Chapter 1: Dog Attacks Uni Student! Sports at 11!
“Look at these, Makka, aren’t they amazing?” Victor showed his phone screen to the poodle, grinning when he received a bark back from her. “They said they’ll ship them out tomorrow if I approve the design!” The photo of boots he was having custom-made had him giddy. After over a month of consultation and crying into a pillow about the price, he was going to have them in his hands! And on his feet. Victor had been vicious in regards to not skipping leg day in his workouts in prep for this very thing. He was going to get into those boots and knock one very particular pair of socks off with them.
What a wonderful day. The meet-up he and Makkachin had attended had been a great success. He had completely sold out of all the new prototype dog scarves, collars and leashes he had designed, and had already fired off an email to his supplier with a new order for each. Moreover, he had found several new Eros charms and pins to add to his collection bag which filled out the corners splendidly. It had been a month since Victor last attended a fan gathering for the magical boy, and it was his first one in the city that Eros actually resided. There had been people there who rivaled him in his fanboyism and that was more exciting than anything.
Shoulder pushing against the front door to his apartment building, Victor adjusted the hold he had on the admittedly excessive quantity of fan merch he had purchased. Victor was weak for Eros. He had gone to the meet up fully aware that any profits he might make on his own sales would be wiped out completely by what he spent on purchasing other’s. Totally worth it though.
In addition to some prints and the aforementioned charms and pins, Victor had found someone selling tshirts that had Eros’ signature pose silhouette on the front and his tagline, Love Wins, on the back. The material was soft and loose too, something very comfortable for Victor to wear while working at home with Makkachin. He had swapped business cards with the seller, promising to promote them on his Instagram when he posted photos of it.
Stepping inside the building, the contented smile that had been plastered across his face all morning was wiped clean when Makkachin jerked her leash out of his hand. “Makka, no!” His attempt to grasp for her sent his collection tumbling out of his hands and scattering across the floor, phone barely saved from taking a flight along with all his Eros goodies. Makkachin, however, was gone, having bowled over someone in the lobby, her paws on his shoulders and her tongue all over his face.
“Oh god, I’m so sorry!” Victor abandoned his purchases, rushing over to try to pull Makkachin off the young man. “Makkachin, down, get off him!” She did not listen, tail wagging a million miles an hour, lapping tongue having knocked glasses askew. He grabbed her collar--thoughts briefly darting to how the red glitter and silver crystals did work really well on the black-- and heaved her off, scowling when she barked, tail smacking at his knees. “I’m so, so sorry! Are you okay?!”
The man did not even blink, his eyes blown to the size of his lenses. He stayed frozen, sprawled across the floor, jaw slack as he stared, the only visible movement his gaze shifting between Victor and Makkachin.
Victor threw out a hand in offer, to help him up, praying the man wasn’t injured because that was exactly what he needed, to injure a neighbor on his first week in the building. Makkachin had just been approved on the lease, her celebrity status a huge help in the process, but Victor did not want to have to resort to bribery so early on in case the cute stranger was not fond of adorable poodles licking his face.
Dazed, the man accepted Victor’s hand, who pulled him up and launched into a hundred more apologies. “She’s normally very well behaved, I promise, she never jumps on people like this! You’re not hiding a steak in your pockets, are you?” Victor tried disarming any ill-will with a dazzling smile and a laugh, tugging Makkachin back when she attempted to go in for the man’s feet, her nose sniffing like she was on the trail of something good.
“Wha-- no, ummm, no steak?” the man replied, his eyes darting between the two, glasses still lopsided. One of the lenses had a streak of dog slobber over it, from Makkachin’s tongue, but he did not seem to notice. “You’re--… is that, is that your stuff?” he pointed.
Victor turned and yelped. The front door had propped open, and a gust drafting in swept up all his prints, sending them skidding across the floor. Rushing to collect everything, Victor loaded his arms and hooked Makkachin’s leash around his wrist so that she could not pull away again. Her excitement had calmed only slightly, tail wagging, focus still on their companion who had managed to clean his glasses and walked over, holding out Victor’s tote bag. The one with all the Eros charms and pins on it.
“You really like Eros, huh,” he muttered as Victor accepted the bag with gratitude, looking over everything that Victor was holding.
“Yes!” Victor smiled, happy to see what nothing on his bag had broken or been knocked loose. His love of Eros was well documented online and Victor was not the least bit ashamed. Sure some people gave him odd looks for the fact that he adored the magical boy with fervor, but Victor figured that the majority of people living in Ariaville either loved or respected Eros. After all, he kept the city safe and entertained. And hot. That short skirt and stockings did all sorts of things to Victor and the population at large. “Do you?”
“He’s okay,” the man replied with a shrug, hands slipping into the front of his jeans, shoulders scrunching. “I-... do you need, ummm, help? Are you visiting someone?”
“Oh!” Victor shook his head, bangs falling perfectly into place over his left eye. “No, I just moved in, on the second floor!”
Cute Stranger’s eyes went wide again, a sweet honey brown behind the blue frames of his glasses. “...206?”
Victor lit up. “Are you next door?”
“Yeah, I’m… I’m 205. I can… I can help you carry those up.” He pointed to Victor’s loaded arms. “Or, I can... hold your dog.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I actually really like poodles.” The shy smile that spread across his pink lips had Victor’s heart doing somersaults. Cute neighbor who liked dogs and apparently had already forgiven him for the traumatic first encounter. “Here.”
With a bit of twisting, they maneuvered so that Yuuri-- as he quietly introduced himself-- could get Makkachin’s leash from around Victor’s wrist without disturbing any of his cradled merch. Makkachin did not need a tug to be lead, prancing behind Yuuri and sniffing at his rolled up pant hems as they waited for the elevator together.
Once inside, Yuuri pushed the button for the second floor and knelt down, offering his knuckles for Makkachin to smell. She proceeded immediately to lick his hand, making him laugh and jerk away when she tried going for his face again. It was a very nice laugh, Victor noted as he shushed her, lighting nudging at Makkachin’s hip with his ankle in a fruitless attempt to make her behave.
“Makkachin as in The Makkachin?” The question came as the bell dinged and the elevator doors opened.
“You know her!” Victor exclaimed then put the plastic wrapped around the folded tshirts between his teeth, so that he could fish his keys from his pocket.
“I-...” Yuuri paused, cutting himself off without a single hint to what he was about to say apart from the light blush that dusted the bridge of his nose. “My roommate follows her account. I don’t do a lot of social media but… sometimes I like seeing her photos on his phone. She’s really cute. I like when she wears scarves and stuff.”
“Oh!” Smile growing impossibly wider with everything Yuuri said, Victor could feel his cheeks starting to complain. Compliments for Makkachin were a surefire way to flatter them both. “I actually have a new design that I’m posting tonight!”
Yuuri glanced down at her collar. It was one of the new prototypes, embedded with crystals and cross-stitching across black mesh with accents of red glitter. Victor had designed and released a white and blue Agape version the previous month, and this was its counterpart. “Eros-inspired?”
“Yeah,” Victor laughed, unlocking the door and holding it ajar on his foot. “I’m grateful he hasn’t sued me yet. I’m always hoping that Makka’s charms trump any desire toward litigation.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t mind too much,” Yuuri said softly, looking reluctant to hand Makkachin’s leash back over to Victor. He did reach down to ruffle her ears and let her get one last lick in. “It’s probably flattering… Well, ummm, nice to meet you.”
“You too!” Victor guided Makkachin inside with more struggle than usual, low whines escaping her as she was separated from Yuuri. Unbelievable. His dog was developing a crush on cute neighbor boy faster than him. Maybe there was a steak hidden in his pockets after all. “Tell your roommate to like the new post tonight!”
With the best wave he could manage, Victor headed inside, smile not fading even after the door closed. A wonderful day indeed. Kicking off his shoes, Victor called to Makkachin and proceeded to carry all his Eros merch into his work room so he could add it to his wall display. He rather hoped that cute neighbor Yuuri was right about Eros finding it flattering. After all, Victor was about to make Eros’ life a great deal more interesting.
Winged eyeliner a tale of Youtube makeup guru perfection, Phichit blinked at his roommate, who had come diving in through the front door. The front door which had been slammed with enough force that Phichit expected the super to come bursting through in demand that they “take care building like baby, understood? Building your baby, do not slam baby!” with his hard Russian accent and all. Raising one of his on-fleek eyebrows, Phichit found the straw of his bubble tea with his tongue and sipped. “Say that again.”
“Yeah, got about none of that. Breathe. Victor what?” Phichit said, chewing through a mouthful of boba.
Yuuri breathed. His chest huffed and heaved, arms and legs spread in braced stance against the door. Like he too was expecting the super to barge in. Phichit suspected, however, that this was for a different reason. Yuuri had said the magic word. The magic word being Victor. Yuuri’s crush on the internet celebrity was a fraction of a size bigger than the entire Milky Way Galaxy as calculated by Earth acres. Not that he’d admit it to anyone other than Phichit.
Nostrils flaring and a gleam of light sparking off his glasses, Yuuri stood up straight, like a soldier prepared to go to war. “Victor.Nikiforov.Is.Our.New.Neighbor.” He enunciated each word with pointed pauses between syllables.
“Victor Nikiforov?” Phichit repeated.
“Cutest dog on social media five years running Victor.”
“Victor ‘I, Yuuri Katsuki, would suck that dick drier than the Atacama Desert’ Nikiforov.”
“Please stop quoting that, I was very drunk when I said it.”
“Victor is the person who moved in next door?”
“What do you need, Phichit, a neon sign blaring above my head?! Yes, that Victor! He is next door, right now, with his dog and his arms full of Eros fan merch.”
Phichit choked on the boba. “Oh my god.”
Combined, Victor and Makkachin’s social media following rivaled that of some of the biggest stars in entertainment. It was Makkachin who had made her debut first, modeling various boutique dog goods that her owner reportedly produced by hand. The Swarovski collars and hand-painted scarves gathered a lot of attention amongst those who could afford them and those who wished they could. It helped when Makkachin started appearing in photos with lots of other celebrity pooches, bringing a slew of questions of who exactly was her owner. Turned out, Victor was a dog groomer to the stars and Makkachin had been hanging out with the likes of Princess Bowwow and her floofy pink frills even before her own claim to fame.
Victor’s own rise to online attention had come tailing in shortly after, not long after Magical Boi Eros had begun to appear in the media. A selfie of Makkachin and her down right gorgeous owner dolled up in Eros’ signature colors exploded across platforms and overnight, Victor’s personal account had nearly tallied the numbers Makkachin’s had. Yuuri had snatched up Phichit’s phone and hit follow the second he was aware of it being a thing. “More cute dog photos,” he had excused back then. Yeahhh, right, that was believable for all of five seconds. Up till that point, Phichit had not realized that Yuuri’s type was white boy.
Yuuri had finally made himself an Instagram after that, but still stole Phichit’s phone in order to leave likes and the occasional comment. It was cute. Kinda. “What did he have?”
“Everything,” Yuuri answered, finally stepping away from the door and into the room. “...He had an itabag…”
“Of you?” Phichit smirked, being a lot more careful slurping up the remnants of his drink.
“So, of you. Wow, the fanboyism is real.” Victor was not shy in posting about his adoration of Eros. It was well-known that if anyone desired to find Victor Nikiforov, the first place to look would be at the start of the line at any and all Eros events. It was all the more noticeable since Victor did not seem to be such a big fan of anything else, other than his work and Makkachin. “You know… you gotta crush on him, he’s gotta big crush on you, this could be a very fruitful experience if you know what I mean.”
Yuuri collapsed onto the sofa, still looking dazed, and buried his face into his hands. “I’m dreaming. I met him. I got licked by Makkachin and I met Victor...”
“Now we just hope that his shower breaks and he’s gotta come over here to use ours,” Phichit said, leaning back in his chair, look devious. Would it be possible to break a shower from the next door over? Maybe. Because Phichit was a good friend and wanted to give Yuuri the world, with the world being one naked Victor Nikiforov dripping wet. With a strategically wrapped towel and all that, but still. Was a sight Phichit wouldn’t say no to either. He could already imagine the amount of likes a shot like that would get his own account. “We could influence that somehow.”
“...I don’t want to know about it for liability purposes,” Yuuri muttered, sinking into the sofa like a blob. He spread out, an arm flopping over the side, and stared at the ceiling. “But if it happens due to chance… I may not be opposed.”
Cackling, Phichit got up, nudging at Yuuri’s dangling ankles with his knee. “Anyway, until you calm down and we figure out what to do with this new information, I got the new design for you to try out.”
Yuuri’s glassy eyes, lost in probably sickeningly romantic daydreams, focused. “Already?”
“Yeah, what do you think I do here all day? I’ll bring it out.”
Yuuri had been horrified to find out that his magical transformations had more than one form, after an accident in pursuit of a bank robber duo. During finals week. Yuuri had been operating on a total of five hours sleep over two days, too many pots of coffee to count, brain riddled with too much cramming to concentrate on the whole safety aspect of his operation, according to the story he told Phichit after the fact. And then the robbers had pulled out guns and Yuuri’s eyes had been way too tired from pouring over textbooks to produce his laser vision. Which somehow resulted in a stress transformation, complete with heart confetti and glitter that someone probably had to clean up afterwards. Thus they had found out that Yuuri had more than one magical form.
Phichit came back carrying the replica of the newly discovered outfit. Even less fabric than before. Cause magical boy logic seemed to mean that Yuuri’s evolved forms meant skimpier outfits. Yuuri had saved the bank clad in cutoff booty shorts and over-the-knee socks, with a bowtie around his neck and higher stilettos on his feet. Turned out the guns were merely painted over water pistols. Such was his life, he had sighed.
Yuuri stepped into the shorts, letting Phichit mark his adjustments. The great part of his magical outfits was that, being magic, they did not come off, which was helpful when he was jumping over buildings or in a fight. However, it also meant that when Yuuri was supposed to make appearances when not transformed or to don the outfits for some photos Phichit shot as promo, that he needed actual clothes to wear that looked like the real deal. Phichit was more than happy to help in that department, though he did complain about not being able to submit the work for his class credits.
“That’s a lot of mesh,” Yuuri muttered, looking at the sides of the short, where the strips exposed his hipline.
“Yeah, well, tell your magic that, I’m just copying it,” Phichit replied, chalk between his teeth as he tugged the shorts up Yuuri’s booty, exposing a bit of the rounded underside of the cheeks. He marked the waistline, where he would need to pinch in the material. “Put the socks on, I wanna see how they fit with the shoes.”
Yuuri had one leg through the sock when their phones vibrated, in sync. They stared at each other for a moment and dove. As suspected, both screens displayed the notification, v-nikiforov just posted a photo.
“Oh my god,” Phichit said again, laughing as he switched between the two uploaded shots. “To be honest, I was wondering when this would happen.”
The first photo was a close-up of Makkachin’s paws, set over the Agape-designed dog scarf, with the new Eros design peeking out from underneath. That was not the main focus though. It was her paws themselves, her nails painted. Black and red polish mimicked the lower half of Yuuri’s magical outfit, with sparkling crystals adorning. Her other paw was done in white and blues, tiny bows painted expertly on each.
The second photo was a two-shot selfie of Victor and Makkachin. While his dog modeled the Agape scarf tied into a bow at her ear, Victor winked at the camera, a finger on his lips. His nails were done up in the same manner, the art on them a perfect compliment to the Eros merch and posters captured in the background. He had changed into the fanmade Eros tshirt as well.
v-nikiforov Preview of what Makka and I have coming up! New Eros designs aaaaand dog-friendly nail art at the salon! #hype #makkachin #erosline #newapartmentissetup #alsometthecutestboyinthelobby #wow #howluckyami #theboynextdoor #gonnatrytoflirtnexttime #wishmeluck
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christophe-gc Your thirst is showing from behind
phichit+chu should def hit up lobby boy, just sayin’
makkafan99 So cute, I can’t wait to get them! My friend went to the event today but you had already sold out
“Yuuuuuriiiiiiiii.” Phichit was radiating. “Yuuri Katsuki, did you happen to see any other boys in the lobby?”
“Yuuri! He thinks you’re cute!”
“I need to lay down.”
“Oh no. Ohhh, no no no.” Phichit threw his phone onto the sofa and grabbed Yuuri’s shoulders, beelining them for the kitchen. “This is an opportunity like none other and I am gonna live vicariously through you if it kills me.”
Yuuri let Phichit push him, blinking vapidly. Too much to take in all at once. “What…”
“We’re baking cookies,” Phichit asserted, pulling flour and sugar from the cupboards, and sweet potatoes from the fridge. “Two batches. Dog and owner. Then we’re going to go introduce ourselves, like good neighbors.”
Yuuri said nothing in response, but as he did not oppose, Phichit placed the sweet potatoes in his hands.
“Yeah?” Phichit prompted.
Yuuri set the ingredients on the counter and rolled up his sleeves.
Yuuri had met Phichit in high school, when he was a junior and Phichit had started as a freshman. They did not have classes together and their paths did not cross too much, until Phichit joined the hockey club in his second year. And Asian boys stuck together. After Phichit entered the same university as Yuuri, they had become fast friends and roommates not long after.
Mainly because, Phichit had been the only person Yuuri could think of to seek out for help after he woke up hungover and in a short skirt he couldn’t remove the morning after his 20th birthday party. Which was why Yuuri avoided questions about how it was he came to be a magical boy like he avoided the city mayor. Because he simply did not know, his memory a complete blank after that sixth glass of champagne.
Phichit had not judged him for the thigh-highs or the heels, though as a fashion design student, he had made remarks about the colors of the skirt clashing with those of the cape. Yuuri had not really known what to say to that, since he had not picked out the outfit for himself and had been more concerned with getting it off. No amount of pulling or rolling or cutting or even attempts to set the fabric on fire had worked. It was everything repellant. Except the wind. Cause a light breeze could lift his skirt and flash his lacey panties faster than he could scream and cover himself up Marilyn Monroe-style.
After a few transformations, Yuuri figured out he could transform back once his magical boy powers determined he was away from danger. Apparently, the danger the morning after his discovery had been himself, because after Yuuri finished freaking out over it and calmed with quite a bit of talking down from Phichit, the whole outfit had poofed away and Yuuri was back in his own clothes. Over time, he learned how to have more control of it, but there were still things he was learning about his abilities.
The ability to bake good cookies, apparently, wasn’t one of them.
“I think you added in too much… something,” Phichit said, looking down at the tray Yuuri had pulled out of the oven. The cookies had melted into one giant sheet that somehow managed to look over-baked and under-baked enough at the same time. “Didn’t you follow the recipe?”
“Yes? Kinda?” Yuuri might have improvised, after deciding that the dough mixture had not looked right. This was exactly his luck. Victor Nikiforov was living next door, supposedly considered him cute, and Yuuri was about to fuck it all royally up the ass by presenting him with cookies that looked like someone had already digested them.
“Yeaaaaaah, suuuuuure ya did.” Phichit rolled his eyes and banged his own tray down onto the counter. His cookies were a golden brown, with peaks of melting chocolate bubbling up. Perfectly round, chewy, warm chocolate chip cookies.
Meanwhile, Phichit’s suggestion of making Yuuri’s cookies into Eros-themed fell flat. The chips which had been positioned to spell out EROS had run all over the place, probably out of the oven and down the street, begging for mercy. Yuuri hung his head in shame.
“Well, you tried,” Phichit said, patting Yuuri’s arm in encouragement. “How are Makkachin’s?”
The sweet potato cookies for the poodle had come out graciously unharmed. They had not had any fitting cookie cutters, but Phichit had free-handed dog bones and a Makkachin face, the shapes holding well.
“Oh good,” Phichit sighed with relief and Yuuri agreed. If Victor loved Makkachin anything like his social media profile suggested that he did, then Makkachin’s cookies would be the priority. “Okay, come on lobby boy, let’s go get you a celebrity boyfriend.”
Before Yuuri had blinked, he found himself in front of 206, plate of saran-wrapped cookies in his hands. Phichit rang the doorbell twice, pushing Yuuri forward so that he would be the first person Victor saw. And he was.
Victor answered with a smile that made Yuuri’s vital signs spike all over the place. “Hi, neighbor!” Seeing the plate of cookies, Victor opened the door a little further, foot slotted into the corner to prevent Makkachin from jumping out into the hall. “I assume you’re not coming to borrow a cup full of sugar?”
You’re a cup full of sugar, can I borrow you? No, he couldn’t say that, he would perish on the very spot, disintegrate into ash and, unlike a phoenix, be unable to spring back to life. “We, ummm, s-sorry for earlier, this is for… uh…” Wow, he was so much smoother in his head. Why did words become so complicated when there was one Victor Nikiforov in front of him? Did it have something to do with Yuuri’s desires to drown in those blue, blue eyes? Probably. It probably had something to do with Yuuri’ desires to drown in those blue, blue eyes.
“We thought we’d stop by and introduce ourselves, formally!” Phichit jumped in, chipper as always. “I’m Phichit! And I think you met Yuuri. We’re next door so if you ever need any help or guides around the area, feel free to come knocking!” He beamed.
Yuuri stayed quiet, eyes traveling away from Victor lest he be caught ogling, to where Makkachin sat behind him, panting happily. Yuuri cast her a smile, her tail wagging in response.
Victor noticed, reaching down to ruffle her ears. They flopped between his fingers, Makkachin glancing up with adoration, her tongue lolling out of her mouth. “Thanks, I appreciate it. We’re still getting unpacked and used to the neighborhood.”
“No problem!” Phichit replied, his elbow digging into Yuuri’s spine at an angle not visible to their greeter. “And we brought you some housewarming cookies!”
“Hopefully you eat carbs?” Yuuri said and oh no, what if Victor didn’t eat carbs? Look at him, look at his arms, Yuuri could see his biceps peeking out from the sleeves of his tshirt, his… Eros tshirt. Victor was wearing the Eros tshirt, the one he had been bringing in when Yuuri had been tackled by Makkachin in the lobby. The Instagram upload had been two hours before and he was still wearing it, Yuuri felt his chest getting tight, not as tight as that tshirt looked on Victor though, the outline of his pecs under the fabric was clearly visible, dear lord he was fit, this was supposed to be his neighbor, Yuuri was going to go mental, he had to move out, this was too much, Victor Nikiforov was too much and Yuuri was too thirsty, why didn’t they bring a gallon of milk with them, milk went with cookies, cookies that Victor would not even eat because a man like that would not have the word cookie in his vocabulary, this was so bad, why did they even--
“Oh yes, wow, those look amazing!” Victor smiled and Yuuri felt himself falling off a cliff into the great abyss that was an unreasonable crush. He had convinced himself it was a superficial thing. He liked Victor’s looks in all the photos he posted online, all of his followers did, there was a reason why Victor was so popular. Yuuri thought his captions were cute, his love for his dog was cute, his work was cute, he was just so cute… Yuuri was done for.
“These are from Yuuri!” Phichit clapped a hand over Yuuri’s back. “Shoulda seen mine, whooo, that was a mess. Chocolate chip for you and sweet potato for your pooch!”
Another purposeful nudge from Phichit and Yuuri held out the plate, reciting to himself a mantra of please don’t drop it, please don’t drop it, please don’t drop it.
He didn’t drop it. Victor took the plate, that smile unfaltering. “Thank you. Do you wanna come in? I can get out some plates and you can feed one of these to Makka, she’d love it.”
“That’s o-- hey!” Yuuri was going to bruise if Phichit kept jabbing at him.
“We’d love to!” Phichit interrupted, grin wide. “Right, Yuuri?”
“Oh, uhh, yeah?”
Gesturing them inside, Victor scooted Makkachin back. Phichit took the door, shedding his shoes in the entryway. Yuuri tagged after him, being led to the kitchen adjacent the living room. The layout of Victor’s apartment was the same as theirs, but while theirs looked like the typical university set-up, Victor’s was sleek. He had art on the walls, some of which Yuuri recognized as designs from his dog fashion lines. A lack of carpet met Makkachin’s manicured tails tapped across the tiles as she padded alongside Yuuri, ears perked.
Victor unwrapped the cookies, setting one each on three plates, pouring out glasses of milk from his fridge. Yuuri got a glimpse inside. Organized, neat, lots of greens. Maybe Victor didn’t eat cookies, but needed a cookie. Maybe this was good after all. Yuuri could learn to bake and win him over with sweets, since verbal interactions were clearly not an option.
Yuuri’s eyes wandered. Everything was clean and rather minimalistic, though he was unsure whether or not that was because Victor had only moved in. The hall and kitchen showed no evidence of Victor’s adoration of Eros, perfectly normal in its set up. It was a bit reassuring, actually. Yuuri was not sure how he would have been able to handle seeing him staring at himself from every which direction.
“So, this is your roommate?” Victor asked, his attention directed to Yuuri. His eyelashes fluttered when he caught Yuuri’s eyes.
Yuuri narrowly avoid choking on a bite of cookie, coughing once before washing it down with the milk. Yes, quench his thirst. Don’t think about the fact that Victor mentioned his attentions to flirt on that unfairly handsome photo from before. “Yeah, yeah, that’s him.”
“Ohhhh, you were talking about me already?” Phichit questioned.
“We met in the lobby and he mentioned you,” Victor explained, picking up one of the sweet potato cookies and examining it. “Here, wanna give it to her? She obviously likes you already.”
Makkachin had taken a seat next to Yuuri and occupied herself by sniffing his ankles. She had ignored Phichit entirely. If he minded, he did not indicate. Yuuri took the cookie from Victor, careful not to brush fingers because he was certain he would not be able to handle it right now. Dropping into a squat, Yuuri held out his fingers for Makkachin to smell before offering the cookie. She took it delicately between her teeth, then crushed away.
Yuuri glanced up, receiving a smile from Victor which he returned. Oh, that was nice. He liked that. Feeling his cheeks heat up, Yuuri ducked his head, refocusing on Makkachin.
“Yuuri said you’re a fan?” Victor asked, his question directed to Phichit, who nodded. “Did you see my post earlier, I told Yuuri to look at it.”
“Not yet!” Yuuri cut in before Phichit could say anything, springing up. He dusted his hands off on his jeans. “We were busy with… stuff.” Stuff involving Yuuri in super short shorts that showed way too much skin. Victor would probably like that. Yuuri was not sure if he wanted Victor to like that. But admitting to seeing the post would mean admitting they had read the tags and Yuuri was being awkward enough already.
“You should check it out later, Yuuri.” Victor threw him a wink.
Yep, okay, that was deliberate, he was flirting, alert, alert, Yuuri needed an escape route. Or he needed to flirt back. How was he supposed to flirt back? He didn’t know anything about flirting. Eros knew about flirting, but Yuuri didn’t have a skirt to flash at the moment, all he had was a dog continuing to lick his fingers. Oh, he could… he could use that. Right. Dog, he was good with dogs. “Yeah, ummm, and if you wanted some help around the neighborhood… there’s a dog park not far from here, I could show you and Makkachin sometime?”
If Victor had been smiling before, it was nothing like the heart-shape that lit up his lips now. “I’d love it! I saw it on Google Maps but we hadn’t had the chance to check it out yet. Whenever you’re free. Tonight or tomorrow or now-ish?”
Nowish. Yuuri could do nowish. Phichit would not mind, right? Yuuri glanced over and saw Phichit wiggling his eyebrows. Yep, definitely did not mind. Okay, yeah, he could take Victor Nikiforov and his famous dog to the dog park, that was fine. Normal. Maybe he could walk Makkachin. Because she was a thousand times more adorable in real life and had already octopused herself to him for reasons unknown. Yuuri never turned down the chance to dote on a dog. And with the dog in the focus, maybe he could get used to being close to Victor, so win-win.
“Nowish is--” The phone in Yuuri’s pocket chimed. Twice. The ringtone he had set up for any notifications sent to Eros. He closed his eyes and then dug it out, doing a very quick check of the message displayed on the screen. A location. In Midtown. “--not good, I’m sorry, I have to go. Phichit?”
“Gotcha covered, buddy!”
“Raincheck?” Yuuri said to Victor, giving Makkachin’s ears a pat. He was out the door before Victor could reply, already feeling the tingle of magic spreading through his nerves. How timely. Just his luck. This could be good. Give himself time and space, so instead of fucking everything royally up the ass, he’d be the one that-- his point was made. And, well, if Yuuri couldn’t flirt… maybe Eros could do that skirt flip at some camera after all. No hashtags.
Chapter 4: Rejoiceful Reptile Rescued from Ruined Residence!
Glasses of milk drained and cookie crumbs scattered on the plates, Victor and Phichit were both dodging and trying to make eye contact. Yuuri’s departure had left an awkward atmosphere between them, with Victor not wanting to chase off his new neighbor and Phichit not making any obvious excuses to leave. Meanwhile, Makkachin had settled, curling into a ball at Victor’s feet.
Phichit had already answered Victor’s surprise, saying that Yuuri had a habit of running off unexpectedly, explaining that it was a work thing. Victor could understand. He didn’t exactly keep regular hours himself, the days of nine to five salon opening long behind him. Mainly because celebrity pets kept a a schedule of their own. Victor had once dyed an heiress’s chihuahua’s fur at three in the morning, in preparation for a Christmas event. Very cute though, couldn’t find a better elf anywhere that year.
“So why’d you pick this place?” Phichit asked, foot tapping against a leg of the stool he sat on. “Surely Makkachin here can afford someplace more upscale?”
“Oh, my uncle is the landlord,” Victor answered with a smile. His decision to move to Ariaville had been rather sudden, so spending a lot of time shopping around had not been an option. Plus, having someone who would not kick him out for a tiny bit of drama was very helpful. The last place he had lived had not been entirely fond of Makkachin. Victor suspected it was because the owner of the building had a pet with their own social media account but one that wasn’t at all popular. What could he say? Makkachin had universal charms.
“Big scary balding Russian dude?”
“That’d be him.”
Yakov had fumed and scolded him over the phone when Victor had mentioned moving, then had fumed and scolded him in person when Victor showed up dragging his luggage, smile wider than the roomplan. But Victor had totally seen him ruffling Makkachin’s ears from the corner of his eye.
“Wow.” Phichit said, nodding in consideration. “Is that what you’re gonna look like when you get older?”
Victor was about to fake scandal and a shot through the heart when his phone chimed. He heard buzzing go off in Phichit’s pocket at the same time. They checked and met gazes, a second of uncertain silence hanging between them. “I gotta—”
“Eros?” Phichit confirmed.
“Twitter says Channel 5 has live footage.”
Victor rushed from the kitchen, grabbing a remote off the arm of his sofa in the living room. Like Phichit had said, the news was running live footage, the video unstable as the cameraman chased after a reporter running through a crowd of people.
“Sara Crispino reporting— we’re here in— Midtown— outside the— Residia Tower building—” The reporter huffed through her report as she ran, getting as close to the ongoing incident as possible. Sirens blared in the background, a combination of police, fire department and ambulances. As the reporter reached a barrier, the camera panned up to show smoke rising in plumes off a high-rise apartment building. Flames were visible through the windows of two floors midway up, splitting the building in half.
“We’re about two hundred feet away and— we can feel the heat from here.” Sara had caught her breath, footage framing her against the backdrop of the burning building. “The fire was called in half an hour ago, but it has spread quickly. We’ve been told that the lower floors have all been evacuated but there’s still people trapped on the top three floors. Firefighters are working on getting the residents out yet are struggling to get up due to the flames beginning to spread to the stairwell.
“The fire chief stated he has reached out to Ariaville’s own Eros for help, but the city’s hero has yet to appear on the scene.”
Victor’s fingers flashed across the screen of his phone, having switched from his main account to the one he used to keep track of any Eros activity. Reports, sightings, fan events, basically anything that popped up in media with the magical boy’s name tagged. On most days, the account was simply a good place to fawn over the endless fanart that ridiculously talented people posted of Eros, but during instances like this, people on the streets were usually the first to spot and report on Eros.
A few days ago, Victor had laughed over a tag, dubbed #BadErosPhotoGrandPrix, where people posted their best poorly taken photos of Eros, including ones where he was an absolute blur mid-jump, ones where he was blocked by a tree or telephone pole, or disappearing around the corner of a building with only part of his skirt and the back of his boot visible. Victor had tried not to be jealous that these people nevertheless had the privilege of seeing Eros in person, while Victor lost out on opportunity after opportunity.
Currently, Victor found nothing relevant, only people talking about the fact that Eros had been sought for assistance. “Do you have anything?”
“Zip,” Phichit replied, scrolling faster than even Victor could manage. “No one’s seen him yet.”
The news report continued, video spanning over to where evacuated residents were sitting on the side of the street or were being tended to by EMTs. “The police have said that several residents of the building are already being treated at the local hospital for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but residents are reporting that it may have originated on the thirtieth floor. Here we have—”
She cut off, covering her eyes. From off-camera, a burst of white light flared, bright and encompassing. The camera snapped to further down the block. Amongst the dull colors of the city block was the vivid flare of Eros’ signature outfit, the magical boy running at full-speed.
Victor bit his lip to hold back a squeal. His phone began to chime incessantly, notification interrupting notification.
“He’s here, Eros is here!” the reporter exclaimed, the camera following Eros. His heels clicked off the concrete, skirt ruffling when he jumped, flying over the lines of police cars and ambulances before landing. Victor’s heart did all sorts of funny things in his chest as the camera zoomed in. Eros’ hair was slicked back, his brows furrowed behind the frames of his glasses. His cape billowed behind him, the feathers threaded into the lining making it look like he had wings when he jumped.
When Victor had first seen him, he had thought Eros had the ability to fly, but Eros had always denied it in the statements he made to the public. A careful study of the videos available had made it obvious it was not exactly flight. Eros could jump to heights that appeared to max out at three stories and hover for at least a few seconds. He did so with such grace, it was easy to confuse for actual flight.
Eros leapt, clearing a fire trunk in a single bound, before stopping. Victor saw that Phichit was running a different video feed on his phone, one that looked to be taken from an upper floor in a nearby building. It focused on Eros as he traded quick words with someone on the fire crew. His whites and blues was stark against the yellows of the other uniform.
Victor always wondered what Eros looked like out of his outfit— not naked! although admitted he wondered about that too— but how Eros appeared in everyday life. Was he just as scandalous or was he the type to swap style for comfort? An Eros transformation was one of the most desired visuals in the community, yet it was something no one had yet had the great luck of capturing. Victor hoped that it happened like in legends, with a nude silhouette and ribbons and far too much glitter.
“He’s amazing,” Victor breathed. Eros had forsaken the entrance and went up the side of the building, going from floor to floor, his boots catching on windows to propel him up. He went straight through the flames, unfazed, pausing to float, looking into the different apartments. Victor had no idea how it was possible for anyone to dislike Eros. He was kind, beautiful, and selfless. He served the city, helped those in need, and was the cutest kitten rescuer in the history of ever. There were approximately a billion photos online to prove it.
“Yeah, he’s pretty cool.” Phichit said, thumbs darting across his phone screen. He lifted it up and snapped a photo, Victor doing a double-take.
“Did you just take a picture?”
“Umm, yeah, I’m with Victor Nikiforov who is literally heart-eyes over Eros right in front of me? Lemme post this and my follower count will double.”
Victor waved him on, hearing the celebratory, “yes!”
A few minutes passed, Sara Crispino repeating information from earlier. Despite the hoses aimed at the upper floors, the fire was spreading, traveling higher. The sky was growing thick with smoke, people being herded further from the building. Victor was at the edge of the seat, waiting for Eros to emerge, and he was not left disappointed.
Neither was the news crew.
“It’s Eros! And he’s carrying people!”
From the entrance of the building, Eros came out. In his arms, he carried what appeared to be a mother and son. His cape was wrapped around their shoulders, the duo using the fabric to cover their mouths. Eros handed them off to the fire fighters and turned on his heel, heading back inside without a split second’s break.
On the second time down, he brought down an older man, and on the third, his face was dirtied by smears of soot as he transferred a passed out girl to an ambulance. Above, the fire had spread to the top floor, licking up towards the roof. Eros did not turn to head back in again. Victor tuned out the news report upon hearing that everyone appeared to be out of the building safely. With the relief, his focus was entirely on Eros, thoughts drifting to how soon it might be that a city ceremony to honor the hero would be held.
The only unfortunate part of this— well, apart from the building fire and a lot of money in property damage and the few people who may have to spend a few days in the hospital recovering— was that Victor was still waiting for his own boots to come in. Otherwise he would have been able to rush over to the scene, with his own clicking heels, and villainously save the day. By stealing the attention. Everyone’s and Eros’. Yes, exactly. Save the day, steal the attention, make Eros fall hopelessly in love with him. He’d take it in any order.
“Look at him, isn’t he perfect?” Victor sighed, getting a short “uh huh” in response. “When he’s heroic like this, it reminds of when he— wait, why is he going back inside?”
Phichit’s head snapped up. “I thought they said everyone was out?”
Phichit dropped onto the sofa, sitting next to Victor. “Turn it up, turn it up!”
