Pretty much the only word to describe Victors state of mind at the moment. For the first time in the 28 years of his young (yes, young.) life, the living legend himself was doubting his own eyesight.
Victor had just stepped away from one of the hairdressers at the set, who really only served to consistently poke him in the scalp with the sharp end of a comb. This was one of the first photoshoots Yuuri had accompanied Victor in Russia. The Japanese man was still new to the fast paced foreign language and buzzing surroundings.
The photoshoot was held at a flourishing park on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. A place yet untouched by the cruel grasps of construction or machines. Another cool breeze fluttered through the trees, just managing to shake some withering leaves towards the ground. Victor quickly swiped a bottle of green tea that was standing on the snack table close by, taking advantage of the quick break he had to check on his other half. He headed for the bench where he last witnessed Yuuri scrolling through his phone, ready to present the refreshment along with a dozen kisses as gratitude for the man's patience. However, Victor stopped cold in his tracks when spotting the Japanese man.
“what the…” was all that managed to leave Victors breath at the display.
Yuuri was lying flat on a wooden bench with his feet dangling just beyond the edge, fast asleep. While Yuuris angelic beauty when asleep (and awake) usually is enough to stun Victor on it’s own, that was not currently what his eyes was zeroed in on.
On top of Yuuris chest was an orange creature curled up snugly. Its chest slowly rising and sinking with the animals slow breaths, no bigger than a large cat. A bushy tail with a white tip covered the animals head. Yuuris left hand was splayed on the back of the creature, while the right arm was tucked behind his head as a makeshift pillow.
Victor may not be a wildlife expert. But, he was willing to bet his limited edition Prada coat on the fact that a fox was asleep on his beautiful fiancé. The fox seemed perfectly content with sleeping on the man and unbothered by the humans buzzing nearby, much to Victors astonishment. Movement by Yuuri calf drew Victors attention as a bundle of small mice and one squirrel was settling down between the legs of the sleeping man. Victor rubbed his eyes harshly before taking another look at the zoo of a bench, not really trusting his own sight at the moment. Despite the animals being instinctive enemies, it would appear that they have called some sort of temporary truce while taking advantage of Yuuris warmth and natural softness.
As the Russian man felt his awareness slowly returning to him, he quickly grabbed his phone to snap a picture. Like hell he was telling people about this without proof. Victor didn’t have much credibility left to his name, for some god-forsaken reason, and he was not about to loose what little he had left because his fiancé apparently was a modern Disney princess.
Victor had heard the stories from his Russian teammates. At the time he had convinced himself that they were mostly exaggerated for the purposes of the story, mostly because the Russian skating team was not exactly known for their humbleness or sincerity.
Maybe he shouldn’t have dismissed them so quickly.
Later that night Victor found himself looking down at their dining table lost in thought, while his fiancé was bustling around the kitchen fixing up their dinner. Yuuri was humming along to another generic pop song of what he presumes to be Ed Sheeran being played on the radio.
“Victor?” a soft voice called through the haze of Victors thoughts. “Victor where do you keep your colander?”
A very inelegant squeal managed to creep its way out from the silver haired man as he suddenly felt sharp coolness on his neck. Above Victor was Yuuri, standing with one hand on his hip and a steel ladle clutched in the other.
“Please tell me you’re not still thinking about that photo shoot incident earlier...” the younger man muttered. A slight blush painting his cheeks with embarrassment.
“Honestly Yuuri, how are you not thinking about it?” Victor replied flabbergasted. “You wake up as an animal sanctuary, and the the first words out of your mouth is: ‘is the shoot done?’ ”
Yuuri simply shrugged and replied slowly “What am I suppose to do about it? It isn’t the first time it’s happened and it probably won’t be the last… It’s not like I ever get hurt or anything. Please don’t be mad.”
At that, the older man jumped out of his seat and quickly engulfed his boyfriend in a hug “I’m not mad zolotse” he assured soothingly.
