A beautiful boy has moved into Viktor's apartment building. He saw him from the window moving boxes in, and then later again spotted him familiarising himself with the mailboxes in the foyer. How could someone be so pretty while doing something so utterly mundane? Viktor was intensely grateful that the beautiful boy hadn’t looked up as he’d crossed the hall, otherwise he would’ve seen Viktor almost walk straight into the front doors. In his defence, whomever his new neighbour was, he looked shockingly good in his running leggings.
It was curious, Viktor thought to himself as he adjusted his bag on his shoulder, there had been so many new faces in the building recently. Seemed like the landlord just couldn’t keep a tenant in 4/1. Maybe there was some structural issue with the place? He paused as he turned the corner at the end of the block and lowered his bag carefully to the ground. If that was the case, should he be worried about his own apartment? It was directly above 4/1 after all, and what if it was a problem with the ceiling? Although surely someone would have told him by now. He shook off his thoughts as he opened his bag, helping Makkachin burst out with a bright bark and a solid shake of her whole body as soon as she was up on her feet.
He felt terrible hiding Makka in a bag four times a day, but after the disaster of his last apartment, and his current landlord’s extreme hatred of pets (what a monster) he had no other choice. She needed to be walked, and they both needed a place to live. It had taken a while to find a duffel bag big enough to hold a standard poodle, but he’d lined it carefully with fluffy warm towels, and there were mesh sides so she had plenty of air and wouldn’t get too hot. She was such a good puppy as well, so quiet and well-behaved in the bag. Plus, it gave him an excuse to leave the apartment rather than stare at blank canvases all day.
In truth, anything was better than staring at the smooth white of a canvas. It felt like every ounce of inspiration Viktor had ever felt had drained away over the past few years, leaving him just as empty. These clandestine walks were the only bright spots in his day - although the brief glimpses he’d managed to catch of his new neighbour had swiftly joined the short list of ‘things that make Viktor happy’. He caught such a glimpse as he was heading back to the apartment, hoisting Makka carefully back over his shoulder. His new neighbour had left just ahead of him, and Viktor got to watch him wander down the street towards the bus stop. (He told himself the entire time that he was just watching to make sure his new neighbour got where he was going safely. Definitely not watching his hips swing. Really.).
For once, the foyer was silent, and Viktor risked getting the mail with Makka still in her bag. She was too well trained to bark or make a noise on purpose, but if she sneezed while someone was walking past he wasn’t sure he was a good enough actor to convince anyone it was him. He flicked through the mail briefly, wandering towards the elevator as he scanned over new magazines and bills, when he froze. Yuuri Katsuki, 4/1. He had his neighbour’s mail. Getting someone else’s mail wasn’t unusual, not with their tiny mailboxes, but 4/1 was the pretty boy from downstairs. He knew his name now. Grinning to himself, Viktor doubled back briefly and popped the letter into the correct spot. At least he could stop calling him ‘pretty boy’ in his head, maybe that would make his infatuation a little less creepy.
His next walk with Makkachin the following day didn’t go quite as smoothly as he would have hoped. Firstly, it rained, which meant cutting it short. Secondly, as he was walking back to the apartment building, bemoaning the weather and the smell of wet-dog that was definitely going to soak into the bag, he spotted his landlord’s car drawing up outside the building. Surprise inspections of the apartments weren’t exactly common, but they were frequent enough to be a bother. Viktor glanced around frantically, could he hide in a cafe till his landlord left again? Ah - no. Too late. He could see him waving from the car. For a pet-hating monster, he was a pretty nice guy, thought Viktor bitterly. He waved back, and then gestured broadly to the pounding rain, before fleeing into the building as fast as he could. He took the foyer at a run, utterly focused on getting to the elevator before his landlord could make it out of his car. He thought he heard a yelp just as he made it in, and he looked at Makkachin’s bag with concern, but if it had been her, she was fine now. He shrugged it off, and hit the button for his floor frantically.
Makka wouldn’t be particularly happy about hiding in the walk-in closet, and his clothes wouldn’t thank him for the presence of a damp dog, but a treat and some dry-cleaning were much lesser prices to pay than getting evicted.
He’d only just managed to fall asleep that night when something woke him. Makka had been in a huff all evening after her disastrous walk, and then being hidden in a closet for the half an hour it took him to get his chatty landlord back out the door. She had sulked in front of the radiator, gnawing her treat and looking at him like he’d broken her heart, and then when he had tried to coax her to come to bed, she’d only snuffled at him and turned away. He’d gone to bed utterly despondent without her.
