Waking up happened slowly.
The sheets did not feel familiar, but then again, those days it was not that strange. After all, competitions kept him moving, taking him to different countries, cities and hotel rooms. What was strange, was the comfortable scent of home. It smelled like home. In a strange way, it felt like home.
Yuuri fought his eyes open.
It was a more difficult thing to do than he expected. The feeling of his eyelashes stuck together woke him up at once. It hurt. He jumped to a sitting position, crossing his legs. His ragged breathing sounded heavy to his own ears.
After panicking a moment for not being able to see, he brought his fingers to his face. He felt the gross dried rheum covering his eyelashes. He rubbed his eyes furiously, trying to get it all off. When Yuuri finally opened his eyes, it felt like he had been crying, like he had been having a flu or a serious eye infection. It was disgusting, and an awful way to wake up.
He still expected to find himself in a hotel room, but the place…it did not seem like one. This was someone’s apartment. It was a well lived room, with personal items laying around, a home.
Yuuri’s eyes stopped on to familiar looking glasses. Next to them was a book he had started to read six months ago, but stopped, not being able to focus on it because of the competitions getting closer. Skating had always been a better way to relax anyway. He had no idea why the book was there, he did not even remember what it was about.
Hesitantly, he reached for the book and opened it from where the corner of a top page had been folded. It was his way to mark the page, but he did not remember reading the novel past the chapter four. The marked page was from the chapter nine.
He put the book back to its place on a nightstand, and picked up the glasses instead. Pushing them up to his nose, he surveyed the room. What could he say, it was a room, just a regular room that could have be found in anywhere in Japan.
But still, it was stranger. This room, for some unexplainable reason, looked like Yuuri’s. It had to be. He was staring at his skates sitting on the table on the other side of the room. Something told him that they had not been moved from their place for weeks. The feeling was confirmed as he stood up, walked across the room and touched them. A light pile of dust gathered over his fingertips. Not weeks – for months.
Yuuri bit his lips. They were his skates, no doubt.
He looked his surroundings more closely. Some of the possessions in the room looked familiar, some things he had never seen before. Something was wrong. This place was wrong.
Yuuri felt his skin prickling and pulse fastening. Nervously he moved to where the windows were. He shifted the plain white curtains slightly to see outside. Swallowing, he waited a one second more, then yanked the curtain fully to the side.
The daylight streamed into the room and blinded him momentarily. When his vision returned and the blurry scenery started to sharpen, he realized it. It did not look familiar, in opposite, he had never seen this place. He did not recognize the city, not this part of it at least. Maybe it was Tokyo, he could not be sure, but the tall building that could be seen through the narrow gap between houses started to look more and more like Tokyo Skytree.
Yuuri brushed his fingers through his hair and forced himself to look away from the view. He had to calm down. He stopped himself from running out of the room, and made himself calmly proceed to the door. It opened easily, which made him sigh for some reason. He was not taking part in a Saw-movie at least. Yuuri let out a humorless laughter.
The rest of the apartment did not surprise him in anyway. Just as he had gathered from the bedroom, it was a normal apartment complex. Nothing strange about it, nothing more than it was his apartment. Though, Yuuri did not remember ever getting one. He was pretty sure he would, if he had.
Phone, he remembered suddenly, and rushed back to the bedroom. It was on the same nightstand where his glasses had been. He felt silly for not seeing it before. Gingerly, he took the devide. It must have been his, even though, neither the phone model nor its covers looked familiar. The lock code was the same as in the phone he remembered having since he was teenager, fortunately.
Right away he went to the contact page and swiped through them. Yuuri knew that he was not the most social person out there, but the amount of the contacts was alarmly small even for him. What truly got him was that none of his family members’ numbers were there, none of them. And no Minako, no Yuuko, no Takeshi. He did not even have Phichit’s number. There was no Viktor. He was sure, he went through the short list seven times.
Giving up, he threw the phone on to his bed. It hit against the wall, but Yuuri could not bring himself to care. He was too abashed to even bring himself to properly freak out. Instead, he stood in the middle of the room for maybe twenty minutes, in confusion.
“Hello?” he said aloud, just to make sure it was truly him speaking.
In daze, he stumbled to the bathroom. He washed the rest of the dirt from his eyes. The sound of his voice was familiar, the figure staring back from the bathroom mirror was him. But there was something off-putting in that particular room, so he walked out, not letting himself agonize too much over it.
