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You explained the Universe

Chapter Text

  • Soulmate

Noun

Someone for whom you have a deep affinity

  • Hypernyms: lover

 

Date: Nov 19; 11:40 P.M.

 

Each night before going to bed, Yuuri spends a lot of time reading this particular piece of information over and over. Nothing changes off course, but he still does it. He has been doing it now for more than a year or so – basically since he turned seventeen. It’s a normal thing for all seventeen years old that as you go near the age of eighteen, all your thoughts are consumed by this. The day when you’ll turn eighteen and a name or actually the name will appear on your wrist. Then there are whole other shenanigans of whether it’ll be on your left wrist or right wrist.

 

Kids, who will soon turn eighteen, are given the basic information in their schools regarding the whole system as if they don’t already know about it. This is all everyone in high school actually talks about it anyway and each person automatically knows when everyone else will get their mark and even if you don’t want to share it with other people, it still gets shared. It’s like an unwritten rule.

 

This is exactly what Yuuri is afraid of. He turns eighteen in exactly ten day and he has never been more stressed in his entire life. There are several reasons for it. The first one obviously is that he’ll get his mark – Soul mark which is the biggest deal for an average person. Your soulmate is someone with whom you are supposed to share your entire life. But not everyone is lucky in this matter. Off course, it’s your soulmate and they are supposed to be perfect for you, in theory at least. In reality, nothing is automatically perfect. Everyone has to work to make things perfect. Being soulmates just increases the probability of all the efforts going into the right direction. Yuuri is both excited and scared. Though how much excited and how much scared - this changes depending upon the time of the day.

 

Now Yuuri is not a perfect person himself. He is socially awkward, tends to be an introvert, and has anxiety which sometimes makes it hard for him to give his one hundred percent to things, to people, to relationships. He wants his soulmate to be someone who can understand him and his issues and take time for him to open up rather than forces him to do so.

 

 Second: Yuuri is worried about the gender of his mate because even though he is still a virgin and has never been in a relationship ever, he knows his attraction is not limited to the opposite gender only. For example – he had a massive crush on Yuuko for a long time but then there is also Viktor Nikiforov. Though, for everyone else Viktor is nothing but his idol but Yuuri himself knows just how many nights he has spent thinking about Viktor and not all of his feelings are platonic. He has stopped lying to himself in this matter. But, this is a problem for him because no one else knows about it.

 

Times have changed and world has moved forward and unlike a century before, people are not immediately thrown in jail or forced to go through medical therapies just because the name on their wrist is not of a person belonging to the opposite gender. Societies have now acknowledged that if the Universe has scribbled the name of someone on someone’s wrist, it must be because of something greater that is far beyond the human comprehension and every individual has the right to be with the person that the Universe has chosen for them and no one should be judged or prosecuted because of this.

 

Yuuri is also sure that no one in his family or friend circle will have any problem if the name on his wrist does end up belonging to the person of his own gender. Yet, he still doesn’t know how to approach about it. Should he tell them that this might be a possibility or should he wait? He wants to tell his family at least before his birthday but he still hasn’t been able to procure that required amount of courage.

 

Third: whether, he’ll be the younger or the older mate in the relationship. It’s not that the younger ones are oppressed or not given equal rights. But still the older mates have general advantages when it comes to legal or other things; they are considered responsible for the younger ones and in some rare cases this responsibility has been misunderstood for complete control over the other. He is worried about it. For example- he loves skating but he doesn’t know what his mate will have to say about his skating; if he’ll be able to continue to skate.

 

Yuuri is sure that if his mate ends up being younger than him and they also wanted that he quit skating then he will not pursue it against their wishes and will probably not try to make them change their mind either. Having responsibility of someone also means giving them freedom to express their opinions. He will do it himself; he just wants the same thing to happen to him if he is not the older one.

 

Fourth: if his soul mate will want to be with him or not after seeing him in person. There are several reasons as to why one mate rejects another. First being that they have already found someone else that they feel connected with and content to not break that relationship and look for another one. Minako- sensei’s soulmate was already in love with his childhood best friend and he was devastated when he found out that she is not his soulmate. Minako being the amazing person she is let him go. She has had relationships and stresses that she is not that destroyed as the gossipers like to believe and the amount of pity they like to throw towards her is just insulting. Yuuri believes her and he doesn’t know the other version of the truth himself if there is in fact another version out there. He does want to believe that you don’t need your soulmate to be happy and not all the people who are with their soulmates are happy all the time. And most of the time he is successful in believing it but then every romance movie or TV program makes him question the existence of true happiness if your soulmate is not with you to share it.

 

Second reason which is not common but still exists is that some mates are rejected because of their looks. It is not that common as his anxiety ridden mind has led him to believe but it is also not entirely unheard of. Now, Yuuri is not an extraordinarily handsome boy. He knows it well. He is an average looking person with average features and height & weight (well, he does tend to gain weight easily but hey, he also sheds off it as soon as he starts his exercise and practice regime).

 

So the final thing here to conclude is that there are ten more days till his eighteenth birthday and he is losing hair because of the tension. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. There is one part of him that is dreading the coming day; also there is one part that absolutely can’t wait for the day and wishes it was here already.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 20; 8:20 A.M.

