He was incredibly excited. Victor could tell. His eyes were almost sparkling. He knew that he’d been waiting for it to arrive for quite some time, and when it finally did, he was over the moon.
“It’s here, Victor! Finally! You’ll join me, right? We can’t play this one together, but you can watch!”
Victor wasn’t too familiar with the concept of playing video games. To be honest, his childhood had revolved around skating and almost nothing else. Yuuri, on the other hand, loved video games and loved to play whenever he had some time off. During the off seasons, he usually had a backlog of games he wanted to go through.
Victor enjoyed seeing him so enthusiastic. In a moment of weakness, he’d told him that he would join him. Just sit beside him and keep him company. “It’s so much more immersive than watching a regular movie!” Yuuri had said, excitement still bubbling in his voice.
Victor didn’t know beforehand how true Yuuri’s words were, but… he was going to find out.
“So, what game is it?” Victor knew little better than nothing about games, but he thought that he might a well seem a little bit interested. Humor him a little.
“Oh, this,” Yuuri held the case in one hand and the disc in the other, “is Biohazard. It’s called Resident Evil here for some reason, though.”
“Okay…” Victor thought the title sounded somewhat foreboding. He decided to see if his concerns were accurate. “Yuuri, I must ask you though… What kind of game is it . Like, what genre?”
“It’s a horror game,” Yuuri responded. He sounded cheery for some reason. “It’ll be so much fun, I promise.”
And with that, they placed themselves on the sofa. Yuuri turned off the lights, telling Victor that the right ambience was really important. Victor started to feel uncomfortable within seconds.
The first couple of minutes seemed okay, he thought. A woman spoke to her husband by sending him a video of herself. She looked happy, sounded happy. He relaxed a little, shedding some of the tension with the help of a sigh.
“It looks so lifelike,” Victor said.
“I know!” Yuuri looked at him for a second, the TV-screen reflected itself in his glasses.
Suddenly, the mood became more eerie. The same woman, but this time he seemed scared. Panicked, even. She told her husband to stay away.
“Um… How scary do you think this’ll be?” Victor asked cautiously. He already felt chills down his spine.
“Very!” Yuuri’s eyes were glued to the TV.
The scenery changed. The husband was driving down a lonely road, flanked by vast wilderness. Victor gathered that the game took place in the southern parts of America after hearing the dialogue.
“Where is she?”
After a while, Victor realised that the game was played through the eyes of the character. That made him feel even more uncomfortable. It was like it was actually happening, with no possibility to look away. Like you were being pulled in without no way to escape.
“Is it common that you see the world through the character’s eyes when you play, Yuuri?”
“Sometimes. Horror games and shooters mostly, I’d say.”
The character, Ethan, stopped the car and got out. Yuuri immediately straightened up. “Here we go, Victor. Are you ready?”
Victor swallowed. He really wasn’t.
Yuuri maneuvered Ethan through the wilderness. It wasn’t too scary. But then, he found a handbag. And inside it was the driver’s license of the woman in the opening sequence. Further down the path, a house could be seen.
Victor felt uneasy, the nerves in his stomach starting to respond to the situation he found himself in. The house looked like every house he’d ever seen in a horror movie. He got a lot of bad associations right away. He got flashbacks from the odd occasions he’d actually seen scary movies, how it had made him feel. How sleepless he’d been, sometimes for days afterwards. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Are you going to go in? I mean… in there?”
“Sure! We’re supposed to find out what happened to his wife, right? We can’t stand out here and make it happen.”
Victor clutched his hands as they rested on his thighs. He was tense. Really on edge. As he glanced over to his side, he noticed that Yuuri looked at ease. He even had a small smile on his lips. I can’t believe him. He is enjoying this. But why?!
“Look, the door’s open!” His voice sounded like he was looking at something really nice, cute or… delightful. Victor felt lost. There was nothing about this game that was nice, cute or delightful.
When Yuuri made Ethan walk through the door, it slammed shut behind him, leaving him in complete darkness for a second. It was enough to make Victor flinch, his heart jumped into his throat instantly. Yuuri was too immersed to notice.
They ventured on. Walked through another door and went inside the actual house, their way being lit up by a measly flashlight. To Victor, it looked like the house had been abandoned for quite some time. It was run down. Filthy. Yuuri started to see if he could find things in the kitchen they ended up in, and besides a pot crawling with cockroaches and a dead crow in the microwave, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. At least, that’s what Yuuri kept telling him.
