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The samples Yuuri's supposed to give, it turns out, are a little more embarrassing than usual.

Urine? Okay, that's perfectly normal. Blood? A little unusual to do, but not unheard of. Spit? That's... odd, but it's still pretty harmless.

He is drawing the line at semen.

"Why," he makes the mistake of asking Amano, who looks as annoyed by this as Yuuri is mortified.

"Are you so helpless that you need someone to hold your hand for this?" Amano snaps at him without even looking up from his phone, "Why our Shirogane wastes so much time and money on the likes of you, I'll never understand!"

Sometimes, Yuuri thinks with both a bitter surety and a dry humor, Minako is right about Amano needing to get over his adoration of Shirogane by any means necessary. At least even at his worst, Yuuri never talked down other skaters besides himself when gushing about Victor; and even then, it was because Yuuri knew, deep down, that he could do better.

The nurse is a picture-perfect professional as he hands Yuuri a sterile cup and ushers him towards the sitting room next to the bathroom he'd been in not twenty minutes ago. He glances briefly at Yuuri's phone peeking out of his pocket when telling Yuuri how to best prepare himself for, uh, getting the sample, but doesn't blush or stutter over his words. Yuuri appreciates that someone here is perfectly calm about this, even if he's still reeling.

Is this some kind of weird revenge because Yuuri complained he was an adult who can make adult decisions? Is that what this is? It almost feels too petty for Shirogane to do that, considering the man always acts like he's above that kind of immature response. But then again, this could honestly be something Shirogane did need done, and it's just really unfortunate timing for them both.

Granted, he thinks as he looks over the rack and sees the flirty-pink gravure magazines and the more mature-looking, raunchier stuff tucked behind them, there are probably better ways of communicating these sorts of things.

These kinds of magazines did little for him when he was growing up and a few classmates would taunt him with them, mostly to mock Yuuri's laser focus on his skating career and to a lesser extent, his small candlelight-flame of a celebrity crush on Victor. In his teenage self's defense, late-teens/early-twenties Victor was a lot prettier than most of the models in those magazines, if only because he didn't look half as uncomfortable in his shoots for interviews and commercials.

Nervously lifting a corner of the magazine up and making a face at the coy, clearly-staged image he gets a glimpse of, he figures they'll do even less for him now that Victor is only a phone call away.

He really should just cut to the chase and save himself the trouble and embarrassment. After their makeshift date last night and with the time differences, though, Yuuri would hate to wake him up so early when he'll clearly be tired and in need of rest. Even if Victor does tend to wake up before the sun rises half the time...

Yuuri shakes his head, willing down the flush creeping into his cheeks. This is definitely not the time to be thinking of how even through a woefully inadequate phone screen, his night ended on a much better note than it started. That line of thinking will only lead to wondering if he'd missed being warned about this whole thing sooner and that he should've refrained from letting things get heated.

Then again, if he takes too much longer, his morning is going to get worse anyway. Why does Shirogane keep using Amano as a gofer? Surely the man's got better things to do than herd around his company's (or in Yuuri's case, Shirogane's personal) investments place to place.

Well, it's not like it's any of Yuuri's business. What is his business, though...

"Victor," Yuuri whines as soon as the call connects and he hears the mumbled, thoughtless greeting, "help."

Fabric shifts on the other end. He must still be in bed, like Yuuri suspected. Four-hour time difference, after all -- Yuuri's just glad that most clinics don't even open before eight, and it's a quarter to nine now. "Yuuri? What's going on?"

"One of my sponsors is having me do data sampling and I can't really do the last alone," Yuuri grouses, rubbing his face with his free hand. Should he unzip now? Would that be too weird? "It's-- I'm so sorry, it's stupid and embarrassing but if I take any longer in here I'm going to get yelled at and I'd really like not being treated like a little kid because it looks like I don't know how."

"Yuu-ri," Victor groans, and Yuuri can hear him shift again. "Start from the beginning. What are you doing and how do you need me to help?"

What is a simple, yet appropriate way of talking about this? Better yet, how would Yuuri talk about this if he had to discuss certain issues around the younger skaters, but in a way someone older would understand?

"I was asked last night to help a sponsor with something their company does, but they need... human data? I've done the typical stuff so far, but the last needs, uh, a more... adult touch?" Yuuri tries, and immediately smacks his forehead in embarrassment. That's even worse than his initial attempt at explaining this whole mess. "It's not that I can't-- myself, but this whole thing is awkward as it is and then what they've got here does nothing for me and--!"