Victor turned it up.
The camera panned back to Sara. “While all the residents are accounted for, it seems the young boy’s pet is still inside!”
“Oh no.” Victor felt the impulse to cradle Makkachin close to his chest. He whistled and Makkachin came padding over to get the top of her head scratched. Burning building and Victor was focusing on seeing whether the camera would catch a good angle of Eros’ tush, but the mention of some poor sweet animal trapped in the flames and he was choking back tears. Perhaps Victor needed to re-evaluate his priorities.
“He’ll be fiiiiiine, his clothes are fireproof,” Phichit reassured, his eyes glued to the television.
Victor looked at him with curiosity. “How do you know that?” If true, that was a fact he had been unaware of. Yet, it made sense, with how Eros’ clothing had made it through each trip undamaged. Thankfully, yes, thankfully undamaged.
Phichit blinked. “Heard a rumor online?”
“Obviously you know of some sources that I don’t.”
Minutes passed. Victor’s phone continued to chime, his timeline exploding with concerned tweets for Eros and the pet. Victor was not sure how he’d be able to handle footage of Eros emerging from a burning building, carrying the cutest puppy in the world. Makkachin woofed, like she’d read his thoughts. Flinching, Victor reassured her with more petting.
Turned out he did not need to handle it. Because Eros did not come out of the front of the building and he was not carrying the world’s cutest puppy. He came leaping from a penthouse window, catching a point midway down to break his speed before hovering into a soft landing. He strut to the ambulance where the boy waited, arms cradling the rescued pet.
Phichit and Victor both leaned in as the news camera zoomed closer.
“Oh my god, what is that?!” Phichit shrieked, scrambling off the sofa and seeking cover behind it.
Victor squinted and instantly returned to his phone to make sure he was seeing correctly. “I think that’s a—”
“—Ladies and gentleman, it seems Eros has rescued the boy’s pet ball python, who also appears to be doing just fine!” Sara’s voice carried excitedly in the footage background. Phichit “eep”ed at the confirmation. “What a marvel!”
From within the folds of Eros’ cape, a full-grown python unfurled, sliding its long body around his shoulders to drape him like a giant heavy necklace. Eros appeared undisturbed, giving the snake a snoot boop. The snake swooned. Victor did not know what was wrong with himself, but the image of Eros with slightly messy hair, skin covered in ash and soot yet his outfit flawless, with a snake wrapped around him… it was unexpectedly hot. And that wasn’t because of the fire. Eros had caused Victor to discover all sorts of kinks he had never been aware and he was grateful for that every day.
Lifting the python off and handing it to a cautious fireman, Eros straightened, surveying the area to make sure everyone was accounted for. Sara chattered her continued reporting while efforts to quench the building endured.
Victor’s phone was lagging, overwhelmed by the amount of notifications coming in, flooding with screencaps and on-the-scene photos of Eros from those near Midtown. There were only precious moments left. Eros never stayed longer than necessary. As soon as his work was done, he would be gone. Which was why any plans Victor came up with needed to take that into account. Maximum Eros time and exposure.
Eros exchanged a shake of the hands with the fire chief, and then he was off. He did not take the same path he had come, blessedly heading towards the news crew. As Sara waved to him, Eros winked at her— heart-stopper that was— and, as he jumped over the white news van, cheekily flipped his skirt.
Oh. Oh yes. That was nice. That was something Victor very much needed to see again. Setting a building on fire really would not be worth it though, that would be far too villainous. Right?
...Maybe an old abandoned one, way out on the far edge of town.
Chapter 5: Top Ten Beginner Tips to Maintaining Your Ice Rink!
By the time Yuuri returned home, after having found a safe location to change out of magical form, his eyelids felt like they were being weighed down by lead. Transformations always took a lot of energy out of him and the longer he stayed in form, the harder was the comedown.
Usually, upon getting home post an Eros outing, Yuuri crashed for anywhere from a few hours to a full day hibernation. There had been one occasion last year, when he had attempted to take a midterm immediately after finishing with Eros. He had snored right through the second half. Luckily his professor had liked him enough to take pity, allowing him a retake the next day. Which was why Phichit had started making replicas of Yuuri’s costumes, so that he could wear them and “impersonate” Eros for events without being drained after.
It took Yuuri three tries to get the apartment key into the slot, due to swaying on his feet. He called out a greeting to Phichit, but received no response. Kicking off his shoes because leaning over to remove them would mean slumping and sleeping against the wall– he knew from experience– Yuuri shuffled across the living room and collapsed on the couch.
Said couch was fully equipped for Post-Eros-Crash-Mode. Yuuri pulled a pillow, not cushion, under his head, and blindly fished for the folded blanket at the other end with his feet. His lashes fluttered shut at the exact moment that he heard the front door lock licking. “Hmmmmokaeri.”
“Dude!” Phichit threw his set of keys onto the coffee table, jumping onto the couch at Yuuri’s feet. “Stay awake for like ten seconds. I heard you come home but, wow, Victor is way head over heels for you.”
“We already knew that,” Yuuri muttered, sliding his arms under the pillow and hugging it to himself. Victor’s Instagram was a practical shrine to Eros.
“Yeah but you didn’t see his heart-eyes in person, he’s still over there spouting off bouts of pink glitter,” Phichit replied, patting Yuuri’s hip. “I mean, like, the whole time he was focused on you. He’s got more feeds of you than I do! But it wasn’t in a creepy way, more of an endearing way, he even thought that it was cute when you–”
Phichit stopped so suddenly that Yuuri actually opened his eyes to look, fighting off the waves of exhaustion. “What?”
Eyes blown to the relative size of a small planet, Phichit stared at Yuuri in aghast horror.
Yuuri repeated his question of, “what?”
“Snake.” Phichit said, monotone in the moment. “Snake, snake, you rescued a snake! A snake, Yuuri.”
“Yeah? She was cute.” Yuuri had gotten another little snoot-boop off her before departing. “They named her Ronald, thinking she was a boy when they got her… Now they call her Ronnie…” He yawned, eyes slipping shut once more.
“Snakes eat hamsters, Yuuri,” Phichit hissed.
If Yuuri had had the energy to spare, he would be pointed out that hissing was not helping Phichit with his point. “Hamsters have a high fat content and thus don’t make for a healthy snake food,” Yuuri murmured. “Can we talk about this later?”
“Traitor. I hate you.”
“I accept this cruel, cruel fate.” Yuuri nuzzled his face down into the blankets, stifling another yawn. He would deal with apparent Victor love and Phichit spite later, once he was functional enough to panic properly about it. “Can I sleep now?”
Despite his words, Phichit tucked the blanket around Yuuri’s feet, smoothing it down. “I hope you dream of someone dumping a perfectly good katsudon in the trash.”
Yuuri gasped, but dozed off smiling, thinking of katsudon.
A few hours on the couch and a full night in his bed, Yuuri woke up in the morning to the chiming of his phone. The same chiming as from the day before. Groaning, he rolled over and grasped for his glasses, pulling them onto his face so that he would be able to read the displayed notification.
Yuuri sat up.
Placing his finger over the digital reader and typing in a second passcode into his phone, he accessed the message. It was dated as sent a couple minutes prior, with the only additional note listed as Invader. Odd. ????
On another occasion and at another location, Yuuri might have ignored it in favor of cocooning himself back into bed. However, this was Ice Castle. He scrolled down and saw the name of the person who submitted the notice. One of the Nishigori’s. That settled it.
Yuuri flopped out of the bed, getting in one stretch before he was out the door, leaving a note to Phichit. Two days in a row. He honestly hoped that the mayor wasn’t right about how his presence and activity encouraged daredevil criminals.
Yuuri headed straight for Ice Castle, transforming along the way. Luckily the rink was on the edge of town and did not see too much traffic outside of working hours, which were still a couple away.
How odd could it be? Odd enough to summon him rather than the police?
When he arrived at the scene, he understood, a commotion already underway.
“Put that camera down right now! How do I know the angle of those shots are gonna be worthy? At least have the decency of obtaining my approval before you upload those! I can’t have my image ruined like this so early on!”
Yuuri approached the side of the ice rink building, where the triplets and their father stood in observation. He shielded his eyes from the morning sky, resting the pad of his thumb atop his blue frames. “How long has he been up there?”
“Don’t know,” Takeshi replied, having bowed his head in welcome to Yuuri. The Nishgori’s were not aware of his identity as Yuuri regrettably did not trust the triplets to keep their mouths shut or their fingers from tapping away on social media. They had been at Eros’ service before, however, and the relationship was just as smooth as Yuuri’s own with the family. “However long it took for the kids to see him and start taking photos? Which was when we got here. Less than an hour?”
“Hmmm.” If Yuuri remained staring up for much longer, he was going to pinch a nerve in his neck. He could not even be sure if the view was a good one or not.
From the roof of Ice Castle, a man was hanging, a golden cape snagged on a broken section of drain pipe. His legs kicked occasionally, high-heels tipped and pointed accusingly at the triplets snapping away below. Yuuri could not be sure if that would make for good social media buzz or not, but if their father was not stopping them, he would not object.
Very shapely legs, Yuuri would give him that. Not many men had to structure or confidence to pull off pink thigh-high boots.
“Can you get him down, Eros? I don’t know what the customers are gonna think if he’s still here at opening time.”
Yuuri flashed his best public smile. “Just keep your girls safe and out of the way.” With a click of his heels, Yuuri leapt.
A single stride took him halfway up the side of the building, the short fabric of his skirt ruffling with the sweet-scented breeze he generated. The red insole of Yuuri’s boot planted firm on the edge of the roof. From down below, he heard the rapid continuous clicking of cell phone cameras. From down by his feet, he heard a, “Wow amazing!”
Frigidly blue eyes stared up at him from behind a golden mask. Yuuri felt himself groan. He did not want to deal with competition from another magical boy, the last one had been drama enough. That jawline though. Wow amazing indeed. How many good-looking, blue-eyed, silver-haired men had the city been hiding from him?
“Eros! You’ve come to save me!”
Masked-and-Gorgeous thrust his arms out in invitation to Yuuri. The broken drain pipe buckled under the sudden motion, dropping. Yuuri seized fistfuls of golden cape, preventing the culprit from dropping with it. A chorus of impressed “ooooh"s floated up to the roof, sounding over the crash of metal on concrete.
“Ahhh, help me! I haven’t figured out if I can fly yet!”
“Stop squirming then!” Yuuri yelled back to the panicking man, winding the fabric of the cape around his wrist to pull him up far enough in order to be able to grab onto his arms. Yuuri’s grip slipped. The man yelped as he dropped an inch before Yuuri managed to latch on again. “Get your feet against the wall and help me!”
“These shoes are Louboutin’s, I’ll die first!”
Yuuri chose not to point out that drop of not nearly two stories would not kill him. It might kill the shoes though. He did contemplate letting go in demonstration. Probably not while the triplets are recording. Bad publicity. He tried heaving again. “Can you– you need to– I need you to– what’s your name?”
“Oh!” The heart-shaped smile that got flashed at Yuuri was breathtaking. Not literally. If it had been, Yuuri might have dropped Masked-and-Gorgeous. “I am the masked villain Vicious! But you can call me Victor for short.” He winked, as if his ridiculously expensive shoes weren’t in danger of being ruined.
Suspicious, but Yuuri was otherwise preoccupied attempting to save if not a life then at least ankles. “That isn’t really shorter?”
“I just want to hear you say my name.”
“Ohmygod,” Yuuri muttered under his breath and made for one final heave.
There was a rip. A shout. Several actually. Then a massive weight knocking Yuuri over in a tangle of limbs and fabrics. For a moment he was not sure where he ended and Victor began. Perhaps with the knee pressed precariously high between his thighs.
Yuuri’s hands plunged down to cover his frilly undergarments while his head snapped up to glare at– a very well sculpted chest. Why did he have to be so massively gay? Because the laced corset that Victor wore had a heart-shaped breast window. Thank heavens he was so massively gay. “Oh…”
Before Yuuri could process a single thing past the delightfully dusty pink nipples that he was eye-to-eye with, he was tackled, arms looping around his neck.
“I can’t believe Eros rescued me!”
“What… You said you were-…. I don’t understand?” Though Yuuri could hardly be blamed for not being able to think straight with such a fine male specimen planted in his lap.
“Oh, let me explain!” Victor pulled back and smiled again. Yuuri’s heart went doki-doki. “Eros, I am here to challenge you! From this day forth, I shall be your arch nemesis!” With a flourish, Victor tipped up his golden mask and winked. “Surprise!”
Yuuri’s heart stopped. Because that wasn’t just a Victor.
That was his Victor. Of course it was his Victor. Good-looking, blue-eyed, silver-haired men did not grow on any trees that Yuuri knew of.
Well, not his. Not in any real sense of the word. His as in his neighbor, his crush, his… arch… nemesis?!?!?!
That processed. The outfit processed. The question marks from the distress message earlier processed. Yuuri was not aware of the proper protocol in this situation. Mainly because the image of arch nemesis was not one of dangling off a roof and hugs of gratitude. Plus Victor was a fan of Eros, why would he be– he was staring. Staring at Yuuri. At Eros. With the look of a lovesick puppy.
Yuuri backpedaled, literally, to put space between him and those blue eyes and that chest. He could not remember having seen it before, had he seen it before, did Victor have photos on Instagram of himself shirtless, Yuuri would have certainly recalled such a sight because it was a very good sight indeed, so that meant he hadn’t, this was the first time Yuuri was seeing his banging chest, because it was a banging chest, as in Yuuri could envision himself banging that ches– okay, okay, no, detour detour, not appropriate for the moment, he was working, there were children present, where were the previously present children to help him control himself?
“Ummm, you–... what?”
Victor got back onto his feet, long legs stepping out with a fierce click of his ridiculously overpriced shoes. Mask fitted back onto his handsome face, he flipped his bangs and struck Yuuri with a camera-ready smile. Thrusting out his chest, Victor formed double peace signs which he crossed in front of him in a winning pose. Yuuri tried not to pay attention to the fact that Victor’s nipnops were still winking hello from between the V’s of his fingers. But attention ended up paid anyway.
“I’m Vicious!” Victor declared, a practiced but nevertheless highly effective smirk aimed at Yuuri, pairing with a wink. “And I’ve come to dominate… your heart!”
Oh. Oh god. Oh that was cheesy as hell. Yuuri was gonna burst into laughter and destroy Vicious’ ego in one fell swoop, because that was bad, how the hell did he manage to look so good doing it?
The snark that Yuuri was about to fire back was cut off, interrupted by a shout coming from down on the ground. A displeased, high-pitched one that was echoed by two more young and identical voices.
“Oi! You caped freak, what did you do to the ice?!”
That was an interesting development. Yuuri pushed himself up, making sure that his skirt was covering himself in a semi-decent manner, and turned on Victor. “You did something to the ice?”
“I can’t be a villain without villainous deeds, Eros!”
He supposed that was true. However, that did not mean he had to let Victor get away with it. No matter how deliciously edible he looked.
Yuuri seized Victor by the cape. If it was well-made enough to save Victor from falling off a roof, it would be well-made enough to survive a minute of manhandling. Yuuri dragged Victor from the roof and into the building, down the stairs to the rink floor. Though it could not really be called dragging when Victor went along willingly.
Before they reached the rink, Yuuri could already see something was off about the ice. It was blue. Bright blue. The surface was perfectly smooth, with a clear sheen, but as they approached, Yuuri could see shapes taking form beneath the surface. Shapes in the forms of... roses. Gorgeous, in full bloom white roses, all embedded under the strange ice that looked less like ice and more like someone had filled the rink with Windex solution.
“Vicious, what did you do to the ice?”
Victor beamed, hands on his hips. “Ice is hard on your hips when you fall on it! As such, I have made an improvement!”
At the far end of the rink, a rather distressed looking Yuuko waded, ankles deep, through the rink to the wall. She pulled herself out, junks of blue falling off her feet. The zamboni she appeared to have been driving, however, wasn’t as lucky. It had fallen in front-first, blue mush and white roses piled around it.
Curious, Yuuri opened a door in the rink wall and reached down to touch the blue. His fingers met only a bit of resistance, sinking into the cool which slurped around them. “...Blue jello?”
“Blue raspberry jello,” Vicious corrected, proud as could be.
“Because!” There was that smile again, which somehow already had Yuuri suspecting that this was not the last that he would be seeing of it. Victor continued on in what could only be the makings of a signature line, “I’m Vicious!”
And with that said, Victor made a break for it.
“I’ve never seen anyone who runs in heels as well as I do,” Yuuri muttered, slumped over breakfast bar which separated the kitchen from the living room. The smell of brewing coffee filled the air. He felt conflicted in response to it. The encounter with “Vicious” had not taken too much of his energy, but it seemed he had not completely recovered from the previous day. He could probably fight the need to sleep, but his body and brain was begging for the comfort of a fuzzy blanket and a pillow too many. “...Or looks as good.”
Phichit laughed and grabbed mugs from the cupboard, filling one halfway to the top. He added in an equal amount of milk and splashed in a few ice cubes before taking a big gulp. “Want some?”
“Uhhhh… I don’t know,” Yuuri replied, pausing for a yawn. If he went to bed, he’d sleep through what was left of the morning and through most of the afternoon. If he fought it, he might be able to get past the worst of it. He was sure he had some sort of exam to study for, but his mind didn’t have the power to provide him with the answer of what at present. “Anyway, when I got outside, he was gone.”
“Huh.” Phichit leaned back against the counter, mug resting between his hands. Yuuri had described to the bizarre encounter to Phichit. He barely needed to mention of Victor's name before Phichit had snapped his fingers, nodding his head with an assertion of that butt should be unmistakable. “Flew off?”
“He said he didn’t know if he could when I pulled him off the roof.”
“That means he’s got some sort of powers?”
Yuuri was not sure. Nothing about his interaction with Vicious had suggested that he possessed any sort of powers. Other than the ability to look stunning in a cape and mask. “Power to produce copious amounts of jello?”
“Yeah, don’t really wanna know how that goes.”
Yuuri did not either. Vicious had vanished, leaving nothing behind other than a littering of more roses. Impressive actually, and Yuuri would have been inclined to offer more admiration if he did not spend the following hour trying to dig a zamboni out of jello. It would have been a faster process if they were not also trying to keep the triplets from dipping spoons into the blue.
Takeshi had waved him off after, insisting they could handle the mess on their own. Yuuri had left, glimpsing the news wagon arriving and Sara stepping out. He avoided them, not one for more exposure than necessary. Takeshi and Yuuko could handle that. They had already been making light of the situation, saying that any press would be good press.
“You know, you did say you thought the magical boy life would be more interesting with a nemesis,” Phichit said, taking another sip. The ice cubes clinked against his teeth.
“I didn’t mean it, I was just trying to make a joke,” Yuuri groaned. He had made the remark off-the-cuff a month prior at a promotional appearance arranged by the police. The department had officially extended their approval of Eros’ activities in helping the city, while also warning off others who might be encouraged to engage in “vigilantism.” Eros wasn’t a vigilante, he worked to aid the officials when they requested him, or to serve the requests of citizens that did not wish to bother the city. Sara had surprised him with a question of whether he felt like anything was missing, and Eros had deflected it with humor. Perhaps someone had taken his response too seriously.
Shrugging, Phichit finished off his drink and deposited the mug into the sink for washing later. He then topped off a tumbler with the rest of the coffee. “Could you have asked for a better one though? He is hot. And jello isn’t exactly an art heist.”
True. If the max level of villainy Vicious would get up to was a well-crafted senior prank, Yuuri would not spend a lot of effort objecting. Though he could foresee some complications with having his cute next door neighbor doubling as his magical rival. Would certainly make encounters in the lobby awkward if they had met right after Eros had spoiled one of Vicious’ plots. Yuuri would be collecting mail, see Victor and have to deal with the fact that his mind would replace the tshirt and sneakers he wore with the image of Louboutin’s and a heart-shaped chest window. Had he mentioned to Phichit that Victor/Vicious had a very nice chest? And a butt that was very well accentuated by the heels?
The idea of an arch nemesis was beyond ridiculous, and the idea of an arch nemesis who had a major crush on the hero more so. Double that since Yuuri had his own crush to cope with. Yuuri could not be held responsible if he allowed a flutter of silver lashes and a heart-shaped smile to distract him and permit Vicious another escape. He had not asked for that fine specimen to come click-clacking into life, Yuuri had barely been dealing with life as it was.
Not like he could use Eros/Vicious encounters, provided that more did happen, to gain some personal insight into Victor and in turn use that knowledge to seduce his neighbor. That sounded practically villainous in itself. Would it be though? Would it be bad if it was what Victor was probably aiming for anyway? Was there a Louboutin’s shop in Ariaville? Yuuri could casually suggest a visit, claim he was doing Phichit a favor for one of his design classes. Vicious had looked so good in those boots, surely Victor would be just as stunning in a classic pair of black stilettos…
“Yuuri… Yuuri…” Phichit’s voice called to him from somewhere far away. “Yuuri, your hair is in your cereal bowl.”
Head bobbing up, Yuuri cranked open his eyes, realizing he had been drifting off into a dreamy wonderland. He shifted a half-centimeter to the right and dropped his head back down, yawning at the same moment that a knock sounded on their door. They very rarely received knocks on the door, unless it was from the super, but the rhythm wasn’t nearly angry enough.
“Phichimmmmm,” Yuuri’s request faded into nothingness. Phichit understood, patting his head before going for the door.
Yuuri registered a voice, deep and pleasant, very soothing. The kind of voice he would very much like to lull him to sleep, with the added benefit of fingers scratching at his scalp. Yuuri wanted to snuggle into that Russian accent and nest in it, allow it to carry him off to the land of clouds and sweet dreams.
When Post-Eros exhaustion hit, it hit hard.
“Oh, a sleeping beauty.”
Cracking his eyes open presented Yuuri with the beautiful vision of a blurry Victor. Dressed normally, no nipnops in sight. Yuuri groped around for his glasses and did his best to sit up, despite his limbs feeling like they’d gained double their mass. “You’re back from—” A jumping Phichit making a giant X with his arms behind Victor prompted Yuuri to cut that sentence short.
Right. While Yuuri knew that Victor was his new arch nemesis, unless Victor possessed strong magic of his own, Yuuri’s glasses would keep his identity cloaked. Meaning that Eros and Yuuri, no matter how similar they looked in reality, would remain as two separate identities in Victor’s point of view. As in everyone else’s. Yuuri had had a grand time figuring that out. It had taken a couple desperate hours to get Phichit to finally be able to see him as Yuuri the first morning he’d shown up transformed. To everyone else, Eros was Eros and Yuuri was Yuuri. And unless Yuuri had resolved for them to be able to see the truth, it would remain so no matter how obvious the connection seemed.
“—you’re, umm… you’re…” Yuuri had no way of saving that sentence. “...Hi.”
“Good morning,” Victor answered, smile barely curling the corners of his mouth, and ohhh, Yuuri was so weak for that.
“Victor,” Phichit put a sing-song emphasis on the name, glaring at Yuuri, “has brought back our cookie plates. Isn’t he nice?”
“Makkachin’s already whining for more, but don’t let her pressure you,” Victor said, setting the washed plates on the kitchen counter. “I do want to ask for that recipe though.”
“Sure, I can text it to you,” Phichit said, picking his backpack off the floor. “Or Yuuri could, when he’s awake.”
“Sure you are,” Phichit quipped. “Anyway, I gotta get to class for once. Victor, our dear new neighbor, can I trust you with the sleeping beauty?”
“I promise to be a prince charming.”
“Betcha do. Either get coffee in him or put him to bed, cause the last time he was like this he tried to make katsudon and almost set the house on fire.”
“Just a little fire… an itty bitty fire,” Yuuri murmured in his own defense. “...I put it out.”
“Yeah, by sitting on it.”
Good thing Yuuri was too sleepy to feel embarrassed by that revelation. It was totally okay, he didn’t have any burn marks on his ass. He’d been in Eros form when it happened and seeing as his clothing was flameproof, he had thought it was the most logical action to take.
“I’ll make sure there isn’t any ill-advised cooking,” Victor promised.
With a pat on Yuuri’s back and a wink, Phichit was out the door, leaving a very tired Yuuri with a very energetic Victor. Yuuri pushed himself up by the elbows, stifling a yawn into his sleeve. His opportunity was in front of him and he did not want to waste it by dozing off and drooling all over the bar.
“Early morning.” Yuuri slid off the stool and landed heavy, shuffling around Victor to go make another batch of coffee. Caffeine could help him fight off the need for sleep for a bit, plus he could be a good host and offer a cup to Victor. Maybe he could get a good line in there. I like my coffee like I like my men. Hot and strong and named Victor Nikiforov. Did that work? No, the cup of sugar one had definitely been better. “How about you?”
“Good! Walked Makka, and then tried out a new venture.” Victor took Yuuri’s spot on the stool, watching him switch coffee filters. “It was quite successful, in my opinion, even with a few hiccups.”
Good thing to know that Victor had a positive outlook on being hung off the side of a building by a cape. “More scarves?”
“No, more like a new side project. It’s still a secret though, so shhhh.” Victor winked at him and Yuuri spilled ground coffee all over the counter. He hastened to wipe it clean with a wet paper towel.
So Victor had counted the morning’s outing as a success. Meanwhile, Yuuri still had a tinge of blue coloring staining his fingertips, which he suspected may take a few days to get out. He wasn’t about to rub them raw and no amount of soap nor licking had done the trick. Unless Victor wanted to lick them. Be a good way to repay him for waking him up early and putting him through the ordeal. What color did blue food coloring make when combined with a hot wet pink tongue? Purple, it’d be purple. Yuuri would absolutely let Victor make him purple…
“Yuuri? Earth to Yuuri?”
The way Victor stretched out the “u”s in his name and put a slight roll on the “r” was addicting.
“I think you have enough water.” Victor offered another smile. It was not a full one. Minimal but pleasant, almost sympathetic when combined with the arch of his brows. That face belonged on a Greek sculpture, on a display in a museum. His proportions would have given DaVinci envy. Yuuri wanted to frame him. “Yuuri!”
Water spilled down Yuuri’s hands, the coffee pot which he had been filling in the sink overflowing. Yuuri snapped the faucet closed, laughing as he wiped his hands on a towel. He cleaned the side of the pot before pouring the correct amount of water into the coffee maker. “Sorry.”
Victor chuckled, eyes following Yuuri as he flicked on the switch on the machine. “Should I carry you off to bed, princess?”
Princess? Oh, the sleeping beauty and prince charming comments. Were those two even from the same story? No, it was Prince Eric, wasn’t it? Or was he the mermaid’s? Phichit had made a joke before about losing track of which white boy prince was which. Yuuri wouldn’t mind a white boy prince of his own though. Prince Victor. That fit. Yuuri could learn to bake cookies for a Prince Victor. Look, Prince Victor was approaching, perhaps Yuuri should curtsy.
“You’re sleeping on your feet.” Victor laid his hand on Yuuri’s shoulders, gently guiding him out of the kitchen.
Yuuri leaned into the contact. “I don’t wanna. I slept most of the night, I just… had a thing.” He could doze on the sofa if Victor agreed to be his pillow. No, no, he was supposed to use this time. Get to know Victor. What was it they had proposed last time? Makkachin, it had something to do with Makkachin. “We could… dog park. You wanted to see the dog park. If I’m up and doing something, I’ll be fine, I can take you there.”
Victor paused. ”Actually, I took Makkachin there this morning.”
Yuuri’s shoulders sank, plan flying out the window. “Oh… okay.”
“I’m sorry, I wanted you to show me but she kept on pulling her leash until we ended up there. I swear she’s got a GPS of her own.” Victor did appear apologetic. That was nice. Sincere. Yuuri could accept. “But, I do need to go pick up some things at the pet store. If you’re determined to stay awake, you could come with us?”
“Yes!” Too much enthusiasm, scale it back. Yuuri blushed as Victor laughed. God, what a laugh. Yuuri could consume it for breakfast, it’d be far more sustaining than Cheerios. “I mean, yeah. Yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Let’s go then? Unless you want to change or…?”
Or. Yuuri wanted to or. However, it was neither the time nor the place for the or option, and Yuuri was not of stable mind enough to engage in any consensual oring. “I’m good, let’s go before I fall asleep again.”
Coffee machine switched off and keys in pocket, Yuuri went with Victor. He waited in the hall to be greeted by an ever happy Makkachin, her paws on his chest and sloppy kisses to his cheek making for the best wake-up call yet.
That was until they got to the apartment parking lot.
The parking lot was around the side of the building and as Yuuri did not have a car, he tended not to go by it and neither did he pay much attention to it. He should have. Because Victor made his way to a 1950-something hot pink convertible Cadillac. With fuzzy seat covers in the back. Luckily, no similarly-fabriced dice hung from the rearview mirror. Unluckily, an acrylic Eros silhouette did.
“This is your car?” Yuuri felt like he would have remembered that particular Instagram post.
“Isn’t she gorgeous?” Victor beamed, unlocking the driver side door manually. “Makkachin picked her out.”
Yuuri gazed down at Makkachin, who was sitting pretty by his feet, tongue lolled out and tail wagging. Put a pair of doggy sunglasses on her and an ascot, the image would fit perfectly. Victor did spoil her after all.
Door open, Victor folded down the front seat and tapped the side, calling to Makkachin. She jumped in, turning around and settling in the back seats. Then, like a proper gentleman, Victor walked around and held the passenger door open for Yuuri. Yuuri swooned like Ronnie the ball python had swooned. That or he was falling asleep again. He climbed in.
Yuuri half-expected to hear some Presley on the radio when the engine roared to life, but Victor kept it off. The drive to the local pet store wasn’t a long one, however Yuuri found his face being touched, stirring him from a doze upon arrival. An angel smiled down at him, the sun shining a halo from behind. “I’m going to assume you slept through all my questions and not that you were ignoring me.”
Yuuri bolted upright, rubbing his face. “Ughhh, I’m sorry, I’m a mess.” It was a good thing he didn’t have the energy to produce anxiety, embarrassment being as much as he could muster. Otherwise, he would have been reduced to a whimpering ball at the foot of Victor’s ostentatious car.
This was fine, this was totally fine, he still had a good chance at making a good impression. Yuuri already knew Victor’s two main weaknesses: Makkachin and Eros. Makkachin liked Yuuri, and Yuuri was Eros. He should have this in the bag. Additionally, Victor kept an arm around Yuuri’s shoulder as they walked into the store together, Makkachin prancing in ahead. Most likely, it was out of worry that Yuuri would snooze in the middle of an aisle. He liked to think otherwise.
“What do you need?” Yuuri asked after being a cart to hang onto. Victor regarded him with amusement when Yuuri used the handlebar for a makeshift pillow.
“A couple toys and some treats. I have a couple new outfits for Makka to try and she’s gotta have her rewards for being a good girl for me, isn’t that right, sweetheart?” Victor leaned down, ruffling her ears and depositing a kiss on her nose. Yuuri wanted to “awwww.”
Victor navigated the store with the precision of someone who had been there before, while Yuuri and Makkachin followed him like twin-tails. Every now and then, Yuuri realized that Victor had asked him a question that he had completely missed, but he did not mind since each time Victor chuckled. Yuuri was glad his state was amusing.
“What do you think, Yuuri, blueberry or banana cookies?” Victor held up two bags of crunchy dog biscuits, one colored yellow and the other blue.
Yuuri nodded. “Yes.”
Smiling in response, Victor tossed both into the cart. And proceeded to add an extra bag of each. Magical powers at be, have mercy, he was perfect, how was he so perfect? If Yuuri could figure it out, he’d like to steal a quarter of that natural charm for himself. So what if he filled a public ice rink with jello, that wasn’t a crime, was it? It wasn’t actually destruction of property, nothing got destroyed and the zamboni was still running after they’d washed out the jello. Yuuri was hopeless.
Victor moved onto the toy aisle. Yuuri and Makkachin came with. As Victor peered over some rubber chew toys, Makkachin nudged the bridge of her nose against Yuuri’s ankle, sniffing at his socks. “What?”
Tagging her tail, Makkachin walked away, heading for the boxes of toys along the bottom of the shelves. Yuuri went after her, giving her leash slack and letting her explore. She sniffed around, digging her nose into a mound of stuffed dinosaurs before moving onto a tangle of squeaky snakes. “Oh no, don’t eat the snake,” Yuuri cooed, encouraging her onto the next bin which contained multicolored octopi.
Makkachin selected one out with her teeth, biting down on the head. Squeak.
Yuuri smiled and picked up one for himself, squeezing down on one of its tentacles. Squeak, squeak.
Not to be outdone, or else enjoying the tormented squeals of the purple octopus, Makkachin launched a toothy terrade. Yuuri matched her squeak for squeak, laughing as she shook her head, trying to get the edge.
Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.
Yuuri and Makkachin whipped around to see Victor standing behind them, grinning ear to ear, a fuzzy duck in his hands. He squeezed the middle. Honk, honk!
Makkachin dropped the octopus but didn’t make a move for the duck. Yuuri crossed his arms over his chest. “Excuse you, we were having a bonding experience.”
“Pardon my manners, I was jealous that Makkachin was hogging all your attention.” Victor hung the duck back on its designated hook. “You’re not magic, are you? How’d you get her to fall for you so quick?”
“Ummm, animal magnetism?” Yuuri tried, shrugging his shoulders.
Laughing, Victor picked up the octopus Makkachin had played with, carefully avoiding a soggy tentacle. He placed into the cart, next to the bags of treats. “So that’s what I’m missing.”
Was that flirting, that sounded like flirting. Yuuri wanted it to be flirting. He needed to flirt back. Quick, the coffee line. No, that was completely out of context now. He needed something about… octopussy. Or tentacles. No, no, abort, Houston we do not have lift-off. “Did you need anything else?”
“Other than a tail that’ll wag for you as cutely as Makka’s does?”
Definitely flirting. How come Victor could pull lines like that and not make them tacky? Confidence really was key.
“No, I’m fine. Let’s check out?”
Only if you check me out too. There, that one, use it Yuuri! “Yeah, okay.” Forget lift-off, Yuuri was jamming down the self-destruct button. He buried his face in his hands, slapping his cheeks a few times to try to snap himself out of it.
They made their way to the registers, Victor greeting the cashier. Yuuri sidestepped his way over to the end, where the container of free dog biscuits was housed. Getting the okay from the cashier, Yuuri fished out several and crouched down to feed them to Makkachin. She accepted them with the same manners as she had accepted the sweet potato cookie the previous day.
“You can balance them on her nose,” Victor said. “Tell her to wait and she will.”
“Okay. Makkachin, wait.” Yuuri held out the treat, positioning it on the end of Makka’s nose. Her eyes crossed, watching it, but she waited. Her mouth panted open, saliva building on her gums. “Go, get it!”
Makkachin jerked her head, flipping the treat up, and snatched it out of the air. Victor beamed with pride, while Yuuri and the cashier clapped.
“I can usually get her to three or four before they topple over and she goes for them anyway,” Victor said, sliding a credit card through the register machine. Octopus and treats bagged, he signed the screen and accepted the receipt, thanking the cashier.
Yuuri did the same, tugging Makkachin’s leash to pull her away from her search for more biscuits around the base of the register. She diverted to the left instead, going for the glass cages of the adoption center.
No pups, but a few cats gazed out, photos and info cards taped to their windows. Yuuri watched as one of the cats scrunched in the corner of her cage, resisting the hands of the worker who was reaching in for her. The food and water bowl had been cleared out already, the reluctantly captured kitty being transferred into a carrier.
Victor joined them, Makkachin pawing at an empty lower window. “Did she find a home?” Victor called out, and got a shake of the head from the employee.
“No. She’s been here a few months, we’re moving her to a different location to see if she has a better shot somewhere else. Our adoptions have been pretty slow here. You guys aren’t looking to adopt, are you?”
“If you change your mind, feel free to stop by and play with them anytime!”
Yuuri pouted as they turned away, heading for the doors. “Poor thing. I wish I could help her find a good home.”
Victor glanced back over his shoulder as they walked out, tapping a finger against his lips in contemplation. “Yeah… Me too.”
Chapter 7: You Gotta Be Kitten Me! Stop Right Meow, In the Name of the Paw!
"Breaking news this morning, as the work day is getting started shelters and pet stores all over the city are reporting something strange… all their cats have gone missing.”
The news feed switched to the inside of a shelter, Sara standing between two walls of metal cages, all of which were open and stripped bare. She did not smile at the camera, expression grim. “We’re here at Anastasis Pet Rescue, where the owners came in this morning to discover that all of their adoptable cats weren’t in their cages. In fact, they weren’t anywhere. Mr. Nekola, could you tell us about what happened?”
The tagline introducing the young but scruffy man standing next to Sara read, Emil Nekola, Founder of Anastasis Pet Rescue. “Uhhh, dunno, still trying to figure that out myself,” Emil said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Came in this morning and all the lil dudes were gone. Thought we had a prison break.” He laughed. “We got security cams but they were all blacked out. Whoever did this took all their files and paperwork too. If folks wanna help out, we got all their photos on our website and they’re all microchipped, so if anyone finds them, bring them in. All we’re trying to do here is get them to good homes, ya know?”