 

The next morning brings him running around the house in the effort of not being late for school. He cursed himself mentally for staying up late again thinking about that whole thing. Mari-neechan looks at him but bless her beautiful soul as she doesn’t pass any snarky comment and Yuuri is thankful for it. His mother is fussing over him because he is yet again sprinting through breakfast and not actually eating it and enjoying it. Yuuri apologized sincerely and ran outside the Yu- topia gates. His typical day includes school, practice at the Ice castle and then helping out a bit at the hot spring. His family usually doesn’t bother him but as winters start to gain momentum, customer numbers also start to increase especially in the evenings.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 20; 12:50 P.M.

 

After handling a group of four giggling girls who were trying very hard to find out his thoughts on his upcoming birthday and what it entails for him, he was exhausted. Now, he doesn’t always get exhausted after every social interaction but those girls were kind of exhausting. They have never taken any interest in his existence before today and now today they were asking intrusive questions which he was not comfortable in answering so he tried to be polite and not let his anxiety take over. Not surprisingly, it took a toll on him. He spent more than fifteen minutes in the washrooms hiding in a stall during recess in order to calm down. Then the whole thing started with his thoughts creping on him. The part of him which is excited to find out the name of his soulmate was lost somewhere and all that remained were the thought which told him how he is going to be the source of disappointment for his future partner. And suddenly his palms started sweating and he couldn’t focus on anything else. His breathing became rapid and shallow and he felt nauseous. He knew what it was. He tried to remember what his coach and the school nurse had told him to do in situations like these which was so hard when he couldn’t even hold on to any other thought which was not trying to ruin his remaining composure.

 

Try to ground yourself. Yes, but how do you do it? Okay, list five things that you can see. Stall door, toilet paper, shoes, his watch… damn it. Why this is so hard? Toilet seat that he is sitting on is the last thing. Okay, good work. Now, four things you can touch. Phone, toilet paper dispenser, the wall, lock on the stall door. List three things that you can hear. Leaking tap water, faint murmur of students outside and his loud breathing count make three things.  Now, two things you smell. He can’t smell anything other the general smell of public toilets. He does smell a hint of his deodorant so that makes it second. Name one thing that you can taste. He licked his lips and swallowed but other than spit and a faint hint of something bitter, he couldn’t taste anything but right now this’ll have to work.

 

Take deep breaths. Yuuri held his breath for a few seconds then slowly began to exhale through his mouth. One, two, three, four, five, six… inhale- one, two, three, four…hold- one, two…exhale- one, two, three, four, five, six.

 

After careful repetitions of the exercise, he felt somewhat calmed down. He spent few extra minutes in there for extra measure. Though, the worst was over but now he felt drained and had little energy to do anything else but he still had to attend another half of his school day and he didn’t want to go home yet. Due to his competitions, he already had to miss school and if he went home then everyone will know exactly what it was that caused his attack this time. He was trying to be as nonchalant and carefree about this whole business as possible but his family knew him too much to not see through his façade. He couldn’t just go home. He has to finish this day.

 

He came out of the stall and looked around just to be sure that he was alone and after looking around when he didn’t find any other student, he sighed in relief. He washed his face with water. The water was slightly colder against his heated skin. Now that he looked carefully in the mirror, he could see his face. See all the tell-tale signs of his freak out in the stall. His face was red, hair messy and sticking to his forehead. The redness could be blamed to the chilling weather if it wasn’t for the sweaty hair. He combed his fingers through his hair to make them a little better and wiped extra water from his face. Nothing drastic happened. He still looked as wrecked as he felt but he had already taken enough time hiding there.

 

Well, it’s not like many people were looking for him. Despite being sort of a local champion and star in ice skating and being one of the three skaters in the whole town, he still was not very good at making friends. The only interactions he had with his peers were regarding homework and the work he missed when he went for the competitions. So unless someone was specifically looking at his face, he will be able to get through his day without anyone noticing his distressed state. He hoped that those girls have also lost interest in him after he refused to entertain their queries.

 

He couldn’t wait for this day to over.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 20; 4:35 P.M.

 

He skipped practice today because he was physically drained and also Yuuko and Takeshi will be there. They both were his only friends and while they most of the time they understood his desires to be left alone. But, they are humans too and sometimes they can be overbearing if they find out that Yuuri had a bad day. They’ll try to know and ask him questions about what happened or what they could do to help. He hates and loves this trait of their depending upon the day and toady seemed like the day when he’s going to hate it so he stayed home. He texted Yuuko to inform her in case she got worried and called him or his parents which is specifically he was trying to avoid. His parents knowing that he didn’t have a good day today.

 

He sneaked inside the house and tip toed to his room to avoid being noticed either by his parents or sister. As soon as he got inside his room, he flopped down on his bed and hid himself under the blankets. It was a bad time to sleep and it’d ruin his schedule but he didn’t care. He needed to sleep. That was the only way to get through this day. The day was still bright outside when he went to bed and he had drawn the curtains on the window beside his bed. His eyes wandered around to the posters on the walls. Viktor Nikiforov, his idol was smiling as usual. His eyes are beautiful and bright and seem to pierce through his soul. Usually looking at Viktor’s posters gives him enough motivation and inspiration to go through his competitions but they are not of any help when it comes to days like these. But still Viktor always calmed his mind. Today is also not different.

