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and all this devotion folded into me

Chapter Text

Yuuri leans down to take off his shoes in the entryway, setting them by the door neatly before he walks into the apartment.

“I’m home,” he calls out, slipping his backpack off his shoulders carefully and holding it to his chest, the jars inside tinkling against each other as he moves.

“In the living room,” Phichit shouts back, and Yuuri makes a small detour towards him on his way to his bedroom. He pokes his head inside, meaning to just say hi and move on, but Phichit says, “Victor’s on TV again.” And almost without meaning to Yuuri finds himself stepping into the living room and sitting down on the couch next to Phichit.

Victor’s face fills the screen, smile blinding, hair perfectly parted as he lightheartedly exchanges back and forth with the show host. It didn’t take a lot for the public to flock to Victor after the Revelation. He’s the perfect picture of what a god should look like, tall, muscled, with his silver hair that looks like spilled moonlight and his warm blue eyes, his perfect smile with a mouth of perfect teeth.

Victor is the personification of beauty. He’s breathtaking, ethereal in a way that people are immediately drawn to-.

Yuuri has been watching him exist for years and years and years, and it still hits him like a bolt of lightning, electrifying each of his nerve endings, how gorgeous Victor is.

“What’s this?” Yuuri asks, trying to make sense of the host’s and Victor’s conversation.

“She’s been trying to get him to talk about his love life and Victor has been swerving her,” Phichit tells him.

Yuuri watches for a bit as Victor maneuvers the conversation from his love life to talking about his darling dog Makkachin, who he has to mention every single interview, for at least two full minutes. At this point Yuuri thinks if Victor didn’t talk about his dog at least once, the universe would tilt off its axis.

Makkachin was the best gift anyone could ever give me. I have no idea where I’d be without him ,” Victor is saying, earnest in a different way than he normally is.

A gift from who? Everyone is dying to know where you got an immortal dog. And such a cute one! ” The host is smiling widely, leaning forward, eager for any scrap of information that is new .

Victor puts a finger in front of his lips and gives the camera a cheeky glance, winking. “ It’s a secret .”

Yuuri can feel the disappointment of the live audience through his screen. Victor, for how often he does public appearances, for how close he is with humans, and how large a following he’s gathered, holds his cards very close to his chest, and in the centuries since the Revelation, hasn’t let humanity or anyone else be privy to his personal life.

No one knows where Makkachin, his seemingly immortal and ever energetic poodle came from. No one knows what feats he accomplished as a human to ascend to divinity, they only know that he used to be human and now he is not. He hasn’t been for a very, very long time. No one even knows what he’s the god of. All they know is that Victor is a god because how could he not be.

It’s been speculated for dozens upon dozens of years. Books have been written about this great mystery, studies are being made, historians try to dig deeper and deeper into their records to find the answer as to what kind of god Victor is.

Some say the god of victory. It’s in his name and that’s why everyone around him succeeds. Others say the god of beauty or elegance, the god of good fortune itself, the god of love…

It’s something only the older deities involved in Victor’s ascension are privy to, and certainly not something someone like Yuuri would get to know.

“Good harvest today?” Phichit asks when the host of the show announces they’re cutting to a break.

Yuuri gets back up, backpack still held tight against his chest. “Yeah. As good as I can hope for.” He hikes the bag up in his arms, adjusting his grip and the jars clink against each other softly again. “I’m going to put these away, if Victor is still there after the break, call me.”

“Sure. Go do your cool magic shit.”

“It’s not magic,” Yuuri tells him over his shoulder, as he walks towards his room.

Technically Yuuri doesn’t need to sleep. He needs to rest, from time to time, but he doesn’t need to sleep like normal humans do, so instead of a bed there’s just a futon pushed against one of the walls of his room. The rest of the space is occupied by shelves and bookcases, by a couple beanbag chairs and a TV that stands in a crate next to a couple of consoles, and by origami.

There are little paper constructions everywhere , overflowing from shelves, and bowls, on the floor, hanging near the ceiling.

Yuuri puts down his bag on top of the futon and starts taking out the jars, lining them up on the floor. He starts with the ones that are filled with paper stars. They’re the easiest and the most traditional to make, so a lot of his offerings come in the form of little colourful stars made of different types of papers.

He unscrews the lid of the first jar and cradles it between his hands, sitting cross-legged on the floor and making sure his back is straight. Slowly he breathes in and out, centering himself until he can feel the energy trapped in the folds of paper warm beneath their hands, and slowly each of the paper stars floats from the jar and finds a space above Yuuri among all the other stars Yuuri has collected, slowly rotating and drifting about.

Yuuri wishes they would glow so he could look up in pitch darkness and see every single star suspended on his ceiling, but paper does not glow, and the best he can get are some gold foil stars that reflect light if he leaves a lamp on. Those are his favourite when it comes to stars.

Yuuri repeats this with the other jars full of stars, and then moves on to the bigger jar full of paper cranes. It was a big wish, so the offering has to match. There must be around two hundred paper cranes of varying sizes in that jar and Yuuri picks up each of them, inspecting their wings for damage before he softly blows on them and lets them take flight to wherever they please in his room.

As soon as he’s done, he lays down, careful not to trample any of the dozens of paper frogs that hop around his floor, and just lets himself feel the energy flow, lets it fill his chest up, warm its way to his veins.

If Yuuri didn’t require an offering for granting wishes, he wouldn’t be better than a genie. In some ways he’s worse, because his favours require effort. They require diligent and constant wanting. It’s a hassle. There are easier deities to ask for favours, and Yuuri is grateful to every single person who takes the time and effort to ask him for something, to believe in him .

“Yuuri! He’s back on!” Phichit shouts from the living room, and Yuuri pushes off the floor and slowly makes his way there, closing the door behind him and making sure no little construction escapes from his room. It’s a nightmare whenever he leaves the door open. They immediately try to take over the entire house.

Yuuri sits back on the couch and watches Victor, half listening to Phichit’s running commentary of what is happening, and pretends he can’t feel a familiar uncomfortable itchiness settling under his skin. Someone, somewhere is making an offering and waiting for Yuuri to collect. He’ll only be able to ignore it so long before he becomes too uncomfortable and has to go over to check, wherever in the world that may be.

There’s a spot under his chest that aches the longer he ignores it until it’s unbearable, but that can wait. For now, he puts up with it, and gets his breath stolen away by Victor.

«»

Victor’s on television again, smiling brightly at the camera with Makkachin sitting dutifully at his feet, tail thumping rhythmically. He’s so beautiful it makes something in Yuuri’s chest clench painfully, and he touches his hand to it, uselessly trying to soothe away the pain.

It never works, but still Yuuri tries, fingers pressing just beneath his breastbone and rubbing in circular motions.

This is the quietest truth Yuuri doesn’t dare to speak: he’s hollow inside. There’s a piece of Yuuri missing and he does not remember where it went. He remembers being Created in some forgotten little town in Japan a millennia or two ago by a little girl who thought the stars were falling and so she gathered everyone in her village to fold new stars out of paper and put them back in the sky. Yuuri remembers vividly first being aware that he was. That he simply was .

He remembers some of his first centuries, but not a lot. Yuuri is older than a lot of deities, he’s older than a lot of civilizations and his memory is bad for how old he is and for the gaping hole he has in it.

He remembers coming to be and being whole and carrying out his duties as he was supposed to, trading miracles for human devotion covertly, and then there’s a blank and Yuuri does not know what happened to him, he only knows there is a part of his essence missing and there is an ugly scar beneath his breastbone.

He doesn’t even know how long this gaping void in his existence went on for. He only knows that it must’ve been long enough for Victor to have ascended to divinity and for the gods to reveal themselves to humanity and start carrying out their affairs publically.

“How did you get the idea for this year’s theme?” the host asks, as Victor guides him through the lavish ballroom where this year’s gala will take place.

“Origami is something I’ve always had an interest in,” Victor says as the camera slowly covers the expanse of the ballroom where hundreds and hundreds of tiny stars hang by thin, almost transparent wires from the ceiling. “And I had all of these around gathering dust, so I figured I should give them a better use.”

Yuuri stops breathing.

“You made all these?” the host asks, sounding stunned.

“I did. It’s a bit of a nervous habit,” Victor smiles a little, puts a finger to his lips and winks. “Don’t tell anyone,” he says cheekily to the camera.

Yuuri’s chest clenches so painfully he curls a little on himself, struggling for a minute to breathe through the pain and through the sudden violent need to touch all those stars Victor has diligently folded and see what emotions are trapped inside.

But Yuuri won’t be able to, because every year as an invitation arrives for Phichit to attend the gala, Yuuri pointedly does not get one.

“That’s impressive!”

“Thank you! Would you care to see the rest?” Victor asks, gesturing to the rest of the decorations. The host quickly follows.

Yuuri stares unblinkingly at his television for a couple more minutes, still trying to catch his breath and find his center of balance again. He rubs his fingers over his chest in gentle circles and breathes.

«»

Harvesting offerings is draining on a regular day – just the teleporting takes a lot out of Yuuri – add in a noisy friend who somehow manages to pinpoint exactly where Yuuri had teleported to every single time, and Yuuri is exhausted before he’s even halfway through his rounds.

Yuuri cradles yet another mason jar full of stars and closes his eyes trying to focus.

“You could come as my plus one,” Phichit says, poking around the room they’re currently in.

“No, Phichit,” Yuuri says dismissively, not sparing him more than half a thought, as he watches most of the stars float softly around the jar, filled with diligent dreaming, enough of a tribute for Yuuri to grant this person’s wish, even if a couple of stars stick to the bottom and don’t float at all, empty of intent.

“It’ll be fun! When was the last time you went?”

Yuuri takes one of his jars out of his backpack and with a flick of his wrist makes the stars float into it. He leaves the empty origami stars behind and puts the jar back in its place with care.

“What does it matter?” Yuuri asks, instead of saying I can’t remember because whenever he does, Phichit gets this pinched look on his face that Yuuri does not like.

“It matters because everyone thinks you’re dead.”

Yuuri touches his fingers to his chest, just under his breastbone. He almost was.

“How much longer are you going to hide, Yuuri?”

Yuuri takes his hand away from his chest and breathes out, and focuses on folding a flower out of red paper. It’s only fair after these people go through the effort of giving him something, that he would leave something of himself back.

“I’m not hiding. I’m just... avoiding.”

“Avoiding what?”

Yuuri doesn’t know, but there is something about being close to some of the older gods surrounded by gold and marble that feels very unsafe.

“You know I don’t like places with a lot of people,” Yuuri says and places the paper flower next to the mason jar. The wish is small enough that Yuuri can infuse the little flower with it. He teleports away as soon as he’s done to escape this conversation.

He gets about half a second of respite before a sense of unease creeps up his spine.

Yuuri frowns and takes in his surroundings for the first time.

