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as schoolboys from their books

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Christophe had assured Yuuri that his drink was completely safe, just a regular, un-spiked soda that wouldn't result in a potential disaster or grounding when he got home. Or Mari getting some amazing blackmail material.

 

And yet Yuuri still felt like he wasn't as in control of his faculties as he could have been. Was contact-drunkenness a thing? Because he definitely felt something close to buzzed as he kept on staring at the guy standing quite a few feet away from him.

 

Maybe it was the music, blasting through the entirety of the basement/media room, muddled by the amount of bodies standing in such close proximity, the spread of heat assisted by the illicit consumption of alcohol by people his age, and a little bit older, drawing out unrestrained laughs despite several warnings to keep it down or else a neighbor might grow suspicious.

 

More than likely Yuuri was feeling this way because of Victor Nikiforov, tossing his head back as he laughed at something his friend Mila said, showing off perfectly straight teeth (definitely, definitely had braces) and surely making more than one heart go wild with the sound of his laughter.

 

Yuuri took another swallow of his flat soda, thinking of how his fingers itched to run through the pretty, long strands of Victor's silver hair, done up in a ponytail that swung around as he turned his head. 

 

He watched Victor reach up to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear, spotting fingernails painted a shiny black. They looked pretty. Yuuri should have, in theory, been able to just walk over to him and say, "I like your nails."

 

Or, "I like your hair. Your eyes. Your smile."

 

In theory. 

 

In some far-off reality when where Yuuri was a more confident version of himself whose stomach didn't cramp up when he thought about approaching someone he liked, especially at a party with schoolmates, way out of his comfort zone. 

 

That didn't deter his excitement when Phichit told him to come with him this time, even if his nerves started eating him alive as soon as he spotted Victor Nikiforov among the partygoers. Dumb of him to think Victor wouldn't come. He'd made fast friends with Christophe as soon as he transferred. 

 

Yuuri drained his cup, nearly choking when Victor looked his way. A quick glance? Something longer? Yuuri didn't know and couldn't risk finding out, keeping his eyes on the bottom of his cup and probably looking like an idiot if Victor was looking at him--

 

"Having fun?"

 

Yuuri almost kissed Phichit at that point for showing up and giving him something to actually focus on other than his empty cup. "Yeah. Yeah, definitely," Yuuri replied, not really knowing what to do with his red cup now. It felt rude to just toss it aside for Christophe to pick up in the aftermath of the party. "Thanks for inviting me along, Phichit," he said earnestly, even as his throat tightened with the sugary sweetness of the soda as his thoughts drifted back towards Victor.

 

"Come on, we're friends. You're invited to everything," Phichit said to him as he tossed an arm over his shoulders, eyeing the direction Yuuri had been looking towards. "You looking for someone?"

 

"N-no!" Yuuri replied lamely, cheeks turning red as he avoided looking in Victor's direction. He failed, of course, eyes finding him again as he elbowed Yuri Plisetsky and leaned down to whisper something in his ear. Yuri's expression turned flat before he rolled his eyes at whatever Victor was giggling about.

 

Phichit noticed it all and Yuuri watched in horror as a smirk slowly spread across his face. "Aha. There he is. The absolutely gorgeous Victor Nikiforov. Of course."

 

"Of course what?" Yuuri asked with a bit of dread, heat filling his face as he determinedly looked around in every direction other than the one that led to boys with long, silver hair.

 

Giving him a quick squeeze, Phichit leaned in to whisper, "Yuuri, come on. You've been drooling over him ever since he transferred. I'm kind of glad you only see him in English class, or else you'd probably die of dehydration."

 

Yuuri gave a soft grunt of denial. "I never drooled, I just..." Drooling was going a bit far, but Victor was...distracting. Mr. Cialdini required that everyone in his class participate in readings, and he wasn't exactly hard-pressed to find volunteers in the Honors class. It was fun, but Yuuri wasn't sure what he'd do once he had to be Laertes to Victor's Hamlet. 

 

It'd be good practice just in case they ended up on stage together for the school play (if Yuuri managed not to completely screw up his audition).

 

"Go talk to him!" Phichit whispered, giving Yuuri an encouraging shake and a not-too-subtle push towards Victor. "I'm pretty sure he'd love to make more friends. Or more."

 

Setting his feet firmly on the ground, Yuuri gave Phichit an incredulous look, his blush stamped on his face. "Come on. Me? He's never even...noticed me."

 

"He asked you for a pencil once, remember?"

 

"Yeah. He asked, said please, and I just looked at him and didn't say anything when I handed it to him. Then he thanked me and just...started writing notes." Yuuri had never really taken a look at Victor's notes, but he was sure the boy had pretty handwriting.

 

"You never did get that pencil back, did you?"

 

"I didn't care about the pencil!" It was probably lying forgotten in the bottom of Victor's book bag, and Yuuri could only hope it was happy in its new home. "It's just...he finally spoke to me and I just...choked. I doubt I've made any other big impression after that."

 

"Well, it's only been two months since that happened. Give it more time. And bring more pencils to class," Phichit said as he took his arm away and proceeded to give Yuuri's shoulder several pats. That thoughtful glow never left his yes, and Yuuri knew several things were happening at once in that head of his. "You know...If you want Victor to notice you, you could always try out for Romeo."

 

Yuuri couldn't hold back a laugh, picturing the many different directions Phichit's mind was undoubtedly taking. "Victor is Romeo. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually got it." He didn't doubt it for a moment, imagining Romeo's lines effortlessly coming out of Victor's mouth. "God, he's just...so cool, and...he always looks great," he murmured, realizing he was thinking out loud at that point. At least the music was blocking out his voice to everyone except his best friend.

 

Phichit's thoughtful silence was a little bit unexpected, prompting Yuuri to turn and look at him. His friend was gazing in Victor's direction again, but it seemed like he was looking through him, oblivious to the inaudible conversation he was having with the blond Yuri (who thankfully didn't have any classes with Yuuri). Then an idea seemed to swirl in his eyes, and a wide grin spread across his face right before he turned that familiar determined gaze on Yuuri and asked, "Yuuri, do you trust me?"

 

"...Yes?"

 

"That doesn't sound very confident, but I'll let it pass," Phichit said, still looking like he'd come up with something both dangerous and brilliant. "What if I figured out a way to get you and Victor some one-on-one time?"

 

"W-what?!" Yuuri asked, gaping at him and throwing an apprehensive look in Victor's direction. That would've been a nice idea if Yuuri had any clue as to what he'd even say to the other boy. "How would that...I can't even walk over to him! What would I say?"

 

"Whatever you want!" Phichit answered brightly, stroking his chin as he looked around, like he was looking for someone among all the kids in the basement. "Um...do you have issues with small spaces?"

 

"...I don't think so?"

 

Looking triumphant, Phichit exclaimed, "Excellent! Wait right there!" Then he left Yuuri's side and sped towards Christophe, 

 

"But...what did I agree to!?" Yuuri called after him, thoroughly confused and slightly panicked as he watched him reach Christophe, yanking him by the shoulders to rapidly whisper something in his ear. Clutching his empty cup nervously, Yuuri watched Christophe listen to Phichit with interest, and then an excited look burst to life on his face. 

 

Uh-oh.

 

Christophe sped off and up the staris while Phichit threw Yuuri a wide smile and two thumbs up.

 

He didn't return to Yuuri's side, probably knowing he'd demand to know just what those two were up to.

 

A few agonizing minutes later the volume of the music went down considerably, making several people groan and look around in both fear and confusion, because it might have meant a parent was home or the cops were at the door. Phichit raised his hands as if to restore calm, and his voice carried through the sudden quiet as he announced. "Who's up for a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven?!"

 

Yuuri dropped the cup. What have you done.

 

Phichit, the traitor, was looking right at him when he said this, and Christophe appeared in time for everyone to start ooooh-ing and wolf-whistling in that thoroughly obnoxious way that had Yuuri wanting to grit his teeth. Christophe held up a red cup, shaking it so they could hear the little clunk of what sounded like plastic. "Now, the way this works is that you'll all reach into this cup for a bottle cap. They all have a number written on them, and when I call out a random number, two of you will have that same number and you'll have to step into the closet for seven minutes. No more, no less!"

 

He pointed towards the closet, which was apparently the cramped home of a pile of board games.

 

A couple dozen people immediately approach Christophe, and hardly any of them came with a romantic partner. Yuuri's legs felt like lead as he observed them scrambling for a bottle cap, looking around curiously while Christophe reminded them not to cheat and try and find their closet-partner.

 

Not sure what he was supposed to do once Christophe's cup looked empty, Yuuri just stayed frozen in place until Phichit started heading his way again, smiling broadly as he neared Yuuri and held up a--God help me--white bottle cap with the number 8 scrawled on top of it in black marker. 

 

"So? Are you in or out? Chris just slipped Victor the same number."

 

Somewhere in the suddenly-hot basement, Victor Nikiforov was holding a bottle cap with an 8 on it. And when Christophe called out the number, he'd be alone with Victor...who would probably expect a kiss, who had probably already kissed other people and maybe even done more and, holy crap Yuuri didn't need to think about that right now. His blush was probably vivid as he gaped at Phichit, hissing, "Are you insane?!"

 

"You don't have to kiss! You can just talk to him, or stare at him..." He spoke like he was trying to paint a vivid picture, while Yuuri just kept staring at him and trying to figure out what he'd done to deserve this. But then Phichit seemed to take pity on him, shrugging nonchalantly and saying, "But if you'd rather back out, I won't hold it against you. We can just give Victor another number..."

 

"Give me that," Yuuri snapped as he yanked the cap out of Phichit's hand, face red and heart racing as he thought of what he was getting himself into. Chances like these just...didn't come along all that often, less so since Yuuri couldn't even approach Victor in school without his stomach knotting up and his throat closing up. This way he'd have no choice but to say at least a few words...Then again he would have no choice but to say a few words. He clutched the bottle cap in his fist, mentally asking himself what he thought he was doing, and ground out between his teeth, "If I humiliate myself I will never invite you over for dinner again."

 

"I'll take that risk," Phichit said with rare gravity before beaming at him again and giving him a little shove forward. "Go get him, tiger."

 

Yuuri sighed raggedly and licked his lips, immediately regretting it when he realized how dry they were. He ran his tongue over them a few times, trying to think of what he could possibly say to Victor. 

 

Speaking of Victor...

 

Looking in his direction again, Yuuri found him staring at the bottle cap in his hand, and then he looked around the basement in mild bewilderment. Yuuri looked away in time, before he could catch Victor's gaze, and immediately felt woefully inadequate. He hadn't kissed anyone in all of his sixteen-going-on-seventeen years, despite all the crushes he'd nursed, and he'd probably be bad at it and Victor would probably laugh at him...

 

It'd probably be a good idea to back out, to avoid potential humiliation and nurse yet another unfulfilled crush. 

 

But he held on to the bottle cap, the part of him that was eager to just tear out of his comfort zone taking over, howling for the chance to talk to the good-looking boy with long hair, black nail polish, and blue eyes.

 

"Let's see...We'll start with number...8!"

 

Yuuri choked down a scream, the pathetic-sounding noise muffled by those same obnoxious oohs and wolf-whistles as Victor actually stepped forward, looking around with a curious smile.

 

Not having any idea just what Victor was expecting, Yuuri swallowed thickly through all the dread in his belly and took a shaky step forward, trying to keep his eyes on Victor and not on his feet. 

 

The noises around them were deafening, and Yuuri stopped breathing as those blue eyes finally spotted him. They widened as they took in the sight of Yuuri, who almost shrank under that gaze even as he moved towards him on heavy legs. This is crazy, he thought, lungs frozen as he thought of how ridiculous he must have looked standing in front of Victor, clutching that damn bottle cap and feeling everyone's eyes on him.

 

Victor's smile was lovely. All of his smiles were lovely, even this completely indiscernible one that made Yuuri's legs want to stop working. Was it friendly? Disappointed? Suddenly Christophe was at Victor's back, and Yuuri felt a familiar pair of hands at his, and they were being shoved towards the closet, and Yuuri was trying not to trip on his own feet on the way. Once they were both inside, Yuuri's knees crashed against the board games, and he had to steady himself against the wall. He looked over his shoulder and saw Chris and Phichit grinning at them as Chris flicked the light on, the bulb glowing faintly above Victor's head. "Have fun, you two," he said brightly before shutting the door.

 

Yuuri finally breathed, standing up right and trying very hard not to shake as he turned towards Victor again. He'd assumed there'd be a hair's breadth of space between them, but there was enough space for maybe a third person between them. But no. No, it was just the two of them, and Yuuri had no idea what to say to the smiling boy except..."H-hi."

 

Stupid. So very stupid.

 

"Hello, Yuuri," he heard Victor reply, his voice warm.

 

The sound of it made a jolt go through Yuuri, and he couldn't stop himself from looking at Victor in utter surprise, pretty sure his heartbeat was embarrassingly audible. "...I-"

 

"Seven minutes starting now!" Phichit shouted on the other side of the door, immediately followed by more whistles and hoots.

 

Yuuri tried to block them out, trying to will the door into becoming sound-proof so he could actually have a decent conversation with Victor, who looked a little bemused by the whole situation. "...I'm in your English class," he finally managed to say lamely, a little afraid that Victor couldn't hear him, and he'd have to go through the embarrassing process of repeating himself.

 

He nearly died at the soft little chuckle Victor answered with. "I know that. You've been reading for Laertes since Mr. Cialdini had us start Hamlet." 

 

Right. And Victor was Hamlet. In a few more class sessions they'd have to pretend to be at each other's throats over Ophelia's grave. Yuuri might have said that, but instead his brain provided him with, "...You borrowed a pencil from me once."

 

Idiot. Idiot idiot.

 

Victor blinked at him, bewildered. "I did?"

 

Yuuri scrambled for a way to fix it, to somehow take the words back because wow, was that really the second thing he was going to say to Victor? "I mean...I-it was a long time ago, and it was just a pencil-"

 

But then realization dawned in those eyes, and Victor looked chagrined as he exclaimed, "Oh no! Did I forget to give it back? I'm sorry, Yuuri, I'll make it up to you."

 

"No, it's okay!" Yuuri told him as he thought, Victor's apologizing to *me*, just what was in my drink?  He nervously clutched the front of his shirt, trying to just breathe and and ignore the way his brain kept telling him that death was imminent. He thought of the soft monotone of Mari's voice, talking about life and people as she examined the ruined ends of her hair. Not that he wanted her in the closet, of course, but thinking of it helped. A little. His voice felt a bit steadier as he said, "I mean...It's fine. Don't worry about it."

 

Victor smiled at him sheepishly, and Yuuri was astonished by the flush he spotted high on those cheeks. "Thank you for letting me borrow it, even though I've probably sharpened it down to nothing." He laughed as he said it, and Yuuri could only manage an awkward huff of laughter from his chest, not too sure about his own smile. Then Victor suddenly asked with such open curiosity, "So tell me! Have you ever played Seven Minutes before?"

 

Yuuri paled. "Uhh...I..."

 

"No? I have! There's something about the mystery and surprise about who you might end up with...It's fun, but I can see how it might make people nervous. I'm not making you nervous, am I?"

 

He said it all so quickly Yuuri felt like he was having trouble keeping up. "I-I'm okay," he murmured, the bulb above Victor's head casting a painfully appropriate light over him, making him look brighter despite the gray tones he wore. 

 

"Because we don't have to kiss if you don't want to," Victor said, his gaze entirely focused on Yuuri, smiling gently. "We can just talk and let everyone outside think whatever they want. It'll be our little secret, if you like." Then he winked and Yuuri felt like his face had just turned an embarrassingly intense red.

 

"What would we talk about?" he asked, blinking at the other boy and feeling stupid for asking him the same question he'd asked Phichit earlier.

 

Victor shrugged and crossed his arms loosely across his chest, leaning back against the wall and glancing at the door when something thumped against it and the music started playing a bit louder. Then he asked with that same, encouraging smile, "Is Hamlet your favorite Shakespeare play?"

 

Okay. This was an...easy topic, and it helped dispel some of the tightness in his belly. "It's one of my favorites. I think my top favorite is..." He stopped, biting his lip with apprehension. "You'll laugh."

 

"No I won't. Come on, tell me," Victor insisted, beaming at him.

 

"...Romeo and Juliet," Yuuri replied, staring at Victor's shoes and chewing the inside of his cheek to ribbons. Shrugging, he stopped twisting the front of his shirt and added as another flush crept up his neck, "I know it's not the coolest play to like..."

 

"Of course it is!" Victor exclaimed, eyes alight with an interest Yuuri wasn't expecting. "What do you like about it? Tell me!"

 

He was standing in a closet with Victor Nikiforov, both of them roped into a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven, and Victor was asking him about his favorite play. Maybe that should have felt like the biggest letdown on earth, because weren't they supposed to be sharing fumbling kisses, thumping around the small space of the closet and making everyone outside try to listen in and guess just what was going on inside? They definitely weren't giving any eavesdroppers anything close to interesting material. Just stuff they might hear during class.

 

Deciding that replying was probably better than complete silence for the next five minutes, Yuuri gave him a not-too-confident shrug as he said, "I just think it's so tragic. I mean...th-that's kind of the point, but...There's more to it than just...'teenagers being idiots,' you know?" He wasn't meeting Victor's eyes as he talked, but it was easier than just letting Victor look into them and pick him apart. "Like...Juliet's smarter than everyone thinks, Romeo's a reckless romantic, and they're both caught up in this mess that their parents created..." He trailed off once he felt his voice go shaky, hand finding the front of his shirt again and just twisting. 

 

"I love how you said that," he heard Victor say softly.

 

Heat danced up the back of Yuuri's neck, and he finally managed to meet Victor's eyes for a few moments. "It probably sounded stupid," he said with a little shake of his head.

 

But then Victor vehemently shook his head, stepping away from the wall and towards Yuuri. "No way! You sounded so passionate about it! Are you auditioning for a part in the play?"

 

Right, because they were actually performing it in the spring. Nodding, Yuuri replied, "Y-yeah...I don't really know which one, though. What about you?" It was definitely a foolish question. Victor was absolutely Romeo, and he'd probably get it while Yuuri shuffled home after undoubtedly not finding his name on a cast list.

 

"Definitely! I love being in plays!" Victor replied with near-infectious enthusiasm. "I played Scrooge's nephew in my old school's Christmas Play. The year after that I was the Scarecrow when we did The Wizard of Oz," he added, listing them off on his fingers.

 

Definitely used to being on stage. Yuuri definitely envied his confidence. "...Do you think you'll try out for Romeo?" he dared to ask.

 

Victor replied with another shrug, answering vaguely, "Maybe. Do you think I should be Romeo?"

 

He leaned in towards Yuuri as he asked, and Yuuri couldn't avoid biting his lip thoughtfully. "You could be. You're...you're great as Hamlet in class, and you're...really good-looking." He flinched right as he said it, as though he'd just laid all of his feelings bare for Victor to peruse and laugh at before rejecting him.

 

None of that happened (at least not yet), and Victor's smile widened as his eyes warmed. "Well, thank you. That's very nice of you to say." Then he was leaning in again, and Yuuri could see the sheen of lip gloss on his lips as he added, "I think you'd make a good Romeo too."

 

Yuuri huffed out another laugh, butterflies filling his stomach as he thought of trying out for Romeo. "No way. I mean...I'm not anything like Romeo. I'd be...nowhere near as good as you."

 

"Really?" Victor asked, putting two fingers to his chin and tapping it thoughtfully, "Because you're probably good at performing, from what I've seen. And you have nice eyes, a nice smile..."

 

Yuuri jumped when Christophe called out, "Three minute mark! Try to let him breathe, Victor!" Then there were more hoots, whistles, and laughs.

 

His stomach and throat grew tight again, and Yuuri took his eyes away from Victor's face, remembering that he definitely wasn't a Romeo. "You don't have to flatter me," he murmured, misery flooding his chest as he thought of their time together coming to an end. Hell, he hadn't even touched Victor, and they'd probably retreat to their usual places as classmates, entirely separate and only engaging in minimal interactions.

 

But Victor was stubbornly shaking his head, his ponytail swinging back and forth with the motion. "I'm not. It's all true!" he said, reaching out to take Yuuri's clammy hands in his. As Yuuri died and came back to life several times, Victor added excitedly, "Sometimes I don't even read along on the page. I just watch you and listen. I think you're incredibly talented."

 

His hands were so clammy and limp in Victor's grip, and Yuuri probably looked like a fish as he gaped at the slightly taller boy who'd entranced him ever since he transferred in a year ago. "...I think you are too," Yuuri said quietly, trying to get his hands to move, to take Victor's hands without anxiously crushing them. 

 

He kept looking at Victor, trying to relax every tense inch of his body, starting with his jaw in an attempt to save himself from a headache later on. Victor was looking at him too, his entire face softening for some reason as his thumbs ran across Yuuri's knuckles.

 

Oh, wow, Yuuri thought, locking gazes with the other boy and feeling even more heat fill his face.

 

Yes, Victor was looking right at him, those soft hands of his giving Yuuri's a gentle squeeze. "Your eyes are so pretty," Victor breathed, sending a warm tingle through the length of Yuuri's spine.

 

Blinking rapidly and glancing away, Yuuri murmured, "They're just brown..."

 

"I think brown eyes are pretty," Victor said, tipping Yuuri's chin up with a hand like he really wanted to get a better look at his eyes. Yuuri stood absolutely still, unsure of how exactly to proceed because his body was a traitor that just completely fell apart on him during the most important moment of his life so far. And then Victor asked softly, "Can I kiss you?"

 

Yuuri's jaw dropped. "...Me?!"

 

"You," Victor said with a soft laugh, those blue eyes turning warmer still as soft fingers traced Yuuri's jaw.

 

The action made Yuuri's knees go weak, and he was tempted to grab on to Victor's shoulder for support while his heart just stopped doing that warm, fluttery thing. He had to say something, his brain knew he had to respond with a "yes" if he wanted to take what Victor was offering, but his mouth wasn't cooperating. It only let out something Yuuri knew he was going to beat himself up for later, because come on. "...Okay."

 

It sounded like Yuuri didn't care whether or not Victor Nikiforov kissed him, and he did care. He cared a lot. So much, his brain was sounding out several alarms at once, almost muddling Yuuri's thought process as his first kiss came ever closer.

 

It wasn't until Victor's lips touched his that Yuuri remembered he had absolutely no idea what to do. He just stood there, thoroughly immobilized with his arms hanging uselessly at his sides as Victor Nikiforov kissed him.

 

He didn't breathe, his mind focusing solely on the sensation of soft lips melding against his and soft hands framing his face. He couldn't think about anything other than the fact that he was being kissed by a gorgeous boy with beautiful long hair and stunning blue eyes, and he was just standing there like an idiot

 

Yuuri's fingers twitched, suddenly itching to bury themselves in Victor's hair and undo the ponytail so he could run his fingers through it and see if it was as soft as it looked.

 

And then the closet flooded with light when someone pulled the door open, and Yuuri felt Victor jolt in surprise before tearing his lips away, and that was when Yuuri's hands decided to work, flying up to clutch Victor's wrists when they simultaneously turned to look at everyone staring into the closet.

 

Christophe and Phichit were blinking at them, wide-eyed with surprise and absolute delight, the blond declaring, "Holy crap, it worked."

 

"Uhh...time's up," Phichit said, eyes widening even more when they zeroed in on Yuuri, who was still holding on to Victor's wrists. 

 

The sight of all the other faces behind them, curious and shocked, brought Yuuri crashing back to reality, familiar panic rising in his throat yet again.

 

Victor's wrists slid out of his slack grip, but then he was tugging Yuuri out of the closet, past Chris and Phichit and all their ooh-ing classmates. "Come on," Yuuri heard him say as he managed to keep up with him, avoiding tripping up the stairs and over Christophe's cat.

 

The cold November air hit Yuuri's face like a splash of cold water, and he sighed in ragged relief as he let go of Victor's hand. His heart was racing so hard it was probably going to kill him, and his face felt so hot with both excitement and embarrassment. "...I'm sorry," he gasped, falling backward onto the steps leading to the door and burying his face in his hands. "That was so bad, that was the worst kiss ever..." And it had been his first. What a joke.

 

"Yuuri, it was fine," he heard Victor say, feeling a hand on his back. He looked up, blinking away the tears pooling in the corners of his eyes, and saw Victor sitting next to him, wearing a soft smile. "We just didn't have enough time for more. Do you want to do it again?"

 

And once again Yuuri was stunned into silence. Not only had his crush kissed him, but he was asking him to do it again? Maybe Christophe had been wrong, and Yuuri's drink did have something in it...Still, he asked him incredulously, "...Really?"

 

Victor looked mildly surprised by Yuuri's disbelief, and his hand found Yuuri's cheek again, tracing it with his thumb. "Really."

 

This was not Yuuri's life. No one went around asking him if they could kiss him. Especially not boys like Victor. Even if this was just a really vivid dream, Yuuri didn't want to say no. He nodded twice before he leaned in, blushing like mad when Victor did the same and then their lips were touching again.

 

Yuuri still didn't know what to do with his own lips, just feeling the way Victor's mouth settled over his in a gentle press. 

 

Their parting was less spectacular this time around, Yuuri taking in the bloom of color on Victor's cheeks when he drew away, and then the other boy asked, "In the closet...Was that your first kiss?"

 

"...Yeah," Yuuri admitted, shifting on the step as he looked away.

 

Victor gave a thoughtful hum at that. "So this was your second. And this is your third," he said before tipping Yuuri's face toward his again and pressing their lips back together, Yuuri inhaling sharply at a gentle suck of his bottom lip, followed by a quick swipe of Victor's tongue.

 

Yuuri's entire body was vibrating when Victor drew away with a satisfied look, thumb tracing over Yuuri's bottom lip as he just gazed at the blue-eyed boy with an open mouth. "You're so cute, Yuuri," Victor said as his eyes seemed to take in everything about Yuuri's face.

 

Feeling warmer than ever beneath those eyes, Yuuri didn't know what to say. Then Victor gasped like he just had a moment of brilliant inspiration, digging into his pocket and pulling his phone out. "Let me have your number!"

 

"W-what?!" Yuuri sputtered out, rendered speechless with shock as Victor dug through his jacket for his phone so he could dial in their numbers into both of them.

 

He handed Yuuri his phone back, beaming happily as he declared, "There you go! Text me whenever you want!"

 

Sure enough, Victor's name and number were safely in Yuuri's contacts. This was unexplored territory for sure, and Yuuri was still somewhat convinced this was just a really intense fantasy. Still, he asked in a small voice, "...But not during class, right?"

 

"Aw, but I'm good at hiding my phone!" Victor pouted.

 

"We'll get in trouble."

 

"Fine, fine. Not in class, then," Victor replied, still pouting even as he threw an arm over Yuuri's shoulder drawing him closer. "I'm glad Christophe slipped me that bottle cap. I guess your friend Phichit slipped you one too."

 

Frozen yet again once Victor had his arm around him, Yuuri couldn't answer. All he could do was keep blushing and hold on tight to his phone.

 

"Very very crafty," Victor said when Yuuri stayed quiet.

 

"I didn't ask them to do it, I promise!" Yuuri blurted out, clutching his phone in both hands.

 

"It's okay. I'm very happy about it," Victor laughed, nuzzling Yuuri's temple. "I got to kiss a cute boy, and...maybe he'll let me kiss him even more?"

 

Yuuri felt himself sag into the half-embrace, his mind whirling with the realization that...maybe this was real. He'd liked Victor ever since he laid eyes on him a year ago, and now...

 

Seven minutes.

 

They sat there a bit longer, and Yuuri zipped up his jacket before Victor asked in a shaking voice, "Do you want to go back inside?"

 

Yuuri turned to look at him, and realized with a pang that Victor wasn't wearing a jacket. The tip of his nose was red and he was shivering. Biting his lip guiltily, Yuuri nodded. "Y-yeah..."

 

They went back inside, Victor letting out a shudder and rubbing his arms. Yuuri just looked at him, clutching the sleeve of his jacket with an apology on the tip of his tongue. Then they made their way back upstairs, and Yuuri braced himself for the laughter people were going to aim at him.

 

But it seemed that everyone was preoccupied with the giggles coming from the closet, and the feminine voice sounded very familiar. This time Mila Babicheva and Georgi Popovich were guarding the door, and Christophe and Phichit were waiting near the stairs. Standing beside Chris, Victor asked him, "Who's in there now?"

 

Chris gave him a surprised look before giving them both a smug look. "Yuuko and Takeshi. Lots of giggling so far. By the way, you're welcome."

 

Victor rolled his eyes, nudging Chris's shoulder with his. "Thank you, Christophe."

 

Yuuri's heart started to race again, and he forgot that it was his two oldest friends in the closet, probably doing the opposite of discussing plays and such. He turned towards Phichit, trying to figure out what to say. "Phichit..."

 

His friend just beamed at him, looking very satisfied at the developments. "I'll take your thanks in the form of your chem notes."

 

"I would've given them to you anyway."

 

"Aww."

Chapter Text

Yuuri was barely awake for about a minute when his heart skipped a beat and he remembered what had happened the night before.

 

A minute later he was trying to recreate it all in his mind, from the very first moment in the closet to their final brush of lips when Victor left the party, since he was the only one of his friends with a car (and permission to drive it alone) and the designated driver. A half-hour after that Yuuri, still shell-shocked and wondering when his heartbeat would calm down, got into Mari's car and barely answered any of her questions about the party.

 

Once he greeted his parents and they wished him a goodnight (and reminded him that he still had homework to do over the weekend), Yuuri took a quick shower, brushed his teeth, and headed straight to bed.

 

Five minutes later he frantically grabbed his phone and sent a text to Victor, wishing him a goodnight. As soon as he sent it he regretted it, wondering if he needed to sound more...flirty or something. Maybe include a heart emoji? 

 

Then Victor almost immediately replied with, "Same to you!" And a winky face paired with a blue heart.

 

At that point Yuuri wasn't sure if he'd be able to go to sleep. Ever. He'd just stare right at the text for the rest of his life, wondering how the hell he got so lucky. 

 

Eventually, with Vicchan at his feet, Yuuri managed to fall asleep.

 

Fully awake, Yuuri reached for his phone and found a good morning text waiting for him, complete with three blue heart emojis.

 

YUURI :

good morning to you too

 

He typed that all out so slowly, and as soon as he sent it he impulsively decided to take yet another leap.

 

YUURI:

<3 <3 <3

 

Then he realized they were all red.

 

"Crap!" he exclaimed, startling Vicchan into a series of frightened and offended yips. 

 

He was still looking at the entire conversation, however short it was, as he was eating his cereal, his battered and dog-eared copy of Romeo and Juliet lying by his arm. He had homework for all seven classes, and would likely get started on everything that night. He just had to rehearse a bit and get ready for his audition the coming Tuesday.

 

Then his sister suddenly appeared in front of him, chin resting on her palm as she looked at him with a wide grin. "So!"

 

"...So?" Yuuri asked, looking back at her in confusion.

 

"You and Victor Nikiforov," Mari said, her grin growing wider.

 

Yuuri dropped his spoon into his bowl with a clatter, staring at her incredulously. He hadn't said anything to her yet. He was still trying to process it all himself! "...H-how did you--"

 

"Phichit DMed me all the details last night," she replied with a soft giggle, her shoulders shaking with it before her grin turned proud. "Your first kiss. Way to go. Why didn't you introduce us last night?"

 

"He had to give his friends rides home," Yuuri explained, a blush rising up onto his cheeks. 

 

Mari gave a low whistle. "He drives too?" She leaned in further, curiosity burning in her eyes. "So you have a boyfriend now?"

 

Yuuri exhaled sharply at the thought of the word, butterflies filling him up rather than air. "I think? I mean..." He stared into his bowl, trying to gather his thoughts so he could at least make some sort of sense explaining it all. "It just happened so fast, and I'm having a hard time believing last night even happened," he said, feeling himself smile faintly.

 

Nodding a few times, Mari was still smirking. Then she asked with a mischievous glint in her eye, "Can you still taste his lip gloss?"

 

Yuuri flushed hotly, glaring at her before picking up his bowl and drinking the remaining milk with a loud slurp. He set it down, hard, and pushed his copy of Romeo and Juliet across the table towards her. "Can you just...help me with this?"

 

Deciding to have mercy on him, Mari dropped her lighthearted teasing and started flipping through the dog-eared book, the margins filled with Yuuri's scribbles. "Still set on the Friar?" she asked him, laying the book flat on the table when she reached the Friar's first scene, the lengthy piece of dialogue looking rather intimidating despite being upside-down in Yuuri's point of view.

 

"Yeah," Yuuri replied, hoping he already had the exchange with Romeo well-memorized. "...You know Victor suggested that I try out for Romeo," he added with a soft laugh.

 

Mari didn't laugh. She instead froze and frowned at the text in front of her before raising her gaze towards Yuuri's, like she'd achieved some manner of epiphany. "...That's a pretty good idea, actually!" she exclaimed, an excited smile spreading across her face.

 

Yuuri could feel horror dawning on his face, the butterflies in his stomach turning decidedly hostile. "Mari, no."

 

"Why not?" Mari asked, looking as absolutely convinced as Victor had. She got up, her chair scraping across the floor, and reached out to push Yuuri's hair back while he groaned in protest. "We just gel your hair back and wow! Dreamboat. Whoever plays Juliet is gonna be pretty lucky."

 

Batting her hands away and fixing his hair, Yuuri said grumpily, "I...don't even know if I'll even get it. I might end up trying out and just...humiliating myself."

 

"Or you could be a pretty great Romeo. But that's just my humble opinion," Mari said with a shrug.

 

"And...well, the Friar's pretty important too! He's the peacemaker, he...he helps Romeo and Juliet get together and marries them."

 

"Those are all good points. I've got another one." Then she reached up and pushed Yuuri's hair back again. "Romeo."

 

"Mari!"

 

"Let's just try it. We've got all morning," Mari said as she haphazardly put his hair back in place, going back to drag her chair over to his side and sitting down before flipping back towards the beginning of the play. She skimmed the page for a few seconds before pointing at Romeo's entrance. "There. I'll be this guy Benvolio. Quick, tell me the context."

 

Sighing in surrender, Yuuri scratched his head and said, "Well...Romeo's moping about a girl and his parents just asked Benvolio to figure out what's bothering him."

 

"That's it?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Okay," Mari said before grinning again. "This is eerily true to life, you know. Except Victor's the boy you've been moping over," she added.

 

Yuuri gave her a dry look before taking the book from her and making his way through the dialogue. He hadn't exactly memorized the parts that didn't involve the Friar, so this was like starting from scratch.

 


 

Being the first one to text was one thing. An actual phone call was absolutely terrifying, and Yuuri thought it would have taken him hours of some manner of self-encouragement to actually get him to go to his room with Vicchan at his heels, pick up his phone to thumb through his contacts, hit Victor's name, and hit that dreaded green call button before bringing the phone to his ear and listening to the threatening sound of the line ringing.

 

But these were unique circumstances, and Yuuri needed to talk about this with the boy responsible for it. Desperation trumped phone anxiety all the time.

 

...Well, maybe not all the time, since the butterflies were actively trying to steal all of Yuuri's oxygen as he listened to the line ring and he realized that he was calling Victor what was he thinking it was Saturday and Victor was probably out doing something fun-

 

Yuuri essentially died when he noise came to a stop four rings in and he heard Victor cheerfully greet,"Yuuri, hi! This is a nice surprise!"

 

Dragging his spirit back into his body and taking a shaky breath, Yuuri replied, "...H-hi. I'm not bugging you, am I?"

 

"No, I'm just out in my yard with my dog. It's still warm, so I'm taking advantage."

 

Yuuri's heart gave an exaggeratedly excited beat. He did not know Victor had a dog. "You have a dog too?" he asked, immediately realizing how exaggeratedly excited he sounded. But Victor Nikiforov and dogs were his top two favorite things in the world, and this was like Christmas and his birthday in one complete package.

 

"Yes! A poodle named Makkachin! What about you?"

 

This was some sort of...bizarre, wonderful magic at work. Yuuri sat on the edge of his bed and stared at Vicchan, who was determinedly trying to tear one of Yuuri's old socks to pieces on the floor. He swallowed and answered weakly, "...Poodle. Named...Vicchan." Oh my God, in what world did those three words make sense?

 

Apparently they somehow made sense, because Victor gasped excitedly and replied, "Are you kidding? That's amazing!" That was followed by a series of unidentifiable noises and a muffled woof that caught Yuuri's interest. "Let's all meet at the park!" Victor exclaimed.

 

Yuuri blinked in Vicchan's direction, suddenly confused. "Wait, what?"

 

"Let's bring our dogs to Hudson Park and introduce them!"

 

He hadn't expected that, but this meant he was seeing Victor again, and meeting his dog. The butterflies toned it down, going back to something a bit more pleasant. "Um...o-okay?" he replied, getting to his feet and trying not to let his rapid heartbeat get the better of him. "I'll be there in about...ten minutes?"

 

"Great! I can't wait to see you!"

 

"Yeah...Same to you."

 

Victor couldn't wait to see him. Yuuri's thumb somehow found the end call button as he sat and pondered Victor's tone as he said that. He...actually sounded excited. He was excited and they were going to meet each other's dogs. 

 

Yuuri's own excitement withered when he realized that they'd hung up without getting to what Yuuri wanted to talk about in the first place. "Oh, crap," he muttered as his heart sank.

 

Well, his heart didn't sink too far down. He and Vicchan were still on their way to meet Victor and Makkachin. He let Mari know where he was going, got his jacket on and put Vicchan on his leash, and they were off.

 

Like Yuuri had predicted, they made it to the park in ten minutes. He was at the park gates and about to take his phone out to call Victor when he spotted the silver-haired boy sitting on a bench scrolling through his phone with one hand while holding on to a leash with the other, and at the other end of the leash was the second-most adorable dog Yuuri had ever seen in his life.

 

Vicchan spotted him too, and started barking excitedly at the sight of a potential new friend. The sound made Victor raise his head in their direction, and when those blue eyes fell on him, Yuuri could feel his heart threaten to pound right out of his chest. The other boy had his hair up in a ponytail, the loose strands blown around his face by the cooling winds. He waved at Yuuri and called out, "Yuuri, you made it!"

