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a heart so true (our courage will pull us through)

Chapter Text

“Phichit, this is an abandoned warehouse.”

“It’s not abandoned.”

“Yeah, because it’s full of ex-Team Rocket squatters!”

“Big deal! The rent is nothing. And no utilities!”

“Is there running water? Power? Air conditioning?”

“I mean...legally? No. But technically? Yes.”

“This is your worst idea ever.”

“Did I mention there’s a giant billboard of Viktor Nikiforov across the street?”

“...”

“The one from his tourism ad. Where he’s not wearing clothes. It faces your new room.”

“...fine.”

 


 

Three years later, Yuuri suspects that allowing himself to be talked into living in the old Game Corner with a bunch of criminals in hiding solely on the basis of a high definition view of Viktor’s abs twenty-four seven was a bad idea. And not just because they changed the billboard two months in and now billboard Viktor is wearing clothes.

Mostly, it’s because he is wearing a Team Rocket uniform while he breaks into a mansion to investigate rumors of abused Furfrou. He’s pretty sure any course of action that ends with “And then I helped refound Team Rocket as a vigilante organization fighting for Pokemon justice,” is a stupid course of action. Yuuri’s not cut out for prison. He’s a potato.

Crobat flies Yuuri up to the roof, and stands guard while Yuuri unscrews the frame around the skylight and lifts out the glass. He can see several fluffy lumps on the floor of the room below, maybe a ballroom; hopefully he can get it, scan the Pokemon for injuries, and get out.

He ties his rope around Crobat’s feet. “Hover, okay?”

“Cro!”

“Good boy.”

Yuuri wraps his reinforced gloved hands around the rope and lets himself slide down. By the bottom, his palms are hot, but the gloves keep them from getting scraped raw. He lands lightly on the marble floor, and tiptoes (as much as one can in combat boots) over the to the Pokemon. The scanner is clipped to his belt; he turns it on, sets it at ‘Wide’, and takes aim to collect the readings.

There, Yuuri discovers he’s made a miscalculation.

One, the six Pokemon asleep in the ballroom are so well-groomed and healthy that they could have been starring in a Pokemon Center ad. Two, all of them are lying on brand name Pokemon beds with designer upholstery. Three, Viktor fucking Nikiforov is lying in between them, eyes closed, mouth slightly open, unfairly attractive.

And he’s naked.

Very naked.

It’s not Yuuri’s fault! The sheet’s slipped! It was like that when he got there!

“Crobat, up,” Yuuri hisses, and he breaks into a dead run for the rope. Crobat is one of the fastest Pokemon alive; if he can just get a good grip on the rope, he’ll be fine.

Swish!

Yuuri’s hands have barely closed over the rope when it falls, cut two feet above his head.

“Excuse me,” Viktor says, “but what are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night.”

“I-I know,” Yuuri says, keeping his back turned. He can’t let his face be seen. It would ruin everything.

“I take challengers from twelve to five on Thursdays and Fridays,” Viktor says. “After you’ve completed Victory Road and beaten the Elite Four. Not at three am in my bedroom.”

“It’s one forty-five. And this is a ballroom. And I’m not here to fight you.”

“Then why are you here? I think I’d remember inviting someone for a midnight assignation.”

“I, uh. I’m. I’m here for your Furfrou.”

“You’re here to steal my Pokemon?”

“No! I just want to...to pet her…”

A stupid excuse, yes, but it’s not untrue. Yuuri does want to pet Makkachin. Yuuri wants to pet everything.

“...she’s asleep.”

“Yeah.”

“Makkachin is extremely cute,” Viktor says, slowly, “but I still think you’re lying. Turn around.”

Yuuri has two other Pokemon on him, and Crobat will crash through the ceiling if he yells, but in an actual Pokemon battle Viktor will eat him alive. No, he’s got to get out of here using stealth. Hand to hand is out—Viktor’s Garchomp is here, if that sliced rope is any indication—so that leaves Yuuri’s mouth.

For talking! For him to talk his way out of the situation. Not for any of the things that come to mind. Oh, God, he’s going to get arrested, if only because he’s a disaster and if that isn’t illegal, it should be.

“O-okay.” Yuuri turns around, head tipped down so that the brim of his hat shields his face. He holds up his hands, trying to portray harmlessness.

“Why do you have a knife?”

“Hah.” He’s going to kill Phichit, the Team Rocket knives were his idea. Multifunctional, his ass. “It’s for cutting rope.”

“You’re a Team Rocket grunt.”

Yuuri is a Team Rocket admin. Technically, he’s Team Rocket co-supreme leader, but Phichit pretty much has benevolent dictatorship on lockdown, so Yuuri just handles the burglary and the assaults and on one occasion, the arson.

“I’m really not here to hurt anyone.”

“Yes, that’s what I would say, if I were a criminal who broke into the Kanto Champion’s house to do nefarious things to his Furfrou.”

“Didn’t you also beat the Champions in Johto? And Hoenn and Sinnoh and Unova?”

“...yes?”

“That’s...neat.”

“Are you new to this criminal thing? You’re not very menacing.”

Yuuri looks up, just to make sure none of Viktor’s Pokemon are preparing to maul him, and oh, fuck, the sheet is a thing of the past and all of Yuuri’s filthy midnight fantasies about Viktor were accurate. Oh, no. How can a person look photoshopped in real life?

“Makkachin.” Viktor’s voice has taken on a decidedly menacing tone. “I hate doing this, but—Tackle.”

Yuuri has a brief moment to think, this is how I die, and then he’s being licked furiously by seventy pounds of overexcited poodle Pokemon. Makkachin’s fur is done in the Heart Trim style. It tickles.

“Hi,” he says.

“Furfrou,” Makkachin says. She butts him with her wet nose. “Fur.”

“Yes, you are a good girl.”

“Oh, she likes you!” Viktor flops down on the floor. “Hey, Makkachin, could this be one of those nice Team Rocket members?”

“Frou.”

“Hah! And Yakov said I was deluded.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Three Team Rocket grunts broke into a Monarch Corporation testing facility. It looked like a simple robbery, but it turns out what they stole was illegal Pokemon shock collars.”

“What?”

Yuuri only stole them because he was opposed to the Monarch Corporation and disciplinary collars on principle. And to give the two new grunts a trial run.

“I know! And it’s not the only case where Team Rocket has rescued Pokemon. So are there two Team Rockets?”

“No? Just us.”

“Then what about the other robberies?”

“Those were rescues.”

“They didn’t look like rescues.”

“You’re not looking hard enough.”

Viktor frowns. He pets Makkachin absently, and she croons and tilts her head so he can get behind her ears.

“That’s a girl,” he mutters. “How did you find this out? You have to help me.”

“What?”

“Abused Pokemon are more important than some corporation getting robbed. If Monarch Corporation is involved, I need help. They have too much pull with the Kanto authorities. No one listens to me.”

“If I agree to help you, can you—not arrest me? And let me leave?”

“Maybe,” Viktor says. He peers at Yuuri, and Yuuri ducks, trying to hide his face under his hat. “If you tell me why you are really here.”

“I heard therewasaFurfroubeingabusedhere.”

“You what!”

“I didn’t know it was you!”

“But I love her!” Viktor can barely be heard over Makkachin’s indignant barking.

“I’m sorry!” Yuuri tries to sit up, to calm Makkachin, and to protest his (relative) innocence all at once. He knocks his hat off in his frantic attempts at petting.

“Oh.”

Viktor is staring at him. Yuuri is uncomfortably aware of the moonlight coming through the open skylight, landing directly on his face. He probably looks like the Tin Man.

“What?”

“You look familiar,” Viktor says. “Almost like my…”

“I’ll call you about the Monarch thing, bye!”

Yuuri scrambles, and this time, his luck holds: his jump takes him just high enough to grab what’s left of the rope, and Crobat, who is the best boy and who is definitely getting extra snuggles, takes off. He’s lifted through the hole in the ceiling, narrowly avoids hitting the chandelier, and before he knows it the night air is whipping through his hair as Crobat takes him home.

The last thing he sees is Viktor, hair shining in the moonlight, dick out, beautiful as ever.

It almost makes up for the loss of the naked billboard outside Yuuri’s bedroom.

Chapter Text

So here’s the thing: Viktor is almost in love.

He’s the most decorated Pokemon trainer of all time. He caught a Suicine. He was voted Kanto’s Sexiest Man five years straight. And yet, and yet, and yet, Viktor must be doing something wrong, because every time he stops by the Pokemon rescue in Celadon City, it’s mysteriously closed.

