His long silver ponytail swings behind Victor as he makes his way down the school corridor, math textbook clenched to his chest, a failed math test lying on top of it. The crowd of students occupying the corridor, chatting, hurrying to classes, standing by their lockers, they all part for him without him needing to raise an eyebrow. He barely registers it happening anymore. It’s been like this ever since he became cheer captain sophomore year.
Victor’s on top of the social food chain. He’s pretty, popular, and led his cheerleaders to a second place finish in the National Cheerleading Championships last year. There are very few things that can threaten his position on top at this school, one of them being the screaming red F decorating the top right corner of his latest math test.
Math has never been Victor’s thing. Studying in general has never been Victor’s thing. He’s gotten by alright up until now, no amazing grades but enough to let him stay on the cheer team and not flunk out, and what more could he ask for? Victor’s a great cheerleader, and a good captain as well. He works hard to make his routines fresh and surprising, makes sure the squad is in good shape, and makes cute schedule notes for them. He’s also great at mixing drinks at parties, a great dancer, and he always knows when to stop drinking. People come to him with all the juicy gossip first, so he knows almost everything that’s worth knowing about anyone who’s worth knowing at school. Who needs math when you have all of that? Victor, apparently, if he wants to keep it. It’s not like Victor doesn’t have ambitions for life after high school. He totally does! It’s just really hard to think as far ahead as adulthood and jobs and stuff like that when he’s as busy as he is now.
He smiles charmingly at the group of football players hanging around outside one of the classrooms, purposefully avoiding looking at Cao Bin in the middle of it.
When Victor ended things between them at the end of junior year, he had hoped they could still stay friends, or at least be civil to each other. After all, they will have to spend a lot of time around each other during their senior year, with Victor being cheer captain and Cao being football captain. Apparently, even being polite is impossible. It didn’t matter that Cao had slept with half of the other team’s cheerleading squad during a spring scrimmage when Victor was home with the stomach flu; in his eyes, Victor had no right breaking things off with him.
After the epic fight following the breakup that was witnessed by half the school, things had been blissfully quiet during the summer. Victor had spent the entire break sunbathing, hanging out at the beach with Chris, Mila, Minami, and the others on the squad. Victor doesn’t really get tan, more like he burns red and then gets freckles all over his nose and shoulders that are awfully hard to cover with concealer. Therefore, he had cute boys rub sunscreen on him when he needed it. None of them were particularly interesting, though, and Victor had shooed them away after they’d served their purpose. Then, as soon as school started, Cao had come up to him and demanded they get back together.
“We’re supposed to be a couple!” the quarterback protested when Victor had raised an eyebrow and called him insane. “It’s basically in the high school rulebook.”
Victor had refused and has gotten several texts a day from his ex ever since, claiming that they need to talk and that Victor is his. Victor’s even blocked Cao on every social media platform and blocked his phone number, just to get some peace.
Victor sways his hips a little extra after he’s passed the corner and is out of view of the football players, seeing some of the freshmen blush, eyes darting from him to the floor and then back. A smile creeps up Victor’s face. He knows he looks amazing. The blue, white, and green cheerleading uniform fits him perfectly, showing off just a hint of his abs, the skirt the ideal length to display his long legs. It’s not that often he gets to wear the uniform in school, but since there’s a pep rally for the soccer team, Victor can show off all his best assets in it. The deep blue cheerleading jacket they got permission to buy after coming in second at nationals hangs over his shoulders, Aria High School on the back in white. Victor is super proud of his jacket. He made that happen. No cheerleaders had gotten permission to buy jackets before and he can’t lose that privilege for the team. He needs to get a better result on the next math test, and all the ones after that. Lilia’s going to kick him off the squad otherwise.
There’s a note pinned to the test, the student to whom his math teacher, Satsuki, recommended him to for tutoring. He doesn’t love the idea, mostly because he really doesn’t have time for tutoring sessions with school, practice, parties, and hanging out with friends, but he supposes he’ll just have to make do. He steps up to the door to the tutoring center with a deep steadying breath and steps in.
He’s never been in the tutoring center before. One wall is covered in shelves and packed with books, some that Victor recognises from his classes as a student at Aria. Another wall is covered with computer desks, while the floor in between has three smaller round tables, probably for studying. There are two students sitting at one of the tables. One is a girl with dark brown hair in pigtails, the other a younger blond. Victor recognises neither of them. At the far end of the room, there’s a door with tinted glass, and he can see people moving around behind it.