 

The larger poodle noticed Vicchan too, visibly lighting up and barking an apparent greeting. Yuuri let Vicchan tug him their way, eyes darting between Makkachin and his owner. "Oh my God, that's your dog?" he asked, smiling as the two dogs started sniffing at each other.

 

"That's your dog?!" Victor asked, beaming at the sight of the two getting acquainted. "He's so adorable! It's like I'm looking at the same dog, except yours is in miniature!" He looked up at Yuuri as Makkachin started licking Vicchan's face, the smaller of the two yipping almost adoringly. "I think they love each other! Can I pick Vicchan up?"

 

"Yeah, he loves meeting people," Yuuri replied, kneeling down at the same time as Victor to unhook Vicchan from his leash so Victor could gather him up in his arms. 

 

His heart melted into a warm puddle at the sight of Vicchan eagerly licking at Victor's jaw as the boy cuddled him. "Hello, cutie!" He added something else in Russian, sounding endearingly sweet.

 

Distracted, Yuuri found himself practically tossed onto his back when Makkachin decided to attack him with several licks to his face, causing him to laugh uncontrollably as he ruffled the dog's ears. "I guess Makkachin likes me too," he chuckled when Makkachin finally allowed him to get up, though he still bounded around him in excitement.

 

Victor laughed too as he scratched the spot between Vicchan's ears. "I haven't exactly stopped talking to him about you since last night," he explained cheerfully. 

 

"Oh. Really?" Yuuri asked, his heart still beating incredibly hard and fast. 

 

"Really," Victor said, smiling softly as he leaned in to press a kiss to Yuuri's lips. 

 

Surprised, Yuuri stopped breathing for a moment, his face a blazing red when he licked his lips and tasted the cherry-flavored lip gloss Victor was wearing. "...I'm gonna have to get used to that," Yuuri murmured, peering up into Victor's face.

 

The other boy looked so satisfied, still beaming at Yuuri as he cradled Vicchan. "You're so cute. And your dog's cute too. How is that even fair?"

 

Yuuri was sure he would've only sputtered some sort of nonsense if he'd been able to actually answer that. 

 

They were then walking along the path with the dogs back on their leashes, Yuuri wondering how he would even begin broaching this particular subject with Victor. After all, he'd been the first to suggest it.

 

After biting his lip for a good two minutes, Yuuri finally took a breath and began, "Listen, uh...When I called earlier, I got a bit off-track. I actually wanted to ask you something."

 

"Oh? It wasn't because you missed me?" Victor asked with a little grin. "What did you want to ask?"

 

Yuuri hesitated. He felt like he was about to ask something stupid, and maybe Victor was wrong about this. After all, it wouldn't cost Victor a thing. He could audition for any part he wanted. Still, he was in it now, and Victor was waiting for his question. He inwardly braced himself and finally asked, "Do you really think I could be Romeo? Be honest."

 

Victor looked mildly surprised, but he kept smiling at Yuuri as he nodded with certainty. "I think you could. You have the looks for it. You just have to have more confidence in yourself."

 

Yuuri gave a shaky snort, staring down in Vicchan's direction. "I don't exactly have a lot of that," he murmured, wishing he could be as confident as the boy walking beside him. "My point is...auditions are on Tuesday afternoon. This morning I was getting ready to memorize Friar Lawrence's lines with my sister, and she thinks I should be Romeo too."

 

"See? I'm a genius, and so is your sister," Victor said smugly.

 

"So we worked on Romeo's first scene, and..." Yuuri sighed, recalling just how that went. Mari's delivery of Benvolio's lines didn't go beyond a low drone while Yuuri tried to channel the moody, thoughtful romantic Romeo was, but...he liked reading the lines, and he liked hearing Romeo's words in his voice. Sure, he needed to work on it a bit more, but suddenly he felt like there was a glimmer of a chance, like he could actually pull it off. He stopped and faced Victor, asking in serious tones, "Do you really think I can do it?"

 

Victor faced him, appearing equally serious as he regarded Yuuri thoughtfully before responding with, "Yes, but...In the end, there's no point if you don't think you can do it."

 

"I want to. I mean..." Yuuri sighed and looked away, both dogs staring up at them expectantly. "...I want to stand out," he confessed before looking at Victor again. "I want to be great at this, and...maybe I can, but...It's like my brain thinks up of a thousand different ways that it could all go wrong, and it puts the brakes on everything!" He felt absolutely breathless as he got it all out. And stupid. He couldn't forget that. He blushed and looked down at Victor's sneakers, adding in a mutter, "...Even talking to the guy I've had a crush on for months."

 

"Aw, you had a crush on me!" Victor cooed, his long fingers trailing through Yuuri's hair and settling on the back of his neck, a weight Yuuri somehow found to be incredibly grounding. He felt Victor's forehead press against his before he asked in a softer tone, "So what are you going to do?"

 

Yuuri peered up at him, nearly losing himself in the swirling blue of Victor's eyes. "...What if you tried out?" he asked weakly.

 

"I am trying out. For Mercutio."

 

Yuuri blinked at him twice and groaned softly. Victor was absolutely going to be Mercutio. "Oh my God, I wish you'd said Romeo. I wouldn't have a chance."

 

But Victor shook his head in utter denial of that idea. "Nope. I'm going to be the best Mercutio possible and have one of the most dramatic death scenes in the play, and you're going to be the most dashing Romeo the school has ever seen!" he declared, lifting Yuuri's gaze from the ground and smiling at him like he knew for sure that Yuuri was the next Olivier, or something.

 

For a few moments Yuuri believed it, caught by Victor's smile and feeling like he'd be able to effortlessly bring his absolute best to Ms. Okukawa's auditions if she were right in front of him in that moment. "How do you do that?" he asked quietly. "You make me forget all that...brain stuff I mentioned."

 

"I guess it's a gift," Victor answered with a one-armed shrug. They started walking again, Yuuri looking at Victor as the silver-haired boy told him, "Romeo's our age. That's something important to remember. He just says what's in his heart, and it's the most...honest and raw thing he could say. He speaks of love in a time of hate."

 

"Yeah. Yeah, he does," Yuuri said with a small nod.

 

"And, sure, maybe he was saying it all to another girl a week before he said it to Juliet, but it still means much!"

 

"...Right," Yuuri murmured. Romeo pines too, Yuuri thought, realizing it was something he had in common with the guy. "So...I guess I'm going to try out for Romeo on Tuesday," he sighed, giving up as he felt the butterflies in his stomach begin their assault again. "Which means...I'm going to kiss someone else. More than once," he added, his stomach doing anxious flips at the realization.

 

Victor came to a complete stop, making Makkachin peer back at him with a whine. Yuuri stopped too, staring at Victor in confusion before the boy appeared to compose himself with a quick clearing of his throat and a faint smile as color filled his cheeks. "...That's...fine...It's for the sake of theater, and you're a performer!"

 

Yuuri couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe it because stuff like this just didn't happen to him. This was just a very vivid dream, because in no way was Victor Nikiforov jealous over the thought of him kissing other people in a damn play. "...You're jealous," Yuuri said before he could stop himself.

 

"Extremely," Victor immediately replied. "So we may have to kiss a lot more to outnumber your kisses with Juliet."

 

"Right..." Yuuri couldn't believe he had forgotten that aspect of Romeo's character. There were a handful of girls he'd wanted to kiss in his short lifetime, and Yuuko Nishigori was the most prominent one. Of course that ship had sailed when she and Takeshi got together, and she'd already said she wanted to try out for the Nurse. That meant Juliet was a total mystery, since auditions were open.

 

But Victor didn't really need to feel jealous. Yuuri didn't exactly want to kiss anyone else anymore, outside of being Romeo. 

 

"I'll be cheering you on too. Even after I die a sorrowful and dramatic death in a senseless fight," Victor added, his smile genuine. Then he asked, "What made you realize you wanted to audition?"

 

Yuuri bit his lip as he thought about it. "I just...really felt it. You know?"

 

"I think I do," Victor said, nodding in understanding. His smile widened and he looked at Yuuri with fondness as he said, "This is the best first date ever."

 

Yuuri stared at him in surprise, color rising to his cheeks again. "This is a date?"

 

Victor blushed too, though he kept smiling as he quickly suggested, "Or we could go out to a movie if this isn't-"

 

Frantic, Yuuri interrupted with, "No, no, I mean...! Movies are nice, but...I think this is nice too." He nodded towards their leashed dogs, walking as close as Yuuri and Victor were.

 

"Oh. Good," Victor said, sounding mildly relieved.

 

Even so, Yuuri couldn't help but ask for the sake of future reference, "What's your favorite kind of date?"

 

Victor took Yuuri's hand in his as he replied, "Just spending time with the boy I like. Holding hands. Maybe kissing." Then he turned and quickly kissed Yuuri again.

 

Yuuri wondered if this was what being drunk felt like, his lips buzzing as he gazed at the sheen of gloss on Victor's lips. He had no way to describe how good it felt to be kissed so openly, letting the world bear witness to something that had seemed so improbable only twenty-four hours before. 

 

But one of these days he had to be the one to kiss Victor first. The boy was too good at catching him by surprise.

 

"...I'm never going to be able to concentrate on homework and memorizing Romeo's lines," he murmured.

 

"I can help you with both of those," Victor offered brightly. "I'm getting good grades in every subject."

 

Yuuri smirked at him and asked, "Are you in Spanish II? Because I've got two pages to translate."

 

Victor sucked in a disappointed breath. "French. Sorry."

Chapter Text

Despite Yuuri's venture into something as new and nerve-wracking as a new relationship (holy crap, what is THAT?), he managed to get his homework done on Saturday night, leaving all of Sunday open to freely text with Victor.

 

He admitted to himself that it was a bit strange to hold such a long conversation with anyone who wasn't Phichit. And he'd never used so. many. emojis. in his life. Basic use was easy, but Phichit and Victor seemed to have perfected some new emoji-related language. A cake emoji with a kissy-face emoji? Just what did that mean? He'd have to ask Phichit.

 

Then again sharing that information with Phichit held its own dangers, so Yuuri supposed he'd die ignorant.

 

That Sunday morning was spent at his parents' restaurant, reading through his lines by himself. Thanks to a lot of prodding from Mari, a blushing Yuuri told his parents about Victor. They reacted with excitement paired with gentle reminders to mind his schoolwork and chores. 

 

YUURI:
so I told my parents about you

VICTOR:
how did they react?????


YUURI:
don't worry they weren't mad or anything
they were happy
they just told me to not let my grades slip

VICTOR:
xD my dad was excited too!
my mom was the one telling me that I couldn't ignore my studies
"Don't get distracted, Vitya!"

YUURI:
so...does that mean she disapproves?

VICTOR:
not at all! she's just being a mother. she always thinks I'm being distracted by something.

 

Somehow that didn't fill Yuuri with a ton of confidence.

 

Victor's mother's apparent disapproval aside, Yuuri had plenty to worry about with the upcoming auditions. With no homework to deal with on Sunday, he was able to convince Mari to help him run through lines, trying to make himself sound convincingly lovesick rather than nervous. 

 

That night he herded his sister and their parents into the living room, asking them to listen to his recitation and give their honest opinions.

 

They praised him.

 

Yuuri didn't really buy it.

 

He went to bed feeling restless. His crush was now his...boyfriend and that boyfriend had successfully talked him into auditioning for Romeo.

 

Sighing heavily as he closed out of their conversation on his phone, Yuuri put his phone on his nightstand and shut his eyes, trying to fall asleep. 

 

He managed it eventually, but woke up the next morning wishing he could just stay in bed. He felt vaguely nauseous, picking at his breakfast and giving his sister a one word reply when she told him she was off to work and to be careful on his way to school.

 

He hugged Vicchan goodbye, made sure every door was locked, and took a deep breath before heading out, his heart beating rather painfully. 

 

As he approached the school, Yuuri's heart decided to try and burst out of his chest as soon as he spotted Victor walking ahead of him, wearing a dark gray overcoat and a blue scarf. His hair was in a ponytail, but several strands were blowing about in the late autumn wind.

 

Swallowing, Yuuri ran to catch up to him. To every other student walking by he probably looked like an idiot, trailing after one of the most interesting guys in the school. Blushing, Yuuri caught up to Victor, panting as he reached out to tap his shoulder.

 

Victor turned and gave him a surprised look, a pleased smile spreading across his face. "Good morning! I didn't think I'd get to see you until English!"

 

"Me neither," Yuuri panted out, falling into step with the other boy. 

 

He didn't expect Victor to loop their arms together by the elbow, nor did he expect the quick, warm kiss on his cold cheek. "What's your first class?" he then asked Yuuri, eyes glowing with interest. 

 

"...Trig," Yuuri replied, momentarily silenced as he gazed into Victor's eyes. It was way too early to be hypnotized, for God's sake.

 

"I have Art II. What about lunch? I have fifth period."

 

"I know," Yuuri said, his blush intensifying. He'd spend the bulk of his lunch period staring over towards Victor's table, caught off-guard by his laugh and the way he threw his head back like he'd heard something profoundly funny. "...You and Mila and Yuri can sit with us too," he offered, realizing there was no real reason to stare from across the cafeteria.

 

"Aww, that's so nice of you, Yuuri!" Victor exclaimed, pressing their cold cheeks together. "I'll let them know!"

 

They crossed the school gates, and Yuuri caught a few curious glances in their direction. Oh, boy, he thought, digging his hand deeper in his pocket, making his arm tighten around Victor's. 

 

He heard several rapid footsteps and looked to his side to see Phichit running towards them with a huge smile on his face. He gave them a once-over, his dark eyes sparking dangerously, and greeted innocently, "Hey, guys! Walking to school together already, huh?"

 

"Yes, we are!" Victor replied shamelessly.

 

"Hey, Phichit," Yuuri greeted back, eyeing his friend with mild suspicion. 

 

Cheerily ignoring Yuuri's gaze, Phichit peered at Victor and said, "So I heard you're the one responsible for getting Yuuri to audition for Romeo. How'd you do it?" It was the first thing Yuuri told him right after he got home from his impromptu doggie-date with Victor, right before Phichit demanded even more details. Without waiting for Victor's reply, Phichit turned to Yuuri and said with utter certainty, "I bet all Victor had to do was bat his pretty blue eyes and toss his hair a little. It might just be the best way to get you to do anything, now."

 

"Well, that's good to know," Victor said with a grin.

 

"Th-that's not true!" Yuuri exclaimed, looking back and forth between them. In bringing them together he may have just created a monster.

 

"So are you going to audition too, Phichit?" Victor asked, apparently deciding to have some mercy on Yuuri.

 

"Yep! I signed up on Friday! I wanted to try out for Benvolio or Lord Capulet. I'll either talk sense into my best friend here or contribute to his and my daughter's untimely deaths."

 

Biting his lip as nerves tugged at his belly, Yuuri slowly asked, "And, um...Do you have any idea who's gonna try out for Juliet?"

 

"I heard Sara's going for it," Phichit answered.

 

"Oh." Yuuri turned back to Victor, whose smile looked rather forced. "She's pretty!"

 

Yes, she was. Yuuri may have entertained fantasies about Sara Crispino, but they were quickly curbed by reminders that she had a very possessive (and co-dependent, really) twin brother who frequently got in trouble for threatening any boy who so much as looked in his sister's direction. The attitude didn't earn him a lot of friends, save for Saint Emil Nekola, and his sister kept scolding him for his efforts. "Great," Yuuri groaned as they flashed their IDs at the security guard at the door. "If I somehow end up being Romeo, I'll either humiliate myself on stage or Mickey's gonna kill me for kissing his sister."

 

"I won't let anyone kill you, Yuuri!" Victor reassured him. Turning back to Phichit, he said in casual tones, "Sara's in my art class, but I don't really know much about her. What's she like?"

 

"She's scary cool, and takes no crap from anyone. Not even from her brother." Then that predatory spark in Phichit's eyes made a comeback, and he smirked at Victor before asking, "Jealous already, Victor?"

 

It was Victor's turn to blush, but he maintained his smile and said lightly, "I'm a professional, and Yuuri likes me."

 

Reluctantly pulling his arm away from Victor's, Yuuri started making his way towards his homeroom, saying to the other two boys, "I've gotta head to homeroom. I'll see you guys in class?"

 

"Yeah!" Phichit replied with a wave.

 

Victor waved at him too, and Yuuri spotted the light blue nail polish on his nails. "See you then, my cute Laertes."

 

"We actually end up killing each other in that play, remember?" Yuuri reminded him with a small grin.

 

"Ah, don't remind me!" Victor called before turning around and walking away.

 


 

Save for his new relationship status, the day passed by normally. 

 

The next day? Not so much.

 

Yuuri was on edge all day, restlessly tapping his foot and anxiously staring at the clock in every classroom, observing that time was either slowing down or passing way too quickly. He was in a daze, barely noticing when Victor held his hand or pressed kisses to his cheeks. 

 

He'd barely even noticed when Victor was trying to feed him tater tots at lunch until he felt the crunchy bits of potato tapping against his lips.

 

The last class period was the absolute worst. Yuuri was convinced there was a conspiracy to slow all the clocks down to a snail's pace, and his notes were a mess by the time class ended. Throat tight with nerves, he stuffed everything into his backpack as soon as the bell rang and they were dismissed.

 

He made his way to the hallway outside of Ms. Okukawa's classroom, along with a handful of other students. Yuuri sat down and stared at the floor, quietly mouthing lines to himself and putting his backpack on the seat next to his. Victor would be coming soon.

 

He appeared minutes later, but Yuuri didn't really hear his appreciative words, concentrating on not forgetting his lines. 

 

To make matters worse, Ms. Okukawa was calling everyone in alphabetically, and it was a long way to the 'K's. 

 

Time passed and Yuuri witnessed several of his classmates go in and out of those doors, their attitudes running the gamut between confident and someone-grab-a-trashcan-because-they're-about-to-puke nervous. 

 

Sara was smiling after her audition, blissfully ignoring her brother's harangue as she walked down the hall, her dark brown hair rippling down her back.

 

Phichit gave Yuuri and Victor an optimistic thumbs-up when he left, one that Yuuri halfheartedly returned. 

 

More time passed. His head suddenly spinning, Yuuri blew out a long breath and hung his head between his legs, questioning what he was even doing here. What, he got a boyfriend and suddenly he thought he could be Romeo? He felt Victor's hand on his back and heard him say next to his ear, "You'll do fine."

 

"I'm going to embarrass myself," Yuuri muttered. "I should just be the Friar. It's not too late to-"

 

"Yuuri."

 

He closed his mouth and turned to look at Victor, who gazed at him steadily with those hypnotic blue eyes. "Have more faith in yourself. I have faith in you," he told Yuuri. 

 

Swallowing, Yuuri held his gaze for a moment longer before nodding anxiously and looking at the floor again. "Okay...Okay..."

 

"Yuuri Katsuki?" he suddenly heard someone say.

 

His head snapped back up, and the boy who'd said his name jumped back in alarm. He took a step away from Yuuri and said, "U-uh...you're up?"

 

He was frozen. Stuck to his chair, about to be sick

 

Then he felt a hand at his jaw, and Victor was turning his face towards his and pressing a quick kiss to Yuuri's trembling lips.

 

Caught by surprise, again.

 

Victor pulled back with a smile. "For luck!"

 

Gaping at him for a few seconds longer, Yuuri took a deep breath and got to his feet, his legs feeling like jelly.

 

He stopped before touching the doorknob, and turned to look at Victor one more time.

 

Victor gave him one more wave as he beamed at him.

 

Stick your courage, indeed.

 

Yuuri gripped the doorknob, opened the door, and went into the classroom. 

 


 

The sun was almost gone and Yuuri was freezing as he walked against the wind, leaving the school grounds.

 

He hid his mouth in his scarf, and his hands were deep in his pockets. He couldn't think of anything, not even about his audition.

 

He supposed he was still in a bit of a daze.

 

He knew Victor was still walking beside him, but hadn't said more than a handful of words to him after coming out of his audition and sitting back down beside him.

 

Yuuri felt Victor's eyes boring into him, but still didn't look at him. "Are you going to talk to me or are you giving me the cold shoulder?" Victor asked in a light tone, though he still sounded a tiny bit anxious. "Although...giving me the cold shoulder probably wouldn't have included you waiting for me to get out of my audition. I mean...there were quite a few auditions between yours and mine, and it would've given you plenty of time to leave if you were really mad at me for convincing you to do this in the first place."

 

That got Yuuri's attention. He slowed down and turned to look at Victor, blinking several times before saying, "I'm...I'm not mad."

 

Victor blew out a cloudy breath of relief, a smile spreading across his face. "Oh, good!" 

 

Tugging his scarf up a bit higher on his face in an attempt to hide his blush, Yuuri muttered, "I just...don't know how I'm going to make it until Friday."

 

"How do you think you did?"

 

"...It's all kind of a blur right now," Yuuri admitted. He felt the familiar, euphoric sensation that came after enormous nerves, but he couldn't let himself relax yet. "I...read the, uh...tomb scene. Where Romeo kills himself."

 

"That's good! I did the Queen Mab speech, obviously."

 

He sounded so proud, but Yuuri couldn't bring himself to really react beyond a soft, "Oh."

 

Victor peered at him again, looking concerned. "Are you sure you're not mad?" he asked, his voice sounding much smaller.

 

Yuuri shook his head, answering insistently, "I'm not! I just...I'm just thinking too much." His eternal problem.

 

He heard Victor give a thoughtful hum before asking, "Can I walk you home while you think too much?"

 

Yuuri gave him a surprised look. "Won't your parents worry?"

 

Victor gave a shrug. "Papa won't be home until after midnight, and Mama's giving a piano lesson. She won't even notice I'm not home yet."

 

"Right," Yuuri said, taking in the mild apathy on Victor's features at the mention of his mother.

 

But then Victor brightened as he asked, "What about your parents? What do they do?"

 

"They own a restaurant. Yu-topia. Ever heard of it?"

 

"I think Papa's been there. Is it near the hospital?"

 

"Yeah, that's the one," Yuuri answered, trying to remember if he'd ever seen anyone who may have been Victor's father.

 

Victor smiled excitedly and said, "He brought some katsudon home for us a few times. I loved it!"

 

Yuuri's heart gave another leap, and it was like finding out Victor had a poodle just like he did. "It's actually my favorite thing to eat," he admitted with a smile.

 

Victor's own smile was something to behold, a bit of sun in the middle of all the cold. "Maybe we can eat some katsudon together one of these days. For our second date!"

 

Suddenly there was nothing else Yuuri wanted more, and Victor had offered it. "A-alright. That sounds fun," he said, nerves trapping his delight in his chest. But he couldn't tear his eyes away from Victor's face, drawn in by the spots of color on his pale face.

 

Victor looked back at him, brow lifting with curiosity. "What is it, Yuuri?"

 

"Nothing, it's just...The tip of your nose is pink," Yuuri said, the back of his neck feeling hot. 

 

Victor laughed softly as he touched his nose with his gloved hand. "It's getting cold. But it's nowhere near as cold as Saint Petersburg!"

 

"How old were you when you left?" Yuuri asked him, realizing there was so much to learn about the other boy beyond the fact that he, for some reason, liked Yuuri, loved dogs and katsudon, and liked wearing nail polish. 

 

"I was eleven," Victor said, his gaze turning wistful. "Papa studied here and got a job here, so he sent for me and Mama. We didn't get to see him much, and they missed each other, so we just packed up and came to America." He made it sound incredibly simple, but Yuuri didn't doubt for a moment that, if it had been him, he probably would have cried if he'd had to leave his home. Victor added, "Then we moved here last year when a position opened up at the hospital. I haven't lost my accent, though. We only speak Russian at home."

 

Yuuri nodded knowingly. "Yeah, we pretty much just talk in Japanese at my place. My parents really wanted us to be bilingual."

 

"Now we're both learning a third language," Victor put in.

 

"I guess we are," Yuuri said, feeling strangely gratified to have a few things in common with Victor. "So your dad's a doctor and your mom's a piano teacher?"

 

The other boy nodded and said, "She used to be a pianist when she was my age. But then she married Papa and had me."

 

And then Yuuri realized he'd forgotten to ask something very important. "When is your birthday?"

 

"December 25th."

 

Yuuri gaped at him in amazement. This guy couldn't be real. "Christmas?"

 

Victor gave another soft laugh and clarified, "Our Christmas is actually a bit later, but yeah. What about yours?"

 

"November 29th."

 

It was Victor's turn to stare, his shoulders sagging like he'd gotten awful news. "...Yuuri, that's a week and a half away. I need to get you something! Are you having a party?"

 

Yuuri blinked at him and bit his lip before replying, "Just dinner and cake at my parents' restaurant. You're, uh...welcome to come over." In a million years he wouldn't have thought that Victor Nikiforov would want to celebrate his birthday with him, but Yuuri had just auditioned for a leading role in a play, so there were several things about this week that were absolutely strange.

 

"Perfect!" Victor exclaimed, eyes glowing with excitement. "All I have to do now is think of a gift!"

 

Yuuri's neck felt even hotter and he was raising his hands in front of him as he said frantically, "You don't have to!"

 

"I want to," Victor replied firmly, linking their hands together. "I really like you and I want you to have a perfect birthday."

 

Yuuri felt him give his hands a gentle squeeze, and his heartbeat seemed to slow down a bit. Just a bit. "I just have to survive this week," he said quietly, stomach growing tight again at the reminder.

 

"You will!" 

 

"Yeah..." Yuuri didn't sound completely convinced.

 

They held hands as they walked on, talking about the mountain of homework they each had to tackle as soon as they got home, which led to comparing homework habits. Apparently they both liked listening to music, but Victor was a bit more prone to getting up and dancing, which meant his homework ended up taking a little longer.

 

All too soon they reached Yuuri's house, and he sighed as he announced, "This is me."

 

"Which one's your window?" Victor asked.

 

Yuuri pointed it out. "The one on the right."

 

"Good. Now I know which one to climb up to," Victor replied cheekily.

 

"See? That's a Romeo move!" Yuuri groaned.

 

"Well, you can walk me home one of these days and I'll show you which one's my window," Victor said with a wide smile before darting in to kiss Yuuri on the lips. He quickly darted away with a victorious laugh as Yuuri stared at him, flabbergasted at how he was surprised, again. "I'll text you when I get home. Bye!"

 

Yuuri watched him walk away, ignoring the fact that he couldn't feel his own ears anymore. "Bye," he said quietly, lifting his hand in a weak wave.

 

Then Victor turned around and shouted, "And say hello to my precious adopted son, Vicchan!"

 

Yuuri couldn't help the giggle that burst out of his mouth.

 


 

Ms. Okukawa usually wasn't the type to keep things to herself, but when it came to the cast list her mouth was locked up tighter than a safe. 

 

By the time Friday afternoon came around, everyone in Yuuri's circle of acquaintances was about as nervous as he was. The only one who seemed unaffected was Victor, something that bothered Yuri Plisetsky to no end.

 

Maybe it was because he was still sore over the fact that Victor and Mila had decided that, in order to avoid confusion, they would all call him "Yurio".

 

It made lunch a much...louder experience, to say the least.

 

Yuuri's last period class had a handful of students who'd auditioned, so that teacher wisely knew that he needed to stay far away from the door, or else he'd be killed in the ensuing stampede. 

 

Once out in the hall, Yuuri ran in the direction of Ms. Okukawa's classroom. The cast list would be posted on her door and online later on for anyone who was absent. 

 

Several students were rapidly making their way there, Victor catching up to Yuuri and grabbing his clammy hand.

 

As they rounded the corner, though, Yuuri came to a sudden stop, making Victor yelp as he was suddenly yanked back. The silver-haired boy looked at him in surprise.

 

Yuuri could only shake his head apologetically. "I can't do this," he stammered, letting Victor's hand go. "You go read it!"

 

Victor hesitated for a moment before nodding. "Okay."

 

Then he was running off, edging his way through the gathered crowd at Ms. Okukawa's door.

 

Nausea closed Yuuri's throat again, and he clutched the drawstrings of his hoodie as he stared at the crowd, watching several students leave it wearing expressions of disappointment on their faces. One of them even cried as her friend patted her shoulder consolingly.

 

Moments later Yuuri spotted Victor making his way out of the thinning crowd, and he quickly moved his gaze to the floor, his blood sounding like a waterfall in his ears.

 

As soon as he saw Victor's feet he shut his eyes and begged, "Just...tell me. I can take it. I'll work on sets. I'll sew costumes-"

 

"Yuuri."

 

"I'll be an usher! I'm good at telling people where to go-"

 

"Yuuri, you got it."

 

Yuuri's eyes snapped open and he looked up at Victor, who was looking at him with a brightly triumphant smile. Yuuri blinked at him once, twice, and shouted, "WHAT?!"

 

Giggling, Victor grabbed his hand again and pulled him towards the classroom, and Yuuri's racing heart beat had him feeling dizzy and like his feet were about to fall out from under him.

 

Somehow he made it without incident, and he had to make his way through the crowd of remaining students, his heart in his throat as he got closer to the list.

 

And then Yuuri was in front of it, and he read it several times, unable to believe what he was seeing.

 

OFFICIAL CAST

 

Romeo - YUURI KATSUKI

Juliet - SARA CRISPINO

Paris - JEAN JACQUES LEROY

Prince Escalus - CHRISTOPHE GIACOMETTI

Mercutio - VICTOR NIKIFOROV

Friar Laurence - GEORGI POP...

 

"...I got it," he breathed out, his head starting to spin.

 

He felt someone throw their arms around him, and found Victor's cheek pressed against his as he squeezed him excitedly. "Yuuri, you're Romeo! I knew you could do it!" he practically shouted before pressing several kisses to Yuuri's cheek.

 

Yuuri could only nod weakly, reading through the list again, taking note of the entire cast and their understudies. "And...you're Mercutio," he mumbled.

 

Then he flinched when he heard someone close to him explode, "WHAT?!"  He turned to see Michele Crispino glaring at him dangerously, practically grinding his teeth as he pointed at him threateningly and shouted at the girl beside him, "Sara, you are not kissing this guy!"

 

Sara Crispino gave her twin an unimpressed look, her arms crossed over her chest. "Mickey, if it were up to you I'd quit school to become a nun. Butt out," she said, shoving him aside so she could give Yuuri a friendly smile. "I'm looking forward to performing with you, Yuuri!"

 

Was that a blush on her cheeks? Yuuri swallowed and gave another timid nod, very aware of Victor's arms around his shoulders. "Yeah, thanks," he replied, lips feeling numb.

 

Then he heard Michele growl, "Don't sound too excited, you perverted piece of-"

 

"Careful, Mickey," Victor interrupted, his voice threateningly sweet.

 

Swallowing, Yuuri looked away from the twins and touched Victor's wrist. "Come on," he said before dragging Victor away from the crowd, already feeling several astonished gazes on him. 

 

The questions could wait. The questions could definitely wait. More than one person knew Yuuri wasn't the type to leave his comfort zone, so his casting as Romeo was probably a big surprise, especially when Victor Nikiforov was around.

 

He tugged Victor around the corner once again and leaned on the wall, breathing hard and staring at the row of lockers across from him. 

 

Ho. Ly. Crap.

 

Victor leaned into his line of sight, smiling playfully. "So? Was I right?"

 

Yuuri exhaled sharply, staring at the other boy. "This is actually happening," he said.

 

"Yes it is."

 

"I'm Romeo. Sara's Juliet."

 

"And I'm Mercutio, one who has to work very hard not to kiss Romeo every chance he gets."

 

Shaking his head, Yuuri resisted the urge to sink to the floor, trying to stop his knees from shaking. "Forget this week, how am I going to survive the year?"

 

Victor placed his hands on Yuuri's shoulders, squeezing them soothingly. "I'll help you. I have plenty of scenes with you already, and you'll need a Juliet to practice with outside of rehearsals."

 

The realization hit Yuuri like a sack of bricks to the stomach. "Rehearsals. I didn't even check the date." Then he grabbed Victor's hand again and ran back to the cast list, the crowd considerably thinner now. Now it just seemed that the official cast and their understudies were the ones remaining.

 

As he made note of the time, Yuuri felt someone tap at his arm several times, and turned to see a younger boy gazing up at him almost adoringly. He had bleached blond hair adorned with a deep red streak, and Yuuri realized that he was Kenjirou Minami, one of the sophomores. "I'm your understudy, Yuuri! If I had to lose Romeo to anyone I'm glad it was you!" he exclaimed, sounding a little too excited.

 

"Thanks, Kenjirou...I think," Yuuri said, smiling back at him nervously.

 

For an instant, Yuuri wanted to back down and let the boy have the role. He could perform in front of an audience, kiss Sara, and risk Mickey's fury.

 

Then Yuuri caught sight of the pride and excitement on Victor's face, and chased those thoughts away. 

Chapter Text

Phichit was like a live wire as they left the building, saying regretfully,  "Why can't we start rehearsals today? I can't just wait until Monday!"

 

"I can," Yuuri replied, his stomach flipping about like a fish on dry land. "I still need to process this." His brain was definitely doing some overtime work, more so than usual. One of the things he was still sort of processing was the fact that he apparently now had a boyfriend who was walking beside him, his cheeks and nose turning pink underneath his blue scarf.

 

And they were holding hands. That sort of hadn't stopped since Yuuri grabbed Victor's hand to run back to the cast list to check the rehearsal date. 

 

Tossing a grin in their direction, Phichit responded with, "You've had a lot to process this week, Yuuri. I can see the sparks flying off your head. Oop, there goes another one!"

 

"Funny, Phichit," Yuuri muttered with a grin of his own, reaching out to swat at Phichit's pointing finger while Victor laughed next to him. "You've got time to joke around but not ask for my chem notes?"

 

"I absolutely have time!" Phichit exclaimed, turning to face him with clasped hands and walking backwards. "I don't even know how I'm surviving that class. I swear Mr. Ray is out to get us."

 

Yuuri instinctively squeezed Victor's hand as his stomach gave another anxious flip as he thought about their temperamental chemistry teacher. "Yeah. The only reason he hasn't bitten my head off is because I've still got an A, but he still makes me nervous. I can't wait to get finals over with and we never have to see him again."

 

Victor let out an impressed whistle. "An A? I'm getting by with a B."

 

"Now you see why I keep stealing his notes?" Phichit asked with a slight whine. "Seriously, Victor, you're basically his trophy boyfriend when it comes to chem."

 

There was that word again. "Boyfriend." A week ago Yuuri thought his crush with Victor would end at that, and that it'd still be a while before he got the confidence to ever find anyone to call a significant other. And now here he was, holding Victor Nikiforov's hand, already so used to it, but at the same time still astounded by the fact that it was even happening.

 

As Yuuri started feeling incredibly aware of the warmth of Victor's hand in his and realized how much he wanted whatever this was to last, he cleared his throat and slowly asked, "Um...do you two want to come over to do some homework?"

 

Phichit's eyes widened with excitement as he nodded. "Yeah! Let me send my dad a quick text!"

 

Yuuri turned to look at Victor, hoping to tone down whatever hopeful look he was wearing. To his relief Victor looked just as excited as Phichit and asked, "Is it alright if we stop by my place to pick Makkachin up?"

 

"Sure," Yuuri immediately said, his need to see that amazing dog momentarily doing away with a few of the worries in Yuuri's head. Something about the combination of Victor, Phichit, Makkachin, and Vicchan had him feeling like he'd just orchestrated the ideal Friday afternoon.

 

And then Phichit only stared at them both, his jaw practically dropping. "I get to meet Makkachin? And I get to see him hang out with my adopted nephew?! This is the greatest day of my life."

 

Then Yuuri realized that they probably wouldn't get any homework done at this rate. 

 

It appeared that Victor's place was another ten minutes away from Yuuri's home, and Victor telling them both about getting Makkachin as a puppy three years before, around the same time that Yuuri got Vicchan (which Phichit just couldn't help mentioning). They turned a corner, and Victor raised a hand to point towards the fourth house from the corner. "The red house is mine. See the window on the left? That's my room."

 

Yuuri only had a second to remember why Victor was pointing at his window before he noticed the figure sitting at the top of the stairs. She had wavy golden hair tumbling down her shoulders and as she bent her head over what looked like a something in her hand. Probably a phone.

 

That was when Yuuri's stomach did an even more violent flip, and he realized he was mere seconds from meeting Victor's mom, something he didn't even know he was dreading until now at this very freaking moment.

 

"I-Is that your mom?" he asked Victor, mouth feeling drier than a desert.

 

Victor didn't appear to hear it, as he was distracted by Makkachin bounding down from his spot on the lawn towards them. "That's her! And that's my Makka!" 

 

He sped ahead to greet his dog, letting go of Yuuri's hand and leaving him frozen on the sidewalk. Phichit took three steps after Victor, but he stopped as soon as he noticed that Yuuri wasn't following. His enthusiasm disappeared and he went back to Yuuri's side, looking at him with concern. "You okay?"

 

Yuuri felt as though his heart was trembling in his chest, which started to feel horribly tight. Swallowing, Yuuri leaned in towards Phichit, who did the same as Yuuri whispered harshly. "That's his mom sitting there." His eyes flicked up towards the woman, who, to his horror, was standing up and walking down the steps. "I'm meeting his mom and I don't even know if she likes me!"

 

That had Phichit frowning. "Why? Did she say anything to Victor?"

 

"...I don't know. H-he said that his dad was excited for him, but that his mom told him not to let his grades slip."

 

Phichit nodded as he listened, his frown lightening slightly as he reached up to squeeze Yuuri's shoulder reassuringly. "Okay, that...was probably all she had to say about it. Your parents said the same thing to you, didn't they?"

 

"It's still Victor's mom!"  Yuuri replied, looking up to see her meeting Victor on the sidewalk. She was wearing a winter coat, her hands deep in her pockets as she shared a few quiet words with Victor. "And...look at her! She's...terrifying."

 

Phichit looked over his shoulder in her direction, staring for a very long moment that made Yuuri even more nervous. "She's pretty. And I thought you liked older ladies."

 

"Phichit!"

