The knock on the door startles Yuuri even if he’s sitting in the hallway waiting for it. He’s been sitting here for ten minutes, just staring at the white apartment door, trying really hard not to freak the fuck out. He wishes he had Vicchan with him to calm his raging nerves, but he’s left him with Mari for the week, not daring to ask the palace if he could bring his dog.
It’s been a week since he received the email, and after Phichit had coaxed him back into the land of the living after an actual omega drop on the floor of the personnel room floor, something Yuuri has never experienced before, he had helped Yuuri come to terms with the contents of the invitation.
Yes. It is an official email. Yes. It meant that Yuuri is going to meet the prince. Yes. It means that the prince might be interested in Yuuri. The whole thing is as if taken from a fairytale. A very twisted fairytale. Because surely the prince will take one look at Yuuri, thank him for coming, since he’s nice like that, and send him back home on the train. There is no way the prince will actually be interested in Yuuri, right?
Yuuri stands on shaky legs, unlocking and opening the door slowly. There are two people standing outside of it, one is female with fiery red hair and sparkling blue eyes, a beta. The other is a dark haired male, alpha, Yuuri thinks. He’s in a black suit, sunglasses on his face, and looks every bit as every stereotypical bodyguard Yuuri has seen in movies.
“Hello, Yuuri Katsuki?” The woman asks and Yuuri nods, swallowing hard. “You have ID?”
“Uhm, sure.” He picks up his wallet and pulls up his driver's license and holds it out, heart hammering in his chest. The woman looks at it, looks at Yuuri, and then nods, wide smile on her face as she hands the card back.
“Sorry. I had to make sure. I’m Mila, and I’m Victor’s advisor. This is Otabek,” she says, gesturing to the guard behind her, who waves once. “He’s one of Victor’s body guards. Lilia has informed you that we were coming to get you I hope?”
Yuuri must look completely shocked, but he nods. Lilia had informed him of a schedule, names of the people picking him up and sent a list of appropriate clothing to bring.
“Y-yes, she did,” Yuuri agrees, trying to calm his racing heart by taking deep breaths.
“Great,” Mila says looking into the hallway. “Is this your only luggage?”
“Yeah,” Yuuri looks down at the single suitcase and backpack. “I hope it’s not too much?”
He had tried to pack lightly, while still bringing everything on the list. Some of the things he didn’t even own, and he hopes he won’t get into much trouble for it.
Mila laughs, eyes glittering as she shakes her head, behind her Otabek’s lips twitch into a small smile.
“Oh no! We’re just used to traveling with people who pack their entire wardrobe. Ready to go?”
Yuuri nods. reaching for his bags but before he reaches them, Otabek has grabbed them both.
“I can take them,” Yuuri assures but Otabek shakes his head.
“The prince would like me to take them,” he assures and Yuuri flushes at the mention of Victor, his stomach flipping at the thought of soon being at the palace, where the prince lives. That soon, Yuuri will meet him. He’s still not sure this isn’t a fever dream.
They walk out to a sleek black car, unmarked and without the flags Yuuri has seen the royal vehicles decorated with before. Otabek places his bags in the trunk, and then opens the door for Yuuri, the omega blushing as he slides into the car. He works his lower lip between his teeth, trying not to freak out about being in a closed area with two unknown people, palace employees or not. He reaches for his collar absentmindedly, checking to make sure it’s still there.
The Winter Palace lies outside of the capital, a six hour drive from the small town Yuuri lives in. He had been prepared to take the train, but Lilia insisted that the prince wanted to send a car, and who was Yuuri to argue with that?
“How are you feeling, Yuuri?” Mila asks from the seat next to him when they’ve all been seated, Otabek directing the car onto the freeway.
“Alright. Nervous. I- I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Yes, it’s a very unique situation. The entire palace have been buzzing with it ever since the decision of the ‘Catarina Praxi’ was made, and then again when the prince made his choice. We’ve been to so many information gatherings and meetings I've lost count on how many it’s been,” Mila agrees.
“Yes, I can’t imagine how much work it must be,” Yuuri says, trying to wrap his mind around how the organisation of the royal house handles something like this.
Yuuri probably has more knowledge about how the royal house is organised than most. Partly because of his infatuation with the gorgeous Crown Prince, and partly because of his college major, which, if he is going to be completely honest with himself, might have been influenced by his infatuation.
“Yes, but it’s been so much fun too. It’s good when something new and different happens. And we all want the Crown Prince to be happy, so it’s worth the trouble,” Mila assures him.
She leans in a little closer, glint in her eye as she does.
“You know, the prince hasn’t been able to stop talking about you since he opened your admittance. He is very much looking forward to meet you.”
Yuuri’s stomach flips again, both in excitement and with nerves. He’s looking forward to meeting the prince as well, but he’s very nervous too. He doesn’t know the prince, more than through interviews, documentaries and articles. He’s sure there is more to Victor than he has ever seen, and he longs to know it.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him too,” Yuuri admits, feeling his cheeks flush. “Will you tell me about him?”
