“I got the snacks.”
Yuuri didn’t look up from the article he was reading as Phichit closed the dorm room door behind himself. “Snacks? Phichit, we just ate dinner.”
“But this is going to take all night,” said Phichit.
A heavy bag landed on Yuuri’s desk with a thud. He yelped as his phone slipped from his hands.
“Wait, what are we doing?” Yuuri pushed his glasses up on his nose and retrieved his phone. “Why do we need snacks?”
“First, I’m disappointed that you would even ask that question. We always need snacks.” Phichit began unloading the bag, lining up chips, candy, and soft drinks on Yuuri’s desk. “And second, tonight we are getting to the bottom of Viktor Nikiforov’s disappearance.”
“W-we are?” Yuuri locked his phone and hid it in his lap.
Phichit smiled. “Don’t pretend like you weren’t reading articles about his latest digital whereabouts.”
Caught. But Phichit didn’t judge. “You don’t have to do this,” said Yuuri.
“And you didn’t have to help me study all night for my Calculus test last week, but you did. That’s what friends do, Yuuri.”
Friends. It felt good to hear. Yuuri caved and grabbed the licorice. “Okay. Let’s do it.”
“Hell yeah!” Phichit cracked open an energy drink. “So, apparently Viktor is taking a break and Yuri—that’s the small, angry Yuri—”
“You can call him Yurio.” When Phichit looked confused, Yuuri went on. “He’s pretty popular in Japan these days. It was getting confusing so my sister started calling him Yurio because he looks like her favorite idol. It's not important. It's not like we talk about this stuff a lot or anything." Yuuri needed to learn when to stop talking.
“Brilliant!” Phichit laughed, then cleared his throat. “Apparently, Yurio is mad at Viktor and they couldn’t stand each other on set.”
“I don’t think there’s much truth to those rumors,” said Yuuri, shaking his head. “They went everywhere together in Detroit and on the press tour. It was all over Instagram.”
“Yeah, but that’s Instagram. People can make it look like anything is happening on Instagram.” Phichit got a mischievous glint in his eyes, and he waggled his eyebrows.
“Please don’t get any ideas,” said Yuuri, hiding his face behind the licorice bag.
“You’re no fun. With those thighs, you could be rich and famous.”
Yuuri narrowed his eyes. “Put my thighs online and I will use all the profits to get my own place.”
“Fine, fine,” Phichit pouted, but dropped it. “All I’m saying is there might be a reason why Viktor and Yurio played feuding brothers so well.”
“Because they’re both good actors?” Yuuri suggested.
“Well, that too.” Phichit started in on a bag of chips. “Anyway, what have you found?”
Yuuri flipped open his laptop. Viktor smiled up at him from his desktop background like he always did, Makkachin at his side.
It was the same smile Yuuri fell in love with as a preteen, the same smile Viktor gave at every interview. Yuuri hasn’t realized just how much he had counted on that smile until it was gone. Was any of it real?
Of course not, Yuuri thought. He acts for a living, and even if it was real, you don’t really know him.
That didn’t make Yuuri feel any better. He looked at Makkachin in the photo. Her tongue hung to one side in a goofy puppy grin. Are you all right? Yuuri wondered. Both of you? Makkachin was getting old. Yuuri couldn’t imagine many things that would break Viktor, but losing his best friend was one of them. It hurt too much to think about.
Yuuri opened the web browser and sighed. “I hate looking at gossip articles, especially about Viktor,” he said. “It feels like such a violation.”
Despite his qualms, he began to type and a long list of his previous searches popped up. Phichit’s eyes burned into his back, but he didn’t call Yuuri out. Just because Yuuri hated reading the articles didn’t mean he was able fight the compulsion.
Yuuri’s first roommate had found his idolization of Viktor creepy, but Phichit was an enabler. Yuuri still remembered the six page paper on Viktor’s career that Phichit wrote for his freshman composition class (even if Phichit had only chosen that topic because he happened to live with the foremost editor of the Viktor Nikiforov Wikipedia page).
Matt had never even heard of Viktor. Then again, when Yuuri had roomed with Matt, Viktor was just “the guy from that one show” if anyone recognized him at all. He had always been a star to Yuuri.