He glanced around the room, still half asleep - what had woken him? There was a sound, he could hear it now, and he frowned as he tried to focus. Was someone crying? It was loud. He was already moving when the sound fully registered. Makkachin was crying, something awful had happened to her while he slept, he was the worst. He left his bedroom at a dead sprint, and froze in the hallway to listen for her. The studio! She was in the studio! He tripped a little as he tried to open the door, accidentally slamming it against the opposite wall.
‘Makka!’ He dropped to his knees and held his arms out to her. She was sitting in the middle of the room, head still tipped back in a howl. ‘Makka-Makka baby, I’m here, what is it?’
She padded over to him, gave him a broad lick across the cheek, and wandered past him. He watched her go from his position on his knees. She made her way to the bedroom, and after a moment he heard the soft sound of her jumping up on the bed. Shaking his head with a soft laugh he followed after her. All that noise because she was stuck in a room she wasn’t even supposed to be in. He was still chuckling as he curled up around her. At least she seemed to have forgiven him for all the other indignities he’d foisted on her that day.
‘He’s just so pretty Chris! And I never have a chance to speak to him, he’s always rushing out the door!’ Viktor knew he wasn’t charming when he whined, but if anyone had to put up with him, his best friend did.
‘Why haven’t you gone to his door and asked for a cup of sugar?’ Even over the phone Chris sounded done with the conversation. To be fair to him, it wasn’t the first time they’d had it.
‘That only works in movies Chris, don’t be ridiculous.’
‘You say that like you don’t watch those movies. Don’t lie to me.’
‘Yes, fine, I watch them, but I’m not about to take life advice from them!’ Anymore.
‘Cher, you can’t spend all your time calling me to complain about how pretty your neighbour is only to do absolutely nothing about it. What’s the point?’
‘Excuse me for looking for support from my friend. I’ll remind you of this conversation the next time you call me crying about a boy at two in the morning.’ He would. It had happened often enough, Viktor was due some retribution for all the nights of interrupted sleep.
‘I wouldn’t have to call you if you came out once in a while. Get a change of scenery Vitya!’ It also wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation.
‘I don’t want to go clubbing Chris, I’m too old for it now.’
‘Excuse you, we’re the same age!’
‘I said what I said.’
Chris rang off with a parting ‘stop being a coward and take the pretty boy for a drink’, and Viktor walked back into the apartment building in a sulk. Who was Chris to talk? Yes, he had Masumi now, and went on glamorous trips with him, and had a loving relationship, but it wasn’t so long ago that he was the one calling Viktor to complain.
The elevator doors were just beginning to close when he walked through the foyer, and he dashed as quickly as he could without jostling Makkachin to catch them.
The pretty boy - Yuuri - was there, looking at him in surprise. His eyes were so big, so pretty, Viktor felt like he’d been struck by lightning at the sight of them. They were so big, and even in the dim light of the elevator, half hidden behind his glasses, they were the beautiful brown of fine brandy. He breathed a grateful sigh when Yuuri looked back down at his phone, shuffling slightly to make room for Viktor. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to move with Yuuri’s eyes on him. He settled into place, pressed the button for his floor, and started trying to work up the courage to speak. The elevator was slow, he had time.
He was thinking about maybe commenting on the weather, when he realised something was already making a noise. The blood drained from his face as he realised Makkachin was still panting in her bag. It was a hot day outside, they’d been running around for an hour. She must still be too hot. He prayed to every god he’d ever heard of that Yuuri wouldn’t notice. He chanced a glance from the corner of his eye, but Yuuri seemed engrossed in his phone. The elevator clicked past the first floor.
He was starting to feel confident that Yuuri hadn’t noticed Makka, when everything got so much worse. Makkachin began audibly sniffing from her bag. She must have noticed Yuuri. Viktor closed his eyes, praying now for death to take him, anything to save him from this moment. He could feel his face burning. The next glance at Yuuri was painful. He was standing rigidly, stress screaming from every line in his body as he leaned away from Viktor. Viktor could see his eyes darting from the tiny window in the elevator doors to Viktor’s own face. He stared at the ground, listening to Makkachin sniffing away enthusiastically. Betrayed by his own baby. Best case, Yuuri noticed he had a dog and laughed and forgave him for this awful moment and didn’t tell the landlord and eventually they got married in an intimate ceremony on a beach somewhere. Worst case, he thought Viktor was a pervert and pepper-sprayed him. Both seemed equally likely in the never-ending time it took them to get to the fourth floor.
The doors finally opened, and Yuuri scrambled out of the lift without looking at Viktor. They closed behind him, and Viktor gave a bleak, dry sob.
