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pulses that beat double

Chapter Text

Mr. Yuuri Katsuki watched wide eyed as his best friend and roommate danced around the small open space in the middle of the club. He was partnered by a smiling and friendly older man he’d just met. This man pushed the bounds of propriety with the placement of his hand rather low on Phichit’s back and the way he leaned his head close to Phichit’s to speak to him. Phichit didn’t seem disturbed by the impertinence, however, so Yuuri merely kept an eye on them.

The club they were in was a respectable establishment where men who preferred men gathered for conversation, relaxation, and introductions. It didn’t require membership like some of the higher class establishments, but a certain filtering occurred at the door. Yuuri and Phichit had to dress in their very best evening wear to be allowed inside. The prices of the drinks were such that they didn’t come here often, but Phichit had begged Yuuri to come out with him this evening.

More often, when they felt themselves in need of society they frequented a much rowdier establishment beloved of the bohemian class: artists, theatricals, and students. They hadn’t ventured to The Swan in almost two weeks, however, due to Phichit’s recent falling out with one of his lovers, an actor of the most dramatic sort. Yuuri had never felt truly comfortable with the man, but Phichit had fancied himself in love. Yuuri had been left drying his friend’s tears when the actor had moved on to a singer in the opera chorus.

Phichit Chulanont was a dancer, still working his way up through the corps. He seemed to know everyone in London who worked on the stage, from the ballet, opera, orchestra, and even theatrical circles.

Yuuri Katsuki, in contrast, was a student of medicine at the University of London. He’d traveled to London from his home in distant Japan to receive the best medical education he could. He dreamed of taking his knowledge of the latest cutting edge breakthroughs home and making a name for himself, helping those who suffered. He was serious and quiet, or so most thought him upon casual acquaintance. He had only become friends with Phichit through a coincidence of their mutual need for housing. Phichit had adopted him as a brother, however, and saw it as his duty to seduce Yuuri away from his books and into the whirl of public life.

In truth, Yuuri enjoyed their evenings out. He was still a bit in awe of the wild freedom of London, the spectacle of its wealth, the gaudiness of the people, and the openness of its pleasures. At the highest levels of society London maintained a pretense of dignity and decorum, but at the level of the student or artist it was a whirl of licentious behavior.

Yuuri heard the ringing tones of laughter from the next room. Then there were those who straddled the divide between high society and bohemian debauchery, he reflected. Yuuri turned his head to catch of glimpse of the man whose laughter he recognized: Baron Viktor Nikiforov, the son of the Russian ambassador. Baron Nikiforov the elder was a man with an esteemed position, but his son was better known for his escapades in London’s nightclubs and houses of ill repute. His name was frequently mentioned in all the gossip columns, his many liaisons and trysts only hinted at in the most roundabout language.

He was well known among Phichit’s friends, though mostly only through second-hand stories and backstage gossip. Baron Viktor Nikiforov’s name was frequently associated with the rising stars of the stage: the most beautiful and accomplished. The word was that he also possessed a ravenous appetite for those who exchanged their favors for coin. Some of the stories Yuuri had heard strained his belief, but the tellers had sworn to their authenticity. Tales of orgies, marathon sexual sessions with a string of partners, and some even more outre whispers were common.

Yuuri found himself captivated by these tales. He had seen the baron from time to time over the last two years and from the first glimpse he was fascinated. Viktor Nikiforov was the most beautiful man Yuuri had ever seen. He found himself spellbound by his luminous, delicate beauty. He hadn’t expected to hear such a man was capable of the basest depravity. He had been shocked to learn of the rumors.

And yet, Baron Nikiforov wasn’t disliked. The rent boys Yuuri had encountered from time to time at the Swan all aspired to one day attract the attention of the baron. They spoke of him as the ideal client. The same was true of many of the more superficial dancers and actors. The baron was extremely wealthy, as well as being noble and influential. Moreover, he was seen as one of the most eligible bachelors in London. The sons and daughters of the great and good vied for his attention as desperately, if not more so, than any prostitute or chorus girl. Whoever finally won his hand would gain a title, wealth, and status, for the small sacrifice of being married to an unfaithful Russian.

Yuuri leaned back in his chair, trying to catch a glimpse of Nikiforov’s silvered hair. The room through the doorway was crowded, and he could only see a wall of black-clad backs. And then a large man moved to the side, and there he was. Baron Nikiforov was slim and tall, with broad shoulders. His evening suit was immaculately tailored, the white of his shirtfront outshone only by the fall of his silver hair, unfashionably long and covering one side of his face.

As he watched, Nikiforov turned and his eyes swept over Yuuri as he spoke to one of the men at his elbow. And then his eyes tracked back, coming to rest directly on Yuuri, who sucked in a breath in shock. The baron’s eyes locked onto his own and then he smiled at Yuuri, an almost predatory expression. He looked away again after only a few seconds, speaking to the men next to him and moving to the bar a few steps away.

Yuuri moved his eyes to the surface of the table at which he sat, working on catching his breath. The power of Nikiforov’s smile and beauty was truly devastating to have this kind of effect on him in only a few seconds. Of course, Yuuri had spent many lonely nights imagining significantly more intimate interactions with the disreputable baron. He collected mentions of him in the press pasted into a neat clipping book. Phichit knew of his fascination and always related the latest story he’d heard from his many acquaintances.

“May I join you?” a smooth voice said from directly behind Yuuri. He started, almost knocking over the drink by his hand.

Yuuri couldn’t believe what he thought he had heard, and he looked around, sure to find he was mistaken as to the owner of the voice, or perhaps to find he was not the one addressed. But no. There, standing only a foot behind his shoulder, was Baron Viktor Nikiforov, his gloved hand holding a glass of clear liquid. He was looking down at Yuuri intently, a small smile playing on his lips.

Yuuri started to stand but tripped over his own feet and fell back into his chair. “I—I…”

“Excellent,” said Nikiforov, as if Yuuri had offered him a gracious invitation. The baron placed his drink on the table and leaned back in his chair, tenting his fingers in front of his face. He looked at Yuuri speculatively, but there was something like hunger in his eyes. Yuuri’s face burned, still feeling himself overcome with the urge to look behind him to see if there was someone else Nikiforov could be looking at.

“Am I intruding?” asked the baron after a moment more of silence. Yuuri mentally shook himself, realizing he was staring and that he should have definitely said something by now.

“ friend...should be back soon,” he said, gesturing vaguely to the chair the baron had taken, which had been Phichit’s. Yuuri flicked his eyes toward the dance floor, where Phichit still waltzed with his overly friendly suitor. When he looked back to Nikiforov he saw the other man looking to Phichit as well, watching him for a moment before looking back to Yuuri.

“Your friend is it?” he asked, eyebrows raised. Yuuri swallowed, knowing what he was asking, and he nodded, despite the fact that he and Phichit were nothing more than friends. “It seems your friend is neglecting you for another,” commented Nikiforov. “You could retaliate by joining me on the dance floor?” The baron extended a hand in Yuuri’s direction, already beginning to rise from his chair.

“I don’t dance,” said Yuuri bluntly. He swallowed, panic threatening to wash over him. Baron Nikiforov looked stunned and he sank back into the plush chair heavily.

“You don’t.” His voice was flat.

“No,” Yuuri smiled nervously. “I’m sorry.” He wondered if he should make something up about not knowing western dance styles or dancing being against his religion. He’d learned in his two years in London that Englishmen would believe just about any excuse if blamed on his foreign birth. Phichit was the one who had taught him that, the Siamese man having longer experience living on English soil.

But Yuuri couldn’t find his voice at all, and just continued staring dumbly at the man he’d long admired from afar. For his part, the baron was staring back at him, eyes curious. He looked about to speak when Yuuri heard a welcome voice call to him.

“Yuuri!” It was Phichit, returned from his dance, his partner nowhere in evidence. He was looking at Yuuri with wide eyes, flicking between Yuuri and Nikiforov.

“Phichit!” Yuuri greeted his friend, trying to telegraph a request for assistance. When Yuuri looked back to the baron, the Russian was standing, and Yuuri stood as well.

“Pardon me,” said Nikiforov smoothly, extending a hand to Phichit. “Baron Viktor Nikiforov, I’m afraid I intruded on your friend’s solitude, not realizing he was accompanied.”

“Oh!” said Phichit, still looking between them curiously. Yuuri frantically but silently begged his friend to play along. “Phichit Chulanont,” he introduced himself, shaking Nikiforov’s hand. He turned to Yuuri. “Yuuri?”

“We should really be leaving,” said Yuuri, grasping Phichit by the arm. “You’ll excuse us,” he said to the baron.

Baron Nikiforov bowed his head. “Of course. Perhaps we’ll meet again.” Yuuri locked eyes with him again. He had never realized how blue they were. He almost got lost in those eyes, but shook himself and pulled away with a bow.

He tugged Phichit towards the door, his friend starting to whisper urgently at him to ask what was going on, but Yuuri cut him off with a look. At the door Yuuri couldn’t help but turn around and look back in Nikiforov’s direction. He stumbled when he saw the baron was still watching him, eyes looking dark, all friendliness gone from his expression. Yuuri gasped and then spun to exit as quickly as possible.

Once they were outside Phichit spun and pulled his arm from Yuuri’s grip. “Yuuri! What in blazes are you doing, man?”

“Phichit, come on, please?” Phichit glared at him.

“What happened in there? What did the baron say to you?” Yuuri shrugged, walking down the street, forcing Phichit to hurry to catch up to him. “Did he insult you or something? Proposition you for something terribly filthy?”

Yuuri’s face burned and he shook his head. “No, no. He just asked me to dance.”

“So why didn’t you? You’ve been lusting for him for ages!”

“I...I just couldn’t Phichit. He...I don’t know what made him talk to me. know how I get. I couldn’t do it.”

“Did you tell him we were a couple?” Yuuri shrugged.

“Not in so many words. He may have guessed and I let him think that. I didn’t know how else to...what else to do.”

“Yuuri, you’re utterly hopeless. The man of your dreams, literally, if I’m any judge, comes up to you and asks you to dance and you turn him down flat.” Phichit shook Yuuri by the shoulder.

“He’s not the man of my dreams, alright?” Yuuri hunched into himself. “Yes, he’s beautiful and interesting. But he’s nobility, and a playboy. There’s only one thing he would want me for, and it would only last a night. If that long. I’m not interested in that.”

“Yuuri, why not?” Phichit was grinning at him. “You know Nikiforov is probably a skilled lover, and he could teach you a thing or two. Or twelve.”

“Phichit! You know I’ve never...I couldn’t be with someone like him, with no idea what I’m doing! He’d laugh me out of bed.” Yuuri sighed. “Not that it would have ever gone that far. He was probably just curious because he’s never seen a Japanese man before. Or he heard some terrible lie about us that made him want to sleep with one.”

“Hmm, isn’t there a Japanese rent boy over at The Orient?” Phichit looked at Yuuri as if he would know.

“Which obviously means Viktor Nikiforov has slept with him,” said Yuuri acidly.

“Well, probably,” said Phichit and Yuuri found himself laughing despite himself.

“You’re terrible,” he told his friend, but they headed for home in a slightly better mood.

Chapter Text

Weeks passed and eventually Yuuri stopped thinking about his encounter with Baron Viktor Nikiforov. He had turned their interaction over and over in his mind, to no avail. He remained mystified and confused by it. In the depths of the night he sometimes allowed himself to imagine what might have happened had he not rejected the man’s overtures. Eventually, however, he decided even an evening of pleasure with the baron was not something in the realm of possibility and resolved to think on it no more.

He was busy enough with his studies between lectures, demonstrations, time spent in laboratories and dissection rooms, and reading as much material as he could in his spare time. In addition to all this, he worked as an assistant to a physician in order to earn enough to pay his living expenses. His family had provided him with the funds to travel and pay university fees, but there wasn’t enough to cover his lodging and board as well.

Yuuri thought of his family’s bemused reactions to his desire to travel so far, and his heart ached to see them again. They hadn’t understood what motivated him, not truly, but had offered him their loving support all the same. He hadn’t anticipated missing his home and his family and friends this intensely. He had been in London for two years, and he valued the friendships he’d made here, but he still felt an echoing loneliness in his heart. He sometimes felt entirely alone, with no connections to the culture of his birth and no one who shared either his looks or his language. At times he spoke Japanese aloud to himself, merely to hear its comforting tones.

And so many of the Englishmen around him viewed him as a curiosity at best, a dangerous foreign heathen at worst. There were times when the stares of strangers overwhelmed him entirely and he hid away in his rooms rather than face the bustling streets. He had considered various ways to cover his face, from impractical masquerade masks to deep, unfashionable hoods. Instead he wore hats with wider than usual brims, bundled himself into thick scarves, and tried to hide behind his spectacles. Phichit laughed at him sometimes, teasing him that he wouldn’t find a lover by hiding himself away. But Yuuri know Phichit understood though the other man rarely let any self-consciousness on account of his own foreign appearance show. Phichit had mastered the art of appearing entirely unaware of any surprised or hostile glances, his manner at all times completely natural. Or perhaps he truly didn’t take note anymore.

Yuuri couldn’t brush off his own anxiety so easily. He tried to emulate his friend, but it all got to be too much for him at times. Many of his fellow students and instructors treated him with respect, once he’d proved himself to be a hard worker and intelligent. But some were openly hostile.

Unfortunately one such fellow student was also employed at the clinic where Yuuri worked as an assistant. His hostility had escalated from mocking looks to subtle jibes to outright bullying. Yuuri tried to grit his teeth and soldier on, ignoring him as much as possible. On one evening, however, Mr. James Witherly turned to outright sabotage of Yuuri’s work. He had followed behind Yuuri, undoing his efforts, contradicting his instructions to the nurses, and then bringing the attention of Dr. Beverton to Yuuri’s failures. Yuuri stood seething under the doctor’s admonishments, the injustice of the situation overcoming his reason. He had finally burst out with accusations against Mr. Witherly, and had perhaps used some immoderate language. He knew better. Dr. Beverton dismissed him on the spot, shocked at his aggression and ungentlemanly behaviour.

Yuuri stormed out in a rage, eager to clear the building before his tears fell. He had let that arrogant bastard Witherly bait him, had proven himself to be the savage foreigner some whispered behind his back that he was. Phichit was in their rooms when Yuuri arrived home, his eyes still red from crying angry tears. His friend met him with sympathy and listened as he ranted at the ignorant prejudices of the English, the injustice of his dismissal, and his despair over his future financial situation.

Once Yuuri had run out of outraged anger, Phichit convinced him to wash and change out of his soiled clothes. He insisted on taking Yuuri out, declaring they needed both a good meal and lots of wine. Yuuri tried to decline, much of him wanting simply to hide in his bedroom feeling sorry for himself. But Phichit did not relent, and Yuuri had to admit there was a certain appeal in drunkenness. So they headed for The Swan.

The Swan was a club that catered to the theatrical crowd. All sorts of men could be found there on any given night, especially in the late hours after the theatres had emptied. Unlike most of the men’s clubs of London, The Swan didn’t entirely forbid women, though only those with thoroughly compromised reputations ever dared cross the threshold. The Swan was Phichit’s home away from home, and Yuuri had grown to feel fairly comfortable there as well. The crowd was diverse and bohemian and they enjoyed having a pet medical student among their number. The worst he’d ever dealt with at The Swan was fending off the unwelcome advances of various men. Very occasionally, he’d allowed himself to be drawn aside by one or the other of them, exploring the possibilities of a liaison. But so far no one had seduced him entirely, and he was now known as a ‘difficult try.’

When Yuuri and Phichit arrived at the Swan it was still early and the club was mostly quiet. The only people already occupying the bar and tables were those currently out of work, and the occasional student. Phichit led Yuuri to the small dining room at the rear of the building and ordered dinner for them both.

“My treat,” he said. Yuuri gave him a strained smile, feeling a little ill about his sudden need to conserve every penny.

They dined on chops and potatoes, simple but filling, and consumed a bottle of claret between them. Yuuri felt himself relax under the influence of the food, wine, and Phichit’s babbling conversation. When they were finished with their meal they moved to the second floor lounge, securing a second bottle of wine. It wasn’t long before the first after-theatre patrons started trickling in. A couple of Phichit’s friends joined them and soon the room was awash in laughter and dramatic conversation.

The wine worked to soothe away the last of Yuuri’s worries. He found himself laughing loudly at a story about the opera’s current primadonna and her backstage antics.

“Mr. Chulanont!” called a deep, rich voice near the entrance.

“Mr. Giacometti!” Phichit greeted the newcomer. Yuuri looked up to see a handsome, well-dressed man standing in the doorway. He had shockingly dyed hair, with blond on top and dark brown underneath. His clothing was extremely well-cut, and showed his figure to great advantage. He presented a dandified air, even in the present company. There was something inherently sensual about him.

Mr. Giacometti moved towards their table and Yuuri’s breath caught in his throat. For behind him, hidden until now, was Viktor Nikiforov. He was attired in immaculate evening dress, with top hat and elegant cane still clutched in one hand. Yuuri’s eyes trailed over his figure, heat blossoming in his belly, the long, graceful limbs reminding him of his nocturnal imaginings. He only had a second to look his fill, however, because almost immediately Nikiforov’s eyes found Yuuri’s, his attention focused entirely on him.

Yuuri trembled under that piercing gaze. He thought he saw heat flare in the baron’s eyes, but dismissed it as doubtless a result of his own sudden arousal. Yuuri jerked his eyes away, looking to Phichit desperately. But Phichit was standing, greeting Mr. Giacometti warmly. He introduced the man to those he didn’t know. They came to Yuuri before long.

“This is my very good friend Yuuri Katsuki,” said Phichit, friendly hand resting on Yuuri’s arm.

“Yuuri, this is Christophe Giacometti. He is here from Switzerland for the season as a soloist. You may remember I mentioned him to you.” Yuuri shook the Swiss man’s hand and greeted him. He did remember Phichit telling him about the gorgeous Swiss dancer, with whom he’d spent a remarkable night of passion a few weeks prior. He recalled that Phichit had been rather effusive in his praise of the man, both professionally and personally. From the sparkling of Phichit’s eyes he could tell his friend was very pleased to see Giacometti again.

“This is my friend, Baron Viktor Nikiforov,” said Giacometti, drawing the baron forward for introductions.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Katsuki.” said Nikiforov, taking Yuuri’s hand and bowing over it slightly. Yuuri returned the bow from habit more than anything.

“Oh, you’ve met then?” said Giacometti curiously. Yuuri still couldn’t speak, his eye locked onto the baron’s.

“Yes, we have,” offered Phichit. “Briefly.” Nikiforov finally released Yuuri’s hand and broke their eye contact. He offered his hand to Phichit and they nodded to one another.

“Mr. Chulanont. A pleasure.” Nikiforov’s voice was velvet. Yuuri wanted to drown in it. His legs felt slightly weak, and he sat back in his chair, reaching thirstily for his wine glass. The newcomers settled into chairs pulled around their small, increasingly crowded table. Baron Nikiforov placed his chair directly opposite Yuuri, so Yuuri could not escape seeing him anytime he looked up. He could feel the heat of the baron’s gaze on him, almost making him feel unclothed and exposed. He had no idea what to do with the things the baron was causing him to feel. So he turned his eyes downwards and drank.

Conversation washed over him, and he occasionally answered a direct query or nodded as if he was following along. Their group grew in number rather startlingly after it was noticed that the infamous Baron Nikiforov was present. Young, beautiful men vied to sit next to him, introduced themselves to him in sly, seductive tones. Yuuri tried to watch this activity from the corner of his eye. He thought the baron seemed amused, particularly at the less subtle advances. One young fop in particular almost blatantly offered himself to the baron in a display that made Yuuri wince in embarrassment and turn away. Another man practically hung from Nikiforov’s arm and Yuuri nearly thought he might fall to his knees and start fellating him at any moment. The thought caused a spike of arousal to shoot through him and Yuuri cursed his own imagination.

“We’re commiserating with Yuuri tonight, so everyone should buy him drinks.” Phichit’s voice pierced the fog in Yuuri’s mind. “He was dismissed from his employment today, so he’s going to be begging for the kindness of his friends soon.”

Yuuri flushed and glared at his friend. “Phichit!” he complained. Phichit just smiled at him and pulled him into a one-armed embrace.

“It’s alright, Yuuri, you know I will cover your part of the rent if I have to,” he said. Yuuri’s cheeks continued to burn but he shot his friend a grateful look all the same.

“I’ll...I’ll figure something out,” he said sincerely. “Don’t concern yourself.” Yuuri was swamped with offers of drinks, then, everyone expressing their sympathy. He smiled and laughed a little, finally accepting another glass from a musician he knew slightly.

In the confusion he caught sight of Nikiforov again. He was watching Yuuri and Phichit, his eyes on the casual hand Phichit had placed on Yuuri’s thigh. Yuuri belatedly remembered that he’d led the baron to believe he and Phichit were involved. Well, their current behaviour must appear as confirmation.

He did his best to ignore the distracting presence of the beautiful man across from him. He didn’t quite succeed, his body feeling attuned to him even when Yuuri resolutely refused to look in his direction. He had to look up when he heard the man’s soft voice addressing him, however.

“Champagne, Mr. Katsuki?” Yuuri met those dancing blue eyes. He took the champagne flute Nikiforov held out to him, intensely aware of how close their fingers came to touching as he did so.

“Thank you,” he said, sipping the drink.

“Those are the first words you’ve said to me all night,” murmured the baron lowly. Yuuri sucked in a breath at the intimacy of his tone. He leaned back, away from the baron, too flustered to know how to respond. The baron merely watched him impassively and Yuuri felt exposed to his sight again.

As the hour grew later, their party grew louder and less restrained. A couple of actors kissed passionately in the corner of the room, and flirtations grew bolder everywhere. A gorgeous man with a painted face sat on the arm of Baron Nikiforov’s chair, with the baron’s arm around his waist. And to Yuuri’s right, Christophe Giacometti pulled a giggling Phichit onto his lap. The two seemed entirely wrapped up in one another, not caring about anyone else. Yuuri was glad to see his friend look so happy. But he felt Nikiforov’s heavy gaze on his face and turned to meet his eyes.

Nikiforov looked from Yuuri to Christophe and Phichit and back pointedly. He raised a delicate eyebrow. Yuuri felt panic rise in his throat. He knew Yuuri had lied. Something in Yuuri’s chest squeezed and he felt he couldn’t breathe properly. He dragged his eyes from the baron and stood abruptly.

“Excuse me,” he mumbled, pushing past the crowd and fleeing in the direction of the retiring rooms. He passed through a hall of closed doors which led to small rooms which could be hired for those needing more discreet spaces. The sounds of vigorous lovemaking emanated from behind one of the doors, adding to Yuuri’s flustered and embarrassed state.

Once in the washroom he splashed his face with water, smoothing his hair back from his brow. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. He told himself that there was no reason to care what Baron Nikiforov thought of him. He had no connection to the man, and if he had misled him, it was his own business. He didn’t know why he seemed so interested in Yuuri, but he could surely find bed partners aplenty if he wished it. Yuuri tried to tamp down his own lust and curiosity about the baron. He could barely be in the man’s presence without falling apart, so surely there was no way he could ever become acquainted with him more intimately.

After some minutes he felt calmer. He had consumed too much wine that evening, and it was eroding his self-control. It was time to leave and return home, whether Phichit joined him or not. (Yuuri would be quite surprised if the Siamese man didn’t spend the night with his Swiss friend.) Yuuri exited the room and started back towards the main area of the club.

After only a couple of steps, however, he looked up and came to a sudden halt. Viktor Nikiforov stood there, leaning casually against the wall. The baron raised his eyebrows at Yuuri in a speculative fashion. The sounds of copulation continued from somewhere to their right, causing Yuuri’s face to burn.

Nikiforov came towards Yuuri, moving slowly. Yuuri remained rooted to the spot. The Russian stopped only inches shy of Yuuri.

“You lied to me,” he said, tone slightly petulant. Yuuri stiffened his spine.

“No,” he said. “I didn’t lie. You made an assumption.” He held the baron’s gaze, his voice remarkably even. “I may have...failed to correct you.” Nikiforov’s eyes sparkled.

“Were you so desperate to be rid of me?” the baron asked, stepping even closer. Yuuri waged a war between the conflicting desire to step back and lean forward. He trembled slightly in place.

“I...” He couldn’t think of what to say. Nikiforov was far too close, his eyes too entrancing. The baron raised a hand and brushed his thumb over Yuuri’s slightly parted lips.

“Do you think one of those rooms is vacant?” whispered the baron, lips so close to Yuuri’s. Yuuri hesitated for the space of one breath, two. Then he shook himself and stepped back.

“I’m sure they’re occupied,” he said flatly, his refusal hopefully clear. “If you’ll excuse me, I must be getting home.” He eased past the larger man and started walking briskly away from him down the hall.

“Yuuri, wait,” Nikiforov called. Yuuri stopped despite himself, part of him wishing he was rude enough to keep walking. Part of him singing that the baron had called to him. He turned slowly around, plastering a polite mask on his face.

Nikiforov approached him, his body language much more casual than it had been a moment ago. “I have a proposition for you” he said. Yuuri blinked at him, confused.

“I thought that was a proposition.” Nikiforov’s face cracked into a wide grin and he laughed.

“Ha! It was, lovely boy.” Yuuri stiffened at the endearment. Nikiforov looked contrite and sobered. “I have a different proposition for you,” he clarified. “If I understood your friend correctly, you are in need of funds.” Yuuri frowned but nodded hesitantly.

“Well, I could help you there,” said Nikiforov easily. “And in exchange-”

“I’m not...” interrupted Yuuri, shocked. “I’m not for sale!” The baron’s eyes widened in reaction.

“I didn’t mean that, precisely,” he began.

“I think you did mean exactly that,” said Yuuri, indignant. “I’m not a whore, no matter what you may think. I’m a medical student. And I can certainly find some other way to earn money than on my back!”

“Yuuri!” Nikiforov extended a hand to him, a silent plea for him to wait. “I truly didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean to insult you. I know you’re not...” He took a breath. “You didn’t let me finish. I was going to ask for your company. I need an escort for a diplomatic function at the embassy next week. Someone respectable.” Yuuri stared at him.

“Me?” he asked, feeling like an idiot even as he spoke.

“Yes, of course. You’re perfect.” Nikiforov smiled at him.

“And you want to pay me.”

“It could be a mutually beneficial arrangement.” Yuuri was still feeling deeply confused. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t find the right words for what he wanted to ask.

“In exchange for...escorting you to a party. Nothing more?” He bit his lip.

Nikiforov looked hesitant for a moment. “No. Not unless...only if you wished. I certainly wouldn’t object to something more. But I’m not asking or expecting it.”

“Only for one night?” Yuuri was still looking for the catch.

“If you prefer...however if all goes well, there are many such events in my calendar.” Yuuri searched the Russian’s face for several long moments. He appeared genuine.

“I’m sure you could have the company of a great number of people without paying them,” he said finally.

Nikiforov sighed. “I’m sure you’re correct. But nothing comes without strings attached in this world, Yuuri. I have no interest in playing by society’s rules regarding with whom I keep company. I prefer things to be clear and any expectations made plain up front.”

Yuuri blinked. “That...makes a deal of sense,” he said, surprised. The baron huffed a laugh.

“Then you’ll assent and save me from the grasping of society’s claws?” he asked dramatically.

“I...I suppose?” Yuuri could hardly believe what he was saying, but it was too late to undo, as was evident from the triumphant expression on the baron’s face.

“Excellent!” He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket, retrieving a delicate silver case. He flipped it open to reveal a small pad of paper and a tiny silver pencil. “Here, write your address and I’ll send you the details tomorrow.”

Yuuri took the small notebook and did as instructed. When he handed it back, his hand brushed Nikiforov’s, the warmth of the other man’s skin feeling like a brand for a moment. After a lingering look into one another’s eyes, Yuuri stepped back. He hesitated, not sure if he should turn to leave or not.

“Oh. It will require full evening dress, of course,” commented Nikiforov, eyeing Yuuri’s dinner jacket. Yuuri flushed. He hadn’t needed to wear full dress since his arrival in London. He was not accustomed to moving in refined society, certainly not any occasion where a well-made dinner jacket was inappropriate. His thoughts raced. He could have a dress jacket made in time, possibly, but he didn’t have the funds.

“I...” he began, suddenly distressed to have to turn the baron’s offer down. For lack of clothing!

“Don’t fret!” interrupted Nikiforov. “It’s no trouble. I will have my tailor manage something for you. I’ll send those details as well.” He shot Yuuri a bright smile.

“Y-your tailor?” Yuuri echoed. He didn’t doubt that any tailor Baron Viktor Nikiforov patronised would be the best (and most expensive) in London. “I...I couldn’t.”

Nikiforov shook his head with a smile. “Please, I insist. I must have you looking your absolute best, after all.” Yuuri smiled, his head spinning.

“This is all...mad.” In fact, Yuuri wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find this was a wine-induced dream.

“Perhaps,” admitted Nikiforov, his eyes sparkling. “But exciting, isn’t it?” And he did look excited. Excited to be with Yuuri? Yuuri’s heart thumped in his chest. He shook his head in wonder and smiled at the expression on the baron’s face. His incredibly beautiful face. Yuuri suddenly realized he’d turned down his chance to have this man make love to him. If he hadn’t been so terrified, they could already be...he swallowed.

“I should go,” he said finally, looking to the baron as if for permission.

“I look forward to our next meeting,” said Nikiforov with a low bow. Yuuri bowed in the manner of his own people. He turned away. “Do you?” asked the baron in a much less confident voice.

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you look forward to our evening together with pleasant anticipation?” Nikiforov’s mouth was teasing but his eyes looked serious and uncertain.

“Yes,” said Yuuri truthfully. He smiled shyly and then turned again, walking away calmly.

His facade of calm lasted him long enough to get back to the group of loud revellers in the lounge. He approached Phichit, who was locked in a passionate embrace with Giacometti. He tapped awkwardly on his friend’s shoulder, startling him.

“Ah, Yuuri!” he said, face flushed and breathless.

“I’m leaving,” Yuuri told him.

“Oh! Are you well? Do you need me to go with you?” Phichit looked concerned. Yuuri knew his friend was aware of his occasional difficulties with crowds. He’d proven himself a true friend on the occasions he’d cared for Yuuri in his weaker moments.

“No, no, I’m fine. Just tired, and I have a lecture tomorrow.” His lecture wasn’t until the afternoon, but it sounded plausible.

“You’re sure?” Yuuri smiled down at his friend and looked briefly at Giacometti’s face. The dancer smiled and waited patiently to learn his fate.

“I’m sure. You enjoy yourself,” he told Phichit. He allowed himself to smirk at little.

“Alright, but take a cab, Yuuri,” Phichit instructed. “Wait, do you need fare?” He dug in his pocket for coins. Yuuri blinked and tried to demure, but the truth was he didn’t have enough for the cab and he had intended to walk. Walking the dark streets alone was never the best idea, though it wasn’t entirely unusual for him.

“Here,” said Phichit, letting several coins tumble into Yuuri’s hand.

“Thanks,” Yuuri accepted with a sigh. He turned to see Viktor Nikiforov standing in the doorway, watching him impassively. Yuuri coloured in embarrassment, though Nikiforov surely knew about his poverty. He turned to go, waving farewell to Phichit and his paramour.

“I’ll walk you out. I’m leaving as well.” It was Nikiforov’s voice from behind him. Yuuri turned, surprised.

“Viktor!” cried Giacometti. “Leaving already?” He looked between his friend and Yuuri speculatively.

“Yes, Christophe. Goodnight.” His declaration inspired a round of complaints and imprecations from various occupants of the room. He waved them all off and took Yuuri by the elbow to lead him away.

Yuuri’s heart was in his throat, unsure of Nikiforov’s intentions. Did he intend to make another proposition? If he did...Yuuri didn’t think he had the nerve to refuse the man twice in one night. Not to mention how much he was starting to regret not accepting him at once.

They moved down the stairs and out into the cool night air. Nikiforov asked the doorman to call for a cab. He released Yuuri’s arm to reach into his jacket pocket again. He removed a leather wallet and pulled a crisp banknote from it. He extended it to Yuuri, folded in half. Yuuri blinked at him.

“Here,” he insisted. “For your expenses. To last you until we see one another again.” Yuuri didn’t move. There was something...unpleasant about having the man casually thrust money at him in that manner.

“You don’t need...” he started, but Nikiforov huffed in frustration. He folded the note again and tucked it into Yuuri’s breast pocket.

“Don’t be daft,” he said. Yuuri looked away from him as a cab clattered to a stop. He stepped toward it, hesitated and glancing back at the baron. The baron stepped forward and took Yuuri’s hand. He assisted Yuuri into the cab as if he were a delicate woman, encumbered by heavy skirts. Ridiculous as it was it made Yuuri feel warm in a way he didn’t entirely understand.

“Goodnight,” he called to the baron, who had made no attempt to climb after him. Nikiforov smiled at him, his whole face lighting up.

“Goodnight, Yuuri. I’ll see you soon.” Yuuri smiled back at him, still marveling at how beautiful one man could be, as the cab jolted into motion. He covered his face with his hands, pressing against his closed eyes as if he could make himself wake from this dream. But all was the same when he took his hands away. And Yuuri couldn’t stop smiling.

Chapter Text

Yuuri spent a restless night in his narrow bed, tossing and turning, running his conversation with Baron Nikiforov over and over in his mind. His mind also conjured images of an alternate conclusion of their interaction, the two of them entwined, moaning their pleasure in a small room off the corridor where they had stood. It was only after bringing himself to climax to these thoughts that he was able to slip into unconsciousness.

He was still drinking his tea the next morning when Phichit returned to their flat. Phichit looked thoroughly dishevelled, his clothing rumpled, tie askew, and eyes gleaming. Yuuri couldn’t help returning his friend’s wide grin, despite the anxiety rolling in his belly.

“Had a good night?” he teased.

“Mmm,” Phichit made a dramatic sweep of his arm Yuuri took to be an affirmative. “Tired though. Need to sleep before this evening’s rehearsal.”

“Right,” said Yuuri. He hesitated. He had intended to share the events of last night with his friend as soon as he appeared. But he didn’t want to interfere with Phichit’s sleep, and he sensed telling his friend would lead to a lengthy conversation. He also had a lecture to prepare for.

Yuuri waved to Phichit as the other man disappeared into his bedroom. Yuuri remained in his chair for a while, turning over Nikiforov’s proposition. It still didn’t feel real. He had a hard time believing the baron had actually asked such a thing of him, and even more difficulty believing he’d accepted it. Surely there had been some mistake. Had the baron been drunk? Yuuri had been fairly inebriated by that time. Perhaps Nikiforov wouldn’t even remember their conversation. Perhaps he regretted it this morning. In that case surely it would be the correct thing to do for Yuuri not to hold him to their agreement. If the baron even contacted him, he could...what? Say he’d rather not? Pretend to be deathly ill? Plead a previous engagement? Flee the country?

Yuuri took a deep breath. He considered the idea that Nikiforov simply wouldn’t contact him. A cold hand clutched in his chest. If that happened it would be confirmation of all Yuuri’s worst fears: it would imply he wasn’t even worth the trouble remembering for 24 hours. Forcing himself to accept how disappointed he would be if he didn’t hear from the baron made him realise how much he was actually looking forward to seeing the man again. He was also completely terrified of it, of course. A diplomatic party? He had no idea what that even entailed.

The clock on the mantle chimed the hour and Yuuri jerked out of his reverie. His tea was gone cold and he needed to make himself ready for his lecture. Yuuri tried to push all thoughts of Baron Nikiforov from his mind, though he doubted he would be successful.


Yuuri’s afternoon and early evening were taken up by his studies. He missed the evening meal provided by his landlady so he ate standing up at a coffee shop counter, avoiding the stares of the workmen who surrounded him.

When he returned to his rooms he found Phichit newly returned from rehearsal as well. He was preparing for a new ballet which began in a couple of weeks. Yuuri looked to the hall table where their mail was left by the landlady’s girl every day. He saw nothing which looked like it could be from the baron. His heart sank.

“Looking for something?” asked Phichit from where he was stretched out on their sofa. His tone was knowing. Yuuri jerked his head up and shot him a questioning glance. “Are you?” Phichit repeated.

“Phichit,” warned Yuuri.

“Because you received this strange piece of mail,” here Phichit produced a large cream-coloured square from beside him. “And I can’t imagine who would send you such an illustrious-looking letter. See? The seal is an actual crest.” Yuuri rushed forward and tried to snatch the letter, but Phichit twitched it away and pretended to examine it more closely. “And are those Russian characters?”

Yuuri finally succeeded at claiming the letter from between his friend’s fingers. He looked at the seal, which did have a word written in Cyrillic.

“Yuuri,” asked Phichit. “Why is Baron Viktor Nikiforov sending you letters?” He eyed Yuuri expectantly, like a schoolteacher waiting for an explanation from a naughty pupil.

“It’s not letters, it’s only one letter,” mumbled Yuuri as he broke the seal and opened it. Phichit would have to wait, Yuuri couldn’t bear another moment passing without having read what Nikiforov had sent him. He noted absently that the paper was thick and heavy, the writing beautifully formed in heavy strokes. The ink was an unconventional blue colour, almost the colour of Nikiforov’s eyes. Yuuri flushed at that thought, remembering how captivated he’d been by those eyes the night before.

My Dear Mr. Katsuki,

I want to repeat how gratified I am that you have accepted my invitation. I eagerly anticipate spending more time in your company.

The dinner is next Thursday evening at the Russian embassy. I’m sure it will be incredibly dull, as all such gatherings must be, but the food and music will be excellent and I hope that with your delightful presence at my side I will enjoy myself more than I usually do. I will call for you at your address at half past six on Thursday.

I have spoken with my tailor regarding your attire, and he has assured me he can have something suitable ready in time. I have enclosed his direction and beg you to visit him tomorrow if at all possible.

I am reminded that you told me you do not dance. However I believe you also misled me about certain other facts in the same conversation, so you will forgive me if I ask if that was entirely true. If so, I will prepare myself for a sedentary evening, but I must admit I find myself in the strange position of hoping you lied to me. I find myself wanting to see how your graceful figure moves on a dance floor.

