“Remember,” Yuuri said, Viktor at his elbow as they stepped off the jetway. “When we go through customs, you’re here for work .”
Viktor nodded with a beatific smile that meant Yuuri’s words were going in one ear and out the other. He watched the world through his camera lens, taking a series of brightly lit photos of the Tokushima airport terminal. They’d be uploaded to Twitter later and get a few hundred likes.
At customs two minutes later, Yuuri heard Viktor say, “Oh, I’m here to hunt ghosts!”
Yuuri took a deep breath and said a silent prayer.
True Crime S2E6 “The Creepy Murder In Room 1046”
Viktor: The plot thickens. This is a thick-ass plot.
Yuuri: This one’s thicc.
Viktor: This plot is thicc as hell.
Yuuri: This is a juicy peach.
Viktor: Like your ass.
Four years ago, Yuuri Katsuki had been your average nineteen year old with big dreams, a full heart, and an empty wallet. He’d set his sights on Hollywood as a video editor, sure that if he could just get his feet on the ground there’d be something . So he left behind everything familiar and moved an ocean away to a place where he had a barely passable understanding of the language. There was work, but seemingly no one that wanted to pay for it. Instead, Yuuri met a series of entrepreneurs with half-baked ideas who seemed to think editing was magic, and promised exposure instead of something Yuuri could actually live off of.
Instead of making it big, Yuuri worked at the Starbucks down the street to pay the bills, while his actual passion remained a hobby. Yuuri started a YouTube channel in his spare time. He made shitty video game edits that seemed funny at 3 AM, and tipsy on vodka, but in the light of day seemed surreal and cursed.
(Yuuri peered at his laptop, extremely sleep deprived and hungover. “SEPHIROTH X MARIO MPREG” He read the title of the newest video on his channel, having no memory of editing said video.
“do u thikn g od stats i,mn havne bc he 2 LIV ws n fare of waht his crated” read the description.
Yuuri put his face in his hands. “I’m so sorry, kaa-san .”)
One viral video later, Buzzfeed reached out to him.
“We loved your work on ‘SANIC METH ADDICTION’ we’d love to have an experience editor like yourself on our team,” the email read.
Yuuri weighed his options carefully. “I can quit Starbucks… but all my coworkers will know I’m Sonic trash.”
He started at Buzzfeed two weeks later.
Viktor Nikiforov’s story wasn’t all that different from Yuuri’s. He’d had minor success as a model, until his adolescent androgyny wore off. Then his nose was too big, his hairline too high, and teeth too crooked. Instead of going under the knife, he decided to send a big fuck you by becoming the biggest beauty channel on YouTube.
On the other side of the world, Phichit Chulanont edged closer to his new neighbor. “Hey, Yuuri, right?”
Yuuri nodded apprehensively, praying this wasn’t another person coming to say they loved his Sonic video. Thankfully, Phichit had other priorities.
Phichit tilted his monitor in Yuuri’s direction. “Have you seen this video?”
Onscreen was the most beautiful man Yuuri had ever seen, even without the makeup covering his skin. Pale, ash blond bangs were held back by a poodle hair clip, as the man painted a holographic rainbow on his eyelid. He had cheekbones that could kill a man and a forehead like the broad side of a barn.
“If your eye doesn’t look like a unicorn threw up on it, you’re doing it wrong,” Yuuri’s future husband said.
“Guhhh,” Yuuri said intelligently.
Phichit laughed, pausing the video. “He’s hilarious, right?”
Yuuri mentally slapped himself out of his daze. “Who is he?”
“His name’s Viktor, he’s one of the biggest beauty channels on YouTube,” Phichit explained. “He’s hilarious, but his editing is amazing, too.”
Yuuri nodded blankly, already pulling up Viktor’s channel on his own computer. Yuuri spent the rest of the day binging Viktor’s entire portfolio. In his most popular video, Viktor tried to line his eye with the blade of an ice skate.
“If you’re not willing to die for perfect eyeliner, then get the fuck out,” Viktor said, before the video cut to him accidentally nicking his finger and crying.
In addition to his YouTube channel, Viktor had done the makeup and editing for a handful of short films. All the makeup talk went right over Yuuri’s head. Yuuri couldn’t match his own skintone, much less identify a “perfect wing.” But he saw art in Viktor’s editing.
There was one short film he’d produced, Stay Close to Me , that cut deep. Beautiful shots of lonely ice rinks, with thick beams of sunlight filtering through the window to glint off the rough hewn surface, cut together with a bare apartment. The shkk of steel on ice hummed ever-present in the background, at times slow and rhythmic, and others layered on top of each other in an all consuming drone. All backed by a lonely Italian aria .
It was about loneliness, and feeling isolated when surrounded by hundreds. It was raw, and Yuuri was left feeling like his soul had been scrubbed by sandpaper. How could the man who produced this be the same person who made witty jokes while doing his brows?
Stay Close to Me barely had a tenth of the views of Viktor’s most recent upload. But it was Yuuri’s favorite, one that reminded him why he’d left his home in the first place.
Yuuri still enjoyed Viktor’s makeup videos, at least for the eye candy if nothing else. He and Phichit bonded over Viktor’s videos, and then their international backgrounds.
“And what’s up with American food?” Phichit griped.
“Is there even a thing such as American food?”
Phichit laughed. “You know what I mean. Have Americans discovered spices?”
“Is ketchup a spice?” Yuuri asked in an exaggerated southern accent.
When the lease on Yuuri’s old place ran out, Yuuri and Phichit moved into a small two-bedroom closer to work. Yuuri settled into his new life, quietly editing listicles that would get the most views, pushing down the side of him that had at one point wanted more. It was good enough, Yuuri told himself. He could pay his bills, if nothing else, and send some extra money to his parents every month.
He was content, and in today’s world, what more could he ask for, really?
Until one day, Phichit came back from a meeting with HR with a spring in his step and a wicked grin. Yuuri knew that look. He knew Phichit had just pulled off something miraculous and he was waiting for the payoff.
“What did you do.”
Phichit just put a finger to his lips. “It’s a secret.”
Yuuri narrowed his eyes. “No, really.”
Phichit practically vibrated out of his skin. “I can’t tell you,” he whined. “Ask me in a week.”
Yuuri didn’t need to ask him in a week, because a week later, Phichit laid himself across Yuuri’s lap on their couch and told Yuuri himself.
“Remember that thing you asked me about but I couldn’t tell you?” Phichit asked, nearly tripping over his own tongue in his eagerness.
Yuuri was busy playing a video game and trying not to die. “Barely.”
“Well, we hired one of my favorite content creators, but I couldn’t tell you until today when it was public.”
“That’s exciting,” Yuuri said in a monotone.
Phichit had lots of favorite content creators. He made it his business to know at least a little bit about every community on YouTube, from Let’s Plays, to ASMR, to Will it Blend.
“We hired Viktor!”
Yuuri died, both in game and real life. The Game Over screen mocked him from the TV. “I’m sorry?”
“I know right?” Phichit practically cried. “He just announced it, he’ll be starting in a couple weeks.”
Yuuri stared blankly at Phichit on his lap. “He’ll be working… here?”
Phichit nodded. “Isn’t it exciting?”
Two weeks was not nearly enough time for Yuuri to hide his shame, especially considering his shame was plastered all over the internet. Yuuri pushed Phichit off his lap, crawled onto the floor, and groaned for ten minutes.
“Mood,” Phichit said from the couch.
In two weeks, Viktor started at Buzzfeed. Thankfully, he had his own office, and was far away from the cubicle farm Yuuri worked in. Yuuri did his best to tell himself This Is Fine and avoid Viktor like the plague.
True Crime S2E7 “The Strange Drowning of Natalie Wood”
Viktor: She married Richard Wagner twice?
Viktor: That’s so romantic!
Yuuri: Sure, until he murdered her.
[The video suddenly cuts to a new take]
Yuuri: Our legal team has just informed me that I can not accuse Richard Wagner of murdering his wife on camera.
Viktor: But you can do it off camera?
Yuuri and Viktor met for the first time on the set of a “What’s In My Bag” video. Yuuri didn’t know he’d be doing a “What’s In My Bag” video. Phichit grabbed Yuuri from his desk and sat him down in front of a camera with no explanation. It was only once the camera was already rolling that Yuuri realized he wasn’t alone.
Yuuri only managed a quick glance before he froze in terror. On his right was Viktor Nikiforov , Buzzfeed’s newest and most attractive hire. Yuuri’s brain was experiencing a nuclear meltdown, all the alarms blaring as every survival instinct abandoned ship.
Phichit coughed from behind the camera. “If you’ll both empty your bags, please.”
Yuuri reluctantly turned his backpack over on the table, watching in horror as three opened bags of Koikeya spicy fries, a Sonic amiibo, his Zelda 3DS, and the remains of four Doritos fell out. Meanwhile, an entire cosmetic’s counter worth of makeup spilled out of Viktor’s bag.
Viktor grabbed a compact that looked like it came out of Sailor Moon and a beige tube. “This is the best concealer,” Viktor said, already dotting it under his eyes. “It hides all my sins.” He winked at the camera.
In the mess of items on the table, Yuuri noted a pink lace thong that had drifted terrifyingly close to his amiibo. If Viktor’s thong touched Sonic, Yuuri would have to throw him out. Yuuri would never be able to play Super Smash Bros. again without thinking of Viktor’s teeny tiny thong.
Viktor snatched the thong up with a flourish. “Oops!” he laughed with no shame. “Silly me!”
Viktor finally seemed to notice Yuuri, extending a hand. Yuuri noted that Viktor’s nails were the same baby pink as his thong, dotted with little white poodle stickers.
“Hi!” Viktor said, eyes bright and lips perfectly glossed. “I’m Viktor!”
Yuuri stared at Viktor’s hand like it would bite him if he got too close. Yuuri was running on three hours of sleep because he had two deadlines this morning. Yuuri looked like he’d crawled out of a dumpster full of Dorito cheese dust. He wanted to crawl under the table and wail, just to avoid having Viktor look at him for another second.
Yuuri finally took Viktor’s hand, because waiting any longer would be rude . “Yuuri.”
“It’s nice to meet you!”
That was the only interaction Viktor and Yuuri had for nearly a year, until one day Phichit called him into a conference room.
“Am I in trouble?” Yuuri asked anxiously. He and Phichit were the only ones in the room.
Phichit just laughed. “Of course not.”
“If this is about your leftover massaman curry, I told you it wasn’t me,” Yuuri lied.
Phichit watched Yuuri intensely, like he was looking through into Yuuri’s soul. Yuuri steeled himself, hoping he didn’t have any curry paste on his cheek. “Viktor pitched an idea for a new series,” Phichit finally said.
Yuuri wasn’t any less confused. “Okay? I’m sure it’ll be a huge hit. Viktor’s great in front of the camera.”
“He wants to hunt ghosts,” Phichit continued.
“I mean, that’s a little weird, but we’ve done weirder,” Yuuri said with a shrug. “Do you want me to be lead editor? Is that what this is about?”
Phichit continued to peer at Yuuri blankly, letting Yuuri stew in his own thoughts.
“Viktor asked for you as his co-host.”
Yuuri’s brain ground to a screeching halt.
“I’m sorry?” Yuuri squeaked. “There must be some mistake.”
The corner of Phichit’s mouth quirked upwards, breaking his stony face. “I was there when he pitched it. He asked for you . By name .”
“I…” Yuuri was at a loss for words. “He must have meant another Yuuri.”
Phichit just raised one perfect eyebrow and let Yuuri continue self-destructing.
“Who would want to see me on camera?”
Phichit gave Yuuri a Look and proceeded to pick up his phone. “I don’t know, let’s check the comments on the most recent video you were in.” Phichit’s voice held a familiar dryness. “‘Who’s that cutie with the glasses?’ ‘Protect him.’ Phichit read aloud. “This one just says ‘Hello Daddy’ and a timestamp of your face. ‘I want Yuuri to step on me…’”
“Stop, stop, stop!” Yuuri lunged across the table to grab Phichit’s phone.
Phichit was too fast, used to this reaction. He held his phone out of reach, Yuuri would have to climb him to get to it. Phichit dared him to do just that with a quirk of his eyebrow.
“So now that we’ve agreed you’re marketable,” Phichit began. “Do you want to tell me what’s up with you and Viktor?”
Yuuri stared longingly at Phichit’s phone, at the “evidence” of all the people lusting after him. It was probably twenty of Phichit’s sock puppet accounts, and a Russian bot. No one was that thirsty for him .
“I… there’s nothing between me and Viktor!” Yuuri stammered. “I’ve only met him once . You were there !”
Phichit stared at him with piercing eyes. Yuuri had the strange sensation that Phichit was judging all his sins.
Finally, Phichit voiced his verdict. “Valid. But then what’s Viktor’s deal?”
“Why are you asking me?” Yuuri wailed. “I’m innocent.”
Phichit gave him a dubious look. “False, but moving on. I can’t just ask a YouTube celebrity about his videos.”
“But you can ask me?”
“I have years of blackmail material on you.”
Yuuri glared at Phichit, silently simmering behind his glasses. Phichit ignored him, pushing a text-heavy document across the table. The existence of a pen-and-paper contract meant Serious Business.
“Anyway, in front of you you’ll find a contract for your appearance on the as of yet unnamed ghost hunting series. Take a moment to read it over.”
Yuuri was having trouble reading on account of being convinced this was all a very realistic fever dream after last night’s mayo pizza. “I’m pretty sure you can’t read in dreams.”
“Good thing this isn’t a dream then.”
“I’m not convinced.”
Phichit cleared his throat. “Anyway, as your manager, I’m supposed to emphasize that you’re free to refuse to sign, but as your best friend I’m going to wring your neck if you don’t cohost with Viktor and convince him to let me touch his Pat McGrath gold eyeshadow.”
“I feel threatened.” Despite his claim, Yuuri still signed with a flourish.
Yuuri met with Viktor the next day for their first actual conversation. Viktor was one of the lucky few to have his own office, separated from the bullpen by a sliding glass door that did nothing to hide his sins. Yuuri did his best to walk up without actually being seen. He wasn’t sure what the protocol was once he got there. Did he knock? Just slide the door open? Fake his death and avoid the mess he’d made of himself?
Yuuri’s problem solved itself when Viktor finally noticed him, standing in front of the glass pane like a weirdo. Viktor’s eyes lit up like the Chaos Emeralds.
“Yuuri! Come in, come in!” Viktor welcomed him with a wave.
Yuuri awkwardly pushed the door aside, his sweaty palm leaving a greasy skidmark on the glass. “Hey.”
Viktor’s office was a carefully planned mess. Just messy enough to look inviting and “trendy” but not so messy that Viktor looked like a slob. In the frame where most people displayed photos of their children and family, Viktor had a picture of an adorable brown poodle in a pink sundress. The dog in the photo was artfully surrounded by sunflowers, the sun in the sky creating a soft glow.