‘Makkachin, how could you do this to me? I am your Papa. I raised you since you were a tiny puppy. I thought you loved me?’
Makkachin panted happily, entirely unconcerned with her own behaviour, or her Papa’s histrionics.
Chris had laughed himself sick when Viktor called him back to update him on the Yuuri-situation. Sure, objectively it was funny that in the ten minutes since he’d hung up Viktor had managed give truly the worst first impression imaginable, but Viktor didn’t call Chris for objectivity. He called so that someone would listen to his wailing while he stress-ate raspberry sorbet.
Distantly, he could hear Makkachin padding about in the studio, her claws tapping away on the hardwood, but he didn’t have the energy to chase her out - he had wallowing to do.
It should have been easy to avoid Yuuri after their horrid encounter in the elevator, but it felt like Viktor saw him everywhere after that. He somehow seemed to time Makkachin’s walks perfectly around Yuuri leaving in the morning, and coming home late at night. One such night he saw Yuuri walking down the street wearing what looked like a pair of tights under a long jumper, and it was then that Viktor understood he was cursed.
To add insult to injury, he finally started to get the urge to sketch again, only to see Yuuri’s eyes form again and again under his pencil.
‘Why couldn’t I have been a sculptor, Makka? I wouldn’t suffer like this if I could just scrape at some marble all day.’
He tried to distract himself, taking himself out for coffee, or meeting Chris for lunch, but Yuuri seemed unavoidable.
Case in point, just when he thought he was safe, a hand caught the closing doors of the elevator, and there he was. He was so beautiful, it just wasn’t fair. Viktor stared resolutely at the floor, determined this time not to make him uncomfortable in any way.
His resolve lasted all of one floor before he found himself saying the dumbest possible lie imaginable. A cold? Really? Who would ever believe he had a cold? Clearly not Yuuri, whose face was twisted in a disbelieving frown. At least the apology Viktor managed to stutter out sounded genuine enough. After a moment, Yuuri nodded, just once, and Viktor let himself relax a bit.
‘I hope you feel better now,’ he replied, just as the doors opened. Viktor managed a weak ‘thank you’, and he left without a backwards glance.
Viktor dropped his face into his hands and groaned. Of course he’d be polite and kind. Of course.
‘You don’t get it Yura, it’s the wrong kind of inspiration! I can’t work like this.’
‘No, you don’t get it Viktor, you haven’t painted anything in months! You haven’t had a show in more than a year! You’re going to run out of money!’
Viktor held the phone a foot away from his ear as Yura bellowed at him. It wasn’t that he was wrong, he was just so loud, all the time, and yes it may be 9 am in Moscow, but it was 2 am in Detroit, and no one needed that kind of volume at 2 am. Viktor wandered into the studio as Yura continued to rant, and he paced idly, glaring at the scattered canvases.
‘Are you listening to me?’ On a particularly loud bellow, Viktor gave in and put the phone on speaker so he wouldn’t have to bring it back to his ear to respond.
‘Yes, Yura, I am. But I’m fine. I don’t need money, and I’ll paint something sooner or later. I just can’t right now.’
‘Why? Because of your pathetic crush?’ Viktor flinched a little, and deeply regretted telling Yura about Yuuri, it had been a moment of weakness. ‘He hates you, get over it. Come back to Russia and solve at least some of your problems.’
Yuri snorted an ugly laugh. ‘We both know you’ll never be able to solve all of your problems, you’re a fucking disaster.’
‘Yura! So rude!’
‘It’s not rude when I’m right!’
Viktor opened his mouth to respond when a slam echoed through the apartment. He hung up on Yuri and ran from the studio. His keys in the lock of the door were swaying - had someone opened his door? No, Makkachin wasn’t barking at it. He felt the blood drain from his face as he realised - he couldn’t even hear Makkachin. Had someone kidnapped her? Had she gotten out the front door somehow?
He bolted for the door and wrenched it open in time to see her disappear through the open stairwell door at the end of the hall.
‘Makkachin! Come back here!’ He didn’t spare a thought for any neighbours he might bother with his yelling, already running after her. Getting reported for shouting at night would be a whole lot better than losing Makkachin.
He paused in the stairwell to listen for her moving - had she gone up or down? Down. He could hear her claws tapping away. He spared a second to be grateful he was late in getting her groomed.
‘Makkachin! Come back!’
He only made it a floor down before he nearly screamed. Someone was crouched by the door to the fourth floor, covering their face and shaking a little. He clapped one hand over his heart at the fright, and took a deep breath.
‘Are you alright?’ Startled brown eyes in a pale and tearful face met his own.