“I’m just… surprised is all. And maybe still a little bit in shock. I mean, it’s not like this is a common occurrence in my life” Victor says with a small chuckle before adding “but hopefully it will be, if it means being with you forever”
A crimson blush quickly spread up Yuuris neck and the younger man found some small courage within himself. Quickly standing on his toes to give Victor a short, tender kiss.
“I really hope this doesn’t scare you away” Yuuri mumbled with a small voice as his anxiety was slowly taking over. “Animals have just always approached me? They have never been aggressive or threatening, so I never really saw it as an issue”.
“Oh love, you could never scare me away” Victor crooned in his ear while soothingly rubbing circles on his back. Though Victor couldn’t help his own curiosity as the questions started tumbling out.
“Has it always been like this? Is there an animal you don’t get along with? Does things like this happen everyday or just now and then? And was the story Mila told about the owl true?”
A long, miserable groan escaped the younger man as he quickly trudged back into the kitchen to make sure the dinner wasn't burning.
“Yuuri! As your future husband I need to know this!” Victor whined jokingly.
A few months had passed since the photo shoot, and Victor hadn’t experienced anything particularly strange around Yuuri yet. Except for some cats occasionally rubbing against his leg while chirping sweetly at him. But then again, is that really so strange? Victor would do the same if he was cat.
After a week of pestering Yuuri about the owl story, he finally confirmed Mila’s retelling of a coffee date she and Yuuri had shared earlier that year.
Apparently, as the two were walking through a small park between the coffee shop and the rink, an owl had decided to make Yuuris head its new home. And promptly landed just there. Yuuri had frozen completely in hope of not jostling/scaring the creature, while Mila stood shock-still gaping at the sight. She would have burst into laughter if she hadn’t caught sight of the birds giant claws, and therefore cleverly kept silent. After what must have felt like an eternity to the two, Yuuri came to the conclusion that the animal would probably fly away if he started walking again.
Except that it didn’t.
So he and Mila had kept on walking with stiff movements and gaping onlookers. It wasn’t until they neared traffic that the owl decided to take off.
Also, according to Mila, the owl had given her “the stink eye” every time she got too close to Yuuri during those short minutes.
After hearing all this, Victor came to the conclusion that maybe this phenomenon only occurred in parks. After all, that is where the animals are in a big city, right?
Presently, Yuuri and Victor were in Marseille for the Grand Prix Finale. During the banquet, Victor found himself nursing his second glass of champagne (fourth, but whose counting), with a heavy silver medal hanging proudly on his chest. He might have been more disappointed if it wasn’t his on protege who swiped Gold from under him. Turns out taking a year off had it’s consequences… who would’ve guessed that?
Victor couldn’t help but beam with pride as he watched his best friend, student and most importantly, love of his life chatting with some eager sponsors. Victor would’ve been beside him in a heartbeat if he wasn’t busy pretending listening to Yakov scolding him for god knows what. soft buzzing in his pants pocket caught his attention. He quickly took out his phone to see a message from non other than Yuuris old college roommate.
Phichit Chulanont has created a group chat with you, Christophe Giacometti, Yuuri Katsuki +11 others
Phichit Chulanont has named the group “SkaterFam”
Phichit Chulanont has has named themselves “ThaiTreat”
ThaiTreat: Hey gang! I, as clever as I am, have reserved us a table at the L’Epuisette just down the street. If any if you crave a proper meal instead of the sad excuse of appetisers this place has to offer, join! :D We have the reservation for three hours after the banquet ends. And for those in need to celebrate… or to simply drown their sorrows… yes, they have a bar ;)
Victor Nikiforov: Count us in.
“Now that is what I call a feast!” Chris exclaimed happily, hands unbuttoning the plum coloured suit jacket. The Swiss man raised his glass and announced to the table, “I want to make a toast! To the Brilliant young man who saved us all from starvation and boredom. Phichit Chulanont, you are our saviour. Salute!”. Everyone at the table happily cheered and took a sip of their drink. The man of the hour laughed brightly and ordered another round of champagne for the table.