He’s standing in a lavish ballroom with millions of paper stars hanging from the ceiling, somewhere wholly unfamiliar and yet familiar. He raises a hand towards one of the stars, doesn’t even touch it, and it starts rising up from its limp position on the string and hovering just above Yuuri’s hand. Yuuri can feel the emotions trapped between the creases of paper, the sadness and loneliness and heartbreak . So much of it trapped in such a small space that it makes Yuuri’s heart squeeze painfully. His chest hurts.

He’s jerked out of his trance by glass hitting the floor and shattering, and his head snaps towards the sound. Victor stands in the other end of the ballroom, glass and stars spilled at his feet as he looks directly at him.

Yuuri ,” he breathes out, his voice breaking on the last syllable, so filled with emotion. He says Yuuri’s name like a prayer, like he knows him. And Yuuri- Yuuri who has been observing Victor for so long, has no idea what to do with this.

Victor starts walking towards him. He doesn’t run but each of his steps covers more space than it should, as if in every fraction of a second he teleports a little forward. He’s getting so close, so fast and Yuuri doesn’t know what’s going on. He has never met Victor. He has no memory of this place, he doesn’t know why he’s here , and Victor is so close - closer than Yuuri ever thought he would get.

“Yuuri,” he says again in that terribly fragile voice.

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri starts just as Victor is raising his hand as if he’s about to take Yuuri’s face between his palms, as if he’s about to pull Yuuri closer. “But have we met before?”

Victor freezes. Yuuri can see his hands where they’re poised to touch him in his peripheral vision, and for a moment everything in the ballroom stands perfectly still, before Victor’s expression crumples.

Yuuri has been observing Victor since televisions were invented and he has never seen him with anything but a smile on his face, even if it was practiced, even if it was fake, Victor always smiles.

This leaves Yuuri feeling off-put and ill-footed, it makes a sense of dread swoop through his stomach as if he’s falling and falling and it won’t be pretty when he stops.

I’m sorry ,” he says again, with a little more feeling, and he is. Oh, he is, he is, he is . He doesn’t know what he did, but Victor has that awful heart-wrenching expression because of him and gods is he sorry.

“Oh, Yuuri,” Victor says, and curls his fingers into his palms slowly, as if it’s paining him to pull back. He lets his hands drop to his sides, and Yuuri almost wishes that he had pushed forward instead of pulling back.

The sense of familiarity is throwing Yuuri off. Victor knows him, and not like Yuuri knows Victor, not from seeing him from far away or through a screen. It’s in the way his body stands in relation to Yuuri’s, the way he says his name, as if his tongue is used to shaping those syllables, as if it has run by every intonation that Yuuri’s name could possibly have.

“I’m- I’m really sorry,” Yuuri says, forcing the words out through his constricting airways. He wants to put his fingers to his chest and soothe away the tightness there, but he’s afraid to move, he’s afraid him moving will trigger something and force them out of this standstill because what lays ahead is unfanthomly terrifying.

His words seem to push something in Victor and he slowly, oh so slowly, lifts one of his hands and raises it towards Yuuri’s cheek. Yuuri does not move, he just stares at Victor and holds his breath in anticipation. He can see Victor’s hand trembling so finely it’s almost imperceptible, but he can see it and then he can feel it against his cheek.

Victor’s hands are warm. For some reason, Yuuri didn’t expect them to be.

Yuuri had never thought it possible for someone to sound like heartbreak until Victor opens his mouth and says, “Oh, my Yuuri, what happened to you?”

 

Chapter Text

The very first time Victor saw him it was in a book filled with obscure deities from all over the world that had been tucked away and forgotten in a dusty corner of the library. The pages had been yellowed out and brittle, the spine was cracked and the drawings and writing faded, but that didn’t diminish how gorgeous the illustrations were, so detailed and with a certain dreamy quality to them.

His illustration was one of Victor’s favourites. It was arresting how his face was shaded to look sharp and soft all at once, and his robes littered with constellations that almost seemed to glow off the page were beautiful. But by the gods that is nothing compared to the real thing.

It’s the dead of night, there’s nothing illuminating Victor’s too-big room but the moonlight streaming through the tall windows and the soft twinkling of his robes, stars strewn haphazardly through it, some of them interconnected to map out the constellations. His sleeves are too big and fall down his forearms to pool at his elbows.

Victor watches mesmerized the delicate flick of this divinity’s wrist as it transitions into a jar all the tiny paper stars Victor has spent this afternoon making, like magic. It occurs to him, maybe a little too late, that he should be afraid. There’s a strange entity in his room and Victor isn’t sure if he’s allowed to witness this.

It feels like he isn’t, this feels sacred, somehow. Not for human eyes, but he can’t look away. He can barely blink from fear that if he does the vision before him will disappear.

He finishes making the stars float into the jar, and puts it in a bag, shoulders it and vanishes. Victor could almost believe that the whole thing was nothing more than a dream if it weren’t for the perfectly folded crane that sits on top of the bowl where Victor had left his paper stars.

The crane is still there the next morning, and the next one and the next one and the next one, but now sitting on top of the biggest jar Victor could find in the kitchen which is steadily filling up with paper stars.

For the first time since he was dragged all the way to France, Victor is thankful that he has so much time on his hands, that his only duties are to dance at functions and galas and be beautiful so he can complement the rest of the lavish decoration in this house. He doesn’t really have anyone to talk to, and most of the time he’s talked at , more than he’s talked with . Victor exists here to be looked at, and that gives him a lot of time to do whatever he pleases.

He manages to fill the jar in a week, and with only two paper cuts on his fingers. He folds the last one carefully because he knows it’s the last one he needs and with every crease he thinks please, please, please, hear me, please make this work .

He drops it in the jar and screws the lid back on, carefully setting that crane on top of it.

That night it takes Victor a while to fall asleep. He feels antsy, excited, he feels as if there’s trapped energy under his skin and curling around his tendons and he needs to do something, something to release it. He almost makes himself get up and do some warm ups around the room, but he’s afraid that if he doesn’t go to sleep it won’t work, so he makes himself lay in bed and go to sleep.

It takes a while, but he finally falls asleep, having worked a couple of knots in his long hair from all the tossing and turning.

He feels like he’s barely closed his eyes when he’s poked awake, something insistently jabbing into his arm. Victor opens his eyes slowly, feeling sleep try to drag him back down, and then blows them open when he registers what’s in front of him.

Victor scrambles backwards and if his bed had been any smaller he’d probably have pushed himself right off the edge of it.

“This is too much,” he says- a god, standing right in front of Victor, holding the jar of paper stars in his hands. He is beautiful . Victor didn’t really get a chance to get a good look at his face the last time, but now he’s so close and he looks so human but also not. He looks what human perfection should look like. He looks like a painting with all the blemishes and crooked bits smoothed out.

His lashes are ridiculously long, Victor notices, which is maybe something a bit ridiculous to notice.

Up close, Victor can see that his clothes don’t just shine, they move, some slower and some faster, but the stars and constellations are in movement.

“W-what?”

“This is too much,” he repeats and shakes the jar of stars. Victor’s eyes turn to it and he watches entranced as the paper stars bounce around but don’t really land, floating in the meager space that Victor has left free in the jar.

“I- I’m sorry?”

“You shouldn’t waste your wishing on me,” he says, pressing his lips together, a little frown creasing his eyebrows. Victor is sitting so close he can see the individual hairs in them, and the flecks of gold in his eyes.

“Why not?” Victor asks, wide eyed and breathless.

Because !” Victor had never thought a god could sound so petulant. It’s such an incredibly human emotion. There’s a slight jut to his bottom lip, almost imperceptible, as if he’s pouting. “I am not worth all this.”

“But you’re a god .”

“I’m a dime-a-dozen deity. Barely that, even. You should not waste so much energy wishing to just see me again.”

Victor is struck speechless for a moment. Of all the possibilities his brain had run through, of all the possible scenarios he had imagined when – if – he got to see the one god that answered his prayers again, this was far from it.

“You should wish for something else,” he says.

“Why?” Victor doesn’t understand anything.

The god leans back and sits on the edge of Victor’s bed. He unscrews the lid of the jar and scoops a handful of stars up in his palms. They don’t actually touch his hands, but float in that small space this god has created for them, slowly starting to orbit each other. The stars do not glow, but for a second it looks like the deity’s hands do, like there’s moonlight trapped under his skin.

“You’ve put a lot of emotion in each of these, they are worth… a lot . You’ve given me a lot of yourself, and I need to give you something equally important. The offering has to match the wish, so it’s fair.”

“I’ve never heard of a god worried about fairness,” Victor says, watching the paper stars float. He reaches out a hand very carefully and pokes one. It feels real. It wobbles in place a little but doesn’t fall.

“Like I said, I’m not a god.” He drops the stars back into the jar and looks intensely at Victor. “So?”

Victor watches the paper stars fall into the jar and float around in there, bouncing off each other and the walls of the jar-

“What’s your name?” he decides on asking. In the book he has found – the only book that speaks of him, there is no name. There are only simple instructions on how to fold stars and how you should leave your offerings.

“I don’t know what you call me here,” he says.

“That’s not what I asked. I asked what your name is, not what people call you.”

He frowns, tilts his head a little in puppy-like confusion. “I am a construct. I’m nothing but what people want of me. My name is whatever they call me in that place in that year. It changes so often, I can’t keep track anymore.”

“That’s horrible,” Victor says, feeling suddenly sad. He cannot imagine living without even a name. He may be posed and bent into the prettiest shape to be admired, but he has himself, if nothing else.

He doesn’t seem phased. “You may give me a name if you please.”

Victor is almost tempted to, but that feels… wrong, somehow.

“What do you like being called?”

“Whatever you want, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Victor presses his lips together, annoyed. “You said I should wish for something else, right? I wish for you to tell me what you like being called.”

The deity opens his mouth, then shuts it with a click.

He looks down at his lap for a moment and when he looks back up there’s something different about him. Something a little softer.

His eyes look almost liquid when he looks at Victor, and his voice is gentle and hushed, with whispers of reverence in it when he says, “Yuuri. The girl who created me… she called me Yuuri.”

Yuuri ,” Victor sounds it out, trying to fit the vowels around his tongue comfortably. “It’s pretty. I like it.”

“Me too,” Yuuri says, so quietly Victor barely hears it.

A silence falls between them, halfway to comfortable, and Victor takes advantage of it to just stare at Yuuri. He doesn’t know what happens now.

The very first time Victor had made an offering, it was a last ditch effort to believe. Believe in something, anything . He was so desperate to be shown that there were things worth believing in out there that somehow… somehow he now has a deity sitting on his bed, giving him his name.

“Do you have to leave soon?” Victor asks. He can’t imagine that someone like Yuuri can just dwell around in every sad boy’s room he stumbles into.

“No, not for a bit. You still have to decide on a wish.”

“I’ve already wished for something,” Victor tells him.