Of course it was Yuuri. Of course. It had to be, Viktor was cursed after all. Cursed to ruin any possible good impression he might ever have had on the cutest boy he’d ever seen. Although, in saying that, Yuuri looked terrified. For a brief second Viktor forgot about Makkachin as worry for Yuuri rose in his mind. He was so pale, and he was still shaking slightly, his hands bare inches from his face.
Makkachin sneezed somewhere below them, and Viktor’s concentration broke. He bolted after her, waving - hopefully reassuringly - at Yuuri as he ran past him.
‘There you are!’ She had only made it to the landing below, and at the sound of his voice she turned and panted at him happily, big doggy-grin firmly in place.
‘I can’t believe you! Where were you going? You’re not allowed to go off by yourself!’ He whispered at her as he rubbed her ears. ‘Time to go home. Come on now.’
He glanced up the stairs again, and steeled himself for the conversation he’d now have to have with Yuuri. Hopefully he’d see the funny side of it. He began speaking before he was even halfway up the stairs, desperately hoping Yuuri would understand.
‘Please, please don’t tell the landlord. Please. I promise, I have this completely under control. Please.’ Makkachin followed obediently at his heels, not a hint of shame in her cheery wiggling.
Yuuri was still crouching by the door, pale and wide-eyed.
‘I know we’re not supposed to have pets, but I couldn’t leave Makkachin behind, and this was the only place I could get on short notice, I swear it’s only until the lease runs out, please please please don’t tell anyone!’ He wasn’t above begging. This was Makkachin. He’d do a lot worse for her than beg someone to lie for him.
Viktor wasn’t the best at reading people, he knew that, but even he could read the blatant disbelief on Yuuri’s frightened face.
Yuuri finally stood, and somehow got even paler. Viktor leapt forward as he started to fall, and caught him around the waist. He held him for a moment, and forcibly tried to keep his mind on Yuuri’s safety, and not how soft he was in his arms. He held him for a moment as Yuuri found his feet again, and was forcibly trying to keep his mind on his innocent concern for his safety when Yuuri gently pushed against his shoulders. Viktor let go of him immediately, stepping back with his hands up in clear view. He was mildly relieved that Yuuri hadn’t punched him, given their previous interactions.
‘Sorry, sorry! Are you okay though? You look really pale. Can I do anything? Do you need to sit down again? Can I call anyone? What happened?’ Viktor was painfully aware he was rambling, and he was grateful he didn’t have long hair to fuss with anymore, so at least his nerves weren’t visible.
Yuuri shook his head vaguely, and patted somewhere in the direction of Makkachin’s head, where she was nuzzling into his leg. At least she was on her best behaviour now.
Yuuri’s face was grey, and his eyes seemed unfocused. Viktor watched for a bare second longer before his concern overwhelmed him, and he took hold of Yuuri’s shoulders gently.
‘You really don’t look well at all, please let me help.’ He led Yuuri up the stairs towards his apartment. Yuuri didn’t resist at all, he seemed barely aware of what was happening around him, one hand distractedly toying with Makka’s ears, but even that seemed instinctual and without intent. What had happened to him? Countless awful ideas ran through Viktor’s mind of what could scare someone so badly they would end up hiding in a stairwell in such a distraught and unresponsive state.
He felt a little better when he finally got Yuuri sat on the couch with his head between his knees in case he fainted - it didn’t look like too much of a stretch given how little blood seemed to be reaching Yuuri’s head. Seeing him sitting in silence though gave rise to a whole new set of anxieties, and Viktor began to fret even more. He could feel himself tugging at his sleeves but couldn’t make his hands stop.
‘Just breathe a minute, I’ll get you some water. Or some tea? I have a really really nice rose tea? Or jasmine? I’ll make you some tea, you’ll feel better.’ He bit down hard on his lip to stop his rambling, and left the room quickly. The last thing Yuuri needed was someone freaking out at him about beverages, like it mattered.
The kettle seemed to take an age to boil, and Viktor had a minor crisis about which tea to make because he’d never actually waited for Yuuri to respond. He tried to remember the first aid course he’d attended while he still lived in Russia, he was sure they’d mentioned something about tea for shock. Now that he thought of it though, it had been strong and sweet black tea. He didn’t have black tea. Why didn’t he have black tea? He had rose tea, it had a black tea base, but it was horrid with sugar in. Maybe the rose would be sweet enough on its own? He made it anyway, maybe Yuuri would like it. He paused at the doorway, and gently thunked his head against the doorframe. Who got so hysterical about tea when someone was sitting in distress waiting for them?