He's interrupted by the rough bark of laughter from Victor's end, a slight wheeze at the end of it. Yuuri's ears start to burn with his cheeks.

"Ah, I see," he can practically hear Victor grin into the phone, and the image of him in Yuuri's mind is near sparkling with mirth. "This is another 'katsudon is my eros!' moment, isn't it?"

"Quit making fun of me for that!" Yuuri whines, and Victor just laughs more. "And it's not that! I just-- I'm a little weirded out by the fact I have to-- do that, all of a sudden!"

Victor, clearly not willing to let it go, hums long and lilting. "What's wrong, then? Is it hard for you? Do you need a hand? Should I kiss it better?"

Yuuri glares at the wall, the flush in his face starting to spill down his neck. "You're enjoying this way too much, you know."

Another muffled laugh into what's likely a pillow on Victor's end, then a sigh.

"I can't say I've ever heard of a sponsor who wants you to cum for science," Victor says so casually that Yuuri sputters and reflexively snaps his head towards the door. It's still, thankfully, firmly shut and locked. "Is there a reason for this? Because I can't think of one, and I don't know if it's because it's not even five yet or because it really does sound like bullshit."

Yuuri winces as he rubs his forehead, scratching at his scalp. "It's... You know GIL Tech, right? The company who engineers the drug test kits?"

There's a soft hum. "I'm familiar with the name." A pause. "Wait, GIL Tech sponsors you? I don't remember seeing them on the list you gave me. Is this new?"

"...No?" Yuuri bites his cheek, suddenly feeling nervous. "I mean, the company doesn't sponsor me directly, but its chairman and CEO is definitely on the list. Shirogane?"

For a long moment Victor is silent. Then, "Okay. Fine. That name's on the list, though I have no idea why someone in that position would privately sponsor anyone without good reason. But Yuuri, this isn't really part of your contract, not if it's a private sponsorship. You know that, right?"

Yuuri makes a face. "And how is that going to look, if I refuse to do what a man who's in charge of drug tests tells me to? That's asking for all sorts of trouble!"

"I somehow doubt that there are any drugs or steroids unique to cum," Victor huffs. "But if it makes you feel more comfortable, go ahead. No point in getting you detained on false suspicions."

And that is exactly the sort of logic Amano would jump for, isn't it? Anything he could use to make Yuuri look bad, he would. Now Yuuri's even more uncomfortable with the fact the man's impatiently waiting in the lobby.

"Speaking of getting detained, though," Yuuri hums, giving the door a huffy look. He refuses to give Amano the satisfaction of thinking he can cow Yuuri into submission. Not after last year, and not after his worse-than-usual attitude this past week. "I did call you to ask for your help, you know. A bit of coaching through?"

Victor falls silent for a moment, sheets shifting on his end.

"Well then," Victor purrs, and Yuuri flushes and grins a bit as he sees in his mind's eye the way Victor must look in this moment, fine hair mussed by the shift of his pillow and sleepy blue eyes dark and lidded. "I'd be remiss in not assisting my dearest protégé, wouldn't I?"

 

* * *

 

When Yuuri finally shuffles back into the lobby, avoiding the eyes of the nursing staff while reminding himself that they are all professionals and will at worst giggle about him after he leaves the building, he somehow does not expect to not be the only one there. But the proof is in front of him, in the form of Satou grimacing and pressing a heat pack to her lower abdomen and Shindou sitting far more stiffly than she usually does. Naturally, Amano is sneering at them, but the crispness of his remarks towards them are dull and more annoyed than anything.

The difference becomes more pronounced when Amano realizes Yuuri's returned, and the dullness immediately sours into a bitter scowl. Yuuri tries to keep his wince internal, already anticipating where this incoming lecture is going to go.

"How," Amano starts, tone sharp, "does it take a supposedly healthy young man fifteen minutes to ejaculate into a cup?"

The nurse who'd led him to the lobby winces and clears his throat. "Sir, this is a public setting. Please do not speak so crassly where other clients can hear."

By sheer force of will, Yuuri keeps a straight face. "My apologies," he says. "The material provided was unsuited to me."

