Phichit knew, of course, right from the start. Yuuri didn't keep secrets from Phichit—not about his social life, at least. Mostly because it was pointless to try, but also because he was often completely baffled and Phichit was a font of wisdom in such complicated matters as: 'what even is this', 'why', 'why me', and 'how'.
The bottom line was, Seung-gil didn't like people, but that didn't necessarily mean he liked being entirely alone.
Yuuri was...well, not exactly social before Victor took his life by storm. (Naked, naked storm.) He had a strong relationship with a number of quality posters. He had a long-distance dog. And he had Phichit, because Phichit didn't believe in boundaries and had the time and space to wear Yuuri down to stunned complacency and then win him over with his boundless natural charm.
("Wore you down—Yuuri, I invited you out for lunch."
“Even after I said 'no' the first five times.”
“Because I actually believed you when you said you were busy. And boundless charm? I mean, I'm obviously charming, but—”
“You paid the bill.”
As it turned out, 'not social' and 'in possession of a poodle phone cover' was exactly Seung-gil's type.
"No one can know," was Seung-gil's one condition.
Yuuri, who had been minding his own business, trying not to hyperventilate over being in second place after his SP, stared at Seung-gil blankly. "I...what?" Seung-gil had never even spoken to him before.
"We tell no one," Seung-gil told him bluntly, sitting down across from him in the hotel lobby. Phichit had forced Yuuri to promise he wouldn't just 'hole up in your room and obsess, Yuuri, you know that always ends in Cheetos dust and regret'.
So far, Yuuri was unimpressed by his change of routine; this was looking ever more likely to end in an international incident and regret.
Was Seung-gil a spy? He sounded like a spy. Did he think Yuuri was a spy as well? Who were they spying for? Phichit, Yuuri thought desperately. Phichit would know.
"Tell no one what?" he asked carefully. Did spies need to spy to figure out why they were spying? What was he even thinking anymore, oh my god.
"Give me your phone," Seung-gil said with a scowl, glancing around the lobby. "This is too public."
Yuuri handed his phone over dazedly. It was already unlocked—he'd been looking at pictures of Vicchan and trying not to envision his inevitable meltdown during his FS. Was Seung-gil searching his phone for state secrets? Did Yuuri have state secrets? How did he get them in the first place? Were they good secrets? Yuuri couldn't imagine anyone telling him anything too important. Maybe they were just, like, state open secrets. State rumors. State gossip. He couldn't get in trouble for state gossip, right?
Seung-gil jabbed at his keyboard, then passed his phone back, a new number added to his address book (no name attached, Yuuri noticed with a sinking feeling in his gut). "Text me later," Seung-gil told him. "When we're no longer in the same country."
"Okay," Yuuri agreed faintly.
Seung-gil nodded once, eyes narrowed, then stood, turned on his heel, and left.
Oh god. Seung-gil was a spy. And Yuuri just agreed to contact him.
Yuuri would probably feel worse about being a traitor if he knew who he was betraying.
...What if Seung-gil was an undercover hockey player? "Oh no," he whispered. "What have I done?"
"You're not an accidental hockey spy," Phichit assured him. Yuuri wondered how Phichit always seemed to know these things. Yuuri hadn't known anything at not-quite-nineteen. Yuuri still didn't know anything, except that Victor Nikiforov was both #goals and #husbandgoals, and he only knew that much because Phichit had explained both concepts to him and then, pityingly, explained hashtags as well.
"I know," Yuuri groaned, flopping back on his bed and staring at the poster of Victor behind Phichit's right shoulder. Victor didn't have the decency to look back; his gaze was focused on the back of Phichit's head. Did Poster Victor know? Perhaps Poster Victor, Yuuri thought sadly, didn't like spies.
"Seung-gil probably just wants to be friends," Phichit suggested, which was even more absurd than Yuuri Katsuki, undercover special agent. "I mean, have you tried just texting him and asking?"
"I don't want to bother him," Yuuri said automatically, which was only partially true. Mostly he hadn't texted because what on earth would he even say? 'The password is swordfish'? 'You said tell no one but I don't understand anything so I told Phichit; he probably won't talk about this online'? Maybe 'why'. 'Why' could work.
