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(Un)Tangled

Chapter Text

Yuuri was majorly fucked.

Phichit's self-proclaimed brilliant plan to steal the missing prince’s crown had backfired, completely ruining any chance he had of clearing his face off their shared wanted poster. What Phichit had assured him would be a grab and go instead turned into him having to hold on for dear life to a dead tree branch to not lose the satchel, effectively putting him in the position to topple to the bottom of a very steep hill. Not to mention the seemingly feral guard above him, who was actively trying to stamp his fingers in with his boots.

“Damn thief,” the teen shouted, “Just give me the satchel and I’ll consider not letting you fall!” Yuuri climbed to the edge of the branch, the kid’s boots and his fingers moving in tandem until only an inch of space was left.

“Are you really that desperate for a fucking crown?” The blond guard threateningly picked his boot up, rising just above his left hand.

Yuuri swallowed thickly. “Hey-- let's not do that please,” Yuuri pleaded, sweat clouding his eyes. “Maybe we could talk this out, you know, when I’m not hanging off a cliff. Have a chat on nice, solid ground.” He desperately prayed that Phichit would show up soon, as he would not be getting his precious crown if he waited any longer.

He loved his friend, but he was not dying for this. Especially not a crown that would only serve to incriminate him more than he already was.

It was supposed to be Phichit who did most of the work, the only reason Yuuri helped him was simply because he fit the weight restrictions on the bungee cord Phichit had bought to lower them down to get the crown. He had never understood why Phichit didn’t just return it for something with a better weight limit, but being that Phichit was a cheapskate, it probably had no refunds.

The teen huffed and squatted down to be somewhat on his level, giving Yuuri a closer look at the striking green eyes that were determined to drill holes in his face.

He paused before barking a laugh, turning to blow his blond hair out of his face. “Nice try, dipshit, but that’s not going to work. I--” A loud snap cut him off, matching looks of panic crossing both of their faces.

Next thing Yuuri knew, he was falling at terrifying speed towards the ground. He may have let out an embarrassingly loud shriek at the sheer velocity of the drop, his stomach was much closer to doing full out acrobatics instead of a flip.

He managed to peel his eyes open and look to his left, seeing the guard eye the torn leather satchel on his side. Yuuri had to give it to him, the kid was determined. Annoyingly so, but that’s not the point.

Just before the blonde could reach out the branch hit a large rock, splintering into two respective pieces and separating them.

Yuuri could only process the look of pure and absolute rage from the guard's face until he was tumbling into the thick foliage, groaning from the impact. A streak of mud tore down his shirt, ruining the garment for good. He struggled to stand, having to grip a tree to help himself up.

Yuuri had no clue how he was alive. Although, the reprecussions were clear through the pain that sliced through his leg while searching around for his glasses.

His left leg was stiff, and most definitely fractured in some form. He winced as he limped around the clearing, finding the blue frames of his glasses within a minute.

Surprisingly, they weren't fully broken, and only had a small crack in the right lens. He checked his satchel for the crown, sighing in relief when it was still there. If he ever saw him again, Phichit owed him more than half his share of the money.

Yuuri surveyed the area, accidentally finding a large tunnel hidden behind pieces of hanging fronds that blended into the mountain. It was fairly unexpected and had enough coverage for it to seem inconspicuous.

Hopefully, the blonde-haired guard wouldn’t find him here.

It was strange to see someone so young work as a palace guard, much less with such a high caliber skill level. The teen had been the only person in his squadron that managed to stay on his trail, the others behind him falling into disarray along the small path between the trees.

Yuuri could hear leaves crunching in the distance, his back pressing closer against the wall behind the hanging leaves.

“Come out asshole! I know you can hear me!” His assailants voice rang out far too close to his hiding spot for comfort. Yuuri’s muscles tensed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before he was caught if he stayed.

Quietly, he hobbled further inside the tunnel, running his hand along the wall for support. The sound of horses’ hooves grew fainter with each step while the light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter with the promise of temporary safety.

He desperately hoped that there wouldn’t be any other people at the other end, or miraculously more guards patrolling the perimeter.

Yuuri was going to throttle Phichit the next time he saw him.

The light was blinding the second he stepped out of the tunnel, making him squint and hide his face in the wall before daring to look again. He hesitantly peered to the side, only to gasp in awe of what he found.

A beautifully tall tower that was overgrown with plant life lay in front of him, seeming as if no one had been inside for years. Its purple roof was just shy of the tops of the mountains, framed by a fizz of water from the waterfall behind it.

Simply put, it was fucking gorgeous.

And obviously safe and secluded from any local law enforcement, so the small castle was already in his good books. Yuuri smiled to himself and slowly staggered his way over, huffing with exertion by the time his hand hit the soil-stained brick of the tower wall.

