Actions

Work Header

Charmed, I'm Sure

Chapter Text

Yuuri has always believed in the little moments. A sentence, a glance, an impulsive decision. Those were the things that changed your life, maybe even more so than the big moments— the dramatic airport scene, the final confrontation.

Maybe he’s just biased. Yuuri has made a life out of the magic of little moments, after all. But still, something in him insists on this philosophy.

Yuuri has always believed in the little moments, and maybe that’s why he’s so unprepared when a big moment throws itself through the door and practically collapses against the counter and asks for help. Or, rather than a moment, a man who makes a moment.

The sun had set hours ago, the winter night settling in crisp and clear outside the shop windows. Yuuri hadn’t seen anyone since just after dusk, after he had sent a grumpy old woman off with her memory charm, taking her muttered complaints with a tense smile and only allowing his shoulders to curl back in, for his back to slump and his body relax once the door was firmly shut behind her. He had turned the dial next to the door to red, just to feel safely far away from her. That isn’t how it works, but it was a comforting thought at least.

For the last few hours of the day, he had dithered around the shop, restocking. Letting sparks idly fall from his fingers and into mason jars; holding stuffed animals and thinking of home, siphoning warmth in his chest into the fluff held securely in his arms; keeping an ear open for a knock on the door. But people rarely came once night had swept over the cities, not the ones that he was situated between. Some were big cities, but he kept the shop in the quiet parts of them, the sleepy shop corridors that felt misplaced, soft colors and rounded corners perched as if they were badly photoshopped into the neon and sharp edges of the big city. Minako complains that they could get more business if he just placed them closer to the heart, but Yuuri always stubbornly insists that the kinds of people who really needed their help would find their way there anyway.

Minako insisted on one exception to that rule, and Yuuri conceded if only because he knows she’s much more stubborn than he is. So the dial next to their door that rotates which of the four shopfronts all over the world they’re currently connected to always has one location that jumps from abandoned doorway to abandoned doorway, settling down for a few days near big competitions, to lure in superstitious athletes and their fans. That’s where he had set the door after the old woman had left, and it’s from where a man bursts in, calling out, “Please don’t kick me out, you’re my last hope!”

Yuuri blinks at the man slowly; one, two, three times. His brain skips several steps in its surprise and settles on “completely uncomprehending”. If it were working, it might think that this reaction is better than blushing and stuttering in horror and confusion, at least. Because that is surely what he would be doing otherwise. Because how else is he supposed to react to five time World Champion, too beautiful for this earth, Yuuri’s celebrity crush/idol/secret fantasy, all since he was a child (well, the last one was slightly more recent), Viktor Nikiforov, standing in front of him and staring at him with the biggest puppy dog eyes he’s ever seen and ranting about something that Yuuri has completely ignored in favor of internally screaming. His hand darts out to a stone sitting next to him on the counter, enchanted just a few hours ago, and he lets calm drift through him and settle his thoughts to a low yell. By the time he can listen in, somehow, Viktor is still talking.

“-then she said that not only did she not want to help me, she hoped no one else would help me either! And I think she cursed me too, because every single shop since then has been closed. Can people who do charms do curses too? I don’t actually know anything about the logistics behind magic.” He finally breaks his monologue and stares at Yuuri as if expecting an answer, and Yuuri’s brain takes this moment to come back to life.

“O-oh!” His hand flies off the stone and waves awkwardly in the air as he talks. “Well, actually, a curse is basically just a really strong charm, so it just depends on the level of the magic! If she’s running her own shop she probably could have cursed you, so…” He pauses as Viktor’s face falls, and feels his own flood with warmth. “Not that she did! She definitely didn’t curse you! I’m sorry!”

The flowers in the room begin closing up as Yuuri curls into himself, and the self-conscious action reminds him to reign in his anxiety. Or, at least to stop projecting it so strongly. He worked hard to make the shop exactly the kind of homey he wanted it to be, and killing the flowers psychically because he couldn’t stop pelting them with anxiety is counterproductive.

Viktor seems to notice none of this, and just taps his lips with one long, graceful finger. Yuuri is so busy telling himself not to stare that he almost misses Viktor’s next question. “How can you be sure she didn’t curse me?”

Yuuri hesitates, glancing at the clock. He knows for a fact Kachu Mahou is the only shop that is open this late (although technically they closed three minutes ago, but what was he going to do— kick Viktor Nikiforov out?), so the fact that he had found every shop closed is not particularly surprising to him. Still, when he opens his mouth to tell that to Viktor, what comes out instead is, “Because I’ll help you.”

The floodlight-bright smile that Viktor sends his way almost incinerates Yuuri on the spot, but he valiantly manages to hold himself together.

“So,” he starts quietly, after avoiding eye-contact with Viktor for several long moments as the other tried to smile him to death, “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you need.”

Viktor jumps into motion, smoothly pulling a small charm out of his pocket. Yuuri’s eyes follow the movement helplessly. How is it possible to put so much grace into such a simple moment? “I need this re-charmed. Tonight.”

“Huh?” Yuuri asks blankly.

Viktor just shoots him a winning smile, holding the charm out and repeating his request. “I need it re-charmed. And I can’t really wait, because the final starts tomorrow.”

Yuuri takes it on reflex, but he can’t stop the surprised words from tumbling from his mouth. “But you’re Viktor NIkiforov.”

“Ah, are you a fan?” he asks with a wink. Yuuri looks away, horrified as his entire face flushes scarlet. Yes, a fan. That’s all he is. “I am,” Viktor continues, “but I don’t see what that affects.”

“It’s just- you, well. Y-you’ve won everything. I highly doubt you need a charm.” Yuuri doesn’t know why he’s arguing this. He should just agree and do what he’s asked, instead of telling Viktor what he already knows and making his smile tick ever closer to annoyed. But his brain has never listened to him before, and it’s certainly not going to start now.

“Well, I wouldn’t know if I need it or not. I’ve barely ever competed without it. But more importantly, I like to have it!” Viktor’s smile is as dazzling as it is threatening. Don’t challenge me on this , it says, though his words are flippant.

Yuuri can recognize the undercurrent of annoyance is getting stronger, and part of him rails against it. You’re the one coming in at closing and asking me for a last minute charm! “You know, usually when people need something re-charmed, I tell them to come back in a few hours.” He eyes flick over to the clock, and he sighs. “But we’re already closed, so I can’t exactly do that here.”

“What?” Viktor asks, eyes blowing wide. “But you already…” It’s weird, seeing an international star looking so desperate and vulnerable over just a stupid little charm. But even weirder is seeing Viktor realizing that and trying to cover it up.

He leans forward, into Yuuri’s space, curling his hand softly around where Yuuri’s is lying on the counter, clutching the charm. “What do you want me to do?” he asks, voice sitting low in his chest. Yuuri shivers before dropping the charm and jerking his hand away, taking three panicked steps backward before his back hits the shelf. Viktor blinks at him, wide-eyed confusion at the rejection sitting plain in his expression.

“N-nothing!” Yuuri squeak-yells. It’s not attractive in the slightest, and he silently mourns his dying dignity. He crosses his arms, holding his elbows and looking one foot to the left of Viktor. “I’m just saying it’s going to take a while. I won’t-” Taking a deep breath, he softens just a little though he still doesn’t make eye contact. “I promised I would help, and I will.” Though still not directly, he finally manages to look at Viktor. His head is down, looking up through his lashes instead. And it was a good decision, considering the pleased look Viktor is giving him. Like the sun, he thinks distantly, you can’t look directly at him.

Yuuri shuffles back up to the counter, looking down at the charm lying between them. It’s obviously old, and he can feel layers and layers of magic coating it. Obviously, Viktor’s had this for a long time, and has been getting it re-charmed by different people whenever the magic runs low. He wonders why he doesn’t just get a new one, without the layers of different magical signatures bogging it down. But Yuuri also figures that that has been suggested to him before, and Viktor had shot them down with the same warning smile Yuuri had gotten earlier. So he doesn’t say anything.

“How long does it take to re-charm something?”

Yuuri hums noncommittally, picking the charm up and sifting through the layers of empty magic. He starts peeling them back, hand fluttering around the charm, letting the empty shells dissipate like wisps once they have nothing left to cling to. It’s a tedious process, and one not many witches even bother to do, but Yuuri likes working with a clean slate. “It depends. You have over a decade of charm signatures on here. It’s going to take me a few minutes to remove them, and then re-charming can take between ten and thirty minutes.”

“Wow,” Viktor murmurs, leaning in and watching him work. Yuuri leans back just a little. He doesn’t do it to be rude, but having him this close is… overwhelming, to say the least. It’s easier, having something for his hands to work on, and an excuse to avoid looking at him, but Viktor seems determined to take at least some of his attention. “I didn’t know a charm would be so much work. You must be very talented.”

Yuuri grimaces and shakes his head. “It takes time, not talent. Charms are easy.”

“Well, I could never do it.”

“Yes, but you’re Viktor Nikiforov. You can do plenty of other things.” Yuuri pauses and risks a glance upwards, only to be caught by a frown on Viktor’s face. Oh god what did he say? Did he offend him?

When Viktor catches him, the frown is instantly replaced by the same mega-watt smile from before. Only now, instead of darting his eyes away, Yuuri looks at him with a curious gaze, tilting his head and trying to figure out what feels off all of a sudden. The smile shifts into something like a smirk, and Yuuri realizes he’s been staring for much too long, and he immediately drops his eyes back to the charm.

Still, there was something weird about that smile. It was an incredibly familiar sight—Yuuri has a collection of posters possibly bordering onmaybe being a little bit too large and he’s seen it plenty of times before frozen perfectly on glossy paper. And he saw it just a few moments before, in the flesh. But seeing it this time didn’t make him feel like blushing or averting his eyes. It just made him a little… sad?

He’s so caught in his own thoughts that he misses Viktor’s next attempt at conversation. Luckily, the man doesn’t really understand boundaries and reaches out to poke Yuuri to get his attention.

Yuuri, for his part, doesn’t jump, just blinks rapidly as he crawls out of his own mind and remembers that, oh yeah, he’s in a room alone with Viktor.

Viktor, who is now laughing gently. At Yuuri. He feels a twinge of embarrassment but the feeling is mixed with relief. This was better than the smile from before.

“Sorry…” Yuuri manages sheepishly. “I got lost in thought.”

“You really did,” Viktor says happily, and Yuuri ducks his head again, but not before catching the warmth in Viktor’s eyes which softens the blow. “But I can ask again. What’s your name?”

Yuuri nearly fumbles with the charm, but he manages to control the sudden nerves gripping him into just a slight shake of his hands. “Oh, my name? Uh, that is, I mean, it’s-” If Viktor weren’t here, Yuuri would probably be smacking himself at this point. It’s just his name! It shouldn’t be that hard to give!

And yet his mind is still screaming that Viktor must want it to complain, or to tell his friends all about the frumpy, weird magic guy at the shop that couldn’t stop stuttering and wouldn’t make eye contact and was probably a useless-

“Yuuri. My name is Yuuri,” he says, cutting his own spiraling mind off. He can feel acid rising in his throat and he tries to ignore it. He’s just asking for a name. Logic tells him he’s just being friendly.

“Yuuri,” Viktor repeats, just to try it. Yuuri suppresses a shiver at the way his name rolls off of Viktor’s tongue, split into two soft syllables and feeling way too close to a caress.

He probably needs to stop projecting.

“Mmhmm.” Yuuri’s tone is carefully casual. “I’m almost done cleaning this off, and then we can move to re-charming.” Even as he says it, he peels back the second to last layer, and feels a much too familiar signature. Everything freezes.

“Okay, Yuuri.” Yuuri can hear Viktor talking, but he’s not paying much attention, too busy looking at the charm— actually looking at it. His heart rate keeps climbing the longer he looks, but Viktor doesn’t seem to notice. “You know, I know another Yuri. But he’s not nearly as pleasant company, I’d much rather associate the name with you.”

