Victor was lonely. He had been lonely ever since he woke up on a metal table in the middle of an understaffed lab in godforsaken Siberia, had been ever since he killed the scientists who put a gun to his head and told him to kill for them, ever since he first walked into a village and they saw his face and screamed and chased him away with guns and fire, had been ever since his third dog died of radiation poisoning and he decided he didn’t have the heart to keep another one, had been ever since the last time he saw one of his kind, some sort of walking mummy who called him Hibakusha and told him in no uncertain terms to fuck off.
He was currently sitting in what passed for shelter in his life, a crooked cell tower with a few mutated bugs and a threadbare coat spread out on the dirt as the only furnishings. Rain was drizzling from the sky, and he lay on his back, hoping that it didn’t short-circuit his power source. He really needed to recharge after two days ago, when the old man who owned the hotel he stayed at decided to brandish a knife at him, thinking him responsible for the paranoia and madness that the small town had recently succumbed to.
He was right, of course, but Victor would rather not die to a knife in the brain. Unfortunately, the particular method he had used in self-defense had been a bit.. messy. After the screaming and thrown objects that he’d become quite familiar with over the course of his long-ish life, he took the old way out. Sic his bugs on them. Run like hell. Find somewhere in the middle of nowhere to hide. Pray that nobody would find him. Rinse and repeat.
He heard a sudden crash from somewhere in the distance. Crap. He moved to duck behind one of the poles, before a sudden sting of pain distracted him. Victor glanced aside, looking at his right arm, which had suddenly started to sting harshly. Skin’s peeling again, Victor idly thought, before grabbing the edge of his shirt in an attempt to wipe off the blood. He repositioned, leaning to the side in an attempt to see what was going on. His eyes darted across the dark, wooded landscape before stopping on a figure lying face down on the grass.
Only a few hours here before I’m found again. Curse my luck. Before he could move away, a dog ran to the side of the fallen figure, licking his face and attempting to push him up.
“Vichan, stop!” He was making some sort of strange noise. Victor had heard this noise before, mostly from the little humans he occasionally saw. He looked up, making eye contact with Victor.
Victor jerked to the side as quickly as he could. His right arm scraped the ground, letting out a sharp bolt of pain that traveled up his arm as a fresh layer of skin peeled off, leaving a streak of blood in its wake.
Victor froze, not daring to make another sound.
“Who’s there?” A wavering voice echoed throughout the woods.
Crap. Victor slowly began to move towards the crack.
“If this is some kind of joke, it’s not funny.” The voice began to waver even more. If he hadn’t heard the voice under less pleasant circumstances, he would have loved to hear more, Victor idly thought. He moved closer, so that he could get a better look at the lovely voiced-man. His face was just as nice to look at as the rest of him, with skin unmarred by burns and sores and a face that was just as cute as the dogs he used to take with him. Sadly, Victor had very little time to admire him, because he went running off into the woods, the dog following him.
Victor was of two minds about this. On one hand, it was good that he didn’t stick around longer. He'd be freaked out by his face if nothing else, and the weird paranoia that seemed to follow him around like a stinking miasma was sure to set in sometime. On the other, he was cute.
Victor decided to get some sleep, recharge, and think about it in the morning.
The sun had risen, and Victor was already walking through the forest, keeping to roughly the same direction that he saw the lovely-voiced man and his dog run off in last night. The forest was nice, all high, soaring trees and even a few birds. He suddenly wished that he had brought his bugs with him, but they would attract too much attention. Victor reached out to a tree, hoping to touch the bark, but as soon as his fingers made contact with the tree, the bark fell away, twisting and blackening.
After what seemed like an eternity and many wrong turns, he finally emerged out of the woods on to a road. Tugging the hood of his jacket over his head, brushing his bangs to cover the.. less attractive side of his face, trying to ignore the wayward looks of distrust and suspicion.
Following several wrong turns and one particularly delightful incident where his bangs slipped and a small child saw his face and ran away screaming, Victor was just about to give up before that lovely voice touched his ears again.
“So, what did she do then?” Victor’s head whipped around, catching the lovely-voiced boy talking to a brown-haired woman.
The woman turned to him, grabbing his arm and continuing to talk, but Victor wasn’t paying attention to any of it. He caught the man’s name in it all, Yuuri. That’s a nice name.
The two humans turned around to look at him. Did he say that out loud?
The woman glanced vaguely in his direction, her eyes darting about so as to not look at his face. “Wh...what do...uh.. y..you w..want?”
Victor had grown used to this kind of thing, and was idly thinking about the name of the town, and how that sounded nice, and how long he might stay…
“Yuuko, what’s wrong?” The lovely-voiced man had grabbed her hand, and Victor just noticed that she was going to make a move on him.
Yuuko looked up at him, confusion and fear evident on her face. “What’s wrong, Yuuri? This guy just walked up to us, told us that you have a cute name, came from out of nowhere. Obviously, he’s spying on us.”
Yuuri seemed to grow even more confused. “What? He’s probably just a tourist.” His eyes darted around, doing that kind of thing where they refused to meet Victor’s eyes.