Somewhere in the unhelpful recesses of Yuuri’s brain, he noted that the dog’s sundress was the same shade of pink as Viktor’s lacy thong.
Yuuri noticed that Viktor was watching him expectantly. “So… ghosts.”
Viktor just laughed, whether at Yuuri’s awkwardness or the situation itself, Yuuri had no idea. “I’m so excited to start this project with you! I’ve always had an affinity for the supernatural.”
“Right,” Yuuri said apprehensively. The rose gold vanity mirror sitting on Viktor’s desk didn’t exactly scream “supernatural ghost hunter” to Yuuri, but what did he know?
“I already have a loose outline for the first season,” Viktor continued, reaching under his desk and pulling out a portable corkboard full of newspaper clippings and enough yarn to make a child’s sweater. “I always wanted to have a conspiracy theory board!”
Yuuri blinked. “Is that yarn… color coded?”
Yuuri decided not to dwell on that. “So, what were your ideas?”
Viktor beamed at Yuuri’s apparent interest. “Well, there’s a very interesting haunted house that’s very close by. I already contacted the owners and they said they’d be open to use filming and spending the night- “
“You want to spend the night?” Now, Yuuri wasn’t into the whole supernatural dealio, unlike Viktor, apparently. But his mama raised him right and he knew not to fuck with a ghost. Or an alleged ghost.
“Obviously, how else are we going to have an intimate encounter?”
Yuuri’s brain shorted out at hearing the words “intimate” and “we” leaving Viktor’s mouth in the same sentence. It took a moment for his brain to catch up.
“Wait,” Yuuri began, his mouth already moving before his brain could filter what came out. “Are you saying you want to fuck a ghost.”
Viktor pouted at Yuuri’s skepticism. “I’ll have you know that I lost my virginity to a ghost.”
Yuuri wanted the floor to open up and swallow him at the realization that he’d inadvertently signed up for softcore ghost porn. With Viktor Nikiforov. He wondered if it was too late to fling himself into the Pacific Ocean. What was he going to tell his mother the next time she asked about his job?
“Isn’t that necrophila,” Yuuri added, because if he was going to dig himself a hole, he might as well keep going.
Viktor’s face darkened. “No, necrophilia only covers attraction to corpses, what I’m talking about is spectrophilia, attraction to ghosts. Very different.”
Yuuri’s brain was still reeling, leaving his mouth to act on its own accord. “Where do vampires fall?”
Viktor’s face brightened. “Good question, Yuuri!” he said, like a teacher proud of their student. Viktor tapped his lips thoughtfully. “I suppose that would depend on what exactly about vampires you’re attracted to.”
Viktor pulled out a small whiteboard from below his desk. “If it’s their status as undead, I expect that would fall under spectrophilia.” Viktor wrote the words undead and spectro on the board. “While if it’s their cold skin, and corpse-like state, that would be necrophilia.” Corpse and necro. “And of course, if it’s the blood thing that’s haematophilia.”
“Of course,” Yuuri said numbly.
Yuuri had signed a contract. If he died now, Viktor would just summon his ghost and try to fuck him in the afterlife because that’s what he was into. Apparently.
The majority of Buzzfeed’s target audience was also into softcore ghost porn, if the breakout popularity of Buzzfeed Unsolved’s first season was any metric to go by. Yuuri was suddenly a minor internet celebrity, with almost 200k Twitter followers. Suddenly, he had to watch what he tweeted. If he started ranting about the slopping programming of the newest Sonic game, he was liable to send 200k angry fans up SEGA’s pants.
Yuuri quickly went back and deleted his old drunk tweets and appointed Phichit as his unofficial social media manager.
There was fanfic. Lots and lots of fanfic. Mostly of Yuuri/Viktor (which Yuuri shamefully downloaded to his hard drive), a few of Yuuri/Phichit (which Yuuri and Phichit gleefully shared), and bizarrely, but perhaps, not unexpectedly, Yuuri/Sonic the Hedgehog.
Yuuri prayed that his family never, ever found AO3.
They produced more seasons, with bigger budgets, each somehow more popular than the last. He and Viktor traveled farther and farther to visit the most “haunted” locations. Each trip took years off Yuuri’s life, but added more followers to his once inactive Instagram, now full of pictures of him and Viktor.
People enjoyed watching him and Viktor banter about ghosts, but to Yuuri’s surprise, they also enjoyed Yuuri’s scripts and narration. So in addition to Supernatural episodes, they filmed True Crime episodes, for unsolved mysteries without any supernatural elements. Those tended to be Yuuri’s favorite, because he could film them without putting pants on.
Over the three seasons of Buzzfeed Unsolved, fans kept asking for episodes in Japan and Russia, to honor their respective cultures.
Phichit looked over the budget for the fourth season, cracked his knuckles, and said “Let’s do it.”
True Crime S2E9 “The Disturbing Murders at Keddie Cabin”
Viktor: They could’ve been telling ghost stories, you know, pillow talk.
Yuuri: That’s not what pillow talk is.
Viktor: I thought it was like, ghost stories, campfire tales.
Viktor: Then what is it?
Yuuri: It’s.... you know…
Viktor: Why are you blushing?
Yuuri: I’m not blushing.
Viktor: Is it dirty?
Yuuri: It’s talking with someone right after you’ve had sex.
Viktor: Oh. That’s not that different.
Yuuri: Do you tell ghost stories after you’ve had sex?
Viktor: Why don’t you spend the night and find out?
Yuuri: You would tell ghost stories after sex.
[Yuuri speaks with a bad Russian accent]
Yuuri: In Soviet Russia, ghost fucks you.
Yuuri and Viktor took the train to Yamashirocho, on the way to their first Haunt. It was relatively quiet, and Yuuri thought it was as good a time as any to get down their script for the episode. He started recording with his phone. Even if they had to redo the audio for the final video, it was always good practice to record their natural commentary.
“So, what do you know about Obokeyokai ?” Yuuri asked.
Viktor was too busy taking pictures out the bullet train’s window and probably Periscoping their journey to notice Yuuri.
“Vitya, Vitya, pay attention.” Yuuri tugged on the hem of Viktor’s shirt. “We need to write the Yokai Village script.”
Viktor whined, slumping down in his seat. “But script writing is what you’re good at,” he whined.
Yuuri opened up his Notes app. “I’m Viktor and I buy my underwear from Walmart,” he pretended to write.
Viktor gasped in horror. “Take that back!” He made a grab for the phone and ended up splayed across Yuuri’s lap.
“If you don’t want me to spill the tea on the skeletons in your wardrobe, then you need to help me write this script.”
Viktor sighed, as if being asked to do his job was an unspeakable burden. “ Fine . Yokai is that red demon cat, yes? The one with two tails?”
Viktor didn’t bother getting up from his position over Yuuri’s lap. Yuuri noted that the passengers across the aisle were giving them bashful looks. Yuuri didn’t have the heart to explain to Viktor that his usual clinginess would be out of place in Japan. So he didn’t, and let Viktor prostrate himself across Yuuri’s lap like a cat in the sun.
“You’re thinking of a character from Yo-kai Watch .”
“Oh. What’s the difference?”
“Yokai are Japanese spirits or demons. The cat from Yo-kai Watch is a nekomata , a type of cat yokai .”
Viktor perked up with interest. “Is there a dog yokai ?”
“How did I know you were going to ask that?” Either Viktor was predictable, or Yuuri was getting all too used to him. Or both. “Yes. The most dog-like is the inugami, but there are a few more, like shiisa and komainu, which are called lion-dogs in English.”
“Are they good boys?”
Yuuri couldn’t help but chuckle, absentmindedly stroking his hand over Viktor’s back. “Yes, they’re very good boys.
“Inugami are possession spirits, known to possess emotionally weak or unstable people,” Yuuri continued.
“So you’re saying I could be possessed by a good boy.”
“Sure. Signs of possession include pain in the chest, hands, or feet, and suddenly barking like a dog.”
Viktor rolled over in Yuuri’s lap and yipped twice. “Well? Is it working?” His eyes sparkled with mischief, face blooming like a flower as he stared up at Yuuri.
Yuuri felt an ache in his chest, but he didn’t think it had anything to do with spirit possession.
Yamashiro-cho itself was a rather small town hidden in the mountains of Shikoku. It was fairly close to the Dosan line, but Viktor and Yuuri still had to take a fifteen minute cab ride to the inn they were staying at. In the morning, Yuuri and Viktor loosed themselves on the town with fresh eyes.
As soon as they saw their first yokai statue, Viktor whipped out his phone and looked every part the tourist he was.
“Wow! It’s so cute!” Viktor crooned, referring to a stone statue of a baby-faced old man.
Yuuri wasn’t sure “cute” was the word he would go with. “That’s Konaki-jijii. He’s an old man that cries like a baby,” he explained. “A relative of yours?”
Viktor paused in his framing to shoot Yuuri a dirty look. “Don’t be rude.”
Yuuri glanced down the street, to where he could see a red torii in the distance, marking the Hiraga shrine. His mother’s warnings simmered under his skin, all his small town superstitions rising to the surface.
“Let’s visit the shrine.”
“Hm?” Viktor hadn’t heard, too busy taking a selfie with his arm around konaki-jijii.
Yuuri had already started towards the shrine. Viktor had to trot after him to catch up. The shrine itself was buzzing with visitors in preparation for the yokai festival. A small crowd of people gathered around the omamori stand. Yuuri and Viktor slowly made their way to the front, where an aged priest greeted them with a bow.
“What a handsome foreigner!” the priest said with a thick Shikoku accent. “Are you looking for a love talisman?” The priest held up a pink cloth bag with gold characters on its face.
Yuuri noticed with a jolt just how close he and Viktor were, their arms brushing casually. “No, no, no!” Yuuri exclaimed, shaking his head furiously.
“What did he say?” Viktor asked.
“Nothing.” Yuuri shook himself. “Do you have anything to ward off spirits?”
The priest nodded in understanding. “You’re looking to protect yourself from yokai .” The priest held up a white cloth bag with gold detailing. “This will ward off evil. Five hundred yen.”
Yuuri nodded, paying and tucking the talisman into his jacket. Viktor held up a bright red talisman of much higher quality than the others at the stand.
“What’s this for?” Viktor asked.
The priest laughed heartily. “Make baby,” he said in shaky, accented English. “Thousand yen.”
Viktor glanced between Yuuri and the talisman in his hand. “I don’t think we need this.” Viktor placed the omamori back.
Yuuri grabbed Viktor’s arm before he could get his hands on anything else. What had Yuuri be smoking when he’d agreed to let Viktor loose in his homeland? Yuuri dragged Viktor back to the main street.
“What did you just buy?” Viktor asked.
Yuuri slipped the charm out of his pocket. “It’s an omamori , a charm to ward off evil.”
Viktor pouted. “But we’re ghost hunters ,” he whined. “We’re supposed to attract evil.”
“I guess that’ll have to be your job, this time.”
Viktor made a lunge for the omamori , but Yuuri knew him too well and held the charm out of Viktor’s reach. Yuuri quickly slipped it back into his pocket and stuck his tongue out at Viktor.
Viktor sighed, recognizing when he was beat. “When’s the yokai parade?”
Yuuri glanced at his watch. “Soon. We should start getting the camera ready.”
Viktor nodded, pulling their camera from his backpack. He strapped it around his neck, testing the lens to make sure Yuuri was in focus.
“You should probably film,” Yuuri said. “Considering you can’t understand Japanese.”
Viktor pouted. “How am I going to understand your witty commentary?”
Yuuri snorted. “We’ll just have to edit your laughter in in post.”
In reality, most of the footage of the Yokai Festival was just for flavor. It would get severely cut down, and probably end up on Viktor’s Instagram instead of in the actual episode. The meat of the footage would come from their escapades after sunset.
Still, Yuuri wasn’t looking forward to translating what did end up in the episode.
Yuuri glanced took a moment to appreciate the sights while Viktor tested the camera. The small town was buzzing, market stands selling yokai themed toys and food all along the street.
Yuuri’s gut twisted at the memory of Hasetsu, overlaid with Yamashirocho. For the past five years, home had been a fleeting memory. Surrounded by American people in an American city, it was easy to forget his roots. The most Yuuri thought of Hasetsu was during thralls of homesickness in the dead of night.
Back in Japan after five years, “home” was suddenly closer than ever, both spatially and in Yuuri’s mind. It felt like Hasetsu was all around him, in every Japanese building and the Japanese words on everyone’s tongues. It was a constant reminder that Yuuri’s return to Hasetsu loomed on the horizon, that at some point he and Viktor were to take a break from ghost hunting and stop by Yuuri’s hometown. A cocktail of anticipation and dread brewed in Yuuri’s chest.
Viktor focused the camera on a hanging lantern, decorated to look like a bat yokai. “Everything’s so charming!” His eyes darted to a food stand. “Ooh, they’re selling food that looks like little foxes!”
Viktor dragged Yuuri over to the stand, which was selling inarizushi with pinched ears, and faces painted on to look like foxes. “They’re so cute, Yuuri!” Viktor cooed. “How could anyone eat them?”
Yuuri quickly bought one and took a bite. “Because they’re delicious.” Viktor watched him in abject horror.
“Why the foxes, though?”
“Inarizushi are supposed to be a favorite of kitsune.”
Viktor stared at the display of tofu pockets contemplatively, tapping his lips with one perfectly manicured finger. After a moment of deliberation he turned to the merchant. “How much for the whole batch?”
The stand owner gave him a blank look. Yuuri rolled his eyes and translated. Ten minutes later, Viktor walked away with his and Yuuri’s jackets stuffed full of inarizushi. Yuuri held one of the tofu pockets in his hands, its little fox face watching him with judgment.
“What’s the food for?” Yuuri asked.
“It’s a surprise.”
Yuuri tried to take a bite, only for Viktor to slap him away. “No.”
Supernatural S3E3 “The Captive Spirits Of Eastern State Penitentiary”
Viktor: Do you think the Hamburglar ever got solitary?
Yuuri: No, he’s burning in hell.
Viktor: Wh- holy shit, Yuuri.
Yuuri: How do you know who the Hamburglar is, but not JFK?
Viktor: Why do you have so much aggression towards the Hamburglar?
Yuuri: I just wanted a Big Mac! I don’t want to worry about some ginger asshole stealing it!
Viktor: Do you have Hamburglar-induced PTSD?
Yuuri: No, I just like food.
Viktor: I’ve noticed.
Yuuri: The Hamburglar can rot in hell with the Trix rabbit.
Viktor: What if I said I’ve been sneaking Pocky from your desk everyday?
Yuuri: You can go fuck yourself. Get out of my house.