 

With another roll of his eyes, Phichit took Yuuri by the hand and started dragging him towards Victor and his mother, all while Yuuri was screaming on the inside. This was it. This was Romeo and Juliet come to life, and Victor's mother was the vengeful Lady Capulet who was about to sink her claws into him for daring to set eyes on her son.

 

Or he'd just simply die of terror before she even opened her mouth.

 

In moments he was standing behind Victor, forgetting how to breathe when Victor reached back towards him and gently touched his wrist. "Mama, this is Yuuri and that's his friend Phichit."

 

Yuuri could hear the smile in Victor's voice, but all he was looking at was the woman in front of him. Specifically her eyes. Those were Victor's eyes. Managing to find his voice again he extended his hand and quietly said, "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Nikiforov."

 

Her eyes flicked down to his hand and one corner of her mouth turned up a bit higher as she took his hand to give it a shake and light squeeze. "Nikiforova, actually," she said, her accent stronger than Victor's.

 

And Yuuri's stomach did another flip as his hand dropped to his side. God, that was probably a Russian thing, and he'd just casually screwed it up. "Oh. Sorry!" he said, feeling like he'd just made a fool of herself in her eyes.

 

She gave a little shrug and said, "It's fine, I'm used to it. And it's good to meet you too."

 

Yuuri glanced at Victor, who was smiling at him encouragingly even as his brain was falling apart and putting itself back together again in those too-silent moments. Sensing a need to step in, Phichit cleared his throat loudly and exclaimed, "Your home is absolutely gorgeous, ma'am!"

 

"Well, thank you. It feels like I still have boxes to unpack," she replied with a soft laugh. She looked at Victor again and asked, "Will I see you both for dinner?"

 

"Yes, Mama," Victor answered. Yuuri tried to figure out if he sounded bitterly resigned, or if his mother's question was actually an order because she didn't want him going to Yuuri's house. 

 

"Good. Don't keep your father's hours," she remarked as she reached up to tuck a strand of Victor's hair behind his ear. Then she exclaimed, "Oh! Vitya tells me you all got your roles for the play. Congratulations."

 

Her smile widened and looked incredibly sincere, and Yuuri started to relax just a little at the sight of it. "Thank you, ma'am," he told her, hoping to God he wouldn't disappoint her too on top of every other person who would be watching the play.

 

Mrs. Nikiforova then turned to Victor and said, "Call me if you need a ride back. It's going to be cold tonight."

 

"Yes, Mama," he repeated with a small roll of his eyes and a smirk in Yuuri's direction.

 

As Victor's mother started making her way back to her house Yuuri called after her without thinking, "I'll see you around!"

 

She gave a half-turn to wave back at him, and as soon as she was out of earshot Yuuri felt all of the tension melt out of his shoulders, rapidly replaced by embarrassment as he whispered to both boys in horror, "'I'll see you around?'" Just how big of an idiot was he?

 

"Vitya?" Phichit asked with a snort, grinning at the silver-haired boy.

 

Yuuri was incredibly jealous of the fact that Victor didn't blush at all as he smirked back at Phichit, saying, "It's a nickname. I have a dozen of them, actually."

 

Still incredibly jittery, Yuuri asked in frantic tones, "Did that go okay? That went okay, right?"

 

"It went fine! Victor, tell him your mom doesn't hate him!"

 

Victor frowned slightly before reaching up to stroke Yuuri's cheek with his thumb, asking, "Why would she? You're adorable!"

 

That definitely made Yuuri blush, but before he could reply Phichit cut in with, "Besides, you ought to be worrying about the fact that you haven't said hi to this beautiful baby." And indeed, Yuuri looked down to see Makkachin staring up at him expectantly before whining softly and nosing at his hand. Yuuri's heart melted at the sight and Phichit knelt down to stroke the sides of Makkachin's neck, drawing his attention away. "Hello, Makkachin! Oh my god, Victor, I'm going to cry!" he exclaimed, beaming delightedly as Makkachin started to lick his face.

 

"You're going to cry even more when you see him with Vicchan!" Victor informed him with a wide smile.

 

Yuuri couldn't find it in himself to feel as excited as they did, and Phichit seemed to sense it, getting to his feet and looking at Yuuri patiently as he gently said, "Yuuri. Relax. You think Victor isn't nervous about meeting your parents? Hell, he's meeting Mari in a few minutes! Come on, Victor, tell him you're nervous."

 

Victor gave them both another shrug and a smile as he said. "Not that nervous. Parents like me."

 

Yuuri's head dropped and he heard Phichit's elbow connect with Victor's arm, followed by a surprised little "ow" from Victor. "Not helping, Vitya," Phichit pointedly informed him.

 

Looking up at them both, Yuuri saw Victor's eyes flitting around, like he was scrambling for a more appropriate response, his cheeks a little flushed. It was only a little bit gratifying. Then Victor's gaze seemed to say "ah-ha!" and he said, "Um, sisters, on the other hand...also like me."

 

Yuuri figured that was as good as he'd get from Victor. Sighing, he asked him, "I was polite, right?"

 

"Perfectly," Victor replied, taking Yuuri's hand between his and giving it a gentle squeeze. "I'm sure she thought you were a gentleman." 

 

"Okay. Good." Yuuri squeezed Victor's hand back, the warmth of the contact managing to distract him just a little. At least the encounter was over with, and maybe in a few hours it wouldn't seem so bad.

 

After properly greeting Makkachin, Yuuri led the way to his house, drawn back into idle chatter with the other two boys while they walked, shoulders hunched against the cold. 

 

As soon as Yuuri's house came into view Victor was pointing towards Yuuri's bedroom window with a determined smile and telling Phichit, "I'm definitely going to climb up there one day."

 

Yuuri blushed a deep red while Phichit's eyes sparked with delight and he replied, "I need to be here for that! As a witness and to record it all! Something like that needs to be preserved!"

 

"It gets icy up there! What if you fall?" Yuuri asked Victor, his face turning even redder after all of Phichit's declarations.

 

"Ice wouldn't have stopped Romeo or Mercutio," Victor answered, and Makkachin gave a quick "woof" of agreement.

 

"Who's on sets? We should tell Ms. Okukawa to set the play in the winter just to test Romeo's tower-climbing resolve," Phichit commented, that devious spark making a permanent home in his eyes.

 

They all breathed a collective sigh of relief as soon as they were inside the house and out of the cold. "So this is it," Yuuri said with a small smile. "You can leave your shoes here," he added, toeing his sneakers off and leaving them with the rest of his family's footwear at the door.

 

Both boys obliged, and as soon as their coats, scarves, and Makkachin's leash were hung Yuuri led them into the living room, where they were met by a yipping Vicchan, bouncing around them as soon as he reached them.

 

"Yuuri? That you?" he heard Mari call from the top of the stairs, and he turned to find her making her way down as she peered down at them, her unruly hair unbound. 

 

Phichit took it upon himself to cheerily announce, "And me and Victor and Makkachin!"

 

Just as cheerily, Victor waved at Mari, and Yuuri couldn't help but feel envious of his confidence yet again. He decided to look down at their dogs, Makkachin licking the top of Vicchan's head while the smaller dog kept trying to bounce around him. "I remember when he used to say hi to me like that," Yuuri sighed with a smile.

 

"What can I say?" Victor asked with a laugh. "Makkachin and I are good at drawing attention to ourselves."

 

And as if knowingly confirming what Victor just said, Mari went over to him with a grin on her face, glancing at Yuuri with approval in her eyes. "So you're Yuuri's famous crush. I'm Mari. It's nice to finally meet you."

 

Yuuri's blush returned with a vengeance as Victor gave Mari a winning smile. "It's nice to meet you too! Yuuri told me you're helping him get his license!"

 

"Yeah, trying being the key word," Mari replied, aiming her grin at Yuuri again.

 

Yuuri didn't return it. His nerves were one of the things hampering his quest to get his driver's license, especially when it came to night driving. More often than not it fell to Mari to supervise and sign off on these hours so he'd meet his required total. He was a decent driver during the day, but nighttime was...slightly intimidating. "Don't you have to get to work?" Yuuri reminded her pointedly.

 

"Not for another two hours, so you're stuck with me supervising you hooligans."

 

"She's kidding. She's not actually supervising," Yuuri clarified dryly.

 

"Implying that she's not kidding about the whole calling us 'hooligans' part?" Phichit asked, making Victor chuckle. 

 

Mari then turned her attention to Yuuri, eagerness in her gaze as she asked, "So? Did you get the part?"

 

The reminder hit Yuuri like a block of ice to the head, and he bit his lip as he nodded at his sister and replied, "...Yeah."

 

"I KNEW IT!" she cheered before wrapping him up in a quick hug and turning to the other two after releasing him. "What about you guys?"

 

"Victor's Mercutio and I just became Yuuri's father-in-law," Phichit declared.

 

"Congratulations, you guys," Mari told them, her encouraging grin working its usual wonders on Yuuri. "There's food in the kitchen and I'm in my room. Living room TV's all yours, guys. Have fun."

 

With that she made her way back up the stairs, and Victor leaned in to quietly tell Yuuri, "Your sister's really nice."

 

"She's a badass too," Phichit added, sitting down in the armchair Yuuri's dad usually favored with a sigh of intense relaxation. "She taught us some self-defense moves in case we need to show anyone that we are not to be messed with. But Yuuri's better at it than I am, so if we need a bodyguard, we've got one."

 

Victor's impressed gaze just about did Yuuri in. "Cute and brave? I really am lucky."

 

Blushing yet again, Yuuri cleared his throat and suggested. "Let's finish up these questions for Hamlet." He led the way to the couch, and to his quietly building delight, Victor sat down next to him, their elbows brushing together every few moments.

 

A couple of hours and a few snacks later, they were all groaning in relief once they got all of their written homework finished. Yuuri glanced at their dogs, smiling at the sight of Vicchan dozing curled up next to Makkachin. Phichit was holding his bulky chemistry book away from him as though it would make him ill, saying, "As soon as finals are over, I never want to see a periodic table of elements again. Ever."

 

"That might be hard for me," Victor said with a tired laugh, giving his chemistry book a mild look of disdain. "Mama really wants me to be a doctor. Or to do something scientific. Who knows."

 

His apathy on the subject surprised Yuuri only a little. It wasn't strange for parents to expect certain things from their kids, such as career paths, and most of the time they just didn't match up with what one actually wanted. "What do you want to do?" he asked Victor, realizing that he actually hadn't yet.

 

"Act!" Victor replied immediately, his eyes shining at the prospect. "I want to be good enough that I can afford a house big enough for two dozen dogs."

 

"I love your dreams," Phichit told him, arms held high in the air as he stretched indulgently. "Me? I guess a regular-size house is okay. How much room do fifty hamsters need?"

 

"You have hamsters?!" Victor asked him excitedly.

 

At his question, a wicked smile appeared on Phichit's face, and he wordlessly brought his phone out to thumb at the screen a couple of times before handing it to Victor, and Yuuri knew it was open to his camera roll full of photos and videos of his three hamsters. Victor visibly melted at the sight, beaming at Phichit's phone as he scrolled through the images. 

 

Then Phichit asked, "So, Victor. Did you know Yuuri's birthday is next weekend?"

 

Yuuri stared between them, suddenly shy as Victor raised his eyes back up to look at him with a wide smile. "I did! I'm still trying to think of something to give him."

 

"Come on, you don't have to!" Yuuri exclaimed, his cheeks on fire.

 

"But I still do, right?" Phichit asked with a soft laugh. "Are we still on for dinner at Yu-topia? Is Victor invited?"

 

"Yeah, and yeah," Yuuri answered, and at the mention of the restaurant he remembered something that had been in the back of his mind for days. He then said to the silver-haired boy, "You know, Victor, I'm still trying to think of any older guys I may have seen in the restaurant that might be your dad. What does he look like?"

 

"Like me, but with shorter hair," Victor replied. "I look exactly like him, but I have my mama's eyes."

 

"I would've noticed!" Yuuri exclaimed, really trying to rake through his memories because he definitely would have noticed anyone who looked identical to Victor.

 

"He really would have, Victor," Phichit, the traitor, added. "He's spent more than enough time looking at you."

 

"What is this, Roast Yuuri Day?" Yuuri asked him with a sigh.

 

"Lovingly Roast Yuuri Day," Victor said, and Yuuri had to bite back his shiver when he felt soft fingers tracing his jaw. He turned to find Victor giving him a soft look, and immediately felt rooted to the spot. 

 

A moment later Yuuri heard Phichit pointedly clearing his throat before saying in a much-too casual tone, "Why don't I...take the dogs out to the yard for ten minutes? Come on, babies!"

 

Yuuri turned around to find that Phichit was already leading the dogs out towards the kitchen and out into the yard. 

 

At this rate Yuuri was going to owe Phichit notes all the way through college. "Uh, I guess...he's trying to give us some time alone," he said to Victor, voice sounding a little dazed as he fixed his stare back on Victor's eyes.

 

"I think so too," Victor agreed before framing Yuuri's face in-between his soft hands and leaning in to kiss him.

 

Yuuri inhaled sharply before feeling his entire body start to melt into the warm pleasure of the kiss, letting his eyes close as Victor held his face and melded their lips together. He could feel his chest growing tight when the tip of Victor's tongue suddenly traced the seam of his closed lips, and much to Yuuri's regret, Victor drew away, but stayed close enough that Yuuri could still feel his breath on his lips when he whispered, "Yuuri?"

 

"Yeah?" Yuuri asked quietly.

 

"Don't forget to breathe," Victor said before kissing Yuuri again, tongue delving into his mouth.

 

At the first touch of Victor's tongue against his, Yuuri shivered and practically sagged against the other boy, hands finding their way to Victor's shoulders. His lips were so soft against his own as they kept moving against Yuuri's, and the sensation was beyond anything Yuuri might have imagined before today.

 

He could taste sweet lip balm and hear Victor's feather-soft sighs of pleasure, and something in him snapped. His fingers wound into Victor's silver hair, his heart beat racing as he finally touched it, finally felt how thick and soft it was between his fingers. However different in intensity, this was as earth-shattering as the first tentative kiss in that closet, and Victor was still holding him so carefully, his own fingers playing with the hair at Yuuri's nape and sending more shivers down his spine.

 

This was happening. Victor was kissing him on his couch, in his home, and his lips were so sweet and perfect, beyond anything Yuuri had imagined or dreamed.

 

He felt so dizzy when they came apart, his forehead resting against Victor's and his glasses a little smudged. "This is so unfair," he murmured, eyes locked on Victor's.

 

The other boy's eyes were virtually all black, the blues of his eyes looking like tiny violet rings. "What is?" he asked, lips brushing against Yuuri's with a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

 

"You always kiss me first," Yuuri replied, hands still caught in the silk strands of Victor's hair. All of him felt so thoroughly caught, and every bit of Victor distracted him, lured him in and had him letting his guard down. 

 

"Oh? Are we racing?" Victor asked, smiling gently as he playfully tugged the hair at Yuuri's nape.

 

"I-It's just..." It suddenly felt like it was a stupid thing to admit, and Yuuri was about to put his guard back up, terrified of laying himself out for Victor to pick apart, knowing just how effortlessly he could do it. Swallowing, Yuuri made himself say it, the back of his neck feeling really warm. "I want to kiss you first one of these days."

 

God he sounded pathetic, and he really wished he could take it back.

 

And then Victor kissed him again, and Yuuri felt him smiling against his mouth. "So you want to surprise me?" Victor asked him, fingers dancing over his jaw. "Shouldn't I be the one doing that? After all you're the birthday boy."

 

"Not until next week," Yuuri reminded him in hushed tones, returning the smile with a small one as he felt his cheeks grow hotter.

 

"Still."

 

They both laughed, Yuuri's sounding slightly shaky. He realized he was practically stroking Victor's hair, fingers twitching at the way it made Victor hum in further delight. "...Your hair's so soft," Yuuri marveled.

 

"Mr. Ray says I should cut it," Victor informed him with a little pout. "That it's a lab hazard."

 

"Hasn't he heard of hair buns?" Yuuri asked, loosely twining a strand of hair around his fingers.

 

"I thought that too. You know he never tells any of the girls to cut theirs."

 

"What a jerk."

 

Victor brightened at Yuuri's agreement and looked down at his hair sliding between Yuuri's fingers. "Maybe I'll cut it one day. Maybe," he said thoughtfully. Then he asked Yuuri, "Do you think I'd look good with short hair?"

 

Wow, that was...quite an image. "I'm trying to picture it," Yuuri admitted, feeling shy as he gazed at Victor's face and tried to imagine it without that silver cascade framing each side.

 

"Is that a no?"

 

"No, it's...I'm just used to seeing it long. And you should cut it because you want to." And certainly not because some hot-tempered chemistry teacher told him to. Playing with the soft ends of the strand he held, Yuuri smiled and rose his gaze to timidly meet Victor's. "You were wearing it loose on the first day last year."

 

"You remember that?" Victor asked him, pleasantly surprised.

 

Yuuri doubted he'd ever forget. He had walked into the classroom, relieved that he'd made it in on time, and froze in the doorway when he spotted the most beautiful person he'd ever seen sitting by the window, staring out of it with his chin resting on his hand, nails painted a shiny blue. "Yeah. We had geometry, and your desk was by the window and mine was by the door, so we didn't get a chance to really talk." He'd wanted the chance to do it, but was so terrified of what would happen if he actually got it. "I couldn't stop looking at you," he admitted, realizing that it was a wonder he'd even passed the class.

 

Then, to his surprise, Victor blushed a lovely pink shade, his thumb stroking Yuuri's cheek. "How didn't I notice you that time?"

 

Yuuri shrugged. "I was pretty quiet, and Ms. Ford wouldn't let us talk in class anyway."

 

"She was still way better than Mr. Ray," Victor said with a laugh.

 

Yuuri laughed with him, the butterflies in his stomach fluttering pleasantly. "...I don't remember a lot of the other kids in that class, but...I do remember you were wearing this...sparkly, dark blue nail polish. You wore it that whole week, but I don't remember what color you were wearing the week after."

 

He swore Victor's eyes grew brighter at that, growing wider as he kept gazing at Yuuri, looking...very surprised. Then he beamed at Yuuri and asked, "You see? You just surprised me." 

 

Something between a laugh and a whine escaped Yuuri's mouth, and he ducked his face even though he was still smiling. He felt Victor's forehead rest against the top of his head and heard him say, "The first time I noticed you was on this year's first day. You volunteered to pass out Mr. Cialdini's syllabus because he had that twisted ankle."

 

Oh, Yuuri definitely remembered that. He'd been so shocked by the sight of Victor in one of his classes once again that he almost dropped the neat stack Mr. Cialdini had handed him. "I was so nervous when I got to your desk. I couldn't even look at you," he admitted, an echo of embarrassment making his skin prickle as he remembered trying not to just toss the sheet of paper at Victor and run back to his desk.

 

"Later that week we started Beowulf, and it looked like you and I the only ones volunteering to read parts of it out loud," Victor recalled.

 

"Except for Phichit."

 

"Of course," Victor laughed. Then he tipped Yuuri's face back up, his gaze so soft that it made Yuuri's heart ache. "That was when I noticed your eyes. They get this spark when you're thinking really hard about something."

 

Yuuri felt all the breath leave him in a rush, stolen away by the boy in front of him. "I thought it was my turn to surprise you," he said quietly.

 

"And I thought it was a race."

 

They laughed together again, Victor's hands finding Yuuri's wrists so they could hold hands. Yuuri's gaze fell to Victor's softer hands, his nail polish a soft pink. "How do you even get your nails to look this pretty?" he asked. Mari's nail polish always chipped after a few days, so she just gave up on painting her nails. 

 

"I watch too many nail tutorials," Victor told him, drawing tiny circles on Yuuri's palm with the tip of his index finger.

 

It wasn't kissing, but it was definitely something just as special. Peering into Victor's face, framed by silver locks, Yuuri found so many new things he'd never seen even when studying the boy's face from a distance. He found something...tender in Victor's face, like if he touched on it long enough he'd leave a mark. Looking down at their hands again, Yuuri stroked the backs of Victor's long fingers with his thumbs, his heart racing and the butterflies flying about joyously.

 

Then he gave a little jump when he heard a door open, followed by the sound of two very energetic dogs bounding back into the house. Phichit walked back into the living room, catching them still holding each other's hands. "Yuuri, have you really been admiring your boyfriend's nails this whole time?" he asked, sounding mildly disappointed.

 

"N-no!" Yuuri exclaimed, trying very hard not to glare at his best friend.

 

"Good," Phichit said with an approving nod, throwing himself back into the armchair with a loud sigh. "Then my time outside was well spent. Wanna watch a movie?"

 

Victor nodded at the suggestion. "I can stay for a few more hours."

 

In his relief, Yuuri gave the boy's hands another squeeze.

 

They settled on one of the older Batman movies, and five minutes into it Vicchan found his way onto Yuuri's lap and settled there. Makkachin did the same on Victor's lap, though Victor made it sound like his beloved dog was crushing his thighs.

 

A half hour into the movie Yuuri realized he and Victor were still holding hands. 

 


 

The weekend went by quickly, as did Monday, and before Yuuri knew it he and his cast mates were all gathered in the auditorium that very afternoon, listening to Ms. Okukawa lay out attendance ground rules, what she expected from everyone in terms of learning their lines, and their shared responsibilities with the stage crew.

 

The whole time Yuuri's leg was bouncing ceaselessly, especially after he got his script and realized just how much he had to learn. He might have had the same reaction if he'd played the Friar.

 

He glanced at Sara, who was staring at Ms. Okukawa intently while her brother was glaring at Yuuri with murder in his eyes. Tearing his gaze away, Yuuri stared at the script again, mildly soothed by Victor sitting next to him.

 

"Help each other out, and don't count the understudies out," Ms. Okukawa reminded them. "We never know what might happen, so it's important that the understudies know what to do if someone in the cast can't perform."

 

"Can do, ma'am!" Minami nearly shouted, eyes glimmering with enthusiasm despite Mickey aiming another murderous glare in his direction.

 

Ms. Okukawa had the idea to combine Christophe's role as the Prince and the Chorus, and for the rest of the session they went through how everything was laid out in the first few scenes, from the street fight to the Prince's threat, and how it all connected to the feud that kept Romeo and Juliet apart.

 

Once it was over a handful of the cast lingered as they flipped through the script, and Yuuri realized just how much had been cut for the sake of length. "She cut like ninety percent of that page's speech," he said to no one in particular.

 

"Well, it still feels hefty," Sara replied, looking a little apprehensive as she flipped through the pages.

 

"She couldn't cut the kissing?" Yuuri heard Mickey mutter, and he immediately flushed nervously. God, the kissing. It was so much easier over the weekend, doing it with someone he really liked, both of them curious as they explored. Now Yuuri had to get ready to kiss someone else, and in front of a lot of people.

 

While Sara started pummeling her brother with her rolled-up script, Christophe's gaze fell on Yurio, who sat in the front row with one leg slung over the armrest. Then he said, "Blond Yuri. Question. How does a freshman find his way into a major school play?"

 

"I'm a sophomore, asshole," Yurio spat, not bothering to look up at Christophe.

 

"Yura here skipped a grade," Mila explained as she shoved Yurio's leg off her armrest.

 

"Oh, right! I forgot!" Christophe said with a grin.

 

While the two older students carried on torturing Yurio (who'd be playing Tybalt), Yuuri and Victor gathered their things and started making their way out of the auditorium, Yuuri staring at the script thoughtfully. "It feels real now. I've got the script in my hand. I'm gonna be Romeo," he said to Victor in low tones.

 

"Aren't you excited?" Victor asked him as he adjusted his scarf before they went outside.

 

"I'm terrified," Yuuri said with a shiver as the cold air hit his face. He may have sounded like a broken record at this point, but it was the simple truth.

 

Victor gave a thoughtful hum before asking him, "What's making you nervous?"

 

Yuuri could only shrug and exhale sharply, his breath visible in the freezing air. "I might screw up. Like at some point I'll start going "to be or not to be" or I'm going to trip on stage. Or I screw up my kiss with Sara or her brother kills me before opening night!" 

 

"What happened to all that self-defense?" Victor asked with a soft laugh as he threw an arm around Yuuri's shoulders to tug him close.

 

"My brain's probably going to forget it all to make room for these lines," Yuuri muttered. "Still, I...I want to do this. I'm scared, but..." He peered at Victor's face, his mouth covered by the blue scarf, and finally said, "I'm excited too. I want this chance to...to be Romeo, to be in a lead role. I don't know, it all probably sounds stupid."

 

"No it doesn't," Victor said, giving him a squeeze. "This is a big deal, but you have the talent. Like I said, I'm going to help you. Together we'll make you into the best Romeo anyone's ever seen."

 

Yuuri's cheeks warmed. "Come on, don't exaggerate."

 

"I'm not exaggerating," Victor told him. "I'm promising."

 

Hiding his own face in his scarf, Yuuri desperately hoped he could live up to such an expectation. He wanted to do it right, and he wanted to be great at it.

 

It wasn't just for Victor. No, it was for the sake of his own pride. He couldn't expect anything less of himself.

 

He held on tight to his script, filled with even more determination.

Chapter Text

"What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?" Victor asked Yuuri from across the table on Tuesday.

 

Clutching his script in his hands as he glanced at every face sharing the lunch table with him, suddenly way more cramped than it was two weeks ago, Yuuri cleared his throat and remembered what he was supposed to sound like. He didn't want to recite the line or make it sound like any other Romeo in existence. 

 

Then he realized the seconds were passing and Victor was awaiting his reply with an expectant look, and finally managed to reply, "Not having that which, having, makes them short."

 

Flustered. Quick. Like he was actually scrambling for a reply. 

 

Not good.

 

Victor's eyes flicked back to his script, and Yuuri kept feeling everyone else's eyes on him. Two weeks ago it had just been him and Phichit in this table, and now it had grown to include Victor's tiny group, Takeshi, Minami, and even Sara (an inclusion that managed to be peaceful only because she and Michele didn't share a lunch period). 

 

They were taking advantage of the 45-minute period to get in as much rehearsals as they could together, particularly since Takeshi and Minami were Victor and Yuuri's understudies and needed to be prepared. Yuuri's gaze kept wandering over to Sara, recalling with relief that Ms. Okukawa had said they wouldn't have to kiss until the very last dress rehearsals if they didn't want to. 

 

Maybe by the time that happened he'd feel more confident about the idea of kissing a classmate in front of an audience.

 

If it were Victor...

 

"In love?" he heard Victor ask. Emil Nekola had been cast as Benvolio, but he had an earlier lunch period, so Victor offered to step in to help Yuuri practice a few lines, and then they'd move on to Yurio's entrance as Tybalt, followed by Sara and Mila's first scene as Juliet and Lady Capulet (they still needed a Nurse).

 

"Out-"

 

"Of love?"

 

"Out of her favor where I am in love," Yuuri replied, trying to sound appropriately...Well...Mari liked to call this part "emo," of all things. 

 

"Alas, that Love, so gentle in his view, should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!" Victor responded, voice dripping with sympathy.

 

God, and here was...a very long passage, one that Yuuri really wanted to get through without relying on the script too much. He'd read it over and over the night before, all while his brain was still somewhat bogged down by his history readings. Going from the American Revolution to Verona was quite a switch. "Uhh...Alas, that Love, whose view is m...Crap. Muffled still," he ended up muttering, hiding his face in the script. "I knew this last night, I'm sorry."

 

"We literally just started, dude," Takeshi mumbled in a bored tone as he thumbed through his script, which already looked rather highlighted once Mercutio entered the picture. "S'not like we're opening tomorrow night."

 

Victor kept giving Yuuri a sympathetic look, telling him, "Let's just work on delivery right now. Watch, in a few weeks we won't need scripts."

 

"I will if you guys don't get a move on and get through this stupid scene," Yurio muttered from the other end of the table, slumped over and grumpy in a total contrast to the bright and attentive Minami sitting next to him.

 

"Right. Sorry," Yuuri repeated, a flush creeping up the back of his neck as he decided to stick to the script for the moment, at least until every line was firmly cemented in his brain. He glanced at Minami, who was scribbling something on the margins of his copy, and read through the rest of Romeo's response. He'd read the play on his own a couple of times and watched a handful of adaptations, so he'd imagined this would have been easy. Only briefly, though, because his mind went blank as soon as he actually got to lunch and he felt like Romeo who? 

 

Once they did get through the entire exchange, Yurio quickly drafted Victor, Minami, and Takeshi to stand in as Benvolio, Abraham, and Samson for his entrance. It went rather quickly, but Yurio seemed to want to stick to his usual...snarly, grumpy tone. 

 

So I guess he's playing himself, Yuuri thought, trying to read through while eating his lunch. Soon enough it was Mila and Sara's turn, and they still needed a Nurse (played by Isabella Yang, who had lunch after them).

 

"Me!" Minami exclaimed, practically shoving Yurio's face onto his lunch tray as he leaned towards the girls and flipped through his script to get to their scene. Pretty ambitious of him, since there was a...lengthy monologue that was already longer before Ms. Okukawa cut it down.

 

There were a few remnants of embarrassment leftover as Yuuri listened to Sara's few lines in the scene. She may not have memorized much, but Yuuri knew she'd definitely pull off the role really well.

 

He'd probably look like a plain, unimpressive Romeo next to her. 

 

Minami was definitely flustered once the scene was over, and Takeshi still looked bored.

 

"I really hope that vacant look on your face means you already memorized all of Mercutio's lines, Takeshi," Phichit said as he poked Takeshi's furrowed forehead.

 

"I will," Takeshi replied defensively. "Besides, what could happen to Victor?"

 

"He could fall climbing up to Yuuri's bedroom window and fall into a coma. Then you'd have to be Mercutio."

 

"Phichit!" Yuuri exclaimed, hiding his face in his script while Victor chuckled into his hand.

 

The little impromptu rehearsal meant lunch went by faster than it usually did, and Yuuri sped over to his next class, his brain a jumble of complicated English when he was supposed to be concentrating on Spanish class.

 

After school they finally got started on the first scene, and it turned out that Emil still needed his script too when they had their first scene together, which for the moment only involved standing together on stage and moving around occasionally.

 

Every now and then Yuuri glanced over in Victor's direction, spotting him sitting in the front row with his script on his lap. Victor smiled up at him with a tiny wave every time their gazes locked.

 

They managed to get through about a third of the First Act that day, a slow process as they were testing out potential marks and the people on sets would still be working on creating the scenes. 

 

As a result, Takeshi was already looking rather stressed. 

 

It was very much dark by the time Ms. Okukawa let them out, and Yuuri realized he would have to walk home in this.

 

Then Victor started leading him and Phichit towards the parking lot, where Takeshi, Yuuko, and several others were already getting into their cars. "I'm driving you all home," he announced, tugging Yuuri along.

 

"Wha-really?" Phichit asked incredulously, color rising to his already pink cheeks.

 

Yuuri's cheeks were pinker still as Victor led them to a silver...Rogue, it looked like. He had no idea what year it was, but it definitely looked new. "Victor, you don't have to!"

 

"It's way too dark for me to let you two walk home on your own," Victor insisted with a wide smile that made Yuuri stop breathing for a second. "So consider me your chauffeur!"

 

"Yuuri, we should just never get our driver's licences," Phichit said, grinning as he opened one of the rear doors and tossed his backpack inside. "Your boyfriend can just drive us around everywhere."

 

Hesitating with his hand on the door handle, Yuuri turned to look at Victor, who gave him a look that clearly said, "go on ahead."

 

"...You don't have to do this every single time."

 

"I'll have to if you keep avoiding night hours, Yuuri," Victor replied with a smirk.

 

Glowering at his boyfriend, Yuuri opened the door and got into the front passenger seat with a huff.

 

Still, he couldn't resist a soft laugh when he spotted Phichit wiggling his eyebrows from the backseat in one of the mirrors. 

 

They dropped Phichit off first, and he made his way up the steps to the door while calling over his shoulder, "Don't get up to anything naughty in the backseat, kids!"

 

Yuuri proceeded to sink down into his seat until the seatbelt held him up. 

 

He was a red-faced mess by the time Victor got him home.

 

He knew what was coming, and turned around in time to meet Victor's kiss, warmth crawling up his neck. The press of their mouths together was gentle and wonderfully sweet, and Yuuri briefly wondered if Phichit had a point about the backseat.

 

And now he'd made himself blush right when Victor was gently sucking on his bottom lip, making his head go blank.

 

"I think you just surprised me," Victor murmured against Yuuri's chin.

 

Yuuri smiled timidly. "...Not really. I just knew you were coming," he admitted. "You still started it."

 

Keeping his eyes closed he felt Victor smile against his jaw, saying softly, "Well, did you see this coming?" Then he kissed a spot beneath Yuuri's ear that had him shivering and forgetting that he actually needed to get inside his house.

 

Victor drew away and Yuuri could only stare at his smiling face with his mouth agape. Clearing his throat, Yuuri tried to get a grip on the door handle, voice cracking as he said, "I'll see you tomorrow!"

 

"You too, Yuurichka!" Victor called after him.

 

Swallowing, Yuuri turned away from him and made his way inside the house, finally allowing himself to grin and let his fingers wander up to the spot Victor had kissed.

 

Victor drove off just as Yuuri shut the door behind him and Vicchan immediately appeared to greet him. 

 

Yuuri kept his hand on his neck and looked down at his dog, mumbling, "I am in so much trouble, boy..."

 


 

Victor looked frustrated when he sat down for lunch on Wednesday. He got there about a minute after Yuuri did, and put his backpack on the chair next to his to save it for one of their companions.

 

The sight shocked Yuuri rather unpleasantly. He had seen Victor lost in thought and daydreams, nonchalant and content. Plus that pout that made Yuuri think about Victor's mouth way too much.

 

Seeing him looking almost angry had Yuuri going silent, reluctant to even say a word. But glancing into those blue eyes, Yuuri spotted a glimmer of something other than frustration. 

 

He looked hurt. 

 

Swallowing and praying his voice didn't fail him, Yuuri leaned forward slightly and asked in hushed tones, "Victor, are you okay?"

 

Victor gave a little start, looking at him with surprise as though he hadn't really noticed him sitting there. A smile rapidly appeared on his face, one that Yuuri didn't think looked quite as...genuine as his usual one. "I'm fine! Why do you ask?"

 

"You...look kind of down," Yuuri dared to say, his heart pounding anxiously. 

 

Victor's smile faded slightly and he looked down at his tray with a tiny frown. "It's nothing, just...something that happened during chemistry."

 

"Is...there a pop quiz?" Yuuri asked, immediately feeling foolish.

 

Victor shook his head with a soft laugh. "I wish. It's just that...Mr. Ray decided to remind me to cut my hair."

 

"...What."

 

"Specifically, my ridiculous-looking hair," Victor added, his smile definitely looking forced.

 

Anger replaced Yuuri's nerves as he listened to the other boy. Did that bully of a teacher have a problem with Victor's hairbun? "Your hair isn't ridiculous. It looks great!" he exclaimed, too outraged to be timid.

 

Delight filled his heart when Victor gave him a true smile. "Well, thank you. But he didn't just bother me. He docked J.J. five points for doodling on his notebook. And he actually was taking notes."

 

A moment later their friends joined them at the table, and Yuuri frowned worriedly as he thought about Mr. Ray's bad mood. Sitting next to Yuuri, Takeshi pulled out his script and said, "Let's go over Mercutio's entrance again, guys. He's got a lot to say and I need to have this crap memorized even if I never use it."

 

"At this rate we won't get to Romeo and Juliet's first scene together!" Sara exclaimed with a frown.

 

Face warm at the thought, Yuuri replied, "Uh...we might get to it this afternoon, though." It was actually very likely that they would, though there was still a lot to go over from the first couple of scenes and Victor's entrance. Which meant possibly enduring a few awkward...non-kisses after some romantic dialogue that would probably make Mickey throw a chair at him. 

 

"I can help you rehearse too," Mila offered with a smile at Sara. "We've already got a lot of scenes together anyway."

 

Sara visibly relaxed and beamed at Mila gratefully. "That'd be great!"

 

Yuuri briefly caught a blush on Mila's cheeks, quickly hidden by her hair as she peered down at her script.

 

After going over Mercutio's complicated dialogue and Juliet's brief bits of dialogue, they all headed to class.

 

And just as Yuuri predicted, they did go over the introductory scenes during rehearsals, especially focusing on a few wooden deliveries.

 

"Act one, scene four. I need Yuuri, Victor, and Emil!" Ms. Okukawa announced, pointing at each of them and then to the stage.

 

Yuuri blew out a nervous breath, giving a jolt when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to find Victor looking at him with enthusiasm. "We're up!" he whispered before darting up to the stage where Emil waited.

 

"Yeah," Yuuri responded softly, trying not to tear his script to pieces at the thought of being on the stage with Victor. A plain sight next to the silver vision with long hair that trailed down his back. 

 

He managed to make his way up to the stage to take his place with the other boys, trying to meet Emil's friendly look. 

 

They began the scene, all three of them still reading off of the scripts. It was somewhat of a relief to know that Victor hadn't memorized the entire scene yet.

 

But Victor was certainly...the center of attention. Yuuri had always supposed Mercutio had to be, making his later, unexpected and sudden death all the more tragic. Victor's delivery was lightly sarcastic and funny, attempting to lighten the mood that was in slight danger of being dampened by Romeo's diminished spirits right before sneaking into the big Capulet party.

 

Yuuri felt like he was just trying to catch up, following Victor's spirited deliveries with nervous replies. 

 

It's the first time reading this scene, he told himself as he breathed as steadily as possible. I'll get it. I'll get it.

 

"...That dreamers often lie," he then heard Victor say, a smug look on his face.

 

"I-in bed asleep, while they do dream things true!" Yuuri replied, probably sounding way too frantic.

 

"Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you!" Victor began, taking his eyes off his script and proceeding to go through the entire monologue without looking at it once.

 

Yuuri was in so much trouble if he was really going to be on stage with Victor. 

 

He wasn't just good or the center of attention. Victor was brilliant and expressive, completely uninhibited in a way Yuuri had hardly ever been. 

