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I Hope You Dance

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Disclaimer: I don't own Pacific Rim or Yuri! On Ice. Or the song I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack. Or the second song, called The Promise, by Globus. But I do own this story.

Shout Out: One week. If you wonder why my radio/posting silence, this is the reason for it. Remind me to not a) watch films with giant robots, b) binge-watch YOI, and c) accidentally stumble on the songs that poke and prod me to write out something like this. Oh, and d) stumble onto all too pretty art by YukiPri, especially her Agape/Eros version, along with the images of older Yuri. If you are interested in her art, you can find her on Tumblr - but she and I ask that you do not repost her works.

Shout Out2: This should've been titled as Whimper Out, because YukiPri completely blew my mind with her rendition our three lovely protagonist in  drivesuits. Kaboom. Mind gone. Want to see why my mind imploded?  Go see her work on Tumblr and then try to tell me you were not shell-shocked like I am. YukiPri, thank you, and continue surprising us, just like a certain silver-haired Russian skater we all love!

Warnings: AU-verse, SLASH, a certain Russian kitty's language, time lapses and shifting POV's like they are going out of style. (Man, I've never had to use so many warnings for one story. This should've been telling enough.)

Yuri - (Yurio)/Yuri Plisetsky/Yura, Yurochka

Yuuri - Yuri Katsuki

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat

He would never forgive. He would never forget.

That fucking porker.

How dare he?

How dare he leave him?

This bawling excuse for a human being, with his too big watery brown eyes, stuttering and flinching, not even –

The cold air stung his nose and eyes and he shivered with the exhaustion, both numb and overwhelmed with the emotions to the point he couldn't define what exactly was he feeling anymore, fingers scrabbling across the surface, tiny, helpless claws enmeshed in the plastics and he choked, as he couldn't control his body functions anymore, gasping in the air in a staccato tempo, his heart constricting with the terrible reality he had been faced with all too soon.

He shivered on the top of evac pod turned raft, looking into the depths of iron-colored sea, dark and gray surface undulating beneath him into the horizon and vanishing into the sky, a monochromatic yet still faintly colored panorama he had thought he would never see again. At least not in this life.

There was a piece in his brain, a yawning chasm of loneliness that would never, ever be filled, a profound darkness devoid of warmth and it was hard to believe that only half an hour ago, he was still whole - or at least as whole as one could be, considering he shared his head space with that fat asshole who dared to leave him alone.

The trembling body of the fifteen year old boy encased in the black and dark blue polycarbonate armor slumped on the steel and duroplast surface of the raft, trying to keep the grief in, the sunshine colored strands hanging limply around his face, as they escaped their usual ponytail as the green eyes, lined with tears, closed before it was too much, and the youth, clad in black and blue armor screamed, his voice more of a wounded animal's shriek than a word, the sound echoing across the ocean and in the command room of the LOCCENT.


If only…

The Shatterdome was celebrating the closing of the Rift, what with finally stopping the War Clock for good, and he had seen Mila snogging Georgi like it was the end of the world, and usually, he would have gagged and screamed at them, what the hell –

But instead, he braved the congratulations and pats on his back long enough to excuse himself to escape in his room.

The place was unnaturally quiet, what with missing the sounds of clanking and clanging from the nearby Drivesuit Room and whining sounds of the welding machines working deep into the night or at unreasonable hours in the morning, the everlasting melody joined with the subsequent humming of the electricity just under the wall panels. Green eyes underlined with blueish gray eye bags looked at the still unmade bed, just like he had left it this evening - morning? He didn't know anymore. The last twenty four hours were enough to blur into one another, what with the surprising onslaught of the Kaiju, the unexpected loss of majority of their Jaeger forces, and their desperate last ditch attempt to stop everything from going into hell, literally.

Two hours, fifteen minutes and six seconds since he had last been in the Jaeger. His body felt both strangely light and ridiculously bereft of the armor he had spent three years (and six months,) of his life in.

Three hours, five minutes and zero seconds since the porker's ludicrous decision to Drift with him. Three hours, four minutes and fifty-five seconds since his objection, because surely, the idiot would crumble under pressure again, and really, just who was the idiot who thought that drafting that loser of a Katsuki into the forces again?

Viktor. Viktor fucking Nikiforov.

The asshole had the gall to recruit the porker even after that miserable accident in the Gulf of Thailand - Yuri didn't know many of the particulars, but what was known was that Ventus Regina had been totaled, to the point of being unrecognizable, but it had also successfully defended the coast from the two Kaijus at once. He didn't understand just why was the porker given respect - two Kaijus at once wasn't much, as he, himself, had six of them under his belt, so to speak. That should have been enough for that Nikiforov bastard to keep his promise and Drift with him.

But nooo. Half a year later, the asshole upped and went to gods knew where, incurring Yakov's wrath - considering that they had been in a cinch, what with only six Jaegers being operative in the Russian territory, it was unthinkable for even the great Nikiforov to just go where his damn whims took him to. Three days later, he returned with the porker and announced that the said porker would be allowed to participate in the Tokyo Shatterdome.

Suffice to say, Yuri Plisetsky, the one half of the intrepid duo of Sinya Theta was not amused, much to the entertainment of his copilot, one Mila Babicheva. To say it correctly, he was madder as a pissed off nest of hornets.

He cracked out a broken laugh at that particular memory as he slumped down on the bed.

His behavior had been atrocious, even by his own standards. But that Yuuri bastard got on his nerves - he had stolen Viktor from him and then they made a whole damned demonstration in the kwoon room to prove Yuri - and any other non-believer there - just how right they were.

He still remembered the porker's eyes, big and glistening brown, like ones of a dumb animal - a pig destined to be slaughtered - when Katsuki babbled and denied that no, he didn't steal Viktor from Yuri.

But Yuri knew better.

- but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,

He flopped onto the bed, staring at the mesh of concrete and iron making the ceiling. It was strange to think that in a couple of days, the Tokyo Shatterdome would be officially closed down, relegated to yet another relic of humankind's victory over the big bad evil things threatening their existence. That many languages, gathered from all the four winds' directions, would cease to echo through the air here.

He could return back to the ice skating, like he always wanted to, but didn't have a chance, what with him being drafted into the academy just because he had the misfortune of being spotted in the middle of the brawl with some asshole that had the galls to try and bully him.

He closed his eye and tried to imagine his dyedushka's kind face, and his scent of tobacco and earth clinging to his body.

Instead, his memory was drawn to another pair of kind brown eyes and sunshine-warm smile - and gray hair turned to black, scent changing into something with a hit of ozone - circuits – plastics and something uniquely Yuuri.

How they panted against one another, Katsuki holding the staff's middle body against his throat, lightly choking him with it and his own staff was dangerously near the porker's liver, ready to stab him at a moment's notice, even when he was splayed on the ground, Katsuki having gotten him with a sweep just a moment ago, and it was more or less a lucky happenstance Yuri managed to make it a double sweep.

The half-darkness, the semi-silence filled only with their breaths and semi-far sounds of repairing the Jaegers in the hangars echoing in his ears.

The uncertainty that day – night, actually - when they had at least three Kaijus to contend with and the horror of losing three Jaegers in quick succession, only to be saved the last damned minute by Freedom Wing and just how

He still remembered Victor's triumphant face when he slapped Katsuki's shoulder, telling him he was a hero now, don't be shy –

-he avoided Mila's attempt at bear hug - seriously, that damned woman wasn't stopped even by a broken shoulder, what the hell, that damn hag –

-and then being confronted by a harsh reality of being the humanity's last hope for survival, with no help from anyone.

Two Jaegers. Two. Fucking. Jaegers. It had to be some kind of a bad joke, a revenge for all the action movies ever filmed, those who pictured humanity triumphant in the end.

If he could, he would've felt sick. Wait, he did feel sick.

Mila, that baba, was out of running because of her injury, so Sinya Theta was inoperative. Freedom Wing was in a bad state, too, despite having emerged triumphant out of its latest kerfuffle against Kaiju.

(As much as he hated to admit it, that damned katsudon moron and the Nikiforov idiot had done at least something right that time.)

There were only three operative Jaeger pilots - him, Viktor and the katsudon idiot.

It was a suicide waiting to happen.

Drive the Jaeger into the Breach and then explode its nuclear reactor in hopes to collapse the inter-dimensional portal between Earth and whatever the damned thing lead to, forever.

God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small

"I will go with Yuri." That made all of them stare at the dark-haired Wing's pilot.

"You will what?" Phichit, their LOCCENT officer asked the porker flatly, and for a moment, the thoughts of the small group were in unison.

Why would Yuuri, of all people, want to break the already established duo to Drift with one of the most incompatible pilots ever drafted in the program?

"Ha, ha, ha. This is a joke, isn't it? You're joking, right?" Mila laughed, her voice forced and high.

Steady brown eyes looked at her, making her jaw snap shut. "I'm not."

"But who will pilot Freedom Wing then?" For once, Viktor was serious. "Yuuri – "

"We will." Yuuri responded. "You and Gregori will man Sinya Theta."

"This – "He never saw Viktor so furious and helpless at once. But Katsuki steamrolled him once again, speaking quickly. "I can't because it's of Russian make. You can. Wing has English modules, and Yurio knows English, so in theory, the cooperation should be more or less smooth. We just have to get Wing into the breach, but for that, Sinya Theta has to be there to protect us from Category Fours guarding here. I know you don't like it and I wouldn't have suggested it either, but we – "

He was interrupted by Viktor's sharp nod.

"If you are sure you can – " Viktor spoke, his unusual blue eyes narrowed at the porker, making Yuri bristle at the wordless communication between them –

"You know I can. Do it, I mean."

Viktor's shoulders slumped.


This should have been his dream coming true, manning Freedom Wing of all Jaegers, but it was at the wrong time, in the wrong place and with the wrong person.

He also couldn't shake off that strange feeling he had gotten when he had inadvertently eavesdropped on the porker with his Thai friend, Phichit.

"Are you sure you want to do it, Yuuri? The Drift - "

"Yes. And don't worry about the Drift. I will bring nothing into it."

"But Yuuri, this is – " Phichit's voice became agitated, and really, what were they hiding from everyone –

"Drop it, Phichit." The pork - no, Katsuki's voice became colder, before it softened out again. "This is not a time for having second thoughts, remember?"

Phichit's laughter was shaky and desperate, stuttering uncomfortably audible in the LOCCENT's officer voice as he tried to make it sound natural. "Ah, you know how I am, Yuuri. But do come back or else I will upload the most embarrassing picture of you on my Instagram account. You know, the one with - "

"You wouldn't!" Yuuri's horrified squeak made Phichit laugh harder and a little bit easier. A clap on the shoulder.

"Then do come back, will you?"

And he was left alone with their footsteps echoing through the corridor the ever-distancing murmur of voices and sounds accompanying them walking away from his hiding place.

He inhaled.


Right. He had to go into the Drivesuit Room to get fitted for the new drivesuit.

[Neural handshake initiated in five…four… three… two… one – ]

And he drowned.

This was unlike Drifting with baba Mila, what with her bouncy personality and vivid memories, even viewed through monochromatic lenses.

If Mila had been air to his fire, then the porker - Yuuri, he corrected himself, was water and ice.

Yuuri bent in and around him like liquid mercury, here/present, but much to his surprise, their Drifting together was unlike the one with Mila.