If you furnish me with the amount you currently require towards your lodging, I will make arrangements for you to receive it. If you have any further questions or needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the above address. Until we meet again,

I am your servant,

Viktor, Baron Nikiforov

Yuuri finished reading the letter, and let himself collapse into the armchair nearby. He could hear his heart thudding in his ears as he reread select sections of the letter.

“Yuuri!” Phichit was eyeing him, desperate for an explanation. Yuuri shook his head and just passed the letter to his friend. Phichit read it wide-eyed, making occasional exclamations under his breath. Yuuri nibbled on the skin around his nails while he waited. Phichit looked up, wide-eyed.

“You’re going to a dinner. With Baron Viktor Nikiforov.”

“Eh, perhaps?”

“What do you mean, perhaps?” Phichit thundered at him. “You are obsessed with the man, you’ve been in love with him for over a year!”

Yuuri winced. “I’m not in love with him! I...I find him attractive. I don’t even know him. I don’t know what to think about this, Phichit! I wasn’t sure if he would even remember or still want me to escort him.”

“Alright, Yuuri. Let’s start at the beginning. What exactly happened between you too?” So Yuuri related the events of last night as well as he could.

“Wait, you’re saying that you refused his advances? Viktor Nikiforov suggested you accompany him into a bedroom and you turned him down.” Phichit shook his head slowly.

“Phichit! I’m know I’ve never...” Yuuri’s face was red, he could feel it.

“Well, yes, but you have vanished for periods of time with attractive men on a few occasions that I remember. And besides, he’s Baron Nikiforov, the man who could have anyone he wanted with a snap of his fingers.”

“Exactly! What does he want with me?” Yuuri threw his hands in the air in frustration. “This doesn’t make any sense.” He belatedly remembered the rest of Phichit’s argument. “And while I have had a kiss here and there…well and perhaps more, that doesn’t mean I’m prepared for someone like...him.”

“Yuuri...I believe you’ve left a string of broken hearts behind you stretching all the way to Japan. Why wouldn’t Nikiforov be interested in you? You’re gorgeous and intelligent and kind. Possibly your refusal is what made him offer you this invitation. Speaking of which, you haven’t explained the nature of this agreement. He’s paying you?”

“That’s...that’s what he said. He offered to pay me in exchange for my company. Since you told everyone how poor I am.” Yuuri glared at his friend, who shrugged. “He wants to pay for my evening dress as well! At his own tailor, Phichit!” Yuuri mentally reviewed his schedule. If he needed to go to the tailor tomorrow, he would have to get up early to ensure he would be finished before his time in the laboratory.

“So what else did you agree to, Yuuri?” Phichit’s tone was careful. Yuuri frowned at him.

“What do you mean?”

“Yuuri, it sounds he expects to receive...full access in exchange for all this.”

Yuuri threw up his hands. “I know! But I told him that wasn’t acceptable. I told him I wasn’t for sale! And he insisted that wasn’t what he meant.”

“Did you believe him? I’ve heard of rich men doing this kind of thing, of course. It’s practically common for dancers and actors to receive these kinds of offers. In those cases, however, everyone understands the nature of the expectation.”

Yuuri sighed. He hadn’t considered that this may be something Nikiforov had done before. He was known to be a patron of the arts, and Yuuri was well acquainted with the rumours regarding the baron’s associations with opera singers and ballet dancers. In that context, perhaps his actions made more sense. He hadn’t succeeded at winning Yuuri over at first try, so he had offered what enticements he could. “So you think I should refuse him?” he asked Phichit.

“Refuse?” Phichit sighed. “Yuuri, what do you want to do?”

Yuuri thought it over. He remembered his distress when he’d decided Nikiforov would forget him. And his excitement at reading the compliments the baron had written to him. The truth was, Yuuri wanted another chance with him, another opportunity to make himself appear worthier of such a man’s admiration. He didn’t know if he was capable of following through and making love to him, though. A significant part of himself wanted to try, however.

“I...I think I want to go,” he said softly.

“Even if he’ll be expecting...physical attention?”

“I...I don’t know.” Yuuri hid his face in his hands. “A man like that, he must expect...a skilled partner, mustn’t he? I don’t even know how...” He peeked at his friend throw his fingers.

“Hmm. If he was looking for someone with lots of experience, I’d guess he knows where to find it.” Phichit looked at him with a critical eye. “You’re pretty, but you don’t usually leave an impression of being worldly. Except occasionally when you’ve imbibed too much.” Yuuri groaned, a couple of nights in the Swan that he’d prefer to forget springing to mind. “Did he say anything to you about why he wanted you? They usually do, you know.”

Yuuri thought back. “He said he...needed someone respectable. He wanted to avoid members of polite society, I believe to avoid matrimonial pursuit, though he didn’t say it in so many words.”

“Well there you go. He needs a respectable escort who won’t expect’re fairly perfect, all things considered. I imagine in that case he may view the possibility of a tryst with a beautiful Japanese man as an added course to the buffet, so to speak.” Phichit looked happy to have figured out the puzzle of Baron Viktor Nikiforov.

Yuuri frowned but nodded. He supposed it did make sense. It wasn’t the most flattering interpretation possible, not the secret hope of his heart that whispered that perhaps Nikiforov had fallen completely and deeply in love with him upon first sight for some unknowable reason. He mentally shook himself to chase away that line of thought. Yuuri wasn’t that kind of romantic. He was a man of science, he believed in what he could observe. Emotions had always been a hindrance to him, not something he wanted to experience in greater number.

Still he valued new experiences. It was partly his motivation for travelling so far from home to study. He’d considered his romantic life more and more since arriving in London. He wanted the opportunity to experience a physical connection with another, and he couldn’t think of anyone better for that experiment than someone like Viktor Nikiforov. If he could overcome his own nervous and shy nature long enough, that is.

“I want to go through with it,” he announced.

“Wonderful!” Phichit’s eyes sparkled at him. “So you are going to the fitting at his tailor tomorrow? Ooo, who is it?” Phichit flipped past the letter to the sheet below, where the information regarding the tailor was. “Russell of Savile Row. Hmm, not the most famous...interesting. You have to take me with you!”


“I need to go with you, Yuuri. First of all, to make sure you go through with it, because I know you. Second of all, because neither of us is ever going to have the money to get our suits made by a tailor like this ever again. I need to be present to enjoy the experience vicariously. Also to help you select the perfect fabrics.”

“Phichit, I’m just getting evening dress. It will be black, and it will look like every other evening wear at the dinner.” Yuuri wasn’t going to admit aloud that he would be grateful for his friend’s company the next day, to help assuage his nerves.

“Not if Baron Viktor Nikiforov’s tailor is making it!” Yuuri smiled. Phichit had a love of fashion that Yuuri simply didn’t share. He appreciated the strict rules of Western society in the matter of menswear, and had no desire to experiment as Phichit and so many of his artist friends did.

The next day saw the two friends strolling arm in arm down Savile Row to the shop of Mr. George Russell, bespoke tailor. They were greeted by a clerk immediately upon entering.

“Mr. Katsuki?” the young man asked, looking to Yuuri.

“Oh. Yes.” Yuuri was surprised to be greeted by name. He’d imagined he might have to explain his purpose and provide Nikiforov’s name before he would be welcomed.

“Baron Nikiforov informed us you would be coming and acquainted us with your needs. If you’ll follow me?” The well-dressed man led the way to the rear of the shop and through an open doorway to a small lounge area provided with richly tufted leather armchairs and a pair of large standing mirrors.

“If you’ll make yourselves comfortable, gentlemen, I’ll just fetch Mr. Russell. Would you care for something to drink? Whisky or wine, perhaps?”

“Oh,” said Yuuri, startled. “It’s a bit early in the day for me. I have...another appointment this afternoon.”

“Tea, then, perhaps?” offered the clerk.

“No, that’s not...” Yuuri began, not wanting to cause any bother.

“That sounds lovely, thank you,” interrupted Phichit, a hand on Yuuri’s arm. “And maybe a splash of whisky in my cup,” he added with a wink at the clerk. The clerk blushed but bowed his head and left them.

Yuuri glared at Phichit. “Do I offend you?” asked his friend.

“You don’t have to make eyes at every attractive man you see, do you?” Yuuri said in a low whisper.

“Mmm, sometimes I do. Yuuri, you must get more comfortable acting like you belong in your environment. Especially if you’re going to be kept by Viktor Nikiforov.”

“Keep your voice down!” he hissed. “I’m not being kept, Phichit. I’m just escorting him to a function.” Phichit looked like he wanted to argue with Yuuri’s characterisation of the situation, but before he could speak the clerk returned in company with a middle aged man with bushy side-whiskers and golden-framed spectacles perched on his nose.

“Mr. Katsuki?” asked the older man.

“Yes?” Yuuri forced himself to take a step forward. The tailor eyed him, taking in his full figure from head to toe.

“Hmm,” he said, and Yuuri wondered if he should be offended. He knew he wasn’t a man with any particular beauty of form, however. “You’re in need of evening dress by Thursday evening?”

“Yes, sir,” he agreed. He wanted to apologise for the imposition, but didn’t feel it was entirely his place.

“Is there a reason it needs to be fully bespoke?” The man lifted one judgemental eyebrow at Yuuri.

“I…I…” Yuuri couldn’t manage a better response.

“Is that what the Baron requested?” interrupted Phichit. Mr. Russell frowned at him.

“Yes, I informed him it was a remarkably short time frame and that we might have a sample garment that would be suitable, but he wouldn’t hear of it and demanded it be made with his own favoured fabrics.” Yuuri swallowed and bit his lip.

“I…I know it’s an imposition, but I think…if that’s what Baron Nikiforov wants…” He wouldn’t have any problem with a pre-made suit, so long as it fit, but if Nikiforov had preferences about fabrics… Surely he would be able to tell the difference. And it was his money.

The tailor gave him a final severe look down his nose and then tilted his head to one side as if acknowledging the point. Yuuri caught an apologetic look from his assistant. Perhaps the man was always this grumpy, though Yuuri suspected he was being judged as beneath the man’s art.

The next hour was spent being measured and trying various articles on. Yuuri was thankful that the assistant did most of this, as he wasn’t sure he could have tolerated the condescension of the proprietor at length. He was both relieved and a touch affronted that his own opinion was never consulted. Rather the two men referenced “the Baron’s taste” in cut and fabric. Yuuri felt more like a mannequin than a person by the end of the fitting.

He wished he had accepted the offer of alcohol because he was feeling decidedly shaky by the time the fitting came to an end. Phichit, on the other hand, appeared to enjoy the experience immensely, flirting with the assistant and grinning at Yuuri from a chair in the corner. He offered cheeky suggestions which were universally ignored, except when they made the assistant snicker.

Yuuri made an appointment to return on Wednesday for a fitting of his suit so that it would be ready in time and then he parted ways with Phichit so he could make his afternoon lecture.


The days before the embassy dinner passed swiftly. Yuuri always stayed busy with his studies and his shifts in one of the nearby charity hospitals. He tried to avoid thinking of his upcoming evening with Nikiforov as much as possible, though he had limited success. When he had a moment of quiet his thoughts invariably turned to wondering what could have possibly motivated the baron to invite him, of all people. Yuuri could only assume his interest was sexual and he couldn’t decide if the thought repulsed him or excited him. While he found the idea of being paid for physical intimacy offensive to his pride, he couldn’t help from imagining what it might be like to have Nikiforov to himself for a night. He tried to decide how he would act when the moment came to accept or refuse him and suspected he would swallow his pride and give in to his desire.

Thursday arrived at last, and so did his completed suit. Yuuri felt a fraud as he donned it, the lustrous cloth sliding smoothly under his rough fingers, the white silk of the waistcoat and tie shimmering in the gaslight. He had no wish to know how much it had cost for this to be made at such speed. He would probably be unable to wear it if he knew. He slicked his hair back with pomade and decided to leave his spectacles off. He could see well enough to eat and converse without them. And he wanted to look his best for the baron, though he knew he could never do someone that beautiful justice.

When he studied himself in the looking glass he thought the transformation was, indeed, noticeable. Dressed in this finery he looked like someone who might belong among nobility, who perhaps might not be out of place at an embassy. Perhaps his foreign appearance would even assist in that impression for once. He took several deep breaths and forced himself to focus on his goals. He needed to make it through this evening without making a fool of himself or Baron Nikiforov. And then he would have money for his rent, and…whatever happened with Nikiforov would happen and it would be over.

He was grateful Phichit was at rehearsal this evening. For while his friend was a great support to him, his sense of humour would doubtless cause him to make all kinds of insinuations about the coming evening. Yuuri was grateful to be able to sit quietly in the sitting room until he heard footsteps on the stairs which lead to their flat. A brisk knock sounded and Yuuri took one final steadying breath before opening the door.

He jerked backwards in surprise to see Baron Nikiforov himself standing in the doorway. He’d expected one of his landlady’s sons, or perhaps a coachman. Instead Viktor Nikiforov stood there with a wide smile on his face, looking like a work of art incongruously installed in the shabby tenement.

“Yuuri!” the baron exclaimed, clapping his gloved hands together in delight. “You look…exquisite, dorogoy. I shall be the envy of all with you on my arm.” He turned slightly and extended his crooked arm in invitation. Yuuri’s face was hot from the ridiculous flattery and he had a sudden urge to turn and flee to the safety of his room. Of course that wasn’t an option, and the baron would probably take that as a lewd invitation, so he made himself step forward and take his arm.

Nikiforov covered the hand on his arm with his own and froze for a moment, his eyes locking with Yuuri’s. He seemed to be searching for something and Yuuri tensed in fear that he might be disappointed with whatever he saw. But after several seconds Nikiforov’s gaze softened and he gave a small, gentle smile.

“Don’t be afraid, my dear. I’ll take care of you,” he said and Yuuri felt suddenly short of breath. “Shall we go?”

“Alright,” said Yuuri in a small voice he hardly recognised as his own.

Chapter Text

Yuuri spent the ride to the Russian embassy in a haze of nervous anticipation mixed with the tension of sitting so incredibly close to Baron Nikiforov. Only a few inches of air separated them on the seat of the coach. Yuuri could feel the heat of the man’s body, or perhaps he only imagined he could. He sat stiffly, his hands clutched together in his lap as if they might wander if he didn’t concentrate on holding them still.

“Are you always so quiet, or is it that my company fails to stimulate you?” Nikiforov asked. Yuuri jolted from his reverie, his mind snagging on the innuendo underlying the words. He felt an urge to make sure the baron knew his silence wasn’t due to boredom.

“I-I’m quiet a lot of the time. Especially when I’m nervous,” he admitted. He made himself look up at his companion. The baron smiled and it was infectious, bringing a small smile to Yuuri’s lips as well.

“Nervous, mmm? What are you nervous about, my dear?” Yuuri smiled wryly. What wasn’t he nervous about?

“I’ve never been to any event like this. Not in England, at any rate.”

“The good news is you won’t be in England, but Russia, for all intents and purposes,” said Nikiforov with a smile.

Yuuri returned it and asked, “Is there much difference?”

“Hmm, mostly better food.” He winked down at Yuuri.

“Do you miss your homeland, my lord?” he asked, trying to distract himself from the nerves roiling in his belly.

“Oh, Yuuri, no,” said the other man in a disappointed tone. Yuuri frowned up at him, trying to decide if the baron was answering his question or not. “Not ‘my lord,’” the Russian clarified. “Please, you must call me Viktor. At the very least when we are alone. I insist.” Yuuri blushed at the look in the baron’s eyes. The thought of using his given name sent a quiet thrill through him.

“I…very well. Viktor.” His face burned hotter at the familiarity.

“Wonderful. Yuuri,” said the baron with a teasing glint. “Which reminds me, what is the proper way to introduce you, formally? I don’t know anything about Japanese customs.”

“Oh. Er, well, we actually put the family name first, so I would be Katsuki Yuuri at home. Honorifics work different there as well. People here just call me Mr. Katsuki, though. That’s fine.”

“Really? How interesting. What would you be called at home, then?” Viktor looked genuinely interested, rather than asking from politeness, so Yuuri relaxed a little.

“To most people, Katsuki-san. Or my full name if other members of my family were around.”

“What would a…lover call you?” Nikiforov’s— Viktor’s voice was low and Yuuri felt the puff of his breath against his ear. He repressed a shiver.

“Uh. Uh. Just…Yuuri, I guess.” He knew his face was beet red, and he was starting to sweat in his new suit.

“You guess? What did your lovers call you?” Yuuri risked a glance at Viktor but quickly had to look away from the other man’s amused face. Yuuri didn’t like being laughed at and he stiffened. He didn’t respond, but turned to look out of the window of the coach at the blur of passing buildings.

“Yuuri?” asked Viktor. “I’m sorry. Did I offend you?”

Yuuri took a deep breath. Strangely enough his annoyance with the baron made him feel calmer. He had a hard time dealing with the kind but insinuating manner the man had adopted thus far without going weak with attraction. Arrogance and amusement at his expense put him on a much more familiar ground. “You were laughing at me.”

“Was I?” asked the baron, apparently surprised. Yuuri’s frown deepened.

“You looked as if you were.”

“Perhaps…I was teasing a bit. Only because you’re so delightful when you blush.” To Yuuri’s annoyance he felt his face heat once more. “Yes, like that. Yuuri, I was only asking…in case I ever needed to know what was appropriate.” Yuuri couldn’t help looking at the man’s face again. There was heat in his eyes, but also something else, something more hesitant. “I didn’t intend any mockery. I apologise.” The words were said with such sincerity that Yuuri found his annoyance melting away and he was left marvelling at the man’s incandescent beauty in its wake.

After a moment that probably stretched too long, he gave Viktor a small smile. “I’m sorry. I…don’t like being laughed at.” The baron lifted a hand and brushed the back of it lightly against Yuuri’s temple as if brushing hair out of his face, though his was still perfectly coiffed. For a charged moment Yuuri wondered if he was about to be kissed but then the other man let his hand fall. Yuuri cleared his throat awkwardly. “I…I didn’t have any lovers in Japan,” he said quietly.

“No?” Viktor’s voice was gentle.

“No,” he said simply.

“Hmm,” was all the baron said in response. “At any rate, Yuuri, you don’t need to be nervous about tonight. It’s just a dinner with several boring speeches and then dancing. Speaking of which, do you actually dance? Waltz, I mean.”

Yuuri frowned, not sure what other kind of dancing he could have understood Viktor to mean. “I…I know how, but I haven’t actually used it very often.”

“So you were just trying to be rid of me that night at Frederick’s?” asked Viktor with a raised brow. Yuuri flushed hotter and hunched his shoulders as if he could hide between them.

“I…was surprised and didn’t know what to say,” he admitted. “I’m sorry.” Viktor’s teasing expression broke into a wide grin.

“Don’t fret, dorogoy, I won’t hold it against you. So long as you favour me with the dance you owe me tonight.”

Yuuri smiled shyly up at him and nodded. The fluttering feeling that filled him was a combination of nerves over the potential difficulties of the evening and the thrill of having Viktor’s full attention. He felt he existed in a fragile balance between elation and terror, and could only try not to let himself tilt too far either way for fear he would shatter.

With a jerk the coach came to a stop and Yuuri realised they had arrived. He peeked out of the small window but could only see a stone building much like thousands of others in London. The windows were all alight, however, and a phalanx of liveried footmen stood along the iron grating in front of the building. One of them came forward to open the coach door and Viktor exited, reaching a hand back to help Yuuri out.

Once he’d straightened after climbing from the vehicle, Yuuri was surprised to see all the footmen were bowing in their direction. He glanced at Viktor in time to catch a cheeky wink from the other man. Viktor led the way up the stairs, Yuuri’s hand tucked once more into his arm.

“Welcome, your Well-born,” said the older gentleman standing just inside the door, his Russian accent thick. He was wearing what looked to Yuuri like a military uniform, but which might simply be a sign of his position. The dark coat featured quite a bit of gold frogging.

Viktor greeted the man in his native language and they exchanged a few words. Having nothing better to do, Yuuri watched Viktor’s face as he spoke. He was struck all over again by the man’s incredible beauty, the delicacy of his features. Perhaps he needed to avoid looking at Viktor, to keep from being overwhelmed by his looks.

“Yuuri,” said Viktor abruptly, interrupting his reverie. “This is Yakov Feltsman, my father’s majordomo. Yakov, my escort Mr. Yuuri Katsuki. Please take care of him if there’s ever anything he needs.” The thickset man narrowed his eyes, but gave a curt nod in his direction. Yuuri couldn’t help thinking he looked about as unhelpful as it was possible to be, but Viktor didn’t seem to notice. He wondered if there was something about him the older man disliked or if it was a general attitude.

They left the majordomo behind in the antechamber and proceeded through a pair of gilt doors held open for them by still more footmen. Yuuri had been expecting the event to be lavish, but the scene that met his eyes still dazzled him for a moment. The room was filled with people dressed in the very finest clothing, the women’s dresses a whirlwind of colour and shimmer, while the men stood out in their stark black evening dress. Even then, the men showed more variety than was common, with a range of military uniforms of different colours and ranks on display.

As Viktor led him further into the room, Yuuri was able to pick out the staff flitting everywhere: providing drinks, taking away empty glasses, entering and leaving the room in a near constant stream. He was grateful for the champagne flute Viktor handed him, having plucked a pair from a passing tray. He had to be careful not to overindulge, however. The last thing he needed was to embarrass the baron tonight.

Viktor moved through the crowd with practised ease, nodding to people who recognised him and greeting several by name without ever pausing long enough to be engaged in a conversation. Yuuri caught some people staring at him as they passed, their eyes widening in surprise or shock. He tried to avoid hunching his shoulders too much in response. Being on Viktor’s arm made him much more conspicuous than he liked.

They came to a stop in front of a group of people at the far end of the room. Even before their presence registered, Yuuri could tell the man and woman at the centre of the circle were important by the way everyone watched them. The man was dressed in a military uniform of dark blue, with gold braid draped across the front and large fringed epaulettes on both shoulders. He caught sight of Viktor mid-word and turned towards them and it was at that moment that Yuuri saw the family resemblance between the couple and his companion. These were Viktor’s parents and he was about to be introduced to them. He may have tightened his grip on Viktor’s arm in an attempt to steady himself.

“Viktor Aleksandrovitch, there you are!” said Viktor’s father in an exasperated tone. Viktor just gave the man a closed mouth smile.

“Father, mother, this is Mr. Yuuri Katsuki,” said Viktor with a small bow and sweeping gesture of his hand.

Yuuri bowed his head politely at them both. He realised with a sinking feeling in his stomach that he didn’t know the proper form of address to use with a Russian baron, despite the fact that he was holding on to one’s arm. “I-it’s an honour to meet you both,” he tried, hoping it didn’t sound frightfully rude.

“Mr. Katsuki, is it?” said Viktor’s mother. “Is that Japanese?” The woman radiated kindness and Yuuri found himself relaxing immediately.

“Yes, my lady.” He decided the courtesy would be appreciated regardless of its correctness.

“Yuuri is here studying medicine,” Victor informed them.

“Oh, how wonderful!” said the Baroness. “It’s such a joy to see young people travelling in pursuit of knowledge. The world is growing smaller all the time, and it’s so important to encourage the spread of science and ideas.” The baroness’s smile was reflected on Viktor’s face and Yuuri couldn’t help joining them. He thought Viktor looked quite fond of his mother, as well he should given her charm. “I’m sure you and Vitya have much to talk with one another about, given his interest in anatomy.”

Yuuri felt his brows rise at this pronouncement and was even more astounded to see Viktor go rather pink. “Mother!” he chided. His mother gave him an indulgent look.

“Yes, well, I hope you enjoy the evening then,” interrupted the elder Baron, giving Yuuri a nod before turning back to the man at his right. He felt the muscles in Viktor’s arm tighten at the curt dismissal.

“It’s nearly time for the meal. I hope to have an opportunity to talk with you later, Mr. Katsuki.” The baroness smiled at them both, a hint of concern in her glance at Viktor’s face.

“Thank you, Baroness. I would enjoy that.”

“Oh, you must call me Evgenia Ivanovna! I insist.” Yuuri ducked his head in acquiescence before Viktor led him away from his parents. Yuuri took a large sip of his wine, feeling the shaky aftereffects of that meeting. Viktor also drained much of his glass. He looked over and smiled hesitantly at him. Yuuri wondered if he were regretting his invitation already.

Viktor stepped closer to him and spoke quietly. “Don’t judge me by my parents, I beg you.” Yuuri gave him a quizzical look.

“Your mother seems a very kind person,” he said. Viktor’s mouth twisted up ironically.

“Indeed, she is. Hence why you shouldn’t judge me by her behaviour.” He said it like a witticism, but something unpleasant shined in his eyes. Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to smile in return. Luckily the awkward moment was broken by the ringing of a gong to announce dinner.

Viktor led him into the next room, once again charming his way through the crowd. The room was arranged with a number of long dining tables, all elaborately set with crystal and silver. Yuuri wondered at the expense of the table settings and how many times over one could buy his parent’s inn with the wealth in that room.

They were not seated at the head table with Viktor’s parents, to Yuuri’s relief. He was barely coping with the demands of being at such a luxurious affair, much less one with diplomatic consequences. Their table was filled with people who knew Viktor, including two unmarried ladies accompanied by their male relatives. They didn’t seem to like Yuuri’s presence at all. The conversation was stiff and polite, quite unlike the casual English conversation to which he was accustomed. The conversations Yuuri was familiar with were usually about either medicine or the arts. In the first instance, he was liable to get drawn into brisk and sometimes heated debate, while with the second topic he merely listened to the debates of others.

There were no debates at the table tonight. No raised voices or raucous laughter and mockery. Just prim and stilted observations designed not to offend. Viktor maintained a pleasant facade, but Yuuri suspected he was almost as bored as he himself was. The woman to Yuuri’s left asked him question after question about Japan, which Yuuri might have taken kindly had the questions not revealed the depths of her ignorance about the East. Even more irritating was the young man who insisted on correcting her with equally erroneous information. The only reason Yuuri got through the meal without jumping up and excusing himself was that Viktor caught his eye several times with an apologetic look and finally managed to steer the conversation in another direction.

“I apologise on behalf of the English,” said Viktor after the meal when they were once again standing alone together.

“You’re not English, though. Can you actually apologise on their behalf?”

“Well, someone needs to apologise for their ignorance.” Yuuri smiled gratefully. He felt that Viktor was his ally in the face of society, for this evening at least.

“The dancing has begun. Will you join me?” Victor held out his gloved hand to Yuuri, who took a deep breath and took it.

“Truly, I’m not very skilled,” he hedged, his stomach turning over as he envisioned himself causing some hideous injury to his partner.

Viktor only smiled, as if completely unconcerned. “Just follow my lead.” With that, he swept Yuuri onto the dance floor, his arm around his waist steering him. At first, Yuuri felt just as awkward as he had expected, his steps out of sync as he struggled to follow after Viktor. But after several repetitions of the waltz’s pattern, he relaxed somewhat, his feet finding the correct rhythm. He found himself locking eyes with his partner, that stunningly blue gaze filling his world. He had never known anyone with eyes as beautiful, as alive. And just now they were crinkled at the corners, smiling down at Yuuri. He couldn’t help smiling back, and relaxing even further into Viktor’s arms. The dance became thrilling, joyous and free as they twirled around the room.

“You have an incredible natural grace,” murmured Viktor. “To match your natural beauty.” Yuuri’s breath caught and he nearly stumbled. His cheeks burned and he looked away from Viktor’s face for the first time during their dance. He felt he should say something in response but couldn’t decide between a return compliment or a denial of the one he’d received. He bit his lip in frustration, torn between wanting to believe Viktor meant his flattery and a bitter wish the man wouldn’t bother.

“Do you know, when first we met I thought your modesty and blushes were something of an affectation? That you were playing the coquette.” Yuuri looked back up at him in surprise. “I realised fairly quickly I was wrong and you weren’t feigning. Is it possible you don’t know how gorgeous you are?” Yuuri blinked up at him, the words not penetrating his mind clearly. He opened his mouth to respond, to express his disbelief, but just then the music ended and the dancers around them swayed to a standstill.

In the flurry of activity of people leaving and taking up new positions on the dance floor, Yuuri forgot what he had intended to say. He followed Viktor to the side of the room, where no sooner had Viktor opened his mouth to say something to Yuuri than he was interrupted by the ringing tones of the Baroness’s voice. Viktor’s mother was holding the arm of an upright gentleman in the uniform of the British military.

“Vitya, you remember Captain Baker, don’t you?” the baroness asked.

“Of course,” replied Viktor, sounding a touch strained. The smile he turned to the other man looked forced to Yuuri. The captain’s eyes flicked briefly towards him before returning to Viktor, apparently dismissing Yuuri entirely. He started as the baroness placed a hand on his arm.

“Mr. Katsuki, I’m so pleased to have a chance for us to speak,” she said, drawing him a few steps away from Viktor and the captain. “You must tell me, how long have you known my son?”

“Oh,” said Yuuri, blinking. “Not very long.”

“I see. And how did you meet? I don’t believe Vitya spends much time near medical schools.” Yuuri studied her expression, but couldn’t tell if she was making a joking reference to her son’s reputation or if she was oblivious to it.

“I…that is, a friend of mine knows a friend of his. We were introduced at a club.” Not a lie, though it omitted a few details.

“Mother, are you interrogating my escort?” Viktor’s voice came from just behind Yuuri’s shoulder and he startled a bit. Viktor stepped closer and placed a warm hand against his lower back.

“Vitya, I was merely making conversation,” said his mother in a chiding tone. Yuuri glanced around, looking for Viktor’s former conversational partner, but the man was no where in sight. “It’s so rare you bring a friend to see us.” Viktor sighed but didn’t reply. At that moment the music came to an end.

“Excuse us, mother, but I promised Yuuri another dance,” Viktor said, though he’d made no such promise. He steered Yuuri away after he bowed his head hastily at the baroness.

“Are you trying to keep me from speaking to your mother?” asked Yuuri, a trifle offended. They took up places facing one another, Viktor’s arm around his waist, their hands joined.

“No, rather keeping my mother from speaking to you,” corrected Viktor as the dance began. This time Yuuri felt himself swept up in the music’s rhythm easily, following his partner’s lead without having to think overmuch.

“Why? Is there something you fear her telling me?” Yuuri studied the other man’s face closely. Viktor was an enigma to him, so seemingly open and relaxed one moment, and closed off the next. He’d seen how easily he moved through society, an empty smile upon his face. And he’d seen that smile drop the moment they were alone or unobserved. Were the smiles Viktor directed at him any more real? Or was his attentive manner towards Yuuri just another performance? The compliments and flattery just his way of getting what he wanted?

“Oh, she’s just a little too interested in my romantic life,” said Viktor airily. “That’s one of the reasons I brought you. Otherwise she would have spent the entire evening introducing me to potential partners.”

“Like that captain?” asked Yuuri, trying his best not to sound jealous.

“Ha, yes. Though more like the ladies at our table. She wants grandchildren.” They fell silent as they spun through the steps of the dance. Of course the baroness would prefer Viktor marry a woman to secure the line of inheritance. It was common here for men of the aristocracy to find their pleasure with other men in the clubs and brothels, before ultimately marrying a woman of their own class. Some continued to indulge their tastes discreetly after marriage, while some seemingly settled down happily. It was the same in his homeland for men of property. Wealth needed to be passed down, and people seemed to prefer it go to their own biological children. Yuuri was grateful he would likely never be wealthy enough to feel that pressure.

He wanted to ask Viktor if he intended to have children one day. He’d heard the baron’s name linked with women before, so for all Yuuri knew, he liked women as well as men. He wanted to ask that as well, but it all felt far too intrusive, so he remained silent. He focused instead on Viktor’s face, tracing the curves of his lips with his eyes. He wondered how it would feel to kiss them, and then flushed with heat at the thought that he might find out later that night. He might know how many things felt after this night. He couldn’t lie to himself; if Viktor asked him to bed, he would say yes. It would be his one opportunity and he couldn’t pass it up lightly.

Viktor seemed to know some of his thoughts, for he smiled and pulled Yuuri a little closer. Yuuri could feel his hot breath against his cheek, and he was filled with the desire for Viktor to kiss him, right here and now. Of course it was ridiculous. Even Baron Viktor Nikiforov wouldn’t do something so scandalous. Not here.

The dance ended and they parted. Yuuri’s mouth was dry so they sought out more champagne. It seemed any time Viktor stood still others would find their way to him, and Yuuri found himself nodding and smiling politely at a number of people who came and went in a steady stream. Finally Viktor pulled him back into another dance, looking grateful to be away from them himself. After this dance, Viktor found his mother and bade her goodnight. The baroness looked disappointed but simply expressed a wish to see Yuuri again. He repeated the wish back to her, though privately he thought such an event to be quite unlikely, of course.

Once in the coach, Viktor seemed to relax fractionally. As the carriage settled into a smooth movement, Yuuri gazed around the interior. The curtains were drawn over the windows so he had no convenient distraction. A fluttering had started in his stomach, so he tried not to think of what might come next. Viktor sat close beside him and Yuuri imagined he could feel the warmth from his thigh, though they were not quite touching. He felt the weight of Viktor’s eyes on him. Yuuri tugged on his gloves nervously, gaze focused on his hands.

“You look beautiful in that suit,” murmured Viktor, his voice sounding far too close to Yuuri’s ear for comfort.

“Thank you,” said Yuuri, trying to keep his breathing even. “It’s...remarkable. I must thank you for providing it, again.”

Viktor extended his hand carefully and ran two fingers down the fabric covering Yuuri’s thigh. Yuuri trembled, trying to hide his reaction and suspecting he had failed. “You are a magnificent canvas for the tailor’s art, Yuuri. You should wear nothing less than perfection. I must buy you an entire wardrobe.”

This shocked Yuuri into turning and looking at the man next to him. Viktor’s eyes flashed as he did, but the triumph was quickly covered with a bland expression.

“No, you...don’t need to do that,” stammered Yuuri. Viktor raised a hand to Yuuri’s face, taking his chin between his fingers and thumb. Only the presence of his fine white gloves kept the touch from being completely indecent.

“It’s not about what I need do, but what I want to do, my dear.” Viktor’s thumb traced along Yuuri’s bottom lip, moving firmly into scandalous territory. Yuuri couldn’t look away from Viktor’s icy blue eyes, shadowed in the dimness of the carriage.

“I couldn’t accept anything so costly,” he said weakly. Viktor laughed softly.

“I can afford it, Yuuri. I can give you many things. I can give you anything you desire.” Yuuri expected Viktor to kiss him at any moment and though the thought sent quivers of anxiety through him, he also desperately wished he would. But the moment stretched out longer and longer and neither of them moved.

Finally Viktor spoke. “Besides, when I have you by my side I want you to look your best. And as we’ve proved tonight, your best is good enough to have half the diplomatic figures of London dying of envy.”

Yuuri was still lost somewhere between Viktor’s eyes and his hand against his chin. “I thought,” he spoke, shaking himself mentally to catch up to the conversation. “I thought this was only for one night. That’s what you said.” Viktor’s expression shifted, the light fading from his eyes, and he released Yuuri.

“Ah yes, so I did.” He shifted back to lean against the padded rear of the coach. Yuuri also shifted back in his own seat, facing front again. He was more disappointed in the sudden shift in demeanour in his companion than he would have thought. As much as he had bristled at any insinuation that their arrangement included his sexual availability, the truth was he had been able to think of little else all week. And he had longed for Viktor to kiss him just then.

Yuuri stared ahead of him and considered the myriad things he could say to Viktor. Viktor’s words of moments ago echoed in his mind, ‘I can give you anything you desire.’ Yuuri knew what he desired most at this moment, and it had nothing to do with finery or riches. He wanted to taste Viktor’s lips, to know what it felt like to be taken by such a man, a man desired by so many.

“So you have no wish to…extend our arrangement, then?” Viktor’s voice was a little cool, a little too casual. “As I said, I can offer you much. I could give you protection.”

“Protection?” Yuuri echoed. “Protection from what?”

“Ah. It’s a figure of speech, I suppose. Protection from anything. From poverty and need, primarily.” Yuuri glanced at him then, and saw a hint of a smile on his lips.

“Oh,” said Yuuri, thinking furiously. “So that’s the sort of thing you offer to…a certain kind of person.” Yuuri looked at Viktor boldly. “I’m still not for sale. I’m a student of medicine, and that doesn’t require a wardrobe of fine suits. They’d only be ruined.”

To Yuuri’s surprise, Viktor’s face broke into a wide grin. “You are extraordinary,” he said with a look of wonder. Yuuri blushed and looked away.

After a moment of silence, Viktor continued in a more serious tone. “We still both have needs.” Yuuri shot a look at him, trying to gauge where this was heading. Viktor smiled but continued, still businesslike. “You have need of financial support to allow you to live and pursue your studies. I have need of a respectable companion and escort for the myriad balls, functions, and parties my position requires me to attend. If we consider this evening a trial, I consider it a complete success. I enjoy your company and your conversation. You charmed everyone you spoke to tonight. And you look divine on my arm, which is good for my reputation. Was it a success from your point of view?”

Yuuri flushed and looked away, not sure how to respond. He was sure Viktor was heavily exaggerating his success. The most he’d hoped for from this evening was not to embarrass himself or Viktor too badly. It appeared he’d succeeded at that. In fact, he’d even found some portions of the evening enjoyable. He’d also hoped to be able to hold Viktor’s attention for the entire evening and he’d half expected for Viktor to be bored of him by now.

Viktor’s next words interrupted his train of thought. “Oh! Speaking of which, here is what I promised you.” He removed a small purse from his person, the chink of coins sounding in the small space of the carriage. Yuuri flinched away, shame warming his face. It stung his pride to accept this, but he took the purse which Viktor placed into his hands anyway.

“Go ahead, ensure it’s sufficient,” said Viktor, without any self-consciousness at the transaction.

Yuuri shook his head. “No, no, I’m sure it’s fine.”

“Yuuri,” chided the baron. “It won’t help either of us if you discover at a later time it’s not everything you need.” Yuuri swallowed his next protestation and made himself tug open the drawstring. Even in the dim light of the carriage lamp the coins shined gold. He blinked.

