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At first, Yuuri just thought he was waking up with the worst hangover of his life on the second-worst day of his life. (The worst day, of course, was yesterday, the day when Vicchan died, he bombed the Grand Prix Finals, and he learned that he’d wasted over ten years of his life in a futile effort to get Victor Nikiforov to actually know who he was at all.) 

It truly was like the Cthulhu of hangovers. His head ached. His muscles ached, his eyes ached, his stomach ached, his bones ached, and he was pretty sure his skin ached, if that was actually possible. It was only after an hour or two of groaning like a zombie, puking, and guzzling ibuprofen and Gatorade that Yuuri went to finally take a shower, looked at his bare torso in the hotel bathroom mirror, and screamed.

There was a bandage over his stomach. 

At first Yuuri’s brain jumped to the natural conclusion that someone had stolen his kidneys, like he’d seen in some true crime TV show or CSI or something, but then he realized that a) the kidneys were in the back, not the front and b) it wasn’t an internal injury, it was on his skin.

Oh.

In the vague zombie-like state of someone who had temporarily maxed out his entire capacity for feeling grief and horror and who still felt like his brain cavity was filled with ghost pepper hot sauce, he slowly peeled back a corner of the bandage to see—

Cyrillic. Writing.

It was a tattoo.

He got hammered last night and got a drunk tattoo in Russia. God knew what diseases he might have contracted, fuck knew what the tattoo even said, and—he wouldn’t even be allowed in the onsen any more. 

Apparently the crying mechanisms were back online, though. He sat down on the bed and tried to clear his vision enough to see Google’s results for “how to shower with a tattoo.”

*

Yuuri didn’t tell anyone about the tattoo after he got back from Sochi. It wasn’t exactly that he was trying to keep it a secret; it was more that he was actively working on blanking out the knowledge from his own mind. The only point at which he even let himself say it out loud was when he made an appointment with the university’s health services and told them that he might have got a tattoo in a disreputable tattoo shop. Fortunately, the ensuing blood tests proved that he hadn’t contracted any blood-borne diseases, which was a small blessing.

He was also aware that he needed to wash the thing frequently so that he didn’t, again, contract a horrible infection and die, but thinking about looking at it also made him literally want to be sick, so he compromised by taking off his glasses any time he had to kind-of look at it. It was like Fate itself had reached down and said, “Katsuki Yuuri, you will never be able to wash off the shame of this night. Literally.” It was big, too—reaching from mid-ribs to above his navel, or basically his entire ab area if he actually had abs. 

By the time he was in Japan for Nationals, Yuuri still hadn’t fully looked at it. But on the morning before the short program, when he was alone in his hotel room and had cycled through the panic-cry-numb cycle at least three times, he finally reached an almost zen-like state of despair: not “I might fail!” but “I’m definitely going to fail and my life is ruined, so who even cares.”

So, in an impulse of true self-hatred, he pulled up his shirt and looked at the tattoo.

First, he realized that it wasn’t just Cyrillic writing, as he’d originally thought. It was some Cyrillic writing, and then some numbers, and then . . . a squiggle?

To his shame, he had minored in Russian (for obvious reasons), so he’d probably be able to read the Cyrillic if he was looking at it properly. He sighed, stood up, and took a picture of his abdomen with his cell phone. Who even cared, anyway. It wasn’t like he could hate himself any more at this point.

He sat down again, promised himself that he would buy himself a liter of ice cream and eat it all tonight, and looked at the picture.

Oh.

It said: You dance like an angel! Call me! And the number beneath—

Oh. The number below was a phone number. Yuuri found himself laughing, maybe in relief; he’d been afraid that he’d gotten drunk and actually asked for a tattoo that said “miserable failure” or something like that. “You dance like an angel” wasn’t so bad in comparison, although it obviously didn't fit him at all. 

Now the only part remaining was the squiggle, which—now that he looked at it upright, was a very familiar squiggle. A very . . . familiar . . .

Slowly, with shaking hands, Yuuri googled “Victor Nikiforov autograph” on his phone and pulled up a good quality picture. He zoomed in on the squiggle part of his tattoo and flipped back and forth between the images. It was the same—but he’d already known that.

Had Victor Nikiforov autographed his abs?

. . . Had Victor Nikiforov written “you dance like an angel”???

It was totally impossible, and yet for the first time Drunk Yuuri’s actions made a tiny bit of sense. Yuuri had never wanted a tattoo, not least because his own family owned an onsen and he didn’t want to be exiled from it for all time. But if Victor had autographed Yuuri’s body—ignoring the other parts of the message, because Yuuri couldn’t deal with that at all right now—then Yuuri could see a shred of logic to his own choice to preserve that autograph for all time. In all honesty, if he didn’t have the tattoo and Victor Nikiforov appeared right now and signed his name on Yuuri’s body, Yuuri might make the same decision stone cold sober.

Yuuri’s phone alarm buzzed to tell him it was time to shower and get ready for the competition. 

“I might have Victor Nikiforov’s signature on my abs,” Yuuri said to himself with a strange sense of sleep-deprived serenity. “I might have Victor’s. Signature. On my abs,” he thought to himself as he packed his skate bag.