Yuuri's memories were soft, safe and distant, even the ones concerning the tragedy of the Life Wall breach near the place called Hasetsu. It was all sepia images, dead and buried and calm and he would've felt unnerved if he had allowed himself to, but this was too important to allow himself to chase the RABIT, and if he fucked up now of all times, he was sure that Viktor would be the first one to strangle him, and Yakov right behind him.

And Yuri himself – well, he never tolerated failure, and he wouldn't have begun tolerating it now.

Opening his eyes, he reached for the controls, his mouth already rolling through the initialization protocols.

when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes

Guang Ho was right.

The Kaijus became better, cleverer and they ought to have known that there would be a couple of them just waiting to ambush their human adversaries in giant metal suits in an effort to try to stop their little mission.

"You need a bit of Kaiju to get into the breach!" Leo's voice crackled through the radio, causing him to twitch with rage.

"You couldn't have told us that before!?" He shrieked into the mic, not even bothering with lowering the voice and disregarding Leo's frantic apologies being jabbered into his ears.

"Well. At least we have some fine specimen volunteering for the task." Victor's voice was as cool as cucumber and right then, Yuri hated him with the passion of a thousand suns.

"They are Category Four." Celestino informed them, the Italian's accent rolling through his words even more pronounced, showing just how much he was stressed on the commanding seat back at the LOCCENT. "Two, one at eleven o' clock and another at five - no, it vanished - "

Category Four. Fucking Category Four.

"We'll deal with them. Freedom, you two will go forward – " Victor's command was interrupted by the static crackling through the loudspeakers, causing both of them to wince at the ugly sound.

"Can we deploy the swords now?"

Yuri would swear to his death and beyond that he didn't sound whiny at that moment, thank you very much.

But he wouldn't deny swearing with the rudest words imaginable when they were faced with the behemoth called Category Five.

How was that his life!?

I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,

The Category Five was massive, and any other adjective that meant really, fucking, hugely, big.

Both of the Category Fours were almost enough to slice Theta into ribbons - their left arm was inoperative, what with it being torn out of the main frame, and right knee was busted, disabling it from really moving forward. But somehow, the wonder boy Nikiforov and his sidekick Georgi managed to do the impossible and get Theta moving and Yuri would've been more appreciative of the miracle if he wasn't concerned with their own trouble.

The right sword was practically unusable now, and he still felt twinges of pain skittering up his own spine from the rough punt one of those Category Four bastards had dealt them into the back when they had been helping Theta with dispatch of its own adversary. Life functions were not all optimal, either, and if suicide had seemed a mere theory before (not that it did), now it was fast approaching the realm of being a terrifyingly real possibility.

"Any ideas on how to deal with the Big Mean right now would be a fucking gold." Georgi's strained voice floated to him across the loudspeakers.

"Blow him to kingdom come." Viktor's voice was ice cold. "Yuuri?"

His temporary partner's fingers danced over the holoscreens in front of him. "We've got only one shot at it. You sure?"

"As a heart attack."

And Yuri knew what the two intended to do, causing his blood to freeze in his veins.

'No. No. No, it won't work, what the fuck are they thinking, but of course, those two are the idiot duo of the Tokyo Shatterdome –'

He licked his lips.

"I will haunt you in Hell if you fail that, you fucking porker." He hissed at his copilot, causing him to chuckle, dark eyes gleaming at him with a feverish light in the amber-colored cockpit.

"Let's do it."

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Ghost drifting was such a fucking weird thing. If you spend long enough time in the head-space of someone, you know - intimately and completely - what they think even when you two aren't connected via the machinery in the Jaeger.

(Once upon a time, he envied them this handy little ability. Because ghost drifting with Mila of all people was just terrible, a horrible punishment nobody in their right mind should suffer through.

Anyone else would've been better than her.)

But right now, it seemed that it would be the one thing to pull their collective asses through, courtesy of Nikiforov and his unconventional choice of a Drifting partner.

Everybody had doubted that Katsuki would be the right one for the Russian ace to Drift with - Nikiforov didn't have exactly stellar record either, going through the drift partners like acid through tissue papers - they lasted with him two, three drifting sessions before giving up, claiming that Viktor was just too great of a monster to Drift with.

Drifting didn't deal only with the exchange of memories, good, bad, worse and the worst, but also the mental compatibility. More often than not, Viktor had had an upper hand in this particular territory, much to the chagrin of Yakov and his designed copilots. But as much as Viktor was high maintenance, the results spoke for themselves, lauding him the longest surviving pilot to defend the Wall of Life along Siberia.

But now - now, this damning inconvenience was the final gamble to open the path into the Breach.

Theta baited the beast with an almost insulting ease and then, it was like Yuri didn't even have time to think, just react, a small but deadly dagger in lieu of the crooked sword in front of them, as they dug Wing's remaining good blade into the monster's gut while Theta's single working arm rocketed a punch toward its face, fingers extended in a bid to blind it, causing it to screech with rage, only for Wing's defective blade to slid against its throat, up, up and up, searching for that all too vulnerable spot under its chin and hoping against hope, desperately that this would be it –

Theta jumped up, not enough to avoid the clawed arms coming after it, gouging themselves into its shoulder grooves and god, he almost felt the echo of the agony it pilots must have suffered –

-but their insane gamble had paid off, the blade sinking through the tough leathery tissue into the brains, leaving both of the Jaegers almost dwarfed by its twitching carcass sprawling over their forms.

I hope you dance...I hope you dance.

The grave was almost insultingly small.

Of course, the media was present - when it wasn't, all of them wanting to have their share of bones talking about the heroes of the Last Stand, like one of the vultures called their desperate gamble to close the breach.

Pale eyelashes fluttered close, hiding the lifeless green eyes from the world and world from them.

He would've lashed out at them, if he had been able to.

But after all that fear, anger and devastation, only emptiness remained.

Surprisingly, Viktor was the one who understood him the best, what with him being the surviving half of the duo manning Freedom Wing.

Both of them were abandoned, left behind… and resenting it.

Sure, Viktor didn't look like it, he always looked professional, but that night, after he excused himself from the celebrations, he drank himself into stupor, never mind Yakov's diatribes on the issue. Viktor had lit it in him so hard it was a wonder the old man was still in one piece.

It had been a sobering thought that Viktor, for all of his flamboyant behavior, could be just as bloody underneath his skin as everyone else, and when poked at the especially sore points, could react with ruthlessness usually reserved solely for Kaiju. No. Viktor's response that one time would make any Kaiju stupid enough to cross his path dive straight back into the Breach the very moment they dared to incur his wrath.

(Katsuki's last letter asked them to bury him with his family in Hasetsu on his ancestral grounds. Surprisingly enough, the small gravesite was left relatively unscathed in the disaster.)

The letter was eye-opening, too.

Katsuki Yuuri had known that his life was running out.

Turned out that he had been irradiated by the damaged core of Ventus Regina when he stopped both of the Kaijus that terrible day in the Gulf of Thailand. After losing his family in the breach of the Wall of Life, he didn't have anything or anyone to return back to. He didn't expect to live long, one way or another, and he begged the forgiveness of anyone he had burdened with his existence.

(Which was kind of stupid, because in the retrospect, Katsuki Yuuri was the least burdensome being in the Shatterdome - no, on the Earth.)

(Phichit looked like he wanted to punch the idiot. And Yuri honestly echoed the crying Thai's sentiments.)

Yuri didn't think there would be any kind words for him, but they were.

'And Yuri - it's really not my place and I am sorry if I am overstepping my bounds. But I hope you dance – hope you will dance still, because the world needs something greater than destruction to pick itself out of the ruins it will find itself in the aftermath of this… whatever it may be. So, if you are reading this - you and Viktor - I hope you two dance.'

The grave was bereft of Yuuri's remains, but the thought was there. Instead, there were flowers - many of them, and Yuri remembered the crying triplets being hugged by the equally teary woman shushing them.

This kind of ending…

He didn't like it.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,

"This is stupid." He hissed, beyond irritated and sorely wanting to twitch in response to the nerve damage transferring itself from the metal limbs into his brain. A phantom feeling, but bothersome all the same, with its damaged/not damaged double input roaring through his skull.

He dreaded what that would do to his skating.

If he would ever skate again, that is.

But ice skating was not a sport for wussies, so he clenched his teeth, glared at Katsuki and then grabbed for the still twitching limb. Conversely enough, the so-called crybaby was looking eerily calm for all the mess they had gotten through in the last few moments.

'Fucking Katsuki.'

"Well, then let's go into the Breach. I'm kind of curious what it looks like on the other side." Viktor's voice came through, crackling and warbling with the static, causing Yuri to grimace at the sound.

The asshole shouldn't have any damn right to sound as cheery as he did right now.

"And how, pray tell, do you intend to do that with Sinya being damaged as it is?" Yuuri's voice was drier than Sahara right now, causing Yuri to crack his own lips into a mirthless grin, something akin to a skull's smile. But the smile vanished as soon as it appeared when Yuuri coughed.

"Yuuri? You alright?" Phichit's voice buzzed through the comm, angry and relieved and concerned and maybe a myriad of the other things, but the porker just smiled, like it was all-fucking-daisies-and-sunshine-right, while in reality, there was a blood sprayed in a fine mist on the inside of his helmet's glass.

"He's coughing blood." Yuri's frank observation earned him a pissed-off look from his copilot and a cacophony of concerned voices from the outside.

"Alright, enough! Time's of an essence here!" Celestino finally bellowed out.

"What he said." Yuuri snarked back. "Shut it, Viktor, you know this is not a picnic, either. So, just let me pick up a piece of carcass and - "

"I'll go with you." Viktor interrupted him, causing Yuuri to stiffen.

"You damn well will not. For one, if I remember right, Sinya doesn't have evac pods – "

"You said you don't know anything about Russian Jaegers!" For such a serious situation, Viktor sounded oddly betrayed, but Yuuri continued, "-and Wing is the one we have to detonate anyhow. This could be done just fine with the two of us."

Why was there a kernel of warmth expanding in his heart when the porker said 'the two of us'? Yuri didn't understand.

But it was there.

"What he said, old man. So haul your ass out of there, you ancient has-been and wait." He interjected, injecting an extra dose of rudeness in his words, in hopes to convince Nikiforov to for once follow his lead.

"You are so not cute, Yuroshka." Viktor's sour comment was followed by the laughter of everyone in the link before they sobered again.

He made a move to grab for the carcass, desperately ignoring his double vision and shortage of breath, his chest constricting with each breath in and out.

"Hope you got it right, because like it or not, we are going in."

Never settle for the path of least resistance

The entrance into the Breach was successful.

Not that he remembered how the inside of the Breach had looked like, courtesy of his own body giving up on him.

[… left hemisphere, critical levels….]

[…. Operating at 15 percent of capacity….]

He could feel that gentle water/ice lapping against his own consciousness, holding it up as long as he was awake, before he gently succumbed to the darkness.

It was only later on, when he woke up, staring at the iron-grey sky, that he remembered that he ought to be there, with Yuuri, he should have helped him –

Nobody really wanted to talk to him what had happened. Gregori had given him a short and sweet version - Yuuri had manned the Jaeger, alone up until the very last moment, when the things went wrong.