The girl with dark hair looks up from where she’s showing the younger student something in a book. She must be the tutor then. As soon as she spots Victor, her eyes widen slightly, and Victor smiles his charming-but-not-inviting smile, polite but nothing more.
“Hi!” she says, standing from the table to approach Victor. “I’m Yuuko and I’m a tutor here. Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Yuuri,” Victor says, holding out the note Satsuki gave him, which Yuuko takes. Her smile spreads wide as she reads it, eyes glittering with mirth as she hands it over.
“Of course. Wait here and I’ll get him,” she says, turning towards the door in the back. There’s a keypad on the side where she enters a code, opening the door just slightly and poking her head in.
“Yuuri, there’s a student here for you.”
“Oh, from Satsuki’s class?” a voice replies from behind the door. It’s a nice voice, masculine but not too deep. Victor’s pretty sure he doesn't know it.
There’s some shuffling from behind the door and Victor leans back against the wall behind him as he waits. He doesn’t know any Yuuri, besides the Yuri Plisetsky who’s on the football team, and this obviously isn’t him. Victor thought he knew most people in school, heard gossip about them and knew all their dirty secrets, but clearly he was wrong. It feels a bit strange. Yuuko straightens, smile still on her face, and the door opens wider as another student steps out.
Victor blinks, then blinks again, because he feels like he’s fallen through the looking glass or maybe into heaven, butterflies immediately erupting in his stomach. The boy who comes out has black hair, messy in a very cute way. Large dark eyes sit above high cheekbones that curve into round cheeks that taper down to a sharp jaw. Blue framed glasses rest on his cute nose. He’s in a baggy, deep purple hoodie that says KATSUDAMN on the front, which means nothing at all to Victor. His jeans are light, holes in the knees and cuffs rolled up to show off his bare ankles and white sneakers. Wow. He’s like, the prettiest person Victor has ever seen, ever.
He must be at least a sophomore, since he’s tutoring, and that means Victor must have passed him a million times in the hallway and never noticed, which is an outrage because this boy is so pretty Victor wants to die. The boy, Yuuri hopefully, looks up and spots Victor and his jaw drops. A giddy feeling fills Victor—he can only hope it’s a good jaw drop. He tilts his head just so, angling his body against the wall so his hip pops out, ponytail falling over his shoulder as he lowers his eyes a little. It’s not like he doesn’t know what to do to look his best, and he most definitely wants to look his best right now in front of this gorgeous boy.
A deep crimson blush floods Yuuri’s face, and Victor has to bite his lip a little to keep the satisfied smirk off his face. Yuuri is really cute when he blushes too. Sadly, Yuuri’s deep brown eyes turn from Victor to Yuuko, and Victor almost wants to pout about the attention shifting away from him. Yuuko, on the other hand, is smiling like this is the best day of her life. Victor wonders what that’s all about.
“This is the student who needs tutoring in math,” Yuuko says, and Yuuri’s mouth opens and closes a few time, jaw still mostly slack, eyes on Yuuko. Victor really can’t have that.
“Hi,” he says, pushing off the wall to close the distance between him and this pretty boy. Thankfully, his eyes drift over from Yuuko, still wide in surprise. “I’m Victor. Are you Yuuri?” He cocks his head just so, again, making the ponytail swing behind him as he looks at Yuuri. Up close, his dark eyes turn caramel and his pink lips look plump and soft. This boy just keeps getting better and better.
“I— Um, yes,” Yuuri stutters, eyes darting across Victor’s face.
“Good!” Victor chirps cheerfully. This tutoring thing might not be half bad, if it means he’ll be spending time with Yuuri. He still can’t believe he hasn't noticed him before. “Satsuki says you’re the one to ask about math tutoring. You think you can help me, Yuuri~?” Victor makes sure to roll the name on his tongue, and Yuuri becomes impossibly redder. Cute.
“I— Wha— Yeah, she said— Let’s sit okay? And I can— Here.” Yuuri barely manages to get the words out, pulling out a chair next to an empty table for Victor. Yuuko snickers and Yuuri shoots her a look before she goes back to the younger student.
Yuuri disappears into the other room, coming back just a few moments later with a folder and a stack of papers. He places them on the table before he sits down next to Victor, way too far away, and then starts pulling out papers to show him. Victor takes the opportunity to scoot closer, maybe a little closer than he should, just because he can.
