maybe. He definitely does. His thoughts stay along that same path until finally the doctor returns with a woman who seems to be around Viktor's age. Her hair is a gradient from dark brown to dirty blond and pulled back behind a purple headband. She's talking to the doctor solemnly before her eyes find Viktor's. She cuts off the conversation she was having and looks past the doctor to stare right at Viktor. Or maybe the more appropriate phrase is stare right through Viktor because that's what it feels like.

 "Aren't you Viktor Nikiforov?" She seems to know who he is, recognition flashing in her eyes. Honestly, it throws him back a step even though it shouldn't. He is an international model who's worked with the highest of brands and only the most well-known people.

 "Yes, that's me." To be even more honest, her stare is making him uncomfortable, like he's committed a crime, and she knows everything about it already. It's unnerving.

 "Hmm... so he wasn't kidding." She mutters something else to herself, but it's in a language he can pinpoint as Japanese. Not a language he knows a lot about. Maybe he should try to learn more of it for Yuuri. "I'm Mari, Yuuri's older sister." The last part sounds almost like a threat, but Viktor doesn't let it show on his face that she scares him. Not that she does or anything. Okay, maybe she is a little intimidating. Mari steps closer to him, brushing past the doctor, who's watching their encounter with less interest than that of the lady running the check-in counter.

 "I'd say who I am, but you already seem to know." Viktor keeps his tone lighthearted and joking, hoping that'll settle his own nerves. He reaches a hand out to Mari, who stares at it for a moment before taking it in her own. "It's a pleasure to meet family of Yuuri's. He's talked about you a lot, and I've only been here once before." He chuckles a little as Mari cracks a small smile. It's hardly anything from the steel gaze still in her eyes, but it's better than nothing.

 "Likewise."

 Likewise? Does Yuuri talk about him? Or did Mari mean meeting him? That's something he really wants her to follow up on but isn't something he's going to ask out loud.

 "Well, I'll let you see my baby brother. Just warning you: he's a little tired. Bye, Viktor. Don't have too much fun." Mari sends him a wave and makes her way down the hallway he came through. He watches as she leaves before the doctor ushers him through the doors, reminding him how limited their time is.

 Putting the encounter into the back of his mind, Viktor follows the doctor once more through the doors and past the small room holding all the protective suits for the doctors and nurses. Within a few minutes, Yuuri Katsuki is smiling at him through the glass separating them.

 "Hi, Viktor." He can see what Mari meant now. Yuuri looks exhausted, and that's him being kind.

 "Hello, Yuuri. How are you?" The doctor standing beside Viktor bows his head and takes his leave from the room, giving them the space they need.

 "I'm fine. How are you? You look like you were busy."

 Viktor dismisses the comment with a wave of his hand. "Hardly. I had a meeting this morning, but it was over a while ago. Not like it was about anything of importance either." He tried to recall anything about the meeting, only to be left with more thoughts about Yuuri. He's going to be done for when Yakov finds out. That's only if he doesn't already know and doesn't want to deal with Viktor. Maybe he should bring the grouchy, old man a coffee the next time he sees him.

 Yuuri doesn't say much. He's mostly just sitting on his bed and fiddling with his fingers.

 "Oh, Yuuri. I met your sister, Mari. She seems just as nice as you said she is."

 Viktor doesn't expect it, but Yuuri laughs. It's quiet and more of a giggle, which quite frankly makes him seem cuter if that's even possible. "I can't imagine what she was like with you. She is very nice when she warms up to you, but she's rough when it comes to meeting others." It almost seems like Yuuri's holding a few words back, but with the sparkle in his brown eyes, Viktor doesn't care enough to ask.

 "Duly noted. I wish there was something I could write this down with." Viktor smiles as the hint of laughter reaches Yuuri's eyes even with the yawn he's let go. It's clear that Yuuri needs sleep, and he wants to be selfish. Really, he does. Keeping him up and talking to Viktor would be amazing, but it's true that he needs sleep. He can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be stuck going through test after test without any sign of leaving. It must be horrible. "I would love to stay longer, but you look like you need to rest, Yuuri."

 Yuuri frowns at him through the glass. "I didn't say I was tired." Him trying to put up a fight is adorable. Yuuri's pouting like a child.

 "You don't have to. It's written across your face." Viktor chuckles when Yuuri turns a shade of pink, or at least he thinks so. It's hard to tell with the distance between them. "Besides, I know your day must have been a lot tougher than me having to sit through a dull meeting." Viktor rubs his index finger over the lid of his coffee, which has gone lukewarm from the lack of attention he's given it.

 "On the contrary, I bet that dull meeting was a lot worse. I'd rather talk to people who joke around as they work rather than tire everyone out with boring words." Did he just...?

 "Well, you have me beat there then. I have to leave, though." He just got here, but once again, he can't be selfish. Not with someone who gives up their time to listen to someone like Viktor, who has no connection at all to Yuuri.

 "Can you come again tomorrow?" Yuuri looks so hopeful from where he sits on the hospital bed that Viktor gives in immediately. Not that he would've rejected the offer if Yuuri didn't look at him like that but still.

 "Absolutely." Viktor grins brightly at him, getting one of equal size if not bigger in return. His heart churns in his chest, unable to fathom just how much he's already given to the Japanese man.

Chapter Text

This is one of those moments that Viktor wishes he wasn't so dumb or empty-headed. Yurio would agree in a heartbeat if he said those words out loud.

"I've been saying that since I've met you. Took you long enough to figure out, though. What are you? Deaf?"

Oops. Viktor grins sheepishly whereas Yurio rolls his eyes and walks away towards the set. Usually they don't ever work on a shoot together, but the magazine's offer they accepted asked for both of them. Which brings them to where they are right now. Viktor's tugging on the sleeve of his dress shirt as he absent-mindedly thinks about the promise he made to Yuuri and how he's tremendously messed up. Yesterday, he agreed to meet the Japanese man again today, only... there's a problem. Apparently it was decided at the meeting yesterday that the shoot was going to take place today of all days. God, he really has to start paying attention more. Yurio was right.

"I'm always right. Now get over here!"

He should probably work on keeping things in his head as well. Viktor finally moves his legs to go stand next to Yurio, awaiting for instructions from the photographer and his design crew. Yurio nudges him as a few girls from the makeup department onsight fret over their hairstyles. Viktor glances down at him and is met with a general look of concern, and why is Yurio of all people concerned? And why now?

"If you mess this shoot up because you were thinking of the diseased patient you're obsessed with, then so help me I will end your life faster than his."

Viktor's jaw drops and of course he was expecting something cruel, but that... He's seeing red as he internally debates whether or not to cause a scene. Yurio may be a model just like him, but he's smaller, less mature, and newer to all of this compared to Viktor. He could easily take the tiny Russian down. Instead, he turns away and offers a smile to no one in particular. "If you mention Yuuri in that way ever again, then you'll be done for before I am." The words come out as ice, and he doesn't continue until the ladies leave their sides. Leaning down to whisper, Viktor draws his words out as crude as he can make them. "I have a higher status than you do. Keep that in mind the next time you threaten me. I can ruin your life with just a few, quick words to the press. That's all it'll take." He stands up to his full height, strutting across the set to talk with the photographer and director.

Yurio says nothing as he goes, which is smart. Viktor is seeing red with the anger he's feeling right now, and it'd be best if Yurio shut up and listened to him for once. He tries to make himself sound friendlier as he discusses with the others what the plan is for the shoot and what he needs to do. It isn't long before photos are taken and discarded. Everyone shuffles in and out throughout the day, changing the way their outfits look or something as simple as hand placement for the pictures. Yurio avoids talking to him for as long as the shoot takes. It isn't until the end that Yurio approaches him again.

"Did you say his fucking name is the same as mine?" There's an apparent scowl on the blond's lips, but Viktor finds humor in it rather than the fear most would feel.

"Of course not. I said his name was Yuuri, which is more adorable and fits him so much better. Besides, your name is Yurio. There's a difference." Viktor throws the suit jacket around his shoulders and his arms in the sleeves, eyes never leaving Yurio's the entire time.

"I told you to stop being gross, and my name isn't Yurio, dumbass. You literally just said his name the same way my name is. There's no difference whatsoever." He crosses his arms and taps one of his dress shoes on the tile below them.

"Correction, my sweet Yurio. The 'u' in his name is more exaggerated, so there is a difference. You're just too simple-minded to notice the difference." He beams down at the smaller Russian with a gaze that must gross him out more.

"At least I was able to remember the shoot we had today and showed up on time." Yurio huffs as Yakov calls him over to examine his work so far. Viktor is grateful that Yurio is distracted, but he can't shake his annoyance at himself. On top of breaking his deal with Yuuri, he has no way of letting the Japanese patient where he is. He forgot to get his phone number or even an Instagram page. Really, how could he have forgotten? Sure, it wasn't originally a plan of his, but it should've been. No sooner than a minute later, a pat on his back drives his attention away from his self-loathing. He turns around to notice that it's Sara, who's wearing a dress meant for dancing. It's a red spaghetti strapped dress that's cut asymmetrically along the right side and covered in sparkles while the bottom has feathers decorating the ends of every layer. her hair is twirled up into a side bun while a matching headpiece adorns her head. He forgot she's working on the shoot with them as well today.

"You okay? Mila mentioned you might be out of it, but I didn't think it would be this bad."

Of course Mila talked to Sara about Yuuri. She and Sara sat on good terms and have been pretty good friends for a while. He almost thinks that maybe he should've expected that. "Mm, I'm fine. Thank you, though. I may have screwed up, but that's my problem to handle."

"Care to talk about it?" Even though they work for the same agency, Viktor doesn't talk to Sara too much. Michele, her twin brother, usually drives most of the guys in the agency away from her. Viktor never really wanted to mess with him just because it would start a problem, so he stayed away.

"No, it's alright. I do need to find a way to sneak out early, though." That was going to be tough, considering Yakov has his eye on him twenty-four seven today. He wonders what put his agency's CEO in a bad mood and on high alert. He wonders if Yurio is responsible for that.

"I can help if you want."

"Really?!" Viktor's looking at her like she just brought down all the stars in the sky.

"You won't be able to leave for long, though. Got it? If Yakov catches on, then I'm throwing you under the bus for this." She wags a finger at him and grins mischievously. Viktor's too excited to even care that he'll get in trouble. When doesn't he get in trouble anyway?

"Understand!" He salutes her and watches as she walks over to the director behind the shoot. They offer words back and forth, while Sara adds a few gestures that are definitely overdramatized. She's friends with Mila alright. She passes him briefly, giving him a wide smile of victory. It isn't until the director talks over the din of the room that he understands what she did.

"We'll be taking a thirty minute break! Everyone, get set up for the next shot!"

He owes her big time. Sprinting faster than he has in a while, he makes a beeline for the back exit, knowing he'll be caught if he just walks out the front entrance. That would be a terrible idea. And then he remembers that he's still wearing the clothes for the photo-shoot. Oh well. He mostly gets all the clothes from every shoot he's in anyway. A few people give him a number of odd looks as he races down the street to where his car is parked. The hospital is about a five minute maybe ten minute drive, but it's faster if he books it and the streets are clear. It's the afternoon, so traffic isn't as heavy as it was earlier, but it's still unbearably slow. Well, at least to Viktor it feels that way. When he pulls up to the hospital, he can finally hear the ringing of his cellphone, opting to just turn it off. Nothing's going to ruin this now that he's gotten all the way there. Viktor makes sure he takes the blue visitor's pass from the dashboard of his car and hurries into the building. Out of breath, he hands the person behind the check-in desk the small card and tries to catch his breath.

It's a guy this time he notes as he raises an eyebrow at Viktor's sudden presence. "Who will you be visiting today?"

"Yuuri... Katsuki..." Viktor pants the words out as he stands himself upright and shrugs out of the stuffy suit jacket he's wearing. Time to pray it isn't ruined, but that's a thought for later. Right now, his attention is only meant to be for Yuuri.

"Ah, yes. Mr. Katsuki did inform us of a possible visitor. You can go right ahead, Mr. Nikiforov."

"Thank you." He sighs in relief and takes the blue card back, shoving it into his pant's pockets. As he walks down the hallway towards Yuuri's room, Viktor tries to make himself look presentable. There's no way he looks photo-ready after all the running he's done. The doors are pushed open harder than he intended to do, but oh well. Might as well make it clear now that he's arrived after making Yuuri wait.

Yuuri must not have heard him because there's no sound at all, even in the room containing the protective suits and gear. Usually there's a speaker in that room, so everyone can hear Yuuri in case something happens. He's distressed for a moment. The male nurse would've mentioned that Yuuri's room got changed. The faint beeping of the machines reassure him that everything's alright, though. The other reassurance is when he breaks through into the room with the glass window, he can see Yuuri peacefully napping in his bed. Or as peacefully as he can. Yuuri doesn't look like he's dreaming of anything too happy, and the small whimpers he hears coming from the other confirm that. Viktor sits down in a chair that was placed in the corner of the room and decides to either wait for Yuuri to wake up on his own or until visiting time is over. He doesn't want to wake Yuuri up unless he really has to. Yuuri looked exhausted yesterday and was without a doubt kept up all night either. Viktor doesn't know what kinds of procedures he's going through are, but he can't imagine any of them being fun.

It's not long before Yuuri becomes even more audible, which scares Viktor. He doesn't know what to do in situations like this, and maybe calling a doctor or nurse would be a good idea? Or at least it seems it would be, but at the same time, he just wants to spend time with Yuuri, even if that means just watching him sleep. Yuuri's hair is splayed out over his pillow, while his limbs cover every surface of the bed. It's cute the way the covers are rolled up on one side all the way to his hip and one arm is falling off the mattress. It's cute until Yuuri starts looking like he's going to fall off the bed. Uh oh. He's very close to the edge, and whatever dream he's having doesn't help either because it only nudges him further away from the center of the bed.

"Yuuri?" The male whose name Viktor's called out shifts a little, and oh boy, he's really going to fall off now. "Yuuri!" With a jolt, Yuuri sits upright in his bed and whirls around to search for where the voice came from. He rubs at his eyes and assesses the room around him. Viktor stays silent as he watches the male try to shake off his grogginess. Unfortunately - fortunately? - Yuuri doesn't notice him and scratches at his head before pulling at the t-shirt he's wearing. Viktor feels like he's invading now because Yuuri still hasn't noticed him and is... oh. Oh no.

Yuuri's pulled a few wires from his right arm and from around his face before stretching his arms out in front of him. That's not what has Viktor sitting on the edge of his seat. It's what Yuuri does next that has him unable to take his eyes off of the patient. Yuuri stands up and pulls his t-shirt up and over his head. Viktor knows he shouldn't, but his eyes trace every line of muscle on Yuuri's back. Wow. Okay. considering his condition, Yuuri is well-built. He's lean, which means he does or did some sort of physical activity before everything happened to him. It's apparent. Very apparent. He doesn't even realize that Yuuri's now staring at him until he squeaks and jumps in surprise.

"V-Viktor?!"

"H-Hi, Yuuri." Weakly, he smiles and waves, but honestly he's still staring at a shirtless-Yuuri. It's disappointing when Yuuri yelps again and tries his best to cover his exposed chest with the shirt he's still holding. Very disappointing because... wow. That was something he didn't know he needed to see until now.

"W-When did you... how long have y-you...?!"

Viktor is pretty sure Yuuri doesn't want to hear the answers to either of those questions. Not the whole truth. "I just got here." He's staring again, trying to catch a glimpse of what he did see moments ago, only Yuuri is heavily guarded now. "So... how are you?" He really wants to smack himself. Yuuri is probably traumatized, and by the way Yuuri hasn't moved an inch to do anything, he's guessing that that wasn't the right thing to say right now.

"I... you're... g-give me a second!"

Yuuri continues to stand there, and it takes Viktor longer than it should to process what Yuuri's asking of him. "Sure! Yes! Of course!" Quickly, he turns around in the chair, keeping his back facing the window. The rustle of fabric is obvious to his ears, and he so wants to turn around. Nope. He's not going to do it. Instead, he goes through the Russian alphabet in his head, tries focusing on that while he waits for Yuuri to give him the okay to turn around again. Or yell at him to leave. That would be appropriate, too. More reasonable.

"O-Okay. You can turn around now."

Viktor tries not to let the disappoint appear on his face, but it's hard. Well, not so hard now that he's staring at Yuuri again. Yuuri's now wearing a loose-fitted short-sleeved blue shirt with black joggers that have a white stripe going down the sides of each pant leg. It's definitely not like before, but it still leaves Viktor with an exposed collarbone. That's more than he should be granted anyway. Yuuri's attached wires to himself again, the wires that Viktor noticed he took off beforehand, and sits down on the edge of the bed.

"I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to surprise you like that." Oh, but he's glad he did. "I just didn't want to wake you up, but then you were going to fall and..."

"I'm sorry I fell asleep after I'm the one who made you promise to visit me." Yuuri ducks his head down and fidgets with a loose strand at the bottom of his shirt.

"You have nothing to apologize for. Besides, I got here late anyway. I can't stay for long either." Viktor offers him a sadder smile.

Yuuri lifts his head and studies Viktor for a moment. Viktor finds Yuuri's eyes trailing downwards, and he's starting to feel a little more excited than he should and... Thank god Yuuri meets his eyes again.

"Why are you dressed up so nice?"

So that's why Yuuri was staring. That made sense. "So you think I look nice?" Where did that come from? Going along with what he said, he playfully winks at Yuuri, who nearly has a heart attack.

"I... uh... You l-look very professional... I just meant... to ask why..."

Yep, Yuuri is red. Mission accomplished. Sometimes he's glad he doesn't think before he spoke. Otherwise, he wouldn't have had a moment like this. He laughs heartily before leaning forward in the chair. "Truth be told, I may or may not have snuck out of a session."

Yuuri's jaw practically drops to the floor. "You did... what?"

"So I was in the middle of a photo-shoot when I realized that it was never going to end. It was exhausting to sit there and smile when I didn't even feel like doing so! On top of that, Yurio was being-"

"Yurio?" Yuuri tilts his head - adorably - to the side in confusion at the sudden name.

"Yuri Plisetsky. He's a younger model, who works at the same agency as me. I don't know when I started calling him that, but it stuck ever since. Everyone calls him Yurio now." Viktor watches as Yuuri thinks for a moment, and then suddenly his eyes widen.

"He was on the cover of On Love, wasn't he? I remember him now! Mari likes him because he reminds her of the leader singer from a band she likes." Yuuri giggles at the memory and shakes his head.

Viktor is now entranced as he watches Yuuri. It's not like he wasn't before. He just feels it a lot more now than he did a minute ago. But what Yuuri said has him thinking. If Yuuri knows about Yurio's debut cover photo-shoot for On Love, then there's no way he hasn't heard of Viktor. He did say his sister was the one who liked him, not him. That could mean he knows just because Mari gushes about Yurio. Wouldn't that mean that Mari knows about Viktor? She did seem to know him when they met just yesterday. If she knew that, then there's no way she didn't tell Yuuri. That means Yuuri has to know who he is, rather than the Yuuri who had no idea when they first met. Unless he's just overanalyzing the whole thing, and Yuuri truly doesn't know anything about Viktor.

"That's him alright. Has your sister ever mentioned me?" This is pushing it. Too late now. Viktor leans forward in the chair he's sitting in, waiting for Yuuri's response eagerly.

Yuuri seems to stiffen, and if he wasn't really awake already then he is now. "I-I can't remember... She might've... um... mentioned you once or twice... A-Anyway! You were telling me a story!"

Hmm... he'll push for more later. "Oh, right! So anyway, Sara, she's someone who works for the same agency as I do, told me that she'd help me leave. I don't know what she did or said, but I bolted as soon as the director called for a thirty minute break. Now here we are!" Viktor beams with pride at his accomplishment.

"How long has it been since that happened?" Yuuri raises an eyebrow at Viktor, who's scrambling to check his watch.

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no oh no. He's going to be late. Playing it cool, Viktor laughs and gazes up at Yuuri calmly. "I still have time."

As if seeing right through him, Yuuri crosses his arms and eyes him suspiciously. "Do you now? So you wouldn't mind if we spent the next thirty minutes talking?" There's a knowing smile on his face. Well, that's how Viktor takes it anyway.

Viktor presses his lips into a hard smile, and it really looks forced. He knows the truth is probably written all over his face. "Maybe not a full thirty minutes... Does five work instead?"

Yuuri does his cute giggle again, and Viktor laughs nervously with him. "I knew it. You should probably head back, Viktor. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble because of me." Yuuri's smile makes his heart do a flip because how can someone be this kind-hearted?

"I promise I'll make it up to you!" Viktor stands and is ready to run out before he remembers something. "Oh, Yuuri!" The patient keeps his eyes on Viktor. "Can I have your phone number?" Smooth, Viktor. Smooth as gravel.

"My phone number?" Yuuri looks shocked, but he's turning red. He's a good kind of shocked then. Perfect.

"So we can figure out when I can come again. I don't want what happened today to happen again." It takes Yuuri a moment to finally react, nodding slowly with wide eyes as he reaches for his phone on the table next to the bed.

Viktor rushes up to the glass and pulls out his own phone. He's finally getting Yuuri's phone number! Even more perfect. He watches as Yuuri frowns at the wires that hold him back to the bed before starting to take them off like he had a few minutes ago. Is he allowed to do that? Viktor will have to ask the next time he visits. Yuuri walks up to the glass and smiles holding up his phone. Much to Viktor's excitement, they exchange numbers before he realizes that he's bound to get yelled at for being so late. Issuing quick goodbyes, Viktor parts ways with Yuuri and promises once more to make it up to him.

.

. . .

.

"You're smiling, so it must've went well." Sara's out of the dress she was in earlier and now dorns jeans and a black long-sleeve shirt styled with a red scarf wrapped around her neck. Her dark hair is hanging loosely down her back. She's sitting to Viktor's right, flipping through her phone with a scowl before shoving it in her pocket. No doubt that her twin, Michele, left a decent amount of messages for her.

"I can't thank you enough. I'm upset about how early I had to leave, but it's fine now." Happily, Viktor hums as he sends a quick hello text to Yuuri. The promise of visiting again and having his number is all the encouragement he needs. It's weird to think of how different his life has become already with Yuuri in it. He now looks forward to every day with a bright smile, one that had faded over time into a mask. How had he deluded himself into thinking that everything was fine that way?

"Remember that you owe me. I may have to use an excuse sometime soon to get Mickey off my back for awhile. I never get any space with Mila whenever he's around. I'm glad I got to help you, though. This beats you being gloomy twenty-four seven." She smiles before standing up to leave. "Goodbye, Viktor! See you tomorrow!"

Viktor waves goodbye as she sprints towards the exit where Mila is most likely waiting for her. It doesn't take much longer for Yurio to find him and hurries them out the door of the studio.

"Where the hell did you go? I was going to yell at you for half-assing the shoot, but Sara said you left." Much to Viktor's distaste, Yurio hops into his car, quite literally, over the door. He watches as Viktor opens the driver's side door and sits down, starting the car up. Yurio buckles his seatbelt before leaning back into the seat while staring at the road ahead with a bored look.

"I didn't know I had to tell you where I was going. I have seniority over you. I don't have to tell you anything if I don't want to." Viktor starts humming as he pushes the car ahead and cruises along the street. He realizes he's humming the song Yuuri said was his favorite currently. It was their meeting yesterday when Viktor begged Yuuri to tell him. It was a piano melody that a friend made for Yuuri when he was first hospitalized that Yuuri had shared with Viktor. He would have to ask Yuuri for the download link later.

"It was him again, wasn't it?" For a reason unknown to Viktor, Yurio seems to hate Yuuri. "I don't get why you're hanging around him."

"I already said why yesterday. Why do you hate him? You've never even met him?"

"And I don't want to either. Unlike you, I like being healthy, and I want to keep it that way." Yurio murmurs something else under his breath, but Viktor misses it entirely, too lost in his humming to hear it.

"I've visited him three times now, and I'm perfectly healthy. You don't go into his room to see him anyway. You have to-"

"I don't care!"

Abruptly, Viktor turns his gaze away from the road for a split second to see Yurio leaning against the door, the back of his head facing the older male.

"I told you I don't want to visit him, so don't start spitting out useless information to me."

The rest of the car ride is silent, save for the humming Viktor starts doing again. If it makes the other mad like before, Yurio doesn't voice his anger then. Viktor parks the car along the street, and Yurio jumps out as Viktor starts to roll the top up and then the windows soon after. He gets out of the car as well, following Yurio up to his flat on the top floor. Yurio leads the way to Viktor's flat on the top floor of the building, opening the door and letting himself in. Viktor gave him a spare key awhile back since the teen often crashed at his place, finding it easier than having Yurio yell at him through the door to open up. Much easier. When Viktor gets in, Yurio has already thrown himself across the pale blue sofa sitting in the middle of the open space while flipping through the many channels available on Viktor's television.

"Want to tell me why you're so angry with me?" Nothing is clicking into place, and Yurio's attitude is confusing him more.

"You're so stupid." Yurio doesn't even bother to look up from the TV.

"Thank you for insulting me in my own home." Viktor kicks off his shoes and heads for the couch, leaning his arms along the back of it.

"You deserve it." Yurio grumbles back at him.

Viktor watches the channels change before pulling his phone out, excited to see a new text from Yuuri.

"Weren't you just with him? How do you have anything to even talk about?" Yurio leaves the remote in his hand on his lap, now facing Viktor.

Doesn't it make sense that they would still be talking? They've only just met a week ago. They have everything to talk about. What Yuuri likes and dislikes, funny stories, so on and so forth. If Viktor could, he would talk to Yuuri day in and day out. He realizes how great that would be, and a pillow thrown at his face reminds him that he was left swirling in his thoughts.

"Seriously, this is gross. I won't have to deal with this every day from now on, will I? Yakov might kill you though, so maybe it will be worth it to stick around." He grins smugly before turning back to the t.v. The channel he's landed on is some Russian drama that Viktor's seen every episode for. It's not a particularly good one. Yurio knows that, too. They would sometimes watch it together just to laugh at it, which is even more fun when people from the agency, like Georgi and Mila, tag along. There was one night where Viktor and Georgi re-enacted lines from it as dramatically as possible. Maybe he should get the video from Mila to show Yuuri. He would enjoy that.

"Oi, old man. Order me pizza. I'm starving and since you're not doing anything useful, you can go do it. Feel free to pay for it, too." Yurio waves the remote in front of his face, his eyes focusing on the drama in front of him before pulling his own phone out and flicking through a few notifications.

.

. . .

.

Impatient doesn't even begin to describe Viktor. He's been holed up in a conference room for the past two hours and is on the brink of losing it. Yes, there are still a few hours until visiting hours are closed, but he wants those hours to be with Yuuri. Since he's so far away from his family, he thinks it would be nice for Yuuri to talk to someone besides a doctor or a nurse. If he's going to be honest with himself, he also just really wants to see Yuuri, not be stuck in a meeting for hours and hours on end. No, this is not his idea of fun at all. Watching Yuuri Katsuki laugh, smile, and quite frankly breathe would be fun. Exciting. Amazing. This, once again, isn't. God, how much longer is this going to take? As if his prayers are heard, Yakov turns to Viktor for any closing remarks. He abruptly stands and tries to contain his excitement as he tells everyone what a great job they did on the magazine cover and interviews. He doesn't leave out the tiny details in the many photos that were taken as he finishes up, praising those who were behind the entire production. Not before long, he's dismissing everyone and thanking those who decide to talk to him afterward. Yakov seems to notice how on edge he is, yet doesn't say anything regardless.

He's out the doors in record time, whizzing past Mila and Sara, who whistle in response to him. He huffs a laugh as he continues to make his way to his car. Only he stupidly decided earlier today not to take it. Muttering a curse in his native tongue under his breath, he calls for a company car. Viktor doesn't like using them so much, since in the end Yakov gets the bill for them as well as the record of where the car was told to go. He may or may not have been caught sneaking out of work a few times.

It doesn't take long for the vehicle to show up, and for Viktor to be on his way to the hospital, a route he has memorized at this point. He's drumming his fingers impatiently as the driver stops at a stoplight. It feels like hours before they finally make it there, Viktor all but throwing himself out of the car as they do. He strides through the doors, the smile from earlier making an appearance once more.

"Hello! I'm Viktor Nikiforov, and I'm here to see Yuuri Katsuki." He leans against the front desk as he starts humming the song he was humming the other day in his car that annoyed Yurio. Yuuri's song. He doesn't realize there's something wrong until the the man running the desk says his name to gather his attention. "Yes?"

"Mr. Katsuki... isn't accepting visitors at this time." Usually that would mean tests are being run on him, and Viktor would just leave. Only the nurse's voice is unsettling to him, and he doesn't know why.

"May I ask why?" Viktor is leaning in closer, eyebrows knit in worry. Something's wrong. Very wrong.

"I am not allowed to disclose that information to anyone who isn't immediate family or his doctors and nurses." Definitely not good.

"I want to see him." Viktor stands straight stiffly, all humor gone. The desire to see Yuuri grows stronger the longer he's told to stay away. He's been told Yuuri's condition by his doctors as well as Yuuri himself. Isn't that enough permission to know what's going on?

"I'm sorry, sir. You aren't allowed-You can't go back there!"

His voice turns into background noise as Viktor bolts down the wing he knows Yuuri is in. He flits past doctors and nurses alike, all running around in different directions most likely because of Yuuri. The panic growing in the pit of his stomach is growing larger every step he takes. He breaks through the doors and down the hallway that leads to the viewing room for Yuuri. What he's greeted with isn't something he wants to see at all.

There are doctors of different ages and sizes running around the room. Some are writing down notes on clipboards while the rest are checking machines of all kinds. It isn't until a group of doctors move away from the bed before he finally sees Yuuri. It's the worst he's ever seen him. Yuuri is paler than the day Viktor first visited him. There's more blood than there should be on him, and it makes Viktor's head swim. His raven locks are thrown everywhere, and he's drenched in sweat. His clothes are clinging to him like a second skin, showing Viktor just how thin he really has become.

Viktor feels paralyzed as he hears Yuuri's gasps of breaths from behind the glass, the sound excruciating to him. "No..." Viktor slowly moves towards the glass, pressing his right hand against it. "No, no, no, no, no..." His forehead thumps against the glass, eyes blown wide from what he's seeing. It feels like a terrible nightmare, and all he wants to do is wake up and make it disappear. Why can't it just disappear?

Viktor could feel his blood run cold as Yuuri starts coughing violently. A nurse who is helping out sees him and tries to pry him away from where he stands in front of the glass. Viktor lets himself get dragged away, the nurse's words never reaching his ears.

His gaze is still fixated on where Yuuri lays, even though the younger male has left his sight. He's pulled to the waiting area at the entrance of the hospital and then is pushed down into one of the plastic chairs lining the wall. The nurse is kneeling in front of him, trying to bring his attention to her instead of dazing off like he is right now. It doesn't take long for her to give up, Viktor not moving an inch since she found him.

It's when he's left alone, save for the male nurse at the front desk, when the tears start to overflow. He almost regrets neglecting the warning to not see Yuuri but finds himself grateful instead. Before he had seen what he did, he never truly realized how awful Yuuri's condition was. Sure he knew to an extent on what it was like due to various medical personnel explaining it to him but seeing it for himself opened his eyes. The day when Yuuri explained how long he's been hospitalized is brought to the front of his mind again. How alone Yuuri must've been this entire time stings more now. Maybe Yuuri didn't want anyone to see what he has. Maybe that's why when Viktor asked if he had any friends, Yuuri only answered that he had one and that he counts his family as friends, too.

Viktor is left with his head hanging, tears streaking down his cheeks harder than before. The thought that Yuuri doesn't want to trouble anyone with his presence is something Viktor knows he would do, and it hurts. Everything hurts. Yuuri's kind "sacrifice" makes Viktor realize for sure just how hard he's fallen for the Japanese man. The pain and love he feels constricts his chest tightly, and he doesn't know what to do for the first time in his life.

.

. . .

.

When he fell asleep, Viktor doesn't know, but he does know that he did. The same nurse from earlier slowly comes into view as his bleary eyes try to pull everything back into focus. Viktor snaps himself upright from where he slouched against the seat next to him, remembering what happened before his nap. It doesn't take long for the string of questions to be thrown in the air.

"How's Yuuri? Can I see him? What happened? Will he be alright?" The last question is a lost cause, but he can't help asking.

"Mr. ... Nikiforov, was it? Please calm down. I can only inform you about what I know."

Viktor is holding his breath, waiting for answers on Yuuri's current condition. He wants to see Yuuri for himself to believe anything she's about to tell him, but he knows that probably won't happen.

"We've managed to bring him down to stable condition after an hour. He lost a lot of blood too quickly, but he held out. For your safety, we ask that he doesn't have any visitors until we proclaim it to be safe. If you would like, we can contact you when we reopen visiting hours for him."

Viktor takes a slow breath and nods. Just as he thought, he can't visit. He is glad that Yuuri is okay for the most part, though. "Yes, please. I would like that." The nurse smiles and leaves Viktor with the promise of soon. He'd be lying if he said that everything was fine now, a gut feeling stopping him from feeling reassured like he should. He can't do much about it now, instead focusing on getting a ride back and settling on calling Mila. She arrives sooner than he expected without asking anything herself. She keeps side-glancing at him from behind the steering wheel, clearly concerned for her disaster-looking friend, but Viktor finds no resolve in talking right now. Mila can tell when he's like this. After all, she has spent most of her life hanging around him and his various mood swings.

The car ride continues like this until they hit a red light. Viktor is just staring out the window, thinking too hard about all that's happened. He knows Mila just as well, so he's been trying to come up with a good way to explain all of it.

"Viktor-"

"He wasn't feeling well today." His voice is shaky, and it's very obvious. He takes an equally shaky breath before piecing together enough of an explanation that the point gets across. "I was told that I would be able to visit him when he's okay again."

Mila inhales deeply, understanding what that means. He knows what she wants to say and prepares himself for it. Instead is met with a simple "Okay."

The car is silent again when the light changes to green. That is, until Mila starts up a conversation again. "I know you probably don't want to talk about it right now, but are you sure you're ready to handle this day in and day out?" He can hear her sigh. "It's only going to get more difficult. You know that, right?"

"So you're taking Yurio's side now."

"This isn't about taking sides, Viktor. This is about your well-being. His condition-"

"Don't talk to me about my own well-being." The words come out more malicious than he meant, but he's getting frustrated with everyone telling him what to do and what not to do. "You don't even know what his condition is! You only know what I tell you, so don't act like you've ever talked to him or to the people who work there with him." He's turned towards Mila now, the frustration clear on his face.

She grips the wheel tighter and nods. "You're right, and I'm sorry. I just want you-"

"To what? Stop visiting him? Pretend he doesn't exist? Cut him from my life?"

"Viktor, that's not what I-"

"Yes it is, and you know it. If you're asking me for something like that, then you don't know the first thing about me. I thought you of all people would understand, but I guess I was wrong."

Mila pulls the car over immediately, facing Viktor fully. "Listen. I understand what he's like to you. That's why I'm trying to protect you before something happens. You said it yourself that they've only just started working on a cure for him. It takes years and years worth of research to come up with anything, and I don't think Yuuri has that much time. I don't want to lose you because of this." Her voice softens towards the end, awaiting for his response.

He gazes out the window again, a single tear visibly falling down from his left eye. "I don't need you to tell me that." Before Mila can say anything else to him, Viktor opens the passenger down to the car and slams it shut as he gets out into the rain. He can't remember when the rain started but doesn't car enough to get back in the car even when Mila has the window open and is yelling for him. He finds himself running down the street, the lights from the street and cars passing by reflected on the street and sidewalk. Viktor doesn't stop until he knows he's a good distance away, his hands resting on his knees as he's hunched forward trying to slow his breathing down. It doesn't take long for him to resume walking, shoving his hands into his pockets as he continues down the sidewalk. His mind is kept silent as he goes, wanting nothing more than the pain in his chest to go away.

.

. . .

.

Viktor hasn't gone to the studio in a few days. Instead, he's been curled up on his couch with a blanket staring blankly at the empty TV before him. His phone is also tossed to his right on the couch, hardly touched in the last three days. Every time the device lights up, his attention is drawn to it, hoping that the call he's waiting for is what brings the black screen to life and left disappointed when it's not. Viktor groans in annoyance when another text is sent his way, but when he picks up the device he's surprised to see one of his closest friend's name there. Curiously, he thumbs the home button before unlocking his phone and fully reading it. He hesitantly then does what the text says and calls him. It takes all but one ring before the familiar voice comes through the device.

"Alright, what's up?"

Viktor huffs before answering him. "Mila told you, didn't she, Chris?" Christophe Giacometti, a Swiss model that Viktor met on set of a shoot a long time ago. Chris convinced the Russian to go to a party afterwards and brought a little color into his dull life at the time. Now he can't imagine not having him as a friend.

"Ahh, I even told her I wouldn't say her name. If you get me in trouble, don't think I won't come over there and punish you for it." Viktor just knows Chris is winking and holding back laughter. "But in all honestly, how are you? I heard about your little episode from her, but I'd prefer to hear from you yourself."

Chris may be difficult sometimes, but moments like this make Viktor treasure their friendship. "I don't like that everyone thinks they know what's best for me. I'm twenty-eight, Chris. Not five. I shouldn't have to consult everyone before I do something." Viktor lies down on the couch with a hand running through his platinum locks.

"Vitya, I think you should listen to them. They're trying to help you, not make you suffer."

Viktor groans into the phone. "Not you too, Chris."

"I know you'd prefer me to say that I hope you two get to have some fun someday, but this is a difficult situation, Vitya. Sorry. You also shouldn't push everyone away again like you did the last time. Have you thought about what could happen if..."

"Of course I have. There isn't a day I don't think about it. I watched him suffer just a few days ago, Chris. He was in so much pain, and I couldn't do anything about it. I haven't heard from the hospital yet either." Viktor turns to lie down on his left side, his tone colored in exasperation. "What should I do?"

Chris is audibly silent for a moment. "You can only wait, Viktor. The next time you see him because we both know you will go visit him, make him forget about what happened. And if you plan on staying with him for as long as he's... you know... then make sure you send him off with good memories. As long as you're set on this, then I'll support you two."

"Thank you, Chris. Really. I mean it."

"If you're going to thank me, then do so with a nice dinner and drinks."

Viktor laughs and sits back up, now in a better mood than he's been in. "I won't let you down."

"You better not. I have to go, but I will see you soon to retrieve my reward. À bientôt, Vitya."

"Uvidimsya, Chris."

When Chris hangs up, Viktor checks the time on his phone before setting it down. He still has time if he wants to go to work today. Deciding to make that his plan for the day, he runs to grab a decent outfit for the day and hurries into the shower. Within mere minutes, which has to be a record time for him, he's out the door of his flat with his car keys and phone in hand. Viktor dials Yakov's number, awaiting for the scolding he knows he's going to get as he make his way down the elevator to the garage level where his Cadillac is waiting for him. When Yakov is doing screaming at him over everything, Viktor drives off to the agency's headquarters.

.

. . .

.

Viktor hands his coat off to one of the many staff members who work at the agency before heading up the stairs. As he reaches the top, he walks straight down a long corridor and then takes a right towards the end that leads to another shorter corridor. Once he reaches the end, he opens the silver door to his left and notices Mila and Yurio sitting around the table with Yakov at the head.

"Dammit, Mila. You were right." Yurio throws a few bills at the redhead, who pockets the cash smugly.

"He's the only one who can pop a vein on Yakov's forehead." Mila turns around to look at Viktor with the same gentle expression she wore the night she picked him up from the hospital. "Glad to see you, Viktor. You look better."

He nods in acknowledgement before sitting down two seats away from her. Yurio glances between them, noticing how different they're acting, but ignores it for the most part. Viktor knows he's not going to ask. At least not right now anyway. Viktor adjusts himself in the office chair before directing his gaze on Yakov. The CEO has both arms wrapped across his chest with a stern glance, obviously meant for Viktor.

"It's good to see you still want to work here. Maybe I won't fire you after all." Yakov always threatens him with the loss of his job but has yet to act on it, so Viktor shrugs it off. "You're not involved in this project anymore, but you might as well hear what it is."

The gathering is rather short compared to most, and Viktor tunes most of it out. As much as he's determined to stay positive, he can't help the thoughts that appear in his mind. All the what-ifs scare him in one way or another, but he doesn't dwell on them. Not here at least.

The three of them are leaving to head down to the cafeteria on the lower level of the building when Yurio speaks. "I don't have to deal with you two ignoring each other now, do I? Because that might piss me off more than Viktor talking about the imposter Yuuri all the time."

"Imposter?" Viktor quirks an eyebrow at him. "He's older than you, so technically you-"

While they get into an argument for no reason, Viktor can see that Mila won't stop staring at him with that expression again. In fact, she hasn't stopped looking at him like that since he first walked in. Viktor pauses in his steps. "Yurio, we'll meet up with you. Go on ahead." Yurio shrugs and does what Viktor says without another glance back, leaving Mila and Viktor alone in the hallway. "Mila, can we talk?"

She bites her lip and sits down on one of the metal benches lining the pristine white walls. Without another word, Viktor sits down next her save for the small space between them.

"Viktor, I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry."

They say the words in sync, which catches them both off-guard.

"Viktor, let me speak first. I didn't mean to make you upset. I was trying to-"

"I understand, Mila." Viktor leans back against the wall, platinum bangs falling back as he lifts his head up to stare at the ceiling. "Thank you for caring so much." Mila is surprised again. He doesn't have to look over to see that. "I didn't mean to behave the way I did. I just... was in my own head and couldn't think clearly. I thought that everyone was ignoring how I really felt without giving it any thought at all, and it made me upset. I didn't even think that you were looking out for me like you were. I've been at a loss myself as to what I should do. Seeing Yuuri like that... it hurt so much knowing I couldn't do anything to help him feel better. I felt useless. Since then, I've spent the last few days thinking. Hear me out." He gazes back at her. "I've decided that no matter what happens... good or bad... I want to be there for Yuuri. If he's suffering, then I want to help him forget. If he's happy, then I want to continue to see him smile. I want to help push him past his own fears, and be the sunshine in his day should he need it. I've chosen this because I love him. Regardless of whether or not he returns the feelings, I'll be there for him."

Mila is awestruck at his words but smiles nonetheless. "If that's how you feel, then I won't stop you. I'll always be here for help if you ever need it."

"Thank you, Mila." Viktor is beyond relieved to hear her say that and restrains himself from hugging her.

"Anytime. Now," She stands up and sticks a hand on her hip, "let's go join the kitten before he yells at us for showing up so late."

He stands to his full height and smiles back. "Good idea. I'd prefer if he didn't start yelling at me again."

They both laugh as they head down to meet up with Yurio.

Viktor feels like a weight has been lifted off his chest. Along with that feeling comes the stress of how the future will turn out. With his closest friends backing him up, he can only hope for the best, but with still no call from the hospital, he can only be worried. The worst has yet to come, Viktor reminds himself. Whatever happens from here on out is his decision, and it's the path he's chosen. He can't find it in himself to regret the choice he has just made and knows that he never will.

Chapter Text

Viktor walks into the hospital holding a bouquet of roses in varied shades of blue. He finally heard back from the hospital after almost two full weeks of no news. Although he tried his best to stay positive, he was slowly breaking down. When he received the call, he all but scrambled to the nearest florist and then to the hospital that he was now checking in at. The nurse working at the front desk recognizes him immediately and gives him the OK to go ahead. With long and fast strides, Viktor walks down the corridor and makes it to Yuuri's room in record time. He sucks in a breath before standing behind the glass window like he had two weeks prior to today. To say he's nervous would be an understatement.

"Yuuri." Viktor says his name with such urgency that it startles himself. The person whose name he calls peeks one coffee-colored eye open before sitting upright immediately. Viktor can see that the action is dizzying and almost calls for help, but Yuuri steadies himself out as best as he can.

"Viktor, you're here." Viktor is almost sure that Yuuri sounds more desperate than he does, which Viktor thinks can't be possible.

Then he remembers he's still holding the flowers. Ice blue eyes nervously glance between the flowers and Yuuri. "I brought you these. I know you said you like the color blue, so I had these arranged."

Yuuri smiles, and it feels like the sun is shining once more. "Thank you, Viktor. They look beautiful. You didn't have to waste money on me." Yuuri sounds tired, but he's still talking like himself, which is reassuring.

"But I didn't waste money at all. On the contrary, I don't think I've spent enough. Something tells me the hospital wouldn't enjoy trying to lug in hundreds of bouquets, though."

Yuuri laughs, and it's that sound of jingling bells again. Ah, he realizes just how much he missed Yuuri. "Really, thank you." Yuuri reaches over as best as he can to press a button above his bed. Viktor can't help but note how much frailer he looks since the last time they saw each other. "Can I get someone to put these flowers in water for me?" Getting a positive answer in response, Yuuri sinks back down into his bed. "I can't wait to have those in here. The colors will be nice."