“It’s too much,” he said in a whisper, jerking the strings closed and shoving the purse back at the baron. “I…I can’t take this. It’s far too much.” Viktor only smiled at him and pushed his hands away.

“Nonsense,” he said. “You have to live on something.” Yuuri shook his head again.

“But this…it’s so much more than I need for my landlord. I can’t take it, for…this?” Of course, he would have accompanied Viktor anywhere he wished for free, if only he dared.

“I’m not asking for anything more,” said Viktor in a serious tone. Yuuri’s eyes flickered away from the man again. He almost wished he was more demanding. As it was, Viktor had acted the perfect gentleman, and Yuuri found himself torn between appreciation of his manners and regret that he couldn’t live out one of his fantasies. Silence echoed around them, feeling heavy. There was a tension in the air, a sense that either of them might speak at any moment and take the irrevocable step towards a more intimate liaison. But neither of them spoke and finally the moment passed.

Viktor cleared his throat. “If you feel the amount is unfair, you could agree to escort me another evening.”

Yuuri’s heart raced. Yes. Yes. He couldn’t think of any less revealing answer.

“You could even choose where we go. Somewhere more enjoyable than a staid embassy dinner. Unless you have a particular fondness for them, in which case I assure you I can find any number of ceremonial events on my father’s calendar.” His tone was wry and they shared a smile. “You like the theatre, perhaps, judging by your friends?”

“Ballet,” he corrected, without quite meaning to. Viktor’s smile grew until it seemed to light his whole face.

“You like ballet! Oh, so do I! Yuuri, we must go then! Have you seen the Italian production of Giselle at Covent Garden?”

Yuuri couldn’t help smiling in return at Viktor’s sudden enthusiasm. “No, no, I haven’t been able to. Sometimes Mr. Chulanont can sneak me in to a show, but I haven’t been able to see even a rehearsal of that one.”

“Oh, I’ll take you, then. Really, you must see it if you’re a dance enthusiast.” Viktor was looking at him with such excitement and warmth that Yuuri had to suppress a shiver.

“Very well, then,” he agreed with a shy smile. “I…I would enjoy that. Very much.” The happy expression on Viktor’s face at that warmed him down to his toes.

They made light conversation for the remainder of the ride, talking mostly of ballet and various performances they had seen. Yuuri thrilled to hear tales of the Russian ballet, Viktor’s descriptions painting vivid pictures in his mind. He was surprised when the coach jerked to a halt and he realised they were outside his building.

“Oh! So quickly,” he exclaimed, peeking out the curtains to verify their location.

“Yes, the evening is over too soon,” agreed Viktor, tone wistful. Yuuri looked at him, wondering if this was the overture to a proposition. Instead of speaking, however, Viktor raised a hand to Yuuri’s cheek and ran a finger down his cheek lightly. “May I kiss you?” he asked softly and Yuuri sucked in a breath. His mouth worked for a moment but he couldn’t manage any words, so he nodded shakily.

Viktor looked at him with a complicated expression: part confusion, part tenderness, part heat. Yuuri didn’t have time to fully parse the look, however, as the baron leaned forward immediately and his lips were brushing Yuuri’s. They pressed lightly at first, waiting for a response. Yuuri felt for a moment as if he had never been kissed before, though that was hardly true. He didn’t know what to do and felt a moment of panic, but then a heat rose up within him and he was pressing back against Viktor, his whole body moving forward and his hands grasping for a hold in his coat. Viktor made a hungry sound against Yuuri’s lips and then their tongues were touching, exploring, twining together in hunger. Yuuri trembled with longing, feeling it throughout his body. He longed to press himself as tightly as possible against Viktor, to show him the fire his kiss had lit in him.

His good sense held him back, thankfully. He broke away from the other man’s lips with a gasp for air, and immediately his face flushed with embarrassment. His member was stiff in his trousers, and he tried to cover the noticeable bulge with his hands, but the movement only drew the baron’s attention. Viktor’s eyes widened and he smirked. His eyes raked over Yuuri hungrily, boldly taking an accounting of all of him. Yuuri was certain Viktor could see his every reaction: how he flushed and hot he was, the trembling of his hands, and of course the blatant evidence of his arousal.

He was sure Viktor was going to make an invitation to extend the evening, so he was thrown off balance when instead Viktor simply said, “I look forward to our next evening together,” and reached past Yuuri to open the door. “Good night,” he said with a small smile. Yuuri smiled weakly back, his confused desires making him feel shaky.

He exited the coach and took a moment to smooth down his clothing, including trying to conceal his arousal as best he could before entering his building. He made two attempts at unlocking the door before he could fit the key to the lock properly. He stood still in the hall for a few moments, trying to gather his wits. He would see Viktor again, he reminded himself. That steadied him and he climbed the stairs to his rooms in a calmer state.

Chapter Text

Yuuri let himself into his lodging carefully, hoping that Phichit was already in bed. He still felt off balance from the way his evening with Viktor had ended and wasn’t in the mood to answer questions about it. As he moved into the parlour, however, he saw Phichit was stretched out on the sofa, book in hand. His roommate looked up, eyes sparkling.

“I’m a little surprised to see you!” he called out. “I thought you might be in the baron’s bed by now.” Yuuri felt his face redden and he looked away from his friend, trying to exhibit a casual manner.

“He was a perfect gentleman,” he said. “Well, nearly.” He moved towards his bedroom, eager to get out of his formal wear. Naturally, Phichit leapt up and followed him.

“Yuuri!” his friend complained. “You can’t just say that and walk away! I need details.” Yuuri removed his jacket and folded it neatly into the clothes press. He sat on the edge of his bed to remove his shoes.

“There’s not much to say, Phichit. We went to the embassy, ate dinner, danced a little, and then he brought me home.” Yuuri was simplifying things, he knew, but he hadn’t worked out how he felt about the evening yet.

“So…he didn’t even try to get you in bed?” Yuuri winced at his friend’s bluntness. Phichit’s surprised tone echoed his own confusion on that front.

“He didn’t ask.” That didn’t feel entirely truthful either. Viktor hadn’t asked him home with him, or even broached the topic. On the other hand, Yuuri had refused his offer of protection, which he may have taken for refusal. Then there had been that kiss.

“Yuu-ri,” said Phichit, waving a hand before his eyes. “Are you with me? What were you thinking about just then?”

Yuuri smiled sheepishly, realising he’d fallen into a reverie. “He did, er, kiss me.”

“Oh!” Phichit’s eyes widened and he grinned. “How was it? I’d bet he’s a good kisser.” Yuuri bit his lip to keep the smile off his face. He knew Phichit would only tease him if he knew how much the kiss had affected him.

“It was…nice,” he said.

“Just nice?”

“Mmm, good.”

“Good. Yuuri, you’re impossible.” Phichit threw his hands up. Yuuri couldn’t tell his friend the truth: that the kiss had been incredible, the best kiss he’d ever had. That it had made him want to give all of himself over to the baron, that even now he was disappointed that their evening had ended when it did. The kiss had lit a fire in his body that was entirely new to him. He needed some time alone to work through these feelings.

“He’s taking me to the ballet. Or so he said,” he offered. His friend’s eyes lit up again, thrilled with this news.

“Ooo, Giselle?” he asked.

“Mmm-hmm. He’s seen it already, but insisted on taking me.”

“It’s a good production. The Italian troupe is decent, though most dancers in town won’t say so. They feel a British troupe should have the theatre, of course.” Yuuri nodded vaguely at Phichit’s words, afraid his friend might continue to discuss the local theatrical politics, but Phichit shook himself and looked back at him. “So, a kiss and a second invitation?”

“Yes?” he replied, unsure what Phichit was implying.

“Is he paying you?”


“For going with him to the ballet. Is he paying you for that?”

“Err, well, in a way…” He pulled the pouch of coins from his pocket. “He gave me far too much tonight. When I said so, he invited me out again. I don’t know what that means.” Phichit took the pouch and opened it. He gave a low whistle.

“Yuuri, this isn’t just a month’s rent. This could almost pay your part for an entire year.”

“I know. You should have seen the opulence at the embassy tonight. My fork was so heavy I think it would support me for at least six months. I don’t think he’s concerned about money in the slightest.”

Phichit frowned. “Do you like him?” Yuuri cocked his head and looked at his friend, puzzled.

“Hmm?” The question seemed to have come from nowhere.

“Do you like him? Did you enjoy the evening? Was he pleasant company?” Phichit asked with exasperation.

“Oh.” Yuuri paused. His first instinct was to answer ‘yes, of course, he’s Baron Viktor Nikiforov.’ That was enough to explain the deep attraction he felt for the man, along with his incredible looks. It was easy to be swept away by a kiss from a man like that, or even by waltzing in his arms. It didn’t, however, automatically mean the man was likeable. Viktor had been extremely solicitous throughout the evening, in a way that had seemed to shift from common politeness to actual kindness. He remembered the way Viktor had interrupted the embarrassing conversation over dinner and steered it in a different direction. Not only that, but apologised to Yuuri for the offence. Yes, he was ready to believe Viktor Nikiforov had a kind heart.

“I think I do like him,” he answered at last. “He was kind, and I don’t think it was only a show.”

“It’s possible he’s waiting to press you for a tumble after the ballet, of course,” observed his roommate.

“So what if he does?” asked Yuuri defensively. Phichit grinned wickedly.

“Oh! Is that what you’re hoping for, Mr. Katsuki?” Yuuri glared at him. “Not going to play the bashful maiden any longer? Frankly, given this purse, I’d recommend you draw things out as long as you can and see what other gifts you get.”

“Phichit!” he objected, genuinely appalled.

“Well, that’s the starving artist in me speaking, of course. As your friend, and someone who once spent two weeks eating nothing but rice with you when we were both skint, I advise you to enjoy the pleasures of your good-fortune as much as possible. Both carnal and more material rewards.” Yuuri sighed heavily and pushed Phichit towards the door of his room.

“I’ll take it under advisement,” he said flatly. “Now leave me in peace. I’m exhausted.” His friend laughed, but let himself be driven from the room. Yuuri carefully removed the rest of his finery and pulled his soft, worn nightshirt over his head. He sat on the edge of his bed for a while, replaying the events of the night in his mind. He couldn’t help dwelling on the kiss, the feel of the baron’s smooth, firm lips against his own. He wondered what might have happened had he followed his instinct and crawled into the man’s lap to press against him. Would he even now be wrapped up with him, overcome with pleasure. He shivered but forced his thoughts away from that image. He crawled between his sheets and turned towards the wall, determined not to picture it further. Still, it was a long time before he fell asleep.


The next day saw Yuuri pulled back into the busy rhythm of a medical student. He tried to put Viktor entirely out of his mind and by the afternoon the previous evening felt like something from a dream. The man who was currently splattered with various unspeakable fluids couldn’t possibly be the same as the one who had danced with a beautiful nobleman at a glittering party the night before, surely. The contrast only served to underline to him the extraordinary and fleeting nature of the baron’s attention.

It wouldn’t be long before the man lost interest in him, found a new companion. If there was one thing that all the rumours and gossip about Viktor agreed on, it was that he never stayed with anyone for long. Most frequently, it seemed, his interest lasted mere hours. Occasionally he was seen with someone for a few weeks, before being spotted with someone new on his arm. Yuuri was one in a long line. It was important he never forget that fact.

When Yuuri returned to his lodging, he found a large arrangement of flowers in a crystal vase standing on the table. The flowers were a wild assortment of types and colours, a riot of summer blooms shoved together without any seeming order or significance. A quickly scrawled note from Phichit explained they’d arrived by messenger from “your baron.” There was also a sealed letter next to the vase.

My Dear Yuuri,

I hope you enjoyed our evening together as much as I, though I fear that is an impossibility. It was hardly the most pleasant event to ask you to attend. I hope Giselle will go some way towards making up for that. Name the evening and I will make the arrangements. Would tomorrow evening be too soon to secure a box? Most likely…yet let me know if you are free and I will do my best. Until we see one another again, I hope these flowers brighten your life, as your presence has brightened mine.



Yuuri sank into one of the nearby chairs, feeling a bit dizzy. He exhaled the breath he’d inadvertently held while reading the note. His face was flushed with embarrassment. How could the man write such things when they barely knew one another? And how could he be so easily affected by them? He was practically swooning and all he’d done was send flowers. Yuuri took a deep breath and told himself sternly to calm down. He thought over the baron’s request. Much as he was eager to see him again, he wasn’t sure it was a fantastic idea to do so as soon as the following day. Surely if he waited a few days, his head wouldn’t still be spinning from their first evening. Perhaps it would also do what Phichit had recommended, and increase the baron’s desire if he wasn’t quite so easily won.

So he wrote the baron a note to say he wasn’t free until Monday evening, knowing the theatres would be closed. Which meant the soonest he would be seeing Viktor was four days from now. He received Viktor’s reply with Saturday’s morning post, lamenting the delay. Viktor had already contacted the box office, apparently, and secured a box for Tuesday. Yuuri tried to feel happy about the wait, knowing it was his own doing.

He threw himself into his work to pass the time, putting in longer hours than strictly required, staying up late reading. Phichit sent him a lot of knowing looks, but Yuuri refused to engage with him on the topic of the baron. Finally Tuesday arrived. He had a busy schedule that day and thus had little time to grow anxious about the evening ahead. He barely had time to wash up and dress before the appointed hour, and he was still struggling with his bow tie when Viktor arrived in his coach.

“You look radiant, as ever,” the baron said as Yuuri settled next to him on the seat. Yuuri smiled at the unnecessary compliment. He wished he could find the right words to say how gorgeous he found Viktor, but how did you compliment the most beautiful man in London? He must hear his looks praised all day and every night.

“Thank you,” he said instead. On the drive to the theatre Yuuri felt very aware of Viktor’s body next to him, though they weren’t touching at all. After the kiss they’d shared he seemed not to be able to avoid thinking about the physicality of the man. He was aware he wasn’t holding up his end of the conversation, which focused on the ballet they were going to see, but he couldn’t seem to focus.

He startled when a gloved hand closed on his wrist lightly. “Are you well?” asked Viktor, concerned.

“Oh, err, yes,” he managed. “I apologise, I was merely…” Distracted. he thought, but realised that would make him sound uninterested in his company. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “Please forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” insisted Viktor with a small frown. “I merely noticed you seem less…lively this evening. But you aren’t ill or overtired? We can go another night if you’d prefer.”

“No, no!” he exclaimed, rather more forcefully than he intended. “I’m looking forward to it so much! My thoughts merely wandered.” Viktor’s expression lightened.

“Well, you are the scholar here,” he said fondly, reached out to brush a stray strand of hair from Yuuri’s forehead. His breath caught at that. “I’m sure your mind is full of fascinating subjects at all times.”

Yuuri blushed, especially since the subject he’d been considering had hardly been scholarly. “I…no…what were you saying about the prima ballerina?” Viktor repeated himself and they chatted amiably the rest of the way.

The coach pulled up under the covered area outside Covent Garden Theatre and they debarked. Yuuri had visited this venue once before for an opera he’d attended with Phichit. In that case, however, they’d been seated at the very rear of the pit and therefore hadn’t needed to wear evening dress. It felt entirely different to enter the theatre on Baron Nikiforov’s arm instead of feeling like an interloper. This time the heads of the attendants bowed to them, and people cleared a path before them, whispers breaking out as they moved through the crowd. The grand staircase still looked imposing, and Yuuri felt almost as if they were ascending to some different world, one of opulence and decadence.

Yuuri followed Viktor into their box and took one of the chairs at the front. Viktor looked around the noisy amphitheatre intently, seemingly studying the occupants of the other boxes. He fetched a pair of opera glasses from his inner pocket and trained them lazily around the semi-circle. Yuuri wished he owned a pair, though only to see the performers closer, not to spy on the members of the audience. After a short time, the baron seemed satisfied with whatever he’d seen and folded the glasses into his lap.

“We must get better acquainted,” he declared without preamble. “Tell me something about yourself I don’t already know.” Yuuri ducked his head and looked at his hands in his lap, mind racing.

“I…I don’t know what…” He looked around, his mind a blank.

“Well, tell me about your family. Oh, that’s so boring, isn’t it?” Viktor bit his lip and looked annoyed.

“Not…really,” Yuuri assured him.

“No? Well, then?”

“Hmm, my parents…they aren’t anyone…important. They own an onsen and ryokan.” He continued with hardly a pause to explain the foreign words. “An onsen is a natural hot spring, people go there to bathe for their health.”

“Like Bath,” interrupted Viktor.

“Yes, very similar,” he agreed. “Though in Japan we actually bathe in the waters. Fully nude.” He shot Viktor a provocative look.

“Hmm,” said Viktor, his eyes sweeping Yuuri’s form, “I could see the appeal in that.” Yuuri coloured, but forged ahead.

“A ryokan is a sort of inn, I suppose. Where people who come to bathe stay. My mother cooks for the guests; she’s a wonderful cook.” He looked up under his lashes at Viktor’s reaction. He was admitting to a Russian nobleman that his mother was essentially a servant, though his parents weren’t poor and worked only for themselves. Viktor caught his gaze and smiled.

“I’m sure she is,” he said. “What is the food like where you come from?” he added with genuine interest.

“Oh, it’s very different from English cooking.” He looked sideways at Viktor. “Better, in my opinion.” Viktor grinned widely.

“Don’t worry, I feel no need to defend English food. I find it incredibly bland myself.”

“I’m not surprised, if the food from the banquet was representative of Russian cooking.” Yuuri hadn’t paid a great deal of attention to the food that night, but he had enjoyed it, especially the unique use of spices in some of the dishes.

“Yes, though not as good as at home, of course,” Viktor said. “But tell me about Japanese food.”

“Oh, well, where I live is on the sea, so we eat a lot of seafood, of course. Raw, sometimes.”

“Like oysters?”

“Yes, we have oysters, but we also eat fish raw, sliced very thin, sometimes with rice or sauce.”

“And it’s good?” Viktor asked, looking only slightly sceptical.

“Mmm-hmm. Very fresh. But we cook fish also different ways. We don’t eat a lot of meat, not in big roasts like people do here. The food is more…delicate. Small amounts with things put together in the perfect combination of flavors. It’s meant to be beautiful as well as delicious.”

Viktor smiled at him. “Like you,” he said and then looked down. Yuuri was amazed to see what looked like a blush across his nose. He was so distracted he didn’t really register what Viktor had said for a moment. When he did he was confused.

“Like me?” Viktor nodded.

“Beautiful and delicious,” he said, looking a bit bashful. This time it was Yuuri whose face flushed and he had no idea how to respond. He was intensely thankful that the orchestra began making the first sounds of readiness just then.

Yuuri was swept away in the ballet, transported by the beauty of the dancers and the music, as he always was. Viktor seemed similarly transfixed, neither of them moving much for the entire first half. The final scene, in which Giselle danced to her death, was stunningly performed by the ballerina in the role. She managed to convey her broken heart and mad self-destruction so eloquently with her body. It was this communication that had stolen his heart when he’d first attended a ballet. When the music finally ceased and the applause faded, Yuuri turned to smile at his companion.

“You were right,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

“I’m so happy you’re pleased,” replied Viktor. They shared a moment of eye contact where Yuuri enjoyed the sparkling of Viktor’s sea blue eyes. “Come, let’s get some refreshment,” said Viktor, standing and offering his hand to help Yuuri up.

Yuuri’s cheeks heated as he took his hand, despite the fact they were both wearing gloves. Viktor tucked his hand into the crook of his arm and lead him from their box with a confident stride. Once again, being on this man’s arm filled him with a sense of pride. He felt the stares as they emerged, eyes turning to Baron Nikiforov as a matter of course, and then reacting in mild shock to see Yuuri next to him. He knew he stood out in any English crowd, but even more so here, among the wealthy and fashionable. He felt all too conscious of the stares. At the embassy there had been people from many parts of the world, but here everyone was English, or at least European.

Viktor distracted him from the staring by placing a glass of champagne into his hand. “I know you like champagne, my dear,” he murmured, and Yuuri’s attention was once more solely on his eyes. He suddenly wished they were alone, and that he could find the courage to reach up and pull those lips to his own.

“Baron!” boomed a voice from behind Yuuri. He and Viktor turned to the speaker, a young foppish man with an artless smile.

“Hello, Davies,” said Viktor, and Yuuri thought he heard some reserve in his tone. The other man opened his mouth to speak, but then his eyes caught on Yuuri.

“Oh, my, Viktor, is this your latest?” he asked with wide eyes. Yuuri froze, unsure how to react.

“This is Mr. Yuuri Katsuki,” Viktor said politely. “And this is Mr. Edward Davies.” Yuuri reached out to shake the man’s hand, but he turned Yuuri’s hand palm down and placed a rather dainty kiss across his fingers. Yuuri resisted the urge to snatch his hand back and felt grateful for his gloves. He managed a weak smile and took a large sip of his champagne.

“How exotic!” said Davies, his look taking in all of Yuuri. “I say, old chap, does he have all the right bits in the right places?”

Yuuri’s quiet gasp was covered by the man’s snickering. He nearly dropped his champagne flute. Hot anger rushed through him, realising that either the man assumed Yuuri couldn’t understand him or simply didn’t care if he did. He wanted to say something that would show him just how well he could speak English and how very little he thought of him, but the words all stuck in his throat and he gaped open-mouthed. Tears sprang to his eyes at his own sudden inability to defend himself and he jerked away.

He turned his back on Viktor and his friend and stalked off as quickly as possibly through the crowd. He heard Viktor’s voice behind him, raised sharply, but he didn’t catch the words. The blood was pounding in his ears as he struggled to keep the tears of shame from falling. He hurried towards the back of the mezzanine, headed for a blank door. He had no idea where it led, but he just needed to be away from here.

He pushed through the door into a hallway that led around the outside of the building. He followed the corridor thoughtlessly, turning a corner and trying a door at the end. This door was locked, and Yuuri was trapped. He didn’t want to go back the way he’d come, so he leaned against the wall and downed the rest of his drink. He forced himself to breath deeply in order to get himself under control again. He hated showing his weakness like this. He’d thought this kind of overreaction was behind him, but evidently not.

“Yuuri!” called a familiar voice from the other end of the corridor. He sighed, knowing the coming scene was inevitable, but he stayed silent. He didn’t want to face Viktor after embarrassing him so badly in front of the eyes of high society. Still Viktor’s figure appeared around the corner, and he sped up as he spotted Yuuri at the far end.

“There you are!” he said as he approached. “Thank God.” And to Yuuri’s shock Viktor reached for him, pulling him into an embrace. His arms wrapped around him tightly as Yuuri’s palms were pressed to the front of Viktor’s suit-coat.

“Viktor?” he said in a small voice.

“Yuuri, my darling, I’m so sorry for that imbecile! I can’t believe he could be so offensive!” Viktor cupped his face with a hand and tilted his head up. “Are you alright?”

Yuuri couldn’t find the breath to reply for several seconds, so stunned was he by Viktor’s embrace and the concern he saw in his eyes. “I…yes,” he said finally. “I was just…angry. I thought it better to leave than make a scene.” Viktor’s mouth quirked up.

“I rather caused one myself. I could have punched the fellow. How dare he?” Yuuri saw the genuine anger under his concerned expression.

“I’m sorry I caused…a problem with your friend.”

“You? You’re sorry?” Viktor’s grip on his chin became stronger. “Yuuri, no. He’s an ignorant and disgusting fool. And he’s not my friend. Barely an acquaintance, really. It’s I who should apologise to you for…exposing you to that.” Viktor was looking at him intensely and Yuuri suddenly needed to be farther away. He pulled back against the resistance of Viktor’s arms and after a moment his companion released him. Yuuri stepped away and looked down, taking a deep breath.

“It wasn’t your fault, Viktor,” he said after a moment. “I…I should be more used to it by now. I rather thought I was. I simply wasn’t expecting it just then.”

“This kind of thing happens often, then?” asked Viktor quietly after a moment of silence. Yuuri swallowed and nodded. “How terrible.”

Yuuri lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “It’s only to be expected. I’m different. A lot of people dislike that.” Or like it too well, he added silently, thinking of some of the propositions he’d received.

“I still can’t believe…” Viktor sighed and shook his head. “Well, we don’t want to be late for the second half, do we?” He extended a hand to Yuuri. Yuuri nodded and took it. “Do you want another glass? I feel I could rather use one after that.” Yuuri agreed, hoping a second glass would settle his nerves.

When they returned to their box Viktor moved his chair closer to Yuuri’s before sitting in it. Then he placed a hand on Yuuri’s thigh, just above his knee. “Feeling a bit better?” he asked quietly. Yuuri stared at his hand, which felt hot even through his trousers. He reached out and covered Viktor’s hand with his own. He nodded. Viktor’s hand squeezed his leg gently.

Even when the ballet began again, neither of them moved their hands. Yuuri tucked his fingers under the edge of Viktor’s hand and found himself squeezing it when there was a particularly exciting moment in the performance. He was thrilled when Viktor squeezed back.

After the ballet, Viktor took him for dinner at the fanciest restaurant he’d ever seen. Yuuri was intimidated by everything about the place, from the large gilded mirrors to the menu which was given orally in French, to the staff who all seemed to know Viktor. He must have shown how overwhelmed he was because Viktor took his hand under the table and squeezed.

“Don’t worry. I’ll handle everything,” he said. Yuuri was grateful for the arrival of a bottle of champagne, which he began to drink with some speed. They finished a second bottle of wine as well, this one red to go with their meal. The food was very good, more flavourful than most English cooking (probably because it was actually French.)

By the time they returned to Viktor’s coach, Yuuri was feeling the effects of the wine and he leaned against Viktor un-self-consciously. Viktor encircled his waist with one arm and Yuuri hummed happily.

“Did you enjoy the evening, solnyshko?”

“Yes,” he answered, tilting his head further toward Viktor. Viktor’s free hand came up to stroke Yuuri’s hair and he looked up into his blue eyes. “Kiss me,” Yuuri said, before he could stop himself.

Viktor’s lips parted and then he leaned down and gave Yuuri what he’d asked for. The kiss was tender, but Yuuri reached up and gripped the back of the baron’s neck, deepening the kiss. His lips parted and he sucked on Viktor’s bottom lip, which made the other man hiss and press his tongue into his mouth hungrily. They kissed loudly, wetly, teeth getting in the way and hands wrinkling their fine clothes by grasping for purchase. Yuuri moved his mouth sideways and kissed down Viktor’s jaw, licking the skin underneath. Viktor moaned approval and he continued down, tasting his throat until he ran into the barrier of his collar. Yuuri sucked into the skin just over the edge of the collar, while Viktor’ hands slid down his back, one of them curving down to cup his rear. Yuuri groaned and thrust forwards, his fully erect cock rubbing against Viktor’s thigh.

“Yuuri, god…” Viktor murmured, his hands gripping tighter. Yuuri reached up to Viktor’s tie and yanked at the silk, tugging until it came loose and then fumbling with the collar stud. He made a noise of triumph as it came free, and he pushed the collar out of the way so he could reach more of Viktor’s skin. Viktor was making the most wonderful noises in response, whimpers and gasps. Yuuri thrilled with the knowledge that he was causing those sounds, that he was the one pleasuring this man.

As his mouth worked down to the juncture of his shoulder and neck, his hand slid down Viktor’s torso. It trailed over the buttons of his waistcoat and lower, until he felt the hard length jutting up. He pressed his palm to it and Viktor started. Viktor shifted, almost pulling away.

“Need you,” Yuuri whined but then a firm hand gripped his wrist and pulled his hand away. He looked up at Viktor, shocked.

“Yuuri,” breathed Viktor, eyes blown dark and breath ragged. “Wait, darling, slow down.” Yuuri blinked at him, swaying slightly. Viktor sat up, pulling Yuuri into a more upright position as well. “You’ve had a lot to drink tonight,” he continued in a calm tone.

“I thought you wanted…” Yuuri felt confused.

“Yes, yes, I very much want you, my dear.” Viktor snaked his arm around Yuuri waist. “But I couldn’t stand if you hated me in the morning.”

“I won’t,” he insisted a bit petulantly.

“You’re drunk, you drank far more than I did tonight. So this time I’m going to stop this before it goes too far.” Yuuri frowned, feeling the sting of tears at the rejection.

Viktor pressed his lips to the top of Yuuri’s head. “Don’t dream this means I don’t want you. What it means is that I want to spend much, much more time with you than just tonight. I don’t want to jeopardise the chance of that for a quick fumble in a carriage.” Yuuri looked up at him and saw the sincerity in his face.

“It’s alright,” he tried. “I promise, I want this.”

“I’m glad, Yuuri.” Viktor smiled wickedly. “But when I have you I want you to be clear-headed and fully aware…Call me selfish.”

“Hmm,” said Yuuri, resting his head on the strong shoulder next to him. “Soon, though?” He could hear Viktor’s smile in his voice when he replied.

“Very soon. As soon as possible. I’ll plan something…appropriate.” Viktor brought his hand up to stroke Yuuri’s hair. Yuuri let himself relax then, closing his eyes and rocking against Viktor with the movement of the coach. He started awake when Viktor shook him. The movement had stopped. The coach was standing outside his building.

“Oh,” he said.

“Let me help you to your door,” offered Viktor. Yuuri eyed the other man, his eyes widening as he took in the open collar and wrecked tie. He felt belatedly embarrassed at his behaviour.

“No. No, I can make it.”

“Are you sure?” Yuuri nodded, focusing on exiting the coach without falling.

“I’ll send to you tomorrow to arrange our next evening?” called Viktor. Yuuri smiled back at him.

“Yes. Please.” He was rewarded with a dazzling smile. Yuuri swayed for a moment on his feet. How was a man so beautiful? And how had a man that beautiful become interested in him? He shook his head, unable to come up with any answer. He continued up the steps to his door, focusing on not tripping. He wanted to maintain his dignity at least until there was no chance of Viktor seeing.

Phichit looked disappointed when Yuuri stumbled through the door. Then his eyes narrowed. “You look both drunk and rumpled…did the baron have his evil way with you?”

Yuuri sighed, tugging his tie free. “No. Unfortunately.” He tossed the scrap of silk aside and sat heavily in an armchair to remove his shoes. “I practically begged him to take me. In fact, I think I did beg.”

“And he refused?” asked Phichit incredulously.

“Mmm-hmm,” Yuuri agreed. “Said I was too drunk.”

“Well, he probably had a point.”

“I don’t know how to get him to take me to bed, then! How can I throw myself at him if I’m not drunk?”

“Hmm, if you were as blatant as you say perhaps he’s taken the hint that you’re willing?” offered Phichit with some amusement.

“Well, he did promise ‘soon’,” admitted Yuuri sheepishly.

“See? There’s only so long anyone can resist Yuuri Katsuki.”

“Well I certainly hope so,” Yuuri grumbled.

Chapter Text

Yuuri slept in the next day after waking with a terrible headache sometime around dawn. He drank a large amount of water and a headache powder and buried himself back in his quilts to sleep it off. He was deeply thankful his afternoon practical demonstration was not a dissection.

When he returned home, a letter from Viktor awaited him, inviting him out the following evening, without specifying a destination. He knew he would be neglecting his studies to spend another evening out so soon, but he spared only a second in hesitation before writing a note accepting the invitation.

The following day he was surprised by a large package which arrived around lunch time. His landlady brought it up to him, grumbling about how much mail he was receiving recently. He thanked her politely with a bow and took the box, which was wrapped in brown paper.

“What’s that?” called Phichit from the small kitchen where he was brewing some tea.

“I don’t know.” He set the box on the table and began to carefully untie the string.

“Oh just cut it,” said his roommate from over his shoulder, holding out a paring knife. Yuuri sighed but did as instructed. The box gave no indication of it’s contents, so he opened it to see folded tissue paper and a piece of card bearing his name. When he lifted the card, he disturbed the tissue enough to see the box contained folded clothing. He turned the card to read what was written on the reverse.

“Wear this tonight.

“He sent you another suit?” asked Phichit, already pushing the paper aside to inspect the article inside. Yuuri couldn’t tell if he sounded more jealous or surprised.

“Apparently.” The article in Phichit’s hands was a dinner jacket, similar to the one he had owned since coming to London, except this was a very dark blue rather than black. The fabric was very fine, incredibly smooth against his fingertips despite being woolen. The lapels were a shiny black silk and the trousers also featured a black stripe along the side seam. Yuuri felt somewhat relieved to find the tailor had included a new shirt, waistcoat, and tie as well, as his best shirt was a little the worse for wear after the previous evening out with Viktor.

“Well, try it on!” urged Phichit.

“I don’t need to get dressed for hours yet,” he objected.

“What if it doesn’t fit?” Yuuri had to admit his friend had a point, although he imagined the tailor, Mr. Russell, would be offended by the implication. He allowed Phichit to carry the box into his bedroom and bully him into it. It fit like a glove, the trousers snug and jacket hanging perfectly.

“Incredible, Yuuri! You look almost indecent in that,” enthused his friend, craning to peer at his backside.

“Phichit,” he said in a warning tone.

“Do you think the baron told them to make it that fitted?” he asked with a smirk. Yuuri rolled his eyes and decided to simply turn his back on the Siamese man rather than engage. He carefully removed the jacket and trousers and laid them neatly across his bed in preparation for the evening.

Yuuri forced himself to spend the afternoon reading, trying to focus on chemistry instead of wondering what the evening with Viktor ahead would hold. He was not particularly successful. Finally it was late enough that he allowed himself to start getting ready. He had to admit he liked the suit once it was on and he could see himself partially in the small mirror over the dressing table. Blue was his favourite colour, and the cut was flattering.

When the knock sounded at the door of their rooms, he darted forward but Phichit was faster and opened the door. Viktor was standing there, in a dark grey suit. He looked taken aback to see Phichit, but an instant later his eyes swung over to meet Yuuri’s gaze, as if drawn there by magnetic force. The baron smiled at him, his blue eyes shimmering. He seemed to recall himself after a moment.

“Mr. Chulanont, isn’t it?” he said, extending a hand to Yuuri’s roommate.

“That’s right,” replied Phichit, shaking his hand. He opened his mouth to say something else, but Yuuri bustled forward.

“Well, I’m sure Viktor has plans and we can’t be late. Goodnight, Phichit!” He grasped Viktor’s arm and steered him backwards into the hall. He heard a splutter of laughter from the baron, but he turned dutifully and headed for the stairs. Yuuri looked over his shoulder back at Phichit who mouthed ‘Good luck!’ at him with a grin. Yuuri sighed and hurried out of the building. He didn’t want to think of the kind of embarrassing things Phichit could say to Viktor if given free rein.

“Are you worried about what I might say to him or he to me?” asked Viktor as he handed Yuuri into the carriage.

“Err, definitely him. Or…mostly him.”

When Yuuri had climbed into the coach, Viktor was quick to capture his hand and press a kiss to the back. He then turned the hand over and deftly unbuttoned the glove at the wrist. He lowered his head again, pressing his lips to the sensitive exposed skin. Yuuri gave a soft gasp as his heart rate jumped. As he folded the soft cotton further up Yuuri’s hand, Viktor flicked his eyes upwards to give him an insouciant glance. Then he pressed several more kisses to his hand, moving up to his palm from his wrist.

Yuuri felt frozen, unable to do anything but breathe heavily. Heat flowed along his spine, his clothing feeling stifling, and trousers growing tight. Then Viktor flicked his tongue out to trace along the centre of his palm and he cried out, jerking his hand away. He cradled his hand to his chest as if it had been burned, watching Viktor with wide eyes.

“I’m sorry. Did I go too far?” Viktor’s voice was smooth, but somehow Yuuri thought the question contained a trace of genuine concern.

“I…” He couldn’t find any words. The baron studied him for a moment, then reached a hand slowly towards his face. He took Yuuri’s chin in his gloved fingers gently.

“May I kiss you, Yuuri? I’ve been thinking about it all day.” Yuuri wondered if that were true, if it were possible Viktor had been thinking of him as much as he’d been dreaming of the baron. He felt vaguely that he should refuse, whether to spare himself the awkward arousal or to increase the other man’s desire, but his body was too aflame to be able to. He nodded shakily.

Viktor smiled, a wide and delighted grin at odds with his seductive manner. Then he leaned close until his lips just brushed Yuuri’s. It was Yuuri who pressed forward to deepen the kiss, needing more contact. He expected the baron to take this as encouragement, expected him to part Yuuri’s lips and delve inside, to take hungrily as he had on the last occasion they’d occupied a carriage. But he did not, keeping the kiss something more than chaste and less than obscene. When he pulled back, Yuuri was panting, his self-control held together only by his fear of appearing foolish. His instincts screamed at him to follow Viktor’s lips, to climb into the man’s lap and rut against him until his desire was sated. He was thankful for his sobriety, that kept him from acting.

He glanced down, though, to see the obvious tent in his trousers, his member standing up obscenely. Viktor’s eyes followed his gaze and his face broke into a leer. “Well, well, my darling. Aren’t you determined to tempt me?” Yuuri’s pulse sounded loud in his ears at the sudden thought of what the baron might do next.

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri said vaguely, not even sure what he meant by it.

“Don’t apologise, miliy,” said the baron with a grin. “You make me want to tell the driver to circle the park a few times.”

Viktor’s gaze, still focused on his lap, made his face burn even hotter. He crossed his legs and folded his trembling hands in his lap to obscure the embarrassment. The baron looked up at him with a pout. He brought his mouth close to Yuuri’s ear. “Of course, if you prefer, I could show you mine.”

Yuuri’s eyes slammed shut and his chest heaved as he tried to maintain his control. “Oh, you’re so very adorable!” cried Viktor. When Yuuri didn’t respond or open his eyes again, he relented. “Oh, fine, I’ll cease teasing. We have a table waiting for us, after all.” Yuuri sensed Viktor settling back against the seat cushions.

After a few moments he opened his eyes, but avoided looking at his companion. He couldn’t believe how quickly he’d embarrassed himself this evening. And yet, he couldn’t be entirely sorry for it, if Viktor was being sincere. It seemed neither of them had forgotten their last carriage ride, or the promises made about ‘next time.’