Yuuri taps the jar in his lap, and says, “There is too much devotion in this jar to be repaid with a simple name.”

Devotion is a nice way to say desperation, Victor thinks. Because that’s what it is, when you look too close. Victor’s desperate.

“What would you suggest?” he asks, not knowing what else to say.

Victor wanted to be proven that something bigger than himself existed and he got that. He wanted to be proven that something worth believing in existed and it happened. And here he is being told that he can ask for more . Victor thinks himself selfish, but he cannot think of anything to ask for.

“You’re odd ,” Yuuri says, with absolutely no tact. “You don’t actually want anything from me. You’re just lonely.”

Victor bristles. “I’m not-“

Yuuri grabs Victor’ hands, cutting him off and pulling them both so his palms are facing up and his hands are pressed together side by side. Then with a flick of his wrist, he seems to produce a piece of paper out of nowhere, and faster than Victor can comprehend folds it into a flower, that he deposits into Victor’s palms.

“Would you like to learn how to make flowers?”

“I- what?”

Yuuri does not look at him, he flicks his wrist, and now that Victor is paying more attention it seems he’s getting paper out of his sleeves, and keeps folding flowers and cranes and stars at a unbelievable speed until Victor’s cupped palms can barely hold all of it.

“Humans aren’t the only ones who get lonely, you know. I’ve been alive for a very, very long time, no one ever stops to chat anymore.” He looks up at Victor then, and his eyes still have that softness to them in their irises.

Something in Victor’s chest clenches painfully, and makes his breath stutter for barely a split second.

“I’d love to learn how to make flowers,” he says, tone hushed.

Yuuri gives him a smile, very small and that shows mostly around his eyes before holding out a pink piece of paper towards Victor.

Victor drops everything he had been holding and takes it gingerly. And then he spends the rest of his night attempting to fold paper into flowers until he’s too tired to keep going and his eyes close against his will.

The next morning, when he wakes up, Yuuri is gone as are all the stars inside the jar, but all of Victor’s attempts at flowers as well as Yuuri’s perfect ones lay scattered around Victor’s bed and floor.

«»

“Tell me a story,” Victor asks. It’s the second week of Yuuri appearing in his room at random hours of the night, and, very rarely, the day. By now Victor has mastered paper flowers, and Yuuri is now slowly teaching him everything else he knows. Today they’re doing cranes for the first time. For every successful one that Victor manages to make, Yuuri sets it flying about the room, paper wings flapping as they fleet from one piece of furniture to the next.

“A story?” Yuuri asks, folding a small family of frogs into existence while Victor painstakingly tries to get the folds for his crane just right. They hop around on the floor of Victor’s room.

“You’ve said you’re really old, right? You must’ve seen a lot of amazing things.”

“Not really. I just… do my job.”

Victor huffs a little, swiping his hair off his eyes for the fifth time in the span of ten minutes. “You said a girl created you, right? Was she a goddess like you?”

Yuuri laughs, very softly, barely audibly.

“Not at all. She was a human girl.”

“A human created you?” Victor asks, hands stilling so he can give Yuuri is full attention.

“I told you, I’m not a god. I’m more like… a construct,” Yuuri explains, not looking at Victor, gaze focused down on the life he’s creating from paper.

Victor stares at him expectantly, waiting for him to go on. He doesn’t.

Yuuri . You can’t leave me with that! Explain!”

Yuuri peers up at him, looking amused, before he looks down again. His hands don’t stop as he starts speaking. “Sometimes, humans create cults so specific that there are no gods to answer their prayers. There’s a lot of power in a human’s ability to believe, really believe in something, with all their heart and soul, and all that power needs to be directed somewhere. It needs to be channeled, transformed.”

“Is that what you do? Transform what people believe in into wishes?”

“More or less. They believe in me, so I exist. I’m completely dependent on it.”

Victor takes that in slowly, the full weight of those words sinking into him. “What happens if people don’t believe in you?”

“Then the universe will have no need for me, and I will cease to exist. It happens to every construct. We are not made to last.”

“I’ll believe in you,” Victor says, rushed, almost panicked.

Yuuri looks over at him, his eyes are almost imperceptibly wider, his mouth just slightly parted in surprise. And then his expression melts back to that little amused one and he says, “Thank you.”

Victor still feels a little panicked, jarred by this new knowledge that the only person who looks him in the eye and talks to him like he’s someone, like he’s made of flesh and blood and flaws and not just something pretty to be looked at, someone who is so far above him in every single way imaginable but has shown Victor so much kindness in such a small amount of time, could just be taken away from this world like that.

Yuuri must notice that something is wrong. Because he extends an arm towards Victor and holds it there, lets the long sleeves dangle from his slender wrists, the stars in them shining and twinkling, always in movement.

“Do you see the dots in my robes?”

“They look like stars,” Victor says, focusing his attention on them.

“Each of them is a person who believes in me right now, and believes with all their heart that I can make their wishes come true if only they fold their paper stars and cranes well enough and devote themselves enough to their wish.

“I got this robe from this minor deity that happened to be in the same little island where I was created when it happened. She breathes music into dancers movements when she blesses them. Her dancers will be the most breathtaking thing you will ever see in your life.”

Yuuri’s voice is full of fondness as he speaks, with just a little reverence hiding between the vowels in his words.

“She taught me how to dance, and how to make myself not be forgotten. You don’t need to worry about me, alright?”

That makes Victor feel a little more settled. A little more relieved that someone as wonderful as Yuuri won’t just disappear from this world because of the fickleness of humans.

“You know how to dance?” he asks.

“Just a little bit,” Yuuri says, turning a little shy. “Nothing compared to you, I’m sure.”

Victor may have been lauded as a prodigy at the tender age of sixteen, a title that he has firmly grasped onto for the five years since he’s been given it, but even he doubts he’ll be anywhere near as good as a god like Yuuri who has been blessed by a deity that dedicates herself only to dancers.

“Show me,” Victor says. Demands, really, and offers Yuuri his hand, palm up.

Yuuri hesitates for a second, and because Victor isn’t nearly as prideful as so many think him to be, a little more softly, more heartfeltly he says, “Please.”

Yuuri takes his hand and pulls him up. He’s deceptively strong, and Victor almost overbalances, but Yuuri puts a hand on his hip and steadies him. Victor takes advantage of that and puts a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder. He doesn’t mind following.

They stand there for a moment, looking at each other.

“There’s no music,” Yuuri points out.

“Can’t you make some?” Victor asks. He is a wish-granting ethereal creature, after all.

“Sure,” Yuuri says, and starts humming a familiar melody, before he starts twirling Victor around the room.

Victor lets himself be swept off his feet and twirled around until he can barely breathe.

«»

Victor has lost count of the weeks since Yuuri made his nightly visits something regular.

“You never did tell me about the girl who made you,” Victor says, one night, when he’s too tired from practice to move and Yuuri has made it his mission to learn how to braid his hair properly. It’s his fourth attempt this night to get Victor’s hair just right.

There’s a couple of seconds of silence that Victor doesn’t dare interrupt before Yuuri finally speaks. His voice is achingly soft, his hands remain steady in Victor’s hair. “Her name was Hiroko, and she thought the stars were falling out of the sky…”

«»

“What are you thinking about?” Yuuri asks one day, months and months after the very first time they met.

He’s braiding Victor’s hair in a new style he’s seen when he was somewhere else in the world collecting stars and granting wishes. He’s gotten very, very good at it. Almost as good as Victor’s own mama had been.

Victor has been absentmindedly folding cranes into a bowl, seeing how small he can make them, and thinking about how he wishes he could travel the world like Yuuri does.

“Nothing in particular,” he lies, folding the last section of paper needed to finish the crane he’d been making and drops it into the bowl.

Yuuri finishing braiding his hair and ties it with a blue ribbon that he pulls out of his sleeve. He hums a little in acknowledgment, before he reaches over for Victor’s bowl and cradles it between his hands.

Victor turns around to see what he’s doing, and for a second nothing happens, and then there’s that faint glow just under Yuuri’s hands again, before the cranes Victor managed to fold start beating their wings and flying off, making a slow tentative circle around them before they venture the rest of the room. Victor watches them, tracking their progress, every bit as in awe as the first time he saw it happen. When he turns his attention back to Yuuri he’s staring at him intensely.

“I see,” Yuuri says, before suddenly standing up, making Victor lean back, startled.

For a second Victor thinks Yuuri will leave, but instead he opens Victor’s closet and takes out his winter boots and his coat. He drops them by Victor as he beelines to the Victor’s chest drawer before he pulls out Victor’s thickest pair of socks and a beanie, a soft thing Victor brought with him from Russia.

He drops the socks in Victor’s lap, and gently puts the beanie on his head, messing up the braid he’d been so painstakingly working on until now.

“You want to see the world, right?” Yuuri asks, tugging Victor’s beanie down a little more, his hands brushing Victor’s cheekbones.

“I- just like that?”

“Just like that,” Yuuri says, wearing that little smile again that Victor has gotten so used to seeing.

It takes all of two seconds for Victor to go from disbelieving to excited, and in no time at all he’s gotten dressed and stands in front of Yuuri expectantly, practically vibrating.

Yuuri steps beside Victor, looping an arm around him so he can hold his hands – Yuuri’s right in Victor’s right, his left in Victor’s left.

“Close your eyes,” he whispers. Victor closes his eyes. “I’ve never done this before so don’t let go of me, okay?”

“O-“ Victor starts saying, and before he finishes the word, the temperature around them plummets and there’s a strong wind wiping Victor’s hair around. His feet sink into the floor, something soft giving under his weight, and the air smelling crisp and cold without any trace of the perfumes that linger in the corners of Victor’s room. “-kay…” he breathes out, opening his eyes to one of the most breathtaking sights in the world.

There’s snow. So much snow . As far as the eye can see, mountains far away covered in it, a lake frozen over bellow them surrounded by a white forest, and above them, above the mountains, there are lights, blues and greens bending under the night sky like crashing waves.

Victor has read about the northern lights maybe once or twice in books, but he never thought he’d actually get to witness them.

“It’s beautiful,” Victor says, voice barely above a whisper as he cranes his neck up to take all of it in. Yuuri remains a solid weight behind him, hands in his, a touching stone to ground him.

“A lot of people think they’re magic,” Yuuri says, voice just as hushed. “They’re not, you know. There isn’t any deity or magical being that makes it happen. It just… does.”

Victor doesn’t have anything to say to that, so he doesn’t. Just leans back against Yuuri so his head is resting on his shoulder and watches in quiet awe, feeling so small compared to the entire universe, and, at the same time, feeling completely at peace and centered in this moment.

Victor feels at the same time unreal, and the most real he has ever felt in his life.

He doesn’t break the silence and Yuuri doesn’t either for so long that Victor completely loses track of the time. A part of him knows he should be shivering in the cold. That even with his winter jacket and boots his teeth should be shattering and his fingers turning numb, but they don’t. Here, being held between Yuuri’s hands, Victor feels warm.