Yuuri probably responds, but he can’t do much when his mind is racing like this. His hands aren’t shaking anymore, but they suddenly feel clammy as he gently lifts the charm to his face, to look at it more closely. He doesn’t need to, really, because he’s already recognized this charm. He summons a few fairy lights, barely hearing the gasp of delight from Viktor, and they all slowly circle the charm, revealing exactly what he expected to see. He’s still dumbfounded, as if he was expecting that the light of the room was actually dim enough on its own for his eyes to play tricks on him. But of course, even if it were pitch black, he wouldn’t have missed the last signature— or the first, technically. The signature of the person who originally made the charm.

He’d have to be stupid not to recognize his own signature, after all. 


Viktor doesn’t know what to think about Yuuri. He first thought had been that the man must be a saint, his savior as he promised to help. And then as he demurred and blushed his way through their conversation, Viktor switched that to possible angel. And a fan, on top of that. A big one, if Viktor had to guess.

Though if Yuuri is such a big fan, and he means all those blushes he keeps giving to Viktor, Viktor can’t for the life of him figure out why the man keeps pushing aside his attempts at flirting. He’s trying for subtle here, not wanting to scare the seemingly shy man away, but considering the way Yuuri just brushed off his most obvious line yet, he can’t tell if he’s uninterested or just dense. Viktor would decide on uninterested if it weren’t for the way Yuuri keeps looking at him from under those long lashes. The glances were never long, but there was something longing in his gaze. Not to mention he’s always striking the the perfect angle to show off how pretty his eyes are. He is definitely doing that on purpose. Right?

But right now, he’s just staring at the charm like he’s seen a ghost. Viktor wonders again if he was cursed. “Is something wrong?” he keeps his voice light, masking the very real worry he’s feeling. That charm is his entire career, at this point. He can’t lose it.

Yuuri jumps, jolted out of thought by Viktor’s question. “No! Nope, everything is fine. I’ll, uh. I’ll start charming it now.”

Viktor leans even further forward, feeling excitement bubbling up in him. Magic is such a strange thing, but so fascinating.

Yuuri takes a deep breath, his eyes flicking up from the charm to meet Viktor’s. Viktor tries for a smile while he holds his gaze, but immediately Yuuri’s eyes dart back to the charm. He has to suppress a laugh at Yuuri’s shyness. It reminds him of a baby fawn, or something.

“Um,” Yuuri starts, and Viktor looks at him expectantly, though the other still won’t meet his gaze. “Could you… back up a little?” he asks.

Viktor takes a step back, but then he can’t reach the counter, so he course corrects and directs himself to the left, in a place where he can still lean against the counter, but is out of Yuuri’s space. He vaguely feels bad for crowding the poor man, but Viktor is just so excited . He’s never really seen magic up close before.

Yuuri seems to notice his enthusiasm flagging and hurries to rectify it. His voice is pitched somewhere between panicked and apologetic. “Ah, well- you were really close. I need a little space to work, at least.”

Viktor leans on his elbows on the counter, eyes alighting once more. “Wow! I didn’t know magic was such a big production.”

Yuuri flushes, looking up at him again. “It’s not, really. It’s just-” He flounders for words for a moment, and eventually makes a frustrated sound in the back of his throat as he gives up, darting his eyes away. “You’ll see. I just need a little space.”

“Okay!” Viktor practically purrs, and Yuuri’s eyes dart to his one last time before he takes a deep breath, much like the one right before he asked Viktor to move. But this time, he doesn’t say anything, only letting his eyes fall back on the charm in his hands, and Viktor watches as his eyes slowly fall shut. He takes a moment, contemplating the dark lashes against Yuuri’s cheek, studying his lips as they part slightly to let deep, even breaths pass through.

The blush on his cheeks is still present, but fading. Which is a shame, really, because Yuuri with his long, dark lashes and a pink flush on his face is really quite a picture. He almost seems to glow.

Viktor blinks, and then leans forward slightly. He blinks again, and then an amazed grin splits his face. Because Yuuri actually is glowing. His skin, where it’s not covered, is emitting a pretty honeyed amber, just barely visible in the room’s lighting. Viktor’s hand curls into a fist in an effort not to reach out and touch. It’s hard, when faced with pretty, long lashes, and a lovely pink flush, and a soothing amber light.

Yuuri doesn’t say anything, but Viktor is watching his face with enough concentration that he notices every minute twitch, and as Yuuri’s brows come just slightly together in concentration, the light under his skin begins intensifying. It’s still not even close to blinding, but the pure white light spilling into the room is bright enough to easily be seen.

Viktor gives up on trying to organize his mental “Most enchanting things I’ve seen today” list, deciding to simply condense Yuuri blushing, Yuuri softly glowing Yuuri shining with ethereal light, and Yuuri doing whatever he does next in this spell because honestly it must be beautiful too into a single entry that comprises the whole list: Yuuri . He’s glad of that decision as red lights begin winking into existence around Yuuri’s head, throwing shadows across the room and shifting the feeling in the air into something warmer, more welcoming. The lights spin slowly among themselves, sticking together as they collide until they’ve formed several larger orbs. The newly formed orbs float lazily around Yuuri’s head, lowly pulsing on a one-two beat that Viktor’s heart lurches to match.

Yuuri, with eyes still closed, reaches out and cradles one, bringing it closer to his chest. Sparks of red fall from his chest, some jumping directly into the orb while others dance along his arms to simply slip into it, and then sparks of white, then green, then gold follow suit, until the orb is multicolored and swirling softly, kaleidoscopic.

Yuuri repeats this with the other orbs, and Viktor takes half a step closer to see beyond the lights and study his expression. His face is relaxed, but concentrated, though Viktor swears he sees the corner of his mouth tick up, just a little. He’s enjoying this, Viktor realizes quietly, scooching just a little closer to see if that really is a smile. Unlike the flustered shopkeeper from moments before, this is a witch in his element. And it’s impossible to look away.

Yuuri is soon surrounded by a sea of fluctuating colors and lights, and it should be a spectacle as he gathers them together, directing them through the air with gentle twists of his arms and hands. It could be something outlandish, a part of Viktor insists, but Yuuri’s eyes have fluttered open and are soft and gentle as the heartbeat-pulsing lights swirl together, directed by a master conductor with, yes, that’s definitely a smile on his lips now.

But he moves with a dancer’s grace, and the lights are comforting and low, and there’s nothing overstated about this. It’s beautiful but it’s slow, familiar. Like coming home.

Yuuri twitches his fingers and the magic coalesces into a single golden thread, which he then wraps around the charm, carefully and lovingly. As he finishes, he closes his eyes once more, and then something in the air begins to fade.

He opens his eyes and turns to look at Viktor, and for once Viktor has no idea what his face looks like. For all the years he’s worked on schooling his face into what he wants it to be, he can’t fathom what look he’s giving Yuuri right now, just like he can’t name the feeling settling heavy in his chest.

“You… were you that close when I started?” he asks, his voice pitching up, and Viktor snaps back into himself. His hands shoot forwards, grabbing Yuuri’s and pulling them close.

“Yuuri! That was beautiful!”

Yuuri tenses for a moment, but he doesn’t pull his hands away. Viktor decides that that’s a win. Instead of pulling away like before, his eyes go soft and unfocused for a moment, a smile catching at the corner of his lips as his thoughts go someplace else. “It can be, yes.” He sighs as whatever memory he’s reliving ends, and he turns his gaze back on Viktor.

Before, Viktor just wanted to flirt with an easily flustered and kind shopkeeper. It was something to entertain him while he waited for his charm back. But the loss he feels as Yuuri finally pulls his hands free of Viktor’s is a surprising punch to the gut. He smiles through the pain.

Yuuri places the charm in Viktor’s still half open palms, and Viktor looks at it with a small thrill of surprise. He half expected it to still be shining gold, but of course the magic is no longer visible to him. He wonders if Yuuri can still see it.

Viktor looks back to Yuuri, who is now busying himself behind the register. “Do you have a card? It’s uh, a bit easier to handle electronic transactions here, but you can pay in whatever legal tender you want.” He speaks as if he’s reading from cue cards, and Viktor wonders what he can do to get Yuuri comfortable enough to allow that easy grace from before to return. Maybe he’s only truly comfortable when doing magic?

“I have a card.” Viktor carefully puts the charm away before pulling out his wallet, presenting his card with a flourish. Yuuri doesn’t even look up as he takes it. Their fingertips almost brush as he hands it back, and Viktor is suddenly aware of the millimeters of space that separate him from being able to touch Yuuri again.

What has this man done to him?

With that thought heavy on his shoulders, he finishes the transaction in a thoughtful silence. He studies Yuuri carefully, watches his every movement, and offers him a smile and a quiet, “Thank you.” He should leave now. He has no other reason to be here. And yet he hesitates.

“I’m glad I could help,” Yuuri says, smiling at him, and it’s more than just a customer-service smile, it feels so much more genuine. Viktor doesn’t blush easily, but something in him gasps as it surfaces for the first time in a long time, and he can only stare at Yuuri in front of him as a matching smile overtakes his own face.

Somehow, caught in a haze of Yuuri Yuuri Yuuri , Viktor manages a goodbye and stumbles out of the shop. But as the warmth of the shop and Yuuri’s presence fades, Viktor shivers unhappily. He glances back, but the storefront looks dark, cold, and empty already.

He hasn’t even been gone for two minutes and Viktor already feels a hole aching in his chest. So, of course, there’s only one course of action. He’ll just have to go back.

He warms himself up with thoughts of Yuuri, with plans and excuses on why he’s back at the shop. His hand drifts into his pocket where it idly wraps itself around the charm, and he imagines he feels a pulse of warmth answer him when he squeezes it lightly, like Yuuri’s magic is squeezing back.

Chapter Text

The day is surprisingly slow for the shop—it has been hours since the last customer, a teenager who wanted a wind spell to play with on their sailboat. Yuuri had taken care of them, and convinced them to at least take a soft-fall spell as well, for when they inevitably blow themselves over the side of their boat. But as the sun beams shifted angles across the floor, a lull fell over the shop, Minako experimenting with spells that tended to stress Yuuri out if he asked what they were, and Yuuri stuck trying not to think about that one dream-like night, and the spectre of Viktor Nikiforov already fading from his memory. He still watched Viktor compete, of course, despite the fact that it made him feel so far away and so untouchable, a screen and miles upon miles separating them instead of three inches too few because Viktor apparently doesn’t believe in personal space. It’s weird, knowing personal facts about someone he’ll see over and over again, but never really see again.

He hates it, especially the way it twists something in his chest that he doesn’t want to examine further. He does what he always does when he wants to run away: buries himself in a new spell, working through the tangles of the words on the page instead of the words blaring in his head.

“Yuuri, will you check to see if there are more myrtle leaves in the back? I’m running low on essential oil.”

The words break a several hour stretch of almost total silence. After hours of thinking of nothing but magic, Yuuri looks up from the book in front of him, the air around him settling from the small windstorm he had been creating in his concentration. He’s slightly annoyed—this spell he’s been working on all morning is practically written in riddles, and he’s loathe to be interrupted—but when he sees Minako’s magic pulse before being reined in again he realizes that she can’t afford to go get them herself without breaking her concentration.

The pink light shrouding Minako deepens to a dusky rose as Yuuri closes the book, gingerly picking it up and cradling it in one arm. It’s not the oldest book he’s worked out of, but it’s in one of the worst conditions he’s ever seen, ready to fall apart at any moment.

He stops by the counter where Minako is working and looks at the bottles and herbs surrounding a tiny gold bowl over a blue flame. She’s always been a more organized witch than Yuuri, keeping her bottles arranged carefully in a semicircle and all within arm’s reach. Yuuri slips his arm under hers and grabs the bottle with the myrtle essential oil, avoiding a red spark that tries to jump from her skin to his.

Yuuri holds the bottle up to the light, the dark glass lighting up in the late morning sun and allowing him to see a few centimeters of liquid still left. “What are you even making that requires this?”

Minako still doesn’t look away from the flame she’s carefully maintaining, but she does smirk. “Love potion.”

Yuuri splutters, almost dropping the bottle. “You- you’re kidding, right? That’s ridiculously dangerous!”