A newspaper claimed that 20 people had gone missing in the last two years. “Are games always like this? Giving you just small pieces of information?” Victor’s imagination was running wild. He was sure that he didn’t feel like finding out why all those people were missing. If they were… alive.
“It’s a great way of telling the story, don’t you think? It makes you curious, even. Makes me curious, anyway.”
They went up a staircase. Yuuri found a video tape. “We’re probably going to find a TV or something soon. Wonder what’s on it.”
Having Yuuri talking to him made the whole experience a bit more manageable, Victor thought. It made it seem like they were detached from the whole experience to a degree.
Soon enough, Ethan went into a room where the harsh glow of a TV-set illuminated the corner where it stood. Yuuri made him interact with a piano that stood against a wall. Victor jumped when the lid closed, seemingly on its own accord. He shifted in his seat. Scooted a bit closer. He hoped that Yuuri wouldn’t notice as their legs touched slightly.
On the TV was a VCR. Yuuri made Ethan put the cassette in, and another scenario unfolded.
The scene changed, and a trio of seemingly normal men appeared on the screen. They were filming, talking about visiting old and abandoned houses.
It’s the same house that we’re in! Victor felt his palms getting clammy. Are they people that got missing in that house? Oh god. Oh. My. God.
The trio ventured on. Yuuri was apparently in control of one of them. Not before long, one of them got missing. It was as if he vanished into thin air. And of course, they needed to find him. Why do they always do that? Go look instead of saving themselves? I would never put myself in a situation like that.
“Um, Yuuri…” He needed a break. Desperately. “I’m going to make some coffee. You want anything?”
“Huh? No, I’m fine. Thank you. I’ll just pause until you come back.”
Shit. “No! Uh, no, carry on. Don’t let me slow you down. Carry on, I can see the TV from the kitchen.” But I won’t. I seriously won’t.
Victor started making coffee. He heard Yuuri giving short descriptions of what was happening in the game. Like ‘they found a trap door’, ‘they’re entering the trap door’, ‘they’re going down a ladder now’. He was so glad that he got that diversion, looking at his coffee maker. He was really not enjoying himself.
He returned with his mug. It seemed like the two remaining men of the TV-crew had found their missing friend. Why is he standing, looking at the wall, like that? When Yuuri made his character touch his friend, it was quite obvious that he was…
“SHIT! Shit, no…” Coffee everywhere. Hot, fresh coffee.
“Victor, what are you doing?” Yuuri laughed, leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek. “I’ll pause, just a second. I’ll help you clean that up.”
It felt like a punishment, getting back to the game. Victor had to change his clothes and put them and the blanket that luckily caught most of the coffee in the washing machine. To Victor, that was a pretty obvious sign to stop playing, but not to Yuuri. He was quick to return to the sofa, waiting for Victor to make yet another mug of coffee.
Of course, Ethan just had to go the same way as the TV-crew. Of course, he had to fall down that ladder. And of course, he had to wade through a disgusting thick mess when it happened. Again. Although he wasn’t holding on to his mug this time. When the disfigured and bloated head showed up, he couldn’t keep it from rolling off his tongue.
“ Piz’dets b’lyad!”
Yuuri turned his eyes towards him, seemingly surprised by his Russian interjection.
“What? Are you doing okay, Victor?”
“I… Sure, I’m fine! Perfectly!” He felt his heart beating hard and fast inside his chest. Yuuri had smiled when he’d cursed, and that made him feel… uneasy for some reason.
Yuuri was quick to turn his attention to the game. He walked through a corridor filled with debris, and at the far end was a cell. Apparently, Ethan’s wife was in there.
Victor suddenly felt relieved. Maybe it was over? He really hoped for it to be. It wasn’t too bad playing games, after all. He straightened his back a little, happy with that realisation.
Using bolt cutters, Ethan cut through a chain with the help of Yuuri. It was indeed Mia.
“Did anyone see you? Did he see you?”
“He? Who else is there? What’s going on?”
“Daddy’s coming. We need to go.”
“Wonder who that is.” Yuuri said this with a voice that sounded really curious. “I’m sure we’ll meet him soon enough.”
“Do you enjoy this?” Victor was in denial.
“Yes, it seems like things are just getting started. What do you think?”
Getting started? Oh… I thought we were just about done! They’ve found each other, why can’t they just leave? How stupid to walk into that house in the first place…
Mia and Ethan walked through another dark corridor. Shimmying past things that were in the way. They entered a room that was lit, somehow that felt comforting. Mia sounded stressed, though. A door that previously was there just… wasn’t anymore.