Yuuri was scratching Makkachin’s belly when he got back to the living room. Some colour had returned to his cheeks, and he was smiling a little. He’s so pretty thought Viktor, before he forced the thought away as hard as he could. Now was not the time. Yuuri deserved better than being ogled while he was upset, Yuuri deserved- Yuuri deserved to know his name. Yuuri had no idea who he was, and he was in his apartment, in the middle of the night.
‘I’m Viktor by the way!’ Definitely the best way to introduce yourself to someone you’ve already frightened multiple times is to shout your name at them apropos of nothing. ‘I just realised I brought you all the way in here and never introduced myself, you must think I’m so rude!’ It was also a great idea to almost fling two different drinks at them in one movement, and to continue to shout.
Viktor Nikiforov was famous in the art world for being cool, aloof, and charming. He had no end of phone numbers slipped into his hands at events, no end of people who wanted his attention, his time, a single smile. But the second Yuuri looked at him, all that charm seemed to abandon him, leaving behind messy, silly, clumsy Vitya. He felt the slightly-irrational desire to cry. Why was this going so badly?
Yuuri reached up, and took the mug of tea from him, his little smile growing slightly wider at the sight of the cheerful puppies gamboling all over the porcelain. Viktor’s heart skipped a beat, and he wished that Yuuri would smile at him like that.
Stop staring stop staring stop staring. Viktor turned away sharply to hide his blush, and began to straighten up the room. It didn’t really need it, but it gave him something to do with his hands.
‘I’m Yuuri. I live downstairs.’ Yuuri’s voice was so soft, and his accent was so cute. Viktor whipped around and grinned.
‘I know!’ Fuck. Why couldn’t he go two minutes without being a creep? Why? He turned back to the magazines he’d been straightening so he wouldn’t have to see Yuuri’s reaction. ‘I mean, I know you live downstairs, and I got a bit of your mail once by accident so I learned your name but I put it straight back in your mailbox I promise! Oh my god get it together Vitya.’ He froze in horror at himself as he realised he’d said that last part aloud. If Yuuri heard him, he was kind enough not to say anything.
The silence was getting oppressive. Viktor took a deep, calming breath, did one of the quick visualisation exercises his therapist had taught him, and turned back around.
‘Do you want to tell me what happened? You looked so scared a few minutes ago.’
The smile dropped from Yuuri’s face instantly. He lost a little of the colour he’d managed to regain too, and his hand clenched around his mug.
‘You’ll think it’s silly.’
‘Try me.’ It really couldn’t be more silly than Viktor felt in that moment.
'I... I think my apartment is haunted.'
Of all the answers he expected, that wasn’t one of them. Viktor sat down on the couch, careful to remain as far away from Yuuri as possible, and looked at him in concern.
'Haunted? What? Why do you think that?'
'I keep hearing these awful noises and tonight... Tonight I heard a voice. I couldn't understand it, but it sounded so angry.'
How awful. How terrifying. What could Viktor even say to that? A haunting. What on earth could it be? He remembered when he first moved into the building he’d had a similar thought very briefly when he kept hearing strange noises in the studio, until he realised it was just his downstairs neighbour having very loud- oh no .
'Ah...’ Oh god. Please don’t let what Viktor thought was happening be happening. Please. ‘This umm, this voice, when did you hear it?'
'A minute or so before you bumped into me?' Yuuri sounded more confused than scared now. That was something at least.
'And where were you when you heard it?’ Viktor’s leg started to bounce as anxiety built in his stomach, but he was helpless to stop it.
'In my bedroom?' Oh no oh no oh nooo.
'Would that be just there, at the back of your apartment?' Viktor pointed towards the studio. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Yuuri.
Viktor covered his face with his hands and groaned. He was a monster. This was it. This was how he died. In shame and humiliation from terrifying his beautiful neighbour.
'I'm so sorry, Yuuri. I think it was me you've been hearing.’ It was definitely him. Or, more accurately, Yura, but getting into the semantics of it all didn’t seem worth it.
Yuuri hesitated a moment. Viktor’s leg had stopped bouncing.
‘What do you mean?’ Was it better or worse to have confused him so badly he didn’t sound afraid anymore?
‘It’ll probably be easier if I showed you. Will you follow me?’ Viktor stood up as he spoke, finally looking at Yuuri again.
He could see the reluctance on Yuuri’s face at the idea of following him further into the apartment, and he waited without speaking so as not to pressure him in any way. After a second though, Yuuri gently moved Makkachin from his feet (much to her displeasure) and stepped towards the door. Viktor led him through the apartment, thankful he’d cleaned the place only the day before, and opened the door to the studio for him. Yuuri stepped in ahead of him, looking around curiously at the mess of art supplies around the room.