Viktor: You don’t live here!
Once the sun set, that was when the real fun started. Yuuri and Viktor headed into Iya Valley just outside of town, where a long wooden bridge stretched out over the chasm below. Yuuri stared at the bridge apprehensively as Viktor set the camera up on a tripod.
“Do you think this one’s owned by a goat, too?” Yuuri wondered.
“The Goatman doesn’t own that bridge anymore! It’s ours now, remember? We called dibs.”
“Uh-huh. I think he might have moved back in since we’ve been gone.”
“Damn squatter’s rights.” Viktor stepped back, assessing his camera work. He gave Yuuri a thumbs’ up. “Alright, now strip.”
Yuuri stood silently, waiting for the punchline. Nothing came but the wind rustling the trees. “You’re serious.”
“Of course! How are we going to entice any yokai without a virile sacrifice?” Viktor asked.
“Then why aren’t you offering to strip?”
“I’m not part of the local faire. Who knows if yokai like Russian meat?”
“I hate you,” Yuuri said without any conviction. He shed his jacket to Viktor’s wolf whistle cheering him on.
Yuuri pulled his shirt over his head, his skin pimpling with goosebumps in the evening air. Viktor did a slow zoom on Yuuri’s muffin top, licking his lips with gay thirst. Once Yuuri was half naked, he looked to Viktor for instruction.
“Now, lay down and I’ll cover you with offerings.”
Yuuri sighed. “I’m Japanese, shouldn’t I be telling you what to do?” He laid on his back anyway, folding his hands behind his head.
“I’m sorry, which of us has had the most experience with ghosts?” Viktor asked, reaching into his pocket where he’d stuffed the inarizushi.
The fried tofu pockets hadn’t held up throughout the day. When Viktor pulled them out, they were leaking grease, limp in Viktor’s hands like a dead fish. Viktor wrinkled his nose, pinching the inarizushi with his fingers and dropping it on Yuuri’s chest. Yuuri eyed perfectly good food Viktor was wasting with disdain.
“You mean which of us hallucinated having sex with a ghost? You’re right, that one’s definitely you.”
Viktor gasped, dropping the second tofu pocket on the ground. “At least I didn’t mistake a weather balloon for an oofoh,” he huffed.
Yuuri sat up on his elbows, the tofu on his chest sliding down with a sickening squelch. “For the last time, Vitya, it’s a U-F-O, and it was not a weather balloon, that’s a coverup by the US government.”
Viktor shoved an inarizushi into Yuuri’s mouth.
“There!” Viktor said, all too pleased with himself now that Yuuri was silent. “Much better!”
Yuuri swallowed the cold, greasy tofu in his mouth without chewing. He gave Viktor a blank stare. Viktor could only guess what was going through Yuuri’s mind. In a flash, Yuuri grabbed the inarizushi Viktor had dropped on the ground and made to tackle Viktor.
Viktor yelped, leaping to his feet like a cat that had got its foot wet. “No!” he yelped. “It’s icky!”
“Come back! It’s your turn!” Yuuri laughed, trying to snatch Viktor’s leg.
When Yuuri’s hand just grazed Viktor’s pants leg, Yuuri defaulted to ranged weaponry. He pitched the sushi at the bullseye on Viktor’s forehead. But the flying food missed Viktor by a hair, instead hitting right between the eyes of a policeman. The only sound was the tofu plopping to the ground, and the policeman letting out a long-suffering sigh.
“I-is there a problem, sir?” Yuuri asked in Japanese.
“Are you a yokai?” Viktor asked in English.
The policeman surveyed the scene, seeing two young men, one of them half-naked, surrounded by stale food with a camera pointed at them. God only knows what they were doing.
“You’re disturbing the peace,” he explained. This certainly wasn’t the first time some city kids had gotten rowdy during the Yokai Festival. This was the first time there was public indecency involved. “This is a small town, sound carries.”
Yuuri flushed. “Oh god, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine,” the officer sighed. “Just get off the streets now.” The officer gave them and their camera another wary glance. “There’s a love hotel in Tokushima, you know.”
Yuuri covered his burning face with his hands. The officer insisted on escorting them back to the main road, much to Yuuri’s disappointment, as he’d been considering throwing himself off the bridge. When the video went up, Yuuri would never live down having to be escorted by police at twenty-four.
Supernatural S1E6 “The Murders That Haunt The Lizzie Borden House”
Yuuri: This theory has been the subject of many fanfiction-
Viktor: Like the fanfic they write about us?
Yuuri: Ye- wait, who would write fanfiction about us?
Viktor: At least a hundred brave souls.
Yuuri: You’re lying.
Viktor: I’m not! Do you want recs?
Yuuri: Can I finish, please?
[Viktor makes an “after you” motion]
Yuuri: This theory has been the subject of many fanfiction where Lizzie and Maggie were romantically involved.
Viktor: You didn’t mention these were lesbian ghosts!
Yuuri: It’s not confirmed.
Viktor: A kindred spirit! It all makes sense now!
Yuuri: What makes sense?
Viktor: The ax murder! Of course a lesbian did it! All lesbians look like lumberjacks!
Yuuri: I apologize to all the lesbians in the audience.
Viktor: But how am I going to fuck this ghost if she’s gay?
[Yuuri attempts to smother himself with the script]
Viktor: Chris, do we have any lesbian ghost hunters on staff?
“I think today’s shoot went well!” Viktor said brightly, sitting cross-legged on his bed in their shared hotel room.
Yuuri finished wiping the last of the grease off his belly and sent Viktor a withering glare. “Of course you think it went well, you didn’t have to talk to the police.”
Viktor shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh please, I know it wasn’t your first time talking to the police.” Viktor wagged his finger scoldingly. “Phichit’s told me stories.”
So much for “ride or die.” Yuuri narrowed his eyes. “That traitor.”
Viktor grabbed the camera from where it was charging on the nightstand, quickly scrubbing through the day’s recording. “Regardless, we got the footage we need. What’s next on the list?”
Yuuri sat down on the other bed, pulling out his phone to record their conversation. “Next is Inukane Pass, or Old Chusetsu Tunnel.”
“I take it from the name that this is, in fact, a tunnel?”
“Yeah. It’s an old coal transport tunnel built in 1889. It’s out of service now because a new tunnel was built in the 60s. It’s currently boarded up to keep assholes like us out.”
“Okay, why do they need to keep people out?”
Yuuri glanced at his notes. “It’s supposedly the site of several gruesome murders. I found reports of a lynching, a bus accident, and more.”
“A murder tunnel,” Viktor said.
“Supposedly. I could only find record of one murder; in 1963 a Japan Tobacco worker was killed in the tunnel. The murderer then went one to kill four other people throughout Japan.”
“Oh my.” Viktor grimaced. “Do you think it was the tunnel that made him do it?”
“No, I think he did it because he was an asshole.”
“That’s probably an understatement.”
“People who visit the tunnel report feelings of overwhelming fear, and dread.”
“Ah, classic paranormal influence,” Viktor said, nodding resolutely.
“...Or they’re reacting to being in a creepy ass tunnel.”
“Nope, definitely ghosts.”
Yuuri shook his head, knowing better than to press the point. “People also report hearing voices, screams, and someone saying ‘stop.’”
“Maybe they’re a fan of The Supremes .”
“Ah yes, those Japanese ghosts and their American pop music,” Yuuri deadpanned. “Go together like peanut butter and jelly.”
“At least they have good taste.” Viktor pursed his lips. “How far away is this tunnel?”
“It’s in Fukuoka.” Yuuri’s heart immediately sped up at the mention of the familiar town.
A flood of memories from his childhood washed over him. Mari would accompany him to Fukuoka’s mall on the weekends. He’d visited the university there before he’d decided on studying abroad. The idea of walking the familiar streets after so long away was overwhelming. And it would only get more so, the closer he got to Fukuoka and then… home.
“Yuuri?” Viktor asked curiously, noting the way Yuuri suddenly clammed up.
Yuuri shook himself out of his thoughts. “It’s about two and a half hours away. We’ll probably get there by midday.”
Viktor nodded, staring off into the distance, deep in thought. “It’s close to your hometown, isn’t it?”
Leave it to Viktor to inadvertently aggravate Yuuri’s anxiety.
Yuuri’s throat tightened. “Yeah.”
“Are you excited to go home?” Viktor asked cheerily, clearly oblivious to the nerves firing in Yuuri’s brain.
Yuuri shrugged. “Sure.” Excited was certainly one word for what he was feeling. Anxious was another.
Viktor glanced at him curiously. After all these years as coworkers, then friends, and then… something else, Viktor recognized the harsh set to Yuuri’s shoulders, the steeled jaw that could cut steel. Viktor knew a troubled Yuuri when he saw one, even if he sometimes fumbled at handling it.
Viktor shifted so he was facing Yuuri across the gap between their beds. “Are you alright?”
Yuuri just shrugged again, struggling to put words to the swirl of nerves inside him. And even the words he did have to say caught on the lump in his throat. It left him silent, strung out, and breathless.
“I’m sorry, is it… I didn’t realize…” Viktor fumbled.
Yuuri shrugged again. “It’s fine,” he bit out.
Viktor stared at him with a pity that made Yuuri’s skin crawl. “Do you want to talk about it?” he offered gently.
Yuuri wanted to throw up, crawl under the covers and never come out. He turned away, burying his face in the scratchy hotel pillow. “No.”
Viktor waited, staring at Yuuri’s back and the wall it put up between them. A few moments later, he sighed, and clicked off the lights.
Supernatural S3E2 “Three Bizarre Cases Of Alien Abductions”
Yuuri: The woman had a face and figure that was the epitome of her gender.
Viktor: So what you’re telling me is this man is painfully heterosexual.
Yuuri: I will admit, this does sound a bit creepy.
Viktor: A bit straight, you mean.
Yuuri: That, too.
Viktor: Is this was straight people fantasize about? Getting abducted by aliens?
Yuuri: You’re in no place to be criticizing anyone for their fantasies.
Viktor: If there are any straight people in our audience, let us know. Does alien abduction float your boat? Write us fanfiction about it.
Yuuri: Please don’t.
Viktor: I think that’s my new pickup line.
Viktor: Hey, sweetcheeks.
Yuuri: Please don’t call me that.
Viktor: You’re the epitome of your gender.
“Go to a creepy ass tunnel, they said,” Yuuri grumbled, pulling aside the boards that sat against the entrance to Old Chusetsu Tunnel. “It’ll be fun, they said.”
“It will be fun!” Viktor insisted, grabbing the other side of the board.
Yuuri sent him a glare that Viktor likely couldn’t see in the low light. They’d arrived in Fukuoka just after noon. Yuuri had been prepared to visit the tunnel and knock out the filming. Viktor, of course, had insisted that broad daylight was no time to go ghost hunting. There was also the fact that they were technically trespassing.
With a loud creak of old wood that hadn’t been moved in decades, Viktor managed to pry the slats apart enough for someone roughly human sized to fit through. “There we go!” Viktor sad, brushing the splinters from his hands.
Yuuri stared into the mouth of the old tunnel. He glanced down at the camera in his hands, making sure it was recording and that night vision was on. That was the funny thing about out of service tunnels. They were darker than the depths of hell.
“Are you feeling any overwhelming dread yet?” Viktor asked.
Yuuri glanced up into the dark void that threatened to swallow him whole. “Only every day of my life.”
“Ah, good, it’s working then!” Viktor straightened the flashlight attached to his shoulder.
Yuuri sighed. “Is it really a good idea to put evidence of us committing a crime on the internet?”
“Crime doesn’t count if it’s international,” Viktor said with a voice that could almost convince Yuuri of his bullshit.
“That’s definitely not how it works.”
Viktor either didn’t hear him, or didn’t care. “Well, no time like the present!”
Viktor disappeared between the boards. That was the easiest way to get Yuuri to march to his certain death. Send Viktor in first. Yuuri groaned and followed Viktor into the void.
The funny thing about light, is that in order for it to work, it needs to hit something. Inside the tunnel, the only things their flashlight found were the walls, the floor, and the big gaping nothingness beyond. It only served to make the depths of Old Chusetsu Tunnel even more ominous, if that were even possible.
Viktor frowned, hands on his hips as he stared into the inky blackness. “When are the voices supposed to start?”
“Uh, now? Probably?” Yuuri guessed. “I thought you were the ghost expert.”
Viktor frowned, clearly displeased with their results. “Well, I don’t hear anything. Let’s go deeper.”
Yuuri fought the quaking in his arms to keep the camera steady and pointed at Viktor. If he was going to die, he at least needed to get a viral video out of it. They walked deeper into the tunnel, finding only more blackness with every step. Their footsteps echoed off the walls, making the two of them sound like an entire fleet. Yuuri couldn’t help but glance over his shoulders every few seconds just to make sure.
“Does this tunnel go anywhere?” Viktor asked, his voice reverberating through the passage.
“Presumably it went through the mountain back when it was built.” Yuuri shrugged. “Who knows if it still does.” Yuuri stared dreadfully into the darkness stretching out before them. “We’re certainly not going to find out.”
Viktor sighed. “For once I have to agree. We’re already trespassing, I don’t want to risk causing a tunnel collapse while we’re in here.”
Yuuri let out a long breath through his nose. “Is now really the time to bring that up? When we’re already--”
Viktor suddenly shushed him. “Did you hear that?”
Yuuri’s blood froze in his veins. “Hear what?”
Viktor shushed him again, putting his finger over Yuuri’s lips. Yuuri had half a mind to be annoyed, until he heard an eerie wailing noise emanating from deeper in the tunnel. If Yuuri’s blood was already frozen, then at that moment his entire body shattered, collapsing into a pile of ice shards on the floor.
“It’s… probably the wind,” Yuuri squeaked.
Viktor stayed quiet, eyes continuing to peer into the darkness, like if he stared long enough the source would reveal itself. Maybe it would. Maybe if Viktor didn’t move he’d be possessed and then the ominous wailing could reasonably be attributed to a ghost.
“We have to get closer,” Viktor said quietly.
Yuuri had dreaded this day; the day when they actually encountered a real ghost and had to go confront it, because otherwise people on the internet would make fun of them. When Yuuri had signed up, he’d thought this would be an easy job. He just had to go to “haunted” locations, and get paid for failing to find what didn’t exist. Instead this show had taken years off his life, and now it was finally going to kill him.
Viktor took the first step, walking towards the suspicious sound. If Yuuri was going to die, he certainly wasn’t going to die alone. He kept step with Viktor, inching further toward the voice, even though his legs were turning to Jell-O.
“Hey Mr. Ghost,” Yuuri called anxiously. “Or Ghost-san.” Yelling at the air always helped to calm his nerves.
The wailing picked up, warbling in the depths of the tunnel. Yuuri’s heart pounded in his chest, his blood rushing in his ears.