 

There is one framed photo of Viktor on his desk which is very special to him. It was gifted to him by his parents on his fifteenth birthday. It has Viktor’s sign and a good-luck message for Yuuri written in a careful handwriting. It must have been a special edition of merchandise because he couldn’t find another copy of this photo anywhere. Viktor is smiling, his silvery soft hair falling over one eye in a fringe that Yuuri is tempted to draw as a curtain away from Viktor’s face. His smile is fond and kind and his eye so soft. The smile and pose in the picture are different than other official merchandise. Instead of his confident and ethereal self, Viktor almost looks a bit nervous posing for the picture. Yuuri finds it even more endearing. It felt strangely special to Yuuri as if it was just for him. He likes to pretend sometimes that it is in fact just for him; that somehow Viktor has found about him and his devotion to him. He feels himself getting giddy at the thought quite often that somehow he was lucky enough to get this chance where Viktor has written a message especially for him and send a picture just for him.

 

Off course he knows it is not true and probably someone in a PR office with a salary barely above the minimum wage must have written them. He got it on his 15th birthday as a gift from his parents. He did try to find out more copies of the photo but unfortunately couldn’t find anywhere. This particular photo has never failed to make him relax. One look at the calm and serene expressions on Viktor’s face and immediately Yuuri also calms down a bit if not all.

 

 

As he looked at the photo, he started to wonder. Do people like Viktor also worry about stuff like soulmates? Do they also spend time thinking and getting worried as soon as their birthday comes near?

 

It had to be because they are celebrities and more under public scrutiny than anyone else and by god if it isn’t a big deal. Whenever things like these happen- whenever the name of the soulmate of a celebrity is revealed, people and the media go wild. With speculations related to the name of their soulmates and finding about every little detail about them. Then all these get plastered all over the gossip blogs and TV channels. The privacy of both of the parties involved is forgotten for the moment and all everyone wants to talk about is – if they are compatible enough or not or how lucky the mates are that their name is written on the wrist of a famous person as if they’ve won a lottery by being the soulmate of a famous person but the irony is that somehow for the near future, they become kind of unlucky. Their whole life becomes the point of discussion for everyone else. They are analyzed and scrutinized with critical eyes and more than often these judgements are not in their favor. They are both loved by the fans of that famous person and also hated by them. As if they don’t have any other reason to feel happy in their life except for being the soulmate of a celebrity.

 

Celebrities themselves are also not safe in this whole ordeal. If they’ve taken a partner other than their soulmate, then it’s like all hell loses upon them. People don’t take this issue in a light manner. They are criticized for defying the system placed by the Universe and they are often hated more for this than any average person.

 

So it doesn’t matter what they chose to do. In the end they are always in the wrong. Yuuri thinks it must be a hell for them too. He worries for Viktor.

 

The name of Viktor’s soulmate is still unknown. Viktor always wears gloves so the chances of it being revealed accidently are very low; though, fans and reporters have tried asking him but Viktor always say that he is trying to protect his soulmate and under no circumstances will he ever reveal the name and still people ask. Yuuri thinks that they shouldn’t force it anyway. He admires Viktor for it. He still feels a pang on jealousy in some deep buried part of his heart upon hearing it but he ignores it. He doesn’t have any right to get jealous for it and it is also unfair to his own soulmate.

 

Vicchan found him after a while. No matter how hard he tries to hide, he always finds him. He immediately stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws on the bed. If he was any bigger, he’d easily climb up the bed. Yuuri pulled him up to him and the dog started nuzzling his face asking to be loved and adored. He was an extremely affectionate dog and the only living thing whose attention didn’t tire Yuuri out. After receiving the needed patting, Vicchan sat on the bed and Yuuri let his fingers wander around in the soft fur of his friend. Soon after the quiet but reassuring presence of Vicchan lulled Yuuri to sleep and he got a bit of respite from a very long day.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 22; 5:17 P.M.

Two days later he was practicing at the rink when Yuuko found him. He was still struggling to keep his thoughts away and skating was the only way to do it. He was performing Viktor’s latest routine which was one of his favorites from the said skater. The routine told the story of longing and waiting to go home and finally be united with one’s lover. The intensity with which Viktor performed this was beyond comparison. Yuuri just can dream of ever achieving that perfection. But he still tried to copy him as much as he could. He had already gone through it more than ten times but he still had enough energy to go through it a few more times. His eyes were closed and right now he was just enjoying the feeling of it all when Yuuko’s insistent clapping broke his concentration and he skated over to the edge where Yuuko was standing and waiting for him. She smiled at him when he got closer to her.

 

‘How you’ve been, Yuuri?’ She asked but her expressions were soft and not demanding, letting Yuuri relax a bit. ‘When you didn’t show up for practice the other day, I thought something was wrong. It’s not like you to skip practice without any reason?’

 

Yes, it’s not like him at all. Yuuri doesn’t skip practice unless he absolutely has to. He knows hard work and practice is what gives him edge in the competitions. He is no genius in the skating world. He works harder than his peers and he’s got great stamina which makes it slightly easier for him to carry out long practice sessions. But, it’s also not easier for him to tell Yuuko exactly why he didn’t come to the rink that day. His coach at school and his family are the only people that know about his anxiety and he plans to keep it like that. He knows that Yuuko can keep his secret; he is not worried about it but he also doesn’t want to be seen as a weakling. He doesn’t want pity. Not from someone he considers a friend.