Phichit might not have shared Yuuri’s devotion to Viktor, but he did share Yuuri’s history as a former figure skater. As if that wasn’t enough, Phichit had known Viktor’s name before Agape. Phichit was a bit younger, but he often expressed fond memories of downloading torrents of On Thin Ice back in Thailand.
Yuuri only got a housing stipend if he lived on campus, but living with Phichit more than made up for being one of the oldest students on campus. He just wished they had become friends sooner. Maybe they’d both still be skating. But Yuuri didn’t want to dwell on that.
“Start at the beginning,” said Phichit. “We must have missed something.”
Yuuri frowned. “We don’t actually know him, so we missed a lot.”
“You know what I meant. And besides, you’ve been following his career since the beginning.” Phichit licked some chip dust from his fingers. “That has to count for something.”
Phichit was definitely an enabler. “Well,” Yuuri began, “after On Thin Ice ended, he worked pretty consistently. He did lots of TV appearances and a few indie movies. He had some credibility, but no one would take a chance on him until Baranovskaya.”
“Are you sure you didn’t write these articles?” Phichit asked. Yuuri shook his head and clicked a link to an article posted two years ago.
Lilia Baranovskaya Casts Leads in Latest Project
Not much is known about the latest Baranovskaya film, Cloak and Dagger (probably a working title), but based on casting information, it probably centers on the Russian mob. Star of last year’s Sleeping Beauty Anya Garina (23), former television actor Viktor Nikiforov (25), and newcomer Yuri Plisetsky (14) have been cast in lead roles. Supporting roles are in final negotiations (details to follow). Casting calls for “performers of all races and ethnicities to be featured in key scenes as gangsters, police officers, socialites, and high school students” are still open. Click here for more information.
“You should have tried out,” Phichit said. “You could have been an extra!”
Yuuri shook his head. “There’s no way I could be on camera.” Not anymore, he added mentally.
“But you were so great in my project last year! I got an A, remember?” Phichit was kind enough not to mention Yuuri’s attempts at televised skating.
“That was different.” Appearing in a student film as a favor to a friend was completely different from being an extra in a major motion picture. He couldn’t even handle minor competitions that no one watched.
Yuuri cringed at the memory of just how badly he had choked at his senior figure skating debut. He had toughed it out for another season, but once Vicchan passed away, skating and performing went from embarrassing to painful. He hadn’t even gotten the chance to say goodbye.
“If only I had been your roommate back then,” Phichit mused, shaking him from his thoughts. “You and Viktor would be married by now.”
“Phichit, I’m still in school,” Yuuri pointed out.
“You wouldn’t have to go to school. Viktor would take care of you.” Phichit grinned at Yuuri but the scenario was too ridiculous to even consider. Phichit sighed. “I still can’t believe you didn’t even try to meet him. Viktor broadcasts his location wherever he goes.”
“Which brings us back to our mission,” Yuuri said, clicking on a link from last summer. “Look at this one.”
Agape is the Surprise Hit of the Summer
Lilia Baranovskaya’s mob thriller Agape took in an unexpected $46 million in an otherwise lackluster box office weekend. Not bad considering it reportedly cost under $10 million to make! Underground buzz and a grassroots promotional tour propelled the movie, which stars a cast of relative unknowns, to number one. Leads Anya Garina, Viktor Nikiforov, and Yuri Plisetsky engaged with fans through social media and pop-up events in the run up to the release, making the movie feel personal for young moviegoers. All three actors deliver compelling, nuanced performances, despite only one (Garina) having major motion picture experience.
“Didn’t the do a screening in Detroit? You should have gone,” Phichit said.
“I had class,” Yuuri replied. It wasn’t a lie, but he had cut class to see Viktor’s last movie at the art theater in Ann Arbor. He pointed at a different passage. “I wonder if Viktor liked being a relative unknown…”
“You think? I always thought he loved the limelight.” Phichit took the licorice from Yuuri. “He did all the talking on every talk show, and people say he never turns anyone down an autograph or selfie.”