“I— Okay, Satsuki told me about what you usually struggle with, so I made a lesson plan. I-I didn’t know you were a cheerleader so I— You’ll have to go through it to see if it conflicts with anything,” Yuuri says, and that’s so sweet for him to think of Victor’s schedule like that.
Victor leans into Yuuri’s space to look at the paper instead of pulling it over. “Hm, I have practice on Wednesdays after school so I can’t then, but I have a free period after lunch that day, if we can move it?” Victor suggests, fluttering his lashes just a little.
He usually crashes Chris’ prom planning meetings during his free period, but he guesses he can skip it if it means hanging out with Yuuri instead. Yuuri nods, marking changes on the sheet in neat handwriting. This would mean they have two sessions each week, which Victor thinks isn’t enough, even with his busy schedule.
They go through Yuuri’s plan, which is very thorough. There are notes on what Victor can work on on his own and what they’ll work on together, with an extra session planned before scheduled tests. Yuuri’s voice grows sure as he goes through it, as if he’s sinking into something familiar. Curiosity spikes in Victor. Who is this blushing but confident boy, and why has Victor never noticed him before?
“Sound good?” Yuuri asks, turning to catch Victor’s eye, and okay, Victor might have been spacing out, looking at how Yuuri’s long lashes fall down his cheeks when he blinks and he might not have heard it all, but the way the butterflies flutter about in his stomach when Yuuri looks straight at him might be a bit addicting.
“Y-yeah,” Victor says, surprised by his own breathlessness.
“Victor! Have you heard the new thing about Mila and Georgi?” Chris asks as he slides into the chair next to Victor, voice in a mock whisper. Victor only waves his hands dismissively, his legs swinging over the armrest of the chair he’s sitting in, eyes scanning the pages of last year's edition of the yearbook.
“I don’t care about Mila and Georgi and their endless will they, won’t they,” he mumbles, flipping to another page, eyes darting across the faces in the photos.
“What are you doing?” Chris asks, leaning over his shoulder to take a look.
“I’m looking for Yuuri,” Victor answers, flipping to another set of pages, continuing to search.
“Yuuri?” Chris asks, and Victor can hear the confusion in his voice, but Victor doesn’t have time to answer right now. “Who’s Yuuri?”
“He’s— AHA!” Victor exclaims, seeing Chris startle from the corner of his eye. His finger rests against the photo of his tutor. Yuuri’s hair is a little shorter, and he’s a bit scrawnier, cheeks rounder, in a different set of glasses, but it’s definitely him. He’s still cute but in a more childish way, maybe. He’s really filled out over the summer. Yuuri’s a senior, too, and Victor can’t believe he’s never noticed him before.
“So I gather that’s Yuuri,” Chris says, and Victor nods in reply, biting on the cuticle of his thumb. “Why are you looking at nerds instead of listening to my juicy gossip?”
Victor frowns and turns to his friend, who has a genuinely surprised expression on his face. Victor looks down at the picture again and his heart jumps. God, he’s so pretty.
“He’s my new tutor,” Vitor says, flipping to the next page, starting to look though the clubs.
There’s an itch under his skin, this need to know more, to know everything about this boy. He spots Yuuri in the photo for the Video Game Club with some students Victor’s shared some classes with, none of whom Victor really knows. He’s also in the photo for the Math Club, where Victor knows he knows no one, because that’s social suicide. The only thing worse than that is the chess club, of which Yuuri is not a member, apparently.
“Oh, so definitely nerd then,” Chris chuckles at the Math Club page, and Victor feels something uncomfortable turn in his stomach as he continues to look through the photos. “Didn’t we have history with two of them last semester?” Chris muses, pointing to the photo of the Video Game Club members.
Victor doesn’t know, he didn’t pay much attention during history last semester. There was far too much drama going on in his present to focus on things that had happened in the past. He flips on and finds another photo of Yuuri, this one from the quad, sitting down eating lunch. He’s smiling slightly, and two of the people sitting next to him are students Victor actually knows.
The first one is Phichit Chulanont—everyone knows Phichit. He doesn’t hang out in the same crowd as Victor, since he’s not in any sports, but he’s in the media and yearbook clubs and is a social butterfly. Everyone likes Phichit. He gets invited to all the parties and is one of the few who’s socially allowed to hang out with everyone. Of course he knows Yuuri.