Nobody else in the competition had Victor’s signature on their body, Yuuri thought to himself as he laced his skates. Nobody else but him. Maybe nobody else in the world. He could feel it there, almost, like it was glowing underneath his costume. Victor’s name.

Dazed by the first hint of a pleasant emotion he’d felt since before Sochi, Yuuri sailed through his short program without falling and ended up in the lead.

*

I knew you could do it! Yuuri! Phichit texted him when he got back to the hotel room.

Thanks!! Yuuri texted back. He didn’t even know how he really felt; maybe he still felt like a sponge all squeezed out. He was getting obsessed with the tattoo, he knew, but hey, he didn’t totally fuck up today, so maybe this obsession was a positive thing. It was the only thing that had ever worked when he was spiraling, anyway. Maybe Yuuri should just grab the YOLO life with two hands and continue not caring about anything—wait, was that the secret?? Maybe he should just text Christophe and say, “Hey, is this Victor’s phone number?” and type the phone number that was on his abs, oh my god.

Following not-totally-miserable train of thought, and physically and mentally exhausted and wrung out, Yuuri fell asleep without even meaning to, still on top of his bed covers with his phone in his hand.

He woke in the morning with a jolt of horror—had he slept through the free skate?—but no, it was only 6 am, according to his phone, which still meant he’d slept a shocking ten hours. He was actually going to be well-rested before a competition, he realized, blinking. He could actually go get a healthy, leisurely breakfast? He could even do some yoga??

In the meantime, it was a little chilly in the hotel room, so Yuuri scooted his legs under the covers and automatically unlocked his phone, only to see 37 new texts waiting for him. Oh, god—and he’d turned off notifications for all his other apps and social media because they stressed him out, so there could be even more—

He opened the text from Mari first, in case it was another disaster at home, but instead her text just said my little brother!!!! and contained a link, which as it turned out was a YouTube video of Victor giving an interview. Oh, right, it was Victor’s nationals right now too. He’d actually secretly intended to stay up last night to watch Victor (as he wouldn’t be sleeping anyway), or at least follow the skating gossip on Twitter. He actually felt guilty that he’d missed it.

He started to watch the video, which was just Victor being interviewed before the competition. Everything about it seemed normal, except that Victor’s smile had a hint of that mischievousness that always heralded a Victor Nikiforov Surprise, such as showing up for his free skate with all his hair cut off. Then, halfway through the video, while the interviewer was distracted for a moment, Victor took off his Russia jacket.

Yuuri immediately died. Underneath the jacket, Victor was wearing the most tissue-paper-thin garment that could possibly qualify as a white v-neck t-shirt. It was basically like he was half naked. But, more than that, as the interviewer immediately noted, there was something showing through the cloth on Victor’s left pec.  It looked a lot like a black tattoo. With writing. Yuuri just couldn’t quite see what it said—the phone screen was too small and couldn’t play the video in high enough quality. He immediately closed out of the YouTube app and, lightning-fast, googled Victor Nikiforov tattoo

Bless the internet. The first link was a forum he knew well. He clicked the link and was immediately faced with a thread called Victor’s tattoo: roundup. Most noticeable in the first post was a large picture of Victor Nikiforov’s chest, minimally clothed in white fabric and sporting a tattoo that clearly said, in Japanese: I love you and your dog! Katsuki Yuuri.

Yuuri screamed into his hand. Then he dropped his phone, full-on screamed into his pillows, picked up the phone and started reading the rest of the post, still with his other hand covering his mouth.

Victor’s tattoo: roundup

Shallweskate92 (mod): Okay, here’s a quick and dirty summary in Q&A format of all the info here, because the entire skating fandom is on fire right now and we might as well gather everything we know (which is hardly anything) in one place.

  1. Is it really a tattoo? Yes, he confirms in this video
  2. What does it say? It says, “I love you and your dog! Katsuki Yuuri.”
  3. That Katsuki Yuuri? Well, it’s spelled the same. Also, see #5. We also know from many many interviews that the skater Katsuki Yuuri totally does love Victor and his dog, so it checks out. 
  4. When did Victor get it? Sochi, according to this video.
  5. Why? “Because I had to match Yuuri” according to this interview.
  6. What? Yes.
  7. They got matching tattoos?? Yuuri is the gorgeous Loch Ness Monster of the skating world. We will never know unless Victor tells us
  8. I didn’t even know that Victor and Yuuri knew each other. Neither did literally anybody else. There is still no evidence of them ever interacting, at all.
  9. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Yuuri imploded so bad at GPF?? We still have no idea why that happened at all, see this thread for more
  10. Are they . . . dating? We have literally no idea. Yuuri is a phantom on social media and Victor is basically trolling everyone by providing no new information and intentionally misunderstanding questions.
  11. I literally can’t believe Victor Nikiforov is doing this. It seems so out of character? I mean he does like to surprise people, it is his thing. That being said, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, who even knows what’s happening at this point, just sit back and enjoy the ride and stay tuned. I’ll update this post with any further developments if Victor decides to stop being a beautiful troll or Yuuri decides to dust off his Twitter account after kicking ass in his SP at Japanese Nationals.