Yuuri didn’t like hearing about Viktor in the past tense, as if he was gone for good. Unless he’s happy out there, he added mentally. He pulled up another article, one of those stupid lists that he could never resist clicking.
“You sure you didn’t write this?” asked Phichit. This one was posted a month after the last article.
36 Things You Didn’t Know About Viktor Nikiforov
Welcome to the Viktor Nikiforov fanclub! You’re late, but we won’t hold it against you. Here’s a crash course in all things Viktor to catch you up on everything you’ve missed over the past 10 years.
36. He loves dogs. Okay, you probably knew that, but did you know his beloved poodle Makkachin turns 11 this year? She’s been with Viktor since the beginning, and speaking of the beginning…
35. Viktor got his start as Dimitri Vashchenko on a little show called On Thin Ice. If Viktor’s long(!) hair isn’t enough of a draw, On Thin Ice was praised for its diverse cast and dynamic portrayals of LGBT+ characters.
34. Viktor did most of his own skating for On Thin Ice. Body doubles were used for the trickier stuff, but Viktor was cast because of how comfortable he was on the ice. He worked with a coach throughout filming and by the time the series wrapped, he could do double jumps. Talk about multi-talented!
“I still can’t believe how good he was,” said Phichit. “Could you imagine training him? Practicing with him? Competing against him?” It was a conversation he and Yuuri had had many times. Yuuri flushed and turned back to his computer.
33. Wondering where Viktor gets his grace and charm? Look no further than his mother, rhythmic gymnast Svetlana Nikiforova (née Valentinova). She won a gold medal for Romania (her late mother’s home country) at the 1984 Olympics and coached in Europe from the time Viktor was 9 until he was about 15.
32. With his international background, it’s no wonder Viktor specializes in languages and accents. He speaks Russian, English, French, Italian, and Spanish, and he says he’s “working on” Japanese and German. On the international press tour for Agape, he made a point of greeting fans in their own language!
31. When he was 15, he and his mother moved to LA so he could pursue acting. He was accepted into Yakov Feltsman’s renowned acting workshop and the rest is history!
“You get the idea,” said Yuuri, cheeks growing hot. “And no, I didn’t write this.”
Phichit nudged him in the ribs. “Yuuri, you never told me he was learning Japanese!”
“It didn’t seem important.” Yuuri’s ears were burning now. Viktor just loved to challenge himself. “I just wanted you to see that he moved around a lot growing up.”
“Oh, right. Didn’t he move to New York City right after Agape came out?”
Yuuri nodded. Had Phichit read that himself or had Yuuri told him? Either way, he didn’t deserve a friend like Phichit. “Maybe he was feeling restless?” Yuuri offered.
Phichit shrugged. “I guess it’s possible. Or maybe he’s researching a role?”
“If he is, it’s a huge secret because he hasn’t accepted any roles since Agape,” said Yuuri. He found an article from September and clicked it.
The Cast of Agape is Having the Best Week Ever
Agape slayed at the box office this summer, and just when we thought its three stars couldn’t rise any higher, we caught Viktor, Anya, and Yuri crushing the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Designer Georgi Popovich was so inspired by the costumes and cast of Agape that he invited the world’s most fashionable mobsters to join his show.
[still image of Anya modeling]
It’s good to be the Queen, and Anya Garina isn’t just making a splash on the runway. Expect to see the stunning starlet in a MAJOR fragrance campaign this winter. In the meantime, Anya looked cool and confident in Popovich’s designs (and cozy in his arms after the show).
[image of Yuri with collage of fans wearing the same hairstyle]
Yuri Plisetsky is the rookie of the three, but you’d never know it. The Russian Punk turned into a Graceful Prince for Fashion Week, and his ethereal braided hairstyle spread like Instagram wildfire. But Yuri won’t be quitting acting to become an influencer any time soon. He carved out a few hours to work the runway between the two projects he’s currently filming, both anticipated next year.
[gif of Viktor walking the runway]
But once again, the biggest surprise came in the delicious form of Viktor Nikiforov. Viktor stole the runway like he stole our hearts in Agape and we are still shook. Sidebar: suits are done. Viktor Nikiforov owns them now and no one else can wear them. Sorry. We don’t make the rules.
