“Victor… when you asked me to join you on a beautiful Saturday I expected mimosas and brunch not,” Chris gestured around, “this.”
Victor had called Chris at 8:30 in the morning, an ungodly hour in the weekend in Chris’s opinion, asking if he wanted to go for an ‘outing.’ Chris had agreed with ideas of mimosas and salmon lox running through his mind. Instead, he found himself in Victor’s hot pink Aston Martin, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but trees and birds.
“Oh come now Chris the wilderness is good for the soul! It’s good to take in the scenery sometimes, stop and smell the flowers.”
Chris rolled his eyes. Wilderness was really too generous of a designation for where they were, the park they were at was only about 20 minutes from the nearest town and had a well-developed system of roads, trails, scenic overlooks, restaurants, and shops. Really it was a tourist trap disguised as wilderness.
“Victor, the only reason you have any interest in the outdoors is because a certain dark-haired cutie works here.”
Victor was silent at that, he couldn’t deny the validity of Chris’s argument. It had happened a few months ago when in, an effort to relieve boredom, Victor had gone for a drive and found himself at the visitors center of the park. There had been a guided tour starting in a few minutes so he figured what the hell might as well, he might learn something interesting.
“Hi everyone! I’m Yuuri Katsuki and if you can gather around we can get started.”
Victor turned and did a double take. The man who would be their tour guide was stunningly adorable. He was slightly shorter than Victor had warm brown eyes framed by blue glasses, dark slightly shaggy hair. Victor hadn’t learned a single thing while on the hour-long tour, he just spent the time watching this beautiful man that he had met by chance. Well, met was a bit of a stretch. Victor had planned on talking to Yuuri at the end of the tour but an ill-timed trip to the bathroom prevented that. By the time Victor had returned Yuuri was gone.
Victor had come back every subsequent Saturday at varying times, hoping that he would run into the dark-haired park ranger, but had next to no luck. There was the one time when Victor was on his way into the park in the late morning and caught sight of Yuuri leaving. There was also the time he saw Yuuri teaching a group of kids how to build a fire, and another time Victor saw him helping some campers pitch their tent...
Ok so maybe it wasn’t an issue of not seeing Yuuri but an issue of growing a pair and actually approaching him and talking to him. What would he say? ‘Hi I’m Victor, I’ve been watching you and trying to buck up and ask you out for months,’ if that didn’t sound like a one-way ticket to a restraining order he didn’t know what did. ‘Oh, I remember you! You gave the history tour I was on a couple months ago! I’ve been wanting to tell you how much I learned from you.’ Yeah right like he needed Yuuri potentially asking him what his favorite part was, saying ‘ you ’ might come off a little strong. Normally Victor didn’t have so much trouble striking up a conversation and flirting but Yuuri just did something to him.
Victor needed help, and that’s where Chris came in. Chris didn’t have a handicap in the form of a crush like Victor did. It also helped that Chris could charm a brick wall if the occasion called for it. Oh no, what if he charmed Yuuri too much and liked Chris better than himself?
At that thought Victor almost turned around, he didn’t know if his heart could take months of pining only to be turned down in favor of his best friend.
“So what’s your plan for talking to this guy anyway? You haven’t exactly shared your plan with me.” Chris’ words snapped Victor back to reality.
“Well… first, we find him, then... talk to him?”
Chris blinked at him, “And how do you plan on finding him?”
“Drive around... I guess…” Victor shrugged.
“And how big is this place?”
“Uh, about 100 square kilometers?”
“... Do you know the area that he usually works?”
Victor shook his head and Chris looked at him incredulously.
“My dear friend how the hell do you expect to find one man in this area without any idea where to start?”
After that, they rode in silence for a while. Victor was wrapped in thoughts of his happy future with Yuuri and Chis trying to sneak a little sleep in. Just as he was drifting into that wonderful lazy sleep that accompanies car rides in the sun he was jolted into full consciousness by an ungodly shriek.
“Chris! Oh my god, Chris!”
“What? What’s wrong?!” Were they going off a cliff, was the engine on fire?
“Chris it was him! He just passed us going the other way.”