"Mm, I bet." Viktor stands there, lost in Yuuri's eyes. The next time you see him because we both know you will go visit him, make him forget about what happened. Chris' words ring in his head as he tries to come up with something to say. Forget about what happened, he tells himself. Forget. "Yuuri, do you remember the song you had me listen to a few weeks ago?"

"The song I had you listen to...?" Yuuri gazes up at the ceiling in his room, and Viktor watches as his eyebrows furrow in concentration.

And then he realizes that maybe Yuuri wouldn't remember because of everything that happened. He feels like a jerk and decides to try to bring the memory back up in hopes that it'll help. "The piano song you said your friend created for you."

Yuuri must remember because then the twinkle in his eyes is back. "Oh, right! What about it?"

"I can't get it out of my head. Is there any chance that you could send me a download link for it? I would love to listen to it, but all I have is only what I remember of it." Viktor pulls one of the metal chairs away from the wall and sets it in front of the glass. The nurse that Yuuri had called for enters the space Viktor is in and takes the flowers from his hand before exiting the room.

"Of course! Nurse Takahashi, can you please hand me my phone on the table right there?" The nurse who holds the flowers walks over to the table Yuuri's pointing at and hands him the device like he asked. "Thank you!" She nods in acknowledgement before setting the glass vase with the blue roses in it down where his phone had been. She walks out as Yuuri tries to type things on his phone.

Viktor scolds himself again as he watches Yuuri's eyebrow furrow again, his struggling becoming more obvious. Clearly, he's still trying his best to recover, and Viktor asking something from him physically must not be helping. "It's alright, Yuuri. You don't have to do it right now. You can always send it-"

"Got it!" Yuuri proudly looks away from his phone to gaze right at Viktor again.

The vibration in his pocket is probably the link he asked Yuuri for. Quickly, he pulls out his own device and opens the new message. "Thank you for this."

"It's no problem at all! I'm glad you like it enough to want to listen to it again."

"Well, it is very good." They fall into a silence once more. Viktor isn't sure, but it almost feels strained. He studies Yuuri's face as Yuuri chews on his lip. He's come to know this as when Yuuri wants to say something but can't find the words. So Viktor waits. Sometimes, Yuuri just needs a moment to rearrange things in his mind and figure it out before speaking.

"Viktor?"

Viktor doesn't know why, but he finds himself tensing up at the sound of his name. "Yes, Yuuri?"

"Were you here when I... um..." Viktor knows what he's going to say but refuses to interrupt, "when I wasn't feeling well?" Yuuri looks anxious, almost pained. It sends nerves that wrack his frame.

Viktor nods and watches as Yuuri stares off into the distance somewhere behind the Russian. "Briefly but I was escorted out as soon as I came in..."

"Ah, okay. I thought I saw you there, but I couldn't be sure. A lot was happening, and I-"

"I understand."

Yuuri is wearing that pained expression again, and it's once again Viktor's fault. "Yuuri."

"Yes, Viktor?"

"What if I told you that I was glad that I was there for that one second?"

A few different emotions flicker across Yuuri's face as he tries to decipher Viktor's words. "Why?"

"I was able to figure things out." When Yuuri says nothing, Viktor takes that as a cue to continue. "The first thing I found was that you are stronger than you think you are. I realized what you truly have to deal with day-in and day-out without so much as a complaint to anyone. Second, I take everything for granted. I'm able to do things that you can only dream of doing, and yet I sometimes find myself thinking about how dull is everything is. I'm ashamed to admit that one." Viktor huffs an unamused laugh before taking a deep breath. "And lastly," he holds up his index finger in front of his face as he stands up, pressing closer to the glass, "I've discovered how... tied... I really am to you." He lets what he's said sink in for a moment.

"Tied?" Yuuri's confused gaze pushes Viktor to explain.

"I've realized..." here goes nothing, "that I love you."

Yuuri's mouth opens like he's going to say something, but the younger male seems to come up short.

"I don't know how I didn't see it sooner. When I saw how much pain you were in, all I wanted to do was make it go away. It hurt me to see you that way, and it was tearing at me to not know how you were feeling after. Every single day became excruciatingly long with no word on your condition. When I finally got the call that I could come in, I was so happy that I cried. I wanted to cry with joy as I bought the flowers and walked through the doors. I wanted to scream because I was so happy that you were alright and that I could see you again. Within the two weeks I didn't see you, I realized that I left my heart back with you here in this room. I've never been more happy in my entire life than I am right now being able to talk to you. Yuuri Katsuki, I love your strength to keep fighting. I love how humble you are. I love your laughter and your smiles. And most importantly, I love you."

Tears are freely rolling down Yuuri's cheeks as he stares wide-eyed at Viktor. He soon hides his tear-stricken face behind pale hands as his body shakes from his sobs. "Thank you." The sound is muffled by the tears and his hands, but Viktor hears it. "Thank you so much." It takes Yuuri a minute before he pulls his face out of his hands, wiping the back of his left hand across his eyes. "V-Viktor..." The tears that are still shaking his frame increases his embarrassed stutter. "I love you, too."

Viktor's heart almost stops. The very words he didn't think would be said in return hang in the air before him. A smile breaks out onto his face, and his own soft laughter starts up. He hardly feels the tear that slips from his eye. "Wow... Alright." His laughter only gets louder, and soon Yuuri joins him.

They both continue to do so as they sit from across each other, too elated to say anything else and instead let their actions speak for themselves.

.

. . .

.

"You look like you've been trying to say something to me since we got in the car. Care to share?" Chris swirls the wine in his glass as he props his chin on the back of his other hand.

Just like he had promised, Viktor was out for dinner with Chris. The Swiss model told him he was on break currently before his next job started up, which is why he made the trip to Russia. Sure, Viktor was expecting him to come down but not as soon as he had.

"I don't know what you mean." Viktor lets his voice take on a playful tone, taking a bite from his salad nonchalantly like he has no idea what Chris is saying. "Nothing's happened since I called you two weeks ago."

"Mhmm. I may not have much common sense, but I do know you like the back of my hand. Spill." Chris narrows his eyes in suspicion before taking a swig of the dark red wine.

Before Viktor talks, he excitedly puts his fork down and leans across the table. Chris follows his lead, clearly more curious than he was before to hear whatever news Viktor is hiding. "I might have told Yuuri I love him."

"Wow. Impressive. It took you long enough, though." Chris genuinely looks surprised, which makes Viktor roll his eyes.

"Aren't you going to ask me what he said?" Viktor is practically bouncing out of his seat as he waits for Chris to ask.

"Alright, what'd he say to-"

"He said it back!" Viktor leans further across the table, almost yelling the words across the restaurant. A few of the paying patrons glance over in their direction, but Viktor can't find it in himself to care.

"He did? Does that make you two an item? Well, you have to introduce me to him now."

Actually... Viktor didn't talk to Yuuri about that. Chris must realize because then he looks just as dumbfounded as Viktor does.

"Well, I uh... I don't know?"

"What?" Chris is leaning over the table again, abandoning his glass of wine off to his right.

"We didn't really go in depth as to what our... uh... relationship is now. I guess we were too caught up in the moment..." Viktor shrugs like it's perfectly okay, but Chris looks even more lost.

"You said 'I love you' and got one in response without even thinking of asking him to go out with you officially? Did I get that right? Please tell me I didn't."

"Yeah, you're right."

"Viktor, you aren't really this dumb, are you?" Chris shakes his head and leans back in his chair, reaching for the wine again. "I'm going to need a lot more wine if I have to sit through this dinner with you."

Viktor nervously laughs at his own expense and hides behind his own glass of champagne. "I feel like it's hard to put a label on it. 'Boyfriend' just doesn't seem right..."

"I'm going to refer to Yuuri as that from now on regardless of you not making it official." Chris takes another sip from the glass. "I'm proud of you, though. Cheers to no longer being single and lonely." The Swiss holds up his glass.

Viktor clinks his champagne against Chris' glass of wine in amusement. "Za lyubov."

.

. . .

.

Viktor wakes up to the pounding in his skull as someone violently knocks on the door. With bleary eyes, he fumbles around for his phone, finding it on the floor below him. When he tries to reach for it, he ends up falling off the couch he apparently crashed on last night. The knocking doesn't stop and is soon joined with shouting that sounds a lot like... Yurio? Viktor presses the home button to have his phone light up way too brightly, the screen displaying a time of 11:37 a.m. Viktor groans as he tries his best to stand up. The action takes a lot more effort than originally planned, and when he opens the door, he's unsurprised to find a fuming Yurio at the door.

"Hey, Yurio. Don't you have... uhh... work or something today? Why're you here?"

"I'm here because I volunteered to yell at you instead of Yakov, who's gonna kill you by the way. In case you didn't know, you look like shit. Did your diseased friend dump you or something? Not that I really care." Yurio pushes past Viktor to take a look around his now-trashed flat. "What the hell did you do last night?"

Before Viktor can even respond, Chris comes strolling out from the bathroom wearing almost nothing save for his briefs. "Vitya, who's at the- Oh, Yurio. Long time no see. Ça va, petit chat?" Chris smiles and sends a wink the teen's way.

"That makes sense now. Also, ew. Go get dressed. No one needs or wants to see...," Yurio gestures to Chris' self, "any of that."

"On the contrary, Masumi loves-"

"Ew, no. Shut up. God, no wonder you two are friends."

Both Chris and Viktor laugh at Yurio, despite the teen's apparent frown.

After giving himself a few minutes to fix his appearance, Viktor sits at the counter of his kitchen wearing clean clothes, a cup of coffee in his hands, and hair dripping from the quick shower he took. "I thought I told Yakov that Chris was coming. Sure, it was last second, but I think he can manage without me being there. He's made that clear plenty of times."

"I don't want you there either, but Yakov was hell-bent on making sure you suffered for skipping those few days. Something about making you write reports about every company you've worked with in the past ten years. I didn't care enough to listen after that." Yurio shrugs from where he's leaning against the countertop next to Viktor.

"How cold of you, Viktor. You're going to leave me already after I just got here yesterday." Chris throws a hand over his forehead in fake exasperation, almost lying across the counter across from the older Russian.

"I'll just send him a text telling him I'll be in tomorrow. He can save his breath for then."

"Great, now he'll be up my ass for not bringing you in."

"You sound like Viktor's getting arrested." Chris snickers as Viktor grins in response.

"That's what it feels like sometimes." Viktor blows on the hot coffee in his hands before taking a small sip. "Oh! You should meet Yuuri today!" A gleam replacing the tired look in Viktor's eyes.

"Ugh, time to leave then." Yurio strolls to the door and opens it. "You better come in tomorrow, Viktor. I don't need to hear all his yelling again after today. Do svidaniya." Yurio shuts the door harder than he needs to as he makes his exit.

"So you mentioned visiting Yuuri today?"

"Mm. I just have to check that it's okay. He does most of his testing early in the day, so I usually wait until later in the evening before visiting him." Viktor unlocks his phone and sends a text to Yuuri asking for his permission. "And now we wait."

"I wish you were a lightweight, so we could read hilarious drunk texts you'd send to Yuuri. That would've been golden."

Viktor's face pales at the thought of what he'd possibly send to Yuuri. "I'm glad I'm not." The ping of a new message on his phone distracts him from Chris' terrible sense of humor. "He said we could head over now, but we'd have to wait a couple of minutes for him to finish. We're all set to go!" Viktor stands up from the bar stool and chugs what he has left of his coffee before draining the rest down his kitchen sink. He plays with his bangs in the mirror by the door before stepping into his shoes and grabbing his coat. Chris isn't too far behind him, only he takes a little more time than Viktor would like.

"Relax, I'm coming." Viktor will always be amazed at how well Chris is able to read him.

.

. . .

.

Soon enough, they're walking into the hospital and are signing themselves in. Just like Yuuri said, they're told to sit for a few minutes to wait for the OK from Yuuri's doctors.

"You do this every week?"

"Usually. Before Yuuri was transferred here, I used to come every week and visit the children here."

"Something tells me you've been a little too occupied to visit them."

"Just a little."

They both laugh, almost missing the doctor that strolls into the waiting room. "Mr. Nikiforov and Mr. Giacometti, you're allowed to see him now."

Viktor nods and stands up, giving Chris the silent signal to follow him. Viktor leads him down the usual twist of corridors before entering the room with the glass window in Yuuri's room. As if no time has passed since the last visit, Yuuri still looks sickly. Viktor tries not to let how bothered he is by that show on his face, instead going for a bright smile. "Hi, Yuuri! I see you still have the flowers I brought!"

"They're a nice distraction. Thank you again for them." He's blushing, and Viktor's already lost in his Yuuri's eyes.

Chris clears his throat as a reminder to Viktor that someone else is here. Yuuri turns in the direction of Chris as well, confusion spreading across his pale face in place of the blush from earlier.

"Ah, Yuuri. I hope you don't mind that I brought a friend of mine with me today."

"Of course not!" Yuuri struggles to sit upright and smiles at his new visitor.

"This is Christophe Giacometti. He's been dying to meet you since I first talked to him about you."

Yuuri waves slowly and flinches in pain from what Viktor can assume the action brings. "Nice to meet you, Christophe. I'm Yuuri Katsuki."

"The infamous Yuuri Katsuki that has stolen my dear friend Viktor's heart. The pleasure is all mine. Feel free to call me Chris."

Viktor gawks as Chris winks at Yuuri, making the Japanese male blush harder than he did a moment ago. "Chris!"

"I-It's okay, Viktor."

Yuuri is nervously laughing, and Viktor figures that maybe it was a bad idea to have them meet without giving Yuuri a crash-course about the Swiss. Viktor sits down in his usual spot, while Chris stands at his right shoulder. "How did the testing go?"

Yuuri bites his lip, and Viktor regrets asking immediately. "They were okay. Long and tiring, but nothing new. They've started a new test just recently, so add another to the list of twenty-plus I already have to undergo." Yuuri laugh seems fake this time.

"I'm sorry, Yuuri. I wish I could be in here while it's going on, so you have something else to focus on." Viktor leans his elbows on his knees.

"It's fine. I've been able to distract myself somehow in the five years I've been hospitalized. I can manage."

"Yuuri... you can always text me if you need to. I promise I'm always free to talk."

"You mean like the time you were only able to stay for five minutes?" Yuuri's tone is teasing, but it still hurts to remember that. Yuuri must see Viktor's flinch because then a string of apologies leave his mouth. "I'm sorry! I'm really really really sorry! I didn't mean to sound rude!"

"Please don't apologize, Yuuri. I'm okay with it." Viktor smiles it off and dismisses the comment with a wave of his hand. Yuuri doesn't look totally convinced but agrees regardless.

Chris leans to whisper in Viktor's ear. "I can see why Yurio doesn't want to come with you to visit him. I almost feel like I'm intruding."

Viktor turns his head abruptly with a slight panic on his face. "I'm sorry, Chris. I didn't-"

Chris lifts a hand up and shakes his head. "I don't mind at all. It's cute to see what you two are like." Chris laughs when Viktor huffs with pink cheeks. "Yurio would throw up if he was here."

"I also don't need him yelling at Yuuri."

"Hey, Yuuri. Has Viktor told you any stories of him on his twenty-first birthday?"

"Chris, do not-"

"No, why?"

"Oh, it's hilarious. You'll love this, Yuuri."

The trio spends the next hour trading stories and laughing, mostly at Viktor's expense. Viktor would regret bringing along Chris for the sake of protecting his image of how Yuuri sees him, but the smile on Yuuri's face takes precedence over his own reputation. The story they're currently in the middle of is the one Viktor wishes he had video of.

"So then Viktor screamed he was Spider-Man and jumped twenty feet into the air to latch on to the plastic railing. It snapped as soon as he grabbed it, and he came crashing down on the sand." Yuuri is hiding his mouth behind his hands, but it's clear as day to Viktor that he's laughing.

"I broke the nice watch I was wearing because of that." Viktor pouts as he remembers that particular day.

"He also claimed he was sober enough to drive after that. We weren't having it and voted on Mila to drive us back. Viktor passed out in the backseat as soon as the car was started. You had to be there." Chris leans back in the chair that he moved earlier to sit in with a slight smirk on his lips.

Chris' phone goes off, interrupting him before he can go into explicit details about the hangover Viktor suffered the next day. He excuses himself and leaves to go in the backroom to answer the call. Viktor thanks whatever lucky stars that helped him before directing his attention back to Yuuri.

"Chris can be a bit much to people who don't know him too well. I should've warned you sooner." Viktor chuckles as Yuuri settles down from his laughing and coughing fit that he went through moments earlier. How can someone be so endearing just breathing?

"He actually reminds me of my best friend, Phichit. I think they'd be pretty good friends if they met. Chris' humor is very... um... unique to himself, though. Phichit is just as social as he is. That's one thing they share in common." Yuuri looks fond as he thinks of his friend.

"Mm... Does your sister still visit?"

Yuuri smiles sadly. "She left to go back to Japan two days after you met her. She still Skypes me, but it's not the same as her being here in person. She can't afford to come here and stay for a while, though. Besides, she has to help our mom and dad out at the inn they own. It's not her fault that she can't be here. It's none of their faults. Don't take it the wrong way! I love it when you visit! It can just be lonely sometimes to think of when I could always talk to my parents or sister if I ever needed help with something." Yuuri starts chewing on his bottom lip, and he's wiping at his eyes quickly to avoid the tears Viktor knows he's been holding back for so long. "I-I'm sorry... I d-didn't mean to..."

"Yuuri, please don't apologize. I can't imagine what it's been like for you. I know I'm only repeating myself, but I'm available to talk if you ever need to. I will stop whatever I'm doing just to answer you. You have my word on that." Viktor stands up and puts a hand up to the glass. It's the closest he can get to Yuuri, and even though it's frustrating, it's still better than nothing. The two weeks he spent apart from the other reminded him of that.

"I l-love you, Viktor."

"I love you too, Yuuri."

Chris silently walks in and taps his friend on the shoulder. "I have to go, but you can stay here. Don't do anything I wouldn't." Chris pats his shoulder before heading towards the exit. "It was nice to meet you, Yuuri. I hope we get to talk more. There are plenty of stories of Viktor to last a lifetime."

Yuuri smiles in response. "It was nice to meet you too, Chris. Goodbye."

It's back to just Viktor and Yuuri as Chris leaves with one last wave of his hand. Viktor decides to change the topic to something lighter. Happier. Or at least what he hopes will be happier. "Oh, Yuuri. I've been meaning to ask for a while, but I kept forgetting. Did you do some sort of sport before you were hospitalized?" Okay, so maybe it isn't as happy as he originally thought it would be, but it somehow brings a smile to Yuuri's face.

"I did, but how'd you know?"

Viktor's face turns red as he remembers the time when Yuuri started changing in front of him. Yuuri seems oblivious to his embarrassment, which is a very good thing. "It just seemed like you did when we first met. It's been nagging at me since."

"Wow, I'm surprised you remember that." In all honesty, how could he forget when the mental image of Yuuri shirtless was burned in the back of his mind? "I used to skate. I did it for fun once since friends of mine own a rink nearby my home back in Japan, but before I knew it, I was signed up for lessons there. The couple that owns the rink took the lessons with me, too. I stuck with it even as I got older. I don't think I was very good at it, but I did enjoy having something to do when I needed to clear my mind."

"Ahh, that makes sense then. I wish I could see you skate. I bet you're a lot better than you say you are."

Yuuri laughs and shakes his head. "No, trust me. I wasn't. I'm definitely no good now, since I've taken five years off from doing it. It is on the list of things I want to do one last time, though. I don't think I'll get that chance, though." His sad smile is back, and Viktor wishes nothing more than for it to disappear.

And then he thinks of something. "Yuuri, what day do you not have testing within the next week?"

"Huh? Oh uh, maybe Tuesday? They do have to take breaks in between the testing, and that should be the next day. I don't know for sure, though. Can I ask why?"

"It's just so I can come in earlier in the week. I want to visit you more often than I do now." The sentences come out rushed, and Viktor hopes Yuuri doesn't catch on. That gives him six days to work out the chinks in his idea. What he plans on doing may get him in huge trouble, but Yuuri's happiness means so much more to him. He'll have to be as careful as possible if all is to go well.

"That would be great." Yuuri beams from ear to ear at the notion.

"Perfect. Please text me if you find out anything different or even to just confirm that. I'll work my schedule around that day."

"I'll let you know then."

"Please don't hate me, but I really have to go." He has to get to work on his ideas, and he's going to need a few helping hands. Talking to Yuuri's doctors is also on the agenda now.

"I would never hate you. I completely understand. Goodbye, Viktor."

"I'll miss you, Yuuri." Viktor leans his forehead on the glass, staring right at Yuuri.

"I'll miss you too, Viktor."

Viktor watches as Yuuri smiles before taking a deep breath and breaking the eye contact they held. "Do svidaniya."

"Sayonara."

.

. . .

.

"You've lost it, Vitya."

"Viktor, I said I'd support you, but this is..."

"I'm sorry, Viktor, but I agree with Mila."

"You dumbass! You're going to get everyone killed!"

"Yurio's right."

"Ahh, what true love does to a person..."

"Hear me out." Viktor stands at the head of the table in the conference room their meetings are held in. Around the table is Chris, Mila, Sara, Yurio, Otabek, and Georgi; also known as the only people he trusts enough to bring his ideas to. "All you have to do is help me set everything up. That's it. Nothing more and nothing else. I can handle all the little details."

"Entrusting you with all of that is like making a baby drive a car and expect everything to go smoothly. In other words, you'll fuck it up somehow." Yurio crosses his arms along his chest and props his feet up on the table. "No way are we letting you do anything on your own."

"Have you talked to Yuuri's doctors?" Mila worriedly leans forward with both arms on the table.

"Yes, I have. I've learned that what he has is only contagious through touch, which is why no one is allowed to make direct contact with him when he's in the hospital. If he's covered up well enough, then there should be no problem. The reason I saved the rink for last is because he has almost no stamina nowadays. The doctors told me that walking for too long will become extremely difficult for him to do."

"It could happen as long as we're careful the whole time..." Sara brings a hand to her chin in thought. "I'll help you, Viktor."

"I, of course, am on your side, Viktor. I will help make sure that every moment is memorable." Georgi is looking off into the distance with his right hand over his heart. He may be over-dramatic sometimes, but Viktor's glad to have a friend like him.

"You know what? I'll help. I've seen some pretty terrible decisions of yours through before, so nothing should stop me from overseeing this." Chris sits back in his chair with a smirk gracing his lips.

"I appreciate it, Chris. Mila? Yurio? Otabek?" The ones who've said yes so far stare at those who haven't, awaiting for their decisions.

Mila sighs and ruffles her red locks nervously. "Alright, Viktor. But we're going to have a few restless nights to plan this out fully. Not one detail should be spared. It's go big or go home now."

"Thank you so much, Mila!" Excitedly, Viktor turns to Otabek and Yurio.

"I'll help."

"Huh?!" Yurio stands up in disbelief, staring down his best friend. "Are you crazy?!"

Otabek shrugs as he looks to Viktor. "I can see you love him very much."

"I do. Thank you, Otabek."

"Fine! I'm sick of this! Didn't I tell you not to involved me in any of your crap? Well, you're doing exactly that, and you're dragging my friend into this, too! You owe me big time, old man!" Yurio huffs and sits down.

Viktor is ready to cry as he glances around the room at his closest friends, all willing to help him with this huge project. "I can't tell you all enough how much this means to me. Thank you so much. Now let's get to planning."

.

. . .

.

Viktor is woken up by the stream of light that enters the room through the windows lining the wall across from the door. He's dazed and confused as he finds himself in a room that isn't his flat. Then it occurs to him. They must've fallen asleep in the middle of their plans. There are papers scattered across the room with different ideas written on each. He's impressed by all the work they've managed to do within such a short time, but he knows the worst has yet to come. The next few nights are going to be hellish, but with everyone on board now, Viktor knows everything will go just like it should.

He carefully leaves the room, sidestepping past anyone who's sleeping on the floor in order to get to the door and out into the hallway. It proves to be difficult, but soon he's out and on his way to the cafeteria to grab coffees for everyone. It's still sort of early, but the café is usually open around this time. When he gets there, he orders everyone's usuals since the staff has them memorized at this point. Viktor scrolls through his phone while he waits. The device is almost thrown into the air in surprise when a voice makes itself known way too close for comfort.

"You're up early. Trouble sleeping?"

"Chris, next time you do that, give me a warning ahead of time."

"But then that would take the fun out of it. I didn't think anyone would be up this early, especially you of all people. If I had to guess anyone, then maybe Yurio's friend. He doesn't look like he takes long naps." Chris peeks over Viktor's shoulder to see what he's scrolling through. "Anything interesting?"

"Not as interesting as we have planned. I think we win there."

Chris laughs lightheartedly. "That's for sure. Do you think this'll go off without a hitch?"

Viktor pockets his phone and turns towards his friend. "Mmm... I doubt it. Nothing's perfect after all. It's just a matter of being ready for anything that comes our way. I think we can handle it, though. Our base plan is pretty solid." One of the staff members hands Viktor a tray of coffees while Chris takes the other.

"If you believe in it, then we will, too. The problem will be getting him back to the hospital without having you or any of us for that matter arrested. That'll be tricky."

"He said that a nurse comes in to check up on him before it's lights out, which is usually around nine. I know one of the nurses that love seeing us together, so if I talk to her about this, then maybe she can back us up."

"I recommend getting on that then. That'll be crucial for all of us. We also need to make sure one of us is nearby just in case something happens to Yuuri, and we need to get him back pronto. Viktor, this idea might be the worst one you've ever had, but it's crazy enough to call it yours."

The trip back up to the room is quiet as the two fall into a comfortable silence. When they open the door to the room, they find that everyone has woken up and is either fixing the papers or is too busy trying to get up. Viktor and Chris set the coffees down at the center of the table before taking their own. When everyone's taken their own cup, they sit down in one of the many chairs thrown askew in the room from last night.

"Can we go over what we have worked out one last time before we start calling everywhere we need to? I just want to make sure there aren't any holes." Mila notes as she stares at a bunch of the papers settled in front of her.

Viktor nods and stands up from his seat. "Alright, so here's what we have..."

.

. . .

.

The next few days go by in blur, and really Viktor isn't sure what's happened. Whenever he's waiting for a set to be put in place or on break, he's on a phone call with one of the many places that are a part of Viktor's little scheme. And it's not just him. The others are constantly texting him about some places that called back or if there was something they wanted Viktor's opinion on. It was on the third day of rushing around when Mila stopped him and asked what needed to be done. She divided the work up more evenly, so Viktor could be more well-rested for the day. The last thing they needed was for Viktor to fall ill due to a lack of sleep and stress. With the day drawing closer, Viktor grew more and more panicked. Knowing his meltdown was soon to come, the others decided on keeping Viktor under house-arrest until the day came around. Since everyone else was busy, Yurio was chosen as the one to watch him and make sure he doesn't do anything stupid. Even though he was given the day off to relax, Viktor still currently finds himself pacing around the living room of his flat.

A hundred things could go wrong, and even one tiny slip-up could ruin the entire day. It's a terrifying thought, but it reminds him that this is really happening. Yuuri is still left in the dark, and it's going to stay that way until tomorrow afternoon.

"Would you quit your mumbling already? And stop stomping around."

Viktor has no idea he's ignoring the teen until Yurio is in his face, halting the older Russian in his steps. "Sorry, what'd you say?"

"I said we're going for a walk. Hurry up, or I'll leave you here." Yurio is already out the door as Viktor tries to process what's happening.

Before long, they're walking on a pathway along the beach. The sound of the waves crashing along the shore is all that can be heard save for the few people who walk by them or stand at the water's edge. It's nice, and it distracts Viktor from the millions of different things that could go wrong tomorrow. And then he realizes that he needs to shower before tomorrow now. He can't smell like the ocean on such an important day. Did he even pick out an outfit to wear yet? Should he have bought something new? Maybe a tailor is still open... Viktor's mindless worrying sidetracks him from where he's going, and then he's on the ground dazed as to what just happened.

"Stop it already, will you? I actually put effort towards something that involves you of all people, so there's no need to worry about everything. I don't get how you're so worked you anyway. He's just one person." Yurio huffs and wraps his arms around himself. They hadn't prepared to be near the water, so what they're wearing isn't exactly suitable at all for the colder air that surrounds Russia and comes off the water.

Viktor brushes himself off and stands back up to his full height, looking over at the ocean as the sun sparkles on top of the water. "He means a lot to me like how Otabek is for you. Only I can't be near him like you can with Otabek. I can't physically touch him. Well, not until tomorrow at least. I'm nervous I'm going to screw something up, just as you said."

Yurio groans and spins on his heels to glare at Viktor. "Look, if Katsuki hasn't asked you to leave him alone then clearly he doesn't care about your screw-ups. He knows a lot about you and somehow keeps asking you to visit him. You're worrying for no reason, and it annoys me to death. Ignore what I said before because that applies to everyone and everything besides him apparently."

"Are you... actually trying to be helpful?" Viktor is stunned into silence and is left staring at Yurio. "And you used his last name. Maybe you've gotten too much of the workload..."

"You're ruining this." Yurio kicks a rock by his feet and doesn't dare meet Viktor's eyes.

"Sorry. Thank you, though. That did help."

That's the most Yurio says for the rest of the day, leaving Viktor when they reach the outside of his building. Viktor pushes open the front doors, greets the staff, and heads for the elevators. When he gets up to his flat, he finds himself tired out, but in a good way this time. The past six days have been exhausting, and with tomorrow looming overhead, he's bound to make it worth all the effort. Viktor throws himself down onto his bed without another thought, let's sleep take him away.

 

Chapter Text

"Here goes nothing..." Viktor sighs and does one last check in the rearview mirror in the car he's sitting in. Mila's car, that is. They've decided that Viktor and Yuuri should have a chauffeur for the night, so they don't have to worry about getting everywhere on time.

"Viktor, you look fine. Everything will be perfect." Mila pats his shoulder from the driver's seat. "You don't have to worry so much."

"I can't help it. One little mistake will cost everyone big time. It's also Yuuri's first date, so I really don't want to mess this up." Viktor takes one last check before deeming himself ready. "I'll be out in a minute, so start the car as soon as I get out." When Mila nods in understanding, Viktor hops out of the car and as casually as possible makes his way into the hospital.

Per usual, he gets signed in at the front desk and heads down the corridor to the right where Yuuri awaits. Viktor dropped off a gift for him two days ago with a new suit inside a carefully packaged box and had been hoping since that it would fit nicely. Sure enough, when he enters the viewing room where Yuuri is staying, his jaw drops at the sight before him. Yuuri is fidgeting on his bed with the sleeves of his suit jacket and checking that it's sitting right on his shoulders. Viktor had been conservative with his choice for Yuuri, a black three piece suit, white gloves, and a dark satin blue tie. He can tell it's a little roomy in some areas, but otherwise Viktor can't help but gawk at the man of his affections. Yuuri had also slicked his hair back, and when he looked up to find Viktor standing there, a few strands of his raven hair came loose in front of his eyes.

"Wow. You look... wow." Viktor could feel his cheeks beginning to burn red as he continues to stare, but he can't help it. Yuuri looks absolutely stunning. Viktor applauds himself for this brilliant idea. His own matching ensemble with a satin pink tie pales in comparison, he thinks.

"I could say the same about you." Yuuri's cheeks are also stained pink, and the color adds to the effect the suit has on Viktor. "Um... Viktor?"

Viktor is only sort of snapped out of his reverie as Yuuri averts his eyes to his newly polished dress shoes. "Yes, Yuuri?" The words come out more breathy than he intended, but oh god Yuuri in a suit...

"W-Why are we dressed up so nice if you're only visiting?"

Oh right. They have plans. Oops. Viktor is awake now from the dream Yuuri has presented him with and grins knowingly at him. "Why, my dear Yuuri, you're going to find out very soon. Now if you'd kindly remove the wires you probably just reattached to yourself to get in that, I would love nothing more than for you to step out of the room you've been confined in."

"W-What?!" Yuuri snaps his head up, and he looks bewildered beyond belief. "I-I can't just leave! I'll get you sick as well as everyone in this hospital!"

"It looks like I'm coming in to get you instead." Viktor can hear Yuuri's words of resistance but ignores those words as he walks back the way he came from and opens the door leading to the inside of Yuuri's room. "There you are."

"V-Viktor! This is crazy! Don't come any closer, Viktor!" Yuuri is backing himself up to where the glass is while Viktor proceeds to inch closer. "Viktor, I don't want you infected, too! Please stop!" Yuuri has his eyes closed with his head turned and his hands up in defense as if that's going to ward Viktor away.

"Yuuri, open your eyes." Viktor leaves an inch of room between them.

Yuuri slowly opens his left eye and squeaks in surprise at how close Viktor has become.

"You aren't going to hurt me. I know that because what you have is only contagious if I touch you." Viktor pulls out a set of black gloves from his pocket and rolls them over his hands. "With these, I should still be able to hold your hand. We both have a set on after all." Viktor lifts his left hand up to Yuuri, who eyes it cautiously before meeting Viktor's gaze.

"W-Wait, but I need a face mask first." As if trying to prevent breathing on Viktor, Yuuri keeps his head turned to the side. "Can I...?" He points to the side table next to his bed.

"Of course." Viktor gives him more space, so he can get what he needs to. Viktor hadn't even thought of it, but he feels dumb for not. Probably should've made sure Yuuri had one on first before entering the room. Oh well. Too late to go back now. When Yuuri is done putting on one of the white medical masks, he strolls over to Viktor hesitantly.

"O-Okay... we can go now."

Viktor reaches his hand out again, only instead of eyeing it this time, Yuuri slowly puts his own in it. Viktor elatedly wraps his fingers around Yuuri's hand and leads the way out of the room.

"Viktor, is this even okay? Did the hospital say I could leave?"

"Nope! But I've got everything covered! Trust me." Viktor winks and brings a finger to his lips to hush Yuuri.

Yuuri's cheeks grow redder as Viktor checks the hallway for any incoming staff. "We're clear." He pulls on Yuuri's hand and drags him to the end of the corridor and moves them down one last one on their right. Viktor checks every hallway before they turn down it, and soon enough they exit through one of the backdoors of the hospital. Viktor stops and lets go of Yuuri's hand, so he can properly see the state he's in. For the most part, he can tell that Yuuri is okay, out of breath and wheezing definitely, but he's okay.

"Please... no more... running..." Yuuri barely manages to get the words out before leaning his hands against his knees.

"I promise there won't be any more running. Except to get to the car from every point." Viktor grins and takes his hand again when he's upright and breathing better. "We have a lot to get to today, so we can't dilly dally for even one second." Viktor leads them to a small black car parked along the sidewalk and opens the backdoor for Yuuri. "After you."

Yuuri shakes his head and enters the car. Viktor shuts the door when Yuuri is safely seated and jogs over to the opposite side, popping in himself. "Yuuri, meet Mila. Mila, meet Yuuri."

Mila turns around from the driver's seat and smiles at Yuuri. "It's nice to meet you, Yuuri. I'm one of Viktor's friends, and your first chauffeur for the day."

"It's nice to meet you too, Mila." Yuuri smiles back and looks over at Viktor, who has claimed Yuuri's right hand into one of his own again.

"First stop is Percorso. For your caution and Viktor's obsession of having you to himself, he's rented out an entire room just for you two. The journey should take about fifteen minutes, so sit back and relax for just a bit." Mila turns back around and begins their trip.

Viktor meets Yuuri's eyes that are now blown wide at him. "Hi. How are you?"

"You did what?" Yuuri's voice is making that squeaking sound again, and Viktor finds that he enjoys hearing it.

"Don't worry. It was much cheaper than I thought it would be anyway."

"How much does 'cheaper' mean?"

"I don't want you thinking about that at all. Understood? I want today to just be about us." Viktor leans in close to Yuuri and plants a feather-light kiss on the area of his cheek that the mask covers. It's not what he really wants, but it's close enough to make him happy. Any closer, and they'd both be in trouble.

Yuuri is silent for the rest of the car ride, but his eyes speak volumes. He holds Viktor's hand tighter as he stares out the window, glancing at every building and person that passes by in the window. Viktor revels in the moment, simply watching him. It isn't until the car parks that he breaks away from Yuuri. Viktor gets out and opens Yuuri's door for him, giddier than ever as Yuuri stares at the building before them. They're back to holding hands as Viktor leads him up the steps and into the main foyer. Viktor has him stay back as he handles the check-in. Moments later, a waiter leads them into the main room and once again, Yuuri stops walking to just stare in shock at everything. Viktor chuckles and waves the waiter away to leave them be.

"So?"

"This is incredible... Viktor, I..."

"Shh, no more words." Viktor tugs on his hand and twists them around the other tables. He ushers Yuuri to sit down at a bench that wraps around the small, secluded corner it's in. There's a window that reaches from the back of the bench to the ceiling right in the center, bathing the table in light. Viktor can hear Yuuri take a deep breath before almost collapsing into the plush bench. Viktor slides in next to him, back to admiring the way Yuuri drinks everything in.

"This is... all of this is just... I'll never be able to thank you enough. I love you, Viktor." Yuuri can't stop glancing around the room until finally he looks at Viktor, who's a smiling and giddy mess as he has been since he first saw Yuuri.

"I love you too, Yuuri. I always will. Just seeing you as happy as you are right now is enough. I want to show you as much as I can in one day before you have to go back. I want to make it as memorable as possible."

"It already is, Viktor. I can't believe-" Yuuri shakes his head, still smiling brightly.

"-I kidnapped you and brought you here? I'm impressed I even managed to get this far." Viktor laughs, which has Yuuri giggling as well.

A waiter comes over, and Viktor answers him in his native tongue. The two go back and forth before the waiter leaves with their wine glasses. Viktor turns to Yuuri to find him confused. "He just asked about drinks. Oh, and is there anything in particular you'd like to eat tonight? The menu is in Russian, but I can help translate it for you of course."

"Uhh..." Yuuri bites his lip as he picks up the menu, his eyes wide as he looks at the numbers attached to each dish.

"Need help?"

"I'm going to if I keep looking at these numbers. Viktor, this is insane! I can't ask you to pay for any of this!"

"Ah, but you don't have to ask. The bill is getting sent to me directly, so you won't even see what the total cost looks like!" Viktor all-too-proudly puffs his chest out with both hands on his hips.

"You are..."

"Some people prefer the word 'extra'."

"I can see why."

.

. . .

.

Dinner passes by in a blur, which is disappointing to Viktor. Their conversations range from Yuuri's favorite childhood memories to an unspoken drinking game. Viktor ends up winning it, guessing what Yuuri's drinking to as soon as he starts. It's the only time Viktor will be able to see Yuuri's lips until they get back to the hospital, and that thought alone is distracting enough. It's so distracting that Yuuri calls him out on it plenty of times throughout their meal. Checking the watch on his wrist, he knows that Mila is waiting outside to bring them to destination #2. It takes him a minute and several text messages before he begrudgingly stands up to leave with Yuuri. As they get in the car, Mila waits for them to be settled before speaking.

"How was dinner, boys?" Mila smirks at them before handing Viktor the tickets for the next stop and turning around to start the drive.

"It was way too much, but I loved every second of it." Yuuri looks at Viktor fondly, and Viktor feels like he could become mush at any second. Yuuri Katsuki will be the death of him.

"That's good to hear! The day isn't over yet! Your next stop will be the Mariinsky Theatre to see Tchaikovsky's production of Swan Lake for seven o'clock. The drive will only be a short eight minutes."

Viktor's glad he chose that because Yuuri almost starts bouncing in his seat, coughing into his arm as he does so. It takes him a minute to calm down before he can speak properly. "Really?!" More coughing ensues.

"Absolutely! After you told me about your many years of ballet, I knew that you'd enjoy this." Well, he guessed. He just so happened to guess correctly. Viktor remembers how a few days ago he almost had a stroke trying to decide on what they should see. After flipping a coin and having others help pick, he stuck with Swan Lake. It was, after all, a love story as well. He really wanted to hit himself when he realized how easy the decision should have been.

"I love Swan Lake! I'm guilty for having it play in the ice rink and ballet studio nonstop." Yuuri laughs, which brings on another coughing fit, but Yuuri hardly seems bothered by it.

"That sounds like something you would do." Viktor laughs a little as well and catches Mila's eye in the rearview mirror. He can't make out her expression, so instead he pretends it never happened, pushing it to the back of his mind for now. Today is about Yuuri and nothing else.

Just as Mila had said, the drive is very short. She drops them off at the theatre before speeding off to who-knows-where while they see the production. She does have three hours before she even has to pick them up.

As they make their way into the theatre, Viktor catches an usher's attention and has them lead the duo to where their seats are. After helping Yuuri up a few flights of stairs, they're led down an open hallway with many people. Yuuri starts fidgeting in Viktor's grip, and Viktor can tell the people are making him nervous. He has, after all, not been surrounded by so many people in five years. The only time Viktor remembers him being near so many people was when Yuuri got very sick... He's determined not to let the thought ruin today and squeezes Yuuri's hand reassuringly. Yuuri peeks at him and a smile tugs at the corner of his mouth, but his nervousness is still there. Within due time, the usher leads them through a doorway to the Belle-Etage seating closest to the stage below them and once they enter, he bows and makes his escape. Yuuri's hand goes limp, which freaks Viktor out momentarily until he sees that Yuuri is just frozen with amazement like he was at the restaurant.

"You scared me, Yuuri." Viktor leans in to whisper in Yuuri's ear as he leads him to the seat at the very end. The other spectators who are already sitting down in that same section send glances in their direction but look away in disinterest as soon as they do.

"Did I? Because with all these surprises of yours, I might have a heart attack."

Viktor chuckles lowly and helps Yuuri sit down, soon taking the seat to his left after. "I'll have to keep my eyes on you then. I don't want this night to end prematurely after all." Yuuri blushes, and Viktor vows to make that color appear as often as he can.

After a bit more of conversation, the lights dim and the conductor of the orchestra takes a bow. The play begins, and at first, Viktor is entranced by both the music and the dancers. Then his attention is diverted to Yuuri to see him leaning forward with eyes wide and calculating as he watches the performers. After every little segment, he tries to restrain himself from clapping, and Viktor silently laughs to himself. Every little twitch Yuuri makes in his seat is adorable, and at some point, Viktor starts counting them. His own trance is interrupted when the lights go up, and Yuuri excitedly starts talking to him. He's too zoned out to realize what he's saying, but in tune enough to see the enthusiasm in his every breath.

"What did you think?"

"What?" Viktor's eyes turn apologetic as soon as the words leave his mouth. The guilt is most likely clear on his face.

"You weren't paying attention, were you?" Yuuri seems disappointed, which makes Viktor regret not trying to focus even more.

"What if..." He leans in closer to Yuuri, "I said I was rather distracted by the handsome man sitting next to me?"

The dark blush is apparent on Yuuri's face again. "I can't imagine what he looks like if the great Viktor Nikiforov is interested."

"Mm... he's gorgeous. The suit he's wearing clings so perfectly to his figure, too. However will I last through the remaining hour of this play?" Viktor takes one of Yuuri's gloved hands in both of his and begins tracing the back of it.

"He really sounds like something."

"You have no idea." The face mask Yuuri's wearing is very irritating to Viktor now. He wishes he could just take it off, and close the space between them. It's a very bad idea, but he can't help the thought from crossing his mind, especially not with Yuuri so close to him. The space is so thin.

Before Viktor can make any bad decisions, the lights flash to signal the end of the intermission. Begrudgingly, he gives Yuuri a smile before leaning back in his seat. Viktor thinks he sees disappoint flash in Yuuri's eyes, but it's so brief. Yuuri follows his lead and sits back as well, sparing glances at Viktor as the night goes on.

.

. . .

.

Despite what happened earlier, Yuuri is still elated as he talks about the play and all that happened on the way to the car. Viktor notices right away that Mila is no longer their driver when they get into the vehicle.

"Georgi?"

Yuuri halts his talking to see where Viktor is looking. When he sees the new person in charge of their transportation, his expression becomes one of confusion.

Georgi turns around from the driver's seat and smiles at the duo. "I'll be taking over for Mila from this point on. I'm Georgi Popovich, a fellow co-worker of Viktor's. It's great to finally meet you, Yuuri. Viktor has told me so much." Viktor rolls his eyes but is smiling nonetheless. Of course Georgi would trade with Mila just to meet Yuuri for himself.

"Nice to meet you too, Georgi." Yuuri smiles awkwardly, and Viktor laughs nervously, giving his hand a squeeze.

Viktor whispers near Yuuri's ear, "I may have bragged about you a lot."

Yuuri says nothing but the pink tint to his cheeks is enough.

"The last event of this evening that Viktor has chosen is actually his personal favorite: St. Petersburg's shorelines at sunset."