He was going to need to check out his leg sooner or later, but that was a problem that he would solve when he was in the castle. Gory things had always stressed him out ever since he was a child, so he would save himself from spiraling until he was fully safe and not in danger of falling off a tower.

Yuuri wasn’t quite sure how he was going to climb up the tower with a damaged leg, but he assumed he could manage to pull himself up by mainly using his arms.

(His upper body strength was shit, but he had no other ideas. He had already fallen once, what else did he have to lose)

Painstakingly, he managed to climb the tower by using mainly his hands, using the crevices and vines as footholds. Yuuri pulled himself up to the massive window, all but rolling onto the floor of the castle. He found it odd how flowers were kept outside on the windowsill, but he was too tired to care.

He hissed through his teeth as he stood up, grabbing onto the windowsill while he dug through his satchel. Slowly, he pulled the crystal crown worth more than all his organs combined out of the bag. Seeing the crown in his possession helped ease his conscience a little bit. He really didn’t want to lose it, no matter how much shit it put him through.

For once, Phichit actually needed something that he stole, more than just to use the money for his own leisure. Yuuri hopes that he can get back to him as soon as possible.

His husband, Chris, had been sick for the past few months, and it had gotten to the point that it is apparent that nothing short of a royal grade doctor could have the resources needed to heal him. And that was exactly what he was going to get. Yuuri would try his hardest to bring the crown back with him, even though he had no clue how such a simple operation had escalated to this point.

Of course, they probably could have stolen something much less important for more, but Phichit has always had a flair for dramatics.

Yuuri sighed and looked back at the tunnel he came from, glad to see that no guard had found it yet. He turned and looked at the well-furnished room in front of him, a content and tired smile crossing his face.

“Alone at last.”

A loud slap was the last thing he heard before he was out cold on the floor.

Chapter Text

There was a man in the closet.

And no, Victor didn’t mean himself, he had been out of that retched place since the first time Lilia showed his pubescent teenage self an honest to god picture of a man. What he meant was, there is an actual man in his closet. A very handsome man, but that’s beside the point.

He almost desperately wanted to take him out again, one, because it was cruel to leave such a gorgeous creature in a space that formerly housed all his highly aromatic paints, and two, because he needed to prove to himself that the man was real and not a figment of his imagination.

Both of those reasons shouldn’t warrant him endangering his safety, but it didn’t stop him from wondering. And besides, he had good reason to.

This could be his ticket to see the floating lights.

(Stars, he mentally corrected himself, even if he didn’t think it was true)

The only profound reason that Lilia had ever stated as to why she didn’t want him to venture outside of this tower was that he couldn’t protect himself—and his hair oddly enough—from men who wanted to harm him and sell him for profit. He was sure that the man he had hit with the frying pan wasn’t here solely for his hair, and that this was all some large misunderstanding.

The man was too pretty to be a hair thief.

Victor could tell from general inspection that he had a nice build, complete with a healthy bronze skin tone that only served to make Victor more attracted to him. Not to mention his ass.

Maybe he could even take Victor to see the stars after he manages to convince Lilia to let him leave. He needed to see the lights, so it wouldn’t be inconvenient for the man to show him where to go on his way back to...wherever he came from. He had a strange satchel with an expensive-looking bracelet inside, so Victor was sure he could use that as leverage.

Makkachin boofed loudly near the window, signifying his mother's presence. Victor hummed lightly, strolling toward the open window. He couldn’t help but gaze longingly at the green closet, knowing that if he played his cards right this evening, he could finally go into the kingdom.

“Vitya, let down your hair! My feet are getting soaked just standing here,” Lilia yelled from the base of the castle.

Victor smiled and patted Makkachin on the head as he leaned out the window, tugging his hair with him. “Yes mother, coming mother,” he answered with a cheerful trill, throwing his hair haphazardly over the hook and down to the ground. He winced when it fell into the wet puddles at the bottom of the castle, splattering a disapproving Lilia with muddy water.

Her scowl remained constant as she tied the hair around her waist like a harness, slowly floating closer to the entrance with each sharp tug from Victor.

“Sorry about that,” Victor said as he helped her climb over the windowsill, failing to help her get fully untangled from the silver locks and lead to her tripping to get out.

She scowled, flicking some of the mud off her shoulder. “Vitya, what did I tell you about being careful when you let your hair down? Mind you, this is one of my best dresses.” Lilia dislodged her foot fully from the snarls of hair, tripping over to the full-length mirror to dabble at her face with a handkerchief.

“Look at this,” she said, flipping the now soiled rag towards him. “All from my face.” Victor smiled sheepishly, plucking the handkerchief from her outstretched palm and threw it into the trash.