“Thank you, Mr. Nekola.” Sara turned back to the camera, walking slowly forward. The footage showed more empty cages until she arrived at the doors, the camera panning over to a table. “On this table here, like was reported at all the other locations, a calling card had been left… A single, long-stemmed blue rose. Is this the work of the same mysterious figure who a few days ago left the local skating rink swimming into blue jello? Police are still investigating, but it’s got all of us here asking the same question… What exactly is going on?”
Eight Hours Earlier
Chris had come out of the police academy at the top of his class, thought that wasn’t for lack of trying. As good as he looked in uniform, it was not long before he was promoted to detective, a combination of luck, timing, and admittedly, a great amount of work. Chris was damn good at his job, of course he was, and Ariaville was a city like any other. Bit of crime, bit of drama. Before Chris had come onto the force, there was talk of bad politics in city hall. That seemed to have quieted when JJ had come on as mayor, and Chris considered him more melodramatic than crooked.
Life had picked up once Eros had made an appearance and while some in the department rolled their eyes at the magical boy, Chris was partial to the short skirt.
Eros didn’t make much trouble, he was cute, and he had helped the department on more than one occasion. He kept his work neat and didn’t get mixed up in situations that the police would have preferred him to stay away from. Chris liked him enough to have stopped as a casual observer at an Eros event in the city a while back. That had been where he had met Victor, the two of them bonding through the act of escorting out a fan who had gotten a little too excited and too rambunctious. They had shared a drink at a bar afterwards and the rest was history.
That was was, ultimately, had gotten him into his current predicament.
“Don’t move, chéri, this angle is absolute perfection.” Chris held up his phone, snapping a photo.
“Delete that shit, that could be evidence!” Yurio shouted, but quietly, as he had frozen due to the cat that had wriggled out of his arms and scaled his back, now precariously balanced on the top of his head. Claws dug into his scalp but he persevered. Mainly because any attempt to get the cat down would be made difficult by the two other cats he already had in each arm.
“Who’s gonna arrest you?” Chris waved a hand, eyes rolling. “Me?”
“Just hurry up! The sooner we’re out of here, the sooner we can get the cats settled!”
“You’re a feisty pussycat yourself,” Chris drawled, plucking the fluffy white cat off Yurio’s head. He cradled her close, scratching under her chin to calm her when she squirmed. “Oui, mon ange, we are getting you out of here. Come with me, darling, we shall escape into the night together.”
“You can’t take only one!” Yurio huffed as Chris turned his back, heading for the exit doors. “This is not efficient, even Victor had a better plan!”
“You mean, Vicious.”
“You are the one concerned with evidence.”
There was a toy mouse on the floor. Yurio kicked it at Chris at hard as he could. It bounced off the back of his knee uselessly. Chris gazed over his shoulder and blinked his long lashes. “Fine, but know you have lost the privilege of being called chéri.”
When they exited the shelter, loaded up with as many cats as they could possibly carry, they came face-to-face with the man himself.
Vicious stood, high-heeled boots shoulder length apart and his hands on his hips in a pose, with his golden cape billowing in the wind. As soon as he saw them, he made to take an assertive step forward. But instead, his gaze went to the cat stretched across Yurio’s hunched shoulders and then the one barely dangling and barely hanging on from Chris’ arms. “What are you doing?!” he rushed forward, catching the kitty right before it plopped out of Chris’ hold.
“We are rescuing the cats, as requested,” Chris replied with a casual shrug. “We grabbed as many pussies as we could.”
Victor stepped to the left, revealing behind him a very large rental truck which was entirely lined with pet carriers. “I was expecting to use these?”
“Oh.” Chris glanced between the truck, his arms, and Yurio. “Yes, that is much better.”
The act of getting the cats into the carriers was more challenging than it had been getting them out. A yowling tabby braced his legs against the sides, hissing loud enough to potentially wake the city. Yurio ended up with a cat on his head, for the second time, although this time he wasn’t a willing participant.
One of the cats streaked out of the carrier in the split second before the door latched, bounding down the parking lot. Victor chased after her, high-kicking it with his designer boots. He got her back, but it came at the price of a hair out of place. Another two trips inside the shelter and they had gotten the rest of the kitties, caged and secured in the back of the truck. That should have been the worst of it, Chris thought.
Chris had also never been in the back of a truck that had twenty cats, all confused and complaining, meowing over each other. One could even call it a catastrophe. Yurio’s face had taken on the look of someone traumatized, eyes dull, line of his mouth flat. The howls of the cats echoed around them.
“How many more places do we have?” Yurio asked, staring blankly ahead. On his forearms were claw marks. Chris had them too. Luckily the weather wasn’t too hot, he would have to wear long sleeves for a while.
“All of them.”
Come help me seduce Eros! Victor had said, having shown up at Chris’ door far too late in the evening to have been there without prior warning. We shall right an injustice in this world!
Who was Chris to deny his friend a chance at some magical upskirt action? Chris was a firm supporter of bold actions, as long as they did not go too far. Although, he knew his own personal limits may not match with the general public’s. The idea of going villain to woo a hero, well, it was so wild and outrageous that it just might work. Plus, Chris wanted to be there to ensure Victor did not go true supervillain and pull on a deathray on the city if Eros happened to turn him down. Unlikely, yes, because Victor was stupid charming and stupid handsome and that stupid heart-shaped chest window would be enough to turn the head of anyone who was half-gay. And Eros was whole gay. Chris assumed anyway, could be wrong. Though he’d yet to be wrong before.
Then Victor had gone and mentioned cats, and Chris had kicked off his fuzzy slippers and put away the bottle of Thursday night wine, out the door in the time it had taken him to reapply some mascara. Had to look fabulous, even at night. A fabulous cat burglar.
“Who does he think he is, Santa Clause, how are we getting to every single place in one night?!” Yurio asked, standing up. The truck vibrated, pulsed, and Yurio was knocked onto his butt. He winced, leaning his head against a carrier.
A cat screamed into his ear, through the crate door. Yurio snapped away in the same moment that the back doors of the trunk were thrown open. Victor stood outside, in his pose again. Flower petals littered his feet. “Gentlemen! Bring the carriers this time!”
Chris and Yurio stared at him, glanced at each other, and then back at Victor. Yurio went first, popping his head out the trunk doors.
“What the fuck?!”
The truck had not started or driven anywhere, yet they were on the other side of town, in front of another shelter. Victor, laughing in accomplishment, was already skipping for the doors, heels clacking across the pavement.
Yurio snapped to Chris, knuckles white as he gripped the side of the truck. “Did you know he could-- that?!”
Chris shook his head and chuckled. Of all the things to use such a power for. “Guess you have your answer. Grab the carriers, won’t you, mon chou?”
Scowl back, Yurio went to grab the carriers.
Two Days Later
“A happy development in the case of the missing cats, several of the kitties have been located. In a surprising turn of events, it seems that each of them had been transported to high-demand shelters situated all over the country. What’s more, we’ve gotten reports that several of the traveling kitties have already found their forever homes. Their original shelters have agreed to let them stay, as the new owners were all unaware of the situation. In addition, sources say the locations that had been victims of the mass catnapping have contacted police to report they’ve received anonymous cash donations equivalent to the adoption fees of all their missing cats. Which leaves us questioning, does Ariaville have a vigilante on its hands… or a new hero?”
Pressing the mute button on his television remote, Yuuri introduced his face to his palm.
“What are you going to do about him?”
That was a very good question, the answer to which Yuuri did not have. His “arch nemesis” posed an interesting problem that Yuuri was not sure how to address. Or if he needed to address it. The catnapping, malicious as it had seemed at first, turned out to have done a lot of good, opening up space in shelters and getting the cats who needed homes into them.
Yuuko and Takeshi had benefited from the jello incident, the media attention having brought them some new business. The triplets and their mom had come up with the idea of serving miniature blue jello parfaits with sugar roses at the food counter, which had in turn caused a bit of a fad on Instagram and brought them even more customers. Phichit had already dragged Yuuri there to get photos for his own account.
The photos of Vicious that the girls had snapped had made a bit of a splash themselves, especially after it was made public that one of the pet stores had gotten security footage of the same fabulous individual. All in all, it was a five second clip, featuring a masked Vicious nuzzling a kitten and proceeding to sneeze immediately, rose petals poofing off him as he did so. One landed on the kitten’s head, who then batted at it with her tiny paws. Anyone who criticized the deeds of the mysterious masked man was flooded out by the wave of comments finding the scene unbearably cute.
Yuuri admitted he had watched the clip a shameful hundred times or so, because he too found it unbearably cute. So far, Vicious’s name and purpose was not known to the public, which caused all the more frenzy. Multiply that by a factor of ten when it was discovered that Eros had already had an encounter with the individual.
Phichit had gleefully shown Yuuri some fanart that Twitter had produced, of Eros and Vicious entangled in a very questionable position. He didn’t need to see that. Mainly because he had already imagined such a position and did not need the encouragement.
“What am I supposed to do, I can’t confront him, he’ll want to know how it is that I know it’s him!” Yuuri did not know if he wanted to confront Victor, primarily because making an enemy of his hot new neighbor was not anywhere on his bucket list.
“You’re saying that like it isn’t obvious already,” Phichit rolled his eyes. The silver hair, strikingly blue eyes and fit build did peg Vicious as suspiciously similar to Victor. Which may not have been a problem, if Victor wasn’t already internet famous. All he needed to do was pull Makkachin into his next escapade and there wouldn’t be a doubt in the world.
“Nothing he’s done yet is actually bad though?” Technically criminal, yes. Vandalism, breaking and entering, theft of private property. However since ice rink, the shelters, and the pet shops all had yet to press any charges and had in actually benefited from the misdeeds… well, Yuuri did not see the point of trying to stop him. To tell the truth, he was actually quite curious to see what Vicious might get up to next. “He’s been doing more good than harm, in a roundabout weird kind of way.”
Eros’ policy tended to be to not get involved unless asked. Vicious, on the other hand, was clearly more of a go-getter. Maybe Vicious would go around installing stop signs on blind intersections, angering motorists in his tyrannous pursuit of safe crosswalks. Yuuri wouldn’t object, there was a side street down the block from their apartment building where cars tended to go flying due to a lack of posted speed limits.
“You’re only thinking that cause you’re flattered that he took such grandois actions based on something you said,” Phichit said, so obviously in love with the whole scenario. He had been delighted to discover that Yuuri had fought magical exhaustion in order to go dog toy shopping with Victor, more so when Yuuri confessed the reason for the catnapping might have had something to do with his sleepy remark at the pet shop. He tried not to hope too much. A little, a hope smidgen. Because Victor doing something for Eros was a given. Vicious doing something for Yuuri? Endearing.
Yuuri was so screwed either way, there wasn’t a doubt about it.
“He helped animals in need find good homes, how can anyone criticize that?”
“Can’t and won’t,” Phichit replied. “But make sure this crush doesn’t get you into trouble.”
Yuuri couldn’t see how a crush would possibly lead to trouble other than his own nerves around Victor getting the best of him. He had run into Victor the day before, Yuuri going down the stairs while Victor came up. Knowing that Victor wasn’t the type to take an elevator for one floor on a regular day had somehow ended with fanciful images in Yuuri’s head, of late night accompaniments and shy kisses under the dim yellow lights of the stairwell. He had promptly shaken them from him, managing a hello that had come off shockingly steady as they passed each other. Yuuri would not mention the fact that he had tripped when Victor flashed a smile and waved. “Sure, okay.”
Phichit and Yuuri split when they arrived at the apartment lobby together. The better part of the morning had been spent groaning through midterms exams, cramming in the ten minute breaks between his three classes which Yuuri could not figure out why he had thought scheduling them back to back on the same day had been a good idea.
Efficient, organized, no need to spread things out, he would be saving time by having a block of major units. Dumbest decision Yuuri had ever made. Two of the classes were manageable but the third had Yuuri wishing that Eros could go supervillain.
While Phichit headed upstairs, Yuuri stopped by the mail boxes. As far as he saw it, he had two choices. Avoid Victor and stop himself from getting involved, lest he get pulled into any shenanigans. Or, try to get closer and divulge Victor’s motivations. Staying did have the perks of dog time and being able to swoon over Victor’s perfect face in person. He needed to be logical about this, go over his own protocols.
Eros stepped in to help when requested. The Nishigori’s had requested help and he had serviced them, the ending result being a positive one. Eros did not get involved in matters that did not pertain to him, as much as possible. Vicious did pertain to him, but the extent of the matter had yet to be determined. Eros kept the city safe and the city appeared to be in no present danger as a result of Vicious. No one had yet asked him to address the matter that was Vicious and one encounter was nothing to base all his impressions on, as over the top as it had been. No one had been harmed, nothing had been lost, so as far as Eros should be confirmed, there was no actions for him to take as of yet.
Yuuri, on the other hand, should continue to be a good neighbor to the very attractive man next door. Because reasons. One of which was that he was determined to get out a minimum of one flirty line before the end of the year. Count it as a resolution. He could do it, how hard was it? Whatever ridiculous line popped to mind, he just had to say it with confidence.
Mailbox unlocked, Yuuri sorted through the contents. A couple monthly bills, flyers for local delivery services, the usual. There was a brown bubble mailer at the bottom. Yuuri broke out in a smile. His name and address was printed neatly, the corners of the label stamped with miniature Makkachin-branded stickers. Perhaps he was asking for trouble, but he had been unable to resist.
Yuuri opened the envelope, pulling out the neatly packaged phone case. It was of a simplistic design, a light blue with white lines that formed the fluffy face of a certain poodle. Slotting his phone into it, Yuuri grinned.
“Oh, you got it, great!”
Yuuri jumped out of his skin. He spun around, brought face to face with the very face he had been thinking about. Victor’s face. And what a face it was. “You scared me!” He clutched the phone to his chest, heart racing. For once, not because of how flustered he was by Victor, while still being caused by Victor. What was his life anymore?
“Sorry, didn’t mean to,” Victor smiled, walking up. He had a large bag under his arm and Makkachin with him. Her ears perked and tail wagged at the sight of Yuuri, who instantly reached out a hand for her to lap in greeting. “I was gonna drop it off at your door but you weren’t home when I knocked. There’s something else in there for you, since shipping ended up being unnecessary. You know, you could have asked me instead of ordering it.”
“I… I didn’t realize you shipped out your own merch,” Yuuri replied, looking into the mailer to see what else Victor had slipped inside. There was a printed card with Victor’s logo and a coupon code on the back, plus a folded dog scarf. One of the new Eros prototypes. He smiled as he took it out. “Are you trying to tell me something?” Yuuri was operating under the assumption that Victor did not know his identity as Eros, but it was possible that he was mistaken. He did doubt that such a big fan would be capable of acting so restrained, however.
“It’s a limited release, Yuuri, people will be ridiculously jealous that you have one so early on!”
“But I don’t have a dog,” Yuuri reminded, squatting down. He removed the scarf from the plastic and folded it into a triangle, tying it into a neat bow around Makkachin’s neck. “There, much more appropriate.”
“Yuuuuuuri,” Victor whined, stretching out the letters in his name until the syllables vibrated through Yuuri’s veins in the most pleasant way. “It’s supposed to be for you!”
“You want me to wear a dog scarf?”
“Well, if we’re negotiating kinks already, I would actually have something else in mind.”
Yuuri’s eyes ballooned and he let out a laugh, blush bursting onto his cheeks with the strength of the sun. If they were negotiating kinks, Yuuri had a request which had to do with that heart-shaped breast window, a boat, and a motor. “I can’t believe you said that.”
Victor’s smile slipped. “Oh no, I’m so sorry, that was wildly inappropriate--”
“Not in front of the children, at least.” Yuuri covered Makkachin’s ears with his hands. “Shhh, your dad was talking about the kinks in his mouth filter, which he might need to get replaced.”
Forget heart-shaped breast windows, the heart-shaped smile on Victor’s lips was far more of a stunner.
“So, what’s all that?” Yuuri stood, gesturing to the bag under Victor’s arm. Nice and cool, yes, smooth change of topic. Because if Victor had taken that as an invitation to continue talking kinks, Yuuri’s blush was going to boil over and come steaming out of his ears. He could think of several kinks to indulge in with Victor, all of which involved great cardio and very happy endings... When did his brain filter get so broken?
“Oh!” Victor adjusted it and held it open to give Yuuri a peek inside. It was full of fabrics and assorted accessories, all that looked a bit too small to fit Victor. “I got all the new summer stuff, so I was going to take Makkachin to the community garden for a photoshoot. Could use a helper, if you’re free? She looks pretty in her photos but she’s a total diva on set. Maybe she’ll listen to you though.”
“I don’t know.” Yuuri had a term paper to write, because a 100-question exam with added essay portion was not enough for his discussion course regarding the political environment of the federal executive. He was already way behind on the planned word count, but then again… “You’re not driving that monster again, are you?”
“I’m wounded, Yuuri, honestly wounded.” Victor put a hand over his heart. “You’re uninvited.”
“No, come on.”
Biting his lower lip to restrain a smile, Yuuri put the mail back into the mailbox and locked it. He could pick it up again on the way back.
Outside, Victor clipped Makkachin to a leash and handed it to Yuuri. “Want to?”
Yuuri pocketed the phone he had been using to text Phichit his status of delayed. “You sure?”
“Go ahead, since you’re taking the time already.”
Accepting, Yuuri took the loop in hand. Makkachin continued along in a proper prance, her head held high as if she knew she were a celebrity. “This is way better than what I had planned.”
Yuuri put on a dismissive scowl. “I got my rest, thank you very much. I have a paper to write that I’ve kept putting off because my professor… I don’t like my professor.”
“Boring as dirt?”
“I wish. Kind of guy who isn’t happy no matter what you do. There’s rumors that the only way to ace is the class is to bring him a nice gift and praise his research work, and I’m almost tempted to try.”
“We’ll see how desperate I am before finals.”
The walk to the community garden was not a long one, time occupied by Victor showing Yuuri the different items he had prepared for his Pampered Puppers summer line. Beach print ascots, collars with pastel bows and flowers, maritime-style shirts, and sparkly anklets. One of the charms was a pink convertible Cadillac. Yuuri rolled his eyes while Victor pouted.
When they arrived, Victor went to speak with one of the garden staff, waving Yuuri over. They were led to an area which had been roped off especially for them.
Victor took a picnic blanket from his oversized tote bag and began to lay out a dozen outfits he had pre-coordinated for Makkachin’s shoot. Meanwhile, Yuuri was given the job of playing to keep her amused and busy as Victor set up, a job which he would return to daily if asked.
His instructions were not to wear her out too much and to keep her looking pristine. A bit of playful blowing on her ears and paw nudges turned into Yuuri running around a planter of tulips with Makkachin bounding after him. That turned into them getting scolded by a worker, which turned into Victor disapprovingly handing Yuuri a brush. Yuuri could not hold back his chuckles and Makkachin panted with shining eyes as he brushed her, sneakily nudging her paws again until she licked the glasses right off his face.
Cleaning the lenses on the hem of his shirt, Yuuri looked up to see Victor regarding him with the corners of his mouth turned up, one hand on his hip and another holding a camera.
“And here I thought you’d be a good influence on her.” Victor shook his head. “So betrayed.”
“You said play with her, I played,” Yuuri defended, taking Makkachin over to the spot Victor had designated, green grass framed by blooming flowers on either side. Makkachin plopped her butt down, mouth open as she waited for instructions. Yuuri removed the Eros scarf from around her neck, Victor replacing it with a lime green bandana. If that wasn’t cute enough already, he placed a hat with small roses along the band on her head and finished off the outfit by setting sunglasses on her nose.
They backed away cautiously. Victor lifted up his camera. “Okay, Makka, pose!”
She struck one. Paw lifted, head tilted up with wet black nose in the air, giving a fabulous profile. Yuuri slapped a hand over his mouth to silence a delighted snort. Makkachin was an absolute professional, taking cues like she was born to model. Yuuri slipped his phone from his pocket, snapping a few for himself.
“Ohmygod, she’s amazing.”
“Shhh, don’t let her hear you, she’ll start demanding a trailer on location,” Victor replied, changing her outfit into one that made her look like a wealthy ship dog, detailed with blue stripes and stitched anchors. He fed her a couple treats between each set of photos, ruffling her ears once the hat came off. “She is darn cute though.”
“Probably gets it from her dad.”
“He was a very esteemed show dog.”
“I meant you.” It slipped before Yuuri could stop it, before he even processed it. By then it was too late, it was already out there in the world, making Victor take on the biggest, most beautiful smile yet.
“Flirting isn’t gonna get you in with the star, you know. She’s much too busy to make time for her many adoring fans, especially nerds that have phones with her face on them.”
Yuuri thought to protest the word flirting. Except he didn’t. He shrugged. “Didn’t hurt to try. Guess nerds aren’t your type then.” What was happening, how was he doing this?!
“No,” Victor said, positioning the camera to take one more photo of Makkachin adorned in doggy jewelry. “But boys named Yuuri are.”
Alert, alert, Houston, we are back online. Reinitiate launch sequence. “What a coincidence, so are mine.”
No, no, no, no, that was totally wrong.
Apollo Yuuri on mission to Planet Victor exploded on take-off. There were no survivors.
Victor burst out laughing. “You’re your own type? I suppose I admire the confidence and honesty.”
“That… no, I meant-...” Yuuri buried his face in his hands, wishing to disintegrate and return to mother nature post haste. “Wow. Not that.”
“Adorable. You’re only proving my point.”
Victor winked and Yuuri wished his glasses had the power to make him invisible. He made a noise that sounded something like a dying mule, which only made Victor laugh harder.
“Okay, okay, to spare you, let me show you something.” Victor set down the camera and reached for his bag of outfits, pulling from it black satin material. “This is a major secret though, which I will entrust to you in exchange for what I just heard and the promise to not repeat it to anyone. Deal?”
Yuuri had never agreed to a bargain quicker. “Deal.”
“This isn’t for the new line.”
Victor let the wind catch the fabric, unfurling it into a Makkachin-sized cape. The black was hemmed with gold, a boldly printed M spanning the poodle’s back when Victor draped it over her. It didn’t stop there. Victor pulled out another pair of sunglasses, custom, the plastic golden frames stretched out into miniature wings at the corners. They fit Makkachin perfectly, a precise replica of the mask Victor wore as his alter-ego.
“What do you think? Doesn’t she look positively vicious?”
Only one thought passed through Yuuri’s mind.
“Tell me something, my dear Victor,” Chris drawled, his legs kicked up and crossed. He sat in the armchair of Victor’s living room, watching his friend organize the hundreds of printed multicolor flyers they had prepared together. “I was under the impression that the purpose of your exploits was to capture the attention of Ariaville’s beloved magical boy, the so-called Eros.”
“Yes, and?” Victor was flipping through stacks of pages, making sure there were no errors or blank sheets, that the information contained no typos which could damage his cause. It had taken a couple of weeks of hard digging with the help of Chris’s detective expertise and very little villainous activities—other than an outing in a park which concluded in Vicious sprinting away from a pack of dogs due to his having forgotten he had treats from his morning session with Makkachin—but they had found the figurative treasure trove. In that time, Victor had also seen upsettingly little of his neighbor, through the occasional pass in the hallway usually led to lingering conversations that Victor came to highly dislike pulling away from.
“So then why have your last two been a result of something Yuuri said to you?” The arch of Chris’s eyebrow was so high it nearly disappeared into his hairline.
Victor had told Chris about Yuuri. From day one. Mainly because the hashtag on his Instagram post had brought Chris to his door with a bottle of rosé and face-pack masks. Boy next door, spill all, chéri, Chris had said and Victor had indeed spilled all… which back then had been very little to spill.
The observation of a cute boy turned into how a sleep-wrecked Yuuri had gotten into a squeaker fight with Makkachin—you should have seen them Chris, both with the biggest grins on their faces, I swear I heard Makka giggling—to that awful attempt to flirt in the garden—he tried apologizing and said his back up line was something about how much he liked a cup of sugar in his coffee—to about how Yuuri had smiled at him just so when holding the lobby door open for Victor one passing afternoon—the door, Chris, he held the door for me, who even does that anymore? The reply he had gotten to that was a vulgarly optimistic, Good, you’re only three letters away from him holding your dick then. Victor had hung up the phone on that particular line.
All it was was that Yuuri was easy to talk to. Victor liked how wide his eyes got behind the blue glasses frames which seemed so oddly familiar. He liked that Yuuri never missed the chance at petting Makkachin’s head, even when he was in a rush, and that Makka adored him in return. Priority #1 for a man on Victor’s interest list: Must Love Dogs. He liked that Yuuri greeted him each time, liked the way Yuuri always rolled up his jeans. He liked the flow of conversation and how Yuuri would always be visibly flustered when Victor flirted but would also always smile as a result.
Victor really need to get Yuuri’s number, why hadn’t he yet? In the interest of being good neighbors, it was a necessity to swap them,for emergencies or what not. Responsible, that’s what he would be by asking Yuuri for his number.
“It’s because they were good ideas. I wanted to an impact and obviously made one. There’s no way Eros won’t notice and that’s my objective.”
“You’re sure that’s the reason? Not this crush you’ve got boiling?”
“I like him,” Victor admitted, tapping a bundle of pages on the coffee table to straighten the edges. With the flyers printed and organized, everything was set to go. “Is that an issue?”
“What about Eros? I thought your ultimate goal was the seduction and deskirting of the beautiful magical boy?”
Victor stopped, gazing at the papers he had in hand. They did relate directly to Yuuri and not at all to Eros. If Eros took notice, it would simply be a byproduct of the scandal they would be certain to cause. Victor had no guarantee that Eros would make an appearance during his terror campaign. If this did not work, Victor had the plan of making a public declaration. He would make sure everyone knew Vicious was a rival to Eros, hoping to draw him out that way. Today’s plot however, like the cats, was indeed the result of the thinking that it would make Yuuri happy too.
“My goal is not to seduce Eros. Eros said his life would be more exciting with a nemesis. Which is what I aim to become, When he said that, he... he sounded lonely. Imagine being the only one with powers like his, there’s no one who can relate to you. It makes sense to be in want of a companion. He helped me, so I wanted to help him. It’s that simple.”
“Nothing about this is simple,” Chris answered, gesturing around.
“I did want to see him in person again, okay? Not that easy to track down a magical boy.”
“So, you’re returning the favor he did you and that’s all?”
“Then, the point of the sexy get up is….?” Chris waved a hand, indicating to the thigh-high boots in the corner, which Victor had spent half the morning buffing in order to maintain their as-of-yet pristine state.
Victor felt something akin to the heat of embarrassment light up his cheeks. “Shut up and help me bag these flyers.”
“Your wish is my command, chéri,” Chris replied, making a show of uncrossing his legs and rising. “But I want you to consider what’ll happen if your stupid charms end up hooking you two catches instead of one, hmmm?”
Yeah. Victor had not really considered that when starting off. Honestly, he had not thought much ahead at all, hardly giving consideration beyond his next scheme. He had always been the act now, bat eyelashes in apology later type. The fact that it frequently worked out in his favor was less of a help than it was a hindrance.
When Victor had gotten the idea for Vicious, it really had been driven by the statement Eros had given to the press. The magical boy had looked exhausted, resigned, like all that he wanted to do was get out of there. A life of magical powers was supposed to be exciting. Eros did so much to help people and brought so much enjoyment to those that followed him that it felt a tragedy. Considering the notion that maybe his work wasn't something Eros enjoyed doing, it was a heartbreak on a timer. Victor wouldn’t have that. Eros had been there for him in a time of need and Victor would not let that go unreciprocated given the chance. If a bit of villainous shenanigans on his part could help Eros out of his rut, then Victor would be satisfied with that.
Though Victor would admit, at the start, he may have had some fantasies of being swept into Eros’ arms mid epic duel, where they were matched power for power, swapping quips and teasing glances before the tension snapped, bursting over into a glorious hero-on-villain kiss-of-the-century. Victor would have loved a consensual glance under that short skirt and at those frilly panties, but he also realized the extent of his celebrity crush. He was an Eros fanboy, self-admitted, and fantasies were fantasies. He had no delusions of an Eros-Vicious wedding, as sexy and gorgeous as that would be. He had no idea what Eros was like as a person outside of his magical get up, no true connection and no reason to believe a genuine one could be possible, exploits included. A chance to meet Eros properly, to give back and to finally offer his gratitude… that was goal enough.
As for the unexpected development that was his neighbor, well, that was a whole other story. Yuuri was very cute, very sweet, and very real. And Victor was very smitten. Even if Yuuri did make fun of his car.
Victor knew exactly what he had in front of him. The makings of one colossal mess. Too bad he had never been the type to tread lightly. “Can you make sure I have Makka’s costume packed?”
“Suuuuure.” Chris rolled his eyes and turned away, hands held out on either side in exasperation. “Change the subject. Remember though. Legal trouble, I can help you avoid. But boy problems? Believe me chéri, those are worse than prison.”
Victor didn’t doubt it. Depending on how far this went, he may be looking at a life sentence.
“Extra, extra, read all about it!”
Victor stood atop a one-story building situated at the center courtyard of Ariaville State University, doing his best villainous laugh as he threw flyers off the roof. The papers caught in the breeze, scattering like giant confetti across the campus. Below, a small crowd of students had gathered and were picking up the flyers. Some carried on, while others stopped, noses buried in the accusations listed in bold black ink.
The school security officers, which had arrived dishearteningly quickly, were still struggling to get past the thorn-riddled rose bushes that had magically bloomed on the fire escape and in front of the door leading to the roof. It would take a while, because everytime one stem was cut, another instantaneously replaced it.
Victor threw another armful of flyers into the air. “Professor Popovich’s policy of power play and penalizing proper…” he didn’t have another p-word that fit off the top of his head, “...students!”
Yuuri’s minute mention of his professor’s rumored misdeeds had seemed like a long-shot at first, but Victor had run the line by Chris on a whim anyway. Some online digging and a meeting with a few anonymous sources—students, they were students—resulted in the rumor becoming less of a rumor and more of a lead. Yuuri’s joking assertion had turned out to be true. His professor had indeed been trading bribes in exchange for grades. Despicable.
“Secrets and Sabotage! Bribery and Belligerence!”
Victor glanced down. Makkachin sat at his side, her tail wagging with all the excitement, a few flyers in her mouth. “Good girl.”
Chris had told him there were proper channels which should be taken to secure the removal of the criminal professor. Victor, however, considered this to be a far grander scheme. Who knew how long it would take for the proper channels to function, if they did at all, and Yuuri was suffering under the tyrant now. Plus, this had the added bonus of catching media attention and Eros attention. Which, speak of the angel—
“Vicious! Are you and roofs going to be a pattern?”
Oh, Eros looked mad. His hair was slicked back, his eyes flashed, and his hands were on his hips—right on the line where fabric met skin. Victor had never seen Eros mad before. He looked really hot mad. It had been a few days over a month from their last encounter. Perhaps Eros was mad that it had taken so long for Vicious to resurface? Or maybe Victor was overestimating his own stupid charms. “Merely a coincidence! Don’t worry, you don’t have to rescue me this time, as much as I long for us to end up in the same position.”
Mad and blushing. What a combo. Who knew Victor had a thing for a scowl in glasses? Maybe he would have to try to catch Yuuri in one to see how the two compared, for scientific research academic published paper purposes.
“Vicious, students are trying to study here! Finals are coming up soon, why can’t you do this on some other roof?” Eros called, swatting pages out of the air.
“How can they, when there is a villain amongst them, keeping them from achieving their dreams?” Victor questioned, stretching out his arms in a grandiose manner. He released more flyers, aiming a few to be deposited atop Eros.
Frowning, the magical boy grabbed one of the flyers and adjusted his glasses, reading the text. They outlined the accusations being brought against the political science professor, including the acceptance and solicitation of bribes, grade manipulation, and blackmail, amongst a few others. Eros read to the very last line, head snapping up. “Is this true?!”
“At precisely 6:09pm, a package has arrive at the Dean’s door, providing sufficient evidence and the testimony of several student who have agreed to be named if they are not penalized,” Victor responded. “Professor Popovich has been poached!”
Eros picked up a couple more of the flyers, confirming that they all listed the same information. The furrow in his brow appeared to smoothen. “Correct me if I’m wrong but… didn’t you claim to be a villain? Why are you doing this?”
“I am correcting an injustice, while also ensuring no other villains may rival me in my quest!” Victor declared. He did not need others acting in competition, potentially taking Eros’ time and efforts away from him, or else leeching Eros of energy better spent. “For I am Vicious and I’ve come to dominate… your heart!” Good, he had not had the chance to get what was meant to be his signature line in the last time. Not that anyone would have been around for the effect.
Eros dropped the flyers and took quick steps back, neck craning for a better view of the roof. “Did you-... did you bring Ma—a dog with you?!”
“Yes!” Victor forgot, he still had to make formal introductions. “This is—”
“Wait, wait, just…” Eros sighed and tugged on the hem of his skirt before squaring his stance. “I’m coming up there.” Knees bent, he leapt, clearing the face of the building and landing on the edge of the roof. No sooner than had he stepped down was Makkachin upon him, jumping up into a ferociously happy greeting.
Eros caught her paws, drawing her down and wrapped his arms around her neck, giving her a quick hug and a scratch behind the ears. Makkachin went for his face, tongue lapping at his cheek, nose nudging his glasses. Eros’s hands shot up to keep them from being knocked aside.
“This is Malicious!” Victor said, grinning. “The most furious attack dog that you shall ever encounter!”
The poodle’s tail wagged madly from side to side, her golden mask slipping to one side. Eros adjusted it for her. “Malicious, huh? Is she supposed to be your guard dog?”
“Actually, I didn’t know how much time this was going to take and I didn’t want to leave her at home for long, she missed her morning walk.”
Eros laughed and the rich depth of the sound burrowed into Victor’s chest, twisting around like it belonged there, like it was something he already knew and had been waiting for.
Petting Makkachin’s head, Eros stepped forward and grabbed a stack of flyers from the brand bag Victor had loaded with them. Makkachin padded after him, tongue lolling out, the poodle looking twice as pleased as before.
“What are you doing?” Victor asked. Of all the ways he had thought an Eros encounter might go here, this was proceeding rather smoothly. Despite his earlier look of irritation, Eros seemed much more at ease and far less questioning than the last time, accepting of Vicious’s appearance and short explanation of his devious plan. Victor had expected more of a protest, a demand for proof, orders for him to vacate the school premises. What he had was an Eros with quirked lips, who was leafing through the multi-colored pages.
“I’m a magical boy. It’s my duty to correct injustices. This is a big one… although, really, all I wanted was an extension on a paper but this works too.” With that said, Eros threw a handful of flyers off the roof, smiling before he picked up more. “Though, it’s probably best to spread these around the PoliSci building…”
“Let’s go then. Malicious, come on!”
Of all the ways Victor had thought his day would go, sprinting across the university campus in stilettos alongside Eros, with Makkachin bounding after them, throwing flyers to the high-heavens was not one of them.
They spread them through the square, the main campus paths, slapped a few onto walls. The campus security that chased after them, Victor stopped with more sudden rosebush blooms. Dethroned, no sense of anyone getting hurt.
By the time they ran out of pages, Victor had run out of breath, chest heaving, droplets building on his hairline. He would have to wash, cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize religiously for the next few days to keep his skin perfect. Eros, meanwhile, didn’t look to have broken a sweat.
Victor paused, leaning back against a building, waving air at himself to cool him down. “Your stamina is ridiculous.” Victor was by no means out of shape, him and Makkachin ran together daily, but Eros didn’t have a single hair out of place. Must be the magic. Had to be. Victor needed to figure out if his powers extended into something resembling Perpetual Beauty Mode.
“It is, and not just for running,” Eros said, hands back on his hips. There. Victor found a sweatdrop. It ran down the center of Eros’s chest, like a diamond rolling the line of his abdomen.
Victor suddenly needed a very big gulp of water. He was parched.
“Get me back in that position you mentioned and you might find out.” Eros winked.
Hold on. Wait. Pause. Stop. That was, wow, there was a line. Eros was flirting. With him. With Vicious. That was not part of the plan. That wasn’t expected. That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? Victor’s mind flashed to the memory of their previous rooftop encounter.
Eyes meeting Eros’s, Victor took in the confident smirk on those cherry lips which was cast in clear challenge. This was happening. Go big or go home.
Vicious took a deep breath, picked up Makkachin, and—once again—made a break for it. He swore he heard Eros chuckling behind them.
Makkachin whined but permitted herself to be carried, her head resting on Victor’s shoulder. At least one thing was for sure. She definitely remembered Eros... who seemed to be very much a dog person.