[three images of Viktor in different suits]
And that’s not all the King of Surprises has in store. A rep from Yakov's Legend Management says that Viktor’s received so many scripts that they’ve had to expand their staff just to handle the influx.
Given all the Twitter proposals he got this summer, Viktor might want to consider hiring an assistant himself. He’s been linked to multiple actors and models, but according to the man himself, he’s “waiting for the right project, and the right person.” Challenge accepted!
“I hate articles like these,” Yuuri grumbled. It wasn’t just the try-hard writing, but the speculation and the spinning that bothered him (even if the rumors about Anya and that Russian designer had turned out to be true).
“Well, ignoring the obvious problems, it sounds like he’s overwhelmed,” said Phichit, chewing thoughtfully. “If that’s an actual quote, I doubt it’s as positive as they’ve made it out to be.”
Yuuri sighed. “Yeah, that’s the feeling I got, too. Yurio’s filmed a couple movies, and Anya’s got a Netflix show and those perfume ads.”
And Viktor had gone virtually silent. It went without saying.
“There’s the one from today,” Phichit said, clicking the link himself.
Where in the World is Viktor Nikiforov?
It’s been two months since anyone’s seen Viktor Nikiforov on- or offline, leaving many wondering if he’s checked into rehab. Insiders vehemently deny rumors of substance abuse, insisting Viktor simply needed a break from the spotlight after jumping from the D-list to the A-list.
Those closest to Viktor aren’t saying much. Mentor and manager Yakov Feltsman said Viktor was “taking some time off,” but he didn’t look happy about it. An unnamed source says Viktor’s disappearance has turned Yakov’s Legend Management company upside down.
At a charity event last weekend, longtime pal Christophe Giacometti said that fans “haven’t seen the last of Viktor” but called on them to respect his privacy. Agape costar Yuri Plisetsky offered no comment at the same event, but if his scowl was any indication, there may be some truth to the rumors of animosity between the two actors.
Viktor has been hovering in the margins of Hollywood since his television debut as Dimitri in On Thin Ice. The dramedy, which turns 12(!) this year, focused on teenagers balancing the demands of high school and competitive figure skating.
While waiting for Viktor news, why not binge all 4 seasons of On Thin Ice? Be sure to watch for Chris as Michael, Dimitri’s hunky boyfriend, in seasons 2 and 3.
“I was wrong,” Yuuri muttered. “These are the worst kind of articles.”
“I mean, D-list is a little harsh, but they’re not wrong about Chris,” said Phichit. But they were dancing around the real issue. “Do you think Viktor’s in rehab?”
Yuuri swallowed. Speculating about it was starting to sour his stomach. “If he is, then good for him for getting help—not that it’s our business.”
Phichit nodded. “Of course you’re right,” he said. “And you never really know what someone’s going through, you know? He just always smiled like nothing was wrong.”
Yuuri knew that better than anyone. Yuuri hung his heart on Viktor’s smile, especially when he couldn’t summon a smile of his own. How had he been so naive? Viktor had problems, just like everyone else.
“We should stop.” Yuuri shut his laptop. The guilt was too much. Viktor was just a person (albeit a gorgeous and talented one), and if he wanted privacy, he deserved it. Yuuri could understand needing a break, and he wasn’t even famous.
“Whatever you want to do,” said Phichit. Yuuri felt guilty about changing plans on Phichit, too. Phichit had gone out of his way for Yuuri, but they had barely made a dent in the gossip blogs (or in the snacks).
Yuuri grabbed a can of chips. “Let’s play a game instead.” Phichit would probably have more fun with that, anyway.
“You’re on,” said Phichit. They set up shop at their own laptops, Yuuri with the chips and Phichit with the cheese puffs. “I miss skating,” Phichit announced after a couple rounds of battle, “but I miss it a lot less when I’m eating junk food.”
Yuuri laughed. “Me too.” He missed skating, he missed Vicchan, and he missed Viktor (even though he wasn’t Yuuri’s to miss), but he was always grateful for Phichit. “Thanks,” he added.
Phichit grinned. “Any time.”