“Did I make it angry?” Yuuri asked.
“No, I think it liked that,” Viktor said. “Keep talking to it.”
“You talk to it!” Yuuri snapped. “You’re the one that wants to have sex with it!”
“What’s up, ghost?” Viktor called.
“Seriously? You’re supposed to be funny.”
“I’ll have you know I’m a riot. How about this one.” Viktor cupped his hands around his mouth. “Guns don’t kill people! Americans who think guns don’t kill people do!”
For a moment, the tunnel was completely silent. Then the wailing resumed, even louder this time.
“Now you’ve done it,” Yuuri grumbled. “You made it mad.”
Viktor pouted. “I thought it was a witty commentary on current events.”
“Maybe, next time try it on someone that speaks English and isn’t a murder victim .”
Viktor tapped his lips thoughtfully. “Noted.”
In a few steps, the flashlight caught on something. Yuuri grabbed Viktor’s hand, pointing at something moving at the edge of their vision. It was on the floor, a rolling black mass. It didn’t seem to be getting closer, shifting and dancing just at the edge of their vision.
“What is that?” Yuuri hissed.
“A zombie?” Viktor offered, squinting to try and get a better look.
“I’m not getting closer to it,” Yuuri said firmly.
“Rock Paper Scissors?” Viktor held out the hand that Yuuri wasn’t holding.
Yuuri scowled. “Why is my life on the line when this was your idea?” Even so, Yuuri held up his own fist.
After three counts, Viktor held up two fingers to Yuuri’s flat palm. Yuuri cursed under his breath, letting go of Viktor’s hand as he inched closer to the shadow.
“Godspeed,” Viktor offered with a salute.
Yuuri scowled at him, slowly sneaking across the ground, trying to make as little sound as possible. At this distance, what had before sounded like the wails of the damned sounded more like pitiful whimpers. Yuuri almost felt bad for the poor spirit that was trapped here. Yuuri sure wouldn’t want to spend the rest of eternity stuck in a shitty tunnel. There wasn’t even any wifi here.
Just a few steps away, Yuuri was able to make out some brown splotches amid the spirit’s black… fur?
Yuuri stooped down, peering closer at the wriggling black shadow. “It’s a dog!” he gasped.
“What?” Viktor called from further back.
Close enough to touch the dog, Yuuri could finally make out a pair of beady dark eyes, hidden under a pair of brown “eyebrows.” The dog whimpered, it’s tan muzzle tucked under its legs. It peered up at Yuuri, shaking in its skin.
Yuuri’s heart broke for the poor thing. “It’s scared,” he cooed. All his previous fear disappeared at the sight of a dog in need.
He offered the dog his hand to sniff, and when the dog didn’t show any signs of distress, slowly reached over to scratch it behind the ears. The dog woofed gently, leaning into Yuuri’s hand.
“That’s right,” Yuuri cooed.
Viktor looked over Yuuri’s shoulder. “Yuuri, that’s a Black Dog.”
Yuuri glanced up at Viktor, eyebrow raised. “Uh, yeah? It’s a Shiba Inu.”
Viktor shook his head furiously. “No, a capital B, Black Dog . It’s a bad omen.”
Yuuri watched him skeptically. “It’s a dog, Vitya.” Slowly, Yuuri scooped the frightened Shiba into his arms. “He’s a good boy.”
The Shiba Inu tucked its face into Yuuri’s neck. “I know baby,” Yuuri cooed. “You’re just a poor, lost harbinger of doom, aren’t you?”
“This isn’t funny,” Viktor huffed.
“What, do you just want to abandon him for the tunnel ghosts to steal him?”
Viktor eyed the dog, his conflict playing out clearly on his face. On the one hand, this dog was clearly a trap laid out by the spirits in the tunnel. On the other, watching Yuuri cradle the dog like a newborn baby Did Gay Things to Viktor’s heart.
“Well, no…” Viktor admitted reluctantly.
Yuuri scratched the dog’s neck, his hands catching on a collar. “Aw, buddy, are you lost?” Yuuri showed Viktor the collar. “I bet your parents are worried sick.”
Viktor pulled the flashlight off his shoulder, pointing the light at the tag. “What’s this say?”
Yuuri peered at tags, written predictable in katakana. “His name’s Mamesuke.” The dog perked up, hearing his name. “Is that right? Are you Mamesuke?” Yuuri cooed.
Viktor watched the scene, Yuuri cradling Mamesuke in his arms like a baby, and forced himself to look away. It was so cute it was unfair. “We should probably find Mamesuke’s family.”
Yuuri nodded. “There’s an address on his tags. We can take him by.”
Yuuri was suddenly emboldened with courage, even though they were still in creepy Chusetsu Tunnel. It reminded him sorely of Vicchan, and the calming effect that his dog always had. Even though this wasn’t Vicchan, having something to protect made it easier to push aside his fears. Viktor and Yuuri made their way back to the mouth of the tunnel.
“Do you think we should wait until morning?” Yuuri asked.
“I know if Makkachin was missing, I wouldn’t care what time it was,” Viktor said.
Yuuri nodded. “You’re probably right. Besides, it’d be a pain to smuggle him into our hotel room.”
Yuuri handed Mamesuke off to Viktor so that Yuuri could put Mamesuke’s address into his phone. Thankfully, it was only a short hike away. Yuuri let Viktor keep Mamesuke so that he could read the directions. Yuuri was more than a little jealous. Viktor already had a dog waiting for him at home. Yuuri hadn’t seen his dog in years.
Then again, Yuuri made that choice. A familiar spike of guilt shot through him.
They turned onto a dark, quiet street. It was lined with a series of small, tightly packed houses. But they each had their own charm, it was the kind of houses that lined the streets of Hasetsu. It made the guilt in Yuuri’s chest flare brighter, and he struggled to stamp it out.
Mamesuke’s home boasted a red door, with a line of laundry hanging out on the second floor balcony. Yuuri rang the bell. Immediately, Yuuri could hear a series of irritated voices from inside, and shuffling feet. Yuuri certainly felt bad about waking them, but he’d rather put their minds at ease.
A middle-aged woman opened the door, brow furrowed in annoyance. That cleared almost immediately when she saw her dog. “Mamesuke!” she cheered, eyes beginning to water.
Mamesuke wriggled frantically in Viktor’s arms, trying to get free. Viktor quickly set the dog down, letting him free to jump all over his owner.
“Thank you so much!” Mamesuke’s owner said, pinching her dog’s cheeks. “My kids have been worried sick.”
“It’s no trouble,” Yuuri assured her. “We’re both dog people, so we wanted to see him safely back home.”
“Where did you find him?”
“Ah, he was in the Old Chusetsu Tunnel.”
The woman gave them a strange look, probably thinking they didn’t look the type to hang out in haunted tunnels. “You know better than to go there, Mamesuke!” she scolded. “The spirits will snatch you up!”
Mamesuke whimpered, seeming to know that he was in trouble.
Yuuri smiled at the interaction, his heart aching.
Supernatural S4E1 “The Yokai of Yamashirocho”
Yuuri: Yokai are spiritual entities from Japanese lore, they can appear as humans, plants, animals--
Viktor: Are there dog yokai ?
Yuuri: [exasperated sigh] Yes, there’s dog yokai .
Viktor: Are they good boys?
Yuuri: They’re known to possess their masters, but sure. They’re good boys.
Viktor: I support them.
Yuuri stared up at the unfamiliar hotel ceiling into the early hours of the morning, shadows playing off the speckled paint as he tried to make sense of his racing mind. But there was no sense to be had, only a spiral of anxiety and guilt that reminded him why he’d never come back to Japan in all these years. Instead of the shadows lulling him to sleep, they reflected all his fears back at him.
Viktor let out a heavy sigh on the other bed. “I can hear you thinking from over here.” He reached over to the bedside table, clicking on the light. “What’s wrong?”
Yuuri rolled onto his side, away from Viktor. Yuuri had gone five years without talking about it. He certainly wasn’t about to start now.
Viktor stared at the expanse of Yuuri’s back, just like he had the other night. He knew that was Yuuri’s sign to give up, that Yuuri had shut himself off and was beyond Viktor’s reach. Viktor considered giving up, just like he had the other night.
But Yuuri had been holding onto something this entire trip. Viktor had seen it in the painful nostalgia in Yuuri’s eyes in Yamashirocho and heard it in the edge to his voice as soon as they set foot in Fukuoka. Viktor couldn’t stand seeing him like this. It hurt to see Yuuri hurting.
“Yuuri, please,” Viktor pleaded to Yuuri’s back, voice soft in the evening stillness.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Yuuri bit out, burying himself further in his sheets.
“I know.” God , did Viktor know.
Getting Yuuri to open up about anything was like pulling teeth. It had taken two years before Yuuri had told Viktor about his anxiety, and Viktor had felt like the biggest asshole in the world for all the times he’d chalked Yuuri’s behavior up to simple nerves. Viktor liked to think they were friends. It was a title he held with equal parts pride and bitterness. But what good was any of it if Yuuri kept him out?
“I just…” Viktor licked his lips, unsure how to say what he wanted.
What he wanted was to shake Yuuri by the shoulders until Yuuri realized his mind was playing tricks on him again. But that would just get Viktor slapped and have Yuuri dig in his heels even more.
“Let me be here for you?”
Silence fell over them. It was still for a long time, save for two sets of breathing. It was so long that Viktor thought Yuuri had finally fallen asleep. That, at least, would be a small mercy, if not the outcome Viktor was looking for.
Yuuri finally broke the silence. “I haven’t come home in five years.”
“I know,” Viktor said slowly. He knew there was more to Yuuri’s anxiety than that.
Yuuri let out a frustrated sigh, like the problem should have been obvious. “And my family spent a lot of money sending me off to America and I thought when I came back I’d have more to show than…” Yuuri’s words faded into silence.
Viktor didn’t really know what to say to that. “...Oh.”
Yuuri ran a hand over his face. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, it’s just…”
Viktor’s throat was strangely dry. He’d thought… He didn’t know what he’d thought. “Does your family… do they not approve?”
Yuuri barked out a wry laugh. “My family can barely run Skype to call me. My dad still doesn’t understand what YouTube is, much less how to make money off it.” Yuuri let out a weary sigh. “But still. This isn’t exactly what I’d dreamed of doing when I left.”
Viktor was quiet. That was something he and their coworkers understood. When anyone old enough to work at Buzzfeed had been growing up, none of them could have imagined working for an internet entertainment company. Some of them had found new dreams in their work, and some of them had laid their old ones to rest.
“This isn’t what I’d imagined either,” Viktor empathized. “The world is different than when we were children. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you have to to survive.”
Yuuri rolled onto his back, finally glancing at Viktor out of the corner of his eye. “I know, I just… I wish…” Yuuri swallowed thickly, smothering his pride and his gut instinct to run away. “I wish my parents had something to be proud of.”
“Yuuri…” Viktor breathed. “I’m sure they are. There’s so much to be proud of.”
How could Yuuri look at himself and not see that? How did Yuuri miss all the good in him and see only his flaws?
Yuuri’s folded his hands over his stomach, fingers knitted with white knuckles. “They love me, I know they do. I just… I wanted to be more when I came back.” Yuuri’s voice was tight, barely fighting back his emotions.
It was… hard for Viktor to grasp. Viktor visited St. Petersburg every summer, and brought souvenirs back from L.A. for his mamas, Yakov, and Yurio. He’d never put an ultimatum on his return. He never doubted that they’d love him unconditionally, that they’d support him if all his dreams turned to dust and the only thing to his name were the clothes on his back.
Was Yuuri unhappy? With the show? With Viktor?
The words burned all the way up Viktor’s throat. “If… if you’re unhappy… You can start your own project.” Viktor fought to remain impartial. If Yuuri didn’t want to be on the show anymore, then Viktor didn’t want to keep him. “I’ll help you!”
The corner of Yuuri’s mouth quirked up, despite his gloom. “I appreciate the offer. But it’s not the show. And it’s not you.” Yuuri’s slight smile fell. “It’s me.”
This was still sounding too close to a breakup for Viktor’s comfort. “Do you want to quit?” Viktor asked, heart pounding in his throat.
Yuuri smiled bitterly. “What else could I do? I’ll never do anything better.”
There was so much to unpack in Yuuri’s words. Viktor didn’t know where to start. “You didn’t answer my question.”
The ensuing silence was the longest in Viktor’s life. Viktor’s pulse echoed in his ears, the only sound in the room as Yuuri refused to meet his eyes. Viktor waited for an answer, praying that it would be the one he wanted.
No answer ever came. Yuuri rolled away again, and Viktor knew he wouldn’t get anything more out of him. Viktor’s doubts knotted in his stomach. He was in the same position they’d started. Maybe even worse. The only change was that now both of them felt awful.
Yuuri waited for the sound of the bedside lamp, signalling that Viktor had finally given up. When it came, it was shortly followed by something heavy sliding across the carpet. Yuuri’s bed jostled, and he realized that Viktor had pushed the beds together, as they sometimes did when they booked a room with twins.
Viktor stayed firmly on his side of the bed, respecting Yuuri’s space. “You don’t have to say anything.” Viktor’s voice was barely a whisper across Yuuri’s back. “Just know that I’m here.”
Tears burned in Yuuri’s throat like dying stars.
Supernatural S2E2 “The Harrowing Hunt for Bigfoot”
Yuuri: Now we’re breaking out the bait.
[Yuuri hands Viktor a beer]
Viktor: You’re going to start drinking in the woods?
Viktor: This is how people die.
Yuuri: Then I died doing what I loved--
Viktor: That’s so sweet.
Yuuri: Being a disappointment to my family.
[Yuuri starts chugging]
Yuuri stood at the start of the path to Yutopia Katsuki, the high arch looming ominously over his head. He clutched the omamori from the Hiraga shrine to his chest, despite it having been useless on his journey so far. While he hadn’t been possessed by a spirit (yet), there was no end to the trouble he and Viktor seemed to attract. Silently, Yuuri hoped that the omamori would work just this once.
“Yuuri,” Viktor said, in a rare moment of seriousness. “I’m sure your family will be happy to see you.”
Viktor’s words did little to ease the tightly wound dread in the pit of Yuuri’s stomach. “And then they’re going to ask about my career and I’m going to have to explain my coworker is a necrophiliac for a living.”
“I’m not a--” Viktor cut himself off with a huff. He could recognize when Yuuri was trying to bait him. “It’ll be okay,” Viktor promised instead. “If you’d like, I can do all the talking.”
“You can’t speak Japanese.”
“I know! And while we’re struggling to communicate, you can slip away unnoticed!”
That brought a chuckle out of Yuuri. It lit a spark in Viktor’s heart, and he held it close. “Do you feel better?” Viktor asked.