The release had been jammed. The system had required manual activation. Yuuri had managed to get Yuri's pod out, along with warning Theta of the impending explosion - even with Jaegers being stupidly resistant to such things - they had to be to at least some degree, what with them being able to stand against Kaiju, Theta was now just too damaged to offer any protection to its pilots, so the two hauled it out of the presumed range as much as they were able to before Wing finally exploded.

And that was the last they heard of Yuuri.

No escape pod.


Just a yawning chasm of emptiness.

Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',

If Yuri would have to label his life, it would be parted in two distinct categories - life before the last drift, and life after the last drift.

Maybe for other people, it was far simpler - life with Kaiju threatening their livelihood, and then, life after Kaiju had been exterminated. Nothing more, nothing less. But those were people who didn't experience the literally life changing happenings.

He may have been only fifteen, an internationally acclaimed hero for his part in the Kaiju War, decorated veteran and well on his way on trouncing his age mates via ice skating.

Some things, he discovered, stayed the same.

Like his love of ice.

At first, he didn't want to, but then, Phichit slipped him a picture. Admittedly, it was of a bad quality, grainy and old, very old - but it pictured Katsuki when he was younger, happier and Kaiju-free with ice skates on his feet, laughing like sun, like there was no tomorrow in which he would invariably die in an old, decrepit Jaeger to stave off the strange race attempting to invade Earth via Kaiju.

(And Phichit was kind of a dick, forcing his hand like that. Just for that, Yuri swore, he would trounce that smiling Thai bastard so badly it wouldn't be even funny.)

Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',

Much to his surprise, he became closer to Nikiforov, too.

Maybe it was inevitable, what with both of them being each other's last link to the person called Katsuki Yuuri.

Both of them were miserable bastards, unaligned with the rest of the world - Yuri by virtue of his rage, and Viktor was…Viktor, enough said. Nobody got Viktor - at least not for long enough to look underneath the flamboyant exterior he showed off to the rest of the world like his skating trophies.

Yuuri had.


Maybe it was because of that simple reason, they decided to look into each other deeper than they usually would.

And maybe it was loneliness, that ghost drifting thing again or maybe something entirely separate of it, but their snaps and bites became softer, gentler and less pointed and more jagged, like pieces of a strange puzzle aligning with themselves, searching for the points to connect with together.

Yuri was still Yuri, the Russian Punk who effortlessly terrified bigger and meaner guys into hightailing out of his presence if they dared to awaken his ire.

Viktor was still Viktor, the wishy-washy bastard whose only redeeming point - at least to his audience - was that he always had some surprise up his sleeve.

Viktor was here for Yuri, when his height finally decided to make itself a nuisance and proceeded to ruin his teenage years what with throwing his body balance out of its hard-earned equilibrium and make his already hormone-ridden temper even worse than usual. It was not without a reason one Yuri Plisetsky earned his second nickname of Ice Tiger of Russia.

Yuri was here for Viktor in those long nights, when Viktor made friends with a bottle - or would have had, if Yuri weren't there, annoying him and arguing him out of his fun without actually saying that Yuuri wouldn't have liked to see his idol so low because of him.

Friendship was indeed one very strange, strange beast, especially the one between the two of them.

That still didn't stop Viktor from pissing off Yuri when it came to nailing Agape, though.

Yuri sometimes wondered why he hadn't strangled the idiot yet. Because World Champion five times or not, older than him or not, Viktor Nikiforov could be completely unbearable little brat.

(Phichit had a ball with both of them, though, making a very loyal following what with him documenting their random and very varied mishaps, in and outside the ice rink.)

Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,

"Hey. Wasn't Katsuki that Japanese bastard who stole Viktor Nikiforov?"

He twitched.

'Ignore it.'

'Ignore those ignoramuses; they don't know what they are talking about.'

'Yuuri would've ignored them – you can do the same.'

His shoulders trembled with the restrained fury.

After all that media bullshit, there still existed hardcore idiots who believed that Yuuri was a glory hog.

"Oh, yeah. You're right. I bet he didn't do anything, leaving Viktor to do all the work and – "


His patience snapped.

Yuuri had died to protect those trashes?

"Hey. You there, pieces of shit." He snarled at the two idiots who had the gall to badmouth Yuuri. "What was that you said about Yuuri?" He snarled out, causing the duo to freeze in fear, like two mice in front of the enraged tiger.

"Y-Yuri Plisetsky! I-It's the Russian Punk!" One of them squeaked out and Yuri wrinkled his nose at the distinct scent of urine coming from the other one.

He towered above them with all of his 180 centimeters of height, his sharp-eyed glare causing the two culprits cringe even further.

"You two weren't here." He paused.

The two of them looked to be only two or three years older than him, but that didn't mean much. It made him sick to know that they lived but Yuuri died.

"So don't talk shit about things you don't know."

That said, he turned around and strode away, leaving the two idiots to slump on the floor with relief from escaping his wrath.

Yuri Plisetsky, age 18, thus gained his new nickname of Ice Tiger of Russia for both his temper and defense of his fellow (if one-time only) drifting partner, one Katsuki Yuuri.

Victor Nikiforov, age 30, agreed with his unofficial protégé.

And gods help any poor morons who had the misfortune to find themselves between the two of them while discussing that particular topic.

When you come close to sellin' out, reconsider
But all was not well in Yuri's life. For someone so very… well, fiery, he didn't deal well with the fact that he had been missing the porker way longer that was healthy. It was like missing an amputated limb - but with the missing limb, one could always check that it wasn't there anymore, while faulty ghost drifting was ever-present, causing brain glitches at the most inopportune moments and nobody told him he would also dream of the idiot in very improbable, explicit details.

It was kind of embarrassing, being 20 years old already and still having wet dreams over a deceased person. Surely that counted as some kind of necrophilia - and even if it didn't, Yuri had had it with the dreams promising him the impossible and unreachable. His social life, as meager as it was, also suffered, much to his dismay and Viktor's amusement - not that Viktor had any say in it, considering that he had the exact same problem, which kind of prompted some very uncomfortable questions just what was one Katsuki Yuuri to him.

It both amused and pissed Yuri off.

Many times, he wanted to say fuck it and be done with it – have some meaningless fling to let out the steam, so to speak, and with him growing out of his cute stage into something that resembled handsome, this wouldn't even be a chore for his many fans if he wanted to choose one of them to vent his carnal frustrations on.

There was a phase he delved deep into the internet's bowels, in search of the dirty in an effort to keep those kind, gentle brown eyes out of mind, but much to his horror, it didn't work.

It just wasn't it.

Mila even offered to be his wingman - and wasn't that shameful, for a woman to offer him of all people, a help in hooking up with someone, like he was some kind of angry toddler in the help of a minder to explain the hapless person he would be hooking with that no, this was not his default setting, just a temporary one, and would they mind getting to know him, because he was really gentle and kind and all that fuzzy rot inside, pretty please –

-worse even, she roped in Phichit to document the process, which prompted a very amusing series of the pictures from his 'first date'. It had been an epic disaster, and it didn't help that Viktor fucking Nikiforov dared to bomb the picture and shamelessly steal his date away. Not that Yuri minded, but it was the principle of thing.

(Yuri had the last laugh, what with Viktor finding out the 'date' he had stolen from his errant semi-protégé was also a fangirl - and what was more, he caught her stealing his dirty underwear from his laundry basket to sell on eBay later on.)

So, no. He more or less resigned himself to stocking up the cleaning wipes to at least contain the mess if he couldn't avoid it in its entirety. If nothing else, he had become kind of desensitized to the whole unrequited love thing.

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

With his height of 185 centimeters now it was hard to believe that one Yuri Plisetsky was in fact a figure skater rather than a basketball or a volleyball player. The height was blessing because not many people linked his younger self with the tall one, but it was also a curse because puberty had been a bitch, figure-skating suddenly proved more of an enemy than a Kaiju, and after he had weathered the changes, it was damned hard to hide from the overzealous fans because not many people were as tall as he was, and with his signature blonde colored hair and green eyes, he had been also scouted as a model by several agencies.

But through all that mess, all the triumphs and disasters, dancing was still the one thing he did almost without a thought. At first, he didn't want to learn ballet - he had done it grudgingly, to keep the flexibility needed for the figures on ice, but through time, it became his own little ritual.

'Keep dancing.'

His need to dance out his trouble led him to a veritably unknown ballet studio. It wasn't great like the one of Lilia's, but he didn't mind. It was smaller, and kind of more intimate and warm and because he came at the hours nobody else wanted to, he also had the dancing room all for himself.

Exhaling a heavy breath, he reached to open the door only to freeze when he was his room already had an occupant.

Small. Dark hair. Lithe body, standing en pointe at the barre –

And so very achingly familiar.

This form was engraved into his memories, courtesy of his near obsession with Katsuki after that disaster, the ghost drift echoing in his skull, reaching fruitlessly to his other half.

Fire may have needed air to live, but water was the one thing that made it thrive, made it live, completely and wholly, and Yuri had been robbed of it when he hadn't even known of the deed the other has done. He just had to deal with the consequences.

"Hey! You! What the fuck are you doing here!?" He barked out, stomping into the dimly lit room, causing the person to squeak with surprise as they wobbled toward him. "Shouldn't you be – "

"I'm sorry. But do I know you?"

Brown eyes looked up at him guilelessly, wide with fright and confusion and Yuri faltered. The stranger edged away, causing Yuri to lunge forward, catching the slender wrist in his own arm and feeling the frantic heartbeat thudding against the tender skin.

"You're kidding. You've drifted with me, you bastard, and you have the gall to say you don't remember me?" He snarled into the stranger's face, only to curse when he was sharply kicked into his right ankle, just where his weak point was and dammit that hurt –

"I did not drift with you!" The sharp exclamation bounced off of the walls, and those brown eyes flashed with ire, his dark, messy hair in disorderly spikes made by sweat accumulating in the short strands. "I don't even know who you are and what do you want!"

Yuri felt his eyes widen with outrage. "Really? You don't remember Freedom Wing? Or Viktor? Or that annoying, Instagram-obsessed Thai friend of yours? Are you telling me that you don't remember me!"

"Yes, I am telling you exactly that! I am not the person you take me for, so let me go already or else – "

"Or else what?" Yuri couldn't help but goad the spitfire he held by his wrist, his lips curling into a sharp snarl. Well, a sharper one, at any rare.

His answer came in the shape of a counter attack, clawed fingers aimed toward his eyes and knee gearing for his groin and whoah !

From then on, it was a battle of reflexes - Yuri trying to submit his prey and his prey aiming to free himself of the unanticipated annoyance called Yuri Plisetsky.

Thing was, they were too in tune with each other. It was like Yuri - or the stranger - knew what kind of moves they would use, moving to block or attack thoughtlessly, not even aiming to read their body languages.

Their little brawl sent them from one wall of the room to another and to the middle again and then Yuri decided to do something dumb.

He kissed him.

Those soft, chapped lips were warm underneath his own, opening slightly with the surprise and allowing Yuri to get a better grip on his adversary, while the dark-clad body stiffened with shock, allowing Yuri to get a glimpse of heaven –

I hope you dance...

Next day, Yuri sullenly showed himself on the ice rink with a black eye, prompting Mila to hound him ceaselessly to tell her who was the person who gave him such grievous wound.

Because figure skater or not, it was hard to get a drop on someone who had not only been chosen for the Jaeger program but actively participated in the Kaiju war.