«»

One day, when Yuuri is showing him Hasetsu, Victor asks him, “How do you have time to grant so many wishes?”

Yuuri leans down to pick up another seashell, washing the sand off when the next wave crashes over their feet, and making it disappear into one of his sleeves. Victor has been walking with him along the beach, collecting seashells and neat rocks. The water is cold against his bare calves and it has splattered to the bottom of Victor’s pants even after he’s rolled them all the way up to his knees.

“What do you mean?” Yuuri asks.

“I mean, how do you have time to show the world to everyone who wants to see it. I can’t be the only one.”

Yuuri straightens up, looking over at him with a confused expression. He stares at Victor for too long, before he slowly says, “I don’t personally grant wishes. I’m just a conduit for people’s devotion and belief. I collect their wishes and the fates align accordingly for that specific person.”

“But-“

But Yuuri grants all of Victor’s wishes personally. Yuuri is showing him the world one place at a time, Yuuri spends nights upon nights by his side, just existing alongside Victor to make his loneliness a little more bearable. Yuuri who chooses to do all of this, who doesn’t have to spend more than half a minute in Victor’s room to do his duty but instead spends hours upon hours on end with him.

It should be such a ridiculous notion, such a nonsensical thing to believe in, that a god would want to spend their time with Victor, but then again if Victor ever believed in anything, he believes in Yuuri.

Victor stares at him and at how breathtaking he is lit up by the daybreak’s sun, with his robes pooling at his feet, clinging to his calves with ocean water and sand. It feels like watching the northern lights for the first time, like watching his very first sunset, like stepping again into the streets of St. Petersburg after so long away, like his chest is cracking open and shedding a layer of dead rotten bone to reveal something newer and more fragile and more hopeful underneath.

Victor has no idea what to do with himself, he feels so overwhelmed with emotion he could almost cry, but instead he smiles, lets it all show in his face, and he bounds towards Yuuri and loops their arms together, leans heavily on him because Yuuri can take it and because he needs that point of contact, he needs the support right now.

He lets his hand drop alongside Yuuri’s arm, tracing his forearm and wrist until he reaches his palm and can link their fingers together, and he says, “Thank you for coming with me.”

And Yuuri, breathtaking, ethereal Yuuri, smiles at him, quietly pleased, and tugs Victor by the hand. “Come on, there’s still a lot I have to show you.”

«»

“Can deities like you fall in love?” Victor asks, apropos of nothing- or rather, apropos of the fact that he’s stupidly, completely, irrevocably in love with a god that might not even be physically capable of feeling the same way.

If Victor were smart, he’d keep his mouth shut and enjoy what he has now, enjoy everything he gets to experience with Yuuri. But instead of smart, Victor is greedy and he can’t help to want more, more, more . He can’t help but hope.

And how could he ever stop himself from hoping when Yuuri devotes so much of his time to him, and smiles softly at him, always standing so, so close, when Yuuri flushes, cheeks going bright red whenever Victor catches him off-guard with intentionally unintentional flirtation.

He’s only human. He has nothing in him if not his ability to hope and wish.

Yuuri stops in front of him, the entirety of him going unnaturally still, and he does it so abruptly he almost rips the paper he had been folding into a dog. He lifts his head slowly to look up at Victor, almost tentatively. Victor almost looks back down at the flower he had been folding and tells him to forget about it, but he needs to know.

Yuuri looks at him with wide, startled eyes, and then his lips press together apprehensively and a complicated expression crosses his face.

“As far as I know, constructs like me weren’t made to be able to fall in love,” Yuuri says, dropping his half finished dog and taking Victor’s hands in his own, his palms to the back of Victor’s hands, and the origami flower Victor had just finished cradled inside. He gently pushes Victor’s hands together, so he’s holding the flower in between them.

Victor doesn’t have time to let the heartbreak settle in, before Yuuri continues speaking.

“But there’s a lot of things we’re not made to do,” Yuuri continues. “Like teleporting with other people or having wishes and opinions of our own.” Yuuri’s hands are always warm, and Victor’s are always cold, no matter the time of the year. His mother used to joke that he grew so tall that his blood had trouble reaching everywhere and that’s why his feet and hands and nose were always cold. (She also told him not to worry, those who had cold hands, were warm of heart.)

“We weren’t made to create life, even something as small as a flower, we shouldn’t be able to do it,” Yuuri says, gently prying Victor’s hands back open.

There’s a blue rose sitting in Victor’s palms, the same shade of the paper Victor had been diligently giving shape to, but now instead of the straight crisps angles of paper, there’s the softness and roundness of petals.

Victor stares at it in awe, carefully running a thumb through one of the petals. Then his head jerks up towards Yuuri. “But you just said…” he trails off, uncomprehending, speechless.

“It seems,” Yuuri says, cheeks dusted red with softness, that smile that Victor adores and would brave the herculean trials of old for playing on his lips, “that when it comes to you, none of those rules apply, doesn’t it?”

And Victor- Victor is greedy. He already receives so much from Yuuri and he’s not going to stop, he’ll take and take everything Yuuri is willing to give him, every precious second of his time that Yuuri gives to him, and then he’ll take some more.

So he surges forward and kisses Yuuri, toppling him backwards onto the bed.

It’s too hard and clumsy. Yuuri has no idea how kissing works and it shows, and Victor has the very limited experience of teenaged and young adult fumblings in dressing rooms after hours. And because the first wasn’t entirely what Victor had in mind, he kisses Yuuri again, a little better, a little more squarely on the lips, and Yuuri catches up fast to what he’s supposed to do. His hands come up to cradle Victor’s cheeks and Victor almost misses it with how gently he’s being held.

When Victor pulls back, Yuuri is staring at him, eyes wide, and lips kiss-swollen. His hair is slightly tussled. It’s the first time Victor sees Yuuri looking anything other than perfectly composed, and he gets rapidly and dangerously addicted to it. Like this, Yuuri looks a little more human, a little closer to Victor, a little more like something Victor can keep in his arms forever.

“You keep surprising me,” Victor says, looking at Yuuri helplessly. “I couldn’t think of anything else to surprise you, like you’ve surprised me during all this time.”

Yuuri’s eyes turn soft at the corners. “You already surprise me. Every day.”

Oh . Oh, but Victor loves him. He has a god trapped between his fingers and he’s in love with him.

«»

Victor presses the blue flower in between the pages of the book where he first saw Yuuri and hides it in his closet, so no one can take it from him.

«»

Victor loves all the places Yuuri has taken him to, but one of his favorite places to be in the world is laying in his bed with Yuuri, their shoulders almost brushing and their fingers linked together as they watch handfuls of stars that Yuuri collects from all the people that believe in him slowly spin above them and orbit each other. Victor loves the closeness that brings them, especially when Yuuri tells him in hushed tones about the wishes these stars fulfilled.

It amazes Victor that he gets to be so close to Yuuri like no other mortal ever could, with maybe the exception of the very first girl who believed in Yuuri and wished him into being centuries and centuries ago. She had believed in Yuuri until her very last breath.

“What about you?” Victor asks. “What do you believe in and devote yourself to?”

The answer takes a while to come.

He hears Yuuri’s head shifting in the pillow as he turns his face to look at Victor, so Victor does the same. Yuuri’s eyes watch him intently like they so often do, always so soft in the corners, so earnest. And very quietly Yuuri says, “You.”

«»

Victor’s greedy.

Yuuri will live forever, or for as long as there’s people who believe in him. For as long as Victor lives if he has anything to do with it. He should content himself with spending all of his days next to Yuuri until he’s old and brittle, but Victor can’t.

Victor’s barely twenty-three and he feels himself aging when Yuuri stands stock-still in time. And it is such a silly, nonsensical thing because Yuuri is hundreds of years old. He’s older than Victor will ever comprehend, and yet Victor wants to stand beside him looking young forever.

Victor’s greedy for all of Yuuri’s time and all of Yuuri’s devotion, and one lifetime isn’t enough to satisfy him. Victor needs more. He needs forever. So, he starts finding a way to achieve that.

He should’ve known better than to test the fates and the gods like that.

«»

It doesn’t happen to him. That’s the worst part of it.

Yuuri appears in his room like he has been doing almost every night for the past year or so, but instead of his eyes finding Victor and smiling that beautiful smile of his, asking Victor what he feels like doing today, Yuuri’s eyes are panicked and he looks at Victor with so much sadness it immediately sends Victor across the room to meet him.

“Yuuri, what’s-“ he starts, words tapering off when Yuuri pulls him towards him in a crushing hug, pressing Victor so tightly against him that it hurts a little. Victor’s taller than him by almost a full head, but that doesn’t stop Yuuri from trying to bundle him up against his chest.

His breathing is stuttering out of him in desperate pulls of air.

Victor has never seen Yuuri so out of sorts.

Something is very, very wrong.

“Yuuri, what’s wrong?” he whispers, so, so scared of the answer.

“I’m sorry,” Yuuri says, sounding close to tears. “I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”

“What- Yuuri, what are you talking about?”

Yuuri pulls back, holds Victor at arms’ length.

“I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll have to do this quickly,” he says, and takes a step back, taking his hands off of Victor like it physically pains him to do it.

“Yuuri-“ Victor tries again.

Yuuri takes a giant piece of paper out of his robes and lays it down on the floor, before he goes about folding it into a familiar shape, faster than Victor’s eyes can really comprehend.

And in no time at all there’s a life-sized paper dog standing in the middle of Victor’s room.

“What are you doing? Yuuri, why are you-“

“Vitya,” Yuuri interrupts him, and there’s so much emotion in the syllables that make up that name. So much love and heartbreak that it’s all he needs for Victor to quiet down and listen. “Vitya,” Yuuri repeats, a little softer, a little more desperately- “I’m so sorry, Vitya. I thought we had more time.”

“What are you saying?” Victor asks, and pretends his voice doesn’t break.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. Victor’s supposed to find a way to spend the rest of eternity with Yuuri. They’re supposed to have forever.

“I could make galaxies out of our love.” Yuuri says that like he’s reciting a death sentence he’s long accepted.

“Isn’t that good?”

Doesn’t that mean that their love is strong? That it can win over even mortality itself?

“I’m not a god, Vitya. I’m not supposed to be able to do half the things I can do with your devotion for me and my devotion for you. Constructs like me? We’re not supposed to be as powerful as gods, and if we become it…” he trails off.

With all of Yuuri’s kindness and selflessness Victor had forgotten that most gods in myths and legends, the actual gods who could wreck destruction at a global scale if they felt so inclined to, are selfish and petty and will strike down everything that tries to equal itself to them.

Victor’s love has been sentencing Yuuri to death all this time. And even then Yuuri had chosen time and time again to give his time to Victor, even knowing each time he did, this is where it would end up.

“We can run away,” Victor tries desperately.

“To where?”

