It's human nature to want to change the past
Whether it is the everyday regrets over words already said, or the current generation lamenting the choices of the generations who came before; all of humanity has at some point thought, “I wish I could go back and change that.” Humans will always make mistakes and subsequently, they will look back on them with remorse and that dreamlike fantasy of “what if” will flicker across their mind, treating them to a moment’s view into a world where things had gone differently. Even if subtle, the idea has been in our DNA for as far back as humanity could think; humans will always wonder: what if?
In the late 27th century, someone finally decided to try and do something to satisfy this itch that had plagued humanity since its inception. Though they each came with their own reasons, their goals all remained the same: what if. What if we could go back in time and salvage something that was no longer intact in the present? What if we could bring artifacts in their original state home to study instead of piecing together their worn and weathered fragments? What if we could bring back animals lost to extinction to once again let them live?
The H.G. Wells Initiative, a group of fifty-two people in various fields of study, aimed to do just that; to throw open the doors of time so that knowledge could be transferred from the source time to the present in the most direct of ways possible. It took them one hundred and forty nine years to perfect it, but in the year 3050 AD, the work they’d begun finally paid off. Despite what past theorists had speculated, time travel forward was actually far more difficult to achieve than travel to the past; but for the majority of those interested this was not a problem at all. They had envisioned time travel as a way to study the past for the sake of the present, not a means to peek into the future yet to come. At their core, and a sentiment carried over to the current organization, was the desire to obtain knowledge once lost to time.
The final act of the H.G. Wells Initiative was to form the Academy of Temporal Science, in which they would train a generation of experts in their fields of study on the methods and constraints of time travel. What they hadn’t accounted for, was how successful their methods would be. Within the span of two centuries, the Time Scientists had amassed such a collection of their trinkets from the past that no existing museum on Earth nor any on the Lunar or Mars Colonies could hold it all. Inspired by the largest collection obtained, the entirety of the Library of Alexandria pulled quite literally from the burning building, the scientific institutions and museums of the world created a museum unlike any other in all of human history.
An artificial landmass that stretched from Alexandria’s namesake across the Mediterranean Sea, it was titled everything from “The Museum of Earth” to the “Country of Knowledge.” But for those that lived there, it was simply called Alexandria.
Divided into five separate sectors of knowledge, and furnished by the work of the Time Scientists, Alexandria was a unique place to call home and perhaps the most amazing place in the galaxy to visit. You could spend a week living in Viking village, view animals and creatures of times past in their own biomes, or see a Greek play at the Theater of Dionysus then walk next door to Shakespeare’s Globe. For students of Earth History, it was the destination and there wasn’t a university in existence that hadn’t gone on one of the “magic schoolbus” Time Scientist led tours to past events. Alexandria was a celebration of the past by those who loved it the most.
And perhaps, that was the first of Yuuri Katsuki’s problems. He was always, from the day he was born, a boy more connected to the past than he was the present.
Sector Five was the back half of Alexandria, home to recreations of times and cultures long gone in living history exhibits operated by descendants of the cultures on display. This meant that for Yuuri, home was the Dōgo Onsen of Meiji era Japan, where his family lived in the Asian History District. And if that wasn’t strange enough for a small child of the 36th century, that was only the beginning; for his mother’s best friend and frequent visitor was not there to represent Meiji era culture.
It was through Minako Okukawa that Yuuri had his first experience time traveling, the licensed Time Scientist rewinding time by a few minutes to un-break the vase that Yuuri had broken. With Yuuri’s small hand clutched in hers, she’d undone Yuuri’s mistake, and in doing so piqued his interest in the field that would some day be his speciality.
For a child who grew up in a replica of Meiji era Japan, and who had a mentor who focused on the Heian era, it really surprised no one when Yuuri took a liking to a time period no where close to his own. But perhaps because he yearned to explore the world outside the history of Japan that was constantly around him, or maybe just because he found the literature of the time to be the most compelling, Yuuri somehow ended up becoming an expert on nineteenth century western literature.
And that, was most definitely, the second of Yuuri Katsuki’s problems; a child who lived in the past had became a man who fell in love with it.
Or perhaps, more specifically, he fell in love with the works of one particular author.
A full fledged Time Scientist now, Yuuri had done what most other Time Scientists had ended up doing sooner or later, he fixated. Minako had merely laughed when she’d read over his travelogue and she counted off over a hundred trips all within that span of a hundred years from 1800 to 1899. “I was wondering when you’d fixate,” she’d joked. As the head of the Literary Time Scientist division, she’d warned him that every Time Scientist did it sooner or later. No matter what, personal bias always finally won out.