“I’m old enough to dabble in danger, aren’t I?”

“No?!”

Minako shrugs, her smile turning just this side of wicked. “I’ll take that as a comment on how young I still am. So, oil? I only need a few more milliliters.”

Yuuri makes a strangled sound in the back of his throat, but doesn’t dare try to stop Minako. Though her magic may snap and level the shop if he tries to cut her off now, he’s really more scared of the woman herself rather than her magic. Any person who decided to do such high level magic on a whim is to be feared. He carefully sets the bottle back down and takes a few steps backwards.

“You have enough oil if you only need a few milliliters, but I’ll go see if I can make more.” And hide in the back room in case something goes wrong.

Minako hums as she adds a few drops of something dark and thick to the bowl in front of her, and Yuuri takes that as a dismissal.

He slips into the back room, finding just a few myrtle leaves hanging in a bunch on the far wall. He slips over to the still on the workbench and spends a few moments in a procedural daze, following the steps that are easily set into his muscle memory. He lets the familiarity wash over him as he strips the protective magic off of the leaves and summons water at his fingertips, letting it gather before he sends a spark of heat through it, little starbursts of fire living and dying millisecond by millisecond in the water. Soon enough, there’s a steady stream of steam and he sets everything so he can let the distillation complete itself.

His mind starts to wander, but Yuuri doesn’t let it roam for long. He opens the book beside the still and lets himself fall back into the spell, finding the lies and the tricks hidden in the old words. Time passes, but he barely notices it twisting around the magic slowly unfurling itself to him. By the time he sits up, back aching but a triumphant smile on his face, he can no longer feel the low buzz of Minako’s magic. She must have finished the potion, then. Successfully, since the shop still seems to be standing.

He pushes back from the workbench, stretching out the tension in his back and taking a deep breath. He can hear the low murmur of voices coming from the shop. Customers. He knows that technically he should helping them, so he checks that the still is still working before heading to the shop front.

Yuuri freezes in the doorway when he hears a very familiar voice. He immediately steps back into the back room and closes the door in front of him, though his thousand-yard stare looks right past it, to where he can already imagine Viktor Nikiforov leaning against the counter again. But that’s ridiculous, because there’s no way that’s Viktor’s voice he’s hearing. He’s just hallucinating. Too much time on one spell. That has to be it, because Viktor cannot be back .

Yuuri had given himself a minute to mourn after Viktor had left a few days ago, had convinced himself that being able to stand in his presence for a few minutes was better than nothing at all, and had barely felt any lingering regret as he watched from a distance as Viktor stole his breath and the gold once more. He had come to terms with never seeing Viktor again, not up close at least— and now, with Viktor only a doorway away and his heart already dancing a giddy jig in his chest, he’s realizing that he’s a horrible liar and he hadn’t come to terms with it at all . In fact, the thought of never seeing him again made him want to melt into a sad puddle on the floor, but it doesn’t matter because Viktor is here, and that also makes him want to melt into a puddle on the floor, but this one would be a remarkably happier puddle.

“Yuuri!” Minako calls. “Would you come out here?”

He can hear the shit-eating grin on her face, but he knows if he ignores her she’ll just come back and drag him out.

He contemplates doing it anyway.

Yuuri! ” It’s amazing how clearly Minako can put the threat of bodily harm into one word like that. And all while still managing to sound cheerful, too.

His resolve crumbles and he opens the door again, this time stepping through it. He doesn’t even bother to pretend to be surprised at seeing Viktor standing by the counter like he belongs there. He can’t stop his gaze from falling on him for a few seconds, though, drinking him in and confirming that yes, he’s really there, and not a hallucination Yuuri has willed into existence just through the sheer power of his attempts to not think about the man.

Viktor’s standing almost exactly where Yuuri imagined him moments ago, though he’s not leaning against the counter. He’s just standing straight and tall and looking expectantly toward the doorway Yuuri is currently standing in, and he spots Yuuri right away. His eyes light up when their eyes meet, and Yuuri immediately looks away, towards Minako. It’s less than a second, but he’s already wallowing in the sight of those blue, blue eyes, so bright and warm. He can’t be caught staring.

Minako gives him a significant look, as if she can read his thoughts. He feels his cheeks warm but he doesn’t back down from her stare.

“You needed something?” he asks, and his voice comes out a lot more clipped than he meant it to. But Minako’s grin only grows, so he swallows the apology already on the tip of his tongue.

Before she can respond, Viktor pushes away from the counter with a cry of, “Yuuri! Oh I was so worried you wouldn’t be here when I didn’t see you at the counter.” For a hysterical moment Yuuri is convinced that Viktor is going to try to hug him, but Viktor stops himself short and simply stands right in front of him, just a little too close for comfort. At least this is familiar.

Yuuri takes half a step back. His eyes stay on Minako, though they can’t avoid seeing Viktor, even if just in the periphery. “I’m… sorry?”

“It’s okay, you’re here now.” Viktor smiles at him, bright and heart-shaped and so, so overwhelming. “I needed to see you again. So I could thank you! Your charm was wonderful.”

“Ah…” Yuuri says, blinking at Minako as she mouths something at him. But he’s never been very good at reading lips, so after her third attempt, he just shrugs helplessly and gives up. He glances at Viktor, who is staring at him expectantly, and flounders for something to say. “You’re welcome?”

That seems to be the right answer, as Viktor’s eyes sparkle. His hands flutter at his sides for a moment and then clench into fists, and though Yuuri’s eyes only fall on them for a moment, they look so tense he’d think Viktor angry if not for the happiness otherwise radiating off of the man.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it, then,” Minako says just a little too loudly, stealing the attention of both men away from each other.

“This is your shop, you can’t just leave,” Yuuri says, almost panicked. The idea of being alone with Viktor is suffocating— ignoring the fact that he’d done it just fine just a few days prior. That memory was already hazy and dreamlike, barely real and cloaked in the dim light of twilight. Now it’s midday, with nothing to hide the reality of the situation.

Minako ignores his distress signals, giving him a hard look as she passes him and heads for the back room. “I’m retired, slacking off is what’s expected of me. You can help him just fine.” The door closes with a soft click that may as well have been a slam, for all the finality she brings to it.

Yuuri can’t win against Minako, so he only watches her go helplessly before turning back to Viktor, who is watching the door she just went through with a curiously blank face and a single finger against his lips. But Yuuri can be professional. Customer service has never been his strong suit, but he has a certain number of scripts he knows how to follow. “Ah, um,” Yuuri starts, before he clears his throat and starts again. “How can I help you?”

Viktor’s eyes flick to him and his expresses freezes, just for a moment, before he’s smiling again. “Oh, well…” The finger still against his lips taps a few times as Viktor’s eyes leave Yuuri’s and dart to the left and up. “I was just in here for such a short time last time, I don’t really know what you sell, but your charm was so nice I thought I had to come back and check out everything else.”

Yuuri nods, drifting back to the counter just out of habit, but Viktor sticks by his side as he follows, instead of going around to where the customer should be standing. But he does it with such confidence that Yuuri feels like he can’t question it, so he just keeps awkwardly shuffling back a step at a time as Viktor gets too close. “Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“What’s your favorite item in the store?”

Yuuri’s doesn’t expect the question, so he just answers, “I don’t know.”

Viktor huffs fondly at the answer. “Think about it?” he asks, a trace of a whine in his tone, though he looks amused.

Yuuri lets his gaze sweep the shop. It’s chaotic enough that he can’t actually see most of the items, but it barely matters; he knows their wares by heart, having made most of them himself. He finds himself lingering on the far corner of the store, so he begins to make his way over there. “Well, I don’t know if they’re my favorite, but I love making them.”

Yuuri stops in front of a table of what seem to be random objects. An old beanbag baby doll, a neon green teddy bear, a rubber duck with tiny shades, a porcelain masquerade mask, a sparkling blue geode, a brown dog plushie, and an old book of poetry are all clustered together behind a sign that reads Comfort in block letters. Underneath the label in a smaller font is an explanation of what they are, but Yuuri delivers that himself as he picks up the baby doll. “Comfort charms, for when you need a little pick-me-up,” he starts, as if delivering a slogan. He cradles the baby doll as if it were a real baby, rocking it idly as he explains. “They’re infused with emotions, and for a while they’ll help you feel just a little bit better. Someone once told me it felt like a hug. Want to hold one?”

He holds the baby doll out to Viktor, who only stares at him with wide eyes, and suddenly he realizes what he’s doing, and he begins backpedaling immediately, his face flaming with embarrassment as he lowers his arms. “I mean- that’s, of course you don’t want to- I’m sorry, I’ll just-” He puts the baby doll down none too gently, and then winces slightly. “Right, that was stupid.”

Viktor’s eyes have only been increasing in size during his fumbling, but suddenly he jumps into action. “No, Yuuri, it’s not stupid! That sounds lovely!” He grabs the dog from the pile, hugging it to his chest just to please Yuuri, but then pauses. Viktor’s breath hitches as the magic hits him, eyes fluttering as if they want to close.

Yuuri shifts his weight awkwardly, looking at the ground as he admits, “They’re mostly popular with children. Or, parents of children. I know you’re probably not interested, sorry, but…”

“I asked you what your favorite is, not what you thought I would like,” Viktor says, though his voice is bogged down with honey-sweet contentment, and the admonishment is lost entirely. Yuuri looks up and sees Viktor hugging the dog to his chest with a softness in his eyes that makes it very hard to breathe, so he settles for just nodding instead. “Did you charm this one? It feels like you.”

“...It what?”

Viktor squeezes his arms around the plushie and nods. “It feels like you. Your magic… there’s this current of warmth under it all, strong but soft…” His eyes have drifted away, as if trying to pluck the words for it out of the air.

“That’s…” ridiculous , he wants to finish, but then he remembers who he’s talking to, and shuts his mouth. His magic feels like anxiety and stubbornness, if anything. But he doesn’t think correcting Viktor on this is going to work, and he isn’t really brave enough to disagree with the man anyway.

Viktor seems to have abandoned the endeavor of finding words, as his gaze is no longer drifting. Instead, it’s trained on Yuuri again, piercing as ever. Maybe he’s just getting used to Viktor, or maybe it’s the effect of the comfort magic, but Yuuri can spot a warmth in the look that makes it a lot easier to bear. “Why do you like making these?” Viktor asks.

Yuuri shrugs, a little hesitant to describe it. The full answer suddenly seems too personal to share with an almost-stranger, even if that almost-stranger is his idol. It’s about feeling so full you can’t help but overflow, emotions and magic (and there’s barely a difference for Yuuri, they both run deep through him and rarely listen to what he wants them to do) welling up in you until it spills over and rushes into the world around you. It’s just a moment, but contentment like that… He can barely convey that thought in words, much less say it out loud to someone. Maybe if it were still a few nights ago, lit by the quiet glow of fairy lights and barely real. Maybe if it were closer to the witching hour, dark enough that dreams started to bleed into reality anyway. Maybe then, Yuuri decides, but right now it’s mid-afternoon, the room is bright with yellow-white sunlight, and everything feels decidedly real.

So instead he says, “It’s... nice.” Nice . It’s not a lie, but the word is like a shadow projected onto a wall at a wrong angle, losing the shape of the thing entirely. It sits in the air almost like a rejection.

But Viktor only nods, humming in acceptance as he recognizes the hesitance for what it is, and the conversation dies off. After a few awkward moments of silence, just as Yuuri is about to start mentally berating himself for the stupid answer, for putting that roadblock in their conversation, Viktor seems to decide on his own to rescue them. He holds the dog up, just high enough that he can still peer over it, and very seriously boof s at Yuuri.

Yuuri stares at him, shocked into silence.

And then he’s laughing.

Once he starts laughing, he can’t seem to stop. Something about the clashing of the untouchable Viktor in his mind with the Viktor who will stand in the middle of a shop and pretend to be a stuffed dog. Or maybe the difference between his dramatic view of the situation and the casual way Viktor managed the moment. But whatever it is, it just drowns him in helpless giggles. He tries to splutter his way through an apology, but the laughter keeps bubbling out and interrupting his words, Viktor’s stunned face hardly helping. Viktor eventually joins in on his laughter, pressing the dog up close to Yuuri face and barking again only to send him into another fit of laughter (and it really shouldn’t, because it’s not that funny, or even funny at all, but it’s like an avalanche and he has no choice but to keep going until he hits the bottom).