"Aww, come on, Yura, give your big sis some crumbles! She cooed getting into his personal space, her pink painted lips turned into a moue of a pout, while her blue eyes glittered with anticipation.

"Fuck off, baba." Yuri grunted at her as he tied off his right skate before heading toward the rink.

"Oh, a love affair, then?" Mila giggled, and then pausing when Yuri didn't answer her. "Wow. What do you know, I was right? So which cutie had snagged our cold, mean tiger kitty for themselves?"

Yuri arched his eyebrows. "You want a name?" Mila nodded, eyes widening with anticipation as she lazily back-skated in front of him. Yuri nodded.

"Alright. It's none of your business." Mila's face fell. "But Yuri, that wasn't a name!" She pouted. "You are so unfair to your partner, Yurochka."

"You're not my partner, so your accusations are invalid." Yuri snapped back as he veered on his right in an attempt to have at least some peace from her.

"Hmm. Well. I can always ask Viktor!~" She sing-songed and Yuri fought the urge to turn around and throttle her. Instead he closed his eyes and breathed in, thinking of his yesterday's meeting.

"Well. Be my guest, baba." He shrugged as he began with the warming laps around the rink, leaving behind an intrigued Mila and flabbergasted witnesses.

I hope you dance.

"Yu~ri!" Viktor's sing-song voice could be termed a lethal weapon all on its own, and it was currently aimed at his dear protégé and current housemate

"You're not hiding from me something very important, are you?" He hummed absentmindedly patting Makkachin's head.

Makkachin was old, but still spry, even if she was sleeping most of the time now instead of sniffling everywhere like she used to when she had been young.

I hope you dance...

Yuri eyed the silver-haired man, unimpressed. Friends they may have been, but that didn't mean that he ought to tolerate Victor's eccentrics more than he ought to. But..

"Why, what gave you that idea?" He retorted drolly, enjoying the sight of the older man's face falling comically at hearing his response.

"So not cute." Viktor grumbled before looking at him from underneath his eyelashes. A look which would make any woman fall to Viktor's knees, what with how seductive it was, yet Yuri remained immovable. He had seen in too many times for him to count and besides, it would be more effective if it had been a certain pair of brown orbs looking up at him –

He shook his head. It was not a good idea to be absentminded in Viktor's presence. It always boded ill for him when he slipped.

"Mila told me you were not exactly attentive during the training." Viktor told him as he straightened himself out, clad in comfortable dark green trousers and soft gray pullover with pale blue borders. With his 32 years of age, Viktor was one of the eldest competitive skaters in the circuit. This was a rarity, but because of him having been drafted into fight with Kaiju, he didn't have nearly as damaged body as his competitors at the time. Not that he didn't gather his share of injuries, be that ice-skating or Kaiju-wise – the injuries gotten from the fight for the Breach were serious enough to warrant an extensive therapy which lasted for a year before he was once again ready to take the ice by the storm.

Yuri blinked. "It's… nothing important." He finally allowed as he headed into his room.

It wasn't. Really.

I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,

This wasn't…

He swallowed when he remembered that huge, tall blonde-haired man with flashing green eyes scowling down at him.

He didn't know what he had done to him – he certainly didn't do the things the other man had accused him of.

Freedom Wing? Viktor? Drifiting? Thai friend? What were they? And who was he?

He shook his head wildly, trying to dislodge the accusations hurled at him out of his head.

And the kiss.

Oh, most importantly, the kiss.

He may have not remembered anything aside how to speak Japanese and English and his name, but that still didn't mean he could be kissed willy-nilly at the drop of a hat!

His cheeks burned as he recalled the sensation once again.

He should have been freaked out by his unconscious knowledge on how to brawl - because he had never, ever in his pathetic life brawled with someone, but apparently brawling was to him as natural as ballet.

Or ice skating.

Which kind of freaked him out because ohmygod, was he some kind of evil person in his previous life? Was Yakuza after him because he forgot to pay debts? Or Mafia? He couldn't have been a police, because no matter how he strained him memories, he didn't have any super-secret knowledge on how to deal with guns. And he wasn't stab-happy, no siree.

His lungs weren't the best and it was still touch and go, what with him having been exposed to some sort of radiation and even now the doctors weren't sure of his life expectancy. But that didn't detract him from dancing, fuck the doctors' orders about him having to be a good little patient with only a modicum of light exercise every day.

This wasn't him.

His life consisted of being a simple accountant with the additional hobby of ballet dancing and occasional ice skating.

Yamada Yuuri had a good life. And he would be sooner damned to the ninth level of hell than to allow himself being corralled by some no-name punk spewing baseless accusations (facts?) against him.

(And the next time the bastard tried to kiss him, Yuuri swore to slap him into the next week.)

Smiling, he thought of his sweet Makoto, the lovely fiancé who awaited his return home, and looked forward to their quiet chat between sharing the bowl of katsudon between them.

Yes, for Yuuri, life was good.

Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

Thing is, when something – or someone - managed to attract his attention, it took a good amount of distraction or better attraction for Viktor to actually let that something go.

And with Yuri being so mopey that something had to be very serious.

At first, it was funny to see him to walk around with a black eye - Viktor couldn't even imagine who would've been stupid enough to get into a fight with 185 centimeters tall Yuri Plisetsky and get close enough to give him that particular injury. It had to be someone tall, though and since when did Yuri pick arguments with males?

Did Yuri do the no-no and managed to tangle himself with a person already in a relationship?

Viktor shook his head, his tropic ocean blue eyes contemplative. No. Yurochka wasn't like this. While time had abraded some of his sharper edges, Yuri wasn't the one for relationships, much to the chagrin of his female admirers. But between earning his degree and competitive skating, along with the training for it, Yuri didn't exactly have a free schedule.

It made Viktor concerned for some time, but he let it be, knowing just how hard was to contend with the ghost drift lurking around the edges of his brain.

The first half of the year after their decisive victory over the Kaiju was the worst. If it weren't for Yuri, Viktor was sure he would've been on his way to become alcoholic of the worst kind. Because it was one thing to hold someone dear and lose them, but to have them in brain, literally, and then lose them, it was the worst kind of torture Viktor could imagine.

Because there were not ViktorandYuuri or YuuriandViktor anymore, but only Viktor - cold, alone, bereft and getting older by each passing day. Sometimes he even contemplated suicide - it would've been easy enough and he wouldn't have to deal with that terrible emptiness yawning within his head and chest anymore, but that would mean a dishonor to Yuuri's memory and his last wishes for him.

Life was… kind of stupid that way.

Yuuri was one of a kind. Viktor had heard about the disaster with Ventus - this was actually what turned his attention to the surviving pilot. Because anyone who had the guts to pilot the Jaeger moments after losing their copilot and offing two Kaijus at the same time just had to be a monster in the same range he was.

Solo piloting the Jaeger quadrupled the mental load on the pilot, which made solo-piloting a very big no-no and consequently caused the introduction of the dual piloting. Of course, Yuuri had protested at first – Viktor had anticipated that and simply didn't give him time enough to process everything enough to be really coherent to say no. Their first neural handshake had been catastrophic, but when it counted, Yuuri stepped up on the plate and manned Freedom Wing alongside Viktor like he hadn't done anything else in the past 23 years. If Viktor was an unbridled force of nature, like an earthquake breaking the sturdiest buildings and leaving behind annihilation, Yuri was just soft, just malleable enough to accept him, yet firm enough to get his own say/thoughts on the matter. He allowed Viktor's whimsies, yet he knew just when and how to steer him to get the things done.

He felt, acutely, when the shockwave hit. He felt the tentative bond between them break apart, the comfortable feeling of ghost-drifting with another person ripped out from his innermost being, leaving behind only yawning emptiness that was unable to be filled.

That was also the reason he had hollered at Yakov like there was no tomorrow - it wasn't - at least not for Viktor, because his tomorrow laid dead and buried in the Breach, never to show him that shy little smile or embarrassed blush again when Viktor went too far with his affections or even an angry glare. Nothing.

Yakov may have felt that he had lost the world when he separated with his wife Lilia, but he knew jack shit about truly losing someone. But Viktor did, and he resented the price that had to be paid for the humanity's survival.

He would've gladly sacrificed the whole of the humanity to have Yuuri back, whole and alive and smiling at him like he was his most precious person.

And now, three years later, he still lived - Wrong. Still existed because Yuuri died instead of him.

The worst thing was when Phichit explained how Yuuri knew about the Jaegers.

"He followed your career. He knew everything about you and the Russian Jaegers, no matter if you piloted them or not."

That was the last nail in the coffin of his hope.

Yuuri knew .

Yuuri knew that if Viktor and Georgi were the ones to close the Breach, they wouldn't have the way out like Yuri had. Sinaya Theta was a third gen Jaeger, a firepower monster, but in exchange for its firepower, the pilots' safety was straight out thrown out of the proverbial window, what with the chest chamber not having any evac pods like Freedom Wing. It was literally do or die when one stepped into Russian Jaeger.

Yuuri knew that and he knew he was already dying and instead letting Viktor to go with him to at least die together; he went ahead and decided to die alone.

Three years later, Viktor was living (existing) in the house he shared with Yuri, a decorated war and sports hero, alive, having his pick of partners if he would show even just the tiniest smidge of interest, and yet, he only existed.

Well. Maybe this latest mystery involving Yuri, that black eye of his and his cutely frustrated face with whomever had gifted him the facial decoration, would keep Viktor from being bored to tears.


"Oh, Yu~ri! Won't you tell your dearest, most beloved roommate just what kind of person dared to maul your beautiful face so~?" He sing songed, grinning with entertainment when something hard and heavy thudded against the door of Yuri's room, and a muffled voice roared something that was very close to the curse.

Oh yes, he would have fun with this one, he would.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,

He always felt his calmest when he was close to the ocean. This should have been the strange, considering he had been told he was fished out of it and apparently got a trauma, severe enough to cause a total loss of his memories, but something within his chest sang and ached comfortably when he walked or ran on the shore.

Like he had been born beside it, the screeches of the seagulls both known and unfamiliar song that carried him on.

But lately, his sole domain seemed to be invaded by that huge giant of a person who apparently had nothing else to do but stalk his unimportant self.

Yuuri contemplated abandoning his personal running trail and switch to the one through the city park, but he loathed to do so, to lose that little bit of tranquility he had gained when he spent his quiet time beside the ocean.

Besides, it wasn't like the stranger did anything bad to him since that one time when he had been forcefully kissed. The stranger stood in a respectable distance, his tall silhouette akin to a knight guarding his sovereign. It made Yuuri blush to think such absurd things, he was an adult on the verge of being married soon ad yet, his mind was returning to that strange man like lodestone to north.

It became bad enough that made a small rift in his relationship with Makoto. Makoto tried to be understanding, really, she did, but after The Kiss, Yuuri simply couldn't muster his affection toward he like he used to.

It was something in that heated, desperate kiss that made him blush and shy away from thinking about it, he even tried to wipe it out from his memories, but there was such a distance between Makoto's affectionate pecks and this doomsday kiss that the two may have been light years apart. Yuuri tried to explain that to her, but it only resulted in them not speaking as much like they used to and Makoto distancing herself from him, saying that it was for the best.