“Sorry mother, I was just very excited to tell you something.” Victor rocked onto the balls of his heels, looking over her shoulder as she massaged the slight wrinkles prominent in her face.

Lilia frowned, meeting his eye in the mirror. “This isn’t the “floating lights” issue again, is it?” She turned around, grabbing the hairbrush from the small table beside the mirror.

Victor grinned nervously in confirmation, Lilia’s eyes rolling as soon as she saw the apprehensive expression cross his face. That wasn’t a great sign.

“Come over here, we can talk while I detangle this monstrosity,” she said, gesturing to his hair that was currently spilling over the carpet. He followed her over to the usual brushing station, sitting down on the padded stool between her legs.

 

Lilia reaches out to bring his hair onto her lap, grimacing the second she touches it. “Good god, Vitya, have you washed this recently? It feels brittle.”

Victor cringed, knowing exactly what had caused it. Manhandling a person into a closet took a good deal of pain on both sides, and having his hair stepped on was just compensation. He took a breath, deciding that now was as good a time as ever to breach the topic of his birthday present.

“Actually, I have, but the thing is—HEY, OW!” Victor let out an undignified screech, brush pulling painfully at a tangle near his scalp ruthlessly despite at his protest.

Lilia tutted, pulling his head backwards to look up at her. "The thing is you were outside playing with that dog again and left me a mess to comb through?” Makkachin whimpered from across the room, sorrowfully looking at her paws.

She continued before he could protest. “What is it you wanted to talk about with seeing the stars, Vitya? I hope you know that no matter what you pull out of your ass you are not going past that tunnel.” Victor motioned to get up, only to get dragged down once again with a long stroke of the comb.

“Look, mother,” Victor started, “I know you think I can’t protect myself from the outside world, but I don’t think you’ve considered--”

“I have considered everything, and I know it is within your best interest to stay right here inside of this tower,” she paused her brushing, tilting his head back to look at her face. “The second you step out of this alcove; you will find that the world is a cruel place and will never make an exception for a dainty man who thinks wearing a flower crown in public is socially acceptable.”

Victor frowned, pulling his hair out of her hands and stood up.

“I can take care of myself! I am an eighteen-year-old man who had no business being hidden behind a mountain! I haven't ever asked for anything else except to see the floating lights in person, could you just--”

“That is enough Vitya,” Lilia said, tone cold.

Victor balled his hands into fists. “But mother, if you would just trust me--”

“You are not leaving these mountains! Ever!”

His eyes widened, shocked by her outburst and immediately shrunk in on himself as she stood, rubbing her temple. Lilia’s expression softened, resting a hand on his shoulder.

“I am keeping you safe,” she said, squeezing slightly. “I wish that you could, but going into the world is out of the question.” Victor placed his hand on top of hers, face impassive.

He already knew that.

His hair had the power to heal anybody of their wounds, no matter how damaged. Victor had learned that the hard way when he accidentally dropped Lilia out of the tower, having to watch her plummet to the bottom, barely making it to her in time to save her. He understood why that was such a dangerous power to have, and why others would want it, but Victor just wished that she would give him a single chance to prove himself.

But it looks like that chance is growing slimmer with every passing moment he didn’t answer.

He exhaled, turning to rest his face on her shoulder. “Then,” he murmured, “could I at least have those nice paints you got from the far shore? I liked those.”

Lilia let out a pained breath. “You mean the one’s that take me three days to get?”

“I know, I... I just thought it would be better than me going to see the stars.” He laid it on thick, selfishly wanting to make her feel as guilty as possible.

“Fine.”

Victor took a step back, smile strained. “Thank you.”

She left soon after, claiming that she had to “start on her way now” or she would never make it back in time. He could still sourly recall the small wave she gave him on her way out of the area, disappearing past the dark entrance of the tunnel.

Victor lay on his bed, softly stroking Makkachin’s fur with a hairbrush. “She wouldn’t even let me finish my sentence Makkachin, why doesn’t she trust me?” He knows he shouldn’t be anywhere near as angry as he was, but he couldn’t help it. His gaze fell onto the green closet, decorated with paint smudges that carved flowers over the curves of the wood. Victor wondered if it was a good thing that he hadn’t shown Lilia the man.

It was time to take matters into his own hands.

He knew damn well when he asked Lilia for the paints that it would take her a long amount of time for her to come there and back, and that was exactly why he wanted her to get them. If she wouldn’t let him out, then he would do it himself...and maybe with a little help.

He looked over towards Makkachin as he stood up and walked towards the closet, hand dangerously close to the handle.

“Ready girl?”

A steady boof came as an answer, and Victor pulled the door open.


“Yura, please, calm yourself.” Yakov’s voice rang across the grand throne room, echoing off the gold-plated walls.