 

‘Just was tired, nothing big. Actually, I couldn’t sleep till late the previous night so was feeling a bit down.’ He said it in a casual manner hoping she doesn’t pry further. Yuuko is not someone to do that really so true to her nature she just nodded her head in understanding and offered him the water bottle. He said a quiet thank you and uncapped the bottle to drink. The cool liquid gave him a relief and he realized how hard he must have been pushing himself that he could feel heat radiate from his body which he couldn’t feel earlier.

 

He glanced towards Yuuko who was fidgeting with her fingers while clearly avoiding looking at him. Classic sign of someone who has got something to say or ask but are either too nervous or too scared to say. There was no reason for Yuuko to be scared of him anyway. It must be nervousness. Yuuri is also not good at handling them too, plus if it is something that’s making Yuuko nervous to ask than it’s also something that Yuuri will never be not nervous to answer. His mind was screaming at him to let it go and move on with practice. But, Yuuko is a friend and Yuuri considers himself to be a good friend. The least he could do for her is to ask her. If it is something that is too hard or too uncomfortable for him, he could always say no. Yuuko will understand.

 

‘Are you okay? Is there something that you want to talk to me about?’ She looked at him as she was not expecting him to say it or initiate any further conversation. Yuuri could see why she must think like this. He is not exactly known for his conversation making skills. He and Yuuko used to be a lot closer when they were younger. When he had just started, Yuuko was the one who stood up for him. She’d fight with the bullies for him; tell them off when they made fun of his weight or his jumps. That’s exactly how she met Nishigori first time, who became their friend and later turned out to be Yuuko’s soulmate. Their story is the classic tale of childhood friends who fought in the start and then fell in love with each other and later turned out to be soul mates made for one another. Yuuko and Nishigori got married six months ago and now are living their happily ever after.

 

‘Yes, I am fine but there is something that I want to talk about.’ She said while looking at him expectantly. Yuuri nodded his head to tell her to keep going. She was visibly nervous and Yuuri now started to second guess himself. ‘Are you okay, Yuuri?’

 

The question was so unexpected that it took Yuuri more than a few moments to register it and when he did he had no idea how to respond to it. He decided to keep quiet and give Yuuko chance to further elaborate it. He had no idea what expressions were on his face at the time; he hoped they weren’t of panic.

 

‘It’s just your birthday is coming up and this one is kind of a big deal,’ she said slightly altering her voice to emphasize on it. ‘… So I was just wondering if you are okay. If you need someone to talk to, I am always here, you know. You can always come to me. It’s good to have a support system.’

 

Yuuri replayed her words in his mind and the only thing he could find there was concern. For some reason it also didn’t feel that intrusive to him as the questions asked by those girls inn his school even though the nature and subject matter of the questions were similar. This must be what they describe the true magic of friendship, he thought. He could see the hesitation on Yuuko’s face and the more moments that passed in silence where Yuuri contemplated the whole thing in his mind made the hesitation on Yuuko’s face grew even more. Yuuri knew that either he could leave the question hanging and not answer it or he could be honest here. Yuuko will understand if he chooses to stay silent and she will listen to him if he tells her exactly how much he is scared of the whole thing. Yuuko who is now married to her soulmate is also a great source to tell her just how exactly to navigate the whole situation after. All he has to do is open up. If only it was that easy for him to do so. He mustered whatever courage he could and decided to just go for it.

 

‘How is it like…being with your soulmate?’ He asked the first thing his mind supplied to him. Yuuko looked startled for a second but then she quickly recovered. A beautiful smile appeared on her face and her eyes somehow seemed brighter than before. She looked like she was lost in her head for a moment and all she thought was happy memories.

 

‘For me, it’s like being with my best friend. Someone, who can be a bit different than me but we just click somehow and everything just seems easier to handle. I think I was just lucky enough that I was friends with Takeshi before all this. We knew about each other and from there everything just became easier. Falling for him was never difficult and he confessed that he was always in love with me so,’ She looked at Yuuri for a second and then she took Yuuri’s hand in her own hand. ‘But, don’t think that we don’t have to work to make everything good. Every relationship requires dedication and hard work even if it is with your soulmate. Relationships are never easier and every relationship is different. There is no one universal rule that fit them all.’

 

‘But aren’t soulmates supposed to be perfect for each other?’ Yuuri asked. Yuuko just smiled. ‘Yes, they are perfect for each other but you still need time to adjust to each other and being soulmates just increases the chances of that.’

 

Yuuri nodded his head unable to say anything more but Yuuko is perceptive. ‘Are you worried that you won’t fit with your soulmate?’

 

‘Shouldn’t I be?’ He asked not understanding the implication behind her words. As she said earlier that it is kind of a big deal so he must be allowed to get worried. It’s not his fault that his mind works in overdrive when it comes to things that are supposed to make you worried and turns everything into a big disaster.

 

‘No, that’s not what I meant. Off course, you are allowed to be worried but don’t forget to enjoy this also. Just think of it this way. Suppose that you have a big competition and you are working hard and training for that. You are pushing yourself for it and a part of you is scared for the competition but a bigger part is excited to finally compete and do your best on the ice and it’s not that the only thing that you are enjoying is the competition; you are also enjoying the journey no matter how hard your muscles cramp after a painful practice session. You know?’