Be brave, Vitya. You can do this.
‘I made a phone call in here just before Makkachin escaped. I didn’t shut the front door properly after our walk. You must have heard me calling after her.’
Yuuri gave him a dubious look.
‘But it was so loud? And distorted? And it definitely wasn’t in English?’ He said, clearly suspicious.
‘I was talking to my cousin, in Moscow. I was speaking Russian. I had him on speaker. He wasn’t in the best of moods,’ That wasn’t quite true. Yura didn’t have good moods. He had mildly tolerable moods. Occasionally he smiled at his cat. Or his Grandfather. ‘I think it’s maybe echoed into your bedroom through the grate.’
Yuuri looked sharply at him.
Viktor nodded, feeling two inches tall. He moved the easels he’d piled in front of the grate in a (foolish, he now realised) effort to block the air vent. It wasn’t particularly big, only about the size of his hand, but as far as he could tell it was a direct link to the apartment below.
‘But... But the other noises?’ Yuuri’s voice was faint, his accent thick in his distress.
‘What other noises?’ Was something else happening? Maybe his apartment really was haunted, and Viktor wasn’t to blame. He felt bad for wishing something so awful on Yuuri, but he couldn’t help it. He had really wanted Yuuri to like him. All of this made him feel sick.
‘The scratching! And the tapping! And that awful whining! I’ve never heard anything like it!’ Yuuri’s voice got louder as he got more distressed. Viktor rung his hands and looked at the floor, tears threatening again. He could distantly hear Makkachin approaching, and he couldn’t wait to see her sweet face, maybe she’d comfort Yuuri where he couldn’t. What could it be? Ah. No. Makkachin. This was also his fault. Great.
‘Makkachin’s not allowed in here, but sometimes she sneaks in when I’m not looking. She likes to scratch her back on the wood. Was the whining last month? Because she got in here and knocked the door shut behind herself, and cried till I came and let her out. She’s very dramatic.’ Way to throw your dog under the bus for your poor training Vitya. When this is over we’re going straight back to puppy school.
Makkachin wandered in as he was speaking, and as though she was mocking her Papa, she began to scratch her ear in the middle of the room. He could see very easily how the scratch of her too-long claws would echo through the hardwood and down the metal vent shaft.
This was it. Yuuri hated him now, if he didn’t already. Viktor could tell. He hated him, and he’d tell the landlord, and they’d get evicted and he’d have to move back to Russia in shame. Not even to St. Petersburg. He’d have to move to Siberia.
‘I’m so sorry Yuuri, I’ll block that grate off right away, you won’t hear anything else.’ Could Yuuri hear how close he was to crying? He hoped not.
Yuuri was shaking his head, staring at Makkachin with a strange look on his face. Please don’t let him hate Makka. Viktor could bear Yuuri hating him, but not Makkachin. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he spoke.
‘I... I have to sit down.’ His voice was still very faint, and he turned and hurried away before Viktor could say anything in response. Viktor stared after him despondently, and tapped his thigh so Makka would follow him.
‘It’s not your fault baby, you didn’t mean it. I’ll explain, I’m sure Yuuri isn’t mad at you. You’re a good girl.’ He whispered to her as they walked, keeping to Russian to give them both a little dignity.
Yuuri was on the couch when he reached the living room, his head in his hands. His shoulders were high and tense. Viktor sat down too, and braced himself for Yuuri’s reaction.
He had never been able to tolerate silence for long.
‘Are you okay?’ Clearly it was a dumb question. Yuuri shot to his feet and spun around to face him. Viktor flinched, and looked at Makkachin to make sure the sudden movement hadn’t scared her. She couldn’t have cared less, she already looked like she was asleep next to the radiator.
‘No!’ Ah. ‘No, I’m not okay. I’ve been freaking out for months!’ Yuuri looked slightly manic as he dragged his hands through his hair, but his attention was focused on Viktor and not Makkachin, even though his loud voice seemed to wake her up. ‘And you! Why were you so weird in the elevator? Why were you sniffing me? I know you didn’t have a cold!’
Viktor had thought he felt small earlier, but now he wished he could get so small he’d just vanish into the ether. His face felt hot, his ears were burning. He knew he must be hideously red.
He was distantly aware that he was stutteringly explaining what had happened, could feel apologies and rationales tripping over his tongue, but it was like he was watching it happen from outside of his body. Anger was visibly draining from Yuuri as he spoke, and he could feel his breath getting short, but still he kept talking. What was he even saying, how could he explain all of this? He finally forced himself to stop with a small gasp. His lip trembled.