Yuuri just shrugged. “Who knows.” Yuuri steeled himself and started up the path to the inn. “But I can’t stand here forever.”
Viktor took that as a small victory. He could just as easily imagine Yuuri standing outside until someone came out to fetch him, or his nerves finally fizzled out and he ran away for another five years. Yuuri choosing to face his fears was one small victory.
Yuuri slowly opened the front door, trying to catch as little attention as possible. He and Viktor stood quietly in the entryway. A woman about Yuuri’s age, likely his sister, Mari, was in the dining room, slowly sweeping the floor and tending to the plates. Yuuri stared at her like a deer in headlights, suddenly paralyzed with fear.
Viktor could practically see Yuuri’s racing thoughts. Viktor decided to take some mercy on Yuuri and end his suffering. “ Tadaima !” Viktor called.
Yuuri’s eyes widened, just like Mari’s as she finally noticed the weird foreigner and her brother in the entryway.
A moment passed, and Mari smirked. She turned and shouted a flurry of Japanese into the bowels of the inn. An echo of Japanese answered, followed by a pair of rapid footfalls. Yuuri unfroze, trying to hide behind Viktor and make himself as small as possible. Viktor did his best to step away and force Yuuri to face the music. But Yuuri kept clinging to Viktor’s back.
There was nothing for Viktor to do but some damage control.
“Hi!” Viktor said in English, waving at Mari. “I’m Viktor!”
Mari gave Viktor an appraising look, not even trying to hide the way her eyes gave him a good up and down. “Hi.” She replied, similarly in English. “Is Yuuri behind you?”
“No,” Yuuri squeaked.
“That’s a shame,” Mari said, switching back to Japanese. “I guess we won’t have katsudon for dinner after all.”
Yuuri poked his head out from behind Viktor’s arm. “Katsudon?”
“Katsu… don?” Viktor echoed.
At that moment, Hiroko Katsuki burst into the restaurant, arms wide to embrace her son. “ Yuuri !” she cheered.
Yuuri yelped and ducked back behind Viktor. He miscalculated his mom’s determination, however, because Hiroko simply wrapped both of them into a crushing hug. “My baby! It’s been so long! You’ve gotten so big and strong!” Hiroko said in rapidfire Japanese.
Yuuri was eternally grateful that Viktor had no hope of understanding his mom.
Yuuri squawked, pushed firmly against Viktor’s backside. In contrast, Viktor didn’t seem bothered at all. If anything, he was delighted , eagerly returning Hiroko’s embrace. When she finally let go of them, Viktor gasped, pressing a hand over his heart.
“Yuuri, you look just like your mama ,” Viktor cooed. “I can see where you got your good looks.” Viktor winked somewhere between Yuuri and Hiroko.
Yuuri blinked, disoriented. “Are you hitting on my mom?”
Viktor’s sputtering protest was cut off by the appearance of Toshiya, who was struggling to restrain the wiggling bundle of fur in his arms. “Someone’s very excited to see Yuuri-kun,” he laughed, stooping over to place the excited pooch on the ground.
Vicchan ran eagerly across the floor, nearly tripping over his own legs in his excitement. Yuuri gasped, falling to his knees to meet his dog. Vicchan struggled to jump into Yuuri’s lap, old age making it harder than it used to be. Yuuri took pity on the pup, gathering Vicchan into his arms.
“Vicchan, oh my goodness! I missed you!” Yuuri giggled as Vicchan licked his cheeks.
Vicchan continued to yip happily, his whole body vibrating with excitement. Toshiya laughed warmly at the scene. “Good old Vicchan always knew you would come back to us.”
Yuuri felt more composed with his best friend back in his arms. If nothing else, coming home was worth it to see Vicchan again. He looked to his family through glasses covered in slobber with a serene smile. He stood back up, Vicchan tucked safely in the crook of his arm where he belonged.
“Thank you for taking care of him while I’ve been away,” he said with a bow.
“Oh, there’s no need for that,” Hiroko insisted. “You’ve been working so hard these past few years! And what an attractive foreigner you’ve brought home!”
Everyone’s eyes suddenly turned to Viktor as if noticing him for the first time. Viktor glanced up from his phone, where Yuuri and Vicchan’s heartfelt reunion was uploading to Instagram. “Hi!” he chirped, waving at Yuuri’s family.
“So polite, too!” Hiroko cooed, looking ready to pinch Viktor’s cheeks.
Yuuri shook his head wildly, putting himself between his mom and his… Viktor. “No, no, no, it’s not like that! Viktor is my partner, coworker !”
“Pātonā,” Viktor echoed unhelpfully.
“Oh, ho, ho, is that what the kids are calling it these days?” Toshiya hummed.
Yuuri briefly considered the consequences of taking Vicchan and running. Mari cleared her throat, locking eyes with Viktor. “Mari, Hiroko, Toshiya.” She pointed to herself, then her mother and father.
Viktor nodded and pointed to himself. “Viktor.”
Hiroko gasped, hands on her cheeks. “Two Vicchans?”
Viktor saw the way Yuuri shrunk into himself, and how the sudden excitement wore him down. Viktor elbowed Yuuri gently in the ribs. “Why don’t you go put our luggage away?”
Yuuri glanced between Viktor and his family. He clearly wanted to run for the hills. “But… you can’t speak Japanese,” he said for the second time that night.
Viktor waved his hand dismissively. “We’ll figure it out!” he assured Yuuri.
Yuuri decided the escape was too tempting, despite his worries about being a poor host.
Yuuri reluctantly set Vicchan on the ground to take hold of Viktor’s bag and turned to Mari. “Did you prepare a room for Viktor like I asked?”
Mari nodded. “We set up a futon in the old banquet room.”
Even after all these years, Yuuri didn’t need to be shown his way around his own house. He took his and Viktor’s bags, whistling for Vicchan to follow. Distantly, he felt guilty for leaving Viktor alone with his family sans translator. Then again, through all their international trips, Yuuri had had a front row seat to Viktor’s uncanny ability to make friends across language barriers.
After dumping their luggage in their respective rooms, Yuuri took a moment to sit on his old bed, Vicchan curled happily in his lap. His room was just as he’d left it, although it seemed smaller than it used to and his old futon creaked under his weight. The walls were still decorated with his favorite movie posters. They reflected his tastes as a child to a young adult, a mix of Ghibli movies like Spirited Away , to thoughtful dramas like The Taste of Tea . Yuuri could almost chart his growth in the faces looking back at him, when he decided he wanted to hold a camera for a living.
Yuuri glanced towards the backpack at his feet, where the camera he and Viktor used for shooting was tucked away. He supposed he’d fulfilled that dream, in a way.
A flash of pink on Viktor’s bag caught his eye. It was a cloth bag that bore Japanese characters in gold thread on its face. Yuuri stared at it for a moment, seeing but not truly understanding. He glanced at the omamori still in his hand. They were unmistakably the same style, the same craftmanship. Except Viktor’s was clearly a love omamori , meant to bring someone good luck in their love life.
Yuuri’s brain spun with the implications. When had Viktor even found the chance to buy it? Yuuri couldn’t remember Viktor ever leaving his side. More importantly, did Viktor understand what it meant? Had he chosen to buy a love talisman because there was someone he was trying to court? Or had Viktor simply picked a charm at random, thinking it would make a cute souvenir?
There was no way to know for certain without asking Viktor. And God knows Yuuri wasn’t going to do that. Yuuri pushed it to the back of his mind, and reminded himself that his hopeless crush would stay just that: hopeless.
Fifteen minutes passed, and Yuuri decided he’d been gone long enough. He still wasn’t ready to face the combined forces of Viktor and his family. But he’d probably never be ready; he’d just have to bite the bullet. Yuuri stepped off the stairs, back into the restaurant where he’d left Viktor. He found Viktor sharing a bottle of shochu with Toshiya, while happily digging into a bowl of katsudon . There was a matching bowl next to him, still steaming. Yuuri’s mouth watered.
“Yuuuuuri!” Viktor called, waving for Yuuri’s attention. “You never told me Mama’s cooking was so good!” Tears of joy were practically running down Viktor’s face.
The omamori back in Yuuri’s room flashed to the forefront of Yuuri’s mind, but he pushed it back.
“Yes I have.” Yuuri was too busy taking a seat and digging in for the words to really register. At first. “Wait, Mama ?”
“Vicchan is your friend, so he’s practically family!” Hiroko insisted, patting “Vicchan’s” arm tenderly.
Yuuri saved himself from the burden of answering by shoving a piece of pork in his mouth. Katsudon was too good to ruin it with the implications of Viktor calling Hiroko “mama.” Vicchan continued to sit in Yuuri’s lap, staking his claim.
Viktor peered at Vicchan’s gray flecked muzzle with sparkling eyes. “You never told me your puppy was named Viktor, too!”
Yuuri just shrugged, thankful that his mouth was still full of pork. “Yuuri named Vicchan after an actor he had a crush on,” Mari said smugly.
“So you’re saying I have a chance?”
Yuuri choked on his pork.
After nearly hacking up a lung, Yuuri grabbed his bowl of katsudon and cradled it close to his chest. “If you’re going to tease me, I’m taking this katsudon to my room,” he threatened.
Hiroko tutted him, gesturing for him to sit back down. “Now, now, don’t be rude,” she scolded. “We haven’t seen you in five years!”
Those words were a knife to Yuuri’s stomach, twisting the guilt ever tighter in his gut. “I’m sorry kaa-san .”
“What are you apologizing for?” Toshiya asked, voice bright with joy and alcohol. “You’ve been doing so well!”
Yuuri smiled passively at his dad. His parents didn’t really understand Yuuri’s job as it was. Their opinion of his success was severely warped by their ignorance.
Yuuri stared down at his lap, refusing to meet his parents’ eyes. “But I left all of you. I know Hasetsu hasn’t been doing well.”
Mari waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about us. Working hard is the best thing you can do for us.”
“Speaking of which, you should tell us about your work!” Hiroko encouraged. “You’re on some American TV show?”
Yuuri glanced to Viktor for help, who just looked back blankly, the entire conversation going over his head. “Um, it’s not a TV show. It’s a Web show? A show on the internet?” Yuuri struggled to explain.
He’d tried to explain Buzzfeed Unsolved in general terms to his parents many times, leaving out the dirty jokes. Each time, some of the details went over their heads. Mari understood a little, but she had a hard time navigating English YouTube, and thankfully had yet to find them. Part of Yuuri worried that if one day, his family finally did understand, they’d want to know why he was using his degree to hunt ghosts.
The three Katsukis nodded along, listening while Yuuri tried to explain how Buzzfeed worked.
“I see, I see,” Hiroko hummed. “What’s your show about?”
Yuuri made a cut off choking noise that got Viktor’s attention. “What did she say?”
“She asked what our show’s about,” Yuuri muttered under her breath.
Viktor thought for a moment, chewing on a ball of sticky rice. “Tell her we’re researching and exploring unsolved mysteries.”
That was certainly better than “trying to have sex with ghosts” so Yuuri did.
“That sounds so interesting!” Hiroko cooed. “I’d love to see it one day!”
Toshiya nodded in agreement. “Your mother and I would love to see your work!”
Yuuri stuttered. His family had asked to see his work many times in the past. Usually he could get out of it because neither of his parents would be able to pull it up on the computer. But if Yuuri had really wanted his parents to see his work, he could have told Mari how to find it. But that was the thing. His parents watching Buzzfeed Unsolved was the last thing he wanted.
Yuuri gave them a fake polite smile. “It’s English only.”
“Still,” Hiroko insisted.
When Yuuri didn’t say anything, his family took the hit and let the long argued topic drop. “I can’t believe our son is a celebrity ,” Hiroko said.
“I’m hardly a celebrity.” Yuuri picked at his food.
“We’ve had a few people come to the inn asking if we’re your family,” Mari said. “People from out of town. They want to see Katsuki Yuuri’s home.”
Yuuri’s chopsticks clattered to the table. Yuuri stared at Mari, mouth slightly open. “Really?”
Viktor watched them curiously, and gave Yuuri a soft nudge. “She said fans have come here looking for my home.”
Viktor’s face brightened. “Of course they have! They want to see where their idol grew up!”
Yuuri could hardly picture himself as someone’s idol . He shoved another piece of pork in his mouth and refused to comment.
True Crime S2E10 “The Suspicious Assassination of JFK”
Viktor: JFK was a President?
Yuuri: … Yes.
Viktor: Oh, I assumed he was a wrestler.
Viktor: Don’t you think JFK sounds like a wrestler name? JFK the Assassinator.
Yuuri: Oh my god.
[Viktor does jazz hands for 10 seconds]
Yuuri: So, wait, what did you think JFK stood for?
Viktor: Jamboree Fisting King.
Yuuri: The Kennedy family is going to sue us.
The next morning, Yuuri found himself acting as Viktor’s tour guide through Hasetsu. It was just as well, since Yuuri felt obligated to say hello to his old neighbors. Although Viktor attracted more attention than Yuuri would like, waving his camera around and generally being Viktor .
“Your hometown is so cute, Yuuri!” Viktor cooed, standing on his tiptoes to get a better picture of the castle on the hill. “It’s just like the yokai village.”
Yuuri laughed, the sea breeze stinging his cheeks. “That’s what I thought, too.” Yuuri pointed to an observation deck up the hill. “That place has a really good view of the castle. You’ll be able to get better pictures there.”
Viktor nodded, following obediently in Yuuri’s footsteps, just like Vicchan who trotted beside them. “It’s so charming and beautiful! Why did you ever leave?” Viktor wondered aloud.
Yuuri snorted. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a little dead.” He waved at the streets around them.
For the first time, Viktor took notice of the empty storefronts and lack of customers. He’d thought the quiet was just small town charm, but in a crushing realization it hit him that there was simply no one here. He could see the mark of businesses that once were, former inns that now boasted “for sale” signs and empty store windows.
“Yeah.” Yuuri felt a pang of guilt in his chest. “My family’s inn is the last one in town. All the others closed.”
Yuuri felt a deep sympathy for his parents. He did his best to send money back to his family when he could, and he was endlessly grateful for the unconditional support and love he provided. But he couldn’t help but wonder how many other kids his age had been influenced by his own decision to leave Hasetsu. He could never shake the feeling that his family would have been better off if he’d stayed behind to help them.
Viktor was quiet as they walked up the steep climb to Hasetsu Castle. Vicchan started whining halfway up, and Yuuri let the pooch hop in his bag to carry him the rest of the way. Viktor cooed, snapping as many pictures of “Yuuri & Friend” as possible.
“Do you have a favorite restaurant?” Viktor asked suddenly, when they reached the platform just below the castle.
“Um, yeah?” Yuuri said. “Besides my parents’, the Nishigoris have good food. They opened up after their family’s ice rink closed when we were kids.”