Yuri stopped mid pace, black lace up boots scuffing the carpet. His hair was in disarray, blonde flyways sticking out of his ponytail in all directions.

“The last thing we have that links us to Victor was that crown is gone, and not only that, but it makes me look fucking pathetic. We let a petty thief single handedly run away with the most expensive crown on this earth without a fucking lead on the asshole.” Yuri huffed, smoothing his hair. “So sorry, if I’m a little bit on edge.”

Yakov grunted, leaning forward in his throne. “Seeing as your squadron was filled with incompetent fools, it's not entirely your fault Yura.” Yakov had done a thorough check over the bruised and battered palace guards under his charge, and they were all less than up to the required standard.

“If you could just give me another squad--”

A creaking noise came from the door, cutting off Yuri’s protest. A tall man with a dark undercut stepped into the room, imperial helmet cradled underneath his arm. He bowed deeply, catching Yuri’s eye on the way up.

“Sorry to interrupt Your Highness,” the man said, “I had orders to come here.” Something about him was itching away at Yuri’s brain, and he was almost one hundred percent sure he knew him from somewhere.

Yakov straightened and gestured towards the soldier. “Yuri, this is Otabek Altin, leader of the seventeenth squadron. He is now under your command and will serve well as a second in command. He had top marks coming out of the academy and had shown impressive work through his time of service.”

So that’s where he knew him from. No wonder he had looked familiar.

Yuri most likely trained with him while he skipped through the courses, although it must not have been for long, due to him passing all training within four years and becoming the first teen squadron leader of the palace guards. The man (Otabek, his mind supplied with a strange sort of glee) look young himself, maybe in his early twenties.

Yuri walked closer to the guard, circling around Altin’s body, noting the sheer amount of muscle that decorated his body. He couldn’t say he was disappointed with Yakov’s choice.

“He will do. Is there anyone else you will be adding?” Yuri hoped that he would, his squad had mainly consisted of oily faced idiots who thought they were better than him purely because of his age. Of course, they learned that they should not, in fact, assume such things unless they wanted the tip of their nose sliced off with the sharp edge of his sword. Anyone who didn’t immediately need to share that same sentiment would be an upgrade.

“Yes, actually.” Yakov raised his hand to tip the crown back towards the center of his head, bald patch disappearing under the velvet. “I have compiled three highly skilled individuals to join your squadron, and you will be meeting with them tomorrow unless something tragic happens.” He glared openly at Yuri. “I don’t want you looking for Katsuki until then, do you understand?”

Yuri scoffed, rolling his eyes. “Yes, Your Highness.”

What did Yakov think he was, and idiot?

Yakov gave him one last stern look, before making a shooing motion with his hand. “You are dismissed.” He sighed quietly and propped his face on his fist before closing his eyes, which was as good a signal as ever for them to go.

He could see how this was wearing at his uncle. Victor, his supposed elder cousin, had disappeared before he was even born, and he was stuck living in a world where he was known as nothing more than The Lost Prince, nameless in the face of the world. The crown, while wildly expensive, held sentimental value to him, being the last possession of Victors that he was allowed to keep. It was his duty to get it back.

Yuri briskly swung his feet out to turn towards the door walk and immediately locked eyes with his new second in command, having to back up a step to avoid hitting his chest. “What are you staring at,” he asked, mind clouded with simmering rage at his own incompetence.

Altins eyes narrowed, shaking his head. “Nothing,” he answered awkwardly. “I’m glad to be of service.”

Yuri could feel his face flush slightly at the man's deep voice, effectively making him want to scream all the curse words he knew at himself. What the hell kind of reaction was that?

He grumbled out a “good to have you” before pushing past him, speed walking down the corridor. Yuri almost flew into other people, bumping past individuals in a haze. He finally slipped into his palace provided room, slamming the door shut and sinking to the floor. What was wrong with him?

He already had one problem to deal with, he didn’t need another. He was supposed to be mad at Katsuki, god damn it, not himself.

“Fucking hell,” he murmured, hiding his face hot with embarrassment in his palms. "Why is my life a mess.”


Phichit Chulaton is a lot of things, and a nervous wreck is not one of them.

He usually leaves the worrying to Yuuri, who obsessively frets enough for both of them. But seeing as he wasn’t here, Phichit guessed it was his turn to panic.

“Sweetheart...please calm down.” A croaky voice came from the bed, green eyes framed by long eyelashes blearily staring up at him. Chris has been doing worse than usual lately, and it has gotten to the point where he can no longer move around enough to even use the restroom.

Phichit was quickly at his side, resting his palm on his love’s face. “What do you mean darling, I am perfectly calm.” That claim was complete and utter bullshit, and he could tell Chris knew based on the stern gaze he gave him.

