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Dog Talk

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“Do you ever think about holding conversations with dogs?”

Yuuri, who’d been sitting on the couch his parents had relocated to the old banquet room, looks up from the skating magazine he’s been leafing through for the better part of an hour to stare at Victor. From his position, he can see Victor’s feet and toned calves, the rest being obscured by a giant mass of brown fluff. And judging from Makkachin’s little grunts, Victor’s probably making a plaything of her front paws in exchange for being used as a mattress.

“What,” Yuuri says, not sure where this is coming from.

“Like, being able to actually understand them. For example, asking Makkachin her thoughts on cats and then getting a coherent answer.”

Yuuri, after stuffing the magazine in the space between the arm of the couch and the cushions, turns his body towards the bed. “Okay, that’d be cool.”

There’s a rustle of sheets, and Victor’s excited face pops from behind Makkachin, his eyes huge and light. “Right?” He starts scratching Makkachin’s left ear. “Someone should make a translator for dogs. Hmm, maybe I can fund the research; I heard Google was doing some experiments on the subject.”

“You don’t need to fund it if Google is involved,” Yuuri says. He takes off his glasses and rubs an errant speck off the lenses on his shirt. “They have enough money for that.”

A pout blossoms on Victor’s lips, but he doesn’t deny Yuuri’s point. The image sends a pleasant tingle down Yuuri’s spine – Victor’s bottom lip jutting forward, ready for a kiss; the way his cheeks turn pink like cherry trees right when spring begins. His heart skips a beat. He probably should have gone without his glasses.

“Anyway,” he says, unsure of what’s going to come out of his mouth. “How would that work? The translator, I mean.”

Victor’s lip retreats under his teeth, and Yuuri once again catches himself wishing he were the one doing that. He watches Victor’s hand sliding down Makkachin’s flank to ruffle the fur. “Have you ever watched Star Trek?”

“The one with the dog dressed like a unicorn?”

“… The what?”

It requires some contortion, but Yuuri manages to pull his phone from the pocket of his shorts without cracking the screen (or worse). After a quick run through his image folder (oh, he still has that video Phichit made of him dancing shirtless to Koda Kumi’s TABOO . He ought to delete that soon), Yuuri turns the screen towards Victor.

“… Can you come a little closer?” Victor asks with an apologetic smile after squinting for a good minute.

“Ah, sorry!” Yuuri squeaks, cheeks burning. He unfolds from the couch, legs complaining about the sudden stretch, and makes his way towards the bed, where he lands beside Victor. As he hands over the phone, praying to all deities known that Victor won’t think of scrolling through the gallery, Makkachin wiggles in his direction, sniffing him as if he’s coming home after years.

Victor lets out a small “ouch” when Makkachin moves – she probably got him in the ribs. Yuuri remembers, with a pang, a much smaller dog doing the same to him years ago.

“How come you remember the unicorn dog and I don’t?” Victor asks, giving him the phone back.

Yuuri shrugs. “Phichit and I saw a dog dressed like this at a convenience store, and it became an inside joke between us.” The actual story involved several more people, a disgruntled manager, some guy playing a bagpipe and a generalized sense of chaos, but Yuuri doesn’t think he’d do it any justice, so he leaves it at that.

Victor keeps staring at him for a bit longer, which doesn’t help Yuuri’s blush situation.

“Anyway,” he says, hands going back to Makkachin’s fur when she headbutts his chin. “There’s this technology in the show called universal translator. That’s what I heard Google was looking into.”

Yuuri considers. “They’re not thinking of dogs during this research. Probably,” he says.

“This is where I could enter. Giving people an incentive to think in that direction, you know? Boldly going where no pet parent has gone before.”

“Phichit would help spreading the word,” Yuuri says, a hand under his chin. “He’d love to know what his hamsters think of The King and the Skater ” He nods, the lively –and absurd – conversation playing crystal clear in his mind. “Yurio has a cat, right? He’d like that too.”

Victor looks to the side, brow furrowed. “I think he does? There’s a lot of cat pictures on his Instagram.”

“It would explain all the cat hair on his clothes too.”

“That’s true.”

Makkachin moves some more until her lower half is resting on Victor’s chest and her head is on Yuuri’s lap. She pants up at him, urging him to play with the overgrown fur of her head. He should mention Nomura-san’s pet shop to Victor one of these days – he’s always taken good care of Vicchan.

Perhaps better than Yuuri himself had.

No, it’s still not the right time to dwell on that. Not in front of Victor, who’s now patting Makkachin’s rump and singing something in a language Yuuri doesn’t recognize.

“What language do you think Makkachin would speak in?” he asks.

“French,” Victor says without missing a beat.

“How are you so sure?”

“I got her in France. Lived there with her for a while when she was little.”

“Really?” He’s never seen that discussed in any interviews as far as he can recall (and that’s very far). Victor just nods, and pokes at Makkachin’s swaying tail.

“Grandmother had a friend whose dog had had babies, and she took me to their home to see them. Makkachin was the first one to greet me. You should have seen her, almost tripping on the carpet.” There’s a small smile on his face, but his eyes are now very distant. “… It was the last time I went out with grandma.” All movement stills. “I was back in Russia when mama told me she’d died.”

“… Oh,” Yuuri breathes. “I’m sorry, Victor.”

Victor moves his head, and his bangs obscure his eyes. It has grown a bit since he came to Hasetsu, Yuuri idly notices. “I couldn’t bring myself to speak in anything but French to Makkachin for a while. Felt like something that would make her smile, you know?”

Makkachin turns her head to try and lick Yuuri’s arm. Yuuri lets her and spares a single glance at Victor’s free hand over the warm sheets.

He keeps his eyes trained on the exact same spot as he brings his and Victor’s hands closer.

“I had a dog that looked like Makkachin,” Yuuri says as he catches Victor’s pinky finger on his. “You might have seen his picture downstairs.”

“I did,” Victor says. “I love that picture. I don’t know who looks cuter.”

“Victor,” Yuuri says under his breath. His blush now spreads to his ears. He bites back a smile, and watches as Victor takes the last step and interlocks their fingers.

“You never told me his name, though.”

“I know.”

Yuuri breathes.

“His name was...”