Viktor grins at Yuuri, who smiles back in return. It doesn't take long before they make it out to the boardwalk, Georgi dropping them off at the beginning of it. Viktor waves goodbye to him before guiding Yuuri down the boardwalk. It takes a few minutes for Viktor to lead them where he wants before settling down at the end of it. They've shed their shoes, socks, blazers, and after a lot of convincing, Yuuri's medical mask behind where they're now sitting at the edge of the boardwalk.

"Yuuri..." All too quickly, Yuuri snaps his head to Viktor. Viktor's at a loss for words as he stares back, so instead he looks away. "Did you enjoy tonight?" It's not what he meant to say, but for whatever reason, he's become too nervous.

"Yes. I can't thank you enough for what you've done for me, Viktor. Today has been incredible and so much more than I ever would've thought I could experience again."

Viktor grins and gazes back at Yuuri, who's face is basked in the soft orange and pink glow of the sky. Yuuri is looking over the water, eyes sliding shut as his hair floats along the breeze coming off the water. It's the most ethereal he's ever seen Yuuri look, and he finds himself unable to look away.

"Viktor?" Yuuri is back to looking at him, and wow, Viktor must look like an idiot just staring at him.

Viktor opens his mouth to say something, or honestly anything, but is left with his mouth hanging open. He hasn't realized he started leaning in until Yuuri's eyes have widened considerably as he settles a gloved hand on Viktor's chest. Viktor looks down at the hand then back up at Yuuri.

"I... I'm sorry." Yet Viktor doesn't move an inch. The apology is empty, not holding the meaning it should.

Yuuri is still silent as he continues to stare wide-eyed at Viktor and shakes his head gently.

"I understand if you don't... you know..." Viktor doesn't have to say the words because he knows Yuuri understands.

"I-It's not that I don't..." Yuuri seems to be fighting an internal battle with himself as he stares at Viktor's eyes then his lips and back to his eyes.

"Yuuri... What if I told you I don't care what the repercussions are?" How that made Yuuri start crying, he'll never know.

Tears begin to slip past his eyes as he redirects his attention to the water, the gloved hand still on Viktor's chest. "I don't think you understand what you're saying..."

How could he not? He's been ready to stay with Yuuri since he first said it.

"I love you, Viktor, but I'm not willing to sacrifice you for my own selfish reasons. That's too much to ask of you."

Viktor sits back and takes a deep breath. "If that's your final decision..."

"It is." Yuuri twists his body, so he's facing Viktor straight-on.

"Okay." The corners of Viktor's lips turn up in a sad sort of smile. "Then I just have one request."

Yuuri scrunches his eyebrows in confusion.

"You have to let me stay with you through everything regardless of what happens."

Yuuri's smile is just as pained as Viktor's. "If that's what you want, then I agree."

"It's decided then." Viktor stands up and holds a hand out for Yuuri, who takes it and stands up as well. "One selfish request for another."

.

. . .

.

Georgi is beyond confused when he picks them up and Yuuri is crying because he's laughing so hard in Viktor's arms. Viktor winks at him as Georgi gets out of the driver's seat to open the door for them. Viktor's laughing as well as he carefully settles Yuuri into the seat of the car and shuts the door. Georgi keeps eyeing him, especially as they both get in the car themselves, and Viktor and Yuuri keep laughing. It's only stopped when Yuuri starts coughing harshly. Viktor takes him into his arms and rubs soothing circles along his back as Georgi starts driving.

"Sorry about that, Georgi. You must've been waiting." Viktor is grinning ear-to-ear as he catches Georgi's eyes in the rearview mirror.

Georgi shakes his head as he looks back at them fondly. "No need to be sorry. I completely understand what love can do to someone."

Honestly, Viktor is pretty sure Georgi is living his love life through him, and Viktor would be lying if he said it didn't weird him out. Because it does.

"Alright, Yuuri. It's time to bring you back. Viktor, Mila said that was your responsibility."

Viktor gives him a thumbs up as Yuuri nestles in closer to him, already half-asleep. "Got it."

The car ride back to the hospital is silent save for Yuuri's light snores. By the time they arrive, Viktor lifts Yuuri into his arms and quietly opens the car door. He kicks it shut and walks slowly to the backdoor they left through. Viktor navigates them through the same twist of corridors and eventually the room Yuuri stays in. When Viktor lies him down on his bed, that's when Yuuri finally stirs from his nap.

"Viktor...?" Dazedly, Yuuri sits up in his bed and rubs at his eyes. "Where are we...?"

"We're back at the hospital. Here, let me help you get more comfortable."

"Mmm..." Yuuri lies back down on the bed and lets Viktor take the bulk of his outer layers off without much protest. "Thank you..."

Viktor chuckles as he brushes the bangs out of Yuuri's eyes with a gloved hand. "You're welcome, moya lyubov. Rest well. You've had a long day."

The nurse Viktor is friends with steps in the room and nods to Viktor before getting to work on Yuuri. Viktor watches from against the wall next to the door as she reattaches wires to a very sleepy Yuuri. He laughs to himself when Yuuri tries to tell her no but doesn't put up a fight about it at all. When she's done, she ushers Viktor outside of the room and gives him a thorough look-over to make sure he hasn't been infected. He gives her his thanks when she deems he's okay and leaves with one last parting look at Yuuri.

.

. . .

.

He hops into the passenger seat next to Georgi, clearly spent from the day's activities.

"Exhausted?"

"Is it that obvious?" He lulls his head to face Georgi. "You can just take me back to my place. I'll tell everyone about today at work tomorrow."

"Understood."

Georgi doesn't try to start up a conversation again, not with Viktor practically falling asleep where he's sitting. Getting up to his flat is an issue as well, but he manages after a while. As soon as he enters the flat, Viktor collapses to the ground in a tired lump.

"So how was it?" Chris is sitting on the armrest of the couch, peering at Viktor with an amused expression. "You look like you've had enough fun to last a lifetime. Or at least a week."

"Lifetime." Viktor presses his palms against the floor and forces himself to stand. "Definitely a lifetime. I wouldn't mind doing it again, though. He was so happy. I'd die to see him smile like that more."

Chris laughs as Viktor almost crashes into the wall trying to take his blazer off. "You might if you don't get to bed soon. You look worse than the day after we went drinking. Only we were out a lot longer. It's only..." he briefly glances at the silver watch on his left hand, "eleven o'clock."

"It's only eleven?" Viktor groans as he moves to sit down at his kitchen island. "I thought it was later than that. Maybe it's a good thing it isn't though. I would've been yelled at for keeping Yuuri out so late."

"Not that you would've cared."

"You've got me there."

They share a laugh as Chris pulls out a bottle of Viktor's more expensive drinks.

"None for me, Chris. Feel free to drink as much as you want, though."

"What happened to the living-carefree-Viktor?" Chris pulls out a small glass and pours himself some of the liquor.

"He found someone that makes him happier than drinking all his problems away. Which reminds me, if you want any of those bottles, just tell me which, and I'll ship them out to you. I don't really need any of those anymore, unless Yuuri comes here then maybe I'll keep a few."

"If Yuuri comes here? Isn't he living at that hospital until they figure out whatever it is he has?"

Viktor shrugs and leans his head against his arm, which is propped up on the counter. "I took him out all day today. I don't see how he couldn't come here. I wonder if I could get him to live with me and pay a doctor to visit and check him out here..."

Chris shakes his head and downs almost half the glass he's holding. "Viktor, there's only a certain distance you can keep pulling the string before it snaps."

"Chris, I'm too tired for analogies."

"You can only do so much before something goes wrong. You had him out for a day, and that alone was probably a strain on him. You expect him to be able to live here without any problems?"

"I never said that..." Viktor frowns as he sits upright. "Even if I did, I'm sure it could work out."

"You're tired. Go to sleep, Viktor." Chris chugs the rest of his drink and starts to pour more into his glass.

"Give me a glass."

Chris eyes him suspiciously before pulling out another glass for Viktor and filling it halfway, setting it down in front of the Russian. Viktor takes the drink and sloshes it around in the glass before downing all of it, holding out the empty cup towards Chris.

"How come everything I do is a problem? I tell people I want to become a model, and they say it'll never last. I become famous, and everyone says I'm going to lose who I am. I make a few friends, and then they say I've become too good for everyone else. I start dating and drinking a few times, and they say I'm on my way downhill. I start declining offers because nothing feels right anymore, and they say I'm back to being too great for everyone and everything. I finally fall in love, and everyone, including my friends, says it's reckless and stupid. Why do I try anymore, Chris? Huh?"

Chris sets the bottle out of reach of Viktor and leans back on the counter in front of the kitchen sink. "What happened to not needing to drink your problems away?"

"I don't understand, Chris. Help me understand." Viktor's tone is desperate as he lies his head down on the countertop. "How am I supposed to handle this sort of thing?"

Chris sighs and takes a sip from his drink. "You're on your own there. We're all at a loss of what to do. Trust me, we've all talked it over plenty of times as well."

Viktor lifts his head to look at his friend and groans exasperatedly. "You're telling me not to make things worse, but you have no idea what worse even means? You're impossible." Viktor knows it's just himself being impossible, but everyone telling him no is starting to get on his nerves. He's in love. He's trying to be with the one he loves. Why is it so ridiculous that he would want that?

"I know what worse means when you say it. I'm sure everyone's said this enough to you, but I'm going to be blunt and cut the crap. Yuuri is dying. You know that, I know that, we all do. I get you want to see him as much as possible, but it just can't happen. You're lucky you got away with what happened today. As your best friend, I'm trying to prevent you from being too impulsive. You have a habit of being exactly that at the worst time."

"Good then maybe it's a sign Yuuri and I should be together." Viktor is upright on the stool now, glaring at his friend.

"I'm not telling you to break up with him. I never said that, Vitya." Chris takes another sip and stands to really look at his friend. "I'm telling you to handle this situation like an adult would, not like a horny teenager who plans to elope in Vegas."

"Not a bad idea."

"Viktor."

"I'm kidding."

"Are you?" Chris raises an eyebrow at him.

"I care about him enough to not want something as cheap as that." Viktor crosses his arms over his chest. "And I am handling this like an adult."

"Alright, Viktor. I'll believe it when I see it." Chris takes another sip from his drink.

"Good. On that note, I'm going to bed. I have work in the morning like a responsible, normal adult does. Spokoynoy nochi." Chris lifts his drink in acknowledgement as Viktor stands up and stalks off to his bedroom.

"Bonne nuit."

.

. . .

.

"Care to explain why I woke up this morning to a million messages asking for you? I've got the printout for the magazine too if you don't explain everything." Yakov is sitting at his desk holding up a magazine with the headline 'Russian Male Model Viktor Nikiforov Has A Hot Date?!' emblazoned along the top in bright pink and gold lettering. A photo of Viktor and Yuuri in the restaurant from yesterday is blown up on the front cover. Although it looks to be taken from a distance, Viktor's hair is too recognizable to miss.

"Uhh... Someone took a photo of me out for lunch with Georgi?" Viktor is sitting in front of Yakov's desk wearing a guilty smile. Even without Viktor looking like a liar to begin with, Yakov would be able to see straight through him anyway.

Yakov grunts and opens the magazine, reading directly from it. "'Viktor Nikiforov was spotted with an unknown male walking into Percorso hand-in-hand together. According to an insider, Viktor rented out the entire room just for themselves. When asked if it could've just been two friends hanging out, they claimed that Viktor couldn't keep his eyes, or his hands for that matter, off the mysterious figure. Could Viktor Nikiforov be off the market for good?' I told you not to start drama after the last time, and what do you do? This!" Yakov is red in the face as he continues to yell at a sheepish Viktor.

"Oops?" Viktor laughs nervously as he shrugs. Yakov is definitely going to kill him.

"Explain." Yakov throws down the magazine in front of him, crossing his arms along his chest.

Where does he even begin? "So I'm dating him." That works.

"Full explanation, Vitya. This is by far not a joke."

"But this is a really funny story. You'll love it. You see, I was-"

"You know I won't, but go on."

"I was visiting the hospital, and I heard about this new patient. I was curious, so I decided to visit him."

"Vitya-"

"I had a lot of fun visiting him, so I visited him again the next week. I even met his sister, who is really nice by the way. Which reminds me, I have to ask Yuuri how he knows me. Anyway! So then-"

"Vitya-"

"-I kept visiting him and realized 'Wow, I think I actually like him!'. Three weeks later after visiting him again and again, I decided I love him and told him when I was able to visit him again. He said he loves me back, so we're together now! Chris calls him my boyfriend, but I don't think-"

"Vitya!" Viktor can see thatYakov practically has a vein popping out of his forehead as he slams a hand down on the desk. "Are you telling me you're dating someone who lives in a hospital?"

"Well, currently he is. They're working on a cure for what he has right now, so once he's all set, I think I'm going to ask him to move in with me. Unless he wants to go back to his family, then I'll completely understand. Maybe I'll live with him instead, and we-"

"Vitya, there isn't even a cure for him?!"

Viktor flinches at Yakov's yelling and sinks lower in his seat. "Nyet..."

Yakov lies back in his seat and rubs at his forehead. "How were you even out with him? Do I want to know?"

"That's another funny story. Everyone helped me organize a day where the two of us could have a real date. That's where the photo came from actually."

"I might kill him this time." Yakov mutters under his breath as he looks at the grin Viktor is currently wearing. "I don't want to hear anymore of this. You better have an idea on how to handle this, though. Hire someone to write cue cards for you or something. I will cut you from this agency if you say something stupid to anyone. You hear me?"

Viktor salutes him. "Got it."

"Get out before I have an aneurysm." Yakov points to the door, and within seconds, Viktor is gone from his office.

Mila is leaning against the wall to the left of the office, snickering at the exchange she overheard as Viktor shuts the door behind himself. "You might want to tell Yuuri he made the cover of a magazine with you, along with articles written on every gossip website by now."

Viktor groans as he starts walking down the corridor with Mila trailing behind him. "I thought we were careful. I know people at that restaurant, so I thought we'd be fine. I guess I forgot about the possibility of paparazzi following me. Yuuri is going to kill me when he finds out, if he hasn't seen it already."

"You know, you could use this to your advantage if you're smart about it."

Mila's words have Viktor pausing in his tracks, turning around to look at her curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Just imagine it. You're being interviewed, and they ask about Yuuri. You tell them the sob story about Yuuri and how sick he is, that there's no known cure. Next thing you know, GoFundMe and KickStarter pages are made to raise awareness as well as bring in funds for him and his family. More and more scientists jump on board to help, and before you know it, you two will be on your honeymoon together kissing on a beach as the sun sets under the horizon."

Viktor grabs her shoulders with wide eyes. "Mila, you're brilliant."

"You have to talk to Yuuri and Yakov about that, though. I don't know if either will be happy at the idea of you two going public."

"You're still brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?" Viktor lets go of Mila and pulls out his phone, sending a text to Yuuri while marching back to Yakov's office. "Thank you, Mila!" He yells over his shoulder as he knocks on Yakov's door for the second time that day.

.

. . .

.

"So... what do you think?" Viktor is on the edge of his seat with his hands in his lap as he looks over at Yuuri excitedly.

Yuuri bites his bottom lip, unsure of what to say at Viktor's proposal. "I don't know, Viktor. It seems... overwhelming..."

"I completely understand if you don't want to do it. That's fine with me. I thought I'd talk to you about it before accepting the TV interview." Viktor sits back in his seat. He's a little disappointed he can't tell the world how amazing Yuuri is, but he'll survive. He can still tell his friends that over and over and...

"Let's do it."

Wait... what?

"What?"

"I'm saying you should call them and say we'll be there."

Viktor stares blankly at Yuuri, who is fidgeting on his hospital bed. "Really?"

"If you want to, then I think it'll be okay..." Yuuri averts his gaze before closing his eyes then opening them to look at Viktor confidently.

Viktor leans forward in his seat again, skeptical about Yuuri's response. "You do realize that'll mean you'll probably get bugged by paparazzi and other magazines and papers trying to get information out of you, right? There's always the chance they'll have to switch you from this hospital to another one." Then it dawns on him. What if they move Yuuri to a hospital or facility across the world? What happens then?

Yuuri takes his confidence and builds on it, smiling now. "I'm ready for it. It may actually bring attention to other people's conditions and problems as well. If I can help in any way possible, then I can put up with it. Besides, I have you around to help. We'll get through it together, right?"

Yuuri's smile is infectious because now Viktor wears one. "Of course, Yuuri. I'm always here for you no matter what."

"Then go accept that offer."

Viktor takes a deep breath and takes out his phone from his pocket. "Are you sure?" He looks back at Yuuri for confirmation, and when he gets a nod in response, he calls the company that asked for the interview. The conversation doesn't long, since Viktor doesn't want it to, but he tells the coordinator of the show that he'll be there with Yuuri along with all the precautions they'll have to take. Yuuri seems lost until he hears his name, that being the only word he can understand since the call is in Russian. When Viktor gets off the phone, he lets out the breath he didn't realize he was holding. "It's done. We have to be there at eight a.m. in two days. Is that alright?"

Yuuri thinks for a moment before answering. "That should be fine. Do I need to get permission from the hospital staff or are we doing what we did the other night?"

"Sneaking out. If we asked to have them let you out, they'd flip out." Viktor chuckles. "I'll come get you an hour beforehand."

"I'll be waiting then."

"You should wear the suit I gave you again."

"I planned on it already." Yuuri grins before his cough comes back in full spurts.

Viktor darts to the window with a panicked expression until Yuuri is settled down again. "Maybe this isn't a good idea... I told them to have medical personnel on standby, but what if it's not enough?"

"Viktor..." Yuuri pauses to catch his breath, "it'll work out. We can't back out now. I'll ask for extra doses of what they normally give me or take what I can just in case. Don't worry."

"Alright, Yuuri. Together?"

"Together."

.

. . .

.

"Ready?"

"No. Are you?"

"Yes, or at least I think so." Yuuri gets comfortable as he clicks the seat belt to the passenger seat in place. "I'm ready."

Viktor pulls the steering wheel into a death grip as he pulls out of the hospital's backlot, muttering to himself. "At least one of us is." It's seven in the morning, right at the time he told Yuuri he'd pick him up. Yuuri and Viktor are wearing exactly what they wore the day of their date around St. Petersburg, gloves, mask, and all. Viktor takes one hand off the wheel and places it on Yuuri's thigh to remind himself exactly why he's doing this. Yuuri's blush does a great job of that, too.

After flashing his ID to the guards, they're let in passed the iron gates. He can hear Yuuri's breath hitch as they're then led to the studio door the interview will be set in. Viktor parks the car, only moving his hand to grip Yuuri's own. Viktor's uncertainty dissipates little by little as he sits there with Yuuri, until he's okay enough to get out of the car. He wants to carry Yuuri like he did that night but knows it wouldn't be appropriate, instead opting for holding his hand the whole time.

Viktor doesn't even let go of him when he's dragged off to the makeup wing of the studio. Yuuri seems uncomfortable, and he's really close to backing out as the discomfort stays on his face. Whispered words are his only reassurance to stick with this. It's odd, he thinks, that he's more nervous than Yuuri. Viktor has had plenty of close-ups, interviews, and has been on countless TV shows and networks, but this. This has to do with Yuuri. With the one he loves. So many people will be staring at Yuuri, trying to pry words from him that he won't want to say.

After his makeup is done, they're brought to meet with the directors and the talk show host. Viktor explains to them in his native language that Yuuri doesn't speak a lick of Russian, and soon enough they're chatting in English, everyone's common tongue. They go over what's going to happen and when Yuuri will join Viktor up on the stage. All the small details are worked out and soon enough, everyone is in place and a sign that says 'On Air' lights up in bright red.

"We're on in three..."

Viktor glances at Yuuri worriedly for the hundredth time today.

"Two..."

Yuuri smiles in reassurance once more.

"One..."

Viktor takes a deep breath and puts on his best smile for the cameras.

"We're live!"

Chapter Text

Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay calm. "Hello, I'm Viktor Nikiforov."

"As if we don't all know." Everyone shares a laugh, but Viktor's comes out a little strained. "Let's just jump right into it. Something tells me you want to get started. I know we do." The TV host waves for the audience to make some noise, gaining cheers from everyone backstage. Viktor's grateful it's fake cheering, that there's no real audience.

"I see no problem with that at all." Viktor shakes his platinum bangs out of his eyes and nervously tucks a loose strand behind his left ear.

"Perfect!" She flips her own hair behind her shoulder, facing Viktor fully now on the stool she's sitting on. "We're all dying to know. Who is the mystery man you've been spotted with?" She balances her chin on the back of her hand. "There are so many stories going around with different speculations. I'd like to know which one is real."

"The one about him being my date is the closest story to the truth." Viktor winks at the camera, but it's meant for Yuuri, who's standing directly behind the camera while waiting for his cue. The "audience" collectively oohs and ahhs at the news.

"Well, you have to give us more details now! Your adoring fans need to know, myself included." She laughs and gestures for Viktor to continue.

Deep breath. Stay relaxed. Cool, calm, and collected. "His name is Yuuri Katsuki, and he's the kindest, most loving and caring person I've ever met."

"Could that happen to be the same Yuuri Katsuki, who's here with us today?" She gasps as Viktor laughs.

"It would be, yes. Yuuri, would you care to join us?" Viktor holds a hand out for Yuuri, who blushes at the gestures, takes a deep breath, and walks up to them. Viktor's heart leaps in his chest, whether from nerves or happiness, as Yuuri places his hand in his and sits down in the chair next to Viktor's.

"Dobro pozhalovat, Mr. Katsuki!"

Viktor whispers the translation in his ear, smiling when Yuuri tightens his grip on Viktor's hand. "S-Spasibo. Please, call me Yuuri." Russian sounds out of place coming from Yuuri, but Viktor finds it attractive that he's trying.

"How did you two meet? Sight-seeing? Maybe a project together? Yuuri, you certainly are good-looking enough for modeling."

Yuuri practically shrinks into his seat, the red dusting of his cheeks giving away his embarrassment. Viktor laughs and leans into him. "It's a lot more complicated than that actually."

The host leans forward in her seat again, clearly interested. "Go on."

"Yuuri, you're still okay with this, right?" Viktor nervously glances at him one last time as he whispers his question.

Yuuri nods and directs his attention away from all the lights and cameras to Viktor. "Yes." The twinge of anxiousness seeps into the one word, but he still looks sure of it.

Viktor nods back and whispers, "Keep your eyes on me if you're scared," before turning back to the host. "A few years ago, I started visiting a hospital nearby to pass time. Eventually I found how welcoming everyone there was and continued to visit the children there weekly. One day while I was visiting, I was informed of a new patient that had arrived. I came back the next week and decided to visit them. There, I met Yuuri Katsuki." Yuuri clings to Viktor's arm. Viktor can tell he's afraid of how everyone is going to receive the next part of the news. "Yuuri has a condition that... doesn't allow him to do much of anything. He's been hospitalized for five years straight, and there's no known cure for what he has."

Everyone goes silent as Viktor explains what Yuuri has without explicitly saying how bad it really is.

"It's tough. I know how hard he has it, but it's difficult to see him in so much pain." Viktor tenses, not allowing tears to fall on national TV, but he can feel them rising to his eyes.

"Viktor..." Yuuri places his other gloved hand on top of their joined hands.

"My heart goes out to you both. That is such a touching story. We wish you both sincere happiness."

.

. . .

.

"Yuuri?" Viktor fiddles with his fingers in the driver's seat. They're still in the parking lot of the studio, Viktor not even having started the vehicle up yet.

Yuuri gazes at him with wide eyes, curious as to what Viktor has to say. "Yes, Viktor?"

Viktor takes a deep breath and his gaze takes on a more confident one. "I've already decided on this, so you can't tell me no." The curious tilt of Yuuri's head deepens along with his brows in worry. "I have decided that... I'm going to take over all the finances your family has to oversee."

Yuuri's jaw drops through the medical mask he wears as the realization of what Viktor has said dawns on him. "V-Vik-"

"You've told me how much your family has done for you. How much of a sacrifice they've had to make since everything first started. It's been eating away at the back of my mind for a while now, and during our interview, it had me thinking. I have more than enough to handle all the expenses, so why aren't I doing anything about it? All I'm doing is visiting you, without so much as trying to offer support while your parents pay for everything. You're undergoing top-notch medical procedures in a different country, while being unable to see your family. That's why I've made the decision I have." Viktor searches Yuuri's face as he sits silently in the car, nervously toying with the stitching on the leather car seat.

"Viktor, I could never ask that of you." Yuuri diverts his attention to the stitch that has come undone in his nervous hands, twirling it around and around his finger as his face takes on a reddish hue. "Really. I'm okay. I don't want to be a burden to you."

"Who said you were a burden?" Viktor pleads internally for Yuuri to look up and meet his gaze, rather than the shy glances he's sparing the Russian.

"I would be if you did that." Yuuri shakes his head, strands of raven hair fall out of place from where it was slicked back earlier. "Thank you for offering, but I don't want you to." Yuuri finally looks up to catch Viktor's heartbroken expression. "Viktor?"

"Yuuri, please let me do this for you. I just want to be able to help in some way, and right now I'm not able to. If I helped you out financially, it would make me feel better. Like you actually need me. Please let me do this. Please." He can't help the tear that slips past his eye or the second and third that threaten to chase after it.

"V-Viktor? Are you crying?" Yuuri's eyes are wide again, panic evident across his features as he takes in the mess Viktor knows he looks like now.

"Of course I am. I'm upset!" They say nothing, silence enveloping them both and hanging heavy in the air around them. Viktor chokes out a few sobs before calming down more. "I just want to do this one little thing for you and your family."

"Viktor, I understand, but that's too much to be asking of you. My parents won't tell me how much most of my treatment is, but I've seen a few of the papers get passed around. I can't possibly ask someone I haven't known that long to do something to that extent." Yuuri leans forward in his seat.

Viktor stills suddenly, Yuuri's words hitting him like a ton of bricks. "I can't possibly ask someone I haven't known that long to do something to that extent." The words run over and over in his mind until he feels burned out. "I see... You're right. We haven't known each other for very long, now have we?" Viktor starts up the car and throws it into reverse, blinking back the tears more now than he was. Chris was right. He was giving his everything to someone who wasn't planning as far ahead as Viktor was. Maybe he did throw himself in too deep too quickly. But they were dating now, weren't they? Was what he said really too much for the time they've known each other? "I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused you."

"Viktor?"

"I'm truly sorry, Yuuri."

Neither say anything the entire way back to the hospital, too lost in their thoughts for conversation. Once every few minutes, Viktor would catch Yuuri staring at him through the rearview mirror, but brown eyes flit to the window as soon as they met ice blue. For every stoplight they hit, Yuuri would stare longer, as if he wanted to say something. Whatever thoughts that were running in his head pushed down the words, though, keeping the silence between them still.

When they return to the hospital and Yuuri is back in his room being handed the proper medication he needs to take, Viktor sits in the same plastic chair he always sits in to visit him and mulls over their conversation. Even long after Yuuri's situated do they find themselves sitting in the same silence as before.

Until Yuuri breaks it.

"Okay."

Viktor snaps out of his stupor, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. "What?"

Yuuri takes a deep breath and bites his lip before speaking again. "Okay. You can help pay."

Viktor's eyes widen as the realization slowly sinks in, a smile glowing brightly on his face. "Really?!"

"If you really want to, but you have to talk to my parents first." Yuuri is biting harder into his lip now.

"I will. Thank you so much, Yuuri." Is it too much to say I love you right now? Viktor wants to, but he's afraid of what that'll cause considering the events they've been through today. Yuuri already looks ready to snap, and Viktor doesn't want to push him more than he has. "Really. Thank you."

"I should be saying that to you." Yuuri peeks at him through his lashes, pink spreading across his cheeks. It's adorable, and Viktor can't help but be more grateful than he already was to have met someone as amazing as Yuuri.

"No need to. We'll talk more about this later. You need sleep. Rest, moya lyubov." Viktor leaps out of his chair and presses a hand to the window longingly as Yuuri smiles back, more settled than he was.

"Alright. Bye, Viktor." He waves as Viktor goes to take his leave from the room.

"Bye, Yuuri!" With a skip in his step and a tune on his tongue, Viktor briskly walks out of the hospital and towards his car.

.

. . .

.

Viktor grimaces as his phone goes off for the hundredth time, Yakov shooting him another glare as Yurio rolls his eyes.

"Shut that damn thing off before I break it, Vitya. We're in the middle of something important right now." Yakov's words are just shy of him yelling, but the sharp sting of them still have Viktor flinching as he reaches for the device tucked in the pocket of his blazer, setting it on silence. He's more rung out than he's been in a while, and if he's being honest, this meeting isn't something he wants to be in right now.

He ignores most of it, hoping for time to fly faster than it was. Unfortunately, every time he checks his watch, only a minute or two has passed. He finds himself spending more of his energy on trying to ignore the stares Mila is sending his way, wishing she won't pry into anything too deeply when they're let out for the day. It's a wish no one is going to hear, though. As the hour drags on, Yakov talks about a new collaboration with Chris's team and an up-and-coming photographer that's been making a name for himself as of lately. Boring. Dull. He's tapping his fingers anxiously, waiting for the moment Yakov tells them to leave as he makes his final remarks. He's counting down bated breaths until the exact words he's been waiting for are spoken. Viktor bolts from the room faster than he has in a while and reaches for the phone in his pocket. Now if he was correct, the hospital should've been the one trying to call him earlier...

"Viktor, you don't look okay. Are you alright?"

Viktor spins around on his heels and stares blankly at Mila, groaning as she tries to match her pace to his. "What do you want, Mila?"

"I just want to know if you're okay."

Viktor chuckles humorlessly at her words. He's too strung tight for this kind of conversation right now. "You're asking me if I'm alright?"

"Yes?" She seems baffled by his odd response to what was supposed to be an easy question.

"It doesn't matter how I feel." And then the words spill from him like he's drunk. It's like a pencil snapping in half or an elastic snapping after being pulled too tightly. Viktor has hit that point, and he's sure Mila has been waiting for it to happen. "Yuuri is still in pain. Yuuri is still hurting. It doesn't matter how I feel because I'm healthy. Compared to him, I'm beyond healthy. I don't matter, Mila." His words sound harsh, but he can't help it. He's been pushed beyond what he can handle in the past week since he took on Yuuri's payments, and the stress is eating him alive.

"I'm asking because you look like you haven't slept or eaten in days. You can't possibly call that healthy." Mila sets a careful arm on Viktor's own, worry creasing her brows.

Viktor shrugs the arm off apathetically. "I'm fine. There are worse things to worry about than my condition." He stalks off without another word, too consumed by his thoughts and agenda for the day to care.

Mila doesn't just stand off, and it's starting to annoy Viktor. It annoys him now of all times when he just wants to be alone and figure things out. Instead, she's trailing behind him, not saying anything explicitly, but he knows. And he knows that she knows.

"Back off, Mila. I'm okay."

"You're lying. Just tell me what's wrong."

"I can't, okay?!" Viktor runs a tired hand through his unkempt locks. "Sorry." He turns and rushes down the stairs to the main lobby of the building. Too tired to think properly. Too exhausted for this.

Mila apparently isn't. She's bounding down the stairs in his footsteps. "Why not? You always tell me what's wrong, so what's different this time? Is it about Yuuri?"

"Alright!" Viktor whips around on the last set of steps to face her, "Let me rephrase. I can, but I don't want to. Now leave me be." He turns around again and continues his descent.

"I can't."

Viktor stops at the foot of the stairs but doesn't face her. "Why not?"

"Because you're my friend, and there's something wrong. I want to help, Viktor. That's what friends do."

"You can't help with everything. This is something I have to handle on my own." Viktor pushes passed the doors with his phone now held up to his ear, a familiar number already ringing.

Mila is left staring at him from the middle of the staircase as he leaves.

.

. . .

.

"Right. Yes. Don't worry at all. I have it covered. No, the quarterly payment already went through. I know how much is left. Yes, I- Yes, I already paid that forward. Of course I know. I understand. Do svidaniya." Viktor throws his phone across the passenger seat and sets his forehead against the cool leather of the steering wheel. He shuts his eyes and slowly counts to ten in Russian. It doesn't help in the least bit.

"Why can't anything go right?!" He slams his hands against the sides of the wheel in frustration.

Since he decided he was going to pay for everything involving Yuuri's treatment, he's been getting calls about every single procedure. He loves knowing what's going on with Yuuri, but the endless calls are starting to get on his nerves. On top of the calls, he's also had to handle the paperwork involved with transferring all the payments to his account instead of Yuuri's family's accounts. There are meetings he has to attend every week to hear every new development they've come up with. That's another thing he doesn't mind knowing, but it's frustrating to hear week in and week out that there's hardly any progress. Yuuri is dying, and the only one who seems to care in those meetings is Viktor. They only care that someone valuable with a condition no one's heard of has almost no time left, not about the actual person. For someone who loves that person, it's hard to just sit there and listen in.

The passenger side door opens, and it startles Viktor out of his thoughts. When he sees the tufts of dyed blond hair, he relaxes a little, though he's still far too rigid to be calm.

"Want to talk about it?"

Viktor grunts and throws his head back on the headrest of the seat. "I don't know how people do this."

"You may have mentioned that before to me. Details?" Chris mimics Viktor's position, staring at the roof of the car.

"Too many." Viktor digs the palms of his hands into his now-closed eyes.

"Mila was upset."

"She was being nosy. If I wanted to talk, I would've. She should know this by now."

Chris sighs and trains hazel eyes on his friend's stiff form. "That doesn't mean you yell at her. I'm pretty sure everyone in the building heard you."

"Then they'll know to leave me alone this week. When do you plan on going back to Switzerland?" Viktor drops his hands and returns Chris' gaze.

Chris narrows his eyes at him. "Don't change the subject. You know Mila is right. That's why you yelled at her. I think you should talk to someone about what's going on. All anyone knows is whatever information is written in magazines about you two. Some are speculating that you broke up. Everyone started taking bets in the agency, myself included. I said you two got into an argument. Am I right?"

"Is this all just a joke to you? I don't want to talk to someone who can't take anything seriously." Viktor fumbles for the car keys in his pocket before placing them in the ignition.

"You need to relax. Go to a spa or something." When he gets a glare in response, Chris rolls his eyes. "I can't do much if you won't tell me anything."

"He's worse, but it's not like the last time." Viktor waits for a response, only to get encouragement from Chris to continue on. "They're saying he's... he's reaching his breaking point. They're in a rush to get all this new testing done for him, but nothing's helping. The last one they did on Tuesday only made his condition worse. He's coughing up blood now at random intervals. His fever won't go down either. He's hit a wall, and they can't get him back. They said if nothing changes then..."

"I understand."

"Do you?!" Viktor's tone screams desperation. It's a call for help, but no one's been able to hear it. He's hoping Chris can. "Because so far everyone's been treating this like he's some kind of experiment, and if he's gone, then their chances at recognition are gone as well! No one even cares that he has loved ones that want him around. That need him! I need him here, Chris! I need to hear his voice, whether it's through some kind of device or in person, I don't care! I need to hear him, though! I feel like I'm the only one who visits him to see how he really feels!" There are hot trails of tears streaming down his face, but Viktor can't find it in himself to care.

Chris doesn't know what to do, and Viktor can see that. He's able to recognize that look from a million miles away because it's the same look everyone wears when they visit Yuuri. He's sick of seeing it. "You told me to handle this like an adult. Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted?"

"Viktor..." Chris reaches over and pulls Viktor into a hug. "I just want you to finally be happy. I've seen you struggle to find that for years. We all have seen it. Some more often than others."

Viktor shoves Chris off in one swift movement. "I hope you're satisfied now then. Just get out so I can visit Yuuri already. Visiting hours are almost over."

Chris steps out of the car but hangs on to the door. "You've been visiting him a lot more recently."

"Wouldn't you do the same if the one you loved was dying?" Viktor has the steering wheel in his vice-like grip again, hair falling in front of his eyes as he hangs his head.

Chris sighs and shuts the door, walking away from the vehicle.

Viktor lets the tears fall again, only this time harder and the sobs are louder. No one understands, and no one ever will.

.

. . .

.

Viktor walks through the mass of reporters and cameramen, unenthusiastic to see them or answer any of the questions hurled his way. Every day has been the same since Viktor announced his relationship and Yuuri had openly talked about his condition. From every visit Viktor's taken, they've somehow spun a new story around their relationship. It's been a week since the announcement, and so far the stories have ranged from Viktor has what Yuuri has now, they're breaking up, Viktor's found someone else, and even to Viktor's suing the hospital. How that last story came around is still a mystery to him.

The sliding doors to the hospital open with a swish, and soon enough he's checking himself in for the millionth time in the past week. Everyone in the hospital knows who he is now and knows why he's here. He's glad because he doesn't like answering all the same questions again and again.

He shouldn't be as surprised as he is when he hears that Yuuri has visitors. Of course Yuuri has visitors. Viktor just forgets that there are some people who really care about Yuuri besides himself. No reporters and no cameramen. When Viktor enters the small meeting room he's called home the past week, he sees a couple standing by the glass and Yuuri is sitting in a chair close to the window with tears in his eyes. He notes that there's also a nurse standing off to the side in the room with Yuuri again.

Viktor feels out of place when they start speaking Yuuri's native tongue and Yuuri answers back. He shifts from foot to foot as he picks at the bouquet of blue roses he's holding. Yuuri must end up noticing him because then he's calling Viktor's name.

"Viktor, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were here." Yuuri turns his attention to Viktor and soon the couple does the same.

"You must be Vicchan." The older woman is smiling at him.

It's odd to hear his name pronounced like that, but it's probably a nickname or some other in their language. "I didn't realize I was interrupting. I can come back another time." Viktor forces a smile and turns to leave, only to be stopped by Yuuri.

"Actually I'm glad you came now. Viktor, these are my parents."

Viktor turns around and eyes the couple then he looks at Yuuri. He goes between them for a moment before everything clicks. "Oh! It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Katsuki. I'm Viktor Nikiforov."

Mrs. Katsuki laughs, and he finds where Yuuri gets his laugh from. "Please, call me Hiroko. I'm so happy I get to finally meet you." She takes Viktor's right hand, the hand that isn't holding the flowers, and gives him another heartwarming smile. "We've heard all about you from our darling Yuuri."

Viktor glances over her shoulder to see Yuuri burying his face in his hands. He laughs and smiles back at Hiroko. "As am I. Yuuri only talks goodwill of you both. I can see why now. Thank you for bringing the love of my life into this world." Viktor peeks at Yuuri from the side of his eye and finds him gawking at Viktor. Adorable.

Yuuri's father strides up to them and shakes his hand when Hiroko lets go. "You have my blessing, son."

Viktor isn't sure what that means until he really thinks about it. The unknowing grin turns into wide eyes and red cheeks instantly. "I h-haven't... Yuuri is... T-Thank you, sir. Your son is a gift to this world and everyone he meets. I would never forgive myself if I hurt him in any way." He's a stuttering, flustered mess at the image his mind has conjured up. Yuuri in a wedding tux that matches the one Viktor's wearing himself... Them placing rings on the other's right ring finger... Flowers surrounding them as everyone claps and cheers... Yuuri beaming at Viktor passed the rim of his blue glasses and slicked back bangs trying to break free... It's so embarrassing that that's what he's thinking of right now.

When Viktor glances over at Yuuri, he finds that he's just as much of a flustered mess as he is himself. At least he wasn't the only one.

"I'm only kidding you. Call me Toshiya." Toshiya lets go of Viktor's hand and steps back behind Hiroko, both smiling widely at him.

"I'm glad I finally got the chance to meet you both in person, Hiroko and Toshiya." It's different hearing them through a phone as they discuss important matters such as their son's medical expenses to now as they officially introduce themselves. He's more nervous than the first time he called them.

"We can't stay much longer, but we'll be in town for the next few days. We'll make sure we visit you as often as we can, Yuuri!" Toshiya grins at his son, who smiles back in earnest.

"Thank you. I'll see you soon then." When both parents leave, Yuuri brings his attention back to Viktor, who has centered himself more in the now spacious room. "I didn't think you were coming today. I thought you said you had a lot of meetings today." Yuuri stares quizzically at the other before turning red. "I-It's not like I don't enjoy you being here or anything! I just thought you were busy! That's all!"

Viktor smiles and sits down in the chair Yuuri's mother occupied before. "I don't think Yakov wants to see me for the rest of the day. He was pretty fed up with me after the first meeting."

Yuuri frowns, and oh boy he knows he's about to get scolded. "Viktor, what happened?"

"It's nothing you need to worry about." He waves the hand that isn't holding the flowers to dismiss the topic. "How are you, though? I wasn't in the right state of mind to ask anyone about your condition when I entered. Besides, hearing from you is better than hearing from them." Viktor turns more serious as he looks Yuuri up and down, examining him with sharp, ice blue eyes.

Yuuri grimaces, and right away Viktor knows the answer, even without hearing it. "I've been okay."

"I know it must hurt, Yuuri. I'm so so sorry. I promise I have everyone working as hard as they can. If I could become a doctor just so I could help, I would."

Yuuri laughs lightly, but it still sounds pained. "I can picture you doing that."

Viktor grins back, trying to alleviate the tension in the room. "I was tempted to hire foreign doctors, but I know you wouldn't have wanted me to. It was the only thought that prevented me from doing so."

"I'm glad you had it then. Honestly, it would've been too overwhelming." Yuuri coughs violently into his arm and winces when he sees red stain the inside of his elbow.

To distract both Yuuri and himself, Viktor decides to change the topic as the nurse in the corner of the rushes to aid him with the clean-up. "Oh! Before I forget, I brought you more of those blue roses you love. I saw that the one's I gave you before were wilting, so I had to buy new ones." Viktor holds up the bouquet for him to see, and Yuuri's eyes sparkle.

"Thank you, Viktor!" Yuuri turns to his nurse and asks her to grab the flowers once she's done helping him. She walks out of the room, and within a minute, she's taking the bouquet from Viktor and walking back into Yuuri's room.

"Vitya." Viktor almost laughs at the confused expression Yuuri is wearing.

"What?" He's tilting his head and furrowing his eyebrows now.

"It's uhh... nevermind. Forget I said anything." A blush begins to form across Viktor's cheeks, and he begins willing it to disappear.

"No, wait! You can't just say something and then say nevermind." Yuuri pouts, and Viktor becomes putty in his hands.

"Well... uhh... in Russian," he hates himself for saying anything now because he's just as embarrassed as he was with their wedding in his mind, "people who are close to each other call them by their nicknames. There are... certain... endings that express different things. Whether you hate someone, or you know... like someone... they get an ending to their nickname that represents that." Viktor has to fight for every word that he's saying. He's so embarrassed, but he's trying his best not to show it. It's not working.

He waits as Yuuri tries to process the new information, his face lighting up immediately when he understands it. "Oh! So it's like how in Japan where we add -chan or -kun to someone's name?"

"A little, yes. The only difference is that they're very personal." Why is he actually telling Yuuri this? Picturing them getting married was less embarrassing than this now, and Viktor knows it's showing on his face.

Yuuri places a hand to his chin in wonder. "So you must've said your nickname. What is it?" His brown eyes are lit up, sparkling despite the terrible lighting the hospital offers.

"It's not that important..." Viktor laughs nervously, fidgeting in his seat. He can imagine Yurio's look of disgust if he saw him right now.

"But now I want to know." The pout is back on Yuuri's face, deeper than it was a minute ago.

"Vitya..." Viktor mumbles out the word, hoping, wishing, Yuuri wouldn't press further.

"Hmm?"

"Vitya." Viktor can feel the heat on his face spread from his cheeks to his neck. "Don't feel obligated to use it or anything! I don't even know why I brought it up. Haha! Feel free to just-"

"Vitya."

All the words Viktor was going to say become a jumbled mess in his head as he stares at Yuuri in disbelief. Sure, the word came off his tongue awkwardly, but somehow that's what makes the effect the word has on him even worse.

"Did I say that right, Vitya?" Yuuri has no idea what he's doing. His pure intentions leave him dumbfounded as Viktor tries to piece together words.

"I... uh... wow. Yes. Okay." It's not even that personal of a nickname, but coming from Yuuri, it might as well be a proposal. Then again, he dubs anything said by Yuuri nothing less than amazing. "Vitya is a nickname used by my friends. So like Chris, Yurio, Mila..."

"Then what should I call you?" The blush on Yuuri's face is just as bad as Viktor's own.

Viktor almost stutters over his words. "I don't care what you call me, but um... in terms of lovers, my nickname would be... Viten'ka..."

Yuuri bites his lips for a moment, worrying it with his teeth. "Viten'ka."

Viktor is gone. He's done for. Yuuri has ended him. Wishing he could just melt if he hasn't already, Viktor buries his face in his hands.

"I-Is that how you pronounce it? Viten'ka?" Yuuri sounds flustered as well as genuinely worried that he mispronounced it. If only he knew.

