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embedded in my chest (and it hurts to hold)

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This can‘t be happening. Not now.

There‘s a splatter of crimson in the sink, heavy brush strokes of colour on a white canvas. Deep crimson fading to vivid scarlet fading to pale salmon fading to washed-out coral.

Yuuri is bleeding.

At the centre of it, there‘s a dollop of indigo, biting against the reddish-orange hues, clashing, ugly.

Unbidden, Yuuri's mind goes through the colour wheel, trying to find a better complement for the canvas of his sealed fate. Green would make for a stark, jarring contrast. Black would create a simplified, subdued look. A desaturated umbra would make for a warm, earthy effect.

No. It had to be indigo.

Yuuri stares at the rich, deep blue of the star-shaped flowers, splattered in crimson, and finds himself caring more about the colours clashing than the fact that he is dying.

It‘s like one of those shitposts on tumblr.

For the aesthetic.

Hysterical laughter bubbles up at the back of his throat.

I appreciate that you‘re dying, Yuuri, but what about the aesthetic?



It takes him ten more minutes to compose himself enough—no, scratch that.
He doesn't compose himself at all.
He isn't the least bit composed. He is decomposed.

He‘s still shaking and hysterical and he can still taste the blood lining the inside of his mouth. He‘s pretty sure when he opens his mouth other people will see it clinging to his teeth.

He barely bothered to rinse it off the sink before he left the bathroom.

There‘s cold sweat on his forehead and running down his spine. His vision is swimming.

But ten minutes have passed and his slot is drawing ever closer and the one thing worse than the mortification of having to go up on that stage right now would be the mortification of not showing up and having to face the consequences of that for the rest of the weekend.

He makes his way back across the hall, stopping by his table for a few minutes, exchanging a few apologetic words with Kenjirou before he’s off again, through the artist’s alley and toward the stage.

All the people milling about, too loud, too close, always touching, are making his skin crawl.

He makes it to the stage with seven minutes to spare because even in his panic he is too terrified of being rude not to be diligent and he lets the backstage personnel attach a small mic to his collar so he can speak hands-free and he stands where they guide him, waiting for the previous artist to leave the stage under friendly applause.

He winces as the host rattles off his previous accomplishments and insincere praises and then his name is called.

Heißt mit mir unseren nächsten Gast willkommen, ihr kennt ihn als YKatsu, please welcome Yuuri Katsuki!“

His mind goes blessedly empty as soon as he steps into the glaring spotlights.

The smatterings of applause penetrate his ears, but not his brain. He carefully avoids taking a look towards the audience, focusing on the host instead.

She shakes his hand with a plastic smile and gestures toward one of two padded red chairs standing opposite each other on the stage.

He sits on the very edge of the cushion, stiff.

As soon as the host asks her first question, his fingers automatically reach for his fidget cube, but it’s not there. He left it at his booth, a conscious decision that he now regrets. Instead, he starts tugging at the hair tie on his wrist.

He stammers his way through questions on his past and current projects, on his routine, on Japan, on the damn cursed fucking Ghibli pokémon project, because he has yet to go through a single interview that doesn't bring it up. As if he didn't move halfway across the world to get away from it.

His fingers are itching, itching to start moving, to start creating, itching to do.

He twists the hair tie tight around his wrist as the host translates his answers into German—because his German still isn't even close to good enough for an interview—and then finally, finally, she says the words he’s been itching to hear, the words that have him on his feet in an instant.

„And now, I‘m sure you‘re all looking forward to seeing Yuuri create something for us. Wollt ihr Yuuri etwas für uns malen sehen? Ja? Alright—Yuuri, they‘re all yours!“

She points toward the flip chart, a tempting blank canvas waiting for him, and the camera mounted before it, set up to broadcast his painting process on the large screen at the back of the stage for the audience to watch.

He takes a deep breath.

This he can do. This is his.

Camera and audience aside, this is his.

His supplies are set up on a small table to the side of the flip chart, and he lets his eyes glide over the pencils, the charcoal, the markers, the ink. Apart from the ink, none of them are his favourite tools, but his paints won‘t do on the stage like this—it takes too long to work with them.

There are twenty minutes left in his slot. He‘s prepared for this—he‘s got a motive ready that he knows he can do, simple and quick, but effective, a popular theme.

He stares at the blank canvas, his hands trembling.

All he can see is crimson and indigo, clashing, clashing.

Star-shaped flowers and blood on a pristine white canvas.

Pressure is building in his lungs and he swallows, thick, sticky, prickling.

Crimson and Indigo.

He grabs a pencil and starts working.



Yuuri can taste copper on his teeth.

He barely registers what he‘s doing as his hands abandon the pencil first for the ink, applied in bold, quick brush strokes, then the markers, the only colours he can use here.

Crimson, scarlet, pale salmon and washed-out coral.

In the middle of it all, a smattering of pale green leaves, surrounding a single, pristine star of pure white.

Because his body might be mocking everything he‘s learnt about colour theory, but that doesn't mean he has to.

He‘s thankful that he doesn't have to talk as he‘s working, that the host isn't asking him questions about his process.

Instead, there is music playing in the background, something soft and instrumental, something ethereal.

Something to go with the dreamlike piece he was planning on doing.

Something seizes in his throat.

This isn't the piece he‘s been planning.

This is different.

Yuuri glances over to the host, who is watching him, wide-eyed, her lips parted.

Oh God.

He looks back at the canvas.

What is he doing?

He‘s never tried this piece before. Is it even working? Worse—this is violent, bloody, macabre. There are sure to be children watching in the audience, and here he is, filling a canvas with blood.

His time is sure to be almost over by now—nothing he can do about it now.

He sets the markers down and puts a last few finishing touches on the canvas with the ink before he steps back.

It‘s rough, a lot more sketchy than he normally would have liked anyone to see.

It‘s... different.

It‘s his alright, he can see his own hand in the brush strokes, in the delicacy of the forms, in the hatched shading. But at the same time, it‘s all that he isn't.

It’s bold, it’s in your face, it’s... angry.

There’s a face on the canvas, but it’s rough and half-hidden in shadows, only barely recognisable as such, as are the neck and shoulders.

Below that, the body is split open in pale bone colours, and ribs and sternum hinted at with a few strokes, and underneath it the spine lies shattered into individual vertebrae, splinters of bone.

In the hollow of the rib cage, a heart is barely visible, black with shadows and blood.

And snaking out from that hollow, from that shaded depth, cloaked in tiny pale green leaves, is a star shaped white flower. It’s tangling with the cracked bones, squeezing, suffocating.

It makes Yuuri queasy to even look at it, that pristine white, the only part of the canvas not covered in colour. It’s a blank, a vacuum. It shouldn't be.