“Stop looking at me like that, it was the right thing to do,” Victor said as he rode the elevator with Makkachin. She was out of her villainous outfit and he was out of his, the clothing carefully folded and put away in the large duffle bag he carried under his arm. Last time, he had tried cheating and transporting himself home via his powers. While it had worked, it had resulted in the entirety of the kitchen and living room being covered in a mountain of rose petals and that had been a pain to clean. Victor was still finding them in his coffee cups, weeks later. A full blossom had materialized in Makkachin’s dog bowl. She had not been happy about that. “I didn’t take you with me so you could judge me.”
Her brown eyes narrowed at him, seeming to say, No, you took me with you to show off and look where that got you, coward. He was probably projecting. They were more likely to actually be saying, Shut up and give me those treats you promised.
Honestly, he just had not wanted to be alone in case Eros did not show up at the university. Plus, Makkachin had looked absolutely adorable in her getup and Victor had managed to get some very nice photos of her before all the flyer throwing had started. For personal use. It was a tragedy that he couldn’t share those fabulous shots online. Some students had snapped photos of the two of them on the roof, he’d have to search through social media later to see if there were good ones. Maybe he could create an official account for Vicious, though that seems a little risky. He’d have to consult Chris on that.
Eros in person was more than Victor expected each time. Eros on posters, in promotional images, even in candid shots people caught of him in the city, he always looked flawless. Victor had expected it would not hold up in real life, but then again, Eros was a magical boy. The magic extended to everything, from the tips of his boots to the tips of his hair. He even smelled good, like a walking perfume commercial.
What Victor had really not expected was the flirting. Not even flirting. The comment Eros had made was pure eroticism, dripping with explicit implications. Perhaps Victor had made the declaration a while back that part of the Vicious act was done with the goal of making Eros fall madly in love with him, but he had not taken himself seriously with it. It had to be the boob-window. It had worked after all, he knew that his pecho was far too powerful a weapon to expose so early on in the game.
Makkachin barked as the elevator doors started to shut and Victor yelped, darting forward to prevent it. Snapped from his thoughts, he led Makkachin out, adjusting the strap of his duffle bag. Should he have expected the flirting to possibly lead to said flirting being returned, particularly when his target was named Eros? Yes. Yes, he should have. But Victor did tend to act first and reconsider later. All part of his charm. The whole surprising people aspect. It included surprising himself.
Speaking of surprises… Victor paused not outside his apartment, but the one before it. Yuuri was sitting on the floor, back against the door and head slumped forward. His steady breathing and the softest, cutest little snores that Victor had ever heard indicated that Yuuri wasn’t in the most conscious of conditions. Victor squatted, reaching for Yuuri’s shoulder to gently shake him awake but Makkachin got to Yuuri first.
Her tongue was all over his face, knocking the glasses clean off. Victor managed to catch them before they hit the ground, laughing as Yuuri stirred, nose scrunching in defense from the doggy assault.
“Matte, matte yo,” Yuuri muttered, hands coming up to cover his face. His eyes stayed closed but as Makkachin prodded with her nose, he wrapped one arm around her, burying into her neck. “Stay…”
“Can I ask why you’re sleeping outside your apartment?” Victor questioned. What kinda hell was Yuuri’s school putting him through for him to be this exhausted. Yuuri had mentioned having a part-time job of sorts the last time they had been out together, was that the culprit? Vicious might have to make a visit to whatever establishment was running Yuuri so ragged.
“Forgot my keys,” Yuuri muttered, not moving even as Makkachin sniffed at his ear, her wet nose nudging his skin. “Locked out.”
“Why didn’t you call your roommate? Or the super?”
“Forgot my phone.” Yuuri made a gesture that Victor guessed was meant to be aimed at the apartment behind him but instead ended up directed at the hall.
Victor smiled. Cute. Stupidly cute. And only partially because Yuuri was holding onto Makkachin like his personal pillow.
“Are you…” Yuuri yawned into Makkachin’s fur, then shook his head as if trying to force consciousness into himself. “...done with your… whatever you were doing?”
“Yeah, Makkachin and I had an event of sorts.” If Yuuri was sleeping outside his apartment, he would not have been on campus to witness said event. Too bad. Victor was curious the type of reaction Yuuri would have in regards to Vicious. Since Yuuri considered Eros to be only “okay,” Victor wondered the kind of judgment he would pass down on his villainous counterpart. The dream would be if Yuuri too was taken in by the pecho on display. Make it all worth it. Designing the costume had been a royal pain, Victor wanted it to earn its keep. “Did you want to come in with me while you wait? You can borrow my bed, or the sofa if you’re more comfortable.”
Those big brown eyes were going to be Victor’s downfall. They blinked at him, uncovered by glasses, with fanned out lashes and sleepy lids. In the back of Victor’s head, the music from the original Disney Cinderella movie started playing, the one from the scene of her and the prince dancing at the ball, lost in each other’s gaze. Now he had to shake himself awake. Victor had to be both the luckiest and unluckiest sap in the world.
“Yeah, ummm… Please?” Yuuri pushed himself up, although not before giving Makkachin another ruffling. “Until Phichit gets back?”
“Sure.” Victor handed Yuuri back his glasses and dug out his keys, opening the door of his apartment. Makkachin darted in, shaking her head as she pranced in front of the door, waiting for her collar to be removed.
Victor had done a little more decorating since Yuuri’s last and first visit, setting the apartment up more as a home. Which to him meant more photos of Makkachin, from some of his favorite photoshoots of her. He had a collection of snaps featuring baby Makkachin in various hats hanging in the hall, a framed poster of her in a basket wearing dual-colored bows in the living room. Yuuri smiled at each one as he stepped in, making a beeline for the sofa when Victor waved him toward it.
“You’re sure it’s okay?” Yuuri asked, sitting down and slumping instantly.
Victor could see him fighting to keep his eyes open. “What kind of neighbor would I be if I left you out there to be mugged?”
“Mugged in the hallway?”
“Have you met the pug in 201? That’s a mean one, stole my lunch money the other day.”
Yuuri’s laugh was a pleasant sound that Victor would not mind having as a more permanent fixture in his home. It was this soft rolling sound that had him buzzing. The only thing Victor did not like was that he had yet to hear it loud and uncontrolled, the type that made ribs sore and eyes water with its strength. He’d work toward it, bit by bit.
Victor fetched pillows from his bedroom, walking over to Yuuri who had already curled up on the sofa, legs tucked in and hands folded under a cheek.
Yuuri accepted the pillows with a murmur of thanks, sliding one under his head and hugging the other to his chest before his eyes slipped shut. “What are you gonna do?”
“Make lunch!” Victor replied. Villainous activities had worked up his appetite. Or it had been the sprinting across Ariaville University at full speed in heels. He was going to feel that in his knees tomorrow. “Any requests?”
“Mmmm, surprise me,” Yuuri muttered back, nuzzling into the pillow. His black hair fell messily to frame his angelic face.
Victor wondered what it might be like to wake up next to that, Yuuri’s warmth and rhythmic breathing against his chest. Nope, nope, nope. Back up. Jumping the gun. If he let his imagination run so far ahead, he’d start picturing proposals and weddings and anniversaries, what was the golden one, fifty years, surely they could make that.
Victor whistled to Makkachin, calling her to the kitchen where he could distract himself by feeding her too many treats and whispering praise for her wonderful work as Malicious. Back up. Start at the beginning. The way to a man’s heart was through his stomach, right? He could do that. Let Yuuri snooze and wake him up with something so authentic and delicious that Yuuri would want to move in right there and then.
What was Victor going to do? How had he gotten himself in the situation where he was majorly crushing on two boys, both of whom appeared to be returning affections. Yuuri had flirted last time—tried to flirt at least—and Eros could not have been more obvious. Though Victor took Eros’ comment with a grain of salt, he had to. The magical boy was probably playing up the rivalry dynamic, which traditionally required biting dialogue and lots of sexual tension. That was law. Otherwise, how would the online gossip and fan theories survive? Victor did not want to sink any ships.
“Hey, Victor…” Yuuri called from the sofa, voice slowed by tell-tale signs of dozing off. “Did you hear about what happened at the university?”
Victor had his hand on the refrigerator handle. “No?”
Mistake. He should have said yes, he was a huge Eros fan, he would have already seen online posts reporting Eros activities. This was it, this was how he got caught. He could get around it, if Yuuri really disliked that crooked professor then he should support Vicious. And there was the cats on top of that, that had been Yuuri’s idea in the first place. Victor could spin it so that Yuuri would technically be an accomplice. Couldn’t give him up that way. Or Yuuri could join him. Though Victor did not have a good villainous “Y” name. Yummy Yuuri. Not bad, he could do better.
“That Vicious guy showed up... Something to do with Professor Popovich.”
Slowly, Victor opened the fridge and started pulling ingredients from the vegetable drawer. “Isn’t that the one you said was giving you a hard time?”
“Yeah, him. But, uhhh… I saw some photos on Twitter and he had a dog with him that looked a lot like Makka. And the outfit was exactly like the one Makka had on at the park… I was wondering if you knew anything about that?”
Victor set a beet down on the kitchen counter. Busted. He knew those dots would not be hard to connect, but he had been excited about the outfit and he could trust Yuuri, couldn’t he? The doe eyes spelled trustworthy. Yuuri could keep a secret, he wouldn’t turn in his neighbor over something as petty as littering. Better be safe than sorry. “I received a private costume commission a few months ago for that, I admit. They went by the username Vicious, but back then I didn’t think anything of it.”
“So it was you?”
“My dog costume work, yes. I had no idea I would be contributing to villainy. I’m utterly scandalized.”
That laugh again. He heard a hum, Yuuri satisfied with the answer. He should count his blessings for such a tired Yuuri, he’d have to fabricate some transactions later in case he needed evidence for the defense.
“What’s your opinion of him?” Victor asked, sorting the veggies into order of use. Potatoes, beetroot, onions, carrot. He liked mushrooms added into his recipe too. “Vicious?”
“Mmmm, I like him,” Yuuri replied, sighing. Victor could picture him, laying on his back, eyes closed, hands on his chest. The kind of vision that would make Victor want to drape a blanket over him later. “He’s kinda ridiculous. Not really a villain if he keeps helping people.”
Victor huffed. He was too a villain! A criminal, he was committing crimes! People got fines for littering, it was a menace to the environment, how many trees had been sacrificed for his stunt that morning? He should be ashamed of himself. A non-eco-friendly villain, how much more crooked could he get? Actually that was rather bad, his next plot should involve some beach cleaning or tree planting in order to make up for it. He could plant some rose bushes, position them to spell out Vicious Was Here. A lasting mark on the community! Take that, city council. “Maybe he is luring people into a false sense of security in preparation of the real strike.”
“Plus he’s hot.”
Victor dropped the cabbage on his foot. “He’s what?! You think he’s hot?” He should not be surprised by that. Yuuri had flirted with him, attempting to make the point that Victor was his type. If Victor was his type, Vicious was his type. It was perfectly reasonable for Yuuri to crush on both versions of himself, flattering even. Victor could use this, reconnaissance. Gather information and use that to sweep Yuuri off his feet, making him fall madly in love with Victor. Which would lead to moving toward proposals, wedding, diamond-year anniversaries. A familiar plot.
“I like his—as Phichit would say—pecho.”
The memes were spreading. They had infected Yuuri as well. The breast plate was too powerful after all, Victor should have seen this coming. He had done market research. It was the cheekily peeking pink nipples that sold the look. Made sense that Yuuri would fall for Vicious’ chest of all things. The boots were probably overkill, but he deserved to have something for himself in the getup.
“I’ve also got a very nice pecho…” Victor muttered, jealous of himself. Summer was on the fast approach, he would have to find a wet tshirt contest and have Yuuri escort him to it.
“Sleep, Yuuri! I invited you in for a nap, not for chitchat!”
More laughter, in the form of soft chuckles. If Vicious was caught and committed, forget a last meal Victor would want to listen to the musicality of Yuuri’s laugh one last time. Yuuri quieted, listening to the order.
Victor set his attention at preparing lunch. He boiled a large pot of salted water, cutting in chunks of beef to recreate the heartier version of borscht he’d enjoyed in his youth. Potatoes cubed, onions diced, beets and carrots shredded. Makkachin hung around, hoping for scraps he struggled to refuse her.
Everything prepped and broth left to simmer, Victor checked on Yuuri, smiling when he saw his guest had indeed nodded off. He fetched a light blanket after all, folding it over Yuuri. He tried to be respectful and not ogle the sliver of hip revealed by Yuuri’s shirt riding up. No, not unless he was invited to ogle. Victor was a gentleman.
As he waited, a quick check of social media confirmed that photos of the Vicious/Eros encounter had been dominating the tags. Victor flipped through a few, smiling to himself at floods of comments and reactions to Eros reportedly helping Vicious spread minor chaos throughout the campus. He snuck a peek at a well known Eros fan artist’s profile, delighted to see they had already posted a rendition of Eros and Vicious getting rather intimate amongst a stack of salacious flyers. He resisted tapping the heart button, not from his official account at least.
Yuuri let out a deep sigh and rolled onto his side on the sofa.
Victor exited out from that particular profile, bit of guilt creeping in. It was not like he was dating both of them, why had the returning flirtation from Eros spooked him so much? Yuuri knew Victor was an Eros fan and did not seem to mind so far. They were under no obligation to each other.
Well, maybe they should be. Help control himself with whatever the escapades with Eros would end up turning into. Because even if he could seduce Eros, Victor wasn’t sure if that was what he really wanted in the end. Being able to tell Eros thank you and lift him out of whatever slump he had been in, that should be enough.
Online news sources had published articles of university incident. One report stated that Professor Popovich had disappeared from campus and was unavailable for comment regarding the allegations. A few theories floated kidnapping by Vicious. How awful, Victor wouldn’t go that far. Yet.
Victor flicked through photos, pausing on one of Eros. He stood tall at Vicious’ side, expression determined as he threw flyers off the roof. Victor had not expected to hit a nerve with his stunt. He noted a possibility that Eros was a victim of the professor. He appeared young enough to be a student or recent graduate, which would explain Eros’ increased public activity during university breaks.
Victor studied the photo. As anyone, he was curious to know more about the boy behind the magic. The blue glasses he wore looked exactly like the ones Yuuri had on. Maybe Yuuri was a bigger fan of Eros than he had previously admitted. If so, there was a surefire way that Victor could find out, while also taking a step forward in his own predicament.
Yuuri woke up as the borscht was finishing, Victor sampling the flavor to make sure it did not need any last minute additions. He held out a spoon for Yuuri to get a taste when he shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“That’s really good…” Yuuri murmured, stifling a yawn with the back of his hand.
Victor really had to find out what it was that had Yuuri so tired. He had resolved to create plenty of time to ask all the questions he wanted. “Yuuri, if you are so inclined...may I ask you out on a date?”
Yuuri adjusted his glasses, a smile spreading over his lips. “Just because I like your soup?”
Chapter 11: Con-sensual Villainy
A few people have asked, but if it isn't clear from the fic-- Yuuri's glasses are magic and filter the vision of anyone who looks at him, so they cannot take the connection between Yuuri and Eros no matter how obvious it seems.
Victor does have powers, but he's not a magical boy, so he doesn't have the transformation outfit and thus needs to make/buy his own.
Thank you for all your support and comments thus far! We've still got quite a way to go on this
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Yuuri ate lunch with Victor, more than thoroughly impressed with his cooking skills. The borscht was rich and savory, and the dollop of sour cream Victor had added to the center changed the flavor into an entirely new delight when stirred in. Victor asked Yuuri questions about his classes and why it was that Yuuri was so consistently exhausted.
School, Yuuri excused. Too much classwork conflicting with his “work” schedule. What kind of work? Uhhh, a type of public service volunteering. Stuff around the city, nothing too exciting. Part of his major requirements, civil service and all that. He was fine after a nap, don’t worry about it. That morning he’d just been in a rush, leaving on a sudden call. Yuuri did not make a habit of sleeping in hallways.
They talked about food. Yuuri told Victor how his family ran a hot springs which was also well known for its katsudon. Victor told Yuuri that at New Years he usually hosted a party with some Russian friends for which he cooked too much and got thanked too little. Yuuri said he’d love to see how a Russian New Years party went. Victor said he was absolutely invited to the next one.
Not long after lunch, they heard Phichit’s arrival next door and Yuuri excused himself. They traded phone numbers, Victor rubbing the back of his neck as he confessed to Yuuri that he had been wanting to get it for it a while now. Yuuri laughed and confessed he had been hoping to be asked.
The send off was a bit awkward, as it usually was in such situations. Yuuri waved to Victor from the door and took the two steps over to his own apartment, knocking and getting Phichit to answer.
Yuuri gave his quick excuse, fielding the flurry of questions which showered down on him like a summer typhoon. Yeah university, yep Vicious, with Eros, that’s right. Professor Popovich, wild, he knew, but also it was kind of a relief because maybe this would mean no finals for that class. No, he hadn’t seen the photos but the dog did very much look like Makka, ahahahha, funny joke Phichit, not like it was obvious enough already, and oh yeah he had a date with Victor by the way, probably should mention that.
Phichit’s eyes bulged. Yuuri walked over to their couch and picked up a specifically chosen Eros-Crash-Mode pillow. He held it up, pressed his face into it, and screamed.
<< What should I wear? Is it gonna be formal? Do I need polishable shoes and a bowtie?
>> Whatever’s comfortable, we’re gonna be out and about. Be prepared for it to get a little hot!
A little hot? What did that mean?! Hot how? Hot as in temperature? Yuuri had checked the weather report, it was going to be a jeans and short sleeves kind of day. Unless they were going to another city. Victor had money. Online speculations suggested a very sizable net worth based on the kinds of brands he flashed around. A few grand for Gucci sunglasses, really, why, for whom? For Victor, apparently. Meanwhile, Yuuri was going to be lucky to graduate without any sizeable student debt.
Maybe Victor would pull the old movie classic. Invite Yuuri for Italian and actually fly them out to Sicily. Not even Victor would be so extra, right? Maybe not Victor, but Vicious might be. What if Vicious turned up and kidnapped Yuuri, with the ransom demands being the appearance of Eros? What a complicated date that would turn out to be.
<< Okay, I’ll wear something hot.
Send. ...No. No, no,no, no, come back! Unsend! Unsend!!!
Okay, that was too cute. If that was the response Yuuri could forgive himself his blunder. Though please tell him why it was that Yuuri had managed to drop a line of pure filth as Eros, but couldn’t text straight as Yuuri. How had Yuuri managed to go from following a poodle on Instagram to celebrity crush to neighbors to a date? A date that was supposed to get a little hot. Intimately hot? Physically hot? Forget the short skirts and breast windows, they could just grind through the thick fabric of their jeans in the back of that gaudy pink Cadillac.
Jeans, there was a start. Yuuri was not what he would call fashionable. His style was hoodies and sportswear. Cold rainy day type clothing. After rifling through his closet a full three times and sneaking a peek inside Phichit’s, Yuuri settled on a black tee because everything else had him second-guessing every life decision he had ever made.
Yuuri slicked his hair back with gel, decided it made him look too much like Eros, washed it out and toweled down his head. And no. Hell no. He was not about to go on a date with Victor freaking Nikiforov looking like a shaggy dog after a fitful nap. If the magic that kept Eros’ identity protected somehow failed, would that be so bad? Victor liked Eros and apparently liked Yuuri so... win-win. Although such a bombshell would be a heavy load for a first date. Yuuri slicked it again and stared in the mirror. Glasses, no glasses. Glasses, no glasses. Risk the Eros look or spend the whole date looking at a blurry Victor. Yuuri did not want a blurry Victor. Yuuri wanted to drool over a hot, sharp, in focus Victor. Glasses.
Yuuri had no time to calm his nerves or work himself up anymore, because at precisely 10:30am, the doorbell rang.
10:30 was early for a date but Victor and his alter ego had established a pattern of making Yuuri leave the house early, so why should today be any different?
Yuuri answered the door and proceeded to immediately choke on his tongue. Victor was wearing the most form-fitting slacks Yuuri had ever seen, and a sheer pink and white gradient button up that if Yuuri squinted at he would probably be able to make out the nipnops through it.
“Hi,” Victor greeted.
Yuuri wondered if taking the scream pillow along with him on the date might be considered rude. If he opened his mouth now, any words would come out sounding like garbled Klingon.
It would be fine. Totally fine, nothing to worry about, Yuuri kept repeating as Victor led him down the stairs, down to the Cadillac, and then drove them down the highway and down the coast. Fine, fine, totally fine. Victor would not take him anywhere too over the top. It would just be a normal day on the beach somewhere, nothing too ostentatious--
Magical Bois Con.
“You brought me to a convention for… magical… boys….” Yuuri found himself in a state halfway in between disbelief and of course as they approached a convention hall. Flags attached to street poles flew overhead, all with artistic renderings of the few known magical boys from around the world. The one directly in front of them was of none other than Yuuri himself, throwing a salacious wink and blowing a kiss to the street goer.
“I know you’re a closet Eros fan,” Victor replied, tapping the bridge of Yuuri’s glasses. Thought this might be a good place for you to indulge without feeling embarrassed about it. And if you’re still self-conscious then we’ll say you’re here escorting me and making sure I don’t spend more than a grand.”
A grand… On what?! The Eros flag billowed, winking. Okay, right, Yuuri could hazard a guess. “Why do you like Eros so much?”
Victor led Yuuri around a line of people waiting for registration, waving at a staff member behind the professional’s counter. He greeted them with enthusiasm, handing them over two badges. The lanyards they were attached to were branded with the convention’s logo and chibis of various magical boys. Again, Yuuri spotted himself, this time the pose being of him making a heart with his hands.
“Why not? Isn’t it enough to think he’s cute??” Victor asked.
They made it past registration, heading into the main hall. Yuuri felt a bit bad for those stuck in line. The power of celebrity.
“He saved me when I was in a very bad situation. Since then, I’ve been a big fan.” Victor flashed a brilliant smile that did not reach his eyes. It crinked the corners, but the sparkle in the blue was missing. “Come on, I wanna hit the art gallery before it’s too crowded.”
That they did. Victor grabbed Yuuri’s hand and pulled him through the building like an expert, weaving through the other early birds. Yuuri kept pace, mind whirling for any grasp at an idea of what Victor had meant by his response. Metaphorical, it was probably metaphorical. He did not want to push more as Yuuri, but if Eros had another encounter with Vicious, there could be potential to explore the backstory. As long as he did not scare Vicious off again.
Yuuri had been vaguely aware of the existence of the convention due to Phichit, but he had never fathomed attending. All around were promotional banners, food carts set up selling themed snacks, people in costumes which replicated the outfits of various magical boys while others wore merchandise depicting silhouettes or slogans. No matter which direction Yuuri turned, he would soon be met by the sight of himself.
The art gallery itself was a wonder to behold. There were not many legitimate magical boys in existence, a handful scattered across each continent. All young, all cute. When one disappeared, it was not long before another popped up to take his place, as if the magic was passing itself on from generation to generation.
Fads took well after magical boys, inspirations in makeup tutorials on Youtube, styles of clothing, idols groups which impersonated older versions. Full scale events like this were proof of popularity. Victor was one such individual who made a good living profiting off the fascination people had with them.
The art on display featured all of the active boys known worldwide. Various creators showcased their interpretations, styles ranging from eastern animation to the abstract to statues carved of marble. Victor cut across the gallery to one piece in particular, drawing a sharp breath of reverence.
The canvas was half Yuuri’s height, oil painted to be life-sized. It was of Eros, a front view of him with eyes closed, lashes drawn out like feathers. At peace, surrounded in a bed of red roses, holding one like a heart cradled in his hands. Beautiful.
“Wow,” Yuuri muttered. The effort someone had put into this, into him.
“I know, it’s even better than what I imagined,” Victor said, leaning in close to inspect the delicate brushwork. “When I heard it was going to be here, I knew I had to see it.”
“Who made this?” Yuuri felt obliged to shake their hand in gratitude.
“K-squared. He’s another magical boy. He tries to model himself after Eros, and is supposed to be a big fan.”
Yuuri stared back at the painting. “...Kenji?”
“Yeah! Kupid Kenji, he's guesting here! You know him too?” Victor’s grin spelled out excitement at drawing out Yuuri’s inner fanboy.
“In passing.” Eros had had the honor of encountering Kenji a couple times. Up until that point, Yuuri had had never realized what it meant to have someone idolizing him. Kenji took inspiration from Eros’ slogan and poses as much as he could, claiming to fight in the honor of upholding Eros’ good name. Which, while odd, Yuuri would not have minded. But had come the point where Kenji’s gaga eyes over Eros resulted in a five car pileup on the interstate, caused by a cascade of giant hearts falling from the sky. Since that incident, Eros tried not to associate with other magical boys in fear of the mass chaos the proximity caused.
Victor snapped photos of the oil-painting before moving on, spending his time focused on the other pieces depicting Eros. Yuuri did admire that all the art was truly artistic in nature, elegant and nuanced. As opposed to the upskirt drawings and other scandalous things he was frequently shown by Phichit.
“Let’s go check out the goods,” Victor said once satisfied, holding his hand out in offer to Yuuri, burst of energy calmed.
With only a moment’s hesitation, Yuuri accepted, sliding his hand into Victor’s. He received a smile and adjusted the grip, turning the angle so he could lace their fingers together. The most beautiful heart shape Yuuri had ever seen burst onto Victor’s mouth. Yuuri wanted to kiss it.
Ducking his head, Yuuri checked the lacing of his shoes. Still tied tight, knot secure.
“I would think you’d be boothing at an event like this?” Yuuri asked, perhaps letting on a little too much of his Victor knowledge. Victor often posted photos or promos for events that he did, but over the past few days Yuuri had been freaking out too much to permit himself onto any sort of social media. The sight of a flawlessly gorgeous Victor under various filters would have done him and his confidence in completely.
“I am!” Victor replied, taking Yuuri to the dealer’s hall. He wove them through the crowd and past rows of tables, pointing to a booth with his trademark displayed in bold letters. “I’ve got hired help.”
Said help was a blond teen, bangs in his eyes and a scowl slapped across his face. He was handing a bag loaded with merch to a customer, muttering thanks as he did.
Victor slid up to the side of the table, giving Yuuri’s hand a squeeze before he let go. “How’s it going?”
Yuuri heard a swear and a squeal at the same time, originating from two different sources. The girl with the bag of purchases grabbed Victor’s hands, alight in excitement as she spilled compliments and cooed about Makkachin. Yuuri could relate. The teen remained scowling, rolling his eyes at the praise littered onto Victor. Not a fan then.
Victor sent the girl off with a two-shot selfie and a kiss blown on request. It earned another squeal. He then turned back to his counter. “Yura!”
“Fuck off. I don’t mind doing this for you but you gotta leave, cause if I hear another shriek like that I’m bailing.”
The threat did not faze Victor, all smiles and sunshine as he sorted through the table layout, checking his merchandise and making a couple of swaps. “Keep complaining and I’ll cut that discount I promised you.” The boy shut up. Victor took it as a victory. “So then, Yuri, this is Yuuri. Fun, isn’t it? I’ll have to find a nickname for one of you.”
Yuuri held out a hand to shake. It was taken for a split second.
“Is this the neighbor you’re crushing on?” Yuri questioning, kicking back in his fold-out chair.
“We’re on a date!” Victor made the statement with pride.
“Congratu-freaking-lations. Why don’t you go date at another table so I can sell your stuff in peace?”
The comment went ignored. “How are sales?”
“We only started like twenty minutes ago.”
“You’re gonna need more scarves.”
Yuuri could see the ones, the two designs modelled after the top and bottom halves of his Eros outfit. The new releases finally on public sale. He should be flattered.
“I’ll drop them off tonight.” Victor shifted said scarves to front and center. “Take reservations if you run out. Have the sheets?”
“Yeah, yeah, not my first rodeo.”
Yuuri was uncertain if he wanted to know how many conventions or events Victor had done like this. A few every couple of months. He had been coming from one of the day they’d met, arms loaded with Eros merch.
Yuuri glanced over his shoulder at the call and was not sure how to react. On the approach was the shelter owner off the news, except he was in form. As in, villainous form. He was wearing a handmade version of Vicious’ costume, with flats instead of killer heels and the golden mask resting on his head, but the cape and boob-window were unquestionable. Emil was in cosplay. Vicious cosplay.
“Emil, looking good!” Victor greeted him with a handshake and immediately made to study the details on the outfit. “Very well done!”
“Thanks. How’s the cat doing?” Emil nodded to Yuri.
“Amazing, lemme show you!” Yuri ripped his phone from his pocket, thumbs swiping fast across the screen to pull up photos.
“Yura got one of the cats from that whole kidnapped kitty thing on the news a while back,” Victor explained to Yuuri as the teen scrolled through a file filled with a couple hundred photos of a Siamese, giving Emil descriptions of each.
“Don’t you work in one of the shelters?” Yuuri asked Emil, studying his clothes over once more. “Why are you dressed like Vicious?”
“Honestly that whole thing was such a big help,” Emil answered, shaking his head. “We were getting overcrowded and I had no idea how I was gonna help some of the poor kitties. It was a nightmare at first but all of them have got good homes now. We got good money off the donations and with all the attention that came in, so we can make a few of the changes we needed to help out the critters better! He might be eccentric but Vicious has my support all the way now. Thus the costume. I’m spreading the love!”
Yuuri gazed up at Victor, admiring the secretively pleased smirk on his face. Vicious was eccentric and utterly ridiculous, and Yuuri would place a safe bet guessing that he would continue to escalate into the comically absurd with his villainous exploits. But Victor… Victor was a sweetheart doing the rights things for the wrong reasons, carrying out plots that still kept in mind the wellness of others. He had not needed to donate the funds for the cats or to put his resources into outing a crooked professor. Intentional or not, selfish or not, Vicious was bringing a lot more good into the city than Eros had in a while.
Victor noticed him looking, catching Yuuri’s eyes inquisitively. “What?”
“Nothing,” Yuuri told him, keeping the blooming affection to himself. “I’m just… having fun.”
Victor beamed. “Good. Cause I wanna get you something.”
They said goodbye to Yuri and Emil, Victor’s hand finding Yuuri’s again. This time, Yuuri was taken across the hall to where artists were selling creations. Tables were lined with prints, charms, and tshirts. Some offered commissions, other selling comics and books.
Yuuri ended up with a Vicious dakimakura being bestowed upon him, the premium feature being the very motorboatable chest. “...What….”
“You said you thought he was hot and that you liked his chest!” Victor’s reasoning could not be argued.
In addition to that, there were doujinshi. Fan-made comic books, with many revolving around Eros, and many of them marked, 18+. He glimpsed one of Vicious and Eros. Wow, artists worked fast. Yuuri was tempted to take a peek at the contents, but Victor plucked the book out of his hands and shoved it back into the box with the others while blushing. Chuckling softly, Yuuri resolved to go without.
Victor did buy more Eros merch for himself, stopping to chat with artists he seemed to be on good terms with. If anything, it gave off the impression that most of his collection was less to do with his fanboyism and more to do with supporting those who created the merch. Yuuri stayed at his side the whole time, starting a small collection of Vicious pins and buttons along the way. Victor seemed very pleased, making recommendations along the way.
A check of the time placed them shortly before noon. Shopping complete, Victor proposed a trip to the concourse, telling Yuuri that a set stage often featured ongoings performances or other interactive events which could be a good place for a break. It turned out to be more than that.
On the concourse stage, a skit put on by two cosplayers had descended into madness when one of the couple dropped to his knee midway through the scene, holding out a ring. His nodding partner had her hands clasped over her mouth in shock as those in the crowd nearby roared in support of the surprise proposal.
The lights dimmed on the stage and throughout the rest of the venue. A purple fog descended from above, the music which had been playing in the background stuttering to a halt. On stage, the man shook his head in denial when his now fiance cast him a questioning look.
Dawning realization hit Yuuri in the second before the clap of thunder ripped through the halls. The fog burst into streams of light, stunted yells sounding as the newly engaged couple were torn from each other’s side by the purple light literally seizing them.
At the stage of the stage materialized Yuuri’s political science professor, clad in what could only be described as inappropriately sexy sorcerer's robes, an actual spell book in his hand.
“Beware one, beware all! Georgi is here to break your heart!”
Yuuri expected chaos to break loose, for those gathered around the stage to go fleeing. He was ready to spring to action, to help anyone that fell, to make sure people found the exits to the building safely. The reaction he received was the complete opposite. People flocked to the stage, cheers sounding. He snapped his head around, looking at Victor who appeared to be as bewildered as Yuuri.
“Isn’t that your professor?” Victor asked, arm bumping against Yuuri’s as a crowd of people pushed in around them. “The one who was taking bribes from students?”
“Yeah,” Yuuri said. “Yeah, it is.” He never expected that a day would come that he would witness Professor Popovich with a bare midriff and a Maleficent-styled high collar. The patterns of black and bruised broken hearts adorned the clothing, ominous.
The purple fog continued to roll off the stage and onto the floor. Yuuri focused onto it, vigilant as it crawled around the crowd. No one had an adverse reaction, hardly noticing. Yuuri could not relax, tipping up on his toes in order to gaze over the heads of those in front of him. The fog spilled from the spellbook in Georgi’s hand, holding the cosplayer couple hostage on opposite ends of the stage.
A quick glance over his shoulder had Yuuri’s heart falling to the pit of his stomach, watching more people clamor in. A show, they thought it was a show. Yuuri, however, had a very bad feeling about this.
“Attendees of this ridiculous excuse of a convention, listen here!” Georgi called out with a clap of thunder booming behind his voice, “I demand that you produce the two mooncalves known as Eros and Vicious so that I may exact my revenge against their indiscretions!”
“Mooncalves?” Yuuri asked, brows furled. What a colorful insult.
“Sounds kinda cute actually,” Victor replied, attention on the stage. “Your professor knows how to make a strong impression.”
“I can’t believe I called him doctor,” Yuuri muttered. He scanned the crowd, seeing if there was a break between the people he could take to escape. He could push through, let his hand slip out of Victor’s, lose him long enough to find somewhere to transform. Except in the time they had spent between the art gallery, the dealer’s hall, and the artist’s alley, people had filled the conventional hall. Finding a safe space would be near impossible and Yuuri doubted there were any conveniently located phone booths around in this decade.
A streak of purple lashed out like a whip, splitting the crowd. Next to Yuuri, someone had pulled out a phone to record, while someone behind him muttered compliments on production value. Yuuri tried to duck under and make a break for the edge, but was shoved back by more people coming to view the commotion. He was trapped in the crowd.
“What do you need Vicious and Eros for?” Victor shouted and it took everything Yuuri had not to clap his hands over that pretty mouth. Victor noticed and just smiled, giving a shrug of the shoulders. Right. Victor was stuck too, being called out just like Yuuri was. Except Yuuri knew of Victor’s alter ego. Victor, meanwhile, would be being cautious about his date. Yuuri did wonder if Victor actually thought he was fooling people with his disguises. Then again, Yuuri had seen suspiciously little speculation online comparing Victor to Vicious so maybe there was something he did not know or magic he was not affected by.
“They broke me from my love!” Georgi responded, the fog building around him. Yuuri could see the couple trapped by him struggling, voiceless, kept from yelling out for help by whatever magic Georgi controlled. “My beautiful Anya… All I wanted, all that I desired in life was to give her the proposal she deserved, to prove to her the worth of my affections for her. But they took that from me! I know what I was doing wasn’t right, but it was all for her, for my Anya! And those two fools cost me her love!”
“Anya?” Victor asked.
“His girlfriend,” Yuuri replied. The professor had waxed poetic about her on more than one occasion. A bit melodramatic and over the top, but most times Yuuri had been too tired or too stressed to pay it too much attention. He vaguely remembered Georgi mentioning working to save enough to buy a lavish engagement ring. This was an unexpected development. He guessed the whole firing over a student bribery scandal had not sat well with the girlfriend.
“If Vicious and Eros are not here to take responsibility for the strife they’ve caused, then I shall show you all, how brittle the bonds of love are!”
Wide eyed and unable to move from the sheer number of people around him, Yuuri watched as red threads appeared, spilling from the chests of the separated couple on the stage. Like strings binding them together, it linked the two from their hearts, a thread of love. From the spellbook, the fog morphed, taking shape, forming a pair of giant scissors hovering in the air.
With a flick of Georgi’s wrist, the scissors severed the red thread, breaking the couple’s bond. They were released by the magic holding them, dropped to the stage. They did not rush to each other. Georgi let them rise to their feet, taking them both by the hand and leading them to the front together. “My dear, you were being proposed to, did you still want to marry this man?”
A low murmur spread through the concourse as the trembling woman stared across at her partner and then, slowly, shook her head.
“Don’t be shy, weren’t the two of you in love?” Georgi prompted.
More muttering, the people who had been priorly cheering quieting down as it sunk in that what they were witnessing may not be a show put on by the convention. Yuuri felt Victor’s hand tighten around his and he held his breath.