That was why the sleeping quarters for the Time Scientists had finally instituted a rule that none of the four occupants of a pod could be in the same field of study. Because when you had too many interested in one subject in one area, very little work tended to get done, whereas varied subjects encouraged podmates to share their interests in a more reserved manner.
Yuuri had ended up in pod 327, housed with a zoologist who loved small mammals, an action-movie buff who collected teddy bears and a musical theater aficionado. And much like his podmates, and the majority of Time Scientists living on Alexandria, his home- his pod- reflected his fixation most vividly.
Furniture of ebonized wood with gilt decor of sunflowers, gas lamps with ornate adornments, and a fainting couch with carved mahogany and blue brocade were just part of the collection. Everything, from the bed to the desk to the table looked like it had been lifted right out of the late-Victorian era; namely because it had. For according to Unwritten Time Scientist Rule #57: if you’re there for business, you might as well bring back souvenirs; a sentiment the majority of Time Scientists took to heart.
But the most prized of his personal collection was housed in his bookcase, safe behind glass doors and sitting face out in the center; the jewel of all the books he’d ever brought back with him: a first edition, limited to 250 first pressing, copy of Stammi Vicino by Victor Nikiforov.
It was his favorite book out of everything he’d ever read, which was a list numbering in the thousands; the book that meant the most to him in every possible way. Never had another book spoken to Yuuri on such a deep level, connected with him in a way that felt almost intimate and personal. The only possible way he could cherish his copy more would be if he could have it autographed by the author himself; to share his feelings about the book with the man who wrote it.
This was Yuuri Katsuki’s biggest problem. Why? Because this book, the book that meant everything to him, was submitted to the publisher only a day before Victor Nikiforov was murdered. There existed no time that Yuuri could return to in which both the finished book and Victor existed together, for the man had never lived to see it finalized.
Even with all that time travel and science could do, it could not allow Yuuri this one simple joy.
He felt cheated somehow, as if time itself was mocking him and his ability to travel in it by taking this one moment away from him. It was as if his entire career as a Time Scientist was worthless, for even with his knowledge and his own time machine, there was no way that allowed this to be.
Well. There was one way.
The very first rule for Time Scientists was simple, clear-cut and did not allow for misinterpretation. It stated, “if the temporal apparatus detects that what you are attempting to bring back with you or your intended course will alter history irrevocably then it will activate the reset feature, returning you home and undoing whatever it was you attempted. Time Scientists who activate the reset feature knowingly will be subject to disciplinary action.” Simply put, tampering with the past was not going to be allowed.
But, Yuuri thought again and again, what if…
Ah, there was that what if again, that nagging feeling that pulled at the very soul of every human sooner or later. What if… What if he could save Victor Nikiforov? He entertained the thought quite often, constantly assessing pros and cons to the idea and inwardly either talking himself into or out of the plan. What if he could stop the murder from ever happening? What if a single author living didn’t alter history irrevocably? What if….what if…
That single what if was what brought him to where he was now, standing outside Minako’s office and trying to keep his calm about what he was about to do. If he could convince her, if she thought in theory it might work, then maybe... maybe he could actually go through with it.
“Phichit, I can’t do this.”
His best friend and podmate had insisted upon coming with him for moral support. Yuuri was somewhat glad he had tagged along now that he’d gotten this far.
“Sorry, what was that? You can’t not do this?”
“Yuuri, I’ve heard your argument a thousand times,” he cut him off, quickly going into lecture mode. “Victor Nikiforov was only significant in retrospective examination of the writing during the time period, being as his final book was only able to circulate in limited production. Even if he wrote more on the subject more blatantly, at most, he’d face legal action due to his name being attached to something of that nature; which given his connections to Christophe Giacometti, he would most likely be able to avoid by using a pseudonym. In short, I highly doubt allowing him to live would impact history in a way that would be deemed a problem.”
Yuuri narrowed his eyes. He wasn’t certain if he should be frustrated or amused that his friend had pretty much recited from memory the exact statements he’d prepared to handle possible denial of his request.
Phichit grinned. “Margin note, make sure they know this isn’t about me to trying to finish my book on Victor. Nor is it about trying to prove all the people who claim he wasn’t actually gay wrong. Although, I’m sure it might help both of those matters, that is not why I want to do this.”