Phichit groaned, letting his face droop onto the mattress.

“I'm just...worried,” he said, words all but being absorbed into the sheets. “Yuuri hasn’t come back yet, and I feel so guilty about dragging him into this.” Phichit looked up, meeting Chris’s eyes. He knew his husband was too tired to speak, so he opted to talk for the both of them.

“I wish I could say it wasn’t my fault, but we both know it is. I shouldn’t have left him to run on his own.” He felt a hand caress the top of his head, sinking into the feeling.

Phichit didn’t know what he was going to do. Yuuri now had bounties on his head that passed the hundreds, the opposite of what Yuuri had been trying to do. Back in the day, when they were both young and free from most responsibilities, they had made a name for themselves, a disaster duo, the newspapers liked to call them. Yuuri was amazing at picking locks, Phichit would even go as far as to say it was his specialty. They robbed houses and occasionally mansions, only one time being a bank. It was Phichit’s dream; he loved the feeling of adrenaline that pulsed through his veins every time they took a job. He knew the repercussions of having his face plastered on a wanted board were less than ideal, but they both took it in stride. But then they got older, and Yuuri wanted to be free.

The accumulated number of years they would have to spend in prison was a grand tally of three, and that was just if they wanted to work off their sentences. Phichit loved living his life on the edge, but Yuuri wanted to be able to walk down the street without the threat of getting arrested. Phichit wanted what was best for him, and Yuuri was seriously considering turning himself in.

But now, his best friend will be hung if he’s caught, no longer having a chance for parole. And it was all his fault. He didn’t even know if Yuuri was alive anymore.

Phichit gently climbed onto the bed, laying near his husband. Everything was going wrong, and he had no idea what to do. He was officially at a loss.

He must have fallen asleep, because what felt like a few seconds later he awoke to a smatter of loud knocks echoing through their house, most likely from the front door.

He all but fell out of bed, yelling a “Coming!” at the top of his lungs. Phichit reached the door, swinging it open and stopping a knock halfway, the person’s fist falling on air. He glared at the figure standing at the door before realizing who had come to greet him.

He would have been able to recognize her from a mile away, the same person he had known since his childhood, cigarette in hand and all. A bone-tired smile crossed her face as she saw him, eyebags unusually prominent. Phichit could barely hear her as she spoke, mind numb.

“I know where Yuuri is.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri wasn’t sure what indefinitely woke him up, but it was a close tie between a strange lapping sensation in his ear and his bone structure feeling like he had been in a contortionist chamber, both of which made unhealthy amounts of bile rise in his throat with dread. 

Yuuri snapped his eyes open. 

“Oh, good, you're awake!” 

His eyes drifted around frantically, pausing when a snuffle sounded from his side. A poodle sat propped on a stool, gazing at him with soulful black eyes. 

The perpetrator of the licks had been found. 

And so had a long strand of silver material wound around his arms and legs like shackles. 

“Is this...hair?” 

He looked down only to discover that, without a doubt, he was restrained to a chair with hair. And a dog that was keen on licking ears, oddly. 

This is fine.  

Yuuri thrashed in the seat, doing nothing but knocking the chair over backwards, falling with a thump. The dog from before came to his side and lapped at his face fervently, almost as if it were concerned. Yuuri would have laughed if not for the situation at hand.  

He looked down to his side, stilling when he found nothing. 

The satchel was gone. 

He writhed around, twisting his head from side to side, wrists pulling against the restraints. Where did that voice come from again? 

“Struggling is pointless.” 

Ah, there. Near the rafters. 

Conveniently, just behind the amount that he could tip his head back to see. 

“Who are you, and how did you find me,” the voice asked in a deep drawl. Yuuri spluttered, maddened. 

“Who am I? Who are you!?”  

A large thump came to his left, and Yuuri caught the movement of a shadow in the corner of his eye.  The shadow became a slow-moving figure, cautiously approaching him. 

One step. 

Two. 

And then the figure was swathed in light, positively gleaming. Long silver hair the same color as the makeshift shackles Yuuri was held with was draped over a palatable shoulder, pale skin shimmering in the narrow strip of sun. The person—most likely male—was holding onto a frying pan like a lifeline, bright blue gaze curved with wary intrigue. 

Yuuri blinked, freezing. 

Who are you, and how did you find me?” 

Three steps. 

Yuuri blanched, trying to form a sentence.  

“Did you come for my hair?” 

What.  

Your...hair? Why in the ever-loving hell would I want your hair?” Yuuri found his voice, enough panic laced with his tone to drive away his furry companion, the dog skittering to paw at his owner. “Look, I don’t know what kind of kinky shit-- "

“Oh, that’s great to hear! It was all just a simple misunderstanding." The man walked over with his shoulders sagging in relief, swiftly up writing Yuuri’s torture chair and effectively cutting him off. 