This is a problem for two reasons. One, Viktor loves Pokemon rescues and has made it his mission to visit them all, so he can love the Pokemon and donate a lot of money. Second, the boy who works at the rescue is adorable. The cutest. He has glasses and soft-looking dark hair and a tiny smile, and Viktor desperately wants to introduce him to Makkachin and then hit on him.

How can a place be closed so often and still turn a profit? Viktor has their website bookmarked, but the hours just read “by appointment only” and apparently to adopt from them you need referrals. But Viktor is the Kanto Regional Champion! If nothing else, his seven figure bank balance should get him in the door. Viktor sighs (he’s at the cafe across the street, eating bagel balls and reciting his woes to Suicune, who does not look sympathetic).

There is an added complication as of last night: Viktor is ninety-nine percent sure the Team Rocket grunt who broke into his house is his crush.

Which means the rescue is a Team Rocket front that Viktor is morally obligated to investigate, and also it explains why they refuse to meet him, and also it means the cute boy will probably never let Viktor buy him a coffee and take him to his favorite spa. Why do these things happen to me, Viktor thinks as he uses his government-issue binoculars to look through the rescue’s front window. It must be him. I could never mistake an ass like that.

He eats the last bagel ball, with apricorn cream cheese filling, and then returns Suicune to his ball. Viktor generally takes his least intimidating Pokemon when he meets new people; it makes a better first impression. (Why are people so scared of Suicune? He’s just a dog that likes swimming. A wetter Makkachin. A good boy.)

He releases Makkachin, who’s already met the cute boy, and glances around. He pushes his sunglasses up his nose. Then he sprints across the street and flings himself through the front door.

The door is locked, but Makkachin uses Tackle.

The cute boy stares at him, halfway through flipping the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’.

“Good afternoon!” Viktor says, press conference smile on. “Is this the Team Rocket headquarters?”

“Oh, fuck—Greninja, Smokescreen!”

“Wait! Makkachin, fetch!”

There’s a squeak as Makkachin, tongue lolling, throws the cute boy to the ground, and Viktor covers his mouth and nose with his shirt and waits for the smoke to disperse.

“I thought you were going to help me,” Viktor says as he sits down on the carpet beside the cute boy’s head. Makkachin is giving him kisses; Viktor is only mildly jealous. “That’s what we agreed last night!”

“W-what are you talking about?”

“Last night? You broke into my house?” You were maybe enthralled by my naked body, Viktor does not say.

“Wait, how did you know who I was?”

“I’ve seen you around, it wasn’t hard to make the connection.”

“You can’t have seen me anywhere, I’ve been avoiding you for like ten years!”

“I’ve seen you through this window!”

“That’s one way glass!”

Oh, that’s right, Viktor’s international police issue binoculars have some extra features.

“Anyways! You said you would help me investigate Monarch Corporation. You promised.” Viktor pouts. The cute boy blushes and pets Makkachin’s head; she wuffles.

“Okay, okay. Let me up. I’ll take you to our leader.”

Not quite what Viktor was hoping for, being rushed into a meeting with a high-profile criminal with no preparation, but he’ll have to improvise. He feels a twitch in his pocket from Gallade’s ball, who must sense Viktor’s tension.

Makkachin backs off, and the cute boy sits up. He rubs his face with his hands.

“I’m Viktor.”

“I...I know who you are.” He swallows. “I’m...Yuuri.”

“Yuuri.” It’s a pretty name. Viktor wants to say it again, savor it, but he holds off. “Yuuri.” Okay, he doesn’t.

“Let’s go,” he says, getting to his feet.

His Greninja hops over, its long tongue wrapped around its neck; Viktor notes the healthy pink color with approval. Yuuri starts walking out of the front room down a hallway; Makkachin stays close at his heels. Viktor follows.

They stop in front of a blank patch of wall. Yuuri taps it in some pattern, left, right, down, and the walls opens up, hidden doors folding back to reveal an elevator. This must be where the secret entrance in the original Game Corner was—although Viktor recalls that one having stairs. They’ve made some upgrades, then. The elevator descends fast and silently; there are no buttons inside.

It occurs to Viktor this might be a trap.

He fingers Garchomp’s ball inside his pocket. Well, if he has to fight his way out…it’s not going to go the way it did last time.

“We’re here.” The elevator comes to a stop, and the doors open, revealing a dark red hallway with a steel door at the end of it. “Go.”

“You aren’t coming?”

“No, I have to mind the front. We have donors.”

“Are they richer than I am?”

“What?”

“Every other rescue in Kanto let me donate.”

“We’re running a criminal organization!”

“That’s no excuse.” Viktor tosses his head, and idly misses having a ponytail. It was a pain to maintain, but it was dramatic. “Come, Makkachin.”

“Frou.”

“Makka…” Viktor whines. She huffs and follows him out of the elevator.

Time for him to get to work, then.

The heavy carpet swallows up the sound of their footsteps; the elevator doors close silently behind them, and although Viktor knows better than to look behind—there must be cameras everywhere—he can bet it’s gone already. Running a revived Team Rocket under the guise of a rescue, where the stolen Pokemon are being adopted out, it’s very risky. The leader must be a cunning man.

“No Giovanni, though,” Viktor murmurs to himself. He doesn’t let himself dwell on memories of armor, on cables, on twisted psychic grunts of pain.

Instead he stops in front of the door, puts his hands in his pockets, and waits.

“Well? I have an appointment at four!”

The door swings open.

The chair has a high back, and it’s swiveled away from him, so that Viktor can only see the oversized desk and the shine of the leather. He has to admire that kind of commitment to drama.

“I understand that you’re looking for information.”

It’s a steady voice, higher than Viktor expects, but with no trace of fear, considering one of the strongest trainers in  the world is standing behind him. Viktor’s heart pounds.

“I am.”

“It’s not in my best interest to cooperate with the authorities. Convince me.”

“I think the Monarch Corporation is paying off the Kanto police to not investigate them. My hands are tied. I need to find proof.”

“Monarch Corporation is scum,” the leader says, “but what makes you think they’re doing anything illegal?”

“Those shock collars.”

“They claim it was a production error and those collars were being transported for destruction.”

“I’ve seen those collars before.”

“Where?”

“Here.” Viktor taps his lip with a finger. “Right here, actually. In the secret labs that were beneath this hideout.”

No answer.

“By the time I was able to bring the police to investigate, Giovanni had cleaned out the lab and fled. But I was there. I saw what he was doing down here.”

The chair turns to face Viktor. The boy sitting in it is young—he can’t be more than a few years out of his teens. He’s dark, and slight, and his eyes are sharp. He’s got a Dedenne in his lap. His fur is glossy from what must be regular brushing.

He looks nothing like Giovanni. Hell, he looks, Viktor thinks, like an anti-Giovanni: casual clothes, eyeliner, a lap Pokemon that doesn’t look like it’s fed scraps from the bodies of his enemies.

“He didn’t clear out everything,” the leader of Team Rocket says. “I’m Phichit.”

“Phichit and Yuuri,” Viktor repeats. “How did you end up here?”

“Rent in Celadon is, like, the worst.”

Viktor hums in sympathy; rent in Celadon is terrible. That’s why Viktor cut out the middleman and bought a mansion instead. Beside him, Makkachin barks in a way that means she thinks Phichit is trustworthy and she’s not going to try to eat him.

“Get one of my agents into the Kanto Police HQ and I’ll find out who Monarch paid off.”

“Done.”

Phichit reaches into his suit jacket, produces a sleeping Pichu, and places her in Viktor’s outstretched palm.

“Take good care of her.”

“Of course.” Viktor pauses. “Does this mean I can meet all your rescue Pokemon now?”

Phichit grins; it makes him look his age. “Only if you make a donation.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri’s Weavile is named Feta.

Officially, Yuuri always clarifies after he makes that revelation. Only on paper. People give Pokemon nicknames they regret all the time, don’t they? That’s the whole reason Name Raters exist. Admittedly, Yuuri has never patronized one, because then he would have to admit that when it came time to submit all the forged paperwork to the Kanto government to explain Yuuri acquiring five extra Pokemon—expensive, dangerous, suspicious Pokemon—he was so nervous about getting caught that he decided he needed courage.

By courage he meant champagne.

Not a bottle. More like half a case.