The dinner had been a massive success, exempt for Emil and Michele not showing up. The food was exquisite, and they had been going relatively easy on the alcohol while the younger ones were still present. After the meal, Guang-Hong and Leo thanked the group for a pleasant evening and called it a night. Yuri on the other hand, at his own childish stubbornness claimed going to bed before midnight was for babies and promptly orderer another alcohol-free glass of champagne, before slumping down in his seat. Otabek remained silent, but stayed as well. Victor suspected that he probably wanted to accompany Yuri back to the hotel. Minami was extremely disappointed when he had to go because of curfew, apologising several times. Victor caught sight of the boy looking longingly at Yuuri just before he disappeared out the door.
Happy chatter was flowing among the remaining skaters. Phichit was currently showing Seung-Gil something on his phone, whilst Chris flirtatiously whispered something to Sara that made her giggle into her glass. Georgi was excitedly telling Mila with big hand gestures about his one true love. Mila politely kept to herself that it was 100% going to go up in flames. Considering that he had only met her a week ago and that the girl had not just one, but two exes on the Russian Hockey Team.
Victor happily sipped on his drink, while his right hand slowly caressed Yuuris thigh under the table. The younger man was debating wether or not he should allow himself some dessert.
Suddenly Sara burst out laughing, gaining everyones attention.
Phichit, who can never help his own need for juicy gossip swiftly asked her “What’s so funny?”
“Mila was just - telling me - about an owl landing on Yuuris head!” Sara barely managed to get out between her laughter. The Japanese man quickly hid behind his dessert menu, as the skaters (except for the Russian family) looked to Yuri in confusion.
“She obviously wasn’t talking about me! The hag was clearly talking about the pig!” Yuri spat out before returning his attention to Otabek. All eyes was now on the red faced, japanese man, who peeked over his menu to glare at the redhead.
“Yuuuuuri” Chris drawled “What’s this about an owl?”
Before Yuuri had the to chance to answer, Victor (who may or may not be a little bit drunk) intercepted.
“The owl thing is nothing compared to the time he napped with half a forest!” Victor straight up announced.
A phone appeared before them as out of thin air. Victor happily presenting them with the photo he had snapped at the time. The skaters quickly squeezed together to get a glimpse of the screen and then burst out laughing. Yuri sat completely still in his seat, denying his own curiosity to what was so funny, while Otabek couldn’t help but peek and produce a small chuckle.
Sara and Chris leaned on each other as they cackled ungracefully and Mila stared at Yuuri with a look of awe.
“Oh no Yuuri.. not again!” Phichit managed to get out while wiping tears of laughter off his face.
“Haha yes! I guess the Russian wildlife is somewhat responsive to me! But that could happen to any-” Yuuri exclaimed in face delight, desperately trying to redirect attention from Phichit words. But fate had other plans.
“What do you mean by ‘again?’, Phichit?” Victor interrupted. The table now rounded on the Thai man, looking at him like he held the secret to eternal life.
“You guys didn’t know?” Phichit snickered. “Yuuri had quite the Disney life in Detroit!”
A yelp was heard next to Victor, where Yuuri scrambled out his seat to cover Phichits mouth, only to be restrained by his fiancé in a crushing hug.
“Phichit don’t you dare!” Yuuri hissed, but to no avail. You could practically see Phichit fill his lungs for a long rant.
“When Yuuri and I were in College we had.. a few run-ins with animals if you could call it that. The dude’s a magnet for wildlife. I can not tell you how many times he came back to the apartment trailed by cats or other smaller animals. It came to a point where we couldn’t keep our windows open for more than a few minutes, otherwise birds or squirrels might get in. This didn’t just apply to our apartment either! Animals would sometime sneak into the classroom and Yuuri had to hide them in his backpack or under his shirt, so that the teacher wouldn’t spot them. Ciao-Ciao even has scars from trying to chase out animals from the rink! One time, a deer managed to get into the rink on a quiet evening where Yuuri and I had taken advantage of the empty ice. And I swear to god. It was a literal Bambi on Ice situation.”
Everyone started cackling at this point. Sara was snorting ungracefully between her laughter and not giving a damn, while Chris was laughing so hard he barely managed to actually produce sound. Even Seung-Gil was snickering.
