“Victor! You’re going to be late!”
Victor came running out of the bathroom, socks sliding across the hardwood. Makkachin popped out behind him from the bedroom, nails clacking. She bumped the back of Victor’s legs when he came to a quick stop to grab his shoes and he fell over with a shriek, catching himself on the wall next to the door.
Yuuri laughed. “Be careful, silly,” he said, voice soft.
Victor stood up, turning away from the door and patting his pockets to check if he’d forgotten anything important. Yuuri took the moment to place a light kiss on Victor’s nose. He itched the place Yuuri's lips touched, turned, and walked out of his apartment, giving his poodle one last scratch behind the ears before he closed the door.
“Goodbye,” Yuuri whispered in the new silence.
Yuuri was Victor’s roommate of three months. That’s what he liked to pretend. He said “good morning” when Victor came out into the kitchen, put his favorite wake-up tea on the counter so he wouldn’t have to look in his disheveled cabinet for it, kept Makkachin company while he was gone, and said “good night” in the evening. Yuuri was very fond of their little routine; it made him feel like he had a life to live.
He did not, of course; Yuuri had died at the age of 23, in 1932, from tuberculosis. He did not die in this apartment. It had not, in fact, been built at the time of his death. However, 53 years prior, the ikebana vase his spirit was joined to was sold from his parents’ home and inn where he had died. It travelled with the tourist who bought it to America before being sent to a relative in France. It was given as a gift from that relative to her lover, and then to their child.
That child, and then adult, was the last person he had lived with before Victor. He had been loud loud loud, which Yuuri hated, but he couldn’t change who held his vase. Eventually, that man’s parties dwindled down and he began to drink more alone. As far as Yuuri could tell, he ended up moving in with his mother after the death of his father to help take care of her in her elder years, selling almost all of his belongings, vase included. Yuuri wished them the best.
Eventually the vase ended up in a flea market in Fontainebleau, where it was bought by Victor. Yuuri was thankful because he was starting to feel lonely, passed by, forgotten (although no one ever knew he was there in the first place). Victor wrapped it up like a treasure in copies of L’Equipe that had pictures of his own face and headlines with his own name on the front page. That’s how Yuuri learned Victor was an ice skater, and a good one at that. It made him think of his home in Hasetsu, how he would skate with his sister on the frozen pond before he fell ill, humming duets together to dance along to. When they arrived in St. Petersburg, Victor carefully unwrapped the vase, then crumpled up and recycled every one of the papers with his name on it.
Yuuri liked him pretty much right away. Victor was sweet with his cute poodle, and kind to everyone. He got a little snarky with his friends, especially the blond child who skated with him and had Yuuri’s name, but he could tell it was from love; they acted like brothers.
Victor, thankfully, didn’t bring people home every night he went out (only once or twice, and Yuuri had stayed far, far away. But he did take each of the strangers’ socks and chuck them out the bathroom window into the alleyway behind the building, because he was a little petty and he never liked those strangers. They always left too quickly in the morning, and Victor always looked lonelier the next day). Victor told Makkachin he liked her company the best.
Yuuri had been worried about Makkachin at first. Ghosts and dogs don’t often get along, but she had noticed him right away, tail wagging. Yuuri had cried big wet tears that dissipated before they could hit the ground because it was the first time in 87 years someone had acknowledged he was there. And the big poodle treated him like a friend. They lay next to each other while Victor was out, and Yuuri would sometimes sneak her a treat from the glass jar on the kitchen counter. She would lick his cheek, not even caring how cold he was, that it was akin to lapping up fog.
They made a good little family, Yuuri liked to think.
(Yuuri knew he wasn’t really a part of it, but he needed to pretend, or he figured he’d go crazy).