 

Yuuri glanced at Ms. Okukawa, and saw that she was absolutely bewitched by what she was seeing, and he could swear those were tears at the very corners of her eyes as she clutched her copy of the script.

 

Emil was gaping at Victor too, glancing at the script and then back up at Victor repeatedly. Looking towards the front row, Yuuri found Sara looking starstruck, and next to her Takeshi looked horrified and Yurio looked like he was trying very hard to look unimpressed, and thoroughly failing to do so.

 

I am so doomed, Yuuri thought as he stared at Victor, who came to the end of his long speech sounded slightly winded. Then he realized he was next, and quickly blurted out, "Uhh, peace! Peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talk'st of nothing!"

 

Taking a deep breath, Victor added in a much more subdued tone, "True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy, which is as thin of substance as the air..."

 

When Victor's line came to an end, Emil was the one scrambling to catch up, flipping the page of his script and saying Benvolio's line once he found it. "This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves! Supper is done, and we shall, uh...come too late." Then he exchanged a nervous glance with Yuuri.

 

Clearing his throat, Yuuri read out the last lines of the scene, trying not to let himself feel absolutely inadequate. Victor wasn't the only one who'd impressed Ms. Okukawa, and she'd cast Yuuri as Romeo for a reason. He wanted to recapture that sensation, where he forgot about everyone else and brought out the lovestruck teenager that had made itself known.

 

Once he was finished, Ms. Okukawa got everyone's attention by clapping loudly, a wide smile on her face. "Awesome work, everyone! I'm...completely blown away!"

 

"Wonder why," Yuuri heard Yurio mutter with a glare in Victor's direction. 

 

Ms. Okukawa then informed him they'd spent a little more time than expected on the opening scene, so they'd cover the masque on Monday afternoon.

 

Yuuri sighed in relief. Zero hour was pushed back a couple more days. He was dragging a hand through his hair when he felt Victor's arm wrap around his waist with a gentle squeeze. Blushing, he peered up at Victor, who was giving him a soft smile. "Good job," he whispered. "You sounded nervous, though."

 

Yuuri groaned softly and gave the other boy a nudge with his hip. 

 

Minutes later they were bundled up and holding hands through their gloves as Victor led Yuuri to his car again. Phichit's dad was picking him up now that rehearsals had them staying later and leaving when it was already dark. 

 

"That went well," Victor said breezily as he unlocked his car.

 

Yuuri couldn't believe him. He'd given the best performance out of all of them so far, and he was acting like it was nothing. "You were great!" Yuuri exclaimed, still dazed and as he got into the car and put his seatbelt on. "I can't believe you had all of that memorized! It was like opening night was like...a week away!"

 

Victor gave a shrug after settling in his seat and putting the keys in the ignition. "It was my audition piece, so it's practically tattooed in my brain. I still have to work on the other lines," he reasoned with a faint smile.

 

"Still, you could've warned me," Yuuri mumbled as they drove out of the parking lot.

 

"Where's the fun in that?" Victor asked him cheerily. "I'm not about to warn you about your surprise!"

 

Oh. Right. His seventeenth birthday, right after Thanksgiving break. He'd completely forgotten to be on the lookout for any devious looks Victor and Phichit might have given each other "...What are you planning?" he asked. He may not have been able to actually catch Victor off-guard, but it was worth a shot.

 

"You'll see," Victor replied, that enthusiastic smile stuck on his face as he drove Yuuri home.

 

Blushing, Yuuri couldn't help but shake his head even as his heart pounded. Victor surprising him on his birthday. That was...definitely something he hadn't expected. 

 

When they reached Yuuri's house, he realized that his mental exhaustion was battling his desire to spend more time with the other boy. Sighing, he admitted, "You were...really amazing today."

 

"Thank you," Victor said, smiling at him. Then his cheeks turned pink as he added, "I really hope you say the same on Saturday."

 

"...Come on," Yuuri sighed. "You can't just say that and not expect me to keep asking about Saturday."

 

Victor merely laughed, and Yuuri knew he wasn't going to get a single answer from him. Then Victor reached out to stroke along his jaw, and Yuuri's heart skipped a beat as he recognized the adoration in those blue eyes. He thought Victor was about to kiss him, but then the silver-haired boy asked quietly, "What are you thinking about, Yuuri?"

 

"...Us," Yuuri admitted, trying not to get distracted by Victor's thumb grazing just underneath his bottom lip. 

 

"Such a mysterious answer," Victor replied, chuckling as he gave Yuuri's cheek a gentle cheek. His hand found Yuuri's, squeezing it briefly as he said, "Now I want to learn everything there is to know about Yuuri Katsuki."

 

Yuuri looked away, his heart racing and his neck feeling unbearably hot. "I'm not that interesting." Not compared to you.

 

"Come on, that's my boyfriend you're talking about," Victor said with a little pout. He smiled again and added, "I know that we have a lot of things in common. We both love dogs. And we both like boys..."

 

Oh. Maybe not quite that. Yuuri could feel his throat start to close up, and he could feel a cold sweat running down his back because what was he about to do? He didn't breathe for a few moments, realizing half of him wanted to tell the boy he liked something rather...intimate about himself, and that the other half wanted to dig a hole in the yard and bury himself in it and just die before actually blurting it out. "Well...not just boys," he murmured, looking at his hand in Victor's, realizing that the former half had won out before he could stop it. "That is...I'm bi." 

 

It wasn't exactly a secret, nor was he ashamed of it. Admitting it to Victor, the boy he'd liked for ages, was still terrifying. Victor was kind and generous, but Yuuri hated not having a real clue how anyone would react. 

 

There was a pause that, to Yuuri, felt rather heavy, and he forced himself to meet Victor's gaze. He looked...surprised, but then he smiled at Yuuri again, something honest and enthusiastic. "See? I just learned something new!" he said, still beaming.

 

Well, that was...Yuuri didn't want to say unexpected. He'd hoped for such a reaction, but he could resist asking as his heart raced nervously, "It doesn't bother you?" 

 

"No. Why should it?" Victor asked, looking surprised that Yuuri had even asked.

 

"It's just...I'm really sure that I am. Bi, that is, but..." He held his breath, an unpleasant knot forming in his stomach as he remembered the downsides of researching that aspect of himself on the internet. He'd known there were millions of opinions on the internet, but back then he'd naively expected things to be civil. God, he'd been so wrong, and thinking over it all had him anxious and doubtful for a long time.

 

He sighed and went on, gazing down at Victor's light blue nails. "...I figured it out freshman year, and I was doing a lot of research about it online. And I...ended up reading a lot of mean stuff about...how everyone thinks we're just greedy or we're more likely to cheat." The knot tightened and he instinctively squeezed Victor's hand, recalling the feeling of nausea and paranoia that hounded him for weeks after that and sometimes still did.

 

His feelings over his inexperience hadn't helped matters, and Mari and Phichit were the first to notice something wasn't right. He'd confided in them and they'd helped him cope with the remaining anxiety while expressing righteous anger over other people's ignorance. He then added, "No one was saying it to me directly, but...it still hurt to read, and it made me doubt myself for a while. But, eventually, I realized I couldn't change how I felt. Maybe I haven't had any experience, but it's...what I am."

 

He hoped he sounded convincing, but the knot was still rather tight. 

 

Then Victor hand cupped his jaw to tip his face up, sympathy bleeding from his gaze. "And you shouldn't want to change how you feel," Victor told him firmly. "You're Yuuri Katsuki. You're bi and I'm gay and we're together. That's all there is to it." 

 

The knot began to unravel, but Yuuri could only gape at Victor incredulously. Then Victor sighed and smiled sheepishly, saying, "I wouldn't get jealous because you're bi. I'd feel jealous if you were kissing anyone else that wasn't me. What if you find out that they're a better kisser than I am?"

 

Yuuri let out a breathless laugh, taking in the rosy tint on Victor's cheeks. "I don't think that's possible," he said, voice shaky with relief.

 

"Well, you haven't exactly kissed many people," Victor replied with a pout as he peered up up Yuuri.

 

"...Do you want me to?"

 

"No," Victor quickly replied, cupping Yuuri's face in his hands and squishing his cheeks together, still pouting.

 

"Not even for the play?" Yuuri asked in a cheeky mumble, his heart beating a happy beat.

 

Victor kept up his pout for a moment until he relented with a heavy sigh. "For the sake of theater, yes," he said, smiling and giving Yuuri's cheeks a brief squeeze before drawing him in for a kiss.

 

Yuuri pressed back eagerly, overwhelmed with relief and a sense of validation that he wanted to hang on to as long as possible, tucking it away so he could reach for it when he needed it. 

 

He'd opened up and Victor met him readily. 

 

How had everything changed so fast? 

 

Yuuri was too distracted to figure it out, a soft noise escaping him when Victor's tongue slid into his mouth.

 

He discovered that he loved this. Loved kissing Victor and forgetting everything else.

 

But both of them really needed to get home, and they couldn't do that if they stayed parked in front of Yuuri's house, making out with each other. 

 

Drawing away with a reluctant sound, Yuuri mumbled, "I have to go."

 

Victor caught him in another brief kiss, but Yuuri pulled back before it could deepen with an apologetic look. "Happy Thanksgiving. Please text me later," Victor begged, squeezing Yuuri's hand again.

 

"I will. I promise," Yuuri replied, trying not to get caught in that needy look of Victor's so he could get out of the car.

 

He managed not to trip as he walked the short path to the door, looking over his shoulder at Victor as he waved from inside his car with a wistful smile. Then Yuuri watched him drive off, staying put until the car disappeared around the corner.

 

His heart was still beating hard, and Yuuri realized he couldn't wait for whatever Victor had planned for his birthday.

 

He opened the door, still smiling widely.

 

And then as soon as he closed the door he heard Mari loudly start to sing "Edge of Seventeen" from the top of the stairs, accompanied by a howling Vicchan.

 

When Mari appeared with Vicchan in her arms, still singing acapella, Yuuri could only stare at them in horror.

 

Later on he went to bed smiling after receiving an early birthday greeting from Victor. 

 

He didn't need to ask what the kiss and cake emojis meant.

 


 

Yuuri woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of persistent tapping on window and Vicchan's barking. 

 

Groaning sleepily, Yuuri lifted his head from his pillow and wiped the drool from his chin as he made a futile attempt to figure out what he was looking at.

 

He could just about make out Vicchan's small shape darting around underneath the window, the curtains still closed. Confused, Yuuri sat up and gave himself a good, long stretch, feeling his muscles pop. He grabbed his glasses from his nightstand and slid them on before getting up and asking his dog in a sleepy croak, "What is it, boy? A bird?"

 

He opened his curtains, expecting to find an injured bird on the roof tiles.

 

What he saw made him choke on a shocked scream.

 

It wasn't a bird.

 

It was Victor, clinging onto the windowsill for dear life, a cheesy (but slightly strained) heart-shaped smile on his lips as his hand darted out to tap on the window.

 

Yuuri practically yanked the window open, shouting, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

 

"Surprise!" Victor replied, giving him a shaky smile. "Want to let me in?"

 

The words were barely out of Victor's mouth before Yuuri leaned out the window to frantically grab onto him, wrapping his arms around his midriff and hauling him through the window.

 

He'd pulled with such force that he was falling backwards and onto the floor, Victor landing on top of him with his face plastered on the front of Yuuri's old shirt. To Yuuri's fortune, the back of his head landed on the small Snorlax plush Vicchan liked to use as a bed. 

 

Blinking up at the ceiling, Yuuri peered down at the silver head, and Victor looked up at him with very apparent relief and gratitude before darting up to press a kiss to Yuuri's mouth. "My hero."

 

"YOU COULD HAVE DIED," Yuuri exclaimed, holding on to Victor a little tighter than he meant to.

 

"Phichit would have broken my fall. He's down there recording!" Victor replied, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.

 

Yuuri's heart stopped for a few seconds before he was scrambling out from underneath Victor and back to the window, heat racing up to his cheeks as he looked out and saw that Phichit was indeed standing on the front lawn, grinning madly as he held his phone out and waved up at Yuuri. "Happy birthday, Yuuri!"

 

Right. His birthday. He was seventeen years old. Yuuri waved back, a little dumbfounded, but got his bearings back enough to shout down at Phichit, "You're actually recording this? I thought you were joking! Why didn't you stop him?! What if he fell?!"

 

"And miss the look on your face!? Besides, I knew he could do it!"

 

Victor then leaned out from behind Yuuri, his coat already off and an exhilarated smile gracing his face. "At least tell me you got it! I want a copy!" he called down to Phichit.

 

"Chill, I'm already streaming it!"

 

"LIVE??!!" Yuuri was going to die. He was definitely going to die. On his birthday.

 

Then he realized he could hear Mari cackling her head off from her room.

 

Yeah. Definitely live.

 

Victor threw his arms around Yuuri's shoulders and kissed that spot beneath his ear again, breathing into it, "Happy birthday, Yuurichka." 

 

Wow.

 

It took a moment, but Yuuri relaxed into Victor's embrace, blushing hotly even as he accepted that they had an audience.

 

Was he supposed to feel this good that people out there knew Victor Nikiforov had climbed up to his window just to kiss him and wish him a happy birthday?

 

Smiling lopsidedly, Yuuri waved at Phichit's phone before shutting the window and closing the curtains. 

 

He exhaled and let out a soft chuckle before turning around in time to see Vicchan leaping up into Victor's arms to lick at his face in greeting. "You are so lucky my parents went to work hours ago," he told him, his heart starting to get back under control.  

 

"I did say I was going to climb up here," Victor responded with a wide smile before glancing around Yuuri's room. "This is definitely more scandalous than fooling around in the backseat!"

 

And then Yuuri's blush intensified. "...So was this your huge surprise?" he asked.

 

"I'm just getting started," Victor said with a wicked grin, sitting on the edge of Yuuri's bed with Vicchan perched on his lap. "First I'm taking you to get some breakfast, then I have couple of surprise activities planned, just for you and me."

 

More surprises. Yuuri definitely had to catch up. 

 

Then he caught up to the fact that he was still in his sweatpants and old shirt, and he probably had drool on his face and his hair was disheveled. Meanwhile, Victor looked gorgeous with his hair in a ponytail and a dark gray sweater. So unfair.

 

"Give me a few minutes," Yuuri quickly said before rapidly making his way out of his room, his brain stuck on the image of Victor sitting on his bed.

 

Once in the bathroom, Yuuri covered his face with his hands and tried very hard not to laugh in exhilaration. This was actually happening. To him, of all people, the guy who would have prefered to suffer in silence than actually talk to his crush.

 

He looked in the mirror and took a good long look at his unruly hair. 

 

Yeah. Totally happening to him.

Chapter Text

The forkful of syrup-laden pancake was hovering right in front of him, and Yuuri was staring at it while his face burned and a spark of amusement lit him up inside. "You don't have to feed me every single meal, you know," he said to Victor, who was holding the fork and sporting pink nails.

 

"Today I do. Now open up!" Victor insisted, almost tapping Yuuri's lips with the pancakes. Deciding it was probably best to give up, Yuuri opened his mouth to let in that forkful.

 

He exhaled in very clear enjoyment as he chewed, mouth filling with soft sweetness as he looked at Victor with shocked disbelief. After receiving his present and an exuberant goodbye from Phichit, along with a promise to meet them at Yu-Topia, Victor had driven him to a restaurant that apparently served the greatest pancakes in the world. Yuuri took his word for it, letting him order for them both and watching Phichit's video while they waited.

 

It was ridiculous, embarrassing, and funny, and completely worth everything for the payoff of seeing himself being kissed on the cheek by Victor while sporting some massive bedhead. 

 

Victor smiled back, delighted by his reaction. "Good, right?"

 

"Yeah, they are. They're really fluffy!" Yuuri replied after swallowing.

 

He waited for Victor to cut him another forkful, listening to the boy explain, "It's something they do with the egg yolks. I'll send you a video of it." 

 

Victor was like some sort of treasure trove of hidden knowledge about such things as nails and fluffy pancakes, along with the formation of serious birthday surprises that involved recruiting a best friend. After chewing the second mouthful and successfully plucking the fork from Victor's hand, Yuuri told him, "You really don't have to keep me in suspense, you know. Can't you at least give me a hint?"

 

He hadn't added the tiny whine on purpose, but it seemed to do the trick as he watched Victor pout and let his shoulders droop in defeat. "Alright, alright. I can't resist that cute face. Your one and only clue: Cold."

 

"Cold?" Yuuri asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

 

"Cold. And it applies to both my surprises!" Victor added cheerfully before digging into his own breakfast platter of eggs, sausages, and hash browns.

 

"...That's it?"

 

"That's it!"

 

Yuuri shook his head with a smile. "You and Phichit are like evil geniuses. And I'm the guy caught in your clutches." 

 

"Good. I'd like to keep you in my clutches," Victor replied with a wink.

 

And Yuuri was glad he didn't have anything in his mouth, because he certainly would have choked after that. "H-how are the hash browns?"

 

"Crunchy and delicious," the silver-haired boy said with a toothy smile.

 

And there were those straight teeth again, stoking Yuuri's curiosity. "I've got a question."

 

"Ask away."

 

"...Did you ever wear braces?"

 

Victor's eyes widened in surprise momentarily, and then he let out a long-suffering sigh. "Yes, and I hated them. I even had my wisdom teeth taken out," he explained, tapping at his jaw with a wince.

 

"I knew it," Yuuri said with a sympathetic look. "No one's teeth are that straight. Not without help."

 

Laughing with a wide smile, Victor tipped his head sideways and said, "Well, I suppose my teeth are the only thing about me that's straight. And that was with help!"

 

Yuuri blushed at the other boy's audacity, direct and oddly refreshing. "You just say whatever's on your mind, don't you?" he asked with a half-smile full of fondness.

 

"Well I have brilliant thoughts," Victor said with total certainty. "They helped make you try out for Romeo, didn't they?"

 

"Yeah, well. Jury's still out on that one," Yuuri murmured, stabbing at the three-stack of pancakes.

 

Victor gave a little roll of his eyes and asked, "Did you bring your script with you?" 

 

"Yeah, why?" It was in his messenger bag, already a little dog-eared with several passages marked up.

 

"The place I'm taking you to next would be a good place to practice. I can be the Juliet to your Romeo!" He gestured to himself as he said it, and once again Yuuri pictured Victor as Juliet despite that morning's surprise being such a Romeo move. Then Victor added, "That way you won't go into rehearsals on Monday completely unprepared." 

 

Right. Because they were going over Romeo and Juliet's first scene together. And the balcony scene. With Sara. Suddenly Yuuri remembered something Victor had said about their kisses outnumbering any strictly platonic ones he'd share with whoever played Juliet, and he cleared his throat, well-aware of his ever-persistent blush, and asked, "...Are we rehearsing the kisses too?"

 

Victor's eyes went round again before he laughed softly and looked at Yuuri with adoration. "You don't need an excuse to kiss me, Yuurichka!" 

 

Oh, God, Yuuri thought, deciding he needed to focus on finishing his breakfast and not on Victor's soft lips.

 

Once they were finished Yuuri was faced with the mortification of Victor paying their bill, his protests hushed by the boy's insistence that it was only right, since it was Yuuri's birthday and Victor wanted to treat him to breakfast at least.

 

Back in the car Yuuri tried to not let it bother him. Were the positions reversed he would have done the same as Victor had. And, in all honesty, he planned to for Victor's upcoming birthday, and wanted to make it special if only for the fact that it was on Christmas

 

And that sent his mind racing back to his wish to surprise the other boy as much as he'd been surprising Yuuri. His first thought was to surprise him with a kiss, but he couldn't exactly do that when Victor was driving. While Mari loved to torture him about his crap-tastic driving skills, she did also remind him that distractions while driving were complete no-nos, even if whatever calls or texts got through to his phone seemed "important." Yes, she'd even done air quotes.

 

Having been given full control of the aux cord, Yuuri had spent about two minutes looking through his carefully curated playlists on his phone before settling on one. Victor softly sang along with every song, urging Yuuri to join him. He did so, quietly, as he tried to figure out where Victor was taking them.

 

Once Victor turned into a parking lot Yuuri quickly realized just where they were. "The beach?" he asked.

 

Unbuckling his seat belt, Victor gave him an enthusiastic smile. "Have you ever walked on a beach in the winter?" 

 

"Not really," Yuuri said, though he was a bit surprised that the thought never actually occurred to him. Last time he went to the beach was with his family that past August, and he hadn't expected to be back until the following summer. He figured winter wasn't great for...beach-going?

 

Grinning at him, Victor flicked his head towards the eerily deserted beach and said, "Come on. It's amazing, you'll see."

 

Yuuri followed, winding his scarf a bit tighter as he stepped out of the car and peered out towards the water.

 

While it was already rather cold, it hadn't snowed yet, and the wind was calm that day. Yuuri and Victor walked hand in hand along the shore in silence, Yuuri listening to the sound of the water crashing against the sand. Yuuri could easily imagine how cold that water was, but actually seeing the beach so...barren and quiet was quite an experience. 

 

It was almost relaxing. Fun, in an understated way, in clear opposition to the loud gathering of people in the summer heat, voices clashing with gleeful screams and laughter as they splashed through the water, and dozens of bodies tried to maintain a comfortable distance from each other on the beach itself.

 

No crowds. No loud voices. It was almost like being on the moon, especially when he looked out to see slate gray waters touching the pale gray of the sky on the horizon.

 

"Wow, this is..." He squeezed Victor's hand and turned to find him looking at him as though eagerly awaiting his reaction. "I think I get what you meant," he added with a grateful smile, his heart pounding in a wonderful way that kept sending warmth through his limbs. At least he could blame his blush on the cold.

 

Victor looked relieved by his reaction, smiling back at him. The sight of Victor giving him such a look, strands of hair blowing about in the wind. "Papa brought us here last year in December," Victor explained, casting the water a long look. "It looks different now, but after it snows...It's like we're on a different planet. One that's just you and me."

 

Yuuri let out a soft, breathless laugh, quietly thrilled that they'd had the same thought. "It's peaceful. In the summer it's all just a lot of people and loud noises. I never thought a beach could be...fun this time of year." He met Victor's gaze, and said as honestly as he could, "Thank you."

 

To his surprise, Victor blushed and closed the distance between them to kiss Yuuri's cold cheek before resting his head on Yuuri's shoulder. Both actions had Yuuri feeling considerably warmer, and he prayed he didn't seem too stiff as they stood there, far enough that the water could reach them.

 

A little while later they were sitting across from each other on the sand, further away from the water, their scripts on their laps. As promised, they were reading through the scene, and Yuuri felt so out of his element as he confessed his infatuation to Victor's Juliet, his heart traitorously beating much faster as they went on. It only got worse as soon as Victor leaned in to kiss him, as indicated by the stage directions. It was so quick but still so world-shattering that Yuuri almost forgot that there were more lines and a second kiss. "Sin from my lips? Oh, trespass sweetly urged, give me my sin again," he read before leaning in to kiss Victor again.

 

To his surprise Victor stopped him by placing his fingertips to his lips. "Wait," he said, his gaze turning pensive and critical as he took his fingers away from Yuuri's lips. "Romeo could be shocked, ashamed, or just looking for an excuse to kiss Juliet again. Which one do you want to go with?"

 

Thinking back on his delivery, Yuuri realized how toneless he sounded. If he wanted to make the role his own he needed to actually act, to give Romeo a tone that was all his own. Thinking it over for a moment, Yuuri bit his lip before answering slowly, "I mean...The dialogue's sweet, funny...It's like verbal sparring, but it's not hostile." He brought his gaze back up to Victor's, who was looking at him steadily, and added, "It's one of those things that makes them cute, and...I think that makes their deaths even more tragic. And Juliet could be looking for that same excuse too."

 

"Good point!" Victor said with a grin.

 

Giving him a grin of his own, Yuuri glanced at the script again and went back to Romeo's line, taking a deep breath and trying to figure out how to sound so...playfully infatuated. He looked at Victor, who drove him wild and made him laugh and smile as if they'd been at this for far longer than a few weeks, who said whatever crossed his mind and went above and beyond for a simple birthday surprise.

 

And liked katsudon as much as Yuuri did.

 

"Sin? From my lips? Oh, trespass sweetly urged, give me my sin again!" Yuuri said breathlessly, reaching up to cup Victor's rosy cheek and leaning in to kiss him. He heard Victor's sharp inhale, followed by a soft noise from his throat that Yuuri wanted to swallow up. His heart practically shaking in his chest, Yuuri parted his lips enough to run his tongue across Victor's lip, loving the sound of his shiver.

 

When they parted Victor's blush had intensified, and Yuuri felt surprise at himself for causing such a reaction. Smiling back at him dazedly, Victor made no effort to hide his blush as he drew away, clearing his throat and saying shakily, "Let's keep going."

 

Yuuri's jaw practically dropped. He'd done it. He'd actually surprised Victor.

 

His fluttering insides refused to cooperate, especially as they got through the balcony scene and Yuuri was trying his best to be as passionate as he could as he made all sorts of declarations, Victor responding to them as though they really were meant to perform together.

 

Once they got through the scene they were giving each other impressed looks, blushes and all. "We should just tell everyone to make the play a winter beach romance," Victor said with a wide smile as he got to his feet. "How do you feel?"

 

"Okay, I guess," Yuuri replied, getting up and brushing the sand off his pants. "I think this helped me figure out how to actually say these lines."

 

If he managed to do this well tomorrow, it'd be a miracle.

 

Victor offered him his hand, and as soon as Yuuri took it he was leading him back towards the car. "Ready for your second surprise?" he asked, his eyes twinkling with mischief.

 

"Yeah!" Yuuri replied enthusiastically, feeling so unbelievably lucky in that moment.

 

This time Yuuri didn't hesitate to sing along with Victor as they listened to his playlist, unable to stop himself from smiling and laughing every time their voices cracked.

 

Another half hour later they reached their destination: an ice rink.

 

"You can ice skate?" Yuuri asked the other boy as they got out of the car, easily imagining him gracefully gliding over the ice.

 

Victor's eyes became wistful, and he said to Yuuri, "I used to back when we lived in Russia. There was a lake near our home that would freeze over every winter and I'd try to go there every week. I didn't even know this rink was here until last February. Have you ever skated?"

 

Yuuri winced as he remembered it. "Yeah, once. Yuuko had a birthday party here a couple of years ago. I was trying not to slip and fall the whole time."

 

Finding his hand again, Victor gave his cheek a long kiss and then reassured, "I won't let you fall. Trust me."

 

They rented their skates (or rather, Victor rented them with his own money all while Yuuri looked on a bit anxiously as Victor handed the attendant a few bills), and Victor patiently showed Yuuri how to make sure they were comfortably laced so that they fit securely before lacing up his own. Yuuri tried not to cling to Victor's arm as they made their way to the ice itself, remembering how he'd practically had to hang on to the wall while Yuuko skated like a natural.

 

While he had no doubt Victor could achieve the same, the other boy just held on to Yuuri, leading him around slowly while Yuuri got used to keeping his balance and skating in a straight line. Thankfully every other person on the rink was giving them a wide enough berth that there was no risk of colliding.

 

"There you go," Victor praised, holding Yuuri's hand as they moved a little faster, gliding step by gliding step.

 

"So who taught you to skate?" Yuuri asked with breathless excitement. 

 

"My mom," Victor replied. "But it was my grandmother who gave me my first pair of skates," he added, that wistful look appearing once again. "She showed Mama and Mama showed me."

 

Yuuri almost couldn't contain the "aww" that wanted to escape him as he pictured a tiny version of Victor skating on some frozen lake in Russia, led around by the woman he'd met. "What was it like? Moving here, I mean."

 

Victor seemed to think about it for a moment, finally answering, "It was a big change. I knew some English, but I still had a lot to learn when we came over. I made so many mistakes and the other kids thought they were really funny."

 

He laughed, but Yuuri couldn't help feeling a pang of pity for Victor, young and having barely arrived in a new country, coping about as well as his parents had when they'd done the same. 

 

Then Victor went on, "Mama knew about it, of course, and told me over and over to learn everything I could. To be the best I could be and...be better than them, basically. So I practiced my English and read as much as I could. Papa gave me a lot of help, so I think it helped us be a bit closer."

 

"Wow," Yuuri said, squeezing Victor's hand. "And after all that, you moved again and ended up here."

 

"I'm glad it happened," Victor replied, beaming at him. "Or we wouldn't have met."

 

Yuuri was pretty sure those words were appropriate grounds for slipping and falling. Death by Boyfriend's Heartfelt Speeches. That sounded plausible. But he managed to stay upright, although he guessed his blush would have melted the ice.

 

They may have looked silly, but Yuuri lost count of how many laps they'd made around that rink, surrounded by people who no doubt witnessed them staring at each other with lovestruck expressions.

 


 

They were chilly from the rink and full of cheap nachos by late afternoon, and Yuuri was only a little bit shocked that they'd stayed at the rink until five. His face ached from all the smiling, and he couldn't seem to stop doing so even after getting in the car and sitting in it as they waited for it to warm up. 

 

"Should we head to Yu-Topia?" Victor asked as soon as the car was warm enough that he could touch the steering wheel without gloves.

 

"Yeah," Yuuri replied as he sent a text to his dad letting him know they were on their way. "They'll close up in another hour, so we'll have the place to ourselves for the rest of the night." 

 

"That sounds perfect," Victor said as he pulled out of the parking space. 

 

They listened to Yuuri's playlist in an unexpectedly comfortable silence. He was a curious mix of tired and full of energy, and found himself wanting the day to last just a little bit longer. 

 

On one red light, Yuuri was watching the video from that morning and reading all of the messages of support, a lot of them amounting to, "#relationshipgoals!!!!!!"

 

It was hard to believe that they were talking about him.

 

Then Victor reached over to wrap his hand around Yuuri's wrist with a fond squeeze. Yuuri's thumb froze on the screen, and he suddenly forgot how to speak. 

 

It happened at most long red lights they hit, and Yuuri's mouth felt incredibly dry once they parked behind the restaurant.

 

They rounded the small building and walked in through the front door finding the restaurant empty save for a single man.

 

What caught Yuuri's attention about the man was that he had short silver hair identical in color to that of the boy standing next to him. He wound a scarf around his neck, grabbed his to-go bag, and turned around.

 

Yuuri felt a jolt of shock when he got a look at the man, who basically looked like an older version of Victor with short hair. 

 

Victor reacted first, asking with surprise, "Papa?"

 

The older Victor looked at them, appearing just as surprised to see them. "Vitya!" he exclaimed, and God, he even sounded like Victor. He smiled at them and added, "I didn't know you were coming! You know they're closing in a little bit."

 

"I know. We're here for Yuuri's party," Victor replied, still looking genuinely astonished by his father's presence, even though apparently the man made a habit of frequenting Yu-Topia.

 

Yuuri hadn't exactly had time to build up adequate enough nerves like he had when he had to meet Victor's mother, but he'd still been caught a little off-guard. Clearing his throat he held his hand out and tried not to look like an idiot as he smiled at his boyfriend's dad, who suddenly looked younger than Yuuri had expected him to. "It's nice to meet you, Dr. Nikiforov."

 

He took Yuuri's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, his voice warm as he said, "So you're the famous Yuuri! Happy birthday, young man."

 

That set Yuuri at ease a bit, more so than when he met Mrs. Nikiforova. "...Thank you, sir." 

 

"You should know you've made Vitya very happy," the older man added, happily ignoring Victor's vivid blush, or the fact that he'd made Yuuri blush and stammer nonsensically. He then asked Victor, "Be home before eleven, Vitya, alright?"

 

"Yes, Papa," Victor replied with a little roll of his eyes.

 

"Good. I'm heading home to have dinner with your mother."

 

"You have the night off?" Victor asked, his eyes widening a little.

 

"And tomorrow too. We can work on your play if you want," his father said with a warm smile.

 

"Yeah...!" Victor seemed so incredibly surprised by the idea, but also happy. Yuuri had to wonder if he didn't get to spend a lot of time with his father.

 

Then the older man gave Victor's shoulder a squeeze before taking his bag again and making his way to the door, calling over his shoulder. "Have a nice evening, boys!"

 

"Thanks! Goodbye!" Yuuri called after him, his face still red as he waved at the man's retreating back. Once he was out of sight, Yuuri quickly went over to lock the door and turn over the open/closed sign before giving Victor an incredulous look and exclaiming, "You look exactly like him!"

 

"Told you," Victor said with a smile that looked both smug and sheepish.

 

"And he looks...really young."

 

"He and Mama had me young." Victor looked down as he said it, and turned away from Yuuri to put his scarf over the back of a chair. 

 

Still trying to process the fact that Victor Nikiforov was probably a clone, Yuuri took off his coat and couldn't help chuckling as he said, "You know I just realized that our parents met before we did. And I mean met met."

 

"It's crazy, isn't it?" Victor asked, turning around to look at Yuuri with a wide smile. "Papa loves telling us how friendly your mom is, and he thinks your dad's hilarious whenever he talks about soccer."

 

"Yeah, he really loves soccer," Yuuri replied sheepishly.

 

Then he heard noise from behind the doors that led to the kitchen, which opened as Yuuri's mother walked through them looking energetically flustered. As soon as her eyes fell on them she brightened even more and briskly walked over to them. "Yuuri! Did you have a good day?" she asked hopefully.

 

"Yeah. Mom, this is Victor," Yuuri told her, looking at Victor and appreciating his friendly smile, much like his dad's, Yuuri realized.

 

Yuuri's mother looked like she was fit to burst with excitement, beaming as she gazed at Victor with approval. "It's so good to finally meet you! And you're the spitting image of your father! Toshiya, come meet Victor!" she called over her shoulder.

 

In a moment Yuuri's father peeked out from behind the doors, adjusting his glasses as he looked towards Victor. "Since when does that doctor have long hair?"

 

"No, no, this is his son! Victor! Yuuri's Victor!"

 

Yuuri's face turned even redder at hearing Victor being referred to as his Victor, but when he glanced at the other boy he met his obviously pleased gaze. 

 

Appearing to recognize that there were clear differences between Victor and the man he was accustomed to seeing, Yuuri's father smiled and exclaimed, "Oh! It's nice to meet finally you!"

 

"It's nice to meet you all too!" Victor replied, returning their smiles as Yuuri's chest filled with a sort of indescribable warmth.

 

A little while later Phichit arrived and Yuuri had to endure the cruel ritual of listening to everyone singing Happy Birthday to him while he smiled awkwardly at everyone and the cake. He sent up a prayer of thanks as soon as it was over, and blew out the candles.

 

After the cake they were all chatting and laughing over individual bowls of katsudon. To Yuuri's delight, Victor was well on his way to asking for another bowl, eating fast enough that he had specks of rice dotting his cheeks, making Yuuri laugh.

 

Once they were done eating and the cake was a crater, Yuuri's parents went back to the back of the restaurant to leave the four of them alone to have fun for a couple of hours until Phichit and Victor had to head home. 

 

Within minutes Yuuri found himself getting his nails done by Victor while Mari and Phichit were trying to set up the DVD player on the restaurant's one flatscreen, hanging overhead a few feet away. 

 

Victor had talked him into trying out a pretty blue that reminded Yuuri of public pools in the summer. Yuuri may have had his palm lying flat on the table, but watching Victor's concentrated gaze and his steady motions with the brush was incredibly relaxing. Yuuri decided he'd wear this color as long as possible (until it inevitably chipped).

 

Biting his lip, Yuuri gazed at the top of Victor's head, still a little astonished by the fact that he was in this situation, getting his nails done by the boy he'd had a crush on for more than a year. Victor was attractive and popular, and Yuuri always heard about how nice he was to everyone. But everything he'd done in the past few weeks was...beyond mere niceness. He'd listened to Yuuri's ramblings about his endless supply of insecurities. He'd even come out to Victor, for God's sake, and received immediate reassurance. "...I never saw this happening, you know," he admitted quietly, his cheeks growing warmer again. "I'm...not great with people. I don't really let them in. Which is why you keep surprising me."

 

"Me?" Victor asked, looking up at him with surprise.

 

"Yeah, you," Yuuri repeated. "The only reason I even talked to you is because of Phichit and Chris sticking us in that closet together. It was like...the best thing that ever happened to me, but I was scared I'd screw it up."

 

"But you didn't screw anything up," Victor said with a shake of his head.

 

"I was nervous and you could pretty much tell."

 

"You were cute. Adorable and kissable!"

 

"See? It's stuff like that that's...still really hard for me to believe!" Yuuri exclaimed, trying hard to keep his hands steady. He stared at his hands, one still untouched until Victor took it in his to start working on those nails. "I'm not...used to anyone seeing me in that way." And I wasn't expecting you to.

 

"Or maybe someone does have a crush on you, and like you they're too nervous to say anything," Victor told him, somehow making that sound so incredibly reasonable and probable.

 

"...Did my sister slip alcohol into your soda?" Yuuri asked him, half-joking.

 

"I'm serious!" Victor said insistently, his thumb caressing Yuuri's knuckles to make them lay flatter. "You're quiet. Distant. But when you do give people a chance to get closer, you...charm them." As soon as he was done with Yuuri's thumb, he peered up at him, and Yuuri swore he saw a degree of shyness in those blue eyes as Victor smiled and added, "You have gorgeous eyes, an amazing smile, you're incredibly smart, and you're very thoughtful." 

 

"...You actually mean all of that?"

 

"I do," came the immediate reply. 

 

He was so earnest about it, as if such honesty was so effortless to him. Yuuri's first instinct was to look away, but as always Victor just captured his attention, making his heart beat incredibly hard. "...The stuff you did today...I never expected anyone to do all that for me."

 

Victor paused for a long moment, gazing at Yuuri the whole time, and squeezed his hand as he said in low tones, "If we were on opposite ends of the world, I'd jump on a plane to find you."

 

Yuuri once again forgot how words worked, and it felt like his insides were freely rearranging themselves as he stared into the intensity of those blue, blue eyes.

 

He really wanted to kiss Victor. He wanted to do it as long as he could, to hold on to him and run his fingers through his beautiful hair, listening to Victor sigh out his name-

 

"DVD PLAYER'S READY!" Phichit shouted next to him, making Yuuri yelp in shock as the sound violently pulled him out of his thoughts. He blinked at his friend and then at Victor, feeling like he'd been caught in the act of...whatever. "What are we watching?" Phichit asked, sitting down and looking through the thick nylon case full of DVDs.