After seven hours, two food and bathroom breaks and stories upon stories about the prince, Yuuri feels more relaxed. Mila and Otabek seem to both be close to the prince, knowing him personally, and even if Yuuri notices them holding some things back, they speak very warmly of him. They paint a rather different picture of the prince than the media does, and Yuuri soaks it all up, the dorky, soft and vulnerable. With every mile they drive, Yuuri longs to know the prince even more. Something he didn’t know was possible.
“He’s a very kind and strong person, Yuuri.” Mila says, finally. “Soft, but lonely. I hope you are a good match. It would make all of us happy if he found love.”
It’s late when they arrive at the capital, street lights guiding them through to the other side of the city. The Winter Palace is breathtaking, and Yuuri can hardly grasp all the intricate ornaments decorating both the outside and inside of it. It looks much more beautiful in person, and Yuuri thinks he might be able to get lost just walking around looking at all the art and decorations, halls and halls filled with them.
Mila and Otabek walks him to his room, a suite with a large bedroom and bathroom. It’s almost ten pm, and after Otabek has left his bags and excused himself, Mila informs him that they will send up someone with a tray of food, and that he should rest. She’ll come to him at nine tomorrow morning, and then he will get ready to meet the prince.
Yuuri constructs a quick temporary nest on the large plush bed, scenting the blankets and pillows he finds in an extra closet. It’s not as intricate as he would like, but he is too tired to construct a full nest now. He falls asleep before the food arrives, dreaming of endless travels, and never reaching his destination.
The next morning Mila brings him breakfast and they sit together in the small couch group that’s set up in Yuuri’s bedroom. The tray is filled with food - bread, fruit, eggs and waffles. Yuuri feel’s like he’s starving as he digs in, Mila smiling as she leans back with a coffee cup in her hands, claiming she’s already eaten when he offers her some.
“Okay, so after this I will ask you to go take a shower with these scent neutral soaps. It’s to bring out your natural scent. It’s just for the first meeting with the prince, to make sure you’re compatible. You can wear blockers for the rest of the stay if you feel more comfortable with that. The prince will also be without scent blockers, so you should be prepared for that.”
Yuuri nods, chewing on some toast. He’s not used to being close to alphas without scent blockers, at least not alone. Some that come into the restaurant don't use them, but the scents get mixed and therefore don’t affect him too much.
“When you’re done, I have a scentless dress you will need to wear, and I have a collar and cuffs that will let through your scent while still protecting them. This is also just for today. You can wear all your own things tomorrow.”
Yuuri’s mind is spinning, and he’s starting to get scared his scent won’t be as the prince might have remembered it, if he will be disappointed. Cupping his hands around a delicate porcelain cup, swirling with red and gold patterns, he leans back in the armchair, trying to push down his nerves.
“Have you seen him today?” Yuuri asks and Mila’s lips form into a small smile, nodding.
“I have. He was nervous, excited. He has a meeting now, before he comes to see you, and he tried very hard to have me cancel it so he could come to you sooner.”
Mila leaves him with the designated items, and Yuuri leaves the clothes, collar and cuffs on the bed, before he goes into the bathroom with the soaps. He longs to sink into the bath, but decides he’ll have to use it another time. He’s too anxious to relax now anyway, and he doesn’t want to keep Victor waiting.
The spray of the shower is warm, his natural scent of cherry blossom, vanilla and sandalwood filling the humid air. He dries off and steps out on the tile floor, pulling on a pair of his own boxers and pulls the dark blue tunic Mila left over his head. It reminds him of a dance routine costume he used for a recital once, and he smiles as he remembers the routine, locking the black collar and cuffs into place, placing the key in the nightstand. All he can do after that is wait.
Nerves roll in Yuuri’s stomach as the minutes tick by, and after a while he can no longer sit still. He starts pacing in the room, looking at all the paintings decorating the walls and out through the window into the lush gardens. If today's meeting goes well, maybe he can ask the prince if they can take a walk through them during Yuuri’s stay.
When he’s circled the room three times, nervous energy still bubbling in him, Yuuri starts to move a little more freely across the floor. Dancing has always helped him relax, and the small steps soon turn into pirouettes and jumps. It’s no real choreography, only favourite steps and flowing movements that feels right. His body welcomes the release of energy that has been building since he was picked up from his apartment yesterday, and with a song in mind he makes the steps bigger, bolder, moving surely across the floor. He can feel himself relaxing and as he guides the movements to his will, stepping into a several turn piruet.
He’s on the third lap of his turns, going for four, when he spots someone by the door. Startled, he falls out of the pirouette gracelessly, eyes wide as he turns to face whoever has managed to walk into the room unnoticed, and comes face to face with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Victor Nikiforov.
He’s in a soft black sweater, tight dark blue jeans that hug his legs just right. He looks even more beautiful than in the pictures and videos Yuuri has repeatedly watched. His skin cream white, with a slight flush on his cheeks, lips pretty pink. His silver bang is swept back slightly, two bright blue eyes meeting Yuuri’s. His heart thunders in his chest, and he sucks in a deep breath to try to calm it.
