Yuuri jerks awake just after midnight, realizes that he is surrounded by what to the uninitiated observer would look like the detritus of the insane, and quickly gleans from the angle of the ceiling that he is on the floor.
He flings out a hand, looking for his phone. The light of the screen, even set to its lowest level, pulls a violated wail from his throat.
"Oh my GOD," Phichit says from the sofa. He sits up, flops himself over the edge. The hamsters start squealing at the sound of their father's voice. "I submitted myself to only getting an hour of sleep but I am getting an HOUR of sleep, Yuuri Katsuki, do you hear me?"
"When does Starbucks open?" Yuuri demands blearily, trying to work up the energy to disconnect his cheek from the carpet. It smells like Timothy hay and despair.
"This is a college town you absolute disaster," Phichit growls from the depths of the couch cushion he has his face shoved into. "Starbucks never closes."
Yuuri would accuse Phichit of being ugly due to sleep deprivation, if he didn't know that absolute disaster was the kindest thing that Phichit has ever called him during a finals week.
"Oh God, I overslept," Yuuri moans into the carpet. "I meant to take a twenty-minute powernap. Oh God. But I was having such a good dream."
"Was Viktor Nikiforov there?" Phichit asks, because he's the worst person Yuuri knows and also because every single person in the state of Michigan knows about Yuuri's massive crush on the World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, Viktor Nikiforov.
"No," Yuuri whispers, hands now folded over his chest like a dead Catholic. "But God was."
"You're Shinto. You don't believe in the monotheistic God."
"That doesn't stop me from dreaming about him."
Phichit glances over his shoulder. "What does God look like?"
Yuuri considers for a moment. "David Duchovny."
Phichit snorts into his shoulder and rolls back over. Yuuri rises shakily to his feet and stumbles into his bedroom, where he opens his computer and scrolls unseeingly down the seventeen-page research paper he abandoned three hours ago in favor of what was intended to be a powernap. There is a cold cup of coffee on his desk which he unfeelingly chugs in the mannerism of those who drink to forget. He neither remembers when the coffee or the milk in it was poured, but it's an occupational hazard.
"Go to college, they said," he hisses under his breath. "It'll be fun, they said."
"Yuuri, I am legitimately going to murder you," Phichit says from the living room. "I have ten minutes left of sleep and I will get them if I have to gag you."
Five minutes later, Phichit rolls off the sofa and crawls into Yuuri's room.
"What final is that for?" he asks.
"It's for my IAH on the Russian Revolution," Yuuri says, whose eyes have not yet been able to focus on a full sentence. "It's my last final but it's due on Thursday and I still need to proofread."
"Well, uh, that's bad news for you," Phichit mutters, "because it's Friday, my dude."
Yuuri experiences a moment of the kind of calm, collected and composed terror that he imagines overcomes soldiers in their last moments before dying in the line of duty.
"WHAT," is what emerges from his mouth. It doesn't even sound like his own voice. It sounds like a bird has momentarily possessed his body and used his mouth to shriek an arcane and evil message to the heavens.
"It's Friday," Phichit repeats. "It has been for about fifteen minutes."
"Oh my God," Yuuri whispers, frantically pulling up the D2L dropbox. "Ohhh my God. Oh my God."
"David Duchovny leadeth me in paths of righteousness," Phichit says, and leans his head against Yuuri's thigh as, above him, the Chernobyl of undergrad crises implodes.
"The drop box is closed," Yuuri whispers as he watches his entire academic career flash before his eyes. "I'm toast. The drop box is closed. This paper is thirty percent of my grade."
"You can email the professor," Phichit says to Yuuri's knee. "Say you had a wifi problem."
"Professor Feltsman said that technological malfunction isn't a good reason for late work," Yuuri says, quoting the syllabus verbatim and feeling his soul leak slowly out of his ears. "I can't email him. He scares me. I think if I tried to get him to reopen the drop box, he'd bury me in the same hole where the Mafia buried Jimmy Hoffa."
"Okay, first of all, Jimmy Hoffa wasn't buried anywhere," says Phichit, wobbling to his feet. He turns on Yuuri's overhead light and blinks into the now-illuminated room like a newborn. "They cut him into little pieces and threw him into Lake Erie. Secondly, isn't Beautiful Viktor Feltsman's grad student?"