He sighed, dragging a hand down his face. “I hate your ability to remember everything.”
“Second margin note, if she tries to deny it after all this, bring up the fact she spent several months with Lady Murasaki and that I’m only planning on spending one month not half a year.”
He laughed. “I still think you need to cite that you’ve been kissed by Shakespeare. I mean, you interfering with authors tends to resolve a lot of age old arguments about their sexuality.”
“That is not what this is about!” Yuuri huffed. “Plus I didn’t plan on getting Shakespeare to you know…”
“Proposition you the second time he met you? Get very drunk and then just jump you?”
“O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy pow'r, Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sickle hour,” another voice cut in. Yuuri turned sharply, finding himself face to face with his mentor; she smiled a very knowing smirk. “The scholars have debated for years what Shakespeare meant in sonnet 126 about holding time, but I think we know now, don’t we?”
Unthinkingly, Yuuri’s eyes darted to the watch around his wrist; its worn leather band and brass face looking far older than it actually was; it was Yuuri’s own, personally issued, time machine and it had taken him so many places and times.
“It’s not really my fault that he met me first on technically my second trip of meeting him, when I was two years older and then he saw me again when I was younger and…”
Yuuri stopped, his eyes narrowing on Minako and Phichit.
“How long has she been behind me, Phichit?”
His friend shrugged. “Oh, most of the conversation.”
Yuuri heaved a heavy sigh, for this had happened enough times that he was finding it hard to be more than slightly miffed at his friend for it anymore. He turned instead to his mentor, offering what he hoped was a confident smile.
“So uh...Minako-sensei, can we talk?”
She returned the smile and inclined her head towards her office door. “As always, Yuuri, my door is open for you.”
He took a deep breath and exchanged one last panicked look with Phichit.
“You’ve got this, Yuuri. Go on.”
As he crossed the threshold into the office, he felt a chill trickle down his spine and settle at its base. Everything he’d ever researched, all the things he studied and loved, were about to be put to the test; for if there was one thing he knew he had on his side, it was his knowledge.
“Yuuri,” Minako said, indicating the cushion on the floor before her desk. “What’s this all about your Victor?”
It always flustered him when she spoke of Victor that way, although she did it with most of the literary sector’s fixations, everyone from her own Lady Murasaki to Charles Dickens to J.K. Rowling. It was always your Lady, your Charles, your Jo, your Victor…
Yuuri placed a hand on her desk, the smooth pearl inlay something he always found calming when he was trying to put his words in order to ask something of her. For much as Yuuri’s pod and office were Victorian, Minako’s was Heian; the floor a mushiro dried flower mat, zushi-dama shelves along the walls, and enza cushions on the floor. He felt a fond smile tug at his lips, remembering how when he was young how the armrests on the ground would barely hit his waist, then turned to his mentor with a warmth of passion blazing in his eyes.
“I would like to petition the Academy for a formal time shift.”
Minako’s eyebrow quirked up, but Yuuri pressed on, knowing if he stopped now he might lose the confidence he had.
“I’ve been doing extensive research on Victor Nikiforov for my book on him, and in doing so, I have come to the conclusion that it may be possible to stop his untimely death. I have taken into consideration all possible ramifications of this shift, and I feel that although his contributions could be significant, it’s highly unlikely that they would be altering in nature. Oscar Wilde was...”
“Due to the Alan Turing Code of 3051,” Minako cut in. “Events which are deemed necessary to change in order to bring about the current future timeline we exist in can be excused under this code. For time travel to exist, Alan Turing could not be incriminated under the Labouchere Amendment.”
“Yes, something that was discovered by accident during one of the first incidents of time travel. They accidentally delayed Henry Labouchere that day, so the gross indecency act never happened but the fail safe wouldn’t let them fix it, therefore creating the code. Alan Turing lived longer and his contributions to science advanced our world faster than the original timeline,” Yuuri interjected. He’d done his research on this, on all of the possible things he thought they might throw at him. “Oscar Wilde ended up benefiting from this change in laws never taking place and he went on to write three more plays and two more novels, in addition to many short stories. Oscar Wilde was able to live longer and the time shift was not enough to disrupt reality, therefore…”
“There is no way allowing Victor Nikiforov to live would either?” Minako finished for him; but she was smiling, warm and wide and reassuring.