Viktor nodded as Yuuri spoke, typing something frantically on his phone. After a few seconds, Viktor smiled with bright, innocent eyes that told Yuuri he was up to something. “Okay!” He slipped his phone into his pocket.
Yuuri eyed him warily. “What did you do?”
“Nothing!” Viktor insisted.
Yuuri narrowed his eyes, to which Viktor simply waved his hand. “Don’t worry about it!”
Telling Yuuri not to worry about something was like telling the sun not to rise. Even so, Yuuri did his best to put it out of his mind, helped by Viktor’s insistence that Yuuri show him his favorite souvenir shop. (“Why would I buy souvenirs, I live here.”) And then Viktor wanted to know Yuuri’s favorite sweets, and his favorite place to walk Vicchan. Though Vicchan didn’t do much walking, the old dog still too tired from the day’s big adventure.
All in all, Yuuri had a fun time reliving his childhood with Viktor, as they shared tamagoyaki by the sea, taking turns scratching Vicchan behind the ears. Yuuri almost forgot about Viktor’s antics, until just before sundown Viktor insisted they stop by the Nishigori’s restaurant. That in itself wasn’t too strange, considering all the requests Viktor had made so far.
What was strange was the crowd of about ten people, mulling around outside the Nishigoris’. Yuuri stopped in his tracks.
“Viktor, what did you do.”
Viktor smiled slyly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“We’re having a fan meetup!”
Viktor pulled out his phone to show Yuuri an Instagram photo of Yuuri and Vicchan in front of Hasetsu Castle. The post was written in muddled Japanese, clearly having been run through a translator. But the meaning was clear enough, that Viktor had invited anyone in the area to have dinner with them in Hasetsu.
Yuuri had met fans before, normally at VidCon, or the occasional fan he ran into at the 7-11 downstairs from his apartment when he crawled out from a 12-hour Overwatch session with pit stains and covered in Cheeto dust. But normally he had forewarning (or he could pretend he didn’t speak English until they left him alone). Now, Viktor had blindsided him and Yuuri saw no way out. It wasn’t like Yuuri could pretend he didn’t speak Japanese. The only possible escape Yuuri could see was to run.
He was about to do just that when Vicchan yipped, giving his location away.
A dozen pairs of eyes zeroed in on Viktor and Yuuri at once. “Hi! Glad you could make it!” Viktor said happily.
Viktor started towards the fans. Yuuri didn’t follow, his shoes rooted to the pavement. Viktor turned, giving him a quizzical look. “Yuuri?” he asked.
Yuuri shook his head furiously, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes. Viktor furrowed his brow, tugging on Yuuri’s arm. The memory of their first time at VidCon after Buzzfeed Unsolved took off flashed in Viktor’s mind. Yuuri forgot all his English and hid under a table for thirty minutes in shame. Viktor had to coax him back out with cute dog videos.
Guilt settled over Viktor’s shoulders like a shroud. In his eagerness to surprise Yuuri and his friends, he hadn’t considered that the surprise would be unwelcome. Viktor gently touched Yuuri’s hand. When Yuuri didn’t flinch, Viktor recognized it as its own invitation. He stepped closer, speaking lowly.
“Hey, if this is too much, you can leave. I’ll say you had a stomach ache.”
Yuuri shook his head. “They’re here to see me…?” It was somewhere between a statement and a question.
Viktor knew it was hard for Yuuri to imagine he had fans . He’d gotten more used to it over the years, as reality confronted him over and over. It was still hard for Yuuri to accept that their fans wouldn’t be disappointed by him in reality.
“I’m sorry,” Viktor said, eyes downcast. “It’s fine, I’ll take care of it, don’t worry about a thing.”
Yuuri fought the urge to smile, the corner of his mouth quirking upward. He took a deep breath. He’d dealt with fans before. At least this time, they were Japanese fans, and the chances of anyone asking him to sign their boobs was significantly decreased. And he had Vicchan.
Yuuri steeled himself, straightening up. “No, no, it’s fine.”
“Are you sure?” Yuuri walked past him, waving shyly at then fans.
A few fans waved back eagerly, most standing shyly behind a brave pair of young women at the front of the group. “Hello!” One of them said in English, voice shaking with excitement.
“Hi,” Yuuri said, cheeks flushing. “I’m honored all of you were able to make it on such short notice.” He bowed politely.
The girl at her side smiled brightly. “It’s no trouble. We live close by.”
Before he could have second thoughts, Yuuri and Viktor shepherded the small crowd inside. A small woman Yuuri’s age looked up at the sound of a dozen pairs of feet. She saw Yuuri first, then the crowd behind him. The mop in her hands clattered to the floor.
Yuuri scratched his chin awkwardly. “Hi, Nishigori-san.”
She continued to stare at the crowd, dumbfounded at having this many people in her establishment. She composed herself quickly, slipping into business mode. “How many?”
“Um, twelve, please.”
The woman nodded, getting to work pushing all the table together to form one giant table in the center of the floor. “And please, Yuuri-kun, call me Yuu-chan!” Yuuko insisted.
Yuuri flushed, setting himself to work helping her move chairs.
They enjoyed dinner, gathered around a table in a tiny restaurant that was bursting at the seams to accommodate all of them. Yuuko had to duck back into the kitchen herself.
“This is your hometown, Katsuki-san?” the bravest of the group, Hanako asked.
Yuuri nodded, sipping quietly on his jasmine tea. “Yes. My family owns the onsen on the hill.”
A younger girl at the end of the table gasped. “I thought it might be!” Makoto said. She flushed once everyone’s attention turned to her. “I… I recognized the name, but I wasn’t sure if it was a different Katsuki.”
Etsumi, the girl accompanying Hanako, elbowed her friend. “We’ll have to try it out,” she said waggling her eyebrows.
“It’s lovely!” Viktor chimed in. “I almost drowned in one of the baths and I would have died happy.”
Yuuri would kick Viktor in the shin if Viktor wasn’t sitting at the other end of the table.
“Is it haunted?” Chiharu asked.
Yuuri was about to chime in and insist, no, his childhood home was not haunted, when he heard a clattering sound from the kitchen. He took the opportunity to bolt from the table, stepping into Yuuko’s familiar kitchen. He found her on the floor, buried under a pile of woks.
“Are you okay?” he asked, offering Yuuko his hand.
She ignored him, getting up and brushing herself off. “I’m fine,” she assured him, grabbing the pans from the floor. “We haven’t had to use this much kitchenware at once in years,” she explained. “I got ahead of myself.” She gave him a stink eye. “What are you doing back here? You’re a customer.”
Yuuri rolled his eyes, taking one of the pans. “I remember my way around your kitchen. Can I help?”
“You’re a customer.”
“It’s the least I can do after showing up after five years with eleven guests,” Yuuri insisted, setting the wok on the burner. He settled in beside Takeshi, who gave him a nod above a pan of frying vegetables.
Yuuko sighed. She hated to impose, but recognized that without an extra pair of hands it would take a long time to prepare everyone’s food. She got to work alongside her husband and friend.
“Are they friends of yours?” she asked.
“Um. Kind of…” Yuuri’s cheeks burned, and he hoped to pass it off as the heat of the kitchen.
Yuuko eyed him. “Fans? From that YouTube show you do?”
Yuuri nearly spilled boiling oil on himself, and Yuuko’s face split into a grin. “I can’t believe my best friend is famous .”
Yuuri’s wasn’t sure he was best friend material after running off to the other side of the world for five years. “I’m not famous,” he insisted.
Yuuko hip checked him. “The girls watch you, you know.”
Yuuri had the sudden urge to puke. “Oh god.”
“You’re Yuuri oji-san , the ghost hunter.”
This was the worst news of Yuuri’s entire life. Takeshi plated two dishes and thrust it into Yuuri’s hands. “Go run this out to your friends,” Takeshi ordered.
Thankfully, running away from awkward situations was what Yuuri did best. He rushed back out to the table, eager to escape the kitchen.
He caught Viktor in the middle of a conversation with their fans.
“We were very excited,” Etsumi said, wringing her hands in her lap. “We’ve never had the chance to go to a con outside of Japan.”
Viktor smiled kindly, recognizing her anxiety. “Maybe I’ll talk to our boss about changing that,” he said with a wink.
Etsumi laughed, her armor dropping a little. “I just… I wanted to say you helped me through a rough time.”
Her voice was so quiet that Yuuri barely caught it over the low din of the restaurant. Viktor’s charming smile faded, giving way to a slightly stunned expression.
“Thank you,” Viktor said slowly, genuinely. “I’m very glad.”
Something twisted in Yuuri’s gut. He unceremoniously set one of the plates in front of Etsumi, and the other in front of Chiharu.
“Is everything alright?” Viktor asked, touching the back of Yuuri’s hands.
Yuuri let out a slow breath. Distantly, he felt guilty for ruining the moment. But his heart was a bundle of needles, and every breath was pained.
“Yeah, it’s all good,” Yuuri croaked. “They’re just busy.”
When the bill came at the end of the night, Viktor practically slapped the wallet out of Yuuri’s hand. “No,” he said with the same voice he used when scolding Makkachin. Viktor passed his card off to Yuuko, along with some yen notes.
Yuuko’s eyes widened. “Oh, you don’t need to tip in Japan,” she said, even though Viktor already knew that perfectly well.
Viktor waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Sir, I insist,” Yuuko said quietly, thrusting the bills back to Viktor.
Viktor simply shook his head. “Please, you earned it.”
Yuuko and Viktor’s eye contact was practically electric, a silent standoff, until Yuuko’s hands finally curled around the money. She bowed, and ducked back into the kitchen as quickly as she could. Viktor and Yuuri bid goodbye to their guests at the door, the fans slowly filing out with bright smiles, sharing a few last minute selfies.
“Oh!” Fuyuko said, searching quickly through her bag. She pulled out a Sharpie and a… “Can you sign my Sonic amiibo?”
After Fuyuko left, new signed Sonic, tucked in her bag, Yuuri felt a pair of eyes on him. He looked around, finding Chiharu hanging back, rocking on his heels awkwardly.
“Do you need me to show you back to the station?” Yuuri asked.
Chiharu shook his head quickly. He chewed on his lip, seemingly at war with himself. Finally, he gathered his nerves and thrust a folded square of paper into Yuuri’s hands.
“Here!” he said.
Before Yuuri could unfold the paper, or ask what it was, Chiharu had scampered off. Viktor peered over Yuuri’s shoulder curiously.
“What is it?”
Yuuri unfolded one of the corners, finding lines of mixed kanji and katakana. “It’s a letter,” he said, tucking it into his pocket. “We’ll read it when we get back.”
As soon as they got back to the inn, Yuuri got roped into helping with the restaurant. He didn’t remember the letter until much later that night, after the sun had gone down and all the guests had left. The letter fell out as Yuuri was getting changed for the night.
Vicchan immediately jumped for it. “No, Vicchan,” Yuuri scolded, holding the letter out of sight of the curious pup.
Yuuri sat down on his bed in his boxers, the paper heavy in his hands. It wasn’t uncommon for fans to give them letters, whether through email or otherwise. It also wasn’t uncommon to get hate mail, but that was much rarer, and Yuuri doubted that was the case here. It was still daunting, to think that an actual person thought Yuuri was worth putting thoughts to paper.
The letter unfolded in his hands like a flower, carefully penned kanji spilling across the page. He skimmed over the words. Then he read them again, and again, needles prickling the back of his eyes.
When Viktor found him minutes later, he was crying.
“Yuuri?” Viktor asked with alarm, dropping his sheets and blankets in the doorway.
Viktor rushed to Yuuri’s side, kneeling in front of him on the floor. Chiharu’s letter swam in front of Yuuri’s eyes, the world blurring around him. Viktor recognized the letter, and his mind jumped to conclusions.
“Is it bad?” Viktor asked, reaching to take the letter. Their fingers brushed as Viktor pulled away.
Yuuri let it go, the words slipping through his fingers like sand. “No it’s…” Yuuri pushed his glasses up and rubbed his face with his hands. “It says we helped him through a tough time.”
Viktor glanced at the paper, now smudged with Yuuri’s tears. It was pointless, anyway; he couldn’t read Japanese.
Yuuri’s breath rattled in his lungs. “It says…” Yuuri’s tongue turned to lead in his mouth. “He wouldn’t be here without us.”
Viktor’s fingers tightened, crinkling the letter in his hands. “Oh.” He understood.
Yuuri desperately wiped the tears from his eyes, but more fell in their place. “He was just a kid.”
Viktor turned, leaning his back against Yuuri’s bed. Vicchan sniffed his ankle, and then crawled into his lap. Viktor idly stroked Vicchan’s fur as he spoke.
“He was at that age… It’s awful, but... it’s more common than you think,” Viktor said with a weary sigh.
Viktor spoke the surety of someone that spoke from experience. Yuuri suddenly remembered Stay Close to Me , and how watching it had felt similar to someone breaking open his ribcage. And… Yuuri understood, too. He understood all too well what it meant to be a lonely teenager. At one point in his life, he’d laid in this very room and thought the only way he could live with himself was to run away.
He was still that teenager deep inside, running away from his problems. He wasn’t anyone worth looking up to.
Yuuri scrubbed his face, cheeks burned raw by tears. “I don’t understand.” He looked down at Viktor, whose head rested on his knee. “I’m not…” Yuuri’s heart ached in his throat. “I’m just on a silly YouTube show.”
Viktor stared at the posters on Yuuri’s wall, the evidence of a career that might have been. “It might be a silly YouTube show, but it… makes people feel like they know us.”
“It doesn’t mean anything!”
“Does it have to?” Viktor asked. “If it makes people happy?”
Yuuri didn’t have an answer for that.
Viktor traced his fingertips over the words Chiharu had written them. He couldn’t read them. But just knowing that so much care, and emotion had gone into this letter made it something worth being cherished. His other arm looped gently over Yuuri’s ankle, the touch a comfort in the darkness.
“It makes them feel less lonely,” Viktor said, words piercing the silence.
“Why?” Yuuri wondered aloud. “Why us?”
Viktor simply shrugged. “Why do they feel alone in the first place? Why do people feel worthless when they’re surrounded by loved ones? Why do people feel alone in a crowd of thousands?” Viktor turned on Yuuri with piercing eyes, like he was looking through Yuuri.
Yuuri pointedly looked away, refusing to concede Viktor’s point. “I can barely hold myself together. I don’t deserve to be some sort of… some sort of celebrity.”
Viktor laughed knowingly. “I don’t think anyone deserves the love and adoration of people they’ll never meet. But you have it now, and you have to live with it.”
Yuuri stared down at his hands folded in his lap. “I’m not worth it.”