 

Mari sat down next to Victor with a heavy sigh of exhaustion, asking, "Got anything picked out, Yuuri?"

 

Trying to get his heart back under control, Yuuri gave the DVDs a passing glance and said, "Not really. You guys can pick."

 

"Something romantic!" Victor said, flipping through the plastic slips and past a couple of titles. 

 

"Deadpool's pretty romantic," Phichit pointed out, and Victor, to Yuuri's surprise, looked like he agreed.

 

"And R-rated," Mari pointed out before taking a long drink of her beer.

 

"I turn seventeen in a month!" Victor exclaimed entreatingly.

 

Phichit nodded, quickly adding, "Besides, all we need is adult supervision, and you've got a thing for Ryan Reynolds. It works out!" 

 

"Who at this table doesn't have a thing for Ryan Reynolds?" Mari asked them all with a level gaze.

 

The three of them stared back at her in telling silence.

 

Later on, as Wade Wilson went on his hunt for the guy responsible for turning him into a human raisin, Victor was still holding on to Yuuri's hand across the table, having finished doing his nails, top coat and all.

 

Yuuri held on, his heart racing as he kept going over Victor's earlier words.

 

He was in a daze when the movie ended and Victor and Phichit had to head home. Phichit's hug grounded him a bit, but then Victor's kiss had his head spinning again, as if he'd taken a drink of Mari's beer.

 

"Goodnight, detka," Victor whispered against his ear before kissing his cheek and drawing away with an adoring smile.

 

Yeah. Yuuri's mouth wasn't working.

 

That night, lying in bed with Vicchan nestled up next to him, Yuuri was staring at his phone and wondering just what the hell he could say to Victor. Thanks for being willing to fly across the world for me?

 

He was smiling. He was staring at his phone and smiling as he tried to figure out what to say to Victor after he'd given him the most amazing day of his life, making him feel worthy of every gift and kiss.

 

Sighing, Yuuri thumbed at the phone screen. It wasn't much, but maybe Victor would enjoy it.

 

Plus, Yuuri supposed he owed Victor a bit of sleeplessness.

 

YUURI:
I had an amazing time today
Thank you <3
It's not much but I think you're gonna like it
[LINK]


VICTOR:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I LOVE VINE COMPS
AND THIS ONE'S AN HOUR LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU <3 <3 <3 <3

Chapter Text

Monday mornings at school after a holiday weekend always felt like stepping on a different planet, more so since Yuuri had turned during said holiday.

 

And, thanks to his boyfriend and best friend, had garnered a surprising amount of fame on social media thanks to their little stream. A group of four girls, ones that usually took little notice of Yuuri, were waving at him and giggling, which would have bothered him had they not called out, "Happy birthday, Yuuri!"

 

They walked closer to him, his eyes widening with surprise as they surrounded him. "That video was so cute!" one of them exclaimed, still giggling and hiding her blush behind her scarf.

 

Yuuri blushed at the thought of having an audience as he'd hauled Victor through his window. Still, he had to smile back timidly, his heart still beating happily over the event. He was trying to figure out how to respond to the girl when her friend, to Yuuri's alarm, threw an arm around Yuuri's shoulder, squeezing him as if they were the best of friends. "You better watch out, or Victor might end up being Romeo instead!" she warned with a wink.

 

Blush intensifying, Yuuri stammered until she let go, still grinning at him. 

 

The third girl pouted and lamented, "My boyfriend would never do something like that for me!"

 

Mercifully, they all said their goodbyes, still giggling as they walked off and left Yuuri totally flabbergasted.

 

He hoped to God no one else approached him, ducking his head.

 

When he did feel someone's presence close to him, he wanted to groan in dismay until he looked up and saw that it was Victor, his cheeks and the tip of his nose a rosy pink. "Good morning, lapochka," he greeted, beaming at Yuuri before darting in to kiss his cold cheek.

 

"H-hi," Yuuri said softly, voice shaky with cold and leftover surprise over the earlier interaction. "So we're famous now thanks to you," he informed the other boy, reaching for his gloved hand.

 

"Are we?" Victor asked pleasantly.

 

"Yeah. I've already heard someone complain about her boyfriend not pulling a stunt like the one you pulled on Saturday morning."

 

"Well, not everyone knows their way around a roof," Victor replied, smirking at him.

 

"Or they just don't want to break their necks."

 

"I would've been fine," Victor insisted with a little roll of his eyes. He squeezed Yuuri's hand, giving it a little shake, and asked, "How are you feeling about today? Excited?"

 

Yuuri swallowed at the reminder of their upcoming rehearsal. He'd practiced by himself, trying to picture kissing a faceless Juliet or, preferably, Victor. He shied away from imagining kissing Sara, preferring to confine that act to the actual performance itself. "Nervous," he admitted. "What about you? Can you handle me and Sara making eyes at each other?"

 

"Stage eyes, Yuurichka," his boyfriend retorted as they entered through the doors of the school and into the warmth. "And besides, I'm a professional. At the end of the day, you're kissing me."

 

"Oh." Yuuri stared ahead in thought, still caught up in his mild preoccupation with surprising Victor. "Okay, I will," he said, cheeks turning red again.

 

"Mm?"

 

Inhaling deeply, Yuuri elaborated, "I'll kiss you at the end of the day."

 

Victor turned to look at him in surprise, his cheeks turning pinker. "Is that a promise?" he asked.

 

"You'll have to find out," Yuuri answered, smirking at Victor despite his thundering heart beat.

 

Victor laughed with a touch of lament. "You're cruel, and you like to tease me. Something else I didn't know about you."

 

Yuuri snorted a little, reluctantly letting go of Victor's hand so he could head to his locker. "I'll see you in class, okay?" he called as he left Victor's side, excited to finish up Hamlet despite the fact that they'd be killing each other.

 

"I'll miss you!" Victor called back, waving as he walked away.

 

Doing his best not to sigh wistfully in front of everyone in the hallway, Yuuri held his breath and made his way towards his locker, smiling at nothing in particular.

 


 

English was eventful. Yuuri's Laertes and Victor's Hamlet killed each other in the massive bloodbath that was the end of the play, they had a discussion of the play that lasted a good twenty minutes, and most of the class hid their groans when Mr. Cialdini handed them essay prompts, due the following Monday. 

 

He had no time to talk to Victor after the bell rang, both of them heading to their separate classes. 

 

Unfortunately Yuuri had to deal with emerging anxiety during third period chemistry, and Mr. Ray glowered way more than usual, retreating to the storage closet every five minutes as the class took a silent pop quiz. He could just about sense everyone else's nervousness, and caught sight of Mila frantically biting her nails and shaking whenever Mr. Ray walked down the row.

 

Everyone seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief once the bell rang, and Yuuri wondered just how he was going to survive an entire year with Mr. Ray breathing down everyone's necks.

 

It seemed that his good mood had evaporated, and he couldn't really concentrate during his fourth period. Maybe he'd recover some of it during their lunch rehearsal, but he really doubted it. He felt on edge for the entire period, and the feeling remained as he sat down at the lunch table, his appetite completely gone.

 

The others joined him within a few minutes, all save Victor. It was strange, since Victor usually arrived right after Yuuri, giving them a couple of minutes together before the rest of their friends arrived. Now everyone was there but Victor, and they were all looking at each other in confusion. 

 

Sara leaned towards Yuuri, brow wrinkled in concern. "Do you know if Victor's running late?"

 

"He didn't say anything to me," Yuuri replied, retrieving his phone and checking for any texts from Victor. There were none. "Mr. Ray did give a quiz, though. Maybe it's taking them a little longer?" 

 

"I think Ray would actually explode if there was someone that didn't finish those quizzes before the bell rang," Takeshi mumbled around a mouthful of that inexplicably addictive cafeteria pizza.

 

Frowning, Yuuri typed out a message and sent it to Victor.

 

YUURI:

Are you on your way?

 

VICTOR:

my entire chem class is in the office

 

YUURI:

?!?!?!!!??????

WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO?

 

VICTOR:

NOTHING! :(

it was Mr. Ray!!!!

long story short he might be fired

 

YUURI: 

WHAT?!!!??????

 

"Yuuri, what's going on?" Minami asked, and Yuuri raised his flabbergasted gaze up to meet his.

 

Everyone was looking at him expectantly, and Yuuri was trying to figuratively pick his jaw up from the floor as he met each of their stares. "Uh...I think Victor's chemistry class just got Mr. Ray fired."

 

"WHAT?!" Yuri shouted, leaping up from his seat and bolting to stand next to Yuuri so he could peer at his phone.

 

Phichit gaped at Yuuri, asking him, "Are you joking? Tell me you're not joking!!"

 

Takeshi was shaking his head in astonishment. "Holy shit, Yuuri, your boyfriend goes hard."

 

Glancing down at his screen, Yuuri realized he'd missed a handful of texts from Victor. "Hang on, hang on. He's telling me the story."

 

VICTOR:

not suppsed to text

everyone else has their phones put away but i'm gonna b fast

ray got in jj's face during a quiz

smelled like he was drinking too

grabbed jj's shirt 

jj looked terrified and isabella ran out to get another teacher

i think they're interviewing us 1 by 1

gtg

 

He read them all aloud for the rest of them, meeting their incredulous looks with one of his own. Yuri sat back down, eyes wide with astonishment. "...Fuck," he exhaled.

 

"They can't just let him stay and teach after that, right?" Mila asked, sounding worried.

 

"Poor J.J.," Minami murmured, biting his lip.

 

"No wonder he kept disappearing into the storage closet," Yuuri said, thinking back to Mr. Ray's increasingly sour mood during third period and staring at Victor's brief texts. "We had a quiz today, and I think I saw him going in there like every five minutes."

 

"So he was probably drunk by the time third period let out," Takeshi observed.

 

"It doesn't matter!" Sara exclaimed, looking thoroughly disturbed. "You can't lay hands on a student, drunk or sober!"

 

Mila nodded in agreement, sharing a nervous look with Yuuri. "Mickey and Georgi are in that class. Maybe the understudies are going to rehearse today if anyone that's in that class can't make it."

 

That was entirely plausible. With a situation like that, students might probably be sent home. More nervous than he was before, Yuuri kept staring at his phone, hoping for a text from Victor even though he knew he wasn't even supposed to have his phone out. 

 

The need to see Victor was suddenly so overwhelming, almost painful as it filled him with even more anxiety. Mr. Ray was never above shouting at students. He kept nagging Victor about his hair and now he'd laid hands on J.J., quite obviously drunk. 

 

He didn't want to think about how any of it might have escalated. 

 

But he still did. 

 

They didn't rehearse at all, too preoccupied with exchanging stories and theories about Mr. Ray and how the drinking may have contributed to his frequent bad moods.

 

Yuuri's lunch sat untouched as his mind kept racing despite his efforts to stop it. 

 

He wasn't sure how he managed to get through the remaining three periods, but sensed that the teachers were just as on edge as the students as the news of what went on spread. 

 

Eighth period ended and Yuuri took his phone out as fast as he could, typing quickly. 

 

YUURI:

Where are you

 

VICTOR:

my locker

 

Yuuri only read it once and then headed over there as quickly as he could, ducking his head among the other students and hoping no one stopped him to talk about the rumors or the past Saturday.

 

Relief filled Yuuri when he spotted Victor at his locker, and he couldn't stop himself from making his way towards him as quickly as he could.

 

Victor turned towards him at the sound of his approach, eyes gone wide with surprise. "Yuuri!"

 

He may have looked okay, but Yuuri needed to be completely sure. Without thinking he grabbed Victor's hands and asked, "Are you okay? Is J.J. okay? What happened?"

 

As soon as he asked, Victor's shoulders seemed to droop as though he'd shed tension he'd been carrying. "I'm fine," he replied with a reassuring smile, squeezing Yuuri's hands. "The office called his and Isabella's parents, and they decided to take both of them home. J.J. was pretty shaken up. After all the interviews they asked the rest of us if we needed to call our parents and get signed off for the rest of the day. I just texted my parents, but they want me to explain everything myself."

 

Nodding slowly, Yuuri let out a shaky sigh. "So he's...really fired?"

 

"That's what I heard," Victor replied, briefly worrying his bottom lip before catching himself. "The principal started talking about calling substitutes and looking for a replacement."

 

A replacement. He'd never been happier to hear the word. A substitute would be a relief, and he would hope the replacement wouldn't be as terrifying as Mr. Ray. Exhaling deeply, Yuuri leaned against the lockers and closed his eyes, his heart beating hard as he held on to Victor's hand. "I feel bad for J.J., but...I'm really glad you're okay. I know Mr. Ray picked on you a lot, and..." 

 

"Yuuri..." Victor sounded so surprised still, breathing Yuuri's name out with an adoration that made Yuuri's knees feel weak.

 

Opening his eyes, Yuuri turned to look right at Victor, meeting his impossibly soft gaze. Warmth flooding his chest, Yuuri gently tugged Victor toward him, looking at him for a moment before leaning in to kiss his soft lips.

 

That warmth spread from his chest to his cheeks and the back of his neck as the kiss lingered, Victor's lips surprisingly still against his until he eagerly pressed back against Yuuri's.

 

He did his best to ignore the hoots and whistles from those who happened to be passing by, focusing on the sensation of kissing the other boy.

 

When they parted Victor was smiling blissfully, eyes still soft as they looked at Yuuri. "But it's not the end of the day yet."

 

It took Yuuri a few seconds to remember their conversation from that morning. "I don't care," he blurted out, his blush deepening as soon as he said it. "I mean...I was worried, and..."

 

Then he heard rapid footsteps, and caught sight of Emil rushing past them. "Guys, come on! Rehearsals are still on!" he called in their direction before heading to the auditorium.

 

Lips still buzzing, Yuuri's face remained red as he remembered where they were meant to be that afternoon, and what scenes they were working on. 

 

Victor closed his locker and began to lead Yuuri away by the hand. "Let's go. It's a big day."

 

It was, but Yuuri's head wasn't quite in it. Walking alongside Victor and biting his lip uncertainly, he asked quietly, "Are you really okay, though?"

 

He looked at Victor from out of the corner of his eye, watching the way his smile faded a little and how he wasn't looking at Yuuri. "...I'm just glad it's over with," he finally admitted, squeezing Yuuri's hand again. "Chemistry's hard enough, and I was starting to hate it because of him."  

 

Yuuri hummed in agreement, trying to relax and focus on his lines. 

 

They went into the auditorium, a handful of their classmates already there and practically huddled together as they undoubtedly chattered about Mr. Ray's dismissal, Georgi and Mickey in the middle of it all, predictably exaggerating a few points.

 

Then Ms. Okukawa entered the auditorium and all conversation faded to whispers as she went up on the stage and faced them all. "I know a lot of you were in Mr. Ray's chemistry classes, and no doubt you all know what happened this morning. A few students were already signed out for the day, and...based on what happened, I'll understand if anyone would rather go home. We can reschedule for tomorrow afternoon."

 

No one objected to remaining, to Yuuri's surprise. Ms. Okukawa grinned at them all approvingly before clapping her hands and starting off the rehearsals.

 

And, of course, they immediately ended with the masque, and Yuuri's throat closed off with nerves as he frantically searched for his place in the script, Victor's encouraging hand on his back.

 

They took their places as indicated by Ms. Okukawa and Phichit enthusiastically went through his lines as Lord Capulet, which were already considerably cut down. Soon, Yuuri stared across the stage at Sara, taking a breath to steady his voice as he asked the boy standing close to him, "What lady's that which doth enrich the hand of yonder night?"

 

He glanced at Victor, who was gazing right at him with a cheery, excited look.

 

"Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright," Yuuri continued, taking his eyes from Victor to Sara again. "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night!" He hoped he sounded lovestruck, thinking back to every kiss with Victor and the sight of him on that barren beach. 

 

As the scene went on, Yuuri kept trying to picture Victor in place of Sara even if they weren't going to kiss. Once Yuri and Phichit had their little confrontation, Ms. Okukawa directed Yuuri and Sara to start moving towards each other. Sara nodded and took a few steps towards Yuuri, biting her lip as she peered at her script.

 

Glancing at Victor again, Yuuri took a steadying breath and tried to remember everything they'd discussed over the weekend. He wasn't supposed to recite. He was supposed to be lovestruck, practically swooning as he spoke to Juliet for the first time. Finally they were in front of each other and Yuuri spoke a little too quickly, "If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this..." He cleared his throat and reminded himself to slow down, and continued, "My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss."

 

Fortunately Sara was still looking at her script, periodically glancing up at him, and replied with, "Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this!"

 

The exchanges were brief, and they quickly got to Yuuri's line right before the kiss. "...Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take."

 

Neither of them moved, and Yuuri couldn't help glancing at, Victor who was still watching closely. Looking towards the audience, he saw that Takeshi had a furious Mickey in a headlock, covering his mouth and muffling all the curses aimed in Yuuri's direction.

 

Clearing her throat, Ms. Okukawa called out, "Okay, skip the kiss, and moving on...!"

 

Yuuri tried not to look relieved. They did the same for the second kiss, and Yuuri felt a bit stronger in his delivery that time. Mila stepped in, leading Sara away after confirming that she was indeed Juliet Capulet.

 

Emil and Victor appeared on either side of Yuuri, Victor informing him, "Away, begone! The sport is at the best!"

 

"Ay, so I fear. The more is my unrest," Yuuri said, sounding appropriately disturbed as Emil and Victor led him away.

 

Behind the curtain, Victor threw his arms around Yuuri, giggling cheerfully as he squeezed him. "You were amazing," he whispered in Yuuri's ear. "We'll work on it some more, but it was a great start."

 

Yuuri just sagged against him, all the breath leaving him in a rush.

 

Following an announcement from Ms. Okukawa that informed them rehearsals would take longer and extend into the weekend after Christmas break, she let them all go.

 

Once in the car, Yuuri still felt rather restless, forehead pressed against the cool glass of the window. "...Did that all just happen?"

 

"Of course it did, silly," Victor replied with a soft laugh. "Most of the cast and crew watched too. It was good."

 

"I mean today in general," Yuuri clarified, turning to look at the other boy. "A teacher no one liked got fired and I did okay as Romeo."

 

Victor hummed in understanding. "They sent an email out to all the parents, you know. My mom probably already read hers and I know she's going to ask a million questions," he said with a roll of his eyes. "But at least we'll have a new teacher soon."

 

"Yeah," Yuuri mumbled, already tired and not looking forward to doing homework. 

 

They got to his place first, and Victor leaned in for their usual parting kiss. Yuuri turned towards him with a smile and met the kiss with a smile, reaching up to gently touch Victor's cheek. He was being kissed far too often for his own good, because his heart kept racing in his chest and only going faster as the kiss went on and Victor ran his tongue across Yuuri's, making him shiver.

 

"I'll text you later, okay?" Victor murmured against his mouth, looking flushed.

 

Yuuri could only nod wordlessly, barely remembering to grab his bookbag and leaving the car, trudging up the path to his house. As he heard Victor pull away, Yuuri spotted a snowflake, and then another before more began to fall.

 

He smiled to himself and went into the house.

Chapter Text

Even though Mr. Ray was definitely never going to teach at Yuuri's school again, it seemed that Yuuri's life wasn't going to get any easier. And it was all because of Mari saying one simple sentence when they were running lines and having breakfast:

 

"You've got a zit on your forehead."

 

And one long look in the mirror confirmed it: Yuuri had a zit on his forehead.

 

Which was why he was sporting a band aid on the left side of his forehead just above his eyebrow. He hoped to God Victor wouldn't even notice it. Then again it was one of those band aids with Dory from Finding Nemo plastered all over it, so Yuuri realized he was practically wearing a NOTICE MY FOREHEAD sign. 

 

Still, better than letting his boyfriend see the horrendous zit that had sprouted overnight.

 

As he made his way to school, hiding the telltale band aid beneath his beanie, Yuuri wondered how his hormones could have betrayed him so. Everything had been going fine, and now Yuuri had to hide under a Dory band aid.

 

"Yuuri!" he heard from behind him.

 

Grateful for the beanie, Yuuri blew out a breath and turned to face Victor with a too-wide smile as the other boy caught up to him after sprinting from the parking lot. "Hi, Victor." 

 

Taking Yuuri's hand in his as they walked together towards the building, Victor asked him with a short laugh, "How was the interrogation?"

 

"Wha...?"

 

"Didn't your parents ask about Mr. Ray, yesterday?"

 

Right. That. "Oh. Actually I had to tell them myself. They don't really keep up with the school emails, but they did ask a bunch of questions. Like if he'd ever bothered me. Stuff like that." They'd been shocked by the developments, but Mari had looked ready to raise hell.

 

Victor replied with a soft hum. "My mom asked the same thing. She looked scary when I told her about him going on and on about my hair."

 

Yuuri could easily imagine how scary Victor's mom could look. She didn't seem the type to threaten to sue, but maybe march into the school building intent on skewering Mr. Ray with a pencil. 

 

Once inside the building near their lockers Yuuri thoughtlessly took off his beanie.

 

Sure enough, Victor noticed the band aid, and he sucked in a shocked breath as horror filled his face. "What happened to your forehead?" he exclaimed, hands hovering between them anxiously.

 

Blushing and trying to quickly recall his "genius" excuse, Yuuri stammered, "I slipped and...hit my head on the edge of my desk." It sounded kind of dramatic, he realized, but plausible.

 

Then Victor's eyes went wide with shock and he took Yuuri's face in his hands. "Should you even be in school? You could have a concussion! Come on, I'll take you to the nurse!"

 

Panicking, Yuuri yanked his hand away, his face pink with embarrassment. This was not going as he'd planned (as if he'd actually thought anything out). "Victor, no! I'm okay, really. It's just a cut, it'll heal in like two days," he assured the other boy.

 

Even so, Victor's face remained full of worry, and the sight of it had Yuuri feeling guilty. Clearing his throat, he added, "I'm fine. I promise."

 

Still appearing uncertain, Victor sighed and leaned forward to kiss the middle Yuuri's forehead, a careful press of his soft lips. Yuuri's blush turned especially vivid as he peered up at the other boy, listening to him say gently, "If you feel sick at all, go to the nurse. Okay?"

 

Nodding weakly as his heart raced, Yuuri quietly said, "...You're gonna make us late for class."

 

"I want to keep kissing you," Victor said with a pout, squishing Yuuri's cheeks.

 

Deciding it was best to dart away before Victor puckered up in the middle of the hallway, Yuuri took Victor's wrists in his and slowly lowered them down, face still pink as he said, "I promise I'll kiss you as soon as we see each other at lunch." It was the least he could do for making Victor worry needlessly. 

 

And then a soft blush appeared on Victor's cheeks, and he was smiling when he said with a firm nod, "It's a deal!"

 

With only a couple of minutes and change to spare, Yuuri managed to make it to his locker and to homeroom in time. 

 

Later on, as he made his way to his first period class he was restlessly poking at the band aid, guilt still swirling about in his chest after thinking about Victor's reaction. 

 

He was still doing it as he sat in his desk, waiting for the class to start and debating whether or not to just get rid of the stupid thing and come clean. 

 

Phichit sat down on the desk to his right, staring at Yuuri's forehead curiously. "...What's that about?" 

 

Hiding his face, Yuuri groaned, "I'm awful. I'm disgusting garbage."

 

"...Is the Dory band aid supposed to say that?"

 

Frowning at his friend, Yuuri leaned towards him and quietly clarified, "I'm hiding a zit from Victor. I told him I hit my head and he practically wanted to drive me to the hospital." He blushed again at the thought of it.

 

Phichit stared at him before letting out a sympathetic sigh. "Yuuri, you need to chill out and let the Orinoco flow. He's not going to dump you over a pimple."

 

"Says the guy with perfect skin."

 

"Aw, thanks."

 


 

The band aid stayed in place by the time third period rolled around, and thankfully Mila didn't say a word about it as they walked to their chemistry classroom together. A strange elation replaced Yuuri's guilty feeling when he remembered that this would be their first class without Mr. Ray around, though he did wonder who was about to replace him.

 

The thought of said replacement possibly being worse than Mr. Ray sobered him a little. 

 

But then Yuuri spotted a familiar face standing just outside the classroom, greeting every surprised student as they headed into the classroom. No less surprised, Yuuri approached him, Mila keeping up with him, and asked, "Mr. Morooka? You're our new chem teacher?"

 

Mr. Morooka had subbed for a few science classes, so he was a bit of a familiar face. And a mildly amusing one, especially when he started to lose control of a particularly rowdy class. He smiled at Mila and Yuuri in greeting, explaining, "No, I'm just subbing. Hiring a replacement takes time. So Ray had you guys doing a lot. Detailed flash cards for every chapter? What, did the jerk think this was an AP class?" He immediately went pale upon realizing he was talking to students, and quickly said, "Uhh, you didn't hear me say that."

 

Mila turned to give Yuuri a grin and said coyly, "Say what?"

 

Smiling back at her, Yuuri replied, "I didn't hear anything."

 

Blowing out a relieved breath, Mr. Morooka waved them into the classroom. "Take your seats and we'll start the show."

 

The show turned out to be simple, easy note-taking, though to Yuuri it seemed as though the rest of his classmates were just barely starting to feel comfortable enough to breathe easy. But it was a start, and such an amazing difference from the day before.

 

Several knots in Yuuri's stomach went away.

 

Once the class ended, Yuuri was about to quickly send a text to Victor to let him know about Mr. Morooka. He rounded the corner and gave a start when he almost ran into someone.

 

It was J.J., looking at Yuuri with a wide-eyed expression. He was also a little bit pale, and looked incredibly nervous. "Hi, Yuuri," he said, attempting a casual smile.

 

"Hey, J.J.," Yuuri replied, a little surprised that J.J. was even talking to him. Other than in class, they never really crossed paths. They'd have a brief exchange in the play, since Ms. Okukawa had kept Paris's death scene, but that was it. J.J. was popular and friendly, but tended to brag. At the moment he wasn't bragging, and Yuuri could easily see how anxious he was.

 

Clearing his throat, the other boy asked while shifting his bookbag strap over his shoulder, "So...Is it true that Mr. Morooka's subbing?"

 

"Yeah, until they replace Ray," Yuuri said, watching J.J.'s features unravel in relief. "...Are you okay?" he asked, wondering if it was okay to ask that. 

 

J.J. kept his gaze averted even as he smiled, rubbing the back of his neck repeatedly. "Yeah! Yeah...Ray was a dick."

 

"Yeah, he was. I'm sorry about yesterday," Yuuri said, biting his lip.

 

J.J.'s smile faded slightly at the reminder. "At least the guy's gone for good," he murmured, his eyes finally meeting Yuuri's. He looked relieved, but also a little bit worn. "I'll see you at rehearsals, okay?"

 

"Yeah," Yuuri replied, a little surprised that he'd be showing up. He walked past J.J. towards his fourth period, looking over his shoulder in time to see Isabella arrive to give J.J. a tight hug and several kisses to his face.

 

J.J.'s face immediately lit up, and Yuuri knew he'd be okay for the moment.

 


 

Victor was smiling at Yuuri expectantly when he joined him at their table, both of them having gotten there before anyone else in their group did.

 

"...Is everything okay?" Yuuri asked him, smiling back with mild confusion.

 

"You promised me a kiss as soon as we saw each other," Victor reminded him, beaming with excitement.

 

"Oh! Right," Yuuri said, cheeks growing warm as he leaned in to press a kiss to Victor's waiting lips. He never thought someone would be so excited about kissing him.

 

He felt Victor's hand curl over his nape as their lips touched, and it was a single moment of bliss where Yuuri forgot about rogue pimples and rehearsals, until he heard Phichit greet, "Hello, lovebirds!"

 

Yuuri broke away sheepishly, realizing his hands had found their way onto Victor's shoulders. Victo gently pushed Yuuri's bangs back and asked in a soft tone, "How's your head?"

 

That rush of guilt came flooding back, and Yuuri ducked his face away from Victor's reach and focused on his script. "Fine! it's fine. Nothing hurts," he blurted out, his face turning a darker red.

 

He could feel Phichit's accusing gaze on top of his head.

 

Yuuri pointedly ignored him for the entire period.

 


 

Hours later they were back at it at rehearsals, Ms. Okukawa half-preoccupied with the set plans while Emil, blond Yuri, and Christophe went over the first big fight scene. 

 

Yuuri was helping them through it, wishing he and Sara had been able to practice their second big scene together during lunch. He had it halfway memorized, mouthing lines when he had a moment, remembering what was cut and which lines were Juliet's. After that was Romeo's scene with the Friar, which Yuuri hadn't really looked at more than a few times. They'd rehearsed a few of Victor's, Yuri's, Sara's, and Mila's scenes during lunch, and even Takeshi got a chance to run Mercutio's lines for a few minutes. 

 

He looked over at Georgi sitting a few seats away, appearing both determined and nervous as he mouthed along his own large collection of lines prior to Yuuri's entrance. 

 

"He looks more nervous than you do," he heard Victor whisper in his ear. He turned to look at him, eyes round with trepidation, and the other boy gave his shoulder a grounding squeeze. "You can do this. You've practiced with me and with Mari. You know how to say the lines, and it's still okay to be on script right now."

 

"Right," Yuuri sighed out, his chest still feeling shaky. He rubbed at his brow, mindful of the band aid and remembering what he was hiding. 

 

Minutes later Ms. Okukawa had Yuuri, Victor, Emil, and Sara on stage, Yuuri clutching his script while he and Sara stood off to the side while Victor and Emil had their quick, mildly irritated exchange as Mercutio and Benvolio.

 

Ms. Okukawa quickly waved Yuuri over as soon as the two other boys were offstage, and he found himself at center stage, saying as loudly as he could, "...H-he jests at scars that never felt a wound."

 

His tone sounded off. He had to work on that.

 

Victor and their friends threw him and Sara varying looks and gestures of encouragement, and Yuuri took a deep breath before turning in Sara's direction and saying in an awed voice, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." Sara took a few steps toward him, glancing back and forth between him and her script as he continued, "Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid art far more fair than she. Be not her maid, since she is envious..."

 

He gave the front rows a quick glance, catching sight of Victor nodding approvingly and Mickey looking absolutely murderous. Swallowing and turning back to Sara, he went on and exclaimed, "It is my lady! Oh, it is my love! Oh, that she knew she were! See how she leans her cheek upon her hand! Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand! That I might touch that cheek!"

 

Sara blinked several times before sighing out shakily, "Ay me..."

 

"She speaks," Yuuri said, looking down at his script. "Oh, speak again, bright angel. For thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head, as is a winged messenger of heaven." 

 

"...O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" Sara began, not looking at her script and avoiding Yuuri's gaze, since Yuuri was technically supposed to be hiding. "Deny thy father and refuse thy name! Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet." 

 

Her voice was sweet and pensive as she said her line. Yuuri remembered he was supposed to sound both curious to hear more and impatient to say something, asking himself, "Shall I hear more or shall I speak at this?"

 

Sara had to read her script for her next few lines, her cheeks red as she did it. 

 

Yuuri waited patiently as she went through each one, knowing just when he was expected to leap out and surprise her. "I take thee at thy word!" he exclaimed as soon as she was finished. "Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized. Henceforth I never will be Romeo!" he declared.

 

Sara looked appropriately shocked, asking, "What man art thou that, thus bescreened in night, so stumblest on my counsel?"

 

"My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word..."

 

They went on, Yuuri well-aware of their teacher and castmates' eyes on them as they stood a few steps from each other. Sara sounded like a natural, a perfect Juliet. It was almost funny to think that Yuuri, of all people, was supposed to be her Romeo. 

 

"...Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow, that tips with silver all these fruit tree tops-"

 

"Oh, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable," Sara warned.

 

"What shall I swear by?" Yuuri asked as steadfastly as he could.

 

"Do not swear at all," Sara replied with a smile. "Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry, and I'll believe thee." 

 

Yuuri couldn't resist smiling back at her before continuing with the rest of the scene, feeling himself relax just a little bit more. 

 

It was almost effortless by the time they came to the end of the scene, Sara saying, "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow."

 

"Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast! Hence will I to my ghostly friar's close cell, his help to crave, and my dear hap to tell," Yuuri said, filled with relief as the scene finally ended and he let out a long breath, Sara doing the same and beaming widely immediately after.

 

Their castmates applauded them, Ms. Okukawa joining them for a few moments and saying excitedly, "That was brilliant, you guys! Great start!" 

 

Everyone quieted down eventually, and Sara made her way off the stage, ignoring her brother's angry looks. Georgi clambered up while Yuuri knelt at the edge of the stage, Victor gazing up at him with a proud look.

 

"How was that?" Yuuri asked quietly, elation making his voice tremble.

 

Victor darted up for a quick kiss. "You should feel my heart right now. It's going so fast," he replied with a wide smile before waving Yuuri away. "Get back up there, you have another scene!"

 

"Right," Yuuri said breathlessly, backing away back onto the stage and off to the side, peering out while Georgi got ready for his entrance and catching sight of Sara and Mila gleefully clasping each other's hands.

 

It was dark by the time Ms. Okukawa let them out, and Yuuri was absolutely exhausted as he held on to Victor's hand, letting the other boy lead him to his car.

 

Once inside Yuuri leaned back into the seat, closing his eyes and smiling to himself. Everything had gone better than he'd thought. It wasn't a total disaster...yet.

 

He felt Victor's fingers on his brow, and opened his eyes to see the other boy looking at him with concern. "Are you still feeling okay?"

 

God, Yuuri could not keep this up. The band-aid would be a mark of his guilt for as long as he did. "Victor?" he asked quietly.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"I've got a confession to make,"

 

Victor's cheeks turned pink, and he drew back his hand to clutch at his scarf. "What is it?"

 

"...I didn't actually hit my head," Yuuri finally said, biting his lip and looking down at his lap.

 

"...What."

 

Yuuri shut his eyes and sank into his seat, his face becoming unbearably warm. "It's actually a pimple. I was embarrassed and I lied. I'm sorry."

 

He expected Victor to laugh.

 

It never came, but what did come was a sudden pinch to his cheek that had him staring at Victor in surprise, the other boy smiling at him adoringly. "You're just so cute. I don't care about a pimple, silly!" Victor told him, releasing his cheek and leaning in to kiss it. "Can I see it?" he asked brightly.

 

"NO!" Yuuri exclaimed, tugging his beanie further down his flushed face. "It's embarrassing! I mean, you're perfect, and..."

 

"You're perfect," Victor said, patting the top of his head. 

 

Yuuri sighed, absorbed in Victor's still so adoring smile. "...Are we going to stay in this parking lot all night?" he asked quietly, his heart pounding hard.

 

Victor laughed softly and put his seatbelt on before starting the car, and Yuuri watched him smile as he drove them home.

Chapter Text

"Do you have to be home right now?"

 

Yuuri clicked his seatbelt on and shook his head. It was half past five and snowing lightly. Rehearsals had gone well, and Yuuri was riding a high after getting through the wedding scene without much of a hitch, followed by Victor and Yurio's deaths. Shaking his head he replied, "No, why?"

 

"I wanted to invite you to my place for dinner!" Victor said with a wide, happy smile.

 

Yuuri kissed his high goodbye. "...You what?"

 

"My dad has the night off, and he and my mom really want to get to know you better," Victor explained as he put his seatbelt on and put his key in the ignition. He glanced at Yuuri and added observantly, "You are turning very white."

 

"Dinner...with your parents?!" Yuuri was going to die, and it wouldn't matter that Victor's dad was a doctor because Yuuri was going to embarrass himself and he would be deader than Romeo.

 

"Yeah. Is that so strange? I've had dinner with yours."

 

"Yeah, on my birthday! This is...dinner dinner," Yuuri replied frantically, keeping his eyes on the snowflakes landing on the windshield, melting before the wipers could get to them.

 

"...It's dinner."

 

"With your parents!"

 

He watched Victor frown as he stared at the road, and Yuuri knew he was being irrational, ridiculous, and maybe this was what would finally drive him away. Then Victor smiled gently and said, "Yuuri, they like you."

 

Yuuri tried to focus on those words, and tried to trust the memory of Leonid Nikiforov's friendliness when they ran into him at Yu-Topia on Yuuri's birthday. Even so he asked in a quiet voice, "Really?" 

 

"I promise," Victor answered firmly. "Mom thought you were polite and Dad thought you were charming! And besides, Makkachin misses you."

 

Polite and charming. Yuuri had no idea how he'd accomplished the second one. In what way was he charming? Or adorable or everything else Victor called him? Sighing, Yuuri sank into his seat and said, "I...don't have anything going on." 

 

He watched Victor's smile widen, and the sight of it warmed his heart. "It'll be fun. We can work on our lines and our homework while we wait for dinner." His smile turned into a smirk and he added brightly, "And doing other things. In my room. Now your face is red!"

 

It really was. "In your parents' house," Yuuri said in hushed mortification.

 

"Did you forget about the morning of your birthday? We were in your parents' house too."

 

He had a point. "I'll...text my sister," Yuuri mumbled, taking his phone out and doing just that. 

 

Once in front of Victor's house, Yuuri practically froze, his hand squeezing Victor's nervously. "I feel underdressed," he confessed.

 

"You're fine! It's not dinner with the president!" Victor said as he led Yuuri to the door.

 

"Good, because I really don't want to have dinner with the president."

 

Once Victor opened the door, Yuuri walked inside in time to find himself almost getting stampeded by Makkachin, who started licking Yuuri's chin eagerly.

 

"Hey, Makkachin!" Yuuri greeted, the warm reception relaxing him a little. He stroked the dog's head and murmured, "Sorry, I didn't bring Vicchan with me. Maybe when it gets warmer."

 

Makkachin gave a little woof as a response before moving on to try and climb onto Victor, who cooed at him in Russian, sounding so endearing that Yuuri had to keep himself from actually putting his heart to his chest.

 

It was then that Yuuri remembered where he was, and finally looked at his surroundings. The walls were a clean white, covered in picture frames that held images of Victor's parents in their youth. Some of them were photos of a middle-aged woman with Victor's eyes, though it appeared as though the photos weren't that old. In one she wore an enormous smile, the corners of her blue eyes crinkled, and her white hair cascaded down her shoulders, over a dark green turtleneck.