Anywhere . We can hide, we can-“

Victor’s words are cut off by the loud sound of thunder, lightning hitting so close to the house that Victor almost feels the whole structure of it shake.

Yuuri looks out of the window.

“There’s no reason we both need to die for this,” Yuuri tells him. There’s fear in his eyes but his voice is strong- sure , like he has been considering this for a long time and is confident and settled into his decision.

“There must be something ,” Victor tries, desperately.

There’s movement by Yuuri’s hand that makes Victor’s eyes drop down towards it, just in time to see a blade drop out of his sleeve, silver and cruelly sharp at the tip.

Thunder makes itself sound again, even closer now, making Victor jump in his skin.

“There isn’t,” Yuuri says, loosening his robe up with one hand until his chest and stomach are exposed. Then he turns the blade towards himself and before Victor can stop him, sinks it just bellow his ribcage in the center of his chest.

Victor can’t stop himself from screaming, mind whirring and looking around for something to stop the bleeding to fix it, to something , but Yuuri pulls out the blade and there is no blood, just light, peeking from the gaping hole in Yuuri’s chest, and Yuuri looks more winded than in pain.

Victor watches, struck, not being able to look away as Yuuri digs his fingers into himself and pulls some of that silver-white light out of himself, holding it in a closed fist and dropping down to his knees in front of the paper dog.

He smears the light all over it and closes his eyes, hands shining with that barely there light. There’s still a hole in his chest, and where before Victor could barely see the faint glowing of Yuuri’s hands, without that layer of skin and muscle, the light that shines through his chest is so bright that it’s blinding and Victor is forced to close his eyes against it.

When he opens them again, the light as dimmed, Yuuri has pulled his robe over his chest properly again, and there’s a poodle sitting patiently in the middle of his room, big brown eyes staring up at Yuuri, tongue lolling out.

Yuuri raises a hand to pat the dog on the head, before he turns towards Victor. “You can name him whatever you want-“

“What are you talking about? Yuuri you just- you just stabbed yourself! You’re going to die! Why are you wasting time- we could have gone somewhere else- we could’ve-“

Yuuri gets up and walks towards Victor, grabs him by the cheeks.

“There’s nowhere for us to go, Vitya. And I’m not wasting time. This way you won’t have to be alone, you’ll always have a little bit of me with you. He’ll protect you and stay with you until it’s your time.”

Victor clutches the sides of Yuuri’s robes, knuckles going white with how hard he’s trying to hold on. Even now- even now Yuuri is thinking of him, of keeping Victor from being lonely, of loving him, even when it’s killing him.

Yuuri leans up and kisses him on the forehead, lips lingering and so achingly sweet that it makes Victor cry, a sob wrecking itself out of his throat.

“I love you,” Yuuri tells him without restraint or accusation. “With everything I am.”

“I love you,” Victor says it back, desperately. “I’m sorry, I love you.”

“Don’t be sorry, Vitya, you are worth everything.” He kisses him on the mouth, something that manages to be hard and desperate and incredibly soft at the same time. “Live a good life, Vitya,” Yuuri says, rubbing his thumb over Victor’s cheekbone, smearing the tears there, staring into his eyes like he’s trying to memorize him, and then in the blink of an eye he’s gone.

There’s no warmth cradling Victor’s cheeks, no solid presence in front of him. Victor’s fingers clench over nothing, and he crumples on himself, falling to the floor and letting the full force of what just happened hit him again and again until he can’t breathe.

He feels cold, chilled to the bone like he’s never felt in his life.

And then there’s one single point of warmth across his forearm, and then his hand, and then his cheek, as the dog Yuuri left him whines softly next to him and licks Victor, trying to get closer to him.

Victor hesitates for one single moment, and then lets him, opening his arms and letting the dog sit right between them so Victor can hug the only thing he has left of Yuuri to his chest and cry his heart out.

«»

Waking up the morning after is the loneliest Victor felt in his life.

«»

For the next couple of days he doesn’t leave his room, he doesn’t answer when people knock on the door, he doesn’t care.

He had felt so trapped, before Yuuri. So trapped in this house where he’s just another piece of expensive furniture, so trapped in his duty, and now that is all so insignificant. Every single one of Victor’s worries is meaningless, his duties, the things he thought were shackling him down to the spot and keeping him there, are paper thin and breakable, it barely takes a thought to step away from them.

And Victor does, because by the gods he does not care anymore about any of these people’s petty little wants. He does not care .

«»

He fills jar after jar with stars until he runs out of jars, and only when that happens does he notice that the newly dubbed Makkachin makes the stars float in their jars whenever he passes by them.

«»

Victor has been wishing for a way to save Yuuri, for a way to be together with him again, and like magic, a book falls on his lap about the deities that humans create with the purest of beliefs – constructs.

Makkachin lays at his feet, patient as he ever is, attentive to everything around them, and Victor knows that what there is of Yuuri in him, it’s granting his wishes.

«»

Turns out gods can’t kill constructs.

Only humans can, by stopping believing in them. They could rip Yuuri apart and he would mend himself back together. He cannot be killed by any deity or god or demon that roams any of the realms.

Only by humans.

And destroying a cult like Yuuri’s can take a very long time… years, maybe decades. Humans are nothing if not stubborn in their beliefs, and as long as Victor breathes there’ll be someone who believes in Yuuri with their whole being.

«»

The very next day, Victor has packed anything that is important to him into a bag and has set towards Hasetsu towards the only deity he knows and can trust.

He travels light, except for the useful books he has on the herculean trials and the notebook where he kept all the venues with which one could reach immortality.

Victor will find Yuuri or he’ll bring down the entire pantheon trying.

Chapter Text

The second time Minako sees Yuuri’s human she almost takes his head clean off.

Victor barely takes two steps into her shrine, and Minako, without thinking, out of grief and anger for the boy she helped become something more that a senseless tool, flicks her wrist and sends one of her fans flying, razor sharp edge making a neat arch towards his throat.

Minako is very old, and very good at what she does. It’s been centuries and centuries since she missed her mark, and this time isn’t any different. Humans are as easy to tear as paper. It would take godly reflexes to avoid one of her blades.

She stares at the spot where Victor stands, still unharmed, Minako can see the fear making its way down his spine, making his hands tremble.

The sound of nails clicking on the hardwood floor makes her eyes drop further down to see a poodle with her fan closed and tucked neatly between his teeth. He trots over to Minako and drops it at her feet, tail wiggling, big brown eyes with flecks of gold staring up at her, so unbearably familiar.

“What a stupid boy,” she whispers, dropping down to her knees in front of the last piece of Yuuri’s being. She reaches out a hand to touch the dog, and he bumps his snout against her hand, tongue lolling out of his mouth.

What a stupid boy she raised, doing something as foolish as this.

“What do you want from me?” she asks, not taking her eyes off the dog.

“Help,” Victor says, and Minako has to commend him on his voice not shaking.

“And why should I give anything to you?” She looks up then, stares straight into this mortal’s eyes, her chin tips up, the godly power in her making the air crackle.

Victor swallows hard, but he does not waiver. His fists clench at his sides.

“Because I’m going to save Yuuri,” he says, with such conviction that for a moment, Minako almost believes he can.

«»

Minako is not soft-hearted.

She has a soft spot in her heart that she let become vulnerable. There is a difference.

And it is because she has a soft spot for Yuuri that she trains Victor to withstand the trials so he can reach the pantheon and beg the gods to release Yuuri.

Her training is rigorous and ruthless. She’s seen minor deities bend under it, and she expects Victor to be the same, to tuck his tail between his legs and pack his bags.

He doesn’t.

She expects him to head to the first trial and die trying.

He doesn’t.

She expects him to give up after the third.

He doesn’t.

And he doesn’t after the fourth or the fifth or the tenth. He doesn’t give up and he doesn’t let up.

Minako is old and five years pass in the blink of an eye for her, but she knows they are long and arduous for humans, and yet Victor does not give up, he comes out of his trials with a blessing upon him and keeps rising and rising and rising, until he’s not quite a god, but not quite human either.

Five years pass.

Victor reaches the pantheon.

«»

“It’s been a long time since you started your journey,” Minako tells him.

“It has,” Victor says. He looks her straight in the eye, he doesn’t tremble when she lets her power run rampant, he doesn’t as much as flinch. Victor has looked gods in the eye and made them look away first. He has no fear in him.

“He might not still be alive,” she says slowly.

“He has to be,” he says immediately, and then with a little more conviction, “He has to be.”

Victor has almost no fear left in him.

“Good luck,” Minako says. “Don’t come back without Yuuri.”

“I won’t,” Victor says, whistling for Makkachin to follow him. He bows towards Minako once, deeply and with all the respect he has gathered for her bending the lines of his body.

Then he straightens up and leaves, Makkachin trotting behind him, Victor’s immortal shield, capable of deflecting any strike aimed at Victor from any god, and the first blessing he got.

Yuuri might have made Victor into an immovable object when he gave him Makkachin, but Victor made himself into an unstoppable force all on his own.

«»

The Gods are fickle, and contrived. They lie, and cheat. They’re greedy and ruthless, and they are merciless.

Minako knows that better than anyone because she is one of them.

On the very day Victor leaves, the Hidden Gods, the ones older than creation itself, the ones that are faceless and voiceless and bend fate to their will, appear in her shrine with the three fates as their voice.

«»

The truth is: Minako knows Yuuri is alive.

The truth is: Yuuri can’t die, while part of his being still roams free, and grants wishes, as small as they may be. Yuuri will be locked into perpetual suffering somewhere dark and forgotten by the gods.

The truth is: Minako saw him once before he handed himself off to his executioners and he had made her promise not to say a whisper of any of this to Victor, and Minako keeps her promises.

As long as Victor holds onto him, Yuuri will be suffering as his being tries to let go of his physical body and scrapes him raw from the inside, as the universe tries to keep him existing and erasing him, in conflict.

The truth is: despite everything, Minako has hope in her that Victor will succeed.

The truth is: the gods are dying and they have been dying for a long time now, facing the trials is infinitely harder than striking down a god, and Victor has done that time and time again.

«»

The fates are three little girls with pudgy cheeks and greasy fingers that run around Minako’s shrine poking and prodding at everything to their heart’s content. They never come alone. In the hidden corners between shadow and light, between realms, the hidden gods watch, and speak through them.

“What do I owe the pleasure?” Minako asks, watching them run around and get grease on everything.

“We have a job for you,” one of them says, opening and closing carelessly one of Minako’s priceless fans, before dropping it on the ground and going for the next shiny thing she finds.

“A new era is coming,” another one says, hanging off the ballet barre that runs along of the walls of this room.

“We need you to make sure it happens,” the last one speaks up, trying on Minako’s ballet flats that are too big on her feet, tangling the silk strings messily around her leg all the way up to her knees.

Minako knows they are not asking. She doesn’t have a say in any of this.

“What do you need me for?”