"Yes," says Yuuri, for whom thinking of The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student is a slight reassurance. "He is."
"So send it to him. He has the hots for you, I'm sure he'd be cool."
"HE DOES NOT," Yuuri shrieks, to the agony of every dog in a six-block radius.
Phichit slams a hand against the back of Yuuri's desk chair and spins him around, jams a finger into his face. "Yuuri, I swear to God, if you even consider making a noise like that ever again, I will gut you like a fish."
"Please gut me like a fish," Yuuri whispers. "I would prefer it to being academically crucified by Yakov Feltsman."
"I told you, send Beautiful Viktor the paper. He'll drop it in for you."
"Phichit," Yuuri says, "we've been over this. Either use the full title, or just call him Viktor. Beautiful Viktor sounds like a rejected Muppets character."
Phichit sighs the sigh of a saint whose patience is being severely tested. "Send the World's Most Beautiful Grad Student your paper."
"Your tongue has literally been down his throat, and probably other places that I don't like to think about, so tell me why he wouldn't A: have the hots for you and B: submit your paper to the dropbox so that Professor Feltsman doesn't rain the fury of the entire Russian Studies department down on your pretty little head?"
"Because he's a Grad student," Yuuri hisses, "and I could get him in serious trouble. Both by convincing him to give me special treatment, and by putting my tongue down his throat. Among other things."
Phichit literally throws his hands up at that point—they go flying into the air and knock Yuuri's framed poster of Daisuke Takahashi off the wall. It falls to the ground, betrayed, and lands face-down. Phichit, unheeding, carries his one-man demonstration into the kitchen, where he fills up the kettle and shouts, "Aren't there papers to sign? That say you guys can date? It's not like he's a professor! These things happen all the time!"
"The papers don't apply to undergrads taking a course taught by the graduate student they're dating," Yuuri says, arms limp at his sides and face on the desk. "It's unethical. He would lose his fellowship."
"You're only his student for the next…twenty-three hours and thirty-nine minutes." Phichit pulls tea out of the cabinet and leans around the door. "It's Beautiful Viktor's ethics, or your GPA. And you're on an athletics scholarship, so your GPA is kind of—"
"Important, I know." Yuuri sits up from his slump and stares at his computer screen, teeth grinding. "Ahh. AHHHH. AHHH. Okay, God, okay." In a flurry of movement, he slams his computer closed, yanks the flashdrive holding the paper out, and scrambles for his shoes
"What the hell are you doing?" Phichit demands, as Yuuri stumbles past him, pulling his bag over his shoulder. "I told you to email it to Beautiful Viktor, not special deliver it straight to his office at midnight."
"If I emailed it to him, he wouldn't see it until tomorrow morning," Yuuri says, hopping frantically on one foot as he pulls his shoes on. "That would be way too late. Feltsman would know it hadn't been dropped in by then. I can take the flashdrive to Viktor's house and—"
"You know where he lives?"
"I mean…" Yuuri pulls the carafe out of the coffee maker and takes several large sips out of it. It's very, very cold. "Yeah?"
Phichit, who's staring at him like he's finally realized that Yuuri is not necessarily a human being, says, "Godspeed, you complete maniac."
Yuuri is halfway down the stairs before Phichit thrusts his head into the hallway and says, "Are you going to put a coat on? It's like twenty degrees outside!"
"I'll be fine!" replies Yuuri, who is wearing a pair of pajama pants in a cartoon mochi pattern, a shirt that says World's Okayest Brother, and Uggs.
The Uggs are probably Phichit's.
Their apartment is located such that Yuuri has to walk past several of the most popular bars in town as he stumbles his way to the World's Most Beautiful Grad Student's Townhouse. He receives not a small amount of scrutiny from students who are reveling in the end of the semester—those who are lucky enough to have their finals week cut short by convenient scheduling or willpower against procrastination. Yuuri glances at them furtively, enviously, as he shuffles through ankle-high snow towards Collingwood Drive.
Viktor Nikiforov, The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, lives in a townhouse three blocks away from campus with the two other grad students in the Russian Studies Department under Yakov Feltsman. Mila and Georgi are nice enough, although Yuuri doesn't think he has ever seen the front side of Georgi's head—only the back, as he sweeps out the door towards a date with the mysterious Anya. Mila is an incredibly charismatic redhead whom Yuuri has personally seen throw an undergrad into the Red Cedar River, so he's only a little afraid of her.