The couple both shook their heads and when Georgi tried to encourage them to join hands, they drew away from one another. Georgi’s laugh pierced through the hall, sharp and gleeful in wicked success. “See! How fragile love is! It isn’t real, it’s a trap that’s only there to hurt us in the end. The world is better off without it!”
The book in Georgi’s hands began to shake, producing thick ropes of magic smoke that stretched for the crowd. Yuuri lunged, throwing his shoulder forward to ram through the crowd. Without transforming he could not use his powers, but if Georgi’s intent was to undo all the love in the hall, he could not stand for that.
The people in front of him did not give. Instead they pushed back as those toward the front began trying to scatter only to find they had nowhere to run. The smoke which had surrounded the concourse had formed a barrier, keeping them corralled inside.
A cord of magic snaked out, ensnaring another couple.
Yuuri’s shout was drowned out by numerous more when a piercing arrow of white light shot through the smoke, splitting through Georgi’s spell. His head snapped around, as did many other’s.
Above the gathered crowd floated a boy clad in a magical costume, his blond hair streaked with red. The tiny wings at his back flapped so fast they could barely be seen moving. A golden bow was in his grip, his expression fierce as he flew in. His skirt flapped over the heads of people in the crowd. Yuuri was extremely grateful for the shorts underneath it, equipped with the knowledge that Kupid Kenji was a bit too young to be ogled.
“Hey, weirdo, leave these people alone!”
Yuuri was disheartened to see that the crowd stopped shifting, caught up in the wonder that was a potential face-off between a magical boy and a brand new villain come to challenge.
That morning, all Yuuri had been hoping for a nice quiet first date with Victor. What he had pictured was a drive down to the beach, a good lunch, lengthy conversation that was not interrupted by Victor’s work or Yuuri’s exhaustion. Though, what more could he have expected from a date with Victor Nikiforov? The convention idea was cute and the Vicious body pillow was not a bad first gift. Thoughtful and practical. Showed off Victor’s character too, that he would not be jealous of Yuuri spooning another man… who was not another man. His point remained a valid one.
Even if he was hard-pressed to admit it aloud to anyone but Phichit, Yuuri had spent the last couple of years daydreaming about what a date with Victor would be like. Every cute Instagram post that came with his luminescent smile had Yuuri picturing ice cream shared off the same spoon at a Cold Stone, or dog washes turned to something much soapier and steamier. The classic combo of dinner and a movie would have been perfectly acceptable as well, concluded with an escort to his apartment door and a hesitating kiss goodnight that melted in inappropriately passionate make out against the hallway wall. That would have been normal.
Yuuri’s life had not been normal since he had woken up with a splitting headache and no recollection of how he had managed to acquire magical powers.
“This doesn’t involve you, Kupid!” Georgi snapped. “It’s Eros I want!”
“Yeah, well, duhhh, everybody wants Eros,” Minami rolled his eyes. “You obviously don’t know him very well, he doesn’t come to these sorta things.”
Didn’t. Yuuri didn’t come to these sort of things. The crowd keeping him from getting out and helping was an apt demonstration of why. Also, the idea of his own face staring back at him from every which direction was less than appealing. Yuuri liked having his identity kept secret, separating Eros from his everyday life. It was enough for him to deal with it when transformed or in costume for events, he was not sure if he could handle the whole world knowing exactly who Eros was. Yuuri Katsuki was nothing special on his own and he did not want to bring disappointment to fans of his. Like Victor beside him. He liked Yuuri, and he liked Eros, but put together would that still remain? People would be expecting someone far more glamorous behind the glasses. Not a university student who had to take an extra year to graduate because he wouldn’t get into the class credits he needed to fulfill his major requirements, due to the fact he kept oversleeping sign up time slots. Not much of a superpower.
“And if you’re messing with couples, then it does involve me!” Minami declared, holding a palm out flat. Another arrow of light generated in it. “Because I serve in the name of Eros and love!”
Yuuri resisted face palming. Only he. Only he would go on a date at too early in the morning, end up at a convention featuring himself, and get caught up in an actual battle between a crooked professor who wanted revenge against him and a magical fanboy of his. How was Victor taking all this?
A glance at Victor showed Yuuri a frown cut across his face, Victor’s body turned into position of a person also looking for the opportunity to find a way out of the crowd. Except, as far as Yuuri was aware, there was nothing Victor would be able to do to help even if they got to the barrier, unless Victor’s flower power allowed him to transform. Yuuri had guessed that they didn’t, otherwise Victor would not have had to buy custom boots or have gotten his cape snagged at Ice Castle. Yuuri had been curious about finding out the extent of Victor’s magic, but this was not the venue for it. The best they could do here was hope Minami distracted Georgi long enough for them to find a way to break the barrier and help get people out.
“Fine then, have it your way!”
Lightning strikes of purple shot through the crowd and at Minami. The magical boy crossed his arms to protect himself as he was struck and thrown back, nearly falling into the crowd. He launched an arrow, which was blocked by a broken heart motif materializing off the gloves Georgi wore.
Minami slung himself high into the air, three arrows strung across his bow at once. Two were rendered useless by countered magic, but the third struck Georgi’s shoulder, sending him stumbling.
Wings driving him, Minami swooped in, arrow aimed at Georgi’s heart. Lashes of purple magic struck out, clipping his wings. Minami crashed into the barrier, sliding down it. When he hit the ground, a quiver appeared at his back, brilliant with light and stock full.
Georgi dodged the shots fired at him, screams sounding as the arrows dissipated into the crowd. People pushed back against Yuuri, trying to get as far from the fight as they could.
“Enough!” From the pages of his book, Georgi pulled a spinning ball and threw it. The shield of light Minami produced in defense was knocked from his hands and vanished in the same instance, the boy bound by ropes of smoke.
Georgi’s magic seized more couples from before the stage, leaching out the red of their heartstrings as the Kupid struggled. The same scissors from before bore down, slashing in to cut threads of love.
Yuuri swore under his breath, throwing up his right arm, ready to take the risk and intervene. In that moment, Victor’s hand released his.
From around Georgi, vines of thorned blue roses burst, weaving him into them like a cage. The magic containing Minami and others faltered, turned to actual smoke as the person controlling it was caught off guard.
Yuuri spun, jumping as high as he could. He used the shoulder of the person in front of him to keep himself up, making a note of their clothes so he could apologize later. “Aim for the spellbook!” Yuuri shouted at Minami, catching the boy’s eyes and tipping up the frames of his glasses.
Shock quickly turned to determination and Minami nodded. An arrow that burned as red as the bows on Minami’s outfit was strung into his bow. It fired clean, piercing through the book in Georgi’s hand.
The smoke and roses exploded, barrier around the crowd shattering.
Yuuri had no time to choose a direction, his hand grabbed and jerked. The chaos Yuuri had envisioned earlier manifested as people fled. Victor had hold of him and was pulling him toward the nearest exit.
“No, we need to help them!” Yuuri shouted, tugging back. His shoulder was smashed into by someone running past.
“I’m not leaving!” Not until he made sure everyone was all right.
Yuuri ripped his hand from Victor’s and fought through the crowd going against him, pushing past those trying to get out. It was hard to hear over the voices shouting over each other, hard to see in the smoke encompassing the entirety of the concourse.
When Yuuri reached the front, Georgi was gone. Minami was on the stage which had been rocked out of position by the force of the battle. Yuuri clambered up to the couple who were still sitting atop the stage in shock. The smoke was fading, but Yuuri’s understanding of what had transpired did not become any clearer.
In Minami’s hands, the glowing red threads which had linked the couple’s hearts were split, frayed at the ends. His palms radiated light, attempting to repair the bond. The bow and quiver of arrows laid at Minami’s side where he kneeled, blowing at the threads as if rekindling a fire. They remained cut, the glow around them dimming.
“Kenji,” Yuuri said quietly. Minami knew who he was. Magical boys were the only ones who could see through each other’s masking magic. Fanboy or not, Yuuri did trust him to keep a secret.
“E--… Yuuri, can you do anything?” Minami held up his hands, the tattered ends of the threads within them.
Yuuri shook his head, able to feel it in the depth of his gut without reaching out to confirm. He had no magic of his own unless he was in Eros form, and in Eros form, he had no magic that could help. That spell was nothing like he had ever seen before. Eros could sense love in people, it was one of his powers, but he did not need to transform to sense that whatever had been between the couple had been severed. “I think… no one can force people to fall in love... I think it’s something they have to mend on their own.”
Minami let go, allowing the threads to fall and vanish. The man, who had still been clutching onto the engagement ring, pocketed it. Yuuri felt his own heart rip in two.
“Yuuri!” Victor had gotten past the crowd, stopping at the base of the stage. “Are they—are they okay?”
Physically, yes, it appeared they were. Yuuri could not answer otherwise. He jumped off the stage, helping the couple down as well. “He… he broke their hearts.” And Yuuri had not stopped it. He could have done more, he could have shoved his way through the crowd if he had really tried. He should have known that nothing good could have resulted from Georgi’s appearance, not in such a place, and not in such attire.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Minami said, his tone a put-on type of chipper. “I’m Kupid, after all!”
The smoke had cleared, the convention near empty of people. Outside the large hall windows, Yuuri could see groups and couples gathered close, taking in what had happened. The explosion had rocked the venue, staff in the process of evacuating. From down the way, someone yelled at them to get outside.
When Yuuri took a step forward, his shoe came down onto petals. Those roses. Those roses had been Vicious’s, the same shade of blue as from the university. Yuuri snapped to Victor, looking over him, at his hands, at all of him. Nothing had changed. Which meant Victor’s magic was not dependant on him being Vicious. “You—” He bit his own tongue. Not the place, not the time. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I can see why that class of yours might have been difficult.”
Despite himself, Yuuri cracked a smile. “We should, ummm, we should get out of here.”
Everything set in slowly. Police and ambulances arrived on the scene at the same time that the news crew pulled up. Those that had not witnessed the fight were huddled into groups with people that had, sharing accounts. Yuuri overheard that from the outside, the magic smoke had formed a dark dome keeping the concourse area enclosed and out of sight.
In his pocket, Yuuri’s phone vibrated relentlessly, alternating with notifications to Eros and those likely to be coming from Phichit. Yuuri laced his fingers through Victor’s to pull him away from where Sara and Morooka were interviewing convention attendants, Minami giving a statement to the police. “I want to go home.”
“Please, Victor, I want to go home now.”
That was all it took. Victor let go on his hand, sliding an arm around Yuuri’s shoulders instead. He led them through the crowd, dodging around reporters and the paramedics checking on the couple who had been attacked by Georgi.
The drive back was done in silence. Yuuri rested an elbow on the car door, chin in his palm. Wrong, he should have stayed, he should have talked to other people, to Minami. He should have talked to the couple, found out all that he could in case there was anything he could do to help. Except there wasn’t anything Yuuri could do. And Eros showing up after the fact would only make things worse. Why hadn’t he been there to stop it? What did he think would be accomplished by him popping into existence after it had all gone bad? What could he do?
He should have acted faster. Was his identity more important than someone’s love being torn apart? If Victor had not acted, hadn’t interrupted the magic, who else would have been affected? Yuuri should have anticipated this, that his actions would have had a consequence. He had given in to the temptation of helping Vicious out of his own spite, and this was the result.
When they arrived outside their apartment doors, Yuuri muttered an apology to Victor.
“I think that date didn’t turn out into what you expected,” Yuuri replied, keys clinking together when he pulled them from his pocket. His phone was still vibrating. He could only hope that Eros was not being summoned.
“No, I did not expect a fired political science professor to show up dressed in oddly sexy witch’s wear and cast spells against love on our date,” Victor replied with a smile, nudging his foot against Yuuri’s. “But how could I blame you for it?”
He could, Victor just didn’t know that Yuuri was the actual cause of the date gone awry. “Yeah… that outfit was weirdly hot, wasn’t it?”
Victor’s laugh was like a warm blanket wrapped around his shoulders, a comfort in a cold environment. “He’ll be sure to find some online fans dressed like that. Maybe one can become a new girlfriend and we won’t have the problem anymore?”
Yuuri could only hope. Nodding, he let out a sigh. “Thanks for inviting me out.”
“You sure you want to go in there on your own? I could keep you company.”
A tempting offer. Yuuri would have loved to follow Victor into his apartment instead, hug Makkachin, and maybe have another bowl of that delicious borscht. However, the messages on his phone would need addressing, and Georgi’s powers would need researching. Yuuri had gotten a good look at the spellbook, he could use the design on the cover to find out the source of the magic. First Vicious, now this. Ariaville wasn’t a quiet city anymore and Yuuri was scared of what would arise next.
“I-... I’d really like it, but I think I need a moment to myself. That was… that was a lot to take in.” Let Victor think he was overwhelmed, a perfectly ordinary reaction for someone to have. Yuuri needed to talk to Phichit first before he made the decision of whether to confront Victor. He needed to let it all sink in.
“Okay, you know where to find me.” Victor’s smile was a blessing, a relief that Yuuri wanted to bask in if only he had the time.
Yuuri waved, then laughed himself when Victor handed him the dakimakura purchased from the convention.
“Don’t forget him.”
“I won’t, thank you.”
Inside his apartment was quiet. Yuuri dragged himself to his bedroom and collapsed on his bed. His body did not feel drained like it normally did when he got home Post-Eros, but his mind was buzzing.
His phone buzzed too and Yuuri fished it out, opening the top notification. It was from Victor.
>> Magic drama aside, I had a wonderful date with you. Some place quieter next time?
Next time. Victor was asking him for a second one. After all that. Had not been much of a date, Yuuri would appreciate a do-over.
<< Yeah. Please?
Yuuri dropped his phone onto the mattress beside him. Sighing deeply, he buried his face into the chest of the Vicious body pillow, squeezing it tightly to him. Yuuri had messed up. Badly.
Chapter 13: Vicious' Victoriously Villainous Ventures of... loVe
>> Still out with Phichit?
<< Yeah, look what we got.
Yuuri sent a photo to Victor of a latte cup with a simple but cute art of a dog made from the cream. It had made half a smile tempt the corners of his lips when he saw it, picture snapped as soon as he and Phichit sat down with the mental note to show it to Victor later.
>> Not a poodle, 7/10 points
“Is that Victor?” Phichit asked from across the table, his own cup of coffee at his lips. The art he had requested for his latte had been a hamster, but the barista had apologized when it came out looking more like a teddy bear. Phichit had still taken roughly a hundred thousand photos and uploaded the best one with plenty of sparkles and exclamation marks.
“Mmm hmm.” Yuuri hummed confirmation as he typed back a response promising to be more specific with his latte art orders in the future. The outdoor patio of the cafe he and Phichit were sitting in was quiet for a Friday afternoon, but over the past week, all of Ariaville had been quiet.
The cell phone footage of Georgi’s attack and declaration against love had hit the news and social media hard. Dubbed Popowitch by some clever online commenters, the incident had left people feeling nervous. The cosplayer couple who had had their heart threads cut made statements on their accounts that they had formally broken up and would no longer be posting photos or working on costumes together, that all their future convention appearances as a pair were put on hold. That ate at Yuuri most of all.
Victor had taken Yuuri out on a second date, quieter as promised. An evening stroll through an outdoor mall and a dinner at a well-known romantic restaurant which had been empty on a Saturday night. They had both been surprised by that, until a waiter confessed that after the convention, most couples had cancelled reservations, not wanting to show affection in public. The city was scared and Yuuri didn’t know how he could help it.
Yuuri’s research on the spellbook had gotten him nowhere. The police were still in pursuit of the rogue professor, but he remained elusive. Making people fall out of love wasn’t technically a crime, but Yuuri felt that it should be. Yuuri’s only hope was that the arrow Minami had launched at the book had taken it out for good. He’d contacted his fellow magical boy after the fact, asked if Minami knew anything more than he did about the magic they had witnessed, but Minami had as much information as Yuuri did. Which was none.
The date with Victor had not really gone anywhere either. Yuuri blamed himself, too trapped in his own head. He had spent the half the dinner debating on whether to confront Victor about being Vicious. If he knew where Victor got his powers from, maybe Yuuri would be able to use that knowledge to learn where Georgi had gotten his. The other half the dinner, Yuuri had thought about how Victor might react to the knowledge that Yuuri was Eros and the only thing his mind kept coming back to was the worry Victor would demand to know why Yuuri had not helped that couple.
Because he had been more focused on saving himself than them. What kind of hero was that? Once he stopped to consider it, even if he had transformed in front of all those people, there was a chance his cloaking magic was strong enough that they still would not make the connection. He had spent a few hours at a magical boys convention with Victor, the biggest Eros fan around, and Victor still could not see that his neighbor was his idol. Yuuri should have taken the risk, he should have done it even if he knew he would be found out. A couple’s life together had been split because of his inaction.
The date had ended with Yuuri apologizing for being so quiet, Victor squeezing his hand in reassurance that it was fine. No passionate hallway make-outs, but Yuuri did not expect any after the grim mood had set in. Afterwards, Yuuri had even felt guilty hugging his Vicious pillow.
“Have you made up your mind?”
Yuuri sighed, turning his coffee cup from side to side. He had not been making any progress on anything at home, not school work, not research, not the statement he had considered putting out as Eros. Yuuri had not dealt with a magical villain before, because Vicious certainly did not count. Bank robbers, street criminals, corrupt city officials, sure. They had been easy. A flash of a skirt and a flick of a wrist, and Eros could have them captured, exposed, and put away for good. Saving kittens from trees, getting a beached shark back into the ocean, that was the kind of things he did. An actual magical dual, however, Yuuri would not even know where to start.
“What if I ask him and he doesn’t want to… see me anymore?” Yuuri’s crush on Victor had developed into affection. Victor was sweeter than Yuuri could have dreamed, everything about him burrowing in and making Yuuri feel like he had a hearth lit inside of him.
Despite the bad date, Victor had kept texting Yuuri, the silver lining on a dark cloud. Photos of Makkachin lazing on her back with curly belly exposed, daily notes with casual remarks about this and that, links to fanart of Vicious that Victor found online. That last one was all the more ridiculous knowing that Victor was simply texting fanart of himself to Yuuri, unaware that Yuuri knew he was doing exactly that.
Yuuri had saved his favorite ones, the majority of which featured Vicious’ heart-shaped chest window on prominent display. He had made a folder for them on his phone, one which Phichit had seen and renamed The Pecho Portfolio. Yuuri had also stumbled upon the artist who had done that R-18 Vicious/Eros doujin and had purchased a pdf version, but then felt far too embarrassed and self-conscious to actually read it. It remained unopened.
“Him not wanting to see you anymore because you saw through the worst disguise in the history of man seems like a lame excuse even for you.” Phichit raised his eyebrows at Yuuri and made a show of blowing on the surface of his coffee cup.
“He’s got his Eros thing though,” Yuuri muttered. He had a stick of sugar next to his hand, one of those paper ones. Yuuri had already tapped it on the table and played with it so much that it was starting to fall apart, in danger of spilling everywhere. He picked it up and rapped it against the table’s edge.
“Umm, Yuuri, I don’t wanna shock you or anything so it’s good that you’re sitting down, but… you’re Eros.”
“I know, I know…” Nothing fell together that cleanly. If Yuuri confronted Victor about Vicious and it went well, the probability of an Eros confession going haywire skyrocketed. How, Yuuri did not know, but he was certain that it would. Eros was gorgeous, confident, a flirt like Yuuri could not manage without the magic to help out. Having the two sides clash together into one couldn’t be what Victor wanted. It was best for everyone if Eros stayed Eros and Yuuri stayed Yuuri. Less mess. “I don’t know.”
Phichit leaned forward, giving Yuuri’s hand a swat to stop his fidgeting. “You like him, right?”
Enough to consider letting his magic shields down so that Victor would see Eros for Yuuri. After only a date and a half, and a bit more time spent together in between. It was stupid, a stupid thought, he didn’t know that much about Victor yet.
Except over the past week over text he had learned that Victor had studied design just like Phichit but had finished his courses in double the time. He learned that Victor sang in the shower, having overhead it through the apartment walls and sent a teasing text about it. He had gotten a video back of Victor in said shower, with a soaking wet Makkachin at his feet yipping along to the lyrics. He learned that the spare room that had been closed off in Victor’s apartment was his office and that it was more full of Eros merch than previously thought. He learned that Victor’s parents, who lived abroad, were also reportedly Vicious fans and had to resist asking whether they knew. He had learned all that and wanted more.
“Are you gonna keep dating him?”
“If he wants to.”
“Yuuri, your phone hasn’t stopped vibrating all morning. I don’t even text you that much. You’re both cute with your secret shenanigans but you’re gonna have to tell him at some point.”
At some point. That was the key. Did not have to be now, it could be down the road, after the nuptials. “I will, I just need time to figure this out. Can we change the subject to what I actually wanted to talk about?”
“You paid for the coffee, my time is yours.”
Yuuri’s phone buzzed again. Phichit cast him a pointed look. “I’ll put it away,” Yuuri promised, putting the phone on silent before sneaking a read of the message.
>> I have something to show you when you’re done.
<< We’ll head back soon. What is it?
>> You’ll see~
A blue rose petal landed in the center of Yuuri’s latte. It sat atop the foam, the color of sapphire. A perfect petal, plucked off a fresh rose in full bloom. Yuuri snapped around but the other tables remained empty. A few people milled out on the street, going about their daily business. A passing woman paused, hand going up to her head and off it she pulled another petal.
“Yuuri, look up,” Phichit said, so Yuuri did.
From the sky above, more petals materialized, falling from clouds the white of which appeared to be seeping in blue. As Yuuri watched, more and more petals descended on the square like rain. “Oh boy, what is he planning?” Yuuri had already scoped out the cafe and the area for the best place to run to for a transformation in case it came to be necessary. However, the decision of whether to do so was interrupted.
If the flowers from the sky were not enough, at the center of the square adjacent to the cafe, a rose bush sprang to life. From sprout to vines to buds to full bloom, it grew in the span of a second and then immediately burst into streams of petals. Vicious appeared from within it, stepping out with his custom Louboutin boots first.
“Your boyfriend’s here.” Phichit said, his gaze flickering from Vicious to Yuuri. He proceeded to puff a breath over the surface of his latte and take a long sip. Waiting, clearly with high expectations.
Yuuri’s expectations, meanwhile, were all over the place. His previous encounters with Vicious had been categorized as the absurdly ridiculous and after having gotten to know Victor the concern with becoming witness to something over the top only increased.
“Citizens of Ariaville!” Vicious declared, thrusting out an arm to catch the attention of anyone nearby. In his hand, a single long-stemmed blue rose sprouted into existence. “I’ve come to dominate—” He glanced down and the jerk in his shoulders gave away that he realized he was missing something, “—ah, fuck.”
Yuuri laughed. Somehow the vulgarity did not fit Vicious’ contradictingly innocent image. In an explosion of roses, Vicious was gone as quick as he’d come. The petal rain ceased.
Yuuri and Phichit both stared at the spot.
“Wait, he can—”
“—teleport?!” Yuuri had no idea how he was supposed to react to that. That made no sense. If Victor could teleport, why hadn’t he done so when stuck on the roof of Ice Castle? Or when running from Yuuri at the university? Or when— oh, that must have been how he had hit all the cat shelters in a single night. The mess of petals found at each location made sense if that was the case. Not a great way of being stealthy. The image of Vicious sneaking around and picking every petal up after himself was an amusing one.
More rose petals burst forth, creating a small mountain at Vicious’ feet when he reappeared. The rain restarted. Clearing his throat, Vicious retook his pose. This time, with Malicious at his side, holding something in her mouth. Over her ears, she wore a golden pair of what looked to be doggy earmuffs. “Citizens of Ariaville,” Vicious repeated, louder and bolder than the last, “I’ve come to dominate your hearts!”
The citizens of Ariaville regarded him with raised eyebrows as a layer of blue petals built up on the surrounding streets. He could not possibly fill the whole city square with jello, could he? Yuuri did not want to find out that Vicious had jello generating powers. Not when his Vicious merch collection was just getting started. That would make things weird in so many ways. What if Vicious did not have full control of his powers yet? After all he had said he was still figuring them out, not long ago. Yuuri could be on a hot date with Victor, things could be going really well, perhaps moving to between the sheets, some kissing, some grinding, some excitement, and then boom, jiggle jiggle.
“Hit it, Makka—licious. Malicious.”
Phichit snorted into his coffee.
Whatever Makka-licious was supposed to hit, she didn’t. Her tail wagged leisurely from side to side and she let out a muffled woof. Yuuri squinted. She was holding a cylinder in her mouth, a portable Bluetooth speaker. Vicious hurriedly pulled a cell phone from under his cape and hit a button.
The music was recognizable within the first few notes. Yuuri felt a crack on his lips, while Phichit fumbled for his phone so he could record what was happening.
What was happening was a musical number.
To keep the music playing within ear Malicious padded after her villainous owner, who skipped to the warbling of Gene Kelley. So this was the reason Yuuri had heard the same song repeated through the apartment walls. Vicious danced toward a couple who had been walking with distance between them, a gust of petals pushing them toward him when they tried to scatter. Vicious sang to the lyrics of Singin’ in the—“Flower!” he interjected loudly—Rain, handing the rose in his hand off to the man and prompting him to present it to his girl. When she accepted, Vicious linked their arms with a belt of, “What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!”
Yuuri raised his hands to his mouth, half in disbelief and half in horror, but the crack on his lips began to turn to a smile.
Vicious twirled in search of another couple to target, his cape whooshing behind him, sending fallen petals afloat. He sprinted across the square, leaping over the hood of a car. A parked one, otherwise Yuuri would have had a heart attack in his seat. A redhead had stopped alongside a brunette, and Victor produced a bouquet to hand to each, having them exchange the flowers.
“I’m laughing at clouds, so blue up above!” Victor carried on and Yuuri was actually disappointed that the two women did not fall in line as his backup dancers. That might have been too much to expect, even from the evil genius that was Vicious.
The golden cape swept through the square, music playing from an obediently prancing Malicious. Vicious carried on. He caught another pair coming of a shop together, and dropped into a low bow when his attempt to get them closer together resulted in a lot of hands waved in dismissal. Not a couple. Apologies. He was not discouraged, splashing through puddles of blue petals until he found more marks.
This time, Vicious encircled the designated couple, singing about being ready for love. He guided them into following his steps, leaving them to laugh and dance together. The previously quiet streets slowly filled with people, no doubt curious about the ongoings outside their buildings. All the more for Vicious to catch and guide into dancing, roses gifted to everyone that he passed.
As he entered the refrain, Vicious swung himself around a lamppost. Malicious followed him in a loop, tailing him as he tapped through his own magic petals and headed straight for the cafe.
“Oh no,” Yuuri breathed out.
“Oh yes,” Phichit replied, phone filming in hand, expression gleeful.
Vicious leapt over the short decorative fence separating the cafe terrace from the street, jumping atop the table next to Yuuri’s. He held out a hand an invitation, smile bright and eyes shining from behind his golden mask.
From a short distance away, a waiter rushed in, scowling. The villain took notice, immediately getting down and muttering an apology as he wiped the surface down with the edge of his cape. Vicious shrugged his shoulders in question and received an accepting nod in response. Composure regained, he twirled and two-stepped closer.
“Random citizen of Ariaville, join me in this dance!” Vicious offered his hand again.
It was everything Yuuri could do not to take it. Phichit kicked him under the table, making Yuuri leapt up in shock. A smirk and a thumbs up was flashed from behind Phichit’s phone. Vicious seemed pleased.
The glum mood which had been sitting over that part of the city had certainly lifted, overtaken by the sweet chirp of violins, excited chatter of observers, and the dancing of couples roped into Vicious’ scheme. Vicious’ hold settled on Yuuri’s waist, lifting him over the railing with a well-timed, “I’m happy again.”
Yuuri’s shoes sunk into a deepening pool of roses, but he had no time to process it, whisked across the square. His hand was in Vicious’, the other resting just below his collarbone. If Yuuri shifted his fingers a centimeter to the right, he would find the line of that heart-shaped chest window and be able to stroke the pecho. He resisted stroking the pecho. For now.
“I’m singing and dancing in the—”
“Flower,” Yuuri supplied.
The music took over, Malicious tailing them as Vicious led them in grand twirls and strides, kicking up petals like the biggest, softest droplets of rain. If Yuuri had been expecting something over the top, he was not disappointed. How devilish. A musical performance at the center of the city, what villain could ever come up with a plot more dastardly?
“Why are you doing this?” Yuuri asked, very aware of and very comfortable with the arm around his waist.
Vicious spun him out, creating a whirlwind of petals, and tugged him back in. They came together naturally, not a toe out of place. “Everyone’s so afraid to show their love and I won’t stand for it.”
“Because you love love?” Yuuri questioned with a laugh, yelping when he was suddenly dipped so low that the tips of his hair dipped into petals resting on the ground. A moment later, he was back in Vicious’ embrace, held so close he could smell the faint scent of roses blooming from Vicious’ skin.
“No! Because I, the vicious Vicious, shall permit no other do-bader take this city out of my reign of terror!” The declaration was firm and made with enough volume that it could be heard by others in proximity. His voice dropped, low only for Yuuri. “And there was someone I wanted to cheer up.”
Vicious… Victor was beyond charming. Yuuri was literally swept off his feet, lifted into the air once more, spun so that the whole city square would pass in his sight. But Yuuri had eyes only for Victor, for the blue behind that golden mask. His smile kept on spreading wider as they danced, matching steps. They pulled to and fro, hands remaining linked.
As the music picked up so did their pace, and as it settled so they did. Yuuri wanted to drop his head against Victor’s shoulder to hide how his cheeks stung from smiling, skin blushing with the realization. He could picture Victor practicing his apartment, planning to launch the city into a musical of his own making with the assistance of a far too obedient poodle and a bit of magic. Yuuri would need to come over and bake a hundred batches of pumpkin cookies for Makka-licious after this was said and done.
Victor’s hand rested on the small of Yuuri’s back, fingers splayed in gentle caress. Somewhere off to the side, Phichit was recording. All around, people were sure to be watching Yuuri sway in the arms of the city’s self-declared villain, but he could not bring himself to care.
Once again, Vicious had taken it on himself to do good. Unique and unpredictable, but exactly what the city needed. Dark magic had intimidated the affection out of people, and what was that if not a win for those exact intentions? Yuuri was supposed to Eros, the purveyor of love, yet here was his supposed nemesis accomplishing what Eros would never think to attempt. With a bit of charm, Vicious had the whole city singing and dancing for it.
The petals had stopped falling from the sky. Yuuri hardly noticed. He wanted to lift the Vicious mask, gaze at Victor properly. Stare and lose himself in the blue, in the wonder of how much he adored this. This, this was all they needed. Yuuri did not need to run himself ragged with worry, be concerned with finding spellbooks. A bit of lightness and joy, that was all. After all, a single ray of sun was all that was needed to pierce through the dark.
The final notes of the song faded out, but Yuuri did not want to let go. He wanted to hang on, to start on a reprise. His hand slipped from Victor’s, coming to rest on his chest, right above his heart. His actual heart. Yuuri could feel it beat, pounding, fluttering, skipping all at once, a perfect match for his own.
Yuuri lost himself in the blue after all, falling from the fan of silver lashes above it. His fingertips curled in, clinging on. The silence between them buzzed with the noise all around. Yuuri wanted to prolong the moment, to commit to memory the feeling of Victor’s arms draped loose around his waist, the heat from their dance, the sight of the heart-shaped smile on Victor’s shimmering lips. Yuuri vaguely wondered if the gloss was flavored. He found out the very next moment.
Victor— Vicious caught him in a kiss, so sweet it ripped a mewl from his throat in the very same second that it came. Yuuri’s glasses caught on the mask and his breath caught on Vicious’ mouth. His lips were soft, like kissing the petals which surrounded them. Yuuri would not mind falling into them together, content to let himself live in the kiss till time stripped them bare. He kissed back, seeking out more.
From the gathered crowd came a whistle, then applause, spreading like wildfire.
Vicious snapped away, eyes ballooning behind his mask, jaw dropping slack. “Uhhhhh…”
“Wow,” was all Yuuri could manage.
“B-beware, your heart has been... dominated!”
Yuuri could not help but laugh, his face burning bright, undoubtedly a similar shade to Eros’ underskirt.
That seemed to yank Vicious out of his daze. He sprang to attention, casting Yuuri a lingering look, and was off. However, he did not flee the scene like Yuuri thought he might. Instead, he sprinted to the cafe and launched himself over the railing, grabbing Phichit’s face with both hands. Vicious then laid a big, deliberate smack on Phichit’s lips. “Dominated!” he shouted, jumping over a table as he ran.
Vicious grabbed one of the dancing couples, kissing both their cheeks. “Dominated!” He spun, cape whirling behind him, focus landing on Sara and her date. When he tried going for them, he got a stern look and quickly rerouted for a pair more than willing to accept a kiss. “Dominated!”
Yuuri stood in the center of the square, arms wrapped around himself to try to soothe the ache in his ribs from laughing so hard as Vicious did a full round of cover-up kisses, yelling about dominating every single heart in the city.
When no one else was in reach, Vicious whistled to his dog and threw his cape around himself, Phantom of the Opera style. “Love, in! Vicious, out!” With a hand on Malicious’ head, he vanished into an explosion of petals which were not blue but a burning blush red.
Vicious certainly knew how to make an impact. Despite his disappearance, all the roses and petals remained. Yuuri waded through them, back to the cafe. He stopped at the rail.
“Whoa,” Phichit murmured, phone still in hand, still recording.
“I think I got tongue,” Phichit deadpanned, face uncharacteristically blank.
With a sharp laughing scoff, Yuuri punched his shoulder, retaliation for earlier. “You did not.”
Yuuri refused to answer the question. It did not matter. Vicious had kissed him. Victor had kissed him. Gotten as swept up and carried away as Yuuri had, and kissed him. That was going to take more than a minute to process.
“Yuuri, you gotta—”
“Yeah, I know!”
There was only one thing to do.
Yuuri did not have teleportation powers, but he had determination. Phone and wallet grabbed, Yuuri took off. He dodged around people milling around, those taking photos of the flowerified square, avoided Sara when he saw her coming toward him. The sound of his rapid footfalls echoed behind him, sprinting the distance. It was not so far, a half hour walk from the apartment to the cafe that he and Phichit had taken together. Yuuri ran it in less than ten.
He took the stairs two at a time, down at the end of the hall in a blink of an eye. Yuuri forwent the doorbell, knuckles rapping on the door to 206. His heart pounded, breath strained. One, two, three, four, the lock clicked and the door swung out.
Victor was there, out of costume, his casual clothes rumpled in a way that said they had just been thrown on. Behind him, Yuuri glimpsed a mess of red flowers mixed with blue all over the floor, the Louboutin’s discarded against a wall, not quite out of sight.
A blue rose petal was stuck between the strands of Victor’s hair. His mouth hung open, previously perfect lipgloss smeared, blue eyes blinking in surprise. “Yuuri—”
Yuuri stepped in and grabbed Victor by the shirt collar, crashing their mouths together.
The second kiss was nothing like the first had been. Yuuri’s grip on Victor’s shirt collar loosened, their lips smooshed together, and he risked opening his eyes. What he saw was a shocked ocean of blue blinking back at him. Victor wasn’t kissing back. He was stiff as a board, the look in his eyes one of a spinning pinwheel stuck in processing mode.
Yuuri pulled back and sucked in a lungful of air, psyching himself up. Really, that should have been for the kiss, but the kiss had been relatively easy after a topspeed sprint across the city. Now came the talking and Yuuri would honestly much prefer to kiss Victor a hundred more times rather than have to explain himself. Shame his lips couldn’t explain it for him. Except they could. Not in that way. He knew what he meant. Less in the oral way and more in the oral way. Aaaaaaaaand now he was thinking of blowjobs, goddamnit. Get yourself together, Yuuri, now was not the time to be thinking about Victor’s dick.
Victor’s slack jaw went taut, brows furrowing. “Yuuri—”
“I know you’re Vicious!”
There. That wasn’t so bad. Out with it, so that he would not have to dance around the issue or stumble over which words were the right ones and which were the ones that were gonna end up spilling more than he wanted. Yuuri stood back, coming off the tips of his toes to rest his feet flat. With Victor still standing on the step into his apartment, the height difference between them was accentuated. Yuuri had to look up, making him very aware with the intensity with which Victor was regarding him.
Oh no. What if he had messed up? What if Victor hadn’t actually wanted to kiss him? That was very sudden and very much without warning and Yuuri had not even done the cute thing of asking permission like he had imagined doing once or twice or a hundred times in his daydreams. Here Victor was only thinking of them as friends and Yuuri had kissed him out of the blue because of a dance with Vicious gone rogue and—... Victor was Vicious. Yuuri had come here because Victor was Vicious and Vicious had kissed him, meaning Victor had kissed him. Put on a show-stopping musical number that would be sure to shut down the city square for a good half day with all the accrued flower petals because he had wanted to cheer Yuuri up. And kissed him. Long and sweet and slow. With just a hint of tongue. Take that, Phichit. Okay, Victor had definitely wanted to kiss him.