Yuuri scowled. It was not for the best. Mentally, he cursed the idiot who had messed with his brain. First, the idiot accused him of some completely unreasonable things – Yuuri could make neither heads or tails about the words the stranger with fiery green eyes spat at him - then that scuffle and then the kiss.

He inhaled the air through his nose, and then breathed it out through his mouth. Looking over the small waves cresting against the shore, he felt incredibly small against the ocean. Small and frail and temporary. And at the moment, incredibly irritated.

Well, he had enough. Mustering his courage, he headed toward the tall stranger - he still didn't know his name, but he did hear the girls giggle about the mister handsome, which made him strangely wexed for some reason.

The closer he came to the imposing form, clad in black jogging trousers and hoodie, the more something like nervousness tried to rear its ugly head, but Yuuri ruthlessly pushed it down.

"Excuse me." He spoke out, causing those unusual green eyes zero on his person and Yuuri swallowed. He so dearly wanted to step back, squeal something about that being a mistake and go back to the plan B – choosing the park route - it was not even funny. But Yuuri was here - stronger, irritated and determined to get to the bottom of this bizarre case. He could always call the cops if the stranger turned out to be a creep, couldn't he?

Messy blond strands of hair glinted in the late afternoon light, catching his attention for a moment, and he wondered if they were as silky soft as they appeared to be.

'No. Bad, bad Yuuri!'

"Da?" The stranger's lilt was like rough velvet, dancing through Yuuri's nerves like butterfly's kiss and really, the man shouldn't have been such a pure sin –

"Why are you following me?" Yuuri glared at him, feeling his traitorous cheeks heat up. Damn it. So much about being cool, collected and calm.

Elegant blonde eyebrow arched as the stranger leaned against the pole, tilting his head. "Let's just say you got my attention." A small smirk tilted his thin mouth and why again was Yuuri noticing those little details that had nothing with the topic of their conversation?

"T-then stop please. I don't appreciate having a stalker." Yuuri stuttered, but quickly caught himself, as he amped his glare a little bit more. "B-Besides, I have a fiancé!"

The entertained look in the man's eyes vanished like it was never there, causing Yuri to hurriedly turn around to flee.

A strong, warm hand grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to halt. He swallowed around the ball in his throat and his heart was hammering in his chest like one of a terrified rabbit -

"Fiancé? The strange accent became thicker, and rougher. "Nyet. I don't believe it. " - and yet, despite the danger in the blond's voice, Yuuri felt strangely safe and warm and like he could feel what the other was thinking. "Not you, Yuuri."

'Hurt. Anger. Disbelief. Determination. Faith. Passion. '

"Yes, me." He disagreed, shaking the hand off of his shoulders, only to be drawn into the embrace, that tall, strong, lean body curling around him like a feline predator would around its favorite toy, claws just shy of prickling the toy's fragile surface. The scent of ice and verbena wafted around him from the stranger's clothes and his body was soaked in the warmth pouring off of the bigger frame pressed against his own.

"Why are you so insistent I am this person?" Yuuri huffed, exasperated. "If I were, I would've remembered the things you spoke of." He turned around, forcing his head back to see those eyes again. The top of his head reaches just shy of the stranger's chin, causing him to unknowingly scowl at the predicament he found himself in.

"Why couldn't you be?" The voice rumbled out of the stranger's chest, reverberating through Yuuri's own body like rumble of thunder pocketed in a human being. "Would it be so hard, to let go of what you know in order to find out who you used to be?"

Yuuri couldn't move. 'Yes. Yes, it would.' Because that would change everything, and he was kind of terrified of finding out just what was a façade in his drab, ordinary little life he had carved for himself after losing his memories. But on the other hand -

"And what if you are wrong? If I am not that person you want me to be?" He bit his lower lip, only for the rough, warm pad of a finger to gently tug it free from its prison between Yuuri's teeth, causing Yuuri to blush when he looked at the man's aristocratic-looking face. He watched, fascinated, how those sharp eyes softened from the cold jades to something warmer and softer, with a hint of vulnerability.

He emitted a high-pitched squeak of surprise when the stranger pressed the forehead against his own, the blonde strands now tickling his cheeks, as their breath mingled together into one.

"I am right. And I will prove it to you, if you'll allow me." The purr shook Yuuri's very bones, causing his eyes to widen with shock at the confidence brimming within it.

"Ah. It seems I haven't introduced myself to you yet. I am Yuri Plisetsky. And I am glad that you survived, but beyond pissed off that you hadn't bothered to notify us of your survival."

The stranger - now named Yuri - flashed him a smile and Yuuri couldn't help but think he had signed the deal with the devil.

Was it too late to return back to his ordinary, uninteresting and mostly peaceful life?

The hug tightened around him, prompting him to hug this Yuri person back and inhale the (somewhat comforting) scent of ice and verbena again.

And for the life of him, Yuuri couldn't find it in him to regret this decision of his, however impulsive it was.

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,

Viktor was not one to believe blindly. Maybe, once upon a time, he had (when he was with Yuuri), but now, at the age of 32, the blind faith ceased to appeal to him.

Wings of faith were always glued together with hope and blind belief that somehow, everything would be alright, even in the darkest night, and the harshest storm.

He ceased to believe the day when he heard the detonation of the Jaeger in the breach. What had been a victory for the rest of the humankind, had been a terrible, unrecoverable loss for Viktor.

He sincerely doubted that he would've found one such as Yuuri again. In fact, he didn't even try. To let somebody else in, when he had already shared everything with the one he hold dearest to his heart was a tantamount to sacrilege.

But looking at Yuri, looking in his eyes, a little bit lighter and softer, he began to doubt his little hypothesis. He had never saw Yuri soften like that, not even with his precious cats and now, Yuri liked like he had found peace. Viktor didn't know whether to be happy for him on envy him. Instead, he chose the third path, and one day followed him.

He had seen him wait for a smaller man with semi-spiky black hair and rectangular glasses and he had to muffle the snicker behind his hand.

Yurochka was finally growing up.

But…His eyes were glued to the stranger that made Yuri smile so very effortlessly, and even bark out a laughter or two. There was something familiar about him, about how he moved and the tilt of his head.

It was like Yuuri, but not. If Yuuri were more confident, a little bit taller and most importantly, alive

Viktor shook his head. There was no use in playing what-if scenarios. He should have been happy for Yuri because God knew the surly bastard deserved it after that disaster of the last mission, but at the same time, he couldn't help but feel jealous.

He came closer, careful not to be seen by the pair, his eyes still glued on the dark-clad of the pair.

Then, the voice floated to him, causing him to freeze with shock.

It couldn't be.

The voice was a complete copy of Yuuri's - a little bit deeper, but the inflections, the manner of speaking everything was like Yuuri himself was speaking to Plisetsky, recounting his day and Viktor had to fight not to leap forward in a mad scramble, to prevent himself from taking this not-Yuuri by the shoulder and shake the truth out of him.

It didn't help that the buzz denoting the ghost drift was even stronger than usual, causing him to wince and bite back a curse.

No. Viktor didn't believe in miracles, but oh, how he wanted to.

"You followed us." Yuri's voice was calm, as if he were discussing the weather, causing Viktor to wince. How the hell did he know? Viktor made sure he was far away enough and he wore dark blue coat with black woolen scarf, a complete opposite of his usually light colored choice of garments.

The two of them were in kitchen, Viktor nursing his oversized mug of black tea with a generous dash of milk and sugar, while Yuri opted for coffee latte. The kitchen was cast in warm yellow light, making the sharp contrast between white and chrome of the elements contained within the room a little bit softer. "I did." Viktor agreed calmly. "Yuri… What's going on?" His voice was serious, causing the younger man to pause mid-drinking his own beverage.

Sighing, Yuri placed his mug on the table, eyeing it a little bit regretfully. There went one perfectly hot latte. Re-heated simply didn't have the same kick like freshly-brewed one. Knowing Viktor, he would've wanted to know everything and this would take a long time.

"I met him when I went out to my usual place to practice ballet. I confronted him, asking him why he didn't contact us sooner but…" Yuri's lips tightened with frustration.

"He doesn't remember."

He saw Viktor freeze, those unusually colored eyes widen with shock. "Yuri. If you are trying to make a fool out of me, I will skin you alive. With your own skates." Viktor said calmly. Too calmly, in fact. Yuri suppressed a shudder. A calm Viktor like this didn't bone anything good for him. Especially not when he found out the next bit of news.

"He's also already engaged."

Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,

Their next 'date', like his strange companion said, was to be held at the ice rink.

Yuuri fidgeted. This was not what he subscribed himself for. It was supposed to be just a meet and a talk, probably with Yuri giving him more information about his forgotten past.

He was already in a very uncomfortable place, what with having a couple of rows with his fiancé – Makoto wasn't exactly happy that he was chasing after his past now of all times, when he should have been thinking about their marriage, her dissatisfaction prompting the first of the many disagreements between the them.

Yuuri argued that he didn't want to enter the union without knowing who he was. Makoto countered that she loved him like he was, memory or not memory, and it was unfair of Yuuri to make her wait any further. This caused Yuuri to feel guilty - Makoto was, after all, one of the first people to help him recover and she didn't deserve his selfishness obstructing their future as a couple.

But on the other hand, there was something about this man, with a name so similar to his own.

Those kind eyes, looking at him, and even if the man was a little bit rough around the edges, Yuuri felt that he was a good person. He still didn't remember anything from the before he woken in the hospital, and he felt guilty about it, but Yuuri waved it off, saying that it wasn't that important. Still, Yuuri felt he could've done better, what with him receiving such warm support from the fair-haired Russian.

Though he had pouted a bit when Yuri laughed himself silly when he found out what his occupation was. Being an accountant was an honest job, what was wrong with it, really?

And now, he was waiting for Yuri at the ice-skating rink, swallowing down his nerves.

"Yuuri!" His head whipped to his right to the source of the voice. He perked up at the sight of the green-eyed Russian hurrying toward him, but frowned when he was a silver-haired man following his footsteps. 'What - ?'

His confusion was interrupted when Yuri stopped in front of him, already having his skates on. Inwardly, Yuuri groaned. He never, ever skated and gosh, with him being so clumsy on the ground, he dreaded to find out just how would that translate on the slick, treacherous surface of the frozen water called ice.

No, ice-skating was a bad, bad idea.

"Hey. Sorry For being late, but my roommate wanted to tag along. You probably know him already." Yuri smirked at him. "He's Viktor Nikiforov. "

"Pleased to meet you." Yuuri bowed, only to be halted mid-bow and pulled up, causing him to look at the silver-haired man, confused. "I already know you." The man breathed out, and wow, his eyes were such an unusual color, like blue of tropical oceans - "He was right. You're here."

And with those words being breathed out, Yuuri found himself in the tightest, warmest, most desperate hug ever.

It was like coming home when he didn't know what home was and wasn't that a strange thought.

"Hey. You don't get to hog the porker for yourself. I was the one who found him first." Yuri's peeved voice came from his right side, causing Yuuri to feel exasperation, affection and amusement, all at once, along with bewilderment.

He should have felt hurt with Yuri's crass nickname for his person. But he hadn't. He felt… alright. Better than alright, he supposed.

"Such a mean child, Yurochka." Viktor whined out, and Yuuri could almost imagine the pout on the man's face.