The second person surprises Vicor way more, because next to Yuuri, in the lap of his boyfriend Leo de la Iglesia, sits Ji Guang Hong, one of Victor’s squad members. Victor tries to remember where Ji usually sits at lunch, but he can’t be sure. He knows he sits with the squad sometimes, and sometimes with his boyfriend, but he can’t recall ever going over there.
“Victor!” Chris calls, and Victor turns to him, his best friend wearing a puzzled expression. Victor must have zoned out. “Is something wrong? Why are you looking up your tutor?”
“No,” Victor says, regrettably shutting the yearbook with a polished smile. He’ll have to check Yuuri out more when he gets home. “Just curious.”
Chris frowns, but still pushes himself from the armchair. “Alright. You wanna walk me to my locker and then head to English?”
The cheerleading team’s on the floor doing stretches. Practice went well and so did the pep rally. The choreography for the next half-time pre-show for the football game is coming along nicely, too, and by next Friday they should have it all down. Victor has strategically placed himself next to Ji, hoping to get some more answers about his new crush.
“So, Ji,” Victor says, breathing out as he presses his body closer to his leg. “How are things between you and Leo?”
Ji smiles, eyes glittering and cheeks just slightly dusting with pink. It’s one of those I-can’t-contain-my-smile-because-I’m-so-so-so-happy-and-in-love smiles, and Victor feels a pang of jealousy because he’s never felt that. Sure, his and Cao’s relationship was fun, and he was a decent at making out, but he never made Victor smile like that. No one has.
“It’s great,” Ji says, changing legs to stretch his right. “We had our one-year anniversary this weekend, so we went to the movies and to dinner at a nice restaurant. He wrote me a song. It was very sweet.”
“Wow,” Victor says. “So sweet.”
Ji hums, looking over at Victor with a frown. “I’m sorry about Cao.”
Victor hums, too, switching legs as well. From across the floor, he can see Mila and Minami rising to pack up and waves goodbye. “Yeah. I’m still glad you told me though.”
It was Ji who had come over as soon as the team was home again, nervously wringing his hands as he explained how he’d seen Cao make out with several people at a party, and then go up to a bedroom on at least two separate occasions. Victor is extremely grateful, and he and Ji have been closer since then.
“Of course,” Ji says, switching positions to stretch his inner thigh. “You would have done the same for me. Not that I think Leo would, but you know.”
Victor nods. He totally would. He’s called out several of the football and baseball players for being dicks to their significant others, especially when that significant other is on the cheerleading squad. Victor is their captain and it’s his job to take care of them. Victor steadies himself a little, trying to school his expression into a neutral one before he asks,
“So, Leo hangs out with Yuuri Katsuki, right?”
Ji’s face snaps up, eyes wide in surprise. “Um— I— Yeah, they’ve been friends since they were little. Them and Phichit Chulanont. Why?”
“He’s my new math tutor,” Victor says simply, waving to another group of cheerleaders heading out of the gym.
“Oh, yeah, that makes sense. He’s really smart; all A’s,” Ji says, and Victor places that in his mental filing cabinet filled with facts about Yuuri Katsuki, but it wasn’t what he wanted to know most.
“That’s good…” Victor says, drawing it out, waiting until the last of the squad’s left, Chris and Isabella talking as they walk out the door towards the locker rooms, before continuing, “Is he single?”
Ji’s eyes grew wide again, glancing around before leaning forward, lowering his voice. “Yes. Why?”
“He’s cute,” Victor says, feeling a slight blush unwillingly seep into his cheeks. He hurries to push it down, collect himself. Ji still looks surprised, an expression that slowly fades to realisation, and then a smile grows on his face, dimples appearing on his cheeks.
“You like him!” he says, and Victor has a harder time pushing down his blush this time because it’s sort of true? He’s only spent twenty minutes with Yuuri but there’s something about him that just makes Victor’s heart race. “He’s much better than Cao, that’s for sure.”
Victor laughs, falling out of his stretch to lie on the floor. Ji laughs, too, shaking his head.
“Never would have thought,” Ji says, smirking. “Okay, so, just because we’re friends, I’m gonna give you some tips, but you’re only allowed to use them if you’re serious.”
Victor nods. He’s not really sure about what he’s feeling just yet, but he’ll take any tips he can get. Maybe more information will make him more certain about what to do for his racing heart.