Chris closed his eyes again. If that’s all that was going on and they weren’t in some kind of crisis then why should he stay awake? Just then the car lurched to one side and the stopped moving forward.
“Victor, what did you do?” Chris had not opened his eyes, maybe if he didn’t whatever the problem was would resolve itself.
“Uh, I think… I think I got us stuck? We should get out and see if there’s anything that we can do.” Chris cracked an eye open and regarded Victor in a way that said ‘We?’ “Ok, fine I’ll get out and see if there’s anything I can do go get us out of this mess.” Chris closed his eye and settled back into his seat satisfied.
Victor had, in fact, gotten them stuck. In his haste to turn around and follow Yuuri, he had misjudged the width of the road and the passenger wheels had slid off the shoulder of the road. The car was low enough and the shoulder was steep enough that the undercarriage of the car was now firmly on the ground.
After completing his assessment, Victor rested his arms on the top of the car leaning down to look in Chirs' window and let out a deep sigh. Chris still hadn’t opened his eyes but he raised an questioning eyebrow when he heard Victor.
“Well it looks like we’re high-centered, one of us will have to push while the other drives.” At that Chris opened his eyes and looked at Victor slightly incredulously. “Ok you’ll have to drive while I push.” Chris looked satisfied with that and moved into the driver's seat.
Victor collapsed against the trunk of the car. The day had turned from a cool pleasant morning into a humid hellish afternoon. Victor was not hot, sweaty and thoroughly disheveled. His hair that he had so carefully styled was now falling haphazardly into his face, his fashionable v-neck was now soaked in sweat.
Chris got out of the car and walked back to Victor, “Chriiis,” Victor whined, “I’m going to die out here and I won’t have even gotten the chance to talk to Yuuri. Are you absolutely sure that you don’t have any phone service?”
Chris patted his friend's back, “Yes I’m absolutely sure, I walked 100 meters in both directions.” Victor let out a defeated whine at that. “Maybe you we should just wait I’m sure someone will be along soon and we can just ask them for help.
“No Chris, no one is ever going to travel this road again. We’re doomed and I’m never going to see Yuuri agai-”
Victor was cut short by the roar of an engine, as the vehicle rounded the bend Chris could tell it was a park jeep. A park jeep with what appeared to be a very attractive Japanese man driving it.
“Well speak of the devil and he shall come. Victor,” he said in a teasing voice, “it looks as though you’ll be seeing your prince charming again after all.”
That sent Victor into a scramble which resulted in him lying face first in the grass. He looked up just in time to see Yuuri pull up next to him and holy shit he was even more beautiful. This time he didn’t have his glasses, his hair was slicked back, and it looked as though his shirt was at least partially unbuttoned possibly without an undershirt. Victor was so stunned that he momentarily forgot he was on the ground.
“Hi there, do you two need some help?” His voice was warm and welcoming but with an undertone of authority that sent a shiver down Victors spine.
Chris glanced at Victor who was gaping open mouthed at their rescuer so he stepped in front of his friend in the hopes that breaking his line of sight would snap him back to his senses. “Yes that would be wonderful we seem to be in a bit of a bind here.”
“Ok I’m probably going to pull you out from the front so I’m going to go find a good place to turn around and I’ll be right back.” The last bit was said with a cheeky smirk that indicated Yuuri knew exactly how they had gotten stuck in the first place.
Once Yuuri was out of sight Chris crouched down next to Victor “Well I can certainly see why you’re smitten, although he’s a lot sexier than you let on.”
Victor seemed to snap back to himself in that moment. “I-I’ve never seen him look like that. H-he usually looks so soft and cute and…” he was at a loss, he could not reconcile that this sex god was the same man as that adorable park ranger that he had seen teaching kids how to build fires and pitch tents.
“Well you better get up and find your tongue before he gets back yeah? It’ll be hard to charm him when you’re on the ground and unable to speak, although maybe that’s something neither of you would mind.”
Victor gaped at Chris, speechless, because he really didn’t think that he would mind being on the ground in front of Yuuri under the right circumstances. As Victor considered those thoughts he managed to drag himself off the ground and brush himself off and arrange himself into something semi-presentable.