 

Yuuri took his coat off and hung it on the hooks set near the door frame, still glancing around at the photos as he quietly asked Victor, "Is that your grandmother?" He kept his voice hushed as though he didn't want to disturb anything around him, as though he were in a museum.

 

Victor glanced at the photo in question and smiled at it fondly. "My babushka, yes. She died when I was little, but I still remember how nice she always smelled. Like a bakery."

 

Yuuri nodded and smiled back, turning back to follow the collection of photographs into the living room, pausing to catch his breath when he spotted the piano standing against the wall across from him, the music book open to a page full of notes that Yuuri wanted to try and follow. Victor had mentioned his mother played the piano, and taught it too. By the window stood a lovingly-decorated Christmas tree, and Yuuri recalled Victor mentioning how they'd adopted American Christmas traditions, evidently making Victor's birthday even more special. Next to it was a television and yet another table bearing two picture frames, one being a recent school photo of Victor's and the other being his parents' wedding photo in stunning black and white.

 

Yuuri didn't fail to notice how young they both looked in the photo, but held his tongue about that in favor of asking about Victor's photo. "When did you take this one?"

 

"At my old school," Victor said with a chuckle, picking the frame up so they could look at it properly. "Everyone else thought it was stupid that they made us wear formal clothes for it, but I loved the suit my mom helped me pick out."

 

Yuuri smiled appreciatively at the image of Victor with his hair up in a ponytail, dressed in a suit that probably would have looked ridiculous on anyone else. "Do you...ever miss it there?"

 

He looked at Victor out of the corner of his eye, surprised by the way his smile seemed to falter. But Victor managed to keep it in place as he put the photo back where it was. "I think I like it here better." Then he looked at Yuuri, smile wide and bright as he added, "I got to meet you."

 

Feeling his face turn red as a cherry, Yuuri failed to notice that they had an audience until Makkachin gave another woof and bounded towards oh God it's Victor's mom.

 

She stood in the threshold that led into a dining room, her hands loosely clasped at her waist and her smile surprisingly warm. "Yuuri, hello. We were hoping you'd stop by soon," she greeted, bending at the waist to stroke Makkachin's head as his tail wagged.

 

Yuuri's mouth went dry, and he was so close to grabbing Victor and whispering "help me" in his ear. Instead he managed to swallow and say with a quick nod, "Thank you for having me over, ma'am." He glanced at Victor, who was smiling at his mother and looking unabashedly proud.

 

"Is Papa home yet?" Victor asked in a hopeful tone.

 

"He's on his way. No surprise emergencies yet," Mrs. Nikiforova replied, a hint of wistfulness appearing in her eyes. "Dinner should be ready in a couple of hours, but if you need something to drink feel free to go on in."

 

"Thank you, Mrs. Nikiforova," Yuuri said, urging himself to relax. Victor's mother wasn't being at all hostile. Yuuri supposed he'd grown so used to Victor's open adoration and warmth it was strange that his mother was so reserved. 

 

Victor then took his hand and started tugging him towards the stairs, announcing, "We'll be up in my room doing homework. Come on, Makka!"

 

Then Yuuri's face turned completely red again as he let Victor lead him up the stairs, though he did manage to catch sight of Mrs. Nikiforova's smirk as she watched them go.

 

Yuuri kept his eyes glued to the steps, trying very hard not to trip.

 

Every inch of his skin burned as he took those steps into Victor's room, aware of how clammy his hand was starting to feel in Victor's. It was true, they'd had a few moments together in Yuuri's bedroom on his birthday. Sometimes by their lockers. Almost every afternoon in Victor's car. 

 

So maybe Yuuri wasn't as bad as this as he thought, but maybe this was the day he'd do something to embarrass himself and Victor would realize he could do way, way better-

 

"You're thinking too much," he heard Victor say as he shut his door, those blue eyes looking at him observantly.

 

Yuuri let out a nervous laugh, holding on to Victor's hand and giving it a squeeze to ground himself. He looked around at the room, watching Makkachin perch himself at the foot of Victor's bed with his tongue hanging out. The room was neater than Yuuri's, painted the same white as the living room. On the vanity was a picture frame that held a photo of Victor's parents, still looking very young. Dr. Nikiforov looked no older than Victor in the image. He turned and glanced at the bookshelves, at the nightstand, and the bed with dark red sheets where Makkachin lay. "Wow. So this is your room," Yuuri said.

 

"What did you expect?" Victor asked with a laugh, setting his book bag on the floor and sitting down on the edge of his bed.

 

"...Boy band posters?"

 

"...I used to have a poster of Chris Evans at our old house," Victor admitted, his cheeks turning pink as he smiled sheepishly.

 

Yuuri bit back a laugh as he timidly made his way over to Victor, and went still when he spotted the photo sitting on the nightstand next to a pile of three books and a white lamp.

 

It was him and Victor, a picture Phichit had taken of them at Yu-topia on Yuuri's birthday. Yuuri was smiling into the camera as Victor kissed his cheek. He remembered that their arms were looped around each other's waists, and he'd turned so red right after Phichit took the picture. "You framed that one?" he asked.

 

Victor smiled up at him, reaching for his hand and holding it in the space between them. "It was your birthday, but...it was also one of the best days of my life."

 

"Really?"

 

"Really."

 

Yuuri sighed, his heart beating hard and steady. "I really want to kiss you, but...Your mom's downstairs, and..."

 

"What, do you think she's going to come in here with holy water and start throwing it at us?" Victor asked, playfully swinging their joined hands. "My mom knows I like boys, and she knows that I really like you."

 

"Does she know that you like kissing me?"

 

"I think we can keep that between us," Victor replied before gently shooing Makkachin off the bed and tugging Yuuri down to sit beside him.

 

As soon as Yuuri was sitting down, his face was between Victor's soft hands, and Yuuri inhaled sharply as Victor stroked his cheeks with his thumbs as he gazed at him. Yuuri's gaze found Victor's soft lips, and he took a deep breath before quietly saying, "I don't think this counts as homework..."

 

"But it's educational," Victor replied in hushed tones before leaning in to brush his lips across the spot below Yuuri's ear before pressing a kiss to it, making Yuuri gasp and shake. "You like it when I kiss under your ear like that. I learned that ages ago."

 

Yuuri bit his lip, his hands somehow finding their way to Victor's shoulder and his soft, sweet-smelling hair. He stroked Victor's hair, listening to his happy little sigh. Unable to keep from smiling, Yuuri asked, "So...what, this is studying?"

 

"Yes it is," Victor said with a smile against Yuuri's neck.

 

Once he felt the quick graze of teeth, Yuuri gasped and squeezed Victor's shoulder before quietly begging, "Please don't give me a hickey before we have dinner with your parents." The very thought made him want to die.

 

Victor laughed again, his warm breath covering Yuuri's neck. "I won't. I promise," he said before moving his lips up to Yuuri's mouth. 

 

Yuuri could have kissed Victor forever, keeping his hands buried in that silver hair and catching his breath in brief seconds when Victor would draw away. Victor called it "studying," and Yuuri could swear he really was taking the time to learn what Yuuri reacted to, smiling against his mouth when Yuuri shivered after Victor's fingers lightly tugged at the hair at his nape.

 

Eventually, with sore lips and a pleasant bliss filling his head, Yuuri reminded Victor that they had work to do. Victor pouted a little, but once they got through their homework they were having a bit too much fun running lines.

 

"You're great at that," Yuuri said as they finished reading through the first balcony scene. "At being Juliet, I mean." It was true, Yuuri felt like he could draw on his feelings for Victor to help with his delivery, and he managed to look at his lines only a handful of times.

 

"Should I be Sara's understudy instead?" Victor asked, eyes bright with humor.

 

Yuuri chuckled, "Stick to being Mercutio. Big dramatic death scene, remember?" 

  

Minutes later they were going through that big dramatic death scene, and Victor seemed determined to make it as dramatic as he could, moaning as he lay on his back on the floor, Makkachin licking at his face as he pointed up at the ceiling, voice grave as he groaned, "A plague...on both your houses..." Then he let his arm fall to his side as he let out a breath, Yuuri trying to keep himself from giggling as Makkachin kept trying to rouse his owner. Victor failed utterly, smiling and giggling before catching Makkachin's head in his hands and scratching the sides of his neck. He opened an eye, still smiling up at Yuuri, and said, "And then I die and you go on a rampage and kill Yurio!"

 

Yuuri helped him to his feet, saying, "Corpses aren't supposed to be funny, you know. If I laugh on stage it'll be your fault."

 

Brushing himself off, Victor gazed at Yuuri thoughtfully, and said, "You transform when you're up there. Like that's all you know." 

 

Shaking his head, Yuuri mumbled, "My brain goes in a bunch of different directions whenever I'm up there. It makes me feel like I'm going to flub my lines."

 

"You won't feel that way in a few weeks," Victor reassured him, sitting on the edge of the bed again and patting the spot next to him. "I'll go through every scene with Juliet with you until you get it."

 

Yuuri sat down, giving Victor a disbelieving look. "Reading for two characters at once? That sounds scary. And impossible."

 

"Well, I like to surprise everyone," Victor said with a happy shrug.

 

That part was definitely true, and it seemed as though Yuuri was the one Victor liked surprising the most. He gazed at him, relaxed and adoring in his bedroom, his hair loose and cascading over his shoulders. Yuuri was about to lean in to kiss him again when he heard Victor's mother call, "Dinner's ready, boys!"

 

Yuuri froze as though she were moments away from opening the door, cheeks gone red again as Victor called out, "We'll be there in a minute, Mama." He then turned to Yuuri and asked cheerily, "Hungry?"

 

Moments later they were heading down the stairs, Makkachin beating them to the first floor, and Yuuri caught sight of another coat that wasn't there when he and Victor went upstairs. He saw Victor's father standing on the threshold leading to the dining room, looking tired but still smiling up at Yuuri, calling out to him, "Yuuri! It's nice to see you again!" 

 

"Thanks, Dr. Nikiforov," Yuuri replied, watching Victor make his way towards his father with a smile on his face.

 

"You made it," Victor said, sounding happy.

 

His father looked at him with warmth. "I wasn't going to miss tonight for anything," he replied, wearing Victor's same smile.

 

Later they were at the dinner table, Yuuri surprised by his own appetite. Everything was delicious, and he realized Victor and his parents were speaking in English for his benefit. Victor's parents had idle conversation about their respective days, and Yuuri caught Victor's mother looking at her husband with concern every now and then. Then Dr. Nikiforov asked them, "So how's the play coming along?"

 

Victor immediately replied, "They're working on the sets now. It's going to look amazing. Don't you think, Yuuri?"

 

It was an obvious attempt to include Yuuri in the conversation. At least it was something he knew about. "Uh, yeah. Juliet's balcony still needs work, and Ms. Okukawa doesn't want Sara standing on it until it's safe."

 

"Any idea what the music will be like?" Mrs. Nikiforova asked.

 

"We're using tracks," Yuuri answered with a glance at Victor, who gave him an encouraging nod. "The stage crew's in charge of setting all of that up, but we've already heard some of it during the week. It's pretty."

 

"And are you nervous?" she asked, looking right at him.

 

It took effort to keep his gaze on hers, but Yuuri managed to smile, as self-conscious as it felt. "A little, but Victor keeps helping me run lines."

 

She nodded with a glance at Victor, then her gaze settled on the table, a faraway look. "Back when I played on stage I'd just imagine an invisible wall between myself and the audience. It was just me and the music. It may work wonders for you too."

 

Yuuri gave her and Victor surprised looks, and watched Victor's smile start to fade again before he clarified, "Mama was famous in Russia for her playing. Before I was born." 

 

He said it matter-of-factly, but Yuuri could see the light in his eyes dim a little.

 

His curiosity was nagging at him, but Yuuri could tell that this wasn't a conversation to have in this moment.  

 

Thankfully Dr. Nikiforov asked more about the play and rehearsals, and he gladly promised Victor that he'd make it to opening night. That seemed to bring the light back to Victor's eyes.

 


 

"So...they like me," Yuuri remarked as he sat in the car later that night, full and relieved that the night had gone well.

 

"I told you you didn't have anything to worry about," Victor said as he drove, sounding smug.

 

Yuuri rolled his eyes, his forehead pressed against the cool window glass as he looked at the way the streets filled up with snow as it continued to fall. "Yeah, I...kind of made a big deal over nothing. But they're your parents. I want to make a good impression on them."

 

"And you did," Victor told him, reaching over to give his arm a quick, loving squeeze. "Mama even gave you advice!"

 

Right. Advice based on her own time on stage. "You never mentioned your mom was famous," Yuuri said.

 

He watched Victor's fingers tense on the wheel, then heard him say, "...She was. There's a picture of her in my dad's office when she was my age, right after a concert. She looked like a glamorous movie star."

 

Yuuri thought she still did. "So...she stopped when she married your dad?" he asked.

 

Victor kept his eyes on the road and replied, "That's right. Then I came along."

 

Realizing that Victor's answers were rather clipped, Yuuri decided to drop the subject, blushing self-consciously.

 

Soon they were in front of Yuuri's house, and before Yuuri could react Victor had his face in his hands again and was pulling him into a deep kiss that had Yuuri forgetting how to breathe.

 

He closed his eyes to revel in it, at the playful little tugs to his hair, and forgot about the fact that it was late and he needed to go to bed and read his lines a few more times. 

 

And it felt so different. Desperate almost, and Yuuri felt like he needed to catch up, his hands finding Victor's shoulders to keep himself steady even though his head was spinning.

 

When Victor finally pulled away Yuuri was breathing hard, staring right into Victor's blue eyes, caught up in their brightness. Victor, looking just as dazed, brushed their noses together and breathed, "Thank you for tonight."

 

"...What...?"

 

"I loved having you over," Victor said with a kiss to Yuuri's cheek. "I love spending time with you, no matter what we're doing."

 

Yuuri felt warm all over. Victor was actually saying all of that, to him. "I...I love that too," he mumbled, gaze flicking between Victor's eyes and lips.

 

Victor then pressed another kiss to Yuuri's lips, soft and affectionate. 

 

Yuuri reached up to cup Victor's cheek in his hand, closing his eyes again and sinking into the warmth of the kiss and trying to learn everything he could as his fingers trailed over Victor's jawline.

Chapter Text

"You're sure you want me as a subject?" Yuuri asked, biting his lip as he peeked up at Victor from behind his laptop.

 

They were in Yuuri's room, Victor sitting at Yuuri's desk with his sketchbook in his lap and his lead pencils lying on the desk, each one a unique length after much sharpening and use during the year. Yuuri was sitting on his bed, typing up the last of a history essay due online at midnight, and trying to keep his brain from exploding after his boyfriend asked him to sit as a subject for his sketch for his art class.

 

Yuuri had seen Victor's class sketchbook, all of the little blocks of gradients and values. There was even a lovely sketch of Victor's mother that had Victor smiling sheepishly whenever Yuuri looked at it. When they'd gotten to Yuuri's house the afternoon after rehearsals, Victor had asked him quite out of nowhere. Yuuri had agreed to it, but he was still feeling rather self-conscious. "I'm not exactly...dynamic," he added, looking at Victor as he picked up one of the pencils and gave it a glance.

 

Victor smiled at him and reassured, "You're perfect. Gorgeous. Just sit however you want, be natural and try not to move too much. But yeah, you can keep typing."

 

"Natural. Right. Should I take my glasses off?"

 

"No. Keep them on."

 

Yuuri blew out a breath and looked at his laptop again, suddenly forgetting everything about the Monroe Doctrine and whatever he'd written about it for the past five pages. At least he'd reached his conclusion, and got to work on refining it as best he could, even while he remembered that he was supposed to stay still and look "natural."

 

He glanced at Victor and saw that he was indeed drawing, a look of intense concentration on his face as he sketched what Yuuri assumed were the lines, using a soft, light lead that he could easily erase. A moment later he did grab the eraser from his desk, blue eyes narrowing as he erased as carefully as he could, brushing off the page with two quick strokes of his hand before picking up the pencil again.

 

His eyes flicked up again, studying Yuuri for several moments before he started drawing again, and Yuuri kept absolutely still as he turned back to the essay and remembered what his point was. He was about halfway through with the paragraph when Victor gently chided, "I can tell you're posing. Try to relax."

 

Yuuri bit his lip again, blushing and replying, "I'm not good at relaxing when people are taking my picture, or...drawing me."

 

"Talk about something. Whatever," Victor told him as he grabbed another pencil. "We'll run lines from the morning after the wedding night. I'll be Juliet."

 

Yuuri's blush darkened at the thought of that scene, especially when Victor cast himself in Juliet's role. "...Don't you need your script for that?" he asked, his hands gone clammy on the keyboard.

 

"I remember most of it," Victor said with a grin and a shrug, like it was something effortless.

 

Reminded of their conversation the night before when Yuuri went to have dinner with Victor and his parents, Yuuri couldn't help smirking back and saying, "So you've actually memorized Mercutio's lines and some of Juliet's?"

 

Victor gave another shrug and looked up at Yuuri with a wider smile. "Well I wanted to help you practice even more, and you don't get a lot of chances to practice one on one with Sara other than at lunch." He drew for a few more moments, and then asked, "Why don't you set something up with her this weekend? A few hours and you might just cover all your scenes together."

 

"Do you want Mickey to kill me?" Yuuri asked dryly, trying to picture how asking Sara to practice with him would go over with her volatile brother if he witnessed it. Still, Yuuri had to admit, "It's a good idea, though. She might be busy during break too. I think I'll be okay tonight, though. I'm all Shakespeared out after rehearsals."

 

Victor laughed and nodded, moving on to a heavier, soft lead and filling it what Yuuri assumed was his black hair. "You're a natural performer. Are you picturing me as Juliet? Is that what helps?" Victor asked him, one brow raised.

 

Yuuri looked away, suddenly feeling shy despite Victor's praise. "I don't know. I guess...I'm used to it. I'm used to the idea of being a Romeo. Crazy, right?"

 

"Come on, it's not crazy. You've been doing great at rehearsals. Ms. Okukawa won't stop raving about you and I'm pretty sure Kenjiro Minami is half in love with you," Victor told him.

 

"He is not."

 

"Trust me, he is. I know because the look on his face? Chris says that's how I look at you."

 

Yuuri felt like his heart and stomach were doing simultaneous flips, but managed to clear his throat and tease, "Don't tell me you're going to start acting jealous."

 

Victor gave him a mock-offended look. "Me? Victor Nikiforov? Jealous?" 

 

While the other boy's pout wasn't a real one, Yuuri couldn't resist the sudden urge to reassure him. "Because...you don't really have any reason to be."

 

"Good," the pout disappeared, replaced by a genuinely pleased smile. He then put his pencil down and got up, bringing the sketchbook over to Yuuri and showing it to him with a proud look. "What do you think so far?"

 

Yuuri took the sketchbook in both hands, and his eyes quickly widened. It still looked rather rough, but Victor had somehow caught Yuuri's pensive gaze, looking right down at the hastily sketched laptop. It was really good. Really good. "I...wow."

 

He could swear Victor preened after just those two words, and then the boy was setting the sketchbook aside to lean in towards Yuuri, a familiar look in his eye. "Now give me a kiss. I can only go so long looking at that face without kissing it."

 

Yuuri's face turned completely red and he scrambled to log into the submission website, laughing as Victor pressed kisses to his cheek. "W-wait. Wait, I just...let me submit my paper!"

 

Victor rested his head on Yuuri's shoulder and watched as he hurriedly clicked around until he found the submission page and uploaded his essay with a sigh of relief. "You should add a note. 'Now that I'm finished talking about the Monroe Doctrine, I get to make out with my boyfriend!'" Victor said cheerily, playfully letting his hand drift over the keyboard.

 

"Oh, my God. Stop talking!" Yuuri exclaimed, rapidly clicking on the "submit" link, shutting his laptop closed and leaping off the bed to put it on his desk before rushing back to kiss Victor's laughing mouth.

 

Soon breathless and disheveled, Yuuri wondered at how Victor felt right both over and under him, pausing every now and then to gaze down at him and his silver hair strewn over Yuuri's pillow, those soft lips rosy from all the kisses. Then Victor was pulling him down again, apparently determined to just permanently crush them together, grabbing fistfuls of Yuuri's hair and tangling their legs together.

 

Without any concrete idea of how much time had passed, Yuuri had a hand on his face and was breathing hard and trying not to let out any more embarrassing noises while Victor sucked at his neck. His other hand had a loose grip on Victor's hair, and he idly wondered what he could do with his legs, and whether it'd be too embarrassing to try and wrap them around Victor's.  

 

They both jumped when they heard a knock on the door, Victor pulling away and tucking a strand of hair behind his ear as they both stared at the door and heard Mari call, "Dinner's ready guys. Enough making out."

 

Yuuri groaned and hid his face in both hands, refusing to budge when Victor giggled and nuzzled his hands for a moment before giving up and grabbing Yuuri's wrists to tug him up. "Come on, cutie. Your sister's going to feed us."

 

Food. Right. At least there was good food.

 

And then as soon as they were downstairs, Mari whistled and said with a grin as she pointed at her own neck, "Cute hickey, bro."

 

Yuuri could feel the color drain from his face, and he immediately covered the spot that Victor had been sucking on earlier. "Victor!"

 

Victor, the jerk, just beamed at him and asked, "Want to give me one?"

 

"How am I supposed to cover this up!?"

 

"Try a band-aid," Victor replied wickedly.

 

It was then that Yuuri realized he was never going to live that band-aid down.

 


 

Taking Victor's advice, Yuuri found himself sitting across from Sara in the mall food court on Saturday afternoon.

 

Surprisingly, he hadn't stammered when he asked her if she could join him. Unsurprisingly, Michele had overheard them making their plans and immediately jumped at Yuuri before Yuuko and Takeshi yanked him back.

 

Still very much alive, Yuuri felt better than he had during their first rehearsal when Romeo and Juliet met. He didn't have to resort to picturing Victor in Sara's place, so maybe it really was coming a bit more naturally.

 

Yuuri self-deprecatingly thought that maybe once they were totally off-script he'd go back to his normal awkward self, masquerading as Romeo.

 

"You're a great Romeo," Sara complimented after their respective death scenes. "Phichit said you were going to try out for the Friar ages ago, but I'm glad you changed your mind."

 

Yuuri couldn't help blushing, not really expecting the compliment. "Yeah, well...Victor and my sister had a lot to do with it. They really believed I could pull it off."

 

"Well they were right." Sara then took a short sip of her soda, looking thoughtful for a moment before asking, "So any big plans for Victor's birthday?"

 

Yuuri bit his lip. Victor's birthday was a near-constant in the back of his mind, though he hadn't exactly formed a concrete plan. Victor's surprise seemed formed out of thin air, thanks to help from Phichit, and Yuuri was afraid of coming up short. "I'm still trying to figure that out," he confessed, not wanting to reveal much.

 

"I'm sure you will!" Sara reassured him. "You're so lucky, he looks at you like he's Romeo and you're Juliet up on the balcony."

 

Yuuri's heart sped up at the thought of Victor gazing like that at him, like he was really pining as much as Yuuri pined for him. He wondered why it was so hard to believe something like that, especially since he'd been packing on foundation on his neck for the past couple of days to cover up the hickey that was slowly fading away, since another band-aid was obviously not the answer. 

 

His phone vibrated and he took it out to see that Victor had sent him and text, opening it to find a photo attachment. It showed Victor playing dead on the ground with Yurio standing over him triumphantly, Emil pretending to cry on the foreground. They'd gotten together to practice their own scenes, and it looked like they were having fun. Still, Yuuri appreciated the one-on-one time with his co-star. "These three look like they're having fun."

 

He showed Sara the photo, making her giggle uncontrollably until Yuuri couldn't help laughing along with her. 

Chapter Text

"For the last time, Mickey, you are not even in this scene!" Ms. Okukawa shouted, losing her patience just as Mickey was about to start hitting Yuuri with his rolled-up script.

 

"TELL KATSUKI TO STOP GRABBING MY SISTER'S HAND!" Mickey roared, causing Yuuri to nervously back away while Sara fumed and glared furiously at her brother. They'd been in the middle of their first scene together, Yuuri taking Sara's hands in his just before their "kiss," and Mickey couldn't seem to contain his ire as he watched them. Yuuri was used to his glares, but this was the first time he'd actually gone so far as to try and attack Yuuri.

 

Angry, Sara shouted, "MICKEY, SHUT UP! GOD, WHY DID YOU EVEN WANT TO BE IN THE PLAY IN THE FIRST PLACE?!"

 

"I'M NOT LETTING THAT FOUR-EYED PERVERT PUT HIS HANDS ON YOU!"

 

"DAMN IT! SOME OF US ARE HERE TO ACTUALLY REHEARSE!" Ms. Okukawa roared, practically ripping her script to shreds while Emil left his spot behind Yuuri to try and coax Mickey off the stage. 

 

While Emil, Sara, and Ms. Okukawa were dealing with that, Yuuri tried to make himself invisible beside Victor, who held his hand tightly even as he stared at the goings on with mild amusement. "Ms. Okukawa's funny when she gets mad," Victor said softly.

 

"Does "funny" mean "scary as hell" in Russian?" Yuuri asked dryly, watching the twins shout at each other in Italian while Ms. Okukawa looked about ready to start pulling her hair out and probably kill Mickey.

 

Victor bit back a soft laugh, and quietly asked Yuuri, "Is this because you two went off to rehearse together?"

 

"Yeah," Yuuri replied. "Mickey saw me and Mari drop her off, and he almost started running after the car." Mari had laughed but Yuuri was pretty sure Mickey was going to kill him as soon as he saw him on Monday and Sara wasn't there as a buffer. 

 

"That guy has issues," Mila droned beside them with a wry grin on her face, obviously just as amused as Victor was. "Yura's a cuddly kitten compered to him."

 

Yuuri heard Yurio snarl in response to that, but was more focused on the soothing pressure of Victor's arms looping loosely around his neck, his voice low in his ear as he said, "It's alright, Yuuri. You may be a four-eyed pervert but you're my four-eyed pervert." He gave Yuuri a playful squeeze while he blushed hotly in outrage, grumpily trying to shake him off. But Victor was like a long-haired leech. "Speaking of, do you want to come over to my place again after rehearsals?"

 

Sighing in defeat as he held on to Victor's arms as they rested on his chest, Yuuri replied, "I can't. I need to study for Spanish, and Mari's forcing me to do night driving while the snow's falling." He gave Victor's arms an anxious squeeze, picturing a horrible blizzard rather than the flurries in the forecast.

 

"It's not that bad, Yuuri! Driving can be pretty relaxing!" Victor insisted, both of them watching Sara whack her brother's arm several times with her script.

 

"In what planet?" Yuuri asked incredulously, not really trusting Victor's "relaxation" scale when the boy was in the habit of climbing onto potentially icy roofs.

 

With Mickey off-stage again, Ms. Okukawa took several deep, grounding breaths before clapping her hands twice. "Alright! Let's pick it up from Romeo's line! Takeshi, if Mickey tries something again, sit on him."

 

"You got it," Takeshi quickly answered, already eyeing a surly Mickey like he was a game animal.

 

With a quick kiss to Yuuri's cheek, Victor let him go and went back to his spot with Emil. Face flushed with anger and embarrassment, Sara returned to her place in front of Yuuri, throwing her twin an exasperated look before blowing out a long breath and giving Yuuri a weary look. "Sorry about Mickey," she whispered. "He's allergic to me paying this much attention to other boys."

 

"At least it's only until March," Yuuri whispered back with a small shrug.

 

"Yeah, but then there's dances, and the beach in summer. And college," Sara added with a soft, long-suffering sigh. Yuuri smiled at her sympathetically, hoping they could at least get through the next couple of months of rehearsal without Mickey trying to stab him with a prop sword for confessing his undying love for Sara's Juliet.

 


 

 

 


 

So it wasn't relaxing, but at least Yuuri wasn't petrified with fear as he drove around the familiar streets towards different places as dictated by his sister, who was very relaxed as she sat practically resting her head against her window, expression unreadable as she focused on the road ahead as Yuuri drove. "Just relax. You're doing great. Better than I actually expected."

 

"Real encouraging, Mari," Yuuri muttered, hands going stiff as he gripped the steering wheel and tried to concentrate on everything ahead of him that wasn't the multiple snowflakes flying about. They both supposed Yuuri would have enough hours to get his license on January, at the earliest, and then he'd have to keep getting comfortable behind the wheel.

 

Ironically that seemed a little harder than going on stage and being Romeo.

 

"So how're rehearsals going?" Mari asked.

 

Yuuri wasn't sure if shrugging would make him swerve, so he just kept his shoulders where they were. "I'm...not making as many mistakes. After break, we'll start talking costumes, and longer rehearsals." And before he knew it, March would arrive and with it opening night. The thought almost made him accidentally pump his brake, and he thought that it would probably be best if he just didn't think about the most nerve-wracking event of his life while he was behind the wheel.

 

"Any clue what you're going to do for Victor's birthday?"

 

Scratch that. One of the most nerve-wracking events of his life. "I've got a couple of ideas," he told her, having already settled on his gift and just how he'd give it to the other boy because Victor himself had told him that he liked surprises. Granted, it wasn't...creative or incredibly defined, but at least Yuuri was a little bit sure Victor would enjoy it. At least Yuuri hoped he would, and that it wouldn't seem so...ridiculous and basic compared to the entire day Victor gave Yuuri for his birthday.

 

At a red light he took a moment to think about the one thing he needed to bring it all together. He thought he was covering the things that Victor confessed that he enjoyed, and even the climate had cooperated in that regard.

 

But Yuuri felt like he needed one more thing, some other thing that Victor would hopefully enjoy that he could hold in his hands. He thought about the things in Victor's home, the old photos and the piano and the various objects that Victor said reminded him of living in Russia, like the nesting dolls on the window sill.

 

Yuuri sucked in a breath as it came to him, and he turned to his sister and said urgently, "Mari, I need art supplies."

 

Mari blinked at him in bewilderment. "...Okay?"

 

"And could you order me some blank nesting dolls while you've got your phone out? I need them in the next couple of days."

 

"I will once you realize the light turned green five seconds ago."

 

"CRAP!" It took Yuuri everything he had to not just hit the accelerator.

 


 

VICTOR:
Bored

 

YUURI:
?????

 

VICTOR:
BOOOOOOOOOOOOORED

 

YUURI:
Yeah I got that.
Maybe you could get started on all the homework due after break ;)

 

VICTOR:
Not THAT bored :p
[IMAGE ATTACHMENT]

 

YUURI:
So you won't touch your assignments but you're gonna braid tinsel into your hair?

 

VICTOR:
Exactly!

 

YUURI:
It's pretty

 

VICTOR:
Thank you <3 <3 <3 (^3^)
So what are you doing?

 

YUURI:
[IMAGE ATTACHMENT]

 

VICTOR:
Ahhh Leonardo DiCaprio...
Getting inspired?
Or should I be jealous? ;)

 

YUURI:
Trying to figure out delivery and do a solo run through before bed.
And it's a good movie

 

VICTOR:
And LEO ;D

 

YUURI:
............
Okay yes

 

VICTOR:
The first step is admitting you have a problem
Are you painting something?
That looks like paint on your hands

 

YUURI:
No
Nothing
I'm not painting anything

 

VICTOR:
IS IT MY PRESENT?!
Are you painting my portrait?!

 

YUURI:
..........................
You'll have to wait and see 

 

VICTOR:
I'm blowing you a million kisses right now
[IMAGE ATTACHMENT]
There you go

 

Yuuri's face flushed as he stared at the photo of Victor blowing him a kiss, and he looked at the one nesting doll he was halfway through finishing. The nesting dolls arrived early that Friday afternoon, and that night Yuuri got to work mixing colors the right way and tracing light lines on the wood. At least as the dolls got smaller they'd probably get easier to paint on. 

 

So it was safe to say he wasn't the only one not getting his homework done, but he had two weeks to deal with it at least, and enough time for impromptu rehearsals with Victor, Sara, Mila, Emil, and Yurio. No one was cruel enough to assign group projects or long essays.

 

Vicchan had been watching him curiously as the night wore on, his black eyes glittering as though he were genuinely amused by Yuuri's current predicament. "You could help, you know. One of these is of Makkachin."

 

His poodle gave an inquisitive whine at the name, and Yuuri could resist snapping a photo of him and sending it to Victor.

 

YUURI:
[IMAGE ATTACHMENT]
He's wondering what Makkachin's doing

 

VICTOR:
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW

 


 

 

YUURI:
You're still home?

 

VICTOR:
Yeah
Dad got called in on an emergency so it's just me and mom

 

YUURI:
That's too bad. I'm really sorry, Victor.

 

VICTOR:
He'll be back tomorrow anyway
Would've been nice if he was here at midnight though

 

YUURI:
Five more minutes

 

VICTOR:
I'll be the dancing queen
Young and sweet
Only seventeen~

 

"I'm getting really tired of circling the block, Yuuri," Mari grumbled, huffing out a cloudy breath while Yuuri nervously eyed the light in Victor's window as they drove past the house for the fifth time. "You know neighborhood watches are actually a thing? And that we're about as suspicious as the burglars from Home Alone? You want to get arrested?"

 

"It's not midnight yet," Yuuri replied, giving the box in his lap a nervous squeeze. "Just...drive slower." It had taken him almost a week to finish Victor's actual gift, and he'd had to hide it when Victor came over to work on homework or rehearse with as many as their castmates possible. Even Sara had come, with her grumpy brother in tow. His parents were at home, resting up after closing the restaurant early. Yuuri spent all of Wednesday putting the finishing touches on his gift and on the presents for his family, hoping everything would go perfecly that night.

 

"Slower?" Mari asked incredulously. "Yuuri, it's like I'm scoping houses out on Christmas Eve! We've watched enough crime shows together!"

 

"I already owe you, Mari!" The antsy feeling in his belly was about as persistent as his sister, and Yuuri was doing everything he could to dispel the sensation because he wanted things to go great in the next few minutes and in the morning. Victor wasn't supposed to be doing anything or going anywhere, spending the holiday at home with his parents (or at least his mother, since his father got called in so suddenly), so Yuuri didn't have to worry about interrupting anything.

 

Mari rounded the corner of Victor's street again, and Yuuri took a deep breath before saying, "Okay, just...park in that spot in front."

 

The living room lights weren't on, but Yuuri wasn't completely sure if Victor's mother was still awake. If so, she was likely going to witness something completely ridiculous. Mari slid into the open spot close to the walkway, and Yuuri took a look at the time on his phone.

 

11:58

 

"Perfect," he breathed, before yanking his seatbelt off and leaving the car without a word to his sister.

 

Bundled up as he was, Yuuri shivered with nervous anticipation as he walked up to the red house, eyeing the upper window to the left with light shining from inside it. 

 

And no one appeared at the door, so he supposed no one suspected he was there.

 

He was impatient to just go up and ring the doorbell, but he realized it probably would draw Mrs. Nikiforova's attention. He looked down at the path and found a shattered icicle at his feet. He bent down a grabbed a pebble-sized piece in his gloved hand, one that wouldn't break Victor's window.

 

He peered at his phone again, watching as one more minute passed, and bounced on the balls of his feet as he looked up at Victor's window again. This was bordering on cheesy, and if Phichit were here he'd probably be streaming it. Yuuri checked his lips, hoping they weren't horrendously chapped.

 

Come on, come on...Yuuri bit his lip and glared at his phone, wanting to just will the time to go faster because it was cold and he needed to see if Victor liked his present and he couldn't bear the suspense any longer.

 

12:00 am

 

Christmas. Victor's birthday.

 

Yuuri smiled and exhaled in relief before taking careful aim at the window and tossing it as carefully as he could.

 

It bounced off the glass with a barely-audible tap, landing somewhere in the snow.

 

Yuuri groaned quietly and looked for the rest of the pieces of icicle on the ground. "Come on, Victor..." He threw it up again, and this time it hit with a hard tap that almost made Yuuri fear that he'd broken the glass.

 

It was a moment before he saw the curtains part and spotted Victor's shape behind them. The other boy peered down at him, frowning slightly before his eyes widened in recognition and he quickly opened the window. Yuuri smiled up at him with a small wave and a loud whisper of, "Hi!"

 

Victor leaned out his window and whispered back as he beamed in delighted surprise, "What are you doing here?!"

 

"Giving you your birthday present," Yuuri answered. "Is your mom up?"

 

"She fell asleep in the living room!"

 

Yuuri, just as delighted by his reaction so far, couldn't resist the sudden impulse. "Okay, good." He then walked right beneath the window and announced, "Give me a hand, I'm climbing up."

 

The look of total shock on his boyfriend's face had Yuuri biting back laughter, and Victor leaned further out with a hand stretched out to stop him. "Are you crazy!? No!"

 

"You did it!" Yuuri shot back.

 

"Your roof wasn't icy!" Victor exclaimed, cheeks flushed as he glanced at the roof and at Yuuri. "Just...wait down there!" He quickly darted back inside and shut his window, and Yuuri gave in to the urge to laugh into his hand.

 

A minute later Victor was running out the door, a thick scarf hanging uselessly over his shoulders and his coat wide open. Yuuri shook his head with fond exasperation as he closed the distance between them, reaching down to zip up Victor's coat and properly wrap his scarf around his neck. "Happy birthday," he said quietly, cheeks heating up before he darted in to kiss the other boy.

 

Victor gazed at him like he couldn't quite believe Yuuri was there. "I...I didn't think..."

 

Yuuri sheepishly bit his lip, wishing he could take a picture of Victor in that second, eyes bright, cheeks flushed, and the tip of his nose cutely pink. "Well...midnight on Christmas Eve, I mean...It felt special."

 

"It feels magical," Victor said, spotting the wrapped box in Yuuri's hand. "Is that my present?"

 

"It's...one of your presents," Yuuri confessed, suddenly self-conscious as he handed the box over to Victor. "It's not much, I mean..."

 

Victor took it eagerly, tearing into the paper and lifting the lid off the box. His face brightened even more as he looked at what was inside, reaching in to take out the nesting dolls and dropping the box at his feet. "Yuuri, is...Is this me?"