The man who had been a subtle ode to grace just minutes before had just...squealed?  

Yuuri was so confused. And so, to take the path of least resistance, he decided to not care. 

“Okay, look, my names Yuuri Katsuki, and” Yuuri said, wary as the man touched his chin, other hand traveling scandalously low, “I’m glad that we’ve come to an understanding, and it was really nice meeting you...” 

“Victor” 

“Victor, but I really need to get going. Hand me my satchel back and I'll be out of your,” Yuuri squinted at the irony, “hair.” 

This must not have been the best thing to say, as Victor’s smile slid down his face. He stepped away and lifted a single finger to his lips, thumb quirking to the side. 

“Aha, you see, that’s not how this is going to work.” 

Excuse me?” 

Victor put both hands on the sides of the chair, caging Yuuri in. Not that he had to, his icy stare intense enough to glaciate him to the seat alone.  

“You fell into my window, almost shanked my dog with your chair, and seem to be harboring an expensive treasure of some kind. Now, Yuuri, that doesn’t seem like a safe thing to have on you, is it?” 

Yuuri smiled aggressively, tinging on dangerous. “Great, that’s exactly what I was talking about. May I ask where it is?” 

Victor smiled back, teasingly. 

“I’ve hidden it in a place you will never find.” 

Yuuri looked past Victor’s face, stopping on an earth tone vase. 

“It’s in that pot, isn’t it.” 

The frying pan moved.


Yuuri awoke to a familiar slimy sensation in his ear, jumping so hard the seat nearly fell over again. He quickly realized that the seat was facing the opposite direction, facing away from the window. Victor was perched upon the mantle, hand on the blue curtains. 

The brown dog that was once again perched on the stool yipped, getting his human’s attention. Victor looked back at him, grinning once he realized Yuuri was awake 

“Now its hidden where you will never find it.” 

Victor stood up, balanced precariously, and tugged at the curtains. 

“Do you know what these are,” Victor asked, pulling away the curtains to reveal a painting, a figure resting on a lone tree with silvery hair—presumably Victor—looking up at yellow shaped blobs in wonder. Yellow shaped blobs turned into lanterns as his hearing stopped ringing and his eyes could finally focus. 

“You mean the lantern thing they do for the prince?”

Victor looked shock, mumbling to himself. 

“Lanterns...I knew they weren’t stars.” 

Victor looked to be considering something, hopping down to the floor. He walked over the padded carpet, pointing the trauma inducing black frying pan towards Yuuri’s face. 

“Well, tomorrow evening they will light the night sky with these lanterns, and you will be my guide. If you take me to see these lanterns and return me home safely, you can have your satchel back.” 

Yuuri deadpanned. 

“Yeah, no can do,” He flapped his hands, trying to itch at his arms, “You see, me and the kingdom aren’t exactly on the same page at the moment. So, sorry, but I can’t take you.” 

Victor stared into his eyes with frightening sincerity, opening his mouth to speak. 

“Something brought you here Yuuri Katsuki. Call it what you want, fate, destiny--” 

“--An undomesticated teen.” 

“So, I have decided to let you go,” 

“You should have done that from the beginning--” 

Victor gravitated towards him, interrupting his train of thought.  

“But trust me on this,” he snipped, pointing his frying pan behind him. “You can tear this tower down brick by brick, but without my help, you will never find your precious satchel.” 

Yuuri let his thoughts drift to Phichit. He sighed, dreading what he was about to do. 

“Let me get this straight,” he said, frowning. “I take you to see the lanterns, bring you back home, and then you’ll give me back my satchel?” 

“I promise.” 

Yuuri scoffed, being almost immediately silenced by Victor’s determined voice. 

“And when I promise something, I never, ever, break that promise.” 

Yuuri hung his head, sighing. 

“Fine.” 

Victor celebrated, pumping his fists up and down until he inadvertently hit Yuuri in the face with the frying pan. 

“Sorry!” 

Chapter Text

“Yep, that’s him. Although I don’t know what's going on with his nose. Dumbnut probably broke it before they saw him.” Yuri stabbed his knife through the poster, impaling the tree along with the picture.  

If anyone had asked Mila to describe Yuri Plinsetski in this moment, it would be appallingly harsh. And no, she wasn’t just spiteful because he led them on a trek through the forest equivalent of Jurassic Park.  

They had been walking through the same forest for hours, and she was pretty damn sure she had seen that rock multiple times before.  

“Great,” JJ said from behind her, “does this have anything to do with were we need to go? I thought you were the king’s precious attack dog; can the puppy not sniff out a trail?” He clicked his tongue, smirking proudly. Mila could almost smell him preening.  