After a few moments Yuuri returned, parked in front of Victor’s Car and got out of his Jeep.
“So do you know what the problem is?” Yuuri asked as he made his way around to the back of the car. He knelt down to and looked under the car, which pulled his pants tight against what promised to be a stunning ass and thighs that could make anyone weep with their beauty.
“Uh.. I…” Although Victor was off the ground, this new view rendered him speechless.
Chris took pity on his friend and spoke up, “Pretty sure we’re high-centered. The ground also seems too soft so we couldn’t get quite enough traction to pull out.”
Yuuri stood and turned towards the other two men and revealed that his uniform shirt was, in fact half unbuttoned and he seemed to be missing an undershirt. He seemed to have made some attempt at keeping the shirt from just flying open because it was tucked into his uniform pants. It did however allow for tantalizing glimpses of washboard abs and defined pecs.
“Well it could be worse, there’s a good place to hook the winch onto back here, and as you said, the ground is pretty soft so there shouldn’t be too much damage to the underside of the car. I’ll go get the tow rope, be right back.” Yuuri trotted off to his jeep.
Chris elbowed Victor, “You better get it together my friend, otherwise you’re going to lose your chance.”
“I can’t Chris!” Victor hissed, “My heart can’t take this kind of abuse, did you see…”
He was abruptly cut off by Yuuri trotting up to them tow rope in hand, he then promptly dropped onto his back and shimmied under the back end of the car. Victor let out an involuntary squeak, Yuuri’s shimmying had made his shirt fall open even further revealing more skin. He was vaguely aware of Chris hissing at him to at least try and make conversation.
Victor cleared his throat, “So ranger..?” God he hoped he didn’t sound as nervous as he felt.
“Katsuki, Katsuki Yuuri.” His voice was slightly muffled from under the car.
“So Ranger Katsuki, how long have you worked at the park?”
“Uh at this park?” Yuuri worked his way out from under the car, and started to stand. “This is my second season at this park specifically and forth working as a seasonal ranger.”
“Oh wow so you must like this kind of work?”
“Yeah I do it’s relaxing for the most part and it gives me time to think. Although I do like doing the tours from time to time.” At that he flashed a blinding smile at Victor. “Alright so can one of you go and put the car in neutral and steer?” With that he retreated to his jeep.
“Oh for Christ’s sake Victor snap out of it and take care of the car,” Chris’ rebuke didn’t hold any real bite but it did get Victor moving.
After about thirty seconds of gentle pulling the car was free and Yuuri was coming to unhook the tow rope.
“Is there anything else that you two might need before I take off?” Yuuri looked at Victor almost hopefully.
After a moment Chris stepped forward to shake Yuuri’s hand, “Thank you so much Ranger Katsuki. We’re in your debt.”
Yuuri laughed “You’re welcome, but I was just doing my job.” His eyes strayed to Victor, “It was nice meeting you both, please come back and visit!” With that Yuuri turned, got back in his jeep and left.
After Yuuri's jeep disapeared around the corner Chris whacked Victor on the back of the head “What was that for!?” Victor yelled indignantly.
“You are absolutely useless you know that.” Chris sounded resigned, “You had the perfect opportunity to talk to him and you said exactly one sentence.”
“I-Oh ok I suppose you’re right, but you saw him! How was I supposed to talk to someone who looked like that?”
Victor started to move towards the front of the car but Chris grabbed his arm to stop him. “Oh I don’t think so my friend, you’re not driving after the mess you got us into.”
There was no way Victor could argue with that.
Victor was brooding as they made their way down the road towards the exit of the park. Chris was right he had a perfect opportunity to talk to Yuuri, and had largely missed it. And now here he was leaving the park without accomplishing his goal again.
“You know you don’t have to be so down about it my friend.” Victor grunted in response, “I mean look on the bright side, at least you formally met him this time.” Victor didn’t bother to respond to that even if it was true. Chris sighed, if this was how Victor was going to be then there wasn’t much he could do about it.