"Who's a mean child, you old man!" Yuri snapped back and for a moment, Yuri saw the smaller, angrier version of the tall man beside him staring at him with defiant eyes, clad in some kind of armor -

Only for the image to float and fade away into the darkness from which it came from, causing him to wonder if he didn't have too wild of an imagination to think up such a vivid image.

He hadn't known Yuuri as a teenager, had he?

But what was to day that what he saw wasn't real? Closing his eyes, Yuuri frowned. This loss of memory was getting really irritating for some reason.

It wasn't logical of him to trust those two strangers – it was stupid of him to be so reckless, so wanting something that could only break him further.

But on the other hand, he was fed up with feeling uncertain, of not knowing his roots and what kind of person he had been before… something. He didn't dare to think that the version Yuri had told him was true - it was too far-fetched, for Yuuri knew he was no hero. He was just an ordinary, boring accountant with strange hobbies and even stranger acquaintances.

Gently, he began to untangle his limbs from Viktor's, ignoring the pang of regret somewhere in his innermost being. "Hey. C-Could you let me go, please?" He asked, carefully exhaling the air in an effort to slow down his heartbeat.

"Oh. Oh!" Viktor apparently finally got out of his stupor, allowing Yuuri to step back, but his hands were on Yuuri's shoulders, as if he still couldn't believe that Yuuri was here, alive and kicking. "Sorry, sorry, I was just so excited to see you~!" He laughed, a small sparkle in his unusually colored eyes, causing Yuri to smack the back of his head, prompting a whine out of him.

"Yuu~raa! Whatever did I do to you to be so mean to me?" Big blue eyes watered and Yuuri had to suppress a chuckle at the perfect rendition of wounded puppy's eyes. His amusement grew when he heard Yuri practically hiss at the silver-haired man, prompting Viktor to pout even further.

"Um. Didn't you say you wanted to teach me how to skate?" He addressed Yuri, stopping his mini hissy fit in tracks as the taller Russian turned to him, flushing slightly with embarrassment.

"Da. Of course. Well, shall we go find you the skates, then?"

Yuuri found out that for such a big guy, flustered Yuri was surprisingly cute.

Ice skating was apparently another one of his undiscovered talents. Sure, Yuuri had stumbled at the beginning, but then it all made some kind of a sense, and his steps became lighter, surer and filled with purpose. He didn't heed his companions' looks of amazement when he jumped a triple salchow on a whim.

It was just… natural. Like it was something he had been doing his entire life. His feet hurt, what with them being unused to the stiffness of the skating shoes, but Yuri had been making do with the ballet shoes and he wasn't stranger to the pain and discomfort. And besides, the pain was just a minor annoyance in the face of his marvel that he could ice skate like his two companions.

"He's born for ice." Viktor murmured to Yuuri, holding a breath when Yuuri executed double toe loop and then slid into seamless Ina Bauer. "It makes you wonder how he would do if he still had his memories…" He sighed wistfully.

Yuri was silent. If he had been younger, he would've been fuming that this little piggy was a better skater than himself, but right now, watching Yuri discover what else could he do on the ice was akin to watching a beautiful butterfly getting out of his cocoon and stretch his wings, flapping them for the first time.

"Does it really matter whether he has his memories or not?" He muttered back to Viktor, his eyes glued to the dancing form of Yuuri on ice. Viktor jerked, blue eyes glaring at the blond-haired Russian.

"No! Of course it doesn't!" He snapped. "Yuuri is Yuuri! While I admit it would be easier on us if he had his memories, it's better to have him alive and well, than dead with those damn Kaiju!" He huffed, crossing his arms on his chest. "And if I find out you are forcing his past on him - !"

"Who the fuck do you take me for?" Yuri snapped back, giving him a sideways glare before he waved to the excited Yuuri on the other side of the skating rink. "Do you really think me so shallow, bastard?"

"Viktor! Yuri!" Yuuri's bright voice caught their attention and they smiled – or smirked at the breathless Yuuri skating toward them, beaming all the while. "Ice skating is amazing!"

Giving each other one last glare, they entered a mutual truce. It wouldn't do well to make Yuuri uncomfortable with their little spat, after all.

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Since he got to know both of the skaters, Yuuri's days passed faster than before. It was kind of funny - before, his life was relatively normal one of an average office worker, but now, his days were brighter and more colorful with the addition of the two Russians in the mix. At first, he had been embarrassed when Yuri waited on him in front of his office building, amassing a whole crew of female office workers as his admirers, causing them to squeal and sigh at his appearance, mortifying Yuuri in the process. Yuri apparently could care less.

And then Viktor. If Yuri's following was bad, then Viktor's was infinitely wore, because somehow, it got out that Viktor was Viktor Nikiforov - as in, that Viktor, and Yuuri barely had some peace from the female vultures called office clerks. Luckily Viktor mitigated most of the damage with firmly placing Yuuri as his most precious friend and here-and-there coquetting with the she-devils, but that still didn't stop the most persistent of them from asking Yuuri all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

But despite all the discomfort the two had unintentionally caused him with their appearance in his life, Yuuri wouldn't have had it any other way.

They bickered, snarked, played Uno - which was, for some reason, incredibly frustrating because Viktor always knew Yuuri's cards and It was a toss-up between Yuuri and Yuri when it came to knowing their own cards. Once, Viktor tried to explain it as a remains from the ghost drifiting, only for Yuri to stop him flat with a glare. That didn't stop Yuuri from looking it up on the internet later on. He wasn't sure if he should believe the explanations gotten from there, but if it was plausible, then it would be one more piece in the puzzle of his missing past.

And they danced. Correction - Yuuri and Yuri danced in that old ballet studio, but all three of them agreed that ice skating was where they really let themselves go.

Dance...I hope you dance.

"I can't do this anymore."

A female voice roused Yuri up, causing him to blink with confusion. 'Where…?'

Ah. Yuuri's apartment.

Last night, Viktor managed to convince - more like not giving a chance to refuse – Yuuri to let them into his apartment. And with Viktor being so sloshed like he was - not that Yuri was any better - it turned out into giggles and drunken singing filed trek Yuri really didn't care to remember, but was sure that made Yuuri very embarrassed.

He was laying on the double-sized bed, Viktor snoring beside him quietly, still sleeping off the last night's alcohol liquor crawling through his veins. Yawning, Yuri stretched and immediately frowned. Yuuri wasn't there.

Which meant he was with that woman…

He stiffened when he finally remembered.

Fiancé. That woman was Yuuri's fiancé, and it wasn't looking very well for Yuuri, what with him being caught between two males.

"Makoto – " Yuuri's voice was a mix of pleading and completely fed up.

"No, Yuuri. I gave you time to get your head on straight. I was patient when you were traipsing around with those two, secure in my belief that you wouldn't ever cheat on me. But for me to come here and find them in our bed – this is too much."

"Look. They are my friends." Yuuri's now exasperated voice prompted Yuri's heart to make a happy wiggle in his chest, causing the blond man to place his hand on his chest, as if to prevent it to stumble out of his chest and snuggle against Yuuri like an overly affectionate cat. "We all had a little bit too much of drink yesterday, and I didn't want to leave them out in the cold."

"Then you should have let them go to wherever they came from!" Makoto's voice rose and Yuri winced at the pain zinging through his skull. Why did women change into complete harridans when they were pissed off, with voices to match? "You are my fiancé, and I expect of you to act as such!"

Oh, that did it. Yuri growled. Nobody talked to Yuuri like this and got away with it, not even if the person in question was the man's fiancé.

Throwing the covers off his body and briefly regretting the loss of their warmth, he stumbled onto his feet. He had been clad in loose black boxers with tight dark gray sleeveless shirt, which explained why was loss of covers such a temperature shock. He was sure that his hair was also a mess, but at this time, he didn't give a damn about that. Suppressing a growl, he strode to the door parting him from Yuuri, and swiftly opened it.

"And just who did give you a fucking permission to lord over Yuuri like he's your personal boy toy, huh?" He snarled at the woman, causing Yuuri to squeak with surprise and her dark eyes widen with shock at his appearance.

She was nothing special. At least not in Yuri's eyes, but he may have been biased, what with the females surrounding him being nothing less than beautiful. But she - she had dark hair bound into a simple bun at the back of her head with a small fringe swept away from her forehead to give the hairstyle a variety. Her eyes were dark, and she was clad in off-white jeans trousers with floral blouse. The clothing as a whole accentuated her tiny form - and she was tiny, almost like human-sized pixie. If there was any other situation, Yuri may have labelled her as cute in any other circumstances (probably), but right now, he was more pissed off at the interloper than anything.

Those dark eyes widened with outrage - and was that a spark of fear? - when she took a note of his appearance. "You are trespasser here." She bit out, glaring at him as she crossed her arms on her non-existent chest. Yuri arched his eyebrows as he mimicked her pose, hiding a malicious smirk when she stepped back. "I was invited here." He drawled, looking at her down his nose. "You, on the other hand, appear to have barged in, and to top your shameful actions, you started to fling out accusations without even hearing Yuuri out. Is that how a good fiancé should act?"

"Yuri!" Yuuri's squeaked, his eyes wide with shock and mortification. Yuri gave him a look that immediately made him blush and huff with exasperation. Which was a very becoming sight on the porker - well, ex-porker now, what with Yuuri being in a good condition, but Yuri supposed the nickname kind of stuck since those wild times on Shatterdome. And he looked so adorably ruffed, too, what with him being clad in dark grey loose trousers with an oversized marine blue and emerald green sweater hanging off his upper body. If Viktor had seen him right now, the dumbass would undoubtedly squeal Yuri's ears off about how cute Yuuri was, clad like that.

(Yuri would echo the sentiment. Only with much less squealing. But a snuggle or two wouldn't be amiss.)

He reached forward, snagging Yuri by his shoulders into a half-hug. "Good morning, Yuu~ri." He purred out, causing a new wave of red to splash over Yuuri's cheeks, like they were the only two people in the room, and disregarding the seething woman entirely. "Thanks for having us in your bed."

Yup, Yuuri was positively adorable.

"Yu – Yuri! Cut it out - and ah, she is Kaminari Makoto." Yuuri looked at her, some of his embarrassment leaving him, before looking back at Yuri. "My fiancé."

Yuri left a silence stretch between the three of them for three heartbeats as he sized the tiny woman once again, causing her to flush with anger and humiliation.

"I'm not impressed. " He finally deadpanned. "Considering how she's acting, you could've done better."

He could feel Yuuri's embarrassment acutely, as if it was his own, but he didn't care. The woman was an obstacle between him and Yuuri, simple as that.

"You - this – " Yuuri spluttered, elbowing Yuri into the side, causing him to playfully yelp at the hit. "What? I was right and you know it." He mock-glared at the blushing dark-haired man at his side.

"But Yuuri chose me." The woman - Makoto – finally interjected as she stepped forward. "And as his fiancé, I think I have a word in who exactly takes an advantage of his kindness to invade our home." She lifted her chin stubbornly as she uncrossed her arms, dark eyes flashing with challenge.