 

Yuuri could see her point. The thrill of competing was beyond anything else but the time leading to it was also something extraordinary.

 

‘So just look at this with that perspective too. For now just enjoy it as something to look forward to. When you do get your mark, only then worry about the future and trust me the actual thing will be as enjoyable if not more than the journey leading up to it.’ She looked at him with expressions just spoke truth and sincerity and Yuuri knew how genuine his words were. He could see the words having an effect on him. It’s not that there wasn’t a part of him that was not excited. There was but it just got lost in the crowd of all those thoughts which form a majority portion of his mind.

 

‘Okay. I’ll try. Thanks, Yuuko.’ The advice was something he needed at the moment. It may not work a hundred percent in quelling all his anxiety but it was something.

 

A voice coming from the front desk had them stop the conversation at that point. Yuuko excused herself and went to see who it was. Yuuri sat there for a few minutes thinking and replaying Yuuko’s advice in his mind. Later, when he went back to practice again his mind was oddly calm and not running around clinging to every little worry. He had a peaceful practice that he had not had in a while. Yuuko came back after a while to check on him but didn’t say anything to him. She had a small smile on her face the whole time and then she left him to practice a bit more.

 

He came home that day more relaxed than ever before, not even the burning of muscles made him uncomfortable. He spent some time playing around with Vicchan. The dog was in heaven or as it seemed anyway and Yuuri realized just how much he had ignored him too. When the pup seemed to tire out and satisfied after the attention and playing around, Yuuri left him resting in his room and went to soak in the hot spring. Later, he went to his mother who was making dinner for the family. He helped out her a bit. She did all the talking, telling him about his relatives and a guest who was staying at the inn and who always wore white clothes and demanded white towels and robes. Apparently, he was a writer and the protagonist of his story liked to wear white all the time. The author was slowly becoming his protagonist to write the story. Yuuri chuckled with his mother at how odd it sounded. Mari-neechan joined them after a while bringing even more anecdotes of that particular guest.

 

Yuuri couldn’t remember the last time in that year when he had this much conversation with his mother and sister. His life was now becoming limited to a cycle of school, practice and sleep. There were a lot of things that he had neglected, he realized. Now, in a few days when everything is supposed to change in a permanent way, he just hoped that he’ll get to have these conversations even more. He hoped that not everything will change and he won’t have to leave his family to be with his soulmate.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 26; 1:25 A.M.

 

Time is a relative thing. Yuuri has read the scientific explanation in the school and managed to understand it enough to pass his exams. Also, he has seen this sentence floating around on Facebook where people rave about it’s not so scientific explanation. Yuuri gets it actually, now. Time is a relative thing. Days after he turned seventeen and the more particularly in the last ten or so days – are moving at a different rate. Well, to him anyway. He is sure that the day still has 24 hours in it and that the earth is still revolving around the sun at the same speed but somehow after all this evidences of normalcy his brain is putting forth, he can’t quiet the voice in his mind that is saying that his days are moving slower. It seems to him that a lot of time has passed; there is no way it’s been only a week. But the calendars are not showing what he wants to see. Sadly, they are showing that there are three more days left till his birthday. He is already started to get anxious again.

 

Yuuko’s words did have their desired effects and for a while he was calm. He tried to enjoy the waiting as Yuuko has suggested but he just couldn’t. But hey, he also didn’t feel like peeling his own skin off so that was a win too. But now he is slipping down again. If only good advice was enough for those suffering from anxiety. He had two good days after the talk where he felt a bit better but now the good effects are waning and he is going back where he was.

 

His family is oddly silent about the whole thing. Well, it’s not like the Katsuki family overly indulges in family bonding or sharing. They are just like a traditional sort of family and not the most interactive family in the first place but still the total absence of any discussion on the matter is still weird. He remembers when Mari-neechan got her mark. His mother and sister spent a lot of time together leading to her birthday. Even their father was sometimes trying to talk or give advice to her. It does not mean that he is overly looking to have that discussion with them and it is also possible that they have asked Yuuko to have that talk with him in the first place. And it is also possible that Mari-neechan may have approached her parents herself instead of waiting for them to come around and try to talk to her. He knows it’s very much possible. Mari-neechan is more in control of her emotions than Yuuri and she has proved it many times before. He could try to talk to her and get her perspective on the things. She and Haru-san make a good couple and they look happy; well as happy you could be in a slightly long distance relationship. There are times when Mari-neechan looks a bit lost in her thoughts and sometimes she looks a bit down too. Haru-san visits as much as he can but given his busy schedule in the Veterinary School in Fukuoka it is still puts some strain in their relationship. Yet, even after all these little imperfections, Yuuri still finds their relationship one of the best.

 

That doesn’t actually prove anything, to be honest. He finds all the relationships perfect; his parents and Yuuko and Nishigori. They all seem perfect for each other and Yuuri thinks this is what he wants from his future relationship too: the simplicity and tranquility. He wants things to be not too flashy and over the top. He wonders what his soulmate’s thoughts will be on this particular topic. This is another thing that gets added to his list of worries when it comes to the whole thing of soulmates; the difference between personalities is not a deal breaker and people make it work all the time and the movies even portray it as the best type of relationship too. All that ‘opposites attract’ type of talks seem fascinating but he also knows sometimes how exhausting it is for him to be around extroverts.