"Yuuri, you're killing me." Viktor groans as he tries to hide further.

"I-I'm sorry..."

Viktor snaps his head up to find Yuuri digging into his bottom lip again. He laughs at how oblivious Yuuri is to the mess he has become. "Yuuri, you said it perfectly. I just..." Viktor clears his throat, "wasn't expecting you to... I've never heard anyone actually call me that. It's... not what I expected." He grins, biting back words that'll only make him sound stupid.

"Oh..." Whatever Yuuri's thinking can't be good because his face drops to his hands, fingers gripping his sweatpants at his thighs tightly.

"In a good way! A... very good way..." Viktor tries to reassure him, his own hands reaching to ruffle his platinum bangs.

Yuuri's face perks up, and once he sees Viktor's real distress, he starts giggling. "So even the great Viktor Nikiforov gets embarrassed."

"Only because of you, Yuuri." Viktor sighs and smiles in return, a faint red still staining his cheeks. "Only ever because of you."

"That's not fair." Yuuri whines as his face begins to match Viktor's in color.

The rest of Viktor's visit is spent exactly like back: the both of them teasing each other back and forth, while Yuuri uses Viktor's newfound nickname to cause him further distress. Like every visit with Yuuri, the time passes by in a blur as he finds himself exiting the hospital. The swarm of reporters and cameramen has thinned out, but not so much where Viktor can pass by them comfortably. He's still pushing past people in order to get to his car. It'll die down soon, he thinks. The chaos surrounding him and Yuuri. He's only a model, not an Olympic athlete or celebrity singer, so it can't last forever.

The ride back to his flat is short and uneventful as it usually is. The stress and panic from earlier gone after visiting Yuuri. You would think it would eat at him more, plague his mind like it had, after seeing the one it centered around, but instead it becomes just a thought in the back of his head. He'll worry about it more tomorrow. Viktor can't find the energy in himself to dwell on it now. It's late, and he has a date with his bed that he would really like to get to.

He grabs the comfiest clothes he owns, changes, and flops down on his mattress with his hair splaying out against his pillow. Instead of dozing off like he expected he would, his eyes are open and staring off into the darkness his room offers.

It's strange how life works out. Viktor was alone for years, the comfort of friends not enough to pull him out of the daze he fell into. No matter how many parties Chris brought him to or the people he was introduced to, nothing was ever enough. Now, his life has been turned upside down by an unsuspecting Japanese man, who found a way into his empty heart. It's almost dreamlike how everything's happened, and he wouldn't want it any other way. Except if maybe Yuuri felt better...

Viktor sighs and turns onto his right side, now facing the window that takes up the entire wall looming over Saint Petersburg. He sighs again as lights from cars and neighboring buildings flicker in the darkness. Instead of thinking, he lays there gazing out at the streets, letting sleep consume him.

.

. . .

.

The world is apparently against him ever getting beauty sleep. One day, it's Yurio banging on his door, and the next it's his phone blaring in his ears. Viktor wakes up out of his haze with a start as the sound of violins shakes him out of sleep. He twists around trying to find the source of the sound, only to see a new call lighting up his lockscreen. Scrambling for the device, Viktor swipes right to answer it, pulling the phone up to his ear.

"Mm... privyet?"

The voice on the other end spits out Russian, giving Viktor news that has him fully awake. The conversation through the phone doesn't last long since the urgency on the other end cuts it short abruptly. Viktor's mind is scrambling to hold on to something before he snaps, tugging at silver locks as he struggles to get a grasp on his breathing. When he thinks he's finally registered the news, he throws the sheets off of him and rushes around to get ready for the day. Although he was told not to come in... that it would only make him feel worse about a situation "they have a grasp on". Viktor's not sure if he can trust them, but they've been keeping Yuuri alive, and that's all that matters right now.

Because Yuuri is going in for emergency surgery.

The doctor he spoke with assured him it was easy, and he has nothing to worry about, but how can he not? Yuuri's state is already wilting, and an emergency surgery isn't exactly going to ease his mind. They said it was to open up a path for him to breathe better. From what he understood, Yuuri started choking early this morning and was having difficulty breathing. They immediately started prepping him for surgery, while one doctor called to inform Viktor about what was happening. He's grateful for his connections in the hospital, otherwise he would have no idea about what's going on.

Viktor's pacing around his apartment, his appearance expressing how he truly feels in that moment. He only manages to throw on a rumpled white dress shirt and black trousers, not really bothering to fix his hair or anything for that matter. He's holding his phone tightly in the palm of his hand as he paces, waiting on the hospital to call him back with word on how it goes.

One hour passes. Then another. And soon a third.

It's when the fifth hour comes around when Makkachin is woken up from his position next to Viktor on the couch as his phone rings. Immediately, he answers, presses it to his ear, and then he's back to pacing. Russian passes back and forth between him and the doctor on the other line, worry and concern turning into a settled sigh and relaxed shoulders. When the call ends, he sits back down on the couch and sinks into the cushions.

"He's going to be okay, Makkachin, but they won't let me visit him. How cruel of them." Viktor faces the poodle, who whines in response. He huffs to himself as he runs a hand through the brown fur. "I wish you could meet him. He's kind, loving, oh and he has the most adorable-" He's cut off as his phone rings again. It's definitely not the hospital, so he can't possibly imagine who- Oh.

"Privyet, Yakov!" The cheery tone comes naturally to him now that he's calmed down from the hectic and nerve-wrecking morning he's already had.

The call involves a lot of yelling on Yakov's end. Today is the first day of the collaborative shoot, and oops Viktor forgot. It's hard to remember something like that when the love of your life is in the hospital fighting against something he might die from. Really, the shoot was not on his list of priorities, but Yakov yells back that it should be.

Viktor's been known to have tons of stupid ideas. Too many for a Russian male of only twenty-eight. And the one he's thought of will potentially be the second dumbest one he's had. Second because Chris will argue that the day out with Yuuri holds the number one spot. He tells Yakov that he'll head down to the studio soon, not explaining anything more as he hangs up on the CEO. Viktor pets Makkachin once more before he gets ready for the day, shoving one half of a bagel in his mouth as he leaves his flat with the other half in his hand.

When he gets to the studio, everyone waves and welcomes him, unsurprised when he shows up late. It doesn't take him long to hunt down Yakov, who's talking to a small group of people working on the project. Yakov spots Viktor out of the corner of his eyes when he waltzes up to the older Russian.

"Took you long enough. We planned on starting with or without you. You need to learn time management, Vitya. I don't want to have to-"

"Yakov, can we talk in private?" Viktor plasters on a smile as he leads Yakov into a secluded corner of the studio.

"I don't want to deal with-"

"I'm taking a leave of absence."

"You're what?!" Yakov's livid as he folds his arms over his chest.

"I don't know for how long, but I figured I could just call you when I wanted to return. If I wanted to return." Viktor folds his hands nicely in front of him, taking in the expression of the other. It's about the response he thought he would get, so nothing really surprises him.

"You'll be dead to everyone once you leave. Do you understand that? No one is going to wait around for you just because you decide to elope with some sickly-"

"I'm doing this because I chose to, not so I could run off with Yuuri." He emphasizes Yuuri's name because the thought of anyone calling him anything based off of what he has sickens him. "I've decided to personally take on all his payments, and it's getting hard to be here when I need to be there for him. I know what the risks are, and I don't mind. Yurio's great at what he does. He definitely won't be able to pass the career I've made, but he could get close."

Yakov narrows his eyes at him. "Do whatever you want. You'll have to come begging to me on your knees if you want to return." With that said, Yakov turns on his heels and strides away, leaving Viktor alone in the corner.

It's not the smartest thing he's done if he's completely honest with himself. He's made enough to get by for quite a while, though. On top of that, he'll get to spend more time focused on Yuuri rather than trying to split his attention two ways. It's for the best.

He sees Mila and Chris talking as he walks towards the exit of the studio. When they finally see him, he salutes them and pushes open the door to the studio, leaving them behind with their confused expressions.

This'll work out.

It has to.

Chapter Text

"Open up, old man! I forgot the key, but don't think I won't kick your door down!"

Viktor groans and turns the volume up on the TV. It isn't that he doesn't want to talk to Yurio, but he knows of the conversation that's going to occur if he opens the door. It wouldn't be much of a conversation either. Just yelling. The type of conversation he's been dealing with since he announced his leave from the agency.

"I know you can hear me! I'll sit out here until you open up!"

Viktor rolls his eyes and turns the TV off. Getting up from the couch, he slips into his shoes and grabs his coat and scarf. With one arm through one of the sleeves, Viktor opens the door and pushes past the younger Russian. Yurio starts to say something, but Viktor effectively cuts him off.

"Let's go."

"I don't want to visit him. I told you that." There's an emotion hidden in Yurio's words that he's never heard before, one that has him pausing in front of the elevator that's down the hallway from his flat. "I don't care how much he means to you. I'm not going." The words are harsh but aren't yelled, bitterness lacing every syllable.

"We're not visiting Yuuri. Now, let's go."

Yurio lets his anger be taken over by surprise for a moment before falling away to anger again. He says nothing as he walks towards Viktor, who has pushed the down arrow button for the elevator. They wait side-by-side for the carriage to arrive, both stepping in silently when it does. Viktor leans against one side, hands resting on the metal bar along the walls after he's pressed the button for the first floor. He notes that Yurio has yet to take his eyes off of him. Usually, Viktor would crack a joke in a moment like this, but right now he can't find it in himself to make one. He needs to seriously talk with Yurio rather than make jokes and exchange insults hidden behind smiles.

When the elevator hits the first floor and the doors open, Viktor leads the way out of the apartment building and down the sidewalks of Saint Petersburg. It must've snowed last night because white covers everything. It crunches under their feet as they walk in an all-too familiar direction. They've gone here plenty of times, whether it was just to hang out with everyone or clear one's mind. It's a place that carries a new meaning for him now that he's taken Yuuri here.

The beach.

It takes a few minutes before they finally reach the sidewalk that lines the shore. Viktor glances behind himself quickly to see if Yurio is still following him, smiling when he sees that he is. He stops walking and stuffs his hands into the pockets of his beige trench coat, enjoying the view while also trying to gather his thoughts.

"Well?" Only Yurio gets straight to the point. "Why'd you drag me out here?" The bitterness is still present in his voice. Of course it is.

"I started modeling somewhere around your age. How the years have gone by..."

"I know you're old already. Cut to the chase, and tell me why you quit. You promised-"

"Yuri, I've been doing what I've been doing for maybe fourteen years. I was addicted to the crowds, the fame, and attention it gave me. When Yakov introduced me to you, I was already falling into... well, nothingness. If that makes sense. Despair, maybe? I don't know." Viktor thinks on the nights he spent drinking alone. "What I do know is that I didn't feel excited for a new job anymore. Meetings were becoming more dull than they already were."

"And your point is...?" Yurio crosses his arms over his chest as he raises an eyebrow at Viktor.

"I've been thinking about quitting for a while. When I met Yuuri, I realized that modeling was only holding me back. I want to visit places for more than three days spent on a shoot. I want to do that with Yuuri. Modeling was taking time away from me that I could've used to spend with him. That's why I made the decision I did."

"So what? You're just going to leave? What about Mila? Georgi? Your creepy friend Chris?" Blond hair falls over his eyes as he lowers his head to gaze at the ground. "Me?"

Viktor faces him when he says the last word. It sounds sad, sadder than he's ever heard Yuri sound. "You said it yourself. I was holding you back. With me out of the picture, you'll get more job offers, more-"

"That's your excuse, huh? I expected too much from you." He glances up, and Viktor's heart almost shatters. "The Viktor Nikiforov I knew is dead. Go run away with your dying playtoy already. I'm sick of seeing you." Yurio spins on his heels and starts walking away.

In long strides, Viktor catches up to him and clamps a hand down on the teen's shoulder. They stop moving, stuck in place while the wind blows around them.

"You don't know anything."

Yurio shoves his hand away and whirls around to pin green eyes on Viktor. "At least I don't break promises. I don't have the best memory, but I don't go back on my word once I've given it. 'Sure, I'll teach you everything I know to bring you to the top.' Do you remember that?"

Viktor tries to think why they sound so familiar, but Yurio doesn't give him anymore time to figure it out.

"Of course not. You said that to me four years ago. Now here you are, throwing everything away for someone you've known for what... three months? Pathetic. I don't need you anymore. No one does. Just leave already." Yurio walks away, and Viktor doesn't try stop him this time.

He knows he should at least try to, but he also knows how pointless that would be. Instead he looks back over at the water, replaying the words in his head like a mantra.

"The Viktor Nikiforov I knew is dead... That says just how little you really know me, Yuri." Viktor says the words out loud to no one in particular, letting them hang on the ocean breeze.

He turns back to see that Yurio's figure is gone.

.

. . .

.

"I'm here for someone named Yuuri." Yurio leans against the counter, frustration lining his expression. The receptionist eyes him for a moment before hesitantly typing into the computer in front of her.

"How old are you?" She raises a questioning eyebrow his way as he rolls his eyes.

"I'm Viktor Nikiforov's cousin. Viktor sent me here to give him something." It disgusts him that he has to use that traitor's name, but if it gets him already then who cares.

The receptionist glances at him again before turning back to the computer. She asks him a couple of basic questions and then sends him to the waiting room. In a minute, a doctor ushers for Yurio to follow him. He's led through twists, turns, and suddenly swinging double doors. He's brought back through more corridors and finally a larger room with one window covering the wall to his right. The doctor leaves right after leading him there, which kind of annoys him. He glances around the room for a moment and then looks through the window. He's surprised to see the room beyond the window as a regular hospital room, only with more equipment scattered around. Then he sees the person sitting up on the bed, gazing back at him with bright brown eyes. They probably only look bright because of how sickly pale he is. Yurio would ask him if he's alright if he wasn't already in a hospital.

"Hello?" The voice is quiet and hardly makes it to Yurio's ears.

"You're Yuuri? You don't look like the photos." Viktor has shown him enough for him to know that he's in the right room, only the photos he's seen show him happier and less... on his deathbed as he is.

Yuuri says nothing. Opening his mouth and then closing it, examining Yurio before recognition flashes across his face. "Yuri Plisetsky..."

"I'm surprised the old man told you my name. I didn't think he remembered it." He laughs humorlessly as he takes a seat in one of the chairs lining the left wall.

"Huh? Oh, you must mean Viktor. He's mentioned you only a few times, but my sister has almost every magazine with you in it. I mostly know you through everything she read and spoke about." For whatever reason, Yuuri smiles. Gross.

But Yurio takes in his words. He's mentioned you only a few times... It infuriates him more to hear that from the Japanese imposter. Viktor never shut up about him, but apparently Yurio wasn't important enough to mention to him. Georgi and Mila met him, but because he didn't, Viktor never talked about him. If he wasn't already mad at him, then he would be now. "Great. Just perfect." Yurio speaks through clenched teeth as he stares at his Asian counterpart. "Now that we're past names, did you hear what you made Viktor do?"

Yurio's words knock the smile off his face as he stares blankly at him through the window. "What do you mean?"

So Viktor never even told him about quitting. What an asshole. "He quit modeling. He told the CEO about it yesterday."

"He quit?!" Yuuri stumbles to sit upright in his bed, his words too loud for his scratchy throat sending him into a coughing fit. He looks so frail.

"Yeah. He said he couldn't go through the stress of dealing with you while focusing on his career apparently. He left because of you." Yurio crosses his arms and leans back in the plastic chair.

He could be wrong, but Yuuri looks like he's shaking now. "He left because of me..." Yuuri stares at the sheets on his bed with wide eyes.

"It's your fault he won't return. Tell him to change his mind. He made a promise to me, but because of you, he broke it."

"I... I'm so sorry. I didn't know."

Yurio almost feels bad because then Yuuri looks up at him with tears in his eyes, like he's about to start hyperventilating. Almost because he reminds himself that the person sitting across from him is the reason Viktor broke their promise. He's the reason why Viktor left.

"Well, now you do. Fix it." Yurio doesn't say anything else as he stands up to leave, only sparing one last look over his shoulder at the shaking patient. It's for the better, he tells himself. Whether his thoughts act as reassurance that he's not the bad guy or to prevent him from fixing what he's done, he doesn't know. He walks out of the room faster now, the sobs from Yuuri trailing behind him.

It's for the better.

.

. . .

.

His conversation with Yurio yesterday still nags in the back of his head, and it's been making him question his decision to leave. Yurio seemed so upset that he was quitting, which was the complete opposite reaction he thought he'd get.

Viktor walks through the sliding doors at the entrance of the hospital and strides up to the check-in desk, ridding his mind of the negative thoughts he's been dwelling on. Right now, he needs to be all smiles for Yuuri.

"Viktor Nikiforov checking in to see Yuuri Katsuki."

The receptionist bites her lip as she faces Viktor fully. "I'm sorry, Mr. Katsuki has asked that we keep you from seeing him."

Well, that's odd. "Are you sure? Can you send someone to ask? We planned on today's visit a few days ago. He's okay, right?" Now he's starting to worry. Maybe he's not feeling well and doesn't want to worry Viktor. But that hasn't been a concern of Yuuri's for a while... which makes this even odder.

"I can assure you that there has been no sudden decline in his health. We were given these instructions last night. I'm very sorry, Mr. Nikiforov. I must ask you to leave." She turns back to her computer without another word.

"Alright. Thank you. I understand." Only he doesn't.

Viktor pushes away from the counter and pulls out his phone, determined to figure out what's happening. He starts pacing in the waiting room as he dials Yuuri's phone number. Someone had to have said that for Yuuri. He can't find any logic that Yuuri would push him away of all people. Something's wrong.

Yuuri doesn't pick up until after the third attempt to call him. "Yuuri! Are you alright? They won't let me in to see you, but I'm pretty sure it's a mistake. Can you tell them-"

"Viktor."

"It's a mistake, right?" It has to be. Yuuri wouldn't...

"I-I'm sorry, Viktor. I'm so so sorry."

Yuuri's crying. Why is Yuuri crying? Nothing's making sense. "Yuuri, please don't cry. Why are you apologizing? You have nothing to apologize for."

"I-I told them not to let you in. I'm s-so sorry!" Yuuri is hiccuping and coughing on the other end, and Viktor so badly wants to cradle him in his arms and tell him everything is okay.

"Yuuri, calm down. Deep breaths. In and out. Why did you tell them to do that? You don't have to apologize. I just want to know." Viktor is trying to be calm himself, but he's hardly keeping it together. He knows that Yuuri is a mess right now, but he can't figure out why. They left on such a happy note the last time he visited, and they've been texting every day since. What went wrong? What happened?

"V-Viktor, I love you."

"Yuuri, I love you too. What's going on? I don't understand-"

"I l-love you, Viktor. That's why... T-That's why I told them to keep you out. Viktor, let's end this. P-Please."

Things weren't making sense before, and it's no better now. "What are you talking about, Yuuri? Have I done something wrong? Is it about your treatments? Yuuri, we can-"

"Viktor, no. I-I'm... I'm going home. They're sending me back to Japan. I agreed. The plans are official. We need to... to e-end this... us..." Viktor can hear Yuuri's voice break on the last part, just like how he can hear his own heart snap along with it.

"Yuuri, I can just fly down. It isn't that long of a flight. I can rent us a place. We can live together. I could even just visit now and again. Everything will be fine. We can make this work."

"No, we can't. I..." Yuuri takes a long pause before he speaks again. "I'm tired of us having to take all these precautions. You have a job here, too. We're... through. We're done, Viktor. Thank you so much for all the time you've given me." No, no, no. This can't possibly be happening right now. Is he dreaming? He must be, and this is just one terrible nightmare. "You don't have to worry about my treatments either. My parents are taking over everything again. I shouldn't have burdened you with all of that, but thank you so much. Goodbye, Viktor."

"No wait, Yuuri! Please don't hang up. Please don't let this be it. Please. Please." Viktor's sure he looks like a disaster. He can feel the hot trail of tears down his cheeks.

Yuuri has gone silent, almost like he's waiting for Viktor to object to all of us, and then they can go back to being happy together. Until Yuuri speaks. "I'm so sorry." And then he hangs up.

Viktor doesn't move, hardly even breathes as the click of the call being ended rings in his ears. Then the sobs start. Slow and uneven until they break and become gasps for air as Viktor sinks to his knees. His phone clatters to the ground as he grounds the palms of his fists into his shut eyes. The pain hurts. Everything hurts, and there's nothing he can do to stop it. His heart aches, and he just wants it to stop.

He doesn't know how long he sits there sobbing, but it's long enough for a nurse to come over and ask if he's okay. How does he even begin to answer her? So he doesn't. Instead, he wipes the tears off his face, or at least tries to but ends up smudging them across his cheeks, picks his phone up and throws it in his pocket, and stands up, making his way to the exit. He feels like he's been put on autopilot as he walks out of the hospital. Once Viktor gets to his car, he collapses on the ground against the driver's door. He can feel the snow seeping through his pants, but he can't find it in himself to care. Because Yuuri is leaving. Yuuri doesn't want to see him anymore. This is it.

Viktor curls his knees into his chest and wraps his arms around them, tucking his head into his knees. Everything hurts so much. It all just one awful nightmare. He'll wake up, and Yuuri will send him a good morning text along with one of those cute emoticons he loves using. They'll talk for hours on end, even as he's being tested. They'll make plans for Viktor to visit him. Viktor can plan out another day where he sneaks Yuuri out of the hospital. Everything will be exactly the same. Nothing will have changed.

Only the cold reality of what's happening feels too much for just a nightmare. Saying he's lost is an understatement. Viktor feels like there's nothing left. His heart is torn in pieces. Yuuri is leaving. Yuuri is leaving.

Yuuri is leaving.

Just when he thought everything was perfect, this happened. Viktor isn't even entirely sure what this is, nor does he want to know what it is. Thinking about what Yuuri said to him has his mind reeling.

He'll never get to see Yuuri's smile, hear Yuuri's laugh, hold Yuuri's hands, watch Yuuri sleep peacefully after a round of tests, or simply see Yuuri.

That was the last time he'll ever hear Yuuri's voice.

That's it.

Before Viktor can completely lose himself, he knows he has to get away from the hospital. Maybe Yuuri just needs a little space to figure things out. Maybe he'll text Viktor later saying that everything's okay, and that he didn't mean anything he said. It's false hope, but it's what he decides to cling to. Because it's all he has left. Fumbling through his pockets he finally finds the keys to his car and somehow manages to open the door, throwing himself inside. He shuts the door and turns the car on, putting the heat on as he does.

He doesn't want to go home. If he goes back to his flat, he'll do something stupid on his own. Irrational. Not the best choice. He could go to Georgi since he has the most experience with heartbreak, but he doesn't really feel like hanging on to the sinking feeling in his chest. Yurio is still mad at him. Yakov doesn't want to see him. Mila would only be too worried. But Chris... Chris would be good.

Viktor throws the car into reverse and drives as fast as he can to Chris's temporary apartment. He's supposed to be leaving for Switzerland soon, so he's probably packing. He won't mind spending a night out drinking, especially with Viktor of all people. Drinking would be good. Or would it just make everything worse? He can't find it in himself to care. He needs to drown everything, push the day's events from his mind as far away as possible. Chris can help.

In no time at all, he pulls up to Chris's apartment and rings for him at the door. Viktor can hear him clammering down the stairs as he answers the door.

"Vitya, what happened to you?" Chris's expression says everything. Viktor looks like a disaster. "What bus hit you on the way here?"

"Chris, let's go out for drinks. Now."

Chris raises an eyebrow but holds a finger up. "Let me grab a coat and my keys. I don't know what happened, but I don't want you driving like that." He motions at Viktor's appearance before scuttling off to get the mentioned items.

When he gets back, he leads the way to his car and hops in the driver's side as Viktor slides into the passenger seat. They don't say anything until they get to a crowded bar. It's one of their regular spots, and Viktor finds himself welcoming the familiarity like fresh air as they sit down at the bar counter. He barely listens as Chris prattles off drink orders for them. Once there's a drink in their hands and Viktor knocks it back in one go, Chris then decides to question the sudden trip out.

"So what happened?" He takes a sip of his drink, eyeing Viktor suspiciously as he orders another drink for himself.

Humorlessly, Viktor laughs and accepts the next drink the bartender puts in front of him. "I guess I look that bad, huh?"

"You're already on your second drink, and we just walked in. I'm a little curious." Chris leans his right arm against the solid wood of the bar as he takes a sip of his drink from his left.

"I don't want to talk about it just yet."

"Either sober Viktor will tell me or drunk Viktor will. One is more dramatic than the other, so if you want me to stop you then you should tell me now."

Viktor sighs and tries to slow down how fast he's drinking. "He's leaving. He's decided to go back to Japan, and crushing my heart was on his to-do list before he left." Viktor gives up on his idea to slow down and instead knocks his drink back like the first one: fast and relentlessly.

"So he doesn't like long-distance relationships?"

"I don't think it's that simple. I don't know... He sounded miserable when he told me. It didn't seem like he wanted to, but more like he had to. Does that make any sense?" Viktor waves for the bartender, but Chris shoots down the idea.

"Viktor, maybe he just wants to be with his family before he... you know... leaves for good."

"I thought about that, too, but I offered to move down there. I said I could even just visit if he doesn't want me there twenty-four seven. Chris, he told me no. He said we were over. He completely cut me off. I don't know what to do." Viktor leans both elbows against the bar and runs his hands through his hair. "What should I have said differently?"

"I don't think you could've said anything differently. Vitya, do you think that maybe he doesn't want to hurt you when his time comes? That could very well be it." Chris looks at him pointedly before taking another sip of his drink.

"I told him I wanted to be there for him no matter what, though. Where did I go wrong, Chris?"

Chris orders another drink for Viktor before taking in the disheveled Russian. "You should talk to him face-to-face. If you think none of that is the reason why, then push your way through to talk to him before he leaves. Do you even know when that'll be?"

Viktor pulls his right hand from his hair and traces his index finger along the rim of the new glass he's given. "He didn't say. I don't think he would've told me either if I asked."

"Don't drink a lot tonight then, and go see him first thing in the morning. I can't help you if he's already gone, but if he's still there, then you have a chance to fix this." Chris sets aside his now empty glass and turns on the stool to face Viktor straight on.

"Are you sure? What if he pushes me away again?" Viktor eyes his drink before directing his gaze to Chris.

"Then at least you can say you tried. If you love him as much as you keep telling me, then you should try." Chris shrugs and leans back against the bar.

"I knew coming to you would be a good idea." Viktor smiles halfheartedly and glances down at the empty glass again. He'll try to do that, to talk to Yuuri. It's his last option. His only option left.

.

. . .

.

Viktor wakes up in an unknown place, his sleep-muddled mind taking far longer than it should to recognize Chris's place. His back aches as he sits up on the couch he apparently crashed on last night. As he stretches out his limbs, Chris walks in with nothing but a bathrobe on and two cups of coffee in hand.

"I didn't think you'd wake up for another day. Glad to see you're up, though. Rise and shine. You've got a busy day ahead." Chris hands him a cup, and Viktor blearily accepts it.

"Right." He has to talk to Yuuri. That's the plan anyway. If he's there, then he'll clear everything up. There's no way Yuuri really wants to leave, and if he did, then why didn't he just ask Viktor to come with him. That would make more sense than telling him to leave.

"I'm going to drop you off at your place, so you can fix yourself. Yuuri isn't going to say yes if you look or smell like that."

At the insult, Viktor lifts the collar of his rumpled dress shirt to his nose, Chris's accusation proven correct. "Sounds like a plan."

They hang out for a bit, lounging around before Chris decides they should get going. They drive to Viktor's flat, Chris dropping him off with a promise to pick him up in fifteen. Viktor hurries through the lobby and to the elevator that leads to his flat, finding himself more jittery than usual. The cold shower wakes him up fully, and he styles his hair appropriately after. Draping a towel around his shoulders, he opens his closet to dozens of different colored suits all dazzling on their own. Viktor picks out a simple black and white ensemble, dressing as quickly as possible when he realizes what little time he has with a glance at his watch.

Viktor's down in the lobby in just a little over fifteen and seated in Chris's car in twenty. Chris drives off without another word.

The trip to the hospital has him on edge. Either Yuuri is there and will tell him to stay, or Yuuri is gone already and really doesn't want to see Viktor anymore. He can't imagine that the latter will happen, but he can't rule it out. He doesn't say anything to the receptionist, but instead lets Chris distract her so he can slip away. Viktor follows the corridors down to the room he knows so well, the room that holds all of his favorite memories. Through the doors and to the window displaying his room.

There's no one there. The room Yuuri used to occupy is vacant, save for the little reminders that he existed. Viktor holds a hand up to the glass and stares at the blue roses left on the table next to what used to be Yuuri's bed. It's overwhelming to see just how bare the room is now. A nurse walks through, probably having followed him as soon as she saw him enter the room.

"When did he..."

"Last night." The nurse is standing by the door wearing a pitying look towards the Russian.

Last night. Yuuri left last night as Viktor was contemplating how to make him stay. While he was out with Chris, Yuuri was being transported back to Japan. He's gone, and Viktor can't do anything to get him back.

Viktor walks back the way he came and pushes open the door to the room. He's reminded of the day when he first snuck Yuuri out of the hospital. That was the only other time he entered that very room himself. Viktor sucks in a breath as he takes hesitant steps further into the space. Pale fingers trail the side of the neatly made bed as he makes his way to the bedside table. He picks up one of the dozen roses, twirling it around in his fingers. A flicker of white in the corner of his eye draws his attention to the table. There, a piece of paper is tucked under the vase the roses are held in. Viktor puts the rose down on the pillow and carefully lifts the vase up to release the slip of paper. With shaking fingers, he plucks the paper up from the table eyeing the script on it.

It's Yuuri's handwriting, script he's very familiar with. Written in that script is Viktor's name scrawled on the top of the paper. The paper is bent and crinkling in odd places, most likely due to tears. He blinks back his own that are threatening to fall and slowly unfolds the paper. In the letter are two small words. Don't forget. As if he ever could, but he knows the real meaning behind the words. Viktor tucks the note in his pocket and picks up the rose once more, making his way to the exit.

"I never will, Yuuri."

Viktor walks back out to the waiting room and motions for Chris to follow. He can feel Chris's eyes on him, on the way his shoulders bend inwards and the tears that stay in the corners of his eyes.

"That was short."

"He wasn't there. He left exactly like he said he would." Viktor stops walking as he reaches the entrance, gazing down at the flower still in his hands. The sun glints off the petals, turning its blue into a lighter hue.

"I'm sorry, Viktor."

"You have nothing to be sorry for." Viktor resumes walking, almost running out of the hospital.

.

. . .

.

Yurio sits back in the chair he's confined in, switching his position almost every second. Morning meetings are boring beyond belief, and the empty seat across from him annoys him more than he would like. Otabek, the only true confidant he has, sends him a knowing look from across the table. Otabek is sitting next to the empty seat, much to Yurio's dismay. The Crispino twins on either side of himself are ready to snap. Yakov proposed that they work on different projects again due to a client's orders, but the brother isn't happy about it. Go figure. Yurio found out quickly just how much of a nuisance he is. All Michele does is glare at everyone, and it's starting to get on Yurio's nerves. But Otabek keeps him quiet with just a look.

They do this often, exchanging looks to the other. When Otabek first came on to work under Yakov, Yurio didn't know what to think of him. A shoot in Barcelona with the older teen changed that when Otabek asked him to be friends. Now, they're able to send eyerolls and smirks from across the room, and know exactly what the other means by them. It makes the miserable meetings just a little more tolerable.

A knock on the door has everyone, including Yurio, turning towards the sound. Only Yurio knows who's on the other side. He smirks and Otabek raises an eyebrow at him. He'll find out soon enough, Yurio thinks smugly.

Yakov huffs, clearly annoyed with the interruption. "Come in."

Exactly who he thought it was comes into the room. Yurio's smug grin diminishes when he sees him, though. He was right, but something's wrong.

"Hi." Viktor opens the door with a fake smile plastered on his face. It's the same one he stupidly puts on in front of the camera and paparazzi. The same one that makes him sick.

"What the hell are you doing here? Everyone get out." Yakov doesn't take his eyes off the nuisance that is Viktor Nikiforov as everyone starts to filter out of the room.

Yurio gratefully stands up, and Otabek follows not too far behind. Yurio hangs out outside the office, leaning against the wall. He wants to talk to Viktor, not that he cares why he looks like a mess or anything. Just to tell him that he was right. It's weird seeing him back here because that means Yuuri did exactly what he told him. Viktor is back to tell Yakov that he wants to return. It sends chills down his spine to know that he got what he wanted.

"What's up?" Otabek has his arms crossed as he leans up against the wall next to Yurio. He's always able to tell when something is wrong with him.

"Kinda creeped out." Yurio doesn't look up at him, but he knows that Otabek is staring.

"Why?"

"I told his weirdo boyfriend to tell him to come back since he stupidly decided to leave." Yurio sighs as he thinks back to the conversation in the hospital. Well, less of a conversation and more of just Yurio hurling accusations at him.

"You did what?" Otabek sounds surprised.

Yurio scoffs in response. "I paid him a visit and told him that it was his fault Viktor left. He caved and must've told him to come back."

Viktor walks out of the room then, still wearing that dumb smile. "Well... I'm on temporary leave, but I'm back otherwise." He's a mess straight up. Yurio can see the bags under his eyes the closer he steps towards him. His platinum hair sticking out in different directions like he hadn't bothered to fix it after waking up. His shirt is a wrinkled mess. It's a shell of the man Viktor once was.

"The fuck happened to you?" Instead of a real answer, Viktor stoops down and hugs Yurio tightly, his head leaning against his shoulder. "Oi, get off of me! You know I don't like my personal being intruded!"

"He's gone, Yurio. Yuuri left for Japan, and he told me he doesn't want to see me anymore."

The hug grows tighter with every word, but it's not that that has Yurio gasping for breath. It's the guilt washing over him in tidal waves. Yuuri left because of what he said. Holy shit, it's his fault that Yuuri left. Yuuri actually left, though. He didn't tell him to do that. Why the hell did he leave? Was he really too harsh on him? What the heck is happening?

"What?" The word comes out as choked as he feels. He looks up at Otabek, who looks concerned. Probably mirroring Yurio's own expression.

"He called me saying that he didn't want to see me. That we're... through. He left that night for Japan... He doesn't want me to follow, so I won't." His shoulder is becoming wet from Viktor's tears. "It's funny. They say talking things over will help, but why do I only feel worse? He's gone, Yuri."

"You're kidding, right?" Fuck. He's done it now.

Viktor releases him and goes to leave. "Sorry. I didn't mean to burden you with my problems." He leaves it at that and walks down the hallway out of sight.

"Fuck... Please tell me this isn't my fault." Yurio silently begs as he watches Viktor stumble away.

"You told me not to lie to you. That would be a lie. You told him to leave?"

"No!" Yurio groans and hits the back of his head against the wall, looking up at the ceiling. "I didn't tell him to leave, just to tell Viktor to get back to work like he should."

"Well, you must've said something to him that made him leave overnight." Otabek moves his eyes from Yurio to the door in front of them, not looking at anything in particular.

"I didn't say anything that severe! I mean I might've, but I didn't tell him to leave! What am I going to do?" He groans again, frustrated and angry at the new development. What is he supposed to do? Fly all the- "I have an idea, and you're helping."

"Hm?" Otabek blinks down at green eyes filled with determination. "And that idea is...?"

"We're flying to Japan. Are you in or are you out?"

Otabek thinks about the offer for a moment before the corners of his lips turn up in what Yurio knows to be a smile. "I'm in."

"Great. Let's get going then. I don't want to deal with Viktor's whining and complaining once it starts." Yurio tugs on Otabek's leather jacket, practically dragging him down the hallway. "We've got a flight to catch."

Chapter Text

Viktor slouches lower in the leather seat, trying to hide himself from Yakov's accusatory eyes. Neither of them have said anything, just staring and waiting for the other to crack. Yakov seems to be more inclined to get Viktor's answer to his unspoken question. Viktor has no idea what exactly that question is, but he does know who it involves.

"I-"

"What'd you tell him?"

Viktor cringes and tries to sink lower in the seat, despite how very close he is to slipping off of it. "I didn't-"

"So you mean to tell me Yurochka just up and left on his own? He's fifteen!" Yakov huffs and throws his arms over his chest, glowering at Viktor. "He can't get on a plane by himself without forms. Forms that a parental figure has to sign. Indulge me."

"Awe, you think I'm a father figure to him." Viktor laughs awkwardly, immediately regretting when Yakov's eyes only seem to narrow. So humor isn't the way to go around this. Got it. Wait. "Did you say plane?"

"I was talking about me. I sign off on all of his paperwork. Knowing you, you probably forged it for him. I'm not dumb, Vitya, so stop playing like I am. You know about this, so just tell me already. Which foreign country did you let him go to on his own?"

"Wait, Yuri got on a plane by himself? Are you sure?" Viktor sits up in the chair and leans forward. Yurio definitely didn't mention leaving, especially to another country.

"I have a read email with confirmation of the purchase of boarding passes and a ten percent off coupon for my next purchase. Pair that with his absence from today's meeting, and you learn all the facts. So where'd he go?" Yakov sits back in his chair, seemingly less angry knowing that Viktor is probably not in the know on it. Probably.

"I have no clue. He never told me anything. He must've taken Otabek with him..." Viktor presses a hand to his chin in thought. Otabek was also absent from the meeting, and he's Yurio's closest friend. There's no way that Yurio would leave without telling the Altin kid, and since he's missing as well, he must've gone with him. He had to.

"You really don't know?" Yakov is definitely skeptical, but it doesn't change that Viktor had no idea Yurio decided to take the next flight out of Russia.

"He never mentioned it."

"You're both flight risks, but I thought you'd try to leave before he did." Yakov grumbles as he picks up his phone - Viktor would place money that he's trying to call Yurio - shooing Viktor out of the room.

Viktor doesn't hesitate to immediately rush from the room, almost knocking into Chris once he's out of the stifling office.

"I didn't realize you were still frightened by him." Chris's playful smirk implies that he's just teasing Viktor, who's always been an easy target for him.

"I don't want to be in the room when Yurio finally picks up his phone." The image of Yakov screaming through the device to Yurio sends shudders down his spine. He's been on the opposite end of that call, and he doesn't want to be a part of it again.

"What'd he do this time?" Chris must sense Viktor's urgency because then all humor is gone. "What happened? Did he burn down the building that the interviewer who mocked him works at? I told him not to, but you know how-"

"Not that. He threatened legal action, and the guy backed down. I bet Otabek standing up for him scared the poor guy to death. That's not it, though. Apparently Yurio left Russia without telling anyone, and he must've taken Otabek with him." Viktor digs his teeth into his bottom lip. It's a habit he's never really had, but maybe picked it up from watching Yuu- him.

Chris raises an eyebrow as he follows Viktor down the thin corridor that breaks into a wider one and leads to the stairs. "Interesting. Where'd he choose to vacation? I'm biased, but I love the Swiss mountains. I have a nice chalet there, remember? It was the one time when-"

"Chris, this isn't funny. I don't know why, but I feel more concerned that I should be. I've been rebellious towards work when I was a kid but leaving the country? What reason does he have to leave overnight and not tell anyone? He might hate me - not that I think he actually does - but he would still tell me. Why didn't he this time?"

Chris shrugs. "Alone time?"

"I doubt it." Viktor sighs and shakes his head.

"Maybe you should try that."

"That'd be a terrible idea." Viktor laughs humorlessly as they make their way down the pristine white stairs that lead to the entrance of the building.

"Why?"

"I might end up going to Japan..." He grumbles the words, finding himself sighing once more. He couldn't forget about Yuuri no matter what. It had gotten worse ever since he left if Viktor was being completely honest.

Chris snorts from where he's walking behind Viktor. He knew the answer as soon as he asked. "Yeah, you might. Are you really a mess over him leaving?"

"I didn't say that at all."

"You might as well have. Could he have just gone to Uzbekistan? If the Altin kid is with him, they could've just went there together. I can't imagine he actually went on a luxury cruise for the hell of it."

Viktor contemplates the thought for a moment before sighing. "I don't know what he would do. He's very unpredictable."

"Maybe you should call him and reach out before Yakov does."

Viktor stops walking and stares at Chris with wide eyes. "Why didn't I think of doing that sooner?"

"Because I'm the brains out of the two of us?"

"No, that's definitely not it. Thanks for the idea, though, Chris! You go on ahead! I have a call to make." Viktor pulls back and heads down a secluded corner, only for Chris to tag along right behind him.

"I gave you the very obvious idea, so I might as well see where it goes."

Viktor brings the phone down from his ear and puts it on speaker so Chris could hear as well.

Despite the higher chance, Viktor gets sent to his voicemail twice. Sent. Which means that Yurio didn't want to talk to him, but at least he's looking at his phone. Viktor tries three more times. He's about to give up when finally the call begins to connect.

"Yurio! Where are you? What do you think you're-"

"Shut it, old man. God if I knew you were going to be as annoying as Yakov then I wouldn't have picked up."

Viktor would've laughed if they weren't in the situation they're in now. "Where are you and why?"

"You aren't my dad. I don't have to tell you anything."

"No, I'm not. Yakov is closer to being a father figure than I am. You should've at least told him, so why didn't you?"

"Because I didn't want to."

"You're in a foreign country, Yuri! You didn't just decide to walk to the cafe down the street! This is serious! Will you act your age for once!" Viktor grits his teeth, seething in anger at the teen on the other end.

"You'll thank me later for making such a reckless decision, so don't get your panties in a twist just yet. Who cares anyway? Beka is with me, and he's eighteen."

"What?" Viktor's rage settles into confusion at Yurio's words. "Where are you and what does this have to do with me?"

"Don't want to tell you. You'll find out soon, so stop being impatient. Gotta go. I think the train is here." With that, Yurio hangs up on Viktor.

Viktor turns to Chris. "Did you get anything out of that?"

Chris frowns. "I have an idea, but it makes no sense."

"I'll take it. What is it?"

"I want to call him and confirm it first. In the meantime, don't you have your Japanese darling's phone number?"

Viktor hesitates before nodding. "Yes..."

"Have you tried calling him?" Chris quirks an eyebrow and folds his arms over his chest.

"I haven't... He's not going to answer me, Chris. He left for a reason. He ignored me for a reason before he left."

"From what I've heard, you two were head over heels for each other. He's not going to be able to ignore you for very long. There's no harm in trying."

"I suppose but..."

"No. You aren't allowed to continue that thought. Try, Viktor. After all that you two have been through so far, you can't tell me he's just going to ignore you that easily. I want you to try at least a few times."

Viktor hesitantly thumbs over his contact information. He looks up at Chris one more time before sighing in defeat and dialing the number.

.

. . .

.

"Yuuri! We're so glad you decided to stay closer to home! We missed you so much." Hiroko puts a hand up to the glass separating them from Yuuri.

Yuuri smiles sadly back at his parents. It's bittersweet to be in a hospital he'd spent so much of his life in, especially after the past half year. It isn't that he doesn't like it. He does like being close to home. It just... doesn't feel right.

"I miss you all, too."

In the room behind the glass to visit him is both his parents, Minako, and his sister Mari. Mari has visited him almost every day since he first got back. Despite her being around so much lately, she's never asked about how Russia was. No one has. It's as if they silently agreed to never bring it up unless Yuuri did himself. As if mentioning it is like walking on broken glass. In a way, it is. Instead of glass, it's Yuuri's shattered heart.

"We have to get back to the onsen, but we're nearby if anything happens. We're always here for you, Yuuri." His parents and Mari give him one last smile each before leaving him alone with Minako.

"I feel like I haven't seen you in forever, Minako."

Minako stares at him, drawing her eyebrows together as though she seems to be sizing him up.

"So how's the studio been doing?"

"Yuuri, what happened in Saint Petersburg? No one talks about it, but you don't look genuinely happy to be home."

Yuuri gazes down at his hands as he starts to fiddle with them in his lap. "A lot..."

"I understand if you don't want to talk about it, but you look miserable."

Yuuri winces and withdraws into the backboard of the bed he's sitting up on. "It isn't anything. I'm fine." Not that he is, but he doesn't want her to worry about him more than she is already.

"Look, Yuuri. Before this happened, you used to express yourself the most in my studio. You were free with your emotions when you danced. I understand you better than most people do. I can tell when something isn't right. What happened?"

"Well..." Yuuri tries his best to explain everything, leaving out details like the blue flowers and him being late for work just to visit.

"Why did you come here if you were happy over there? Vik- Him of all people, too."

Yuuri shrugs. "I was worried I'd hurt him. He even quit just to visit more often. I made him quit. I was ruining his career." He isn't that selfish as to make someone quit their career just to stay with him every single day. He couldn't do that.

"Who said that was your decision to make?" Minako's arms stay crossed as she sits down in a seat closest to the glass window.