The light in the room seems to stutter and then ignite with his happiness and then the sunlight is just a little warmer, the flowers scattered around blooming and growing in tune with his mirth. Yuuri still doesn’t say it, but a part of him whispers, It’s this. This is what I couldn’t say. This feeling.

Viktor watches as Yuuri lights up the room, feels the pleasant sting of magic against his skin, and even though he can’t put it in words, he knows he can recognize it. Strong and soft and Yuuri . And though Yuuri didn’t say anything, Viktor thinks that maybe he gets it, whatever it was that he was denied before. Not completely, but just a little. Enough for now.

Yuuri finally calms himself and offers a slightly apologetic smile, and Viktor smiles back, as blinding as ever but more and more familiar and Yuuri revises a previous thought. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, where the sun is and how bright things are. Because the brighter shop just allows Viktor to dazzle him more, and things still don’t quite feel real. But maybe this moment is a little realer than the previous ones.

Yuuri realizes they’ve just been smiling at each other for much too long, delighting in the feeling still buzzing pleasantly in the back of his mind. He clears his throat. “So… do you want the charm?”

Viktor tilts his head, and Yuuri tracks how his bangs fall away from his face to avoid noticing how Viktor never stops looking at him. The attempt fails of course, and he still notices, watching his silver hair shift but really watching the way Viktor watches him.

“I’m beginning to think I can’t go without it,” Viktor answers.

Yuuri nods and turns around to head back to the counter, breaking their peripheral staring contest and finding himself blushing as the moment fades and the embarrassment for his actions catches up with him, though his grin refuses to go. And when he turns around behind the register, Viktor is still watching him, and Yuuri can’t stop the rush of satisfaction. Even as he completes the purchase, Viktor barely glances at the charm despite his declaration moments ago.

“Is there anything else you wanted?” Yuuri asks, though Viktor has already paid for his purchase so the answer to that is probably no. But Yuuri suddenly feels the end of their time together rapidly approaching and he feels cheated, because he was only now really appreciating it.

Viktor shakes his head slowly, movement heavy as if he’s heavily reconsidering it. “I… no. No, not today.”

Yuuri gives his best customer service smile as the anxiety from before sets in once more, thinking that this time, this time is the last time I’ll see him . “Alright then, thank you. We hope to see you again soon.” He wants to say more. But what else can he say? Please just stay here for no discernible reason other than the fact that I think I want to drown in your eyes? Viktor would think he’s a creepy stalker.

He already feels stupid that while he’s following a script, he feels like he’s confessing a deep secret. ‘We hope to see you again soon’ is supposed to be a pleasantry, but it rolls off of his tongue and it tastes like truth. Because he wants , keenly and deeply. But it’s a line that every single customer has taken and disregarded as the lip service that it should be. Just because he accidentally means it doesn’t make a difference. So he shuts his mouth and lowers his eyes.

“Ah.” Viktor sighs out the syllable, sounding like he’s about to ask a question. Yuuri looks up, waiting for him to continue, hoping for something, but Viktor looks very deep in thought, staring at Yuuri intently. After coming to some sort of decision, Viktor breaks out into a small smile, and nods. “Thank you for helping me, Yuuri.” He gathers the dog into his arms, squeezing it lightly, and turns to leave. “Bye, Yuuri! See you later.”

And then he walks out of the shop, easy as ever.

Yuuri watches him go, stomach sinking.

His brain desperately wants to wallow in it, the feeling of loss, so he does everything he can to avoid it. He turns around, fingers dancing over the spines of spellbooks until he finds one thick enough to promise a challenge, a distraction .

He opens the book to a random page, flips back a couple pages to the beginning of the spell. It’s straightforward, unlike the one he used to occupy his morning, but long and complicated.

He heads to the backroom to get supplies, but he’s greeted with Minako lounging in a chair with a drink in her hand, smirking at him. The perfect picture of indulgent antagonism.

“So… Viktor, huh?”

Yuuri almost groans. How did he forget Minako was back here?

“Yuuri, why didn’t you tell me?”

Her voice has a leading lilt to it that Yuuri steadfastly ignores. Instead, he heads to the back and begins to pull out herbs. “Tell you what, Minako?”

“You know what.”

Yuuri sighs as he throws scorpion grasses and zinnia blooms into a copper bowl. “No, I really don’t.” Sometimes, he ends up being grateful for Minako pushing him out of his comfort zone, but right now Minako’s pushing is only making him irritated. But maybe that’s because irritation is easier than falling into the anxious thoughts just waiting at the back of his mind.

Minako sighs, and suddenly he feels admonished. “Alright, alright. I guess it’s too early to say anything. But we can extend our stay there if you want. You know, just in case Viktor wants to come again.”

The words spill into the air and a cold chill seeps down Yuuri’s spine. After everything, he had forgotten that the shop front Viktor was finding them from was the temporary one. The red entrance that was supposed to move by tonight, to the next competition.

The anxious thoughts he was suppressing ooze out from behind his mental blocks. He’s not coming back anyway, so why bother staying?

It’s annoying, because he knows he wants Viktor to come back, to stay, and there’s hope quietly buzzing in his chest, and yet. And yet. He also knows that there’s no reason for Viktor to come back. The shop moves with the athletic season. If they’re set to move away, Viktor must be leaving soon, too. There’s nothing to keep him in the city, much less to tempt him back to a hole-in-the-wall magic shop.

Still, they could stay, just a few more days. Just to give it a chance.

But. But that’s selfish, isn’t it? They move the shop because they need to go to where there’s business, and if he asks Minako to keep it here he’s losing them days of income when he’s already lost them enough, and he owes Minako so much , and to make her give up even a day’s worth of profit just because of a stupid hope that isn’t even logical and won’t even pan out-

God, he wouldn’t be able to look Minako in the eye if he did that, made her sit there in an empty shop for an entire day just waiting for someone who wouldn’t show up. And the pity

No, no, no no no— “No,” he almost blurts. He whirls around, and Minako looks at him with raised eyebrows, but he looks away. “No, I’ll move the entrance.”

He turns towards the door, steeling himself before trudging over to it.

“Eh, Yuuri? There’s no rush, really.” Minako’s voice is getting closer, but Yuuri isn’t looking at her. He locks the door, spins the dial beside it until it’s back to red, and runs his hands along the edges of the doorframe.

“Hey, wait. Yuuri, stop.”

The doorway is glowing now, but Minako is right behind him. When he turns his head, her hands are hovering in front of her, as if she wants to physically reach out and pull him back, but knows better. “Please,” he says, not even sure what exactly he’s asking her. But her hands drop and her head tilts as she looks at him, and then she nods slowly.

Yuuri nods back and turns towards the door. He isn’t going to be pathetic, he isn’t going to be pitied, and he’s not going to pull their business down with him. So he’s just not going to hope for the impossible in the first place.

It’s pragmatic, he tells himself as he closes his eyes and picks the shop up to move it.

It’s just logical, he reminds himself as the magic buzzes through his fingertips and dives into the world, seeking an empty space to fill.

It’s not running away, he promises as the glow on the door begins to fade and he opens his eyes.

This is the right decision, he lies to himself as he checks the dial and opens the door to looks out into a new, unfamiliar street.

It’s early morning there, just moments before sunrise, and Yuuri watches as the streetlamps turn off, one by one until they’re all extinguished. The street is slightly darker now, but rapidly growing lighter as the sun makes its way above the horizon. It’s only a moment of darkness before the fanfare of sunrise.

Yuuri closes the door before the scene ever gets to be illuminated. He turns around and ignores the way Minako is staring at him, and turns the dial to the side to white. “I’m going home,” he says, quietly. She doesn’t respond, so he opens the door and slips out into a much more familiar street, and faces a much more familiar darkness.

Chapter Text

Where the hell are you?

Viktor holds the phone at arm’s length, letting the voice on the other end of the line rant itself out. When it seems like the muffled yelling has ended, he finally puts the phone back to his ear. “I told you Yakov! I’m staying for a little bit.”

You can’t be serious. For the love of God, I was hoping you were joking.

“You know I would never joke about this!”

How the hell would I know that!? You never take anything seriously!

Viktor just laughs, causing more angry spluttering on the other end of the line.

Vitya, you can’t derail your entire season for a boy.

“I certainly could, for this boy.” Viktor sighs dreamily, despite knowing that it’ll send Yakov into another fit of rage. (Or maybe because of it. He’s never been very cooperative.) He lets his coach tire himself out before continuing. “But I’m not. I just need to talk to him! I’ll just meet you at the airport.”

Hearing that Viktor does, in fact, plan to return to Russia seems to slightly mollify Yakov, as he just grunts in affirmation this time. But there’s still a threatening edge to his voice when he says, “Don’t do anything stupid.” Before Viktor can defend himself, he hangs up.

“Well,” Viktor says to the silence on the other side of the line, “it’s not like you would believe me if I promised not to.”

But despite Yakov’s pessimism, Viktor can’t keep the smile off of his face. He’s going to see Yuuri again, and he’s going to probably accidentally buy more things he doesn’t need (it’s a very shrewd business model, leaving such an innocently doe-eyed Yuuri with an impulsive and weak-hearted Viktor), and he’s going to love every second of it. And then he’ll “accidentally” miss his plane, take Yuuri on a coffee date, and snag his number.

And yes, eventually he’ll have to leave the country, but that’s far in the back of his mind. They’ll figure that out as they go along. What’s more important is the chemistry between them and the happiness that blooms through Viktor’s chest every time Yuuri shoots him that small, shy smile.

The thought of that carries him through the streets until he almost bursts through the doors of Kachu Mahou, just like the first time he found it.

But this time is different. There is no confused and flustered boy behind a counter. The room in front of him is barren, dusty, and completely empty. No counter, no shelves, no wares, and definitely no Yuuri.

He takes several steps back, mind buzzing with so many questions it just becomes white noise.

He’s standing outside what should be Kachu Mahou. And it still looks like it, from the outside. But the sign is gone, and the door, still hanging open, looks into an abandoned shed.

But he was just here yesterday . Viktor knows he can be forgetful, but he wouldn’t forget anything about Yuuri. He glances around, and—yes, there’s that terrifying witch’s shop where the angry old lady cursed at him and/or cursed him the night he found Kachu Mahou.

Something heavy coils in his stomach, but he refuses to acknowledge it. Shops don’t just up and disappear like…

Like magic. Shit.

Viktor takes a few steps back, as if he’s just standing too close to the shop and by backing up the real store would appear again. But no pointillistic trick of the eye allows the whole picture to materialize before him. Inside is still an empty, dusty void, and Viktor is still standing alone in the street.

He stands and stares and stares and stares, trying to figure out what’s happening. The white noise gets louder.

His feet are heavy, but they drag him forward again relentlessly. He stops at the door frame, hanging onto it and staring into the room.

The room before him is rectangular and completely empty. He lets go of the door and drifts inside, and puffs of dust scatter at every footfall. The movement in the room feels out of place, and even the drifting motes float away slowly as they’re agitated, like waking up from a long rest. He makes it to the center and turns back to look at the door, a solitary trail of footprints on the dirty floor reminding him that he is the only one to venture here.

The white noise of questions roars as even more build up behind his carefully blank face.

The door hangs open behind him, letting in a rectangle of yellow light. But it illuminates nothing but a picture of abandonment, a place long forgotten and a person left behind.

Viktor straightens his spine, takes one last look around the empty space (there’s not even a back room; was there ever anything here?), and marches himself out before the white noise overwhelms him.

He takes his phone out, hesitating only for a moment as he looks at it. His thumb hovers over Yakov’s contact. It’s not the one he hoped to be looking at as he left this place.

He pushes back against the questions and the white noise and smiles as he dials and Yakov answers with a grunt. The good news is he’s definitely not going to miss his flight. “Hi! I’m on my way now. That didn’t take too long, did it?”