 

His head started to feel heavy but sleep was still eluding him so he decided to go to the common room and watch TV. If he was lucky, he could catch some repeat telecast of old skating competitions. The Grand Prix was less than a month away so it was possible that they were showing older tournaments and also doing special features on previous champions. They were a great source of inspiration for him, although, he didn’t pay any special attention to anyone else other than Viktor. He was working hard this season also as usual. He was done with his assignments so the Grand Prix Final in Canada was his next competition and Yuuri was waiting for it. Viktor won his second gold at Grand Prix last year and Yuuri was sure that he’ll win his third gold this year. Yuuri felt like a giddy fanboy while thinking this.

 

The common room was empty as usual given it was late at night so he decided to lower the volume at the minimum. After trying for a few minutes at all the available sports channels, he couldn’t find a single program on figure skating. There was one repeat telecast scheduled later at night. Yuuri decided to go back to his room figuring that there was nothing else that was interesting to him. He could watch some old DVDs in his room on his computer or try to go to sleep. It was Sunday next day so school was off but still, it was necessary for him to maintain his schedule. These past few days have been challenging for him and he knew that the incoming days will also be no lesser challenging and he needed to maintain some semblance of control over it. A full night’s sleep sounded like a good thing for that.

 

‘Yuuri, what are you doing up?’ Mari called him from behind as he was walking towards his room. She must have been outside. Her phone was in her hand.

 

‘Couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d watch TV for a while. You are awake too.’ Yuuri said as he took some steps towards Mari who was now sitting where Yuuri was sitting just a few moments back. Mari patted the space beside her and Yuuri accepted the invitation and sat beside her.

 

‘I was talking to Haru,’ Mari said after a few moments. She had a small smile on her face indicating that it must have been a good conversation. Yuuri liked when his sister was happy and didn’t hide it. ‘Why is that you couldn’t sleep?’

 

Yuuri didn’t have any answer to this or rather have the answer but didn’t have the courage to say it. So he just shrugged. Mari-neechan was a good people reader so she just raised her eyebrows calling out him on his lie. Yuuri knew that the talk was coming anyway but he still was glad that his family gave him time. But he had to say something now.

 

‘I am just worried about my birthday, you know.’ He hoped that this would be enough for her sister to catch on. As it turned out, it was enough. Mari nodded her head in understanding. They sat in comfortable silence for the next few minutes.

 

‘You know that you don’t have to do anything that you are not comfortable with you know…when you get the name. Everything is supposed to happen according to your choice.’

 

‘But I won’t be the only one in that relationship. I’ll also have to think about them; their wishes and choices.’

 

Mari looked like she was about to say something at that but then she stopped. After a few moments she spoke, gently as to make him understand the full meaning. ‘Yuuri, no matter what happens, everything will happen at your pace. I’ll make sure of that.’ Her words had a certain determination and assurance that Yuuri latched on and he found himself smiling at the words.

 

He didn’t have any other response to that either so he stayed silent. Mari sat with him for some time. They talked about a lot of other things including that guest who only liked white, his practice and his preparation for the Nationals. She also asked him about Viktor which was odd because as much as everyone knew about his fascination with the Russian skater, no one really asked him about it. They all just accepted it. Mari also didn’t ask anything specific- just general questions about his tournaments. Yuuri assumed it was to divert his attention from everything else which seemed to be working. It always worked. He could talk about Viktor and his skating all day long if there was any willing ear. Usually, Yuuko was the one to listen him rant about Viktor. Minako-sensei also listened, not always though.

 

Mari didn’t say anything to suggest that she was getting bored of all the Viktor-talk. She just sat there and listened with a small smile on her lips. Yuuri was grateful. He was grateful for his family and friends for them to be exactly what he wanted and needed them to be; for them not taking Yuuri as a weakling because of his anxiety. He was surrounded by loving people. He has a tendency to forget it sometimes. He decided that he just will have to be a little adamant about remembering it from time to time.

 

They said goodnight after an hour or so. Yuuri had an off day but Mari will still have to take care to the Onsen and help their parents but he was still thankful to her for the quiet support she gave him without even asking.

 

When he reached back to his room, Vicchan woke up but again snuggled into the blankets. Yuuri said goodnight to Viktor and closed his eyes. Sleep caught him after only a few moments.

 

***

 

Date: Nov, 28; 12:15 P.M.

 

This morning he woke up a bit late. The place was already working at its usual pace. His mother gave him his breakfast after he returned from his morning jog and shower. Yuuri sat with his father and watched a soccer match on TV which turned out to be highlights but his father was still very enthusiastic. Yuuri joined him in cheers from time to time. It was a chilly morning but bright too. He decided to head to Minako-sensei’s ballet studio to get some exercise and then to the rink. Despite last night’s worries, he felt good today. He still didn’t know how the rest of the day will turn out but he was optimistic.