Yuuri glances up at her with wide eyes. "What?"

"Are you sure you made him do that? It sounded like he made that decision on his own. Yuuri, did you talk to him at all before you came here? Did he say that it was your fault? Saying it's your fault doesn't sound like anything he'd say. He did something as dangerous as planning a day out with you, and you still think that?"

"He didn't say anything to me exactly, but-"

"But?"

"Yuri Plisetsky visited me and said that I was the reason he left."

"You even met Yuri Plisetsky?"

"Minako..."

"Sorry, sorry. You believe him, though? Isn't he just a kid? What say does he have in all of this?"

"He visited me a few days ago, and told me that he quit because he couldn't handle the stress of being with me and work at the same time. Yuri even told me that he made a promise to him, but forgot it because he was with me all the time."

"Oh..."

"Vit- He wouldn't have told me the real reason why he left, so... I'm grateful I got to hear it from someone. Besides, I'm a ticking time bomb. When I-"

"Don't you even say, Yuuri."

"When I die, because it will happen, I don't want him to be hurt. I don't want him to suffer."

"If you want that so badly, then why are you crying?"

Yuuri's eyes widen again as he reaches up to his eyes and wipes a tear away, gazing at it before turning back to Minako. "I... I don't know..."

"You may not, but I do." Minako sucks in a deep breath. "You love him. You may not want to hear this, but... I think you should go back to Russia. It's where your heart truly is." She smiles wryly at him as the tears stream down his cheeks.

"M-Minako, I... I d-don't..."

"Hey, take it easy, Yuuri. Just... think it over, okay? I mean... if you feel like this, then how do you think he feels?" She stands up from the plastic chair and makes her way to leave. Pausing at the door, she turns around to say one last thing. "We all love you here, Yuuri. We just want to see you happy. Do what you need to. We support you 100%." And then she's gone.

Yuuri buries his head into his hands and just cries. He doesn't know how long he stays like that until he hears his phone go off on the table beside his bed. Wiping at his eyes ferociously, Yuuri looks over at his phone, and a number he hadn't expected to see pops up on the lock screen. He picks up his phone and stares at it. After a moment, the device goes dark again, showing one missed call. It isn't too long later when it lights up again with the same number calling him.

Only this time, he picks up.

Neither of them saying anything. Their breathing being the only thing that can be heard through both ends of the call until the other says something.

"Hey."

Yuuri can't remember how to speak.

"Wow, this is the first time I've ever called you." A small chuckle follows after his words. "How uh... How are you?"

Silence from Yuuri again. He almost wants to cry at the sound of his voice.

"I hope well. Um... I'm fine here. Well, not fine really. I... I miss you, Yuuri. I'm selfish enough to hope you miss me too."

Yuuri covers his mouth with the hand that isn't holding up the phone.

"Sorry... I didn't mean to... Oh, remember Yurio? He left the country with his friend Otabek recently. He refuses to tell any of us where he went. Chris is calling him now to try and weasel an answer out of him." A laugh emanates from the other end, but it sounds forced. "He said something about it benefiting me, but I can't see how one of his vacations could." Another fake laugh. "Isn't it odd? I wish he would just tell me."

Yuuri doesn't know what else he was saying because then he could hear a commotion going on outside his hospital room. A moment later, two people burst through the doors to his room and stomp over to the glass window.

"Yo, we need to talk, imposter."

Yuuri's eyes go wide when he saw who was standing before him. "Y-Yuri...?"

"Did you just saw Yuri? Yuuri, is he there?"

"I..." Yuuri's hand drops and he ends the call. "Yuri Plisetsky?"

"Glad you remember my name. Time to move on. What the hell are you doing here instead of Russia?" Yurio stood with his arms crosses, blond hair disheveled like he had been running to get to the hospital. The person who stood behind him was much taller than Yurio yet shorter than himself. He had dark hair with an undercut, making him seem older than Yuuri thought he probably was.

"Could you pay attention for a second? I know you're absent-minded just like the old man, but seriously? This is kind of important. Why'd you leave?"

"I... I thought you wanted me to leave?" Confusion lines his tone as he answers his Russian counterpart.

"I mean yeah I did, but like... ugh, this is so frustrating. Look, I did, but now Viktor is annoying. More so than usual, which is surprising considering how irritating he was when you were around. Now, he's super clingy and serious about his work. It sort of scares me. That's why I came to get you back."

"But I thought-"

"Forget what I said before. I didn't think you'd take my words so seriously. Enough about me. When are you coming back? You better say soon."

"I... I'm not... going back. I'm staying here. I don't have much longer anyway, so what's the-"

"If I may interrupt, Mr. Katsuki? We haven't met before, but I have heard a lot about you. My name is Otabek Altin, and I'm a friend of Yuri's. Yuri has a point. It may not have been made well, but he is right. Viktor isn't himself anymore. He seems... lost."

Yuuri glances between the two, trying to figure out his thoughts. "How did you find me?"

"Not that hard to find someone Japanese who contracted something new that could be deadly. Who cares? I'm here. Moving on. You need to come back and quickly."

"He'll be worse off if I go back..." Yuuri stares between the two before looking down at his phone, which sits to his right on the bed.

Yurio snorts, grabbing Yuuri's attention again. "Clearly you haven't seen him recently then. He's a mess. A huge mess."

Yuuri shakes his head, thinking that the other doesn't understand what he really means. "You don't get it. I was given two months to live. Two months. I don't have a future. This is it. I was overjoyed when he tried to give me a piece of his own, but that was temporary. I don't want to get too close to him or... or else..." Yuuri starts crying again, not really wanting to hear the words himself.

Otabek and Yurio glance at each other, unsure of what else to say.

"Mr. Katsuki, I think Mr. Nikiforov already had an idea of that. He knew and wanted to give you as much as he could."

"Beka's right. I thought he was crazy when he first talked about you. Like... insane. Babacheva was trying to talk him out of it, saying what a terrible idea it was to be involved with you, but he didn't care. That was a few months ago. Do you get it now?"

"He... he said that?"

"Yes. How many times do I have to say it? You're exhausting."

"Vitya..."

"Now that we have that settled, when are you coming back?"

.

. . .

.

"Chris, they're in Japan."

"Come again?"

"Otabek and Yuri. They're in Japan."

"And how do you know that? Did you forget you were on the phone with the Japanese Yuuri in the first place? Just because-"

"Chris," Viktor takes his by the shoulders and draws his face closer, "he's there. Yuuri, my Yuuri, said his name and ended the call. I could hear talking in the background, but couldn't piece it together until he said his name. Yurio is in Japan to see Yuuri."

Chris places his hands around Viktor's wrists and lowers his arms from his shoulders. "Have they ever talked to each other before?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out. I never introduced him to Yuuri, yet there he is in Japan with Yuuri. Why, Chris? Why is he there of all places?" Viktor starts to pace back and forth in front of Chris, trying to piece together what he knows so far. "He wouldn't just go there to visit Yuuri. Not now after he left the country to get away from me. What other reason could he possibly have?"

"Viktor, you're mumbling. Maybe he got tired of watching you mope around all the time. Mila had half a mind to talk to your Yuuri before she heard he left the country. You also know how impulsive the Russian Punk is. That could be it."

"He wouldn't fly out of the country just for that reason alone. We're missing something..." Viktor brings a hand to his chin and continues pacing faster as if it'll help him think better.

"Viktor, maybe-"

"I've got it!" Viktor pauses in front of Chris with the hand that was previously on his chin now in the air. "I just need to fly down there myself!"

Chris sighs and shakes his head. "And what will you do when you get down there and realize Yurio and the Altin kid have already left?"

"Then I'll get to talk to Yuuri!"

"And if he doesn't want to talk to you?"

Viktor becomes silent, the idea of Yuuri rejecting him again leaving him motionless. "Oh."

"This is when your impulsiveness gets you in trouble. Wait for Yurio to get back. Figure out what to do from there."

"Chris-"

"Viktor, I'm just saying that maybe this isn't the best-"

"Chris, listen. I'm tired of sitting and waiting around. Yurio is doing exactly what I should've already done. I don't want to wait to hear what Yuuri said to him. I want to hear Yuuri talk to me himself. No one should be intervening on my part. I'm going to Japan to see Yuuri, Chris. That's my final decision. You're just going to have to accept that."

"You're a handful, Viktor. What do you want me to tell Yakov."

"Tell him the truth. I don't need someone to proctor what I'm doing."

"Alright. Send Yuuri my regards."

"Thanks, Chris. I will."

.

. . .

.

"So are you leaving?"

Yuuri chews on his bottom lip, nervously rolling the idea in his head. "I don't know."

"Kiddo, I'll support you with whatever decision you make. Don't worry about us here." Mari leans her arm against her knees and sighs at her brother from behind the glass. "Do whatever you have to."

"Thanks, Mari." Yuuri coughs into his arm and reaches for the tissues on his bedside table to wipe the blood off his arm. "I really appreciate it."

"No problem, bro. Are you sure you're alright to travel again, though? I'm not stopping you if you decide to leave, but I'm more concerned about your health."

Yuuri makes a face and throws the tissues into the nearby trash bin. "I'm not going to live long enough to care about that."

"Hiroko and Toshiya would be upset to hear you say that."

"Sorry."

Mari shakes her head and stands up, shoving her hands in her pockets. "They've said this before, but I guess I have to say it again. Everyone here just wants you to be happy. Hiroko and Toshiya have watched you suffer for too long. If Viktor is your happiness, then that's where you need to be. Don't force yourself to stay here if you're unhappy about it. Viktor sounds like he's struggling as well."

"Yeah..." What if Viktor is mad at him for leaving? What if Viktor never wants to see him again. His thoughts churn around the possibility of Viktor hating him. If what Yurio said was true, then that wasn't the case, but Yurio also said that Viktor told his boss that he quit because of Yuuri. "I wish Viktor was here..."

"Seems you've found your answer then. You said he called you right?" Mari positions herself against the glass.

"He did... I don't... I didn't say anything to him, though. I... He said he missed me and how he hoped I miss him too. Should I have said something? What could I have said? I'm so confused, Mari." Yuuri sighs and sits back against the pillows lining the top of his bed. He was pretty sure that he was a nuisance to Viktor, but now... he's not sure about anything. Viktor personally said he missed Yuuri, so he couldn't have been too annoying.

"Call him back. Tell him what you're worrying about. Maybe he'll give you an answer himself. I know you don't like direct confrontation, but that's the only way you'll find out, bro."

Yuuri nods his head and glances up at the ceiling, waiting for the right idea to come to him.

"I gotta go. Yurio is a lot of work, and I'd feel bad for dumping him with just Hiroko and Toshiya. More time with him and his friend the better anyway." Mari smiles and gives Yuuri a thumbs up.

Yuuri laughs at his sister. "Okay. Thanks again, Mari. I appreciate the help."

"No prob. Rest well, little bro. Ja ne." With a wave of her hand, Mari left her brother alone.

Once the silence began to settle in, Yuuri picks up his phone and contemplates calling Viktor. That would mean he'd definitely have to talk this time around. What would he say? Staying with Viktor could end up destroying the model. Could he be selfish enough to do that? He can do it. He'll call Viktor and tell him he wants them back to where they were before he made the mistake of leaving. This'll be easy. He can do it. He can...

"Huh...?" Sending him upright in his bed, his phone lights up with Viktor's name across the nameplate. Whatever deity is watching over him, he thanks them profusely. Despite how easy it's been made for him, Yuuri hesitates over the answer button. He hates himself for always pausing when Viktor calls him, so he answers instead of thinking.

"Vik-"

"Yuuri! I'll be there tomorrow! Don't you dare move! Got it?"

Yuuri's mind starts reeling at the new information, Viktor's words not really reaching him. "H-Huh? Viktor, what are you-"

"My flight doesn't leave for another seven hours and I'll have to suffer through 3 layovers. I'll be there, though! If Yurio visits again, make sure you tell him he's in trouble. I'll see you soon, okay?"

"Wait, Viktor, how do you even know where I am?"

"I Googled you obviously. That's how everyone knows everything about everyone nowadays. If I have trouble getting to where you are, then I'll call and ask for directions."

"Um... Why all of a sudden?"

"Huh?"

"Why are you... uh... coming down here?'

"Valid question, yet a stupid one all the same. First and foremost, I'm picking Yurio up. I don't know why he's down there, but he left with no notice at all. He's in huge trouble now. Him being down there gives me an excuse to see you, though. I've been too afraid to even try to find you because you left so suddenly. I figured if you didn't tell me then it was for a reason. I'm sorry for whatever i did to you, Yuuri. I really am."

"No wait, don't apologize, Viktor. You have nothing to apologize for. It's my fault. I thought... I thought I was too much, and I didn't want you to deal with whatever happens when I'm gone. I thought I would be helping you, saving you really, but Yurio came here and told me how wrong I was. I'm sorry I've been so selfish. You didn't deserve that."

"Yuuri... where did you get such an idea from?"

"Well... Yurio came to visit me before I left and told me you quit because of me. You shouldn't have to throw your life away just because an insignificant person is dying and likes having you around. It isn't fair of me. You took on so much for me, Viktor. I've done nothing for you."

Yuuri couldn't understand the next string of words Viktor said, but considering the way he said them, they couldn't have been good.

"That little... Yuuri, listen to me. I don't want you to listen to anyone that isn't me. I do everything for you because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I love you. I really do. That's what someone does when they're in love. I'll admit. i was stressed, but I was also ready to take on whatever I had to to ensure you had the best possible care. You deserve more than just strangers sitting around tables and contemplating what to do with you like you were just an experiment. I wanted to make sure you didn't have that. It hurt me to hear how no one cared about you as a person, Yuuri. I yelled at everyone to get their priorities straight." Viktor laughs through the phone. "I want the world for you, Yuuri, and I want to be by your side for as long as you'll have me. Is that alright?"

Tears stream down Yuuri's face as he covers his mouth to prevent gasps and choked sobs from escaping. He knows Viktor can't see him, but he nods his head violently.

"Y-Yes." It's cut off from his crying, but he makes himself say the words as best as he can.

"That's a relief. I would've preferred to say that to you in person, but given our circumstances, it'll have to work for now. I'll just repeat it when I get there tomorrow. Wait, Yuuri? Are you crying?"

Yuuri laughs. "I might be."

"Oh my gosh, I did not mean to do that. Please stop crying. Uh... I don't know what to do. I'm not very good with people crying."

"Viktor, I'm alright. Everything's okay. I'm crying because I'm happy."

"That's good. Not that you're crying! Not that! Just that it's not for a bad reason. That's what I meant."

"I know what you meant." Yuuri laughs again. "Thank you, Viktor. I think I needed to hear that. I... thank you. Really."

"Anything for you. Now, I have to go get ready for a flight in a few hours. I love you, Yuuri. I'll see you tomorrow. I promise."

"I love you, too, Viktor. See you then."

Yuuri wipes at his eyes and sighs, closing his eyes as he throws himself back down onto the bed he's confined to. For the first time in a month, he sleeps soundlessly while he awaits for whatever tomorrow holds.

.

. . .

.


 

Alright, I'm over the WiFi at my college. I've tried to put this up four times now and I've had to keep rewriting this. Kms. ANYWAY! I'm so very sorry for the very late update! I started college two months ago (how time flies) and I've been busy ever since. Being a music major is awesome and all, but it's very time consuming. So time consuming that I'm up at 2:30 am trying to give you this update instead of doing English hw that's due in seven hours from now and having to get up in five hours lol Oops. I plan on updating a few of my other stories as well within the next few weeks if you're reading any of those as well. I'm really trying my best to push through all of these, so I really appreciate your patience with me! I would also like to thank everyone who posted a review or left kudos on this. It really helps when I feel unmotivated to write! Thank you so much! If anything really gets in my way, I'll make sure I let you all know by putting some info in my profile. I hate leaving everyone hanging for so long like I did. I hope this chapter made it up to you, and if not, then please look forward to updates that are to come! I'm starting to get into the heavier material, so I recommend getting a tissue box ready ;P Thanks again!

Chapter Text

"Of all days, why does Aeroflot have to let me down the most now?" Viktor impatiently taps his foot against the floor. He's sitting in one of the many seats in the terminal for his flight, anxiously watching the board with flight arrivals and departures. His flight has yet to arrive even though it should've been there an hour ago. He groans again when the board changes and there's no new information on the flight he's supposed to be on.

Chris smirks from the seat beside him. "Relax. We're going to be on flights for 20 hours. If you're like this the entire time, I might end up leaving you on our first transfer."

Viktor's eyes leave the screen and land on Chris instead, giving off the same glare he wore for the board. "Not helping. What would you do if you were in my place?"

"I wouldn't be in this place to begin with."

Viktor throws his head back against the seat. "I know. I'm an idiot."

"You are, but I'm used to it. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have said I'd join you. That and my job is to prevent you from digging yourself a bigger hole. Unless it's one you personally claimed as yours." Chris winks at the last comment, gaining a chuckle from Viktor. "So you can still laugh."

"Of course I can."

"But you haven't done so since Yuuri left."

"You're right... I just want him here right now."

"You'll see him soon. You might want to-"

"It's here!" Viktor bolts from his seat and stares at the screen for a moment before collecting his belongings.

"We still have to wait for them to call our seats to line up." Chris takes a good look at him for the first time since he met Viktor at his flat in the morning. "Viktor?"

Frantically, Viktor flits his eyes up to look at Chris. "What?"

"How do I put this nicely..." Chris settles his hand on his chin as he looks Viktor up and down, "You look like you haven't slept in a month."

Viktor furrows his brows and stares at Chris questioningly.

Amused, Chris pulls out his phone and snaps a quick photo of Viktor and then hands him the device.

Viktor cringes when he gazes at the photo of himself. "You could've told me earlier."

Chris shrugs. "You were rushing us out the door this morning. If I had noticed earlier, I would've said something. Not much we can do about it now."

"I'll wait for our layover in South Korea. I don't want Yuuri to see me like this." Viktor hands Chris back his phone and pulls out his own to fix his hair as best as he can.

"He might find it attractive to see you as a mess without him. Some people are into that."

"Chris, that's not exactly what I'm concerned about right now. I'm just-"

"Terminal D Flight 209 to Seoul, South Korea is now boarding passengers 11-16. All passengers for Flight 209 Seoul, South Korea, make your way to Terminal D for boarding."

"I'll yell at you once we get on the plane. Time to go, Chris." Viktor pulls up the handle for his rolling suitcase and all but runs into line with his boarding pass.

Chris hops into line behind him, and soon enough they're let onto the plane. By the time they're seated and the plane starts to roll down the runway, Viktor turns into an even bigger mess than he was before. His leg won't stop vibrating, and his fingers are constantly drumming against the small window next to his seat. Only until Chris says something to him does he finally decide to do something about the nerves he's feeling.

That's when Viktor realizes just how bad he is.

After a moment of scrolling through the music on his phone, he picks a beautiful instrumental piece that he can't quite remember why he has. He's thrown into a state of shock when he pieces it together.

It's Yuuri's song. The song a friend of Yuuri's created just for him when he was living in Japan and let Viktor listen to when the conversation had changed to favorite songs and artists. The very song Viktor kept on repeat until for a good two weeks after that visit.

It takes everything in him not to cry at the sound of it, of the familiar and happy times they had before Viktor ruined everything, yet he doesn't change the song. Instead, he keeps it going, letting it ground him to what he's doing in that very moment.

He's going to see Yuuri, his life and love.

"I'll be there soon, Yuuri. Wait for me," Viktor silently speaks to himself, letting those words hang in the air and in his mind.

.

. . .

.

"Alright, Katsudon, what'd you want now?" Yurio walks into the open visiting space beyond the glass and leans up against the back wall.

Yuuri carefully gets out of his bed and moves to sit in a chair he set up in front of the glass just the other day. After a moment of attempting to walk on his own and eventually succeeding, he sits down and anxiously fidgets with his glasses as he tries to figure out what to say without getting the teen riled up.

"Out with it. What'd you do now?"

Otabek looks between the two before finally setting his gaze on Yuuri.

"Viktor called me again."

"Again?" Yurio cocks an eyebrow.

"He called me the day you first came in here, and he called me again yesterday."

"Uh-huh...?"

"Um..." Yuuri gulps nervously. "Well, he heard me say your name when you first walked in..."

"You ratted me out, didn't you?" Yurio glares at him as he leans forward. Otabek steadies a hand on his shoulder, trying to pull him back into his seat.

"No! I didn't I promise! He heard me say your name, but that's it. He pieced it together himself. He also said you were in a lot of trouble..." Yuuri laughs timidly.

Yurio snorts. "Not much he can do anyway. He's all talk. Is that all you had to tell me?"

"There's one more thing. I wanted Otabek here as well since he was also involved before."

Otabek raises an eyebrow in question, not entirely expecting to be brought into the conversation as well.

Yuuri takes a deep breath before going on to explain what he had in mind.

"You want us to what?" Yurio stands behind the glass, gawking at Yuuri from where he's standing. Otabek just smirks next to Yurio like he had already expected this to happen.

"Please, Yurio? I heard you helped the last time. I want to be there when his flight touches down, but no one besides you is going to willingly help. Please?" Yuuri is sitting in a chair closer to the glass, as if reassurance that no one in the hospital staff will hear them talking.

"That was Viktor's dumbass idea, and it almost got you both in trouble. There's no way I'm getting my ass handed to me from government workers or doctors with needles. Get your sister or whatever to help you. How would we even get to the airport? We can't drive here."

"I can drive! I mean... I haven't done it in a few years, but I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm begging you. Please help me!" Yuuri bows his head, squeezing his eyes shut tight as we waits for an answer.

"Ugh, don't do that. Isn't that supposed to hurt your pride or something? We'll help you get out, but you are not driving, got it? We'll ask your sister or maybe that other person who hangs around all the time. She seems like she cares enough about you." Yurio glances away from him in embarrassment, not that he would ever admit to that.

Yuuri's head rises too quickly, giving him whiplash for a moment and sending him into a coughing fit before he can even speak. "Thank you so much!"

"You owe us though! I'm not doing this for free."

"Perfect! Really, thank you!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm only doing this because I know I'm going to here about it later from Viktor if he catches wind of this. Don't you dare say anything to him about me. That's another condition to this." Yurio jabs a finger in his direction.

Otabek silently chuckles from where he's standing, and Yurio turns to glare at him.

"I won't! My lips are sealed." Yuuri turns to Otabek with a glimmer of hope, already knowing what his answer will be before he even says it given his reaction.

"Of course I'll help. Mr. Nikiforov will be happy to see you."

Yuuri returns the smile that is barely visible on Otabek's face. "Thank you so much!"

"We get it, so stop saying that already." Yurio rolls his eyes, but his pink dusted cheeks give him away.

"Sorry! I didn't think you'd actually accept, though." Yuuri grins sheepishly at them.

"So when does his flight land?"

"Around eight tonight, so we have to leave at six at the latest to be there before he lands."

"Wait, tonight? You didn't mention how soon we'd need to do this. The last time they spent an entire weekend camped out in the conference room trying to plan everything, and now we only have five hours to figure this out? Why didn't you mention this to us sooner?"

"I didn't know if you'd say yes, so I waited." Yuuri shrugs, the smile never leaving his face.

"You can be very difficult, you know that right?" Yurio huffs and looks up at Otabek. "Any ideas?"

Otabek thinks for a moment before speaking up. "We can go back and ask his sister for help before deciding our next move. After that, we'll regroup here and plan on how to get you out without setting anyone off. That's going to be the hardest part."

"Agreed. If you two need any help, call me up and have me talk to Mari. She should be fine with it, though." Yuuri remembers the first time he snuck out of the hospital and laughs at that fond memory he shared with Viktor.

"How many times do I have to tell you and him to stop being so gross?" Yurio mumbles under his breath. Otabek elbows him lightly to get his attention and just barely gives off the first glimpses of a smile. Yurio rolls his eyes for the hundredth time and tugs on Otabek's arm. "We're leaving."

"This means a lot to me. Thank you so much."

"Bye, Katsudon," Yurio yells over his shoulder as they leave.

Yuuri is stuck with a wide smile across his face.

He's going to see Viktor.

.

. . .

.

"Chriiiissss, hurry up!" Like a child, Viktor slouches against his luggage, waiting for Chris to get the coffee he ordered from one of the stands in the Fukuoka airport. Chris, as well as Viktor himself, finds it amazing just how much energy the Russian has after twenty hours of flying. "We still have to get a taxi to Hasetsu, and I want to be there as soon as possible."

Chris grabs his coffee from the barista and walks over to where Viktor has started waving his hands around frantically. "I tipped the barista extra because of you."

"Finally, you're back. Now," Viktor gazes down at the time on his phone quickly, "if I'm correct, we probably won't be back in time for visiting hours since they close in one hour. I heard from Yurio though that his family owns what they call an onsen here. Apparently we can stay there for the night. I'll just surprise him the next..." Viktor starts typing into his phone while he continues talking.

Meanwhile, Chris's attention is drawn to the room beyond the terminals where families usually pick up friends and other members of their families. His attention is drawn because he sees a familiar head of blond hair awaiting them. He almost drops when he sees the figure Yurio's talking to turn around. He pauses in his steps behind Viktor, who just keeps walking and talking to no one in particular. Amused, he says nothing and catches up to Viktor.

Yuuri sees him coming and as calmly as he can walks up to Viktor, pausing in front of him. Viktor pauses when he sees a pair of feet stop in front of him and slowly looks up to apologize to the person, only to find Yuuri instead. Viktor's eyes open wide as his phone clatters to the floor between them.

"Y-Yu... Yuuri?"

"H-Hey, Viktor." Yuuri shyly smiles at him, eyes sparkling with happiness.

Viktor keeps looking him up and down trying to decide if the lack of sleep is catching up to him already. "I'm dreaming, right? You're not really here. There's no way."

"If this is just a dream, then I hope I never wake up from it."

"Yuuri... it's really... you?" Hesitantly, Viktor steps forward and reaches a hand out towards Yuuri's own glove-covered one.

"Oh my god, yes it's him. Can we get going? I'm cold and hungry, and it's too loud here."

Both Yuuri and Viktor turn to face him before turning back to each other and laughing with tears in their eyes. Viktor pulls Yuuri into a sudden hug, his head burrowed into his shoulder as he hugs him tightly. "I missed you so much."

Yuuri hugs back as tightly as he can. "I missed you, too. I'm glad you're here."

They stay like that for a moment before the group breaks them apart so they can all leave. Viktor holds Yuuri's gloved hand in his own the entire car ride, not letting go for one second. Suddenly realizing that he shouldn't be able to do that so easily, Viktor gasps and turns to him. Confused, Yuuri wrinkles his eyebrows and waits for whatever he has to say.

"How are you out?" The words made more sense in his head.

"What?"

"Aren't you supposed to be in a hospital?" Unless he was doing better... Maybe the hospital released him. Maybe Viktor would be able to hold his hand. Maybe they could go out on a real date now. Not that the one they had wasn't a real date, it's just... maybe they wouldn't have to take as many precautions as they did. Yuuri being here with him right now had to be a good sign.

"I am." Yuuri grimaces and looks down at their entwined hands. "Yurio, Otabek, and Mari helped me get out. We're going back now."

"Oh." Viktor doesn't know what else to say, so instead he rubs the back of Yuuri's gloved hand to help soothe him. Maybe it'll even help Viktor himself.

Everyone in the car is silent again, and to Viktor it's deafening. His thoughts are reeling, and he feels dizzy. Yuuri's not doing any better. He's... he's still in pain. He doesn't notice how hard he's holding Yuuri's hand until he flinches and taps on the back of Viktor's hand.

"Sorry!" Viktor pulls back his hand and folds it in his lap with his other hand until Yuuri pries it away and holds it back in his own hand. Viktor smiles, but it's not enough to reassure Yuuri or even himself.

When they get back to the hospital and Yuuri is situated into his room and hooked up to everything he needs to be, everyone leaves Yuuri and Viktor to be alone.

"I really missed you, Vitya. I'm... I'm so-"

"I don't want us spending our time trying to figure out who's to blame more. I just want to enjoy being with you."

Yuuri smiles and nods. "You're right. So how was-"

"Can I kiss you?" Viktor stares at him straight on, his face set to be as serious as he knows his words are.

"You... what?" Yuuri's face turns red, and Viktor almost cracks because that would've been enough. Only he's tired of taking all of these precautions.

"I asked if I could kiss you."

Yuuri visibly turns redder at the words, and soon enough he's flailing his arms. "Y-You can't! Trust me, I want to! I don't want you-"

"I know. You told me the first time when I almost did. But Yuuri can I tell you something?"

Yuuri nods, not sure how to really respond without saying the same thing.

"Our time apart broke me. I realized that even knowing you were on the same Earth as me wasn't enough. I needed you next to me. I want you next to me. I understand what I'm doing, but I'd rather deal with the consequences than trying to deal with the knowledge that I never got to really touch you like I want to. I love getting to hold your hand, but I want to be able to feel your warmth against me, not just guess what it would be like with your gloves on. Let me handle what comes of my actions, but can you please let me do what I want to this once? I know it's incredibly selfish, but it's the only selfish thing I'll ever ask of you."

Yuuri closes his eyes, tears flowing freely from them as he took in Viktor's words. He takes a deep breath before opening his eyes again, chocolate brown staring right into ocean blue. "Yes."

Viktor's eyes widen before he breaks into a smile. "Thank you, Yuuri. Thank you so much. Can I uh... Can I come in?"

Yuuri bites his lip, a habit of his that Viktor realizes he missed seeing, and motions towards the door.

Viktor walks to the door and stares at the handle before opening it and entering Yuuri's space. They stay like that for a moment - Viktor standing just beyond the doorway, and Yuuri stiffly sitting on his bed with wide eyes and a red face.

All it takes is Yuuri sighing a shaky breath for Viktor to cross the room. He does so slowly at first, not wanting to scare Yuuri anymore than the initial reason behind his entering most likely has. Yuuri, almost robotically, turns his body towards Viktor, eyes sparkling as they look up at him. Viktor carefully sits on the bed next to Yuuri, keeping a respectful distance between them. Surprisingly, Yuuri goes to close the space first by scooching closer next to him. They're about an inch apart at this moment, and Viktor hesitates to close it like he wants to.

"I know what I said, but if it's too much for you..."

"I-I want this, too." Yuuri's eyes don't leave Viktor's anymore.

Viktor nods and almost jumps at the cold touch on his hand. When he looks down, he finds Yuuri's paler than usual hand around his own and his heart almost leaps out of his chest. He's holding Yuuri's hand. Yuuri's hand is on his. They're hands are actually touching. Yuuri is-

Overcome with emotion, Viktor looks up at Yuuri and leans in to claim Yuuri's lips for his own.

He didn't know what he was expecting before or what he thought it would be like, but Yuuri exceeds everything. Yuuri is... Yuuri is so much more amazing than he ever thought he would be. The feeling his warms lips covering Yuuri's own cold ones is incredible and magical and...

The moment is cut off too soon when Yuuri pulls away. Viktor is about complain when he sees the look on his face.

Yuuri's face is beyond red, and there are tears in his eyes that Viktor can't tell are because he's happy or sad. Yuuri's still holding his hand, though, so it couldn't have been that bad. Cautiously, Viktor raises his other hand to Yuuri's cheek, wiping away one of the tears that threatens to fall. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry."

"I'm not crying because I'm upset." A bubble of laughter rises from Yuuri's throat. "I'm happy. I'm very happy." Yuuri smiles the biggest Viktor is sure he's ever smiled. It's just as magical as the kiss was.

"I... I'm glad. I love you." Viktor leans his forehead against Yuuri's tenderly.

"I love you, too." Yuuri giggles - ah, how Viktor missed the sound of that - and gives him a quick peck on the lips, pulling away before Viktor can turn it into anything else.

"Can this be our little secret? I'd rather it stay like that than have everyone worrying about what might happen because of it."

"Anything for you, Vitya."

Viktor can tell Yuuri's on the brink of panicking because of what he said, but he relieves it with a quick kiss in return on his cheek. "You'll be the first one I tell anything to. I promise. If there's anything wrong, I will tell you immediately. Okay?"

"You should really tell someone who-"

"Yuuri. I'll tell you."

"Okay. Right. Got it. Just me." Yuuri bites on his bottom lip and nods.

"Yuuri," Viktor holds head between his hands, "everything is going to be fine. I'm going to be fine, but most importantly, you're going to be fine. There's nothing we can't accomplish together. As they say, two is better than one. Wouldn't you agree?"

"But Viktor I only have-"

"I want you to think positively for once. No ifs, ands, or buts anymore. I won't allow it."

Yuuri sighs and then smiles. "That can be doable."

"No, it will be doable. Yuuri Katsuki, must you contradict everything I have to say?"

"If I said no, would that prove your point?"

Viktor pulls his hands away and laughs. "I love you, Yuuri. I really do."

They sit and chat for awhile like they used to before Chris walks into the room. Chris is about to say something when he freezes at the sight before him. Viktor's holding Yuuri's hand on his bed. It's adorable sure, but it's beyond dangerous.

"Viktor, what are you doing?"

"Chris! It must be time to leave if you're here!" Viktor grins from where he is, not processing Chris's almost angry expression.

"What have you done?"

"What are you talking about? Oh, Yuuri! I'll come visit you tomorrow!" Viktor gives Yuuri a quick peck before reluctantly letting go of his hand and standing up to leave the room. He completely misses how pale Yuuri's face has gone as he makes eye contact with Chris.

Chris holds his gaze for a moment, staring daggers into him as Viktor flits about the room to gather his belongings. When Viktor leaves the room with another wave to Yuuri and walks out ahead of Chris, Chris crosses his arms over his chest.

"Care to explain?"

Yuuri worries his bottom lip, drawing blood from the action. "I didn't- He wouldn't let me say no..."

"He never lets anyone say no. Why didn't you try harder to stop him? I'm glad you're both together again, but that... that I will not support. You've risked his life."

"I know." Yuuri looks down at his hands in his lap, still able to feel the warmth on Viktor's skin lingering on his. "I didn't want him in here. I didn't want him to touch me, but..."

"But you did. and now he'll have to suffer for it. I know you didn't really have a say in it, so I can't stand here and blame you. I just want you to know what's happened. It's too late to do anything about it now, though. I wish you tried a little harder." Chris shakes his head and follows after his friend.

Once Chris leaves, Yuuri breaks.

.

. . .

.

"What took you so long? I thought you were right behind me."

Chris doesn't say anything, instead making his way to the driver's side of the car and getting in.

"Wow~ The silent treatment. You only give that to me if I've really messed up somewhere. What did I do this time?" Viktor slides into the car after Chris, who starts the car up silently. "I won't know what I did until you tell me."

Chris furrows his eyebrows and pulls out of the hospital lot. "You know very well what you've done."

"I'm sorry. I really don't." Viktor's expression turns grim.

"You're ridiculous."

"Chris, please explain."

Chris goes back to silence as he drives towards the onsen Yuuri's family owns. He breathes out a sigh and his hands tighten around the steering wheel. "What were you doing in his room?"

"Yuuri's? I was talking with him? Why?"

"No, Viktor, you- you were making contact with him. You were touching him."

"And?"

"How can you not see what's wrong with that?" Chris worriedly glances over at him, the anger from before rising again.

"Oh! That's what you mean! Don't worry, Chris! I have it-" Viktor tries to wave the problem away but Chris cuts in sharply.

"No, you don't. You say you do but you don't. You have friends, practically family, that love you, Viktor. You're throwing all of that away as if it means nothing. I get that you love him. I understand that you want to be with him forever. We've talked about this dozens of times already. It can't happen. He's a ticking time bomb, and you've put yourself in the path of it. You need medical treatment right away now. You are not allowed to disagree with me. I won't tell anyone what happened, but that means you can't either. I'm forbidding you from doing exactly what you did today ever again."

"Chris, everything will be-"

"Don't you dare say fine because it isn't." Chris's tone shuts Viktor up right away. "I want you examined every single day. Promise me you won't do that again."

"But nothing will ha-"

"Promise me, Nikiforov!"

Viktor is taken aback by the use of his last name and nods in consent, terrified of Chris in the moment.

"I need to hear you say it."

"I-"

"Say it!" Chris's knuckles have turned white around the steering wheel.

"I... I can't."

"And why's that?"

Viktor takes a deep breath and keeps his tone even as he speaks. "Because I love him, and I will do whatever I can to make him as happy as he can be before he's gone."

Chris laughs humorlessly. "Just say you're doing it for yourself."

"Fine. I kissed Yuuri because I wanted to. I held his hand because I wanted to. I want to memorize everything about him before I can't see it anymore. This is my decision, and you can't do anything about it. I'm sorry." Viktor keeps his eyes on Chris, watching how his anger fades into exasperation.

"Remember the first time I met you?"

"Of course. Why?"

"You came up to me after your shoot and said to do what I wanted to do. If anyone tells you otherwise then you aren't meant to be around them. I took the advice but didn't know what to do with it until a few years later when my previous agency forgot who I was as a person and used me like a tool. That was when I remembered what you said and spoke up for myself. I was called to work with you on more projects two years after when they discovered how similar we were. Now look where we are."

"Now you're the one giving me advice." A smile spreads across Viktor's face.

"My point is you've helped me become who I am. There's no way I'm the only one you've influenced either. There are people around you who care for you, and you're just throwing that away like it's nothing."

"Chris," Viktor leans back into the passenger seat, "I've told you. I've thought this through over and over again. This was the decision I came around to. I'm not saying I don't understand what you're getting at. I do. I really do. The only thing I have against your point is that the me who has helped others wasn't ever helping himself. For once I feel like me. I'm making decisions that I want, not ones that others would love for me to make on their behalf. I don't know how many times I can say that. This is who I am and who I want to continue to be. I'm sorry if you don't like the real me."

"Let's not get melodramatic, Viktor. I just wish if you were going to make a selfish decision that you would make one like ordering a meat lovers pizza instead of sticking to anything healthy like the agency wants us to eat."

Viktor turns over Chris's words in his head, leaving the car in silence as Chris drove the rest of the way to the onsen.

Sure, by far it wasn't the smartest decision he's ever made, but no decision he's made in the past few months has been smart. When he's at work, he's completely serious about everything and is able to think of different possibilities for every shoot. They call him a genius. On the other hand when it comes to Yuuri, logic seems to fly out the window. Nothing makes sense, and he's never sure if he's doing the right thing. If Yuuri thinks badly of him. It's very confusing. Seeing how Yuuri was today, though, gave him a little courage. Courage he felt like they both needed. It was a step forward, and now his best friend thinks otherwise.

Can he ever do something and please everyone?

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. . .

.

Hey everyone! I'm sorry this chapter is shorter than most of them! I didn't mean for it to be this short, but it just kind of worked out this way. Thank you so much to everyone who commented and left kudos! I hope I didn't make you feel obligated to write the comments you did lol I really enjoyed reading all of them. Thank you so much for all the support you gave me. I don't really like mentioning how difficult writing along with all my college work is, but you all made me feel like I didn't have to rush if I didn't have the time to. That was very important to me, so thank you all again! <3 Finals are in two weeks, but once those are over, I should be able to publish more chapters for this story as well as others I'm writing if you're reading those as well. Because I can't say it enough, thank you all so much! Look forward to more chapters in the next few weeks!

Chapter Text

"Well, someone's in a good mood." Viktor strolls into the room across from Yuuri. It's smaller than the space back at the hospital in Russia, but it's big enough to fit at least six people. On Yuuri's face is a bright smile, unlike most that he's seen on the other, which is why Viktor questions it.

"I have good news." He's sitting cross-legged on the hospital bed, beaming at Viktor.

"I figured it was good since you're still smiling." Viktor cracks one of his own and stands close to the window. He's hoping the news is something he's going to love.

"I'm going back to Russia."

Viktor's smile cracks just a little. Sure, it's good news. More exciting than good, but it's not what he would've liked to hear. "What brought the change on?" They've said he doesn't have much time left, so what would make him move away from his family and friends in the town he grew up and lived in?

Yuuri's smile breaks too when he sees that Viktor doesn't share his enthusiasm. "I thought you'd be happy."

"I am!" Viktor tries to amend the moment by wearing the smile he shared when he walked in. "I just want to know why you decided to move back."

"Well..." the crimson on Yuuri's cheeks would be just as easy to see in the dark, "because I'd get to see you more often..." Yuuri scratches the back of his neck and laughs nervously. "I thought you would like to be home. You can't stay here forever, and you probably want to leave already. I figured if I moved back then you could go home, and I would get to stay with you."

Viktor covers his mouth with his hand, tears threatening to fall. Yuuri put Viktor over himself again. "Yuuri..."

"I'm sorry! I know I should've consulted you before I made that decision but I assumed it would be okay and I really shouldn't have and now-"

Viktor laughs over Yuuri's rambling, a tear slipping down his cheek. "Yuuri, you're ridiculous."

Yuuri stops and looks over at Viktor with confusion. "Huh?"

"You're ridiculous, and I love you. Why would you put my needs over your own?" Viktor's smiling like crazy, wanting nothing more than to be in the same space as Yuuri.

"You're not mad?"

"Why would I be mad at you, Yuuri?" Viktor shakes his head, his smile still present.

"I don't know... I didn't really ask you about but thought that's what you would want..." Yuuri's eyes are wide with amazement. Clearly he was expecting a different answer from Viktor.

"Of course I wish you would've said something to me sooner before you made the decision. Are you sure you want to go back to Russia? Everyone you know is here, and you don't speak the language."

"Then I'll have to get to know your friends better, and you'll have to teach me everything you know."

"I'd be happy to. I can't wait for you to meet Mila and talk with her this time! You'll like her, I promise. Georgi can be a bit much, but it's all in good spirits. Trust me. Be careful around Sala and Michele. Sala is very nice, but Michele is overprotective of her, so it's difficult to talk to her without getting a glare in response."

"They sound like fun."

Viktor goes on and on about the people he talks to at work when Yuuri notices his hands for the first time that day. "Viktor, why are you wearing gloves?"

Viktor looks down at his own hands and laughs awkwardly, placing one hand on his hip while the other goes in a pocket. He's not wearing anything fancy, so he can't use that as an excuse. "It's get a little chilly, so I decided to wear gloves so my hands wouldn't chap. After all, I am the top model in the business right now." He throws in a wink so as to dissipate any worry Yuuri has. In truth, Chris made him wear them and refuses to let him take them off ever as part of a precaution.

Yuuri rolls his eyes at him, clearly buying his excuse. "I thought you'd be used to the winter weather since you live in Russia."

"I may like the season, but I hate the cold it brings. I prefer summer heat when I get to sit in the sun as long as I'd like. You should see the beach during the summer. It's very pretty during that time of the year."

"You'll have to show me."

"Yes, I will."

Viktor knows that when Yuuri leaves him, he'll never be the same.

.

. . .

.

"How's he doing?"

Viktor unwraps the scarf from around his neck and hangs his coat up, staring at the gloves on his hands before sighing and walking towards the sound of his friend. "Yuuri is certainly the happiest he's ever been."

"Really?" Chris leans back on his hands on the futon he's seated on, watching Viktor move to sit at the other side of the table.

"Yeah. He..." Viktor rakes a hand through the fringe in front of his left eye, "he's decided to move back to Russia, so I can go back home."

Chris whistles and pushes up on his hands to rest his elbows on the table. "He's head over heels for you. Did he know you before you met him?"

Viktor places a hand on his chin and scrunches his eyebrows in wonder. He vaguely remembers something his sister said when they first met, but he can't remember. If he can't remember it, then surely it wasn't anything. "I don't think so. He only seemed surprised to be seeing someone visit him other than his family when I first saw him. He didn't say anything about my career and didn't ask any questions of the sort."

A snort comes from the center of the room. Yuuri's sister, Mari, is carrying drinks out to a few customers sitting down and enjoying their food. She locks eyes with Viktor and smirks just a little. "Yeah, right." She retreats back into the kitchen without an explanation.

Chris looks amused when Viktor looks back at him. "Now that's interesting. You should ask."

"Why would I bother?" Although now it's a very real thought. What if Yuuri knew him? Did that have any affect on them becoming who they are now? Yuuri didn't really want to talk to him when they first met, though. Viktor remembers. He was all silence before he finally opened up to Viktor in the most adorable way. If Yuuri knew who he was, wouldn't their introduction have been different? Viktor feels like it might have, but what does he know?

"Why not I suppose." Chris shrugs and then notices how zoned out his friend is. "Viktor? What's wrong?"

"Everything would be different." Viktor still has a vacant look on his face, still too focused on his thoughts than what he's actually saying out loud.

"Do you really believe that? I was only joking, Viktor. Don't take it too seriously. Besides, you're a little too deep in now to be questioning anything. This isn't even anything to be worried over."

"But Chris," Viktor tunes back in to what his friend is saying, "what if he started dating me because of who I am?"