“Hm.” Yuuri took Ethan to another room and suddenly, Mia shrieked in fear after a loud noise was heard. She was not in the picture, but it seemed like Yuuri was compelled to find out why she had cried out. They were met by a big hole in the wall.
As Yuuri guided Ethan through it, Victor locked his eyes on a place to the left of the TV. He had a feeling that things were going to get much, much worse.
After walking up a staircase, they were apparently in the cellar before, they ended up on the first floor of the house. Yuuri started to scan the screen for things to pick up, and found a map. Suddenly, a pounding noise was heard from behind.
“Let’s go see what it is.”
Victor found himself holding his breath. Luckily, they didn’t find the actual origin of the noise. Yuuri opened the cellar door again and a disgusting, growling sound was heard. Victor gripped a pillow tight with his hands. It came closer and closer to his chest with every step Yuuri made Ethan do on that damned TV-screen.
When Victor noticed that Mia was crawling on all fours, very similar to any revolting insect he could think of, the pillow reached his face. There was no way that he was going to witness what was about to happen. He heard the noises from the TV and was really happy with his choice.
“That’s a surprise! Where did she get that knife from?”
Please help me…
“It went though his hand! Wow, did you see that, Victor?!”
“Yes! Yes, I saw!” He lied.
“Ow, imagine gripping a blade like that!”
I… I’ll need coffee. So much more coffee. I don’t think I’m ever going to bed again.
Victor peeked from behind the pillow. Mia was smashing her head against a wall, trying to make herself unconscious. When she fell down, apparently successful, he exhaled. Surely, nothing bad was going to happen now that she was out of it.
How wrong he was.
When Yuuri mumbled something about finding the knife that had gone missing, she just got up in the blink of an eye.
“Yeah, that was totally unexpected! I got a little surprised too, to be honest!”
Ethan got pushed through a wall, and Mia stood looming on the other side of the room he’d fallen into. Victor could see her breaking off wood from the trashed wall, and Yuuri found Ethan an… axe?
“They’re not going to kill each other, are they?!”
“We can’t have her killing him anyway, so… Oh, here she comes.”
Victor was too late with getting the pillow back in front of his face. He felt sick to his stomach when he saw the axe dig into the side of Mia’s neck. As she fell to the floor, Victor knew that he had reached his limit.
“I… I’ll be back. Bathroom. You just… continue.”
“Hey, a phone’s ringing. You don’t want to stay and find out who that is? Victor?”
He’d already gone into the bathroom, locking the door behind him as he did.
“Quick recap,” Yuuri said when he came back.
Victor thought that he was going to faint, sitting there on the bathroom floor. But he didn’t. He couldn’t understand how this was considered to be entertainment. He couldn’t understand why Yuuri enjoyed to get scared like that. Or… did he even get scared? That was definitely a conversation they were going to have, eventually.
He glanced at the TV. Yuuri had paused the game, looking at him with eager eyes. Shall I humor him? But I don’t want to know! “Okay…” He hated the fact that he said that.
“Well, Mia came back to life and attacked Ethan with a chainsaw. He got his hand sawed off. Intense, really. But it got attached, somehow and… well, let’s see what happens next?”
“If you say so…”
Yuuri turned his attention to the TV again, slightly leaning forward this time. He was really into it.
Ethan was waking up, sitting at a dinner table. It seemed like he was the guest of honor at a really strange dinner party. When a character by the name of Lucas got his arm chopped off, Victor scooted closer. He could at least hide his face against Yuuri’s shoulder. He grabbed his shirt a little, hoping that it was enough to hide behind.
Yuuri looked at him, with a smile. He put down the controller, the game was still running, and gave him a kiss. When he did, it seemed like Ethan was cut in the face with a knife on the TV-screen. Victor decided to look at Yuuri instead, trying to block out what was happening in the corner of his eye.
“Victor… if I didn’t know any better I’d say that you’re scared. Are you?”
Of course he was. He was terrified, but somehow, he didn’t want him to know. It was, after all, just a game. It wasn’t real. But the feelings he had inside were. So very real.
“It’s a little, uh, unsettling but I’ll be fine.”
“You sure? Just say if you want me to turn it off. I can play it alone.”
“No, just… keep playing. It doesn’t bother me.”
Yuuri nuzzled his jaw a little before taking the controller back in his hands.