 

Minako-sensei was attending her class when he reached there. She gestured him to wait for a bit and Yuuri nodded in confirmation. Twenty something kids were trying their best to get the poses right and giggling when they couldn’t. None of them seemed to be getting too much upset about it which was something that Yuuri can never say about himself. But it still felt good to watch those kids trying their best and being happy with it. It was the magic of Minako-sensei. She could be strict when she wanted but she also knows just how to make everyone have fun while practicing. The kids looked absolutely amazing in their complimentary outfits making two halves of a whole thing- soulmates. The theme was one of the popular one in dances and Yuuri has learned it too. He admittedly didn’t have a great fit with any of his partners but he attributes it to his lack of confidence in making friends and being comfortable and vulnerable around strangers or acquaintances. The kids left fifteen minutes after he got there. Each saying goodbye to Minako and some also said to Yuuri too. Two little girls came to him asking for his autograph which is not the first time but it still makes him flustered and embarrassed. He gave them autographs in their carefully decorated notebooks which had pictures of famous skaters and dancers. Minako and Viktor’s pictures were also there as expected. He thought that in this case he is exactly like those girls; waiting for a chance to take an autograph from Viktor.

 

He started warm up while Minako took a rest for a few minutes. They continued talking about their usual topics of ice skating and the upcoming tournaments. She didn’t bring up the whole ‘eighteenth birthday thing’ which Yuuri was glad for. The people closest to him are some of the most understanding people. He knew that already but these past few days have been nothing but a solid proof of that. He was more stressed than he thought he was because his movements were stiff and not graceful. Minako-sensei called him out twice when he couldn’t execute a relatively simpler pose perfectly but she also didn’t try to chew him out like usually she’d do.

 

After an hour or so, he was somehow going into a rhythm and was dancing perfectly. Minako seemed satisfied with him. They had lunch after some more time when she told him a story from her dancing days. He wondered if she misses it; the tours, competitions, the thrill of performing in front of a crowd and the applause and praise afterwards. She is also a social butterfly who enjoys parties and people, completely opposite of him. She must miss the vibrancy and the energy of a big city in a small, quiet and sleepy town like this. But he didn’t voice his thoughts. He listened to her story and gave his reaction and feedback where it was necessary. He still had to go for his practice session at the Ice Castle. Yuuko and Nishigori usually have Sundays off which means that this was the only friendly conversation he was going to have today. He relished in it.

 

***

 

Date: Nov 28; 8:45 P.M.

 

Yuuri doesn’t commend or support stealing at all in anyway. Okay, he may have a soft spot for Robin Hood because he may be a thief but he did it for a selfless cause but what he is planning to do tonight does not fit in that category. Well, he is also not sure if it fits into the category of stealing either. He is just trying to sneak out one or two sleeping pills that his father takes sometimes to help him sleep better. Why he is doing this, you may ask. See, tomorrow is his eighteenth birthday or more like in 3 hours and 15 minutes to be exact.

 

The day was quiet and eventless comparatively. His classmates only cornered him in once in the morning and once in the afternoon about it and left him alone for the rest of the day. Neither Yuuko nor Nishigori made a big deal about it when he went to practice. His family has been also silent for the most part except for a few extra pats on his back from his father; his mother made him Katsudon and Mari-neechan was throwing concerned glances at him far more than usual. There was also some sort of wordless conversation going on between his mother and sister which has been making him nervous. They both also disappeared in Mari’s room earlier in the evening. Yuuri just hopes that they are not taking any extra stress on their already hectic lives for him. He is okay or he’d be and that’s why he needs those pills.

 

He knows that he can’t sleep tonight, not without any external help and he doesn’t want to spend his entire night tossing and turning waiting for his mark to appear. He was born at 5:10 in the morning so that’s when his mark will appear. He is pretty sure that he can’t just go to sleep knowing this. He’ll be awake till that and then there is no chance absolutely at all for him to go to sleep. So, his genius plan is to take a sleeping pill so that he can take a healthy amount of sleep and then wake up and deal with the whole thing in the morning because there will be a lot’s of thing to deal with.

 

His father was still in the common room while his mother was in the kitchen with the cooks to prepare food for the people who like to take their dinner slightly late so the coast was clear for him to go into their room and swipe out a couple of pills. Yeah, well the coast was clear for him to go inside the room and take the pills- he didn’t think about the exit scenario; just as he was coming out of the room, Mari caught him and by the expressions on her face it was clear that she knew that he was up to no good. It didn’t help that Yuuri immediately put his closed fist in the pocket of his sweatpants, immediately bringing attention to it. Idiot.

 

‘What are you hiding?’ His sister didn’t even pretend to beat around the bush. There was no point in hiding it anymore. It’s not like Mari has any moral upper hand here considering she was the one who told him about the pills in the first place and the idea to take their help sometimes in need. He brought out his hand out of the pocket and opened his fist to show the contents of it. Two innocent looking pills were staring right at them. Mari didn’t really need to know as to why Yuuri was stealing them or thinking about taking them in the first place. She sighed, not saying anything. Yuuri didn’t know what the sigh was for and he didn’t ask to clear the doubt. It could be for any number of things. None of them were going to make him feel any good about himself so he just avoided the whole thing altogether.

 

‘You are planning to take them both?’ Mari asked and Yuuri nodded his head in confirmation. Mari made a disapproving face which had him shake his head immediately, a little too fast if one is being honest. ‘Just take one, okay. You don’t need both of them. It’ll make you fall asleep and then you can stay asleep on your own, you know.’