“Okay. So Yuuri’s smart but shy. He’s kind and caring, but often drifts off in his own world, making it seem like he’s not paying attention to people. He’s terrible with giving himself credit for anything that’s not academic, and almost not that either. He lives in his parents’ basement. He’s awesome at video games, and he’s never had a girl or boyfriend that I know of.”
“Do you know what he prefers?” Victor asks with a smirk and a wiggle of his eyebrows, making Ji giggle, something knowing in his eyes.
“That’s good,” Victor says, leaning back as he worries his lower lip between his teeth.
“Yeah, just...don’t play with him, okay?” Ji says and Victor nods.
He wouldn’t do that. Swaying his hips in the hallway and winking at the audience at the cheer performances is one thing, toying with people’s hearts is another completely. Victor might be top bitch, but he doesn’t want to be a real bitch. Not really. “Promise.”
They pack up the gym and their things after that, showering as they talk about classes, teachers, gossip. Ji shares the newest story of Georgi trying to woo Mila. This time, he apparently paid some junior in the drama club to deliver a sonnet, and the cheerleader had simply lifted the student over her head and carried him like that though the halls till she found Georgi and gave the poor boy back, saying she preferred heavy metal. Victor laughs as he imagines it. He needs to put Mila in charge of arm training for the squad if she’s that strong.
They get dressed, and Victor digs out his leggings and an old, oversized sweatshirt, pulling the cheer jacket on over. His cheer uniform got sweaty during practice, and Victor will have to wash it when he comes home so it’s ready for practice the next day.
“You need a ride?” Ji asks as they exit the locker rooms. It’s late, and as they walk out towards the back doors, they meet some of the football players, probably done with practice for the day.
“Yeah, that would be great!” Victor answers, adjusting the strap on his duffle bag. Chris gave him a ride to school but he seems to have left already. They’re halfway to the parking lot when someone calls out behind them.
Victor and Ji both turn towards the sound, Victor letting out a deep sigh as he sees Cao coming jogging over, still in his football gear. Victor just wants to turn and walk away. He doesn't have anything to say, doesn’t want to fight. Cao comes up to them and nods in greeting to Ji.
“‘sup, Ji,” he says, eyes on Victor.
“Hi, Cao,” Ji answers, tone level, almost bored. Cao doesn't spare him a glance, still looking at Victor.
“Can I talk to you?” he asks, and Victor glances towards Ji. He might as well get this conversation over with.
“It’s okay. I’ll wait by the car,” Ji says, shooting an ice-cold look towards Cao before stepping away. Victor watches as he goes before turning back.
“Okay, what do you want?” he asks, keeping the unimpressed mask on his face. Cao shuffles in the gravel and Victor waits.
“Look...I know I screwed up and all that, but I think you’re overreacting. And it’s not like we were having sex, so, you know, I have needs and you have to either be ready to put out or things like that will happen. It doesn’t mean we should break up.”
Victor stares, then laughs coldly, eyebrow quirked up. Cao seems surprised by this, and it makes Victor so mad, because who does this idiot think he is? God’s gift to the world?
“What?” Cao says, whole body tensing. “It’s not like it isn't true.”
“That was the worst let’s get back together speech ever,” Victor says, schooling his expression into something neutral. It always makes people uncomfortable, his blank stare and relaxed features. Sometimes he simply raises an eyebrow if the staring contest goes on long enough. Luckily, Cao has never had much patience.
“Come on, baby. We’re good together. You just have to stop being a prude and we’ll be perfect.”
Victor does raise his eyebrow at that, more out of surprise than anything else. Who the hell does this fuckboy think he is?
“Fuck off, Cao,” Victor says, turning his back to walk away. He can’t believe he ever thought this asshat was cute or charming, or thought he was happy with someone as disgusting as this.
Cao calls after him, of course. His name, and then insults, but Victor keeps his head high as he walks towards Ji’s car. The other boy’s leaning again the hood of his black Toyota Yaris, talking on the phone. As soon as he sees Victor closing the distance, he hangs up, eyes worried.
“You okay?” Ji asks as they round the car and gets in. “He’s a jerk. He doesn't deserve to be even close to you. Shouldn’t even be allowed to look at you. Fucking asshole.”
“I know,” Victor says as he leans back into the passenger seat. He knows it’s true and he appreciates having friends Ji so much, but it still doesn’t take away the uncomfortable feeling of knowing he’s going home to an empty apartment. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe he’ll get to know Yuuri a little better.