Yuuko seemed to get even more anxious, grabbing on to Yuuri. “I-I think w-we should go.”
Yuuri began to lead her away. “Sorry. I don’t know what came over her.”
Victor still stood, starstruck. What the hell was up with Yuuri? Not being affected by his aura of Disquiet? But he was definitely human, that was for sure.
Yuuri and Yuuko were walking away from the Ice Castle. “What was that? Are you okay?”
Yuuko shook her head, hard, like she was trying to shake something out. “I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry, but there was just something about him that-”
Yuuri sighed. “It’s okay. He looked scary to me too.”
Yuuri thought about it on the walk home. He didn’t look that scary, if you discounted those burn scars all over his face. He seemed used to that sort of reaction, though. That was kind of sad.
He’d heard that voice before.
He was that voice that he’d heard in the woods, near the cell tower. So he wasn’t a tourist of anything except cell towers. Weird. Was he stalking him? But Yuuri didn’t know why he’d be stalked. He wasn’t famous or rich or particularly handsome. Was it just a coincidence?
He decided that he’d had enough for the night and went home.
The next day, Victor was leaning against one of the struts of the cell tower, eating some chips, idly stroking the carapace of one of his bugs, trying to ignore the raw pain coursing through his face, when he heard footsteps in the distance.
What? I haven’t stayed here nearly long enough for the mobs to set in!
“Hello?” Wait, is that Yuuri?
A rustling in the trees, and Yuuri stepped out of the woods.
Victor turned around. “Wait I-”
Yuuri must have been hallucinating, but he could swear he just saw a cockroach the size of a dog sitting on that man’s lap. He vaguely felt the food in his arms drop to the floor, vaguely felt his knees give out under him. The scarred man cautiously walked up to him, like he was afraid Yuuri would bolt if he moved any closer.
“Sorry.” One of his hands reached as if to touch Yuuri’s face, before withdrawing.
Yuuri was still breathing hard. “What was that?”
“My pet. Why are you here?”
Yuuri was still staring at the man. He was leaning over him, getting very close into his space, but for some reason, Yuuri seemed frozen in place, unable to move or speak.
“I-I was going to bring you some food. I’m sor-sorry I’m going now-”
A hand grabbed his arm.
Yuuri turned around, looking at the man’s face, a patchwork of skin grafts and burn scars, the right side oh-so-slightly concealed by thinning grey hair.
“I’m so sorry about my pets so if you could put that aside I’d really like to get to know you better because I think you’re cute and you have a cute dog and you’re not scared of me so-”
He was babbling. The man with the burned face and fucking mutant cockroaches was babbling. Clearly, he was insane. Or going insane. But that didn’t explain the cockroaches from hell? They could both be going crazy.
Yuuri tore his arm out of the other man’s vice-like grip.
“I’m sorry. I just came to bring you food. I was just sort of worried about you…” He trailed off after looking at how the man’s face shifted from a slight smile, to worry, to delight, to confusion in just a matter of seconds.
Victor was looking up at Yuuri. What did he just say? He was going to bring me food? Do humans usually do that for other humans?
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I don’t have anything to give you.” Victor started walking away. God, the cutest man he’d ever seen in his life comes walking up to him, as if the universe is offering him up on a silver platter. Victor doesn’t trust it. There’s got to be some sort of catch. The universe has never been this kind to him before.
Yuuri starts to walk away, his cheeks flushing. “No no, you don’t need anything, I really just should go, I don’t know why I came in the first place.” He’s laughing, a kind of nervous laugh.
Yuuri turned around for a brief moment, before putting down the food on the ground and slowly backing away.
A flurry of thoughts ran through Victor’s head. He stood up on shaky legs, walking towards Yuuri as his back retreated into the woods.
“I’m really sorry about the bugs. They’re not that dangerous if I don’t want them to be.”
Yuuri turned around. “If you don’t want them to be?”
He’s looking at me oh god he’s looking at me I don’t deserve this
“I.. uh..made them.”
“Made them? What’s going on with you?” Yuuri’s eyes darted between Victor and the cockroaches, who were currently fighting over the discarded bag of chips.
“Should you..uh...get that?”
Victor turned around and attempted to snatch the bag from the malformed mandibles of the roach’s mouth, grappling back and forth.
Laughter. Yuuri’s laughing! I made him laugh! That’s so cute!
Yuuri abruptly stopped. “Sorry.”
“No, no that’s okay. I’d love to hear it more.” Was he blushing?
“Uh...I think I have to go. Could I come back sometime later?”
Victor was still staring at Yuuri, starstruck, and so he barely heard what he said.
“I know you probably don’t want my pity, and I’m sorry for imposing for so long, so thanks for putting up with-”
Victor interrupted. “No! I’d love for you to stay!” God, I really am pushing it here.
Yuuri shook his head. “No. I really do have to go, but if I’m not imposing I’d like to see you again.”
“It’s a deal.” Victor smiled, though in practice it came out more like a grimace.
Universe, please don’t fuck this one up.