 

Yuuri didn’t know, at least not today. He had no idea how his brain is going to react today. His other body parts are already betraying him. He couldn’t eat and his stomach is in knots and wants to throw out everything that he has eaten in his entire life; his skin is hot to touch but he doesn’t has a fever; and his thoughts are racing too fast for him to hold on to one of them and concentrate so no, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stay asleep tonight.

 

Mari took one pill out of his open palm and Yuuri made a small whining noise in protest. Something is seriously wrong with him. Apparently, Mari thought that too because she looked at him rather harshly. Yuuri lowered his head in silent apology. ‘Don’t worry. Only one of this will have the desired effects. Take it with water and just lie down with your eyes closed. Okay?’

 

Yuuri made a small approving sound and started to make his way to his room when his sister’s voice stopped him, laced with concern and affection to the brim. ‘It’ll be okay, Yuuri and who knows may be, the day will bring something that you’ve always wanted most in your heart.’

 

Yuuri took a moment to consider her words. He hoped she was right about it, though, he didn’t exactly know how to put into words what it is that he wants from tomorrow. He went back to his room lost in these thought. He played with Vicchan for some time still lost in these thought. It’s kind of funny because when he tries to remember what he was thinking just a few minutes ago. He can’t be sure or remember but he is also sure that his mind has not been blank at all also.

 

He took the pill without really thinking about it and lied down on his bed staring at the ceiling and the walls. Viktor stared back at him looking absolutely beautiful, the permanent grin on his face giving a bit of peace to Yuuri’s constantly running mind and making it slightly easier for him to relax. Vicchan snored softly beside him and for a moment there Yuuri was envious of his dog’s gentle, loving and simple mind which was untroubled with human worries. He sighed at the almost absurd but very tempting desire at this particular moment- to not have to deal with all things human. He buried his finger in the soft fur of the animal and closed his eyes. He hoped to sleep till late because there was no way he was going to school tomorrow. He didn’t want to deal with the whole thing of his classmates seeing his mark and then passing their judgement or opinions or worries at him. He also didn’t want to deal with the whole official things that he’ll have to take care eventually, if not tomorrow. It was a tough business finding your soulmate, he realized, even though the Universe gives you a name still there are so many other things to take care of. He just hoped that it’s all worth it in the end. With one last look at Viktor he closed his eyes saying goodnight to him and wished everything as smooth as possible. He can’t deal with a life changing scenario right now. It doesn’t even matter right now that the poets and songwriters describe it as a life changing scenario. He just needed to sleep.

 

He is not a poet or a song writer. He is just Yuuri, a-dime-a-dozen figure skater from Hasetsu who just wants to one day skate on the same ice as his idol- Viktor Nikiforov.

 

***

 

Date: Nov 29; 6:07 A.M.

 

He could feel it swirling around on his wrist even before he gained any consciousness. Even in his sleep ridden mind, he could feel that something was happening or has happened. It’s not an uncommon feeling at all; many people say that they can feel the mark as if it’s an entity in itself rather than just an illustration on a person’s wrist. The sensation though expected, is still weird and uncomfortable. Yuuri had an urgent need to scratch on his wrist when he gained a bit of consciousness which alerted his mind in an instant. The way he opened his eyes and shot out of the bed surely belongs in an anime but Yuuri has no time to ponder on that.

 

Two things happened then, almost simultaneously. First: he realized what the sensation on his wrist means and that it’s on his left wrist which meant one thing- he is the younger one in his future relationship. Second: it was the panic in the aftermath of the first thought and the immediate need to see the name written on his wrist.

 

He stood in the middle of the room. It was not entirely bright out which meant it must have not been late in the morning. Just to make sure he checked the watch. It read 6:07 A.M. He could hear some commotion outside. There were some guests who liked to wake up early and some customers who came early in the morning which meant that his parents were also awake.

 

He should go to them. That was the right decision at the moment but he also didn’t want to go to them. He wanted to have his initial reaction to the mark in lonesome. He wanted to get out whatever emotions he may feel upon seeing it. Vicchan was watching him with concerned eyes as Yuuri stood motionless in the middle of his room. Viktor was smiling in his posters just like any other day. Though there was nothing unusual that may suggest that something big was happening but Yuuri still stood there feeling like the entire world was reversed or somehow changed.

 

He could feel the mark.

 

Then it happened, first thing or first reaction rather. But, surprisingly his mind didn’t send a collection of panicked thoughts his way. No. it sent a resolve. He had to look at the name because he can’t afford to not look at it. It was the first thought. The second thought was not so pleasant. The mark was on the left wrist which meant that he was the younger one in the relationship. This just opened up the gates to all those fears he had. All those stories that he had heard or watched on TV and in movie came to him with a fast speed. Suddenly he was remembering the story of a woman who was the soulmate of a gang leader and was forced to choose between him and her duty as a police officer. Though some logical and still functioning part of his mind tried to tell him that it was a fictional story but that didn’t mean that dramatic things like these didn’t happen at all, another part of his mind dutifully supplied. But none of that matters if he doesn’t actually look at the name on the wrist. He was behaving like a coward. How could he even think that he’ll be able to handle this situation fully if he can’t even look at the name?

 

He took three long breaths to calm down. Vicchan whined softly perhaps sensing his freak out. He took one look at the framed photo sitting on his desk where Viktor was smiling and Yuuri took it as silent form of encouragement from Viktor himself, his idol. He decided to look at the name.

 

Viktor Nikiforov.