Victor cleared his throat, posture straightening as he seemed to regain himself. He crossed his arms over his chest, defensive. “I’m not Vicious.”
Yuuri could counter that in about a hundred and fifty-two different ways, but he went for the most direct route. He pointed behind Victor, at the pink and gold Louboutin’s and mess of scattered flower petals.
“That’s for a design project.”
“Victooooor,” Yuuri whined in imitation of the way Victor liked to stretch out his name, stuck between laughing at the boldness of the lies and declaring Victor an idiot for thinking Yuuri would fall for such.
“Okay but shush.” Victor leaned forward, checking the apartment hallway to see if anyone else was out and may have heard Yuuri’s assertion. Hallways confirmed empty, he grabbed Yuuri’s hand and pulled him inside.
Still no hallway makeout session. Yuuri would be damned if he did not earn one eventually.
“Ummm, sorry for the mess, I-.... uhhh...” A first, for Victor to be lost for words. Normally he was stunning Yuuri with his ability to be suave in any situation. It was charming in its own way.
“You teleported,” Yuuri supplied, following Victor into the living room. It looked as if a flower shop had exploded, rose petals covering the couch, half the coffee table, dusting the tops of hung picture frames. Makkachin was sitting at the lip of the kitchen, her head hung, gaze directed at her water bowl which at present resembled a romantic bathtub experience. Meaning it was filled with floating petals. Poor girl. She was still wearing her golden ear muffs as well. Yuuri walked over to remove them, now that music was no longer blasting all around her.
“You can teleport.” What a useful power. Yuuri would never be late for a lecture again. Life would be so much more efficient if he could pop in and out of existence. Commuting times, a thing of the past. Never too lazy to move from room to room again. Elevator out of order? No sweat.
“Well, as you can see, it’s not exactly without its drawbacks.” Victor gestured around the apartment. “I’d just found the last of the petals from last time.” He cleared off one of the high stools at the kitchen bar, inviting Yuuri to sit. Snatching up Makkachin’s water bowl before she could stick her paw into it in an attempt to fish the petals out, he took it to the sink for cleaning. “You… wait, I had barely figured out what I was doing, how did you get here so quickly?”
Easy. Booked it the second he realized the man of his dreams had kissed him in a grand public gesture. No big deal. “I ran,” Yuuri confessed, blush heating up his cheeks. Ran for his life because he had wanted a second kiss and to make a declaration of his own.
Tap turned on, Victor rinsed Makkachin’s bowl and filled it again, setting it down for her. She did not go for it, continuing to regard it with apparent suspicion. Yuuri couldn’t blame her. He’d be suspicious if his water bottle randomly generated flowers.
“You did all that for me,” Yuuri continued, voicing the words to himself as much as to Victor. “I-... I wanted to say thank you.” The sweetness of the smile Victor wore in response had Yuuri flailing internally. Cute. Cute, cute, too cute, oh was he going to have to ask Victor to be his boyfriend because if he did then he’d need to hyperventilate into a paper bag first despite knowing that was no longer the recommended treatment for such a scenario.
“Did it lift your mood?”
It had made Yuuri soar. Because Victor was absolutely right. When someone threatened love, the proper response was not to hide it away. It was to rise to the challenge, to face wrongdoing directly. Backing down would mean letting Georgi think he had won. Victor had people dancing in the streets in a show of mutual adoration, celebrating love like it was meant to be celebrated. Surely, love was stronger than any dark magic, if it wasn’t repressed and held back from blessing the world with its brilliance.
“Then my work here is done,” Victor said with a smile. Yuuri could feel himself going over the ledge of a cliff and falling hard. Plunging straight to the bottom without a parachute or even an inkling that he may need one. “I do have one question.”
Marry him, yes, absolutely. Secure that smile in his life for the rest of forever. Definitely not rushing into anything. They could have an Eros/Vicious themed reception. Makkachin would obviously be the ring bearer. “Yeah?”
“How’d you know it was me?”
That was not the question he had been expecting. Truthfully he wasn’t expecting a marriage question either but a boy could dream.
“It’s... really obvious?” Yuuri shrugged. It did throw him for a loop, that no one online had commented on the resemblance between Victor and Vicious. He had expected floods of accusations after the triplets’ photos from Ice Castle, even if Victor’s face had not been captured well in any of them. None came. Again when the security footage from the cat shelters went public, certainly after the university incident. Yuuri kept expecting to run into police in the apartment lobby, but none came. His assumption had been that Victor had some expert hacker friend who was scrubbing the web of any mention of the connection between Ariaville’s new villain and the Instagram star.
“Is it? The mask’s supposed to keep me protected.”
“I mean, it’s not like it’s magic…” The mask could not do much for the piercing blue eyes or the signature silver hair. Also, the mask did not cover that pecho. Though Yuuri supposed it could not be used as an identifying feature by the general public, he hoped that sooner or later he would be very well acquainted with it on an extremely personal level. At which point he would be able to use it as an identifying feature. That sheer shirt Victor had worn to the convention had given a teasing sliver of a promise that they were heading in that direction. The kiss had helped cement it too.
It is. It is?!
But what about when Yuuri had— oh. Oh. Yuuri hadn’t. Yuuri had not realized it was Victor at Ice Castle until after Vicious had lifted the mask to wink at Eros. Which meant that Vicious had purposefully revealed his identity to the man he had called his arch nemesis. Which also meant, that while Eros was meant to know who Vicious was, Yuuri wasn’t. Yuuri wasn’t supposed to know.
If Vicious’s mask was magic in the same way that Yuuri’s glasses were, that meant only Eros should know. Yuuri had never seen Vicious without the mask. Quick, he needed something, an excuse. Yuuri had always been immune to magic, since birth, yes. The spring water of his hometown had that property, made everyone see straight through cloaking magic. Nothing got past him, in fact, he knew Kupid Kenji’s secret identity too, and Eros’s, just ask him— no, no, don’t ask, don’t do that, that was a whole other issue. “Oh, I-... when you… when we were…” Sweat was breaking out around his collar, his heart pumping as hard as it had in the city square during the— “kissing. When you kissed me. My— my glasses clipped your mask and I saw your face. After that, it was… really obvious. Makkalicious and… yeah.”
Victor listened to Yuuri’s rambling with nothing but pure affection writ dumbly across his face. “The Makkalicious was my bad.”
“I liked it. Makkalicious definition make them boys go loco.” Yuuri really needed to stop listening to Phichit’s playlists.
The laugh burst out from Victor, loud and bubbling like a bottle of shaken champagne. Yuuri was in love with the sound, smiling with pride at being able to draw it out. The smile slipped with the gymnastics routine Yuuri’s heart decided to launch into when Victor approached, sliding in, hand coming up to caress the side of Yuuri’s face.
The frantically rhythmic pace in his chest skipped a beat, then two when Victor’s lips met his. Suave. Yuuri moved his lips against Victor’s, relishing the warmth of a kiss they were both prepared for and one that needed no interruption. Yuuri’s hands, previously bunched in his lap, traced up the line of Victor’s chest, settling flat over those unfairly defined pectorals. Forget the Vicious dakimakura, Yuuri wanted to use Victor as his pillow.
Yuuri tried his hardest to contain the whimper when Victor sucked ever so gently on his lower lip before pulling back. Yuuri chased him, claiming the kiss for a moment longer, not yet wanting to let it go. Kissing the image of Victor he had formed in his head had been pleasant. Kissing Victor for real left his legs so weak Yuuri was afraid he’d collapsed if he hadn’t been sitting. “Okay, I-... I have one question for you too.”
The fingertips of the hand caressing his face stroked gently from his hairline around the shell of his ear, Victor’s thumb moving across his cheekbone. Yuuri could melt from that alone. “Of course, anything.”
Yuuri was going to break the moment, but he needed to know. He needed to understand what he was getting himself into before he dug a hole too deep, all the while knowing he was already nearing the bottom. “The whole Vicious thing. You’re-… I think you’re doing a lot of good with it, but… why do you like Eros so much?”
A sigh. Victor’s hand dropped, and Yuuri’s heart sank, but Victor did not draw back. Instead, he took one of Yuuri’s hands in his and gave it a squeeze. “You’re right, I do owe you an explanation for that. Promise you’ll listen the whole way through?”
Rubbing the back of his neck, Victor took a moment to find the right starting point. He moved away from Yuuri, taking a seat at the end of the small dining table at the edge of the kitchen, facing Yuuri with nothing between them. He patted his knee and Makkachin padded over to him, resting her chin in his lap. His fingers sunk into her fur, scratching her head. “Last year, Makkachin and I were working as guest hosts at a dog show. It was here in Ariaville, I don’t know if you know it—”
Yuuri confirmed that he did, sitting up straighter. He knew it. Very well.
“—I’m sure you saw it on the news, but halfway through, something happened and the building collapsed. At that point in my life, I had been feeling a bit lost. Like I wasn’t doing much? Taking photos of dogs and making cute accessories on occasion didn’t seem like much of a job even though I was devoting every minute I had to it. I was burned out and exhausted, and then the world literally collapsed on top of me.”
Yuuri remembered the incident. It had dominated the news cycle long after it had occurred, investigations turning up that bribery, bad materials, and a lack of building code enforcement had left Ariaville with more than one building on the verge of crumbling. Eros had spent weeks assisting the police with catching the corrupt city officials and contractors responsible for it. An arduous process but it had built his relationship with the force. The city had recovered well, but not without its losses.
“Makkachin and I were trapped in it, we couldn’t move for hours. All I was trying to do was stay conscious to keep her safe, make sure she wasn’t hurt. I kept listening for someone, so I could get her out. I thought no one would come, but then Eros showed up. I remember this light behind him that made him look like an angel as he lifted half the roof off us all by himself.” Victor laughed, but it was short and strained, catching in his throat. “He made sure we were okay, calmed down Makka, and pulled us out. He pulled out half the people in the building and helped find even more.
“Back then, I felt like I was a wreck up until he saved my life. In more ways than one, really. Saved Makka, too. I had never really paid much attention to all the magical boys before that, but after that happened, I started to. And I saw again how much fun life could be, through him, through the simple things. I never got to thank him for what he did and— it’s really dumb so it’s fine if you want to tease me— but I saw him at a press conference a while after that and he seemed so sad. I thought I could thank him by brightening his life up a bit, bring some adventure in and make other people see how much good he did. Make him see how much good he did. Not just through what he does in terms of activities, but how much joy he brings to those people who follow him. I wanted to make him and others love life like I did after that. That’s why. That’s why I came up with Vicious. Well, and because I wanted to meet him again.”
Yuuri didn’t know what to say. He didn’t… he didn’t remember it. Not that he didn’t remember any of it, but he didn’t remember Victor. That day had been chaos. Yuuri lost count of how many people and their pets he helped save from the rubble. He had been focused on finding anyone who was breathing, getting them to the firefighters and ambulances at the scene. The people he did carry out on his own were covered in dust, in the powdered cement of the collapsed building, bleeding, some barely conscious. Faces had blurred. Yuuri could hardly remember any of them. A few he had met as Eros, at a ceremony thanking him for his aid, but not Victor. Yuuri didn’t remember Victor. It had to be true though, why wouldn't it be? It made sense then, how Makkachin had bowled him over that first day and clung to him fondly since. She was not greeting a stranger, but someone who had saved her and her owner. Cloaking magic didn't work on animals.
“Is that ridiculous?” Victor asked, eyes lifted, searching for Yuuri’s.
“No… No, it’s not.” How could it be? If anyone else had saved Victor, Yuuri would have thrown himself head first into their fanclub from that story alone. Despite what he did, Yuuri did not think of himself as a hero. Most of his activities were not nearly that serious, treading more along the line of his first encounter with Vicious. He was there to help when people needed him. It was his duty with the power he had been given. His magic did not make him into anything more special than the people who fought to serve without it. All he could do was his best, for as long as he had it. “How did you get your powers?”
Victor’s scratching of Makkachin’s head paused. He lifted a hand, tapping a finger against his lips. “Actually, I’m not entirely sure. After I saw that conference from Eros, I ran myself ragged trying to come up with what I could do. I had already built up an online reputation for being an Eros fan, but I thought that might scare him off more than anything.”
Yuuri was ashamed to admit that it might have, if Victor had not been so hot and charming. It helped that he had been aware of Victor, a fan of Makkachin’s account and by proxy her owner’s once that started getting popular. Seeing more Eros merch and designs start dominating Victor’s products and home had been both flattering and stroke-inducing. Phichit had cackled with each update.
“I ended up stumbling onto some weird Russian bar down this alley one night. I remember a lot of strong vodka, complaining about my woes to a frighteningly tall woman, and pricking my finger on a glittering rose that had been set next to me. Morning after, I woke up in a bed full of petals. Couldn’t find that bar again though, no matter how much I looked,” Victor concluded.
Yuuri thought that all sounded vaguely familiar.
“Discovered not long after that, I’d gained a bit of magic.” With the statement, Victor made a rose bud materialize in his hand, growing it into a blossom and bringing it to full bloom. He held it out to Yuuri with a smile. “Although, it took me a lot of time to figure out what I was supposed to do with actual flower power.”
Yuuri accepted the rose, twirling it between his fingers. Each time they spent even a moment together, Victor surprised him. How had Yuuri found himself someone so good and kind and wondrous? Victor was beyond all his expectations, meeting every doubt with a reassurance.
“Yuuri, you don’t mind, do you? Me being Vicious. I admit I was doing it to get Eros’s attention. Because if you did—”
“I don’t. I understand. You… you want to thank him, right?” Victor had wanted to cheer up Eros, just like he had cheered Yuuri up that day. If he hadn’t been Eros, Yuuri would have still seen the purity in that. Sure, it would have been a bit harder to believe Vicious could actually accomplish his mission if his magical boy of choice had turned out to be the stone-faced Seungsational, but Yuuri would have accepted nevertheless.
Victor had succeeded. Vicious had left his mark on Eros and for all his efforts, he had earned the right to know. Besides, actions spoke louder than words, and Yuuri was pretty sure by Vicious’ actions he had been influenced by Yuuri more than Eros of late. Victor had told him so much more than he needed to. Telling Victor the truth, that Yuuri understood him entirely and did not oppose in the least because he was Eros, that would be fine, wouldn’t it?
There was no harm Yuuri could think of from letting his secret out to Victor. It was an incredible amount of trust to be giving to a new relationship that did not even have a label yet, official or otherwise. If something went wrong, Victor would know a lot about Yuuri. But Yuuri knew a lot about Victor. He knew kissing didn’t exactly equal relationship but what about a couple dates, plus constant texting, plus the kissing? Combined with sharing intimate life details? Yuuri really wanted a relationship. But that meant trust and honesty, which Victor deserved.
Victor had let Yuuri in. He should meet him halfway.
Yuuri’s backpocket vibrated, the short bursts signifying a message to Eros. In the same moment Victor’s phone, which had been resting atop the bar, began to buzz along the countertop. Trading looks, they each grabbed theirs, finding that they had been sent the same notifications from different sources.
Yuuri’s came from Phichit, accompanied by more than the necessary amount of exclamation points and horror-face emojis.
>> DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE BANGING HIM (if you are, hella get it!) WATCH THIS STAT
Swiping the text notification away before Victor could read it, Yuuri opened the link to a video. The audio from it started in tandem with the video playing on Victor’s phone. Yuuri quickly muted his. He leaned over, watching what they had been sent with Victor.
It was Georgi, recorded staring down the lens of the camera, makeup heavy and glittering. Perhaps Yuuri had overheard too many of Phichit’s tutorial streams, but he had to admit, Georgi’s eyeliner game was on point. He should have been a cosmetology teacher instead.
“I speak to Eros and Vicious, and to all those who galavant their love in the public eye while those who have been cursed with misfortunate weep in their shadow!”
“Wow, even more melodramatic this time,” Victor quipped and Yuuri dug an elbow into his ribcage to shush him.
“Today’s festivities were a mockery! You’re fools to think love is something that brings joy. It brings heartbreak, and kindness would be to speed the heartbreak along, so that the healing can begin. Which is why I intend to break the heart of every romantic who dares to fall in love, starting with those who flaunt it, careless of poor souls like mine who have been separated cruelly from theirs. Not long from now, the mayor of Ariaville intends to marry! If he and his fiancée think their love is stronger than my magic, let them try! Eros, if you’re not too cowardly, you’ll come face me rather than hide away! And Vicious, you might regret your stunt today, for I know exactly who your special someone is…”
The video cut to deep-throated laughter, Georgi fading out to a photo of Vicious and Yuuri kissing in the city square. In it, purple smoke surrounded Yuuri and a red thread stemming from his heart to Vicious’s was shown to be severed.
“Let us see if love wins when it comes against the Popowitch!”
The clip ended, screen going black with the option to play the video again.
Slowly, Victor set his phone down and turned to Yuuri. Conflict and concerned weighed down his expression, smile from before ripped away. “Yuuri…”
“We have to stop him,” Yuuri interjected. This was fine, this was perfect. Because now they knew exactly where Georgi would strike and could be ready for it. A challenge, to be sure, since the mayor wasn’t fond of Eros and surely not fond of Vicious. But that did not matter. Yuuri was not going to let anyone else lose their love. “That’s JJ’s wedding. The ceremony’s in a couple of days. Georgi’s gonna do the same thing he did to the couple at the convention!”
“Yuuri, he threatened you, too! I’m an idiot, you were his student, of course he’d recognize you.”
“I’m fine.” If Georgi tried coming for Yuuri, he would face the surprise of a lifetime. Yuuri had put himself first the last time around, he was not going to do it again. “I’m E-... I can take care of myself.”
It wasn’t the right moment. Yuuri would tell Victor his secret, but he needed to wait until they could take the time to discuss it, to figure things out without something more important looming over them. In that moment, their focus needed to be on Georgi and his plot.
“I have to go,. I have an idea, but I need to find Phichit. I promise I’ll be okay.” Yuuri jumped off the stool, pocketing his phone. He needed to concentrate, to make a plan, to be ready for his first real magical battle. He gave Victor a smile, and with a spark of determination, swooped in to kiss the corner of his mouth. “Don’t do anything reckless, Vicious.”
Looking about to protest, Victor just smiled and let him go, calling after him. “Do you at least think we might be able to squeeze in another date before our threads are threatened?”
Yuuri was at the door, slipping into his shoes. “I’ll pick you up at eight.”
Telling Victor that he knew of his secret identity as Vicious turned into a huge relief for Yuuri. It also turned their dinner together into one giant fest of Victor burying his face in his hands as Yuuri recounted every piece of fanart and every merchandise link Victor had sent him, armed with the knowledge that Victor had been peddling himself the whole time. Victor had practically slunk under the table when Yuuri reminded him of Victor’s musings over whether he should add matching Vicious designs to his Eros product line, whining at Yuuri to quit and permit him to enjoy his dessert in peace.
When Yuuri got home, he made sure to text a photo of himself snuggled up to the Vicious dakimakura and laughed loudly when Victor pounded on the wall separating their bedrooms in response. The pounding prompted a concerned appearance from Phichit, who took one look at Yuuri in bed with the body pillow and walked out, shutting the door behind him. Victor later messaged him claiming that it was unfair, lamenting that he did not have a Yuuri pillow for himself. Yuuri barely resisted confessing that he already did.
In the lead up to the wedding, Yuuri tried reaching out to JJ. All his calls and messages went ignored, though Yuuri did not know what he would say if they had been taken. Not like Eros could command the mayor to call off his wedding. He did get in contact with the police, who informed him that they did intend to have people on the lookout for a crazy purple witch on the day of the ceremony.
Yuuri made an excuse for himself for the wedding day, citing a school project and wishing Victor well. Vicious intended to make an appearance, answering Georgi’s call. Yuuri did warn Victor to be careful, told him not to do anything risky but to do his best to keep JJ and Isabella’s threads of love from being severed. Victor seemed more preoccupied with Yuuri’s well-being, taking promise after promise that Yuuri would stay away from the ceremony at the risk of being targeted by Georgi instead. Yuuri said he would stay with Phichit and that he would not tell anyone where he’d be, that he would be sure to keep safe. Which was half-true. Technically, Yuuri would be non-existent while Eros attended the wedding. Yuuri would be in no danger.
It should have been expected, but the wedding was a grand affair. Just outside Ariaville, a large church of white sat amongst a field of green with summer flowers in bloom all around it. Inside, the main hall was decorated in bouquets of purple dahlias and sweet pea blossoms, like-tinted laces leading down between the pews. Even before the ceremony, people milled around. Maids of the bride and groomsmen made sure everything was ready, whispers of the potential threat echoing in the vaulted ceiling.
Yuuri glimpsed a few officers in plainclothes on his way in, dodging carefully to avoid being spotted. In that instance, the ability to done different clothes would have been an advantage, but Yuuri had turned up already transformed. He did not want to risk the same situation as at the convention, being caught where he could not turn into Eros without potentially exposing himself. Added in, that if Georgi did show, Yuuri may not have the extra time to steal away in order to do so. The best he could do was some spell he had never attempted before, but assumed possible. He layered on the strength of his cloaking magic, hoping it might keep him from being spotted altogether. Whether it worked he was not sure, but he made it up to the second floor balcony which hosted the organ without being spotted.
Guests began to arrive, dressed in formal wear. Yuuri stayed vigilant, on his toes. Literally on his toes, as otherwise his heels clicked and he did not want the sound attracting attention to himself. He saw JJ, dressed in a fine suit of dark grey with purple accents, chatting loudly with his guests, shaking hands with those who came in. Yuuri had to bite the inside of his cheeks when he noticed that, wherein there were brides who wore tiaras, JJ wore a crown. What kind of statement that was to be making as mayor, Yuuri wasn’t sure, but since it was his wedding Yuuri decided to let it pass.
The extensive wooden pews were filled one by one with guests. Ushers led them to the proper area, while a couple servers kept to the back and sides, offering drinks and small hors d’oeuvres to people as they waited for the ceremony to begin. The designated time approached and just as Yuuri began to wonder about Vicious’ whereabouts, he appeared.
Considerate enough not to explode into floral existence in the middle of the church, Vicious instead came strutting through thrown-open doors, drawing attention to his flashy self in a sweep of his golden cape. He only seemed to realize this when all heads turned, a hundred pairs of eyes focused on him. Yuuri slumped back against the wall. Amongst all his notes to Victor, he had forgot to tell him not to upstage the wedding.
JJ, having been previously speaking to his best man, rushed up the aisle to jab a finger straight into the center of Vicious’s heart-shaped breast window. “What are you doing here?!”
Vicious blinked behind his golden mask, mouth open in a way that clearly indicated he had not prepared an excuse. Yuuri had prepared an excuse. Not a good one but he had fully expected to be noticed prior to Georgi’s appearance, if he did grace the event with his presence. The Eros excuse was that he was present to protect and to serve, in the name of love. JJ and Isabella’s love, which Georgi had promised to sever. Yuuri did realize that Eros and Vicious making an appearance at the wedding may increase the possibility that Georgi would show, but he was not going to take chances by skipping and leaving the couple without any magical protection whatsoever.
“Ummmm, you invited me?” Vicious tried, posture straightening with confidence. “I am here to celebrate your bond in holy matrimony. Congratulations, TJ!”
“That’s what I said.”
Yuuri was this close to revealing himself, just to avoid the furthering of the embarrassment unfolding in front of his eyes. He would take Vicious by the shoulders and wheel him away, hiding the both of them in the back, behind some curtain, until the time came that they were needed. The image of being tucked in the folds of wedding decorations, white hanging around Vicious like a veil filled his mind. With all the pink and gold, the white might clash on someone else but Victor could make anything work.
Another date, another day, Yuuri was still lacking the craved experience of a hallway make out. Victor had kissed him, once, twice, a few times during and after their last date, but it had been sweetness on their lips upon parting. Yuuri would absolutely accept the substitute of a makeout behind some curtains, especially if it meant he could get his itching fingers on that pecho again. Properly this time. Tease a cheeky nipnop or two. Concentrate, Yuuri! There was a marriage at stake!
“I did not invite you,” JJ declared, arms crossed over his chest. Yuuri did not blame him for being upset. He and Vicious were a pair of rather colorful wedding crashers.
“I think you did.”
“Did— where’s your invitation then?”
“I gave it to you.”
“You did not!”
“I did too.”
Yuuri cupped his hands together and slowly lowered his face into them.
“Vicious, I want you out of this church. This is a wedding. My wedding. Which makes me king, see?” JJ pointed to his crown. The swarovski crystals decorating it sparkled under the natural light streaming in from the windows at either side of the ceremonial hall. “And King JJ says get out.”
“Can’t do that, sire,” Vicious countered, boots planted firm, not giving to pressure.
“Give me one good reason why.”
Scanning the venue, Vicious grabbed a tray from one of the servers attempting to sneak by the argument. “I’m working.” He touted the tray of hors d’oeuvres, holding it up high. It nearly tipped over, Vicious fumbling to save it at the last second. He held it out to JJ, offering him some toppled cracker and cheese stacks which had been decorated with edible violets. “For you, your highness?”
“I don’t want one.”
“Suit yourself.” Vicious plucked one up and popped it into his mouth. “Mmmm, good!”
JJ looked set to explode, restrained only by one of the bridesmaid running up and laying hands on his elbow. Yuuri was out of earshot, watching as she said something in a hushed voice that had JJ winding down and Vicious lighting up in delight. JJ’s scowl turned soft and he sighed heavily, nodding his head. “Fine. But only because my Queen Bella requests it! Stay out of the way, or I’ll have you booted, eh.”
Seemed that Isabella was a Vicious fan.
JJ stalked off, adjusting the collar of his tuxedo and smoothing down the front.
Obviously proud of himself, Vicious smirked in triumph. He strode down the aisle, plopping down in a pew upfront beside a lovely older lady who looked like she could be JJ’s grandmother and probably was. He offered her an hors d’oeuvre off his tray and when she politely shook her head in decline, he shrugged, taking another for himself.
Yuuri’s stomach growled. Somehow, the idea of jumping down and joining Vicious was an appealing one. He held himself back. At least one of them had to keep up a good image for magical activities.
It was not long after, that the other bridesmaids came shuffling in to take their positions at the altar. Yuuri’s eyes swept across the church, keeping watch. The guests all appeared to be stiffer than expected for a wedding, no doubt on edge from the potential upset. Thus far, there were no signs of Georgi but Yuuri was prepared for a dramatic entrance.
Focused on scoping out the entrances and any place where the witch might appear, Yuuri did not notice the approaching footsteps until they were right upon him. Dressed in robes, an aged gentleman had come up onto the balcony, intent on the instrument Yuuri had been using as his cover.
Halting midstep, the organ player stared straight at Yuuri, heavy brows furrowed together as if trying to figure out what it was he was seeing. Yuuri stood still as a statue, not breathing, hoping and praying and wishing for his stronger-than-normal cloaking magic to work, and the gaze traveled over him, turning to the organ. The man took his seat and began to play the traditional processional.
Yuuri’s shoulders slumped in relief. Wow. Okay. So he potentially had the power to turn himself invisible, or something of the like. That was handy. A magical boy power practical guide or instructional manual would have been appreciated, but he supposed he would take this as a victory. He did not relish the crash that would be sure to come after. A full day’s coma might sound appealing, but it also would mean rescheduling an outing he had planned with Victor.
Isabella was beautiful in her wedding gown. The white was accented with tyrian purples to match those of JJ’s tux, her full skirt glittering with imbedded crystals. Atop her expertly styled hair, she wore a crown fit for a queen, a perfect pair to the one doned by her husband-to-be. They did make a good-looking pair and the smile JJ took on when he saw her could not be more genuine. A couple set to be united at the peak of their love for each other. Yuuri’s heart sighed in the feel of romance. Definitely no crowns at his wedding though. He could suggest it, just to see how Victor would laugh at the shared joke.
Trusting his magic, Yuuri edged forward. Vicious remained relaxed in his seat, legs crossed, attention on the bride and groom. He whispered something to the grandmother at his side and she shushed him, slapping his knee. Yuuri had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing, as she then kept the hand on his knee, giving it a visible squeeze.
The ceremony started with the traditional, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” As it proceeded, through the speech made by the officiant and the reading of the vows, Yuuri began to feel hope that it may end without drama. Perhaps Georgi had gotten caught up in traffic. Or arrived at the scene to take one look at how splendid the couple appeared together and had his cold heart melted.
The exchange of vows fading into teary eyes amongst the guests, Yuuri noticed Vicious sit up. The priest continued toward the declaration and Yuuri realized what line it was that Vicious had been waiting for, unworried until that point. Swearing under his breath, Yuuri readied himself, searching the venue for the first sign of Georgi. Why even include it, it was outdated, so many couples forwent it altogether except those that kept it in for the sake of tradition.
“If anyone has reasons why these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
The church went dark, sunlight streaming through the windows blocked by thick streams of purple smoke. It seeped in through the cracks, spilling down the walls to flood the floors. Vicious left his half-cleared tray on the pew, standing in wait.
The smoke moved through the venue in the form of snakes, weaving under people’s feet and forming blockades before the doorways. JJ stepped forward to shield Isabella from two massive billowing serpents that slunk up the aisle, heads raised when they reached the steps to the altar.
Yuuri leapt down from the balcony, landing on the back of one of the snakes. His heels went right through the smoke, which reformed, undisturbed, a moment later. A kick to the other from Vicious did nothing as well.
“I object!” Georgi’s voice boomed through the church and the snakes struck, tearing JJ from Isabella, wrapping them both as if in the grips of boa constrictors. A third snake formed, lashing out for the priest, who scattered, tripping over himself in his haste to flee. In his place, from within a twister of velvet smoke, Georgi appeared. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to spare these fools from pain of love!”
Yuuri did not wait for Georgi to pull out his spellbook. He launched himself straight at the witch, not wanting to grant him even a split second’s chance to draw out the heart threads of JJ and Isabella like he had with the couple before. Georgi dodged his strike with ease, shifting out of the way, his plumes of smoke lifting him into the air. “Ah, Eros, Vicious, you accepted my invitation! Sit down, relax, watch me demonstrate how easily it is to undo the bonds of love!”
A fight with a witch was not something Yuuri had been prepared for. He did not know the extent of his own magic, what he could do with it. The only attack he was aware of in his possession was the laser vision he could produce from the hearts in his irises, but he was afraid it might do more harm to others than it would in stopping Georgi. Even that, he had never used to attack a person directly. He did not want to bore a hole through his old professor, lightsaber style.
As Yuuri lashed for Georgi, rose vines ruptured from the floor, similar to the ones that had immobilized the witch on the convention stage. Georgi was prepared for it this time, conjuring up his scissors to cut through the stems and send them wilting beneath him.
The attention diverted to Vicious, Yuuri jumped for the snakes restraining Isabella. When he tried to grab for its neck, his hands went right through the smoke, but its grip on the bride did not falter. He attempted to rack his hands through it, to break through the bonds by scattering the smoke in a line straight down, but it held firm.
“Can you move at all?” Yuuri asked her, glancing over his shoulder. Vicious had an armful of roses, throwing them like daggers at Georgi one at a time, his aim sharply on point. The magic scissors sliced through each one with ease, but it kept Georgi engaged, buying Yuuri time.
“Trying,” Isabella replied, shaking her head. “Find where they’re coming from!”
Yuuri’s first guess was the spellbook, but the tails of the snakes led away from it, not connected to Georgi. They were their own force, but magic had to generate from somewhere. “Protect your heart if you can,” Yuuri told her and ran, following the line forming the serpent.
The guests had clamored for the doors, but found them jammed shut. Those attempting to break through or charge forward to help fight were being kept at bay by swarms of magic-made snakes, which hissed and struck out like the real thing. Yuuri adjusted his glasses, searching for the point at which their tails might connect, puzzling out the slithering ropes of smoke to find— there.
Stuck above the arch of the main door was a single page from Georgi’s spellbook, smoke spilling from the crude letters inked into the parchment. Got it. Yuuri jumped for it, soles of his heels digging into the stone of the archway to hold himself steady in a near split. He grabbed for the page, to tear it off the wall and shred it, but it did not come off. Scrapping at the corners with his nails did not separate it either. Below him, a snake latched fangs into the wrist of a woman trying to beat it back with a purse.
“Everyone, duck!” Yuuri shouted, leaning back as far as he could. His hands flew to the frames of his glasses, holding them steady. His eyes burned, watering, laser vision sparking from his irises. He was struck from behind, knocked off the archway and slammed into a wall.
Catching the breath blown from his lungs by the force of the impact, Yuuri managed to regain his footing in time to be wrapped in a plume of smoke. Eros was caught, limbs bound. He was wrapped, immobile, arms pinned behind him, legs unable to kick through the smoke. One corner of the spellbook page smoldered, ember red before burning out. “Vicious!”
Vicious turned, seeing what would be Eros wrapped by one of Georgi’s purple serpents. He abandoned his fight with Georgi, sprinting to help. In that moment, JJ and Isabella were left unprotected.
Yuuri’s mind flashed between so many things. The guests in need, the page on the wall, Vicious coming for him, the spellbook which materialized in Georgi’s palm. From within the winding bodies of the snakes imprisoning the couple, red threads were pulled, stemming from JJ’s and Isabella’s hearts. “Vicious, no, save them!” Yuuri shouted, desperate.
Boots skidding, Vicious turned his head, witnessing the same thing as Yuuri. Roses sprung into his hands and were chucked at Georgi. They did not make it, blocked by a snake which launched at him, winding around Vicious’ ankles and tugging him off his feet.
“Witness this!” Georgi declared, laughing, the scissors raised in ready to cut the thread.
Yuuri screamed and magic erupted from his body. It coursed through his veins, bursting from his chest and his fingertips. Neon magic swirled around him in ribbons. His skirt rustled with wind, clothing glowing with a piercing white turned vivid blue. His boots and gartered-fishnets turned to strappy red heels and over-the-knee stockings. The cape faded into laced arm bands, tie at his throat morphing into a bow. The skirt shrunk, going to the skin-tight shorts Yuuri had so struggled getting into when Phichit had recreated the outfit that Yuuri had taken on only once before. Mismatched gloves on his arms disappeared, replaced by fingerless black over his palms.
The glowing ribbons shattered off him, breaking the smoke enveloping him into neon hearts of blue. Yuuri had transformed.
Georgi’s smirk was lopsided, his magic scissors slashing in.
With a cry, Yuuri grabbed and threw one of the blue hearts. It struck Georgi’s left hand, detonating into shards of ice. A second passed, the witch and the magical boy staring at each other across the church hall. Georgi’s hand remained frozen.
Yuuri seized another fistful of magic, finding that the neon energy generated in his palm at the mere thought. The second strike froze one of Georgi’s feet to the altar, the third breaking across his forearm. Taking the moment he had, Yuuri spun. His fingertips snagged under the burnt corner of the page on the wall, managing to tear it clean off. He shredded it down the middle, breaking the scripted incantation. All the snakes crashed to the floor, turned to smoke without form, dissipating. JJ and Isabella were dropped, released, clutching at their chests with both hands.
Vicious was free too. From all the bouquets of flowers decorating the venue, petals erupted. They shot at Georgi like a geyser, lacing midair to combine with another one of Yuuri’s iced hearts. Georgi’s expression flashed to one of fear. From the pages of his spellbook, wind split and swept him up, turning him to smoke. Georgi’s magic twisted for them, knocking past, throwing open the doors to the outside. The purple whirlwind disappeared into the sky, leaving the church in disarray.
Everything went quiet.
It was the still in the aftermath of disaster, people slowly checking themselves and those near, ensuring all were safe. Yuuri ran, down the aisle, up the steps, collapsing onto his knees between JJ and Isabella. The red thread linking them had been cut.
“No, no, no, no,” Yuuri muttered, grasping at the ends. He placed them between his hands, rubbing his palms quickly together, trying to bind them back together like one might with split string.
“Eros…” He heard Vicious’s voice behind him, soft and breaking, hope nowhere to be found in it.
Yuuri would not have it. Eros would not have it. “No! This is not how it works! Love wins! Love always wins!” Another relationship, another marriage ruined because he could not do the one thing he was supposed to have the power to. He was not going to give up. “Help me!”
Vicious dropped beside him, his hands covering Yuuri’s. “Okay.”
Yuuri did not know what to do. How was he supposed to repair love? JJ and Isabella’s love story was quite well known around Ariaville. Sweethearts from high school, it was difficult to see one without the other. JJ’s personality was loud and bold, but she kept him balanced. When self-doubt crept in, she kept him motivated. JJ had taken the city from a troubled state and helped it grow into a place where businesses flourished and the community worked together. Even if he was irritated by the presence of magical boys that sometimes caused trouble to stir, inviting evil-doers looking for a challenge, he had never prevented Eros from helping when needed or blamed him unjustly. Yuuri admired JJ for being able to do so much at a young age, and he was not about to let a good relationship break right in front of him.