“That’s my theory, at least. And I’d like to make an effort to try and make that time shift. By my calculations, I’ve allowed myself an entire month before he was murdered to try and find out who the murderer was and stop them. I know enough about the time period and culture to blend in as simply a purveyor of rare literature from Japan that’s come to England seeking to make contact with lesser known writers of the time, and I hope with that I will be able to work my way into the inner circle of writers in Victor’s life. From there, well...I’ll try whatever it takes to stop his murder.”
Minako stood then, and reached out as if he was but a child once more, and ruffled his hair. There was something bright sparkling in her eyes, and after a moment, Yuuri realized it couldn’t be anything else but pride.
“No literary time agent has ever submitted a large time shift request before, but if anyone can do it and succeed, it’ll be you, Yuuri.”
He blinked, honestly surprised by her faith in him. “You really think so?”
Minako nodded. “I know so.”
Only on special occasions did Yuuri, and his three podmates, his mentor and his family ever sit down for dinner together; but tonight definitely warranted it. It was rare outside the living history sector to get non-machine made food, but nothing but the best extra large katsudon made by Mama Katsuki herself would do for Yuuri tonight. Why? Because Yuuri Katsuki’s request to the Academy was unanimously approved and it was to be his last night before he returned to the year 1887.
It was a celebration that was usually reserved for holidays or birthdays, but it’s family. It’s home. And most of all, Yuuri thought, it would be a month before he’d be able to see these people again.
“You know, when I teased about you just marrying the guy you’re obsessed with, I was joking,” Mari, his older sister said ruffling his hair before sitting down beside him.
“Ooh, I hadn’t thought about that. Yuuri, you could have the world’s most insane long-distance relationship!” Phichit added in.
Yuuri sighed. He was sadly used to both his sister and his best friend’s relentless teasing. He leveled them both a look.“I’m not going on this time shift to seduce him, okay?”
Phichit and Mari exchanged a look of their own.
“Look, he’s probably already got someone anyways…”
“Ah yes, the elusive KY…” Phichit said knowingly.
Leo, one of his podmates, looked up from his food at that. “Okay, I vaguely remember some of this stuff, but you’ve been info dumping so much with your upcoming book that I can’t remember everything…”
“KY is the someone the final book is dedicated to,” Guang Hong, his other podmate clarified.
“How do you remember that?”
Guang Hong shrugged. “I always thought it sounded like a James Bond villain…”
“They’re on the murder suspects list,” Yuuri cut in, hoping he could steer the conversation to something other than his personal feelings about a certain author. “Right now, we have three that various records indicate might have already been in jail at the time of the murder, the person indicated in the dedication of the final book, KY, a person jealous of KY, and various possibilities due to Victor’s outspoken comments on everything from Judaism to gender to sexuality.”
“Are you going to be safe going after a potential murderer?” Yuuri’s mother asked, clutching her hands together. “I’m sure one of the criminal justice scientists would be willing to go along.”
Yuuri frowned. He’d considered it, honestly. But the fact was this murder had gone unsolved for such a long time due to Victor’s position in society; as a Russian immigrant, as a Jewish immigrant, as someone openly opposed to gender norms, and as someone who Yuuri was pretty certain was only interested in men. As it was, the prime suspect was probably going to be someone who never murdered anyone else, but due to prejudice of some kind, attacked Victor that night. It was something Yuuri, in all his research of the era, had found was shockingly commonplace. It was what made the Victor Nikiforov murder such a difficult situation to pin down; for given his position, over half of the Victorian London society he lived in probably hated him for one reason or another.
Yuuri just had to find the one person who took that hatred and acted on it.
“I’m not going to confront the murderer,” he reassured his mother. “I’m just going to make sure their opportunity to attack him never happens.”
“Do you really think you can find the murderer in time?” Leo asked. “I mean, there’s a lot of people in London and a month is only so long.”
“I’m hoping if I can become part of the group of writers associated with Victor, I can use that position to protect him. As much as I think the murderer acted on impulse, I also believe that there had to be some warning signs that were missed.” Yuuri took a deep breath, as if hoping the more he said these words the more he’d come to believe it would be as easy as it sounded. “As it is, I’m starting with the fact that shortly before Victor’s murder, a fellow member of this group wrote an article about hostile encounters she’d had while simply walking home at night.”
“Yuuri’s right, he’s found several indications that this wasn’t the first backlash the group received,” Minako noted. “In the case of Victor, someone just finally made it a personal attack.”