The townhouse is designed so that each person has their own 'front' door. Yuuri knows at this point to climb the external stairs to a deck around the side of the house, and knock there, because if he knocks on the real front door, he'll wake the entire house.
Viktor opens the door as he approaches the deck. Makkachin rushes out to shove his face into Yuuri's hip, begging to be pet. Yuuri has absolutely no self-control when it comes to pets, specifically dogs, specifically poodles, specifically poodles that belong to The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, and so he leans down and rubs Makkachin's ears with both hands, despite his core body temperature rapidly dropping to something deeply unpleasant.
"Hi," says Viktor, the World's Most Beautiful Grad Student. "You should have told me you were coming over. I would have ordered extra food."
Behind Viktor, on the desk in his room, is a full container of Lo Mein.
"Oh," says Yuuri, whose stomach protests its emptiness almost immediately in the form of a noise that sounds almost uncannily similar to the groans of souls on their way to Hell. "That's…okay. I'm…good."
"Are you drunk?" Viktor asks, bluntly, obviously examining Yuuri's lack of coat and the glint of mania in his eyes.
"Of course not," Yuuri snorts, "who needs alcohol when you have sleep deprivation?"
"Good point," Viktor concedes, and holds the door open for him. "Come in, then." Yuuri and Makkachin fall into the door, Yuuri kicking off his (Phichit's?) boots at the door and then falling onto the bed. It's unmade and soft and smells very, very much like Viktor.
"I have a problem," says Yuuri, as Viktor settles back into his rolling desk chair.
Viktor rolls over to him, his knees framing Yuuri's, and says, "Alright, how can I help?"
"The dropbox closed on me," says Yuuri, in the wheedling tone of those dealing with dictators. It's not a flattering or appropriate way to speak to the World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, but it's how Yuuri's feeling today. "I couldn't turn in my paper. I know I should have turned it in before the deadline but I fell asleep and I didn't mean to and I was going to read over what I wrote and then I forgot and I—"
"Whoa, okay." Viktor holds up his hands. He's wearing wire frame glasses that make him look So Smart. Yuuri wants to forget about his paper and be pinning to the mattress behind him by Viktor's strong arms. "It's fine, you're fine. I'll just reopen the dropbox for you. Did you seriously come halfway across town in your pajamas to ask me that? You could have just called."
"I, um…thought you would be asleep," Yuuri whispers towards his feet, shuffling his shoulders. "It's…um…late."
"Midnight isn't late in a college town," Viktor tells him, which is true. Yuuri has personally witnessed people heading out for parties at two in the morning. Midnight is the new nine PM. "And I have finals too, you know. Nobody sleeps during finals week."
"You're right," Yuuri says. "I should have called. Um, I'm sorry, I'll—"
"No! No, it's fine." Viktor's hands go to his thighs, and Yuuri's heart goes swooping through his chest. "I don't mind that you came. I'm always happy to see you. I'm actually really glad you came, because I wasn't sure if I was going to see you again before break, and I wanted to give you something."
"Give me something?" Yuuri mumbles. "Viktor, neither of us is Christian. We don't celebrate Christmas."
Viktor laughs. "It's not a gift, really. Here, let's get your assignment turned in, and then I'll show you."
He scoots his way back to his desk, somehow managing to make it look graceful despite it involving tossing his own legs in front of himself and then dragging his body along for the ride. It's entirely possible that it's not really graceful—it's just that he's The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, and everything he does has a glamour of beauty applied.
What's definitely, irrefutably graceful, however, is the way his fingers move across his keyboard, and the way he rests his chin in his hand as he waits for the dropbox to load, the light of the computer screen glinting off his glasses. Yuuri is so ridiculously attracted to him.
"Okay, it's open." Viktor holds his hand out behind him. "Do you have your flashdrive?"
Yuuri sets the drive carefully in Viktor's long-fingered hand, and watches as he competently uploads the file.
"Is this unethical?" Yuuri asks, clutching Viktor's pillow to his chest.