And drunk Yuuri was hungry, so now his Pokemon team is made up of Parmesan, Gouda, Feta, Brie, Mozzarella, and Vicchan (named after the other thing Yuuri really wants to eat), and he has to live with his shame. He doesn’t actually use the nicknames

Unless, of course, his Pokemon are in trouble.

“Feta Katsuki!” Yuuri emerges from the shower at the sound of the commotion.

“Weavile!”

“Did you rob the party store again?”

“Weav weav.”

“I keep telling you, those plastic eggs aren’t edible.”

“Weavile vile.”

“If you know that, why do you keep stealing them?” Yuuri scoops Weavile up under his arm and retrieves the package of fake eggs from under the ottoman. She always hides things in the same place.

“Tell her to steal real eggs, they’re expensive!”

“Stop encouraging her!” Yuuri calls. He lets Weavile go. Phichit is a menace. Even if he’s right; the synthetic eggs, made from lab-grown Pokemon tissue, are expensive, much more so than lab-grown meat. And cheap eggs always make Yuuri worry about Pokemon exploitation.

Maybe he should just become a vegan. Or whatever you call someone who only eats vegetables and dairy.

“Lacto-vegetarians!”

“Stop doing that!”

Phichit wanders back in from the kitchen with a tray with bowl of Pokemon food for breakfast. He and Yuuri have a private apartment upstairs, with their own bathroom and kitchen and living room, separate from the communal areas the grunts and admins use downstairs. (The grunts do have suite-style bathrooms so that there’s never more than two people to one toilet. Yuuri and Phichit aren’t monsters.)

Yuuri worried, when they first took over, that this reinforcement of hierarchy would breed discontent, but Phichit had insisted. This is why we’re doing this, right? For low rent housing?

And they do have some of the best housing in the city. The average apartment in Celadon is a studio with no dishwasher, no bathtub, and some kind of minor yet irritating electrical problem that the landlord will never fix. He and Phichit have separate bedrooms and a spare room for the Pokemon, plus excellent natural lighting and the benefit of a recently renovated bathroom and kitchen. Sometimes Yuuri does feel weird showering in the same place Giovanni did, but he gets through it.

(Treacherously, Yuuri wonders if Viktor’s shower is this nice, and then glares at his dick until it gets the memo. He is not thinking about Viktor naked. Anymore. In public.)

“Listen, I need you to handle something for me.”

“Sure.” Yuuri joins Phichit at the table, and they dig into their rice while their Pokemon eat in the breakfast nook behind them. “What?”

“Viktor says he can get a sleeper agent into Kanto HQ this morning. I’m gonna head downtown and monitor until Pichu’s in place. Can you give him a tour of the rescue?”

“Yeah.”

“And can you see if you can get some info out of him about what he’s up to?”

“He wants to help Pokemon!”

“He sees he wants to help Pokemon, but sometimes people lie. Even hot ones. I lie, like, every day.”

Of course you lie, Yuuri doesn’t say, you’re a felon.

“How am I supposed to get info out of him? It’s not like I can threaten him.”

“Bat your lashes and say please?”

“Phichit!”

“I don’t care if you have to honeypot it out of him, but he has to know something. He’s probably on the team investigating us. Please?”

“I’ll try.”

It’s unlikely Yuuri will get anything out of Viktor now that he’s thinking about honeypotting, and Viktor’s long fingers, and how Yuuri may or may not have developed a new and exciting sexual fantasy about how his break in could have ended, but he trusts Phichit’s judgement. If he thinks Yuuri should ask, he will. Somehow.

“I put out a memo to the rest of the team to tell them to keep it legal in front of Viktor. So just, you know, the usual.”

“I got it. Where are you going to monitor?”

“I rented a cherry picker, I’m just gonna do the whole ‘harmless electrician’ bit.”

Yuuri nods. They’ve done this before, so there’s no reason to worry. Viktor’s speech last night has him spooked, though, and he can tell from Phichit’s tapping on the table (his nails are black today, definitely a sign of worry, until yesterday he was painting them in pastels) that he’s got something on his mind.

“Good luck.”

“You, too.” Phichit scrapes the bottom of the bowl to get the last bite of rice. Mouth full, he adds, “Use protection, okay?”

“Fuck off!”

 


 

Phichit has a fake identity that works for the power company.

Okay, that’s not strictly accurate. Phichit has access to the Kanto Electrical’s employee database, and occasionally edits the information of whoever is scheduled where he wants to be so that one of Phichit’s aliases appears to work for them. Then all he has to do is put on the uniform, show up, and remember to revert the data before anyone notices.

Phichit generally finds it practical to maintain as few long term fake identities as possible. It’s harder for the cops to track them that way. Yuuri’s family helps them launder the money through the onsen, and some of their illegal gains get ‘donated’ to the rescue anonymously. Really, the only identity Phichit cares about is the one in reserve in case he ever has to flee the region.

He hitches a ride with Honchkrow out to Pewter City, which is where the power lines to the League originate. Dedenne hops up onto his shoulder as he puts on the hard hat; no one gives him a second look as he strolls down the street, toolbox in hand, and climbs into the cherry picker. The keys are in the ignition.

Excellent.

There’s a thrill from being up high. Once the cherry picker’s lifted him to the power lines, he straps on the safety harness and clips himself to the pole. The wind is blowing, and Phichit dangles, swaying, far enough up that most people will walk by without seeing him.

If you can get high enough, Phichit thinks, no one will ever know you’re there.

He puts on insulated gloves and peels back the rubber casing of the wires. Dedenne delicately touches a whisker to them, and sparks fly. He shakes his head.

“All right then. Guess we wait.”

 


 

Yuuri spends too long getting ready (his usual ‘woo a donor’ suit does not feel adequate) before he decides on wearing his rescue uniform—black tshirt, khaki cargo pants, and a grey apron. He cleans his glasses, and gives Vicchan a therapeutic cuddle, and then goes downstairs to clean the front window and dig out the brochures.

“Yuuri!”

VIktor is sitting in their lobby. He’s wearing a sharp black suit, and a tie, and a goddamn waistcoat. Of course he is. He looks incongruous sitting on the green padded benches they bought wholesale. Yuuri glances at the front door, which they’d gotten repaired only last night, and is relieved to note Viktor didn’t bust it open again...which begs the question of how he got in.

“You’re early.”

“The customer is never early. You’re late.”

“Okay.” Yuuri looks around wildly, to make sure there’s nothing embarrassing or incriminating in sight. He doesn’t see anything. Then he remembers what he’s wearing. “Welcome to the Rainbow Rescue Center.”

“Where are the Pokemon?”

“Our recreational areas are on this floor and out back.”

“Let’s go!”

The rescue area of HQ—the legitimate business—occupies everything in the building that’s aboveground besides Phichit and Yuuri’s apartment. It’s built in three rings: the outer ring is made of of living spaces for the Pokemon, the middle ring is recreational space for them to live with a connection to the grounds out back, and in the center are medical and hygienic facilities, as well as the viewing rooms. Team Rocket’s Pokemon live there too, disguised among the rescues; all the studies Yuuri read while he was getting his degree said contact with well-socialized Pokemon was good for recovery.

Donors normally get a tour of some of the indoor gardens, followed by playtime in one of the viewing rooms for potential adopters with whoever is around.

Most of their donors oo and ah over the flowers and grass, and the glass ceiling, before writing a check and condescending to pet some of the friendlier Pokemon.

“What breed of Pecha berry is this?”

“It’s one of the Tamato berries, it’s supposed to provide a more balanced diet.”

“You’re growing Haban berries here?”

“The dragon types like them!”

“How do you protect this area from fire damage?”

“We try to grow flame retardant plants, we use fireproofing spray, uh, there’s a sprinkler system.”

“So you accept all types of Pokemon here?”

“We have a size limit and if they need extended medical care or intensive rehab we refer them out.”

“Where?”

Viktor would be an expert on Pokemon rescues, Yuuri thinks. It figures. Yuuri’s spent the past few years trying to become an expert, doing rotations in between gyms at different facilities, working with Phichit late at night on their business plan. Then he’d bombed his final exam and gotten rejected for placement at any of the legitimate rescues in Kanto.

At the same time, the ineptitude of the Celadon University’s Experiential Learning Program meant Phichit suddenly needed four more years of school to get his business degree. Kicked out of their on-campus apartment, they started searching for somewhere to live…

Now here he is, finally showing Viktor the fruit of his labors, and Viktor is nitpicking the berry selection. Arceus, he’s brilliant. And kind of scary.