“Be careful, Yuuri,” his father spoke up this time. “Just because you know what’s coming doesn’t make you immortal.”
He nodded. “I know. I’ll be taking as many precautions as I can. But…”
Yuuri paused, looking around at the hodge-podge group of people that had come to be his support over the years. Each of them, in their own way, had helped him make it to where he was.
“This means a lot to me. I know you know that, I know all of you have heard me go on and on about how Victor’s words mean more to me than any other author’s ever have. That’s why, I feel like...maybe I can do something for him to repay that. Give him the opportunity to finally live out that life and love his characters always sought out so passionately. Only one of Victor’s books had a happy ending, maybe I can give him a way to write his own.”
Phichit leaned over then, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and giving him a squeeze.
“ Yuuri Katsuki, author of the definitive account of author Victor Nikiforov’s life, is also credited with saving his life. Has a nice ring to it, I’m just saying.”
A smile crept onto his lips at that, nervous at first, but growing stronger as he saw all the familiar faces smiling at him.
“Yeah. It kinda does.”
The honeyed glow of the library was a warm and welcoming place for a send off. The translucent marble walls casting their muted light into the building, dying it all golden as if it knew the books here were worth no color less than gold itself. It was the rare books library, and for Yuuri Katsuki, it was like a second home to him.
It was here where Yuuri had first come across Victor's works, tucked away in their respective location by publication date and rich with the words that had reached out and touched his very soul. Fitting then, that the very book which started this fixation, was present as he said his goodbyes.
It was only on momentous occasions such as this that filled the library's main hall with such a large group of people. Friends and family stood the closest, but the room also included peers and colleagues all here to send Yuuri off on the first time shift approved for the literary science department. There was the cluster of criminal justice scientists that had aided Yuuri in narrowing down his suspects, the historical fashion scientists who had approved all the clothing Yuuri was to take with him as period-accurate, and many more that Yuuri knew at some point in his career their paths had crossed.
It was a fitting farewell. Words of encouragement and hugs exchanged with family and friends at the forefront of his mind as he entered in the final data to his time travel device strapped to his wrist.
With a little wave and a smile, he pressed the final button.
The sensation of time travelling was always a bit odd, sort of like waking up from a particularly vivid dream. Yuuri blinked his eyes open, and just like that, found himself standing in a small alleyway in London. He didn’t need to check his device or ask to verify that he’d indeed arrived, for Victorian London was a place that was so distinct in the way it was, that there was no need to second guess. The sights, the smells, the very feeling of the city was something that could never be put into words, although Dickens sure did try; and Yuuri had been there enough that it was strangely welcoming with its soot covered chimneys and damp dark alleys and fog that liked to cause his glasses to grow hazy with condensation.
Picking up his suitcase, and looking out of place only due to his nationality not his appearance, he stepped out into the street and tried to get his bearings. The little alleyways and streets were so labyrinthine that even the technology of the far future could not accurately deposit him on the street he wanted to visit, but it had gotten him close enough that it took only a block or two before he knew where he was. And once he got himself to the Strand, well, he knew then exactly where he needed to go.
Holywell Street was, unlike the metropolitan and fashionable Strand it ran into, a narrow and dingy relic of the Elizabethan age; it’s cramped buildings with overhanging fronts seeming to tilt in towards the street itself as if protecting its dirty secrets from the world outside it. Booksellers Row, it was called, and that was perhaps its most kindly name; for the squalid little place had become over the years a place of ill repute for very good reason. Where there had once been second hand clothing shops and pornographic books displayed in front windows in the 1850s, now remained mostly rare booksellers when the Obscene Publications Act came through and cleaned house. Or, well, they tried.
For while the erotica trade had mostly moved on to other hovels in which to hide, many of the bookshops that dotted the street still dealt in them if you knew what to ask for. And, much to Yuuri’s embarrassment, the fastest and most surefire way to get himself into the group around Victor Nikiforov was to get himself into Christophe Giacometti’s arms.
A social activist by day and an erotica writer by night, Christophe Giacometti was credited with writing one of the most lengthy and detailed memoirs of homosexual life in Victorian London. Written off by many at the time as pure filth, Intoxication , was a bold and provocative book that detailed many burgeoning elements of homosexual culture along with, of course, countless extended passages of sexual activities. But perhaps most importantly, the book documented the fact that anyone who was currently involved with him was also allowed access to the exclusive group of writers known simply as the League of the Green Carnation.