Viktor let out a long, pained sigh. His breath tickled the skin on Yuuri’s calf. Somehow Viktor knew that was coming, and he hated that he couldn’t stop it. Yuuri’s self-doubt was a bullet train without any breaks.
“You’re worth so much more than you think.” Yuuri barked out a wry laugh, which Viktor ignored. “You’re worth so much to your family, to Hasetsu, to…” Viktor’s arm tightened around Yuuri’s leg. “Me.”
Yuuri’s skin prickled under Viktor’s touch. The intimacy of their position and of Viktor’s words loomed in Yuuri’s mind. Viktor’s upturned face, kissed by moonlight, was an open invitation, the clearest one Yuuri would ever get. The air was electric, Viktor’s orbit finally pulling him in after all these years. Yuuri could either accept it, or run away.
So he ran away.
“You’ve already done more for Hasetsu than I ever have,” Yuuri said, voice edged with bitterness.
“That’s not true!” Viktor said indignantly. Inside his heart ached, both from Yuuri’s clear rejection and his stubbornness. “I know you send your family money every month!”
“So what? Money runs out. You got ten people to actually come here, ten people that might come back or tell their friends. And that’s not even counting all the people that are going to visit after we leave, just because you tagged it on Instagram.”
Viktor’s anger was nearly blinding. Yuuri could be so damn infuriating when he wanted to be, especially when it involved belittling himself.
“Fine,” Viktor barked shortly. “Then let’s change that.” Viktor turned to face Yuuri and rose up on his knees. “Let’s do a Hasetsu episode.”
Realization dawned over Yuuri slowly. “We can’t change our entire schedule because you want to make a point.”
“Too late, we’re doing it,” Viktor said simply. “If Phichit says anything I’ll take the fall. Besides, do you know how popular a video from Yuuri Katsuki’s hometown will be?”
Yuuri spluttered, his anger fizzling out in the wake of the bombshell Viktor had dropped on him. “No one will watch it!”
Viktor gave him a dry look. “There are already people coming to your family’s inn. Besides, you said it yourself. People are going to come to this town because I tagged it. Think of how many people will come because we filmed here, because they want to see the ghosts.”
“There aren’t any ghosts here.”
“That sounds like something a local trying to hide a ghost would say.”
“Viktor,” Yuuri tried desperately to keep the laughter out of his voice. He was still angry “There really aren’t any ghost stories.”
“I’ll think of something.”
“You can’t read Japanese.”
That gave Viktor pause. “I’ll think of something,” he insisted.
“No, I’m a genius and we’re going to save Hasetsu,” Viktor insisted smugly. He pursed his lips contemplatively. “Scratch that, you’re the genius who’s going to save Hasetsu.”
How could Yuuri possibly say no, when Viktor was this excited, especially about something Yuuri loved. “Let’s save Hasetsu,” Yuuri sighed.
True Crime S2E2 “The Mysterious Death of the Boy in the Box”
Yuuri: What’s Pennsylvania known for?
Viktor: Putting boys in boxes.
Yuuri: Don’t put that in, that’s a lie.
Viktor: Are you calling me a liar?
Viktor: Wikipedia will tell you Pennsylvania’s favorite pastime is putting boys in boxes.
Yuuri: Now all our fans are going to edit the page to say that and we’re going to get a strongly worded letter from Wikipedia. Again.
Viktor: I bring the truth to light.
The break of dawn made a beautiful picture in Hasetsu, when the sky just began to lighten behind the castle, a kaleidoscope of pinks and blues swirling across the sky. It was lost on Yuuri, who grumbled into his coffee while Viktor set up the camera for a shot of Hasetsu Castle.
“Why did we have to get up at the ass crack of dawn?” Yuuri asked.
Viktor continued to work on the camera, either oblivious or uncaring of Yuuri’s attitude. “I don’t know that expression.”
“Why are we up so god damn early?” Yuuri tried again.
“To get a shot of Chihoko,” Viktor said, as if it was obvious.
Yuuri took a long drag of coffee. It was terrible, because Yuuri had about as much hope of making coffee at four in the morning as he did of being abducted by aliens.
“Who the fuck is Chihoko?” Yuuri asked, dreading the answer.
“A ghost.” A beat. “I think.”
“You think?” Somehow, Yuuri sensed his morning was about to get even worse.
“Well, I asked some locals about any ghost stories involving the castle and they kept talking about Chihoko, and how she waits on the castle every morning. I can only assume she’s waiting for a long lost lover.” Viktor paused in fiddling with the camera, tapping his lips thoughtfully. “Of course, my Japanese isn’t the best. I may have misunderstood.”
Viktor’s Japanese was a grab-bag of words from his favorite anime and J-dramas. He couldn’t ask where the bathroom was, but he could confess his feelings in three different dialects.
“I’ve certainly never heard of a Chihoko,” Yuuri pointed out.
Viktor went back to the camera, making sure it was recording properly. “You’ve been gone for five years.”
“Can a ghost appear in just five years?”
“Sure, if they pay for expedited shipping.” Pleased with the camera setup, Viktor stepped back. “Okay! We’re all set.”
Yuuri looked at the viewfinder, seeing that the camera was pointed at the very top of the castle. “What are we looking for?”
Viktor hummed to himself, watching the capture beside Yuuri. “I don’t know!” He was much to pleased for the complete lack of planning that went into this. “Their accents were very thick, but I think she’ll be on top of the castle.”
Yuuri shot Viktor a withering look. “You could have asked me to come translate.”
“You were sleeping.” A beat. “And I was mad at you.”
Tonight, Yuuri would have to bolt Viktor to the floor to ensure he didn’t escape unsupervised. There was no telling what destruction Viktor could bring on the town.
They waited in silence for the sun to rise, and reveal whatever it was they were looking for. This was a familiar scenario, waiting for the dark of night when the ghosts would come out to play. This was the first ghost that preferred the cover of daylight. Yuuri would have been grateful if he wasn’t a cranky asshole. While a daylight ghost was less scary, the typical nighttime ghost was more suited to his circadian rhythm.
Either way, Viktor and Yuuri settled into their favorite waiting game.
“I spy with my little eye something blue,” Viktor began.
“Is it my glasses?”
“Not this time!”
“My shirt?” Viktor shook his head. “The ocean?”
“Damn.” Viktor snapped his fingers. “Your turn.”
“I spy with my little eye…” Yuuri’s eyes scanned across the scenery. There were a score of familiar sights for Yuuri to choose from, things that Viktor would never think of as a foreigner. But Yuuri’s eyes kept coming back to Viktor himself, who outshined all of them. “Something blue.”
Viktor pursed his lips. “The ocean?” Yuuri didn’t respond. “The sky? That building over there?” Viktor pointed towards the small buildings in the distance lining Hasetsu’s main street. Yuuri shook his head. “What about that one? Or that one?”
Yuuri chuckled to himself. “It’s not a building.”
Viktor pouted. Viktor tried to search Yuuri’s expression for hints. Strangely enough, Yuuri’s gaze never left Viktor’s face. “Is it… my eyes?”
Yuuri’s cheeks colored. “Yeah.”
Viktor’s eyes twinkled in the morning light. “I spy something cute !”
Yuuri flushed looking away. “Vicchan, obviously.” Yuuri tugged gently on Vicchan’s leash in his hands. Vicchan glanced up from where he was sniffing a bush.
Viktor smiled. “No, but good guess.”
“Then I give up. There’s nothing cuter than Vicchan.”
Viktor laughed to himself. “ You , silly.”
Yuuri’s face heated, and he refused to meet Viktor’s gaze. “Um. Anyway.” Yuuri coughed into his fist, desperately looking for something to defuse the situation. “I spy with my little eye something…”
“Gold!” Viktor shouted, pointing to the top of Hasetsu Castle.
Yuuri followed his finger, to where something indeed glittered in the first light of the sun. “What?” he squinted at the gleam.
“It’s Chihoko!” Viktor exclaimed, running towards the base of the castle. “Come on!”
Without fanfare, Viktor grabbed the camera and began to scale the side of the castle.
“Vitya!” Yuuri squawked. “You can’t do that!”
“It’s for science, Yuuri!” Viktor insisted, already pulling himself onto the first eave of the roof.
“Oh my god,” Yuuri muttered to himself. “He’s going to get arrested.” Yuuri glanced to Vicchan at his feet, suddenly intrigued by the commotion. “I can either bail him out or follow him for the views.”
When he put it that way, the choice was simple, really.
Yuuri started furiously scaling the side of Hasetsu Castle. Viktor already had a significant lead, and wasn’t impeded by his weight the way Yuuri was. Yuuri was decently athletic, he jogged every morning and took weekly… cardio classes, but none of that was enough to keep the chub off his cheeks and belly.
Yuuri’s shoes scrabbled against the walls of the castle, white-knuckled grasp on the shingles of the roof. He used his legs to push him up over the edge, until enough of his upper body was over that he could crawl the rest of the way. Yuuri took a short break on the first tier, glancing up. Viktor was already pulling himself up the second. Yuuri groaned, and started climbing the next tier.
Yuuri’s arms burned like he’d never known as he pulled himself over the second tier, and then dashed for the third. Yuuri was no rock climber, that was for sure. All his strength was in his legs, which were acting as little more than dead weight. Yuuri eyed Viktor’s lean, flexible limbs with envy. Did they make them differently in Russia? Was building parkour common in St. Petersburg?
As Yuuri neared the fourth and final tier, he’d never truly appreciated how god damn tall Hasetsu Castle actually was. But he certainly did now, when his arms felt like jelly and new blisters bubbled under his fingers. He had less than a meter to go to the top of the castle, but his arms suddenly felt like lumps of coal. If he moved another muscle in his arms, they’d give out and he’d go tumbling all the way back down. Yuuri glanced behind him. It was a long way down.
Viktor, god damn him, poked his head over the side. “Yuuri!” He extended a hand. “I’ll help you!” He promised.
Yuuri glared at Viktor’s extended hand. That would be nice, if Yuuri could move his god damn arms. Yuuri noticed the camera in Viktor’s hand that wasn’t extended.
“Are you filming this?” Yuuri asked incredulously.
“Of course! This is great footage!” Viktor said.
“I’m about to die and all you can think about is the views!” Yuuri snapped, bangs plastered to his forehead with sweat.
“You won’t die! Grab my hand!”
“I can’t you piece of shit!” Yuuri yelled.
Viktor startled. Yuuri had never snapped at him like that in all their years of filming. Then again, Viktor had never led him up the side of a four story building before. “If you can’t make it then go down, I’ll get the important shots.”
Yuuri’s eyes flared, his warm honey-brown eyes flashing closer to red with the spite burning in them. “You think I can’t?”
Viktor realized then that he’d made a huge mistake. “I don’t mean that you couldn’t, I mean that if you’re tired I’d rather you go back down than fall,” Viktor spluttered, desperately trying to do damage control.
But the damage had already been done, and Yuuri was a creature of spite.
“Fuck you, Vitya!” Yuuri spat. “Fuck your stupid, pretty face, and your ridiculous flirting leading me to my death!”
If Yuuri’s arms were useless, then he just wouldn’t use his arms. Yuuri let go with one hand, and planted it below his center of gravity. He eyed the edge of the roof, just out of reach. If he could just get another foot of height…
“If I die, I’m going to haunt you forever! And I’m definitely not going to fuck you!”
Yuuri centered himself. His body was an instrument and a weapon. Years of poledancing had taught him that. He could control every muscle in his body if he just focused . This wall was just another tool for him, like the pole.
In the blink of an eye, Yuuri tightened his core and swung his body around, using his hands planted against the building as a fulcrum. He did a backflip against the wall, turning himself upside down so that his feet could gain height. With his head facing down, staring down the barrel of an early death, Yuuri planted his legs against the wall. With the extra foot his feet gained, he could just reach edge of the roof. And Viktor’s hand.
Viktor grabbed his hand between clammy palms and helped pull him up over the roof. “Yuuri, what the hell was that?” Viktor screeched, pulling Yuuri practically into his lap.
Yuuri didn’t have the energy to speak, too worn out from the climb. Every limb on his body suddenly melted into jelly, and he laid bonelessly over Viktor’s legs. Yuuri didn’t even have the strength to roll off, gasping for breath.
“Poledancing,” Yuuri panted.
Viktor turned Yuuri over in his lap, staring down at Yuuri like he was seeing Yuuri for the first time. The sun rose over the horizon, heralding the new day, bathing Viktor in a beautiful golden light. Yuuri’s vision swam in front of him. In the haze of Yuuri’s exhausted mind, Yuuri couldn’t be sure Viktor wasn’t an angel. The light sparkled on Viktor’s tears, whether from exhaustion or relief, Yuuri couldn’t be sure.
Viktor cupped Yuuri’s face in his hands, Yuuri’s sweaty, blotchy face blooming from between his palms. “You reckless bastard,” Viktor laughed. “You beautiful , reckless, bastard.”
Viktor leant down, shielding Yuuri from the sun, and covered Yuuri’s lips with his own. Yuuri sank into the kiss, his brain melting away much like the rest of his body. It was awkward, only because Viktor’s lips were upside down. Everything else… the light, Viktor’s warm breath on his cheeks, and Viktor’s impossibly soft lips were perfect .
Maybe Yuuri really did fall off Hasetsu Castle, and this was heaven.
Viktor’s fingers tangled in his hair. Yuuri would have returned the favor if he could move his arms. Instead, he just laid there, showing his enthusiasm through the movement of his mouth against Viktor’s. All too soon, Yuuri had to push him away.
Viktor whined at the loss, pouting at Yuuri. “What…?”
“Air,” Yuuri gasped.
“Oh.” Viktor’s pout gave way to a tender smile, still cupping Yuuri’s cheeks.
Viktor held Yuuri’s face in his hands, thumbs stroking gently over Yuuri’s lips and the curve of his cheekbones. Yuuri slowly regained his breath, pants evening out into deep, easy breaths. All the while, Viktor stared at him like Yuuri had brought him the sun.
When exhaustion finally ebbed away, the situation finally crashed over Yuuri. “You kissed me,” Yuuri said numbly, his brain filling with white noise.
“Yes,” Viktor laughed, entirely too pleased with himself. “I’ve wanted to for years,” he said almost shyly.
Yuuri blinked up at him. If Yuuri had any energy, or control over his limbs, he might be freaking out. “But I’ve wanted to kiss you for years!” he said incredulously.
Viktor blinked at him. Then his brow furrowed. “But… you didn’t respond to any of my flirting?”
Yuuri’s head spun, tripped over its own feet, and tumbled over the edge of Hasetsu Castle. “You were flirting with me?”
“Yes! Quite obviously!” Viktor said indignantly.
“I thought…” Yuuri swallowed thickly, all the jokes and casual touches playing through his mind at once. “I thought that was just how you were?”