“It’s so clean! The cleanest facility I’ve ever seen.”

“Thank you.” Yuuri flushes. “We—we have robots.”

“What’s that noise?”

‘That noise’ turns out to be two panicking grunts and a cantankerous Hydreigon about to spew a Hyper Beam from its main head.

This is going to go so poorly.

 


 

Infiltration is a waiting game, so Phichit kicks back, hanging from the pole, and starts checking his messages. (The phone is strapped to his arm. It’s a prototype; he’s not taking any chances.) His sisters have written, from Alola; one of them is getting a doctorate in regional variation, one of them is a surfing instructor. They want to know if he’s going to come home and visit.

Phichi doesn’t think he can, not in the middle of all this. If Pokemon are being abused in Kanto, Phichit is obligated to try and stop it.

Someday, though, Phichit’s nest egg will be big enough to accomplish his dreams. His family might have had to relocate to Alola, but Kanto is still Phichit’s home. It’s considered a hick region now, but that will change.

Phichit has a goal, and that is to bring Pokemon Contests to Kanto. He’ll put a Contest Hall in every city. He’ll have a whole wall at home for his ribbon collection. The Grand Festival will outshine the ones in every other region. And the Interregional Festival, the one that’s never graced Kanto’s soil, let alone been won by a Kanto Coordinator? It’ll be held in Celadon City.

“What do you say, Dedenne?” Dedenne coos in response. “You wanna win a Master Rank Ribbon in cuteness?”

“Dede!”

“Hell yeah, you’re the cutest.”

Dedenne cocks his head, sparking, and Phichit grins. Finally, some action. He stashes his phone, where he was working on getting a picture of Yuuri hugging a Tyrannitar to trend, and holds Dedenne up to the power line.

This time he nods. He’s getting a transmission from Pichu. Phichit retrieves the modified flash drive from his pocket and attaches it to Dedenne’s whiskers on the opposite side. Dedenne wiggles, trying to the get the connection right, and then nods again.

“Got it?”

“Dedenne!”

“Great! Let’s get ice cream and then go.”

There’s no need to rush back, after all. Viktor seemed pretty intent on getting a tour from Yuuri; Phichit loves him like a brother, but he does not want to walk in him fulfilling all his teenaged dreams with Viktor, and he’s willing to bet neither of them will have the forethought to take their sexing to Yuuri’s bedroom.

Seasonal specialty ice cream it is.

Chapter Text

“Wait.” Yuuri shoves the Dusk ball containing Hydreigon into Viktor’s hands. “I can’t go in there.”

Viktor blinks. “Why?”

So far, Viktor has been nothing short of dazzled by Yuuri’s courage. Charging a rampaging Hydreigon with no Pokemon at his side, soothing her with whispered reassurances and a single Haban berry, coaxing her back into her ball with a pat on the head—it shows a commitment to the well-being of Pokemon that Viktor can appreciate.

It’s not the most dangerous thing Viktor has even seen, but that’s only because Viktor once volunteered to battle an angry Primal Kyogre.

(He wanted to feel something, but ‘imminent death’ was not the feeling he was looking for.)

“Because Chris,” Yuuri hisses.

Chris Giacometti is the Nurse Joy of the Celadon City Pokemon Center. Nurse Joys are hard to come by these days. The uniform requirements alone have driven off a lot of applicants. Chris, however, loves the uniform, and Pokemon, and medicine, and butts.

Oh. Viktor glances down at Yuuri’s ass, which is frankly ridiculous. There’s no way Chris could resist.

“He’s a great nurse,” Viktor says. “He even earned his PMD.”

“Then why does he make us call him Nurse Chris?”

Viktor doesn’t think ‘because he’s a hoe’ is the correct response, so he shrugs. Chris looks good in pink; Viktor doesn’t see the problem.

“Is it the costume? I wore it once for a Halloween party. I thought it looked good.”

“Hah?” Yuuri’s face turns bright red. “You—what?”

“I mean, I hadn’t had my legs waxed recently…”

Yuuri wheezes. Viktor pats him on the back for several seconds.

“Shall we?”

“No.”

“But Yuuri—”

“I can’t. He’s seen things.”

“Really?” Viktor has no idea what these things might be, but Yuuri’s pink cheeks make him think it must be promising. “I’ll ask him about them!”

“Fine! I’m coming!”

They cross the street into the Pokemon Center, Yuuri tense and Viktor beaming. It’s not too crowded at this time of day; Chris is behind the front desk, typing into the computer there. A Chansey waves at them as they enter.

There’s music playing, but it’s not the normal Pokemon Center chime; Viktor’s pretty sure it’s a slowed-down version of “Hit Me With That Sweet Kiss” by The Moltres Girls.

Viktor sets the Dusk ball on the counter. “Nurse Chris?”

“Viktor! You look better than I expected, after that whole mess with Lusamine.”

Chris is a natural brunette, with bleached hair, green eyes, coke bottle glasses, and an impeccably starched Nurse Joy uniform in pink and white. His hat is perched at an angle, and his highlighter is on point.

“Don’t remind me. And you know my new friend,” Viktor emphasizes the word so that Chris will know to play wingman for him, “Yuuri.”

“Oh, we’ve…met.” Chris gives Yuuri a sex look. “Hi, Yuuri. I see you and Viktor have finally met.”

“Finally…?”

“You did talk about him an awful lot at the party. If you hadn’t taken off your clothes, I might have been jealous.”

“What?”

“What?”

Viktor seethes inwardly with jealousy—how does Chris always manage to do this?—as Yuuri’s face goes from pink to scarlet and he shoves the ball on the counter at Chris.


“She had a bad allergic reaction.”

“Oh, dear.” Chris picks up the ball and scans it, then passes it to one of the Chansey. “Do you know what the allergen was?”

“No, I don’t. She hasn’t eaten anything new as far as I know. I’ll investigate.”

“Excellent. If you need a referral to an allergist, I have some cards over there.” Chris points at a selection of business cards sitting on the table in the waiting area. He frowns at his computer. “Is this your Pokemon, Yuuri?”

“She’s a rescue.”

“I’m not seeing a permit matched to this ball number.”

“Sorry, sometimes it takes the agency a while to reassign paperwork.”

“Well, it’s no trouble, but you should get that checked out. It’ll be a problem if you need a specialist.”

“Right.”

Viktor is willing to bet his collection of bespoke luxury lingerie that Yuuri doesn’t have the necessary permits for maintaining guardianship of a class one Pokemon. He wonders what Yuuri normally does for medical care; the rescues must need it, and he doesn’t seem like the kind who would let a triviality get in the way of their health. He’ll have to ask.

“She should be done in about fifteen minutes. Do you need us to dispense you an Epi-pen?”

“Yes, please.”

Chris goes into the back and comes back with a large pink syringe. He wraps it up and sticks a label on it, then staples the instructions to the package.

“Here you go.”

They take a seat in the waiting area. Yuuri’s knee is bouncing up and down; Viktor watches it, wincing, before offering him his hand. Yuuri shakes his head.

“All right?”

“I should have known she was allergic.”

“Yuuri—”

“I took her for the basic tests, but not for a full allergy work up. She doesn’t like strangers. I thought, that many tests, if she bit someone, they might take her away.”

“She’s a rescue?”

“There’s this myth in Unova, about Hydreigon. They say that after a battle, a Hydreigon queen with a retinue of Mandibuzz come to feast on the bodies of the dead. They call them the Eaters.” Yuuri sucks in a breath, fingers digging into his khakis. “Her trainer abandoned her after she evolved. Said she was bad luck. And when she came looking for him, he stoned her.”

“He stoned—”

“That’s how you’re supposed to drive them off.”

“Poor thing,” Viktor whispers. He bites his lip. “She seems like a sweet Pokemon.”

“…she almost set you on fire.” Yuuri raises his eyebrows. “She did set me on fire.” He holds up his hands, which are reddened still. Viktor winces.

“Here, let me.” He digs out Roserade’s ball. All Viktor’s Pokemon are in Luxury balls. “Roserade?” She appears in a flash of light. “Can you take care of Yuuri’s hands, please?”

“Rose,” Roserade cooes. A glittery pink haze appears around Yuuri’s hands, and his eyes widen as the redness recedes. He flexes his fingers. “Roserade?”

“Thanks.” Yuuri pats her flowery head. “Was that Aromatherapy?”

“Rade.”

“Isn’t it nice? We’ve been practicing using it on humans.”