Yuuri was looking at him like he’d lost his mind. It was fair, he clearly had, somewhere between hiding his dog in a bag and accidentally gaslighting his crush into thinking his apartment was haunted.
‘Please say something?’ His voice was pitiful, even to his own ears.
Yuuri shook his head slowly, gaze moving between Viktor and Makkachin.
‘I have no idea what to say. That’s the most insane thing I’ve ever heard.’ He paused, his eyes on Makkachin again. ‘I won’t tell the landlord though.’
Viktor couldn’t hold in a gasp of relief, it seemed punched from his lungs, and trailed off into a high whine as he tried to keep from laughing. How was Yuuri taking this so well? Viktor rubbed his face hard with his hands to clear the last of the embarrassment and threatening tears, and looked at Yuuri ruefully. How had they got here? Why couldn’t he show Yuuri the man everyone else saw? He felt stripped bare in front of him.
‘Usually, Yuuri, I’m very cool. Some have even described me as ‘suave’. But, somehow, I’m always a complete disaster in front of you.’
Was that too honest? It didn’t matter now, Yuuri knew the worst of him. Well. Aspects of, at least.
‘What?’ Somehow that was the most incredulous Yuuri had sounded all night. That wasn’t too surprising though really, given how Viktor had behaved around him. Of course he wouldn’t believe him.
He was rambling again, about how cute Yuuri was, about Makkachin, it was like the floodgates had opened. He was helpless to explain why he was being so honest, or why he couldn’t seem to keep his usual barriers up when faced with Yuuri’s sweet face. Maybe he had some kind of magic, some kind of Medusa-like powers where you looked in his eyes and all your secrets came tumbling out. Viktor could believe that; he was beautiful enough for it to be true.
‘I just wanted to make a good impression, but no matter what I did, something always went wrong.’
‘You... wanted to talk to me? Before now?’ Yuuri’s voice was soft. He’d sat down again beside Viktor before he’d started spilling all his secrets, but Viktor couldn’t bear to look at him anymore. He kept his eyes on his slippers, and tried to straighten his mouth when it twisted down. He wasn’t sure he was particularly successful.
After a beat, he felt Yuuri shift slightly, until he was only a handspan away from him. He didn’t say anything, but seemed to be waiting for something. Viktor looked at him from under his fringe, wondering if he had changed his mind about reporting him. To his surprise, Yuuri held out his hand as though looking to shake Viktor’s.
‘Hi. I’m Katsuki Yuuri. I live downstairs. I teach ballet, and I really like your dog, even if I did think my apartment was haunted because of her.’
He liked Makkachin. He wasn’t angry, somehow. He was telling Viktor about himself, and he wasn’t angry, and he liked Makkachin, despite it all. Viktor laughed, and he could hear the echo of the tears that had been building all evening in it, but he ignored it, and shook Yuuri’s hand with his own.
‘Hi. I’m Viktor Nikiforov. I’m an artist. I’m really happy you like Makka, and I’m really sorry we scared you.’
‘It’s nice to meet you, Viktor.’ Yuuri smiled brightly at him. Viktor felt as though the sun had rose early.
Yuuri let go of his hand after a second, and shifted back to pick up his tea. Viktor clicked his tongue, and Makkachin wandered over for cuddles.
Somehow it had all worked out.
He escorted Yuuri home when he finished his tea. It was the least he could do really, after traumatising him. Was there any way to salvage the situation? Yuuri had been so kind, and had made perfectly pleasant small talk with him while he sipped at his tea, but was that all they could manage?
He hoped they could reach something more, but they were already at Yuuri’s door, and he was hovering, he knew. Say something Vitya!
‘Will you be okay now? I promise I’ll keep Makka out of the studio completely, and I won’t make any more calls in there.’ Something cleverer than that, for God’s sake. Viktor’s face felt hot again, and he looked at the floor. Why couldn’t he go five minutes without embarrassing himself suddenly?
It seemed Yuuri was destined to carry the weight of their interactions.
‘You can take me out for coffee to make it up to me.’
Viktor’s head snapped up, his smile stretched his cheeks almost painfully. He couldn’t stop smiling and nodding, even as he struggled to find his phone to get Yuuri’s number. He was ridiculously grateful that Yuuri was so calm, it was so much easier to just hand his phone to him to put his phone number in rather than fumbling through more questions.