Chris sits silently across from his friend, too stunned that Viktor even thought that to begin saying anything to counter it. "Did you really just ask that?"

Viktor's not sure if he agrees with what he said himself, but it's still a real thought. All the what ifs spinning in his head are starting to give him a headache. Yuuri doesn't seem like the type of person to do something like that, but he said it himself. What does he really know? They've only been dating for a few months. That's hardly any time at all. What if the Yuuri he knows is only the Yuuri on the surface? It seems ridiculous, truly, but there's no way of knowing. Unless...

"I'm going to ask him tomorrow."

"Please tell me you're joking."

"I'm not."

"I should've known. You haven't done that in awhile either. Viktor, lighten up. I met the boy twice, and he doesn't seem like he would do that. I'm upset that he was selfish enough not to tell you to back off, but that's about all I think he's capable of." Chris whispers the later part so as not to alert anyone else. Everyone in this town knows Yuuri and his condition. Everyone. If word got out about what idiocy Viktor committed, he'd be hunted down.

"I don't think so either. There's no harm in asking, though, right?" Viktor plays with a strand of hair that's parted from the rest of his fringe.

"Theoretically, no. Then again I can't predict anything you two do." Chris shrugs.

It hurts him when he realizes just how quick he was to judge Yuuri. He pulls on his fringe and drops his forehead to the table with a frustrated sigh. "What's wrong with me, Chris? Why am I questioning something as ridiculous as that?" It was dumb. He honestly doesn't deserve someone as amazing as Yuuri to begin with, and now he's sitting here thinking Yuuri is just using him. He really doesn't deserve him anymore. "I'm pathetic."

"I think it's reasonable to ask something like that. You've had trouble in the past because of your career. Your paranoia is justified."

"Chris, how do you stand being around me?" Viktor refuses to lift his head off the table. "I'm a mess."

"A hot mess who practically gave me my career. Unfortunately, I feel like I owe you a lot." Chris laughs, which would usually lift Viktor's spirits but it's not working right now.

"So you hang around me because you feel like you owe me."

"Viktor, you and I both know that's not what I meant. I know you love your dramatic flair, but you might want to dial it down."

He can hear how cross Chris is starting to get with him all over again.

"What happened to the old man?"

Viktor barely lifts his head up to see Yurio waltzing into the dining space with Otabek right on his heels. Those two were always really close, especially when they were on a long and exhausting shoot together.

"Dramatic over nothing as usual."

Yurio scoffs at Chris's words and sits down at the table next to them, but not at it even though there's enough space for the two of them and some. "What else is new?" Yurio rolls his eyes. "How's Katsuki doing?" Viktor notes how caring he actually sounds for once. It's almost impressive.

"Since when did you care?" Viktor didn't mean to give him attitude, but he's not in the best of spirits anymore. He doesn't want to deal with Yurio right now. After discovering that he was the reason Yuuri left in the first place, they haven't really seen eye-to-eye.

"Since I made him leave the fucking country by accident. Did I mention that I didn't mean to already?"

Viktor almost smiles when he sees Otabek elbow Yurio.

"I don't forgive and forget easily, Yuri."

"You sure do forget everything, though." The words are barely mumbled, which earns him another elbow to his arm. "Ow, what the hell, Otabek?"

Otabek shakes his head in response. "You know what you did."

Yurio rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest. "Yeah, whatever."

"I wasn't joking." Viktor sits up straight, looking Yurio dead on. "I don't have any plans on forgiving you right now. You hurt Yuuri, and that's inexcusable. You made him feel insignificant. The only insignificant one here is you." He narrows his eyes at Yurio, who looks ready to kill him.

"What'd you just say?"

There's a fire in Yurio's eyes that he doesn't mind crushing. "Don't get too cocky. You are very easily replaceable. I've warned you about this before, haven't I? You can be dropped so easily that no one will ever know you existed to begin with."

Yurio pushes to stand up, but Otabek grabs his arm and pulls him back down into a sitting position. "Yuri, don't start anything."

"Oh, watch me. Why do you think I'm even down here? Huh? I came down here because I was sick of you moping around and not coming to work. We have to deal with everything you fail to do! No one wanted to deal with it anymore, but I was the only one who decided to do anything to fix that! You should be thanking me."

"Thank you? Hah!" Viktor laughs amusedly as he stares Yurio down. "Why should I thank you for crushing the hope of someone who has maybe two months left to live? You're lucky I haven't knocked you down off the pedestal you hold yourself on. I've been wanting to since I figured out it was you." He's glaring at the other now, gaining one in return.

Chris is left speechless once again at the turn in Viktor's mood. Sure, he's seen Viktor mad before, but never this furious.

"Well, go ahead. Will that make you feel better?" Yurio is seething, and Otabek can clearly see that. Otabek pulls him to his feet and drags him away before a fight breaks out.

"It might." Viktor only watches them leave, before sharply turning his head away. He can hear Yurio fighting against Otabek but doesn't make any move to show that he acknowledges it.

"Are you ever going to forgive him?" It's a genuine question from Chris, but it still leaves a sour taste in Viktor's mouth.

"As of right now, no. Yuuri needs to forgive him first before I do. I want to be last, and I want to see Yuuri happy after it's resolved." Viktor crosses his arms in defiance.

"It already sounds like Yuuri's moved on, seeing how he wants to move back to St. Petersburg. What did you tell him after he said that?"

A happier subject. Good. "I asked him if he was sure that he wanted to do that, and he said yes. He cares about me more than he should. I'm happy that's what he chose, but I can't tell if that'll make him happy in the long run."

Chris hums in agreement, pondering over the decision. "Maybe he's done listening to people talk to him like he's a charity case. I would be too if I was in his position."

"That makes sense, but I don't want him to make a decision like this over me. I want him to be happy. I don't care if that means moving here, so he can stay that way."

"Maybe St. Petersburg is where happiness is for him. He did meet you there after all. I'm a sucker for a love story."

Viktor joins him in a little laugh before turning that thought over in his head. "If it's what Yuuri really wants, then I'll support him. I want him to live the best he can for as long as he can. I just want him to see that."

"There's no way he doesn't see that. He'd have to be more oblivious than you are, which isn't possible."

They indulge in laughter and cheap jokes as Mari brings around food for them to enjoy. Viktor lets himself relax for the first time in awhile that night.

.

. . .

.

Because things were going all too well, of course something terrible has to happen. Yuuri's fallen ill again, according to the snippets he got out of Yuuri's family at the inn. It's early, around three in the morning when he hears the chaos going on down the hallway. He rubs his tired eyes awake and walks down the hallway to figure out what's going on. It's Yuuri's mother, Hiroko, that comes up to him first. There's an exhausted look in her eyes that tells him right away something's wrong.

"Oh, Viktor, I'm sorry. We didn't mean to wake you up."

Viktor shakes his head, assessing the tension in the room and how both Mari and Toshiya, Yuuri's father, are on phones speaking rapid Japanese to whoever is on the other end. "It's alright. What's going on?"

"Yuuri's not feeling well. They say he's going to be fine, but we haven't heard any news for an hour. Mari started getting worried and made a few phone calls, but no one is telling her anything. I'm really sorry, Viktor. You can go back to sleep. We'll tell you when we hear anything. I promise."

Viktor can tell she's been crying but doesn't say anything, instead opting for a nod. He understands how they must feel. He's gotten the early morning call saying Yuuri's not doing well. It's stressful and takes a hard toll on everyone. He would stay in the room and wait, but he can see that Yuuri's family is already panicking enough. If he says, they'll try too hard to keep it together just because he's in the room. He needs to give them space, like he had when this happened before.

He pads back to his room, but sleep doesn't come. He finds himself on his phone and opening the text box under Yuuri's name. Viktor knows Yuuri will never see the text until he's stable, but it's the least he can do considering what's going on. It may not be a hand hold, but it's enough for now. Sending a quick text filled with love, he turns to Instagram to maybe calm his mind down and give him a few more hours of sleep before he visits Yuuri again. Because he will. He'll get to see Yuuri again.

Yuuri is a fighter, and he wouldn't stop now after trying for so long.

That's a fact no one can change.

.

. . .

.

He's used to being in pain. He gave up counting the years.

Yuuri's struggling to breathe on his hospital bed, dozens of doctors and nurses are flitting around him. This is different than every other time, though. Now he has Viktor. He can hold on to the thought that Viktor will be around as long as he is himself, which means he has to stay alive. He wants to see Viktor again. Today isn't the day yet.

Yes, he knows it's bound to happen. His status has only been declining as the days went on, but that doesn't mean it's going to get cut short today. Absolutely not.

It's a while - he's not sure how long exactly - before he can breathe clearly again. It's exhausting to have so many questions thrown at him. His head is still spinning from the lack of oxygen and bright lights, so answering them as quickly as they want him to isn't easy at all. They aren't as pushy as the doctors in Russia because they've been handling him for a longer time, so they understand him better. It's a good feeling. One he's going to miss if he goes back. Viktor didn't like the doctors in Russia either. Yuuri remembers how he was constantly complaining about them. It's nice to be dealing with familiar faces here.

Once they all clear out, he's finally able to sit back and relax, taking steady breaths like one of the nurses told him to do on her way out. It's calming, and he finds himself dozing off when he hears a few voices break through the silence.

His family, Yuuri thinks. It has to be them. It would make sense for them to be here considering all that's happened.

Sure enough, when he opens his eyes, his family is there to greet him. He can't help but notice that one face is missing. Viktor isn't here. Not that he needs to be with Yuuri all the time, but you know... maybe now would be nice? He wants to see Viktor, but that'll have to wait. His family is worried right now, and he has to somehow assure them that he's okay. He's not sure that he really is, but he's good at pretending that he is.

Words are difficult right now, so he settles with a smile towards them. His parents are crying, but they're smiling back at him. Definitely worried. Oops. Now look at what he's done. All because he couldn't really breathe. Great job, Yuuri.

They all kind of just sit there in silence. No one says anything, but somehow all of their expressions say more than enough. Finally, his parents leave after a bit, but Mari stays behind. Yuuri expected that from her.

"Jeez, bro, you gave us a heart attack. I'm glad to see you're feeling better, though." She cracks a little smile for him. It's easy to see that she's been crying, too. Why does he keep doing this to them? "You probably wanted to see Viktor. We told him you were fine but kept him back at the inn. We wanted to see you on our way. Can you blame us? Viktor's always with you now." Mari laughs. "You two are inseparable. He practically fought us to go, but he gave in. He's going to see you later in the day. I should probably let you get some rest, so you'll be awake for his visit."

Yuuri smiles wider at his sister. She's always cared so much about it, even though she doesn't vocalize it too much.

"Alright, well I'm leaving. Good chat. I want you to respond in our next one, though. Got it?"

Of course he does.

"See ya, bro. Be good." Mari leaves with a wave of her hand.

Yuuri's left alone, but this time he's okay with it. He'll wake up later, and Viktor will be here.

It takes him forever to finally sleep, but once he does, it's peaceful and uninterrupted this time.

.

. . .

.

Is it ridiculous that Viktor set three alarms for later that day? Probably. Does he care about everyone else's opinions of him when he runs out the door to get to Yuuri? Not really. He hardly slept at all with all of the stress Yuuri's condition brought on. The Katsuki's told him that he was okay, but that's not the same as seeing him for himself. He supposes that's why they wanted to see him themselves. Viktor doesn't blame them. In fact, he feels guilty for trying to persuade them to let him join them on their visit to the hospital.

Traffic is agonizingly slower than usual by the time he gets on the road in the rental car he had Chris pick up the other day. It's better than getting a taxi because that would've been a nightmare, but this isn't feeling any better right now.

As nervous as Yuuri made him all day, the excessive calls from Yakov haven't been helping. He almost forgot that he has a job. Being with Yuuri silences everything meaningless in his life. His job used to be important to him, but Yuuri has overcome that.

Only he still has that job, and it's only a job if you show up. On top of him not being at the agency, he also forgot that Yurio and Otabek are here. Yes, Chris is still here too, but he doesn't work under Yakov. Viktor doesn't have to worry about Yakov losing another model as well as the three currently out of his disposal. Still, three is too many to be gone at once, especially since those three include himself. Bragging rights. He's kind of amazing in the modeling world.

Stuck at a redlight, his phone lights up again for about the thirtieth time in that same hour. All from the same place. Sick of seeing the notification and tired of worrying about it, he picks up the call and puts it on speaker. He regrets putting it on speaker immediately.

"Where the hell are you?! You have jobs listed for this entire week, and you've already missed two! I'm tired of making excuses for you, Viktor! Are you done with this, and do you still care about making a living?!"

"Good morning to you, too."

"This isn't funny, Viktor! I need answers, and I need you here now!"

"You'll be glad to hear that me and Chris found Yurio and Otabek." The light turns green, and Viktor fights through the traffic. He really wants to see Yuuri badly. Why is the world against him with this terrible traffic?

"I already knew! You've been spotted by paparazzi dozens of times! Get on the next flight to Russia immediately!

"Can we talk about that later? I'm kind of busy-"

"You're supposed to be busy here! Not in Japan!"

Viktor flinches at the screeching through his phone. "I promise I'll come back. Just give me-"

"You are not getting any more time there! Come back now!"

The call drops dead from the other line, and Viktor groans in frustration. He can't let this affect his day. Not when he's about to visit Yuuri. He'll have to make plans with everyone tonight, though, as to what they're going to do. He may not want to admit it out loud, but Yakov is right. They've spent one too may days here in Japan. Their work is in Russia. How much longer did they plan to stay anyway? Yuuri wants to leave for Russia as well, so it won't be like they'll be separated for too long.

The thought of Yuuri travelling again is stressful, though. Can he even handle another long flight? Yuuri doesn't like flying, and he's gotten weaker. As much as Viktor would like to push that thought away, that's the reality. Yuuri is only getting weaker. Would a flight wear him out too much? Maybe he should tell Yuuri to stay. Viktor could try to find a job in Japan. That would be a good solution. Or maybe he could buy a house here, and handle jobs on his own without going through an agency like Yakov? Maybe he could have Yakov give him jobs from Russia. That could work, too. It's not unreasonable either. It might be a pain, though, and there's no way Yakov will agree to it. What is he going to do?

Once out of the grueling traffic and finally at the hospital, he rushes in through the front doors and talks to the person running the front desk. THey're more understanding here, the doctors and nurses. They've pieced together who Viktor is already and lets him by without too much hassle. Japan would be so much better for Yuuri. It's clear that he likes it better here, too.

"Yuuri!" He bursts through the doors to his room, searching for the familiar tufts of raven hair.

The other is wide awake, sitting up in his bed, which has to be a good sign. It's such a good sign that he finds himself almost crying at the sight. "Yuuri, you're alright. Thank goodness. I was so worried. By far, your parents have me beat, but I was still frantic. How do you feel?"

Yuuri smiles gently at him, which almost makes him cry again. He would do anything to keep Yuuri smiling like that at him. Anything.

"I've been better, but I've been worse." His voice sounds rough, but Viktor doesn't comment. He remembers the last time Yuuri sounded like that. He's seen him at his worse. "You know that, though." Yuuri glances down at his hands and follows the IV in his arm up to the rest of the machinery he's connected to.

"I'm so glad, Yuuri. I really am." He enjoys the silence between them for a moment, enjoying Yuuri's presence in general. "Is there anything I can do for you."

Yuuri turns his attention back to Viktor and bites into his bottom lip, worrying it just a little. "You could tell me why you don't take off your gloves."

Well, that's... not what he was expecting. He's only seen Yuuri one other time with the gloves on besides now. How does he know he doesn't take them off? Who said something? Only Chris knows. Unless he said something... "Did Chris tell you that?"

"Actually... you just did." Yuuri looks more concerned than he should over something that should be trivial. Why doesn't he ever care about his own condition?

"Oh..."

"So... why don't you take them off?"

Viktor laughs awkwardly. This wasn't exactly the conversation he wanted to have today. Not when he could be leaving tonight or tomorrow. "Cat's out of the bag now." He lets his laughing subside. "Chris is making me wear them as a precaution. Don't worry. I'm just as strong and healthy as the first day I met you. He's worried for no reason."

"I thought that was why. You don't have to lie to me, Viktor." Why does Yuuri look determined now? What's there to be so worked up over?

"Yuuri, I'm not lying to you. I never would. I feel perfectly fine. I haven't had any symptoms of anything. Maybe what you have isn't as contagious as they said."

"Or maybe it hasn't been long enough for anything to happen?" It almost sounds like Yuuri wants something to happen, but Viktor knows that isn't it. He knows that Yuuri still feels guilty. If Viktor picked up anything from their kiss, then that would give Yuuri an excuse to stop feeling guilty and outright hate himself instead.

"Can we please not discuss my wellbeing. I'm here for you right now, Yuuri."

"OKay. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize. I love you. If there's ever something wrong, you'll be the first person I go to. I said that before. Remember?"

Yuuri nods and his teeth find his bottom lip again.

"Trust me."

Yuuri lurches forward on the bed, staring at Viktor with wide eyes. "I do trust you!"

Viktor can see him swaying from the action and puts his hands up for Yuuri to calm down. "I know you do. We've been through a lot, and you've dealt with me for this long." Viktor laughs as Yuuri seems to visibly relax, settling back into his bed. "There. Now that that's settled, what can I do for you, Yuuri?" He needs to tell Yuuri about the plan of him going home with the other three, but it can wait until before he leaves. His main focus is Yuuri's health for the time being.

"How long can you stay?"

Viktor smiled, knowing where Yuuri was going with that. "As long as you need me."

"Until visiting hours are over?"

"Deal."

Yuuri grins back at him and laughs brightly. "Thank you, Viktor. Really."

"Like I told you before, I'd do anything for you."

.

. . .

.

Viktor curses his terrible memory. How can he be so stupid?

He was supposed to tell Yuuri that he was leaving today, but instead he got distracted with stories of Yuuri's skating life before he quit yesterday. Now he's the jerk who's about to walk in and tell Yuuri that he's leaving for Russia in an hour. Yuuri's going to hate him.

Taking a deep breath, he walks into Yuuri's room with a fake smile plastered on his face. He can't find it in himself to smile genuinely.

Yuuri seems to know that something's wrong immediately. "Viktor?"

"Hi, Yuuri! How do you feel?"

"I'm fine, but Viktor? Is something wrong?" Yuuri catches on too easily.

Viktor sighs and sits down in a seat across from Yuuri. "Is it that obvious?"

The corners of Yuuri's lip turn upwards, but he can tell Yuuri is still worried. "Other than noticing how nicely dressed you are? You look like you're in as much pain as me." Concern colors Yuuri's voice.

Viktor cringes at the comparison. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Yuuri tries to comfort Viktor in whatever is going on. Viktor thinks that Yuuri is too good for him.

"I guess I should get straight to the point then."

Yuuri waits for Viktor to continue, giving him a nod in encouragement.

"Well," Viktor runs a gloved hand through his hair, "I'm leaving for Russia after this."

Yuuri's face falls in disappointment before it's suddenly gone. "I knew you'd have to go back soon."

"I'm really sorry, Yuuri! I want to stay longer. I really do, but Yakov called me yesterday on the way here and said I didn't have a choice." Viktor leans forward, desperately wanting nothing more than to hold Yuuri in his arms and tell him he'll be back, that they'll be together again soon. But he can't.

"It's okay, Viktor. I understand. You have a job you need to get back to. I'll be following right behind you." Yuuri smiles sadly. A smile Viktor should never see him wear again.

Viktor gets up from the seat and leans against the glass, resting his forehead there. "Yuuri, I'm really sorry."

"What time is your flight at?"

"1:35."

"You should hurry. I don't want you to be late for your flight. Yakov might yell at you again." Yuuri laughs, but it's one coated with the sound of tears that are threatening to fall.

Viktor's heart breaks again. "Yuuri, I don't want to go. I can stay here. I-I can work something out with Yakov, and then-"

"Vitya," Yuuri stands up and carefully makes his way over to the glass, resting his forehead against where Viktor's is on the other side, "I will be fine. I'll see you again shortly. I'll text you everyday to make sure you know I'm okay. It'll be fine. I'll be there in a week. We've already made plans for the move. They're going to be more careful this time, since everyone is afraid of me breaking. I told them I've never been stronger, though. I made them smile for once. All of them. That's a gift you gave me, Vitya. Trust me, that I'll be okay."

"We tell each other to trust the other a lot." Viktor laughs. He's on the verge of tears, and he doesn't know why. "Of course I trust you, Yuuri. I always will. I'll see you soon, okay?"

"Okay."

Viktor kisses the glass, and when he pulls away, he's surprised to see that Yuuri did the same. They lock eyes and laugh, tears ready to fall.

"I'll see you soon, Yuuri."

"See you soon, Vitya."

Reluctantly, Viktor pulls away from the glass. He steals longing glances as he leaves the room, settling himself against the door for a moment before pushing away and heading for the exit.

Yuuri will be okay, Yuuri will be okay, Yuuri will be okay...

He hops into the passenger seat of the rental car and stares at the hospital from the window. Chris, Yurio, and Otabek say nothing as Chris puts the car in drive and in the direction of the airport.

Yuuri will be okay.

.

. . .

.

It's funny, the difference between being at the same airport that drove him up a wall when he hadn't known anything about Yuuri's safety. Those few days felt like a lifetime ago. And now he's back at the airport, only this time he's the one leaving Yuuri. Not indefinitely, yes, but enough to make him suffer.

"How'd he take the news?" Chris comes back from his coffee run and hands Viktor a cup.

Viktor takes it wordlessly, not in the mood to discuss anything related to Yuuri.

"I'll take that as not too well."

"You could say that," Viktor hums into his coffee as he takes a sip.

"You know," Chris sits down next to him in the metal seat in their terminal, "he'll be in Russia soon enough. It won't be long before he's transported back to that same hospital. You'll see him again soon."

"I know."

"Give up. He's not gonna talk to us. I bet he doesn't even hear us." Yurio plops down in the seat across from them, plugging his phone into one of the outlets against the wall. Otabek stands up against the wall.

Chris sighs and pulls out his phone to find something that will keep him busy.

Viktor turns towards the windows that show the runway and all the planes entering into the appropriate terminal. He wonders what it would be like to travel the world with Yuuri. To see his face light up everytime he sees something he's never seen before. He would love to travel the world with Yuuri and writes it down mentally as something he wants to do.

Time flies for Viktor. All he does is stare out the window of the plane once they get on it, not tuning in to any of his surroundings. He does know that Chris ordered for him when he was asked if he wanted any of the inflight food because now there's a small tray of sushi in front of him.

Chris is busy FaceTiming his boyfriend in the seat next to him when Vitkor looks over. Chris winks and then goes back to the call he's on. Viktor sighs and attempts to eat, soon losing his appetite. He catches Yurio staring at him before he turns away and starts up a conversation with Otabek. The rest of the flight is uneventful.

When they land, Yakov is there waiting for them, waiting until they all pile into the vehicle he brought. Chris takes a different car with his own manager, happy to get away from the situation his friends are in.

"Why the hell were all of you in Japan?! Yuri, I want to here your answer first!"

Yurio sighs and rolls his eyes. "I got sick of listening to Viktor complain all the time, so I went to get his boyfriend back."

Viktor could see that a vein was threatened to pop out from Yakov's forehead. He really wishes he hopped into the back with Yurio and Otabek.

"What's your excuse, Viktor?"

"I went to bring Yuri back and fix what needed to be fixed." That could've been worded better.

Yakov explodes at them for what they did, and tells them over and over again that what they did was wrong and immature. Viktor apologizes, while Yurio barely gets out a whatever, clearly terrified of the outcome just not wanting to show it.

The rest of the car ride passes in silence, Yakov clearly steaming in anger in the front seat. Yurio and Otabek are dropped off at Yurio's, where his grandfather takes care of him. When Yakov gets to Viktor's flat, he parks the car but doesn't unlock the doors.

Viktor waits for the explosion again. The "you're older than Yuri so you should've known better" talk. Instead he gets-

"What do you want now?"

Viktor whips his head over to look at Yakov, getting a much softer look than the one he expected. "Huh?"

Yakov pinches the bridge of his nose. "Don't make me repeat myself, Vitya? What do you want to do now?"

"I uh... hadn't thought about it..."

"Give me a break. I'm not stupid. What is it you want? To quit?"

Viktor folds his hands together and thinks about what it is exactly he wants. It doesn't take him long to figure out an answer.

"I want to be with him."

"I know. I meant besides that."

"That's it. That's all I want."

Yakov mutters something under his breath that Viktor doesn't quite catch. "We'll talk more about this later. Be at work early tomorrow. You have a lot to make up for." Yakov unlocks the doors and waits for Viktor to climb out before starting up the car and driving away.

Viktor watches him go for a moment, wondering what answer he was expecting to hear, before giving up and going inside.

His flat feels cold and uninviting when he enters, throwing down the bag he brought with him to Japan on the couch and paces towards his bedroom. He opens his bedroom door and flops down on the bed, letting his mind wander.

He's away from Yuuri. While the time won't be long, it'll still feel like forever to Viktor because he's finally realized where the part of his heart that was once lost lies.

It's with Yuuri. It always will be.

.

. . .

.

Hey everyone! It took me a month, but I have returned with this new chapter! I actually wrote this chapter in a day. I got a little overexcited and was writing like my life depended on it lol We're more than halfway done in this journey, and I couldn't be happier with where the story is going. It's reassuring to see that a lot of you agree, too! I have six more chapters planned for this story, so please look forward to these last six updates. I just want to thank everyone who's been reading this story and staying up to date with it! I can't wait to get to these next few chapters since I'm going to start building up towards the end veeery soon. See you soon! :)

Chapter Text

It's been a week since Viktor's seen Yuuri, but they've been staying in contact. Yuuri left the hospital in Hasetsu yesterday afternoon and said that he's almost in Russia. Viktor wants to be the first person to greet him, but he knows that's not something he'll get. He can be Yuuri's first visitor, though, and that's precisely what he's going to be.

He's stuck in one of those dull morning meetings with the other models and Yakov, but he lets himself enjoy the company for once. Not that he would've been allowed to skip it, but he can at least make the most of it. Yakov gave him a morning wake up call, or as Viktor would like to rename it, the morning "wake the hell up before I fire you" call. He's gotten used to getting those calls by now. He's back in a daily routine he hasn't been in for a while.

Another reason he's enjoying today's meeting is because everyone keeps interrupting Yakov to ask him why he went to Japan and for more details on Yuuri and their status together. Yakov is beyond annoyed at the chatter, but lets it slip a few times because he knows no one will pay attention to him otherwise.

"Viktor, Yuri, and Otabek, you three have a lot of collateral you have to pick up and handle. Yuri, you need to apologize to Mir Fantastiki for missing an interview and photo op. Otabek, you were scheduled for an audition for the chance to star in a movie. You can do what you want with that, but keep in mind that they requested you personally. Viktor, you'll need to see me after for a complete list of all you've missed in the past month. If you can ever make amends without issuing another public statement, I'll be impressed."

Everyone laughs at Viktor's expense, meanwhile the man himself has joined in on the laughter. He knows what he's done.

"As I was saying before, all of you are doing exactly what you need to, but I need you to keep up with it. I'll be making sure that demands are met and that you keep getting requested for bigger projects. Most of you are very well liked. I need the newer crew to step up and prove that you belong here. Do what you can to put your name out there. That means applying to auditions that slip past me, even smaller ones work too. Anything will help you in the long run."

Viktor ignores the rest of the talk Yakov's been intent on giving today because it's mostly focused on Yurio, Otabek, and a few others such as the Crispino twins. From across the table, Mila gives him a pointed look and casually taps her phone that's sitting on the table. Viktor follows the movement and slides his phone out of his pocket under the table. Quickly glancing at it so Yakov doesn't notice, he sees a new message from Mila sitting there. He glances around the room and pretends to look interested as he thumbs in the password he knows by heart and unlocks his device. It's a good thing he uses his phone religiously because in situations like this, he knows how to get to everything on his phone without looking at it. He sneaks a peek at his phone and scans the new message.

i need deets you didnt answer me at all when i txted :(

what happened with ur bf

Viktor turns to Mila and winks. He pays attention to whatever Yakov is saying and throws in a witty remark, so it looks like he's paying attention and then he's back on his phone to type out a response.

tell u l8r long story

Viktor watches as Mila looks at the message he sent her. She snaps her head up and frowns at him. Viktor laughs louder than he meant to and starts apologizing immediately once Yakov berates him for the rude behavior. Mila's laughing at him, but she's also shaking her head with that dangerous look in her eyes. It's the same look from when he first told her about Yuuri. She'll do anything to make him talk.

His phone lights up with a new message from her.

You better coffee at the cafe after?

Viktor pockets his phone and nods in her direction. It wouldn't be a regular meeting if they didn't head over there anyway.

He didn't realize how long they've been kept in the stuffy, office space until Yakov goes over everything he said in the meeting one last time. Yakov holds eye contact with Viktor and narrows his eyes before he tells everyone that they're excused.

"Not you, Viktor."

Viktor silently curses at himself for forgetting. Mila puts a hand on his shoulder as she's leaving and whispers that she'll be waiting in the cafe when he's done. Viktor plops down in one of the spinning chairs again and faces Yakov, who has both hands folded on the clear, glass table.

"Alright, how awful is my schedule for the next month?" Viktor slouches back in the chair, careful to keep his feet planted so he doesn't slide out of the chair.

"It's not. I wanted to ask about the kid you won't shut up about?"

"Yuuri?" Viktor fixes himself, so he's sitting upright. Talking about Yuuri will always fascinate him.

"I didn't mean the kid you always argue with. I meant the one you're apparently with."

"Yes, that's him. His name is Yuuri, too, but it's pronounced differently. You see, the 'u' is-"

"I get it."

"Why'd you want to talk about him?"

"Vitya," Yakov leans forward, "I've seen you get dragged around by the different people you kept around you. I don't need anything the media can get their hands on. We've had this discussion before. I'm asking you as someone who likes owning a business. I don't want it ruined by the likes of your stupidity."

"Wait a minute, are you asking if Yuuri is going to use me?" Viktor's eyes are practically falling out of his head they're so wide. He can't believe that Yakov would put Yuuri - his Yuuri - on the same level as the rich snobs Viktor had flings with.

"I'm asking if he's going to create a problem."

"Of course not!" Viktor stands up abruptly from his chair, sending it reeling against the wall from the sudden motion.

"That's all I needed to know. Now, leave. I want to get rid of the headache I have before I have to deal with more imbeciles."

It takes a moment for Viktor to even get himself to walk out the door, he's too busy trying to collect his thoughts. He shouldn't be too upset. Yakov's never met Yuuri for himself. Yakov just knows that Viktor dragged the poor man on TV to announce their relationship and whatever he's read in gossip magazines that've been sent to him. Viktor knows he should cut Yakov some slack for that accusation, but it still hurts him to know that Yakov thought Yuuri would intentionally hurt him like that. To use him.

He shakes his head to rid of the thoughts, instead thinking over the few days he spent with Yuuri in Japan so he can prepare to tell Mila. She'll want no details left out, so he has to make sure he remembers everything. As if it would be hard to remember anytime he's spent with Yuuri at all.

When he gets to the cafe down the block, Viktor scans the space for a bob of red hair. Sure enough, Mila is sitting against the window in their usual spot, waving her hand to get his attention. It would've been the first spot he'd look at, but he can't actually remember the last time he was here.

"I already ordered you a drink, so I'm glad you came sooner rather than later." Mila gestures towards the coffee cup sitting on the table in front of the empty seat.

"Thanks, Mila." Viktor sits down and picks up the coffee.

Mila continues to stare at him, coffee cup in one hand and the other propped up against her cheek. "Well?"

"The coffee is still warm."

"That's not what I meant, Viktor!" She whines as she throws herself backwards into her chair.

Viktor laughs. "I know what you meant. Yuuri is... I would like to think that we've gotten closer."

"How's he holding up, though?" She seems the flicker of sadness in Viktor's eyes and immediately regrets asking. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean- It's good to hear that you two are getting closer, but what happened that you think so? You owe me for not telling me anything since you got back last week."

Viktor fiddles with the brown cupholder around his cup, not making eye contact out of fear of what she's going to say. "I kissed him."

Mila smiles brightly and almost squeals before she realizes why Viktor looks worried. "Wait, you did what?"

"I said I-"

"I heard you!" Mila waves her hands frantically to get Viktor to stop talking. "How did you even manage that? Doesn't he always have professionals hanging around him? How long ago? Is that why You haven't taken those gloves off at all since you came home? I thought it was just a phase like the suspenders we told you to stop wearing! Viktor, are you serious?"

"I am. I don't regret it. Just thought you should know that." Viktor glances up to see her incredulous expression.

"You've done it now, Viktor. When?"

"Four days before I came home."

"Did you see anyone afterwards?"

"Should I have? I feel fine, but Chris was saying the same thing." Viktor casually takes a sip from his coffee cup. "I'm already taking as many precautions as I can."

"But Viktor, isn't that something you should consult a professional for?"

"What for? I don't want to be taken away from Yuuri when he might... I don't want to be away from him again. Do we not remember what happened the last time?"

"Yes, but don't you think you-"

"I'll check in with someone once I feel sick. Okay? I know what I should be looking for as well, so I'll know when something's wrong."

"If you say so, Viktor. Did anything else happen when you were over there?"

"Nothing much. That was pretty much the highlight of the trip. It was cut off after I was threatened with my job." Viktor sighs. "He is coming back to Russia, though."

"Why did he leave in the first place?" Mila leans forward on the table.

"It doesn't matter anymore. Everything is fine now." He doesn't want to talk about it or start anything.

Mila raises an eyebrow at him, knowing there's something Viktor is saying. "Hmm... that doesn't explain why Yuri and Otabek went to Japan before you and Chris did. It also doesn't explain why you refused to talk to Yuri most of this past week."

"Mila, drop it. I don't want to talk about it," Viktor snaps and takes a sip from his coffee.

Mila backs off with the questions but stares at Viktor, hoping he'll spill to fill the silence.

"I'm not going to tell you."

Mila sulks in the chair she's in. "Oh, come on, Viktor."

"Mila, I don't want-"

"Yo."

They both whipped their heads towards the entrance of the cafe to see Yurio and Otabek walking in. Neither of them speak as the younger two pull chairs over to join them.

"So, Viktor," Mila ignores the two that just joined them, "what happened?"

"I told you to stop, Mila."

Otabek whistles at the frustrated tone Viktor takes on.

"What do you want him to spill about?" Yuri props one of his elbows up on the table,

Mila smiles dangerously at Viktor and then turns to Yurio. "Maybe you can help. Do you know why Yuuri left here for Japan?"

Yuri stiffens and shifts awkwardly in his seat, side-eyeing Viktor for a little help. Viktor closes his eyes and taps a finger against his cheek, annoyed that Mila just won't leave it alone.

"Uh..."

Before Yurio can respond to Mila's question, Viktor abruptly stands up, scraping the legs of the chair against the floor loudly. "I need to go. I promised Yuuri I would call him." Viktor walks towards the exit, throwing his half empty cup of coffee away as his interest in it has faded.

Mila watches him walk down the sidewalk before glancing back at Yurio, who has already started getting ready to leave himself. "Where are you going?"

"Otabek and I were only dropping in to say hi. We made plans to hang out."

Otabek catches on and stands up to leave as well. He looks apologetically at Mila before following Yurio out of the cafe.

Mila frowns, both confused and annoyed at the sudden absence of her friends. But it's alright. She'll just get an answer out of Chris. Those three weren't the only ones in Japan after all.

.

. . .

.

Viktor pays the taxi driver before stepping out of the cab and walking towards the entrance of his building. He would walk into the building, but there are dozens of reporters swarming the front door. He sighs and smiles at the few who notice him, eventually gaining the attention of everyone there. He has to push through the frond of reporters who have begun throwing questions at him. It's confusing to him to see so many reporters outside his apartment. It hasn't been this busy since he got the cover for Times magazine. He hasn't done anything for at least a month, though, so this excitement doesn't make any sense.

Unless that's why they're after him now.

Once he makes his way to the entrance, Viktor puts a hand up to silence the crowd that's hovering over him. He points to one of the reporters whose face he's seen before.

"Mr. Nikiforov, is it true that you're thinking about retirement?"

Of course he was right.

"I have no plans at this time for retirement. I will take one more question."

THe crowd explodes into chaos as Viktor tries to pick out one question from the dozens that are being thrown his way. One question stands out from the rest.

"Mr. Nikiforov, did you go to Japan to see Mr. Katsuki? If that's true, then why wasn't he in Russia, where you said he was staying?"

Viktor hushes the crowd and ponders over how to answer it without dragging Yurio through the dirt. "I did. He left because he wanted to see his family for the first time in a few months. No more questions. Thank you everyone." He waves a hand over the crowd and enters his building.

Yakov would kill him worse than he already wants to. That's something he doesn't want to experience.

By the time he gets into his flat, he's worn down and exhausted, flopping down onto the couch. It doesn't take long for his phone to light up from the table where he's thrown it. Groaning, Viktor throws an arm over his eyes, wanting sleep more than anything. The phone goes dark, but it isn't long before the screen lights up again. Viktor sits up and grabs his phone, ready to give whoever it is a piece of his mind.

Only it's Yuuri.

Taking back his earlier thought, he picks up the phone curious to know why Yuuri is calling him. "Yuuri? What's wrong?"

"Huh? Nothing. I only wanted to hear your voice... Is everything alright with you?"

Viktor can imagine the blush on his pale cheeks. "I'm sorry. I'm fine. It's been a long day that's all."

"I can tell. Something you want to talk about?"

Guilty. That's how Viktor feels for making Yuuri concerned. "It's nothing I promise. Have you landed yet?"

"Yes, I got in a few hours ago. They keep running tests like getting airsick means I'm going to drop dead."

Viktor shouldn't laugh at that, but the way Yuuri said everything with such distaste makes him chuckle. "I'm sorry, love. It'll be over soon I'm sure. You get airsick?"

"When I'm on a flight longer than three or four hours, sure. I bet most people don't feel well after being on a flight for more than eleven hours."

"I'm not like most people then." Viktor hopes Yuuri can tease

"That's obvious. Most people wouldn't take two flights to a different country just to see the one person who broke up with them."

Viktor lies back down on the couch and stays silent. Well, Yuuri isn't wrong there. "You've got me."

"I'm sorry! I didn't-"

Yuuri's panicking. "Don't worry about it, Yuuri. I've already forgotten that it happened." He hasn't, but he's not going to hold it over him every time they talk. "Do you know when they'll start allowing visitors?"

"But Viktor-" Yuuri sighs, "I don't know. Probably when they finish with all the tests. I'll tell you as soon as I know."

Yuuri at least sounds like he's smiling now. "Perfect! I'll make sure I'm ready!"

Yuuri laughs. "You can't be ready to drop everything to see me at any point in the day. don't even know when yet. I'll tell you during the day, so you aren't crawling out of bed to get to me."

"Yuuuuri, if you don't tell me exactly when they start allowing visitors, I'm going to call the hospital and make sure they call me immediately."

"Okay, okay! I'll tell you when exactly! Don't go out of your way just to know that!"

Now it's Viktor's turn to laugh. "Do you promise?"

"Yes, do you promise not to bother the hospital?"

"Of course. I'll let you get your sleep. You've got to be tired after flying for so long."

Yuuri sighs from the other end, and Viktor wishes for nothing more than to be with him. "You're tired, aren't you? Why didn't you just say so sooner? I could've called you tomorrow."

"No, it's okay! I mean yes I'm tired, but I don't mind a call from you no matter the time of day."

"Viktor, you're practically falling asleep on the other end." Yuuri's laugh is just as angelic as the day he met him. "I'm going to hang up, okay?"

"That's not okay."

"Vitya, go to sleep. I'll call again tomorrow."

"M'kay. Tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow. Goodnight, Vitya." Yuuri really is an angel.

"Night." Yuuri giggles and then hangs up.

Viktor lets his phone slip from his hands and fall to the floor. He's grateful for putting the rug there, even though he really should get up and plug it in for Yuuri's call tomorrow. Too tired. Too much effort. It doesn't take long before he's out like a light.

.

. . .

.

It's the first time he's been on set in a while. It's for a wedding company that handmade tuxedos with almost all of Yakov's models in mind. Apparently, it's because of a deal Yakov made with them a few months back when Viktor stopped paying attention to him. That's how Yakov worded it at least.

His tux is a satin white one with black lining on the lapels. It's a full set with a black pinstripe vest over a white shirt and bow tie that matches the vest. He's even been given black and white shoes to match. It's a classy look, one he would choose for himself. His mind almost slips into thinking what if Yuuri was in one, too. Almost. That wouldn't be fair if he did. To both him and Yuuri.

Mila shows up in the mirror behind him, smirking at the hopelessness on his face. "Daydreaming much?"

Viktor scowls and faces her, turning away from the mirror. "At least I'm a part of this shoot."

Mila scowls back at him. She was annoyed when she was told that she wouldn't be included in the shoot. She made an argument about how maybe she didn't want to wear a wedding dress on her day, but Yakov shot her down anyway.

"What are you salty about? I thought that kind of thing would make you happy." Mila reaches her hands up to fix Viktor's hair.

"It mostly makes me feel lonely." And upset. The thought isn't impossible, but it's still far away from the reality he's living in.

"What about Yuuri? I thought you two were all about each other." Mila puts one last strand into place before backing off, bewilderment clear on her face.

Viktor sighs and walks in the direction of the set up for the shoot. "It's not that easy, Mila. If it was, things would be different."

"So you're saying that because of his life-threatening disease, he can't experience having a wedding?" Mila gives him a pointed look, making Viktor turn red at the topic of conversation.

He thanks the heavens that he has his back facing Mila. She'd be smug if she saw his face. "That's not what I meant. I was thinking that it would be-"

"Of course that's what you meant." Chris blocks his path. He's wearing a tuxedo similar to Viktor's, only it's crimson where Viktor's is white and checkered instead of his pinstripes. He looks just as smug as Mila probably does.

It's not that he hasn't thought of that. A closed wedding with Yuuri, Yuuri's family, and Viktor's own "family". It would be adorable with their favorite colors surrounding them. Yuuri would be dashing in a tuxedo like the one Viktor gave him for their outing together. His hair would be gelled back. Viktor would gently slip a band uniting them together around his ring finger, while Yuuri did the same with the cutest blush adorning his cheeks. Everyone would cry. He would cry himself. Yuuri would be smiling. He would smile back. Then they would-

"-tor. Viktor!" Mila smacks Viktor's arm, snapping him out of his thoughts. The thoughts he was trying to repress.

Too late now.

"Yes?"

Mila and Chris share a look before walking away from Viktor together. "You're doing great for yourself, darling," Chris throws the words over his shoulder as they walk away.

Frowning, Viktor rushes to catch up, but his phone ringing in his pocket stops him short. How could he have forgotten that Yuuri was going to call him today? So much for his memory.

He fumbles for his phone, just barely getting it up to his ear instead of the ground. "Hi Yuuri~!"

Mila and Chris both turn around at the sound of his name.

"Hi, Viktor. Are you busy right now?"

Viktor frowns and looks down at the tuxedo he's wearing. "I'm at a shoot right now. Why?"

Yuuri clears his throat before speaking. "Well, Mr. Nikiforov, you have an invitation to visit Mr. Yuuri Katsuki at the hospital this afternoon. I hope you choose to accept his invite."

Viktor beams, absolutely ecstatic at the news. "Why, yes. Would you please give Mr. Katsuki my word that I will be there. I would hate for him to wait much longer without that knowledge."

Yuuri giggles as Viktor goes along with his little game. "I will tell him right away. He wishes you the best until then."

"And I, too. I love you, Yuuri. I will see you shortly."

"Awe, you ruined it." Yuuri doesn't sound disappointed at all. "I love you too, Vitya. See you soon!"

Viktor laughs as he ends the call and looks up to find his friends staring at him blankly. "What?"

Mila and Chris glance at each other and then smirk.

"Give Mr. Katsuki my word that I'll be there," Mila drools to Chris, deepening her voice to mock Viktor.

Chris dramatically throws his arm to his forehead, "I would hate for him to wait."

The two of them burst into laughter, high-fiving each other and walking back to the set.

Viktor rolls his eyes and trails behind them. "Haha, very funny." He's not too annoyed at his friends. The good mood Yuuri has put him in refuses to let him be that way.

"So when's the wedding?" Mila giggles over her shoulder at Viktor, who's stuck between rolling his eyes again and smiling like an idiot.

"We're not getting married."

"Oh, I see." Chris turns his head and winks. "No wedding. I understand."

Exasperated, Viktor throws his head back groaning. "Chris, there's no secret wedding either. It's not happening."

"What's not happening is that you're not working. Like usual." Yakov stands with his arms crossed, causing the three friends to take a step back. "Mila, why are you here? I already said you weren't a part of this."