The coach pulled to a stop outside the restaurant Viktor had chosen for the evening. It was the Gaiety Restaurant, which Yuuri recognised as being attached to the Gaiety Theatre. Phichit had performed in one of the burlesques at the Gaiety the year before.

“Are we going to the theatre tonight?” Yuuri asked Viktor after they were seated at their table.

“Yes, if that’s acceptable. I hear the show is worthwhile; it’s causing quite the scandal.” Viktor grinned wickedly at him across the small table. “If you’d rather pursue other activities, of course…” He trailed off, leaving the innuendo hanging in the air. Yuuri looked down, his cheeks burning. The truth was, of course, he didn’t really care about the burlesque. If Viktor had taken him straight from Yuuri’s lodging to his own, he would hardly have minded. Yet, he couldn’t imagine having the courage to come out and say so, to ask Viktor now to abandon their evening and make love to him instead.

He reached for his wine glass, inwardly cursing when his hand shook. His trousers had grown tight just from his brief imaginings, he had no idea how he would make it through the night. His idea that perhaps his ardour would have cooled in the days without seeing Viktor was disproved, since no sooner had he seen him than he was desperate once again.

He looked up and saw that Viktor was watching him, his eyes sparkling as if he could read Yuuri’s thoughts. He cleared his throat. “What, err, is so scandalous about the play?”

Viktor gave a half-shrug. “Oh, from what I hear some of the men wear as little as the women. There’s the usual men in female roles and women in male roles, of course. To be honest, I think London’s matrons must not have enough to be shocked by this season, so they settled on this production.”

“Ah,” replied Yuuri. “Have you neglected to provide them enough fodder to be scandalised by recently?” Viktor’s face was blank for a moment, and his stomach dropped, fearing he’d been frightfully rude instead of teasing. Then Viktor’s face cracked into loud laughter, and Yuuri relaxed.

After he caught his breath, Viktor looked around the dining room and then leaned close to Yuuri to whisper in his ear. “I could kiss you right here, if it’s scandal you want.” Yuuri went stock still, the twin emotions of embarrassment and arousal warring within him. A shiver travelled down his spine and he couldn’t quite conceal it.

Once again he felt Viktor’s eyes on him, studying his response. “Would you like that?” Viktor asked in a casual, normal tone. Out of sight under the table Yuuri clenched his hand into a fist, his nails digging painfully into his palm to keep him from making any humiliating squeaking sounds.

“I…I would,” he answered finally, enjoying the way Viktor’s eyes widened. “But I’d hate for it to show up in the gossip pages.”

“Well,” said Viktor, his voice a little thick, “We’ll have to wait until we have a more private setting, then.” Their eyes met, and a current of heat seemed to pass between them. Yuuri shifted in his chair, his erection having become uncomfortable. Viktor’s eyes followed his fidgeting, clearly drawing conclusions from it. “I’m so tempted to seek out a private closet somewhere right now,” continued Viktor, his cheekbones dusted with pink.

Yuuri coughed, looking away to try to maintain his composure. All around them sat respectable diners enjoying a pre-theatre meal, many of them middle-class married couples out for a rare evening’s pleasure. He felt even more like an alien than he normally did, with his louche Russian noble companion, both of them making lewd conversation where anyone could overhear. “Please,” he said to Viktor.

“Please?” The other man laughed a little. “Please take you away somewhere private?” His tone was disbelieving.

“No!” he objected, far more loudly than he’d intended. He winced. “That is, please…can we…change the topic.”

“Oh,” said the baron, only a touch of disappointment in his tone. “Well, then…” He looked around for inspiration. “Why don’t you tell me about your studies. Why medicine?”

“Err, well, I…I wanted to do something that would be a help to my family, and my home. Many ill people come to Hasetsu for the springs, and the sea air, so studying medicine seemed natural when I was able to go away for school. Then I learned of the advancements in science being made, but there wasn’t anyone at home trained in the latest medical knowledge. So I applied to the government for permission to study abroad.” Viktor was listening raptly, eyes smiling. His apparent interest gave Yuuri the confidence to continue. “The truth is I’d always wanted to travel, to see how people lived elsewhere. I read stories about Europe when I was young, and it sounded so exotic.”

Viktor’s mouth formed a heart shape. “How does England measure up to your imagination?” he asked with a wry tone.

“Eh, it’s very different. I imagined England as a place with knights and castles, not modern London, with it’s terrible yellow fog and so many people living so closely.” He blushed. “I suppose that makes me sound foolish.”

“Not at all,” said Viktor with a shake of his head. “I can’t even begin to imagine what Japan would be like. I’ve read a bit about it, and seen some of the art, but I’m sure that’s nothing like the reality.”

“I don’t know. What have you read?”

“Oh, umm,” Viktor’s nose grew a little pink. “I bought a book about Japan the other day. It makes it sound like some kind of paradise, where no one does anything but create beautiful things and everyone is happy.”

Yuuri smiled wryly. “I suppose there are worse ways to be portrayed.”

“I realise how inaccurate and simplified an outsider’s understanding can be of a place. I’ve heard plenty of British opinions on Russia, after all,” said Viktor. “I suppose the British condescension is similar for both countries, since they seem to see both Russia and Japan as having only recently discovered civilisation and forsaken barbarity.” They shared a look.

“Enough about the English, though,” continued the baron. “What I want to know is how you dress at home. Do you wear a kimono? Is that the correct term?”

Yuuri nods. “Sometimes men wear Western suits at home, for government functions, and the very rich and fashionable people. Western clothing is very expensive, though, so mostly we wear traditional styles, especially in places like Hasetsu.”

“So is it a long, silk, decorated kimono, like women sometimes wear here? I’d bet you would look lovely in one.”

Yuuri blushed and looked down for a second before answering. “Hmm, silk, yes, unless it’s summer and a very casual occasion. Long, sometimes. Usually men’s kimono are darker colours and not as embroidered as women’s. Probably much plainer than what you’ve seen.”

“Oh.” Viktor looked a little disappointed. “Did you bring any with you?”

Yuuri looked away from Viktor’s flirtatious gaze. He had brought a formal kimono and hakama as well as a yukata which he sometimes wore in his room. “I did, although I haven’t worn it since I arrived,” he admitted.

“I’d love to see you in it!” enthused Viktor. Yuuri bit his lip in hesitation.

“I…don’t know. Perhaps, one day.” He wouldn’t wear his country’s traditional clothing out here. He nearly shuddered at the thought of the attention that would draw. So if he did show Viktor, it would have to be in private. And they weren’t quite that intimate yet.

For the rest of the meal they talked about their homes and the differences with England. Yuuri found himself relaxing and enjoying the conversation, forgetting the strange and thrilling tension between them for a time. When the meal was done, Viktor led him next door to the theatre.

The theatre was a very large and elegant building, with a curved classical front corner and a dark dome looming above the entrance. Once inside, they proceeded up an octagonal staircase to the private boxes. The mood of the theatre was subtly different from the ballet. People were dressed less elaborately, and didn’t seem to all know one another, as they had on the other occasion. He saw many married couples rather than family groups, and in general far more gentlemen than ladies.

Yuuri tried to focus on the show once it began, but found it somewhat difficult. It seemed to make a lot of allusions to cultural ideas he didn’t recognise. Much of the humour went over his head as well. The jokes he understood tended to be the off-colour ones. He could see why the production was considered mildly scandalous, though. The revealing costumes included form-fitting tights on both female and male performers, as well as some cross-sex casting. This lead to some rather risque scenes of romance between two male actors and even more shockingly, two female actors.

As the show continued, Yuuri’s attention wandered to his more immediate surroundings and he felt Viktor’s eyes on him. He turned to his right and met the baron’s electric gaze. Yuuri held his breath for a moment as something built between them, the heat of earlier rising again. Then one corner of Viktor’s mouth quirked up and he shifted his chair backwards into shadow. He crooked a finger at Yuuri, looking towards the open space next to him. Yuuri looked around and then moved his own chair back until the shadow cast by the curtain at the front of the box covered him as well. Viktor moved his chair again, until it was pressed tight to Yuuri’s.

The baron leaned toward him and whispered directly into his ear, “Now no one can see us.” Yuuri met his eyes again, feeling the weight of implication that statement carried. His breath came fast as Viktor raised a hand to his face. He shivered then and moved forward to meet the baron’s lips with his own.

The kiss was a relief and Yuuri relaxed for what felt like the first time since he’d parted from Viktor on their previous night together. Their mouths opened, tongues meeting as they took turns exploring and pressing. Warmth spread through his body, tingling down to his toes, and he was perfectly content to simply stay in Viktor’s embrace indefinitely. Unlike on the two previous occasions, this kiss was unhurried and luxurious, both of them feeling their way. Viktor’s arms encircled him, his hands slowly trailing down and up Yuuri’s arms, one curving around his waist and then up his spine. It served to remind him of the rest of his body, including his rigid member, but neither of them hurried the encounter.

Yuuri was surprised when the music ended and the gaslights brightened to signal the interval. He broke apart from his companion’s lips to look at him sheepishly. He was in no decent state to stand or walk any time soon. Viktor blinked in the increased light, also looking slightly startled that the first half was over.

“Well,” said the baron. “I can’t say something cool to drink wouldn’t be welcome just now, but…it’s rather an inconvenient moment, wouldn’t you say?” His eyes flicked down to Yuuri’s lap and the obvious tent in the cloth. Yuuri’s face burned and he couldn’t help trying to cover his arousal with a hand. He looked to the other man’s lap, though and saw he was in a similar state. The sight caused a deep throb of desire to pass through him, going directly to his core. Viktor didn’t make any move to cover himself or hide his cockstand, in fact he settled back against his chair as if on display. Yuuri’s mouth went dry and his breathing grew more ragged.

“Viktor,” he said, voice low. The other man held out a hand to him, which Yuuri took. Viktor tugged him forward, off his own chair and into the other man’s lap in a tangle of limbs. When Yuuri sorted himself out, he was straddling the baron, his feet just touching the floor on either side of the man’s chair.

The baron kissed him again, with more heat and intensity this time. Their bodies pressed together, rocking slightly in unconscious movement. Yuuri could feel the other man’s arousal pressing against his own deliciously. He hardly knew where he was, feeling drunk and dazed with Viktor’s kisses, with the desire thrumming through his veins. He took advantage of his position to grind down harder against his companion, earning him a soft groan against his mouth. One of Viktor’s hands slid down his back and cupped his buttock, holding him tight.

Yuuri lost track of time again in the wet heat of Viktor’s mouth and the burning friction of their bodies. The orchestra started up once more and the lights dimmed. They broke apart and stared at one another for a moment. Viktor’s mouth was swollen and red and perspiration beaded along his hairline. He looked to be thinking for another second and then he planted his hands firmly on Yuuri’s hips. He leaned forward to speak directly into Yuuri’s ear. “Turn around, kotenok.

Yuuri didn’t understand what his aim was, but he stood up and let Viktor guide him into turning around and then seating himself back on the taller man’s lap. Viktor drew him back until he slotted tightly against his chest. Viktor’s erection pressed into the valley between his buttocks, causing both of them to gasp. The baron pressed a brief peck to the side of Yuuri’s throat before bringing his hands around him and beginning to unbutton his kid gloves. Yuuri watched as Victor peeled the soft, thin gloves from his hands, not sure what this portended, but sure it meant something profound.

Then Victor’s right hand came to rest high on Yuuri’s thigh, scant inches from his sex. He panted more heavily, his cock twitching at the sensation. He felt Viktor’s breath against his ear. “May I?” he asked. His fingers twitched in the direction of the bulge in his trousers. Yuuri took two ragged breaths, suddenly aware once more of the loud musical production happening so far away on the stage before him. He could just see the stage from where he sat, but none of the other boxes. It was easy to imagine they were alone here, if not for the sounds. Somewhat assured that no one could overlook them, he finally nodded his permission.

The baron’s hand moved, his fingers lightly tracing the shape of his arousal through his clothing. Yuuri shuddered, pressing harder back against Viktor. Another kiss was pressed to the exposed side of his neck. The fingers moved up his ‘stand from base to tip, sending another shiver up his spine. “Tell me you want this,” murmured Viktor, and Yuuri nodded without hesitation this time. “Good,” purred Viktor.

His hand reached for the buttons of Yuuri’s trousers and in the blink of the eye he had a hand inside his clothing and clasped around his cock. Yuuri felt like sobbing at the touch, but bit the noise back. Victor began stroking him, working his length free of the folds of his drawers and trousers. The cool air on his heated flesh made him shiver, but it was just one more movement against the hard body behind him. Viktor’s removed his hand for a moment, bringing it up to his own face. Yuuri realised as it happened that Viktor was licking his palm. Then the moistened hand returned to start stroking him in earnest, the saliva easing the motion.

Yuuri was lost, the sensation so delicious and the setting so thrilling. He rocked forward into the baron’s hand and back to press against his rigid length, a creature of pure desire and instinct. Viktor’s hand was practised and it wasn’t long until he felt himself nearing release. He dug his hand into Viktor’s thigh and whimpered, the best effort he could make to convey his state. Evidently Viktor understood, for he moved his left hand from Yuuri’s waist to dig into his pocket. The hand return with a handkerchief which he draped over the head of Yuuri’s cock.

“Come for me, my darling,” said Viktor, loud against his ear, and Yuuri was gone. He shuddered hard, biting painfully on his bottom lip to keep from crying out as he spent into the handkerchief and Viktor’s hand. The baron wrung every last drop from him as Yuuri vibrated on top of him, afraid he might actually fall from the other man’s lap. Eventually the spasms of pleasure passed and he slumped back bonelessly as Viktor wiped all traces up with the cloth. He secreted the handkerchief back into a pocket and wrapped both arms snugly around Yuuri’s chest, just holding him for a while.

As Yuuri focused once again on the distant stage, where a woman was singing some repetitive song whose words he couldn’t make out, a giggle rose up in his chest. He laughed as silently as possible, the entire situation striking him as amusing. In response Viktor pressed a series of gentle kisses to his throat. Then his grip on Yuuri firmed and he shifted his hips, sliding his arousal against his backside. Yuuri’s breath caught at the reminder. Viktor moved his hands to his hips so he could push and pull Yuuri as he desired. Yuuri’s mind supplied him with an image suddenly, of himself with his trousers around his ankles, the baron thrusting up into his body. He shivered at the thought, no matter how impractical it might be in the circumstances.

But he could do better than this awkward thrusting, he realised. He covered Viktor’s hands with his own and stilled the rocking movements. Viktor made a soft frustrated noise close to his ear but Yuuri squeezed his hand in reassurance. He pulled Viktor’s hands away and then slid down to the floor. He turned around, pressing Victor’s knees apart so he could kneel in between them. For the first time he had a good view of Viktor’s face and he stopped for a moment to stare. He had never seen the baron look so unguarded and open. He looked nearly frenzied with desire, his lips bitten and jaw tense, but his eyes sparkled with eagerness at Yuuri’s obvious intention.

He reached to open the other man’s trousers and pull his member free. He didn’t give himself any time to think about what he was doing or to feel nervous, just bent his head and opened his mouth to take him in. Immediately Viktor’s hands clamped onto Yuuri’s shoulders, the fingers digging in. He took it as encouragement and lowered himself to take as much of the baron’s cockstand in his mouth as he could. Yuuri had done this before, twice to be precise, in rushed encounters in the rooms upstairs at the Swan. He didn’t think he was especially skilled, but he tried his best, moving his tongue against the heavy length and sealing his lips tightly around it.

He could feel the tension running through the baron’s body from where he gripped his thighs, and where the other man’s fingers dug into his shoulders. He increased his speed, willing the other man to his climax, wanting the pride of giving him that pleasure. One of Viktor’s hands moved, sliding up the nape of his neck and gripping at his pomaded hair. The grip stung as Yuuri bobbed his head, but he thrilled to it. Moments later, Viktor’s muscles went rigid under his hands and a hot, salty fluid filled his mouth. Yuuri swallowed it down clumsily, pulling back reluctantly to cough as he did.

Viktor looked at him, concerned, but he shook his head to indicate he was well. He sat back on his heels and looked at the other man for several moments, a smile spread across his face. Yuuri felt strangely like a new, different person. Someone who was on his knees in a box at the theatre, having just sucked off the infamous rake Baron Viktor Nikiforov, the most beautiful man in London. Who was now looking at him with a dazed, happy expression, his eyes shining as he put himself back to rights. When his clothing was somewhat smoothed, Viktor extended a hand down to Yuuri, pulling him back into his lap.

This time Yuuri sat sideways on his thighs, enjoying a deep, messy kiss. A blissful lassitude spread through his body and he broke the kiss to rest his head on Viktor’s shoulder. His eyes drifted closed and he let himself enjoy the warmth and feel of the man’s arms around him, his deep breathing and the musky scent of his sex still in his nostrils.

The next thing Yuuri knew, he was being shaken gently and…he was in Viktor’s lap. The sound of applause rang out seemingly from all around him. He blinked, realising slowly where he was. He flushed as he remembered what he and Viktor had done…or was it possible he’d dreamt it? He looked at Viktor, who smiled warmly at him.

Yuuri swiped at some drool which had escaped his mouth, embarrassed. “Sorry,” he whispered.

“Don’t apologise,” said Viktor. “I assumed you needed the rest. And it’s normal for many after a climax.” Yuuri ducked his head, but relief flooded his veins. He hadn’t imagined it, then, they’d actually…he could hardly believe it.

He shifted his weight and saw Viktor wince slightly. “Oh,” he said, standing quickly and then sitting in his own chair when he felt unsteady on his feet. “I must have been crushing you.”

Viktor smiled and shook his head. “Not at all,” he said, but Yuuri saw him massaging his thighs. Yuuri’s cheeks heated further and he looked out of the box to try to hide his shame. His leg tapped on the floor nervously. The spell he’d felt himself under earlier, that made it seem reasonable and natural to act so shamelessly had shattered. He couldn’t imagine how it had even happened. His stomach turned over with a feeling of dread, of foreboding. What if someone had seen? What if it had been noted that they’d disappeared from view and rumours started. What if Viktor was even now regretting their actions? Surely he could find a better partner than someone who fell asleep on him as soon as they were done.

“Yuuri.” He started as a hand touched his shoulder. He glanced up into Viktor face. “Are you alright?” the baron asked hesitantly. A moment of panic seized Yuuri, a moment where he thought he might break and spill all his fears out. But he pushed it down and forced himself to nod. “Are you sure?” asked Viktor, looking even more concerned.

“Yes. Yes, I’m fine. Just…” Yuuri waved a hand to encompass their environs. His companion searched his face for several seconds but then nodded, apparently satisfied.

“Yuuri,” said Viktor again, leaning forward.

“Hmm?” Yuuri was still trying to pretend calm.

“Will you come home with me tonight?” Viktor’s eyes radiated hopeful sincerity and Yuuri got lost in them for a moment. Then he blinked, his instincts rising up against him and urging him to flee. He looked away, struggling to think of a response. Of course, he wanted to say yes, but he was already nearly panicked from what had passed between them. He couldn’t risk breaking down entirely in front of Viktor, not if he wanted to see him again.

“I…I want to,” he began. “But I’m afraid I’m very tired. And I have a lecture tomorrow, in the morning.” He looked up at the baron, who looked disappointed. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I’d be very good company just now.” Viktor gave him a small smile.

“I doubt that,” he said kindly. “However, I understand. If tonight was inconvenient for you, you could have named another night.” Yuuri winced, already regretting his lie about the lecture.

“I didn’t want to wait,” he admitted with a shy smile.

“Well,” said Viktor. “When will you be free again without commitments the following day?” Viktor leaned closer. “I am determined to get you into my bed,” he said in a low, dangerous tone. As if his voice was directly connected to his spine, Yuuri shivered.

“I…uh…” he stammered, thinking furiously, very nearly changing his mind entirely about going home with him that night. “Saturday?”

Viktor nodded. “Saturday it is, then.” He stood and offered a hand to help Yuuri up. Once back in the carriage Viktor pulled him close, one arm over his shoulders. Yuuri leaned gratefully against the taller man, relaxing again and feeling safe in his arms. When the carriage eventually came to a stop outside Yuuri’s home Viktor turned to him.

“May I kiss you?” he asked, making him smile.

“Of course,” he said. The kiss was brief in comparison to their earlier embraces, and Viktor pulled back before it could grow too heated, for which Yuuri was grateful. He doubted his decision enough already.

Yuuri had difficulty getting to sleep that night, tossing and turning while he alternated between cursing himself for not going home with Viktor and worrying about what Viktor thought of him after their activities in the box. His dreams once he eventually lost consciousness were filled with eroticism and anxiety in equal proportions.

Chapter Text

“So what happened, damn it?” asked Phichit, his frustration evident. Yuuri was seated at the table, working on his breakfast of porridge and tea.

“We went to the Gaiety,” he answered blandly, suppressing a smile.

“And that’s all? He brought you straight back here after?”


“You’re not telling me something.” Phichit was pointing a finger at him in accusation. Yuuri tried giving him an innocent look. The look of suspicion in his friend’s eyes intensified. “Out with it! Did he seduce you in the coach?”

Yuuri smile quirked up on one side. “No. It was in the private box.” Phichit’s eyes went wide and he sat in the chair across from Yuuri, leaning forward eagerly.

“Yuuri! Details. Now.”

Yuuri met his friend’s eyes and finally blushed. “He…well he used his hand. And then I…went down on my knees for him.” He ducked his head.

“My goodness! In the theatre?! Were you drunk?”

Yuuri shook his head. “Not at all. But after that I felt flustered so I made an excuse and got him to bring me back here instead of his lodgings.”

“It was good though? I mean, nothing went wrong? Was he…appreciative?”

“He…uh, seemed enthusiastic.” Yuuri narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean by appreciative, anyway? He didn’t pay me for it!”

“Well, alright, but what is your relationship with him? Is he supporting you or is this all…courting?”

“It’s not courting, Phichit. He’s a baron; he made it very clear his parents have specific expectations regarding his marriage. That’s not what’s going on.”


“So, I don’t know. We’re…enjoying ourselves together. I’m seeing him on Saturday and I’ve already agreed to spend the night with him. So it’s possible after that…well he’ll probably lose interest.”

“Hmm, I don’t know…one night might not be enough once he gets a taste,” Phichit said with a waggle of his eyebrows.

“Come on, he’s had plenty of tastes. I’m nothing special.” Phichit shrugged in a way that indicated he disagreed.

“Yuuri,” he said after a pause. “I know you’ve never really fucked before.” Yuuri’s face burned and he looked away, wishing his friend would just stop right there. “No, listen, I just wondered if you needed any…advice.”

“I think I understand the general concept,” he said disapprovingly.

“Well…just don’t let him hurt you.” At Yuuri’s frown Phichit held up a hand. “I know you say he’s been very considerate and kind, so he’ll probably take good care of you. But…will you tell him it’s your first time?”

“I…” Yuuri stopped. He didn’t want Viktor to think of him as childish or unworldly. But it was possible Phichit had a point. “Yeah, fine,” he conceded.


Yuuri spied Viktor’s carriage arrive from the window and was out the front door before Viktor could do more than swing open the carriage door. Viktor laughed to see him exit the building and then offered him a hand to assist him to mount the stair. As soon as the door was closed behind him and Yuuri was seated, Viktor had Yuuri in his arms.

“May I kiss you?” he asked, a little breathless.

Yuuri nodded. “Please.” The word was barely past his lips before Viktor closed the distance between them. There was no hesitation in this kiss, no testing. Their mouths opened against one another, tongues sliding together. It was impossible to say that either of them was the more aggressive, the more dominant: Yuuri met Viktor’s passion with his own and they lost themselves in it. Hands traced down bodies, caressing and exploring. One of Viktor’s thighs was between Yuuri’s, and then Yuuri was straddling his lap, his hard sex rutting against him. Viktor’s hands shaped the curve of Yuuri’s arse and pulled him closer. His breath became ragged; he was whimpering into Viktor’s mouth in time with his rocking motions.

Then Viktor broke away from the kiss with a loud gasp, pushing Yuuri back firmly but gently. Yuuri frowned at him, but the baron held up a hand to signal patience. He reached to the side of the compartment to grasp his cane, which he used to knock three times on the roof of the coach. A quick knock came in reply and Viktor smiled as he turned back to Yuuri.

“There,” he said.

“What was that?” Yuuri asked, still feeling dazed.

“He’ll drive us in circles now until I tell him otherwise. Sit back for me,” instructed Viktor, pushing Yuuri the rest of the way off him and back against the seat.

“You have a signal with your coachman in case you want to…” He gestured vaguely. Viktor grinned as he pulled off his gloves, then slid from the seat, coming into a crouch in front of Yuuri. He pressed his knees apart, then reached into an inner pocket to produce a handkerchief, which he spread on the floor.

“In case I want to go on my knees for a beautiful man?” he said, kneeling on the handkerchief and gazing up at Yuuri steadily. Yuuri’s breath caught in his throat at the sight. Viktor smiled and then reached for the button of Yuuri’s trousers. He paused, his hand resting on the closure. “May I?” he asked quietly. Yuuri nodded, not trusting in words at the moment.

Viktor deftly opened his trousers and reached inside to expose his rigid cockstand. He looked at it with something like hunger and excitement for a moment before lowering his head and giving it a long lick from root to tip. Yuuri whimpered, fisting his hands at his sides. The sight before him was utterly unbelievable: Baron Nikiforov on his knees in a moving carriage, Yuuri’s cock disappearing now between his wet lips. He couldn’t decide whether the feel of Viktor’s mouth or the view of it was the better part. Both at once nearly undid him. He bit his bottom lip hard to keep from crying out.

Viktor hummed in pleasure around his cock, making him tingle wonderfully. He was sucking hard, moving up and down his rod with determination, his tongue curling and slithering wherever it could. It was clear Viktor was seeking Yuuri’s release, not teasing him or drawing the act out. And his climax was nearing; in fact, he felt he could spend at any moment and it was almost a surprise each moment he did not.

Viktor bent his head and swallowed Yuuri deeper, into the back of his throat, deeper than Yuuri had known was possible. He made a strangled noise as Viktor swallowed around the head of his cock before pulling completely off, gasping. Yuuri only had a few seconds to catch his breath before Viktor was sucking him again, moving faster now. He felt his climax approaching inevitably and tried to give a warning. “I…I’m…” he managed and then Viktor had taken him into his throat again and Yuuri gasped as he spent. Viktor gagged a bit, struggling to swallow all his spend. When finally every drop was gone and he sat back, Yuuri saw tears leaking from the corners of his eyes. The baron pulled a second handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his mouth and wipe these away.

“I’m sorry,” stammered Yuuri. “Are you alright?”

Viktor chuckled a bit and nodded. “I’m wonderful, darling. How are you?” His eyes crinkled at the corners.

“Oh. Better than wonderful, I suppose,” Yuuri replied with his own smile. Viktor reached out with the cloth and Yuuri began to reach for it, but his hand fell back when the baron began to gently wipe Yuuri’s softening sex clean. It was such an intimate and tender act that something clenched in Yuuri’s chest as he watched. It was a completely unnecessary kindness and made him feel cared for in a way he hadn’t known for a long time. Viktor finished cleaning him and then tucked his cock carefully back into his clothes and buttoned his trousers before he pulled himself back onto the seat.

Yuuri blinked, still stunned in the wake of this care, but he turned toward Viktor. He let the baron pull him into an embrace, a long, slow kiss which tasted of his own bitter spend. The baron kissed him languidly, with no hurry, and Yuuri’s post-climax lassitude spread throughout his body. When at length they parted, Yuuri slid his hand up the other man’s thigh, keen to offer what reciprocation he could. But Viktor caught his hand, and shook his head.

“First, allow me to properly ask you a question,” he said. Yuuri gave him a confused look but nodded. “After our meal, will you come back to my flat with me and let me make love to you?” A smile broke across Yuuri’s face at the sincerity of his tone.

“Yes,” he replied simply. Viktor exhaled.

“Good. Then I’ll wait until then. I want to savour the anticipation.”

Yuuri cocked his head to the side. “If I said no, you would let me suck you off, though?” he teased.

“Well, naturally, in that case I’d take whatever I could get.” After a moment of eye contact, they both burst into laughter. Viktor retrieved his cane from the floor and knocked on the roof again and they continued on to the restaurant.

The restaurant, when the coach stopped in front of it, was not what Yuuri had expected. Rather than one of the fashionable establishments of the West End, where they had dined previously, this was an unassuming shopfront in a decidedly downmarket neighbourhood. Bright light shined from behind the panes of glass at the front, however, and when Viktor opened the door, both a delicious aroma and cheerful voices poured out.

Viktor murmured a few words to a middle-aged man with a brown stain on his white shirtfront. The man nodded eagerly and lead them to a table at the back of the crowded restaurant, in a partially screened enclosure. Heads had turned as they made their way through the room, their dress setting them apart from the rest of the clientele who looked to be both labourers and office workers.

Viktor saw Yuuri looking around curiously. “This place has wonderful fish and seafood. They get it in fresh from the docks every day. I thought you might like it, after what you said about how you eat at home.” Yuuri smiled shyly at him, touched that the baron had troubled to consider his tastes.

“Thank you,” he said. “It’s just not the sort of place I would imagine you…knowing about.”

“Well, I’m used to fresh seafood as well, in St. Petersburg. And the cook here is very talented.”

“So you’ve eaten here before; it’s not just because of me.”

“Yes, I have,” said Viktor with a strange smile. “You know I don’t confine myself to respectable haunts, right?”

“Hmm, true enough, I suppose,” replied Yuuri.

“If I did, we’d never have met,” added Viktor with a sly grin.

“True,” said Yuuri. “I don’t spend much time in fashionable places.”

Viktor was right about the food. It was delicious. On the host’s recommendation they shared a whole roasted turbot with a butter and parsley sauce. The amazing meal nearly succeeded in distracting Yuuri from the anticipation and tension settled low in his belly. But after they were done eating he locked eyes with Viktor and saw something hot lurking behind the sparkling blue. It went straight to his groin and his heart quickened.

“Ready?” asked Viktor. Yuuri swallowed down a wave of fear and nodded with determination.


The coach let them off in front of a nondescript building, and Viktor led the way through the door and up a flight of stairs. He opened another dark door quietly, pulling Yuuri inside after him. Before he had a chance to look around, a man in a plain black suit appeared through an open doorway.

“Your Well-born, welcome back,” he said with fairly thick Russian accent.

“Good evening, Sokolov. This is Yuuri Katsuki. Yuuri, my manservant Sokolov.” Yuuri nodded to him and received a slight bow in return. The manservant turned to Viktor and asked a question in Russian. Viktor answered him briefly in the same language and then turned to Yuuri. “Would you like some port? Brandy? Tea?”

“Uh, tea, actually, would be nice,” Yuuri replied, feeling incredibly awkward. Viktor nodded to the servant, who turned and left. Viktor stripped off his gloves and hat and left them on a low bench along one side of the entry hall, and Yuuri followed his lead.

“Sokolov is the only live-in servant I employ,” Viktor explained as he lead the way into a cosy sitting room. “I prefer living here in this flat rather than maintaining an entire household. This way my privacy is preserved.” They sat in tall armchairs across from one another. Yuuri felt grateful not to be touching the baron, since it gave him the opportunity to think clearly for once. The fluttering feeling in his stomach didn’t quit, however, knowing what was to come.

The door behind them opened again and Sokolov appeared with a tray and went to the sideboard where an elaborately decorated vessel stood amid a number of matching china cups. He poured water from a pitcher into this vessel and added something else using metal tongs. After replacing the lid he measured some tea into a small pot and placed it to the side.

“Will that be all, sir?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you, Sokolov. You may retire for the night,” said the baron, and the servant bowed and let himself out of the room.

“What is that?” asked Yuuri, nodding to the colourful vessel.

“Oh, it’s a samovar. The traditional Russian way to make tea,” Viktor explained. Yuuri nodded, turning his eyes to take in the rest of the room. Two walls were entirely filled with bookcases, some of the books elegant leather-bound volumes, but some cheap yellow-back novels. Somehow it didn’t surprise him that the baron was a reader, or that he enjoyed cheap novels at least some of the time. There were a couple of paintings on the remaining walls, but Yuuri didn’t recognise the subjects or artists. He knew very little about Western art in any event.

After a time steam rose from the top of the samovar and Viktor got up to tend to the device. “How strong do you like your tea?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Err, not terribly strong, but I usually don’t add anything,” he said. Viktor used the tap at the front to dispense hot water into the teapot and then poured two cups, adding more hot water to one from the samovar. He stirred something into the other cup and then brought both over to their chairs, handing one to Yuuri.

Yuuri peered into the cup to see a lovely shade of reddish brown. After blowing on it, he sipped cautiously, noting the tea wasn’t scalding hot. And it was delicious, flavourful but not overly strong. “It’s very good,” he said.

“We almost always sweeten it, either with sugar or jam. The samovar allows you to adjust the strength of the tea for each person, though.”

“That’s very convenient,” he remarked. “We don’t sweeten tea in Japan, although the tea is different, and less bitter. Still, I haven’t gotten used to sweet tea.” Viktor smiled at him over the top of his cup and Yuuri smiled back. They continued to sip their tea in silence, and Yuuri’s thoughts wandered again to what would happen when they’d finished their beverages.

“Are you alright?” asked Viktor, breaking into his thoughts.

“Yes, yes I’m fine,” he replied, feeling his cheeks flush.

“You look…a little anxious?” the baron ventured. The heat in Yuuri’s face increased. Viktor leaned forward slightly. “I…I just want you to know, if you’ve changed your mind…or if you do change your mind, it’s fine. I don’t…well, I don’t want you to feel obligated in any way.” Yuuri looked away from the baron’s sincere expression, looking down into his almost empty cup. “I want it to be clear between us,” continued Viktor, “that our financial arrangement is entirely independent of whatever happens between us here.” Yuuri looked back up at him shyly. “I hope that’s clear,” he repeated.

Yuuri nodded, smiling slightly. He personally felt rather beyond worrying about that aspect of things. If Viktor had been looking to take advantage of him by any means he could have done that a number of times, especially when Yuuri had been intoxicated. He didn’t know what would happen after this night, he hadn’t even bothered to think of it. That was a problem for a future version of himself, one who had experienced a night of passion with Baron Victor Nikiforov.

Viktor was still looking at him with some concern, so Yuuri drained the last of his tea and steadied himself. “I’m a little nervous, yes,” he said at last. “But not because I’ve changed my mind or am…conflicted about what I want.” He saw Viktor draw in a sudden breath and widen his eyes slightly at his words. He reached a hand forward to take Yuuri’s cup and place both it and his own on a small table to the side of his chair. Then he stood and held a hand down to Yuuri. Yuuri took it, standing up so that they were facing one another only inches apart.

Viktor lifted his other hand to cup Yuuri’s cheek, and then leaned in for a kiss. Yuuri trembled slightly, feeling it in his legs as their lips met. Viktor kissed him gently, sliding his hand around to cradle the back of his head as if he were fragile. Then Yuuri opened his mouth and the kiss deepened as he wrapped his arms around Viktor and clutched at him. He felt a bit like he might fall if he let go, but an arm snaking around his waist steadied him. The kiss built in heat until they broke apart with a gasp and Viktor ducked his head to mouth at his jaw and down his throat. Yuuri gave a strangled whine at the sensation, which made Viktor nip him lightly with his teeth.

Yuuri clutched at his shoulders, frozen until Viktor stepped back, breathing heavily. He felt like he was drowning in sensation, in desire already, and they’d barely begun. Viktor reacted to whatever he saw on his face and stepped close again, bringing their foreheads together. They panted into the same space and Yuuri was sure the other man could feel his trembling now.

“Will you come to my bedroom?” asked Viktor in a low voice.

Yuuri gave a shaky nod. “Please.” Viktor smiled at that. Yuuri mostly felt desperate not to be standing, for he wasn’t sure how much longer he could remain upright. Viktor caught his hand and led him eagerly through a second door, not the one they’d used to enter. He led him down a short hallway to another door that opened to his touch.

Yuuri felt far too over whelmed to take in much of the room. He registered that gas-lamps burned on the walls, turned down low. A large fireplace stood to the right, but it was unlit on this summer evening. In the middle of the far wall was a four-poster bed of dark wood, absent its hangings. The coverlet shimmered in the low light, seeming to beckon with luxury.

Viktor released his hand to shut the door behind them and Yuuri continued forward towards the bed, his heart pounding. He’d never been in a man’s bedroom in this way; he didn’t know if there was a way things were done. He reached the bed and stopped, facing it, unsure of the next move. Should he remove his clothes?

Viktor came up behind him and wrapped his arm around his waist, pressing his lips to Yuuri’s hair. Yuuri let himself relax back against him, though he still felt himself trembling slightly. The man behind him ducked his head and pressed his lips to the side of his throat. He tilted his head to give Viktor better access and moaned softly as he worked his way down his neck. When his lips reached the collar of his shirt, Viktor stopped and reached for Yuuri’s jacket to pull it from his shoulders. He folded the jacket neatly and placed it on the wooden chest at the foot of the bed.

Yuuri turned towards him and found himself being kissed passionately while Viktor’s hands went to work on his tie, collar, and shirtfront. When his hand slipped inside Yuuri’s shirt and skin touched skin for the first time he moaned against the baron’s lips. In the fumble to remove his shirt and unfasten his cuffs, they both sat on the edge of the bed. Yuuri pushed the suitcoat from Victor’s shoulders, surprised when the other man just let it fall to the floor. They both worked to rid the baron of his waistcoat and shirt. And then Viktor was pressing him back against the mattress, hands and mouth tracing paths down his bare chest, fingers slipping under the edge of his waistband.

“I need to see you,” moaned Viktor. “All of you.” Yuuri could only nod his permission, words failing him at the moment. The baron crouched down at the side of the bed to remove Yuuri’s shoes and socks, then his own, and then he returned to the bed to unbutton Yuuri’s trousers in a flash. Yuuri breathed heavily as the baron stripped him of trousers and drawers, and then fought the urge to move away or cover himself as the baron stood looking down at him, completely exposed.

“You’re so beautiful,” Viktor breathed. He reached out to trace a hand lightly down Yuuri’s leg. “I must draw you.”