Phichit fixed Yuuri with a deeply unimpressed look. "Yuuri. you're my best friend and I love you. But I am finally caught up on my schoolwork and practice is over for the day. I could be reading King and the Skater fanfiction right now." He stood, grabbed Yuuri's phone from his desk, and dropped it on Yuuri's pillow, inches from his face. Yuuri eyed it like it might come to life and bite his nose off at any moment. "Now text him so I can start looking for an accidental spy AU."
"Don't give me that look, it sounds awesome."
Yuuri glowered for a moment longer, then grabbed his phone. Five minutes later, after much backspacing and agonizing, Yuuri sent the following message:
Seung-gil replied almost immediately: bad time. company. must avoid suspicion.
"Oh my god," Phichit breathed. "You're a spy."
Three hours later, as Yuuri tried and failed to sleep, his phone pinged. He hesitated to check his messages—but ignorance was never bliss for him, no matter how hard he tried. Ignorance was endless fretting and growing half-convinced he was a sleeper agent, and possibly a Marvel character to boot.
(Minako was suspiciously young-looking for a ballerina her age—and didn't that sound familiar? No one normal, he realized with growing horror, could drink that much and still be dancer-fit. He'd heard her singing like a black widow babyyyy once. It all made sense.
Perhaps she'd indoctrinated him in more than just the perfect arabesque. How could he ever trust her again?)
His phone sounded a second time, and Yuuri gave in and checked his messages.
katsuki, the text read, you don't annoy me and you have a dog. we should talk. but not in person. and rarely.
Oh my god, Yuuri thought, Seung-gil did want to be friends. How did Phichit know these things?
Still not entirely convinced that there wasn't at least a little espionage or villainy or hockey at play, Yuuri wrote, why the secrecy?
if people know you talk to me, they might try to talk to me, was, Yuuri thought, actually a pretty decent explanation.
"That's a terrible explanation," Phichit said, staring.
"It makes sense to me," Yuuri said, shrugging.
"I don't know, Yuuri. The spy thing almost sounds less convoluted."
Yuuri studied Phichit's face closely, noting his unkempt hair and feverish eyes. "...Did you actually find an accidental spy King and the Skater fanfic?" he demanded incredulously. Phichit had the face of a man high on ridiculous plot twists and low on sleep.
"No," Phichit sighed. "So I'm writing it myself. And I'm telling you, I get it now, Yuuri. I do. I shouldn't have doubted you."
"Phichit, Minako isn't Black Widow and I'm not a spy."
"Right," Phichit agreed, winking. "Riiiiight."
Yuuri considered groaning, and then realized: he had another friend now. He could complain about Phichit to someone who wasn't Phichit.
He pulled out his phone and sent: why ppl. why
A minute later, he received: i knew this would work out
"Are you talking in code?" Phichit asked eagerly, trying to get a good look at his screen. "Yuuri. Yuuri, is the password 'swordfish'?"
Phichit squinted at the ice.
"Those were standard compulsory figures, Phichit," Yuuri said tiredly. "I'm not writing messages to Seu—uh." He hesitated, glancing around. They were not alone, and Seung-gil had made himself clear: no one could know. "I'm not...contacting anyone."
"You could tell me," Phichit said, sincere and selfless. "If you were. I wouldn't tell."
"Writing it in a story counts as telling," Yuuri said wearily.
"Ah-hah! So you are communicating via skating!"
Yuuri eyed his best friend. "Phichit," he said slowly. "Are you trolling me?"
"Nooooo. No. Of course not," Phichit said, lips twitching.
"I hate you," Yuuri informed him.
"You love me!"
"I'm writing how much I hate you into the ice. Right now. A secret message to the ISU."
"That's a heart, Yuuri. You're skating a heart."
people are terrible, Yuuri texted Seung-gil.
yes, Seung-gil replied immediately. yes they are
Yuuri thought he could get used to having another friend. A long-distance, long-suffering, texting-only friend.
thank you, he almost sent. you get me was also wiped away. why are people so, he started, and then floundered.
He sent a picture of Vicchan dragging his empty food bowl around instead.
!!!!, Seung-gil said. And a few seconds later, Yuuri was gazing rapturously at a short video of Seung-gil's dog sneezing.