 

Yuuri stared at the box, his heart racing painfully quick. He'd spent two days getting Victor's likeness as perfect as possible, trying to capture the fey-like silver of his hair as accurately as he could, as well as the beautiful blue of his eyes. "Look at the other ones..."

 

He listened as Victor opened the first doll, and heard him gasp as he lifted the second one out. "It's you!"

 

Yuuri was a tiny bit more lax in capturing his own features, choosing to include his glasses and coloring his eyes a basic dark brown. He glanced up and saw Victor holding the doll with such care, an adoring smile on his face. He opened that doll and laughed breathlessly at the rounded poodle, painted a grey-brown. "Makkachin!" 

 

Daring to smile a little, Yuuri watched him open the doll and reveal a miniature Vicchan. He cooed at that one too and opened it up to uncover the very last doll. His eyes went round and he looked up at Yuuri incredulously. "...You gave me a miniature-Leo? Wearing his Romeo shirt?"

 

Yuuri really did watch the movie for the sake of practicing, but it was also to get the details of Romeo's blue shirt right. He'd even painted in the tiny cut on his cheek. "The pattern on his shirt was the hardest part."

 

Victor stared at the doll before carefully putting each one back in place, and a moment later Yuuri found himself wrapped up tight in Victor's arms, the boy's face buried in his scarf. "Thank you," he said quietly. "Thank you, this is...It's the best present anyone's ever gotten me."

 

A small part of Yuuri found that a bit hard to believe, but he wasn't about to argue with Victor, deciding to instead close his eyes and breathe in the sweet scent of Victor's hair and wrap his arms around the boy's slim waist. "There's more tomorrow. If you're free, that is."

 

"Of course I am!" Victor exclaimed, drawing away to kiss Yuuri adoringly. "After breakfast, that is. Mama always makes a birthday breakfast, but you're welcome to join in."

 

"...You should be with your mom," Yuuri replied softly, holding on to the other boy. "Mari and I can pick you up after. Just remember to wear a hat and a heavy coat."

 

Victor raised an eyebrow. "Why? Where are you taking me?"

 

"It's a surprise. Kind of." Yuuri reluctantly let him go and bent down to pick up the box and hand it to him. "Go on inside and go to bed. You'll freeze."

 

Pouting, Victor asked, "You really have to go so soon? How am I supposed to sleep after this?"

 

"It's only a few hours!" Yuuri said, reluctant as he started to draw away. "Good night. I'll see you tomorrow, alright?"

 

Victor bounced excitedly before tugging Yuuri back for a longer kiss, his cold hand pressing against Yuuri's cheek before he let him go and rushed back to the door with the box and dolls clutched to his chest. He looked over his shoulder, smiling brilliantly before heading back inside. 

 

Yuuri blew out a long, shaky breath of relief, a happy high rushing through his blood as he stared at the door for a few moments before turning around and running back to the car.

 

He only noticed that Mari was either recording or taking photos with her phone when he climbed inside, his cheeks flooding with way more heat. "Are you recording?!"

 

"Photos, baby brother. Phichit would never forgive me if I failed to document all the cute stuff he misses."

 


 

 

The next morning right before picking Victor up, Yuuri was mildly sleep-deprived and nervous (again). 

 

He had a feeling his next gift would be rather anticlimactic, but kept his thoughts to himself as he and Victor sat in the backseat of the car, the other boy holding on tight to his hand while he was having several heart attacks at once.

 

When they finally got to their destination, Yuuri couldn't bring himself to look at Victor's face. He suddenly felt like he'd come up short, proving just how unremarkable he was. 

 

Still, Victor held on to his hand as Yuuri led them to the crunchy sand, and heard him exhale as they stared out into the icy expanse of water before them, the view even more alien and astounding a month after their first time here.

 

"...I know we already came here," Yuuri murmured. "But you mentioned liking this view and...I thought..."

 

"I love it," he heard Victor breathe, and when he looked up the other boy was looking at him with such tenderness, his silver hair blowing about in the wind. "It feels like we're the only ones that exist."

 

Yuuri could feel a knot in his belly come undone, and he returned Victor's smile as he squeezed the boy's hand. "There's more," he said, turning around to take Victor's other hand in his. 

 

Victor looked at him with surprise as Yuuri lifted his hand to rest it on his shoulder, Yuuri blushing as he placed a hand on Victor's waist. "...I don't think neither one of us has ever danced on a beach in the winter."

 

His smile widening even more, Victor drew them closer together, blinking several times as he said in a shaky tone, "No, I don't think we have."

 

The cold would warrant mugs of hot chocolate later on, but for now Yuuri held on to Victor and led the dance as best he could, swaying slowly with each turn on the uneven sand beneath their feet, waves crashing against the shore.

Chapter Text

Yuuri never thought he'd be spending New Year's Eve with Victor and his parents at the restaurant, but here he was.

 

The invitation had been his mother's idea. That past weekend she'd asked Victor if he and his parents were interested in spending New Year's Eve with them, and Victor had said that they were happy to after quickly calling his father. Yuuri was rather nervous early on in the night, still wanting to make a good impression on his boyfriend's parents.

 

It was five minutes to midnight, and Dr. Nikiforov was as drunk as Yuuri's father, drunkenly singing what Victor said was a love song while the elder Katsuki was performing his usual drunken belly dance. Mari was trying to hide her face behind her beer can and Yuuri and Victor's mothers were both blushing and shaking their heads at their husbands' antics. 

 

Sipping at a cup of tea behind the register, Yuuri watched everything with a surprising amount of enjoyment, considering how the Nikiforovs were seeing the Katsukis in their most...natural state. But Victor's mother looked like she was genuinely enjoying herself, chatting with Yuuri's mother every now and then.

 

"Don't mess up your nails," Victor reminded him.

 

Yuuri glanced at his newly-painted nails, a bright purple that Victor had taken his sweet time on after they all got finished with dinner. "Thanks for doing this. And for coming. It's probably not your parents' usual crowd."

 

"No, it's better," Victor said, eyes bright with genuine delight as he looked out toward the tables their families occupied. "One of Mom's friends had a New Year's Eve party last year and it was so boring."

 

"No cute boys around to drag into closets?" Yuuri teased with a soft laugh.

 

"Well, you weren't there," Victor teased back with a sly look, making Yuuri blush. 

 

They watched the countdown displayed on the television as their phones continued to buzz with notifications of New Year's wishes and even a reminder that they were both invited to Christophe's birthday party on Valentine's Day. That seemed so far away, and yet opening night seemed to loom much closer. Yet Yuuri wasn't nervous about that tonight. He wanted to relish the feeling of looking forward to a new year, one filled with so many possibilities both frightening and exciting. 

 

He held Victor's hand, turning to glance at him and catching him staring at his parents almost wistfully. Yuuri turned to look at them, Dr. Nikiforov sitting beside his wife again and holding her closely as he pressed several kisses to her cheek while she smiled wider than Yuuri had ever seen her do. His own father was taking a long sip of water as he fanned himself, his face brightly flushed while Yuuri's mother tutted at him with fondness.

 

"Did you want to go over and sit with them?" he asked Victor.

 

The other boy looked surprised at the question, but merely smiled and rested his head on Yuuri's shoulder, squeezing his hand. "I'd rather stay with you. It's almost midnight, after all."

 

Yuuri smiled as he pressed his cheek to the top of Victor's head. "Right. I get to kiss you." As if Victor hadn't been sneaking kisses all night, periodically grabbing a menu and using it to cover himself and Yuuri while their lips were locked together, concealing less innocent kisses that left Yuuri feeling warm after Victor lowered the menu. Only Mari periodically threw them knowing looks.

 

"And no innocent peck, alright?" Victor asked with an audible pout. "It's the New Year. There's fireworks and we have to keep up."

 

"In front of our parents?" Yuuri asked, mildly scandalized.

 

"We can hide down here," Victor said before lowering down to the floor behind the counter, pulling Yuuri down with him. He sat Yuuri down against the counter, Yuuri's back meeting the solid surface while he stared at the look of sweet yearning on Victor's face as he straddled Yuuri's legs and pressed their foreheads together as his eyes slowly closed.

 

Breathing hard in anticipation, Yuuri let his hands rest on Victor's waist, feeling his heart beating harder than ever at the feeling of the other boy's weight on his thighs, the countdown becoming faint in the background as Victor gently brushed his lips over Yuuri's forehead, cheeks, and nose.

 

3...2...1...

 

Then Victor's lips were on his, his tongue smoothly sliding between Yuuri's parted lips and against his own tongue as he buried his fingers in Yuuri's hair. Yuuri held the boy close, remembering to breathe and taking in the sweet scent from his boyfriend's long hair, letting his hands roam over the long expanse of Victor's back as they kissed for a long time, out of sight as their parents celebrated.

 


 

The Monday following break, Yuuri was sitting in his chemistry class, and the man standing at the front of the classroom was not Mr. Morooka. 

 

Instead it was a round man with a heavy, stern-looking face and a severely-receded hairline. He was staring out at the class, and Yuuri was well-aware that he and his classmates were just looking right at him with barely-concealed curiosity. If this was their new chemistry teacher he looked as frightening as Mr. Ray.

 

"You're all here. Good," he suddenly said in a gruff-sounding voice with a heavy accent. "I am Mr. Feltsman, and I'll be taking over as your chemistry teacher from this day forward. I've had time to look over the old syllabus and catch up with Mr. Morooka. We'll pick up where he left off, but I do expect you all to keep up with the lessons, the lab work, and the homework."

 

That sounded reasonable enough, but it seemed to Yuuri as he glanced at his classmates that everyone was rather wary, especially after weeks of comparatively casual classes with Mr. Morooka. Even if the school year was nearly over, Yuuri wasn't sure if he could stand an anxiety-inducing chemistry class again. 

 

Mr. Feltsman bent over his desk and peered at what looked to be the class list. "Mila Babicheva."

 

"Here!" Mila quickly replied, raising her hand up into the air. 

 

The older man retrieved a slim pile of papers and held it out. "Hand this syllabus out to the class while I take attendance. We'll go over it and take a few minutes to answer your questions."

 

Everyone else started to whisper, and Yuuri was very briefly tempted to text Victor to let him know about this new development, but thought better of it. Texting in class probably wouldn't go over well with Mr. Feltsman. Victor would find out on his own anyway.

 

Mila practically skipped over to the front of the classroom as the curious whispers went on, and as she took the pile from Mr. Feltsman she asked him brazenly, "Is your accent Russian, Mr. Feltsman?"

 

Yuuri turned red at her shamelessness, watching Mr. Feltsman raise an eyebrow at her before answering, "It is. I'm from St. Petersburg."

 

"So am I!" Mila replied cheerily, as if reuniting with a family member. "One of my friends in your next class, Victor Nikiforov, was born in Gatchina!"

 

Mr. Feltsman went absolutely still at the mention of Victor. "Victor Nikiforov is a student here?"

 

Mila nodded and added, "He transferred here last year." She then turned and started handing out the stapled sheets, and Yuuri observed the thoughtful look on Mr. Feltsman's face before he shook his head and started to call out names. He caught the meaningful look Mila gave him, and he wondered if it had something to do with Mr. Feltsman's obvious recognition of Victor's name.

 

Yuuri shrugged at her before reading through the syllabus, relieved to see that it wasn't too demanding, but still rather intimidating. He wondered why Mr. Feltsman had reacted as though he knew Victor, and planned to ask his boyfriend about it.

 

After spending the class period addressing the finer points of the syllabus and the handy homework/study guide attached, Yuuri felt a little more relaxed about the sudden change. He should have expected it, but it was still such a surprise, but he wasn't feeling that familiar dread that came with walking into Mr. Ray's class.

 

As he made his way to his next class, Yuuri quickly took his phone out.

 

YUURI:

So we have a new chem teacher

Mr. Feltsman. 

He seems to know who you are?

 

VICTOR:

WHAT

YOU'RE JOKING

 

Yuuri:

I'm not?

So you know him?

 

VICTOR: 

HE'S FROM MY OLD SCHOOL

OMG

I HAVE TO RUN TO CLASS NOW :D :D :D

 

That seemed to bode well. At least it didn't seem like Victor had anything bad to say about the man. The rest of Yuuri's curiosity would have to wait until lunch to be satisfied. 

 

Later on when their usual group started to sit at their table, Yuuri was taking his script out when he felt what were undoubtedly Victor's arms wrap around him tightly, his cheek pressing against his as he exclaimed as Yuuri gave a surprised jolt, "I can't believe Mr. Feltsman's our new chemistry teacher!"

 

Mila leaned in towards them, her eyes sparkling with curiosity. "So what's the story there? It seemed like he remembered you! What, did you make life hell for him at your old school?"

 

Victor rolled his eyes as he sat down, one arm still tossed around Yuuri's shoulders. "I was an angel," he said, which earned him a scoff from Yurio. Ignoring him, Victor continued, "He was the chemistry teacher at Lincoln High, and he tutored for biology too. We'd talk to each other in Russian whenever we happened to see each other and during one-on-one sessions." His smile turned fond with remembrance, and he added, "I didn't expect to see him again."

 

Yuuri realized that he didn't really know much about Victor's life right before transferring. This apparent connection with their new chemistry teacher was so far the only big clue about his time at Lincoln High, and for some reason it was the only piece of information Victor didn't offer freely the way he did everything else, such as his childhood in Russia or his middle school years.

 

But it seemed like Mr. Feltsman meant a lot to him. "It sounded like he didn't expect to see you either. He seemed...strict, but not mean."

 

"He's definitely strict," Victor said with a soft laugh. "And he'll definitely yell if we text in class, but you'll all like him. I promise."

 

"Does he have any good stories about you?" Yurio asked around a mouthful of cafeteria pizza. "What's he doing here anyway when he had a job at Lincoln?"

 

"Running away from his ex-wife, supposedly," Victor replied, brushing his cheek against Yuuri's once again before opening his book bag and taking out his script. "And he said the offer here was better."

 

Before anyone else in the group could start interrogating Victor about his mysterious freshman year, Sara appeared, setting her lunch tray on the table, hard, and sitting down with a heavy sigh. She looked sad and tired and angry, like she was close to crying.

 

Mila, who was next to her, asked worriedly, "What's the matter?"

 

Sara glanced at her, her eyes shiny with moisture, and took a deep breath before answering in a tight voice, "My brother is stressing me out more than this play." She sighed again and buried her face in her hands, groaning loudly and adding, "A guy in my art class wanted to ask me out and Mickey almost punched him. I had to hold him back. Then he got on my case about having to kiss Yuuri."

 

Yuuri choked on air and needed to take a long drink of water if only to ignore the way everyone's eyes immediately turned on him for a couple of torturous moments. 

 

Sara raised her gaze again and shook her head as she frowned at her tray. "Being in the play was supposed to be fun. Now it's just embarrassing, and we're fighting all the time. It's exhausting."

 

Yuuri wasn't sure what to say. Anything he said would most likely sound like empty advice, and he didn't feel all that comfortable getting involved in Sara's conflict with her own brother. 

 

Mila appeared to have no such compunctions, taking Sara's hand in between both of hers and telling her in a firm tone, "You're an amazing Juliet and you deserve to have fun without your brother wrecking it. Give him a good talking to, or an ass-kicking. He doesn't get to run your life just because he's a co-dependent jerk."

 

Sara stared at the other girl in surprise, and Yuuri momentarily thought she'd get angry at Mila for her words. To his immense surprise she gave Mila a watery smile, squeezing her hand back. "Thanks, Mila. That...actually makes me feel a little better."

 

Mila's face turned several shades of red, and she didn't seem able to string together a coherent sentence. The rest of the boys hid sly chuckles behind their hands, though Yurio made a token effort. 

 

Victor gave Mila a knowing look, and all she could manage to do was glare back at him. Clearing his throat, Yuuri turned the pages of his script and quickly said, "We should work on Mercutio and Tybalt's death scenes."

 

"Hell yes," Yurio responded with actual enthusiasm. "Time for the best death scene in the entire play."

 

"Aw, I'm flattered, Yurio!" Victor said with a wide smile.

 

"Fuck off, I meant mine."

 

Chapter Text

"But first, let me tell ye," Yuuko said before pointing at Yuuri, almost poking into the center of his chest with her finger as she glared at him and warned, "If ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say, it were a very gross king of behavior! For the gentlewoman is young, and, therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly, it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing!"



Yuuri was able to maintain a look of mildly indignant shock throughout Yuuko's rant, following it with a briefly defensive look before taking a deep breath and offering her a placating look as he replied, "Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. Bid her devise some means to come to shrift this afternoon. There she shall, at friar Laurence' cell be shriv'd and married."



A smile slowly spread across Yuuko's face, and she let out a gleeful squeal before taking hold of Yuuri's shoulders and giving him an excited shake. "This afternoon, sir? Well, she shall be there!"



"Farewell! Commend me to thy mistress!" Yuuri replied, laughing softly at her exuberance.



"Now God in heaven bless thee!" Yuuko exclaimed, still squealing before releasing him and darting away, her makeshift skirt fluttering in her wake as she went off stage.



They had all just gotten fitted for costumes, and were almost through with Saturday rehearsals, weary of class and ready to start making their way over to Christophe's for his birthday/Valentine's Day party. Months ago Yuuri was sure the only way he'd be invited was if Phichit dragged him to the party, but now it was like he and Victor teamed up to urge him to go to the party rather than stay in that night.

 

They both promised it would be fun, and even if it wasn't Yuuri could just stick to Victor like glue.

 

“We won't even have to wait for them to toss us into a closet to make out,” Victor assured him.

 

“Awesome work!” Ms. Okukawa called out excitedly, script rolled up beneath her arm. “We're just about done for this week, but we'll pick it up at the wedding scene on Monday and get all the way through to the end of the play.”

 

Right.

 

Even with all the progress Yuuri had made in his performance, the false kisses with Sara were still as nerve-wracking as ever, especially with Mickey always lingering nearby.

 

Minutes later they were dismissed and rushing out of the auditorium. Victor had his arm looped through Yuuri's as he led him towards the car. It was still freezing and Yuuri was trying to bury his nose in his scarf, feeling like they were waddling through the parking lot.

 

“You're pretty convincing,” Victor suddenly said.

 

“Me?” Yuuri asked.

 

“Yes, you,” Victor replied, grinning at Yuuri. “The way you talk and walk up there. It really looks like you're lovesick.”

 

Yuuri let out a soft laugh, saying, “Well, you keep telling me to relate to Romeo, and...well, we're both lovesick romantics who stand under balconies and windows to talk to the person we like.”

 

The tips of Victor's ears, already pink from the cold, darkened even further. “Come opening night, you'll have them all crying for you and Sara. She's amazing up there.”

 

He sounded so wistful that Yuuri squeezed his arm. “...You know I almost wish it was you up there with me,” he admitted.

 

Pausing in front of the car, Victor turned to give him a delighted smile. “I am up there with you.”

 

“You know what I mean,” Yuuri muttered, blushing and turning to walk to the passenger side door.

 

Victor was still smiling when he got into the car and they put their seatbelts on.

 


 

Despite getting his driver's license (finally), Yuuri wasn't about to drive to and from Christophe's party when there was a possibility of accidentally (or deliberately) drinking something spiked. So, as potentially embarrassing as it was probably going to be, Yuuri accepted that Mari had volunteered to be their ride.

 

Victor thought it was cute how Mari looked after him. Yuuri just glared at his sister, who waved at him with a coy smile as she retreated to the backyard to smoke cigarettes she wasn't allowed to smoke indoors, adult or not.

 

So they were walking towards the familiar path that led up to the Giacometti home, Yuuri recalling the way Phichit was talking up that fateful November party, all while Yuuri was dreading the possibility of humiliating himself in front of the boy he had a massive crush on. He'd walked out of that party with said boy, who'd kissed him repeatedly and hadn't stopped since.

 

Peeking at the basement windows, Yuuri could see that Chris had opted for some manner of hot pink lighting for his party, and it looked like there were quite a few people in there already. Walking to the side door that led to the basement, Yuuri asked, "So...what are Chris's birthday parties usually like?"

 

"Well, last year's was the first one I ever went to," Victor replied, leading Yuuri by the hand as he stepped forward and took his phone out to send Christophe a text. "Of course there was some Seven Minutes In Heaven, and I got tossed in with one of the boys on the soccer team."

 

"Oh..." Yuuri wasn't jealous. Definitely not. After all, it was a year ago, and Victor hadn't actually known that he existed...

 

"Two months later he promposed to another boy on the baseball team," Victor added, beaming at Yuuri. "All because he realized at that party that he was incredibly gay. It was so cute!"

 

Yuuri nodded absently, just feeling ridiculously relieved as he squeezed Victor's hand. 

 

Christophe didn't come to the door. Instead it was a brown-haired boy with blue eyes and a pleasant smile. He had heart-shaped stickers on both cheeks. "Hey guys! You're here for the party? Everyone's downstairs watching Chris. Come on in, it's warm!" 

 

He stepped aside to allow them to walk in, and Victor threw Yuuri an excited grin as he tugged him in. The boy took their coats and Victor led the way down the staircase, towards the hot pink lighting and the thrum of the music that was just loud enough that it couldn't be heard outside. The heat of several bodies in one space had Yuuri feeling warm, and he suddenly thought that he'd lose track of Victor if either one of them let go, even if, logically it would have been easy to find each other again. Yuuri would probably have to just navigate his way through...a make-out party.

 

And indeed, there were a handful of people making out, bodies pressed close together and every single one of them apparently ignorant of the fact that there were maybe two-dozen people around them. Maybe it was the fact that no one was paying attention to the couples, everyone who wasn't paired was wholly focused on Christophe, who was standing in front of a projection screen, pouring his heart out into singing "Dream On." Yuuri couldn't help but cheer and clap along with everyone else watching, impressed by the passion Chris was putting into the performance. It sounded perfect, and he really had the allure of an entrancing performer. Victor somehow got them all the way to the front, and Yuuri was up close and personal to Christophe's impassioned singing, his lips touching his mic.

 

To Yuuri's immense surprise, the boy who'd met him and Victor at the door suddenly appeared behind Christophe and wrapped both arms around his slim frame, whispering something in his ear for a brief second before Christophe looked around and smiled so widely at the sight of him, his eyes glowing with happiness right before he seized the boy by a handful of hair and kissed him deeply, tongue and all.

 

Everyone whooped encouragingly, and Yuuri could only watch in open-mouthed astonishment. "Who's that?" he asked Victor.

 

"Eduard," Victor replied. "Chris's boyfriend. He's from another school."

 

The song ended and everyone clapped and whistled enthusiastically. Christophe leaped off the stage, still holding Eduard's hand, and beamed at Yuuri and Victor. "You both made it!" he exclaimed, leaning in to kiss Yuuri on both cheeks and doing the same to Victor. He also sported stickers on his cheeks, and wore a crown of fake roses on his head. "Just in time for karaoke too! If you were planning on going into the closet for old time's sake, you're too late. Phichit already dragged some poor boy in there."

 

"Phichit did what?" Yuuri asked, turning to stare in the direction of said closet.

 

"It's a classmate of mine," Eduard said, smiling sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Seung-gil hates parties, but I convinced him to come and it looks like he and Phichit hit it off."

 

"Your closet's magic, Chris," Victor said with total certainty.

 

Christophe nodded in agreement. "The snack table's in the same spot as last time, and yes, the punch is spiked. You're welcome and don't tell my parents." He gave them a wink and turned to wave up at the next singer.

 

Slightly dazed by the lighting, Yuuri held on tight to Victor's hand as they yet again navigated their way through the crowd towards the snack table where several bowls of chips had been set up. Yuuri's face quickly grew warm when he noticed yet another couple making out against the wall next to the table, and immediately looked down at the table. 

 

Victor took some punch right away, and asked Yuuri, "Want one? If not there's soda in the cooler under the table."

 

Biting his lip, Yuuri shrugged and took the cup. A drink would probably help him relax.

 

He took sip and almost choked from the burn, his eyes streaming. "Holy crap!" he exclaimed, voice already hoarse.

 

"Once you drink a few you barely notice it," Victor said, taking a sip out of his own cup and shivering as he swallowed. "Still gross though."

 

"No kidding," Yuuri replied, trying not to stare too long at any kissing couples.

 

Victor took his hand again and said, "Come on, we're going up there and singing!"

 

Yuuri's heart gave a hard thump. "Oh my God, Victor, I can't sing!"

 

"Come on! It'll be fun!" Victor coaxed, relentless.

 

Seeing how his boyfriend wanted to see him die from embarrassment, Yuuri concluded that he was going to need a second cup of whatever-the-hell he was drinking.

 


 

It turned out to be three cups, the last of them drunk rather quickly as they waited their turn.

 

Yuuri knew they'd done the trick when getting up to sing with Victor didn't seem so impossible. He just couldn't seem to stop smiling either, or staring at Victor so openly. He couldn't exactly help himself in that regard. Victor was pretty, after all, especially when he smiled and laughed. 

 

So when they got up to sing a duet of "Paparazzi," Yuuri was pretty sure he spent the entirety of the song just staring at his boyfriend. It was lucky for him that he knew the lyrics, or else he probably would've really humiliated himself. 

 

Everyone cheered them on, whistling and whooping. Come to think of it, Phichit was probably responsible for the whooping, having come out of the closet with messed up hair and noticeably bruised lips. The serious-looking boy next to him looked just as disheveled, so Yuuri guessed that he was the poor guy Phichit had lured into the closet. 

 

Having successfully gotten through karaoke without dying, Yuuri decided to not push his luck and led Victor off the makeshift stage, suddenly feeling dizzy. "Can we sit down?" he asked, voice tired.

 

"Come with me," Victor said, leading him to the couch next to the still-occupied closet.

 

The couch was occupied, and Yuuri blinked twice when he realized who the two girls making out on one side of it were. Sara was sitting on Mila's lap, her hands buried in the other girl's red hair as they kissed deeply, and Mila was stroking Sara's hip, the two of them apparently oblivious to the fact that Yuuri was gaping at them.

 

Victor giggled into his hand and drew a sobering Yuuri away. "I guess Mila's going to have to deal with Mickey now."

 

Apparently. Yuuri hadn't even noticed that there was anything between the girls. They'd always been friendly towards each other, and it seemed like they were quickly becoming friends ever since getting involved in the play. "...It's not just the closet. Christophe's entire house pairs people up," Yuuri said, his cheeks turning red.

 

"Ironically," Victor began with a smirk. "You and I are the only ones who don't seem to be kissing each other senseless. Maybe we should fix that."

 

Yuuri's eyes automatically went to Victor's lips, and he self-consciously bit his own. It sounded like a good idea, but karaoke was one thing, and making out in front of a bunch of people in the middle of a party was another thing entirely. "...Do you...think we could...go somewhere more private?"

 

Victor gave him a gentle smile and nodded towards the stairs, leading Yuuri by the hand again.

 

Getting to the first floor and away from the pounding music was a bit of a relief, and Yuuri felt mildly unsteady on his legs. To his surprise there were three couples wrapped up in each other on the living room couches. Victor muffled a giggle and put a finger to his lips before pointing towards the stairs leading to the second floor. Confused, Yuuri followed him up.

 

Victor was still biting back giggles as he quietly opened one of the doors, to Yuuri's shock. "What are you doing?!" he hissed.

 

"Going somewhere more private," Victor replied, tugging Yuuri into the room and closing the door behind them before going to sit on the edge of the bed. They looked around the room, Yuuri noticing several pride flags, a bookshelf full of what looked like romance titles, a charging laptop, and a dog-eared copy of Romeo and Juliet. "This looks like Chris's room," Victor said.

 

"We can't make out in Chris's room!" Yuuri exclaimed, nervously glancing at the door as if someone would burst in. 

 

Victor shrugged and lay down on the bed, stretching his arms out above him, making his shirt rise up a little to reveal an inch of pale skin. "Chris is probably going to bring Eduard up here tonight anyway. And besides, I think he'd want us to. He already takes all the credit for getting us together."

 

Giving up, Yuuri sat down next to him, thumbing the blue sheets and blushing. "It was actually Phichit's idea..." He turned to look at Victor, whose cheeks were flushed from drinking. His hair was loose, spread across the bed in silken strands, and his eyes were practically glowing. Maybe it was just Yuuri's eyes readjusting after all that pink lighting. Even so, Victor looked gorgeous and Yuuri couldn't help wondering for the millionth time just how he got so lucky.

 

Victor drew him down and immediately pressed their lips together, and Yuuri's heart twisted with a sweet ache as Victor buried his fingers in his hair. Yuuri drew his hand down Victor's side, swallowing the boy's little sigh as he stroked the curve of his hip.

 

"You're so sweet," Victor breathed against his mouth. "You're so good to me, lapochka."

 

Even after months of such endearments, Yuuri's stomach still swooped when he heard them. "You sound surprised," he breathed back, moaning softly when Victor nipped at his lower lip.

 

Victor pulled back an inch, his gaze both adoring and hurt. "...I mean it, though. You make me feel like the luckiest boy in the world, Yuuri."

 

It was like Victor had read his mind. Bewildered by the look in Victor's eyes, Yuuri asked softly, "Are you okay?" 

 

Victor didn't reply immediately, but instead traced the line of Yuuri's jaw with the tip of his finger. It almost tickled. "...I'm okay," he said with a tender smile. "Amazing. Wonderful with you. I just..." He sighed again. "I really wish I'd met you ages ago."

 

"You were in another school," Yuuri replied quietly. 

 

"I know that, I just mean..." Victor shut his eyes for a moment. "...There was a boy at my old school."

 

The light seemed to leave his eyes when he said that, and Yuuri focused solely on him. "Okay."

 

Victor bit his lip, eyes darting about like he couldn't quite meet Yuuri's eyes for once. "He was a junior. I liked him. A lot. We were...together for a few months, and it felt serious. Then he...decided he liked a cute sophomore more than he liked me."

 

"Oh," Yuuri breathed, realizing just how much Victor had revealed in less than a minute. "Victor, I...I'm really sorry."

 

Victor just shrugged. "I haven't thought about him in a really long time. Especially not since I met you." His smile returned, bright and wonderful as he cupped Yuuri's cheek. "You're sweet and adorable. And you love dogs as much as I do. Plus your butt's cute."

 

"Victor!" Yuuri exclaimed, hiding his face in the mattress. He managed to peek up at Victor again, and watched him laugh that same endearing laugh that sounded just like music. 

 

He couldn't help but think about all the stuff people said about high school romances.

 

He hoped to God this one would last, even if his stomach did flips whenever he thought about him and Victor ten years down the line.

 

For now he buried a hand in Victor's hair and kissed him hungrily.

 

Hours later, probably past midnight, Yuuri watched Victor race towards his house from inside Mari's car, still smiling and sighing as his heart pounded.

Chapter Text

"...Be fickle, Fortune, for then I hope thou wilt not keep him long, but send him back," Victor finished, a beseeching hand on his chest as he reached towards Yuuri, as though he were truly about to leave his sight, and they'd never see each other again.

 

Yuuri couldn't help beaming in wonder as he watched Victor, who didn't even have to glance at his script as much at this point, for either Mercutio or Juliet. He was a far sight better at this than he was at chemistry, even if his grades had seen a boost ever since Mr. Feltsman became their teacher. "Keep this up, and Ms. Okukawa might make you Sara's understudy for real."

 

He may have been half-joking, but Sara's understudy had dropped out of the play just before Spring Break started due to a dip in her grades, but no one was too worried with opening night being three weeks away at that point. Everything had been going well so far and it looked like the production's good luck was going to last.

 

That is if Yuuri didn't screw up monumentally and let everyone down.

 

"At least Takeshi knows my lines if that ever happens," Victor replied, plopping down on Yuuri's mattress and patting the spot next to him. "Come over here, we did good work today."

 

Yuuri rolled his eyes good-naturedly and sat down, but not without the pile of books and notebooks that were left abandoned at Yuuri's desk in favor of rehearsing some major scenes. "We're not finished yet. We've still got to take those notes for those Jane Eyre chapters."

 

"What's there to take?" Victor said, back arching as he stretched his arms over his head. "Rochester's an idiot who should have been honest with poor Jane from the start and not kept his wife locked up."

 

"You know Mr. Cialdini wants more than that," Yuuri murmured as he handed Victor his notebook and opened his own, observing their equally untidy scrawls and the little doodles at the margins of Victor's notebooks. At least Mr. Cialdini didn't grade on neatness, but content and participation. "And Rochester thinks he's doing the right thing."

 

Victor let out a dry laugh, and asked, "Keeping his sick wife prisoner and lying to Jane? I think I'd rather have someone be completely honest with me from the start. And actually getting his wife the help she needs."

 

His head rested on Yuuri's shoulder, and Yuuri smiled as his face grew warm at the sensation. It softened the banter considerably, and Yuuri replied with, "Right, help that you could find in that time and setting."

 

"You know what I mean," Victor mumbled with a pout, thumbing at his book until he reached the spot they'd left off on. "And this St. John guy. He's annoying."

 

"Wow. Something we agree on," Yuuri joked, resting his head on top of Victor's as he looked on a page that described Jane Eyre's trials. He glanced over at Victor's page, finding an entire paragraph underlined in light pencil. He held the book open with his left hand as he jotted his notes down on a clean page. 

 

Yuuri watched for a moment before giving in to the sudden urge to press a quick kiss to the top of Victor's head and get started on his own notes.

 

He noticed Victor pause in his writing for a few moments, then felt Victor's head turn right before he pressed a long kiss to Yuuri's neck, one that had heat spreading further down.

 

Yuuri cleared his throat and started scribbling untidily. 

 


 

There was some general grumbling against the idea of being in school on the Saturday that was supposed to be right at the end of Spring Break, but it ended quickly once Ms. Okukawa had them all get into their places for the opening scene. 

 

Sara and Mickey were nowhere to be found. It was strange. Sara was never late to rehearsals, and she, Yuuri, and their usual lunch group had even spent a few hours on Wednesday and Thursday going over most of the scenes. Even Mickey had behaved himself. Or Sara had him under threat. That was more likely.

 

Yuri had a rolled-up tube of paper aimed at Emil, the two of them acting out their conflict with enormous grins on their faces, Christophe jokingly taking bets as the Prince. Yuuri and Victor were working on their first scene together, and Yuuri noticed both Ms. Okukawa and Mila were looking equally anxious, Mila glancing at her phone every few minutes and then typing out quick texts to who Yuuri assumed was Sara. When she finally tried calling her, there appeared to be no reply, and she looked even more worried.

 

Five minutes later Yuuri heard her shout, "Sara's in the hospital!"

 

Everything stopped in an instant, and every head in the room seemed to swivel to look in Mila's direction. She was holding her phone in her hand, her face gone frighteningly pale and her lips trembling. 

 

It took Yuuri a few seconds to realize just what she'd said, and that was soon followed by immediate concern for Sara. What had happened to her? Why was she in the hospital? 

 

Those questions and several along the same vein were asked by Yuuri's castmates, who started to round on Mila and ignored Ms. Okukawa's alarmed calls for quiet. It was all happening so fast that Yuuri could barely catch up with every question being asked, and Mila looked increasingly anxious as everyone kept talking over each other.

 

She shook her head quickly and reached out to grab Victor by the wrist, tugging him towards her and asking shakily as she placed her phone in his hand, "Vitya, read it, I can't..."

 

Victor nodded and scrolled through the messages, and Yuuri watched his eyes widen with shock. "It's from Mickey," he explained. "He says Sara got sick last night, then their parents took her to the hospital. The doctor said her appendix burst."

 

Yuuri's shocked gasp joined several others, and he met Yuuko's horrified gaze as she covered her mouth. 

 

Victor immediately raised a hand and loudly spoke above everyone else to explain, "Don't worry, it's okay! Mickey says she's fine. She already woke up and she's resting. She just..." His face fell as he kept reading, and he added in a subdued tone, "She has to stay in the hospital for a...a few days and rest for a few more weeks." 

 

He was met with silence, and it was a few moments before Mila asked shakily as she wrapped her arms around herself, "So she's gonna be okay?"

 

Victor turned towards her again, smiling at her as he gave her her phone back. "Yeah, Miloshka. She's fine. Here, read for yourself." Placing the phone back in her hand, he turned to look at Ms. Okukawa, who wore a look of total dread on her face as Victor added grimly, "Her parents said she won't be in the play anymore either."

 

That set off another flurry of dismayed and worried exclamations and questions. Yuuri stared at Ms. Okukawa, his heart sinking as he remembered that Sara had no understudy. 

 

Ms. Okukawa appeared to remember the same thing, and dragged a hand through her hair in rising desperation. "So...we don't have a Juliet. Stella dropped out last week...Shit..." Her eyes quickly went wide and she exclaimed as her face turned beet red, "U-uh, no one heard me say that! Just let me think this through for a minute!"

 

Whether that was her wanting quiet or help, Yuuri's castmates kept talking among themselves, and Yuuri heard Yuuko ask, "Should we even keep going?"

 

Someone quickly answered, "We've been working hard for months! We can't just give up on the play!"

 

"We can't just go on without Sara or a Juliet either," Takeshi muttered, his arms crossed over his chest as he stared at everyone as though expecting them to come up with a bright idea.

 

Yuuri honestly wanted to think up some kind of solution. Everyone had worked hard, and no one had expected something like this to happen at the last second. Every other understudy had their own lines to worry about and no one else on the crew could possibly learn Juliet's lines in the short amount of time they had left-

 

Then it hit him.

 

Yuuri sucked in a quiet breath and turned to look at Victor, who was looking right at him too, the look on his face seeming to ask, Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

 

He looked so surprised at himself yet intensely determined, and Yuuri's heart raced painfully fast as he nodded at the other boy and turned to Ms. Okukawa to blurt out, "Victor can do it-!"

 

At the same time, Victor called out with a raised arm, "I'll do it!"

 

The teacher and the rest of the cast and crew all turned to look right at them, and it was eerily reminiscent of that night in Christophe's closet, when everyone was staring at them with gleeful surprise.

 

Ms. Okukawa blinked at them both, looking as if she'd been hit by a bolt of lightning, and Yuuri swallowed before quickly explaining, "Victor's been helping me rehearse all of my scenes with Juliet for months."