“You too!” Yuuri commanded, eyes trained sharp on the couple. “This is your love, you’re the ones who need to fix it!”
Hesitant, Isabella and JJ drew closer, laying their hands atop Yuuri’s and Vicious’s. Time ticked, one second, then two. In his palms, Yuuri felt warmth begin to grow. Between the creases of their fingers, light streamed, shining a delicate blue before turning to a pastel pink and fading away.
JJ and Isabella lifted their touch first, Vicious following. Yuuri opened his hands to see the threads, still cut at the center. However, rather than unraveling, the ends had twisted, forming a bow. As if clinging on, the bonds of love had woven themselves together.
There was something in his hair, flitting between his bangs. A tickle to the crest of his ear. With a whined complaint, Yuuri rolled away from it, finding sanctuary in a pillow. Not the one under his head. The one against him. Long, soft, squishy. Yuuri wrapped his legs around it too, burying his face into the chest of the Vicious dakimakura, away from the light, from the sound of shuffling, from the touch stirring him.
“Yuuri… Yuuri, wake up.”
No. No, Vicious pillow, he didn’t want to. Shhhh… don’t talk. Pillows didn’t talk. Pillows laid there all handsome and tempting and judging the fact that Yuuri spent a not insignificant amount of time fantasizing about the pillow pecho turning into the real firmer version.
“Yuuri, stop hugging me and hug the actual me instead.”
What an odd request. Yuuri did not quite understand. He should just ask Vicious pillow what he meant by that. With exasperation, Yuuri forced his eyes open, blinking the daze away. There were two Victor’s next to him. Technically. One in his bed in the form of a body pillow, which he was octopused around. The other was seated on the edge, smiling with what could only be relief. Oh. Yuuri was dreaming. He had two Victor’s in his bedroom, what a dirty fantasy come to life. At what point did the Vicious daki spring to life? He should have read that doujin after all, to prepare for this situation. The ultimate pairing of Victor/Yuuri/Vicious… Hot.
“Mmmmm?” Yuuri tried, eyes slipping shut again. Sleep was still fogging up his brain. “You’re… hmmm, hi…”
“Are you okay?” Concern rode Victor’s tone, deep and heavy. “Phichit let me in, he said you were sick?”
Of course Yuuri was okay. He had the literal man of his dreams beside him. Victor could make him more okay if he stopped sitting there and joined Yuuri in bed. Then Yuuri would be perfect. “Not sick. Tired.” He yawned, stifling it into the pillow. If Victor was going to stay, the least he could do was cuddle. Cuddling was good. Cuddling was great. “How was… how was the… wedding?” A full sentence strung together. With difficulty. He must have crashed extra hard.
After Georgi had twistered out of the church and they had managed to get JJ and Isabella’s heartstrings linked, the wedding had turned to further chaos. The smoke-made snakes had turned out to have caused actual physical harm, leaving fang marks in the guests they had bitten.
Yuuri’s memory flickered in and out, chasing away sleep in favor of recollection. Vicious had helped nurse the wounds of those injured until ambulances rolled in, while Yuuri tried to further mend the threads of love. With the persistence of the couple, they had gotten the bow into a double-loop before the magic faded away and left the strings invisible.
The police had shown up in full force shortly after, Vicious taking that moment to make a quick exit. Not before JJ had stopped him though, confronting both him and Eros together. Yuuri had been prepared for argument, for blame. Instead, they had received words of thanks and an apology for previous judgment. All in all, Yuuri supposed it could have been worse.
“Yuuri, the wedding was two days ago.”
“What?!” Yuuri snapped up. He flung himself across the bed, reaching across Victor’s lap to grab his phone off the nightstand. The date shone at him from the lockscreen. Monday, 6:37pm. The wedding had been held Saturday, at noon. Yuuri barely remembered getting home, his legs dragging with the weight of exhaustion as he had practically crawled into bed. He had slept for two days. Two full days. How much magic had he used…
Yuuri rubbed a hand over his face, pinching the bridge of his nose. His phone indicated that he had over a hundred messages. Some from Victor, a ton from Phichit. He found his glasses and put them on, Victor’s face coming into focus. First of all, wow, Yuuri was still being struck by how damn handsome he was. Second of all, that handsome face was wrecked with worry.
“Did you sleep for—”
“No!” Yuuri cut him off, groaning as he shook his head. Yes, but no. Admitting that would only cause Victor way more stress. “I… project ended up taking way more time than I thought, I pulled an all-nighter and then worked through the afternoon. Guess it took a lot out of me.” Giving excuses for his Eros activity was something Yuuri was used to, but that did not stop the bad taste in his mouth from feeding the line to Victor.
He had not crashed that badly the first time he had transformed into his second stage. Then again, he had not done much more than transform that time, no magic to fight against. Two full days of sleep and Yuuri did not feel completely rested. His muscles were sore as if he had spent too many hours at the gym and his head was beyond groggy. All for a battle against Georgi that could not have lasted more than a few minutes. “Were JJ and Isabella okay?”
“He got to them, but Eros managed to save them from the worse. A couple of the guests were injured. News reported they’re doing okay though.”
“...Did they break up?” Yuuri was almost afraid to hear the answer. If that bow in the love threads had unraveled after he had left, he didn’t know what he could do beyond that. Magic that severed love was something else. It was cruel. It was down right evil. How badly had Georgi had his heart broken if he thought the solution to heartache was to stop love altogether... “Like that other couple?”
“No.” Victor shook his head and pulled out his phone, swiping at the screen to pull up the photo gallery. He handed it to Yuuri, showing him a picture. It was of JJ and Isabella, in front of a simple white altar inside the county clerk’s office. Far from the grandeur of their church set up. “They had a civil ceremony yesterday. Said that it definitely felt different, like how it was when they had started going out together, rather than love. But they decided to go through it anyway. I guess when they were in high school, JJ told Isabella a week into dating that he intended to marry her one day. So, it worked out.”
Heart panging with combined hurt and sweetness, Yuuri let a smile slip. “Love won.”
“Seems that way. I was getting really worried though, Yuuri.”
“Oh.” He could see that. If Victor suddenly went missing for two days and did not answer his phone, Yuuri might have ended up on the brink of a panic attack. “Sorry, I turned off the sound on my phone cause I didn’t want any distractions and… forgot.” He would have to be more aware of it in the future, plan what he would say or do in advance if it happened again. When it all came down to it, it seemed that Georgi’s power originated from the spellbook. If Yuuri could get a hold of that, maybe that would be the end of it. Georgi had used it each time to draw out the threads. Get the spellbook, destroy it. That was the goal. Keep anyone else from having their relationship broken. Including his own. “Wait. Didn’t we— last night?”
“It’s okay. Obviously, you weren’t in any condition to go out. Though next time, if you’re going to go to such lengths to skip a date, you can just let me now.”
Yuuri fell over, resisting the urge to pull a blanket over his head and wallow. He had slept through a scheduled date. With Victor. While ignoring his messages. And making Victor believe he was avoiding him. “Noooooo…”
“I’m a grown man, Yuuri, I can take rejection. If you would rather hug Vicious all day rather than go out with me… well, I guess that’s my own fault.” Teasing. He was teasing, Yuuri knew that, but that did not make the situation any better.
Springing up, Yuuri planted his hands firmly on Victor’s shoulders. Georgi may be going around trying to ruin relationships, but Yuuri was not going to let Eros ruin his. Because he did really, really like Victor. Despite the fact that he bickered like a child and upstaged weddings. And filled ice rinks with jello. Damn, he was in deep, wasn’t he? “Go out with me.”
“I’d like to, but don’t you think three would be a crowd?”
It took a second for Yuuri to realize Victor was indicating to the body pillow. “You bought him for me.”
“I didn’t think you would prefer a pillow version. Should I fluff up?”
Yuuri shoved the Vicious daki against the wall. He would whisper an apology to it later. “Right now. I’ll make it up to you.”
“After having me worried sick, thinking a witch had gotten to you and cut your thread of love for me? I don’t know, Yuuri, it would have to be a pretty special date.”
“Victooooor,” Yuuri complained. He was not going to beg. Even if Victor was an internet celebrity that Yuuri had a massive crush on for ages and was now a ridiculous “villain” that Yuuri also had a massive crush on, he was not going to beg. “Wherever you want to go, okay? Whatever you want to do.”
Victor tapped a finger against his lips, contemplating.
Puppy eyes. Puppy eyes would work. Yuuri did his best impression, or attempt, since it was not something he had ever tried before. Victor cracked within a second.
Yuuri threw himself around him, giving him a hug before jumping off the bed. “I’m going to shower and then we’re going out. I’m taking you out. I’m taking out Victor Nikiforov.”
“How lucky of you.”
He deserved the teasing. “Give me fifteen minutes.” Yuuri ran for the bathroom, splashing cold water onto his face. Shower, good scrub, hair, clean clothes. He did not completely understand the reason why Victor liked him so much, but he was not going to let himself mess it up if he could help it. Yuuri had let Eros exhaust him and cause the issue, so to fix it, maybe he could gather up a bit of that Eros confidence and sweep Victor off his feet. Maybe literally, maybe not. Depending on how the date went.
A little bit after the fifteen minute mark, Yuuri stumbled into the living room. Victor was waiting on the couch, Phichit sitting cross-legged on the floor, fluffing Makkachin’s ears. She woofed when she saw him, tail wagging.
“Hey sleeping beauty!” Phichit piped up and Yuuri already foresaw himself sending his roommate a hundred thank you texts, who was likely the only reason Victor had not given up on him completely.
“Sleeping beauty?” Yuuri repeated, running a hand through his own hair. A bit damp, he had not dried it all the way. He could claim it was that new wet look gel. Very stylish.
“That’s what Victor called you.”
Victor grinned, guilty as charged. Silver-haired and silver-lashed and silver-smiled, if that made sense. Made sense to Yuuri, who was feeling the butterflies or moths or cicadas or whatever they were abuzz in his stomach. That smile alone, the flatter and the care behind it, it made Yuuri want to spout his confession. He had already determined that Victor deserved to know of his identity, all he needed was the right moment. A good date had the potential to be that moment. Then, they could work together, with nothing holding them back, no lies or anything else in between. He could do this... He couldn’t do this.
No, he definitely could, the last date had been totally fine and normal and Victor had nudged his foot under the table. Not quite footsie but getting there. Yuuri could play footsie, could play footsie all night long when it came to Victor. Play footsie and engage in some Vicious/Eros roleplay. He wondered what else was silver. If he were lucky and the date went really well, maybe he would get the chance to find out. Wow, okay, slow down, he should buy Victor dinner first.
“Ummm, you ready?” Yuuri asked. He was not ready. He had no plan. How was he going to do this without a plan? He needed to pull out all the stops. Take Victor somewhere impressive, fancy, with good food and a high tab and try not to think about his student budget.
Victor was ready, which was good because if Yuuri had to wait any longer he might not make it out the door alive. Phichit was reportedly pet-sitting Makkachin for the night and looking pleased about it. He already had a hamster out, perched on her head as she sat frozen while he snapped photos. Before leaving, Yuuri ducked by him, muttered thanks and promised they would talk when he got back that night. Phichit told him not to come back, winking. Yuuri exited the apartment with a blush staining his cheeks.
When they got into Victor’s car, Yuuri conducted a quick search on his phone and pulled up the first place that popped up under recommended restaurants which did not have four dollar signs in succession after the name. The drive was not a long one, but it gave Yuuri enough time to find out from Victor what else had happened since the wedding. Georgi had not reappeared nor made any more public statements. By the time they got into the heart of the city, the conversation had turned, with Yuuri asking about Eros.
Victor lit up, reciting details of the fight with emphasis on Eros’s heroics. Yuuri smiled to himself a bit, more when Victor tried shrugging off the mention of Eros’s new form. However, his restrained tone gave hint that it was something the fanboy in him had been excited to see, despite the circumstance. Yuuri made the joke that Vicious needed a second form for himself, a new costume to match Eros 2.0.
Victor’s grip tightened on the steering wheel as he hummed. “That would be too much, wouldn’t it?”
Yuuri could read that tone. One of desire to do exactly as Yuuri had suggested but looking for permission first. “You became a villain with super powers for Eros. A costume change probably isn’t too much. Plus, I wanna to see Vicious 2.0.”
“You’re absolutely the best boyfriend a man could hope for, Yuuri.”
The blush was back, hitting at double the heat. “Boyfriend?”
Victor’s foot stuttered on the break. “If you want to be?”
Yuuri Katsuki, boyfriend of Victor Nikiforov. He was not sure if it had to ring to it or if it was his own bias getting in the way. He thought it sounded good, liked the way their names worked together. Like Eros and Vicious. “Yeah. I want to be.”
When the GPS running on Yuuri’s phone announced their destination, they were both nursing smiles, Victor’s hand having snuck over the center console to hold Yuuri’s. It was a shame to have to break away when they parked, but as soon as Yuuri was out the door, Victor was at his side, lacing their fingers together again.
Yuuri’s first hint that something was wrong should have been the very loud greeting they got coming in the door, filled with more energy than necessary. The second should have been the fact that the host who took them to their seats was wearing a bowtie and suspenders. Hip. The lights were low and the walls were dark, indie house music playing overhead. Their seats were painted a lipstick red. In one of the corners, Yuuri spotted two of his classmates, Leo and Guang Hong who were sitting close together and engrossed in the task of snapping multitudes of photos of whatever it was they had ordered. That should have been hint number three.
The reality of the mistake, however, hit only when Yuuri looked at the menu and found he did not understand half of what was written on it. Not that it wasn’t in English, as it was, but more that the words were strung together in combination Yuuri was not sure he had ever seen before. A quick glance up showed that Victor was blinking at the sheet in his own hands, eyebrows having disappeared into his side swept bangs.
“Yuuri, what is this place?”
That was a good question, the answer to which Yuuri was no longer certain he had. The table to their left seemed to be working through what Yuuri could only describe as a foam in a glass globe. “The third best rated restaurant in Ariaville?”
“Okay. You’ve been here before?”
Yuuri shook his head. No, no he had not been here before, otherwise the first listed item of carrot air with tangerine granita might have made a fraction more sense. Air? He was supposed to eat air?
“Isn’t carrot air just oxygen?” he whispered across to Victor, who snorted into the menu, ducking behind it to hide his laughter.
Panic. Yes, that seemed the only option to be had, pure and utter panic. The strand of hope that he might be able to seek pity from their waiter crashed when the man approached with perfect posture and head tilted up, speaking with an Italian accent and a tone that said he was not the type who tolerated any funny business. The purple suit jacket he wore sparkled under the lights and the bowtie around his neck was untied. Trendy.
“Have you made your selections?”
Another scan of the menu confirmed that Yuuri had not made his selections, with Victor’s amused expression spelling out that he hadn’t either. “Do you… have recommendations?”
“If it is your first time, we recommend the course menu so that you may be able to sample an assortment of our fine concoctions.”
Normally, Yuuri would not have blinked but the word concoction combined with all the other descriptors on the menu had him concerned. “Sure, let’s do that.”
“I think I’m going to need one,” Victor said bluntly, making Yuuri bite the inside of his cheeks in order not to laugh in front of the waiter. They both added the house cocktail to their order, the waiter departing.
“You have interesting tastes, Yuuri.”
“I didn’t know!” He could have sunk into the floor. Strike two. One more and he was out. He would lose Victor as a boyfriend faster than he had made him. “It’ll be fine. It’s food, how odd can it get?”
The cocktails arrived in a regular glass, which sat on a wooden board. Its contents, however, were in the form of a frozen sphere. The entire drink was an ice ball, sitting in the glass. Victor and Yuuri both leaned forward to look in.
“God, Yuuri, what have you done?”
What Yuuri had not done was read the restaurant information page. “Do we… wait for it to melt?” Perhaps the whole purpose was to relish the experience, not to rush the drink. Sip it drop by drop, literally.
“Jab it with a straw?” Victor suggested, rotating the glass. The ice ball of mixed liquor spun inside it. “Like those Canadian milk bags?”
There were no straws in sight. Yuuri did laugh to himself, however.
“That seems like something Vicious might call JJ.” Eros was too proper for that, despite the indecently short skirt.
“Canadian milk bag?”
Victor chuckled, studying their drink glasses. “I think we need to… smash it with a hammer!”
Yuuri’s head snapped up, terrified that Victor was about to go supervillain on the cocktail and slam a fist into it. It was the opposite. The opposite in the sense that Victor was doing exactly as he said, holding a miniature hammer in hand which he smacked over the top of the ice ball. It shattered, ice breaking apart to spill the liquid inside. Another look down and Yuuri found that he had a mini hammer of his own, resting behind the glass on the wooden board. He picked it up and smashed his ice ball with it, laughing. Well, that was an experience.
The arriving of their first course did not go any better, the name of the dish recited to them with Italian inflection on potato slice with gruyère, vanilla oil, and freshly ground caffè. The “potato slice” apparently meant “pringle” because that was exactly what it looked like. A single curved potato chip, on top of which had been grated cheese and sprinkled coffee grinds.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Victor said, holding up a hand to pause Yuuri. “I have to document this.” Phone pulled out, he snapped a photo of their “course” and muffled laughter into the back of his hand as Yuuri managed to eat the entire serving in a single bite. Victor’s thumbs moved across the screen, posting the photo to his Instagram after showing it to Yuuri. Yuuri conceded, allowing him to add a joke about how his new boyfriend must not have a big appetite. “So how is it?”
“Surprisingly good,” Yuuri admitted. The combination of flavors was undeniably new and it was rather regrettable he only had the one. Victor chomped his down, giving a hum of agreement. Their second course was a tablespoon pea soup, which, at least, was exactly what it was described to be. Pea soup. In a single tablespoon. No bowl, no cup, just a single tablespoon. Obviously, that did not last long.
Victor kicked Yuuri’s foot under the table when their waiter came by to check that they were done with it. Yuuri kicked back and left his foot leaning against Victor’s ankle. Their next plate was slightly more substantial disappearing pine ravioli. Yuuri assumed the disappearing meant they were that delicious. What it actually meant was that they were transparent, made with a clear film that allowed their filling to be viewed. Their waiter turned merciful, explaining that each of the three pieces would first need to be dipped into a small bowl of pine cone infusion.
Victor dipped his first one for what was apparently too long and it did, in fact, disappear. The clear film disintegrated in his fingers, spilling the filling into the bowl.
“Oh my god, what do I do now, Yuuri, do I drink it?! Slurp it up?”
Yuuri forcefully shook his head, afraid to dip his own. He scanned the nearby tables but no other couple had the same thing, either too smart to order it or way more knowledgeable about gastronomy. For a second, he considered gunning over to Leo and Guang Hong to ask them for help, but they were looked to be cozily snuggled. He did not want to interrupt. “No, just… just do the next one.”
“Run, Yuuri, leave me here and run.”
“I can’t, we still have five courses!”
They giggled through each one, managing to eat the smoked confit pig cheeks without much struggle before getting trapped by the yuzu cilantro spheres which kept slipping off the spoons they had been given to scoop them. Yuuri’s ribs and cheeks hurt from laughing by the time he had finally gotten the last one in his mouth, doing a triumphant fist pump while Victor continued to chase his round and round his plate. Their waiter rolled his eyes as he walked by.
Victor celebrated when the sphere stabilized on his spoon, lifting it up to his mouth. Yuuri nudged his ankle under the table and it promptly plopped back onto his plate, jiggling like jello. “I hate you,” Victor said.
“No you don’t.”
“You’re right, I don’t.”
Smiling had gotten to be painful, muscles in Yuuri’s face sore from it. He continued the foot play with Victor under the table, granting him a quiet round of applause when he was successful. Ridiculous. Anyone else and Yuuri would have already died with regret and embarrassment over his foolish mistake at choosing a restaurant he doubted he would ever be able to visit again. Phichit would have been way too enthusiastic, taking far too many photos and conducting doctoral levels of research before each dish. With Victor, it turned into something fun, able to delight in the absurdity and the constant surprise that it all actually did taste phenomenal.
Their dessert arrived in the form of candy strawberries with powdered ice cream, and at that point, Yuuri had made up his mind. What could have been a disaster had actually turned into a rather good date. Over the weeks they had spent together, Victor had won Yuuri over completely and converted him into a Vicious fan at the same time. For Yuuri, there would only been one way on improving on a great evening. That was knowing he would not have to return home at the end of the night with the weight of having to continuing to lie in order to keep them moving forward. He wanted Victor as a boyfriend, and a boyfriend should get the truth.
Yuuri reached across the table, laying a hand on top of Victor’s. “Hey, ummm, wait a second. There’s… there’s something I’ve really been meaning to say to you and I think I should do it now while I have the nerves.”
Right then and there, before anything could stop him, Yuuri was going to tell Victor that he was Eros.
The problem with having anxiety and confidence issues was that no matter how much Yuuri logically reasoned that telling Victor the truth would be a positive thing, his mind liked working overtime to convince him of the opposite. It told him that, as much as Victor admired Eros, he would not want to date him and thus would break up with Yuuri as a result. It told him that Victor did not actually admire Eros, having only jumped on the fan bandwagon for personal gain, and thus would break up with Yuuri as a result. It told him that Victor would be furious at Yuuri for having kept the secret while they dated and thus would break up with Yuuri as a result. It told him that no matter what happened, by some bad luck, some cosmic twist of unfair fate, Victor would break up with him as a result.
It was dumb, Yuuri knew it was dumb, but that was what he had to work through. He had to talk himself back from the ledge because running from confrontation was so much easier in the short-term, no matter what the long term desire happened to be. He had to tell himself, repeatedly, what he knew, knew, to be true.
Victor liked him. Victor sent him adorable selfies with Makkachin in the mornings and texted him goodnight. Victor laughed at his jokes and flirted and never teased Yuuri more than he could take. Victor put up with being left hung out to dry for two days straight and took joy at being taken on a makeup date at the most pretentious restaurant in the city. Victor had choreographed and rehearsed a full-on magical musical number, simply to cheer Yuuri up. Well, and to stick it to the villain showing him up. Though, Yuuri did like to think it was more done with his smile in mind. Victor was beyond anything he deserved, but his short skirt be damned if Yuuri was not going to try to earn him.
Yuuri took in a breath, slow, calm steady. Grounding himself. The only way forward was to jump. “I’m—” Or tiptop. He could tiptoe across, keep an eye on the line in case some obstacle came barreling back. He squeezed Victor’s hands and tiptoed forward.
“I really like you. Every day is kinda—uhhh, I’m so not good with this kind of thing—ummm, it’s just… nice. I like seeing you, I like spending time with you. You make me really comfortable even though this right now probably isn’t a good example of that. My point is! I like you. But I really need to tell you something and I don’t know how to do it that isn’t gonna make things weird for a bit, so… lemme just say it because you deserve to know even if it changes your opinion of me. Okay. Here goes. Victor, I…” he stalled. Come on Yuuri, out with it. Say the words. Two words, that was all. Easy words. A single syllable each, nothing to be tongue-tied about. Say it, Yuuri. Say the words. Say it and be done with it and deal with the consequences whatever they may be, whether it be getting dumped or being magically teleported to a certain apartment hallway for a certain passionate activity with a certain crush of his. Boyfriend. Certain boyfriend of his. Say it, Yuuri, for fuck’s sake! “I’m—”
“Oh no, you’re breaking up with me,” Victor muttered in stricken horror, tears already welling in the corners of his eyes. “Please Yuuri, no matter what, please don’t say let’s end this. I swear I can be a better boyfriend, you haven’t even given me a proper date to prove it.”
“What?” Yuuri choked, rapidly shaking his head. “No! No, I’m not breaking up with you, don’t be ridiculous!”
“Are you proposing?” Victor asked, gaze still glistening. “Cause, I’m flattered but it’s a bit quick, maybe if you give us a year—”
“No, I’m not proposing!”
Guang Hong and Leo looked up from their Instagram photo documenting spree in the corner.
Yuuri dropped his voice, cheeks burning a shade brighter than the cherry red of their chairs. “I’m not proposing, I literally just agreed to be your boyfriend!”
“Then you’re not going to pull out a whole ‘it’s not you, it’s me,' scenario on me?”
Yuuri went to roll his eyes and drop Victor’s hands before realizing that it kind of was. “It is about me.”
“Yuuri, you’re perfect and adorable and if it meant another date with you, I would come back here every day to eat carrot air for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
“Now that sounds like a proposal.”
Victor smiled and turned his hands over, lacing their fingers together. “Then what?”
There. Again, there Victor went making Yuuri feel at ease through the most simplest, most ridiculous of antics. All the panic that had been vibrating through his nerves, on the verge of overwhelming him if he went too far, gone. Settled like it had never been an issue. Victor had taken him back and forth between two extremes in the span of a minute and made Yuuri see that the stable middle ground was all that was standing before him. Victor had gone and made Yuuri fall in love with him, making it all too easy and too complicated and exactly right.
The restaurant windows exploded.
Yuuri dove forward over the table, knocking it over and knocking into Victor, cradling his head against his chest to protect Victor from the spray of shattered glass. Tossing a look over his shoulder, Yuuri saw the telltale of purple smoke and swore. “It’s Georgi,” he hissed.
“Yuuuuuuuri, my most favorite student!” Georgi’s voice carried through the restaurant, the sound of broken glass being crushed under foot a threatening echo. “Some men have a type but you, my dear, do take the cake. I warn about the pain of love and you’re such a prime example. Does your date know of your indiscretions with a particular vicious villain?”
Victor peeked up from inside the protection of Yuuri’s arms and cast him a smile. “I do know and I’m okay with it.”
Biting back his laughter for the sake of time and a place, Yuuri shushed him. The other couples in the restaurant had dived for cover as well, but with the top of the table shielding them from view, Yuuri could not scope out an exit strategy.
“I never would have pegged you for a heartbreaker, Yuuri, you were such a good student. But see, that’s what happens in relationships. People lie and play with emotions and we only end up more hurt than if we’d avoided them in the first place. Like my sweet Anya tore out my heart, you’ll tear out those of the fools who fall for you. So come out and let me cut those threads for you, before you do more harm than good.”
Yuuri glanced down at Victor, his heart hammering inside his chest. What a mess. He could not show himself and allow Georgi to catch him. For one, he would rather like to keep his love thread connected, seeing as he had only realized that he would be in possession of one. For two, getting caught would make it difficult for Eros to make an appearance and save others if Georgi decided to go snip-happy with his magic scissors. However, he also could not transform while clutching Victor in his arms, hiding behind a restaurant table. “Can you teleport like this?”
Victor frowned, nodding his head. “I can’t get everyone though.”
“Just you,” Yuuri whispered. “You’ll be more help as Vicious, I think.”
“Yuuri, he’s after you—”
“If he goes after anyone else here, I can distract him long enough for you to get back. Do you have anything like a flower bomb or something of that sort?”
Smiling, Victor nodded. “I have just the thing. Promise you’ll stay safe?”
Yuuri did not see it happen, but a flower bomb seemed to be exactly what Victor set off. From the center of the restaurant rocked another explosion, the entire expanse of the room blasted with blue flowers petals. In the same instant, Victor was gone, disappeared into a mass of petals left in Yuuri’s hands. In the chaos, Yuuri curled into himself, clutching his hands as joined fists over his heart, and whispered, “On love, Eros.”
The falling petals concealed most of the ribbons of light that flowed from the center of his chest, enveloping him in a cocoon of magic. No matter how many times Yuuri had transformed, it was always an odd experience to feel his whole body tingle with the power flowing through every vein. So much for dressing casually.
Yuuri adjusted his glasses, making they sat snug, now coated in a layer of cloaking magic. In the corner, Guang Hong and Leo had huddled together, in a mild state of shock. On the other side, was another pair who was surveying the scene, whispering to each other as they looked for a way out. Good. Yuuri could cover them, fend off Georgi for enough time to get everyone out. Even their waiter, despite his clear judgment of their giggles throughout the meal, did not deserve to have his threads threatened. His love couldn’t possibly be that weird.
Putting a heeled boot forward to steady himself, Yuuri pushed up onto his feet to reveal himself—and swayed. Sheer exhaustion racked through him, weighing him down as if he were carrying an extra five kilos on each limb. He knew what it was immediately. It was the same enervation he experienced after each time he returned from the state of being Eros. The burn out of using magic. He had not fully recovered from the fight at the wedding, drained by his second form.
“Eros! Fancy meeting you here! You’ve been learning some new tricks, it seems.” Georgi lashed out, a cord of purple smoke slung across the room.
Yuuri barely dodged it, falling forward, his gloves feeling like an impossible weight on his arms. There was no way he could fight like this. However, if he were drained, then perhaps so was Georgi. The Popowitch did disappear after every appearance. If that were so, he might not need to fight. All he would need was to hold Georgi off. “Stalking people on their date night, Georgi, isn’t that a little creepy even for you?”
“Didn’t realize you had been invited,” Georgi snapped back, frustration biting at his words. “Run along, Eros, I’m not here for you today.”
“Oh, I think you are,” Yuuri replied, making his way to the middle of the restaurant where he planted his boots shoulder width apart. Partially to take an assertive stance. Partially to keep himself from falling over from the absolute lack of energy fueling him. He placed an arm behind his back, making a waving gesture at the couples behind him, telling them to sneak past if they could. “Can’t let you keep crashing parties all by yourself. Why don’t we just take this outside, Georgi? Get you signed up for a nice online dating service? Or set you up with a sim game where you can break all the hearts you want?”
“Shut it!” Georgi shot ropes of smoke at Yuuri, who jumped for the ceiling, pushing himself off it to launch at the witch. Yuuri bowled into Georgi, tackling him to the ground.
Guang Hong and Leo made a break for it, them and the other couple rushing for the exit. Yuuri was pitched off the next moment, shoved by a wall of smoke which dissipated and changed shape. Ropes struck for the door, snaring the pairs trying to help each other get out. Georgi thrust out his hand, spellbook appearing in it.
Yuuri could not push himself up from where he had crumpled, having been slammed against a table. His body ached, mind trapped in the hazy plea for sleep. Yuuri had been injured before while operating as Eros, through accidents, physical fights. It had never hurt till after, when the magic was no longer protecting him. He smacked his palms down against the floor, fighting to get up as Georgi’s magic pulled red threads from those he had captured.
Rocking where he stood, Yuuri saw that their waiter and the host were both also trapped by the smoke. Their strings disappeared leading outside into the evening, linking to whoever was their strongest bond of love. The couple, and Guang Hong and Leo, had theirs exposed between them, both glowing in soft pinks. New love, just blossoming.
Yuuri choked back a cry, hands clenched into fists at his side, and forced himself forward. “Leave them alone, it’s not their love you’re after!” He ran right into a column of flowers, almost floored by them.
In a cascade of petals, Victor had returned, his clothes in a state of a disarray due to haste. He had on the pink Vicious top, but the usual sleek white and gold pants were instead the slacks he had worn out on their date. His cape was off-kilter, hair messy, but his mask was secured. His blue eyes swept the restaurant, over Yuuri, Georgi, the entire scene.
Georgi cut the thread of the couple, the glowing string falling to the floor wilted and dead.
“He’s safe, get Georgi!” Yuuri screamed, blindly throwing magic which had generated in his hand from the rage flowing through him. One of the ice hearts from before broke across Georgi’s chest, freezing him in place. Not even half a second’s pause and Yuuri had managed to break another bond with his inaction. If he had just told Victor who he was, Victor would not have needed to ask, he could have saved them.
Yuuri fought back tears, gritting his teeth. He tried to focus, tried to materialize another blue heart, but not a spark of magic flowed from him. Victor had turned, locked in an attempt to relieve Georgi of his book. The witch had broken free of the ice, warding off Victor’s flower strikes with plumes of smoke. Yuuri put hand over hand along the wall, pushing himself across the restaurant. He couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, but he refused to let himself be useless.
A vine snaked out, tripping Georgi back. Yuuri threw his body forward, stealing the spellbook. Gripping each side, he tore through the center. Or tried to. His arms shook, weak, not enough strength in them to rip out a single page.
“Give me that back!” Smoke detonated from around Georgi, casting back Victor and smashing a wave into Yuuri. The scissors remained floating and, with a swipe of Georgi’s hand, cut through the threads of the host and the waiter. Then through that of Guang Hong and Leo.
“Let’s find where that damn rat went!” Seized spellbook back in hand, Georgi pulled out the red thread from Victor. It shimmered, a brilliant red, and spanned from him across the room to Yuuri. To Eros.
Victor stared, his expression of blank shock.
Georgi himself arched a brow, his glittering makeup making a pointed statement. “Well, this is interesting. So many questions, so little time. Let’s find out what happens when we cut this.”
Victor knocked the spellbook out of Georgi’s hands, a flung rose impaling it and nailing it into the floor. Rearing around, Georgi hurled the scissors at Victor, blades aimed straight for his heart.
Yuuri did not feel himself move. Whatever ounce of energy had been left in him, he used to launch himself off the floor. Just as he had before, he protected Victor, cradling him close. The scissors struck him instead, not piercing through his cape, but they did pitch him forward with their force. Yuuri’s glasses were thrown off his face.
Vines erupted all around them, thorns weaving into braided patterns, building a deadly wall of roses which shot forward. Georgi grabbed his spellbook and wrenched it free, bursting into smoke in the split second before Victor’s attack struck. Escaped, yet again. And this time, victorious.
Yuuri looked around at the disaster that was the restaurant. Glass was smashed, a hazard all over the floor. Tables and chairs laid splintered and broken, coated in flower petals. The others were helping each other up, thankfully uninjured saved for their cut threads. In the distance, Yuuri could hear the wail of approaching police and ambulances.
The whole scene was blurred in front of him. Yuuri took in a shaky breath, counted down from three, and turned to face Victor.
Yuuri found his glasses being held out to him, Victor covering his mask with his other hand. He wasn’t looking, eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Take them. They’re your shield, right?” Victor waved them blindly.
Gently accepting them from Victor, Yuuri folded the glasses without putting them on and, once more, threw himself at Victor. He wrapped his arms around him, holding Victor tight as he tried to calm his stuttering heart. “You’re okay, he didn’t—the thread, it wasn’t cut.” Victor did not return the embrace, stiff in his arms.
Yuuri pulled back slightly, sliding his hands up to cup Victor’s face, stroking his thumbs across his cheeks. “Victor… Victor, look at me.”
“I’m sorry,” Victor replied, shaking his head as he refused to look. “I have to go, I have to find Yuuri.” With that, he vanished into a burst of petals before Yuuri had the chance to tell him.
Yuuri was not going to get used to the aftermath of one of Georgi’s appearances. They felt like walking in a dream, even more so now that the magic exhaustion made him feel like he had a whale riding on his shoulders. If he had crashed for two full days before, Yuuri did not want to know how long he would be out this time. At the very least, he was going to warn Victor. He still needed to tell Victor.
The threads of the waiter, the host, and the couple, Yuuri was able to rejoin, though the bonds were weak. Guang Hong and Leo’s, however, remained split no matter how much magic he tried pouring into it, draining himself completely, hands trembling and glowing with his effort. In a bought of frustration, Yuuri shoved the two physically together, ordering them to embrace as he forced the threads to be tied manually, literally looping them into a bow and jerking the ends into a tight knot. Shockingly, it did not unravel. He left it at that.
When he managed to drag himself back to the apartment in his regular non-magical form, he fell against the revolving doors. His feet like lead weights as he pushed forward, determined to get home, to get to Victor’s apartment door. But Victor was there in the lobby, cape and mask gone, though he was still wearing the Vicious shirt. He paced with a phone in his hand, on which he was speaking rapidly. It dropped from his grip the second he saw Yuuri, clattering to the floor. Victor sprinted across the lobby, catching Yuuri as he collapsed.
Smiling, Yuuri wrapped himself loosely around Victor, hands not even making it all the way around. He had made it, he was there, that was all that mattered. That and that heart-shaped window exposing so much of Victor’s wonderful pecho. What a reward. Yuuri nuzzled into it. “Hi…”
“Yuuri, where were you—are you hurt, what happened?”
“Saved the threads,” Yuuri muttered, figuring that was the most important detail. Really though, how irresponsible and selfish of Vicious to leave without helping him repair the love. The mark of a true villain. “Mmm, gotta tell you… about… Eros.”
“No, it’s not him, Yuuri. It doesn’t make sense, it’s you! You’re my thread, I know it, I feel it, I— I’ll prove it to you! I’ll quit Eros! I’ll dump all my merch and burn everything if you want me to, I’ll unfollow all the fan accounts because I just want you— why are you laughing at me, you look like you’re dying and I’m trying to tell you that I think I love you!”
Yuuri tilted his head up, even though it was extremely difficult. He felt heavy, like sinking, like sinking into Victor’s arms and resting there for the approximate period of forever. That sounded nice. Forever. “I’m Eros,” he said with a smile, and content with that, fell asleep nestled against his favorite chest.