"But not enough for you to trust him when he tells you ~ yawn~ that we are his friends." Viktor's voice floated through the door, preceding the silver-haired man's arrival. Sleepy blue eyes looked at the woman lazily as Viktor leaned at the door, completely unashamed of being clad only in tight pale gray briefs and nothing else as he ruffled his hair with right hand absentmindedly, causing the woman to blush at his appearance. "How are we supposed to believe that you have Yuuri's best interests at heart again?" He lightly berated her, causing her jaw to clench with anger. "Oh, and good morning, Yuu~ri. Your bed is excellent; I haven't slept that well in ages!" He chirped at the now completely mortified Yuuri who couldn't help but bury his face into his palms, mentally wondering just what did he do to deserve this kind of trouble in his former life.

At the rate this was going, he really didn't want to know.

"No. Yuuri is mine. You can't have him." Makoto spoke out, her eyes wide and gleaming, causing Yuri to stiffen at the sudden turnaround in her behavior.

"Makoto-!" Yuuri's shocked exclamation caused her to glare at him.

"No. You don't get it, do you? I've found you and got you into the hospital where I nursed you back to health." She bit her lip. "I made sure that you were registered under your new name, to keep those damn dogs off your trail." She seethes, stepping forward, her eyes widening further in her outrage, causing Yuuri to back away from her and Yuri to squeeze his shoulder. "We could've had a good life, living together, raising a kid or two and then getting old. You didn't need to search for those memories to be happy, Yuuri. We were happy before, remember?"

"Y-Yeah. A-And I am grateful for your support, but – " Yuuri tried to get a word in edgewise, but she slashed the air in front of her with her right hand, effectively silencing his protests.

"Grateful?" She let out a high laughter, tinged with hysteria. "Only grateful? I gave you my life, my very heart, and you are just grateful?" Her face contorted into a mask of despair and anger, prompting Yuri to push Yuuri behind him as he glared at the ranting woman in front of him.

"You've stolen his very life!" Viktor spat out, causing Yuri to twitch and Yuuri to squeak with surprise, his blue eyes ablaze with anger at the revelation of the woman's duplicity. "That generosity of yours is nothing else but you being selfish!" He pushed off of the door frame, stalking forward.

"Instead of calling Shatterdome, telling us that he is alive and well, you made us think that he had died! Do you know just how many people were broken because of your selfish, reckless actions, just because you decided that he should belong to you, without any input from his side?" Viktor seethed as he advanced, prompting her to step back one step, and then another when he closed the distance between them. "Do you know what's like to go day in and day out, feeling only half alive because you've lost the only one that completed you to the core of your very being, the one who accepted you despite your faults, numerous as they were?"

He strode forward, one more step, causing her to shrink and hiss at him like a cornered viper.

"Did you know that he was Katsuki Yuuri!?"

The almost screamed out question hung in the middle of the room, its syllables still bouncing off the walls like claws in waiting, ready and able to shred the temporary stillness choking the atmosphere.

Yuuri stared at Viktor, shocked. He never thought he would see the usually fairly light-hearted Russian almost apoplectic with fury. Yuri, yes, he could imagine, but Viktor was a complete surprise.

"Yes. Yes, I did." His attention was dragged back to his fiancé, causing him to choke back a wounded whimper at her callous admission.

He was. He was that Katsuki person. His life, as he created it since him having woken up in the hospital, was wrong and false and she knew it, she left him to wander in the darkness instead of giving him the answers he so desperately searched for.

Katsuki Yuuri. Katsuki Yuuri. Yuuri Katsuki. The two words echoing in his brain. Not Yamada, but Katsuki. Ka-Tsu-Ki.

"Would you ever tell me?" The words he had managed to choke out were different from the ones he wanted to speak. He wanted to ask her why – why all that deception, why keeping him back from his life - his friends, his everything –

Those dark eyes he had found his comfort in when he had woken out of the coma for the first time - those gentle, dark eyes, were now dark and hard, like obsidian and ice, twin pits of greed and obsession, like he was just a pretty trinket to brag about and not a living, breathing being with his own feelings and thoughts on the matter.

"Why would I?" The question was a frank, cold answer in its simplicity. "You losing your memories were more than convenient, and if I ever told you, would you really stay by my side then?"

"You bitch." Yuri finally growled out, jade eyes blazing at the cause of their misery, his muscles straining in an effort not to deck the shameful excuse for a human being something fierce. He stilled when Yuuri placed his hand on his right forearm, the fragile touch warm and stopping him in his tracks.

"Did you ever love me, Makoto?" Yuuri's question was fragile, jagged with the hurt and expectation of his heart being shattered for the third time in this morning.

"Of course I did. I wouldn't have done what I did otherwise." Makoto smiled at him, her gentle smile at odds with her still hungry, empty eyes looking at him, not even a speck of their usual warmth residing within the dark orbs staring at him. "As soon as I saw you piloting Ventus Regina, I knew you were fated to be mine. And when I found you floating in the sea in that broken pod of yours, I knew we were fated to be together." She sighed a deep, theatrical sigh. "But then, those dogs of yours had to come sniffling around, didn't they?" She sneered at the two Russians glaring at her. "They had to ruin all my hard work with you, breaking everything we've built together because they wanted you back."

"You are a monster." Viktor was positively horrified at the plain-looking woman in front of him. So innocent, so very unassuming and yet, she managed to steal Yuuri from them, losing them six precious years which should have been spent together, on and off the ice, enjoying their hard-earned peace. He was disgusted how she hugged herself, like she was a victim in this whole charade, and not the main instigator of the almost-tragedy.

She didn't look at him, on no, her eyes were fastened to Yuuri, like the ones of a starved vulture eyeing a juicy fat steak. "And that's where you are wrong, Nikiforov. I am just a woman in love."

With that said, she lunged forward, blade glinting in the dull light of the morning as she attacked her fiancé with the zeal of mythical furies.

I hope you dance...I hope you dance.

Yuri didn't think. He didn't need to - there was a threat hurtling toward him - toward Yuuri - and he was the only thing standing between the insane woman proclaiming herself Yuuri's fiancé and Yuuri.

It was not even a question of what should he do, the reflexes from his training coming back as surely as he could land a triple axel on the ice - swift, smooth and on point. He grabbed her by the wrist holding the butterfly knife she had apparently hid in her jacket, and squeezed harshly, causing her to cry out with pain and release the hilt, leaving the blade to clatter on the floor harmlessly. She lashed out at him, her well-manicured fingers likening to claws as she tried to gouge out his eyes, screeching with fury, only for her other hand to be grabbed by Viktor, effectively stopping her attack.

"This. Is. All. Your. Damn. Fault! How DARE you to get between my Yuuri and me!?" Makoto screeched, her eyes wild as she attempted to struggle out of their hold, even going so far as to kick Yuri's leg, causing him to grimace at the hit. "Yuuri! Do something!" She called out to the severely shaken dark-haired man behind Yuri's back where he had been pushed when she attacked. "I am your fiancé! I DEMAND you make them release me!" She jerked once again, huffing with effort.

"Yuuri." Viktor's voice was deathly calm, and for once, Yuri appreciated the other skater's presence. If he himself spoke out, he wasn't sure he could contain himself from not verbally flaying the despicable woman in his hold. "Go call the police. Please."

He watched Yuuri nod mutely and then scramble back into the bedroom, disregarding the shrieks echoing after him, calling him back.

Fifteen minutes later, the police arrived - two policemen and one policewoman.

As a policewoman, one Akisame Keiko was a witness to a many strange situations, but this one undoubtedly took a cake.

The patrol 067 had gotten a call from a stuttering young man calling them to deal with the case of domestic abuse. Or so it sounded when she had received the orders. But coming into the apartment, she was confronted with the two barely clad men holding back a small woman who was spewing threats and oaths at the two men holding her by her wrists and likewise glaring at her.

"Alright. What's going on here?" Her sharp, no nonsense voice turned the room's three occupants toward her. For a moment, Keiko's breath caught in her lungs- the two men holding the female culprit were undoubtedly very fine specimens, especially with their choice of attire. But she slapped on her professional face, forcing herself to be objective - as much as she could. No distraction when at work!

"We would like to report attack with the intent to murder, theft of identity and withholding the information from the officials regarding one Katsuki Yuuri's whereabouts and wellbeing." The silver-haired, blue-eyed man retorted bluntly, not even a smidge of warmth in his unusually colored eyes.

Wait. Wait, what?

She blinked, taken aback. Everyone knew about Katsuki and his heroic deed of closing the Breach via self-destructing the Jaeger. And now, there was a stranger claiming that official story was a lie?

"Repeat, if you would please. And introduce yourselves." She ordered, feeling an impending doom heading their way. If what they said was true, all of them could look forward to massive amounts of paperwork and truly annoying media coverage.

"Yuri Plisetsky, pilot of Sinya Theta and Freedom Wing. Drifting partner of one Yuuri Katsuki." The tall, blond-haired, jade-eyed man growled out, causing her to blink with shock. That cute bundle of fury had grown up into such a hunk of a man… Unbelievable!

"And I am Viktor Nikiforov, pilot of Freedom Wing, temporary pilot of Sinya Theta and also permanent drifting partner of one Yuuri Katsuki." The silver-haired, bare-chested man gave her a distracted smile. "I would say it's pleasure to make your acquaintance, but I really can't say it in a good faith right now."

"Then –" she blinked as her attention swiveled toward the dark-haired, glasses-wearing man hanging in the back. "You are – "

"Katsuki Yuuri. Or Yamada Yuuri before I found out the truth." Katsuki gave her a feeble smile as he ducked his head, almost as if he were ashamed of the predicament he had found himself in.

"Really?" She couldn't help but feel doubtful. This Katsuki wasn't by any means similar to the official photographs.

"Akisame. You have two pilots who personally drifted with him claiming that he is Yuuri Katsuki. " The deep voice of Shirotora Kengo berated her, causing her to wince. "Have you been sleeping when they were covering that particular part of history in the classes?"

Oh, that made her cringe. Because it was very close to the truth. But in her defense, History of Kaiju was dead boring, courtesy of Maeda-sensei, as most of her now ex- schoolmates could attest.

"I apologize for my oversight, but you have to understand what you are talking about seems a little bit too far-fetched." She sent a sharp glare to Shirotora, mentally promising him a world of hurt for embarrassing her so.

"Of course." Viktor-san gave her a nod. "I barely believe that myself, what with finding out the truth, oh…" He looked at the clock on the wall – "some half an hour ago."

"And I presume the accused is the woman you two are holding by her wrists?" Keiko's other field partner, one Sakamoto Kirei piped up, lazily pulling out the appropriate paperwork to document the whole shebang.

"I just wanted to be Yuuri's wife!" The accused female wailed, glaring at her captors. Keiko sighed. Another case of love quarrel, oh joy.

Half an hour later, Keiko didn't know whether to be happy, sick or disgusted. On one side, she was happy that the much bereaved national hero was in fact alive and kicking, but on the other, she was ashamed that a woman of all things had gone to such lengths to deprive Katsuki-san of his decisions and freedom, just because she believed that the two of them were fated to be together. Of course, there was still a matter of gathering the proof - blood work, fingerprints and everything else, which meant going through a scary amount of red tape, and she really pitied the people about to be saddled with the case in the question.

But seeing Katsuki-san interact with his old drifting partners made her glad that the things finally went right for the three of them. She had been still in the high school when the Kaiju War officially ended, but she would never, ever forgot the terror of hiding in the underground safe rooms, feeling the earth tremors and wondering whether or not she would survive the attack this time. And to think that Yuri-san was still a high schooler then, and already manning Sinya Theta...