"No, Yakov is grading the papers," Viktor says. Yuuri's phone pings with the dropbox confirmation as Viktor closes his computer and turns around, scoots across the room to the file cabinet at the end of his bed, and slides it open. He pillows out a nondescript manila folder, which he tosses onto the bed next to Yuuri's lap. He finally extricates himself from his desk chair to throw himself across the bed, settling behind Yuuri with his head braced on his hand. He taps the folder on the other side of Yuuri's hip. "That's what I have for you."
Yuuri opens the envelope. It's some sort of form titled Disclosure of Relationship Form.
"Oh, just what I always wanted," Yuuri mumbles as he sifts through it, trying to figure out what it is.
"It's the papers we have to sign to keep the relationship above board," Viktor laughs. "We each have to fill out a little bit of information about ourselves, you have to sign a paper that says you won't take a class that's taught by me and I have to sign a paper that says I won't use my graduate status to give you special treatment."
"Oh, um…so…these are going to be filed with the university?"
"No, they're just for my own personal records." Yuuri glances at Viktor, eye twitching, and Viktor laughs again. He has a beautiful laugh. "Of course they're going to be filed with the university. It's unethical if I don't inform them that I'm in a relationship with an undergrad."
"A relationship, huh," Yuuri squeaks.
Viktor's hand slides away from his hip, back towards regions unseen and far away. "Oh. Um…yes? But only if you want it to be? We can, um…we can do this another time? But I thought…now that you're not taking a class with me, I would—I should file the papers, and—"
He stops, then, because Yuuri kisses him.
Yuuri throws himself down onto The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student, and then kisses him until he has to pull away to take a breath—and Yuuri, who's equipped with both incredible stamina and the knowledge of how to breathe through his nose, doesn't have to pull away for a long time.
"Wait, okay, so," says Yuuri, who pulls away more because his mind won't stop buzzing at him than any actual need to stop. "It was unethical. For you to be, um, seeing me. These past few months."
"Well, I mean, I wasn't going to scream about it to the Dean," Viktor says, and his hand is warm up under Yuuri's shirt, and Yuuri is in something that's probably a lot like love with him, "but…it wasn't…technically…against the rules? There are, um, y'know, unofficial…courtship…loopholes. Basically, if you report the relationship within the first few months, the dean's office usually doesn't have a problem."
"How do you know so much about this?" Yuuri asks.
"Georgi dated half the grad students at his undergrad."
Yuuri, who is profoundly unsurprised, throws himself back into what's shaping up to be a very successful tonguing session with The World's Most Beautiful Grad Student.
In the morning, after blackmailing Viktor into sharing his Lo Mein and helping Viktor find wording for his presentation on his work for the semester that doesn't sound a lot like he's saying Fuck the Russian Studies Department, even though it's hard, Yuuri wakes up to an email from Yakov Feltsman.
You turned in the wrong essay, it reads. Please fix the problem. I have reopened the dropbox.
And then, ten minutes later,
Tell Viktor to at least ask me before he accepts late work on a zero late work syllabus.
Yuuri, cringing spectacularly, shuffles to Viktor's computer and uploads the appropriate document. Curious, he opens the one that Viktor submitted the night before, which is titled Rasputin Paper IAH 325 instead of Rasputin Paper for Feltsman.
LET'S HEAR IT FOR EVERYONE'S FAVORITE EVIL MYSTIC, MOTHERFUCKING RASPUTIN, reads the first line, and Yuuri shrieks.
"Professor Feltsman is going to kill me," Yuuri informs Viktor. "I have to go back to Japan. I have to hide."
"He's not going to kill you," Viktor grumbles into his pillow.
"Yes he is! You turned in my notes instead of my paper. He read my notes! Viktor, I called Nicholas Romanov Sad Saint Nick."
Viktor cackles into his pillow.
"I'm serious! I just committed academic suicide." Yuuri throws himself onto the bed and curls up as far under Viktor's arm as possible, hoping to just disappear into his armpit. "Protect me."
"Okay," Viktor murmurs. "I'll protect you from my father."
"Thank you," Yuuri whispers, and there are exactly six seconds of blessed silence before Yuuri processes what Viktor has just said to him.
"Your what?" Yuuri hisses.
Viktor stiffens, and not in the fun way. "Um…I'm…adopted?"
Yuuri shrieks so loudly that, halfway across campus, Phichit Chulanont experiences a spontaneous and violent craving for salmon.