 

Victor nodded in agreement, adding excitedly, "I know Juliet's lines almost as well as Mercutio's, and I can learn the rest in time for opening night! Takeshi's my understudy and he knows all his lines, right?"

 

Every eye in the room went towards Takeshi at the same time, and his cheeks turned red as he blinked back at them and finally exclaimed with a crack in his voice, "Yeah, I do!"

 

Everyone in the auditorium was now staring at Victor, and Ms. Okukawa was gazing at him critically. He met her gaze with a confident smile, and Yuuri could easily find that brightness in his eyes, aglow with his excitement. Then Ms. Okukawa asked in a no-nonsense tone, "...You'll be okay with wearing a dress?"

 

"Absolutely," Victor immediately answered without hesitation.

 

Ms. Okukawa looked thoughtful for a few moments before smiling wide, like several amazing ideas were crossing through her head at the same time. "We'd have to do some alterations on the costume, but...It could work."

 

At that everyone seemed to breathe out a sigh of relief right before erupting into conversation and questions again. Yuuri, his heart still thundering, walked over to Victor, who still looked so excited while Yuuri wondered if this wasn't asking too much of him. To just expect him to switch over from one character to another in less than a couple of weeks and do way more memorizing and rehearsing to make sure he was ready...Swallowing, Yuuri quietly asked him, "Victor...are you sure about this?"

 

Victor smiled at him as he took his hand in his, reassuring him, "Everyone's worked hard for months. We can't let it all fall apart at the last minute. Not when I know the lines and my understudy knows his. I'm just sorry Sara's going to miss all of this."

 

Yuuri was sorry about that too. Working with Sara had been surprisingly fun, even if the idea of fake kissing her in front of an audience still had him extremely nervous...

 

...Then he realized he would have to kiss Victor in front of an audience and his stomach did the most painful swoop. 

 

Ms. Okukawa then addressed them firmly, "Victor. Takeshi. I need you both to be off-script by next week. Yuuri, Emil. You'll help them out?"

 

Yuuri nodded, trying to calm his nerves and not quake under the pressure of being Romeo to Victor's Juliet. It was like a new layer of anxiety, even though before now it was so easy to imagine Victor as Juliet. He was fine, he knew his lines and how to deliver them. Victor had been helping him out this entire time and it would now be no different. It was just...realer. 

 

Yuuko was sitting next to Mila, who was still cradling her phone and looked close to crying. "Mila?" she asked gently, placing a hand on Mila's shoulder.

 

Mila sniffled and said quietly, "I'm okay. I'm okay, I just..." She looked up at Victor and asked, "Vitya, can you drive me to the hospital after we're done here?"

 

"Of course," Victor told her as he sat next to her.

 

 

Wondering to himself if he too ought to go visit, Yuuri sat next to Victor, and murmured, "I didn't mean to put you on the spot like that."

 

Victor shrugged and replied, "I put myself on the spot at the same time."

 

Yuuri laughed softly and put a hand on his chest in an attempt to calm himself down. He could hear Ms. Okukawa telling them all to be ready to start in five minutes and Takeshi frantically reciting Mercutio's dialogue while Emil listened and nodded. 

 

"You're Juliet," Yuuri said for only Victor to hear, the reality of it hitting him like a kick to the gut.

 

Victor nodded and said just as softly, "I'm Juliet."

Chapter Text

The dynamic had certainly changed during rehearsals with the cast changes. Takeshi seemed determined to overcompensate so he could live up to Victor's delivery of Mercutio's lines, and it was such a shift for Yuuri during their scenes together. It was much the same for Mila, who managed to get through her scenes with a familiar, nervous look whenever she and Victor had a scene together.

 

That look didn't leave her face during the drive to the hospital, and Yuuri watched had her through the rear-view mirror the whole time. She'd been staring out the car window from her place in the backseat, looking like she was expecting terrible news.

 

When they got past the front desk and out of the gift shop with three different kinds of teddy bears and three roses in hand, Mila leaned towards Victor and quietly said, "Hospitals make me nervous. Ever since my babushka died when I was twelve..."

 

Yuuri bit his lip, silently agreeing with Mila. All the fast and grim activity of hospitals made him feel anxious, and all the sympathy and physicality of it as it went around made him uncomfortable. While he appreciated support, he preferred to just...keep to himself in these types of situations. Mari would tell him that that was him getting too wrapped up in himself, which wasn't always a good thing, she would say.

 

Victor reached over and took Mila's hand as they stepped into the elevator, saying reassuringly, "Milochka, Sara's fine. She's probably resting. After having to deal with Mickey all this time..."

 

A laugh slipped out of Mila's mouth, and she gave Victor's hand a grateful squeeze as she clutched the rose and teddy bear closer. Still, she blinked rapidly, and her eyes were rather bright as she squeezed Victor's hand tighter. Yuuri quickly looked away, his cheeks turning red. He almost felt like an intruder, even though he too was visiting Sara. But he had no idea what to say to her or Mila. After all Victor had been Mila's friend longer, and she was the one in a relationship with Sara. 

 

He inhaled sharply when he felt Victor's hand on his shoulder, squeezing it slightly as he gave him a little smile, like a quiet reminder that he was included in this without the overbearance of words like the ones he'd said to Mila. It felt...fine. Just fine. Yuuri returned the smile, trying to relax as they got closer to the Pediatrics floor. 

 

He then realized he just...bought the bear and rose because...well, he considered Sara his friend.

 

No, Sara was his friend. For all the awkwardness of almost having to kiss her on stage, she'd been his friend, and she was funny and pretty and incredibly smart and sweet. She'd also given him as much encouragement as Victor did. 

 

And he felt awful that she was going to miss out on something she'd worked so hard on. 

 

The floor they stepped into was definitely cheerier, cardboard cut out letters spelling out an assortment of words. It almost reminded Yuuri of an elementary school, all the small kids included. Only most of the kids are in light blue gowns and holding on to IV stands. "...Wouldn't Sara be too old for this floor?" Yuuri asked Victor quietly.

 

"She's not eighteen yet," Victor replied, leading them both through the hall where Sara was staying. "But it's fun here! Nice and colorful compared to where all the adults stay."

 

And loud too, Yuuri thought as he watched a pair of kids run past, a harried man chasing after them while a nurse reminded them not to run.

 

Mickey came out of one of the rooms, looking completely exhausted with worry. He glanced up and spotted them, looking surprised and then hostile once his gaze fell on Yuuri and Victor. "What are they doing here?" he asked Mila with a frown once they were close enough.

 

Mila sighed impatiently. "Come on, Mickey. They're here to see Sara and you're not stopping them. Now how is she?"

 

Mickey glared for only a few moments before it melted into that same tired look. "She cried after she figured out she wouldn't be back in time for the play, and she was worried that she ruined it since she didn't have an understudy anymore. But she relaxed right after you told her Victor was going to take over." He looked at them all, without a hint of hostility, and sighed with a shake of his head. "Go on in, she's awake. I'm gonna go get lunch with our parents."

 

"Thanks, Mickey," Mila said, giving him a smile.

 

Mickey barely returned it as he walked off, his shoulders sagging.

 

Still mildly apprehensive, Yuuri followed Mila and Victor into the room.

 

Sara was sitting up, slightly propped up by the upper half of the bed. She didn't look to be in pain, and when she looked at them her face brightened up considerably. "Guys! You came to see me!" She attempted to sit up further but winced instead and lay back against her pillow, still smiling.

 

Yuuri gave her a nervous smile while Mila quickly went to Sara's bedside, a wide smile on her face as she kept blinking rapidly. She leaned down to kiss Sara's forehead, stroking her hair with such gentleness. "Hi, lapochka. How are you?"

 

She said it as sweetly as Victor did.

 

Sara sighed and smiled at Mila, looking up at her adoringly. "Sore and tired. But I feel better now that I know everything's okay with the show."

 

Yuuri hung back at the foot of her bed, but gave her a nervous smile as he showed her the rose and teddy bear. "We brought you these," he said, feeling almost like he was forgetting lines. He could only bite his lip and lay the gifts on the table behind him, and turn around and say sincerely, "I'm sorry about everything, Sara."

 

Sara shook her head and smiled at Yuuri as she took the bear Mila had been holding and held it to her chest. "Don't be. Just keep being an amazing Romeo. I bet you'll be even better now that Victor's your Juliet," she said smile widening as she looked up at Victor.

 

He let out a little laugh before sweeping his ponytail back and bending down to kiss Sara on the cheek. "You were the perfect Juliet. You looked gorgeous in the dress."

 

"So will you," Sara said with certainty before sighing again and closing her eyes tightly as she laid her head back. "God, I thought this was just a stomach bug. Then last night I woke up and it hurt so bad, I thought I was dying."

 

Mila brushed away her tears and stroked Sara's hair again. "But you're still with us, baby girl. Now you just have to get better."

 

Sara kept her eyes closed for a moment longer, and when she opened them again they too looked bright with tears, but she still smiled enthusiastically. "And I really want to so I can go to opening night! Until then I'm stuck here, eating crappy hospital food." 

 

Victor clicked his tongue before saying conspiratorially, "Well, my dad's the general surgeon here, and I think I can get him to bring you some real food from the outside."

 

"You're a lifesaver," Sara replied, batting her eyes at Victor and making them all laugh. "Now come on, you all sit down and tell me how rehearsals went before I pass out again."

 


  

They'd left the hospital after Victor and Yuuri left Mila and Sara alone for a while, and Mila had made sure Sara was asleep before coming out. She didn't look especially happy but told them she was definitely feeling better. Victor dropped her off at home, and Yuuri picked Vicchan up to bring him along to Victor's place.

 

They were on Victor's bed, watching a French musical version of Romeo and Juliet to try and relax. Well...it was almost relaxing, as Yuuri's heart was beating uncontrollably, lying next to Victor, his laptop propped up on his stomach. Yuuri's head lay on Victor's shoulder, and Victor had an arm around him. Their dogs were curled up together next to their legs, Vicchan nestled comfortably against Makkachin. 

 

Racing heartbeat aside, Yuuri felt content, like things would turn out fine with the play despite all of his remaining worry about his own role. Victor would be fine. They would rehearse together as much as they could in the coming weeks but Victor had pulled him up to his room, saying that they'd done a lot today and earned themselves a nice afternoon with a good musical.

 

And it was nice. As nice as Mrs. Nikiforova's playing when they entered the house and found her at the piano. Victor smiled as they stood at the door and watched her, and once she was done Victor went over to wrap his arms around her shoulders and kiss her cheek. She gave him a smile and waved at Yuuri right before Victor told her everything that had transpired. 

 

She was pleasantly surprised, and repeated hers and her husband's promise to make it to every performance. In that moment Yuuri felt the most relaxed he'd ever felt in front of Mrs. Nikiforova, seeing her smiling so openly.

 

"Your mom sounds great when she plays the piano," Yuuri murmured while Victor scrolled down to find the next video on the playlist.

 

Victor smiled and said with a fond voice and a faraway look, "She's a master."

 

Based on the way he waited for her to stop playing earlier, Victor definitely regarded her in that way. Almost like he was her audience, watching her in those concerts she used to play in Russia. If she played today it would definitely be for a full house. "Victor?" 

 

"Mm?"

 

"Why'd she have to stop playing professionally?"

 

Victor paused in his scrolling, and Yuuri glanced up to see him bite his lip before he answered slowly, "...Because she had me."

 

Yuuri leaned on his elbow, eyes gone wide as he looked at Victor with surprise. Had she really thought she had to stop forever when she had a baby? "Really?"

 

Victor glanced away and shut his laptop closed, explaining with a sheepish smile, "It's all so old-fashioned, I know, but...she decided to have me, marry my dad, and help him finish studying. She was eighteen when she got pregnant. Papa was almost twenty."

 

"Eighteen," Yuuri repeated uselessly. He'd known she was young, but...she was almost an entire generation younger than his own parents. 

 

Victor nodded and sat up, playing with the ends of his hair. There was a self-consciousness that Yuuri wasn't used to seeing from him, and all he could do was just look at him, taking it in as he said, "And I know she misses it. I can tell she does. I always could, I guess. She loves playing piano, and...I don't know what I'd do if I had to give something up the way she did. It just wasn't fair. Just because of me."

 

"It wasn't your fault either," Yuuri quickly said, sitting up and crossing his legs as he reached over to take Victor's hand. Even if he felt pathetic about it, he wanted to give Victor comfort and reassurance too. How could he not see it before? Just because Victor was attractive and popular and smart? Yet here was Victor, looking small and guilty. "And...your mom can do whatever she wants. She could play piano again if she wanted to."

 

Victor smiled again, for real this time, obviously agreeing. "Papa says that too. But she thinks she's too old for all of that."

 

"She's definitely not," Yuuri said with a smirk.

 

Laughing brightly, Victor gave him a smile that made his face glow. Then Vicchan suddenly appeared from beside Yuuri, leaping onto Victor's arms and licking at his face. Victor hugged him with a happy hum, saying, "You're both so sweet."

 

Yuuri smiled and laughed too, then bit his lip and glanced at the laptop. "So...we're Romeo and Juliet." 

 

Victor nodded, still holding Vicchan in his lap as he looked up at Yuuri. "...Do you think I can do this?"

 

"Are you asking me to flatter you?" Yuuri asked with a soft chuckle.

 

"Definitely. I like it when you flatter me," Victor replied with a grin.

 

Squeezing Victor's hand with his, Yuuri nodded and replied with certainty, "Yeah. Yeah, you can do this. You're going to be great. Just...promise me that you'll keep believing in me." He needed that more than he ever thought possible, his heart racing with fear at the possibility of Victor not believing in him anymore.

 

"Of course I will," Victor said sincerely. "I promise."

 

Yuuri held on to those words, needing to believe in them. "...And you don't have to worry about me kissing anyone else anymore," he couldn't help adding.

 

"Good!" Victor said, looking very glad about that. "Now lie back down with me. The wedding scene's coming up, and it's my favorite song." 

 

And that's just what Yuuri did, lying close against Victor with Vicchan and Makkachin draped over their legs. Victor sang along softly, and Yuuri gave in to the urge to loop his arm over Victor's middle, loving the sound of his quiet singing.

Chapter Text

Victor tossed his script over his shoulder and rubbed his hands over his face with a loud groan as he let himself fall back onto the couch. "I've never felt more relieved to stab myself," he sighed, dragging his fingers through his unbound hair. Makkachin draped himself over his legs, and went to sleep almost immediately.

 

Yuuri silently agreed, sagging in the armchair and feeling too exhausted to feel self-conscious around his boyfriend. Vicchan leaped onto the vacant spot on his lap. It was Friday night, the week before the play's opening, and they had an early start the day after for a long rehearsal that would include finally getting their costumes. They'd been rehearsing at either his or Victor's house for the past week as late as they could until they were sure Victor had his lines memorized.

 

But he hadn't just memorized them. Much like when he was just helping Yuuri out, Victor threw himself into the role of Juliet, along with all the passion in his heart. Yuuri's blushes weren't faked, and Victor once joked that he'd be the perfect lovestruck Romeo if he kept blushing on stage like that. Or maybe he was being serious when he said it. Peering over at Victor, who had an arm thrown over his eyes, Yuuri said, "Yuuko told me Takeshi's getting over his nerves. He's pretty much off-script now, and should be okay after tomorrow." Takeshi's Mercutio wasn't Victor's, but he gave his delivery a loudly confident and enthusiastic spin that would make him hard to ignore, an even more dramatic foil to Yurio's cold and violent Tybalt. 

 

"That's good," Victor answered, smiling as he kept his arm on his face. For all his confidence and easy-going nature, Victor appeared to take every rehearsal and run-through more seriously than anyone else in the cast, telling Yuuri that he wanted to have everything down perfectly and give it his all through out the entire coming weekend. Yuuri couldn't avoid feeling anxious about his own performance next to Victor, especially now that they were playing the main couple.

 

But at least Victor's enthusiastic kisses, even the ones that weren't on script, made him feel a tiny bit better. 

 

Without realizing it, Yuuri began to drift off right were he was sitting, and if it weren't for Vicchan kicking his stomach in his sleep, Yuuri wouldn't have jolted awake with a grumpy rumble from his dog. Red-faced, Yuuri glanced at Victor...who was fast asleep with Makkachin draped across his legs. Victor's arm was hanging off the couch, the back of his hand resting on the carpet. The other rested on his stomach, which rose and fell slowly with each of Victor's steady and soft breaths.

 

His lips were a bit parted, and his lashes, long and soft-looking, brushed over his cheeks. Yuuri's breath caught at the sight of him looking so...relaxed and still.

 

"You guys okay?" he heard Mari call out on her way down the stairs. When she appeared at the bottom she caught sight of Yuuri and Victor in the living room, her eyes going wide when she spotted Victor fast asleep. "Oop. He's out," she said with a smirk.

 

Yuuri blushed as though she'd caught them in the middle of...something else. "We've been working hard. I guess he's wiped out."

 

"Would his parents care if he sleeps over?" Mari asked, leaning on the back of the armchair.

 

"Mari!" Yuuri exclaimed in hushed tones.

 

"What? You think I don't know what you two get up to in your rooms?" Mari asked him with a knowing glint in her eye. "You're being careful, right? Do I need to give you the talk?"

 

"Mom and Dad already did that when I was eleven!"

 

"Not the butt version."

 

Yuuri covered his face with his hands, beyond glad Victor wasn't awake to hear any of this. "Oh my God, just kill me."

 

Mari wickedly snorted into her hand. "Good thing Mom got his parents' numbers on New Year's Eve. I'll call his mom and check in with her so Victor can sleep over. You guys have rehearsals tomorrow morning anyway." 

 

Yuuri's heart did a flip at the thought of Victor spending the night. True, he'd already lost count of all the times he and Victor had made out on either of their beds, but...oh, his face was red now, even if Mari meant it innocently. Or maybe she didn't. "Tell her we're nowhere near my bedroom!" Yuuri entreated as she walked off.

 

She laughed again as she thumbed at her phone. "In the meantime, do you want to grab your pillow and blanket to hunker down there or do you want to keep staring at him while he sleeps?"

 

Yuuri rolled his eyes and dragged a hand through his hair as he did...just that, taking a moment to stare at the silver-haired boy. He looked...beautiful, as always, but the sight of him had Yuuri's heart beating so hard. He wanted to wake him up with kisses and brush his hair off his face. He settled for taking a deep breath and reaching down to lift Victor's arm from the edge of the couch and place it over the other. He took another moment to gaze over Victor's sleeping form, pausing at his hair, and he suddenly had an idea.

 

He caught up to Mari before she started dialing, and asked, "Hey, do you still have that blue flower crown in your room?"

 

"The one I got at that Ren Faire I got dragged to? Yeah, why?"

 

He told her why, and she had to silence herself before she started squealing.

 


 

Victor had been the one to wake Yuuri up with kisses to his face. At first Yuuri had thought it a particularly vivid and pleasant dream, but he'd jolted awake when he realized that Victor's face was indeed right above his and Jesus Christ, he'd drooled in his sleep of COURSE he did.

 

His mother had been surprisingly accommodating, especially after Mari had assured her that they were in the living room and that Yuuri's parents would walk past them when they got home. She'd asked that Yuuri tell Victor that she said good night, and when he did so, Victor's smile was one of the softest he'd ever seen from him. 

 

"What would everyone say if they knew I spent the night at your place, Yuuri?" Victor asked with a wicked look as he drove them towards the school. "Can you imagine the rumors?"

 

"After that stunt we pulled at Chris's birthday party, I think we're beyond rumors at this point," Yuuri replied, still blushing at the thought of anyone catching wind of what had happened last night, even if there had been plenty of parental approval and supervision. It wasn't like they could do much with Yuuri's parents a floor above them, and with Mari being an extremely light sleeper.

 

Victor chuckled softly, a light blush brightening his cheeks. Yuuri smiled to see it, remembering the look of pleasure and surprise on his boyfriend's face when he realized that he'd spent the night. He'd already been so affectionate during breakfast and probably would be for the rest of the day, and that was just fine with Yuuri.

 

All that was briefly put out of his mind when they got to the auditorium and Ms. Okukawa had everyone try on their costumes.

 

Yuuri's was comfortable, and he had to admit that he looked...really good. The Montagues were all in varying shades of red and the Capulets wore shades of blue. Yuuri's was a deep scarlet shirt that hung a bit loosely on his frame, and his leggings were black and, fortunately, not too tight on his legs. He blew out a breath and nodded as he looked at himself in the mirror, stepping away to let Christophe have a turn.

 

The other boy gave a whistle in his direction as he adjusted the plunging neckline of his own deep purple shirt, pulling it even lower. "Looking good, Yuuri. Victor's going to go wild when he sees you in those leggings."

 

Yuuri blushed and looked in the direction of where Mila and Yuuko were helping Victor into Sara's costume. His costume now. His breath caught a the sight of him in it. Sara had looked gorgeous in the midnight blue dress that had silver rose embellishments along the v-neckline, sleeves, and the skirt hem. Victor, however, looked like the damn night sky, with every appealing curve grabbing Yuuri's attention in front of all their castmates. The skirt ended right at his slim ankles, and Yuuri's gaze traveled all the way up Victor's body for what felt like the third time before Christophe's soft laugh pulled him back to earth. "Looks like you're the one going wild first."

 

Yuuri couldn't disagree with him on that. 

 

Mari's flower crown would look amazing with the dress. He quickly went to open his bookbag and carefully retrieved it, holding it in his hands for a moment.

 

The blue of the fake roses faded to white, and tiny plastic branches that decorated the crown were painted in a glittery silver. 

 

Swallowing, Yuuri wordlessly walked back up onto the stage to where Ms. Okukawa was beaming at Victor approvingly. Yuuko spotted him first, gasping when she caught sight of the flower crown Yuuri held.

 

Their teacher turned around and had almost the same reaction, and Yuuri cleared his throat and looked at Victor, who looked thoroughly surprised, and said, "I thought that...maybe Victor could wear this during the party scene, when we first meet." Victor's gaze flicked up to meet his, those blue eyes swirling gorgeously, and Yuuri caught his breath and added, "A-and during the balcony scene." 

 

Ms. Okukawa gasped and practically bounced ecstatically, "Yuuri! Where did you get your hands on that?! It's perfect! Victor, you're going to look stunning in this!"

 

Victor smiled at Yuuri adoringly and nodded at him before lowering his head a bit. "Do you mind putting it on for me?" 

 

Sighing with relief, Yuuri smiled back and carefully put the crown atop his head, light glinting off the silver.  

 

Yuuri almost kissed him in that second. Victor looked beautiful.

Chapter Text

There were butterflies all over Yuuri's insides, and he had no idea how he was going to survive the coming week.

 

Months ago surviving a chemistry pop quiz like this one would've also been in question, but this was paradise compared to pop quizzes from their now-departed teacher. Mr. Feltsman seemed scary sometimes, but he was reasonable and genuinely wanted to make sure everyone in the class understood what he was teaching.

 

Yuuri seized on the chance to focus on complicated formulas rather than on the anxiety rolling around in his stomach, his leg having been shaking for a good few minutes as he made a particular effort to show his work. The distraction wouldn't last, as Yuuri was usually the first to turn these quizzes in. 

 

That was the case this time, and he walked up to Mr. Feltsman's desk to turn in his sheet. Mr. Feltsman glanced up at him from whatever work he was completing and gruffly said, "Finished? Start taking notes on the next chapter for the rest of class time. There'll be a chapter discussion tomorrow."

 

Yuuri nodded and made his way back to his desk to take out the chemistry book and get started, his leg starting to shake once again as the words on the page finally began to fail at capturing his full attention. As always, every possible disaster started unfolding in his head. He'd humiliate himself during a performance and ruin the play for everyone, all because he actually thought he could pull off being Romeo.

 

Sighing after several minutes had passed and Yuuri was still on the same spot on the page while a handful of his classmates turned in their quizzes, he decided to work on his notes at home and go over his lines in his head. He knew his lines, and could pull off a decent Romeo, but there were alarm bells going off in his head over everything going wrong all because of him. Even worse was imagining the look of disappointment on Victor's face if that happened.

 

Victor. Oh God, Victor.

 

Yuuri had gone way past just liking the other boy over the past few months, but...he couldn't call it love yet, could he? It was more than infatuation, and Yuuri couldn't stand thinking about his life down the line without Victor in it. Without his sweet, enthusiastically romantic nature, his smiles and laughter, and the passion that just kept bubbling over. 

 

They would have one more guaranteed year together in high school, and what would happen after that? What were Victor's plans? Would they even end up at the same college? Would they grow older and change until they couldn't recognize each other? They were already so different, so what would time end up doing?

 

Any level-headed adult in their life would probably warn Yuuri not to exaggerate, that his feelings would fade with time, as he matured, but everything he felt...it meant something. The thought of it disappearing was about as painful as the thought of letting Victor go. 

 

Those thoughts stayed with him throughout the rest of the school day, and Yuuri was deep in his melancholic thoughts as he sat in Victor's car, staring out the window. The snow around them was melting into slush, but it wasn't a guarantee that it would all be gone soon.

 

"Should we go to your place or mine?" he heard Victor ask. He turned to find the other boy looking at him intently while the car was still. He was smiling at Yuuri, like he always did, always so sweet and happy.

 

Yuuri struggled to return it, feeling how weak it was. "You've got that group presentation in your French class, right? You can work on it at my place."

 

"Thanks. We'll head straight there," Victor said, his eyes back on the road as he pulled out of the school parking lot. "Mama took Makkachin to the vet, so he won't see Vicchan today."

 

"Is he okay?" Yuuri asked, concerned.

 

"Just an annual check-up," Victor assured him. 

 

Yuuri sighed in relief, slumping against his seat and looking out the window once more. "Good."

 


 

Having Victor in his room as they did their homework didn't help dispel Yuuri's dark thoughts. If anything it just made everything worse. He liked it when Victor snuck kisses every now and then, trying to coax Yuuri into doing more. 

 

Any other day Yuuri might have given in and let Victor kiss him silly, wasting a good twenty or thirty minutes making out and leaving their work for last, but today he half-heartedly returned Victor's kisses and went back to his trig problems. If Victor noticed anything was off, he didn't say anything.

 

"And I'm done with my half of the project!" Victor declared after a while, ceremoniously closing his French book shut and throwing his arms up in a stretch that had Yuuri glancing over in time to see the inch of pale skin revealed when Victor's shirt hiked up. "God, I'm glad I don't have to worry about that anymore," the boy added, falling onto his back on Yuuri's bed.

 

"That's great," Yuuri replied quietly, peering down at the boy next to him and blushing at the teasing sight of his bare skin. He swallowed and found that he couldn't concentrate on trig anymore. 

 

"Are you okay, Yuuri?" he heard Victor ask before feeling the boy's hand on his lower back.

 

He inhaled sharply at the touch, his heart racing and heat crawling up his neck. "...Fine, why do you ask?"

 

"You've been quiet all afternoon. And you were quiet at lunch too."

 

Takeshi, Yurio, and Emil worked through their scenes while Victor and Yuuri concentrated on their own, and Yuuri hadn't felt the same enthusiasm as any other day. At least he hadn't forgotten any of his lines. He glanced at Victor and bit his lip as he averted his gaze again, saying, "I've just got a lot of things on my mind."

 

Victor sat up, crossing his legs and sitting close to Yuuri. "Nervous about opening night, right?" he asked softly.

 

"Who wouldn't be?" Yuuri answered in a sharp exhale. He looked at Victor, at the bewilderment in his face, and sighed again, shaking his head. "It's just...I know I'm doing great at rehearsals, but...I could still screw up on opening night, forget a line or miss a mark..." His heart just gained speed as he blurted it all out. "...I'm not used to being in the spotlight. God, I wasn't even expecting to actually get to be the Friar when I first told you about it."

 

"I wasn't expecting to be Juliet, so we both had a bit of a surprise," Victor said with a soft laugh.

 

It wasn't the same. Victor was made for this stuff, for the spotlight, for...surprises. Yuuri was just...Yuuri. Unmemorable and unremarkable. "I just...I don't want to disappoint you," he mumbled, bringing his knees up to his chest. Vicchan woke up and made his way over from the foot of the bed where he'd been sleeping, and sat at Yuuri's feet with an expectant look.

 

"It's fine to be nervous," he heard Victor say, feeling his warm hand on his nape.

 

The pressure was soothing, but only just. If he had to let Victor go eventually, who was to say if the boy would even remember him? "And if I mess up?" he suddenly asked, turning to look at the other boy. 

 

Victor's expression turned frank, and he looked away thoughtfully before finally replying, "If you mess up, then the show goes on. But you've put in all the work for all these months, Yuuri, and you know it. That's not some other guy up there dazzling everyone as Romeo. That's you. Yuuri Katsuki."

 

"You're the dazzling one," Yuuri insisted, hiding the bottom half of his face in his knees.

 

"We both are," Victor said, playfully dragging his fingers through Yuuri's hair. It felt so wonderfully intimate, and no one had ever touched Yuuri in such a way. "You were a genius with that flower crown."

 

Yuuri shrugged. "It wasn't much."

 

"You should be proud of yourself," Victor murmured, leaning in closer to press soft kisses to the shell of Yuuri's ear and down his jaw, his other hand cupping the other side of Yuuri's face.

 

The gentle praise just barely began to warm Yuuri up, and he just wanted something to distract his mind. And Victor felt so warm and amazing, his hands lovingly stroking Yuuri's face and hands as he kissed his way to Yuuri's mouth. Yuuri breathed against those soft lips, "I love how you look in the costume." 

 

"You don't mind seeing me in a dress?" Victor asked, pressing a playful smile against Yuuri's mouth.

 

"No way," Yuuri breathed before sealing their mouths together, reaching up to cover Victor's nape with his palm. 

 

Before Victor could beat him to it, Yuuri took the initiative, sweeping his tongue into the younger boy's mouth and mapping every single inch he could manage, ears burning and electricity crackling through his spine at the sound of Victor's soft little moan. The other boy buried his pretty fingers in Yuuri's hair, blunt nails gently scratching at Yuuri's scalp before tugging gently at his hair as their tongues twined together wetly, sending more sparks down Yuuri's spine as he caressed Victor's face with his hands, holding him close and tugging him back whenever he drew away for breath. 

 

Yuuri then found himself on his back, Victor's mouth on his neck and his hands under Yuuri's shirt, the boy moaning softly as he caressed Yuuri's soft waist with his warm hands, slowly making his way up to his chest. Yuuri gasped and clapped a hand over his mouth as Victor sucked at his throat, their legs tangling together as they moved against each other. It was so much, too much, but Yuuri didn't want to stop. Fear, need, love, it made him want it all at once even as he wondered if he was even ready for it-

 

Victor's phone rang.

 

Yuuri gasped sharply and froze beneath Victor after glancing at the screen and seeing the words 'Papa' on the screen. "That's your dad," he exclaimed breathlessly, eyes shut as Victor's hands hiked his shirt up.

 

"He'll text me," Victor moaned, ponytail trailing down Yuuri's chest as he kissed the bare skin of Yuuri's belly, lips and hands finding the softest parts. 

 

Yuuri's breath hitched when Victor gently sucked at his side, and his hands curled uselessly on his sheets. Vicchan had long ago leaped off the bed, annoyed huffs leaving him as he watched them from the floor. Yuuri tried to ignore him and Victor's noisy phone, his hands finally finding Victor's shoulders. But nerves made him push at those shoulders until Victor looked up at him, and Yuuri babbled anxiously, "What if it's important?"

 

Victor was flushed and breathless too, but kept looking up at Yuuri even as he panted through kiss-swollen lips and the phone went silent. His fingers were right on the zipper of Yuuri's jeans, but he asked, "You really think I should call him back?"

 

Yuuri looked at him and managed to figure out what he was really asking. He nodded after a few seconds, his heart beating so painfully.

 

"Okay," Victor said quietly, gazing up at Yuuri while running a soothing palm down his sides before pressing a soft kiss to his belly and tugging his shirt down. He crawled back up til his face was level with Yuuri's, and brought a hand up to stroke the side of Yuuri's face. "Is it okay if I hold you? We can just lie here."

 

"Okay," Yuuri parroted, feeling all the heat in his body gather in his face as he realized how pathetic he must have seemed, getting so nervous and ending things so quickly. He covered his face with his hands, trying not to shake so hard, and mumbled, "Sorry..."

 

"Don't be. That all felt good. You don't have to be ready for anything more yet," Victor said, gently tugging Yuuri's hands away from his face.

 

Yuuri opened his eyes and made himself look up at the other boy, and at the mature yet adoring look in his eyes as he gazed down at him. Victor. Victor Nikiforov. His Victor. Looking at him in such a way, as intimate as any touch they'd shared so far. Swallowing, Yuuri asked, "Have you ever...?"

 

He trailed off timidly but Victor held his hands and replied in hushed tones, "Remember the boy I told you about? We fooled around sometimes, but never did more than that." 

 

"Oh." The nameless, faceless boy from Victor's old school. Someone Yuuri imagined as more attractive and confident than he would ever be, and suddenly he was conscious of his reaction. 

 

"We don't have to do that right now," Victor reassured him, stretching himself out beside Yuuri to hug him around the middle, kissing Yuuri's neck again as he patted his hair. "You're nervous. You've got a million things on your mind and I don't want to make you feel pressured. I told you, this is fine. Perfect."

 

Yuuri forced himself to believe Victor. He shut his eyes and concentrated on the feeling of being held so securely by the other boy, sinking into the sheer affection of the contact. He watched Victor give his phone a brief glance, and asked quietly, "...What did your dad want?"

 

"He was asking if I got him and Mama their tickets," Victor said as he hurriedly sent out a response before turning his attention back to Yuuri, burying his face back into his neck and gently kissing it. "He won't be on call all weekend."

 

"That's great," Yuuri breathed, sweet agony building in his heart as he closed his eyes and let himself feel Victor's touch, his kisses. Victor was with him now, and not with the boy who'd hurt him. Whatever his favorable qualities, he'd hurt Victor. And Yuuri never wanted to do that. But the future was still nagging at Yuuri's head, reminding him that the boy he'd wanted for so long was only going to be his for a very short time. "Victor?"

 

"Yeah?" Victor asked in between kisses right under Yuuri's ear.

 

"...What's going to happen to us after next year?" Yuuri managed to ask, his heart and stomach doing simultaneous flips as Victor held him.

 

Victor drew away to look at him with surprise. "...We'll be together," he replied, as though it were obvious.

 

Yuuri looked back at him, all his pain floating up to the surface. "How? I mean...We don't even know if we'll end up going to the same college. We might end up on different sides of the country..." He shut his eyes and told himself not to cry. He wasn't a little kid anymore. But it all hurt too much to think about, and...

 

Mari dated in high school. She'd been dating for as long as Yuuri could actually remember. He couldn't remember her relationships ever lasting that long, or even surviving long distances. But she didn't mind. Yuuri was different. He knew he was. Long distance...would be hard, but if it all fell apart? 

 

His sister had always been the one made of tougher stuff than Yuuri was. 

 

Victor's eyes were wide as he looked at Yuuri, and he was so quiet, like, for once, he didn't know what to say. He bit his lip very briefly and quietly said, "I don't...want to split up, Yuuri."

 

"What if we have to?" Yuuri couldn't help asking.

 

"We can do long distance! Other people do it. My parents did it."

 

"Your parents were married. They had you too." 

 

Victor flinched at that, but recovered quickly, looking around like he was looking for something to say, like he was, for once, at a total loss for words. But then his eyes suddenly widened even more, and he turned to look at Yuuri with such a look of dawning realization before reaching up to tug off the elastic band from his ponytail, letting his hair fall loose over his shoulders. He then took Yuuri's right hand and started looping the band onto his ring finger, and before Yuuri finally realized what it looked like, Victor looked up at him with a look of such seriousness as he held Yuuri's hand, and said with a blush on his face, "It's not a real ring, but..."

 

Yuuri blinked and looked at his hand, at the black elastic band around his RING finger, oh shit. His mouth dropped open and he hurriedly exclaimed as his face burned, "We can't get married! We're seventeen!"

 

Victor just held on to his hand and looked at him with such intensity, almost like that night way back in November when Phichit and Christophe shoved them into the closet and this...beautiful boy was looking at him with such interest that Yuuri felt special. Then Victor said, "Let's make a promise, right now, that we'll do our best to be Yuuri and Victor, together, no matter what happens. Even if you become a lumberjack in Canada and I become a lifeguard in Florida."

 

Yuuri laughed breathlessly, dazed by the other boy as he held his hand. "What?"

 

"I had to make you laugh somehow," Victor said with a tender smile, thumb stroking the inside of Yuuri's wrist. His gaze softened and he looked at Yuuri with such yearning, like he wanted him to understand...something, anything, whatever lay in his heart that Yuuri couldn't just guess at.  "I know you think everything comes easy to me. Everyone thinks that. But I think about us and the future a lot. Sometimes it almost makes me cry because...I care about you. A lot."

 

"...I do too," Yuuri said, his heart bursting at Victor's admission.

 

"That's why I want to make a promise." He held Yuuri's hand in both of his and added as he looked right into his eyes, "So we both do our best for each other, no matter how close or far apart we are. We might not know what's coming after next year, but I don't want to just give up before we actually get to find out." His tender smile morphed into a playful grin, and he never let go of Yuuri's hand as he added, "I want a chance to Prompose to you."

 

Yuuri couldn't help laughing again, and Victor smiled at the sound of it. It all sounded so...so much. And yet it was perfect and what he wanted to hear, wanting to know that the other boy felt the same way. "Then I promise too," he managed to say, turning to face the other boy and press his forehead against his. "Just...try not to get carried away with the Promposal, okay?"

 

"Aww, really? I have such great ideas! And Christophe was going to help me-"

 

"Victor..."

 

Victor giggled before kissing Yuuri again, driving all other thoughts from his head and playfully caressing his bare back under his shirt. Yuuri was so aware of the elastic band on the ring finger of his right hand, but...it meant the world to know that Victor had put it there, and felt the same way. 

 

It helped. It all helped, and Yuuri wrapped his legs around the other boy's waist, seizing all the relief and happiness coming his way.