She shook her head, amused at her weird luck.

It was not every day that one managed to get a picture of Freedom Wing signed by all three of her pilots, after all.

She wished them all the best, because they more than deserved it.

(Maiya, her best friend, would be soo jealous when she would tell her that she saw not only Viktor Nikiforov but Yuri Plisetsky of all people close and personal and yes, she could attest they were as yummy as they looked on official photographs.)

I hope you dance...I hope you dance..

"So… What now?" Yuuri looked like a lost little kitten in the rain, his shoulders slumped and eyes droopy with exhaustion. The clock was only eleven in the morning, meaning that they still had half a day to look forward to, in the loosest sense of the word. Yuri ribbed the right temple, frowning at the headache still roaring through his skull. That woman's screams even worsened the pain and he sorely wished for a medicine and a big, greasy breakfast. Or brunch. And a shower wouldn't be amiss, either, he silently concluded when he discreetly took a whiff of his armpit.

Next time that Nikiforov idiot suggested to go for a drink, he would stick to strictly non-alcohol beverages.

"Shower, and if you have anything to kill the little trolls banging on my skull would be great." He groaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose, only to still when Yuri's hand touched his forehead.

"Dibs~!" Viktor sing-songed, prancing off to the shower, causing Yuri to bristle weakly at his audacity. Instead, he looked down to Yuuri - it was still strange, being taller than Yuuri, who was at least nine years older than him. "Are you alright?" Yuuri, asked, concerned, brown eyes with caramel hues looking at him with concern. Yuri gave him a feeble smile. "You are safe now, so I am. Really." He insisted, his smile widening a little at Yuuri's taken-aback flush at his proclamation. "I should have been the one to ask you this. You will be dragged into limelight, what with you being Katsuki Yuuri and – "

A slender, work-calloused finger pressed on his lips, instantly silencing him.

"Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me, Yuri." Yuuri smiled at him, his face still having eye bags, his hair mussed and his skin paler than usual, a testament to the trial he had gone through almost an hour before and he was still the most beautiful person Yuri had ever seen, tears in his eyes and all.

"You are a troublesome little pig." Yuri told him gruffly, causing Yuuri to emit a watery chuckle as Yuuri's arms wound around his shoulders and waist, tugging him closer to the Russian's unfairly tall body.

"I hope that you know you are not going anywhere now, because you will have to repay us for the time we've missed on with you."

Yuri's eyes were beautiful, Yuuri mused, dazed as he looked into those orbs the color of the green jade. Once upon a time, he had read somewhere – that for Chinese, green jade represented protection, and indeed, Yuri was truly a guardian, no matter his gruff manner in dealing with both Yuuri and Viktor.

"Oh? And how do you imagine me to do that?" His voice came out breathy and seductive and Yuuri wanted to whack himself for sounding like a heroine from some trashy romance. But looking into those jade eyes, darkening with passion and intent, he couldn't find it within himself to regret his words.

Yuri's head bowed down, and he unconsciously tilted his own chin up, only for his lips to be caressed by the taller man, gently like a butterfly's wings.

"For example, like this." Yuri breathed softly. Yuuri made a wordless sound, his eyes flaring wide as his cheeks flushed further as his hands scrabbled across the wide, gray fabric-clad chest, whether to push the Russian away or keep him close, he didn't know.

"L-Like this?" He squeaked out, only for his lips to be seized again into a firmer kiss and Yuri's hand threading itself in the back of Yuuri's head, sliding through the fine tresses as if he were caressing a small, newborn kitten.

"Like this. And more." Yuri's voice was gravely now, dark and warm and full with promises Yuuri was both dreading and looking forward to their realization.

"Even if I don't ever remember - ?" That was the crux of Yuuri's fears, to be abandoned now when he finally found something true and real to hold onto. Even knowing the duo only for a short time - a week - has shown him that he would loathe to be parted from them.

"Even then."

And then, the words between them weren't needed anymore - at least not until Viktor came out of the shower and immediately began to whine for his own share of kisses.

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along

"Phichit, no!" Viktor heard Yuuri's exasperated groan even before he even saw him, all ruffled, flushed and glaring at his Thai friend that wet kitten glare of his.

They were attending celebration for the win over Kaiju - the LOCCENT crew along with Yuuri, Viktor and Yuri. Ironically enough, it turned out that most of them had already seen each other in the ice skating circles. It had gone so far as for Viktor to joke that the world had been saved not by Jaegers, but ice skaters as a whole.

"Yuuri, yes. Besides, you don't want to disappoint your youngest and cutest fan, don't you?" Phichit's laughter filled voice teased back, causing Yuuri to groan and slump into his chair, much to the amusement of the spectators watching their banter.

"But I'm not – " Yuuri began to protest again, piquing Viktor's curiosity over what had Phichit cooked up now.

"You're not what?" He asked, as he joined the table, Yuuri automatically making a place for him.

"He is trying to make me skate a double with Minami-kun." Yuuri growled out, sending his ever-smug best friend another one of his ineffective glares. Viktor wanted to coo at the picture he made - all flushed, indignant, and exasperated, trying to hold on the last pieces of his dignity. Yuri, on the other hand, barely held back a laughter at their lover's predicament.

"I don't do double skating, which you know damn well, Phichit Chulanoit!"

"Ooh, he broke out your last name, Phichit!" Mila jeered, giggling into her hand and leaning against Georgi's chest, thoroughly entertained. "Danger, danger, abort mission while you are still ahead!"

The crew was gathered around the table beside the rink, all of them sitting on the benches pushed together as to make place enough for everyone, and nursing either hot tea or chocolate to warm themselves up.

Phichit's cat-got-canary-smile caused Yuuri to eye his best-friend-turned-worst-enemy cautiously.

"Care to bet on it?"

Yuuri stared, and then sighed.

"It was the triplets again, wasn't it?"

Indeed, Axel, Lutz and Loop did run a fairly profitable little business, what with the photos and small movies of Yuuri and his paramours, much to Yuuko's consternation, Yuuri's reluctant amusement and everyone else's entertainment.

Tell me who wants to look back on their years

If he looked back at the years that passed, Viktor couldn't have said they were exactly calm. From the cold and bitter beginning in the St. Petersburg when he became enchanted with the ice skating, them his meteoric rise among the best, and this fateful day when he found out that he was Drift-compatible - just barely, but apparently brimming with potential so much that he was drafted into the Jaeger Corps without so much as by your leave. Training, and the guilt when his partners just couldn't keep up with him, living among the cold, sounds of the machinery whining and screeching to repair the Jaegers before the next Kaiju hit and ice skating even when he was dead tired, because he was the pride of Russia and of course, one when this war would be finished, he would go back and began winning once more.

The hopelessness among those long winter nights and his own frustration because he was at his limit and why didn't they see it –

-only to happen upon an unauthorized transcription of the incident in the Gulf of Thai, and the rumors that the other pilot – had survived and even killed two of Kaiju all by his lonesome and Viktor's hope flared up anew.

If someone had managed to pilot that monstrosity of a Jaeger for long enough to fight off and kill two Kaijus solo, then that person would be strong enough to bear the Drift with him.

It was enough to make him sneak out of the Vladivostok in the middle of the night, bribe the few of the officials stationed there to get him on the plane to Japan and then ferret out one Katsuki Yuuri out of his miserable hole of an apartment and drag him to Tokyo Shatterdome, betting everything on his reputation and the Shatterdome's desperate need for more pilots, only to be faced with the happy surprise - not! - of almost all of the core crew from Vladivostok being here.

Yakov wasn't happy. Yuri was even less, and Viktor's ears still rang if he only remembered Yuri's diatribe when he found out that Yuuri – would be his copilot.

Looking back, it had been the mess of epic properties, and really, they had a pure dumb luck on their side. Of course, there were also devastating losses - Solar Rogue, Alpha Nova, Ruby Dragon all three of the crews lost their lives the night the Kaiju began to wage an intelligent war, courtesy of Leo's little drifting mishap with a piece of Kaiju brain.

He wasn't happy that he had been delegated to Drift with Georgi of all people, but needs must. And he swore to himself when they came back - they had to - that the first thing he would do when he would came out of Jaeger, would be to kiss Yuuri senseless. That, or whack him one.

The last thing he expected was to lose him because of some damn technical malfunction.

Seven years later, he had his Yuuri snoozing against his chest, with Yuri on his back, his arms circling the Japanese's waist in an iron hold. Both of them were deeply asleep, their breaths even and soft, with no traces of nightmares haunting either of them.

If anyone would've asked Viktor in this moment, whether everything they had gone through, was worth it in this moment, Viktor's answer would be a firm yes.

If someone asked his younger self, if he ever imagined to settle together with two men in a quaint little Japanese village on the mend from Kaiju tearing through the Wall of Life like it had been made out of tissue paper, he would have probably laughed until he cried and then kindly advised the person in question to search for professional help.

Thinking back on his life, Viktor knew that he didn't always got what he wanted.

(No penthouse with a pretty wife and two or three kids annoying poor old Makkachin. No calm retirement with only a few ice-skating related injuries. And certainly no Russia.)

Instead, he got tossed into a whirlwind of war, pressed to kill or die and let the Kaiju massacre the town - people - behind him. He got to know a variety of people - grumpy Yakow, sassy Mila, Georgi with his penchant for dramatics, LOCCENT's Instagram addicted officer Phichit, Yuri in all of his grumpy and hissy glory, and Yuuri, the only one to ever surprise him again and again. He got to know the heartbreak and hope and love and before he knew it, his once-upon-a-time reality differed from his dreams. Falling in love with two people and helping to rebuild Hasetsu while in the evening enjoying the hot springs and long walks beside the shore, Makkachin on his side, a little bit slower than when she was young, but still spry and curious like a young puppy.

No, Viktor thought, breathing out a content sigh when Makkachin's warm fur tickled the soles of his feet. He may not have gotten what he needed, but he got what he wanted…even if he, himself, hadn't known it at the time.

- and wonder where those years have gone)

If one would've visited Hasetsu three years later, they would've been astounded at how much the small seaside village had changed in that time. Of course, there were still small landmarks when Kaiju had hit, mostly in the shape of the houses being built in different places to accommodate the recent Kaiju-landscaped terrain, and they were newer with a fresh coat of paint and wide streets winding between them, decorated with flowers on the edges of the sidewalk like small, colorful beads, swaying in the wind.

Ice Castle was all renovated, too, with people streaming in and out of the building, happily chatting on their way. If one would look closer, they would also see some more recognizable faces among the crowd, both the present and past names in the ice-skating visiting the family-friendly rink be that for fun or to visit one of the two ice-skating teachers stationed there.

The onsen was still operating, continuing the age-old tradition, even if it was a little bit bigger and with more people helping a kind, glasses-wearing owner to accommodate all the visitors wanting to room here. One of the main attractions here was a handmade table, with a Kaiju's head being crossed over and the subscription: "Guests are welcome. Kaiju should find lodging elsewhere."

And if the villagers were secretly preparing to raise a statue of their three heroes, with much help from the Nishigori triplets… well, that was a whole another story.

(Phichit already posted a bet whether Yuuri would faint, how would Yuri curse and what exactly would be Viktor's reaction upon seeing their life-like replicas made in stone in the village square.)

But life was going on and for a moment, all was well.

/The End/