Yuuri looked around the house. He was afraid to leave the building, finding it more comforting to lock himself to the apartment and stare at the neutral colored walls and go slowly through his stuff.
From his laptop, he found photos, but not the ones he had been looking for. The ones he found he had not seen before. But still, it was him in those pictures. There were skating photos when he had been in his early teens. The competition places did look familiar, and he could even tell the cities from the skating rings. Yuuri in the pictures was wearing competition clothes he never had.
Yuuri felt his eyes stinging when he could not find even a single picture of his family. He shook his head and leaned back on his computer chair. The first tears ran slowly, then suddenly he was hiccupping, and they kept pouring down.
The competition pictures stopped when he was at the age of fifteen, or so, in them. After that, there was even fewer photo files. There were faces he could not recognize, and there was no sign of those he was missing.
He went through every document he could find in this house about himself. Then Facebook, but for his disappointed, or relief, this unfamiliar Yuuri did not seem to be any better making updates on it. His Instagram seemed a little bit livelier, but everything looked so unfamiliar, so he turned the phone off after seeing enough.
He had found out a few things. His name was, indeed, Katsuki Yuuri. He was not a professional figure skater, but he had a stable job. This place, located in Tokyo, was definitely his home, so much he could tell from the bills tucked neatly in a drawer. And according to one of the personal files, Yuuri Katsuki was an orphan.
But this person was not him, he could not be.
Maybe, he was what might have been. Was this world a slightly twisted version of his own, or something completely else? Something less? Something more?
Yuuri could tell what had happened to this person. It seemed obvious to him. Even though, this was not his life, everything seemed very easy to figure out. He could tell right away what this life had been missing. Not feeling confident enough, no one backing this person financially, having no family, no contact, no… Viktor – this person had given up on skating.
Under the bills, there had been a neatly folded little article ripped out of a new paper about a promising career of a young Japanese skating prodigy. Yuuri knew he had never been a prodigy, not particularly gifted, he just worked hard. He always kept going, but this person had given up, and he seemed to be a slightly masochistic for saving the article of him as a reminder of what he could have been. Disappointment, succumb to the defeat and self-doubt.
He had let out a small heartbroken laugh when he had seen a photo which picture side was turned down at the bottom of the drawer. As he had picked it up he could not help smiling slightly.
Some things never change, huh?
Long haired Viktor in his performing outfit had looked breathtaking with the blue roses crowning his head.
Three hours had passed, and Yuuri was almost sure that this was reality. His favorite tea blend could be found in the kitchen cabinet on left, and the teapot was on the top shelf, exactly as he favored. He had been sitting in the kitchen, tea cup warming his hands, and thinking.
Two important thoughts went through his head, and it was not strange at all that the first one of the two was the question: could he even skate anymore? What if he had not skated in years and could not manage even the basics? Then he felt awful when he realized what he really should have been worrying about. Did any of the people he know exist?
He rushed to his laptop which he had left on the top of his bed before he had relocated himself to the kitchen to calm down. Yuuri almost slipped over the papers and documents he had left in messy piles next to the bed. His balance still seemed to be somehow intact, as he smoothly avoided the collision with the floor and moved to the bed.
Bringing the laptop on to his lap, he started to tap the keyboard. All he could think about was the home pages. He could find about Yutopia. If the inn was running, surely the pages that Mari made would exist. He kept mistyping the letters as his hands would not stop shaking.
If only I could just manage to write a couple of words!
Yuuri shook his head in frustration when he finally finished writing to the search bar, pushed the enter button and sighed loudly. The first search suggestion looked familiar.
There it was.
The pages opened, and Yuuri’s eyes widened to the sight of somewhat identical pages of the ones Yuuri was used to. Maybe a couple of pictures were different, but it was the same pages. This was Yutopia.
Taking a moment, he stared at the front page, gathering enough courage to click the ‘about’-link. What Yuuri remembered was an introduction text of a family business in Hasetsu, in an addition of a family picture of four in front of the gates of the gates. What he got, was almost a copy of the usual text…and picture of three people. There was his family, his whole family, just not him.
The eyes focused to the date in the corner of the computer screen.
This Yuuri Katsuki, who owned this apartment, was 24 years old. But strangely, the year was not 2017. No, it was four years behind the date he remembered living in, before waking to this day. The person he remembered himself being in 2013, had been just twenty. Today, when he woke up in this apartment he had never seen before, it was like reality had been turned upside down.
Where was the person who lived there, and why was he there instead?