Satou's shoulders jerk and she slaps a hand to her mouth, hissing and pressing the heat pack firmer against her as she tries desperately to look like she's not blushing and giggling into her hand. Shindou raises her brows at Yuuri, looks him up and down, then solemnly gives him a thumbs-up. The nurse must be up-to-date on recent news, because he startles and coughs, turning away but not fast enough to hide the pink that flushes his cheeks.

Amano, on the other hand, blinks in stunned silence before realization hits and he sputters, eyes narrowing dangerously and teeth grinding at Yuuri's comment.

"You have the gall to hold us all up because you decided to choose now to flaunt your clandestine relationship with that foreigner?!" Amano spits at him, fuming. "This is an abuse of power! I have half a mind to press charges!"

"You're so kind, Amano-sensei," Shindou says simply. "Looking out for Yuuri-kun, just like Shirogane-san would want."

Amano freezes, slowly turning his head towards her. "Excuse me?"

Satou nods along, biting her lip. "Yeah! We all know Shirogane-san thinks of Yuuri-kun as his favorite, so the fact you're so invested in Yuuri-kun's well-being is admirable!"

...Those two have a death wish. Yuuri mostly decided to roundabout admitting he contacted Victor to shut Amano up since he knew he wasn't going to get out of getting publically embarrassed. He hadn't expected Satou and Shindou to actually play along when Amano got started on one of his tangents.

But since they're bringing it up, and since Yuuri still wants to make sure he's got everything ready for his flight later-- "Ah, speaking of Shirogane-san," he draws out, humming carefully as he makes a show of checking the time on his phone. "We should really get going so we can meet him like he asked, shouldn't we? I'll be sure to take the blame for us being late, don't worry!"

Clearly unused to being outnumbered, Amano slowly turns purple as Yuuri, Satou, and Shindou all give the nurse and the other staff their thanks before shuffling out the doors single-file. With at least a few meters' distance between them and Amano, the women give in to their earlier urges to poke fun at Yuuri for his unexpected boldness.

"Fifteen minutes for a quickie, huh?" Satou asks, clearly trying not to grin. Yuuri groans and tries to bury himself under his scarf and hat.

"Yuuri-kun's legendary stamina strikes again," Shindou adds unhelpfully.

"I am not discussing my private life with either of you," Yuuri hisses at them under his breath.

"Ah, Victor's so lucky," Satou sighs, pressing her hand to her cheek. "Though I would've thought for sure you wouldn't last so long with a man as beautiful as Victor, either, Yuuri-kun. You're really amazing!"

"Do you rush in art museums?" Shindou has no right to look so deadpan talking about this kind of topic. "No. You take the time to admire things. It's a waste otherwise. Clearly he trained for this all his life."

"Please stop talking," Yuuri begs them, nothing but his glasses and some longer tufts of hair sticking out at this point.

Satou laughs and bumps her shoulder to Yuuri's arm. "Oh, lighten up a bit, will you? You got Victor Nikiforov eating out of your hand! You're allowed to brag about it!"

Yuuri gives her a look. "Victor isn't some kind of prize to be won and shown off, you know."

"Right, right," Shindou says, tapping her chin. "Victor is probably the last person who wants to be a trophy husband. No offense."

The thing is, Victor's rarely minded being only known through his relationship with Yuuri, as his coach or something else entirely. He's admitted he likes the amount of anonymity he had in Hasetsu, still known enough for people to remember seeing his face somewhere but mostly recognized because of how he was always seen with Yuuri or one of Yuuri's friends or family. Standing out because the old ladies complained that it wasn't fair Yuuri's mom now had two tall, strong sons to help her with higher shelves instead of just one, and the old men poked fun at Yuuri's dad for managing to get another boy who blinked in confusion at the TV when a game was on.

The rest of the world will get to see the Victor Yuuri knows when they've earned the right, after Victor's retired and no longer has to maintain his farce of untouchability. It's the least Yuuri can do in turn to let Victor retire properly, to let everyone else get the happy ending to his long and illustrious career, officially passing the reins he's held for half of it to the rest of them and prove his years of sacrifice were worth their influence. Until then, all anyone needs to know is that Yuuri and Victor are happy together, and nothing will change that.

Even if Yuuri doesn't appreciate being teased, even gently so, for convincing a long-rumored playboy to change his ways and what that implies about their private life.