No, it was almost a reasonable amount of time. What, did he throw you out?

Viktor laughs, loud and dismissive and laced with the shrapnel of something shattered. “I’ll see you in forty minutes!”

Forty minutes isn’t enough time to forget Yuuri, but it’s enough time to figure out how to pretend.

 

Once, Yuuri had a chance to talk to a mage studying ‘universal path reconciliation and flexible temporal exploration’. He explained it in too many words, trying to baffle Yuuri into submission, but when Yuuri just asked, “So you study magic time travel?” he had turned a weird shade of purple-red and answered, “Well, when you put it like that,” and spluttered for several more minutes before Yuuri could finally leave.

That mage was an asshole, but if there’s one thing Yuuri envied him, it was the ability to go back and try something again.

Yuuri isn’t—he doesn’t regret moving the shop on time. He doesn’t like the feeling of regret, so he’s refusing to feel it, so honestly, he doesn’t regret it. But maybe the question of What if? had crept into his head and refused to leave. Maybe when a customer walked in with eyes just three shades off of the ones on his posters (and two shades off of the ones he’d stared into in person) he wondered if Viktor had come the next day, and how he had felt when the shop was gone. Would he be confused? Angry? Sad? (In order: Probably, he hopes not, and god he doesn’t want to be selfish but a part of him delights in the idea that Viktor would be sad because he wasn’t there and then immediately feels guilty for thinking that.)

But in the end he always comes to the same conclusion. What if? is a terrible question, and he hates whoever first asked it.

So the days stretch into weeks and Yuuri moves the shop again and again, and finds himself slowly putting it much closer to the busier parts of towns than he ever did before. And when he silently reminds himself that it’s not so that Viktor might find them again, if he’s looking, his rude inner voice reminds him that by thinking that, he obviously means the opposite.

Yuuri studiously ignores his inner voice, as he’s been doing for quite a while now. He lets himself get lost in the monotony of the days, and he lets the regret he doesn’t feel drain away with each day that drags by.

He’s not happy , but he could be worse.

(At least, that’s what he reminds himself at night, when his mind strays to a far-away smile.)

 

“Viktor,” a smooth voice interrupts Viktor’s thoughts. “Don’t tell me you’re mooning again. It’s been over a month. Closer to two. You just need to accept you were rejected.”

As it turns out, Viktor’s really bad at pretending he’s not thinking about Yuuri, no matter how much time has passed.

Viktor closes his hand around the charm and looks up at Chris with a tight smile. “I wasn’t rejected.”

“He basically ghosted you.”

“He did not ghost me.”

“Oh right, ghosting usually implies you were in a relationship when they disappeared.”

Viktor sighs and puts the charm back in his pocket, deciding to ignore the sting of the words.

“It’s always been my pre-skate ritual, Chris.”

“Not always,” Chris says. “I remember a you before the charm.”

“And I remember a you before you were tainted by sex and lust, but I’m not asking you to change that.”

“Tainted?” Chris asks with a raised brow. “You’re more cutting than usual. Are you pouting?”

“I do not pout ,” replies Viktor, scandalized.

“Yes, you do.”

Viktor huffs. “I’m not going to change my pre-skate ritual.”

“Even if it just turns into you mooning over witch-boy now?”

He can still feel Yuuri’s magic on the charm when he concentrates on it, so of course he ends up thinking of Yuuri when he holds the charm. So it’s a little bit pathetic, maybe, how he still clings to the feeling until he can find Yuuri again, but he’s not going to get rid of the charm, and the idea of having someone else’s magic cover Yuuri’s… He’d honestly rather just be pathetic.

“I can’t help it if he’s the one who-”

Viktor cuts off mid-sentence, his eyes straying to someone over Chris’ shoulder. Chris follows his gaze, catching on Phichit Chulanont showing off a hamster charm to Leo de la Iglesia. Chris opens his mouth to comment, but suddenly Viktor is out of his seat, pushing past Chris and running towards Phichit.

“Can I see that?” interrupts Viktor, pointing to the charm rather than making eye contact. Leo’s eyes go wide in confusion, but Phichit just lights up.

“Isn’t it adorable? A little hamster! It looks just like one of my actual hamsters, too.”

“May I...” Viktor just barely restrains himself from grabbing it out of Phichit’s hands, but Phichit only seems to be delighted by this turn of events, and he hands it over before pulling his phone out and documenting the moment.

Chris finally catches up, and he leans on Viktor as he says, “I’m sorry for this one, he’s on a bit of a rabbit hunt right now.”

Leo finally overcomes his initial shock and asks, “Rabbit hunt?”

“He’s-”

“Where did you get this?” Three pairs of eyes swivel to Viktor as he barges into the conversation again. He’s holding Phichit’s charm in one hand and has his other clenched around his own. He realizes somewhere in the back of his mind that he interrupted Chris, and he’ll apologize for that later if he remembers, but. But this is important.

Because the same magic is carefully laced around both objects in his hands, the same magic that feels like Yuuri , and he needs to find out more.

“My friend made it! He even took the time to model it after one of my own hamsters. Of course, now he has to make me two more, because I can’t play favorites like this. I love all my children equally.”

Chris raises an eyebrow at the conversation, likely already piecing things together. Viktor nods quickly, even though the information wasn’t what he wanted. “I meant who charmed it.” He’s trying not to be too pushy, too over eager, because there is the chance (however small and definitely not the case) that Yuuri actually did leave to avoid him. And, well, Viktor has some pride.

Phichit pauses, his smile suddenly turning knowing. “Ooh, you want to know about Yuuri!”

Viktor wants to jump into Phichit’s arms. (He has some pride, but not that much.) “I knew it was Yuuri! I could feel it.” Viktor hands Phichit’s charm back to him. Chris and Leo seem to fade into their own conversation, leaving Phichit and Viktor to their excitement.

“I didn’t know you were so familiar with Yuuri!” Phichit seems delighted by this.

Honestly, Viktor didn’t know he was, either. He felt Yuuri from almost across the room. And sure, he’s been distracted by the feeling for almost the past two months, but… it’s a little weird that he’s so attuned to it.

Maybe it’s fate.

Phichit laughs and barrels on, ignorant of the thoughts blooming in Viktor’s head. “Isn’t he the best? His magic is just beautiful.”

Viktor nods enthusiastically, smile matching Phichit’s. “He really is.” He only barely stops himself from sighing dreamily. “But I haven’t actually seen him in a while. I had no idea where he went after…”

“He moved the shop? Yeah, Yuuri likes putting it in out-of-the-way back alleys. He shows up at every competition and then hides away like he wishes he weren’t here!”

Every competition? Viktor feels his breath whoosh out of his chest. He’d looked, but obviously not enough—how could he have been so stupid? “Hey,” Viktor says seriously, his hands landing on Phichit’s shoulders even as he realizes he cannot remember what this boy’s name is. If he’s Yuuri’s friend, he’ll learn it. He’ll learn everything about Yuuri, if he can. “Is he here? I need you to show me where his shop is this time.”

Phichit nods, somehow unbothered by Viktor’s actions. If anything, he seems to be holding in laughter. “Sure! But it comes at a cost.” He pauses dramatically, then lifts up his phone. “Take a selfie with me?”

 

Viktor is restless the entire competition. Phichit had promised to take him to Yuuri after the competition was over, and initially Viktor had agreed that he could wait, but suddenly a few days feels like a death sentence. Anticipation buzzes under his skin, and his thoughts stray to Yuuri Yuuri Yuuri far too often.

Yakov might have killed him if he hadn’t managed to channel that into his skating, but in the end he gives the man nothing to complain about, coming out with some of his best performances of the season. Performing longing and hope has never been easier. (Yakov still complains plenty, of course. But no more than usual, and that is all Viktor can hope for.)

But then the medal ceremony is over, and the press is gone, and Viktor is going to find Phichit if it’s the last thing he does. But he really hopes it’s not the last thing he does, because finding Phichit is just to get him to Yuuri, and he really wants to find Yuuri.

In the end, Phichit finds him first.

“Viktor!” he calls, running up to him with a grin. “Wow, I can’t believe I’m going to hang out with Viktor Nikiforov after a competition. Even if he’s just using me to get to my best friend.”

Viktor grins at him, too excited to see Yuuri to bother masking it. “I can’t fully deny that.”

“That’s okay! Let’s go!”

 

When they get to the shop, Viktor’s first thought is that it’s a lot closer to the competition this time than it was during the Grand Prix. Phichit enters without a moment’s hesitation, but Viktor finds himself lingering a few steps behind him.

“Yuuri!” Phichit bounds into the shop with all the easy cheerfulness of someone who belongs there, and makes his way to Yuuri, who’s sitting by a table along the edge of the shop.

“Phichit!” Yuuri isn’t wearing his glasses, and he squints at Phichit. The table in front of him has plants and vials haphazardly scattered around a piece of paper with words scrawled across it in loopy handwriting, and a gold bowl with clouds of steam rising off of whatever is inside it. “I didn’t expect you so soon.”

“Yuuri, tell me congratulations!”

Yuuri giggles, and the sound draws Viktor ever closer. Yuuri’s eyes sparkle even as he squints, but he doesn’t seem to notice anyone more than a foot away from him. “Congratulations, Phichit. You deserved that personal best.”

“Thank you! What are you doing?”

Yuuri grimaces. “Minako is making me purify and refine this love potion. She won’t sell it so it’s old and losing its potency, but she wants to keep it around just to prove that she made it. But I hate purification, it fogs up my glasses.”

“Wow,” Viktor can’t help himself from saying, stepping closer until he’s right next to Phichit and peering into the bowl. “A love potion?”

Two short pulses ripple through the air, a surprised stuttering, and then Yuuri’s eyes meet Viktor’s.

Viktor smiles, and the vials on the table shatter.

Phichit stares at the glittering fragments and dripping oils with wide eyes and a slowly growing delighted smile. He claps his hands and laughs, “I forgot to mention, I brought a friend!”

Yuuri barely hears him. “V-Viktor!”

Viktor barely seems to have noticed the mess oozing over the tabletop. “Hi! It’s been a while.”

The flame under the bowl crackles and then the table is on fire, and Yuuri finally tears his eyes away from Viktor. “Oh my god.” He pulls his hand back like he’s jerking a string and the fire lifts off of the table and hangs in the air.

“Wow Yuuri, I haven’t seen you make a mistake like that in a while,” Phichit comments, but he doesn’t seem concerned so Viktor decides nothing serious is going on.

“You must not see me working enough,” mutters Yuuri, even as he sorts through the mess on the table.

Phichit huffs, and says pointedly, “You just seem very distracted right now.”

The fire still hangs in the air above them, and Yuuri only barely avoids running into it as he whips his head up and whines a betrayed, “Phichit!” He blinks at the heat, and then quietly flicks the flames up higher, where they expand and then disperse in a fall of sparks. “I was just… surprised.”

“Even I could feel your heart skip-”

Yuuri colors and pushes past both of them, running towards the counter at the back of the shop. “I should go find my glasses, bye Phichit!”

“Oh I see, you want to be alone with Viktor!” calls Phichit to Yuuri’s retreating form.

Bye Phichit!”

Viktor just laughs, watching Yuuri squint and search through the shelves behind the counter.

“I’ll go, then,” Phichit says, looking at Viktor with a knowing look in his eyes. “Have fun, be safe!”

“Phichit!”

“Tell me everything later! Bye Yuuri!” Phichit’s laughter trails after him, and then it really is just Yuuri and Viktor.

Yuuri blinks a few times, his glasses now back on his face, and then he’s just staring at Viktor. Normally, Viktor would feel very pleased with that, but he doesn’t seem… happy. His face keeps shifting with his thoughts, but it’s too fast and subtle for Viktor to read.

Viktor casually comments, “Sorry about your potion,” and gestures to the half-soaked, half-scorched table.

Yuuri finally snaps out of it to look at the table, and his expression morphs into something much easier to read, by the red highlighting his cheeks. As he makes his way back to the table, embarrassment evident, he brushes past Viktor, just barely far enough away that they don’t touch. Viktor wants to reach out and touch him, just to make sure that he’s real, actually there in front of him after so long. But he doesn’t. Not yet.