“It’s great.”

“So, Yuuri, about the permit—”

“I’m going to get one, I swear! Her last Trainer is in the Licensing Bureau.”

Ah, now Viktor understands. Of course it wouldn’t help Hydreigon’s recovery to have her abusive Trainer barge in and demand her return. He doubts the Trainer could win a theft case, but it makes sense for Yuuri and Phichit to want to avoid the scrutiny.

“I can get you one,” Viktor says before he can think about it. Yuuri’s eyes widen.

“Really?”

Can he? Viktor does have contacts in the bureaucracy of the Kanto government, not to mention extensive security clearance. Yakov might even agree to help as long as Viktor doesn’t let on he’s helping Team Rocket. Yuuri is looking at him so hopefully; what’s one tiny felony?

“Of course.”

“You really think she’s sweet?”

“She looks like she’s darling,” Viktor says with feeling. He remembers the way Hydreigon licked Yuuri’s fingers with her scalding tongue, crying in pain from the rash spreading up her jaw. She trusted Yuuri enough to have come to him. Even after everything she suffered, she still is able to love a Trainer again. That’s more important than any stupid superstitions.

They sit in silence, Yuuri’s face still red, until Chris calls them back. He hands Yuuri Hydreigon’s Pokemon with a wink.

Viktor hurries him out of the Pokemon Center. Chris is the worst wingman ever.

As Yuuri powerwalks back to the rescue and Viktor has to lengthen his stride to keep up, Yuuri’s phone rings. He holds it up to his ear as they slip back into the lobby. Viktor can’t hear much: just that it’s Phichit’s voice, and a few choice words.

“What’s that about honey?”

“Hungry! He wants to know if you’re hungry. Because you can eat me. I mean lunch.”

“I’m starving,” Viktor purrs.

“Great, we have…” Yuuri glares at his phone. Viktor can hear Phichit snorting. “Sandwiches. Come on.”

“Lead the way,” Viktor says. Behind him Roserade slips a flower into his hand. She’s a better wingman than Chris is. “When should I write the check?”

Chapter Text

There is no bread in the Katsuki-Chulanont household.

Yuuri stares into their pantry, trying to figure out what to feed Viktor. They have half a bag of rice, five different types of Pokemon food, two different kinds of Pokemon treats, a box of coffee-flavored sandwich cookies, and a can of imitation fish paste. If Viktor were a sad Pikachu, Yuuri would be extremely prepared, but as it is, he has no idea what to do about the promised lunch.

 Fish paste on cookies? He could...order out?

“Yuuri!”

“I’m going to order a pizza,” Yuuri says.

“Great! I want Durin berry on mine.”

“You what?”

“Durin berry.”

“No.”

“But why?”

Viktor pouts. He looks incongruous, perched in his dark suit on one of their spindly yellow dining room chairs. He’s playing with their salt shaker, which is shaped like Numel.

Yuuri stares at him. Is he serious? Durin berry is not a pizza topping. Durin berry is barely an edible food. Durin berries taste like baby powder and despair.

“Not in my house,” he says firmly. “How do you feel about stuffed crust?”

“I hate it.”

“Get out.”

“Excuse me?”

“We can do half,” Yuuri mutters, embarrassed despite himself. Sure, Viktor’s pizza preferences are objectively wrong, but maybe that’s just how people with money and success eat. Maybe someone hurt him when he was younger and only Durin berries can ease his pain. Yuuri doesn’t know his life.

(He doesn’t like stuffed crust? Who objects to more cheese?)

“Are you lactose intolerant?”

“No.”

“Oh, okay.” Yuuri pulls out his phone and starts inputting their pizza order in the Pidgey’s Pizza app. He hits the button for extra cheese, then adds extra sauce so Viktor won’t realize Yuuri is a Grumpig, then gives in and adds Durin berries to half the pizza and Pinap berries on the other half.

ONLY ON HALF, he writes in the special instructions box.

When he looks up from his phone, Viktor is looking in the fridge.

“Wow,” Viktor says. “This is a lot of butter!”

So this is how Yuuri’s going to die. He takes it all back. He’s willing to go to jail if they promise it means a permanent end to this conversation.

“We haven’t been grocery shopping in a while,” Yuuri says. This is a lie. He and Phichit have all their groceries delivered. Sometimes they don’t order enough and eat take out at every meal until the next shipment comes. Sometimes the rescue has expenses and they go back to the cup noodle diet.

Viktor continues poking around the refrigerator. Soon he’s going to notice Yuuri’s bottle of gourmet mayo that he only eats when he’s sad. Or worse yet, the brightly colored plastic eggs he put in an egg carton to fuck with Phichit.

“Viktor, I need to ask you something!”

“Yes?”

Well, step one: distract Viktor is a success. Now Yuuri’s got to figure out step two: keep Viktor distracted. Honeypot him, the Phichit in Yuuri’s head suggests. That is supremely unhelpful. What Yuuri needs is to keep things professional, so that Viktor never realizes Yuuri is nursing a deep, unquenched thirst for him.

He takes a step forward, determined to pose a very intelligent question about the grain ratio in canine-type Pokemon food, and promptly trips over something dark and fluffy. The bad news is that he looks like an idiot.

The other bad news is that Viktor catches him, arm hooked around Yuuri’s waist so that his forehead is on Viktor’s shoulder. And the worst news is that the fluffy thing Yuuri tripped over is Vicchan, who has grown up listening to Yuuri wax poetic over his Viktor Nikiforov poster wall (walls) and who immediately starts butting Viktor’s leg for petting.

Vicchan normally doesn’t like strangers.

“Oh, who’s this? A Mightyena?” Viktor deposits Yuuri in a chair so that he can pick Vicchan up. Yuuri collapses I the chair like a sack of potatoes, skin tingling where Viktor touched him. “Hello!”

“That’s Vicchan. He’s my starter,” Yuuri explains.

“You’re a good boy, aren’t you?” Viktor rubs his nose against Vicchan’s. “I’m Viktor.”

“Arf.”

“It’s nice to meet you, too. I bet you know all Yuuri’s secrets, huh?”

Yuuri gulps. First Chris and now this. All he needs is for Phichit to spill about the Rainbow Club. Good thing Phichit is off running the organization instead.

“Mighty.”

“Oh, you want to meet Makkachin? Sure.”

Viktor produces his Luxury ball from his pocket and releases her. She shakes her head and then sniffs at Vicchan, who Viktor puts down. They nose at each other, warily, and then Makkachin tackles Vicchan and starts licking him. It’s adorable.

“They’re getting along well!”

“I’m surprised. Vicchan’s not usually this friendly. But I guess you and Makkachin have that effect on people.”

Viktor beams; it’s like the sun has come out indoors. Yuuri is saved from looking too dazzled by the arrival of their pizza; one of the grunts must have collected it, because it’s sitting outside the penthouse door with the signed receipt on top. He finds two plates and some cutlery in the cabinet—all bought at a yard sale at a discount, none matching—and sets the table before setting the pizza in the middle.

“Smells good.”

Yuuri lifts the lid and is relieved to see there’s no Durin on his side of the pizza.

“Yeah.”

“What were you going to ask me?” Viktor asks. He takes a slice of pizza, which he starts cutting up with a fork and knife. He puts a piece in his mouth; Yuuri watches, vaguely horrified.

He shoves his Pinap-laden slice into his mouth to stall; he hasn’t actually thought of a question yet.

“Um, so what’s your next move? Phichit said over the phone his agent is in place and the first transmission is being processed.”

“If he can tell me who inside the Kanto police force is taking bribes, the next thing will be to find some actual evidence—something that will stand up in court. Once we know what Monarch is paying police to not do, we should be able to trace their actual activities.”

“We?”

“You’ve already broken in once before, right?”

“Yeah, but…you seriously need my help?”

“Normally when I have orders to break into a building, they mean it more literally.”

That explains a lot.

“It’s not that hard. Monarch uses the same basic security set up everywhere. All I had to do was climb up an exterior wall while it was raining and then rappel down the elevator shaft into their underground garage so I could hitch a ride with one of their delivery trucks. Anyone could do it.”

Viktor stares at him.

“What?”

“No wonder you didn’t have any trouble breaking into my house.”

“Your security is really bad,” Yuuri says. “I mean. Uh. Sorry.” Your house has no security, he does not say. The skylights don’t even lock. I could have made off with all your valuables. I could have stolen you. Not that I have any desire to throw your naked body over my shoulder—

“Usually, when people want to see me naked, they ask. And I charge them a fee.”