"I designated myself as hair and makeup." Mila shrugs, smiling at Yakov as innocently as she isn't.

Yakov seems to not want to argue with her again, letting it slip for now. He points at Viktor and Chris and gives them the look of 'get back to work or else'. Viktor salutes him with a grin and heads off with Chris hot on his heels. As they're scurrying away, Chris puts a hand on his shoulder.

"You should visit him in that."

"I'm sorry, what?" Viktor splutters out, not quite sure if he heard Chris correctly.

"You heard me. Tell me how he reacts." Chris is about to walk away when Viktor grabs his wrist, dragging him back.

"I am not doing that. Besides, we're only wearing the suits for this shoot then they'll probably end up somewhere on display. We're not keeping them after."

"Who said we couldn't? I bet if you asked them to they'd give it up. They seem to like you better out of all of us anyway. If they say they aren't sure, then throw a few bills at them."

Viktor lets go of him and shakes his head. "That would be ridiculous."

"Then why are you smiling?" Chris snickers and starts talking to one of the directors on set.

It's like Chris said. Viktor finds himself smiling obnoxiously. As soon as he's found it, he wipes it away. Job. He has a job to do right now.

He's whisked away for individual shots before he's brought into group ones. That's when he sees Chris again, who nudges him. Viktor knows what he's silently asking, but he looks away without giving his friend an answer. It's almost the end of the shoot, and if he wants to do what Chris suggested, then it's almost time for him to ask. In his head, he knows that he shouldn't. It could be false hope. It could also be cruel to Yuuri. Not that he would admit it, but it would destroy him too if it ruins the atmosphere in the hospital room. Yuuri's no stranger to seeing him dressed up, though. He's come into the room before dressed in a nice suit. He doubts Yuuri remembers that, but it's a possibility. One that would help him if he decides to ask to keep the suit. Advertisement. That could be his excuse.

Milling over the different options, he forgets that he was taking photos and soon enough it's over. The shoots over, and now he has to make a decision.

Chris eyes him, and he can feel Mila's eyes on him as well.

Sighing, Viktor puts his charm on once more, walking over to the one in charge of the shoot who works for the company that made the suits. He's done this before. He knows who to go to.

"Hello." He smiles at the lady, almost overdoing it a little.

She looks up from what the photographer was showing her and smiles back at Viktor. "How can I help you, Mr. Nikiforov?"

"I would just like to thank you for having me. The suits are gorgeous, and nothing like the others I own or have tried on."

"If you're asking to keep the suit, then I apologize but you can't. We need them to advertise for our shop." She begins to walk away from Viktor.

Viktor turns to Chris who has been watching his every move and silently tells him that it's over. Chris thinks otherwise and motions for him to try again. Viktor sighs and follows the director, clearing his throat to get her attention.

"Would it be alright if I borrowed it for an hour or two?"

She suddenly whips around, making Viktor take a step back. "You're very persistent. Tell me, do you plan on getting married in an hour or two?" She quirks an eyebrow at him, and he laughs uneasily.

"No, I don't. I just-" How much is he going to tell her? "wanted to visit a friend. That's all." Viktor cringes internally at his own terrible excuse.

She looks amused. Much more so than he would've thought. "I'm only joking, Mr. Nikiforov. Of course you can have the suit. We have identicals made to put on display. Everyone here is going to keep what they wore today. Tell your friend, Mr. Katsuki, I said hello." She winks and walks away.

Viktor is stunned in place. He can't even believe how easy that was. Chris jogs over to him immediately, obviously curious as to what happened.

"And?"

"And I'm visiting Yuuri like this."

"No, you aren't." Mila drags him out of his reverie-like state, pulling him in the direction of the makeup counters. "I'm fixing you first."

.

. . .

.

Viktor's overdone. Way overdone.

Mila touched him up and restyled his hair, so it's gelled back to perfection. He hasn't been this overdone since the dancewear shoot he modeled for. That shoot would've been embarrassing, but everyone remembers him on the cover of Aria in the premium Stammi Vicino collection. It's what defined his career, oddly enough. Not one he loved personally, but what does he know?

Taking a deep breath, he steps out of the taxi, already thinking of the hundreds of different ways this meeting could go wrong. At least he brought the blue roses Yuuri loved so much the first time he brought for him. Maybe that'll help him. The lady at the front desk ogles at him when he enters. Definitely way overdone.

"Your name, sir?"

Viktor knows that she knows what his name is because it's Alina. The same woman, who's been working at the front desk since the day he started visiting the hospital. He's annoyed that she's stopping him now of all times.

Viktor leans against the front desk, already tapping his finger on the granite surface. "Alina, it's me, Viktor Nikiforov."

She laughs loudly, as if it was a simple mistake. Viktor isn't dumb. "Oh, of course. I'm sorry, Viktor. However could I forget someone like you?" She laughs again, louder and much more obnoxious as she types in his information.

"Simple slip of the mind. I understand," He gives her a fake chuckle in return.

Once she's done, she leans across the counter, closer to Viktor than he would like. "You're all set. I assume you're here for the new patient."

"He's a returning patient. Yuuri's been here before. Of course you would remember the name, though."

"Of course, of course." Her laughter dies down at the sound of the name, gives him the visitor's pass, and tells him he's okay to go.

Viktor's all but running down the hallway to get to Yuuri's room. The only reason he isn't running is because of the flowers. Those have to be in one piece for the lovely man. He pushes open the swinging doors and stops before entering the viewing room. He briefly glances down at himself, checking last minute details. He's going to look like an idiot, but at least he's Yuuri's idiot. Carefully he steps foot into the room, trying to avoid looking directly at Yuuri just yet.

He's expected to hear something from him by now, but there's no sound at all. Viktor thinks he's sleeping up until he looks up.

Yuuri's mouth is hanging open.

Viktor can't help but smile the brightest he's done in awhile, holding the flowers up higher against his chest. "Hello. I have a delivery of flowers for Mr. Yuuri Katsuki. I didn't mean to come as late as I did. I hope he can accept my sincerest apologies."

Yuuri's jaw moved to speak, but nothing came out. It took all of Viktor's being not to laugh.

"Would it be alright if I entered? Only if Mr. Katsuki is willing to accept me, that is."

Yuuri continues to sit in silence, only nodding his head to give Viktor the okay.

Viktor steps back into the darkness of the hallway before the viewing room and closes his fingers around the door handle of Yuuri's room. Technically, he knows he shouldn't be doing this considering how Chris was concerned over the first time. Chris also isn't here. He opens the door, and there Yuuri is, sitting on his bed gaping at Viktor as if he's going to disappear any moment now. It's the same look he gave him the first time he visited. Odd how reminiscent of that first day he is today.

After shutting the door behind himself, he lingers by the entrance longer than he should. He wants to cradle Yuuri in his arms, but he also likes the way Yuuri stares at him. It's a conflicting problem. In order to handle it, Viktor stalks into the room slowly, dragging out the seconds it takes to get to Yuuri's side while maintaining eye contact the entire time.

It's only when he sits next to Yuuri on his bed that Yuuri says something. "W-Why..." it's adorable how raspy his voice sounds, "m-must've been quite the shoot today..."

Viktor chuckles and leans over Yuuri to place the still-wrapped flowers in the empty vase behind him on the nightstand. He can hear Yuuri gulp as he does so. Interesting.

"Nothing too excited. Just a brand of tuxedos. They custom made a few for the different men under Yakov. I thankfully got picked to be in the shoot. I'll have to send you the prints when we get them." Why didn't he think of that before? He'll have to make sure he grabs a few to photo copy from Yakov.

"T-That would be nice. Thank you." Yuuri is still practically speechless. Very interesting indeed. "For the flowers and the prints!"

Viktor laughs again and places his hands on the space on the sheets behind him. "Do you like it? I wasn't sure if I would like the bright white on me, but after seeing the photos, I didn't look as washed out as I thought I would be."

Yuuri seems to be debating about a few different answers in his head. Viktor wishes he could hear them all. "It looks nice on you." His cheeks are crimson.

He needs to thank Chris for this ridiculous idea later. "Why thank you, Yuuri." He winks, and Yuuri all but combusts. "It is too much, though. I planned on being able to talk to, but now I'm not sure if that's going to happen." Viktor laughs heartily as Yuuri's cheeks refuse to let the color go from them.

"I-I'm sorry!" Yuuri sharply yanks his head down to look at his fingers, burying his teeth into his bottom lip.

"Nothing to be sorry about, love. It's mostly my fault." Viktor puts a finger under Yuuri's chin and directs his gaze back to Viktor's icy blue eyes. "Will you ever forgive me?"

"Yes." It's breathy, and it's a sound Viktor has to try not to gasp at because it's breathtaking.

Yuuri is breathtaking.

They stare at each other, wanting nothing more than to kiss the other, but Viktor holds back. He wants to, and he doesn't know why he just doesn't. Chris's words linger in his mind, but that shouldn't be enough to stop him now. Viktor sighs long and deep in his mind at his stupidity and leans forward to connect his lips to Yuuri's.

He really has to thank Chris now.

Yuuri has his fingers wrapped tightly around the lapels of his suit jacket, pulling Viktor as close as he can get. He doesn't complain, instead curling one hand in Yuuri's hair while the other holds his delicate waist firmly. It's a moment he wants burned into his memory forever, willing time to stop long enough for them to enjoy this peace of the other's company. Instead, it ends too soon, with Yuuri pulling back and gasping for breath. It's adorable how flushed his cheeks are, how tousled his hair is from Viktor's fingers, and how red and kissed-bruised his lips are.

Viktor smiles warmly at him, memorizing everything about the way Yuuri is looking at him now, embracing the image.

He doesn't want anything to take away what's his, but there's nothing he can do. He's hopeless to time and Yuuri. The very combination that will ruin him forever.

Chapter Text

"I am sorry for forcing you this on you, though. I knew it would be too much," Viktor grimaces a little but smiles right after. He's not too upset, since he did get quite the reaction from Yuuri. He just wished that the other was coherent enough to uphold a conversation with him.

Yuuri shakes his head and smoothes out the wrinkles he created in Viktor's lapels. "It reminds me of the first time I met you."

Oh, right. He was also dressed up then, having just finished a shoot at the time. He wasn't nearly as dressed up as he was now, though. It's interesting to him to see how they went from Viktor slipping through the hospital staff to get to Yuuri to now, where he can just wave his way through and everyone knows why he's here.

"I hope that's a good memory," Viktor chuckles.

"Any memory with you has been good," Yuuri whispers back in reply.

He's thrown off by Yuuri's words. Has he forgotten what happened in the past two weeks? Surely not. What did he do to deserve someone as amazing as the angel latching on to him right now.

"There's some give to that..." Although, technically that wasn't his fault. Sure, he shouldn't have quit so suddenly on Yurio, but Yurio had no right to take his anger out on Yuuri after he already threw it at Viktor. Which then reminds him that he needs to talk to Yurio again...

It hurts to remember that week without Yuuri. Really hurts.

"Don't make that face. You didn't do anything. I'm the one that messed everything up..." Yuuri sounds just as pained as Viktor feels.

It's odd hearing Yuuri say that it was his fault though because nothing was his fault. Viktor would've reacted similarly to how Yuuri did if someone told him what Yurio did.

Viktor places a finger under Yuuri's bent head and lifts it up to meet his eyes. "You did exactly what everyone else would've done. No one blames you for anything. Please believe that."

"Can we stop talking about it? Please?"

Viktor can sense the pain in his voice and complies easily. Way to ruin such a good moment, Nikiforov. How very much like you.

They sit there in silence, and honestly Viktor has never been happier. Instead of talking, he thinks. He thinks about Yuuri and their fateful meeting, all that they've gone through in the short amount of time they've known each other, and just how much they already know about the other. It's fascinating. Really, it is. Almost like a story you read about in books and in magazines.

He's ripped out of his thoughts when his phone rings loudly, startling Yuuri as well as himself. Stumbling to get it out of his pocket, Viktor forgets to even look at the name before answering in a panic.

"Nikiforov speaking."

Yuuri laughs at him and places a hand over his own heart most likely to settle it. His heart monitor is going crazy. Viktor just sighs in exasperation, chuckling only a little as he waits for the other person to speak. There seems to be some kind of commotion on the other end. Maybe he should've looked.

"I would hope so. How'd it go?! What'd he say?! I need every detail!" It's Mila. Of course it's Mila.

"Oh, Mila."

Yuuri gazes up at Viktor with a smile on his lips and laughter across his face still. Viktor smiles back.

"Mind if I tell you when I get back? I've only been gone for an hour at best anyway. I'd like to enjoy my time here for the being."

"Yeah, sure no problem, party killer." He can practically hear the pout present on her face currently, which makes him laugh. "I did a great job though, right?"

"Too great if I'm being honest." Viktor adds a laugh. "I'll give you more details later. Is that all you called for?" He has a feeling the answer is no.

"You caught on too soon. Not fair." Mila pulls the phone away from her ear, but not enough since Viktor can still hear her telling Chris he won. "How'd you guess?"

"You only ever call if a sale is going on, or if something important has happened."

"I'll have you know the sale at Anthropologie was very important. You just don't appreciate the finer things in life. But yeah, you're right. Sorry to break up your date, but something's come up."

"Am I allowed to know what?"

Yuuri can obviously see the tension Viktor wears clearly on his face and silently asks what's wrong. Viktor shakes his head in response.

"Hold up." Mila says something to someone and seems to be walking, probably to find somewhere more private if he had to guess. "Pretend I never told you anything, got it?"

"You have my word."

"I'm going to have your car if you snitch. Remember the director who took charge of the Naturel shoot we worked on together two years ago? Ms. Dubois? Well..."

"I remember her. Mila, what happened?"

He remembers her vividly. She kept trying to make advances on him and showed her disgust for Mila quickly and proudly. The shoot lasted longer than his and Mila's patience with the director. They voiced their complaints to Yakov afterwards, and he promised to never hire her again despite how well known she was. When Yakov was questioned about the shoot for a magazine, he held nothing back when it came to telling them all that happened between the director and his models. Her popularity amongst modeling agencies quickly vanished when the magazine was released. She even threatened to sue, but Yakov shut her up when the allegations were brought up again. It would be difficult not to remember her after all that.

"She's still holding onto that grudge pretty tightly. She's claiming that Yakov doesn't treat any of us right. There are videos circulating right now that aren't exactly helping. With you playing the runaway bride and word of your retire, people are starting to believe that you're staging all of this just so you can switch companies to the same one Chris works at. I'll let you find the rest out when you show up. Mandatory meeting in fifteen. You need to be there."

"After two years, she starts this?" Viktor groans and runs a hand through his hair, pulling at it in annoyance. "I'll be there. I might be a little late, but please tell Yakov I'm hurrying as fast as I can. I'm about twenty minutes out. Just warn him ahead of time."

"No problem, Viktor. Just... hurry. Things aren't looking good right now." Mila hangs up abruptly.

Viktor lowers his phone and just stares at the screen. Why did something always have to happen? At least he didn't really leave that time when he said he would. That wouldn't have helped at all. He forgot that he's with Yuuri until his voice speaks up from beside him.

"What's wrong?"

He smiles weakly at Yuuri and puts his phone away. "I'm always pulled away from you. Unfortunately, it's a little more urgent this time. I promise to tell you everything later. I'll call. I promise."

"Vitya..." Yuuri looks ready to say something else but doesn't. "Okay. I'll talk to you later."

"I'm really sorry." Viktor leans over and kisses his forehead before leaving his side and making his way out the door quickly, phone already in his hand.

.

. . .

.

"You're late. Get in here, Vitya. Shut the door."

Viktor does as he's told and slings his jacket across his arm as he makes his way to his designated seat in the conference room between Georgi and Otabek. None of them pay him mind. All eyes are on a worn out and frustrated Yakov, who stands at the front of the table with arms crossed.

"Vitya, you know as much as Mila's told you, correct?"

Viktor quickly glances over at Mila with furrowed brows. He didn't say anything, so how does Yakov even know that Mila told him anything? And then he sees Mila silently word out He figured out on his own. Of course. Yakov knows everything that goes on at all times. That shouldn't surprise him. He turns back to Yakov and nods.

"So we're all on the same page now. I'm not going to sugarcoat this. We're in trouble right now, so here are the rules. You are to be punctual to everything you have scheduled for the time being. You already should be punctual, but some of you like to get away with that just because certain directors or photographers or sometimes everyone likes you. That will not be tolerated right now. You will be put on a leave of absence indefinitely if you do."

Yakov kept his eyes pinned on Viktor as he said that.

"You will not accept interviews for the time being. The majority of you are terrible at handling situations like this, and I do not need anymore trouble especially from you lot. Got it?"

A collected yes fills the room with no question to his authority.

"That's it for right now. Do what you need to do and leave without question. Be cooperative. Be friendly. Do not leave margin for error. We can't have any of that. With that out of the way, I will now explain our situation. As you know, there are rumors going around that you are not treated properly with edited videos that back up those false statements. I will handle them as I see fit. Do not take matters into your own hands. The less we play in the public's hand, the easier this will be. That's it for the time being. You're all dismissed except for Michele, Yuri, and Viktor."

Mila mouths a quick good luck as she escapes the room with Sara. Viktor watches everyone else leave besides the other two Yakov mentioned before turning to the man himself.

"Michele and Yuri, your schedules are free until this is all over. I've declined all projects for you two. I need you two away from any attention."

"What?!" Yurio jumps up from his seat, annoyance clear in his eyes.

"Is it just us two?" Michele seems to share Yurio's anger, but he's making less of a show of it.

"For now, yes. It's only the two of you."

"Yakov, you're kidding right?! I'm doing great! How come Viktor gets to keep working?!"

Yakov pinches the bridge of his nose in anger. "Michele, you're free to leave."

Michele quickly picks everything up and hurries out of the room, leaving Yurio to seethe in anger on his own.

"You have an uncontrollable temper. Fix it, then I'll reconsider you not working. I can't afford for you to yell at anyone on set of a shoot without me being there to diffuse the situation. I'm not your babysitter, and I shouldn't have to act like that. If that's your only fight against my word, then leave already."

Yurio mutters something incoherent under his breath and storms out of the room.

Yakov sits down in his chair at the head of the table, and Viktor watches as the man lets out a long sigh. "Viktor, you don't have any jobs this week either but for different reasons entirely."

"Why?" He doesn't really have to ask since the answer is obvious.

"You're retirement is in question as well as your loyalty to this agency. I don't want to know what your thoughts are on any of those things, I'm just telling you that you don't have anything coming up. Use the time wisely. Preferably to stay out of the public eye, but you're old enough to think on your own. I trust you to know what you're doing."

"Retirement is a thought, but I don't plan on wasting any time on it soon. I like the career I've built for myself so far, and Yuuri is proud of what I do and wants me to keep going as well. So I will."

"I told you I don't want to know."

"But Yakov-"

"No is no, Vitya. As CEO, I'd have to say what I know, and I'd rather stay out of discussions centered around those details of your life. Don't tell me anything unless you're ready to share your thoughts with the world. Got it?"

Viktor nods, unsure really what to say on his own. He knows what he wants, but if Yakov thinks otherwise, then he'll wait to talk to him until this whole thing is over. Yakov does have a point.

"Good. Now leave."

Without another word, Viktor leaves the office space. Time to himself. Wow. He hasn't had that in a long time. More time with Yuuri, he thinks. Although, Yakov did tell him to stay away from the public eye... This'll be the most boring week ever, Viktor thinks.

.

. . .

.

He was right. It is the most boring week ever. It's only been a day, and he's still sitting on his couch flipping through hundreds of channels trying to find anything to watch. He hasn't yet. So frustrating.

"Have you found anything yet?" Mila plops down on the couch next to Viktor with a yogurt in hand. He forgot he invited her. Oops.

Instead of giving her a real answer, Viktor groans as he throws his head back on the cushions of the couch, still flicking through channels. Absolutely, positively bored out of his mind. Maybe he should call Yuuri when Mila leaves. Again. He's tried calling a lot already, but Yuuri was either in testing or asleep. Which makes sense. He's just upset that he hasn't been able to talk to Yuuri yet. Not Yuuri's fault at all.

"Do you really do nothing outside of work and Yuuri?" Mila disapprovingly waves her spoon at him.

"I have plenty of hobbies." Viktor sits up straighter, landing on the news channel.

Mila snorts at him and takes a biteful of yogurt. "Oh, yeah? Like what?"

He shouldn't have picked this fight with Mila. Because she's right. Viktor has no hobbies. Never has. Except those few times he used to go skating every winter with everyone in the agency. That only lasted three years, though, and it was when most of them were just starting out. Wow, how times fly. "I skate."

Mila seems to be holding back laughter. "No, you don't. You were awful the last time we went as a group! So you don't have any hobbies. I was right." She smugly finishes her yogurt before setting it on the table and stealing the remote out from Viktor's hands. "No way. As long as I'm on Viktor duty, I'm not watching the news."

Mila and Chris have come over one at a time to keep Viktor occupied since he's not really allowed to go anywhere or do anything and have decided to call it that. Viktor duty. He doesn't need someone to watch over him. He's not that old.

"This is ridiculous." Viktor gets up from the couch with a huff and makes his way to the door.

"Hey, Yakov said you're not allowed to go anywhere." Mila stands up as well, ready to stop Viktor if she needs to. "Your drinking buddy will be here in less than an hour if you just wait."

Viktor slips his shoes on and puts his arms through the sleeves of his trenchcoat, hand ready on the door knob. "He said to keep a low profile, not that I was stuck at home. I'm going for a walk." With that, viktor storms out of his flat, too exhausted from not doing anything productive. Maybe he'll just see if he can visit Yuuri. It's only four in the afternoon, so it's not too late. He could be asleep, though... He'd feel awful if he woke him up.

And now he regrets his decision more than ever. He seems to have forgotten that almost everyone in the world knows where his apartment is. There are dozens of magazine reporters in the lobby of his building, and he knows for certain he didn't bring anything as a disguise.

Viktor slips out of the elevator and walks along the wall with his head down, praying that no one will notice him.

That didn't last very long.

"It's him!"

Without looking back, Viktor runs for it. His eyes focus solely on the door as he bolts down the length of the lobby. Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea... He can hear the mob chasing him but pretends like he can't as he makes his escape, almost slamming into the glass swinging doors in the process.

Ducking into an alleyway, Viktor manages to lose his paparazzi and only exits when he can no longer hear their shouts. Beginning to walk in the opposite direction, he realizes that maybe Mila was right. Maybe. He'll never admit that to her face. She would never let him live it down. He doesn't know where he's going, and he's not sure if he really should go to the hospital. Sure, the need to see Yuuri is killing him, but with what's going on, maybe this should be the first time he listens to Yakov.

It only takes him a second before Viktor's cackling with laughter to himself. Away to the hospital he goes!

Viktor walks down the block more before hailing a taxi. As long as he's smart about this, everything will be okay.

He should've expected this to say the least. Chris won't stop calling his phone, as if he knows Viktor will cave and answer it at some point. Holding strong, he shuts his phone off. Chris knows where he's going anyway, so what's the point of answering the phone?

Asking the taxi driver to drop him off down the block, Viktor gets out of the car and walks slowly towards the hospital. There's nothing discreet about him, but as long as he acts normally he should be fine. Hopefully.

The lady behind the front desk waits for him to make his way up, knowing exactly who he is and why he's here.

"You don't have very long. He has a few important tests today."

They're always important, he thinks, but there's this expression on her face - the 'I'm so sorry' kind of look - that scares Viktor just a little. He always gets this look from the hospital staff, so he doesn't really know why her's in particular scares him more deeply than everyone else's. It's that expression that makes him walk just a little more quickly towards Yuuri's room. He has a bad feeling, but he's hoping he's wrong.

The sigh of relief comes immediately when he sees Yuuri after bounding over to the window in his rather large room. Yuuri looks to be just as excited as him as they see each other.

But he doesn't miss the odd spark of sadness that forms in Yuuri's eyes. It's there for only a moment, so Viktor has nothing to call him out on. That bad feeling is back.

Yuuri scrunches his eyebrows as he notes how oddly relieved Viktor looks. "What's wrong?"

Shouldn't he be the one asking that? "Huh?"

"You look like you expected me to not be here."

The sadness is back, but Viktor doesn't want to ask just yet. "I don't know what I expected." That at least is true. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too." The shy smile on his face makes Viktor smile in return. "What happened when you left? I was never around for your calls."

For a split second, Viktor thinks that there's something going on with all the testing he's been undergoing. There has to be something. But it can wait. He's not sure he's ready. "Someone we weren't a fan of in our business has shot back at Yakov, and now a few of us have to lay low for the time being. Myself included. The trick is going to be getting out of here without being caught." Viktor chuckles, but really he knows how difficult that's going to be. Yakov is going to kill him.

Yuuri's frown deepens. "Is everything going to be okay?"

"More or less. Yakov holds a pretty high position in the industry. There's no way they actually believe what's being said about the company. Everyone just likes drama, so I give it a week before the whole thing blows over." Viktor shrugs. He is right to some degree. Once things cool down, he's sure that everything will go back to normal, but it may take longer than he let on.

"I'm sorry." Yuuri looks more upset than he does himself over the whole situation.

"What for? You haven't done anything wrong. It's just someone who doesn't like being shown up or put down. She creates problems and is attacking the biggest name in the business. It happens all the time."

"Still..."

"How are you, though? I heard you've had a lot of testing done lately."

Yuuri's nose wrinkles in disgust, and then the sadness is back in his eyes. "I'm okay. Don't worry about me, though. You have enough on your plate."

Viktor's positive Yuuri is avoiding everything that's been going on with him. That can only mean that something's wrong. He could ask Yuuri's doctor, but he'd rather hear from Yuuri. "I like worrying about you, Yuuri."

Yuuri smiles weakly. "Thanks, Vitya."

Viktor smiles back in return, hoping it'll help Yuuri feel better about whatever seems to be wrong.

"Wait, if you said you're supposed to be laying low, then why did you come here?" Yuuri looks absolutely confused, and Viktor almost laughs.

"That's a trade secret, my dear Yuuri." Viktor winks at Yuuri, who blushes profusely and laughs. "I really wanted to see you. I was so bored without you."

"It's only been two days since you were last here."

"Exactly! Ugh, Yuuri, how am I going to live?" Dramatically, Viktor throws his arm over his eyes and leans back in his seat. "This is the end of all the endings, Yuuri!"

"Vitya!" Yuuri manages to say between laughs. "Shh, someone's going to walk in here and wonder what's wrong!"

"Oh, Yuuri! My broken bones are mending!"

Yuuri shakes his head, still laughing at Viktor's antics. "Are you quoting Taylor Swift now?"

Viktor sits upright and gasps loudly. "Yuuri, you listen to Taylor Swift, too?"

"You send me that same song over and over-"

"-and over again if IIIIII could. I love that song, too! How did you know?" Viktor gasps again and laughs loudly as Yuuri rolls his eyes at him.

"Vitya." Yuuri tries to hold onto a serious expression through his laughter.

Viktor holds his hands up in surrender. "Alright, I'm done. I promise. I've had too much freetime on my hands."

Yuuri shakes his head once more. "It's been two days, Vitya. Two. How long are you supposed to be laying low?"

"A week."

"This is going to be a long week for you, isn't you?"

"You have no idea."

They both share one more laugh together before settling into quiet. Quiet, save for the hum of the machines Yuuri's tied to.

"Hey, um... Viktor?"

Viktor looks up and furrows his brow as he notices how nervous Yuuri looks all of a sudden. His nervousness starts to make Viktor uneasy. He can feel the tension from before creeping back and making it hard for him to breathe right. Yuuri bites his lip and fiddles with his fingers, the exact same motion Viktor's associated with bad news. Viktor sucks in a deep breath and waits for Yuuri to speak again.

"So I got news from the doctors yesterday..." Yuuri looks up and tries to gauge Viktor's expression before continuing. "They found something... new... about what I have."

Viktor tries to steady out his breathing again, waiting on bated breaths for the rest. "And?"

"Well, they found out it's not contagious."

Viktor's eyes widen as he processes the new information. "Wait... did you say it wasn't contagious? You're not kidding, right? This isn't a joke?" He was expected awful news, but this... this is incredible! "Yuuri! That's amazing!"

"Wait, Viktor. There's more." Yuuri squeezes his eyes shut tightly, head turned down towards the floor.

"What is it?" Viktor finds himself leaning forwards.

"Uhm... They told me... They told me I only have a month left."

Silence.

Viktor can't seem to process what Yuuri said. It's like time has slowed almost to a stop. It's only until Yuuri looks up at him when he realizes that this is really happening. But maybe he didn't hear him correctly. Maybe he's only been hearing what he keeps thinking Yuuri is going to say.

"I'm sorry..." Yuuri's voice is already raw.

And then it hits Viktor hard. Yuuri's crying. This is real.

"I'm so sorry, Viktor. They just told me." Yuuri throws his head into his hands, crying with apologies streaming off his lips.

This is real.

This is real.

One month.

That's all they have left with each other.

Just one month.

.

. . .

.

Chapter Text

Viktor can't breathe. More like hasn't been able to since he got home. Chris is standing before him, lecturing him about going against Yakov's words. Words that Viktor can't really hear. Everything around him is a blur, and all he can hear is the hum of machinery in Yuuri's room. Yuuri's sobs. Yuuri's apologies. Viktor's rushed escape from the room. Viktor's heart is still beating wildly in his chest, begging for him not to break. It's hard. It's hard not to lose himself.

"Viktor." Chris snaps his fingers in front of his face, expecting some sort of reaction from him.

But Viktor has nothing, feels nothing. "One month," he mumbles the two words as if saying them will help make sense out of everything. Only it can't and Viktor doesn't know what to do. How is he supposed to do anything? Breathing is difficult, he notes. He can feel himself on the brink of hyperventilating. His chest feels like it's collapsing in one itself. There's only this sinking feeling that only scares him more. He's falling, falling deeply, and he's not sure anyone can help him.

"What?" Chris leans in towards him, hoping to catch what he said.

As if a machine, Viktor mechanically lifts his head up. "One month."

Chris pulls back, more confused than angry now. "One month? Until what? Viktor, what's wrong?" So Chris does notice that something is wrong.

"It's Yuuri." Viktor's eyes scrunch in pain at the sound of Yuuri crying in front of him. It's something he never wants to hear again. His voice cracking as he apologized to Viktor about something he can't control... Horrifying. It make the whole situation all the more real.

Chris pinches the bridge of his nose the same way Yakov does when he's frustrated with Viktor. In any other situation, he would've laughed at his friend and would have pointed that small detail out. Only he can't bring himself to do that now. His thoughts are solely on Yuuri, more so now than before. "What does one month have to do with him?"

Viktor holds eye contact with Chris, trying so hard to get the words out but it's impossible. He can't bring himself to say the very words that ruin him. "He..."

"He?" Chris is only a patient man when it comes to these kinds of situations with Viktor. He was there for the hair disaster of 2013. He lived through Viktor's first heartbreak. He's been around for Viktor's ultimate dilemma over the Stammi Vicino shoot. How odd is it that he complained for months about how much he hated that shoot despite it being his most popular work? Chris dealt with him through everything. This was no exception.

"He only... He only has one month... left to live." Viktor's voice cracks when he says the number. The number he wish he could change but can't. A tear runs down his cheek, and Viktor wipes at it with his index finger, staring at the remnant of it blankly.

"Oh... Oh, hon. I'm so sorry. Should I call Mila?"

Chris becomes background noise to Viktor again. He's tearing apart, or at least he's pretty sure what this buzzing feeling is. It's loss. It's heartbreak. It's the death of Viktor, or at least it will be. One month. Thirty days. Only thirty days left. How? How can this possibly be happening? He's finally found the love of his life, his reason for waking up each day and knowing everything will be okay, and now fate has decided to take that away from him.

"What should I do? How can I fix this? How can I make it better? Who can I call?" Viktor feels desperate all of a sudden, desperate for answers. There's got to be a way to fix this. There has to be. "I have to be able to do something, Chris. I... I can't just stay here while he... he's dying, Chris! I can't just let this happen!" Tears are freely rolling down his face as he begins pacing around his flat. Something. There has to be something!

"Viktor, darling, I don't think there-"

"Don't you dare say what I think you're going to say!" Viktor walks up to Chris with a pointed finger before walking away with hands in his short fringe. "Don't do it."

Chris tries to put a hand on his shoulder, but Viktor shrugs it off. "Vitya, I'm sorry. I really am, but you had to know this was coming."

Viktor turns around and the rage in his eyes is enough to shut Chris up temporarily. "You think I didn't know? You think it wasn't the one thing that kept me up every night? What I thought about when I woke up? What I tried to ignore for as long as possible because maybe I love him? Maybe I don't want him to just disappear? To leave forever and never come back? You're right, Chris. Congratulations. He is going to die. Does that make you feel any better now? Huh? Does it?!"

"Knock it off, Viktor. You know that's not what I meant."

"Then please tell me because I seemed to miss your point!"

Chris takes a deep breath. "He was sick when you met him, Viktor. You said it yourself that you would be there for whatever happened. No matter what."

"Knowing is much different than actually experiencing something, Chris. I didn't know that I was going to fall in love with him as much as I have! I didn't know I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with him! I didn't know anything! I only thought I knew! Everything is so much more different now! I don't know what to do, and I'm about to lose him!" Viktor knocks the vase on the table off and into the wall, shattering it onto the wooden floor. "I don't know what to do." Viktor collapses onto the ground and sobs into his hands like Yuuri did earlier that day. "I can't lose him."

Chris sits on the middle cushion of the couch right behind where Viktor is on the floor. "I'm so sorry, Vitya."

Viktor's not sure how long he sits there crying. It's no longer daytime when he does look up from his hands and surprisingly, Chris is still sitting there. Only difference is he seems to have gotten up for alcohol because there's a glass in his hand and another one on the table in front of him.

"I thought you might need it."

Viktor only shakes his head and stands up only to sit down on the couch next to Chris. "Sorry."

Chris takes a sip from his almost empty glass. "Don't be. You're upset. I won't hold it against you."

"Thanks." They sit in silence as Viktor stares at the ice in his glass melting on the table mindlessly. "I can't believe he's... I thought we'd get more time together."

Chris sets his glass on the table next to Viktor's and sits back on the back on the couch. "He's not... you know... yet. You still have a month. Even then, I've heard countless stories of doctors being wrong. What if he's still fine by then? Has he seemed worse to you lately?"

"I don't know. No? I can hardly tell, and he rarely tells me anything like that. I always have to ask someone like one of his doctors."

"So ask one of his doctors. Talk to someone about that. Are you just going to leave it at that and go on with life pretending that nothing's wrong? I'm not a therapist, but there's no way just accepting it can be good for you. I think you need to make the most of it."

"Can we maybe talk about something else?"

Shrugging, Chris gets up to get rid of the glasses in front of them. "Want yours still?"

Viktor shakes his head and bends over to pick up his phone from where he left it on the floor. There are dozens of missed calls from Mila, so Chris definitely called her. When he did it, Viktor doesn't know. His finger hovers over the button to call her back but decides on not doing so. It's already late at night, and he doesn't want to talk about it again. Not yet, at least. Mila has helped him through a lot, so he does need to tell her soon. Sighing, he sends her a quick text, asking to meet for breakfast tomorrow. Mila gets back to him quickly, suggesting they meet somewhere they haven't been before. Smart, considering only Mila is supposed to be working.

"So what's your plan?" Chris shouts from the kitchen.

"Sleep. You can stay in the guestroom if you want, but I'm done for the night." Viktor stands up and makes for his bedroom, wishing for nothing more than for everything to have been a dream. He shuts the door behind himself and flops onto the mattress, thinking about what happened.

"Why did this have to happen to Yuuri?" He rolls onto his stomach and shoves his head into a pillow.

It's frustrating and upsetting and heartbreaking. Nothing has ever felt this awful.

Yet still he finds himself not wishing differently. He's still in love with Yuuri and wouldn't trade that for anything. Nothing. He does wish he went to college in hopes of becoming a doctor, though. Maybe then he could've helped Yuuri.

He can still do this. He can absolutely do this. He's going to become the best support system for Yuuri ever.

.

. . .

.

He's not sure when he actually fell asleep, but Mila is standing over him with arms crossed.

"Breakfast huh?"

Oh, right. Oops.

Viktor groans and slowly sits up in his bed only to get a face full of pillow.

"You're doing great, sweetie. So you told Chris everything but made me wait an entire day? I'm disappointed. And I'll tell Yuuri. He'll be disappointed, too."

"You've met him once."

"That's all it takes. Now get up. I haven't eaten, and I was promised breakfast." Mila leaves the room to let Viktor get up and get ready. Before she actually does, she pops her head in one more time really quickly. "Oh, and by the way, you look worse than that one time you got so drunk with Chris that you-"

Viktor launches the pillow at the door of his room where Mila is, making her scramble out of the room. "Don't make me tell Sara what you said that exact same night!"

"You wouldn't dare!" Mila shouts back.

Viktor laughs as he gets out of his clothes from yesterday and into a cleaner and more casual selection. Stay out of public eye. That'll be a little difficult with Mila around, but at least he'll be with someone from the agency. No rumors about his retirement should circulate for now. Or at least he can hope for the best.

"Hurry up, old man!"

Viktor smiles and runs out the door of his room to meet her.

"Have fun, kids." Chris is sitting at the kitchen counter with a coffee cup in his hand. Whether it's filled with coffee or not, Viktor doesn't really know.

"Chris, I'm older than you."

"Which I am grateful for. I love being younger than someone in this business." Chris laughs as he takes a sip from whatever's in his cup.

Mila snorts as she walks to the door, grabbing her jacket. "This is why people keep asking me about your retirement, Vitya, Step your game up."

Viktor rolls his eyes. "Can we just go already? I'll see you later, Chris."

"You know, I thought you were going to cancel plans on me when you didn't answer this morning. Thankfully, Chris let me in when I knocked. Your car?" Mila throws her shades on as she leads the way out of Viktor's flat. "If not, I'm fine taking the company chauffeur, but I'd prefer not to. Tom is nice and all, but he's kind of boring."

"Sure, I'll drive. Only if you're paying."

Mila laughs sarcastically. "Yeah, right. As if you really need someone else to pay for you to eat. I could ask anyone we sit next to if they can pay for us, and they would without question because you're there. I just ordered myself a new custom Dior dress for my red carpet walk next month. I still need to decide on what I want for accessories. It really depends on what the final product looks like. They said they'll have me come in for a fitting in a week or two, so I should know around then."

"Red carpet? What red carpet event did you get invited to that I wasn't?" He doesn't actually care, but he likes the distraction from the thoughts of last night that he's beginning to get.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Viktor knows that she isn't as she flicks her short red hair. "I was invited to the premier of the new Mission Impossible movie. I've heard it's going to be great. I would invite you as my plus one, but you're supposed to be under the radar. That and I want Sara to go with me. She loves those movies, too. Sorry, maybe some other time."

Viktor shakes his head in mock disappointment. "And to think I invited you to the Met Gala with me last year. How could you do this to me, Mila? I thought we had a special friendship."

"We do. One where the other understands that the person we like at the time who is also a model gets to go to the fancy invite the other gets invited to?"

"I'll forgive you this time. So where did you have in mind?" Viktor takes the keys to his car and his jacket as he follows her out the door.

"I was thinking Cafe Saint Petersburg. Sara mentioned it to me when I asked where we should go. I've heard it's pretty good, but I haven't gone there yet. She said she went there with Mickey once and enjoyed it but hated that she went there with Mickey." Mila taps a painted nail against her lips in thought. "Maybe we shouldn't go, so I can bring her."

"I've heard that's more of a dinner place, anyway. Pick somewhere more casual and tell me where to go."

They hop into the elevator and wait as Viktor hits the button for the lobby. Mila is busy flicking through locations to go to, fingernails tapping on her phone's screen. Viktor's thoughts scatter for a moment, landing on the moment he saw Yuuri break down in front of him. Mila picks up on his soured mood and tries to fix it best as she can.

"Oh! What about ZooM Cafe? It's so cute! The food has good reviews, too. What do you say?"

Viktor forces a smile for her. He can tell what she's trying to do and would feel bad if he wasted her kindness. "Let's try it." He puts on his pair of sunglasses as the elevator doors open with a ding, signaling that they've reached the lobby. They don't say anything more as they head to the garage next to the building where Viktor's car sits. There's paparazzi lined up outside, which Mila handles instead of Viktor. He's not in the mood to talk about what's going on in his life, and he doesn't really want any outsiders in on it either. He regrets introducing Yuuri to the world he lives in. It's cruel and draining to say the least.

Questions are coming at them from every direction. Viktor tries to plow through them, hoping that they can escape quickly, while Mila stops to talk to a few people before taking steps towards the garage again. He wishes that she could just ignore them and walk faster along with him, but she's allowed to be in the public eye. It's different for her.

"Mr. Nikiforov, how is Yuuri Katsuki?! Can you tell us anything knew about the both of you? There's a photo of you visiting him yesterday! Are you still together?"

The paparazzi was only trying to do his job, Viktor knows that. Get information about a popular model trying to avoid the public eye because his agency is under backfire for allegations that either are or aren't true. He knows that. Yet he stops to look at him. The reporter has a notepad and pen in hand while the person next to him snaps photos of the stunned into silence Viktor Nikiforov. Mila's too busy to see what's happening.

"I'm sorry?" Viktor asks. His head is buzzing with borderline rage from the questions the reporter asked him. The questions don't bother so much as Yuuri's name being thrown into the media just to provoke an answer out of him.

"How are you and Mr. Katsuki?!" The reporter gets closer to him with hardened eyes, hoping for an answer from him.

"You don't deserve to know." Viktor knows he shouldn't have said that or said anything if he's being honest.

Before he can say anything else to the reporter, who only keeps getting closer and closer, he feels a tug on his arm and sees Mila trying to push him away. Only then, does his head snap up to see her shaking her head as she shoves him away. He lets her push him, knowing fully well that he doesn't want Yuuri to say anything to him. Or have Yuuri be disappointed or angry at him. That would ruin him if he made Yuuri upset in any way, shape or form, so he lets Mila drag him away from the crowd. He can barely hear her thank the paparazzi for their time over the sound of the questions ringing in his ears.

"And your plan was?" Mila is still holding on to his arm even by the time they get to the car in the lot.

"I didn't have one." He didn't. He knows he should've at least thought through a response, but it was way too personal of a question. It hit Viktor hard. Anything related to Yuuri does that to him. There are just so many emotions that are attached to Yuuri that made it impossible to avoid answering him. Mila wouldn't know the extent of it. She can only imagine.

"Great idea. Next time, don't say anything and let me handle it. You do realize that what you said is going to be interpreted differently on every gossip website imaginable. You can't just say how you feel. You should know that by now." Mila hops into the passenger seat once Viktor unlocks the Cadillac.

He opens the door to the driver's side and plops down beside, jamming the keys into the car and starting it in a hurry to leave already. "Of course I do." The sharpness in his voice wasn't meant to be there, and he feels bad for it. It can't be helped, though. He's gone through so much in just twenty-four hours, and the only one who knows is Chris. "I'm sorry. I'm just not in the right mindset." It's also the second time he's snapped at someone.

"When are you going to tell me what's wrong?"

Viktor pulls out of the lot, driving towards the place Mila mentioned earlier. "When we sit down. I don't want to say it here."

Mila accepts that for now and stays silent for the rest of the drive.

Viktor tries to keep his mind off of Yuuri and the delicate situation at hand, instead keeping his focus on the road and the ease of driving around the city he's always known. Once they get there, Viktor parks the car and opens the door for Mila to get out. Mila gives him an odd look that he can't quite decipher as she steps out of the car. He doesn't ask what it's supposed to mean, instead walking in to the cafe and sitting down at a table situated in one of the smaller rooms off to the side.

It's rather small, Viktor notes, but it's cozy. They take a small table next to a window that's eye-level with the street. The interior of the cafe is modernized, yet made comfortable with bookshelves lining the walls of one smaller room while couches are seated around tables in another.

A waitress, who clearly recognizes them, asks if they would like a bottle of wine on the house. After politely rejecting, they gave her their signatures and took a quick photo with her before giving her their order. THey sit at the table, sipping from their glasses before Mila brings up the topic.

"Now?"

Viktor sighs and sets his glass down, bracing himself. It won't be any easier to talk about, but at least he can go about calmer than the first time. "Okay."

"Yeah?" Mila pauses, leans forward and waits. "So what is it?"

Viktor closes his eyes, bracing himself once more. "It's about Yuuri."

Mila raises an eyebrow. "Yeah, I know. Chris only said that much. He mentioned that he thought you'd want to say what happened."

For once, he's grateful towards Chris. "Remind me to thank him later."

"So what happened?"