“What?” asked Yuuri, confused.

“I want to sketch you. I like to draw,” explained Viktor.

“Right now?” asked Yuuri, voice plaintive. The baron laughed softly.

“No, my dear,” he said, covering Yuuri’s body with his own and leaning in close. “Not now.” He pressed a needy kiss to his lips as Yuuri arched up into his weight, moaning a little from the feel of Viktor’s wool clothing against his bare and rigid cock. He ran his hands down Viktor’s bare back, delighting in the feel of his skin and the shifting of the muscles under his fingertips. As Viktor moved his mouth to Yuuri’s neck, he let his hands move lower, shaping the other man’s arse and gasping when that made him grind down against his cockstand.

“Viktor!” he gasped, digging his fingers into the other man’s smooth flesh.

“Mmm,” groaned the baron against his throat, and then he reached down to unfasten his own trousers, sitting up enough to push his clothing down so they could press their hard lengths together. It felt heavenly, having so much bare skin pressing against his own, hands sliding and exploring, the friction of their rocking sending sparks up his spine.

Viktor slid a hand down Yuuri’s side to his hip, then down to his thigh, encouraging him to lift his leg and wrap it around him. His hand clenched against his thigh as they rocked, digging in hard. Finally, with a groan, Viktor raised his head and looked into Yuuri’s eyes. “Darling,” he began, “would you let me fuck you?”

Yuuri gave a full-body shudder at the words, but a sudden feeling of fear clenched in his gut as well. It must have shown on his face and in the sudden tension of his body, because Viktor immediately stammered, “O-or we don’t have to. It’s alright. I know some men don’t…”

Yuuri shook his head to stop the babble of words. “I-it’s not that,” he said. “I want to; it’s only that I never have.” He looked at Viktor through his lashes to gauge his reaction to this. “I don’t know…what I’m doing,” he added, his face burning.

“Oh,” said Viktor, face blank. “I see. Well, as I said, we don’t have to, if you’re unsure.” He leaned down and planted a brief kiss on Yuuri’s lips that warmed his heart. “O-or we could try the other way ‘round.” He lifted his eyebrows. “Would you prefer to fuck me?”

Yuuri sucked in a sudden breath. The image those words conjured presented itself fully formed: Viktor spread out below him, writhing and moaning, Yuuri thrusting into his body with powerful strokes. He softly groaned aloud from the powerful wave of desire that imagining caused to shoot through him.

“You like that idea?” asked Viktor with a wicked grin. Yuuri stared at him for a few moments, breath panting out between them. He couldn’t deny it; he wanted it very much. He nodded.

“Then let’s make it happen,” said Viktor in a delighted tone. He sat up, moving to the side of the bed.

“But I still never have…” objected Yuuri, reason reasserting itself.

“Don’t worry, my dear, I’ll guide you,” said Viktor as he stood and moved to fetch something from a dresser drawer. He returned to the bed with a small pot of something in his hand. “It’s simple. I’ll take care of everything.” Yuuri found himself without words to object, not when he wanted it so badly.

Viktor stretched out horizontally on the bed, facing Yuuri. “I’ll prepare myself for you,” he said, opening the jar.

“What is that?” Yuuri didn’t recognise the substance that coated two of Viktor’s fingers.

“Petroleum jelly,” answered Viktor, pulling his knees up and reaching between them to probe at his opening. “It’s the best thing for this.” Yuuri simply nodded, his gaze fixed on Viktor’s hand, the way it spread the glistening jelly around the puckered flesh, and then the way one finger pressed inside as Viktor moaned softly. His eyes rose to take in the baron’s face, the way his lips were slightly parted and his cheeks flushed. The entire picture was the most erotic thing Yuuri had ever seen, or even imagined. He was fascinated as Viktor worked himself open, and he reached a hand down to stroke at his own member slowly. After a brief time, he couldn’t resist anymore, and he sat up and moved to loom over Viktor. He looked down at the beautiful man below him, taking in everything from the way his teeth bit into his bottom lip to the drop of fluid leaking from the head of his flushed cockstand.

Yuuri bent down and took the head of his cock into his mouth, winning a loud groan of pleasure from Viktor. His hand continued to move between his legs, faster now, as Yuuri bobbed, pressing his tongue to his length. Soon Viktor was breathless beneath him and Yuuri felt he might burst if he couldn’t get closer to him immediately. He pulled back, and Viktor pulled his fingers free with a wet sound.

“I need you in me,” said Viktor, his eyes blown dark with frantic desire.

Yuuri took in their relative positions, Victor on his back with knees bent and Yuuri leaning over him. “Like this?” he asked, unsure of the mechanics.

“Mmm, it’s probably best if I turn over,” said Viktor, so Yuuri sat back on his heels, giving him room to move. The baron rolled over and lifted up to his hands and knees, pressing his arse back a little in an incredibly inviting display. “Just get some jelly on your cock and then…” Viktor wiggled his rear a little more and Yuuri smiled. Viktor smiled at him as well, head turned over his shoulder.

Yuuri followed his instruction, coating his member well, and then moved into a kneeling position close behind the other man. “Just go a little slow at first, but I’m ready, don’t worry,” said Viktor encouragingly. Yuuri was grateful for the reassurance, and he used his hand to guide himself to Viktor’s opening and pressed inside. There was a moment he thought it wouldn’t work, but then his body opened to him and he slipped in a ways. The tight clench around the head of his cock was incredible, and he groaned aloud. Viktor echoed him, then gave a whispered, “Yes.”

Yuuri worked his way forward carefully, loving the way Viktor moaned as he did. He began rocking, pulling back and then pressing in, deeper with each thrust. “Yes, like that, just like that,” gasped the baron, pressing back to take more of him. “Oh, Yuuri, so good…more, please,” he begged, and Yuuri responded. The feel of it was incredible, so much better than anything Yuuri had known, tight and hot and slick.

“I’m…not going to last. . . much longer,” he managed apologetically.

“Mmm, that’s ok. Just give me it hard,” called Viktor over his shoulder. Yuuri thrust into him as deep as he could go, hard enough for their bodies to smack together, and Viktor gave an open-throated cry.

“Like that?” Yuuri asked from between his clenched teeth.

“Yes, yes, please.” Yuuri didn’t waste time before driving into Viktor again, and then again, the other man’s cries echoing around the room. He noted distantly that Viktor was pulling on his own cock frantically. Yuuri willed himself to hold off, felt his climax approaching, but bit his lip and tried to focus on getting one more hard thrust into Viktor. And then another.

Finally he lost his battle, one forward movement sending him over the edge, making him press forward hard and spill inside his lover with a strangled cry. Viktor cried out as well, bucking under him to keep up the movement, his hand jerking on his sex. Then he went still and shuddered, driving himself back against Yuuri hard as he spilled over his hand. The hard clench of muscle around him caused Yuuri to cry out in alarm, the sensation nearly painful on his sensitised cock, but he grabbed at Viktor and held him in place, both of them panting and sweating profusely.

After several moments of tensed muscles and panting, Viktor collapsed forward in a sprawl, causing Yuuri to fall as well. He landed half on top of the other man, breath driven from him. His cock was already softening where it rested against Viktor’s back, a sticky trail of fluid leading down to where it had slid free.

“Sorry,” he murmured as he rolled away from the baron.

“Hmm?” asked Viktor vaguely.

“For crushing you,” he clarified with embarrassment. His heart still pounded and his muscles were warm and relaxed.

He heard the smile in the other man’s reply. “I assure you, it’s no problem. You could make it up to me by fetching a wet cloth from the washstand, however, if you’re so inclined.” It was evident the baron was teasing him a bit, but Yuuri pushed himself up to do as he’d asked. He took a moment to wash himself off at the basin and brought a clean, wet cloth back for Viktor.

“Thank you, darling,” he said, taking it. He cleaned himself and pulled back the bedding, gesturing Yuuri to join him under their warmth. Yuuri did, and found himself pulled flush against the other man’s body. “How was that?” asked Viktor, hand stroking down Yuuri’s back.

“Mmm, incredible,” he replied with a self-conscious blush. “It was better than I expected.” Viktor’s hand stilled for a moment and he seemed surprised.

“Oh? You didn’t expect to like it?” he asked.

“No, no, no!” objected Yuuri in a rush. “I didn’t mean that! Only that I didn’t realise how good it would feel…to be inside you.” He saw the baron’s smile flash in the dim light and felt his lips brush his temple.

“It felt very good to have you inside me.”

“Did it?” Yuuri asked timidly.

“Yes,” said Viktor with emphasis. “Very, very good, Yuuri. I want you to do it again as soon as possible, in fact.” Yuuri smiled, pressing his face into the other man’s chest. Happiness filled him at the thought that Viktor wanted him again, that he didn’t sound disappointed in the least. The warmth of the feeling blended with the lingering sensation of pleasure and he felt himself drifting into sleep, Viktor’s arms still tight around him.

Chapter Text

Yuuri awoke feeling wonderfully comfortable. For some reason his bed felt magnificent this morning, even the sheets felt smoother against his skin…and he was entirely nude… His eyes snapped open in alarm as he realised he wasn’t in his own bed after all. He blinked around at the bedroom of Baron Nikiforov, with it’s opulent appointments. The space next to him in the bed was rumpled, but empty. Immediately, a surge of panic settled into his stomach, as his mind invented possible reasons for Viktor to be missing. Most of them were negative, although the logical part of his mind tried to object there were just as many, if not more, neutral reasons for him to be out of the room.

As Yuuri sat there in the bed, arguing with himself, the bedroom door swung open, to reveal his missing companion dressed in a paisley dressing gown. “Oh, you’re awake!” he called out as he spotted Yuuri. “Wonderful! I’ll ring for Sokolov to ready our breakfast.” Yuuri was taken aback by the brightness of Viktor’s tone, which served to shake him from his fears.

“Err, I…” He looked around, at a loss. He pulled the coverlet up to cover himself awkwardly, in case of the servant’s instant appearance. Viktor looked amused.

“Here,” he said, moving to the clothes-press against one wall, taking a second dressing gown, this one dark blue, and bringing it to Yuuri. He took it gratefully, wrapping it around himself and tying the sash. It was a little large on his frame, with the cuffs of the sleeves hanging around the tips of his fingers, but it covered him adequately. The baron also produced a pair of slippers, these too a bit large. At his request, Viktor directed him towards the bath room so he could take care of necessities. When he returned, Viktor led him back into the sitting room where they’d had tea the night before.

The samovar was steaming already, so they both helped themselves to cups of tea. Sokolov entered with a heavily laden tray a few minutes later, depositing its contents on the round table that took up one side of the room. Yuuri tried to act as if this was all normal for him, as if his skin wasn’t tingling with nerves. He almost felt he was in a dream, moving forward as if his environment made sense, when in actuality it was absurd. He tried to mentally reassure himself, but when he tried to explain to himself how it was that he was having breakfast with a Russian noble after a night of passion, with Baron Viktor Nikiforov there was no logical explanation for it. So he fell back on his instincts: be polite and wait for an opportunity to escape.

“Are you alright, my dear?” asked Viktor once his servant had exited.

“Mmm,” he replied with a nod, taking a large bite from a piece of toast. He couldn’t meet Viktor’s eyes for very long, feeling exposed under their bright, dancing shimmer. He didn’t want Viktor to see his struggle, didn’t want him to conclude Yuuri was regretting the night before. It was this morning that was difficult; last night had been far easier than he could have imagined.

The meal was quiet, perhaps because Viktor sensed Yuuri’s reluctance to speak. He ate heartily, though, and refilled his tea several times before he began to feel more himself. He tried to divine the baron’s mood from his expressions and decided he seemed pleased, if a little hesitant.

“There’s something I’d like to show you,” said Viktor when they were both finished. He looked like he wanted to say more, but stopped himself.

“Alright,” Yuuri agreed, his curiosity overcoming his previous resolution to make an escape as quickly as possible. Viktor stood and led him back into the hall, but headed away from the bedroom. He opened the door into a room that was shocking in its difference from the rest of the flat. None of the elegance and style he’d seen elsewhere was in evidence here. The walls were plain, painted a cream colour, and free of ornamentation. The three windows along the far wall had no draperies of any kind, and thus the room was far brighter than the others. Morning sun illuminated the furnishings of the room, which consisted of two tables, several stools, and one chaise longue draped in fabric.

“Welcome to my studio,” said Viktor with a flourish. Yuuri didn’t need the label, however, as artist’s tools cluttered the surfaces. Two wooden easels leaned against one wall, and sheets of paper covered both tables.

“I didn’t know you were an artist,” said Yuuri, sure he would have remembered such a detail if it had ever been part of the rumours about the baron.

“Not many people know,” Viktor replied. “It’s…private.”

Yuuri frowned a little at that, but was drawn forward to the table closest to him, where a black portfolio case was lying open, a stack of loose drawings inside. He looked back over his shoulder for permission. Viktor nodded, his eyes a little unsure. Yuuri carefully began to page through the drawings. They were all pencil or charcoal sketches of figures, most of them nude. Both men and women were featured. They varied in their level of detail, but all looked like accurate renderings of the human form. Yuuri paused as he revealed one drawing of a man stretched out, his hand wrapped around his rigid cock, a strained expression on his face. Viktor stepped forward hastily and reached out a hand as if to snatch the drawing away, but Yuuri’s body was blocking him from doing so.

“Uh, that one was…an experiment,” he said, and his face was red when Yuuri glanced up at him. He was fairly sure his own face was a matching shade, but he just raised an eyebrow at this explanation. He finished paging through the drawings before letting them fall back into a stack.

“They’re good,” he said honestly. “You’re talented.” Viktor glanced down at the praise as if slightly uncomfortable.

“I…work at it. It’s my passion.” Yuuri gazed at him a moment longer, trying to fit this knowledge into his understanding of the baron, who seemed to become more difficult to grasp the more one knew about him. Viktor met his gaze again. “Will you pose for me?” he asked softly. The tone gave Yuuri a thrill. He knew he’d have a difficult time refusing any request the baron made.

“If you want me to,” he replied.

“Yes, very much.” Viktor moved closer and brushed the back of his hand against Yuuri’s cheek. “You’re so lovely.” Yuuri shivered inwardly. For a moment he was sure they were going to kiss, but then the other man simply clasped his hand and pulled him closer to the windows and the chaise.

They both sat on the chaise, and Viktor raised a hand to slowly begin easing the dressing gown open, exposing one of Yuuri’s shoulders. It felt exactly like a seduction, and the heat in the baron’s eyes gave no indication otherwise. As the garment pooled around his waist, he leaned forward and kissed Yuuri, gently at first but then more firmly as he responded. For Yuuri’s part, the kiss inflamed his body, reminding him of everything they’d shared the night before. After a while, though, Viktor pulled back with a hiss.

“Are you trying to get me too distracted to draw you?” he asked in a teasing voice.

“Perhaps.” Viktor smirked at his response, his hand running down Yuuri’s bare spine, sending a noticeable shiver through him.

“You’re wicked,” Viktor said. “Why don’t you lie down on your stomach and let me capture this beautiful back? If you’re good, I’ll reward you when I’m finished.” Yuuri smiled at the challenge, turning to face away from the baron before letting the dressing gown fall away. He lay face down, hiding his arousal, but baring the rest of himself to Viktor’s view. A hand traced down his spine again, all the way from the nape of his neck down to the curve of his buttocks, then further down the back of his legs. Gooseflesh broke out in the wake of the touch, and he couldn’t entirely suppress his reaction. “You’re almost too tempting,” said the baron in a thick voice.

Yuuri looked over his shoulder at him. “So why resist?” For a moment all expression dropped from the other man’s face, mouth open, then he gave a soft moan.

“Incubus!” he cried, and Yuuri laughed. Viktor smacked his hand down lightly on his exposed rump, causing Yuuri’s breath to catch. To his dismay, however, Viktor seemed determined to make him wait. “Lie still and I promise I’ll make it worth the effort,” he said, moving away to set up his easel.

Yuuri lowered his head back down to rest on his folded arms. If he hadn’t been fully hard when he’d removed his robe, he was now, his member pressed between his stomach and the chaise. Despite the long, silent minutes as Viktor sketched, his arousal didn’t subside. It was as if he could feel the other man’s gaze as a physical touch on his skin, tracing long, slow lines down his limbs. In addition, his position, with his back to Viktor and his arse exposed, gave him a feeling that was as titillating as it was vulnerable.

His mind drifted to the sketches he’d seen in the portfolio. So many nude models. Were they all Viktor’s lovers? Would Yuuri’s figure join them soon, merely one in a stack, a memento of a brief passion? His guts twisted at the thought, though he’d tried to remind himself over and over of the transience of the baron’s attention. He was afraid no matter what he told himself the inevitable end would be painful. Yet despite that knowledge he couldn’t say he should have done things differently. Some things were valuable enough to be worth the cost.

“Will you lift your head and look back at me?” asked Viktor, breaking into his thoughts. Yuuri did as instructed. Viktor had positioned himself close to his feet so looking back at him required some effort. “Now can you give me that look you did before? When you were trying to tempt me?” Yuuri felt his face flush and he looked away briefly before forcing his eyes back to Viktor’s. When their eyes met he felt another lance of desire pass through him and his mouth opened slightly. “There! Just like that! Hold it as best you can.” Viktor’s pencil moved quickly over the paper as Yuuri strained not to move. After a few minutes Viktor spent some time flicking his eyes from his drawing to Yuuri, making a couple very brief gestures with his pencil, before finally setting it down.

“There. Done!” he proclaimed with a wide grin. Yuuri felt a moment of curiosity to see the sketch, but Viktor was already moving towards him, and his desire flared into need. He turned stretched his stiff neck out, hesitating over whether to roll over and expose himself entirely. Before he could decide, he felt Viktor kneeling behind him on the chaise, both hands reaching out to touch his back, his arse, his thighs. Fingers traced down his body just as he’d imagined while Viktor was drawing, and Yuuri shivered. Strong hands gripped the back of his thighs just beneath his buttocks, thumbs stroking the soft inner skin. Yuuri had thought his cock was hard before, but now it throbbed almost painfully, aching to be touched.

“Viktor,” he moaned softly, needily, shifting his hips upwards a little. The baron made a low growling noise and dipped his head to place a kiss in the middle of his shoulder blades.

“Yuuri,” he said, lips moving against his skin.

“Please, please.” The movement of his hips continued and he was now rutting against the fabric beneath him, shameless in his overwhelming need. “I waited and now I need…you.” The last word was a breathy moan. Viktor grabbed him by the hip and urged him to roll over, which Yuuri gratefully did. Before he had even settled into place his body was covered with the other man’s, the silk of the dressing gown he still wore sliding against his bare skin deliciously.

Viktor kissed him with hunger and Yuuri couldn’t help but rut up against him, his cock sliding wetly against silk, feeling an answering arousal pressing back to him. Yuuri reached up and grasped the collar of the gown and pulled it down, exposing Viktor’s shoulders and part of his chest. The baron answered the unspoken demand by lifting himself up long enough to free his arms from the sleeves. Once that was done he fell back onto Yuuri, his mouth fastening to his throat. Yuuri continued his quest to expose all of his lover, tugging on the robe until it parted and he was thrusting up against nothing but skin. With a final pull he exposed Viktor’s arse, letting the gown fall to the floor and putting his hands to work exploring the entire surface of his back.

They were both rutting together, small gasps and moans escaping them as they shifted. Yuuri loved the feel of Viktor’s weight on him, loved the frantic way his breath puffed out against his skin, loved the feel of the shifting muscles under his hands. He felt his pleasure mounting, but the friction wasn’t quite enough to bring him to climax and he whined and shifted, looking for a better angle.

“Don’t worry, solnyshko,” murmured Viktor, reaching down to grasp both their cocks together firmly. They moved awkwardly for a moment, until they got the rhythm right. Yuuri panted at the new stimulation, then reached down to add his hand to Viktor’s, partly covering the other man’s hand and adding yet more friction.

It wasn’t long before he shouted, tumbling over the edge to spend messily over their joined hands. Viktor paused to let Yuuri finish, but then resumed his movements with a new desperation. His breath sounded ragged in Yuuri’s ear, his hips jerking hard and thrusting against his sensitive cock.

“That’s it, Viktor. Come on,” he whispered. He dug the fingers of his free hand into the other man’s arse cheek, urging him on. Finally, Viktor gasped loudly, and he felt hot drops against his belly as his lover’s spend painted them both. After the tension of the climax passed, they both went limp, Viktor’s body heavy on him, but Yuuri didn’t mind. This had been desperate and slightly clumsy and messy, but somehow exactly what he’d needed.

After a time, Viktor rolled off him and lifted one corner of the fabric draped over the chaise to clean himself. “I’ll have it laundered,” he said in explanation. Yuuri mentally shrugged and followed his lead, wiping himself as best he could with the sheet. Viktor leaned over and kissed him once more, a long, lazy meeting of lips and tongues. Yuuri sat up to make room, as they wouldn’t easily fit side by side on the chaise.

“Do I get to see my portrait?” he asked with a playful nudge against the other man’s arm. Viktor smiled back and stood to retrieve it from the easel. Yuuri drank in the sight of his naked form, perfect and graceful. Victor should be the one immortalised by an artist. The baron returned and presented the drawing to Yuuri with a flourish, but his eyes betrayed some anxiety. Yuuri looked down at the page, taking in the same bold strokes mixed with soft shading as he’d seen in the other drawings. But this…

“This isn’t me,” he said softly.

Viktor frowned, a look of alarm in his eyes. “You don’t think— ”

“I mean, that’s not…what I look like…is it?” The man pictured in the sketch could indeed have been a mythical incubus. He looked over his shoulder at the viewer in an expression that looked quite clearly like an invitation. The lines of his body were strong and lush, the curve of his buttocks and slightly parted thighs looked far more indecent than Yuuri could have imagined. Yuuri hadn’t missed the eroticism of many of Viktor’s drawings, but this one felt almost incendiary. Though perhaps that impression was a function of his perspective. Regardless, Yuuri had a hard time recognising himself in this seductive figure. “You’ve made me…” Beautiful, sensual, alluring. “…different.”

Viktor looked at him for a few moments with a quizzical expression on his face. “That’s what you look like to me,” he said finally.

“Y-you’re flattering me,” Yuuri insisted.

Viktor shook his head. “I draw what I see.” Yuuri looked away, uncomfortable. His eyes landed on the stack of paper on the desk.

“Do you draw all your lovers?” he couldn’t resist asking, though he wasn’t at all sure he wanted to hear the answer. The baron raised his brows at the question and then followed Yuuri’s line of sight to the portfolio.

“No. Those aren’t lovers, my dear.” He laughed, shaking his head a bit. “Did you imagine I brought you in here and showed you all my past lovers? Why on earth would I do that?”

Yuuri’s face burned. “Well, I don’t know! What should I have thought, when you make love to me and then immediately ask me to pose?” Viktor looked chastened.

“Fair enough. I’m sorry. I didn’t think how it would appear.” Viktor stroked the back of his hand against Yuuri’s hair. “No, I paid them to model. It’s true many of them are prostitutes, but all I asked them to do was pose.” Yuuri relaxed, something settling inside him. Then he stiffened again as a thought occurred to him.

“Wait. So…all those rumours about you? About your trips to brothels? That’s because of art?

Viktor laughed again. “Mmm, yes.”

“You realise the kinds of things people say?” Yuuri was still incredulous.

“I’m aware of my reputation,” said the baron with a smirk. “To tell the truth, that’s a convenient side benefit.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well…” Viktor sobered. “I’ve mentioned to you that my parents and I don’t exactly see eye to eye on the subject of marriage.” Yuuri nodded. “My father sees it as my duty to wed a wealthy, aristocratic woman and continue the family line. My mother…well, she is a little more open-minded, but she wants me to get married soon as well. Having a reputation as an incurable rake keeps away a good amount of potential brides.”

“I see,” said Yuuri, frowning.

“You don’t approve?”

“I don’t know. It seems dishonest, at the very least.” Viktor shrugged. Yuuri turned this information over in his mind, which circled back to one significant point. “So you don’t sleep with any of them?”

Viktor’s mouth curved up on one side. “Well, hardly any. One or two, maybe. Occasionally. I’m not a monk!” he finished, raising his hands defensively. Yuuri huffed a laugh. “As you well know,” Viktor continued in a low tone. He leaned forward and captured Yuuri’s lips in a kiss. As he pulled back Yuuri reached out and hooked a hand around his neck, holding him close and extending the kiss. Viktor seemed to go limp in his embrace, allowing Yuuri to lead, melting against him.

When they finally parted, Viktor blinked up at him, dazed. Yuuri smiled to see the effect he’d had. “Can you stay?” asked Viktor. “This evening? Tonight?” He looked so hopeful Yuuri hated to admit the truth.

“I…I have work I really should do before tomorrow. I’ve been neglecting my studies these last two weeks,” he said apologetically.

“Of course,” said Viktor, straightening. “That’s more important, of course.” He sounded as if he wasn’t entirely convinced by his own statement. “When can I see you again?” Yuuri found himself captivated by the sea blue stare, so much so he forgot to respond until Viktor raised his eyebrows expectantly.

“Oh! Yes. Err, I’m not sure…” He considered his schedule.

“Tomorrow?” Viktor interrupted his train of thought. His expression was that of a child hoping for a sweet, and Yuuri smiled.

“Perhaps,” he said, unable to refuse in the face of Viktor’s enthusiasm. “I have a meeting with my tutor tomorrow afternoon. I’m afraid he might give me more work if he sees I’ve been falling behind. Can I let you know at the last minute?”

“Of course! Send a telegram if you can. We can have a simple dinner? And come back here? Or tell me what evening would be best. Or what you’d like to do, where you’d like to go. We can do anything you’d like.” Viktor broke off his flurry of words and bent forward to kiss him again and Yuuri suddenly didn’t want to leave at all. He wanted to stay here, whiling away the day in bed, forgetting about the tedium of lectures and exams. He sighed inwardly and pulled back, reaching for the dressing gown to cover himself.

“I’m sorry to go, but I really must,” he said as he stood. Viktor nodded, donning his own gown, and they returned to the bedroom. Yuuri had a little trouble finding all of his clothing where it had been discarded the night before. With some help from Viktor, though, he managed to get dressed again, rumpled and somewhat the worse for wear.

“I’ll have Sokolov get the coachman to drive you home,” said Viktor ducking from the room. He was still in nothing but a dressing gown, but seemed entirely unconcerned by the impropriety. Yuuri hoped no one in his building spotted him arriving home at Sunday lunchtime in evening dress from a nobleman’s carriage. That would inspire some awkward questions.

Viktor returned as Yuuri finished with his shoes. “It will be ready in a few minutes.” There were some moments of silence during which neither of them seemed to know what to say.

“Oh, yes,” said Viktor, as if he’d just remembered something. “I have something for you.” He turned to the dressing table and opened a drawer. He removed from it a small drawstring bag, which he held out to Yuuri. Automatically Yuuri extended his hand and heard a chink as the bag settled onto his palm. The sound and weight left no doubt as to the contents. Coins. His stomach fell.

“Oh,” he said flatly.

“I don’t want you to be in need of anything,” Victor said with a gentle smile. Yuuri nodded woodenly.

“It’s not necessary,” he tried. Viktor stepped closer and closed Yuuri’s fingers over the pouch.

“I want to take care of you,” he said warmly. But Yuuri felt chilled. He gave a weak nod and secreted the bag away in his pocket. He turned away, blinking rapidly to keep Viktor from seeing how this gesture stung. He gathered himself after a moment and was able to respond normally to Viktor’s farewell words and return his kiss. At least, Viktor was smiling when they parted and didn’t seem to suspect there was anything amiss.

In the coach on the way back to his lodgings, Yuuri turned it all over in his mind. The way that Viktor touched him, kissed him, spoke to him when they were alone, it all made him feel treasured. Valued and cared for. However, looking at the situation dispassionately, he was being paid for his company. Viktor had said their intimacy was unrelated to their arrangement, but still he’d watched Viktor place the drawing of him right next to the others, the ones whose time he’d paid for. The ones who evidently meant nothing to him. Anyone who heard about this, who saw Yuuri spend the night in the man’s bed and then leave with a pouch of coins the next day would draw one very simple conclusion.

Yuuri had thought he was prepared for what would come after he slept with the baron. He’d expected the inevitable end, whenever it came, would sting. Yet here he was, without any indication that his time with Viktor was over, and his heart ached more intensely than he’d imagined. He’d thought he’d guarded his heart, and yet it seemed he’d lost part of it anyway. Somehow he’d come to trust the baron’s sweet words and gentle caresses despite knowing they couldn’t mean anything serious. The heavy purse in his pocket served as a reminder that no matter how sweet, he couldn’t fundamentally trust the things Viktor seemed to offer him. He’d known it all along…so why did it hurt so?

Chapter Text

“Tell me, tell me!” was the first thing Phichit said to him when he arrived home. Yuuri forced a smile and shrugged.

“What do you want me to say?” he asked.

Phichit sighed heavily. “Yuu-ri! How was it?” Yuuri’s smile in response to this was a little more genuine.

“It was…good. Very good.” His roommate was standing in front of him impatiently, eyes wide with expectation.

“That’s it?”

“Look, Phichit, I’m tired and I have so much work to do tonight.” He felt the weight settle back around his heart. “I just…I’m not ready to talk about it. Can we postpone the postmortem?”

“Is everything alright? He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Not physically, he thought. Not intentionally.

“No, no, nothing like that. Just, I need to process some stuff.” Phichit was used to Yuuri’s eccentricities, and so ceased questioning him, although it evidently was difficult for him. Yuuri moved into his bedroom and breathed a sigh of relief. He stripped off his wrinkled clothing and cleaned himself in his basin as best he could. He fought the impulse to fall into his bed and pull the covers over his head.

Instead he dressed and spread out his notes and books. His tutor had an annoying tendency to quiz him on anatomy and technical vocabulary, which he suspected was due to his nationality. So he concentrated on memorisation, drilling himself mentally to name bones, muscles, and organs. The rote task conveniently kept his mind from straying to the baron and the roiling emotions in his belly. He only stopped when all light had faded outside the windows, going belatedly in search of something to eat. He settled for some toast and jam.

Once he was done eating his meagre supper he could no longer keep his thoughts from turning to the topic which pressed in at the edges of his mind with increasing insistence. He lay on his bed and tried to put his swirling thoughts and feelings into some kind of order.

Start at the beginning. The evening before, with its pleasures. He lingered with relish on the thought of Viktor on his knees in the coach, then Viktor preparing himself with his fingers, eyelids heavy; and finally Viktor beneath him, moaning as Yuuri drove into him. It had all been far better, far more intense, far more than Yuuri had ever dreamt. At every turn Viktor seemed to exceed his expectations, from his gentlemanly behaviour from the beginning of their acquaintance to the way he’d done everything possible to put Yuuri at his ease in bed.

In fact, looked at in that light, Viktor’s first misstep, the first hint of inconsideration he’d shown had been that move today, when he’d handed over that pouch of coin that weighed far too heavily in Yuuri’s hand. At the thought Yuuri felt his breath quicken, his heart begin to race in an echo of his feelings at the time. It had stung his pride, triggered his self-protective reflexes. But what, truly, was the insult? Neither of them could pretend not to understand the nature of their relationship, at its foundation. Viktor had been very clear from the beginning about his motives. He’d also been clear that their night together wasn’t an expectation or requirement. Truly, it was rather unfair for Yuuri to feel injured by the reminder of the practical nature of their connection.

Viktor wanted him on his arm: it was good for his image, and protected him from marriage entanglements. In return Yuuri got the funds he needed to survive and continue his studies. Viktor also wanted him in his bed, and Yuuri could hardly complain about that, given how badly he himself had wanted it. None of this was contradictory, or needed to be a problem. Only Yuuri’s dangerous feelings had caused a problem, when they’d stubbornly insisted that there was something more significant between himself and Viktor. And that was his own problem to deal with going forward.

Having come to this determination, Yuuri rolled over and closed his eyes. It was still a good amount of time before he drifted off, however.


“Sooo, it’s Monday. You know what that means, right?” asked Phichit over breakfast the following morning.

“Umm, my tutor is going to somehow be able to tell I’ve been spending my time being seduced by a Russian baron instead of doing my work?”

“Hmm…no. No, it’s the night we go to the Swan because the theatres are closed. Phsaw, school, what are you thinking, Yuuri?”

“Oh, umm, well, I sort of told Viktor I’d see him tonight if my tutor didn’t bury me in work.”

“No, unacceptable, I’ve hardly seen you since you started seeing him. I won’t take no for an answer.”

Yuuri hesitated. “I told him I’d send him a telegram this afternoon. Am I supposed to lie?”

“Hell, fine, have him meet you there. But I insist you’re coming with me. He can join us, if he promises to behave.”

“What does that mean?”

“For Viktor Nikiforov, it means he doesn’t start any scandals for at least an hour.”

“Hey!” objected Yuuri, offended a little on Viktor’s behalf. Phichit just laughed.

“Don’t think I’ve forgotten you refused to give me any details yesterday,” said Phichit after a moment. “Is this thing between the two of you getting serious? Are you in love?” Yuuri might have expected his friend to tease him about this, but his tone was uncharacteristically serious.

“I…it’s just fun, I think.” Yuuri shifted in his chair.

“For you or for him?”

Yuuri clenched his jaw tighter for a moment. “For him, definitely. And I…I’ve known all along this was temporary.” Phichit narrowed his eyes at this.

“Yuuri,” he began with a sigh. “Be careful, won’t you? He’s going to break your heart if you let him.”

“I know that,” he replied quietly. “I’m not an idiot.” Phichit just gave him a sad look.

Yuuri considered whether he should invite Viktor to the Swan or not. In truth, the thought of having an evening without the baron’s presence sounded somewhat appealing. He wasn’t sure if he was emotionally prepared to face him yet. And yet, he hated the thought of lying to the man, and there was certainly part of him that longed to run right back to his bed. Well, he’d wait to see what happened with his tutor, as he’d originally planned.


His tutorial went better than he’d expected. Meeting one on one with his professors was always frightening. Despite his nerves and guilty conscience, he managed to bluff his way through the hour, relying on his last minute studying to pull him through. He escaped with nothing worse than some disapproving throat clearing and stern looks, but his tutor hadn’t found anything concrete to criticise.

Yuuri’s spirits were high as he left the dim office and emerged into the sunshine. He thought of what to say to Viktor in his message, and caught himself smiling at the thought that he now had no ready excuse not to see him. He walked quickly to the nearest telegraph office and sent off a message inviting the baron to the Swan before he could change his mind.

The Swan was busy that evening, the theatrical crowd swelling the usual numbers in celebration of their weekly night free. Phichit was greeted from all sides as he lead Yuuri to an alcove at the back of the ground floor. At the table already were some people he recognised as danseurs in Phichit’s company and he greeted them. Yuuri went to the bar to get some glasses and a bottle of wine, enjoying the rare feelings of having the means to treat his friends.

“Where’s your sister? Why isn’t she with you tonight?” one of Phichit’s friends was asking another when he returned to the table.

“Are you mad? I’d never let Sara come to a place like this! Knowing it’s filled with ruffians like you,” said the Italian man whose name Yuuri was fairly sure was Michele. The talk degenerated into lewd innuendo and teasing of Michele, and Yuuri stopped paying attention. He knew he was looking towards the entrance far too often, anxiety building in his stomach as he waited for Viktor to arrive.

They were almost done with the first bottle when he finally spotted him. He had to marvel at how much the baron stood out from the crowd in this place. For the first time in Yuuri’s experience Viktor wasn’t wearing evening dress. He had dressed for the destination, his clothing far more bohemian than usual, but with an elegance that seemed a fixed feature of the baron’s style. His coat was burgundy velveteen, with contrasting black trim, and his trousers were a deep brown, tightly fitted. Beneath the coat was a waistcoat with wide vertical stripes in black and gold, with a black silk cravat the finishing touch on this remarkable ensemble. To Yuuri’s eyes he looked like a performer in a circus or perhaps a well-kept courtesan, while simultaneously failing to pass for one of the theatrical crowd due to the obvious expense of the fabrics and the lack of wear.

Yuuri had time to take in the full effect while Viktor’s eyes searched the room. He also saw a small crowd of young men form almost instantly around the baron, trying to attract his attention with a variety of ploys. He watched with some satisfaction as Viktor removed one man’s hand from his arm with a forbidding glare. Finally, Viktor spotted Yuuri where he stood behind his chair, and his eyes lit and a wide smile spread across his face. It was impossible not to smile in return when confronted with the brilliance of the baron’s presence.

Viktor made his way through the room to their alcove, taking up a space at Yuuri’s side. They exchanged a brief look, but made no other more overt greeting. Yuuri felt exposed here in public, with the curious stares of both strangers and acquaintances burning into him. He knew his association with Viktor couldn’t precisely be a secret, but he wasn’t entirely sure he was ready for it to be common gossip either.

“There he is!” exclaimed Phichit, gesturing to Viktor, and Yuuri winced. Viktor murmured a polite greeting, manner reserved.

“Phichit, do you think we could move upstairs?” he asked, to escape at least some of the eyes on them.

“Sure, I suppose. We’re still waiting for Christophe, though.” His eyes narrowed in a sly expression. “Why don’t you two go up and claim us a spot?” he suggested. Yuuri agreed with a momentary sideways glare at his friend, who looked far too entertained by Viktor’s presence. He led Viktor up the stairs to the second floor with its series of private and semi-private rooms. They found a parlour with only two occupants: two men who looked rather intimately focused. They startled when they saw (and recognised) Viktor, and somehow the baron managed to smilingly encourage them to give the room over to them.

When they were gone, Viktor turned expectantly to Yuuri, who felt himself colour from the close scrutiny.

“Good evening,” said Viktor quietly, reaching out to lightly touch Yuuri’s cheek.

Yuuri’s cheeks heated further. “Hello,” he replied. Viktor leaned close and claimed a gentle kiss that sent a thrill through his body. Yuuri’s reaction to Viktor had clearly been unaffected by his emotional turmoil over the last day. Yuuri pulled a little apart and moved to take a seat on a sofa against one wall.