Yuri stiffened, swinging the dagger he had used to cover (read: stab) through Katsuki’s disfigured nose towards JJ, the latter shrieking loudly before gaining composure.  

“Listen here Jean Jackass Leroy—”  

“Yuri.” Otabek’s hand rested on Yuri’s shoulder, the young teen melting into the touch. So far, Otabek has proven himself to be the ultimate Yuri whisperer, which was doing her a large service.   

Shes glad she doesn’t have to take care of him like she used to, babysitting her angsty cousin when a royal ball was held. Being that she was three years older than Yuri, it was deemed “cute” to stick them together on the dance floor when they were little, making for many unfond memories.  

The first time Mila Babivelchika met Yuri Plinsetski was at a family gathering, where he stood proudly by the king’s side. If Yuri weren’t so attached to his grandfather, Mila was sure that Yakov would have claimed him as his own in a heartbeat.  

He was a brat back then, of course. Always so confident in every move that he made, to the point where it was almost infuriating.  

Still was, if she felt like being honest.  

So when she found out that she was being put on a special team with her distant cousin, she almost hurled. She had thought at the time it couldn’t have been too bad when she heard there were two others under his command as well. At least she wasn’t the only one underneath his command.  

Although, being surrounded almost entirely by gross, s weaty, men was doing a number on her earlier thought process.  

“Hey, guys,” their last team member, Emil, said. “I’m not entirely sure, but I think I hear something.” The rest of them froze while the bearded man cupped a hand to his ear, squinting his eyes in concentration.  

He had done this a concerning number of times. At least all his calls had been right, meaning that he did hear something, but so far it had only been rabbits.  

Still, they decided to humor him. Yakov said he had been good at this.  

So, all three of them were surprised when he swung his head back and frantically started pushing them towards a large bush with fervor, the universal sign for “be quiet” coming up to his lips.  

“There’s someone coming,” he hissed through his teeth.  

Yuri was tense beside her, the only thing that kept Mila hyper focused on seeing past the leaves.  

A loud snap followed by muffled cursing came from across the clearing, making her heart rate pick up a notch.  

She felt rustling to her side, whipping her head around only to see Yuri making his way to a standing position, almost past crouching.  

“What are you doing,” she spit through her teeth.  

Callous as ever, Yuri opted to ignore her until she physically assaulted his leg seconds later, making him stumble and almost fall to the ground.  

“Let go of me vedma!” Yuri hissed a little too loudly, everyone quieting and staring wide-eyed.  

“Who’s there!?”  

Shit  

They all looked to Yuri, relying on him for their next plan of action. From what Mila could tell, the voice sounded distinctly feminine, and all she could do was hope that the woman was alone.   

JJ made eye contact with her from between Yuri’s legs with a look that screamed he desperately needed to hurl. With as much as he talked himself up, he really wasn’t cut out for peril. The man was shaking, a nd he wasn’t even standing up.  

For after what seemed like eternity, Yuri stood up fully and exposed the group. Otabek and Mila rose shortly after.  

They faced a tall and lanky woman with high cheekbones and brown hair, looking at them like the dirt underneath her feet. She seemed to be less than pleased, a small curse falling from her lips along with something near “place guards”, a surprising change from the shock Mila was suspecting.   

“General Yuri Plinsetski from the Palace Guard, Ma’am. We mean you no harm, as we were just passing through.” He stood straight up, shoulders pushing back against his armor. Yuri lifted the disfigured poster in the air, flashing it to the woman. “Would you happen to have seen this gentleman? He has committed a large felony against the crown, and it would do us good to have a lead.”  

“No,” the woman answered in a clipped tone. Her expression screamed displeasure; her stature oozing uncomfortableness. “Now, if you would excuse me, I must leave.” She turned on her heel, briskly walking back the way she came.  

That...was kind of suspicious.  

“Halt!” Mila and Yuri said at the same time, Mila promptly ignoring the massive side eye she received from her companion.  

The woman strode off into the trees, faster now, unheeding their command.  

It took less than a second for Otabek, Yuri, and Mila to leap over the bush in fast pursuit of the woman. Mila could see a brunette blur in front of her, Yuri pulling ahead. He had a large lead in front of her, very close to being able to grab onto the back of the woman's garment.  

It was unexpected when he tripped, sinking into an unpreceded mudhole in the ground. The woman continued, getting lost in the trees before Mila could decide whether to help her cousin or proceed the chase.  

Otabek seemed to do the same, feet getting sloshed in the mud in the struggle to pull Yuri up. Mila ran over and grabbed his arm, feet digging into the dirt. Yuri was deep, limbs thrashing in the mud pool.  