Chris slowed the car and pulled into the visitor center just inside the park. “Why’d you stop here.” Victor’s words were muffled by the hand supporting his face.
“Because I need to pee and you should get a bottle or two of water. You’ll be dehydrated after pushing on the car in this heat.”
Victor sighed but followed Chris into the center.
Inside was your standard visitors center over priced cheap trinkets, over priced refreshments, and literature on the park. Behind the counter was a rather attractive young man with dark hair, thick eyebrows, and an overly enthusiastic face that widened into a shocked expression when Victor and Chris entered. To his credit he was able to school his features into a frendly how-may-I-help-you expression.
Chris waked straight up the the counter “Hi, I’m Chris this is Victor. Is Ranger Katsuki Yuuri around?” Victor looked at Chris in horror, what the hell was he thinking? The dark haired man's expression morphed into something mischievous that frankly worried Victor.
“You’re in luck he just got back about ten minutes ago. HEY YUUURI!”
There was an answering call from the back, “What Phichit? I told you I was changing!”
“You have a couple of guests asking for you so get out here!”
“Alright, alright I’ll be right out!”
The other ranger, Phichit, grinned. “He’ll be right out, he had a… interesting day and his uniform took a bit of a beating so he’s changing.”
“Oh sure, in the meantime would you mind showing me some of the best selling items here?” Chris had the same mischievous glint to his eye as Phichit.
“Why of course! I’m always trying to help people find the perfect thing.”
“Victor, be a dear and wait here for Ranger Katsuki won’t you?”
“Wha-what, wait hold on.” But they were already walking away to inspect a shelf full of mugs and magnets. It was a conspiracy Victor was sure.
Just then Yuuri walked out of the back room eyes focused on buttoning the last button on his shirt. “Honestly Phichit I don-” He stopped short as he caught sight of Victor, “Oh, uh hello.”
“Uh hi,” Victor was slightly grateful that Yuuri was clad in a regular-all-buttons-buttoned uniform, it kept his brain from completely short circuiting. Although the slicked back hair and the lack of glasses did things to him. “We-I just wanted to thank you again for helping us earlier. I’m Victor by the way, I forgot to introduce myself earlier. So rude of me.” Victor let out one of his rare, genuine heart shaped smiles.
“Oh it’s ok people are usually freaking out a lot more when their car gets stuck, plus you were obviously tired from trying to get unstuck.”
The two fell into slightly awkward silence after that. Thankfully their friends decided that the two had been tortured enough and came back over.
“Ready to go Victor?” Chris asked as he paid for his kitschy souvenir.
Victor looked to Yuuri who was regarding Victor with what might be considered hope. Victor looked back at Chris “Yeah I suppose so.” Did Chris look disappointed?
Chris finished paying and they turned to leave, Victor took one last glance at Yuuri as he walked out of the door. With each step Victor felt his stomach tighten in a uncomfortable way, something wasn’t right. He opened the passenger door, and stopped.
This was the best opportunity he had gotten and he’d done almost nothing to take advantage of it. He could have at least asked what Yuuri’s schedule was like, suggested a drink, or dinner, or both as a thank you. Then they could see if they’d be a good fit together, or at least if they could get to know each other. Nope this was not how this was going to end there was no way that Victor fucking Nikiforov was going to let this chance go.
Victor bolted for the visitor center entrance, flung the door open, and practically slammed into the counter. Yuuri was still there talking to Phichit, they both looked at him wide eyed.
“Y-Yuuri, can I- w-would you let me take you to dinner? As a thank you?” Victor was out of breath from nerves, the knot in his stomach and migrated to his chest at some point. "I know you said you were just doing your job... but s-still." Victor's words petered out at the end unsure how to continue.
Yuuri’s face broke into a grin, “Sure, I’d like that.” He grabbed a card off the counter and jotted something on the back. “Here’s my number you can text, and we can set up a date. Or call if that suits you.”
Victor took the card and for the second time that day felt a genuine heart shaped smile spread over his features. “Ok, great!” He started baking away “Yeah great I’ll be in touch, thanks Yuuri!” He turned and walked out the door.
As he turned to get in the car he saw Phichit and Yuuri high five.