‘I’d love to! Just name the time and place, I’ll be there!’ Or maybe he should decide? Because it was his fault, and Yuuri deserved to be treated to something nice to make up for all the stress, or maybe he should just buy him a gift card and not force his company on him. Or maybe-
Yuuri pressed his phone back into his hand, and gave Viktor a heart-wrenchingly lovely smile.
‘Goodnight, Viktor.’ He said, still smiling, before he stepped into his apartment and closed the door behind him.
Viktor blinked at the door for a second, and then looked at his phone. Yuuri had made himself a contact.
💙 Yuuri Katsuki 💜
Viktor was glad no one was around to see him punch the air like the star of an 80’s movie.
Yuuri had suggested a tea shop a few blocks away from their apartment building. Viktor got there twenty minutes early, and sat at a table fretting while he waited. What if Yuuri didn’t show? What if it was their landlord who came instead, with an eviction notice and a seizure-order for Makkachin as a dangerous animal, what if he got arrested for being a creep what if-
‘Hi!’ ... What if Yuuri looked cuter than ever, wrapped up warm in a scarf and a beanie, and his heart stopped at the sight?
‘Hi!’ He came! He really came. How on earth had Viktor managed this?
‘Were you waiting long? I’m sorry, I got held up leaving class.’ Viktor would have waited a lot longer than twenty minutes to see Yuuri like this, blushing sweetly under his glasses. He pulled his beanie off as he spoke, shaking his hair out.
‘No no, not at all. I was just about to order.’
‘Great!’ Yuuri frowned a little, glancing around. ‘No Makkachin today?’
‘Ah- no. I wasn’t, hm. I wasn’t sure if you’d want to see her, after what happened.’
Yuuri pouted a little, hitting Viktor squarely in the chest.
‘I love Makkachin. It wasn’t her fault. She’s a good girl.’ Oh my God.
‘She is! She’s the best girl!’ Viktor knew he was smiling his goofiest grin, the one Chris said was shaped like a heart, but he couldn’t help it.
Yuuri smiled back, just as widely.
‘Next time then.’
Viktor had to excuse himself to order their drinks before he spontaneously combusted at the thought of there being a next time.
Conversation flowed startlingly easily between the two of them, once Viktor calmed down a little. He felt some of his charm slowly returning to him with ever blush and stutter of Yuuri’s. It seemed he was shyer and more timid than he had appeared in Viktor’s apartment, and outside his own. Every new facet of Yuuri was endlessly fascinating to Viktor. He wanted to know him completely, wanted to know how he sounded when he laughed, when he was excited, when he was passionate. He wanted to know Yuuri more than he had ever wanted to know anyone before.
Time flew past as the spoke, until suddenly it was dark outside, and the barista was clearing her throat loudly as she stripped and cleaned the espresso machine.
‘Ah- can I,’ Viktor paused, and rallied his confidence. ‘Can I walk you home?’
Yuuri smiled at him, and laughed a little.
‘We’re going to the same place, wouldn’t it be strange if you didn’t?’
Viktor felt himself blush, and he looked bashfully at the table.
‘I’m just not quite ready to say goodbye.’
Yuuri looked surprised when Viktor looked up at him. He blushed sweetly pink across his nose and cheeks, and it was his turn to look down, his smile pushing his cheeks up high.
They dawdled as they walked, pointing out interesting shops and people to each other. The short walk home stretched out as long as they could manage. Every now and then Yuuri’s hand would brush Viktor’s, and he felt a little thrill inside at the thought of taking Yuuri’s hand in his own. Next time, maybe. There would definitely be a next time, if Viktor had a choice in the matter.
All too soon however, they were once again outside Yuuri’s apartment door. Hopefully the next step would be seeing inside, spending time with Yuuri somewhere he was comfortable. Where he could be himself, and Viktor could know him.
‘I had a lot of fun today.’ Yuuri looked down as he spoke, a shy smile on his face. Viktor was smiling widely again.
‘I did too!’ He paused. ‘Earlier, you said that next time, next time I should bring Makkachin. Is that... something you’d want to happen still?’
Yuuri looked up at him, smiling wider.
‘Great!’ Viktor’s smile was helpless, and tinged with relief.
Yuuri nodded, seemingly to himself.
‘Next time.’ He said firmly, before he leaned up on the tips of his toes and pressed a swift kiss to Viktor’s cheek. ‘Text me?’
His courage seemed to run out with that, and he fled back into his apartment.
Viktor pressed his hand his cheek, and for the second time in a week found himself staring in shock at Yuuri’s closed door.
Yuuri’s next door neighbour saw him punch the air this time as she stepped out carrying a rubbish bag, but Viktor couldn’t have cared less.