As the three of them wait for the crossing light, the subway entrance in view, Satou and Shindou end up discussing (read: complaining about) their exams. Unlike him, it seems, they'd been warned about it and were grateful that it'd been saved until after nationals, when they didn't have to worry about a stinging ache from the aftermath distracting them from their practices and programs. Yuuri winces himself hearing it, at least happy that even though he's still pretty convinced this whole thing had been sprung suddenly on him, his part in today's... donations to science didn't hurt.

They'll be meeting Shirogane at a fancy café several stops from this particular station and halfway back to the hotel, far enough that paparazzi who might be tailing them won't be able to make too many assumptions while not forcing Satou and Shindou to undergo the tight quarters of the subway's cars for long. It's just another consideration Shirogane didn't have to do, but still insisted on.

The unease Yuuri's been experiencing must be his own hang-ups and the seeds of paranoia his brain and environment love to sow without permission. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened, and it wouldn't be the last. He just has to mentally step back and consider that he might be letting his imagination get away from him.

 

* * *

 

Satou looks over the display case with stars in her eyes and a happy flush on her cheeks, and Shindou has a content air about her as she waits for her coffee to finish brewing. Both are eager to take advantage of Shirogane's generosity, given free reign to choose whatever they want for breakfast since they helped him out this morning with their samples. Yuuri lags behind waiting his turn, wary of the rows of sweet breads and desserts when the food he would actually want for his accomplishments this week would be found in an entirely different restaurant.

Look, he likes sweet things as much as the next person, but if Yuuri's going to eat something fattening as a reward it may as well be his actual favorite food.

"They have Mont Blancs!" Satou cheers, clutching her hands to her chest. "And so many danishes! Ooh, and those madeleines are so cute--!"

"Christmas just passed," Shindou says as her name's finally called, a mug and slice of pannetone laid out on a small plate waiting for her. "Get something seasonal while it's around."

"That doesn't help at all!"

Yuuri glances towards the more savory options, a little surprised when he sees a familiar word on the displays. He hesitates before shaking it off, looking to the other options. He's going to be heading to Russia soon, just after he finishes packing and mailing the last of his and Victor's things they have marked to go to Saint-Petersburg; there's no point in buying pirozhki here. Besides that, Yuriy would probably be genuinely offended if he found out about this, after he'd given Yuuri the last of his grandfather's homemade batch a month ago.

Maybe the pumpkin gratin, he decides, noting the buttery pie crust serving as its bowl. If there's anything he's learned living in America for five years, it's that they seem to think pumpkin is only for desserts. That, and it gives him a little more leeway in getting something sweet for the road because he's sure he's not going to see custard bread or anpan for another several months.

As Satou finally comes to some kind of decision, Yuuri feels the heat of another body next to him. He looks over to Shirogane, who has a look of mild amusement as Satou eagerly tells her order to the strained smile on the cashier's face.

"I suppose the restraint all of you show when it comes to maintaining your bodies for the season is admirable," Shirogane says, tone light. "You used to get that excited over sweets too, you know."

Yuuri winces, flushing a bit. Apparently, despite what test samples Shirogane ordered for him to do, Yuuri's still being treated like a little kid.

"Things are a lot sweeter in America," Yuuri tells him. "And bigger, too. Phichit and I used to split these things when we got one because of it."

Of course, with Phichit having a faster metabolism than Yuuri and a bigger sweet-tooth, he also took the larger half more often than not. Phichit swears the reason he could get away with it is because of all the spicy food he eats, but Yuuri is still highly skeptical of that theory.

Shirogane hums low, considering. "Ah, yes. Ambassador Chulanont's youngest boy. He's doing well, I presume?"

"He's happy to be training back home," Yuuri says. "More for the fact he can leave ice in the rink this time of year."

"He's a funny one." Shirogane's brow raises just slightly. "It's good to know you keep in contact with someone so influential. It will serve you well, once you've tired of competing."

Yuuri bites his tongue, stamping down the small flare of annoyance. Shirogane means well and he knows that. He's had to be cutthroat to make it in the corporate world, and that means seeing people as networking and business opportunities, not... well, people. The fact he's even indulging them like this at all is proof he's a little more aware than others in his position. It doesn't make the brush-off of Yuuri's livelihood and passion sting any less, though.

"Phichit's a good friend and I'm lucky to have him as one." Yuuri watches Satou near-skip away from the register and takes it as his cue. "I should go order, too."

Shirogane nods and waves him off, reaching up to pat his shoulder with his usual faint half-smile. As Yuuri steps up to the counter he thinks he hears Shirogane answer his phone, but other than curt and bland responses from Shirogane, Yuuri doesn't know what it could be about.