When Yuuri called to his work place, they told him that he had taken a one month off from work for vacation. The kind old lady who received his call sounded somewhat worried of him. She told him that he was being strange. Yuuri did not know how to answer. He hanged up without any words.
Suddenly, the half empty water glass of white wine, which had confused him earlier – for he never drank alone, made sense on the top of the toilet seat. The empty sleeping pill bottle on the kitchen counter and a few dropped white pills on the floor, couple of them in the bathroom sink, no dirty dishes nor dirty clothes on the floor, the fridge that had been emptied.
Katsuki Yuuri, who had lived in this place, had planned to die.
And maybe he had.
But it cannot not be me, Yuuri though. It cannot be, because I’m alive. I’m here. The life I live is real. I have a family, I have the figure skating, I have Viktor, I have-
The thought of swallowing all those pills rushed in.
What if those pills were in him? What if he will die? He did not want to die.
He ran to the bathroom and threw the toilet seat up, knocking the glass still on top of it to the floor and spilling the alcohol. Yuuri let his knees buckle when he felt something coming up. The nausea stopped soon, and nothing more came out than some watery liquid.
Yuuri ran his hands over his body, needing to know that he was still the person he remembered. He let himself hope as he touched his legs, feeling the muscles of a hard-working figure skater. What he noticed was that he still was in the same good shape as he had trained himself to be when he trained with Viktor. The same well defined muscles were in their places. This was not a body of a person who had not skated for a long time.
Sitting on the floor, he remembered the pictures. There had been a longer hair even in the few recent pictures he had found of his look-alike.
He needed to find a picture of Yuuri living in there.
On the laptop he scanned again through the pictures, trying to find the newest one of him.
He sighed loudly with relief.
It certainly looked like him, it did. It was just that, as he remembered, this person had slightly longer hair that could be even pulled to a little ponytail. And it was not like he was in a bad shape, let’s just say that he was closer to the body type of Yuuri during his slump.
So, maybe this Yuuri...had died, as much it pained to think that. And somehow now he was in this person’s place.
But Yuuri could not understand. Just a moment a go he had been in…
He had been…he…
Where exactly had he been?
Yuuri furrowed his eyebrows, trying to remember.
Right! He had been in Hasetsu with Viktor and Yurio, after the Grand Prix.
The two of them had gotten up early. Yuuri had woken with Makkachin jumping onto his bed, waking him up with a scare. He had slept in. Yuuri had been so happy for being home, with his family, with his friends, with his almost lover.
He could remember that it had been a beautiful morning when he ran to the direction of the Ice Castle. Makkachin ran in front of him rushing to reach Viktor who was waiting on the bridge with Yurio. Victor waived, Makkachin ran faster, Yuuri grinned happily but did not fasten his pace. Yuuri was almost there. Just a little bit more.
But he never got there, he realized. The memories of that moment flowed back to him and he remembered.
Viktor’s smile being wiped out of his face, a loud screeching noise coming from somewhere, getting closer. Then a sharp pain on his left side, a pain coming from right, being pushed hard against the bridge’s railings.
No memories of hospital sounds, nothing after the last impact.
Had death crept on him just like that?
Was this hell - losing everything he had?
Yuuri did not believe in fate, he never had. Still, for some reason he got the life someone threw away. He had the feeling that he might never know why. So many things felt so very distant. Had he been run over in front of Viktor and Yuri? Had Yuuri made them watch him die?
How cruel, Yuuri thought. He felt numb. It felt too selfish to feel sorry for himself at that moment, so he closed off from the overflowing emotions and started to rationalize everything. Or he would have, if anything would have made any sense.
Whether it was a chance, an accident, a punishment, a sheer of luck, whatever, it did not matter. It was not the life Yuuri wanted, but he would take it. He looked at the lone apartment, it was all he had, for now. The cold rationalizing part of him made him deal with the rest of the day with clinical approach.
If he was going live there, he had to do a couple of things.
He started by changing the sheets of the bed, not being able handle the fact that someone had died on them. Then he washed away the pills in the sink, picked up the ones on the floor, and got rid of the rest of the alcohol. Yuuri put all of the clothes he could find into the washing machine. Some of them he threw away because they did not feel like something he would own: a brown leather jacket, ripped light blue jeans and a weird colored jumper being some amongst them.
He could not bring himself to go to a convenience store. He did find something to eat from the cabinets so he really did not have a real reason to go. It was a good excuse to make himself feel better.
When he was done with the place it was four in the morning.
He fell to the freshly made bed and closed his eyes.
Let this be a dream.