He just watches as Yuuri cleans up the spill, carefully disposing of the broken glass, and babbles on, face maintaining it’s lovely red color. “Ah, you don’t have to apologize. It’s not a big deal. Nothing, really, just practice, and I didn’t even want to do it, so really I should be thanking you, if anything.” He freezes when he makes eye contact with Viktor, and Viktor smiles at him and winks.

“Well, it’s not like you’d ever need a love potion, right Yuuri?”

Yuuri stares at him for a long moment, eyebrows drawing together before he finally shakes his head and goes back to cleaning up. Viktor purses his lips just a little. It wasn’t the wittiest line, but what kind of a reaction was that?

“Well! How have you been Yuuri? It’s been so long! I was so devastated when the shop disappeared, and then I couldn’t find you… I almost thought you were avoiding me on purpose.” Viktor remembers when he told Chris he doesn’t pout just a few days ago, but this is pouting for a purpose.

Yuuri looks up, shocked. “On pur- me? Avoiding you? No! Not at all!” He waves his arms in front of him for emphasis, and Viktor finally gives into his urge to touch. His hands dart out and wrap around Yuuri’s wrists, pulling him just a little closer and ceasing his flailing.

“That makes me happy to hear, then,” purrs Viktor, dropping their arms down to just hang between them, sneaking his hands from Yuuri’s wrists to hold his hands on the way. He swings their joined hands lightly, feeling lighter than he has in weeks. “But if it weren’t for Phichit, I never would have found you again!” Viktor hums, glad that he had been paying enough attention earlier to catch the other boy’s name. “You two seem close. Are you involved?”

“Involved? No…” Yuuri is staring at their hands clasped between them. He shakes his head as the words hit him, and then he’s looking back and forth between Viktor and their hands. “Wait, involved? No, no, no! He’s just a friend! He’s been coming to this shop for years! What are you- Why-” He cuts himself off, pulling his hands back, and look at Viktor with wide eyes. “Viktor, why are you here ?”

Viktor tries not to show any hurt as he hastily tucks his hands into his pockets. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“You… want a charm?”

“I…” For a moment, disbelief floods Viktor. He looks at Yuuri, trying to see if he’s serious. But the look on his face is completely genuine.

Alright, then. Viktor knows a plea to slow down when he sees one. He takes a deep breath and smiles. “Yep! You caught me. I couldn’t rely on anyone other than you, Yuuri!”

The tension seems to drain out of Yuuri, and he offers a tentative smile back. “Okay. What would you like?”

Viktor doesn’t have any use for charms, other than the one he already has, so he just pulls it out. Yuuri stiffens a little as he looks at it, but he seems to shake it off in the next moment. “Could you recharm this?”

Yuuri cocks his head. “Is there something wrong with it? It shouldn’t need recharming for another few months at least.”

Viktor is very aware of that, but he presses on. “Just… top it off. I want maximum luck.”

“That is… not how that works.”

Viktor lets his eyes get wide and desperate, and his mouth pout just a little. “Please, Yuuri?”

Yuuri seems to hesitate, but he gives into Viktor’s puppy dog eyes with a slight flush. “Fine.” He mutters something else in Japanese as he takes the charm, and then looks at Viktor with an accusing stare. “But you’ll have to come back later to get it. I’m not doing another rush job this time.”

“Aw, I wanted to see your magic again! It’s so beautiful, how could you hide that away?”

“I have other orders to fill first. You can’t have special treatment every time.” Despite his admonishing words, Yuuri smiles at Viktor’s praise, and even though he doesn’t get to see the room lit with Yuuri’s magic, effervescent and ethereal, Viktor is content with the sight in front of him.

He beams at Yuuri. “I’ll only leave if you promise to actually be here when I come back this time.”

Yuuri ducks his head at the comment, embarrassed at first, but then his face changes. He looks lost in thought for a moment, and when he looks back up, there’s a determined glint in his eyes. “I won’t lose you a second time, I promise.”

Viktor thought he was the one who’d lost Yuuri, not the other way around, but the look on Yuuri’s face excites him too much for him to argue. He nods, lighting up. “It’s a deal!”

 

When Viktor approaches Kachu Mahou the next day, he doesn’t give himself time to get nervous, just strides into the shop with a smile and a call of, “Yuuri!”

But any lingering apprehension melts as he sees Yuuri, bangs hanging in his face and glasses perched low on his nose, leaning over a picture frame on the counter. The room is a little darker than usual, curtains drawn so the only light is from candles piled by the picture frame and tiny balls of starlight floating across the ceiling, but as Viktor gets closer, he can make out the picture in the frame: a younger Yuuri clutching onto a toy poodle, smiling happily at the camera.  

Yuuri doesn’t seem to have noticed him enter, because he’s wrapped up in something. He places a yellow-gold cup next to a stick of incense, which is wafting a pleasant scent that permeates the whole room. The blue-gray smoke wisps into the air, curling lazily towards the cup before spiraling up towards the picture frame. As Viktor watches, the smoke from the incense thickens until it obscures the picture frame and cup, and when it dissipates there’s only an empty space where the offering had been. Yuuri stares at it quietly, and Viktor is almost afraid to interrupt the moment.

But he can’t stand the melancholy look on Yuuri’s face, so he clears his throat and repeats his earlier call of, “Yuuri,” only now his voice is tempered with thoughtfulness, though it’s still suffused with joy. It always is when he gets to see Yuuri.

Yuuri looks up at him, smiling a little apologetically. “Viktor,” he greets, and Viktor feels something in him fluttering, hearing his name said so fondly, even if it’s soft and still traced with something like melancholy. “Sorry, I thought I would be done with that before you got here.”

Viktor wants to curl around Yuuri and hold him until the vestiges of whatever sad memory are holding him finally fade, but he just smiles understandingly and nods. “I hope I didn’t interrupt.”

Yuuri shakes his head, pauses, then shakes it once again, this time as if shaking away whatever is keeping him down. “Not at all.” Viktor wants to ask, but before he can decide whether he’s allowed to push, Yuuri has come around the counter and steps closer to him. “Here, your charm.”

Viktor takes the charm offered to him, holding it tight and letting the feeling of Yuuri’s magic wash over him before he pockets it. “I feel luckier already,” he says, flashing a smile at Yuuri.

Yuuri nods, fidgeting slightly and not making eye contact, but then he stills, and when he looks up, there’s a flash of something indomitable in his eyes. “I have something else, too… I hope you don’t mind.” He reaches out and grabs Viktor’s hand, gently, asking for permission, and Viktor squeezes Yuuri’s hand, giving it freely. He watches silently as Yuuri pulls something out of his pocket and slowly slips it onto Viktor’s finger, his own hand only shaking slightly.

Viktor stares at the gold ring sitting on his finger, mouth dry, heart frozen, and cheeks growing steadily redder.

“It, uh, it has a tracking spell on it. So you can always tell where the shop is,” Yuuri explains, and Viktor’s heart takes that moment to restart itself, jackrabbiting to a speed that’s almost overwhelming. Yuuri continues talking as Viktor tries not to have a heart attack. “Well, technically, the shop is too big to pair with your ring, so I paired it with this ring”—he flashes the gold ring on his own finger, and Viktor gives up on trying to breathe—“but I’m almost always in the shop, and I’ll leave it here when I go home, so-”

“You don’t need to do that,” Viktor finds himself saying, still breathless.

Yuuri’s eyes go wide. “I- was it too much? Sorry, sorry, I just thought rings seemed convenient, and I mean-”

“No, no, Yuuri. I just meant- You don’t have to leave it here. You can wear it all the time. If you… want.” He’s going to explode. His heart is going to beat itself out of his chest and find its way to Yuuri, curl up warm and content in him instead. Or maybe Yuuri’s already stolen his heart, and he’s just feeling the phantom beats.

It’s too early to be thinking about it, but Viktor can’t help himself— he’s endlessly pleased by the idea of Yuuri’s ring on his finger, Yuuri wearing its pair. He wants that, wants the little bit of claim, the little bit of promise every time he sees it.

“Oh. I… Then you’ll just know where I am, instead of the shop.”

“Would that bother you? You said you’re usually in the shop, anyway. And isn’t that better? More… convenient.”

“No, it… yeah, that would be fine.” Yuuri looks down at his feet. “That’s fine.”

“Okay. Great.” And Viktor is still dying, or maybe dead, but he still smiles, because he may be dead but he’ll be happy even six feet under.

Yuuri looks up, and shoots him his own smile. “Great.”

“Great,” repeats Viktor stupidly, glee stealing his entire vocabulary.

“It’s, I mean. You don’t have to wear it, just when you want to find me- the shop! Or, well, me technically, but… Um.”

“It’s perfect, Yuuri,” promises Viktor, beaming at the sight of the ring on his finger. “I want to wear it.”

The room brightens as the candles flare and the starlight flashes, and when the dazzle clears from Viktor’s eyes, there’s Yuuri, looking at him with something like hope.

Leaving Yuuri to return to the rest of his life is hard, especially now, but knowing he has this ring, this promise, this trail of breadcrumbs leading him home (leading him to Yuuri ) makes it possible. He walks out of the shop, holding the ring up to the sunlight, and he can feel it, almost see it, a red line leading him back to Yuuri. He doesn’t follow it, not right now, but there’s time. For now, he lets Yuuri’s familiar magic wash over him, and he settles for memories of smiles in fake starlight.

Chapter Text

Viktor comes back. Again, and again, and again. Every competition he’s in, without fail, he shows up, ring shining on his finger almost as brightly as his smile, and asks for his charm to be recharmed. And then Yuuri informs him that it’s really not necessary, and Viktor plies him with casual touches and affectionate looks until Yuuri caves and takes the charm anyway.

And then Viktor stays, leans close and talks to Yuuri about everything and nothing, or sits quietly and watches while Yuuri works. And there’s no reason for him to do it, but Viktor staying for a few extra minutes—hours when he can—when he comes seems almost normal. He even has his own chair, constantly moving around the shop but designated as Viktor’s so that he can pull it up next to Yuuri and lean his head on him whenever he wants.

Even when the off season comes around, Yuuri finds himself putting the shop near Viktor, and Viktor comes every time he feels Yuuri close by. And when he gets Yuuri’s phone number, he’s around all the time, through little messages throughout the day, every day.

Yuuri doesn’t know if he understands it, but he’s… happy. He’s heart beating just a little too fast, eyes wide and shimmering with glee, breath catching every so often, happy .

Still, he’d be happier if he didn’t feel like Viktor was wasting so much money.

“Viktor,” Yuuri sighs, exasperated even as Viktor’s stubborn smile appears. “Why are you still asking me to recharm this?”

It’s a conversation they’ve had way too many times. Viktor doesn’t stray from the script, holding his charm out insistently. “Yuuri,” he says, pleasantly, but it’s a warning. “I’m a customer, aren’t I?”

Yuuri opens his mouth to reply, but then clamps it shut, because he realises he was about to respond, If you just want an excuse to see me, you don’t have to use the charm. And that’s assuming a lot. Too much, probably. Instead, he says, “Not if I refuse to let you pay for it.”

“You… won’t let me pay? So you’ll just keep charming it, but for free?”

Yuuri gives Viktor a hard look. “I’m barely doing anything anyway.”

Viktor blinks, his brow furrowing. “No, just let me pay for it.”

“I will not. You have better things to spend that money on.”

Viktor sighs lightly, giving in to Yuuri’s stubbornness. “How about a compromise?”

Yuuri raises one eyebrow, but motions for Viktor to continue.

“I can buy you coffee, and we’ll call that my payment.” Viktor’s eyes change, softer than they usually are when they argue about Viktor’s money. “Deal?”

Coffee? That’s- that’s a date, right? Viktor is being suave and covertly asking him for a date, isn’t he? Yuuri has to match him. He knows this is where he smiles coyly and accepts, and he’s about to do just that when instead he hears himself bluntly ask, “Did you just ask me on a date?”