They all stop what they were doing and turn to her, in a blink of an eye they’re standing in around her, holding hands and trapping her in a neat little circle.

“The mortal and the construct can’t meet until the mortal has completed his job,” they say in unison, voices perfectly in sync and echoing strangely through the room. Minako doesn’t let herself be phased by it.

She is ancient. This is far from the strangest situation that she has found herself in.

“And if they do?”

“Then the construct must die to ensure the new era,” they continue.

“Gods cannot kill constructs.”

“We do not talk about the Seen Gods.”

A chill runs down Minako’s spine. If the Hidden Gods want Yuuri dead, he will die.

“What do you need me to do?”

«»

Yuuri stands at the center of the room, cross-legged and looking straight ahead. His robes are pitch black, save for one single shiny star just over his heart, bigger than any other Yuuri had ever sported on it.

Minako steps in front of him and he looks through her, unseeing. He doesn’t move a muscle, he doesn’t react.

There are origami flowers and cranes filling up the room, Minako can’t take a step without crushing some under her feet. She tries to be careful around them, but it’s nigh impossible.

“Yuuri,” she whispers, and her voice bounces off the walls, echoing.

There’s no response.

She crouches down, gently touches his cheek and turns his face up. Yuuri is malleable in her hand, but he’s still looking through her, his eyes a dull opaque brown swirling into black.

“Oh, Yuuri,” she sighs.

What a truly idiotic child she has raised.

Yuuri remains still, and if it were not for how warm he is, how Minako can still feel a shimmer of his being running through him, she’d think him dead.

They don’t have a lot of time. So Minako makes quick work of shoving Yuuri’s robes off of him – something for Victor to find when he comes for him – and drapes a piece of soft fabric she had handmade for him around his shoulders, before transporting both of them out of that cursed room.

«»

By the next month every single god in the pantheon has been dragged down to the mortal realm and exposed to humanity, and looking down upon them, the personification of holy wrath, is Victor in his newfound immortality.

Minako does not see it but she hears about it: a young god with once long hair cut short, only a fringe of silver falling over one eye, a black veil obscuring his face and a dress fashioned from a strange fabric draping off his shoulders – the picture of a grieving widow – and a loyal poodle standing at his feet. An immovable object and an unstoppable force all at once.

She hears about it as it happens, in the confusion and shock, in this apocalypse brought down from the heavens that results in the gods being known by humanity. After so many centuries so far away, since creation, they finally were all struck down from their pedestals.

Instead of withering and dying, the gods rise up again. Humanity accepts them and worships them, closer and more fervently than ever now that they are tangible, even as they continue clueless about what brought them down, even as they flock to Victor and build him higher and higher and higher.

Victor is the god of nothing, he has no domain to rule over and exert his blessings upon. And still his cult builds.

«»

As the cults build, Yuuri is refound, and slowly, his cult builds too. The light returns to his eyes and the breath to his lungs, but he doesn’t remember. Minako is almost afraid that he will, that it’ll be too soon and he’ll be wiped from existence, but all those doubts disappear when one day Yuuri sits in front of the television, watching Victor smile and entice and charm a crowd, and in an awestruck voice he whispers, “Who is he?”

It startles Minako. So far she has been successful in keeping Yuuri away from anything Victor related, but her luck was bound to run out.

“Some new god, I don’t know,” she lies.

“He’s beautiful,” Yuuri whispers, still using that tone and leaning closer to the television.

Minako is not soft-hearted, but even her heart creaks a little in protest at the tragedy of that.

“I wonder,” Yuuri says, eyes never straying from the television, intent on Victor’s hands as he folds a perfect little crane absentmindedly as he talks, “what he wishes for.” The television switches to someone else and Yuuri turns to her, mouth open to say something before he frowns, tilts his head just so. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Minako looks away. “Have you harvested your wishes today yet?”

Yuuri sighs and looks away. “Not yet,” he says and presses his hand down to the center of his chest, where a piece of his being is still missing, somewhere in the world sitting loyally at Victor’s feet.

“Get going then,” she says, making a shooing motion with one of her hands.

“Yes, yes, I’m going,” Yuuri sighs, like a petulant child, and the next moment he’s gone.

Minako breathes out, pressing a hand to the center of her chest too. Her whole being is contained in this body, there’s no piece of her missing, but somehow there’s still a dull ache there, sometimes.

She looks back at the screen in time to catch Victor pulling another piece of paper from one of his pockets and folding it as diligently as he had done it before. But it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, gods can’t ask constructs for wishes. Constructs are created by humans, and for humans. No matter how much paper Victor folds, Yuuri will never respond to it. There’s no humanity left in him.

«»

“Don’t come back without Yuuri.”

It had been so thoughtlessly said. Just a throwaway comment meant to give him a little more courage, a little more resolve, because Minako was always bad at goodbyes and didn’t know what else to say.

But Victor keeps to it.

She had told him not to come back without Yuuri, and he doesn’t.

Chapter Text

Victor walks through his offerings room, shoes clicking against the tile and echoing off the walls, as he does a slow circle around the newest pile of offerings and tries to decide where to start, if there’s anything that catches his interest enough for him to pick it up first, inspecting it from different angles, as if tilting his head the right way will show him something that will jar him away from the dull, disinterested sort of curiosity with which he does this.

The thing about being the god of nothing is that people don’t focus on just one type of gift when they are picking offerings for him. They range from beautiful flowers, to golden trophies, to delicately shaped ornaments, to lavish jewelry, to stuffed animals. Anything you could think to give a celebrity is there, in the center of Victor’s room, waiting for him to pass off his judgment on it.

He comes to his second lap around the offerings pile, making a mental note for the nth time to have this room carpeted so his footsteps don’t echo quite so strangely, so the room doesn’t feel as cold and alien.

A couple of things have caught his attention: some knitted toys that look like Makkachin, a set of vials that seem to contain oils inside and have delicate flowers suspended in the clear liquid, golden ballet flats that seem to have been very finely made and that glitter when the light touches them.

He doesn’t go for any of them.

He’s coming to the third lap around the pile when he notices it, tucked between a vase of fresh flowers and a ridiculously intricate marble bust of him.

It’s so unassuming compared to everything else. Just a small jar with a red lid, filled to the brim with paper stars.

Victor’s breath catches a little in his chest, and he reaches for it, noticing the note that is hanging off the simple ribbon that has been tied just under the lid. As gently as he can, he undoes the ribbon and slips the note free from it, unfolding it carefully.

He’s not quite sure what he expected from it, but it wasn’t this. It’s almost anticlimactic when he finally reads the note because of how average it is in its message. Victor has received a hundred thousand notes just like this and he will receive even more. It’s a nice sentiment. Whoever wrote this sounds honest in their worship of Victor and in their wish to grant Victor a little bit of happiness and good fortune, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

The only thing that catches his attention are a couple of lines towards the end.

… I hope this brings you luck like it has brought me…

Victor stares at those words for a while, trying to figure out what they might mean. There’s an implication there. Something Victor doesn’t dare touch because his heart is still too raw and tender, still too bruised to handle another blow to it.

It’s been years, it’s been half a century, and Victor still feels flayed open.

He looks at the stars inside- sloppily folded, and made of plain white printer paper. He shakes the jar a little, and the stars shake with it.

It’s a nice gesture, but not one Victor can handle very well. He sets the jar aside and makes half a mind to throw it in the trash on his way out.

He goes for the Makkachin toys next.

(He does not remember to grab it on his way out.)

«»

The next time he steps into his offerings room, the pile has grown exponentially, and he almost sighs in defeat. He almost turns on his heel and walks out, but he owes the people who chose him to worship – the god of nothing that grants no boons – at least this much.

So he goes through most of the pile, until he catches something red and blue out of the corner of his eye and he turns towards it, to see what it was that got away from the pile.

His breath freezes in his throat.

The jar of stars is sitting on the table pressed against one of the walls, but instead of plain paper stars inside, there’s a single flower made out of blue paper sitting atop the lid.

Victor drops whatever it was he had been holding- he does not care about it, it is not important, his world narrows down to that one single flower sitting harmlessly on the lid of that jar.

He’s standing right by it before he even makes a conscious decision to move, hands shaking as he picks the flower up and cups it between his palms. The paper feels smooth against the pads of his fingers.

Very carefully, he closes his hands, holding the flower inside and wishes and wishes .

He opens them again, and-

It’s still paper. Sharp edges that can draw blood, smooth and stiff.

Victor releases his breath.

He didn’t know what he was expecting. Something- anything . A sliver of a hint or clue that Yuuri was still alive, but he knows he’s not. Victor walked into that horrid little room where no one else could have entered with his own two feet and had found nothing- nothing but crushed flowers and stars and cranes, eerie in their stillness, and Yuuri’s robes, completely pitch black- the only thing Victor has left, a constant reminder that Yuuri’s gone, all the stars snuffed out along with Yuuri’s life.

Victor stops.

He has Yuuri’s robes in a black clothes bag at the very bottom of his walk-in closet, safe from damage but away from sight. Victor couldn’t bear to look at how black and lifeless it was after he was done destroying the pantheon.

If there was anything that could tell him if Yuuri was alive or not it would be that, but…. But no.

There’s no possible way. Victor is going to open that clothes bag and the robes will be as pitch black as he remembers and he’ll only break his heart.

But-

But what if they aren’t.

There’s a cruel niggling of hope at the back of his mind, poking him into trying, even if it fails, even it if hurts, just trying.

Victor had started human. He had started with just trying . And now he’s here.

Maybes are one of the most dangerous weapons anyone can wield.

Victor drops the origami flower on top of the table and runs towards his room. There’s absolutely no grace in how he trips over his own feet and skids across the floors to get there as fast as he can. It seems so far away, even though Victor knows, rationally, that it’s not. Even though he knows that he made it there in under even a second.

Makkachin lifts his head up from one of his favourite places to curl up and doze off- in the back of the walk-in closet, so close to where Victor keeps Yuuri’s robes.

Victor jerks the other hampers out of the way and with trembling hands reaches for the zipper. He hesitates for half a second- so afraid and so hopeful- and then, with the same ease that he rips off band-aids, he wrenches the zipper down.

And there they are- Yuuri’s robes, stars sprinkled across them and moving gently in random patterns, shining brightly at Victor.

«»

Victor decides to visit the fates, because he needs to be sure. He needs to be completely, irrevocably sure that this isn’t just some kind of mistake, and he needs guidance. He has absolutely no idea how to find Yuuri if he still is alive. Part of why they had made a god out of Victor is that gods are mostly powerless against other gods. They had let him ascend to contain him.

Visiting the fates is always an experience. They’re nothing like Victor had imagined them, when he was a clueless boy barely in his twenties reading as many mythology books as he could get his hands on to try to find any clue about how to join Yuuri in his immortality, and later, in how to save Yuuri.

They’re small, and loud, and much more chaotic than he had ever expected.