Yuuri, who was still trapped in victors arms, felt uneasy by the fact that the man holding him wasn’t shaking with laughter. He dared to venture a look behind him, terrified that Victor was now going to find him strange or creepy, only to find the Russian man gazing down at him with a lovestruck look. Eyes sparkling and goofy smile plastered on Victors face.
Victor leaned down and whispered sultry in Yuuris ear “I can’t believe I get to go home with the king of the forest. Hopefully they won’t sneak into bed with us, cause I won’t share you there.”
Yuuri gasped at the words and hid his face in the crook of Victor neck. Victor gladly peppered the younger mans red ears with kisses.
The sweet moment was soon interrupted when Phichit piped up again.
“That’s still nothing compared to what Yuuris sister told me about their family vacation in Nagano.”
Colour drained quickly from Yuuris face as he started pleading to his old roommate, “Not that story Phichit I beg you!”
“YES that story Phichit!” Chris unhelpfully added, barely managing to sit still in his excitement. The Thai man straigtened up and cleared his throat before beginning.
“When Yuuri was four years old, he and his family went on vacation in Nagano, where they visited a popular shrine. The shrine was bustling with tourists and was mainly surrounded by a thick forest. As the Katsukis were admiring the area, Yuuri had let go of his sisters hand for just one short minute and disappeared into the crowd. His family didn’t find yuuri until three days later”
Victor gasped loudly in horror and hugged Yuuri tighter subconsciously. While the rest of the skaters had frozen smiles on their faces along with huge, round eyes. Yuuri was hiding his face in his hands. Phichit simply smirked whilst pausing for a dramatic effect.
If someone were to snap a picture of the group right about now, they might just resemble one of those dramatic paintings from the renaissance.
“The search for little Yuuri quickly went nation wide” Phichit continued. “With his cute chubby face plastered all over the news. After three days of searching by the police and local volunteers, they finally found Yuuri. Asleep. Wrapped in the warm arms of a Japanmakak… A famous snow monkey that lives freely in the area. Our Yuuri had been adopted by a pack of monkeys. Being fed and groomed for three days by his new monkey family. And after hours of the police persuading the monkeys to let little Yuuri go, the boy was finally reunited with his human family”
A loud thud was heard as Chris fell out of his seat, laughing too hard. Poor Sara was howling so hard that she was just straight out crying by this point. Even Yuri and Otabek was cackling at the story. Nobody managed to notice the glares they received from the other patrons at the restaurant, and didn’t really care either.
“Yuuri! You could have been Tarzan!” Mila cried at the end of the table, causing Georgi to choke on his drink.
Victor did not laugh. He was too distraught by the thought of Yuuri going missing, therefore just held on to Yuuri like he was going to disappear from his grasp any second now.
Phichit happily took pictures at the scene looking pretty proud of himself.
Victor was holding Yuuris hand and swinging their arms as they were walking down the chill, quiet street, heading back to the hotel with the rest of the group. After their little outburst, a waiter had come over asking them to leave the restaurant, probably convinced they were all wasted.
Yuuri picked up his pace, dragging victor along with him. Eager to get back to their room and away from the taunting skaters, who were still snickering among themselves. Victor, after a few minutes, had reminded himself that Yuuri was fine and probably wouldn’t be kidnapped by monkeys a second time, and was now back in his usual jolly mood.
Victor tugged his fiancé's hand, trying to gain his attention before leaning in and asking “does this mean that you have some kind of superpower where you can use animals to your advantage?”
The question was met with a blank stare. Yuuri then rolled his eyes, before they sparkled mischievously. “Hmmmm I don’t know about that, but it might come in handy one day”. At the word ‘handy’ Yuuri had let go of Victors hand and lifted it as if he was holding an imaginary tray. The younger man continued walking while whistling a little tune.
Within seconds, an orange spotted Robin flew straight into Yuuris hand and made itself at home.
Victor stopped dead in his tracks, causing the group behind him to look up.
The skaters could only gape and stare in awe as Yuuri strolled down the street with a new friend in his hand, whistling a happy tune.
Victor could only think of one thing at that moment...
‘huh, does not only apply to parks.’