“Ah.”

“But if you’re really sorry, you can upgrade my security for me! Not everyone who wants to break in will be as cute as you.” He winks.

Yuuri accidentally grabs his next slice of pizza from the wrong half, puts it blindly in his mouth to avoid having to say any words, and nearly dies. The Durin berries taste like the end result of a cremation. Only pure desperation keeps him from throwing up right then and there. (That and his sheer desire to not look like an idiot in front of Viktor.)

Slowly, with regret, Yuuri swallows.

He remembers Phichit’s words again, seriously this time. They need to confirm that this isn’t some kind of plot on Viktor’s part to arrest Team Rocket. Viktor hasn’t guaranteed their freedom, after all; what if they help him and he turns around and throws them in prison? Yuuri glances at Viktor, who is watching Vicchan and Makkachin play with an expression of absolute softness, and can’t imagine him arresting anyone.

But Yuuri, as one of the founders of Team Rocket, has a responsibility to all the grunts who work under him. If something happens to the organization, the Rescue will be shut down. The Rocket grunts will be unemployed and homeless. Their infrastructure, which connects all over Kanto, will collapse. As much as Yuuri wants to stuff all thoughts of Viktor turning on them away, he can’t.

He’s not going to do the honeypot thing, though. Yuuri can’t even get through a meal with Viktor without embarrassing himself. Viktor doesn’t even like him like that.

“Your eyes are pretty,” Viktor says.

Yuuri jumps and flushes; while he’s been gathering his courage, Viktor has propped his chin on his hand and is staring at him.

“I can plan the upgrades for your house now!”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Let me put together the floorplan and we can order the equipment. Then I can install it later.” Yuuri bites his tongue. He feels a little guilty about this deception, but it’s the only idea he has, and he’s not lying, he really will upgrade Viktor’s security. He’s just going to also take the opportunity to plant bugs, and look through his stuff, and leave himself a way in in case he needs to break in again. And if the search turns up nothing, he won’t have to confront Viktor at all.

They decide to fly out to Viktor’s mansion to save time. Yuuri straps Crobat into his harness while Viktor mounts his Garchomp; he’s not using any kind of saddle or reins, which makes Yuuri wonder how he keeps from falling off.

Viktor must see the question in his eyes, because he shrugs. “I have a supersonic harness for high-speed travel.”

The weather is good and before long they’re landing in Viktor’s backyard, in a square of grass marked out with a red fence. From there, Viktor lets out his entire team on the lawn—Yuuri gapes at them, Alolan Ninetales and Gallade and Roserade and Makkachin and fucking Suicune—and waves them off before taking Yuuri to the back door. They scatter across the lawn; Yuuri lets out Vicchan, the only other Pokemon he brought, and watches the two of them wander away. Crobat flops on the grass besides Roserade to make friends; Vicchan trots over to Makkachin.

Viktor doesn’t even have any electronic locks, just a deadbolt on the back door that Yuuri could pick with a business card and prayers. Yuuri winces as he sees Viktor hang his keys on a hook by the door. Anyone could break a window, reach in, and snag his keys.

“I have security in the basement; that’s where my office is. The League took care of it for me.” Viktor shrugs. “Otherwise, with the Pokemon going in and out all the time, I don’t really see the point. I’m not home very often.”

“People could steal your stuff.”

“There’s not much here.”

Yuuri opens his mouth to protest, but thinks better of it; Viktor walks him through the first floor, and before long Yuuri sees what he means. There’s minimal furniture in every room. There are no decorations—no paintings, no vases, not even rugs or throw pillows. The kitchen is outfitted with new, stainless steel appliances, but a quick look through the cupboards when Viktor leaves him alone reveals enough Pokemon crockery to feed an army and one set of bone white china that’s still in its packaging.

Viktor doesn’t take him upstairs, or to the basement. Yuuri needs to come up with a cunning way of getting into Viktor’s office and bedroom.

“Can I see your bed? Bedroom! Can I see your—the rooms upstairs. They have to be secured.”

“Oh, I don’t sleep up there. I converted the master into a closet.”

“…the whole thing?”

“Yes.”

Well, now he knows there’s nothing useful up there. That leaves the basement.

“What’s downstairs?”

“Pokemon training areas. Storage. And my office.”

“I should check the Pokemon training areas. In case someone actually does try to steal your Pokemon.”

“What would you have done if you’d come in and found Makkachin was being abused?”

“I’d have taken her out through the ceiling and to the Rescue if she wasn’t seriously injured,” Yuuri says. “And then I’d have planted something stolen in your house and called the police.”

“That’s it? What if I talked my way out of it?”

“Then I’d steal all your money and have your house repossessed to cover your debts.”

“I don’t have any debts.”

“Phichit would invent some for you.”

Viktor’s expression is blank, and Yuuri looks away, aware of how he sounds. It’s not that he doesn’t know theft and fraud and arson aren’t wrong. It’s just that there’s no other way, sometimes, and Yuuri can’t stand by and watch Pokemon get hurt. He’s not like Viktor, with the reach and the power and the position to bulldoze his way through the government red tape.

“I wish everyone cared as much as you did.”

“R-really?”

“Really. Not every rescue is run with the kind of care you and Phichit give. You would be surprised how often the authorities let things pass because of money, or because someone’s father was a competitive battler back in the day, or because they went to school with the right people.”

Yuuri’s seen too many cases just as Viktor describes.

“I love battling,” Viktor says slowly, “but sometimes I wish—”

“…you wish?”

“I wish that it wasn’t always the most important thing.”

What Viktor means, Yuuri doesn’t know, but he looks so downcast that Yuuri doesn’t want to press. He’s about to make a stab at cheering him up when he remembers that he needs to get into Viktor’s office somehow. Now is the perfect chance; with Viktor lost in thought, he might be distracted enough to not question a long bathroom break.

Yuuri edges toward the door.

Viktor continues to stare off into space, mouth turned down at the corners.

I can always break in later tonight.

“Viktor,” Yuuri begins, “are you—”

His phone starts ringing. It’s Phichit. Yuuri is half disappointed, half relieved; he’d have liked to comfort Viktor, but honestly, he has no idea what he was going to say.

“Hey.”

“Is Viktor there?”

“Yeah, we’re at his house.”

“Are you guys decent?”

“What? I’m helping with his security—we’re not—”

“Put me on speaker, I got something.”

Yuuri sets the phone on the counter between Viktor and himself.

“I found someone who’s getting a kickback from Monarch. Sergeant Leafson. Do you know him?”

“He’s supposed to be in charge of investigating illegal Pokemon-related devices.”

“Well, he’s been paid under the table by a shell company in Alola, and that company’s address is a hot dog stand that’s renting their land from Monarch’s corporate headquarters.”

“That’s not enough.”

“Yeah, I know. I think we’re going to have to make contact, maybe bug him or something.”

“Where is he?”

“Right now he’s at work, but I pulled his credit card bill and he’s a regular customer at the Rainbow Club. Spends a lot of money there on private dances. Always there on Friday nights.”

“Phichit, no,” Yuuri says. “I’m not doing it.”

“Get your high heels on, Yuuri, we’re going in.”

“Going in where?” Viktor asks. “To a strip club?”

“We’re going to plant a bug on him there.”

Viktor raises his eyebrows. “Won’t it be obvious to him? It’s not like we can just go up and touch him.”

“You can’t,” Phichit says. Yuuri closes his eyes. He’s going to kill him. “But Yuuri here is the Rainbow Club’s star attraction. He should be able to touch him.”

“I’m not doing it!”

“But Yuuri, think of the Pokemon!” Viktor says. He takes Yuuri’s hand. “Wait, is this when Chris saw you take off your clothes?”

“No.” That was at the holiday party for Rainbow Club employees. Luckily Yuuri was in charge and could make everyone delete the evidence afterward. “Look, one of the other dancers can do it! Not me! I don’t even do private dances!”

“Wow, Yuuri, I didn’t know you…danced.” Viktor’s thumb slides over the back of Yuuri’s hand.

“You don’t have to come!” Yuuri jerks his hand away.

“Of course he does,” Phichit says. “He can be undercover, we don’t have a Viktor.”

“Excuse me?”

“A lot of our dancers are celebrity impersonators,” Phichit explains. “But we don’t have a Viktor.”

Viktor looks offended. “Why not?”

“Yuuri keeps firing them for inaccuracy.”