He appears in front of their house, somewhere in the woods of Japan, not too far away from where Minako lives, if he’s not mistaken. It’s not the first time he’s been here, and every time he has to come back he hopes it will be the last time he has to visit.

The house is deceptively small from the outside. Victor knows that as soon as he steps inside it’ll be nothing but a maze of hallways, all of them with crayon drawings on the walls, detailing the fates of the world.

The very first time he had visited he had gotten lost for a full week and almost destroyed a cornerstone of fate accidentally. Now, luckily, the fates know him and are more than happy to guide him to them without any tricks or deceit.

“Victor!” their guardian says, pleasantly. “It’s been a while.”

“Hello, Yuuko, may I come in?”

One of the triplets pops up out of nowhere, looking up at him with squinting eyes. “You need to pay the toll,” she demands.

Victor reaches into his pocket and produces some candy he had brought along with him, and whistles for Makkachin to come a little closer.

The girl – and Victor has no hope of telling her apart from her sisters – squeals ad her two sisters promptly peak from behind her back with wide excited grins. They take the candy from him before Yuuko can step in, and then try to coax Makkachin into stepping closer, which he does slowly.

His fur will get sticky, but Victor will give him a bubble bath worth of any god when they’re done here, so he doesn’t feel too awful about subjecting Makkachin to the fates’ sticky, grubby hands.

“You’re going to spoil their dinner,” Yuuko says disapprovingly. “Is your question really worth it?”

Victor looks Yuuko in the eye and with every implication the words have he says, “It’s about Yuuri.”

One of the triplets turns away from Makkachin and looks at him, she grins, looking excited. “Oh! You’ve found our gift!” And that seems to get the attention of her sisters because both of them cheer, one of them letting out a “Finally!” and the other giving Victor jazz hands and yelling, “Surprise!”

Before Victor can really comprehend what was just said to him, he has one child grabbing each of his hands and pulling him through the maze of hallways, up and down a convoluted set of staircases, Makkachin trotting after them dutifully, until they stop by one of the walls.

Victor stares at the childlike drawing on it, struck speechless. And it’s such a silly thing, to be so affected by children’s scribbles, but these aren’t any regular children, and these aren’t any regular walls. These are the three fates that weave the destiny of the world, and these walls are where that destiny gets recorded.

Fate is pressed into these walls with crayons and finger paint.

“We worked really hard on it!” one of them says.

“It was really hard to find a way to save Yuuri and make you keep your destiny at the same time, but we did it!” another pipes up.

“You did what you had to, you deserve a gift.”

Victor doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand any of this, he doesn’t understand what they’re talking about, his brain cannot parse out the words that are being said to him, because there in the walls of fate- there he is, silver hair on his head and Makkachin at his side. There’s a big smile on his face, and holding his hand, smaller and with a robe full of messily drawn stars is unmistakably Yuuri, also smiling widely.

Victor doesn’t understand, but that doesn’t keep him from choking out a “Thank you,” because Yuuri is alive.

Yuuri is alive and he gets to see him again, he gets to meet him and hold him and-

A gentle hand is placed on his shoulder.

“You’re owed an explanation,” Yuuko says calmly, eyes kind. “Why don’t you join us for some tea?”

«»

The gods were dying. The gods were dying and in Victor’s attempt to fell them he saved them. That was his job, his destiny, and in a thousand parallel universes, in a thousand different versions of reality, his job comes at the cost of Yuuri’s life.

“It was really hard,” one of the fates says, puffing out her chest proudly. “But we did it!”

“Yeah,” another agrees. “He kept dying a lot. Or everyone else kept dying a lot. But we did it!”

And the only reason Yuuri is still alive, the only reason Victor gets to maybe have him back is them - the three children sitting at the low table with him, getting their fingers sticky with jam and pastries.

“Why?” he asks, speechless, trying to process all of this. “Why did you do all this?”

Because ,” the third one says, wiping her hand off on her sister’s shirt. “You brought us candy. You’re really nice down in your heart, and nice people deserve to be happy.”

Victor feels like crying a little bit. “Thank you,” he says and feels it down in the pit of his stomach. He hugs Makkachin to his chest to try to keep all his emotions close to his chest. “ Thank you .”

He’s so gut-wrenchingly thankful for all of this. There’s no way he can repay them. It’s more than he imagined he would get, more than he imagine he would feel again.

“There’s one thing,” Yuuko says with a wince in her voice. “They don’t really know how to get Yuuri’s memories back.”

Victor feels his heart drop a little- but just a little, because even if Yuuri doesn’t remember the before, he is alive. He’s alive and existing somewhere in the world.

“It doesn’t matter,” Victor says. “I- I’ll figure something out. Even if I have to introduce myself to him all over again-“

“You won’t have to,” one of the triplets pipes up, and before Victor has time to react the room they’re in changes. He can’t feel the floor beneath him move but the walls become a blur of colour, like they’re being moved at a dizzying speed, until it stills again. And in front of Victor there’s another one of those drawings. This one depicts Yuuri, with little hearts drawn instead of pupils, staring at a television showing Victor’s face.

“He’s been watching you this entire time,” one of the fates says. “We didn’t even have to do anything, and he’s already halfway in love with you all over again!”

“That’s so romantic,” another one fake swoons, falling over Yuuko’s lap dramatically.

Victor stares, feeling his throat clog up. Oh, his beautiful Yuuri, his dear Yuuri, his poor Yuuri who never deserved any of this, but still went through it for Victor, always for Victor, who chose to give Victor his time when he didn’t need to, and who headed toward the guillotine with his head held high for Victor, and who lost his memories and still- still turned his attention towards him.

“Does he still watch me?” he asks, voice a fragile, hope-filled thing.

The triplets answer as one.

“Yes.”

And that- that gives Victor an idea.

There’s a banquet to plan and he has jars upon jars filled with stars and cranes and flowers made out of paper that he has no use for. The eyes of the world will be placed on the gods during that night.

Yuuri’s eyes will be on Victor. And Victor-

Victor has always been a performer in his heart of hearts, and for a very, very long time there’s been only one person that he wanted to watch him perform. But regardless of Victor's wants the world is still watching, and barely a day after the ballroom where Victor hangs all his stars is televised, he starts receiving jars upon jars of stars from his worshipers.

Stars that can reach Yuuri in a way Victor can't anymore.

«»

“I’m sorry, but have we met before?”

«»

Victor sits him down and tells him everything. It’s not hard to believe that Yuuri would gladly give up his life for his. Yuuri barely knows him- barely remembers him- and even then, standing this close to Victor, he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he would move hell and high water to wipe that heartbroken look off his face.

“I don’t remember,” Yuuri says, voice shaking. He feels gutted. He feels horrible and hollow and so sad. He feels mournful, like someone close and dear to him has been dead for a long time and he didn’t even know that he should be missing them. “I’m sorry , I don’t- I-“

Victor smiles at him, his eyes are the saddest blue Yuuri has ever seen. “It’s okay,” he says and squeezes Yuuri’s fingers in his tightly.

But it’s not. It’s not okay.

«»

Yuuri is different.

There’s a certain tremulousness to him that wasn’t there before, an anxious energy that clings to the tips of his fingers and the bend of his wrists and make his hands flutter in the air with inaction. He doesn’t look one day older than when Victor had last seen him, but there’s a certain hunch to his shoulders like he’s expecting a blow, a dimness in his eyes that are less flecked with gold and more of an swirly opaque brown that looks on the edge of melting.

His hands shake when Victor holds them, and he keeps pressing his fingers to the center of his chest like he’s in pain, in the exact spot Victor saw the blade pierce.

But he’s still so alive, so beautiful, so beloved. Victor holds him between his hands and his heart sighs, relaxes, like he’s been holding his breath for a painfully long time. His ribs creak a little in protest with it.

Here’s the universe, being held between Victor’s hands, home at last.

«»

Yuuri isn’t comfortable standing in the banquet hall where he knows any of the higher gods might just walk in, so Victor offers to take him to his home, and Yuuri says yes because he thinks saying no might just break Victor’s heart.

So Victor takes him home. He stand in a room that is covered in marble and draped in gold, feeling unbearably uncomfortable. Yuuri fidgets in place, taking his surroundings and doesn’t dare try to touch anything. The carpet looks so pristine he would feel bad walking over it.

Victor sees him looking around and says, “It was a gift,” as an explanation.

“Oh… It’s- It’s nice,” Yuuri lies. It looks too much like any other room owned by any of the more materialistic of gods that Yuuri has seen.

Victor gives this tiny little snort, barely a sound at all, and says, “Yeah, I don’t like it either.” Yuuri immediately falls in love with the little twist of his mouth that comes with that snort. “I mostly use my room. It was the only division I bothered fixing up,” he confesses, and then, after a considering pause, “Would you like to see?”

He holds out a hand toward Yuuri, and Yuuri stares at it for a bit too long, startled by the gesture. It’s enough for the amused curl on Victor’s lips to drop and for his eyes droop in colour, like he just remembered their situation.

Yuuri feels a gutting kind of awful, because Victor has gone through so much . He’s gone through so much because of him , and Yuuri can’t bear that look on his face. So, as Victor is dropping down his hand, Yuuri jerks forward and hooks his fingers through Victor’s before he can, pulling a little to get a proper hold of his hand so he can hold on tight.

“I’d like to,” he says.

Victor takes in a quick lungful of air that fills up his chest, and then lets it out slowly, looking down at Yuuri with something that even someone like Yuuri can’t mistake for anything but adoration.

“Okay!” he says, squeezing Yuuri’s hand, before starting to gently tug him through the house, and into a room that is starkly different from every other they have passed.

This one is cozy, almost. It’s still a wide space with an old looking canopy bed, and bookshelves pushed up against the walls filled with books and trinkets and jars upon jars of paper crafts, almost, if not as many, as Yuuri has in his own room, with the key difference that Yuuri knows, deep in his gut, that all of these were painstakingly folded by Victor.

“Wow,” Yuuri breathes out, pulling away from Victor, and going over to inspect the jars. There’s so many of them. It’s almost incomprehensible.

He touches a couple of cranes that are sitting in a bowl, all of them smaller than one of Yuuri’s fingernails, and he can feel the loneliness trapped in the creases before the cranes flutter their wings and take flight around the room.

There’s a choked little gasp behind him and he turns to see Victor with a new sheen to his eyes, looking at the cranes with this awestruck expression that still manages to carry a little sadness in it.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have-“ Yuuri starts.

“No. No, no, no. It’s fine. It’s just- been a while since I saw that happen.”

“Did I used to do it a lot?” Yuuri asks, keeping his voice quiet and careful. He feels like any moment he’ll step on a landmine.

“Yes,” Victor breathes out. “Almost every night.”