Yuuri made Ethan get loose from the chair he was tied to, by making it topple.
“Yuuri,” Victor asked cautiously, “did that old lady move? You saw it too, right?”
“Huh? No, I must have missed it. Moved, how? She’s in a wheelchair.”
“I… I thought she moved her mouth?”
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
Victor watched as Yuuri guided Ethan around the dining room and the kitchen. A note on the fridge told them that the family had purchased twenty pet collars for some reason. In an adjoining room to the kitchen, they saw a hatch. Unfortunately, it was locked and they had nothing to unlock it with.
“We really need to get down there eventually,” Yuuri said with a serious voice.
As they walked into the kitchen again, Yuuri made Ethan turn right as he came out in the hallway. They walked around the corner and were met by the sight of the hallway continuing. They pushed on.
Walking a few steps down the hallway, that man from before, the one who cut Ethan’s face appeared.
“Yuuri, stop. Honestly, stop and go back!” Victor could see that the man, some twenty paces ahead was carrying something that looked deadly. A... shovel?
It was too late. The man turned to face them and started walking towards them.
“Thought you’d slip out before dinner was done?”
Victor grabbed Yuuri’s shirt, it was an automatic reaction. Maybe his fingers dug into his skin too, but he was too startled to notice. “Yuuri, turn around and go! GO! He’s coming!”
Yuuri did what he was told and muttered something about Ethan not being very fast. When they entered the dining room, Yuuri pointed out that the old lady probably could move since… well, she wasn’t there anymore.
They hid for a while. Victor wondered how they would ever know that it was safe to move, but Yuuri didn’t seem to mind the looming danger. He walked out from the dining room, past the table that had been smashed, and went back the way he came.
They were back in the same hallway where they had seen the man earlier. He was a no show, it seemed. Yuuri decided to walk down the hallway, again.
“Okay, so he’s not here anymore?” Victor just had to ask.
“I don’t know, he’s probably around somewhere.”
“Promise me you won’t get close to him if he-”
He was interrupted by a loud noise and to his horror, the man that had been chasing them earlier came through a wall. Through. A. Wall. Like a goddamn wrecking ball.
“YUUUURIII! FUCK, STOP, STOP! OH MY GOD, STOP!” He wasn’t proud when he heard how shrill his voice was. He got to his feet, feeling his heart in his throat. Somehow, he’d ended up behind the sofa. It had happened too fast for him to even register that he’d moved. “Yuuri, what the hell! Honestly, I’m scared, okay! I’m never, NEVER, playing this with you ever again!”
Yuuri paused the game and looked a bit perplexed as he turned around. “Victor, you said it was okay. Why didn’t you tell me that you were scared? I could have turned it off. There’s no need to torture yourself.”
“I… I just wanted to humor you! Shit!”
Yuuri stood up and walked over to him. He looked somewhat… guilty? Embarrassed? Victor couldn’t really tell. He took his hand and put his palm against his own cheek. He let out a little sigh.
“I’m sorry. I’ll play this on my own. Do you… want to go to bed?”
“Seriously, I… I must stay up for a little longer. I just can’t go to bed now.”
“Oh… Okay.” He sounded disappointed. “Is it okay if I stay out here with you?”
“You’re going to sleep? After… that?”
“Yes. If you’re going to be out here, I can sleep on the sofa. You can wake me once you’re going to bed. Okay?”
Victor smiled. He was trying to make it better, no doubt. “Sure. Go get your duvet.”
Yuuri fell asleep within minutes after brushing his teeth and returning to the sofa with his duvet. He was curled up next to him, with his head against his thigh. His low and steady breaths felt warm as they reached his skin through his sweatpants.
Victor removed his glasses carefully and put them away. He had put on some sitcom just to purge his mind from the horrible scenes from before. He couldn’t help but wonder why Yuuri had been so unfazed playing that game. Yuuri was an anxious person, but he was coping with that game like it wasn’t even remotely scary. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it.
He leaned down and kissed his forehead. With his lips still against his skin, he let them brush against him as he spoke. “You keep surprising me. I love that about you.”
After a couple of hours, watching skating videos, sitcoms and funny animal clips, he felt sleepy. Maybe it was time to go to bed, after all. He gently held on to Yuuri’s head as he slid off the sofa, putting it down without waking him. He decided to get him to bed after he was done in the bathroom.
The ordinary pre-bed routine. First, a face wash followed by some moisturiser. It felt like it was needed tonight, like he’d aged considerably during that hour or so they’d been playing that godforsaken game.