“I’m seriously not doing it,” Yuuri says weakly. He puts his head in his hands while Viktor claps and asks what he should wear if he’s pretending to be a stripper. This is a terrible idea. A humiliating, awful, cursed idea. He is not going with Viktor to the Rainbow Club, he is not going to do his routine where Viktor might see, he is not going to risk that tonight Chris will show up to do his sexy nurse routine and tell Viktor about the champagne nightmare of last year, he is not going to help Viktor pick out a stripper outfit—

“Please, Yuuri? For the Pokemon’s sake?”

Viktor’s eyes are shining. Yuuri looks around his empty house, in which Viktor has no bedroom (which suggests he never brings people back) and in which he’s unpacked his Pokemon’s color coded food bowls but not one spoon for himself. Something twists in his chest.

“Please?”

“Fine,” Yuuri mumbles. “But we’re changing the locks on your house first.”

Chapter Text

Viktor has never been to a strip club before.

There are age restrictions, and by the time he could get in legally, he’d won a League Championship title and had to comport himself appropriately. He’s not opposed to the idea in theory—pretty people, scanty clothes, dancing, alcohol—but Viktor has so many duties that he barely has time to have one night stands, let alone spend the evening at a club. Chris has been inviting him out for as long as they’ve been friends, but Viktor’s always turned him down.

So it takes him longer than expected to figure out an outfit. We’ll give you a costume, Phichit assured him when they were putting the plan together, but Viktor still has to get there unobserved. He digs through racks of suits and piles of designer shirts and finally unearths some sweatpants he hasn’t worn in years. Between his job and his endorsements, Viktor has the highest quality wardrobe money can buy.

The sweatpants are tragic, but they fit. He pairs them with a shirt Chris left at his place once with suggestively shaped berries on the front and tucks his hair under a hat. Then he does his makeup just slightly wrong, enough to alter the features of his face, and contours with a powder that’s a shade too dark.

On my way, he texts Yuuri, before searching the backyard for his Pokemon. After some deliberation, he decides to take Roserade with him; she’s the most common and the most subtle of his team, and the least likely to give him away.

Garchomp drops him off ten blocks away on top of a parking garage, and Viktor walks from there, trying to be stealthy. It’s raining, a little, and that’s cleared the streets.

The Rainbow Club isn’t at all what Viktor expected, at least from the outside. It’s a new building, painted in fluorescent colors, the double doors made of steel. The club’s name is in lights, but there are no outside signs that it’s a strip club—no outlines of slinky women, no weirdly placed lingerie—just a heavier than usual bouncer standing by the front doors.

Viktor doesn’t bother with them; he walks by and circles around through an alley to the backdoor. There’s a bouncer there, too, with an Alolan Graveller, but to his relief Yuuri is there too, wearing a long black raincoat and looking harassed.

“Get in,” he says, “come on, we’re running behind as it is.”

The inside of the club is more in line with Viktor’s expectations—exposed brick, beautiful people in all shapes and sizes in provocative versions of celebrity outfits, open dressing room doors everywhere revealing makeup and costumes and props—and he peers into every room as Yuuri hustles him down a hallway to a dark red room at the end of it. There, Yuuri shoves him into a seat and hands him a bundle of clothing.

“Here,” he says, blushing profusely. “I hope they fit. Uh, I’ll just. In the hall.”

Yuuri leaves Viktor alone in what must be his dressing room. Viktor pokes around; Yuuri has five shades of red lipstick, a tub of loose powder, some kind of chalk for his hands, and his glasses on the vanity. A couple costumes are hanging off a nearby rack; Yuuri favors dark colors, and crystals, and very high, pointy heels.

Viktor licks his lips and sorts through the outfit Yuuri handed him. There’s a pair of shorts, black and sequined and tiny, and a crop top, pink and gold and mimicking the actual outfit Viktor wears during formal challenges. There’s even loops of gold chain over the shoulders and hanging down over the midriff. He strips down and changes after an internal debate about whether he needs underwear. Viktor’s underwear is near indecent, so he leaves it on.

The clothes fit well enough, although whoever made them seems to have underestimated the width of Viktor’s shoulders. Viktor frowns at his abs, then pokes around Yuuri’s dressing table until he finds a compact of sparkly rainbow highlighter. He doesn’t want to use Yuuri’s brushes, since he doesn’t know when they were last cleaned, so he steals one of the disposable sponges and wets it using the bottle of water sitting on the table.

He admires himself in the mirror for several seconds before nodding to himself.

“Yuuri?”

“Are you ready?”

“I think so!”

Yuuri rushes back into the dressing room. He’s still wearing the slick black raincoat. He takes one look at Viktor and yelps in a distinctly Makkachin-like manner.

“Is it bad?”

“No. No! You look...great.” Yuuri rubs his face with his hands. “Let me put on my shoes.”

Yuuri sits down at the vanity and kicks off his flip flops, then begins putting on a pair of white athletic socks. Until this exact moment, Viktor thought athletic socks were an abomination, but the way Yuuri tugs them gently over his feet, wriggling his toes, is enormously distracting. Viktor forces himself, in the interest of not embarrassing himself, to look at Yuuri’s face

Yuuri has done his make up; his blush is a mauve color, his eyelids smokey and gold with holographic glitter dusted over his lashes. His liner is matte and sharp enough to cut. His lips are full and dark red, and the highlighter on his cheeks is the same rainbow one Viktor borrowed earlier.

The minutes it takes Yuuri to put on his socks and then his shoes—glossy white boots, heels shockingly high, the stiletto narrow enough to stab with—are the longest of Viktor’s life. Finally, Yuuri stands up, and unzips his jacket. He throws it to the side and stretches his arms over his head.

“Hagh,” Viktor says, in a stunning display of eloquence. “You’re a sexy Team Rocket grunt.”

“...yeah,” Yuuri says, after clearing his throat. He picks up the highlighter again and starts applying it to his abs.

His abs are better than Viktor’s; Viktor can’t even be upset about that, he’s too busy being amazed he’s had the good luck to find himself a man who has both a great body and great blending technique.

Yuuri is wearing a crop top and tiny shorts in black, with the bright red R symbol of Team Rocket displayed on his chest and hips in red glitter. He’s wearing black gloves, fingerless, and in his heels he’s tall enough that Viktor finds himself looking up at him. He’s got a silver stud in each ear. In the yellow light of the dressing room, his features are sharper, somehow, more dangerous.

“A sexier Team Rocket grunt, I should say,” Viktor adds.

Yuuri looks down, flustered, though the foundation hides his flush. Viktor grins.

“So, where do you want me?”

“You?”

“Yes, me. You’re planting the bug, Phichit is going to hack Leafson’s phone. What am I doing?”

“Uh, you’re…observing. I closed one of the private boxes for you. We need someone to keep an eye on Leafson in case he does something suspicious.”

Viktor blinks. That sounds like a real job, but Viktor has been on enough missions to know better.

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Yes! Sort of. No. You’re not…subtle.”

“I could be subtle.”

Yuuri eyes him skeptically.

“…fine.” You break one building, Viktor thinks. I’m being typecasted.

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

They step back out into the hallway. Viktor follows Yuuri closely as they pass a number of dancers in a flurry, obviously getting ready to perform. He overhears an argument about music, sees a dominatrix version of the Blackthorn City gym leader complete with whip and corset, and glimpses Chris in his sexy nurse get up through an open doorway.

At the sight of Chris’s hairy legs in fishnets and his chest hair peeking out over the ruffled neckline of his top, Viktor walks a little faster; he really doesn’t want to have to explain to Chris what he’s doing here.

Yuuri settles Viktor with a headset in a private room that overlooks the main floor of the club from above, behind a wall of one way glass. There’s a pole off to one side, presumably for private performances. The furniture is plush, and Viktor sits down on the edge of the couch and surveys the room below carefully.

He spots Leafson immediately, sitting at a table near the stage. Viktor’s brought his binoculars with him, and he zooms in to get a better look. He doesn’t know Leafson personally, just his name on files that Viktor’s had to review, but he did look at his personnel file before coming out here. Leafson is ordinary, except for the hush money being funneled into his bank account. Even his outfit is boring: khakis, a blue polo, a dull grey watch—

Viktor focuses on the watch. It’s not dull at all.

It’s a standard Kanto law enforcement issue watch, the kind they use for undercover missions and solo missions in the wild. The watch has a GPS function, and can send encrypted messages using a numeric code, and has a secret compartment hidden beneath the face. Viktor’s been lent them when he’s out in the field before.