Viktor huffs, his eyes sparkling. “Well, I was trying to be smooth about it, but yes.”

“Oh. Good, then,” Yuuri says numbly. At least he won’t have to agonize over whether or not it’s a date, like they do in the stories. “When?”

Viktor sets the charm down, sliding it towards Yuuri. It’s less dramatic of a gesture than he likely intends, as they’re both standing on the same side of the counter and less than a foot apart, but Viktor manages to make it seem significant. “Tomorrow, when I come to pick this up. You can leave Minako in charge of the shop.”

Yuuri takes the charm, rolling his eyes but putting it with his other orders anyway. The same as always, because Viktor always gets what he wants. Except it’s not the same as always, because this time Viktor asked him out on a date, and as he settles in by Yuuri’s side, talking and touching and listening and looking, there’s a charged energy between them, an unspoken excitement filling their every interaction. And for once Yuuri isn’t quite sad to see Viktor go, because he can’t come back tomorrow if he doesn’t leave first, and they can’t have their date until Viktor comes back tomorrow.

Their date . Because Viktor Nikiforov asked him on a date .

Oh no , he realizes like a rush of cold water. It’s the first thing that’s made him dread the coming day.

I have to tell Minako .

 

Her smile is smug, but promises she’ll watch the shop while he’s gone, telling him that, “You work too much anyway, Yuuri, it’s good to see something making you happy again” and leaving it at that. He’s grateful she doesn’t tease him more, but he has a feeling she’s waiting until afterwards, when she’ll have more ammunition.

The next day, Yuuri works in a restless sort of haze, never quite sure when the next person to walk into the shop is going to be Viktor, and jumping every time the door opens because of it. But finally, finally, when Yuuri’s head snaps up at the sound of the door opening, he’s greeted with warm blue eyes and a sunny smile.

“Yuuri!” Viktor calls as he enters the shop, waving excitedly. Yuuri loves hearing Viktor say his name, the way his tongue curls around the u, and his accent warps it just a little.

He grabs the charm, which he’s kept within arm’s reach all day, and holds it up for Viktor to take. Viktor takes it and holds it for a moment, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before finally putting it away. He always tells Yuuri that he’s just feeling the magic, which Yuuri doesn’t understand, but has stopped questioning.

“Perfect! Shall we?” Viktor gestures one arm towards the door as the other wraps around Yuuri’s shoulders, and Yuuri nods, but disentangles himself to head to the back room.

He knocks on the door and Minako opens it, glasses perched on the end of her nose and annoyed at being interrupted. But then she sees Viktor hovering over Yuuri’s shoulder, and she smirks. “Ah, it’s already that time?” She tucks her glasses away and runs her fingers over her hair, small sparks smoothing it out and making it presentable. As she makes her way into the shop, she points a finger at Viktor, who has already wrapped himself around Yuuri again. “Take care of my Yuuri, okay?”

Viktor smiles and squeezes Yuuri ever closer to him. “I will!”

Yuuri makes an embarrassed noise and pulls Viktor out of the shop before the two of them can get any worse. “Don’t indulge her,” he complains.

“Indulge her? I think it’s cute that she cares so much. You two seem close… Did you ever have a crush on her?”

“What? Oh god, no, she’s like my mother.” Yuuri makes a face as Viktor steers them through the streets. “She’s a family friend, and she’s been my magic mentor since I was a child. She… basically helped raise me, and then after everything also let me work in her shop.”

Viktor makes a noise of understanding, before looking around and pausing at a corner. “I thought you two seemed more comfortable than just a boss and an employee. But she seems young to be a mother figure!”

Yuuri cocks his head. “Young? I mean, she’s older than my mother."

Viktor pauses for a moment, blinking rapidly. “Wow, really? Amazing…” He studies a street sign that Yuuri can’t read because it’s in Cyrillic, and then turns and keeps walking. “Is it magic that keeps her looking so young?"

Yuuri giggles. “Oh, that. No, that’s just genetics, unfortunately. There’s no eternal youth spell. Not yet, at least.”

“Yet?” Viktor stops abruptly and turns them around, but keeps his voice casual. “What do you mean not yet?”

Yuuri looks at Viktor suspiciously. Viktor smiles back, but by now Yuuri can spot the fake smiles. He doesn’t say anything yet, just keeps watching him. “…Well, the study of magic is ongoing and there are new developments every day. But I don’t know that much, I was always more of a performer than a scholar, and now I’m just in business.” Viktor stops again to study a street sign, and Yuuri can’t help but ask, “Are we lost?”

Viktor tenses slightly, and flashes a smile at Yuuri. “No, I know exactly where we are.”

“Then why have we been walking in circles?”

Viktor slumps a little, as if he’d been hoping Yuuri wouldn’t notice. “I know exactly where we are, I promise. However, I seem to have forgotten where the coffee shop is.” He shoots a timid smile at Yuuri, and Yuuri can’t stop from giving him a smile in return, even if it’s tinged with fond exasperation.

Viktor tries to keep looking around, but Yuuri stops walking and waits until Viktor notices, which only takes a few seconds because Viktor is constantly reaching out to touch. When he gives Yuuri a confused look, Yuuri shoots him a coy smile. “Hey, Viktor?”

Viktor blinks, blindsided for a moment, but quickly responds, “Yes?”

“Instead of wandering, take me somewhere you actually know how to get to.”

Viktor is admonished for a moment, but then he lights up. “Do you like the ocean?”

Flooded with fond memories of Hatsetsu’s ocean, Yuuri softens and has no choice but to say, “Yes, I do.”

Within minutes Viktor has successfully navigated them to a seaside path, and when Yuuri offers him a laughing, “Good job!” he absolutely lights up, and Yuuri can’t even be annoyed about the wasted minutes wandering the streets searching for a coffee shop. It’s maybe a little mean, but Yuuri is always happy to see Viktor messing up, see him be a little bit stupid and pouty and whiny when he points it out. It makes him feel closer than ever, and Yuuri never holds the mistakes against him, not when he’s letting him in to see them at all.

Viktor bumps against Yuuri’s shoulder, snapping him out of his drifting thoughts. “Did you say you used to be a performer?”

Yuuri looks away, out towards the waves. “Oh, did I?”

“You did, right before you pointed out we were lost. You’ve never mentioned that before.”

“Eh…” Yuuri shrugs, trying to be nonchalant. “It’s not a big deal, so it just never came up.”

“What kind of performer? Singer? Dancer? I could see dancer, you move like one.” Viktor gasps. “Wait, did it have to do with your magic?”

Normally, here is where Yuuri would change the subject. But there’s such excitement and hope in Viktor’s eyes that he finds himself nodding instead. “Yes,” he confesses. “It was a kind of specialized dance. But that was years ago.”

“It must have been so beautiful. I’m sorry to have missed it.”

There’s something so achingly genuine in his voice that before he can stop himself Yuuri finds himself saying, “I can show you, if you want.”

He almost regrets it, but Viktor’s cheeks go red and his eyes go wide, and he can’t back out of it now, because Viktor looks like he’s been given the best present he’s ever received.

Yuuri glances around, glad that the area is somewhat deserted, and takes a deep breath before removing his glasses and handing them to Viktor. “Could you back up a little?”

Viktor does so with an amused gleam in his eye, and Yuuri centers himself, closing his eyes to stop constantly looking for passers-by. As he does some simple stretches, he mentally sorts through half-remembered routines, dusty and fragmented after not being touched for years. The only one he still remembers well enough to perform is his last piece, one he never actually performed. The movements had seemed lacking, and as beautiful as it was, he knew it could be more but could never figure out how to get it there.

Suddenly, he thinks he might have an answer.

He opens his eyes only to meet Viktor’s, and the intensity there startles him into closing them once more. But he can still feel Viktor’s on him, and he lets the feeling of the gaze fill him up, burn him from the inside out and make his magic flare high, excited and ready, with something to prove.

The beginning of the piece starts like any other magic, just like making a charm or mixing a potion: centering himself and letting his magic free to dance just beneath the surface of his skin. But instead of letting it out just yet, he lets it build, more and more until the air around him is shimmering in anticipation. It thrums around him until it bursts, cascading ribbons of energy and light spinning around him as he begins to move.

Yuuri’s performances always have a story, but this one cannot be told through words. It’s all emotions, hope and growth and loss and learning, and love, for his family, for his friends, for the magic that holds him in its ephemeral grasp and overflows in him. And now, added in the way he can feel his magic reaching out and wrapping itself around the man watching, it’s also a message for Viktor, telling him to watch and to stay and to listen, please, because there’s something that can’t be said but can be felt all the same.

His magic lifts him as he jumps, letting him hang a second too long in the air, bubbly and happy as it holds him aloft, and he finally opens his eyes, lets himself lock eyes with Viktor. The air sparks brighter as his emotions and his magic rush out and fill the space around him, wanting to be seen, demanding to be understood. He lands and spins, dancing with his magic as if it were a partner.

He’s out of practice, and not fully warmed up, but he barely feels the fumbles, makes up movement when he can’t remember the next step, and keeps his eyes on Viktor the entire time. The world is hazy, but he at least seems clear and in-focus.

By the time he’s done, Yuuri’s red-faced and panting, but his eyes are bright and it’s the lightest he’s felt in a long while. He doesn’t even know what he looked like, performing without music like that, and without a plan, too. Normally, the magic works as a fancy lights show, a prop to accompany the dance, or to enhance some of the harder steps. He remembers Minako always praising him for incorporating his magic so seamlessly into his movements, but this time, it was done so subconsciously and so charged with emotion that he’s not even sure if the magic was visible, or if it was blindingly bright.

He focuses back on Viktor. With a start, he realizes that Viktor’s crying, one hand covering his mouth.

Yuuri drops his final pose, reigning in his magic and feeling the late onset of embarrassment. He pushes his hair out of his face, and smiles at Viktor. “It’s… really been a while.”

Viktor takes that as his cue to move, and then he’s tackling Yuuri into a hug, nuzzling his cheek against the top of Yuuri’s head. “You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” he breathes against Yuuri’s ear, and Yuuri feels slightly sweaty and kind of a mess, but in that moment he believes it, and buries himself into the hug.

After a moment, they separate, and Viktor gives Yuuri his glasses back. Yuuri slips them on and blinks to adjust, looking up and catching the impossibly fond look in Viktor’s eyes.

“Why did you ever stop performing?”

Yuuri shrinks into himself, just a little, but Viktor reaches out and squeezes his hands. “It, well. I didn’t like it.”

“You didn’t like it?” Viktor asks disbelievingly.

“I… I loved dancing. But I hated performing. I got so anxious every time, I finally found myself asking if it was worth it. And I… it’s not like I had a goal, or something to work towards. I just did it because I loved it. So when I stopped loving it… I had no reason to keep doing it. Minako had a place in her shop, and I’d always been good with charms and small magic, so. I quit.” He shrugs, reminding himself that he doesn’t feel regret.

“You stopped dancing altogether?”

“I… yeah.” It’s complicated , he doesn’t say, because it’s really not. He stopped because he was ashamed, because he felt like giving up on performing meant he was a failure, and so he left all of it behind.

“I wish I had your conviction.”

“Huh?”

Viktor isn’t looking at him anymore, instead staring past him towards the horizon. Then he smiles, pulling out his charm, but there’s something wrong with the smile. It’s not fake, just… sad.

“You know this charm I keep making you recharm?”

Yuuri has no idea where this conversation is going, but he nods.

“I’ve had it almost since I started skating. I was only fifteen or sixteen when it was given to me.”

Sixteen , thinks Yuuri. You were sixteen .

“It was… a long time ago. I wish I could say I remember it all, but honestly, I don’t. I just remember that there was a young boy, with so much hope and admiration in his eyes, who gave it to me with a badly pronounced ‘Thank you’.” Viktor looks at the charm, holding it up and tilting his head. “He thanked me , as he was giving me a gift. I don’t even remember what I said back.”

Yuuri does. It’s a memory he’ll cherish forever.

 

The moment only lasts for a few seconds, but Yuuri can barely even believe that he’s this close to Viktor. He could reach out and touch him, if he wanted. But he can barely speak, much less be so bold as to touch.