It’s a mistake, because the scent of evergreen, roses and alpha fills his senses and he’s almost knocked back by the intensity of it, how it almost calls to him. He can’t stop himself as he takes another deep breath of air, eyes fluttering close as the scent surrounds him.
“Please,” the prince says, voice wonderfully deep, and Yuuri wills his eyes to open so he can look at him. “Don’t stop on my account. That was lovely.”
“Your highness,” Yuuri stutters but Victor immediately shakes his head, taking a step further into the room, distance between them shrinking.
“Please,” the prince says, licking his lips nervously. “Call me Victor?”
Yuuri shudders. He doesn’t know if it’s the intensity in those eyes, the overwhelming and delicious scent or just the fact that he’s standing in the presence of someone that he has admired for years, but Yuuri forgets all manners. He should protest, admit that he’s not worthy, but instead the name slips off his tongue uninhibited, as if it belongs there.
Yuuri means to continue. To apologise for not hearing him coming in, for dancing. He never gets the chance because Victor’s face spreads into the loveliest smile. It’s wide and bright, heart shaped. It makes Yuuri’s head spin.
“Yuuri,” Victor answers, stepping even closer. He reaches out and takes Yuuri’s hand in his, bringing it up to his mouth. He places a soft kiss on Yuuri’s knuckles, and Yuuri thinks that there must be a miracle that's holding him upright, with how his knees tremble. “I’m so glad you’ve come to see me.”
“T-thank you for inviting me,” Yuuri answers and Victor is still holding his hand, warm and solid and real in Yuuri’s grip.
They are both silent for a moment, and Victor just smiles, eyes so bright and filled with life, joy. Yuuri feels like he’s fallen through the looking glass. This is so different, Yuuri sees it now. This Victor looks alive in a way Yuuri has never seen before, and he’s doing it looking at Yuuri.
“You are more beautiful than I could ever have imagined,” Victor says, and Yuuri is sure his heart stops for a second, all the blood in his body rushing to his cheeks. He ducks his head, embarrassed. His mind wants to scream that it’s a lie, that Victor is only saying it to be kind, but he can’t deny the sincerity in Victor’s eyes, the squeeze of his hand around Yuuri’s.
“Thank you,” he breathes, the scent filling his nose again. It’s divine. “I was sure you would be disappointed.”
A hand comes up underneath Yuuri’s chin, pushing it softly upwards until he’s staring into those startling blue eyes again. Victor is frowning slightly, brows furrowed, creating a soft crease between them. They’re closer now, and Yuuri feels surrounded by Victor’s scent. He feels addicted to it too, taking deep breaths to let it fill his nose.
“Why would you think such a thing, Yuuri?”
Yuuri is starting to feel too warm, but Victor’s hands on him feels so soft, so cool. It must be the nerves, or that he was dancing just a minute ago.
“I’m pretty ordinary?” Yuuri says, and he has no idea why it sounds like a question. Victor shakes his head immediately, leaning in a little closer, tilting his head slightly. Victor takes a deep breath, the exhale tickling the skin of Yuuri’s neck, and he realises that Victor is breathing in his scent as well. Another flash of heat surges up in his body at the thought, hands trembling.
“I don’t think there is anything ordinary about you,” Victor says as he pulls back, hand still clasped with Yuuri’s. “Let’s sit.”
Yuuri follows as Victor guides him into the couch, Victor sitting down in an armchair next to him.
“Was the trip here alright?” Victor asks and Yuuri nods, gathering courage to tell him about Mila and Otabek and how nice they had been. This leads them into talking about how Victor knows them, and Yuuri listens to the melody of Victor’s voice, dazed. Victor smiles, still heart shaped, and Yuuri’s heart flips again. He still feels so hot, and even though he’s barely wearing any clothes he wants to remove them, fabric itching against his skin.
His mind feels hazy, lulled by Victor’s deep voice and he must have been zoning out, because suddenly there is a hand on his cheek. The touch is cool and heavenly, and Yuuri turns on instinct, lips brushing the place where the delicious scent wrapping around him is the strongest.
“Yuuri,” a voice calls and Yuuri looks up, catching blue eyes looking down at him. His mind is so dizzy. Something must be wrong.
“Victor,” he says, pleading. He knows it’s him, even if he feels dazed, like he’s falling. “Please.”
Everything is a jumble after that. Yuuri remembers being moved, clutching hard onto the coolness of the person next to him, scent delicious and rich, everything Yuuri wants. The alpha’s voice is calm, telling Yuuri how he’ll take care of him. Yuuri submits. He doesn't fight it at all, baring his collared clad neck completely. He wants the alpha to take care of him, to want him, claim him. Surely that will make the heat in his body cool. He needs this alpha, who smells better than anything Yuuri has ever smelled before.
He remembers heat and want and then a sharp pinch in his upper arm. Everything turns dark after that.