“How are you?” asked Viktor as he followed.

“Uh, fine.”

“How was your tutorial? It couldn’t have been terrible, unless you’re throwing all responsibility to the wind to meet me.” Viktor’s tone indicated he rather wished the latter was the case.

“Oh, no, it went well, actually. Better than I expected.”

“Wonderful,” said the baron with a genuine smile. Yuuri thought he might just be about to lean in for another kiss when they heard someone near the doorway. It was Phichit, followed by Christophe and a small army of acquaintances, including the men who’d been sitting at their table downstairs. Phichit gave Yuuri a somewhat apologetic look as he settled into a chair and began making introductions. It seemed too many people had been curious about the infamous Baron Nikiforov and what he was doing with quiet, reserved Yuuri Katsuki.

Luckily they’d also brought drinks with them and soon the party had grown quite loud. Yuuri spent most of the evening deflecting increasingly less subtle inquiries into his relationship with Viktor. That is, until one young actor took the bold step of seating himself on the arm of the sofa next to Viktor and beginning to outrageously flirt with him. At first Yuuri merely smiled, but when the man started actually touching Viktor he grew hot with anger.

Without thinking, Yuuri hooked his arm through Viktor’s, clutching onto the soft velveteen of his jacket and pressing himself against the baron’s side. Viktor turned and smiled at him, covering Yuuri’s hand with one of his own for a moment in a tender gesture. Yuuri’s heart swelled with gratification, both at Viktor’s acknowledgement and at the look of surprise on the actor’s face. For good measure, Yuuri sent the young man an arrogant, challenging look, and he stood up and left.

Viktor clearly didn’t miss the significance of the interaction, from the appreciative look he shot Yuuri. For his part, Yuuri merely relaxed against Viktor’s side, keeping his arm wrapped around the baron’s to make his claim clear.

As the evening progressed, the mood grew more uninhibited, as evenings in the Swan tended to do. A few people in the room paired up in increasingly serious flirtations, with touching and innuendo growing. Somehow a couple of wits started a contest for the most inventive dirty limerick. A squabble broke out over which of two finalists prevailed, and Viktor was consulted and asked to chose between:

“There was a young man of Dundee,
Who one night went out on the spree;
He wound up his clock
With the tip of his cock,
And buggered himself with the key.”


“There was a young man of Ostend,
Whose wife caught him fucking her friend;
"It's no use, my duck,
Interrupting our fuck,
For I'm damned if I draw till I spend."

Viktor chose the former, praising its more subtle humour, and then stood and excused himself for a moment amid the loud celebration and despair that accompanied this decision.

“I’m going to go talk to him,” said Phichit, watching the baron’s back as he left the room.

“Phichit, no, please!” Yuuri begged.

“Yuuri, my friend, of course I’m going to have a conversation with your…paramour. I’m not at all sure I trust his intentions.”

“Phichit,” he whined. “Please don’t embarrass me.”

“Oh don’t worry, I won’t. I just want a few words with him.” And with that Phichit stood and headed for the door after Viktor. Yuuri reached out for him, but was powerless to stop him, so he slumped down in his seat, biting his lip in trepidation.

He looked around at the crowd in the room, realising that he couldn’t name half of them. Their room had attracted an assortment of bon vivants looking for the most interesting and now loudest party. He finished his glass of wine as he waited anxiously for Viktor and Phichit’s return. What if Phichit said something to Viktor that made him call an end to their relationship? If he suggested Yuuri would be better off without Viktor, or that he could only entertain someone with serious intentions, would Viktor drop him? It might even be true that ending things now would be less painful than waiting until later, but the thought squeezed his lungs in panic.

He couldn’t read Viktor’s expression when he reentered the room, with Phichit close behind him. His friend was smiling, but that didn’t mean much as Phichit was usually smiling from one cause or another. Viktor retook his place next to Yuuri on the sofa, but before either of them could speak, a man leaned over from a nearby chair, invading the baron’s space.

The inebriated man reached a hand out to stroke down the front of Viktor’s jacket. “That’s a divine colour on you, my lord,” he simpered in a most inappropriate manner. A hot flush went through Yuuri and without thinking he leaned forward and grabbed Viktor’s face, directing it towards his own and pressed a hard kiss to his lips. After a moment of surprise, Viktor responded warmly, gripping the back of his head and encircling his waist with his other arm.

Yuuri didn’t know if it was the wine, the charged atmosphere of the room, or simply the intensity of his possessive feelings in the face of competitors for Viktor’s attention, but he found himself completely uncaring of propriety as he continued to press closer to the baron. With a small grunt of effort Viktor pulled him closer, until he was draped across the baron’s lap, neither of them breaking the kiss. Yuuri could feel eyes on his back as clearly as he felt Viktor’s hand running up and down his spine, but they only made him more eager to demonstrate his domination of Viktor’s regard.

Finally, after a long time, their lips broke apart, both panting shallowly. Yuuri’s cheeks heated belatedly and he buried his face against the other man’s neck. Viktor gave a soft laugh, then pressed his lips close to Yuuri’s ear to say, “Feeling possessive, solnyshko? Don’t worry, I’m all yours.”

Yuuri gave a small squeak at that. Viktor continued, “Will you come home with me tonight?” Yuuri nodded against his shoulder without hesitation. “Ah, good. I can hardly wait to get you alone. There is a slight problem at the moment, however.” Viktor shifted under Yuuri’s thighs, and he felt his hard length jutting up. “Having you in my lap isn’t conducive to being able to walk out of here with any dignity.”

Yuuri flushed more hotly, a shudder running through him at the knowledge of the effect he’d had on the baron. Then finally he look up with a sheepish smile. “Should I get off, then?” he asked.

“Mmm, much as I’d love to keep you here, if we want to make our exit any time soon, I think it would be prudent.” Yuuri attempted to slide off Viktor’s lap as gracefully as he could, though he felt eyes on himself again. He sat up in his former seat and straightened his clothing self-consciously. He looked over to another sofa where Phichit and Christophe were sitting close to one another. Both of the men grinned at him with nearly identical amused expressions.

After a few minutes, Viktor tapped him on the arm and raised his brows in a significant way. Yuuri nodded and they stood to leave. He went over to Phichit, hoping to say goodnight quietly, but his friend ruined that plan, saying loudly, “Leaving? I suppose I won’t expect you home tonight, then!”

“Oh, Viktor, he blushes so prettily, I see the appeal,” contributed Christophe to Yuuri’s annoyance. Viktor just smiled and wrapped his arm around Yuuri’s waist to steer him out of the room, down the stairs, and into his coach. Once inside they wrapped around one another, kissing hungrily.

They entered Viktor’s flat in a flurry of haste. None of his previous visit’s decorum was evidenced in the way Viktor pulled him through the entrance in the direction of the bedroom. Sokolov looked nonplussed as he moved out of the way of the two of them. Viktor called a brief Russian phrase over his shoulder as he continued tugging on Yuuri’s hand.

Once inside the bedroom, they began to shed articles of clothing somewhat at random, with hats and gloves and jackets falling in a confusion across the floor as Viktor continually moved them toward the bed. They were each more focused on undressing the other than themselves, but Viktor had the edge in this contest by pure brashness, and Yuuri was naked from the waist up when the back of his legs hit the mattress. He laughed as Viktor pushed him down and then followed, kissing his way down his throat and chest, pausing to suck his nipples into hardness as his hand worked to unbutton his trousers.

“I need you,” murmured Viktor against his skin. “I need to suck your cock.” Yuuri moaned at the blunt words, pressing his hips up into Viktor’s hand. With practised expertise, Viktor stripped off Yuuri’s trousers and drawers, pausing to remove his shoes and socks as well. He pressed his lips to the inside of Yuuri’s ankle, then kissed a trail up his leg, taking his time on the inside of his thigh, sucking red marks into his skin. Yuuri writhed and sighed as Viktor grew closer to his center, both wishing he would hurry and that he would never stop marking his thighs.

Finally Viktor pressed Yuuri’s thighs wider apart and settled himself in between. He began by licking at his balls, which made Yuuri gasp. He sucked each one into his mouth as Yuuri struggled to hold his hips still. And then at last Viktor’s mouth came into contact with his erection, kissing up it from base to tip. Yet still he teased, using lips and tongue lightly instead of taking him entirely into his mouth. Yuuri clenched his hands into the sheet and groaned in frustration. The urge to take hold of Viktor’s head and force him where he wanted him was strong, but he resisted.

“Please,” he begged finally. “Please, Viktor.” He heard the baron laugh softly, sounding quite satisfied with the reaction he’d produced.

“Tell me what you want,” he said in a low tone.

Yuuri groaned again. “I need to be in your mouth. Please. Suck my cock, Viktor.” Viktor made a growling sound of approval and then ducked his head and swallowed down Yuuri’s stand. He moaned in relief as the wet warmth engulfed him. Viktor began working his cock expertly, using tongue and lips to drag deliciously along its length. One of his hands played with his balls, and then slid lower, teasing along the sensitive skin beneath. Yuuri’s breath hitched as a finger circled his entrance.

Viktor released Yuuri’s cock from his mouth with a pop. “May I?” he asked, pressing his finger more firmly against his pucker.

Yuuri let out an unconscious groan and then a shaky, “Yes.” Viktor smiled down at him and sucked his finger into his mouth before returning it to circle his opening. He went back to sucking his cock as well, the two sensations competing for Yuuri’s attention exquisitely. The finger pressed slowly through the tight muscle. Yuuri let out a loud moan as it slid inside, the feeling both strange and wonderful. Viktor didn’t let up his assault on Yuuri’s cock, and soon he was almost overwhelmed by the pleasure of it all. Then Viktor’s finger pressed up into a certain place and Yuuri shouted at the intense shock of it, feeling himself suddenly on the edge of climax. And yet he didn’t spend, the finger continuing to stroke him so intimately, while Viktor’s glorious mouth worked him and he shook from the strain of not thrashing too hard. Finally, it all became too much and he toppled, pleasure shooting through him like fire, spending forcefully into his lover’s mouth.

It was some minutes before Yuuri felt himself at all coherent. Viktor was lying next to him, his trousers still in place, his expression very pleased. Yuuri met his eyes and his grin widened. “That’s exactly what I wanted,” said Viktor. “I wanted to give you as much pleasure as I could.”

“Mmm, I’d say you were successful,” said Yuuri dreamily. Viktor leaned down and kissed him. Yuuri ran his hands down his body as they pressed close. His hand stopped over Viktor’s sizeable cockstand and he looked up wickedly. “What about you?” he asked.

“Mmm, that’s not as important,” said Viktor. “Whatever you want.” Yuuri smiled at the gallant response. He considered, biting his lip.

“You could…take me. If you want,” he offered quietly. Viktor’s eyebrows rose.

“That’s not…you don’t have to. I’m fine.”

“I…I want it, Viktor,” Yuuri said with conviction. “I want you.” He wanted Viktor to be the first. He didn’t have any guarantees about how long he would have with Viktor, how many nights. He didn’t want to miss his opportunity. If he gave himself to Viktor now, he would have that memory forever.

“Are you sure?” Viktor asked tenderly.

Yuuri nodded. “Unless you don’t want it,” he said, the thought chilling him.

“No, no! Of course I want you, darling. I just don’t want you to feel obligated.” Yuuri shook his head with a smile.

“Please, Viktor,” he said with finality.

“Alright,” agreed the baron. He pushed himself up and retrieved the small jar of petroleum jelly from the chest of drawers. Then he removed the rest of his clothing. Yuuri couldn’t help his gaze being drawn to his jutting erection, feeling a shiver at the thought of what it would feel like inside him.

Viktor knelt between his legs once more, coating his fingers in jelly and then pressing one carefully back inside him. Yuuri felt the echo of the earlier pleasure as Viktor gently worked in and out. He took his time preparing Yuuri, adding a second finger slowly, stroking at that delicious spot as his body relaxed. He already felt boneless from his earlier climax, but this slow stretching added a new dimension. A third finger pressed into him, causing a little burn until his body relaxed once more.

Yuuri felt himself growing hard once more, his cock slowly but steadily filling. Viktor’s fingers were moving easily in and out of him now, in time with the shifting of his hips. “I think you’re ready,” said Viktor and Yuuri nodded in agreement. The fingers withdrew to be replaced by Viktor’s slickened cock. “Tell me if I hurt you at all,” he said, and then pressed forward.

The blunt intrusion caused a brief moment of discomfort until his body opened and then Viktor sank easily inside, wringing a long moan from Yuuri’s throat. The feeling was so intense, the feeling of being stretched wide both vulnerable and wonderful. Viktor paused and looked to Yuuri, who nodded permission to continue, his hands grasping the baron’s forearms tightly. He pressed forward slowly but steadily, deeper than his fingers, touching places within him that seemed to light up with pleasure. Once he was fully seated within him, Yuuri bucked his hips up, testing the feel as he shifted, savouring all the new sensations.

“You feel so good, Yuuri,” said Viktor as he slowly withdrew. “Is it good for you?”

“So good,” he replied, his voice harsh and raspy. “Oh, please, Viktor, more.” In response, Viktor thrust back into him sharply, making him give a high cry. They moved together after that, both seeking more contact, more pleasure, a faster pace. Viktor got his hands under Yuuri’s hips and lifted, tilting him up and driving his cock at just the right angle to make him scream with pleasure. Yuuri lost himself in sensation after that, his self narrowing to a sheath around Viktor, the pleasure filling him up. It came as a surprise when Viktor got a hand around his cock, as he’d entirely forgotten his erection. It didn’t take many pumps to get him to spend, his body convulsing around the baron.

Viktor’s strangled cries joined his own as he spilled hotly inside him. They both clutched one another hard as they rode through the waves of pleasure and aftershocks.

“How do you feel?” asked Viktor a few minutes later, when they’d separated and cleaned themselves up a little.

“Oh. Wonderful,” said Yuuri. “Really good.” Viktor smiled down at him. His hand stroked along Yuuri’s side. “It was a good first experience?”

“Mmm-hmm. Very.”

“You weren’t completely inexperienced the first time we met, were you?” Viktor asked, his voice a little hesitant.

“No. All my encounters had been rather hasty, though,” Yuuri said. “Why? Did it seem like I was?”

“Oh, no, that’s not what I meant. I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t…taken advantage I suppose.” Yuuri frowned at that but mentally shrugged and tightened his arm around Viktor. He felt the other man relax beneath him. They curled around each other as they fell into slumber.

Chapter Text

Days passed and Yuuri and Viktor settled into something of a routine. Yuuri juggled his university commitments and his relationship with Viktor. They saw one another frequently, if not constantly. Some evenings Viktor took him to dinner or entertainment and on other nights they had time only to hurry to bed. He wouldn’t have believed it possible, but their intimate relations became even more satisfying and pleasurable as they familiarised themselves with one another’s bodies. Even after almost two weeks time Viktor showed no signs of tiring of his company, but Yuuri felt he was still bracing himself for the inevitable.

Viktor had taken to giving him gifts, sometimes as simple as a bouquet of flowers and sometimes as expensive as a new gold pocket watch. Yuuri tried to refuse the more expensive items, without success. On one occasion, Viktor presented him with another payment of coin, in the coach on their way to dinner. This time, Yuuri refused to take it.

“It’s really not necessary, Viktor,” he said, pushing the coins back towards the baron. Viktor frowned slightly and tried to extend his hand again.

“Yuuri, I don’t want you to worry about anything. I have plenty of money.”

Yuuri flushed. “I know that Viktor, but I don’t need anything right now. Please, I don’t want it.” Viktor studied him, a contemplative look on his face.

“Promise me you’ll tell me if you need anything?” he asked at last.

Yuuri nodded, relieved. Viktor smiled then, brilliant and warm, sliding his arm around Yuuri’s waist and pulling him close.

Of course, the gift which Viktor seemed to most enjoy giving was clothing. He provided Yuuri with suit after suit, all fitting him remarkably well, and he soon had a decent sized wardrobe of beautiful clothes for various occasions. Well, all occasions other than working in the laboratory or the hospital, where his old, worn suits had to suffice. Not only would his classmates and instructors take note if he suddenly looked like a fashion plate, but he’d hate to ruin any of Viktor’s gifts with foul spills.

One evening Viktor provided him with yet another suit-sized box. Inside was a dove grey ensemble with a straw boater hat perched on top. Yuuri quirked an eyebrow at the baron at this uncharacteristic style.

“My mother has commanded our presence at a Duchess of Montague’s garden party next Saturday. Please, please say you can attend.” Viktor turned a pleading gaze on him.

“Your mother requested my presence?” he asked.

“Well she’s insisting I attend, and she asked if you would be escorting me, so, yes, she practically did.” Yuuri tilted his head to the side to indicate his doubt. “Besides, it will be crawling with eligible ladies and their mothers, so it’s imperative you attend to protect me!” Yuuri laughed at Viktor’s genuinely fearful expression.

“I suppose I can get free,” he said begrudgingly.

“I’ll do anything you want to show my gratitude,” promised Viktor as he stepped close to his body.

“Mmm, I’ll have to think of something worthwhile,” Yuuri said before accepting a kiss that quickly grew heated.

Yuuri begged off his Saturday commitments but spent much of his time the rest of the week making up for it. On Friday afternoon he was shocked when a message was delivered to his laboratory that the Dean of the medical school wished to see him immediately. His heart leapt into his chest and he felt decidedly unsteady on his feet as he made his way to the man’s office. He could only think that he was going to be rebuked for taking the following day off, or worse, that rumour of his relations with the infamous Baron Nikiforov had reached the school. Nightmare scenarios flashed behind his eyes: he saw himself expelled, sent back home, all his efforts for nought.

All of which only contributed to his profound shock when the news was entirely different.


The following day Viktor picked Yuuri up in the afternoon and he marvelled at the rarity of seeing the baron standing in the sunshine. Viktor was dressed beautifully for the occasion, in a cream-coloured double-breasted suit with a subtle stripe. His boater hat matched Yuuri’s and a pink tie finished the ensemble with a touch of colour. He looked a perfect young aristocrat, bound for carefree summer pleasures.

He greeted Yuuri with a clasped hand and appreciative glance at his attire, which naturally complemented Viktor’s perfectly, having been chosen for precisely that purpose. Once seated in the carriage, Viktor bent down and kissed him gently, a caress of lips that Yuuri hungrily sought to extend. After only a few moments, however, Viktor pulled away.

“Mustn’t arrive at the Duchess’s looking hot and rumpled,” he said with smug grin. Yuuri blinked and looked away, feeling a pang in his chest. He felt a strong urge to cling to Viktor, but he hid his disappointment. He stared out the window as Viktor chatted about the party hostess and likely attendees. He was being witty and charming as he doled out the gossip, but none of it reached Yuuri.

“Yuuri,” Viktor said, the change in his tone attracting his attention finally. “Is there something amiss? Are you unwell?” Yuuri met the other man’s questioning eyes and sighed.

“I was called into the Dean’s office yesterday,” he began. Viktor cocked his head in confusion and then his expression deepened into concern.

“Is there a problem?” he asked.

Yuuri shook his head. “No, not exactly. Actually, it was good news.” He steadied himself with a breath. “I’ve been awarded a fellowship. I applied for it months ago, never dreaming I’d be selected.”

“I don’t follow,” interrupted Viktor. “What does that mean?”

“It means I’ve been selected to study under a renowned doctor for a term. Dr. Joseph Bell. He teaches at the University of Edinburgh.”

“Edinburgh. Scotland? Does that mean you’re going there?” Viktor’s voice rose higher.

Yuuri nodded. “For the Fall term. I leave in three weeks.” Viktor looked shaken, his face blank.

“I…” he started and then stopped.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. I thought there was no possibility they would choose me given my nationality.” He felt as if he were making excuses, which was absurd, really. This was the reason he’d come to England in the first place: to be exposed to the greatest minds and theories. “I have to go,” he added.

“O-of course you do,” agreed Viktor. “It’s wonderful for your studies, I’m sure. I can’t help wishing Edinburgh wasn’t quite so far away, though.” Yuuri gave him a small smile. He knew what this meant for their relationship. Three weeks before separation. And then months during which Viktor would be free to find a substitute to fill Yuuri’s place at his side, and in his bed.

“Three weeks?” asked the baron, echoing Yuuri’s thoughts. “And how long will you be away?”

“Until December.”

“Oh.” The baron’s face shuttered and he turned to look out of the window. Yuuri looked at his hands. Viktor appeared sad for things to end as well, which he supposed should please him. In truth, it only made him feel sorrier about leaving. He couldn’t make any other decision, certainly he couldn’t pass up such a tremendous opportunity due to a love affair. Still, leaving would be painful. He thought about how long a time it was until he would return. Spending one day without seeing Viktor felt an age right now. Four months? It might as well have been forever.

Viktor looked back at him and smiled, reaching for his hand. “Congratulations,” he said, but Yuuri could see the smile didn’t reach his eyes. They held hands in slightly uncomfortable silence until they arrived at their destination.

The coach pulled up in front of a large mansion set well back from the road, its grounds enclosed in a stone wall with a great iron gate. Yuuri marvelled at the size of the enclosure, never having seen such spacious grounds in London. If it weren’t for the odour of the perpetual haze in the air and the sound of busy traffic on the far side of the wall, he could have believed himself at a country estate. Not that he had personal experience of the kind of estate Viktor was likely invited to on a regular basis, but this was what he imagined one would be like.

Upon exiting the carriage, he and Viktor were shown around the side of the house to a receiving line to be greeted by the Duchess of Montague. She was an older woman, about the same age as Viktor’s mother, and one of her particular friends. She was a wealthy and highly esteemed widow, one of the arbiters of fashion among the elite. She greeted Viktor warmly and perhaps with a touch of surprise.

“Your mother said you were attending, but I didn’t know whether to credit it,” she said with a laugh. “It’s so very difficult to entice you anywhere. Or anywhere respectable perhaps!” She laughed at her own joke, and Viktor laughed with her, though Yuuri noted the stiffness of his spine. The Duchess turned to Yuuri. “She told me about your friend as well,” she said. The tone of her voice made him flush and long to look away, though he didn’t dare out of fear of appearing rude.

He took her hand and bowed his head over it. “It’s an honour to meet you, Your Grace,” he said.

“Oh! So well-spoken and proper,” she trilled. Yuuri decided he didn’t much care for the Duchess, though he gave her a thin smile. Thankfully they moved on quickly in order to allow the hostess to greet other guests.

Viktor led him further around the house, in the direction of a large tent erected on the side lawn. Outside the tent chairs dotted the grass in small groups. Most of them were occupied by respectable looking ladies and a few gentlemen, sipping from teacups or eating from delicate-looking plates. Viktor nodded to one or two of the ladies, but no one addressed them. It may have been his imagination, but Yuuri thought he heard hushed conversations spark up in their wake.

The tent was filled with tables of food and drink, a bustle of servants serving and replenishing them continuously. He and Viktor secured cups of tea. Yuuri declined any food, his nerves getting the better of his appetite.

“It seems it’s to be a tame affair today,” remarked Viktor looking around. “Tea and coffee, and nothing stronger than champagne punch.”

“It is fairly early in the day,” said Yuuri.

“Ha! I’ve seen garden parties with half the guests soused before tea time!” Viktor smiled conspiratorially down at him. “It’s too bad. I quite like how bold you get after a few glasses.”

Yuuri’s face burned, remembering their spectacle at the Swan. He smiled, however, noting that Viktor seemed his old self for the first time since Yuuri had told him about Edinburgh. They strolled through the tent in the direction of the rear lawn, where a tennis court was marked out on the grass. A match was in progress between two young men. They paused behind the row of seated onlookers to watch.

It seemed the players took their game seriously, expending more effort than one normally saw. In particular, the smaller boy was becoming dishevelled, his blond hair whipping around his face and perspiration showing on his clothing. His opponent looked cooler and more collected, his dark hair neat and his face a mask of concentration. Yet he played with a singular focus and determination to win. As they watched he launched a skillful volley that the blond boy just missed returning. He gave a shriek of frustration at his failure and Viktor chuckled at Yuuri’s side.

“Poor Yura, he hates to lose,” he said.

“Oh, you know him?” Yuuri asked.

“Yes, that’s my cousin. He came to stay with my parents this year to get some world experience. His name is also Yuri, strangely enough.”

“He wasn’t at the dinner at the embassy?”

“No, he’s still a little young for formal events, much as he hates to be reminded of it.” Viktor smiled as he continued to watch his young cousin’s match. Eventually he managed to tie the score of the older, dark-haired boy, before finally narrowly losing. After shaking hands with his opponent with a scowl on his face, he caught sight of Viktor and made his way over. His hair was still disordered, and his face damp.

“Viktor!” he called as he approached.

“Yura,” greeted Viktor in return, “your tennis game hasn’t improved much, I see.” The boy looked livid, his face reddening.

“It’s not my fault! That Altin is a machine!” He leaned towards Viktor. “I’ll beat you any day. Right now! Come on!” Yuuri raised his eyebrows at the aggression evidenced by the blond, but Viktor just laughed. He looked at the playing field and then at Yuuri.

“Hmm, I think not. There are more pleasurable ways to spend the afternoon.” Yuuri’s face heated at the gleam in his eyes. The younger Russian scoffed audibly. “Yura, this is my friend Yuuri Katsuki.”

“Yuri? He’s got my name?!?” The blond looked offended, as if his honour had been impugned by the coincidence.

“Yuuri,” Yuuri corrected. “It’s pronounced a little differently in Japanese.” The Russian Yuri frowned speculatively at him for a few moments.

“Alright, Yuuri,” he said. “How about you play me, since Viktor refuses?” Yuuri glanced to Viktor, who shrugged.

“I…I’m sorry, but I’ve never played.” Yuri looked disappointed. He was distracted, however, by the dark-haired boy he’d played walking past the group.

“I…I’m going to get something to drink,” he said, looking at Viktor.

“Have fun,” replied his cousin, with a twinkle in his eye. Viktor returned his hand to the small of Yuuri’s back. “Come along, let’s find a more secluded spot.” He steered them past the crowd around the tennis green, past some other lawn games, towards the trees at the rear of the property. Here and there under the branches were people seated on blankets or in chairs groups of two. The baron led Viktor towards a pair of chairs recently vacated by a young couple who moved in the direction of the croquet game.

“Here,” he said as he trailed his fingers up Yuuri’s spine. “It’s slightly private here.” They sat, Yuuri looking out at the milling guests rather than at his companion. He felt Viktor’s eyes on him. The silence between them grew heavy.

“Are you truly leaving?” asked Viktor softly. Yuuri nodded, shifting in his chair, but not meeting those blue eyes. “Is it…because of anything I’ve done?” This was asked even more quietly, and Yuuri jerked in surprise. His eyes jumped to Viktor’s, but the baron looked away, cheeks going pink.

“You…” said Yuuri in confusion. “No. I told you, it’s…I applied for this months ago.”

“Right, of course, sorry.” Viktor smiled at him. “You look lovely in that grey.”

“Viktor,” he said, frowning. “I…I don’t want to go away.” Viktor reached out and caught Yuuri’s hand in his own. He squeezed tightly through their gloves.

“Good,” he said fiercely. He opened his mouth as if to say more, but just then a woman’s voice rang out.

“There you are, Vitya!” It was Baroness Nikiforov, approaching them from a few feet away. Viktor sighed softly, but pushed to his feet. Yuuri followed.

“Mother,” he greeted her with a quick embrace. She peered over her shoulder at Yuuri and smiled at him. He blushed but smiled back.

“And Mr. Katsuki!” she said enthusiastically and reached a hand to him. He bowed over it politely. “I’m so happy to see you again.”

“The pleasure is mine, your Well-born,” he said.

The baroness smiled. “I thought I told you to call me Evgenia Ivanovna,” she chided. Yuuri blushed.

“Of course, Evgenia Ivanovna,” he said with another small bow. He hesitated, unsure of the proper response, and looked to Viktor, who placed a hand on his waist.

“How are your studies progressing, Mr. Katsuki?” she asked, breaking the slightly awkward silence.

“Oh. Well, thank you,” he said, colouring slightly, thinking of the news he’d just received.

“Yuuri is being modest, mother,” said Viktor. “He’s just been awarded a prestigious fellowship.”

“Ah!” exclaimed his mother. “Wonderful!” She turned to look at him eagerly. “What sort of fellowship?”

“Uh, it means I am going to study for a term in Edinburgh.” He couldn’t help glancing at Viktor’s face. The baroness also looked to her son, but was much less subtle about doing so.

“Oh!” she said, disappointment obvious in her voice. “I’m sure it’s a great honour for you, of course, but it’s too bad you won’t be in London. I was hoping to see you at the embassy again soon.”

“Yes, we’ll all miss Mr. Katsuki’s presence,” said Viktor with some emphasis. Yuuri’s heart dropped and he had to look away from Viktor’s expression. Much more of this and he would start seriously questioning the decision to leave.

Just then Yuuri noticed a commotion happening across the lawn near the back of the property. People cried out in alarm and a crowd had gathered.

“What is happening there?” wondered the Baroness. The crowd parted slightly and they could see a small figure laid out on the ground with several people kneeling and bending over it. Yuuri started and stepped towards the scene to get a better view. “Someone’s hurt? Oh, Mr. Katsuki, can you help them?” The Baroness’s words broke in on Yuuri and he blinked at her and then nodded hastily. The next moment he was already striding out across the open green space, vaguely aware that Viktor and his mother followed several feet behind him.

As he neared the anxious knot of people he could see the figure laid on the grass was a child, a young girl of perhaps 10 years or so. He pushed his way as politely but firmly as he could through the onlookers. The girl was crying quietly, tears rolling down her face as she blinked and panted in shallow breaths. A man was holding a compress to her head and Yuuri could see that her hair was matted in blood.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I’m trained in medicine. Can I assist you?” It felt like every head in the vicinity turned in his direction and looked at him with astonishment. He thought he saw some looks of distaste on some of the faces, but the faces of the gentleman with the cloth and the lady across from him showed relief and a deep fear. He didn’t wait for verbal permission, but approached and crouched down at the girl’s side. She stared at him through her tears, eyes wide.

“What happened?” he asked.

“She fell from the wall.” The man gestured at the stone wall enclosing the property. “Hit her head,” he added needlessly.

“I don’t know what she was doing up there!” said the woman Yuuri assumed was the girl’s mother. The girl opened her mouth as if to respond but then seemed to think better of it and bit her lip.

“Alright,” said Yuuri. “If you’ll allow me, sir, I need to examine her head.” The man shifted over, allowing Yuuri to take the cloth from his hand, which he saw now was a fine linen table napkin. It was stained with blood, but not, he thought, a very alarming amount. “I’m going to have to feel around…uh…what’s your name?” he asked the girl.

“…Mary,” she offered in a small voice.

“Very good, Mary. I’m going to touch your head and it might hurt so I need you to be brave.” She gave him a small, very grave nod. Yuuri inspected the site of the bleeding as best he could through her hair. The gash wasn’t too large, as he’d suspected from the amount of blood in evidence. The real concern was what damage the blow may have done to her skull and brain, however, so he felt carefully for any signs of fracture. Throughout the examination Mary held herself still and bit her lip, only squeaking a little when he touched the area of the wound itself. He then turned her head so he could see her eyes and see how she reacted to movement of her head.

“Does it hurt anywhere else? Did you fall headfirst?” he asked her.

“No, sir,” she replied. “I landed on my backside, but then hit my head.”

“Good,” he said, looking to the girl’s parents. “Her skull feels intact and she doesn’t seem to have any sign of greater damage. She’ll most likely have a headache for a while and be sore from her fall, but I don’t think there’s any serious injury. The bleeding should stop fairly soon if you keep pressure on it.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Mary’s mother with feeling. “What were you thinking?” she asked the girl, with the first trace of anger she’d shown.

“Willy said I couldn’t climb the wall and I thought I could…” began Mary. Yuuri stood up, brushing off his knees. He winced at the slight stains showing on the light fabric.

“If she has any lingering problems in a few days she should see a physician to be sure. Until then she just needs rest,” he added and received nods in reply. The man he presumed was her father stood as well and offered Yuuri his hand.

“Thank you,” he said, and they shook hands. Yuuri stood aside as Mary was lifted up. She stood with a slight wobble and then was lifted by a strong-looking man and carried towards the house with a train of family and servants following behind. The onlookers broke up and slowly drifted back towards the various attractions of the party, though Yuuri felt many eyes still on him.

He sensed a presence at his side and turned to see Viktor looking at him with a strange expression. When he saw Yuuri looking, he gave him a small smile and reached to place a hand on his lower back. “You’re very confident as a doctor,” he observed quietly. Yuuri frowned up at him slightly, unsure of how to respond to that. Viktor bent lower to speak in his ear. “It’s quite an attractive quality.” Yuuri’s cheeks heated and he looked away as Viktor gave a soft laugh. “If you’re finished rescuing maidens, perhaps you would allow me a dance,” he said, and his tone was warm. For the first time that day, Yuuri felt himself relax into the familiar comfort of Viktor’s presence.

“Of course,” he answered with a smile. He caught a glimpse of Viktor’s mother watching them with a small smile as he let Viktor lead him in the direction of the paved area being used as a small dance floor. The square was occupied mostly by young people eager for any opportunity to socialise and form connections. Chaperones stood around the edges, some keeping a sharp eye out for any improprieties, while others seemed entirely caught up in conversations, perhaps intentionally to allow the young some leeway.

Viktor lead Yuuri by the hand into a lively waltz. In only a few moments they were both smiling, enjoying the union of their bodies into a common rhythm, the closeness the dance allowed them, and the way the rest of the world melted away as they stared into one another’s eyes. Viktor led, twirling them again and again, steering in and out of other couples in a showy manner. Yuuri exerted himself to keep up with his partner, terrified of missing a step and stumbling, but he managed it. They were soon breathless, but the dance continued. After a time the music drew to a close and they whirled to a stop, breaking out into delighted laughter as they struggled to catch their breath. Viktor’s arms remained in place around Yuuri, and for a breathless moment he thought the baron was going to kiss him. He wanted so much to be kissed just then, regardless of the scandal it would cause. But Viktor didn’t move and the moment fractured as they moved apart.

“Will you come home with me tonight?” he whispered in Yuuri’s ear. Despite the fact that he’d been expecting to do just that, the invitation made his pulse race and he felt his cheeks colour as he nodded. After that, Viktor seemed to be in a rush to make their exit. He said goodbye to his mother, who wished Yuuri well for his time in Scotland. They encountered more than one person who knew Viktor on their way towards the front of the house, but the baron rebuffed all attempts to get him to stay longer.

Once they were finally ensconced in the privacy of the carriage, Viktor pulled Yuuri close, almost entirely into his lap. Yuuri was still breathless with surprise at the force of his grip when lips closed on his own. He went pliant in the baron’s arms, allowing himself to be kissed deeply and hungrily. If he’d worried earlier that Viktor seemed cold and distant, that was no longer a concern. He was entirely the opposite now: needy and desperate, hands roaming Yuuri’s body as if he meant to claim him here. Yuuri was somewhat surprised that Viktor didn’t use his signal to his coachman and do just that, in fact. Perhaps it was simply that Viktor knew he only need wait a short time and he could have Yuuri to himself for the entire evening.

And have him he did. Once in the bedroom, he pressed himself on Yuuri relentlessly, hastily pulling at his clothes and hungrily claiming each newly revealed bit of skin with his mouth. Yuuri felt overwhelmed by the intensity of his ardour, his body alight with desire, but his mind swirling. Something felt slightly off about Viktor, different from their previous love-making. His hands gripped more tightly, he showed less of the patience and gentle care he had in the past. Perhaps it was only that they were more practised lovers now. Viktor still knew how to make Yuuri moan with pleasure, still took the time to let his body relax, but it was when Viktor pressed himself home inside Yuuri with one long thrust that he suddenly realised what the difference was. Viktor wasn’t making eye contact. He buried his face into Yuuri’s hair as he thrust, clutching hard at his shoulders, groaning expressively. Yuuri gasped and moaned his own pleasure into the skin of Viktor’s throat, but he missed seeing the sparkle of those blue eyes, missed the connected feeling he hadn’t even fully registered until it wasn’t there.

Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut, trying to focus on the sensation, the pleasure of Viktor inside him, the pleasure of Viktor’s desperate desire. He couldn’t help a small cold feeling in his chest, though, at the distance he felt from his lover. Before much longer, Viktor grunted and shouted at his release. Once he withdrew he looked at Yuuri and blinked, as if only now becoming fully aware of his presence, or perhaps of the fact that he had yet to climax. Viktor ducked his head and gave a short, self-deprecating laugh.

“Let’s see if I can’t help you with that,” he said in his velvet voice, sliding down Yuuri’s body to take his cock in his mouth. Yuuri couldn’t resist that, couldn’t keep from gasping at the hot warmth. He buried his hands in Viktor’s silver hand and moaned his name. Now it felt he had Viktor’s attention at last, and when he looked down he saw those incredible eyes turned up towards him. There was some emotion in them that he could not at all name, but he felt an answering surge of feeling in him, along with pain at the thought that this would soon come to an end. Three weeks, he thought to himself. Not enough time.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me on my own.”

Yuuri shot an exasperated look over his shoulder. “You’ll survive without me.”

“I won’t. I’ll pine myself into ill health.” Yuuri snickered at the unnecessary dramatics.

“I think you’ll be perfectly well, provided I continue paying for my half of the lodging,” he said.

“You mean if your baron continues to pay, don’t you?” asked Phichit with a smirk. Yuuri tossed the cravat he had been packing away in the direction of his roommate’s face.

“You know very well he’s already given me enough to pay the rest of the year. I’ll have to find a new position when I return, though.” The thought produced some anxiety, knowing how disastrously his last employment had ended, but he suspected it might be easier to find something after he’d finished his work with Dr. Bell. The fellowship provided room and board while he was in Edinburgh and the amount he had saved from Viktor’s gifts would take care of the remainder.

“Assuming the baron isn’t still desperate for your company, that is,” said Phichit with a pointed expression.

“Phichit, I’ll be gone for four months. There’s no way he won’t find substitute companionship in that time. He has to practically fend off suitors with his stick even when I’m at his side.”