And so, Yuuri found himself in a shop packed with books, waiting about in hopes his estimates about publication dates were correct. For if he was right, Gia - Christophe’s pen name- submitted a book for publication on a day somewhere between the 16th and the 18h to a publisher who secretly operated out of this store front.
Thankfully, for Yuuri, a bookshop was a place he could easily spend hours without noticing a single second tick by; the rare books touted by the bookseller something that would not only excite patrons of the Victorian era, but also happened to be exactly the kind of books Yuuri’s own bookshelf was filled with. He need only drop a few names along with Victor’s and suddenly, the owner had whisked him off into a corner filled with precisely the “vices” he sought. After excitedly discovering a copy of Les Illuminations by Rimbaud and an earlier numbered copy of Victor’s Decisions of the Stars from the year before, Yuuri wondered if perhaps his luck for the day had been spent. But, as he approached the front of the shop with his finds, he noticed a particular gentlemen enter with a manuscript tucked under his arm.
There was only one surviving photograph Yuuri had ever seen of the League of the Green Carnation, but even then he would have recognized the man right away. A velvet jacket in burgundy, satin breeches and stockings to match and of course a silk top hat, it made Yuuri feel downright underdressed in his simple brown sackcoat and Homburg hat. But, he would honestly expect nothing less from Christophe from what he knew of the man.
Piercing jade eyes caught his gaze and held it, just long enough, that Yuuri felt his pulse race thundering through his veins. He dropped his eyes to the books in his hands, but parted his lips a moment and wet them with the tip of his tongue. Christophe immediately changed direction, heading instead right for him.
“I don’t believe we’ve met before,” he began cordially, reaching into his jacket pocket and producing a card. “Christophe Giacometti.”
“A writer, I presume?” Yuuri asked, as he took it from him. He had to hold back a snort of laughter as his eyes skimmed over the card; bold and flirtatious just like Gia’s memoir had painted the man to be.
“Yes, but words are not the only thing with which I can create art,” he replied with a smirk. He nodded towards the card. “And you are?”
Yuuri hastily pulled out his own card from a pocket, its simple listing of his name and profession as a purveyor of rare literature seeming very plain compared to Christophe’s brazen approach. But then again, not many would be as direct as to present a card like Christophe’s; the edges adorned with everlasting pea flowers, which could mean something as innocent as a request for an appointed meeting. Or, well, everlasting pleasure.
“Ah, sorry. No. That would be Mr. Katsuki,” Yuuri hastily corrected. “In Japanese it’s reversed.”
Christophe raised an eyebrow at that. “I thought there was something distinctly eastern about your appearance.”
Yuuri glanced once more at the card, and its direct request, before tucking it in his front pocket. May I have the pleasure of your company this evening? If so, keep this card; if not, please return.
Well. This was going far easier than expected.
“Yes, I’m seeking out rare literature from Europe to bring back to Japan with me. I’d been well advised to visit the shops here, and it seems I’m quite in luck today,” he offered what he hoped was a playful, flirty smile; but he honestly just felt embarrassed. Nothing in his life had ever prepared him to flirt to get what he needed.
“Quite lucky indeed,” Christophe replied with a wink. “I happened to notice your choices and well, not to brag, but I happen to be somewhat acquainted with Mr. Nikiforov.”
“Oh, you are?” Yuuri said, trying to sound pleasantly surprised instead of knowing. That was half the trouble with time travel, not giving away that you knew things that were not common knowledge at the time. “I’d heard he kept a fairly small and tight knit group of companions.”
Christophe’s smile grew at that, “That is true. But, fortune seems to be on your side, Mr. Katsuki, for I am one of that small group.” He darted his eyes down to the suitcase near Yuuri’s feet. “If you haven’t made arrangements yet, I would like to offer myself as host to you in your endeavors. Aside from my own writing befitting your type, the company I keep is made of similar types.”
Yuuri offered a small smile at that. “Then, if it’s not imposing upon your situation, I would like to accept that offer. Being with those of similar taste I feel will suit my needs much better.”
He shifted the manuscript into his other hand then.“Well if we both would like to finish up our business here, I can show you a few of my other favorite shops and we can relax at my place before dinner. It’s a lucky day for both of us, I feel, Mr. Katsuki. For it’s not every day I find myself entertaining such a handsome guest.”