!!!!!!!, Yuuri replied, entirely sincere.
"You two deserve each other," Phichit said, shaking his head.
"You're still my favorite," Yuuri assured him. "Seung-gil only has one dog, but you have three hamsters."
"And don't you forget it," Phichit told him, eyes narrowed. "And I'm declaring tonight a Bollywood Night."
"I'll bring the popcorn."
"I'll bring the Red Bull."
"NO MORE BOLLYWOOD NIGHTS," Celestino said, passing by. "Never again."
"Of course!" Phichit agreed immediately. "Sorry, sorry, we forgot."
Celestino eyed them suspiciously. "Hmm. Well. I'm not cleaning up that mess a second time."
They watched him move away to offer a younger girl advice on cleaning up her edges. "That was basically permission, right?" Phichit asked. "It sounded like permission to me."
Yuuri shrugged. "I didn't hear an 'or else'."
"Bollywood Night is on."
Over time, Yuuri's new friendship grew. Seung-gil nodded to him fractionally when they saw each other in competitions or at ice shows; Yuuri actually saved Seung-gil's number under his name instead of a series of question marks.
It was very fulfilling. And one day, Yuuri felt secure enough to write,
so. victor nikiforov's poodle
Ten minutes passed, and Yuuri's pulse began to speed up, his heartbeat sounding in his ears. He'd known it was too much, too weird—Seung-gil would think he was a total creep now. Why had he written that? He ruined everything he—
makkachin more like fluffachin, Seung-gil sent, followed by a row of hearts.
scritchachin, yuuri offered.
Yuuri attracted the best friends.
"Yuuuuuuri," Victor said, throwing himself onto Yuuri's bed and shimmying over until he was basically plastered all over Yuuri's side. It should not have been attractive. It was insanely attractive. "Who are you texting? It's late and your SP is tomorrow, you should get some rest."
His tone of voice made it very clear that by 'rest', he did not mean 'rest'. Yuuri was beginning to pick up on these things, after a couple bizarre and awkward moments that made much more sense in retrospect. But Yuuri was just a little unsettled at being in Russia for Rostelecom, surrounded by people who hated him for having Victor in ways they didn't, and talking to Seung-gil was soothing.
"Yuuri, are you ignoring your coach?" Victor asked playfully, and shifted to hook his chin over Yuuri's shoulder, peering down at the phone screen before Yuuri could turn it away or hide it.
"Um," Yuuri said, scanning the last few texts frantically for anything potentially dangerous. Seung-gil complaining about the Crispinos, Yuuri complaining about the media, Seung-gil complaining about JJ, Yuuri wondering if they should ever invite Yurio to talk ("I think he has a lot to offer in conversations like ours")...
Good, good, nothing from their Roast the Coach session a few minutes ago.
"Yuuuuuri," Victor said slowly. If Yuuri had a gold medal for every time Victor said his name like that, he'd...still have fewer than Victor, but not by much. "You're texting Seung-gil Lee."
"...Ah," Yuuri said, blinking. He felt a sharp pang of guilt for lying about their friendship, but he didn't make the rules. "That's, uh..."
"We're at the same hotel. You can talk to him in person."
Yuuri recoiled. "Why would you say something like that?" he demanded. "I'm not ruining this friendship!"
Victor stared. "Excuse me," he said finally, brow furrowed in confusion. "I think I need to go call Phichit."
"Sorry," Yuuri said quickly, shame-faced. "I overreacted; I know you only meant well."
"...I'm still calling Phichit."
By 'go call Phichit', Yuuri's coach (and boyfriend? Probably boyfriend? Kissing coach? No, that sounded wrong. Potentially interesting, but wrong) apparently meant 'stand three feet away and talk to your best friend about you, loudly, while you think about what you've done'.
"–and then he said 'why would you say that'," Victor finished. "I don't understand. ...what? Underco— SPIES?"
Yuuri considered the possibilities, then turned back to his own phone and texted, if victor asks, we're ninjas
i don't want to know
you don't need to know, Yuuri reassured Seung-gil.
you owe me. three new makkachin vids by next week
"HOCKEY?" Victor gasped into his phone. "Oh Yuuri, no."