“Yuuri, I’ve seen the way he looks at you. The man is positively enamoured.”

Yuuri’s face heated. “He may be infatuated, but how long will that last when he’s alone in a cold bed?” He took a steadying breath as he faced away from his friend, to settle the ache in his chest caused by his own words.

“I didn’t say he’d be celibate without you, Yuuri. We all know his reputation.” This was true. Everyone knew Baron Nikiforov was a rake. Yuuri hadn’t told his friend about the baron’s artistic passion, or the truth behind his wicked reputation. It hadn’t felt like his secret to reveal. Especially to someone who gossipped as much as Phichit. His friend continued his thought, “However, there’s no reason for him not to take back up with you when you return to Town, is there?”

Yuuri made a non-committal noise in response. It was possible things would happen as Phichit said. Perhaps Viktor would find someone to entertain him while he was in Scotland. Perhaps they would rekindle their affair on his return. In his heart of hearts, though, he couldn’t believe the baron’s interest in him would hold so long. Yuuri continued packing his trunk with his warmer clothing. The clothing from the previous winter looked decidedly shabby compared to all the suits Viktor had given him. Of course, the baron had already mentioned buying him a coat suitable for Scotland and he doubted he’d stop at a single item. As much as he didn’t consider himself a material person, the thought of Viktor clothing him, of taking more of his lover with him when he left, warmed him. Wearing the clothing Viktor had chosen was almost like having the man’s hands upon him, a constant reminder that once, at least, he’d been valued by such a man.

“I don’t know what I’ll do for entertainment without the stories of your dramatic romance,” sighed Phichit. Yuuri shook his head dismissively.

“Perhaps you’ll have more time to pursue your own romance. With a certain Swiss soloist, perhaps?” he teased.

“I don’t know what you mean, my dear. You know I can’t settle for just one lover. My affection must be spread far and wide.” Phichit said this with a sweeping arm gesture.

“Ah, of course,” Yuuri replied gravely. “That’s why you drop everything every time you see him and the next thing I know you’re sitting in his lap.”

“Yuuri,” said Phichit with an intense look. “You should see the man’s cock. Not to mention his arse, though that you can see for yourself if you pay close enough attention.” Yuuri just laughed. Viktor wasn’t the only person he was leaving behind. He would miss Phichit terribly. He couldn’t imagine he’d be lucky enough to find another friend like him. Thankfully, though, he was confident their friendship would continue upon his return. Unlike his relations with Viktor.


“You’re certain you won’t need extra money?” Viktor asked for the second time. Yuuri quirked an eyebrow at him and shook his head.

“I told you, the fellowship provides room and board and a stipend. I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t want my Yuuri to deprive himself, though. You’ll be so far away, where I can’t spoil you.” Yuuri’s breath caught a little at the words ‘my Yuuri’ but he schooled his expression to remain calm. Viktor, on the other hand, was practically pouting.

“I’m not going to take your money for no reason, Viktor, please,” he argued. Viktor sighed and let his head fall back against the pillows of the bed. Yuuri was in the process of dressing himself in order to return to his own lodgings to sleep. He had much to do to prepare to leave, though he tried to find every possible spare moment to indulge in Viktor’s company.

“I should just come to Scotland with you,” said Viktor. Yuuri looked at him and then rolled his eyes. “I’m being sincere, Yuuri!” objected the baron. “There’s no reason I have to stay in London. I can take a house in Edinburgh and we can be together!” He sounded genuinely enthused by the idea. Yuuri sighed. Why did Viktor insist on making this more difficult than it already was?

“Viktor,” he said, “you know that’s not possible.”

“No, I don’t! I’m sure it’s possible.”

“Alright, perhaps it’s possible, but it’s not wise,” Yuuri acknowledged. “What would people say? Baron Nikiforov, following his paramour to Edinburgh. It would be the talk of the town. It would practically be an announcement that I was your…”

“My what?” asked Viktor with an edge in his tone.

“Your…kept boy. Your catamite. Choose your preferred term.” Yuuri sighed.

“Oh.” The animation left Viktor’s face. “I see.” Yuuri inwardly cursed himself for putting it so bluntly. But sometimes Viktor seemed oblivious to the consequences that could result from his actions. He was nearly impervious to scandal as a result of his position and wealth, but Yuuri wasn’t.

“It’s not…” Yuuri began, but couldn’t find the words. “If word reached the University, they might revoke the fellowship. I can’t risk drawing that much attention.”

“Oh,” said the baron again, resignation in his voice. “I’m sorry, I hadn’t considered.”

“I know.” Yuuri bit his bottom lip as the awkward silence enveloped them. He reached for the tie laid across the table.

“Yuuri.” Viktor’s voice interrupted his movement. There was something pleading in his tone. “Come back here,” he added, holding out a hand. Yuuri smiled slightly and dropped the tie. He returned to the bed, still warm and scented with their recent lovemaking. “Stay here tonight,” asked Victor softly as he drew Yuuri into his arms. He didn’t have it in him to deny Viktor a second time, so he let out a breath and nodded. The baron pulled him into a demanding kiss and they didn’t part until they were both spent and breathless once again.


The time until his departure flew by. Yuuri’s days were spent at the University, completing his commitments to his London professors. When he wasn’t doing school work, he was busy with Viktor, who insisted on endless shopping trips to outfit Yuuri for the fall. And his nights were spent in Viktor’s bed, both of them determined to wring every drop of pleasure out of the time remaining to them.

Far too quickly the three weeks passed and it was nearly time for Yuuri to go. Phichit threw a party at the Swan to wish him well, and for once Yuuri didn’t invite Viktor. He knew he wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself at all with the constant reminder of how little time they had together. As it was, it was difficult to keep his attention focused on his friends and their jolly conversation.

On the day before his train departed, Yuuri said his farewells to Phichit. They embraced for a long minute. “You won’t neglect to write, will you?” demanded his friend.

“No, of course not.”

“I’ll need all the details of your life to keep me from getting lonely here all by myself.”

“I’m sure I’ll have fascinating stories of medical lectures,” Yuuri said with a quirk of his lips.

“And I’ll want to hear all about the letters from a certain baron,” Phichit added. Yuuri sighed, but smiled and gave his friend once last embrace before he turned to the door. Viktor had sent his coach to collect Yuuri and his luggage. He was spending his last night with Viktor before catching an early train north. The coachman wrestled his heavy trunk down the stairs, waving off offers of assistance from Yuuri and Phichit. Yuuri carried his smaller bag with the necessities for the trip.

His eyes stung as he waved to Phichit from inside the carriage, feeling suddenly that this trip was a terrible mistake. He didn’t know how he would make it without the people he cared about. But he’d felt this before, when he’d left home. And it had been far more frightening to leave his family and everything he knew behind to be completely alone in a foreign land. This was hardly anything in comparison, he reminded himself.

Viktor met him at the door with an eager smile and a brief kiss on his cheek. Yuuri felt himself blush despite how often he’d been kissed by the baron in the last weeks. Viktor pulled him by the hand towards his sitting room, where a cold supper was laid out on the table.

“I thought it would be preferable to spend our last evening together in private,” he said, releasing Yuuri’s hand to pull out a chair. Rather than gesture Yuuri to sit, however, he settled himself in the chair and reached for Yuuri’s hand again. When Yuuri extended it, he tugged and pulled Yuuri down into his lap. He went, laughing as Viktor settled him across his legs, arms encircling his waist. “Here I can hold you on my lap while we eat,” Viktor continued, eyes twinkling.

“Viktor,” said Yuuri, half scolding and half amused. “How are we meant to eat like this?”

“I’ll feed you,” offered Viktor, undaunted. “What would you like? There’s a game pie, or ham, salads, bread…”

“You honestly intend to feed me bite by bite?”

“Why not?”

“How are you going to eat?”

“I’m not feeling that hungry,” claimed the baron, which earned a suspicious look from Yuuri. “At least not for anything but your company.” Yuuri couldn’t help the rush of heat the words sent through him. Viktor’s ridiculous insistence on having Yuuri in his lap was causing an inconvenient rush of fondness and affection in his breast. He didn’t know if he’d ever even see Viktor after tonight, and the thought nearly stopped his breath with pain. He pushed it away, however, and gave in to his lover’s whim.

“Fine, I’ll have some ham I suppose.” Viktor beamed and reached around Yuuri awkwardly to begin loading a plate with ham and bread and vegetables. Yuuri couldn’t keep himself from helping when Viktor nearly toppled the ham off of its platter. Finally they had a plate before them and Victor used his fork to bring bites to Yuuri’s mouth. Occasionally he ate as well, using the same fork. Yuuri was surprised to find himself curiously aroused by the entire situation. There was something erotic, not only in being seated on Viktor’s lap, but in having the man’s entire attention upon him. The air felt charged with promise, and Yuuri wondered how much of the evening the baron had planned out in advance.

When the plate was clean, Yuuri declined any more food, and Viktor declared himself finished as well. He returned both arms to Yuuri’s waist and pulled him closer. Yuuri leaned down and kissed him, a slow exploration as Viktor’s hands moved up and down his back, under his suitcoat. The kiss brought him the rest of the way to aroused, leaving him breathless as he pulled back. He was struck by the way Viktor looked up at him; there was hunger there, desire, but also something else, something pained perhaps. Perhaps Viktor felt the same constant ache as Yuuri, the knowledge of their impending separation refusing to be suppressed.

For several long moments they simply stared into one another’s eyes, until finally Yuuri ducked his head down to press his lips to Viktor’s again. “I need you,” he whispered against his lover’s lips, and heard Viktor’s breath catch. Then they were standing, awkwardly, as Viktor refused to release him from his embrace. The baron kissed him hard, simultaneously steering them towards the door, bumping against furniture along the way. They stumbled along down the hallway, Yuuri repeatedly pulling a free only to have Viktor recapture him in his arms, both laughing.

Once inside the bedroom the demands of Viktor’s hands grew more insistent, working to remove layer after layer of clothing while he also tried to keep his lips pressed to some part of Yuuri’s skin. It made Yuuri feel breathless, both with laughter and desire, something in him responding strongly to the need Viktor was so clearly displaying.

Yuuri tried to keep up with the baron, tried to strip him of clothing as well, but found himself bare and pressed to the mattress while Viktor retained his shirt and trousers. He soon lost track of everything except the feeling of Viktor on top of him, pressing against him, their bodies separated by a thin layer of fabric. He shivered as fine wool slid along his rigid member, feeling Viktor’s answering hardness grind against him.

Viktor’s mouth continued to explore Yuuri’s neck, his shoulder, his chest, as if frantically trying to taste as much of him as possible. Usually the baron was more controlled, more patient, his touches and kisses expertly directed. This felt desperate, needy, and something in Yuuri responded with a deep appreciation. He arched his spine and groaned, gratified when Viktor only began to suck harder at his skin, nipping with his teeth. As his head continued down lower, Yuuri could see feel the sting left behind and the idea of going off the Scotland bearing the marks of Viktor’s passion on his skin caused him to unleash a sound that was almost a growl. Viktor glanced up, startled by this new sound.

“Mark me, Viktor,” Yuuri asked, voice low and gravelly with desire. He saw Viktor’s eyes flare and grow darker and a soft moan escaped his already swollen lips. “I want to see the evidence of you on me for as long as possible.” Viktor’s mouth pressed again to his chest, sucking harder at a spot just under his pectoral muscle, hard enough to bruise. Yuuri cried out in encouragement, his hips jerking up, seeking stimulation to his aching cockstand. Viktor pushed him back against the bed with the firm pressure of both hands against his hip bones, his mouth travelling lower to leave a line of suck marks along his iliac furrow. As his mouth neared his erection, Yuuri grew louder, gasping and begging unintelligibly. Viktor shot him an amused look and then continued down until his mouth pressed against the very base of his cock. Very deliberately, Viktor extended his tongue and drew it up the side of his member in one long swipe before pulling away.

Yuuri growled again, hips jerking uselessly. “Viktor,” he begged.

“You asked me to mark you, my dear,” said Viktor in a far too self-satisfied tone. “I’m not finished yet.” Yuuri groaned, but tried to calm himself. Viktor urged his thighs apart, settling in between them to suckle the tender inside surface. The sensation was maddening, and after some minutes, Yuuri couldn’t keep himself from reaching down and tugging at his own prick, the relief of his firm grip making him sob. He felt Viktor look up at him.

“Don’t rush too far ahead, darling,” he said. “I’ve got plans for that.” But he returned to work on Yuuri’s thighs without stopping the movement of his hand, so Yuuri continued to stroke himself slowly to keep from losing all patience. Finally, after Viktor had left a series of marks on both of his inner thighs, he pushed himself up from the bed. He moved to the drawer where he kept the lubricating jelly, removing his shirt hastily as he went.

When he settled back in between Yuuri’s thighs he also brought over a pillow to place under him. To Yuuri’s relief, while Viktor pressed a slick finger to his opening, he also lowered his mouth to his cock, replacing Yuuri’s own hand with his warm lips. Yuuri moaned and tried not to squirm overmuch, willing his body to relax around Viktor’s fingers. By the time he was suitably prepared, Viktor had him gasping from the pleasure inflicted by his clever fingers.

“Ready, love?” asked the baron and Yuuri nodded enthusiastically. Viktor finally removed the rest of his clothing and slicked himself before pressing his cock into him. Yuuri groaned, the stretch and hot slide feeling so familiar by now, his whole being responding eagerly. Viktor still took his time penetrating him, making sure he was comfortable before he began to move in earnest. Once he did, his haste returned, Viktor driving into him as if he could no longer hold back. He covered Yuuri’s body with his own, his stomach brushing tantalisingly against his cock.

Viktor seemed lost in pleasure, grunting and groaning as he thrust quickly, hands clutching hard at Yuuri’s shoulders. It felt good, and once more Yuuri was overwhelmed by the appeal of Viktor’s unrestrained need. Yet he didn’t feel his own climax approaching, it seemed as if Victor wasn’t aiming to cause him maximal pleasure in the way he had in the past. Suddenly, after a series of quite forceful thrusts that had both of them panting, Viktor stilled. He shuddered, but not with climax, and he didn’t spend within Yuuri. He panted for several moments, then withdrew his still rigid member and sat back on his heels. Yuuri felt a sense of loss and in confusion, sent him a questioning look.

“I want you to fuck me…” Viktor said, still panting. “Want you inside me… before I spend.” His face showed the intensity of his desire, his need, and Yuuri’s cock twitched at the request. He shut his eyes momentarily and took a steadying breath to pull himself together. His instincts were screaming at him to reach down and finish himself off, to push Viktor flat and press inside immediately, and he knew he needed to take more time. After a moment he felt the insistent need retreat and he opened his eyes and smiled wickedly at his lover.

“Alright,” he agreed. He sat up and moved aside to allow Viktor to take his place. Reaching for the lubricant, he positioned himself between his lover’s legs, teasing his fingers around his entrance. A full-body shudder passed through Viktor. He loved being able to wring those kinds of responses from him, so he took his time pressing his fingers into him, feeling for the spot that made Viktor gasp, twisting his fingers just so to inspire a moan.

Until finally Viktor was begging, “Please, miliy, please, I can’t wait any longer.” Only then did he give in to his own urge to slide into the tight warmth of his body. They both made drawn-out indecent noises as he penetrated deeper, slowly. He’d thought himself under firm control, but the squeeze of muscle around his cock had him breathless. He wasn’t sure how long he would last, and he wanted to draw this out as long as possible. It might be his very last opportunity… No, he wouldn’t think of that now.

“Yuuri,” moaned Viktor, “So perfect.” Yuuri could only grunt in response and clutch tighter at his shoulders. He withdrew almost completely and then thrust back in sharply. Viktor keened. He continued, trying to use all his knowledge of what his lover liked, knowing he liked to be driven into hard and deep. He slid his hands under Viktor’s hips to achieve a more pleasurable angle.

“Is this what you wanted, Viktor?” he demanded breathlessly, with another snap of his hips. Viktor merely cried out, his affirmative lost somewhere in the sound. Yuuri gritted his teeth as he felt his balls tighten, willed himself to last a little longer. He reached down and grasped Viktor’s cock, slick and hot between them. His fist slipped over it, unable to get much of a grip. “Come for me, Viktor. Now,” he begged, his desperation evident in his voice. “I want to feel it from inside you.”

Viktor arched his spine, letting out a moan that slid upward into a cry, and then he was spilling over Yuuri’s hand. For a moment, Yuuri thought he might be able to last through Viktor’s climax and gritted his teeth, trying to resist. But the feel of the spasming muscles around his cock was too much, and he dug his fingers into Viktor’s flesh as he shuddered through his own release.

Long breathless moments passed before they disentangled themselves and cleaned off. Yuuri found himself enclosed in Viktor’s arms, head pillowed on his chest, lassitude claiming his limbs and making his eyelids heavy. He struggled not to fall asleep, however, wanting to take full advantage of this last night.

“Good?” he asked, craving the reassurance.

“Mmm,” replied Viktor. “Very.” He stroked a hand through Yuuri’s hair and they fell back into silence. Then Viktor sighed and said, with finality, “I’m not going to last until December without you.”

Yuuri’s heart thumped and his stomach dropped. He took a single, long breath. This was what he’d been dreading, but he’d known it was coming. “I…I know,” he said with what he thought was a remarkable amount of calm. Victor was doing the honourable thing, being honest with him. He wouldn’t be waiting for Yuuri for four entire months. He would find someone to take his place. That’s how it was always going to be, Yuuri reminded himself.

“I have to come to Edinburgh to see you,” Viktor continued, and Yuuri frowned, confused.

“Sorry?” he blurted. “I thought we agreed it was too risky.”

“Not for a short visit. Not if we’re careful. I’ll be discreet, travel under a false name. I’ll pretend I’m a foreign agent!”

Yuuri lifted his head to look down at the baron, his mind whirling. Viktor wanted to visit him. He wasn’t ending things. Yuuri told himself to remain calm as his pulse spiked. This didn’t mean he wouldn’t change his mind once they were parted. It didn’t mean he wouldn’t meet someone else. What a man said immediately post-coitus surely couldn’t be relied on too heavily.

But he still felt some of the dread lift from his chest. He might see Viktor again. It was something to hold onto, at least.

“Yuuri?” asked Viktor, and Yuuri shook his head, realising he had missed a question.


“Will you let me visit you?” Viktor repeated. Let him, Yuuri thought, wonderingly.

“Err, certainly,” he replied. “When were you thinking…?”

Viktor shrugged a shoulder. “That depends on how many visits you’ll allow me. I could come up once a month?” Despite his best effort at maintaining his cool, Yuuri’s jaw dropped.

“That…you would do that?”

“Of course! I wanted to move there for the fall, but you told me it wouldn’t be possible, remember?”

“Right,” he murmured. Viktor often said things he didn’t take seriously, though. “Once a month might be…too frequent,” he said regretfully. “Not that I wouldn’t like it. But someone would surely notice.” Viktor frowned, his lips forming something of a pout. “One visit could go unremarked, though,” Yuuri offered.

“Hmph. Well, I suppose we can sort out the details by mail. Perhaps you’ll miss me more than you think and you’ll let me come up soon.”

Yuuri looked down and swallowed. “I’m going to miss you very much,” he said quietly.

“Not as much as I’ll miss my Yuuri,” replied Viktor, bringing a hand to his cheek. Yuuri just shook his head in disagreement and then let himself be pulled down into a kiss.

“Now,” said Viktor when the kiss broke off. “We still have hours and hours until dawn. And I demand you leave me just as many marks to remember you by as I left you.”

The words sent a thrill of desire through Yuuri’s core, and he smiled wickedly at Viktor before setting to his task with enthusiasm.


In the morning, Viktor’s coachman drove them to the station through fog-shrouded streets. The journey passed with Yuuri pressed against the baron’s side, an arm around his waist. He let his eyes fall closed in the rhythmic movement of the carriage, feeling the effects of very little sleep. The world around him felt unreal in the hush of the fog and the haze of his fatigue. It wasn’t until the carriage came to a halt outside the station and the coachman dismounted to lift his luggage from the rear that Yuuri and Viktor looked to one another.

Yuuri had no idea what to say. He’d tried his best to say goodbye the night before, with each press of his lips to Viktor’s skin, each mark he sucked to show where he’d been, in the frantic way he’d held onto his lover as they came together over and over. Viktor looked as tired as Yuuri felt, or more so: dark circles showed under his eyes.

“I…I suppose I should go,” Yuuri said, breaking the silence. Viktor blinked and smiled, but his expression made Yuuri’s heart hurt. “Thank you,” he continued. “For everything.”

“You…” Viktor cleared his throat. “You don’t have to thank me, Yuuri. I should be thanking you.” Yuuri shook his head wordlessly. Then, feeling his throat close off with emotion, he leaned in and pressed his lips to Viktor’s. Viktor met his kiss with equal hunger but also a new hesitance. His hand hovered near the back of Yuuri’s head but didn’t actually touch him. When they parted, much too soon, Viktor’s gloved thumb brushed lightly against Yuuri’s kiss-wet lips.

“Write to me?” asked Viktor, breathless. “So I know you’re doing well?” he added in a more normal voice. Yuuri nodded, still not trusting himself to speak. “And I’ll come see you.” He nodded again and then looked away from Viktor to gather himself.

“I should go,” he said once more. He opened his mouth to speak again but found he couldn’t think of what to say. The only suitable parting words that came to him were in Japanese. So he moved forward to press a quick kiss to the baron’s lips instead. As he pulled back their eyes met and Yuuri had the feeling, just for a second, that Viktor was as tongue-tied and confused as he was. Then they moved apart and both smoothed their clothing into place. Yuuri put his hand on the door and looked back, wishing he could stay just a little while longer.

“Goodbye, Yuuri,” said Viktor calmly. “I’ll be looking forward to our next meeting.”

“Me, too,” he replied and then forced himself to open the door and step out into the chill, grey morning air.

He let the coachman find a porter for his trunk and then followed behind his belongings. Right before he entered the door of the building he looked back to see Viktor’s coach pulling away, and a stab of pain pierced his heart. He forced himself to breathe and went through the process of boarding his train with outward calm, but when he settled into his second-class seat he realised his hands were shaking. He squeezed his eyes shut and dug his fingernails into his palms to keep from crying. He had goals to pursue, and new opportunities ahead of him in Edinburgh. He had to focus on that, and do his best to forget Baron Viktor Nikiforov.

Chapter Text

Extracts from correspondence between Baron Viktor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki

My dear Yuuri,

If I had thought ahead I could have ensured this letter arrived in advance of yourself. As it is, I am writing mere minutes after your departure and you should beat this letter to Edinburgh by several hours. Though I saw you merely an hour ago, London already seems more grey and dull in your absence.

I find myself struggling to resist my own instinct, which is to board a train to follow immediately in your wake. It’s only your repeated requests that I not do so that keep me sitting here. I don’t know what I shall do with myself without our evenings together. I’m open to suggestions of worthwhile employment to fill my long, lonely hours.



I apologise for the delay in responding to your first letter. It travelled so swiftly that I had barely arrived here myself. The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity as I have tried to find my way forward here. Edinburgh is a beautiful city, but confusing. I’ve gotten lost more than once in the narrow streets. The University is incredible. The medical buildings are thoroughly modern with exceptional facilities. The diversity of areas of study here almost makes me wish I could stay for longer than a single term, if I wouldn’t have to endure the separation from my friends in London…

…I miss you terribly, my darling, and admit to spending far too much time gazing at the portrait I drew of your countenance. I have begun transferring that work to canvas but I fear my skill in oils isn’t great enough to capture your beauty…

…Dr. Bell is remarkable, though he doesn’t tolerate any mistakes or sloppy work. His energy seems endless, and thus I am worn ragged at the end of every day.

I find myself feeling rather envious of you, since I do not have a picture of you. Not that I could ever forget your face, but I would love to have a remembrance here with me. Have you ever completed a self-portrait?

…I fear it’s not my best work, but I hope you like the enclosed drawing. I found myself with quite an artist’s dilemma, as my inclination to show myself in the best light warred with my ever-present desire to represent the truth in my art. I hope you find the picture accurate, and if I’ve softened the lines of my face, or underestimated the recession of my hairline, I beg you to forgive me my vanity…


Don’t be ridiculous. You have no age lines or impending baldness. Trust me, I’ve spent many hours gazing at you and I would surely have noticed. Thank you for the portrait, I have affixed it to the wall of my shabby attic room to keep me company. If there is any fault in the drawing it is that you did not depict yourself with a smile. In my mind’s eye you are always grinning at one thing or another…

…You must allow me to visit you soon. I cannot abide the loneliness of London without you. I hardly know how I managed before you agreed to be my companion. Please take pity on me and tell me I can come to you.

…It has only been four weeks since I came to Edinburgh. We have a long way to go before I will be returning. Surely it makes sense for you to visit (if you insist on doing so) closer to the halfway mark. Perhaps the beginning of November…

I begin to think you do not wish to see me. Am I a nuisance to you with my constant letters? Do you wish I would leave you to your studies in peace? I beg you to simply tell me if that’s the case…

Your last letter has distressed me so greatly that I’m writing this by candlelight in the early hours of the morning. I never wanted you to think I do not welcome your declarations and your affection. I continue to be entirely mystified as to the cause for your kind attentions to someone as plain as myself, but never think I am not appreciative of them. My only concern about a potential visit from you is that it not damage either of our reputations. As such it seems wise to limit your trip to one occasion not lasting more than a week…

…I will come to you at any time you name, my dear. Only name a date and I will present myself promptly. I will attempt to regulate my impatience until that time…


As the agreed upon date of Viktor’s visit grew closer, Yuuri found himself half-surprised not to receive some excuse for rescheduling or cancellation. He’d expected Viktor’s determination to travel to Edinburgh to wane over weeks of absence, but his letters showed no sign of it. If anything he expressed ever greater eagerness to see Yuuri once more.

He couldn’t quite credit it. He didn’t believe there was anything about himself or what he had given Viktor that was so far superior as to warrant this attention from the baron. Certainly, Viktor had given Yuuri some of the greatest moments of his life, but he hadn’t had the experience or knowledge to reciprocate in kind. He accepted by now that Viktor was a romantic sort and Yuuri suspected the idea of a distant lover pleased that part of his personality. Yet writing flattering letters was one thing; making a lengthy journey was quite another.

He knew Viktor could easily find as much companionship in London as he wanted. He had never broached the subject with him, not wanting to hear either a lie or the unpleasant truth. He also avoided the London papers, which he had once so assiduously scoured for news of the infamous baron. Any gossip they held would either be inaccurate, as Viktor claimed so much of it had been, or it would bear the ring of truth and cause Yuuri pain. Surely to receive as much of his attention as he already had was as much as he had the right to ask. More, in fact.

He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t feeling increasingly desperate to see Viktor himself, however. With each day that passed his anxiety grew, his expectation of disappointing news increased…until it was only a few days until the baron’s arrival. He allowed himself to grow genuinely excited at the thought of seeing Viktor again.

The details of Viktor’s visit were settled after much discussion. Much as Yuuri might have liked to meet Viktor’s train at the station in order to lay eyes on him as soon as possible, good sense had won out over sentiment. Viktor would be staying in a suite at The George Hotel. Originally he’d wanted to find a more private house to let, but making such arrangements for only a week would have attracted much more attention to his visit, so Yuuri had convinced him to take the more conventional route.

On the day of his arrival, Yuuri sat in his afternoon lecture trying to project an air of attention, but he continually glanced to the pocket watch lying open on his leg. He marked the time of the train’s arrival, imagining every step he would take from there: the hiring of porters to carry his luggage, the wait for a cab, the journey to the hotel, the bustle as staff welcomed such an eminent guest. He knew it was impossible for Victor to be awaiting him already, but he felt the desire to run out of the college and into the street all the same. He pressed down on his thigh to keep from tapping his foot impatiently.

Finally the lecture drew to a close and Yuuri was among the first out the doors at the rear of the hall. He had considered taking the time to return to his lodgings to freshen his appearance before seeing Viktor, but decided he couldn’t bear such a delay. Instead, he had worn one of the more conservative of the suits Viktor had given him, a beautiful dark blue that wasn’t entirely out of place among the sea of medical students. So Yuuri turned towards the city centre and walked briskly, his heart racing in his chest out of all proportion to his activity.

Visiting a guest in a hotel like The George wasn’t entirely an anonymous undertaking. He was certain his foreign appearance was marked by the doorman and various other staff who observed his entry. In addition, he had to give his name at the front desk to enquire after a message from Viktor, which gave direction to his room. If the trim man behind the desk wondered at the reason for an infamous Russian baron receiving a visit from a young Japanese man, he hid all signs of curiosity. Yuuri thanked him and made his way up the stairs to Viktor’s suite at one end of the third floor.

He paused outside the door, having difficulty catching his breath and wishing his heart would stop it’s relentless pounding. The anticipation became so strong he was overtaken by the urge to flee. He stood stock still for several moments, during which he very nearly turned away. Only the knowledge that Viktor was expecting him, that he had no possible excuse for not showing his face, stopped him from running. He finally raised his hand and knocked twice, lightly.

Sokolov opened the door promptly, but Yuuri barely saw the man. Because behind him, standing in front of a chair in the little parlour of the suite, was Viktor. Yuuri froze once again, stunned for an instant by the ineffable beauty of the man. Afternoon sunlight streamed through the sheer curtains which covered the room’s windows, turning Viktor’s hair nearly white. He looked so like an angel in an antique European painting, or a spirit of air perhaps. His light grey suit added to this impression.

“Yuuri!” Viktor greeted him, stepping forward eagerly. Yuuri mentally shook himself, forcing himself forward over the threshold so that Sokolov could close the door behind him. And then he was engulfed in an embrace, the perfectly smooth fabric of the baron’s immaculate suit sliding under his hands, around him. The equally smooth lips pressed to his own. Yuuri lost himself in the kiss, warmth and light seeming to flood him, almost lifting him from the ground, making him dizzy. He only felt the ground firm under his feet again when Viktor pulled back, and he blinked up at the cool blue gaze, stunned.

As he looked around, he realised Sokolov had left them alone. He wondered how long the kiss had lasted, but had no means of guessing with any accuracy. Viktor grinned at him and stepped back, taking Yuuri by one hand and pulling him along, until they reached the chair behind him. Viktor fell into it without looking, then he gave a sharp tug to Yuuri’s arm.

“Come here, Yuuri,” he said, a hint of breath in his voice. He pulled Yuuri nearer and then kept pulling, until Yuuri found himself seated in the baron’s lap. Quickly arms reached out and captured his waist, pulling him even closer. Yuuri angled his head down and immediately found himself engulfed in another kiss, this one open-mouthed, hungry, Viktor’s tongue pressing into him. He still felt breathless, and reluctantly broke away after a time, gasping for air.

“Viktor,” he said in between breaths. The baron looked quite pleased, his smile wide and eyes sparkling. “Viktor,” Yuuri repeated, and then reached to resume their kiss. The anxiety, the fear, the anticipation, it all seemed burned out of him by Viktor’s touch. Desire and hunger expanded through him to take their place, his whole body feeling alight. Viktor’s hands roamed everywhere: up and down his back, under his suit-coat, down his hip, down his thigh, back to cradle his arse, never stopped, tracing the boundaries of him as if relearning his contours. Yuuri writhed in place at the stimulation, moaning hungrily into Viktor’s mouth, hearing those sounds echoed back to him by his lover.

He thought he could feel Viktor growing hard against his thigh, and he knew he must be sporting a significant tent in his trousers. Finally Viktor’s hand curved over his hip and across his thigh, brushing across the bulge, making Yuuri break off the kiss with a cry. Viktor took that for encouragement, his hand pressing more firmly against Yuuri, rubbing in circles. Yuuri let his head fall back, the sensation so intense the breath caught in his throat. Months of wanting, of imagining, of trying to remember how it felt when Viktor touched him, and now, this, a hard fumble through his clothing and he was nearly undone. Viktor gave a chuckle and then applied his mouth to Yuuri’s outstretched throat, mouthing and nipping lightly up the length of it to his jaw.

“Viktor,” Yuuri said once more, this time begging. He didn’t know what exactly he begged for; he only knew he was filled with need and Viktor could fill it. “Please.”

“Of course, solnyshko,” Viktor said softly, lips brushing his neck. “You’ll have to stand for a moment to let me up, though.” Without thinking, Yuuri followed Viktor’s instruction, and the hands that guided him into a standing position. Viktor stood, body touching Yuuri’s all along its length. Then he turned them, pushing Yuuri back so he was the one seated in the elegant chair. Yuuri didn’t understand, had thought they would move to the bedroom. And then Viktor dropped smoothly to his knees, pressing his hands to Yuuri’s knees, pressing his legs apart. Yuuri’s mind whited out, the sight of Viktor on his knees, that beautiful suit getting creased, his hands sliding up Yuuri’s inner thighs, all his thoughts splintered to pieces. All he could do was stare, and feel, and gasp for air as Viktor opened the front of his trousers, dipping his hand inside, exposing Yuuri’s hot length to the air.

“Mmm, svezda, I’ve been so looking forward to this,” said Viktor before immediately lowering his head and taking the tip of Yuuri’s cock into his mouth. Yuuri gave a squeak of noise at this, unable to hold it back, his hand flying to his mouth to smother the much louder sound he wanted to make. He’d forgotten just what it was like to have Viktor like this, for a man of such charisma and force of personality to turn all his attention to Yuuri’s pleasure. It was true he was skilled at this, but more than any particular sensation or movement, it was the mere fact of the act that undid Yuuri. And the way Viktor seemed to relish it, to moan around the width of Yuuri’s member, as if he took as much pleasure from this as Yuuri did.

The fingers of Yuuri’s right hand dug into the arms of the chair, knuckles white, the other hand still muffling his cries and moans. He was quickly climbing to the heights of pleasure, Viktor’s enthusiastic mouthing of him not wasting any time in teasing. He thought Viktor could tell how close he was, for he saw the other man glance up at him and something like a smile curve across his lips, stretched open though they were. Then Viktor dived down, taking Yuuri all the way into his throat, nose coming to almost rest against his belly. It was hopeless, Yuuri was done, he shrieked around his fist and spent, hot and hard against the back of Viktor’s throat.

Viktor jerked backwards, coughing a bit, spilling some of Yuuri’s seed from his lips. The sight of it, though he felt he should probably feel apologetic, sparked a fierce pleasure under his skin. He reached forward, brushing his thumb against Viktor’s lips, gathering the drops of fluid. And then he pressed his thumb to the seam of Viktor’s lips, sliding it inside, making sure he got every drop. Viktor’s eyes flared as his thumb pressed in, then sucked wantonly on the digit with a hum of satisfaction.

He sat back on his heels, then pressed a hand to the outline of his own cockstand while giving Yuuri an insouciant look. Yuuri’s breathing, which had only just begun to slow, quickened at the sparkle of his eyes. “Yes, Viktor?” he asked with a quirk of his lips. The baron’s eyes flared and he let out a soft exhalation.

“Yuuri,” he breathed. “Will you come to bed with me?” Yuuri couldn’t help smiling at the ridiculous question. He was still partly exposed, he could still feel traces of the heat of the baron’s mouth on his cock, and Viktor asked if he would go to bed with him, as if there was the vaguest possibility he would answer in the negative.


The days flew by too quickly. Yuuri went without sleep and struggled to stay awake through his daily responsibilities before hurrying to rejoin Viktor at his hotel in the evening. Between Yuuri’s school and the need to avoid gossip, they couldn’t venture into public together, but they hardly minded. Viktor provided dinner from the hotel’s kitchens and they spent the hours they had happily entwined together.

One evening later in the week, Yuuri and Viktor were sitting on the floor before the fire, wrapped only in the blankets of the bed. Yuuri thought Viktor complained of the Scottish cold far too much for someone from Russia, but pointing that out had earned him only a glare and a pathetic shiver.

Viktor passed him a glass of wine and Yuuri leaned back against his bare chest, sipping contently. They were both sleepy and dazed with satisfaction, content to bask in the warmth of the fire and each other’s bodies. For long minutes, neither of them spoke, and Viktor ran a hand lazily through Yuuri’s mussed hair. Then, finally, Viktor broke the silence. “How much longer will you take to complete your schooling?”

Yuuri hummed, almost reluctant to pull himself out of the blissful haze enough to form coherent words. “At least until next fall. It depends a little on how far I want to proceed. There’s no point in taking the exams to become officially certified as an English doctor, so I could honestly stop whenever I feel I’ve learnt enough.”

He felt Viktor nodding behind him. “And then you return to Japan?” he asked. Yuuri nodded. They fell back into silence, but this felt more thoughtful than content. Yuuri wondered what thoughts occupied his lover. Even if he wanted to continue this intimacy with Yuuri indefinitely, there was a limit on how long they could spend together. Right now being with Viktor for almost a year longer seemed like a dream, but if it came true, they would still face a final separation. It didn’t trouble Yuuri overmuch. He hadn’t expected to enjoy Viktor’s company this long, so he was grateful for each additional day, especially one spent like this, in his arms. But Viktor might see things differently. He wasn’t accustomed to not getting what he desired.

“I would like to see your homeland,” Viktor said, breaking into Yuuri’s thoughts.

He startled slightly, turning his neck to glance back in Viktor’s direction. “Really?”

“Of course.” Viktor leaned down and kissed his temple.

“It’s not…it’s very different from here,” he replied. He missed his home, of course, loved its familiar beauty and soothing peace, but sometimes he felt a touch ashamed of how far behind his country could seem, in comparison to the great world powers. Especially in the more isolated regions like his town.

“That’s not going to turn me against it, Yuuri. From what you’ve told me, it sounds lovely. Besides, I want to see any place that could produce my Yuuri.” Yuuri’s cheeks heated, but he tightened his hold on Viktor’s arm in an affectionate gesture.

“It’s a long way to travel,” he commented.

“Hmm, true. It’s a shorter distance from Russia, though.” Viktor rested his cheek on the top of Yuuri’s head, nuzzling a bit. “And even a long journey can be enjoyable in the right company.” Yuuri let Viktor’s words reverberate through his skull for a while.

“Do you mean you’d travel back with me?” he asked, wondering if he had misunderstood.