“Damn it!” He screamed when his last leg popped free, flopping onto the ground.  

“She knows something,” Otabek said, offering a hand that was rapidly swatted away by the intended recipient.  

“No shit, and we just lost her,” Yuri spat, wiping mud off the side of his face. He stood up just as Emil and JJ came into the clearing. Mila grimaced.  

“Come here dipshits, we have work to do.”


“Yuuuuuri,” Victor yelled, elongating the “u” in a way that he was much too familiar with. Yuuri sighed, leaning against the base of the tree while Makkachin snuffled next to him, forgotten.  

Thirty minutes.  

It had only taken thirty minutes for this admittedly beautiful man to lure him into insanity.   

Falling from the tower in a disastrous leap, proceeding to splash around the puddles with his dog who was bundled in his hair like a makeshift knapsack, and rolling around on the hills in an unbelievable cute but childish haze were a true testament to Victor’s ability to make Yuuri loose his mind.  

His left leg was not having it.  

It had been a pain in Yuuri’s ass to climb down the tower with his leg throbbing every time he so much as put pressure on it--not a good sign, he was sure--all the while listening to his silver haired companion busying himself with splashing in the puddles.  

Victor made another lap around him, swinging impossibly fast around the tree. “This is the best. Day. Ever!” He laughed, kicking at the trunk of the tree and dropped down near Yuuri.   

He walked past him, plopping down near a big rock and leaning against it. For unexplained reasons, he reminded Yuuri of the old Greek paintings that Yuuko had on display at her art gallery. Yuuri wanted to slam his head into a tree, because really, who has the right to look that pretty with sticks littered in their hair?  

Infuriating. Absolute blasphemy.  

The audacity that Victor possessed to, one, kidnap and enslave him to being his guide is astounding. Minako would be rolling in her grave if she found out that her student was forcibly roped into this kind of thing, seriously, he thought he was stronger.   

If only his god damned leg would let up on the pain. Yuuri had done a bad enough job from hiding it from his captor, the silver-haired wonder giving him a few pitying glances until he forgot and found something else exciting to roll in.  

In reality, Yuuri knew that Victor was probably harmless, if not the least bit annoying. His mother, on the other hand, sounded terrifying. Yuuri almost pitied him.  

Yuuri plodded over to the rock, plopping onto the stone with an exhausted groan. He was already wrung out and it hadn’t even been an hour yet. He glanced down at Victor who had sunk down into a patch of berries and was currently dying his hands red with syrupy juice.  

“I would stop that, if I were you.” Yuuri watched as Victor’s head tilted upwards; eyes focusing on him.  

Victor gave a breathy little laugh, softly patting Makkachin. “No, these are harmless. Mother would always bring up batches to help cook her berry stew.” He looked down, assessing the state of his hands. “Seems that I’ve made quite the mess though.”  

His mother.  

From what Yuuri had heard so far, it seems that he was locked into a tower with an insane control freak of a mom. He couldn’t help but remember Mari’s rants on Stockholm syndrome from her medical studies. Yuuri hoped that this wasn’t the case.  

Although, it could help him out in the long run if he wanted to get rid of this leach of a companion.  

“Your mother,” Yuuri started, “wouldn't she, I don’t know, be crushed about your sudden leap of absence. I garnered that you were quite close.” He executed the first step of his plan nice and smooth, statement laced with false concern. He picked a berry, rolling it in between his fingers.  

“Well of course, I was kind of hoping she would be.”  

What.  

Shes been quite evasive as of late,” Victor said absentmindedly while picking at his nails, seemingly unaware of Yuuri’s game plan crashing in the distance. “I would say that I deserve a little adventure, wouldn’t you?”  

There was no way he wasn’t playing with him  

Yuuri was going to kill him. Smash that stupid innocent façade of his into the ground. The last thing Yuuri needed to do was parade around town while his bounty prices were steadily rising in the thousands.  

No, no. Yuuri was calm. He would be fine; he’s gotten out of worse. He had a backup plan for a reason.  

“Well, Victor ,” Yuuri put on his most charming smile, “you wouldn’t happen to be getting hungry, would you?” Yuuri mentally fist pumped when Victor’s interest seemed piqued, inquisitive frown forming on his lips. “I know a restaurant around here that is simply divine, the best quality you could find! My friend Celestino owns it.”  

If he could just get Victor to agree to go with him, he could kill two birds with one stone. He could contact Phichit discreetly, and maybe manage to gross Victor out in the process and have him chicken out. Celestino is known for breaking in crime lords after all, it was no place for someone as seemingly delicate as Victor.  

“Oh really? What’s its name?” Victor stood up, wiping his palms on his pants.  

Yuuri smirked lightly, crushing the small red berry between his fingers.  

“The Ugly Duckling.”