He points to the pumpkin gratin and an anpan bun, ordering them with a hot coffee. The cashier nods and turns to prepare the coffee before gathering his food, stopping only to call out Satou's order of the Mont Blanc she'd been gushing about before and a milk tea.

For fun, Yuuri snaps a photo of the pirozhki display to post while he waits, chewing at his cheek as he tries to tag it appropriately. He barely hears his name called to pick up his own order when Yuriy responds with an annoyed emoji and an insistence that it was more likely than not a poor substitute. What's more entertaining is the flood of equally offended, if not morbidly curious responses from the others who Yuuri vaguely recalls making Yubilenyy their home rink. Huh. Yuuri did not think he'd even be on their radars.

Distracted by it as he is, when he gathers his meal and turns around he sees the back of a familiar overcoat step out through the doors. He frowns, confused, before looking to Satou and Shindou who've sat themselves off in a private corner of the café.

"Do you know where Shirogane-san's off to?" he asks as he sets his tray down. "I mean, I know this was to pay us back for earlier, but..."

Shindou shrugs, tearing off a bite-sized piece of the pannatone. "Who knows. Shirogane-san's face got scary while your back was turned, though. I don't think he liked what he heard on the phone."

Yuuri hums and gathers his coffee mug in his hands, letting the heat of the ceramic seep in. There could be so many reasons for that. How would Yuuri even begin to guess?

"Whatever it is, it doesn't concern us," Satou says, still admiring her dessert. "For now, all we can do is do our best to keep performing up to his expectations."

"I suppose you're right." Yuuri sighs, finally reaching for his spoon to start on his gratin. He has a flight to Hasetsu to catch in five hours and a hotel room to check out of in two. If they're needed, Shirogane knows how and where to find them.

 

* * *

 

It's as Yuuri's sitting in the terminal, waiting for his flight to board, that the call comes in.

He's not expecting it, and he's definitely not prepared for what he's told. He blinks in complete bewilderment as the voice on the other end, otherwise unrecognizeable, tells him he has to repeat this morning's dumb, embarrassing test before he leaves the country for training.

"But I'm going to be too busy to stay here for the labs--"

"We simply ask that you are able to go to our Nagasaki office to fulfill the requirements," says the... receptionist? Assistant? Nurse?? "Of course, this time we ask that you refrain from sexual activity for the next two days so that the sample can be properly tested. The appointment has been pre-made. All you need to do is confirm it and show up within the time frame given."

Yuuri huffs, biting his cheek. True, he's got the handful of days left to finish packing and he'll technically be ready for the second sample by the time he's ready to fly to Saint-Petersburg to meet again with Victor and continue training. But even so -- why?!

"And this is the last thing needed?" he asks for one last bit of clarification.

Papers rustle on the other end of the line. "Yes. Truthfully, this extra sample is purely for insurance, not necessity. We would not want a false positive as our control unit."

That... makes a lot of sense. And it did take some of the edge off, knowing it'd hold even less importance than the samples taken this morning. The seemingly pointed remark about Yuuri's personal life, though, he doesn't like.

Maybe that's what Shirogane heard on the phone: Amano screeching at him how Yuuri must've purposely screwed up their metric out of spite and pride, flaunting his wild, foreign lover while his dependable and stoic countrymen mourned the loss of his good sense. If it was, then it's no wonder why Shirogane made the face Shindou saw back in the café.

(But seriously, Amano needs a better hobby.)

Annoying as it is, the request isn't unreasonable. Perhaps this is just Shirogane realizing he hadn't given Yuuri enough warning, or that he should've been clearer. It'd look bad on Yuuri if he "failed" the tests, especially when Yuuri knows the only reason it'd look that way is because he wanted to celebrate Victor's birthday with him in any way he could.

He sighs, reaching up to rake back his hair. The flight attendants call for first- and business-class passengers to board.

"I understand," he says, embarrassed for how this whole day's gone when it comes to this one stupid thing. "Please let Shirogane-san know I apologize for this."

It isn't until after Yuuri's landed in Fukuoka and swipes his phone out of airplane mode later that afternoon that he sees the text message saying nothing but a simple, straightforward 'Of course I look out for my own, Yuuri-kun.'

But also, not long after the first: 'But this proves my point, doesn't it? You wouldn't have made that sort of mistake before he came.'