"Well..." He wishes there was an easier way to say what's wrong without actually saying it. "Yuuri... has only one month to live..." He finds himself trailing off, lost in the word once more. The only thing stopping him from breaking being that he's in public with hundreds of thousands of eyes waiting to catch a glimpse of him. At least they're far enough away from the windows where someone would have to crawl along the ground to see them.

"What?!" Mila bolts up from her seat, the pull of the tablecloth showing how hard she's gripping the table.

Viktor cringes back into his seat, trying to hold back the pain of his heart breaking again gives him from showing on his face. "Please, don't."

Mila sits down and leans in again, eyes widened with what seems to be fear? Viktor can't really tell which emotion is more prominent. "This is a pretty sick joke, Viktor. Knock it off. Tell me what's really the matter. Midlife crisis again? Is it really your retirement? What is it? Tell me please."

"Mila, I'm-" He's choking. The sobs are taking over again. Hold it together, Viktor. Hold it together. "I'm not." He speaks in such a tiny voice that he hardly hears it himself. "He's... He's dying, Mila. I only have a month left with him." He throws his head into his hands, hoping to hide his face away from everyone in the cafe. They can't see him like this. No one can.

"Oh my God. Viktor, I..." Mila sits, frozen in shock by the news much like Viktor was when he heard it for the first time. Her voice is soothing, comforting, but not enough to help him. It only makes him sob harder. It makes everything he's feeling so much more real than last night.

The waitress comes over again, and Viktor feels bad for not looking up - she's so nice and it makes it worse - but he can't. He lets Mila accept their orders and send her away quickly, so they can be alone again.

"Viktor, I'm so sorry. I can't believe... I'm really sorry, Viktor. I mean we always knew but... I didn't expect... I'm so sorry." Mila's hands are covering her mouth, watching as Viktor cries for the second time in the span of a day unsure of what to do.

"I should've known, Mila. I should've known this would happen soon. I don't... I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. I should've. What's wrong with me?" Shattered. That's how he feels. Nothing compares to this feeling. No one would understand unless they've felt it themselves. It's impossible to put into words.

"Viktor, it's okay. I promise-"

"But you can't." Viktor looks up at her, and he knows that he looks like a mess. It's plain as day when Mila stops to stare at him, unable to finish.

But that's because she understands. She can see it in Viktor's eyes. She's always been good at reading him.

"I'm really sorry." She talks quietly, as if any louder would make things worse. "We can leave if you want. I'll pay. Don't worry about it."

Viktor doesn't say anything more. They've only been in the place twenty minutes, and he's ruined Mila's good time. How rude of himself.

He wipes the tears away and shakes his head. "No, it's alright. I... I can handle this."

Mila knows he's lying but doesn't make an effort to call him out on it. He can tell that she's agreeing only because he's a mine field right now. Say one wrong thing and he'll snap again.

"Okay."

"Thank you."

Viktor makes an attempt to eat but doesn't really hold an appetite for it. He hasn't eaten since breakfast yesterday and knows he should consume something, but it's hard. Just staring at the dish makes him upset.

Mila keeps staring at him from the corner of her eye as she takes bites from the meal in front of her. There's this concerned look on her face now, and Viktor hates it. He truly does. Feeling weak was never his favorite thing, but he lets it happen this time.

By the time they finish, pay and then leave the café, Viktor realizes he doesn't exactly want to drive either. He hands the keys over to Mila wordlessly and makes his way over to the passenger's side. Mila doesn't question it but instead takes the keys and walks over to the driver's side.

Viktor faces away from Mila the whole time, shades down to hide his swollen, red eyes from everyone they pass. They can take as many photos as they want, but he won't give them the satisfaction of seeing him like this. Even Mila looked worn out when they left, still less so than himself.

The car comes to a halt, and Viktor doesn't seem to know why until he actually looks at his surroundings.

It's the hospital.

"Would you bring me here?" There's this desperation in his voice that scares even himself.

It's not that he doesn't want to see Yuuri. He's just not sure that he's ready yet. To face the very person he loves with his whole heart fade away slowly before his eyes.

"Viktor, you can't avoid this. Seeing you miserable made me realize that he's probably just as bad, maybe even worse. You two need to stick together no matter what. Got it? I won't baby you since I know you don't like that, even though quite frankly you need it sometimes. Right now, I think you both need each other and to deal with this head on. Please listen to me. Go in there like it's the first time again, and talk to him as if there's nothing holding you back. Be real, be confident, and do whatever you can to make him and yourself happy. Call me whenever you get kicked out because that's the only time I want you calling me for a ride."

He sits there motionless. He wants to cry. He wants to hug her. He wants to scream how dumb he is because Mila's right. He needs to take the next month off of work and stay with Yuuri. They need to be together for as long as possible and talk until they're blue in the face. Well, maybe not that last part. He doesn't need Yuuri passing out on him.

But he does want to see Yuuri. Badly.With a new kind of mindset given to him, he genuinely smiles at Mila. "Thank you."

She proudly beams back at him before winking. "You're welcome. Now, go in there and make Yuuri smile again. I bet he hasn't just like you haven't."

He nods. As a man on a mission, Viktor all but throws himself out of the car and stumbles into the hospital, signing himself in faster than he has before. The woman running the front desk stares him down like he needs to be checked in to a mental hospital but doesn't say anything when he scrambles down the hallway towards Yuuri's room.

When he gets to Yuuri's room, he's a little surprised to see that he has a visitor. He's a little upset that they can't be alone as quickly as he would've liked, but he's more confused. The person sitting in front of Yuuri has a bowl cut with bangs that hang just above his dark brown eyes. His skin much tanner than Yuuri's, maybe of Asian descent, but Viktor can't quite place it. The way he talks to Yuuri is bright and cheerful. Exactly what Yuuri needs at this time, not what Viktor did when he saw him two days ago.

"Arthur misses you the most, though. He climbs on me all the time whenever you're on the phone with me. I swear it's like he knows it's you on the other end."

They're speaking English to each other, which means they don't speak the same language. It intrigues Viktor, so he doesn't interrupt just yet. Instead letting the conversation continue.

Yuuri laughs between coughs at what the other said. "He did always like me better."

The stranger gasps dramatically. "How dare you take away my children from me. Yuuri Katsuki, I challenge you to a duel!"

Viktor's lost. The conversation makes absolutely no sense, but whoever this Arthur is, they've got a storm coming for them. Yuuri is his and his alone. He will not be beaten.

"Oh! Yuuri, you have a visitor!"

He was really hoping on not being seen yet.

Viktor slowly enters the space enough to see Yuuri and wave awkwardly.

Yuuri gasps and only stares with wide eyes. "Viktor." He says it in such a breathy way, which makes Viktor feel like mush. He's always adored the way Yuuri says his name.

"Hi, Yuuri."

The stranger is staring daggers into him, which confused Viktor. Does he know who this is? Is he supposed to know?

The stranger stands up and marches to Viktor, holding the stare until he's right in front of the model. He sticks a hand out and smiles brightly at Viktor as if nothing happened before. "Hey, I'm Phichit Chulanont, Yuuri's best friend."

Viktor looks over at Yuuri, who rolls his eyes but bites down on his lip anyway. Viktor looks back at the stranger who calls himself Phichit and tries to figure out why that name sounds familiar.

And then it hits him.

He's one Yuuri's been friends with throughout his entire life, who made him smile every day back at the hospital in Japan. Yuuri talked about him a lot and constantly praised him for being an incredible friend, despite making him feel awkward at times.

"Oh! It's a pleasure to meet you, Phichit." Viktor shakes his hand, only to be pulled in close by the other.

"If you hurt him, so help me I will hunt you down to the edge of the Earth. Don't think I won't."

Laughing awkwardly as Phichit lets go, he backs up an inch or two to put some distance in between them.

"Phichit!" Yuuri looks mortified from where he's perched at the edge of his bed.

Phichit shrugs effortlessly. "Had to be done. Alright, I'll give you two some space. I expect details later, Yuuri." He does the 'I'm watching you' gesture before walking out the way he came, leaving a bright red Yuuri in his wake.

Viktor whistles as he walks over to the lone chair in the center of the space. "I wish I knew how to make you that red so quickly. Maybe I should ask him."

He laughs as Yuuri deadpans and turns a darker shade of red. "No!"

Viktor lurches forward in his seat as Yuuri goes into a coughing fit. He knows better than to ask if he's okay, though. Yuuri's never liked feeling weak or small, and he doesn't want him to feel that way. "So that's the infamous Phichit I've heard so much about."

"I've barely told you anything."

"Shh, I'm trying to make him feel better about how you never talk about him."

Yuuri laughs quieter than before, probably trying to avoid coughing again. "I feel bad. I talk about you all the time to him, but never-" Yuuri throws a hand over his mouth and turns away from Viktor.

Viktor grins. "So you talk about me all the time?"

"Ah ha ha! How was your day today?! I wasn't expecting you to come visit today." Yuuri looks genuinely interesting in why he came, so Viktor drops the topic at hand. For now.

"Sorry. I wasn't really expecting to drop by either. I would've warned you beforehand. I'm sorry. I feel bad for interrupting time with your friend. He seems like he's flown a long time to see you."

"He's going to be here all weekend, so I wouldn't worry about that. I'm sure he's sick of me talking nonstop anyway." Yuuri's cheeks are still stained a reddish pink color as he talks.

He could make a comment about how Yuuri seems to be talking about him a lot but restrains himself for the time being. "He's going to be here all weekend? Wow, he came up just to see you for the weekend?"

"What? No, he's here for a competition."

"Competition?" How hasn't he heard about Phichit from Yuuri before.

"Ah, yeah. He's a figure skater in the senior division. He's really good! I'm glad he decided to continue skating. When I met him, he didn't feel like he should continue. I don't know how he changed his mind, but I'm just happy that he did. He seems a lot more encouraged to skate again. He's doing great, too! I'm so proud."

Viktor smiles as Yuuri gushes about his friend and thinks that maybe he's the reason why this Phichit has decided to continue. Much like with Viktor, Yuuri was able to change yet another life. Somehow, Viktor's not surprised. "He sounds amazing. We should see him this weekend, since apparently it wouldn't be against the rules for you to go out."

Yuuri shakes his head and bites his lip. "No. I'm okay. Really. I usually just watch his programs on livestreams or he'll just send me videos after the whole thing is over."

"You don't want to see him in person?"

"Ah, no it's alright. Don't worry about it." Yuuri smiles at him, and Viktor smiles back in earnest.

There must be a reason as to why Yuuri wouldn't want to watch his friend skate in person. There has to be. He'll have to ask Yuuri's friend if he hangs around after.

They spend the next hour or so just talking about anything or anything. Most of the time, Viktor tries not to say anything that could possibly make Yuuri upset. It somehow works because Yuuri is laughing by the time he leaves to let his friend spend more time with him. If Phichit is a national competitor this weekend, so there's no way they're going to get to talk a whole lot He would feel bad if he took up all of Yuuri's time.

.

. . .

.

Viktor's sitting in the lobby as he waits for Yuuri's friend to come out, shooting a quick text to Mila explaining what happens and that yes, she was right. She'll never let him live it down, but he does owe it to her. Of course, he's still upset, but how can he not be? Now is not the time to dwell on it.

His phone vibrates in his hands with a new message from Mila lighting up his screen, informing him of what he already knew. She was absolutely right.

Phichit comes out about an hour later, happily saying goodbye to the lady behind the counter who smiles in return at him. Phichit pauses when he sees Viktor still sitting in the lobby with an awkward smile on his face.

"Hello. I know we've only met briefly, but I was wondering if you would like to maybe talk for a few minutes. Only if you can spare the time, though. I know you're a professional athlete, who's probably very busy. I just thought that maybe it would be-"

"Duhh! Of course I'd want to!" Phichit walks up to him with a glint in his eyes that Viktor feels like should scare him. "We should probably go somewhere else, though. They're about ready to kick us out." Phichit walks past Viktor and heads for the sliding doors of the hospital entrance.

Viktor stands up and follows him, not too sure as to where they're going. "Did you have an idea?"

"Hm?" Phichit stops and turns around to look at him.

"Where are we going?"

"Oh, I thought you had an idea."

Viktor stares at him for a moment, unsure really what to think about him. "Uh, we could always just take a walk?"

Phichit laughs hysterically, almost bent over he's laughing so hard. "You're hilarious! Dude, you're literally Viktor Nikiforov. That's the worst idea I've ever heard. Better idea, there's got to be some shop or cafe open for us to hang out in. I'll find something. I've been here, like, three times."

"You do know I live here, right?"

"Obviously. I know everything. There's got to be a bar around here." Phichit taps furiously around on his phone, much like Mila earlier as he tries to find somewhere for them to talk.

A bar is a good idea, which makes Viktor wonder why he didn't think of it. He's been to plenty with Chris and knows the best ones around. Those around them will be too drunk to actually pay attention to them, or at least not if they sit in the corner away from the counter. That's why he's always enjoyed them. "Sounds good to me. I'll call us a cab."

"A cab? You don't have a personal chauffeur or anything?" Phichit seems to be more stunned than Viktor would think.

Viktor smirks and laughs a little on the inside. "Who said I didn't have one?"

Phichit laughs again. "I already like you. Unfortunately, I can't approve just yet, though. That would be too easy."

"Approve?"

"I'm Yuuri's best friend. You need my approval. That's how a friendship works."

They match their pace to each other, soon leaning against the wall next to the hospital waiting for the cab Viktor's ordered to arrive.

"Interesting. Usually I just tell my friends how I feel, and I make them accept how I feel. I've never let them influence my decisions."

"That definitely makes a lot of sense."

Should he be offended? "Uh... thank you?"

Phichit snorts.

They stick to silence until the cab comes, jumping in without another word except for the directions Viktor gives the driver. Viktor shifts uncomfortably in his seat once the car jolts to a start, wanting to spark up another conversation but finding the right words seems to be difficult. He hopes that maybe Phichit will start one, but he's too involved with whatever he's doing on his phone to care about Viktor. In its own odd way, the silence is enjoyable. It's weird for him to be in a car with someone who doesn't know him like Mila or Chris does but doesn't immediately ask about all the gossip centered around him. He also wonders if that's due to the fact that Yuuri is a part of that attention.

Once they reach the bar, Viktor gives the driver the money, and they hop out of the car. Phichit excitedly jumps ahead of Viktor to get in, already scourging for somewhere for them to sit. Viktor points towards one of the benches in back, one that he and Chris usually camp out in for the night if they go together. They have a bench like this in almost every bar in the area. It's almost like everyone knows that the two of them occupy it together.

In his enthusiasm, Phichit catches a waiter's eye and orders what seems to be the first drink off the top of his head. Viktor settles for an Old-Fashioned, a classic in his eyes. They stare silently at each other for a moment, more so Phichit sizing him up than just staring.

"So... how'd you meet Yuuri?"

"Isn't that what I should be asking you?"

Fair point, he notes. "Right place, right time."

Phichit shakes his head, which makes Viktor tilt his own. "I think you mean terrible place, same time. Yuuri might call it right nowadays, but that's mostly because he doesn't know what fun is anymore."

Viktor frowns at the way Phichit phrases it but doesn't blame him. He's technically not wrong, despite how crudely he put it. "I think it was the right time. I couldn't be happier."

"You do know he's dying, right? One month to live? Or has he not told you yet and I just ruined it?"

It's Viktor's turn to shake his head now. "He told me yesterday. I'm still glad I met him when I did. I wouldn't trade anything for the love that I have for him. He's made me a better person."

Phichit sizes him up, and Viktor wonders to himself what exactly he's looking for in him. "Commendable, I'll give you that." The waiter returns with their drinks, and Phichit thanks him in broken Russian. "You seem to be taking the news better than anyone else has. Then again, Yuuri doesn't really know how we've taken it. Not that we would really tell him anyway. How awful would it be to tell him how heartbroken you are straight to his face when he's the one who feels guilty for contracting a new disease that has been killing him for a few years now."

Viktor sinks just a little into his seat. He does feel guilty for running out like he did, but it was so much to handle in just that one moment! He always knew it was going to happen, but he never actually braced himself to hear the news. "Can we change the topic to a lighter one?"

"Kind of hard to unless you've got something."

"Maybe not really, but I am curious about something." Viktor takes a sip and waits for Phichit's approval before he continues speaking. "I asked Yuuri if he would like to see you compete, but he seemed uncomfortable and said how it was okay. That would you send him videos and talk to him about it later. Maybe even watch the livestream. Why wouldn't he want to go now that he can?"

"He's upset." Phichit seems to understand that Viktor is lost, so he goes on. "Yuuri dreamed of becoming a skater, even took ballet and skating lessons. I've seen videos of him skating when he was ten, and man, I'd be crushed by him if he was able to skate competitively now. He was amazing, which is why he won't ever really watch. I don't think he's actually seen any of the videos of me skating or at least hasn't gone through them completely. He used to tell me how skating was his whole life when he was younger and learning. He even wanted it to be his career, to travel the world and see everything. His anxiety always held him back, though, and then he got what he has now. What's been slowly killing him for years. He became too weak to skate."

Viktor hangs on to every word Phichit says, savoring every little piece of new information he's getting. He feels sorry for Yuuri again and angry on his behalf that he never got to live out his dream.

"I kind of wish he would watch my free program this year." Phichit sighs and props one elbow up on the table. "I'm skating to a piano piece one of his friends wrote for him."

"Yuri On Ice..." It's the song Yuuri shared with him awhile ago, and the very same one that Viktor still listens to all the time.

"Yeah. He told you about that?" Phichit seems amazed again with him.

"Should I not?"

"No, it's just that... you're the only other person to know of its existence. Yuuri hasn't told anyone and hasn't done anything with it. I kept the title the same for my program and didn't change any of it, so it would be announced as it is. No one would understand the real meaning behind it, though, except for you now, I guess. His family all thought it was just a tribute to him, but it's more than that. I even used footwork that he used to talk to me about all the time when he wanted to talk about skating. Now, it just seems like he's trying harder and harder to push it out of his life for good. Not that anyone can blame him."

"I had no idea. I love it, though. It's brilliant, and it's..."

"It's him, right down to his very core. The person who wrote it documented his journey as a person from before and after the virus, paying attention to how he would smile when he was in the worst kind of pain. She was in love with him, but he was too kind to see it. Oh, well. It's still really pretty, though, and I'm glad I chose it."

"Would it be alright if I saw you skate it?"

Phichit sits upright on his side of the booth and glances around the room carefully for a moment before letting his eyes focus solely on Viktor again. "Are you serious?"

"Yes?" Viktor's eyebrows scrunch in question, wondering if he maybe crossed a line he didn't know about.

"Yes! Please come! Maybe if you tell Yuuri you're going, he'll want to." Before Viktor can even respond, Phichit puts a hand up. "Don't. I already know that it'll be impossible, and I'm not asking you to make him come somehow. It'd be nice if he was there, but out of his own will not yours. Got it?"

Viktor nods in understanding.

"Good. Then let's drink! I need a few photos before this night ends since I got to meet you, and I need to make Yuuri beyond jealous. There's a bucketlist item I never thought I'd get to. Cheers!" Phichit clicks his glass against the one Viktor is holding.

Only Viktor doesn't really share in his enthusiasm. Not tonight, at least. He feels like he's learned so much and would prefer leaving, but he's not one to ruin a party when at least one person is having fun. So he lets himself have fun for a few hours. Draining drinks with the other until he's not really thinking properly, which is a feeling he knows he shouldn't indulge in but finds himself doing anyway.

He'll talk to Chris tomorrow. They'll come up with something together.

There's got to be something he can do for Yuuri while he still can.

 

Chapter Text

Viktor may be very hungover... just a little... but he can still remember what Phichit had told him last night. The idea that the skater hadn't meant to give him but produced anyway. He's a bit surprised himself that Yuuri never bothered to make a trip to see his friend skate, but at the same time he completely understands why he wouldn't.

Groaning, Viktor sits up from the tangled mess his bed had become in his drunken slumber and makes his way to the shower in his flat. Pushing back his sweat-soaked bangs, he wonders about what would happen if maybe Yuuri did go see Phichit skate a program designed around his best friend. There are a few issues, he realizes as he turns on the shower head and strips himself of his clothes. The main concern he has being Yuuri's current state. Trying very hard not to dwell on the sadness attached to that thought, Viktor tries to think through getting him out of the hospital logically rather than emotionally.

He could just suggest that they go out for dinner or something along those lines. Yuuri's played along with him like that before. It could work. Then the issue of somehow getting to the rink comes along. Yuuri did used to skate, and he seems like he still does stay in touch with the skating community enough to know where all the competitions are held, especially if he's talked to Phichit about the one this weekend.

Viktor steps into the shower and lets the cool water fall over his physique. He just stands there staring at the tiled ceiling, hoping for an answer to just come to him. The only real option it looks like he has though would be the first one he's thought of. Actually telling Yuuri where they're going would be the smart idea, he realizes, but also not the most practical. Yuuri won't go that way. He won't listen to Viktor that way. He hasn't seen his best friend skate in who knows how long? He's not going to start now just because someone he's known for less than an year tells him to.

Frustrating. That's what this is.

Yuuri might hate him if he just drags him to the rink without telling him. He might be infuriated with Viktor. He's not sure that's a chance he wants to take especially since...

He should probably wash his hair already before he ruins it with the hot water. Squeezing his favorite shampoo into his hand, he begins scrubbing it carefully into his platinum locks. The smell of his shampoo makes him realize just how awful he smells. Oh god, how did he walk around like this last night? Only vaguely does he remember parting ways with Phichit and ending up back at his flat.

He holds the thoughts of getting Yuuri to the competition off for now, deciding to just focus on getting the smell of alcohol off of him and out of his hair. The task proves to be a bit harder than usual, which troubles himself a little. He hasn't gotten that drunk in a while. When did he lose track of selfcare? Sighing, he finishes doing what he needs to and turns off the water, throwing a robe on and a small towel around his neck. Stepping out into his bedroom, he wrinkles his nose in disgust at the few empty bottles scattered around the floor. What happened to him last night?

Shrugging it off for now, Viktor finds himself relaxing on the windowsill bench in the corner of his room staring out at Saint Petersburg. His mind is scattered and not really focusing on any particular thought until his phone rings from somewhere in the mess that is his bed. He continues to dry his hair as he walks across the room, fumbling through his sheets before the blindingly bright screen of his phone flips over. Only then is he aware of the pulsing in his head.

Without really staring at the screen, Viktor picks up the call.

And regrets it immediately.

"When did you plan on telling the rest of us?"

Unexpectedly, it's Yurio calling about the one thing he didn't really want to talk about. Two people knowing already seemed like a lot to him, but now Yurio knows and most likely Otabek as well. Of course Mila told them. He didn't think she was going to say anything considering what happened when he told her. How annoying.

"I'm not in the mood for this, Yura. Not today and not now." He almost hangs up, but Yurio's lack of anger scares him from doing so. The younger Russian is oddly quiet.

"I know. I heard about it from Mila. I don't know why you trusted her not to say anything. What gives though? Were you ever planning on telling us?"

Viktor pinches the bridge of his nose and regrets not hanging up. Yurio has a point, but it's only been two days since he found out himself. Why would he think he would tell everyone as soon as he found out? Then again he doesn't understand how hard it is to choke out the words, to hear them ring through the air again. "I'm not talking to you about this right now. Why do you care? All you've done is cause problems and worries for him. It's almost hilarious that you care."

"Look, idiot, what I think of him doesn't matter. I'm more... We don't want you acting all stupid again. It was super annoying and creepy."

"If all you're going to do is insult me then I'm hanging-"

"Fine, I don't want you to leave."

Silence. Neither one of them makes an attempt to talk for a few moments. Viktor's too stunned to really speak - and touched if he's being honest, but he'll really ruin it if he says that.

"Yura-"

"Don't even. Bye."

As expected, Yurio hangs up without another word.

Viktor doesn't make out much from the conversation, but just enough to figure out that Yurio is worried he'll do something selfish once Yuuri- He shakes his wet bangs at the very thought of doing anything cowardly as such. He could never. It's concerning even to Yurio, which should have him worried himself, but Viktor knows himself pretty well.

Or at least he hopes so. It's hard to say when he's never fallen in love as deeply as he has recently. Love could make you do anything. He shakes his head again.

No. He couldn't... He won't. Not if he has his close friends nearby then he shouldn't.

Maybe he should start going back to that therapist from before... Is that too much? Does he really doubt himself that much?

Viktor nervously starts tapping his fingers against his phone screen before abruptly standing up.

Try to focus on getting Yuuri to the rink, Viktor. How am I going to get him there without him knowing where we are? How can I get him to trust me to leave the hospital? Would it really be smart to have him leave like how he is...? Maybe hire someone to standby and watch him closely just in case? That could work...

"It's all falling into place now..." Viktor quietly whispers to himself, the thoughts from before gone for now but haven't disappeared for good.

Maybe he should contact Phichit. Surely, Drunk Viktor was smart enough to get the skater's number. He is, after all, just as good at socializing drunk compared to being sober. Flicking through the many contacts in his phone, Viktor proudly hovers over Phichit's contact information.

Good. Oh wait... Phichit said he wanted Yuuri to be there out of his own will. If he mentions Yuuri coming to Phichit then Phichit will just visit Yuuri and thank him for finally wanting to come. That wouldn't end well. They'd both be furious at Viktor.

Why is this so complicated? Viktor throws his phone back onto his bed and stands up, deciding to forget it for now and get dressed for the day.

.

. . .

.

"You want to what?"

Sitting across from Viktor at their usual cafe is Mila, staring at him as though he's grown another head. He leans his head against the palm of his right hand while his left stirs around what's left in his empty coffee cup. He's asked for is Mila's opinion and any possible ideas she might come up with. So far, all he's gotten is an odd look of surprise. He's taken Yuuri out of the hospital before. How is this any different?

"I just can't figure out how to do it. His friend's competition is in two days. Is it too short notice? From what I've read, there are two days of competition for the men's singles. Yuuri would only have to see the last day because that's when his friend skates for him. The issue is I don't know how to get Yuuri there without Phichit knowing. Any ideas?"

"Vitya, I don't know how to tell you this nicely. Well... I don't think you should take him out of the hospital again. I think he needs to stay there until..." Mila sits back in her seat and traces the lid of her coffee lightly. "If he's really not feeling well, then maybe it's not a great idea. You did say that his friend wanted him to go because of a decision he made not you."

"Do you really think that?" Mila might be right... but he'd feel bad if Yuuri really didn't see the program his friend designed for him. It would be a bad idea since Yuuri's condition is so very... critical. How has this become so difficult? "Should I just stream the competition with him? Would that be easier?"

Mila flicks her sunglasses up onto her head, fixing her hair so nothing sticks out of her red bob. "It would be, yes, but since when have you cared about anything being easier? I'm just saying that you shouldn't. I think it'd be really nice of you to do that, though. Make the decision you think is the best. I'm not taking part of it. I've helped out enough." She winks and takes a sip of her coffee. "I need to go now, but let me know what you choose. You don't have a lot of time left." Getting up from the table, Mila briefly puts her hand on Viktor's shoulder before heading out the swinging doors.

Alright, so Mila was a dead end. Maybe he should just forget it. He doesn't want anything terrible to happen to Yuuri if he's taken out. There are so many possibilities of something going wrong. He shouldn't interfere.

Viktor laughs at himself almost immediately, gaining stares from those sitting at the tables near him. He gives them an apologetic look and promptly gets up from the table, a new idea in his mind.

Pulling out the earbuds in his pocket, Viktor connects them to his phone and plays Phichit's free program piece. He pulls up the notes in his phone and begins listing out everything that could go wrong. It's a longer list than he would like but nothing he can't work around.

1. Yuuri's health

It's number one because it'll be the most difficult to find a solution for. He'll have to talk to a nurse who's been working closely with Yuuri and keeping a trained eye on his condition. That could be arranged. He's met almost all of them on staff. Plus almost all of them like him. Hopefully that detail could be arranged.

2. He can't find out about the rink

That's... a bit trickier. He could blindfold him and tell him they're going out somewhere fancy. That would work. Only issue is Yuuri's never been blindfolded before, and Viktor's taken him to plenty of fancy places. The idea of that seems almost ridiculous. Maybe saying that he's taking Yuuri somewhere special would work? The rink will be loud, though, and he knows for a fact that Yuuri doesn't like crowded places. He's never done well with them, he's said to Viktor before. Ear plugs would be excessive. A blindfold would be suspicious. So what would work? He should just get Chris's take on it.

3. Phichit not knowing until just before the performance

That detail is just as hard to work out. He would have to somehow get Yuuri already in the rink, and he would already have to have dealt with the argument that is to come. Time will be crucial. Viktor would need enough time for the meltdown and fixing that as well as getting Yuuri to Phichit in time. Complicated again.

4. Need tickets and get them backstage

Viktor groans in frustration just looking at the list the longer it gets. The tickets he could get easily but backstage passes? There's no way his status will get them anywhere near the entrance where the skaters are. Phichit would have to know about... or maybe... If he told someone that he was alone and got Phichit to let him in then maybe it could work! He just has to pretend that he's alone... Or maybe Yuuri would be okay with being there at that point and get them both in. Yuuri could even just go in himself. That would work perfectly. Once again, Yuuri has to be okay with being there. He might be furious - or even worse upset - at Viktor. He could live with that if it means getting Yuuri to see Phichit's program.

That would all depend on how everything else goes and how Yuuri feels about all of it. Another thing he can't figure out or plan for.

So much for a clear mind.

There's so much that could go wrong that he's almost sure maybe he shouldn't go through with this. Almost. It's the will to have Yuuri see what his friend has done for him that keeps the thought present. He has to do this. For Phichit. For Yuuri.

With this new mindset, he sets off to the hospital to get part one of this plan on the move. He already knows when the date of the competition is, so based off of that he can at least ask Yuuri if he will be free that day. From there on, he'll work the details out along the way.

The walk seems short since he's so focused on how horribly things could end up. He passes through the front doors and the reception area with ease. He's walking into Yuuri's room in no time since he seems to be free of tests at the moment. Taking the earbuds out of his ears, Viktor walks on into the room.

"Yuuri..." Viktor forgot just how sick he truly is.

There, lying in his bed, is a very sick version of the Yuuri he loves. His skin has turned paler than before, and he's coughing violently as he tries to hold himself together, lying in a ball at the edge of his bed.

Viktor's heart shatters all over again. "Yuuri." His voice sounds hoarse, as if the tears he's holding back could fall any moment. "My love."

Yuuri seems to stir from where he is and cracks open an eye to see who's calling him. Upon seeing Viktor's face, albeit blurry, he tries to sit up only to be attacked by a violent string of coughs once more. "Viktor..." His voice has been dried out from all the coughing he must've been doing. "Y-You're here?"

His confusion makes Viktor confused as well. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?"

Yuuri's face turns bright red, and it almost scares Viktor to see such a vivid color on his otherwise drained face. "I-I... I didn't...want you to see..."

Oh. Obviously. It makes so much sense to hear Yuuri try to say the words out loud. "I can leave! I won't disturb you anymore. You need sleep anyway." Viktor immediately makes his way to the door, afraid of upsetting Yuuri further.

"N-No!" It's the first word Yuuri's been able to speak so far so clearly.

So Viktor stays. He refuses to look at Yuuri when he coughs, though. He hears the rustling from inside Yuuri's room, which probably means that he's trying to sit up. He wants to tell him to stop and relax, but he also knows how stubborn Yuuri can be, especially in moments such as this.

"I miss you." Yuuri's voice is strained with fresh tears.

Viktor whips his head over to look at him and sees him crying heavily with his arms propping him up about halfway. Viktor can clearly see the struggle he's going through, and it takes all of him to not burst into the room and take him into his arms. "I miss you too, love. Please don't strain yourself." It hurts too much to see you do so. The echo of words he knows he can't possibly say ring through his mind.

"I-I just wish... I really miss you. I need you." He's hiccuping through the tears and coughs.

"Me too..." Viktor holds his breath, knowing if he lets go of it he may break. He needs to remember what Mila told him the last time he was here. Be strong, be strong, be strong...

Yuuri wipes at his face with the one hand not supporting him up. "I-I'm sorry... I just... It's been so hard..."

"Shhh... Yuuri, it's okay. Everything's okay. I'm here for you." They both know that his words aren't entirely truthful but hearing them out loud give some comfort.

Yuuri's tears retreat into sniffles as he lies back down. "H-How are you?"

Viktor smiles bitterly at the memory of last night and pretty much the past two days as a whole. "Not bad. Mila and I met for breakfast not that long ago, plus I got a rude wake up call from Yurio. He really has a way of words." Viktor shakes his head at the memory of the brief yet meaningful call.

Yuuri tries to smile through all the grimacing. It's his smile that makes Viktor hold back talking about Yuuri's condition. He knows they need to, but maybe not now.

"Have you seen Phichit again yet?" It's an honest and what he thought would be an easy inquiry. Only it's apparently not.

"He's been... busy. The official practices start today." Yuuri talks about it briefly before changing the topic. "Do you and Mila go out a lot?"

"Oh. Well, not as much as we usually do. I've been spending more time with Chris since he's hanging around for a bit before going back to Switzerland."

"Ah."

They're enveloped in silence. It feels odd since Viktor knows that they're both holding back certain feelings and words.

Viktor closes his eyes for a moment and sighs, opening them slowing again. "Yuuri."

Yuuri tries to hold his gaze as long as possible.

"How have you been these past few days? I want an honest answer." Viktor clasps both of his hands together nervously over the answer he might get.

Yuuri looks as though he tries to give him an answer, but nothing comes out. It takes a few more minutes before Yuuri crumbles in front of him. "Oh, Viktor... I... How am I... Why?" He buries his face into his hands and just sobs uncontrollably.

"Oh, Yuuri..." How much have you been holding back? "Let me help. What can I do?" There's desperation in his voice, but he can't help it. He's not here at the hospital everyday. He's not listening to every doctor tell him he only has a month left. He can't hear the plans they're making for when he's gone. There's so much that Yuuri must have to deal with even in just one day.

"T-They asked... They wanted to know... where I wanted to... to b-be... buried..." Yuuri breaks again. "It sunk in. H-How do I answer? What should I have said? I don't understand... H-How does anyone respond? I-I don't know anymore... Viktor, help. Please..." Yuuri's gasping for breath now, and Viktor runs up to the glass with tears running down his own face now.

"Yuuri... Yuuri, I'm here. I'm here now. I'm here."

It must be so much harder than he thought.

He's not sure how much time passes before they've settled down.

"S-Sorry..." Of course, Yuuri is the first to speak and it's an apology.

Viktor wipes away what remains of his tears and shakes his head, standing as tall as he can. He looks directly at Yuuri before speaking. "Do not apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for. I should apologize for not talking to you about this sooner. I can't say I understand how you feel, and I can't tell you it will be okay. I can tell you that I will be here every step of the way. You will always have me beside you. I promise."

Yuuri stares at him with wide eyes. Gentle tears still seem to be falling from his eyes, but this time he's started laughing.

Viktor's confused again. He didn't think he said anything funny. Did he?

"V-Viktor..." Yuuri finally stops laughing for a moment and catches his breath. "I love you so much. Thank you."

Viktor hadn't expected that from him, but then again, he didn't really know what he expected in the first place. Nonetheless, Viktor smiles back at him. "Anything for you, Yuuri. I love you, too."

They talk a little while longer right before Viktor remembers what he thought to himself before he came in here. "Oh, Yuuri?"

"Yes?"

"Are you free in two days?" He's hoping that he had forgotten about their conversation about the competition.

Yuuri stops to think for a moment before giving him an answer. "I think so? Why?"

Viktor takes a deep breath. "I want to take you out then. I know there's a lot you're going through, and I probably shouldn't. I still want to! I promise this will be the last time I do it! I'm pretty sure all the doctors and nurses hate me for doing this, but I feel like-"

"Vitya, yes. I would love to."

"Really?"

Yuuri nods.

Viktor is now even more scared than he was before. How is he going to manage pulling this off? There's no way... What if Yuuri gets really angry at him/ What if Yuuri never wants to see him again? What if-

"Vitya, is everything okay?"

He must look stupid if Yuuri of all people is asking him that.

"What?"

"You look like I should've said no."

"Oh." Oops. "Oh! No no no! I'm glad you've said yes! I'm excited! I promise!"

Yuuri laughs and breaks into a small fit of coughs.

Part one: accomplished. Now if only the rest of his plan was this easy...

.

. . .

.

"You're joking, right?"

"Mila said the same thing. Can either of you be more original?" Viktor sighs as he stands up from the couch nervously fidgeting with his fingers.

Chris sighs, shaking his head as he sets down his phone on the kitchen island. "He's very sick, Viktor. Not just that but he never sees his friend skate because it reminds him that he can't do that anymore. Isn't that what you told me? How could you possibly expect him to be happy with that kind of plan?"

"Chris, listen. Phichit is skating to a song he holds close to him. He needs to see it. Now of all times, too. Phichit wishes Yuuri would see it, too. Yuuri thinks it would upset him, but I don't think he realized how much care those around him hold for him. He can be mad at me all he wants, but if it makes him realize just how much love is around them then I've done something right."

"Or horribly wrong." Chris leans his head against his arm that sits on top of the kitchen top. "You should ask him what he wants rather than force him into it. I'm sorry, but I don't think your spontaneity will bring you favorable results this time around. If you plan on ignoring me, then good luck."

"No hope at all?"

"Nope."

Frustrated, Viktor places his hands on his hips and begins pacing faster than he was.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner that you were going to do this?"

"Uhh... I forgot?"

Chris shakes his head. "I knew I should've called after what Mila told me the other day."

"Wait, Mila told you about that?" Why does he expect anything less than her? Yurio was right.

Chris rolls his eyes. "Obviously. You were having a meltdown. She came to me to rant about it. You do realize you're about twice her age, right? If you start freaking out, then she freaks too. You have to give credit to her more often. I don't know how she handles you as often as she does. I'd be drinking a lot more if I was her."

"Hey." Viktor frowns at the very obvious insults. He's not wrong to an extent, though. He is surprised that Mila hasn't killed him. All he does is complain and cry and scream at her. Maybe he should send her something nice...

"I'm only telling you the truth. While you're up, pour me a drink."

"Aren't you helpful today?" Flippantly, Viktor heads over to the kitchen and starts rummaging through his cabinets. He grimaces at the low stock of drinks left and grabs whatever is closest. Grabbing a glass, he pours him a drink and sets it in front of Chris. "Maybe I should stop calling you over. It's only two in the afternoon, and you're drinking."

"Oh, darling. I always drink when I'm with you." Chris takes the glass and raises it before taking a sip.

"How flattering."

"Vitya, I'm not insulting you. At least, I'm not trying to. I only want what's best for you in this difficult time. I think you two should just focus on spending time together, not all these extra side trips. Trust me. He only wants to be with you."

Viktor stops moving, and his eyes widen. "You're brilliant."

"I know- Wait. Oh no. What did you just think of?"

Viktor flashes him a bright smile as he reddens in the cheeks. "You're right, Chris. Spending time with him is much more important. I don't know how I didn't think of this before. I mean we've only spent so much time together, and I can't imagine life without having met him. I-I... Oh, no. What if he says no?"

"Why is this a recurring theme for you? Vitya, I'm going to need you to speak English rather than muttering Russian."

Viktor smiles sheepishly at Chris. "Sorry. I didn't even notice."

Chris rolls his eyes again at his friend. "You're Russian. Obviously you didn't notice. So what is this new revelation of yours?"

"Well..." It sounds even more ridiculous in his mind. "Chris, will you be my best man?"

Chris almost drops the glass he's been holding.

.

. . .

.

"Phichit, I want to watch it this time. I want to see all the hard work you've put into your skating."

"No way. you sit there in your bed and chill. I do not want to hear from you until I call waking you up. Got it?"

Yuuri laughs on his end of the call, his coughing the only thing that stops him from continuing. "I didn't mean in person. I just meant that I was going to watch the livestream. I feel bad that that I've been so self-centered that I haven't seen any of your performances, but..." I want to see one before I'm gone. He can't make himself say the words aloud.

"Oh my gosh, then yes! I would love for you to see my FP at least! It means a lot to me this season, and I'm glad I get to skate in the same country as you."

The breathy pause afterwards tells Yuuri all that he needs to know. He's happy that Phichit is skating nearby, too. It makes all of the... preparations... easier to handle. Phichit knows how to calm him down so quickly. The growing weight on his chest seems lessened by those who know him so well being around him. His parents even mentioned that they were going to fly down by the end of the week. With Viktor here as well, he has everything he could possibly need.

"Are you skating to The King and The Skater again?"

"Yuuri! How dare you assume I would reuse program music!"

Yuuri tries laughing again. "Gomen, gomen. I know you wouldn't. What is it, though?"

"Hmm...nope. I'm not telling you. You'll have to wait to see!"

"Unfair. I tell you everything that happens between me and Viktor."

"Ah! That's because when I ask, you never seem to stop talking. That's all on you, my dear Yuuri."

Yuuri turns bright red, grateful that Phichit wasn't in the same room to tease him endlessly. "It better be good."

Phichit laughs on the other end, practically cackling. Yuuri can picture how crazy he must look at the rink in front of all the other skaters. It must be why he can hear distant apologies being blurted out by Phichit. "Of course it is. We're talking about me, remember?"

"I don't know, Phichit. I've heard that Seung-gil is doing well."

"You are not allowed to suggest that other skaters are better than me." Someone must've passed by Phichit because he's apologizing again and talking one mile-a-minute trying to explain what he really meant by that. "How dare you make me say that in front of everyone."

Yuuri smirks at the false anger his friend has directed at him. Before Yuuri can send another remark, one of his primary doctors walks in. He grimaces, knowing all too well what that means. "Hey, Phichit, I have to go. Good luck." He doesn't wait for a response before he quickly hangs up. He'll have to apologize later for that.

Maybe if he closes his eyes long enough, he won't feel this round of testing.

One can dream.

.

. . .

.

"You're crazy. This is insane. This is truly the worst idea you've ever had. Maybe the worst idea is a little much, but it borders terrible. Why is this the replacement idea? Please explain that to me." Chris is frantically trying to understand Viktor's mindset, but it's too late. The other is already determined. "Unbelievable. This is crazy. Have I mentioned that yet?"

"Hmm... do you think I should go understated? Is he a silver kind of man or gold?" Viktor crouches down to examine every different style in the glass cases set up in the jewelry store they're in. "Should I pick one with a diamond set in it or no? I feel like he wouldn't like one, but I also think he likes sentimental things..."

"I can't believe I even came with you. Vitya, this is wonderful and I'm happy for you, but why? You do realize what the position you're in looks like?"

"Chris." Viktor stands tall and turns around to lock eyes with his friend. "This is what I want. I think... I think this is what I've been trying to get to, but I couldn't figure it out. This... This is what I can do. I've been struggling with the knowledge that there's nothing left I can do for Yuuri. He's being treated at least three times a day every single day. Every time I visit him, I notice how worn out he looks. I have to sit there and just watch."

"Is this just about doing something for him then? Is that all?"

Viktor shakes his head. "No. Chris, you know my selfishness better than anyone else in the world. I want him to be mine officially. I think... this may be something he would want before... he's gone. What if you were in his position? What would you like before you were gone? I know for a fact he doesn't want anyone to forget him. I always want to remember him, and I know that I will. I want him to know that I will always remember him."

"With a ring? That's your idea? You do know that someone can easily take off a ring, right?" Chris crosses his arms and raises an eyebrow at him.

"It's a wedding band, not a ring won at some fair. I love him. Why are you so against this?"

"Vitya, it's not that I hate the idea of you marrying him. That's not it. I hate the idea of you being miserable every day of your life afterwards. You need to look at the other side of this. I-"

"Why are you always telling me I'm wrong? Can't I be happy?"

"Viktor, that is what I'm trying to find out. Will you even be happy knowing that the matching ring belongs to someone who can no longer live beside you?" Chris holds a stern tone with him, hoping to knock some sort of sense into Viktor.

Instead, it only makes him angry.

"I will be happy with all the memories the two of us have made together. Every time I look at the ring on my finger, I'll think of them. That doesn't mean only sad memories. If that's what you think of my gesture, then I will have to ask you to leave." Viktor angrily points to the exist of the store.

Chris sighs and shakes his head. "Vitya, relax. I plan on staying. I just wanted to make sure this is what you wanted. That's all." He puts an arm around Viktor and walks them back to the glass cases they were looking at before. "I will stand behind this decision as long as you are sure of it."

Viktor tries not to smile, but it breaks across his face anyway. "Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it."

After getting the help from a clerk, Viktor makes a purchase that has him grinning ear to ear. Chris can't help rolling his eyes, yet he too keeps a smile on his face.

There hasn't been much happiness at all in the past few months, and he knows it will only get worse from here on out. If there's one thing he can do to lighten the situation, then he's grateful for the opportunity given to him now. To even think of Yuuri's reaction sends him reeling.

He wants to be united with Yuuri in this way, and he's hoping the other feels the same way, too.