He reached for his toothbrush and put it underneath the thin stream of water before applying the toothpaste. He stood with his back against the basin, a little lost in his own thoughts when something caught his attention. He became paralysed, stopped brushing his teeth in mid-motion.
Makkachin’s yellow ball just… rolled past the doorway.
It took a little while for him to register what had happened. He slowly removed the toothbrush from his mouth. Still with the frothy contents in his mouth, he called out.
“Muhkasin?” No dog. He turned around and spat. “Makkachin?” Still no dog.
He tried to calm himself. It was a disappointment to admit that the hours he’d been up, trying to rid his mind of that game, were to no avail.
“Yuuri?” His voice had a slight tremble. He felt pathetic. “Yuuri, if that was you, it’s not funny!”
After something that felt like an eternity, he dared to walk up to the doorway. Or dared, it was with great trepidation he inched closer. He dared to peek outside. The flat was dark, the only light was the rectangular shape that the doorway to the bathroom made on the floor.
He looked to the left. Sure enough, there was the ball. He walked out of the bathroom, staying inside of the rectangle of light. He stood on his toes, making use of the ballet training from days long lost, stretched as much as he could to look over the back of the sofa. There he was. Still sleeping.
He got back into the bathroom. The realisation that neither Makkachin or Yuuri were responsible made him weak at the knees. There probably was some good explanation, but he couldn’t really make himself see one. His imagination was running wild. His thoughts too. He thought about doing the same procedure again, go back to the sofa and bombard himself with light and happy impressions. He thought about taking a shower, collect himself and hopefully feel relaxed enough to go to bed. He thought about making more coffee, sit next to his lovely tormentor and wait for sunrise.
He decided on the second option. He faced the doorway, standing with his back against it just wouldn’t happen. He undressed, made sure that he got out of his sweater with lightning speed. That would kill me, imagine if something just appeared when I pulled it over my head? Stop, just… stop. Take the shower, wake that sadist out there and go to bed. Easy.
After standing underneath the warm stream for minutes, he felt slightly more relaxed than before. He felt annoyed when he remembered that he’d done his facial routine before. What a waste of products. Well, just this once.
He lathered up his hair. Not noticing that he was being watched.
Yuuri had a really hard time keeping quiet. He had been so close to laughing, hearing Victor’s anxious call from the bathroom. It had worked like a charm, rolling that ball past the doorway to the bathroom. When he sensed him on the other side of the sofa, trying to see if he was still there, he had to hold his breath and bite himself in the cheek. I have found your weakness, Victor.
When he heard him stir in the bathroom, followed by the sound of the shower being turned on, he chuckled. His little prank had apparently made an impact. He found his glasses before he silently walked over to the doorway and peered in. Victor stood underneath the showerhead, head bent down. He remained still before he reached for the shampoo.
“I’m sorry, Victor,” he whispered to himself when he reached in and turned off the light.
The water got turned off instantly. He could hear his breathing pick up from across the room. He counted the seconds, trying to decide how far he would push it before turning the lights back on. He decided to push it, just a little bit more.
He kept to the wall as he crept closer, tried to see what he was doing. Victor had both hands in his lathered hair, frozen. He could tell that he was really agitated, his stomach was rising and falling with every short breath he took. He could almost sense the adrenaline in the air.
Okay, here goes nothing. With three quick steps, he grabbed Victors waist from behind and bit him. Making sure he wasn’t sinking his teeth in too much. The reaction was glorious, at least to him. Victor squealed like he was about to get murdered.
“Victor, it’s just me! It’s just me!” He couldn’t keep it in anymore, the laughter just had to get out and it did instantly. “I’m sorry! But,” he tried to catch his breath but his diaphragm was impaired by his laughing that he almost croaked, “you should have seen the look on your face!”
It took a couple of seconds before Victor regained his composure, and when he did, he turned on the water, without saying a word. Making sure that he delivered a punishment of his own.
Yuuri got help with getting out of his wet clothes, still roaring with laughter, before Victor finally spoke. “Love… Seriously. Do not do that again. Ever.”
“Well…” Victor’s voice was low, spoken directly into his ear, his voice taking on an edge Yuuri knew well. “I doubt that games like that have happy endings, but I’d like to think you owe me one.”
Yuuri smiled. That was something he could definitely agree to. As he got down on his knees, feeling Victors hands in his hair, he decided that he wanted to explore that weakness of his some more. Some other time.