Yuuri tripped over his own tongue, desperate not to screw this up now that it had fallen into its lap (though more accurately, Yuuri had fallen into its lap). “You’re… you’re always trying to seduce ghosts! I thought you just flirted with everyone, dead and alive!”
“Oh, Yuuri…” Viktor gave him a pitying looking, like someone dealing with a particularly oblivious child. “I’ve been trying to seduce you . The ghost thing was just an excuse.”
Yuuri was violently and suddenly confronted with the reality that his life was a lie. “So you didn’t lose your virginity to a ghost?”
“Oh no, that’s true.”
“I can work with that.”
Viktor stroked Yuuri’s lips tenderly. “Can I kiss you again?”
“Just a moment.” Yuuri pulled himself into a sitting position, facing Viktor head on. “Okay, now you can.”
Viktor pulled him in for a kiss again, hands cupping Yuuri’s face. Yuuri’s arms wound around Viktor’s shoulders, pressing their chests together. Yuuri could feel the pulse of Viktor’s heart against his ribcage, heavy and fast just like his own. Viktor was just as thrilled as he was. Yuuri couldn’t help but smile into the kiss. Even so, it was more perfect than the last one.
Yuuri had run away for so many years: from Hasetsu, from his fears, and from Viktor. For once he was done running away.
“I love you,” Yuuri breathed.
Viktor gasped, heart stuttering in his chest.
“I know we haven’t been dating or anything,” Yuuri continued. “And maybe it’s too soon, but I do. And I want you to know.”
Viktor held Yuuri’s face in his hands and spoke like he was on the verge of tears. “Oh, Yuuri . How could I not love you?”
Yuuri’s heart soared, as the sun rose over Viktor’s head, haloing him like the angel he was. Yuuri felt like if he leapt off Hasetsu Castle, he would fly.
Yuuri blinked pointedly at their surroundings. “Vitya…” Suddenly the nickname held more weight than before. “Why are we on the roof?”
Viktor blinked, seeming to have lost himself in Yuuri’s eyes. “Oh! Chihoko!” He grabbed the camera, glancing around for any ghosts. “Did we miss them?”
Daybreak had already passed. Yuuri surveyed the roof, looking for the gleam that had enticed Viktor up here in the first place. There was nothing he could see. No sparkling phantoms or foggy apparitions. Just Viktor and the whole of Hasetsu laid out before them.
Viktor pouted, similarly seeing nothing of interest. “The only thing I see is that golden fish monster,” he said, pointing at the gold plated shachihoko sitting atop the castle.
In a bolt of dread, Yuuri suddenly realized what had happened. When Viktor had talked to the locals, they’d told him about the shachihoko atop Hasetsu Castle. But instead, Viktor had mistranslated it as a ghost named Chihoko.
“Maybe Chihoko is part of a pair of star-crossed lovers, and she lured us up her to bring us together,” Viktor said thoughtfully.
Yuuri swallowed his pride. How was he supposed to tell Viktor that Chihoko had never existed in the first place? “I think Chihoko…”
“Hm?” Viktor turned to him, eyes shining with newfound love.
Yuuri’s words caught in his throat. Viktor would be so disappointed. Yuuri could already see Viktor’s crestfallen eyes, and the pout on his lips that he’d wear the rest of the day. He didn’t want to mar the lovestruck look in Viktor’s eyes.
Yuuri gulped. “I think… Chihoko…”
Viktor gently took Yuuri’s hand. “Yes?”
Yuuri’s hand was clammy in Viktor’s. “Maybe…” Yuuri swallowed. “Maybe the real Chihoko is the boyfriends we made along the way.”
Viktor smilled, bringing Yuuri’s hand to his lips. “I think you’re right.”
Yuuri looked out over the town, as the first light of day moved across the water. “While we’re up here, we might as well watch the sunrise.”
Viktor’s eyes sparkled. “How romantic!”
They settled in just under the shachihoko to watch as patches of pinks, and blues played across the sky. Yuuri leaned back on the roof, Viktor pulled against his chest, all four of their hands clasped over Viktor’s stomach. The sun shifted slowly from the red of the rising sun to a burnished gold. It was almost ridiculous how poetic this was, Yuuri thought. A sun rising on a new chapter of his life, one that would hopefully be less lonely.
“You were right, it doesn’t matter,” Yuuri said softly.
Viktor hummed, shifting in his arms. “I’d love to know what I’m right about.”
“If Buzzfeed Unsolved makes people happy, then it doesn’t matter if it means something.” Yuuri nestled his face in the crook of Viktor’s neck. “I think if it makes people happy, that gives it meaning.”
Viktor leaned into Yuuri’s embrace. “I think you’re right. And you want to know a secret?” Yuuri hummed curiously. “The show made me happy, too.”
Yuuri smiled against Viktor’s skin. “What do you know? I think we have that in common.”
As soon as they made it back to Yutopia (after slowly crawling down from the castle), Yuuri set up his laptop in the dining room.
“Kaa-san , tou-san ?” he called. “Would you like to see some of my work?” he asked timidly.
All four Katsukis eagerly crowded around the laptop, as Yuuri played the first episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved . Most of the episode went over the Katsuki’s heads, though Yuuri did his best to play translator. But none of that mattered, because when the video was over, Hiroko wrapped her arms around Yuuri and held him tight.
“Oh, my baby boy, we’re so proud of you!”
And for the first time, it felt true.
Supernatural S3E1 “The Ghost Town At Vulture Mine”
Yuuri: This “spiritually active” area is referred to as the Glory Hole.
[Yuuri stares blankly at Viktor for 3 seconds while Viktor snickers]
Yuuri: This is your master plan isn’t it?
[Viktor gasps for air]
Yuuri: This entire show has just been an elaborate ruse.
Viktor: I’m dying squirtle.
[Yuuri speaks louder]
Yuuri: An elaborate ruse so that you can get us to visit the Glory Hole.
Viktor: [cackling] Holy shit, say Glory Hole again.
Yuuri: So that you can visit the Glory Hole and get sloppy ghost dick.
[Viktor nearly falls off his chair]
Viktor: Shit, Yuuri, I’ll have to wear my nice panties for this one.
Yuuri: The Glory Hole [snickering] is a reported site of great tragedy.
Viktor: There’s no greater tragedy than shitty oral.
Yuuri: Do you think some poor ghost is stuck waiting at the Glory Hole for all eternity?
Viktor: That’s the third circle of hell.
When they returned from Japan, it was barely twenty minutes before Viktor spilled the beans on their relationship.
“Hey, Vitya!” Chris said, slapping Viktor on the back. “We’ve missed you on Thirsty Thursdays. Are you free to go out tonight?”
Viktor made a show of tapping his lips and humming thoughtfully. “I’ll have to ask my boyfriend,” he said, loud enough that everyone in the cubicle farm could hear.
The only sound in the ensuing silence was Yuuri burying his face in his hands.
“Congratulations!” Phichit cheered, patting Yuuri on the back.
“He didn’t say he was dating me!” Yuuri exclaimed, offended on principle.
“Yes!” Viktor said gleefully.
Then came the barrage of questions that Yuuri had been hoping to avoid.
“Who asked who?”
“How did it happen?”
“How long have you been dating?”
Yuuri opened his mouth to respond. “I have it on video!” Viktor chimed in.
Suddenly, an hour long meeting was called, where Yuuri and all of his coworkers watched his melodramatic confession to Viktor. Phichit even made popcorn for the occasion.
Yuuri on camera did a parkour flip to everyone’s shock and horror. “Yuuri, where did you learn to do that?” Chris asked through a mouthful of popcorn.
Thankfully, Viktor had dropped the camera for the actual confession, so the only video was of the shachihoko ’s perpetually agonized face. But there was still audio.
A series of wet slurps played through the office in surround sound. “Are you kissing?” Phichit asked excitedly. “That sounds like kissing.”
If that’s what kissing sounded like, Yuuri was never ever kissing Viktor again. Onscreen Yuuri answered everyone’s question by point blank announcing Viktor had kissed him.
“Yuuri, I will give you $1000 to post this video,” Phichit pleaded.
“$2000 and that giant Sonic plush you wanted.”
That gave Yuuri pause.
Chris wolf-whistled as the video continued. “Already dropping the L-word, Yuuri?”
Viktor’s own on camera confession answered. Chris shook his head. “Wow, Vitya, at least make him take you on a date first.”
Viktor covered his heart with his hands. “My heart is an open book.”
“So when’s the wedding?” Phichit asked.
“We’re not getting married,” Yuuri announced.
(The joke was on Yuuri, because his and Viktor’s wedding was a year later. Phichit played this same video on a projector for all of their family and friends to see. On his second viewing, Yuuri sobbed like a baby.)
Buzzfeed Unsolved’s fourth season came out, to the delight of new and old fans alike. The season did even better than expected, thanks to a clip of Yuuri’s parkour going viral. Suddenly Yuuri was no longer the Buzzfeed Unsolved guy, he was the parkour guy who knew nothing about parkour. Yuuri suddenly had more followers than Phichit and no idea what to do with them.
Phichit and Buzzfeed as a whole were all too happy to milk Yuuri’s newfound popularity for all it was worth by sending him to as many conventions as possible.
“Oh my god, is that the parkour guy?” Yuuri heard someone say.
Yuuri groaned internally, turning to face a new fan. It was his first convention in a line of many, and already he was sick of people identifying him as “the parkour guy.”
Yuuri had never signed so much in one day. His hand was starting to cramp. “Yeah… that’s me…” he laughed awkwardly.
“I remember when I was the more famous one,” Viktor lamented wistfully.
He was a complete liar, because Viktor relished Yuuri’s newfound fame more than Yuuri did. (“I can’t believe my boyfriend is internet famous .”)
A teenager wearing a hoodie and sweatpants almost to his knees stared at Yuuri like he’d just found a new idol. “Hey man, those were some sick moves.”
Yuuri smiled, holding out his hand. “I’m Yuuri, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Kyle. Do you have any tips for people getting into parkour?”
Yuuri fought to keep the smile on his face and not show that he was sweating nervously. “I’m really not into parkour. It was just a spur of the moment thing. I’ve done a lot of acrobatics and core training…”
“So you think it’s most important to work on your core muscles?”
“Sure.” Somewhere, an actual parkour YouTuber was breathing down Yuuri’s neck. “And really, I have to stress no to try any of this at home, it’s super dangerous.”
“Sure, man, I hear ya.” Kyle gave him a sly wink.
“We have t-shirts!” Viktor interrupted, holding out a blue shirt emblazoned with a clip art version of Yuuri doing a flip against a wall. Across the bottom it read “THICC THIGHS SAVE LIVES.” Clip art Yuuri’s butt was definitely exaggerated.
Viktor himself was proudly wearing one. Yuuri hated that shirt with a passion. Everytime he received commission from the sales, he grumpily forwarded the money to his parents.
Letters continued to come in, at conventions and to the P.O. box Yuuri and Viktor shared. Yuuri made sure to read every single one, and to etch the words on his heart. He read them every morning when he woke up, and every night before he went to bed, letting the words become part of him, reminding him that he was doing something good .
Viktor sat in their shared hotel room held a letter penned in purple gel pen tenderly, eyes skimming over the words. “This one says you helped with their anxiety.”
“Really?” Yuuri took the letter, reading it with care. Words of gratitude flowed forth, a story of how Yuuri had touched someone else’s life. “If only I could help with my own anxiety.”
Viktor chuckled, tangling his fingers with Yuuri’s. “You’ve gotten better.”
Yuuri set the letter aside, picking another from the small pile convention goers had given them. “I think that’s more to do with you .”
“Oh please,” Viktor scoffed. “I just sit here and look pretty. You did all the work.”
Yuuri’s heart fluttered in his chest. “Maybe.”
Viktor’s eyes turned soft, in the way they only did when he was looking at Yuuri. “I’m proud of you.”
Yuuri met Viktor’s eyes over the letter, one among hundreds from people whose lives had been touched by Yuuri. “Yeah,” Yuuri breathed. “Me, too.”
Yuuri’s new internet fame was Hasetsu’s gain.
“It’s so strange, Yuuri.” Hiroko’s voice crackled over the Skype call. “There’s been more business in Hasetsu than we’ve had in years!”
Yuuri’s heart fluttered in his chest. “That’s great, kaa-san ,” he said. If he could pay back the people he loved, than he could deal with the rest.
“Yes, but what’s really strange is the sudden number of kids trying to climb Hasetsu Castle,” Toshiya said. “They had to rope the place off to keep people away.”
“Wow, I definitely know absolutely nothing about that,” Yuuri lied.
“What was that, dear?” Hiroko asked.
“Wow, mom, you’re breaking up, gotta go, bye.” Yuuri slammed the laptop shut and buried his face in his hands.
Viktor’s smiled at Yuuri over his mug of tea, eyes crinkling with mirth. “Are you ever going to tell them?”
“Maybe when I’m dying.”
Viktor just chuckled, replacing the laptop in Yuuri’s lap with himself. “You know, the fans all want a Russian episode. After we went to Japan, it’s only fair.”
Yuuri instinctively curled his arms around Viktor, learned from many months of practice. “As long as there’s no parkour involved.”
“But how else am I supposed to show you off to my mamas?” Viktor teased, booping Yuuri’s nose with his own. “They won’t let me marry just anyone, you know.”
Yuuri’s heart soared, as it always did when Viktor was around. With Viktor in his arms, Yuuri was happy. Whatever dreams he had weren’t so unattainable. They were right here, living and breathing with a heart-shaped smile
“Vitya?” he hummed. “I want to be with you forever.”
“I thought that was implied,” Viktor teased. “With the whole marriage thing.”
“No. I mean, yes, I do want to be with you forever.” Yuuri stumbled over his words. “But I meant I want to work with you forever. Whether it’s on the show or, something else.” Yuuri licked his lips, throat suddenly dry. “I don’t know what I did to deserve so much love, from you and our fans…”
Viktor clicked his tongue. “You were born, silly,” he tutted, poking Yuuri on the nose.
Yuuri’s mouth quirked up in a smile as he continued. “But I want to pay it back, as much as I can. I want us to make the world just a little bit better.”
Viktor met Yuuri’s eyes, soft and tender. “You already make the world better. Just by existing.” Viktor tucked his head under Yuuri’s chin. “But yes. I want to make the world better with you, too.”
Yuuri held Viktor to his chest, revelling in the beautiful life he had earned. It was different from what he’d dreamed, all those years ago when he’d left his home. But Yuuri wasn’t the same boy he was, then, and his dreams had changed. Now, his dream was Viktor’s heart-shaped smile and the words of love from people whose lives he’d touched. It was a drop in the bucket, in the grand scheme of things. Yuuri would never change the world with a show about ghost hunting. But he was loved, by his family, fans, and Viktor. That was something to be proud of.