But why does Leafson have one now? Viktor flips through the options in his mind; he doesn’t like any of them. He taps the button on the headset to get Phichit’s attention, since Yuuri is getting ready to go out on stage.

“Viktor?”

“How long does Leafson normally stay here?”

“Uh, until Yuuri’s done, so at least another hour, why?”

“And he never does anything suspicious?”

“He sniffs Yuuri if Yuuri gets too close?”

Viktor makes a face, reminds himself that he’s not on the clock and cannot beat Leafson up without probable cause, and sighs.

“All right.”

“What is it?”

“Nothing.”

“Viktor, if we’re going to work together, you can’t lie to us.”

Viktor hesitates. Phichit is a criminal. But he’s in Phichit’s club, relying on Phichit’s help; it would be stupid to draw the line now.

“This might be more of a problem than we thought,” he says. “Leafson is wearing a League-issue watch.”

“He’s here officially?”

“Or he has help higher up in the League and there’s significant corruption. Equipment sign outs are pretty heavily regulated.”

“Shit,” Phichit said. “Well, we can watch him. He’s not going to be able to get away with much here. Half the employees here are our grunts.”

Viktor makes a noise of assent. He keeps an eye on Leafson as the club fills up, and the lights start to go down. He can hear the music in the private box, but not the conversation of the customers. Several customers are in groups, sitting around tables and at the bar while talking, downing liquor out of shot glasses and beer out of frothing mugs. But Leafson remains alone, speaking to no one, eyes fixed on the stage. Finally, as one of the waiters picks up a mic and announces the start of the show, a nondescript man in a grey suit joins Leafson. As he leans over to say something to him, Viktor sees him tap the face of Leafson’s watch twice.

“Phichit, did you see that?”

“Yeah. He’s new, never seen him before. I’m running facial recognition now…no connection with Monarch. But he does have an arrest record. Name’s Brock Rockwell.”

“For what?”

“Theft. Apparently he’s an ex-Rocket.”

“Could he be here to rejoin?”

“Maybe,” Phichit says doubtfully. “Should we grab him?”

“No, let’s see what happens. See if you can plant a bug on him so we can follow him later.”

“I’ll let Yuuri know.”

Satisfied, Viktor sits back, idly wishes for a drink, and enjoys the show. It’s Amateur Night.

First up is a woman, a tall dark-haired woman with ballet slippers and a bottle of sake in hand, wearing a glittery pink bikini and tutu. The music starts out soft as the woman dances en pointe down the stage, and then the room goes dark, the bass drops, the spotlight comes back on blue, and the woman kicks of her shoes, hops up onto the pole, and swings around it with a cry of joy.

She dances well, but she reminds Viktor of Lilia, Yakov’s ex-wife, who is co-director of the Kanto Police. Viktor has to look away when she rips off the tutu and throws it into the cheering crowd; it’s a bit like watching his mother strip.

Finally she cartwheels offstage, and the announcer introduces Chris.

Chris is a sexy nurse. A very sexy nurse. Viktor’s pretty sure he bought Chris those fishnets, and they hold up well to Chris’s style of dance, which mostly involves him using his thighs and slapping his own ass. It’s hot, Viktor supposes, but he knows Chris too well. It’s hard to be aroused by him when Viktor’s held Chris’s hand while he had his balls waxed.

(He screamed. It was hilarious.)

Third is…Viktor?

Well, an approximation of Viktor. It’s a tall, tanned man (already inaccurate, Viktor’s skin is the color of an Absol) wearing a miniscule version of Viktor’s official Johto League gear. The jacket has been cropped and left open, the pants are now tearaways that reveal underneath a color blocked pair of underwear, and instead of a gold Champion Ribbon there are gold nipple pasties. Which Viktor does like and makes a note to buy.

Did Yuuri authorize this? Knock-off Viktor can dance, but the music is awful and his ass is inferior.

By the time he’s stepping offstage, arms full of money, Viktor really wants that drink. He glances at Leafson, who is sitting with his mysterious companion, staring raptly at the stage. The announcer is introducing the final act, but the cheering of the crowd drowns her out as the lights turn red, as the music starts to pound, as Yuuri prowls out of the shadows in his shiny white boots.

What follows are the most erotic three minutes and forty-six seconds of Viktor’s life.

Yuuri moves—sinuously, slowly, in ways that make Viktor desperately want to peel off his clothes and licks his way up Yuuri’s body—around the pole, and on it, and with his heels clicking on the stage, and with his back bent so that his palms touch the ground. Viktor’s nails bite into his thighs, his teeth bite into his lip, he swears he goes every second of Yuuri’s performance without blinking.

I’m sweating off my highlighter, Viktor thinks.

“Viktor?”

“Wha?”

“Put your tongue back in your math, Yuuri’s about to plant the bug.”

As if Viktor could take his eyes off Yuuri at this moment. He watches as Yuuri mingles among the customers, bending over to whisper to them as they slide money into his shorts and the tops of his boots. He spends longer with Leafson, who looks like he’s going to die of arousal, and pats his friend conspiratorially on the arm before sauntering away.

The moment he leaves and the lights come back up, Leafson’s friend leaves.

“Okay, he’s moving,” Phichit says. “We’re gonna give him a twenty minute head start and then follow.”

“Let me know if he heads onto official League property. I can call in a favor if this is an official op.”

“Sure. Yuuri’s on his way up now.”

Viktor does his best to look like less he nearly came in his shorts while he waits. A few minutes later, after Viktor’s smoothed his hair and put on more lip gloss, Yuuri appears. He is gloriously sweaty and flushed.

“H-Hi.”

“Yuuri.” Viktor takes his hands. “I need to ask you something very important.”

“Yeah…?”

“Your performance was beautiful,” Viktor says. “Stunning. Terrifying. But what was that fake me?”

“That was an accident, I didn’t know JJ was going to—”

“JJ? I’m impersonated by a man named JJ?”

“He’s…new.”

“Clearly.”

“Anyways. We have a minute before—” Yuuri stops as his earpiece starts buzzing; Viktor can hear Phichit’s voice but can’t make out the words. “What? We’re coming now.”

“What happened?”

“The bug on Leafson’s friend just stopped transmitting. We have to go, we’ll lose him. Phichit’s bringing the car around—”

Viktor reaches for the tiny stud he’s wearing on the top of hi left ear and presses down on it for three seconds. There’s a loud beep to signal it’s working.

“Garchomp is on his way.”

“Great.”

Yuuri grabs his wrist and starts dragging him along. Viktor follows, wishing he’d thought to wear something more substantial because high speed flying at night is cold, and nearly runs into Yuuri when he skids to a stop. It’s JJ, who looks even less like Viktor up close. His hair is tragic.

“Yo, Yuuri! Great job out there tonight.”

“Hey. JJ. I’m in a hurry—”

“I know how you feel about us doing Viktor, but I really think I’ve got something. Hey, who’s this?”

“He’s…new.” Yuuri says wildly.

“Is he a Viktor?”

“Yeah, his stage name is…Viggo.”

Viktor nearly bites through his tongue.

“Yes, I’m working with Katsudong here,” he says loudly. “And you’re WD?”

“JJ.”

“Whatever.”

“Well, Katsudong, that’s awesome, Yuuri. Powerful. Listen, I was thinking—”

“We have to go right now, sorry,” Viktor says. He shoves Yuuri forward until he gets the hint. As soon as they round the corner, they take off running. Yuuri scowls at him as they duck down a dark corridor and have to stop so Yuuri can unlock the door.

“I can’t believe you made my stripper name Viggo.”

“What? You’re the one who called me Katsudong!”

“You can rhyme my first and last names with ‘dick’ but you still went with Viggo? Honestly, Yuuri.”

“You can also rhyme them with ‘thick’.”

“Viggo.”

“My stripper name is Eros,” Yuuri mumbles. “Eros.”

“That’s very sexy,” Viktor says cheerfully, “but I’m not going to use it until you take back the Viggo thing.”

Yuuri jerks the door open, and to Viktor’s relief, Phichit and Garchomp are both there. Phichit is behind the wheel of a van, engine idling, looking deeply irritated; Garchomp is kicking at the asphalt in impatience.

“Go, go, we’re losing the trail!”

Yuuri gets into the van. Viktor hooks his wrists in the harness and whistles for take off.

“Follow me!” Phichit yells. Viktor nods, and the chase begins.