Taking a deep breath and hoping he came off somewhat convincing, Yuuri replied in turn. “That sounds most agreeable then. It seems I’ve found myself in the care of both a handsome and charming host.”
Christophe reached out and gave Yuuri’s cheek a gentle pat.
“Flattery will get you everywhere with me, Mr. Katsuki.”
And before he could reply, Christophe had turned to go finalize his business and left Yuuri in a state which he suspected was very flustered and definitely unsure he liked what he’d just gotten himself into.
The League of the Green Carnation got their namesake from the gin palace in which they made their nightly meetings a standard; a beautifully adorned place that now only existed in photographs that didn’t do it any justice. It was here that each of these displaced Europeans found themselves crossing paths, resulting in the formation of a group that would collectively pen thousands upon thousands of words.
Maybe that was why the moment Yuuri set foot in the door, he felt as if he was stepping onto hallowed ground; the ornately decorated stain glass windows and the dim lighting of the gas lamps making it seem all the more like a cathedral for artists. And perhaps, in a way, it was. It was here that Victor was said to have written some of Yuuri’s favorite passages, tucked away in the hidden parlor that existed in the room behind the bar.
“This place is….stunning,” he couldn’t help from staring, committing each and every piece of glass or tile to memory.
Christophe chuckled, his hand coming up to press gently onto Yuuri’s shoulder and steer him towards their goal. But he was far too awestruck to let the action fluster him, even though in the hours since meeting him Christophe had made no secret of his willingness to fulfill any of Yuuri’s needs. This was sacred ground, perhaps only to him, but to him it was tenfold. Victor Nikiforov walked this same path, past the bar and in between the tenth and eleventh booth to a door locked to anyone not invited.
“You haven’t even seen the best part yet, Mr. Katsuki,” Christophe said, giving the door a sharp knock.
A female voice replied. “Chris, is that you?”
“And my guest, Sara. I do hope your brother delivered that message?”
The door swung open to a beautiful woman with dark hair who looked to Yuuri with sharp eyes.
“He did, but as always I want to check for myself.”
Christophe laughed. “Of course, of course. Miss Crispino must have things her way.”
“I’ve got more than enough bumbling suitors, that I have want for no more.” She turned to Yuuri then and gave him a warm smile. “I’m sorry for all the fuss, I’m Miss Sara Crispino.”
Yuuri inclined his head forward in a bow as he gave a tip of his hat. “Katsuki Yuuri.”
“You didn’t say he was oriental, Chris,” she said, her delicate poise suddenly gone and a smirk curling at her lips.
“I didn’t know we were in the habit of introductions via country of birth,” he remarked dryly in return.
Sara leveled him a look.
“Also, that makes it Mr. Katsuki to us,” Christophe clarified.
She turned back to him then with a smile. “Mr. Katsuki, please do come in. We’re being terrible hosts.”
She stepped aside at that and Yuuri crossed the threshold into the parlor; his heart surely hammering so loud they could all hear its constant beats. For although the room was elegant, deep green draperies and dark furniture seeming almost one with the walls in the dim gaslight, Yuuri’s eyes had found the pearl sitting at the farthest end of the room in a corner by himself.
It was Victor.
As his footsteps brought him ever closer, he noticed him look up from his writing and his blue eyes seemed to go just a bit wider as they took him in. Well, Yuuri supposed, it was probably rare to have someone from the east accompanying Christophe.
“Victor, I found one of your elusive fans today by chance. Mr. Katsuki here says he’s read most of your works,” Chris said as means of introduction.
Yuuri had frozen and he hoped that his stare wasn’t seen as anything but admiration of his talent, for it could surely be quite awkward. But he couldn’t help it. Victor was both everything he’d ever dreamed of and yet still somehow more breathtaking than he could have ever imagined.
Hair so light it glimmered silver, eyes of sapphire shining bright, and in a suit so well-fitted to his form that Yuuri wished for a moment he might be a tailor just to get closer to the man he stood before. Nothing in all his years, in all his time traveling, could have prepared him for this moment.
Victor stood from his chair and held out a hand. “Well then, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Katsuki.”
Yuuri took it, willing his mouth to form words in reply.
“The pleasure is mine, Mr. Nikiforov. Truly.”
Perhaps it was the lightning in the room dusting Victor’s cheeks a golden pink hue.
Perhaps it only seemed like their hands lingered because Yuuri wished it so.
Perhaps Yuuri could save Victor, after all.