Yuuri read the list at least three times before looking at the time on his phone again. So he could go down to the hotel restaurant, have a nice breakfast, and come back and do yoga. Or, he could do what he actually wanted to do.

Quickly, before he could think about it, Yuuri reclined on the bed (for slim-ifying purposes), tried to artfully scrunch up his blue t-shirt so that the autograph part of his tattoo was showing and the rest was fully covered (he wasn’t going to put Victor’s phone number on social media, of course), and snapped a picture. He checked it over to make sure there was nothing weird about it (other than it being a photo of his stomach), then posted it to Twitter.

And then realized he’d have to go get breakfast in a hotel full of skating fans who would certainly be seeing his post right now.

Then again . . . maybe he didn’t care. It was Victor’s name on him, after all. Just like Yuuri’s had been on Victor.

Yuuri switched out his t-shirt and sweatpants, put a hat over his sleep-crazed hair and a mask over his blushing face, and crept down to the restaurant to get breakfast, trying and failing not to check the same thread while in the elevator. It was kind of crazy to think that with one little photo, he had the power to rock the skating world. It didn’t even feel real.

9. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Yuuri imploded so bad at GPF?? We still have no idea why that happened at all, see this thread for more
10. Are they . . . dating? We have literally no idea. Yuuri is a phantom on social media and Victor is basically trolling everyone by providing no new information and intentionally misunderstanding questions.
11. I literally can’t believe Victor Nikiforov is doing this. It seems so out of character? I mean he does like to surprise people, it is his thing. That being said, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, who even knows what’s happening at this point, just sit back and enjoy the ride and stay tuned. We’ll update this post with any further developments if Victor decides to stop being a beautiful troll or Yuuri decides to dust off his Twitter account after kicking ass in his SP at Japanese Nationals.
12. (ETA) Is there a link to Yuuri’s twitter where he’s posted a picture of what seems to be a tattoo of Victor’s autograph sneakily peeking out on his abs? WHY YES WHAT A MYSTERIOUSLY PERTINENT QUESTION I just seriously can’t, I hope they get married and have a million troll babies, my heart can’t take this
13. (ETA) What does the rest of Yuuri’s tattoo say???? If I knew that, I would be a millionaire and not a mod on a skating forum

After enduring some Very Intense Staring, Yuuri managed to escape to the conbini around the corner and purchase a decent breakfast, which he then smuggled back to his room while trying not to think about how bad it would look if he fucked up his free skate now and how that would reflect on Victor too. 

It was almost time for Yuuri to get in the shower when the meaning of the last part of the tattoo finally clicked in his mind. Victor had written his phone number and it said call me. And Yuuri hadn’t called! Oh god, Victor had given Yuuri his phone number to call and Yuuri hadn’t called for almost two weeks. Should he call now? Was it night in Russia right now? Or was he thinking of the times zones in Michigan versus Russia? 

Nervously, he flicked through the post again, but the page refreshed and took him to the end of the list again:

12. (ETA) Is there a link to Yuuri’s twitter where he’s posted a picture of what seems to be a tattoo of Victor’s autograph sneakily peeking out on his abs? WHY YES WHAT A MYSTERIOUSLY PERTINENT QUESTION I just seriously can’t, I hope they get married and have a million troll babies, my heart can’t take this
13. (ETA) What does the rest of Yuuri’s tattoo say???? If I knew that, I would be a millionaire and not a mod on a skating forum.
14. (ETA 2) Did Victor like Yuuri’s tweet? He sure did. Literally. [image showing v-nikiforov’s like on katsukiy’s tweet]

Yuuri stared at the picture of Victor’s like on his tweet until his backup “you overslept, as predicted” alarm went off on his phone and he had to rush into the shower. Well, it was definitely too late to call Victor now, he told himself. But he didn’t want to keep Victor waiting any longer, and he didn’t want to bother him either . . . 

Finally, in the locker room at the GPF, Yuuri decided it was better to sacrifice his dignity than leave Victor waiting any longer after Victor had asked—no, told him to call. 

katsukiy: I’m not very good at reading Cyrillic, so it took me longer than expected. Please wait just until tonight. Thank you

He hadn’t mentioned Victor, but Victor would know what it meant, and so would the rest of the world, probably. But although Yuuri normally hated the world intruding on his private life, maybe he didn’t mind at all if it was this with Victor. That was a strange, new feeling, like he had learned something about himself.

Yuuri still felt a little like he wanted to cry and a little like he was in a dream, but knowing that it really was Victor’s signature on his body—that was reassuring, even though it was terrifying too. He still hadn’t even figured out why Victor had an opinion on his dancing, why Victor had wanted a tattoo of Yuuri’s name on him, or how they had even talked. And no doubt the skating forum was already on fire again thanks to his obvious vaguetweet.

He looked back at his phone, and there was already a response:

v-nikiforov: @katsukiy I can’t wait! <3

Yuuri took a deep breath, put his earbuds in, and walked out to the rink. He’d get gold here first, to try to wash the stain of Sochi off of himself. Then he’d talk to Victor tonight. And then—he didn’t know, but for the first time in a long time, he thought it might be good.