“Oh,” Yuuri says, not really knowing how to respond to that. There’s so much emotion trapped in Victor’s eyes that he hardly knows what to do with himself. So he turns back to the shelf and looks at the other jars and bowls, unsure if he should touch them or not. In the end, he’s distracted by a book that looks older than any other that Victor possesses and is laying face up on one of the shelves.

“Can I?” Yuuri asks, pointing at it.

Victor is still looking at him, he looks scared that if he’ll look away Yuuri will disappear.

“Sure,” he says.

Yuuri picks up the book and opens it on a random page, the book immediately opens on a page that has been bookmarked with a pressed blue flower that covers the writing underneath it, but not the drawing in that page. Yuuri stares at it, because laying on that page is irrevocably, unmistakably him, even if the ink is starting to disappear.

Yuuri turns towards Victor to ask about it, but a noise distracts him.

“What’s that?” he asks, and looks behind Victor to the source of it.

It seems to be coming from behind the double doors on one side of Victor’s room, it sounds almost like… a dog, whining and rasping on a door.

“Oh,” Victor says, turning around and heading towards the door. “That’s Makkachin. He locks himself in the walk-in closet sometimes. I need to have a doggy door installed.”

Yuuri puts the book down and takes a couple of steps across the room towards Victor. He’s been watching Victor for a very long time and, by extension, Makkachin as well, and he’d be lying if he didn’t say he was a little excited to meet him. Yuuri does love dogs.

Victor opens the closet doors, and Yuuri barely has any time to react before something poodle-sized bowls him over, paws pressing against his chest and wet tongue swiping excitedly over his face and chin.

Yuuri gasps with the impact, and then he doesn’t have a chance to catch his breath because there’s an unbearable pressure in his head and in his chest, like someone put a barbed hook through Yuuri’s scar and is trying to pull him up, up, up. He shuts his eyes, tries to turn his face away from Makkachin’s tongue and to clutch his head. Something blindingly bright is shining beneath his eyelids, and Yuuri presses his palms against it trying to smudge it away.

He doesn’t feel Victor pulling Makkachin from him, nor does he hear Victor calling his name in a panic.

«»

Yuuri makes an awful sound when Makkachin bowls him over, and Victor goes into an immediate blind panic and grabs Makkachin by the collar, forcibly pulling him away from Yuuri.

He watches in horror as Yuuri writhes in pain, and he doesn’t know what to do , he doesn’t know what happened, and gods please no. Please , he just got him back, please, please, please .

And then as quick as it had happened, it stops. Yuuri jerks up and when he opens his eyes there’s tears smudged against his eyelids that are quick to fall down his cheeks.

Yuuri ,” Victor says, reaching for him not sure if he should, if he’s allowed to, but not being able to help himself.

He never gets to puts his hands on Yuuri, because Yuuri puts his hands on him first, grabs him by forearm and pulls him towards him, makes Victor fall into his lap, loops his arms around him and squeezes him to his chest so hard, Victor’s bones creak.

Victor is still for a second, and then Yuuri lets this hiccup-y little sob out right next to Victor’s ear. “ Vitya ,” he sobs, and it’s more than enough to make Victor collapse onto him, hug him back just as hard, hold him so close to his chest. “Oh, gods, Vitya, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Victor’s been holding it together for so long, such an unbearable, heel-dragging time. For a century perhaps, maybe more. Ever since he made the resolution to rescue Yuuri. Even when he had walked into that horrible little room to find nothing but Yuuri’s robes, he hadn’t cried, he had barely given himself time to mourn.

He cries now, big ugly tears that shake his whole frame and make a mess of Yuuri’s clothes, and Yuuri just holds him that little bit tighter.

They don’t let go for a very, very long time.

«»

Victor is different than Yuuri remembers.

He looks older, wider around the shoulders than he had been when Yuuri last saw him, and taller, almost. His long hair is gone, cropped short in an almost severe way if it weren’t for the fringe that falls over his eye. There’s a certain set to his shoulders and certain marks in the corners of his eyes that show a weariness that hadn’t been there before.

Even the blue in his eyes seem different, less bright and eager, more opaque and defeated.

And Yuuri still loves him, adores him with everything under his skin, and with every breath he takes.

He can’t make himself let go of Victor, and Victor seems more than happy to stay in the circle of Yuuri’s arms, his fingers clenching around Yuuri’s clothes in a panicked reflex as if he’s afraid Yuuri will pull away.

Yuuri will not. Never again.

«»

There’s a dissonance between the Yuuri who knew Victor and the Yuuri who didn’t know Victor, a shift in how Yuuri perceived Victor just a few moments ago and how he perceives him now.

The Victor on television, the mysterious god that embodied perfection and drew masses with a tilt of his head, had always been riveting in an untouchable, awe-inspiring sort of way. Or so Yuuri had thought. But now that he remembers he can see how tense that Victor was, how fake. Victor had always been an amazing performer and for a Yuuri who didn’t know him, he was entrancing like he had been to all those people who wanted to own him and keep him in a box.

Yuuri can now see the tension that that perfect Victor carried on his shoulders, back always ramrod straight, chin tipped up, every tilt of his head and devastating quirk of his lips calculated. A moving marble statue.

The Victor in Yuuri’s arms now melts, becomes liquid under Yuuri’s gentle touch, spine bending, head bowed so he can lean his cheek against Yuuri’s palm and touch his lips to his wrist. There’s adoration written in the bend of his throat and in the delicate way his eyelashes touch his cheekbones.

Yuuri’s heart aches in the best way and in the worst way.

“You look taller,” Yuuri says, voice quiet and intimate. Neither of them has dared talk above a whisper. Not even Makkachin who has laid down leaning against their knees and peering at them with his big brown eyes.

“You look the same,” Victor says back, taking Yuuri’s hand off his face and linking their fingers together. He reaches out with the other to swipe his thumb under Yuuri’s eye, and Yuuri catches his hand against his cheek, mirrors Victor’s gesture earlier by nuzzling down into it and kissing his palm.

Victor looks a little like he might cry again.

“I didn’t think you could get more beautiful,” Yuuri says, looking over at him by the corner of his eye, lips still half-pressed against Victor’s skin.

Victor’s cheek and ears still go red in that terrible endearing way, and it makes Yuuri want to lean over and kiss the tip of his nose.

“Look who’s talking,” Victor says, because he doesn’t like to be outdone.

Yuuri can feel himself blush a little and tries to hide his face in Victor’s hand, which works terribly, because Victor just uses the hold he has on him to pull him closer and tip his face so he can kiss him.

Yuuri feels a swoop in his stomach and leans forward, seeking another sip of happiness.

“What are we going to do now, Vitya?” Yuuri asks, after long moments have passed.

“There’s- there’s something I would like to do…” he says carefully.

“Anything,” Yuuri answers immediately. Because for him? Anything, anything, anything .

“You might not like it,” Victor says, and Yuuri can hear the slight wince in his tone. “But after…” he pauses as if catching his breath for all that is about to spill from his tongue. “After, we can do anything, go anywhere, just the two of us.”

“Is that what you want?” Yuuri asks.

“I want…” Victor starts, shaping the words carefully. “I want to disappear. I want to leave everything I’ve been doing to bear existing without you behind for a while, maybe forever. I want to just be . Be happy. Be with you. I want to learn how to be again.”

Yuuri squeezes Victor’s hand in his, brings it up to kiss his knuckles.

“We can do that,” he says, softly. “What’s the part you don’t think I’ll like?”

«»

Victor’s a performer. And more than that he’s become petty in a way only a god can be.

He stormed into the pantheon with a bang and some flair, and he’ll storm out just the same way. He has a statement to make, easy in its comprehension, a little complex in its execution.

At this year’s banquet, he walks in as he had every year previous: his suit pristinely pressed and with a glittery sheen to it that makes itself known only when the light catches it at certain angles, soft and understated enough that it almost looks like a trick of the light; his hair perfectly combed; his smile fixed in place with the same plasticity as Victor normally wears in public appearances.

Makkachin stands by his side, fur perfectly groomed and sticking close to Victor as always.

There’s a stairway you have to descend to get to the ballroom – a must if you’re catering to vain creatures who like to make an entrance.

Victor makes sure he’s the last to arrive, and he makes sure that every eye in the room is on him while he descends the stars, intent in each of his steps as he holds their attention. He thinks they might notice something is different, but that’s maybe because Victor feels different. Lighter, freer, happier.

In all likeliness they are looking because they think it’s in terrible taste that Victor had hung thousands of stars from the ceilings in a violent reminder of what they did, what the cost of all of this was. Of what Victor had done to them .

Victor takes his last step into the ballroom and as soon as the sole of his shoes make contact with the floor, every single wire snaps and the stars fall down to the floor, on the tables, on the guests. It startles them, and Victor lets his lips curl in one of his nastiest smiles at the whispers of confusion going through the room, before they’re replace with shock when slowly, ever so slowly every single star wobbles where it had fallen and starts rising again towards the ceiling, beginning their erratic orbits.

It’s easy to pinpoint the ones that know exactly what is happening and the ones who have no clue, the ones who know what this mean are happy, elated , and the impossibility of it, the ones who stood with Victor and stacked blessings upon him, the ones who knew Yuuri and cared for him. And the ones that are scouring the ballroom for the one person they thought they had killed and buried.

The lights flicker. Victor has planned this out to the second. A good performance speaks of a lot of preparation, after all, and seconds is all he needs to switch from his suit into the dress he had fashioned from Yuuri’s robes, the last time he felt the need to make a statement like this. It falls down to his feet and down his arms, stars shining and moving slowly through the fabric. And with the dress comes Yuuri, standing by his side and with Victor’s hand looped through his elbow.

They do not say a word. Victor can feel Yuuri shaking finely under his hand as he pulls him gently forward, Victor’s heels seem to echo through the ballroom, drowning out the murmurs and proclamations of outrage.

They do not stop. They walk forward and leave through the double doors that lead to a receiving room, gods parting to let them pass because they have no choice and they know it. Yuuri had been struck down because he had gotten too powerful when Victor was an inconsequential human, and now Victor is a god and they don’t know what Yuuri is capable of. If the devotion of a human made Yuuri that powerful, what will the devotion of a god do?

They walk out and the doors close behind them.

Victor lets out a breath, looks down at Yuuri with an amused smiling tilting his lips. Yuuri breathes out heavily, something shaking that bubbles up into a little laugh. Yuuri drops his folded arm and Victor lets his arm drop with him, takes advantage of the gesture to hold his hand and squeeze.

And then, they’re gone.

«»

“What now?” Yuuri asks, breathless with happiness.

The sunset still looks gorgeous on him. Hasetsu looks gorgeous on him like it always has. Victor breathes in deeply, his chest expanding so he can fit all that he’s feeling inside. Happiness tastes like sea salt in the back of his throat and Yuuri’s lips smudged into the corner of his mouth.

Victor takes both his hands, and pulls him close, close, close , until they’re sharing breaths and he barely has to lean forward to steal a kiss. “Now, we get our forever.”