He felt Viktor shrug. “Perhaps. We could even stop in Russia for a while and I could show you my home.” Yuuri couldn’t resist any longer and turned around completely to stare at his lover.

“Are you truly serious?”

Viktor smiled his characteristic heart-shaped grin. “Why shouldn’t I be? Just think of it, Yuuri, it could be a wonderful adventure. Not to mention all that time to while away on-board the ship. However could we fill those hours?” He smirked, his eyes sparkling. Yuuri’s breath caught and he couldn’t look away from the dazzle of Viktor Nikiforov with a new scheme.

His heart seemed to enlarge in his chest, filled with some of the effervescent light from Viktor’s eyes. Not only was Viktor dreaming of them travelling together, across nearly the world entire, but he spoke of a time a year from now, assumed they would still be just as intimate then. Was it truly possible? Was Viktor just as loathe for things to end between them as he was? Could his feelings possibly match Yuuri’s own?

It felt like it was all possible, in that quiet, warm haze of firelight. His throat filled with emotion, rendering speech impossible, so Yuuri leaned forward and kissed Viktor soundly, deeply, with all his hopes dancing upon his lips. Viktor met him hunger for hunger, tender caress for each touch. Yuuri let the blanket cocooning him fall away as he straddled Viktor, pressing his back down to the carpeting. He continued kissing him as he readied to take Viktor inside him once more. As he sank down, he felt he might burst with happiness, both from the feel of Viktor inside him and from the way he was looking up at him.


The following afternoon Yuuri stopped by his rooms after finishing his rounds with Dr. Bell. He was due at Viktor’s hotel soon, but he needed a change of clothing and to at least fake the appearance of still sleeping in his bed and inhabiting his lodgings. He smiled to see a letter waiting him on the hall table, addressed in Phichit’s round hand. For much of the last several weeks seeing Phichit’s handwriting instead of Viktor’s would have been a slight disappointment, but now he could simply enjoy hearing from his friend.

He opened the letter as he moved about his bedroom, disarranging the sheets of the bed and pulling out necessities. It seemed Phichit had included a clipped piece of newsprint with his letter. He skimmed the handwriting until he found it referenced: “I included the piece from the society page because I felt it was important for you to know. It’s likely you know far more about it than I already, but you haven’t mentioned it so I felt obliged. I hope it’s not a dire disappointment to you. Please let me know if you need anything from me.”

His stomach was already clenching with foreboding as he turned to the thin, small piece of slightly smudged newspaper.

Russian Baron Ready to Wed

It has come to the attention of this writer,
through those in a position to know, that
the notorious Baron Nikiforov, son of the
ambassador from that country, has
expressed the intention to wed, at long last.
Though considered one of the most eligible
bachelors of London, the baron has for years
evaded the matrimonial snare. It seems
matters have changed and an
announcement is expected soon regarding
the engagement of Baron Nikiforov to the
second son of the Duke of Exeter, Captain
Francis Baker of Her Majesty’s 5th
Regiment. It is to be imagined that the wedding...

The paper fell from Yuuri’s hand, fluttering to the worn carpet at his feet. His mind flashed to an image from that first night with Viktor at the Russian embassy, of Viktor smiling at a handsome young man in uniform. His stomach roiled and he bent his spine to curl down around it. He struggled to breathe, willing himself not to be sick. After some groping, he pulled himself onto his bed, arms wrapped tightly around his torso, breath coming fast. A dark blackness reared up in the centre of his vision and he knew no more.

Chapter Text

Yuuri awoke to the pounding of a fist on a door. He thought initially it must be Phichit, trying to wake him, but as he opened his eyes he realised he wasn’t in their flat in London, but his rooms in Edinburgh. His head ached, and he wondered for a moment if he were sick, but then his eye caught on the pale papers lying haphazardly on the floor. Phichit’s letter, and the newspaper clipping.

It all hit him at once, then. The memory of reading about Viktor’s engagement, and the fact that Viktor was waiting for him in a hotel across town. How late was it? Night had fully fallen, but that didn’t tell him much given it was so late in the year and he was so far north. Finally he shook himself and got to his feet, stumbling to the door.

Just before he reached it, he heard a muffled voice through the door. “Yuuri?” called Viktor. He froze. For some reason the possibility of Viktor being the one at his door hadn’t occurred to him. But of course he knew where he lived, after so many letters. And he would be worried when Yuuri didn’t appear as planned.

“Viktor?” he called out, without moving to open the door. His voice cracked slightly on the name.

“Yuuri! Are you alright?” The doorknob rattled once more.

“I…I’m not feeling well,” he called, which was mostly truth in any case.

“Can you open the door? Do you need a doctor?” Viktor sounded truly concerned and it made his heart twist painfully in his chest. Yuuri hesitated. He couldn’t…he needed time to think. He approached the door slowly, then carefully turned the key in the lock before opening it a few inches. He remembered the letter lying on the floor and blocked off any view of the room with his body.

“Yuuri,” said Viktor, sounding relieved. “Oh, you don’t look particularly well, my dear.” He reached a hand out as if to touch his face, but Yuuri flinched back. The hand fell.

“I…I’m sorry. I fell asleep. I didn’t mean to.” He raised a hand to his forehead as if in pain. “I’ve got a terrible sick headache.”

“Oh, no! Is there anything I can do? Anything I can get for you?” Viktor’s expression was nothing but sincere concern. Yuuri felt a spasm of regret at misleading him, but then forced it away.

“No. No, I think perhaps I just haven’t had enough sleep.” That much was true. He had been neglecting his sleep terribly since Viktor’s arrival.

“Oh!” Viktor looked a bit guilty. “I’m sorry, then. Get some sleep.”

“I know tomorrow is your last night here,” began Yuuri, but Viktor waved him off.

“Don’t worry about that. I don’t want you to fall seriously ill.”

“I’m sure I’ll feel better by tomorrow,” Yuuri added, silently wishing he was actually sure. Viktor reached out and covered his hand briefly where it grasped the edge of the door, then bade him goodnight and turned to leave. As he did, Yuuri caught a glimpse of movement down the hall and realised they had been observed by one of his neighbours. He wondered if Viktor had given the landlady his name downstairs and if he’d wake tomorrow to a furor of gossip about the visit of the infamous baron to his room. He couldn’t work up much concern over the prospect, though, not in the face of his larger worries.

He returned to his bed, pausing to remove his terribly rumpled coat and shoes. He picked up the papers from the floor and reread the newspaper column. Then he read Phichit’s letter in full, to ensure that it contained no further details. It did not. He sighed, wanting nothing more than to pull his blanket over his head and find peace in sleep, but he made himself think through the matter logically. He considered the likelihood that the report was entirely false. Although Viktor had airily dismissed past reports in the papers about himself, in actuality there had been a basis for his reputation. He visited brothels, theatres, and other bohemian haunts frequently, looking for models. If he went to a brothel and disappeared into a room with a prostitute, it was hardly the paper’s fault that they drew the wrong conclusion.

Even Viktor had admitted he sometimes did have affairs with his models. In that respect, his reputation was merely exaggerated rather than entirely unwarranted. So what about an engagement? Yuuri knew his parents were putting more and more pressure on Viktor to choose a spouse. And he knew from the embassy dinner that Captain Baker was someone the Baroness approved of as a potential partner for Viktor. Viktor had mentioned in passing he thought his mother might be able to talk his father round to allowing him to marry a man…had that finally happened? If it had, how likely would it be for Viktor to continue to refuse his parent’s wishes?

He didn’t think Viktor was in love with someone else. He couldn’t imagine he would be happy to marry. Viktor had never spoken of marriage as anything but a nuisance. Yet he may have been offered an ultimatum by his parents. They held enough leverage over him that they could make his life difficult if he refused.

In fact, now that Yuuri truly considered it, he realised that Viktor’s engagement was inevitable. It would have to occur eventually, regardless of the truth of this rumour. It might be now, or in a month, or half a year from now. Eventually Viktor would become engaged to someone who was not Yuuri. His class and title demanded it.

So if Viktor was engaged to be married, what then? It seemed very possible, even likely Viktor would expect to continue seeing Yuuri. From what he’d been saying the last few days he didn’t seem to have any intention of ending their affair before Yuuri left England. Even if they were allowed such a fantasy as Viktor had spun with his talk of travelling with Yuuri back home, still there would have to come an end. Yuuri would be staying in Japan. Viktor would be returning to London, or perhaps St. Petersburg.

He hadn’t asked Viktor if he’d had other lovers while they’d been separated. But what if he were the illicit lover. A brief summer fling, secretly continued while he pursued a respectable partner. Or was pursued, perhaps. Yuuri squeezed his eyes shut tight. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t be Viktor’s…paramour. His secret kept from someone who, perhaps, loved him. At the thought Yuuri felt the first tear fall from his lashes and he angrily swiped at it.

How had he been so drawn into this? This world where he didn’t belong? Once he had told Viktor he wouldn’t be his whore, had tried to refuse the lascivious advances by the beautiful nobleman. Somewhere along the way he’d been convinced, though. Charmed, won over, seduced. He felt sick. The tears began to fall in earnest. He curled back into a ball and pressed his pillow to his face.

Eventually, he cried himself out. And in the wake of his tears he shook his head. No, he couldn’t believe…that. Not everything he’d had with Viktor was a lie. The Viktor he knew was real. He just couldn’t be Yuuri’s…not for long. He knew deep down he had already run out of time, outstayed his welcome. He and Viktor were never meant to last longer than a season. That’s not the way the world worked.

As Yuuri centred himself with several deep breaths, he felt remarkably calm. The knowledge of what he had to do settled on him and felt…comfortable, like an old coat. A deep, aching exhaustion spread through him again in the wake of his emotion and panic. He removed the rest of his clothing and replaced it with his nightshirt before lying back down. It took him surprisingly little time to fall back asleep.


The next day Yuuri went to his lecture as planned. He needed something to distract him from what he was facing that evening. It was Viktor’s last night in Edinburgh, and naturally they had planned to spend it together. After last night’s disaster, he wasn’t sure what Viktor might have in mind, but he was almost certainly going to be disappointed. His thoughts shied away from that path. He had to stop thinking about it or he would get so worked up he would spend the night locked in his room again.

Slowly, hour by hour the day passed, and Yuuri made his way to The George. His steps slowed as he approached Viktor’s suite, as if they could avoid the coming pain by delaying long enough. Finally he knocked on the door, and was immediately drawn into the brightly light parlour by Viktor’s eager hands.

“Darling, are you well today?” he asked, at the same time pulling Yuuri into an embrace.

“I…yes, I’m better today,” he lied. He closed his eyes and let himself rest his head on Viktor’s shoulder for a brief moment, enjoying the feel of his warm arms around him. Then he pulled back and took a steadying breath.

“Is something wrong, dear?” Viktor asked, clearly noting his somber mood.

“Viktor,” he began. “We need to talk.” Looking nonplussed, Viktor cocked his head to the side but then waved Yuuri towards the love-seat. Yuuri glanced at it and then carefully chose to sit in one of the chairs set at an angle to the sofa. Viktor lowered himself down with a small frown and waited attentively for Yuuri to speak.

“Viktor.” He stopped, resolve deserting him for one brief moment. But then he steeled himself and forged ahead. “When you return to London, we should end this,” he said, keeping his voice remarkably level.

Silence rang in the wake of his declaration. Viktor frowned. “Yuuri? What do you mean?”

Yuuri winced inwardly. Part of him had hoped for this to be easier, for Viktor to nod and agree that it was for the best, even if he’d known that was unlikely. “I mean we should end…this. Our relations.” Viktor’s mouth parted slightly and he continued looking at him blankly. “That is, I deeply appreciate everything you’ve done for me,” Yuuri continued nervously. “I’ve enjoyed our arrangement. I just think it’s time…for it to come to an end.”

Viktor held himself stiffly, entirely too still. “I thought…” he began quietly, words trailing away. Yuuri’s heart clenched. The silence felt heavy in the elegant room.

“I know you wanted more. But I can’t…” His voice nearly failed him then, but he swallowed against the emotion. “I can’t give you that,” he concluded. Viktor’s face changed then, smoothing out, until only his eyes showed any distress.

“I see,” he said, remote and cold. He nodded several times, as if to a business matter. “Well, then.” Once again the silence engulfed them, Yuuri feeling as if the pounding of his own heart should rightly echo back to him from the walls.

“I should go,” he choked out. He hadn’t known how this would go, part of him had expected to spend a last night with Viktor, but now he knew he couldn’t, and it seemed it was the last thing the baron wanted either. “I’m sorry…to ruin your plans.” He stood then, his pulse still racing, urging him to get out, run, flee.

“Right,” said Viktor vaguely. He watched Yuuri from his chair. Yuuri couldn’t stand it any longer, but instinctively dropped into a quick bow and then turned and left the room as quickly as he could. The sound of the door shutting behind him sounded impossibly heavy.

He walked back to his lodgings in double-time. He didn’t really see anything around him, just pushed forward out of habit, letting loose his deeply ingrained need for flight. He stumbled up the stairs to his little room and then to his bed. He paused only long enough to pull off his shoes, tie, and jacket in the dark room. He didn’t bother with a light, falling into his bed and wrapping the blanket around himself. He didn’t sleep, though. He wished he could sleep.

He stared into the blackness, eyes open, wide awake. He felt as if he were waiting for something. He didn’t know what it might be. He lay in the dark and counted the seconds, too dark to know how long it had been. Viktor’s train left at 7am. When the first light crept through his shutters, he knew he still had hours. Hours until it was safe. Or until it was too late, he wasn’t sure. His thoughts were fragmented, spinning through his mind aimlessly, out of order and meaningless. He wasn’t sure what time it was when he finally lost consciousness, but in his dream he heard a train whistle and he knew it was over.


Yuuri did his best to return to his normal life, his daily schedule, to put thoughts of Viktor behind him. He knew he had done the right thing, in the long run. Putting off the pain of losing him, of separating, wouldn’t have done them any favours. But part of him still felt hollow, an ache something like hunger, or the sense of a missing organ, not something necessary for life perhaps, but the absence strange all the same.

Still time passed. He didn’t hear from Viktor again, not that he had expected to. He wrote Phichit and explained, in a very few words, what had happened. His friend evidently understood Yuuri’s reluctance to discuss it, because his return letter expressed his sympathy but then changed the subject entirely, going into great detail about the latest rivalry among the dance company, accusations of ground glass in someone’s rouge…the usual drama of the theatre.

If possible Yuuri threw himself even more into his studies, spending every possible hour at the college or hospital or clinic. He returned to his room only when exhausted. He was learning quite a lot, and he told himself that was enough. Days passed into weeks, and his remaining time in Edinburgh was growing ever shorter, when he received two pieces of mail that fractured his tenuous mental peace.

The first was a long, narrow envelope addressed to him in an unfamiliar hand. He shook out the contents and frowned at the thick sheaf of pages folded several times. On top was a neatly typed letter. He read through it, his frown growing deeper the more he read. The language was formal. The address at the top of the page was a legal firm in London. He finished reading and flipped immediately to the next pages which folded out farther. They were covered in flourishes of script, stamps of seals, several different signatures…

And at the top was printed “Deed of Ownership.” He read down the page, squinting in disbelief. He read the carefully-written address several times. It was his old address in London. The rooms he shared with Phichit. Or rather, the address of the building which contained the rooms. And this was the deed of ownership— of the whole building? His name was there in black and white, listed as owner. The previous owner’s name, his landlady, was also there, along with her signature.

There are the bottom, was another name. A signature. Viktor A. Nikiforov. He flipped back to the cover letter and read it again. It was from Baron Nikiforov’s solicitor, it explained. It congratulated Yuuri on his new ownership of the property detailed within, including the certificate of gift from the baron. It was apparently entirely a completed transaction, requiring only his own final signature, which he could provide at any time by presenting himself at their offices in London…

Yuuri sat down hard in the chair near the front hall. The room spun about him. He didn’t doubt the legitimacy of the documents, however. No one but Viktor would think of something like this. And Viktor would not play this as a joke, even after what Yuuri had done to him. But why in the world would he give him this? How could he, even? Certainly he had money enough; the property wasn’t in a very good part of Town. There was no call for it, though. Yuuri had never, never asked for such a thing. He wouldn’t. Why would Viktor feel it…necessary?

Thinking about it didn’t bring him to any greater understanding, however. He spent the evening composing two letters: one to Phichit asking if he knew anything and expressing all his astonishment to the only person likely to understand. The second one was to Viktor. It took him much longer to complete, though it was only a fraction of the length. He merely said he’d received the deed, but didn’t understand why Viktor would give him such a gift. He told him it was too great a thing to receive, that he couldn’t possibly accept it. (What would he do with a lodgings house in London? There were too many details to imagine. It was absurd.)

He walked into the dark evening to post both letters immediately. Then he sat up for several more hours trying to understand what it could possibly mean.

The second piece of mail was received the following day, once again waiting for him when he returned. It was a letter from Phichit and Yuuri was initially disappointed, knowing it couldn’t possibly contain an answer to his questions in such a short amount of time. He still opened and read it immediately, wondering if there was any hint in it as to what Viktor was up to.

In fact, it did contain news of Viktor. He was gone. He’d left London, Phichit wrote, bound to return to Russia. Phichit had the news from Christophe, who had spoken directly to the baron himself. Viktor was going home, with no current plans to return. According to the letter, his ship had already left before Phichit heard the news.

“As for the rumoured marriage, Chris said he asked Viktor about it. Viktor merely shook his head and said it wasn’t happening. Christophe thought that was why he was leaving, because he looked so sad when asked.”

Yuuri’s heart sank. He didn’t understand this at all. One thing was clear, however, Viktor was unavailable to provide answers to his many questions. Was this all meant as a final gesture? A message of some sort? Damn the man. He’d ruined any tranquillity Yuuri might have felt about his own decision, and then fled. Yuuri couldn’t contact him. There was no possibility of seeing him when he returned to London. Viktor leaving the country made their separation as final as it was possible to be. He felt ill and went to bed without eating dinner that night.

Chapter Text

With the unsettled issue of Viktor’s absurdly generous gift and Yuuri’s anxiety about what it meant, the final weeks of his term in Edinburgh passed in a blur. He felt a bit guilty about how little he cared regarding his education and career at the moment, but he tried to hide his impatience and thank Dr. Bell for the opportunity and his valuable instruction. He packed his belongings in a matter of minutes and was on the overnight train to London that very evening.

He managed to snatch fragments of sleep, but most of the journey was spent in a state of half-awake daydreams. He saw himself encountering Viktor somehow, finding the rumours of his departure had been erroneous. In one fantasy he managed to catch Viktor just as he boarded his ship and stop him, demanding that he explain himself. If these dreams ended in scenes of passion and ludicrously devout declarations of love, well, no one would ever know but Yuuri himself. Viktor was out of reach, of course, so he supposed these fantasies were allowable now that there was nothing he could do to change how things had ended.

He had thought he was doing the right thing, the responsible thing, by calling an end to their affair. The deed and news of Viktor’s departure shook him, made him wonder if he had been mistaken in some fundamental way. He felt as if he were missing an important piece of a puzzle, some piece which would make the whole comprehensible. The agonising thing was the suspicion that he might never find out what it was.

He arrived back in London in the morning, and it took him some time to adjust to the loud bustle of the metropolis. He’d forgotten how congested London could be, how thick the fog, and how pungent some of the odours. It was a relief when he alighted from his cab outside their lodging house. The driver left him on the stoop with his trunk to wait for someone to assist him inside. Finally his landlady’s eldest daughter appeared in the entrance hall, her eyes going wide when she saw him.

“Mama!” she called in the direction of the kitchen. “It’s him. He’s back!” With a tutting sound she helped him heave his trunk over the threshold, where they dropped it. “Jerry’ll get that,” she said with a firm look that implied she’d make sure her brother did his part. “Come into the front room. Mama wants to see you first thing.” She led the way to the room off the left side of the entrance, the one reserved for guests of status, and thus, rarely used. She left him alone there, going off to fetch her mother and ‘some tea.’

Yuuri seated himself on the slightly worn horsehair sofa in the middle of the room. He tapped his fingers against the wooden arm, wishing he could hurry Mrs. Clemens along. He really just wanted to be upstairs in his room. A confused shuffling behind the door announced his landlady’s presence before many more minutes had passed. Yuuri stood and turned to greet her.

“Oh, Mr. Katsuki, there you are!” she trilled out as she pushed through the door. She was smiling and carrying a tray holding a floral-patterned teapot and two cups as well as a plate of biscuits. Yuuri felt a bit out of place since he’d never seen her looking at him without a vague expression of distaste. Not that she had been unkind or unfair to him, but she seemed to treat all her lodgers with the vague suspicion born of long experience, especially the students. She’d never offered him tea before, not unless it had been requested as part of their daily board. As she settled the tray on the table to the left of her chair, he caught sight of a folded paper tucked against the side of the pot and the tableau made sudden sense.

“Do you take milk and sugar, sir?” she asked as she began to pour.

Sir? marvelled Yuuri inwardly. “Neither, thank you, Mrs. Clemens,” he answered aloud. She nodded with a smile that was far too wide and handed over the cup and saucer. When Yuuri took a polite sip he realised he should likely have asked for milk, as it was stewed dark and strong. He normally added water to the tea when it was brought to his rooms, but after months away he’d forgotten how she made it. He swallowed the tea despite the bitter flavor. When he looked back to the woman sitting across from him, she was holding out the plate of biscuits eagerly.

“They’re fresh baked,” she informed him, shaking the china dangerously in his direction.

“Er, thank you,” he repeated, taking a biscuit and tasting it. It wasn’t bad, thankfully, so he could make a genuine sound of appreciation.

“So, Mr. Katsuki,” began Mrs. Clemens, finally with the air of business in her voice. “Can you explain the visits I received from Mr. Murgatroyd a few weeks back? He refused to give me any explanation, just offered me…well, too much to turn down. He said the property was going to you, but his employer was someone else?”

Mr. Murgatroyd, Yuuri gathered, was one of Viktor’s solicitors. Yuuri shook his head a little at the confused mess Viktor had left behind. “The truth, Mrs. Clemens, is…I don’t know that much about it myself. I have to go meet with the solicitors to complete the paperwork myself, and have only the barest details. As to why this has happened…it seems someone wanted to give me a gift and they chose this. I honestly haven’t a clue why.” His landlady frowned. “If…if you were pressured to sell…I can try to refuse the gift and see if this whole business can still be undone.”

“Oh!” Her face coloured. “Oh! Well. That is…no, there’s no need of that. I’m sure…I mean I already signed all those papers, so it’s official, isn’t it?”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Err, well, it is a tidy sum I was paid…”

Probably far more than the property was worth… he thought.

“What I’m more concerned about is what you intend to do with the place now? I mean, my children and myself…” she trailed off but keep her eyes on him.

Yuuri sighed heavily. “For now…well, I suppose I don’t mean to do anything very soon. The house will still need your services.”

“Good, good,” she nodded in satisfaction. “So as to our pay…” Yuuri cut her off with a raised hand.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Clemens, but I need to meet with Mr. Murgatroyd before deciding on any arrangements. You’re sure you wouldn’t like me to find a way to nullify the sale?” He suppressed a smile as she hurried to assure him otherwise. “Alright, then I’ll get settled in and we’ll have to discuss terms another day.”

He stood, handing his empty cup and saucer to his landlady, and with a polite nod, left the room. As he did, it occurred to him that he actually owned the building in which he stood. In his own name…an entire home in the largest metropolis in the world. Or he nearly did, at any rate. He couldn’t feel a sense of accomplishment or pride at the fact, since it was hardly of his own making, but he did begin to feel the subtle shift of power in his favour. He was no longer merely a cash-poor student, at risk of countless dangers in a city like this. Owning this house, assuming it was all true and he did actually own it, made him quite a bit safer and more secure. For the first time he felt something other than befuddlement at Viktor’s action: a flicker of gratitude.

He was pulled from his train of thought by the sight of his roommate, Phichit, waiting for him in the hall when he opened the door. Yuuri was barely out the door of the sitting room before Phichit enveloped him in a warm embrace. He hugged his friend tighter than normal, a feeling of relief coming over him. He only at that moment realised how very much he’d missed Phichit. Especially since the split with Victor and the turmoil it had made of his emotions.

“Yuuri! At last!” said Phichit, stepping back to look at him. “You look tired. Come on, let’s get upstairs and get some tea.” He signalled to the girl behind Yuuri.

“I just had tea, Phichit, I’m fine.”

“Well, I didn’t. Come along, at any rate, we have so much to talk about.” Yuuri sighed as he followed obediently behind his friend up the stairs. As much as he wanted Phichit’s advice he wasn’t looking forward to his questions. He couldn’t avoid this conversation, however. He’d informed Phichit of the letter he’d received from Viktor’s solicitors, of course. They’d exchanged theories and questions on the topic in several letters, but it was one thing to write something down and another to be face-to-face with his closest friend once more.

“Alright, Yuuri,” said Phichit once they were both seated in their rooms. “Now, tell me what in the world has happened with Viktor?”

“I told you everything already,” he protested, “in my letters.”

“You told me some, perhaps, but I’m not going to let it go that easily.” Yuuri sighed. He felt he’d survived the last month by trying not to allow any memories of Viktor and their parting into his mind. He’d gotten rather good at not thinking about it. Or, rather, at letting his mind gnaw away at the entire situation constantly, but in the very back of his consciousness. He couldn’t even imagine where he would begin.

“Very well,” said Phichit after a moment. “You told me you ended things with him. Was it entirely due to my letter?” He sounded worried, as if he felt to blame for the entire thing.

Yuuri sighed again. “Yes, I suppose so, though not entirely. It wasn’t your fault. I…I appreciate you informing me of the newspaper column. I would have been angry if you had not. In hindsight, perhaps I should have confronted him about it, asked for the truth of things. But I was afraid…afraid he’d be able to persuade me to accept it. To accept continuing with him despite his marriage. And that’s the last thing I want. I couldn’t…I couldn’t be that for him.”

“So you ended it,” said his friend. “Without telling him why?”

Yuuri gave a small shrug. “Yes. I couldn’t manage…I couldn’t face him for very long. It was best to get it done with quickly.” Phichit shook his head a little sadly.

“Yuuri, I’m sorry. I know you…liked him very much.”

“It was never going to last,” he explained. “I already had longer than I ever expected with him.”

“So why did this seemingly cause the baron to abruptly leave London and return to Russia? Not to mention buying you an entire house!”

Yuuri shook his head. “I have no explanation. We don’t know that his departure had any connection to me.”

“Yuuri,” Phichit chided, “be realistic for a moment. He’s been in London for years without ever going home, right?”


“Well, then you can’t say he came back from seeing you in Scotland and left mere weeks later and that those two events are unconnected. How likely could that be?”

“There’s also the engagement to Captain Baker. Perhaps that was what precipitated his departure. Perhaps he was rejected by the man he truly loved when he offered his hand.” Yuuri couldn’t help but saying it in a gloomy tone. He had considered every possibility over the last few weeks and this was one he couldn’t help returning to.

Phichit shook his head. “Or he was rejected by the man he loved and that was you, Yuuri. Are you really so blind? He gave you a house for heaven’s sake!” Yuuri turned his eyes downwards and frowned at his own hands. There was nothing he could say to that, because he couldn’t come up with any sensible explanation for the gift.

“I don’t know, Phichit. I can’t know. It could mean something or it could mean nothing. A parting gift in a spirit of fondness, perhaps, like a watch to a loyal servant. He was always like that.”

Phichit looked as if he was going to say more, but he bit his lip instead. He watched Yuuri for several quiet moments. “Well, at any rate, what are you going to do about the house?”

“I don’t know that either. I have to go meet with Vik— the baron’s solicitor to find out all the details, I suppose. The entire thing is preposterous, of course.”

“Very well, then for tonight, I think you need to get your mind off things. What better way to do that than to consume far too much drink among friends?” Yuuri groaned softly, rolling his eyes at Phichit’s bright and dramatic tone.

“I only just arrived, Phichit,” he complained.

“And people have been missing you. Come on, let’s go to The Swan. I’m free tonight, so we have to enjoy it while we can. Get cleaned up, change your clothes, and we’ll be off.” Yuuri put on a show of reluctance, but in truth he was glad to be in his friend’s presence again. He’d spent enough nights alone, trying not to think about Viktor. He would let Phichit distract him and entertain him as much as he wanted.


Phichit led the way into the warm interior of The Swan, and Yuuri was momentarily overwhelmed by the eerie nostalgia that gripped him. Four months wasn’t that long a time to be away from a place, but it was enough to make an establishment like The Swan seem both changed and intimately familiar.

It smelled the same, of stale beer, gin, and slightly shabby clientele. He knew if he went upstairs that the mustiness of the furnishings would awaken strong memories. Probably of Viktor, unfortunately. He grimaced at the thought. As much as he and Phichit had frequented The Swan for years, had made lots of friendly memories within it’s walls, it was now inextricably linked to Viktor as well. He wouldn’t climb the stairs, he decided. He couldn’t face seeing the chair or the sofa where they had embraced without a care in the world.

Phichit was waving to figures at a table on the left side of the taproom. Yuuri recognised most of them as various friends of Phichit’s, and therefore acquaintances of his. “Leo! Look who’s finally returned!” called Phichit as they approached the table. Yuuri looked toward a man now standing and turning towards them. He saw the lean, brown-haired form of Leo de la Iglesia, who he hadn’t seen for some months before he had left for Edinburgh.

“Leo!” he greeted him, shaking hands with the smiling man.

“Yuuri! It’s been an age! Come on, let me buy you a drink.” Leo ushered Yuuri to a chair, moving some of the other occupants around so he could sit next to him. “I spent all summer touring the provinces with the orchestra, and once I returned you were off in the freezing north.”

“Yuuri is here to drown his heartbreak in alcohol,” Phichit chimed in from a few feet away. “So don’t be miserly.”

“Our Yuuri? With a broken heart? I don’t believe it,” said Leo with a twinkle in his eye. Yuuri managed a smile back at him, but it felt forced.

“I thought Yuuri was only the cause of broken hearts in others,” agreed the voice of Michele from across the table. Yuuri shot him a glare as he settled behind a glass of ale that Leo pressed into his hand. He wasn’t in the mood for that kind of teasing.

“I heard your baron’s left town,” said Leo casually, sitting beside him. Yuuri started, sloshing a bit of beer over the edge of his mug.

“He…he’s not my baron,” he said quietly, hoping it would end the topic.

“That’s not what I hear,” continued Leo, apparently unaware of the sudden tension next to him. “I hear you were seen with him several more times after that first night…” He trailed off but then caught sight of Yuuri’s expression and the teasing grin slid off his face. “Oh, I’m sorry, is that…”

Yuuri didn’t answer, a lump taking up all the space in his throat suddenly. He took a large gulp of his drink instead. By the time he felt able to speak, he was frowning, something in Leo’s words catching his attention.

“What do you mean, ‘that first night’?” he asked. “You weren’t there, were you?”

Leo gave him a confused frown. “What do you mean? Of course I was there. I’m the one who make you come out that night. Phichit is the one who wasn’t there.” Yuuri stared at him, not understanding his words at all.

“What in the world are you talking about?” he demanded. Leo stared back at him in confusion for a few seconds.

“I’m talking about the night we came here and you met Baron Nikiforov, of course,” he said, as if it were entirely obvious. “What are you talking about?”

Yuuri continued to stare at him, aware more people than just Leo were looking on avidly, always keen for new gossip. He went through Leo’s words once more in his mind, trying to make sense of things. “Leo, the night I met Viktor Nikiforov here I was with Phichit, and you were already gone.” Leo opened his mouth but Yuuri spoke over him, “Before that I met him at Frederick’s, but that was very brief and Phichit was with me then, too.” Despite the certainty of his words, his heart was pounding in his chest and he was starting to feel a bit dizzy.

Leo was already shaking his head. “Yuuri, don’t you remember the night we came here without Phichit, back in June, I think it was? He,” he continued, gesturing to Phichit, “was avoiding The Swan due to his falling out with whoever-that-was, Boffy or some-such, wasn’t it?” He turned briefly to Phichit, who was now standing next to the two of them, frowning down and listening.

“Biffy,” Phichit corrected absently.

“Right,” replied Leo, before continuing. “You did have quite a lot to drink. That dance troupe from Paris was in here and things got rather rowdy. And Baron Nikiforov came in with them. You don’t remember?” Yuuri shook his head slowly, feeling like he was surrounded by water, or perhaps treacle.

“I…don’t…Leo, what happened? Did I talk to him?” He gripped Leo’s forearm fiercely.

“Talk? Uh, yeah, a bit, but you did more than talk, darling.” Yuuri felt his eyes go wide, and then he couldn’t breathe. No. No. It wasn’t possible, was it? That he and Viktor had…and he didn’t remember…and … He doubled over, turning his body away from the table and practically falling to the floor. His head sunk down between his knees and he struggled to breathe, his vision going narrow, feeling he might simply collapse to the floor at any moment. He was vaguely aware of excitement and movement around him, people speaking, but he couldn’t hear it properly, couldn’t make out the words. His being narrowed to the breath in his lungs, and the image of Viktor, sitting here, somehow knowing something Yuuri didn’t…

He couldn’t have said what exactly happened next, or how much time passed, but after a while he was aware of Phichit’s voice close to him and a soothing hand on his back. Then he was standing with assistance and walking to the door and they were outside in the foggy evening, the cool air welcome on his face if not exactly fresh in his lungs.

They walked, and Yuuri couldn’t have said where they were headed or where they were at any given moment, but slowly he came back to himself and felt more normal. He realised he was accompanied by both Phichit and Leo, and they were chatting about music and dance and the local productions over his head, while he trudged along beside them like an automaton. His senses seemed to come back into working order little by little, until he recognised the street corner ahead as being very close to their lodging house. (His lodging house? Ugh, that was a dangerous thought to have at the moment.)

Phichit led them all inside and up to their sitting room, pouring cheap brandy and soda for all of them. Yuuri sipped his, grateful for the somewhat harsh warmth of the drink. “You feeling more yourself?” asked his roommate. Yuuri nodded.

“Yes. I’m…sorry…it’s just…” he turned to Leo pleadingly. “Please, Leo, tell me everything. I don’t have any memory of the night you’re talking about and it’s so very important.” Leo and Phichit exchanged a look over Yuuri’s head, and he thought his friend gave a nod of permission.

“Well, as I said, it was sometime in June. I don’t remember the exact date, just that it was a week or so before I left town. Phichit was avoiding the Swan and so I talked you into coming out with me instead one evening. I think it was a Sunday, perhaps, because a lot of folks didn’t have shows that night, so it was fairly crowded. And the Parisian troupe was there, and they were already a few sheets to the wind, as they say.” He sipped his drink before continuing.

“The baron was buying rounds, I recall, and you and I were enjoying his generosity. You were staring at him most of the night and drinking really quickly. Champagne, mostly, I believe, as well as other things. Whatever anyone put in front of you, by the end. I suppose I should have taken better care of you, but you seemed to be having a wonderful time.”

“What happened?” Yuuri demanded, growing increasingly anxious to hear the worst.

“You…I don’t know exactly. Next thing I knew you were up and dancing with several members of the company. A little band was playing music and people were dancing on the tables. And then you were on a table as well, and dancing with the baron! You were…carefree and…almost seductive…I have to admit I was rather proud of you,” he added with a sheepish expression, rubbing at the back of his neck. Yuuri’s face burned. He was sure it was bright red with embarrassment at this description.

“The baron…he seemed very interested in you,” Leo said. “Once you stopped dancing you and he were sitting together, and then, next thing I saw you were kissing. Er, enthusiastically.” Yuuri let his head fall into his hands, hiding it entirely. After a few moments of agonised grimacing, he waved a hand at Leo.

“Go on,” he said weakly, still keeping his face hidden.

“Well, there’s not much more. But…you followed him upstairs. I was fairly sure you went to one of the private rooms. I…well, I don’t know what happened after that, of course.” Yuuri felt like he’d been punched in the chest. Was it…possible? Had he really…flashes of memory passed behind his closed eyes, hidden in the darkness behind his hands. Viktor, approaching him at Frederick’s and surprised at being rebuffed. Viktor inviting him into a private room that night at the Swan, the confident insinuation in his tone…in fact, Viktor’s entire motivation for talking to Yuuri at all, for inviting him to be his escort…it made much greater sense if they had already had a liaison. He groaned aloud. He was so stupid for not seeing it before.

“How can I not remember…if we really…” He looked up and Phichit was looking at him with sympathy. He shook his head. “I need…damn it, I need to know!” He stood, agitated into pacing. “What happened then? How did I…get home?”

Leo winced. “I…well, the truth is I was fairly soused as well, and I went home with a dancer. I…I should have made sure you were alright, but…she was awfully pretty.” He shrugged in a weak apology. “You did get home, though, right?”

Yuuri nodded. He could vaguely remember the night in question now. He had gone to The Swan, gotten drunk, and woken in his room the next day with a terrible sick head. He hadn’t had any reason to suspect…anything unusual had happened the night before. Try as he might, he couldn’t remember any details of that morning, if he’d had any particular signs of…lewd activity… left on his body. He felt vaguely ill. “I…” he began, pausing in his path from the sofa to the table. “I need to think. To be alone.”

“I’m sorry, Yuuri,” said Leo. “If anything…bad happened…” Yuuri shook his head dismissively. It wasn’t Leo’s fault. He was the one who had drank so much he lost all memory of perhaps the most important night in his life.

“Are you alright, Yuuri?” asked Phichit as Yuuri headed in the direction of his bedroom.

He turned to look over his shoulder at his friend. “Yes,” he said with a dismissive wave. “I’ll be fine.” It didn’t seem to reassure his friend very much, but Yuuri was beyond worrying about that just at the moment. He crossed to the door and entered his darkened bedroom. It still retained the smell of disuse, but a fire had been lit in the grate at least, and his trunk sat at the foot of the bed. He sunk heavily onto the bed.

There was only one person who could tell him what had happened that night. That was Baron Viktor Nikiforov. Who was somewhere in Russia by now, with no means by which Yuuri could reach him. Well, that didn’t matter, he told himself. He would just have to find a way to contact him. He needed answers.