He’d thought for days while he was working on his charm about what to say, debating on whether to explain that he charmed it himself, and it was clumsy and weak, but Viktor didn’t really need a lucky charm, anyway, because he’d be beautiful with or without it. He’d say that it’s just a token, a thank you to him for being inspiring and beautiful, for existing. A way to try to express that feeling.

In the end, all he manages is a squeaked, “Thank you,” as he passes the charm over.

And then Viktor catches his eyes and smiles, says, “Isn’t that my line?” and laughs, before he’s gone, ushered away.

But Yuuri shakes his head at his retreating figure. No, Yuuri is really the one who should be thankful here. Viktor has given him so much, and all Yuuri gave in return was a weak charm, probably forgotten or replaced in just a few weeks.

But he’s still happy that he could give that, even just for a little bit.

 

Yuuri can’t believe Viktor remembers it at all.

“He was just so earnest. All of my fans are. Sometimes I look at this charm and I think it’s the only thing keeping me skating. I always think to myself, I can’t disappoint that boy, and then I can force myself to go out there and perform one more time. For him.”

Yuuri chokes back a cough. “Just for him?”

Viktor laughs, just once. “Well, I guess in my mind he’s become a representative for everyone that loves me for my skating. But I always think of him before I go on the ice.”

Yuuri stares, unsure what to say. He feels like he should be happy, that somehow Viktor has been thinking about him for all these years. But there’s something about the wording that just makes his stomach twist.

Viktor doesn’t seem to notice Yuuri’s turmoil, lost in his own thoughts. “I… I’m so scared to disappoint him, but I think I’ll have to, someday soon. I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this.”

Viktor finally looks up, and he sees the way Yuuri is looking at him, and suddenly there’s a smile plastered on his face. “Ah, but I haven’t told anyone else that. You’ll keep my secret, won’t you Yuuri?” He winks, and Yuuri’s stomach twists again.

He can’t imagine a world where Viktor isn’t skating. He remembers the way Viktor had looked, the one time he’d gotten to see him in person. He was so happy when he got off the ice, he was shining.

Yuuri knows what it’s like to have to leave something you love behind, and as much as he tells himself there’s no regret, he’s thrown into a panic at the thought that Viktor would be repeating his mistake.

“Viktor, you- you can’t! You can’t leave ice skating!”

Viktor’s face flashes something wide-eyed and hurt before it shutters into something unreadable. “Hm? And why’s that?”

“You love ice skating, don’t you?”

“No. Yes. I don’t know. Maybe I don’t anymore. I thought you of all people would understand!”

Yuuri sees the frustration cracking through Viktor’s facade, which only makes his own frantic panic rise. “I- yes, I do understand! Which is why I think you’re making a mistake. Viktor, listen-”

“Aren’t you being a hypocrite, Yuuri? Didn’t you quit performing, too?”

“Yes, but-”

“So you’re just trying to project your own regrets and fix your mistakes through me. Is your life so unfulfilling?”

Yuuri reels back, the words a slap in the face. He stares gaping at Viktor as the words settle heavy in the air between them.

Viktor’s composure cracks as tears well up in Yuuri’s eyes, and he reaches out, calling softly, “Yuuri, no, sorry, that-”

But Yuuri flinches away from his touch, takes a few steps back. “I have to go,” he manages, and he turns and runs just moments before the first tear can fall.

 

Viktor fucked up.

The petty part of him tells him that Yuuri fucked up first, but he ignores that, because he doesn’t really care who started it, because he made Yuuri cry . On their first date .

After a happy few months of seeing Yuuri whenever he can, of basking in his presence and his laughter and his smiles, of thinking that there’s no way he can deserve this, he’s suddenly smacked with the possibility that maybe he really doesn’t.

He doesn’t know what to do. It’s too late to chase after him, but should he give him space or shower him with affection? His first instinct is the latter, but he’s learned that sometimes Yuuri wants the former.

He feels something pulling at him, and he looks down to his hand, where the ring is still sitting on his finger. It takes a second, but then he realizes what that feeling was. It was Yuuri moving miles away in a moment.

Yuuri must have moved the shop. To get away from Viktor.

He moves to take the ring off, to get rid of this reminder of what he just ruined, but he feels something crying out inside of him before he even gets it past the first knuckle.

He slips it back on, and slowly makes his way back home. It seems Yuuri has answered the question of what to do for him, at least.

He pulls his phone out, sends him a text that just reads, I’m sorry .

Yuuri reads it immediately.

He doesn’t respond.

Viktor sits on his couch and stares at his phone for so long that Makkachin begins nosing at his hand, begging for dinner. “Sorry sweetheart. I’m being unfair to you, aren’t I?”

She snuffles at his heels as he starts making her dinner, and he knows he’s forgiven. “Ah, but what do I do? I made a big mistake today, Makkachin.” He sets her dinner down in front of her, squatting in front of her food bowl. “What do you think, should I give him some time?”

She licks his hand and then starts eating. Viktor sighs. “You live an easy life, you know.”

She ignores him in favor of the food, and he lifts himself up off of the ground. “Don’t fall in love, Makkachin my darling, it’ll only end in heartbreak.”

 

Two days later, and Yuuri still hasn’t responded. Yakov yells him off the ice, telling him that if he isn’t going to pay attention, he might as well go home. Viktor thinks Yakov’s trying to be nice, giving him the day off, but he’s going to go crazy if he doesn’t have a distraction.

As far as he can tell, Yuuri is somewhere in North America, Japan, Russia, and western Europe. Which means he’s in the shop, and none of the entrances are close enough to focus on.

But he’s done with giving him space. Two days of radio silence is enough. He’s never been very good at space, anyway, unless the words “very little” or “no” are in there somewhere too.

And if… if Yuuri tells him to leave, he will. But they’re going to at least talk first.

Within a few hours, Viktor is walking out of an airport with the same determination that got him to the top of the skating world burning in his eyes. He’s glad for the ring, guiding him through the streets towards the Russian shop front, until suddenly he feels that Yuuri is somewhere in France.

He almost turns around and marches back to the airport, but then he catches sight of a familiar sign, and all but runs into the shop. He doesn’t know what to do once he’s there, but maybe there’s something. There has to be.

Minako is standing behind the counter, looking confused and concerned, but it morphs into shock when she sees Viktor. Then something clicks, and understanding blooms across her face as she sighs and points at the dial by the door.

“He ran out the red entrance.”

Viktor looks at the dial, and then at Minako, and then he tries to spin it, hands shaking just a little with the building need to get to Yuuri. When it doesn’t move, Minako supplies, “Close the door first.”

Viktor follows her instructions, then turns the dial to red, foot tapping impatiently the whole time. When it clicks into place and he opens the door again, it looks out onto a different street, and Viktor can feel Yuuri close again. He pauses for a moment in awe, and then he bolts out the door with a, “Thank you!” thrown behind him.

He follows the ring, follows the red line, follows his heart, and finds Yuuri standing on the Pont des Arts, staring down at the water below, and even though he’s in shape enough to barely be affected by the running, he’s absolutely breathless when he says, “Yuuri.”

Yuuri stiffens but doesn’t turn around.

“Yuuri, please, talk to me? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was wrong— you have a lovely life, I never meant to belittle it.” He’s approaching Yuuri slowly, like a scared animal, but Yuuri still doesn’t respond, though his hands are now gripping the railing. “I-I’ll keep skating, if that’s what you want. I’d skate for another decade, for you.”

“No!” Yuuri whirls around, and Viktor takes a step back in surprise. His voice lowers when he continues. “No, don’t. Don’t do that. I never meant that. Don’t ever make yourself miserable for my sake. I won’t love that.”

“What do you want, Yuuri? I’ll do it, whatever you want. I promise.”

“Don’t- don’t sign your life away to me! I just want you to be happy!” He sighs, scrubbing one hand over his face, and groans. “You were right, that’s why I… that’s why I ran. I do regret leaving dance. So I thought- I thought you’d be the same, because I’ve seen you skate. It makes you feel like I feel when I dance, I can tell. But maybe, maybe I was wrong. Maybe it doesn’t anymore. I don’t know. Because… I regret leaving dance but I’m still happy where I am. But I thought maybe you could be happier, with no regrets.”

Yuuri pauses, then hesitantly reaches his hand out. Viktor grabs it immediately, and Yuuri squeezes him lightly.

“If you know you’d be happier if you stopped skating, then you should stop skating. But… maybe don’t abandon the ice altogether? No one looks better on it than you do. I don’t think anyone has loved it more.”

Viktor tugs Yuuri in by his hand and wraps his arms around him, heart fluttering when Yuuri clings to him. “I can’t imagine my life without ice skating in it,” Viktor admits. “I think… part of me wants to know who I am when I lose that. But even if I let it go, I can always go back to it, can’t I? Not competing, but that’s not what I’d miss.”

Yuuri nods against him. “I… yeah. Yeah, you can.”

“You can, too, you know. Keep dancing, if you want to.”

He’s silent for a while, but then slowly he says, “Okay. Maybe.”

Viktor hums happily, and then looks down at Yuuri.

“So, just making sure, you won’t break up with me if I retire?”

“Viktor!” Yuuri flushes in shame even though he can hear the teasing in Viktor’s tone. “I… we’re not dating?” Viktor’s smile dims just a little, and Yuuri finds himself chasing the brightness, reaching out and grabbing it before it can escape. “But we… could be?”

The stunned look on Viktor’s face washes away the fear he feels at being the first to reach out. He’s just staring at Yuuri with wide eyes, like he’s a work of art with the meaning of the universe hidden in the brushstrokes. Yuuri tries not to fidget.

And then he’s enveloped in a crushing hug, Viktor pulling him ever closer and yelling, “Yes yes yes yes yes! Yuuri, did you just ask me out? Oh that was so suave!” He pulls back, stars in his eyes, but his mouth is set in stone. “But you didn’t answer my question.”

Yuuri reaches up to cup Viktor’s face. “Of course I won’t break up with you.”

When Viktor smiles, there’s no rush of magic in it, but Yuuri feels it flood through him all the same. “It’s a shame, then. I’ll have to disappoint charm-boy,” Viktor says dismissively, and it’s a joke, but Yuuri can still feel himself flushing.

“Oh, no, I won’t be disappointed.”

Viktor stares at him, confused and amused. “No, remember, I told you-”

Yuuri stares at him pointedly as his words die mid-sentence, watching as the cogs turn in Viktor’s head.

“Wait. What? Wait, Yuuri, what? Really?” He’s laughing then, and he picks Yuuri up and spins him around. “Yuuri! You’re amazing! You’ve been inspiring me my entire life!”

Yuuri laughs along with him, though it falls slightly. “I don’t know if inspiring is the right word… it sounded more like imprisoning.”

Viktor huffs, setting him down and looking at him sternly. “Don’t start that. Even if it weren’t for my charm, I’d still be skating. But it would feel so much emptier.” He pulls Yuuri back in, like he can’t bear to be even an inch away from him for even a moment. “You’ve kept me afloat for so long.”

Yuuri pulls back, and Viktor makes a noise of protest that’s quickly silenced as Yuuri’s lips meet his. There’s hesitance in it at first, but Viktor quickly finds himself reciprocating, and he pulls Yuuri in by the hips as Yuuri wraps his arms around his neck. Viktor can feel the sting of magic on his lips when he pulls back, and Yuuri is looking at him with pink cheeks as his hand comes up to lightly touch his lips.

“Sorry, I- sometimes it just… overflows. I’ll try to keep it in.”

Viktor shakes his head, smile awed and happy. “Don’t you dare.” He leans in and steals another kiss, quick and chaste, and he can’t help but beam at the idea that he was the one who made Yuuri so happy that he couldn’t contain it. “I’ll happily drown in the feeling of you for the rest of my life, Yuuri.”

Yuuri blinks, lips parted. “Viktor, that’s…”

“Don’t you want that too?”

Yuuri looks at him for a long time, quiet and contemplative. The world spins around them, but right then, there’s nothing but the two of them. “Yeah. Yes. I do.”