Chapter 18: The Actuality of Erotic Eros & Vicious Vic
PLEASE NOTE: THE RATING HAS CHANGED.
THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“How long is he usually out for?” Victor asked. Phichit was sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar, phone out as he lazily flipped through it. After Yuuri had passed out in Victor’s arms following a rather bold declaration, Victor had been at a loss. He had stood in the lobby, cradling Yuuri to him for a good fifteen minutes as his mind whirled with everything. The magic seal had cracked and everything connected at once.
Eros was Yuuri. The rescue, the lobby meeting, the rink and how Eros’—Yuuri’s—eyes had widened when he had seen Victor without the mask. The reaction to the professor’s dishonesty. The convention and how hard Yuuri had taken the first attack. The restaurant date. Makkachin. Makkachin! It had bothered Victor, how quickly she took to Yuuri, how much she clung to his side and showered him with affection. Not that it was bad, Victor adored Yuuri just as much and was thrilled his pooch approved of his adorable neighbor. But even though Makkachin was always friendly, she had never taken to anyone like she had to Yuuri. It made sense though, of course, she already knew him. She knew Yuuri was the one who had saved them both and had been ecstatic to see him again, that was why she had jumped on him in the lobby.
Yuuri was Eros. Which meant—oh no. It meant oh no no no. All the merch, all the teasing, all the fanboying Victor had done in front of him. All of Eros’ flirting with Vicious had been Yuuri flirting with Victor. It had been Yuuri knowing who Vicious was, knowing his adoration and dedication, and flirting. With him. Yuuri had been smooth and charming and had flustered Victor to a point he could not admit without shame. It had meant that Yuuri had selected that sexed up Vicious/Eros doujinshi while knowing exactly what he was doing. That was a whole other thing he needed to process.
Victor had stood in a state of shock as Yuuri dozed and nuzzled into his chest until someone had come into the apartment building and thrown them a rather disapproving look. Sweeping Yuuri into his arms, Victor had carried him upstairs and set Yuuri to sleep in his bed. The first instinct had been to phone emergency, until the real reason for Yuuri’s excessive crashes clicked too. Each one had directly followed an appearance by Eros. Yuuri reacted to magic differently than Victor, though that made some sense as his powers manifested in a way unlike Victor’s.
When laid down in bed, Yuuri had immediately wrapped himself around one of Victor’s pillows, in a sleep almost as deep as death. Victor had wandered around his apartment for a bit, reeling. Victor had fallen for one person, twice, at the same time. He had been absolutely torn by the fact before, conflicted between Eros and Yuuri and how much fondness, how much affection he felt for them both, unable to separate one from the other but of course. Of course he had, and of course he couldn’t. Because it was impossible. Because Yuuri was Eros.
Because Yuuri was Eros!
His soul soared and his heart sang and his mind thanked the universe for the relief from the stress of it.
“Ehhh, sometimes a few hours, sometimes up to a day if he used a lot of magic,” Phichit replied. “Last time he levelled up he wasn’t that bad but I guess it’s cause he didn’t really burn up a lot of energy? Those two days were definitely the longest it’s lasted.”
After Victor had calmed, he had immediately called Phichit. And not gotten a response. He then texted Phichit and got a reply instantly. Yuuri’s roommate had turned up not long after, taken one look at Victor’s face and laughed with a statement, “Huh, guess you found out.”
“You don’t?” Phichit said, glancing up. He had been browsing the twitter tags, catching news reports and trying to scoop out any rumors about Eros’ secret identity. Seemed so far that those in the restaurant had not caught a glimpse of his glasses-less face.
Victor had all the stove burners going. A large pot of rice boiled over one, while oil heated on another. On the counter before him he had thick and well-tenderized cuts of pork which he had coated in egg and bread crumbs. Yuuri had mentioned the dish and Victor figured this was a good an opportunity as any. Onion slices were already prepped, set aside and ready for use. He tested the temperature of the oil and dropped in one of the cutlets, watching it sizzle and fry. “No, I don’t crash like that.”
“Lucky, Yuuri’s gonna hate you.”
Victor chuckled, adding the second cutlet into the oil. He already had an oil drip at the side of the stove, three bowls behind him ready to serve up the portions. “How long have you known about Yuuri?”
“Dude, I’m his roommate, who do you think he went to when he woke up in a skirt and frilly panties?”
Victor fumbled the chopsticks he had in hand, one of them clattering to the floor. He swept it up, threw it in the sink and grabbed another pair to flip the frying cutlet. Right. He hadn’t had that thought yet. That it was Yuuri in Eros’ clothes. Yuuri in the short skirt and fishnets stockings. Yuuri in the frilly lacy underwear. Also Yuuri as Eros 2.0. With the red stilettos. And the washboard abs. And the hearts covering his groin which made Victor wanna drop to his knees and worship at the altar of Eros. Victor cleared his throat. “He what?”
“Yuuri doesn’t remember transforming the first time, though you should ask him about it rather than me. But he woke up in magical form and obviously it freaked him out a bit when he couldn’t get the clothes off. It’s part of the powers, guess to make sure he doesn’t lose any fabric while in battle or something? But they don’t come off, at all. They’re stuck to him. I think that’d be enough to weird anyone out.”
If Yuuri had not been in the habit of dressing in skimpy clothes before then, Victor could see why waking up wearing such a bold statement may be unsettling. How lucky for Yuuri though, magical clothes sounded like a gift. Victor needed to put his costume shirt through the delicates wash and iron his pants diligently after every outing as Vicious if he wanted them to stay looking pristine. “You take good care of him, don’t you?”
“He’s gotta practice his sexy transformation poses with someone.”
Chuckling, Victor fished the two golden cutlets out of the oil and set them to drip, dunking in the other while he fluffed and divided the finished rice. “And he told you about me?”
“Again, roommates. And besties. Who do you talk to about these things, Makkachin?”
Makkachin whined from her spot on the floor, thrusting a paw forward.
Phichit winced. “That can’t be healthy.”
“Shocking as it may seem, I too have friends,” Victor replied, starting on preparing the sauce base. Dashi stock was mixed with soy sauce, mirin, and a teaspoon of sugar, then brought to a boil. He beat eggs as the last cutlet finished cooking, draining and cutting the breaded pork into pieces. The sliced onions went into the soup to simmer.
Phichit sniffed at the air. “You know a katsudon recipe?”
“Yuuri mentioned it when we had lunch one time so I looked it up,” Victor replied, leaning against the counter.
“And you memorized it?”
“I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately. The way my magic burns energy results in me becoming ridiculously hungry,” Victor admitted with a sheepish smile. Onions cooked to the point they started to turn translucent. He added in the cutlets and poured the beat egg on top.
“Oh, you better not tell that to Yuuri or he is really gonna hate you.”
Laughing, Victor portioned rice into each of the three bowls and added the finished cutlet on top, pouring extra soup over to soak into the rice. He already had a placemat and utensils set on the dining table, putting all three bowls down next to it before taking his seat.
Phichit hopped off the stool and walked over to join him as Victor started in on the meal. “You know Yuuri’s not going to be awake for a while, right?” he asked, indicating to the third bowl.
Victor’s brows furrowed, chopsticks digging into to remove the first slice of breaded cutlet. “What—no, these are for me. Did you want one?”
Phichit had been reaching for one of the bowls but his hand stopped in mid-air. “You’re serious?”
Nodding, Victor took a bite of the katsudon and his eyes lit up, mouth turning into the wide shape of a heart. “Oh wow, this is so good! Yeah, sorry, you’re not getting any of these.”
Phichit stared, incredulous, as the extremely fit and handsome Instagram star turned magical villain scarfed down all three bowls of katsudon without pausing.
All Yuuri knew was that he was warm. Warm and comfortable and nestled amongst clouds. The mattress he was on was soft, pillows plush, blankets tucked in around him. Bliss. Stretching with a murmur, Yuuri reached out, seeking out his dakimakura in order to daki the makura. To nuzzle into that chest. He had been having a very good dream about it. His fingers touched fabric and he octopused himself around the form, sighing with contentment.
Warm. Firm. Muscular. Not at all like his squishy body pillow. Yuuri’s head settled on a shoulder that felt very much like a shoulder. His legs hooked around legs. One of his hands swept down a well-sculpted chest, tracing pectorals and abs and back again until his fingers accidentally passed over the cute little bump of a nipple. His pillow jerked, a quiet whimper sounding off close to his ear.
Oh. That was not a Vicious pillow. That was a Vicious.
Lashes fluttering to half mast, Yuuri gazed up and saw the most perfect jawline in the world. Yuuri was in bed with Victor. Yuuri was in bed with Victor in Victor’s bed. Snuggled against his side with their limbs entangled. He had been wishing for his Vicious dakimakura to turn into the real thing and his wish had been granted. Wow. Life could be wonderful sometimes. “Mmmm, hi?”
“Hi,” Victor responded, his fingers playing in Yuuri’s hair. It was pleasant, soothing, a gentle massage that made Yuuri want to purr like a cat. He closed his eyes and sunk into the feeling. “You’re awake.”
Partially. Give him half an hour and he might be able to crawl out of the bed. It would be prime cuddle time until then. “How long?” Yuuri muttered. He was almost afraid to ask. The magical crashes were not a normal sleep, more like mini hibernations, but Yuuri was still afraid of what would happen if he were to remain out for more than a couple days.
“Not as bad. Only a day and a half. It’s actually morning, so you’re back on a regular schedule.”
Day and a half. He had not even used that much magic. It was useful knowing the magical exhaustion rolled over though, so he could be prepared for the effects next time. At least Victor wasn’t left to worry this time because—because he knew. Because Yuuri had told him. That had him opening his eyes again, head tilting up against Victor’s shoulder. He saw blue eyes and a smile, delicate and sweet, greeting him with more brightness than the light of the sun. The surrounding room was not Yuuri’s. Of course it wasn’t. It would not make sense for Victor’s bed to be in Yuuri’s room. “Did I sleep here all day?”
“Yeah, Phichit wasn’t there when you passed out so I brought you here,” Victor gave him a small smile. “I hope that’s okay?”
“You didn’t stay in bed with me the whole time, did you?” Yuuri asked, hoping he would not need to be horrified by the notion of clinging to Victor for an entire day and a half. Maybe he had. Suction-cupped himself to Victor and refused to let go, forcing his brand new boyfriend to a sentence of relentless cuddling. Which probably did not sound too bad till nature called. “Victor?”
Victor shot up, breaking out of Yuuri’s arms. “I’m so sorry, Yuuri, I didn’t think—I didn’t mean to cuddle with you against your will. I’ve been sleeping on the couch, I promise, but I got up this morning and you were whimpering, you kept reaching out. I thought to get your pillow but Phichit wasn’t answering the door and I didn’t want to teleport into your room without your permission, plus you know, all the petals. I thought I would give you my Eros pillow to hug but the thought of that was kinda a bit too much for me to handle so I just laid down and you settled as soon I did so I stayed, it’s only been like an hour though and—”
Yuuri cut off the rambling by pushing himself up on his elbows and pecking Victor’s lips. It worked. Victor shut up, his jaw gone slack. “I’ve been sleeping with a pillow version of you every night and you think I wouldn’t want to cuddle the real thing?”
“That’s Vicious. I’m Victor.”
“And I’m Eros,” Yuuri said. “I’m sorry it took so long for me to tell you.”
“To be fair, I didn’t tell you that I was Vicious,” Victor answered, hand caressing Yuuri’s face. His glasses were off, folded on the bedside table. “You figured that out on your own.”
“Actually… you showed me your face at the rink, after I pulled you off the roof,” Yuuri reminded, a blush creeping onto his cheeks. “So, I kinda… I knew from day one.”
That made Victor pause. His thumb stopped stroking across Yuuri’s cheekbone, the shimmer in his eyes gone still. Yuuri could see the gears turning, watched Victor’s expression turn into a frown. Oh no. That had been the wrong thing to say. He knew it, he knew he was going to mess this up. Now Victor knew Yuuri had been lying to him the entire time, stringing him along and taking advantage of the fact that he knew about Vicious while Victor remained clueless. It was unfair, a violation of trust, and it was about to smack him straight across the face.
“That’s right,” Victor said quietly. “I did. That means you went out with me even though you knew I was the person causing you all that ridiculous trouble.”
“Yeah but the ridiculous trouble was also kinda cute?”
“I made a zamboni crash into jello.”
“It wasn’t damaged and now it’s an internet meme. The triplets are thrilled.”
“I catnapped a bunch of kitties.”
“Who all found good homes as a result.”
“I took you to a convention featuring yourself!”
“Yeah, that was… that was a bit much,” Yuuri admitted with a laugh. However, it had worked out for the best. If they had not been there, who knows how many more couples might have had their hearts broken by Georgi. Up until that point though, Yuuri had kinda been enjoying it. It had been wonderful to see Victor in his element, to see all the encouragement and support he gave to other artists. “You also stopped traffic downtown for approximately five hours as the result of your musical number.”
Victor was silent, regarding Yuuri in horror of his own transgressions.
“It was very romantic,” Yuuri teased and laughed when Victor tackled him back into the bed, wrapping around him tightly in embrace. His fingers found Victor’s hair, a leg hooking the back of Victor’s knee as he returned the kiss he had been caught in. It was everything he wanted. Victor’s weight above him was a way to ground himself, and his tongue sliding against Yuuri’s was a way to lose himself.
Yuuri arched up, wanting to feel the firmness of Victor’s body pressing down onto his own. Kissing Victor was wonderful and Yuuri had not gotten nearly enough of it. He wanted that mouth on his, making him as breathless as it was now. He wanted to suck on Victor’s tongue, mess with his hair, bite at his lips so that when he pulled away Victor would look as wrecked as Yuuri felt. His wish was granted yet again.
The blush built on the bridge of Victor’s nose, painted the skin under the curve of his eyes. Yuuri could see how the tips of his ears flushed too, making him want to nip there and whisper fantasies until the color spilled all the way down to that flawless chest which he liked so much.
There was something else behind Victor’s gaze, a sort of dawning realization that seemed to flood through him. Victor’s hands travelled up once more, taking hold of Yuuri’s face, holding it with such reverence and affection that Yuuri swore he had turned into the holy grail.
“You’re Eros,” Victor muttered, his tone strained as if he were realizing it for the first time. “Yuuri, Yuuri, you’re Eros.”
“Yeah, yeah I told you…”
“No, Yuuri, you—you’re the one. You’re the one who saved me, you’re the one who pulled me out of that wreck. You saved Makka and me, and you’re the one who gave me something to fight for. You’re Eros. You’re him, you’re my savior, my knight in shining armor.”
Oh. That. Yuuri laid a hand on top of Victor’s, bringing it down. “I… I helped a lot of people that day. I don’t… I don’t really remember too many faces, it all went by so fast that everything kinda blurred together.”
“...You don’t remember me?”
He could lie. He could tell Victor that he did, but it would not change anything. He had deceived Victor enough as it was already. Yuuri shook his head. “I’m sorry…”
Instead of looking down trodden, Victor smiled. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here and you know. Thank you, Eros. For everything you do. For everyone you help. For bringing so much joy into the world for all the people like me who love you.”
The blush darkened. “That’s a bit heavy…”
“Then thank you for flipping your skirt and flashing your beautiful tush at the cameras when you’re on tv.”
Yuuri could not help it. He laughed and drew Victor down again, kissed his lips. “You mean after that fire? You were watching?”
“Good. Cause I flipped it for you.”
Victor’s lips were upturned when they crashed against his, both of them smiling into it. Yuuri’s mind was still buzzing with the after effects of sleep, making him that much more sensitive to Victor’s wandering touch. His fingers tightened in Victor’s hair, getting tangled in the silver. Yuuri parted his mouth, welcoming in the taste of Victor’s tongue and pressing his own against it.
They shifted control, bodies fitting together like they belonged. Yuuri could hear his own pulse racing, a moan slipping despite his best effort when he arched and felt the outline of Victor’s hardening cock grind against his own. Every fantasy he’d had of Victor and Vicious flashed in his mind, filling his vision with the mental image of how good it would feel to experience that touch for real.
Victor seemed to be there as well. “Yuuri, do you—do you wanna…?”
“Yes, anything,” Yuuri begged, nodding eagerly and seizing another kiss so he could show Victor exactly how much he meant it.
The shirt Victor wore Yuuri pulled off, admiring how it mussed his hair and left falling strands uneven. He placed his hands on Victor’s chest, feeling the firm muscle, the curve of his well-toned pectorals. Victor was at his jeans, tugging them down and Yuuri raised his hips to help him, muttering out a plea for Victor to follow with his own. Arms wound tight around Yuuri’s back, one just below his shoulders, the other cradling his waist. Victor rutted against him and Yuuri gasped, throwing his head back at the first feel of Victor’s velvet cock rubbing over his own.
There was a kiss at his neck, lips tracing hot up the length, leaving kisses and marks, melting Yuuri with the shivers the contact sent spiralling through him. Eyes closing, Yuuri let himself get lost to it. All he wanted was more of Victor’s skin dragging over his own, wanted the closeness. The simple action of Victor grinding their hips together had Yuuri moaning, a hand dropping down to grab at Victor’s ass, using the leverage to increase the friction. His eyes were closed but Yuuri was already seeing stars with how Victor rocked above him.
“You’re not going to doze off on me again, are you?” Victor’s teasing voice was unfairly rich, a mix of a growl and a purr against his ear. Sparks shot through Yuuri at the sound, at the roll of warm breath over the sensitive shell of his ear.
“Mmmm, no, just… hgnnnn.” Yuuri could not manage words. He wanted to savor this, he didn’t want to think, to reason. He just wanted the sweet drag of Victor’s cock against his own. Instead Victor pulled back, making Yuuri groan at the loss, then whimper at the strength of the hands grabbing his waist. Victor rolled him onto his side and laid down behind him, wrapping Yuuri in his arms. Side by side, back to chest, like the comfort of falling asleep spooned together.
Yuuri gasped once more as Victor bucked, head of his cock sliding between the plush of Yuuri’s cheeks. It had him tense and loosen at the same time, body tingling with anticipation, shaking from the possession of Victor’s hands holding him in place. Yuuri could fall asleep like this, in the warmth of Victor’s arms and the comfort of his bed, if he wasn’t being slowly broken apart.
Victor’s touch left him only for a moment and came back slick, following the distinct click of a bottle cap. “Cross your legs,” Victor muttered hot into the back of Yuuri’s neck, lighting up the nerves in his spine like the fourth of July. Yuuri hastened to obey, whimpering when Victor’s hand slipped between them, smearing the inside of his thighs with lubricant.
Yuuri buzzed from every brush, every touch, every breath on his skin. When the head of Victor’s cock, guided by his expert hands, pressed into the tightness of his clamped thighs, Yuuri wanted to cry out. It nudged at his balls, making Yuuri tense and draw out a moan from Victor.
“Ahhh, please, Victor,” Yuuri managed, rocking back so they could lay flush. Victor’s chest was against his back, a solid wall for Yuuri to lean against. The arm Victor had under Yuuri looped his waist, keeping him close and steady as Victor thrust. Yuuri lost the whimper, biting into his own lip to hold back pleasured cries as Victor fucked his thighs, dragging over his perineum with each piston.
It was like a flood, steady wave after wave that washed over him, the strength ebbing to and fro, keeping him on the edge. Yuuri craned his neck back and Victor met his kiss, groaning on Yuuri’s tongue. It was both lazy and frantic, Victor’s hand coming to take hold of Yuuri’s cock, stroking it in time with his varied thrusts. Yuuri found both his hands, helping him stroke while he laced the fingers of the other together.
Victor left kisses over his shoulders, skimming his lips over the nape of his neck, up into his hair and down again as Yuuri mewled for more. He was being spoiled and torn to pieces, succumbing to the sensation of Victor all around him, bringing him pleasure until Yuuri came in his hand with Victor’s name on his tongue. Shaking from orgasm, Yuuri clenched his thighs together and whispered to Victor to, “come, please come for me, please, Victor.”
As if on command, Victor painted his thighs white, pulling back to rub the head of his pulsing cock between the plush flesh of Yuuri’s buttocks, gasping into the crook of Yuuri’s neck. Heart pounding in his chest, Yuuri let out a whimper, rocking back to feel more of it. Victor was long and thick, perfect for filling Yuuri to the brim. For now, for the moment, he was content to catch his breath, to turn to liquid under Victor’s continued kisses dropped over every millimeter of his shoulders.
Slowly, Yuuri turned, casting his gaze on Victor’s flushed and handsome face. He tipped up to kiss Victor and moan against his tongue when their over-sensitive cocks brushed together. “Wow.”
“Wow is right,” Victor replied, arms snaking around Yuuri once more, pulling him close as he kissed back.
“Sorry I didn’t have the skirt and stockings for you to take off,” Yuuri said with a smile. Not that it would have been possible when the clothes did not come off for literally anything.
Victor leaned back, gazing at Yuuri with the smallest of frowns. “Yuuri… Yuuri, please don’t think I did that only because I know you’re Eros. I want you, all of you, not just that part.”
Smiling and holding back a laugh threatening to spill, Yuuri nodded. “It’s okay. I only did it cause I know you’re Vicious.”
Gasping in scandal, Victor grabbed Yuuri and flipped him onto his back, pinning him down. “Take that back.”
“Make me, Vicious.”
Victor considered his options for a minute and settled for the option of dropping his head, blowing raspberries into the softness of Yuuri’s tummy. Yuuri shrieked with laughter, hands flying to Victor’s hair as his legs flailed in attempt to buck his assaulter off. He managed to get them hooked around Victor’s waist, heaving with enough force to flip positions and end up straddling Victor.
Victor let his arms drop to the mattress in defeat. “Fine, you win. Do what you will with me.”
Yuuri tapped a finger to his lips, mimicking the way Victor did it when he was contemplating a decision. A smile spread wide over his face as the idea flicked on in his mind. “Can I try one thing?”
Permission granted to him, Yuuri settled his palms flat on Victor’s chest. He slipped each to the side, cupping the cut edge of those wonderfully toned pectoral muscles. Then, wearing the biggest grin, Yuuri dropped his head and proceeded to motorboat the life out of that marvellous pecho, just like he had always dreamed.
Chapter 19: Chatty Chatty Bang Bang
Apologies for the delay this week. CC and I attended Crunchyroll Expo, to debut book copies of "A Siren's Call" which caused us to be too busy to update on time. Next week will update on Monday, as usual.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Yuuri wondered if there would come a point, later in his life, when he would be able to look back and pinpoint the exact moment his entire existence had gone over the rails. The moment he was living in seemed like a good candidate. In that moment, he had Victor and Minami sitting in his living room, excitedly sharing photos to compare each other’s Eros merch collection. Victor had been pouting rather heavily over the fact that Minami’s was significantly more extensive, due to Minami having been an Eros fan from pretty much day one. The pout did settle into a prideful smirk when Minami pouted out that Victor had managed to “collect” the real deal. Yuuri was not sure how he felt about that.
In the span of the twenty-four hours that Yuuri had been conscious for, he had obtained a boyfriend, saved a few couples in love, bedded said boyfriend—both literally and metaphorically—and recruited a fellow magical boy to help stop an actual villain.
Phichit had teasingly asked him, “How’s it going?” while wearing a fully-knowledgeable smirk when Yuuri had come shuffling back to their apartment that morning. Yuuri had shrugged his shoulders and delivered a blank, “same as usual.” He had then locked the door, walked into the apartment, laid down on the sofa, covered his face in the cushion, and had a mini flail/break down session because he had slept with and motorboated Victor goddamn Nikiforov.
“You can read that doujinshi without the guilt now,” Phichit had supplied, absolutely not helping with the situation. Yuuri really needed to find a new roommate.
Victor smiled over at Yuuri, looking genuinely happy where he sat, and it was all Yuuri could do to keep from clutching at his heart. It flopped in his chest a couple times, because Yuuri was actually happy too. Even though he shouldn’t be, not with Georgi still threatening people. Yuuri needed to wait to live out his daydreams of ice cream parlor dates and lakeside picnics and all-night mattress squeaking. They had to take care of the problem as quickly as possible, which was why Yuuri had called Minami.
It had taken them a little while to figure out how to break the cloaking magic so that Victor would be able to see that Minami was also a magical boy. Turned out that a frustrated shout of, “I’m fucking Kupid Kenji!” did the trick, though Victor had let out a scandalized gasp at hearing such language. Afterwards, turned out overcoming Victor’s magic was just as easy and soon they were well-acquainted.
“I think the first thing we need to do is figure out where he might turn up next,” Yuuri said, coming over to join the two. He had been apprehensive introducing Victor to Minami, mainly because he suspected that if he left them alone for more than five minutes he would return to them having formed the devious plot of making him sign all their Eros posters. “Or set up something to draw him in?”
“Oh, that’s easy!” Minami said, his knees bouncing as he sat cross-legged on the floor. He had been buzzing since he arrived, wow ing at the privilege of being let into Yuuri’s home. Yuuri did have the passing worry that Minami having his address might not be the best idea, but it was safer than meeting somewhere public and he did trust Minami not to stalk him outside of social media.
“Easy?” Victor asked. “I thought the musical number was gonna be Georgi bait for certain but he never showed.”
“Yeah. Except that wasn’t a planned thing,” Minami replied, pulling out his phone to search for something. “If his whole thing is being anti-couples, don’t you think he’d show up at Love Fest?”
Yuuri frowned. “Love Fest?”
“It’s a pride event going on this weekend,” Victor said as Minami nodded and handed his phone to Yuuri so he could look at the website. “It’s been held in Ariaville a few years running now. You haven’t been?”
Yuuri shook his head. When he was not in Eros crash mode or having his time dominated by warding off villainy, he did actually try to be a good student. He vaguely remembered one day the previous summer when he had been buried in books and emerged to find Phichit had come home wearing a pastel crop-top, cut-off shorts and a whole lotta glitter. A pride festival would explain a lot of that. “How do you know about it?”
“I was gonna invite you to go with me,” Victor replied with another heart-shaped smile. Yuuri swooned. Victor was gorgeous. And smooth. And his boyfriend. What luck. “It makes sense for Georgi to target it.”
“How are we gonna catch him?” Minami asked. Georgi seemed to pull out new spells with every encounter, escaping before any harm could come to him. Victor had managed to entrap him in his rose vines a couple of times, but they had not held for long.
“If all three of us are there I think we can overpower him? His magic seems to stem from that book, if we can get to it and destroy it then at the very least he won’t be able to break up anymore people.” Yuuri had had the book in his hands and let it be taken away from him. Even exhausted, he should have fought harder, should have figured out a way to drain his energy completely if it would have permitted him to rip out the pages. Instead, he had let Georgi get away yet again.
“Makes sense, since magic is distributed between the individual and a possession. He was a professor, right? Might be one of his textbooks that got bewitched,” Minami replied. “The spellbook might not be all of it but the thread magic comes out of it, at least.”
Both Victor and Yuuri stared at him, brows furrowed.
The boy blinked. “What?”
“You know where the magic comes from?” they asked in sync.
“Ummmm, you don’t?” Minami laughed nervously, leaning back and away from the other two who were closing in on him.
Yuuri did not want to explain to a fellow—underage—magical boy that the reason he had no recollection of obtaining his powers was because he had gotten blind drunk on champagne. He could be creative with his word choice. A lapse of memory perpetuated by partaking in traditional coming of age ceremonials. An unfortunate temporary blackout resulting from a chemical reaction in his noggin. Yeah, that would do.
“Yuuri and I were both wasted when we got ours and don’t really remember how it happened,” Victor said, ruining Yuuri’s delicately laid plan. They had talked more while lounging in Yuuri’s bed, legs tangled under the sheets. Yuuri had teased Victor for going to such extreme lengths in order to entertain a crush. Victor had teased him for falling in love with his arch nemesis. Yuuri’s worries about how Victor might react or treat him differently had been completely unfounded. Once he confessed it to be the reason he had waited, Victor had only smiled and wrapped him in a tight embrace before littering far too many kisses across his face.
“Wow,” Minami breathed out, looking between Victor and Yuuri. His eyes did not stop shining in wonder. “You guys should host my 21st birthday party.”
Victor grinned. Yuuri cut in before he could make any promises. “So how did you get your powers?”
“From a witch!”
That was not the answer Yuuri had been expecting. “A Popowitch?”
“No way,” Minami shook his head fiercely. “It was weird? I was walking home and stumbled across this dance studio I swore had never been on that street before? It wasn’t like it was a new business, it was a whole new building that seemed to have sprung up! So I peeked in.”
“That sounds like my bar,” Victor muttered.
Yuuri, meanwhile, had no idea what his would have been. If not a bar, maybe a dog adoption center. That would lure him in any day of the week.
“Yeah but there was a witch. I mean, I guess she was a witch? She didn’t really look it, but she said she needed to pass on magic and that I was pure of heart. So she would give me the power to protect and service in the name of love, like I desired.”
“Like you desired?” Yuuri repeated, frowning. He had not desired to become a magical boy. Or to serve in the name of love. All he had maybe wanted was the ability to believe in himself a bit more. And to be able to talk to a hot member of the same sex like Victor without making a fool of himself. Though, he had kind of gotten that through Eros. He just did not think the skimpy skirt was a necessary part of that.
“Around that time, I was hoping to be a magical boy like you so I could help out!” Minami quipped, shrugging his shoulders as if were no big deal. Yuuri did admit Minami had been a help in some situations, up until that one time which had meant it was better to distance himself lest anyone get injured as a result of too much kupid love.
“Wait, you said something about your magic being tied to an item, what’s yours?” Yuuri assumed his was his glasses. Victor’s would be his Vicious mask. Minami wore neither.
“My bangs,” Minami said, looking up at the dyed blond falling over his eyes. “Well… the red ones are clip-ins… I’m not allowed to color it anything crazy yet, the blond is already a stretch. As soon as I turn 18 though! Gonna go make it permanent! Then I guess the magic gets transferred to another item? I was thinking to get some cool glasses like yours, Yuuri. Only red. So they match my outfit and hair.”
“So someone is going around spreading magic to people?” Victor said, tapping his lips. He leaned forward, elbows on the low coffee table between the three of them. “Why?”
“Dunno. I wasn’t really in the mindset to play twenty questions then.”
Yuuri did not blame him, he doubted he would have found the situation believable himself. Everyone knew magical boys existed, but he had never thought about what might lead to actually becoming one. Cursed by a witch was an interesting way to go. “Did she say anything else?” Yuuri wanted to know if Minami had gotten that instructional manual Yuuri seemed to be missing. Probably not. Would make things too easy.
“Not really?” Minami closed his eyes, trying to recall the memory. “Something about our greatest strength being our worst enemy, and how magic can help us conquer that…”
Victor arched his eyebrows. “What’s yours?”
“Enthusiasm!” Minami quipped, doing jazz hands with a punctuated laugh. “I, uhhh… it drives me, but can be overwhelming at times. Like with Yuuri. I got… too enthusiastic.”
Victor’s eyebrows went higher. If he didn’t already know the story, Yuuri would tell him later and show him the videos from the day the sky rained giant hearts. He still had stress dreams about that, despite knowing Minami had not meant any harm. Too much enthusiasm was spot on.
“What about you, Victor?” Yuuri asked. He had a guess, but he was not sure how to put it into words. Victor might know better.
“Independence,” Victor said after a moment of consideration. “I do too much on my own and end up isolating myself. Vicious was my way of combating that. Yuuri?”
He thought it was obvious. “Confidence…” Even as Eros, he was filled with self-doubt, but he was able to use the persona to push through in ways he couldn’t outside of magical form. There had been the hope it might bleed over. Victor being there with him seemed to be evidence that it had.
“What about Georgi?”
The three of them sat in silence for a minute in search of the answer. Yuuri finally settled on it. “It’s love. He loved too much and had his heart broken. It’s gone too far for him too…” He did not think what Georgi had done was excusable, far from it. There was a bad break up and there was what he was doing. Georgi had not been the image of a model citizen before the magic, but perhaps whoever had given it to him had been under the impression that it would help him. However, it could mean that love would turn out to be their answer. How exactly, Yuuri was not sure, but it was a lot more to go on than they had had before.
“Then Love Fest will be a good place to put a stop to his reign of terror,” Minami said, clapping his hands together. “You should put out statements as Eros and Vicious that you’re planning to be there, make sure Georgi comes. I can keep him at bay with my arrows, Victor can catch him in the vines and Yuuri… get his spellbook and fill it with love instead of heartbreak.”
Yuuri didn’t know how he was supposed to fill a spellbook with love. Draw doodles? Scribble Yuuri Katsuki-Nikiforov in the corners? Write some lemony fanfiction? Whatever it was, he would need to figure it out. Georgi’s thread severing had gone on long enough and Yuuri did not want to see anymore be cut. If he had to, he was more than willing to transform into his second form and fight hard enough to sleep for a week after. This needed to be it. The final stand. “Yeah… yeah, I think we can do it. Three against one, how bad can it be?”
“That’s the question you never ask,” Victor said, tone a fraction too grim for Yuuri’s liking. “Is there a schedule for the festival?”
Yuuri left to grab his laptop, coming back with it placed at the center of the table so the three of them could run through the event map and schedule to try to predict where and when Georgi might appear, plus discuss how best to be positioned in order to stop him. By the end of the afternoon, they were all exhausted and apprehensive, but Yuuri also felt the spark that came with being well-prepared. They would not be going into the fight blind, and they would be there as a team. Victor knew who he was and Yuuri would not have to hide. Everything was set to go their way. Yuuri could be confident.
He saw Minami off and laughed when confronted with puppy eyes and a soft, polite request for a hug. He relented and Minami eep’ ed, jumping on him for a second before quickly separating himself in order not to channel too much of that enthusiasm. Yuuri returned to his apartment smiling to himself, and found Victor waiting outside the door, leaning against the hallway wall. He appeared lost in contemplation.
“What’s on your mind?” Yuuri asked, gently nudging at Victor’s ankle with his foot.
“How to best design my own 2.0 outfit so that it compliments yours,” Victor replied, his blue eyes glazed over. “I am still a villain, can’t have you upstaging me at such a big event. Yours is a bit maid-like, but without the skirt. Maybe I can do something butler-inspired.”
Of all the things to be thinking. Unfortunate as it was, that was one of the reasons Yuuri found Victor so charming. Chuckling, he stepped in closer and placed one palm on the wall, right above Victor’s left shoulder. Not exactly a kabe-don since it was without the don , but it was close enough. “Are you gonna keep having your chest on display?”
“Is that a request?” Victor smirked, hooking the back of his foot around Yuuri’s.
“Just a question.” He knew there would be no point in asking Victor not to design a new costume, he was going to do it anyway. It was a cute idea. Be like having couples costumes. Oh no, they were that pair already. Too bad, no take backs. He intended to keep Victor for a while. After all, his Vicious collection could not be complete without him.
“That can probably be arranged.” Victor’s hand came up, cradling the side of Yuuri’s face. His thumb traced the fullness of Yuuri’s lower lip and then he tipped off the wall, leaning in to close the space.
Yuuri’s heart pounded a million miles a minute when their lips met. Because, god help him, he was finally going to get his hallway makeout session.
Love Fest was everything the name made it sound like it would be. It was like a Valentine’s Day party had exploded with a dose of glitter and a whole lot more pink. Balloons were strung at the entrance, foil hearts greeting everyone that came in through the gates. Stalls were strung with ribbon and decorations that assured Yuuri he could blush with it going unnoticed because the amount of reds and pinks everywhere could be blamed for any color that glinted off his cheeks.
Victor was bubbling next to him, excited to attend the festival with his boyfriend despite the real reason behind their presence. He pointed at stalls and set-ups, running Yuuri between each one as if he had never been to a festival before and was too eager to see it all.
Two days prior, photos which been taken by staff setting up the festival had appeared on social media outlets. They had reportedly arrived at the site to find large bushes of blue roses which had sprouted around the entranceway, spelling out the word, Vicious. To everyone, it was an obvious announcement of his intention to be at the festival, and had caught a lot of attention quickly.
Reactions seemed to be far more excited than anything. Rumors had gotten around that during the last encounter between Eros, Vicious, and Georgi, red threads of love had been exposed which linked Vicious to Eros. The online fan community had gone wild over it. Phichit had to lock Yuuri out of his own twitter account to keep him from getting too engrossed in reading the raging debates and comment threads that disintegrated into flame wars.
The Eros/Vicious shippers had eaten the rumors up, fueling enough fan art to thankfully dampen the few voices questioning about what had been going on with Vicious kissing the man who was supposed Victor’s boyfriend and what that meant for both the Victor/Lobby Boy relationship and the Eros/Vicious relationship. It was a mess that Yuuri could not get his head around despite actually understanding “both” relationships.
There was also a faction of magical boy fans insistent that Eros would never fall for a self-declared villain, despite Vicious’s objective lack of serious villainy. They found conflict with the Vicious fanboys who argued how Vicious was far too hot to want to get it on with Eros, whose only appealing trait they claimed to be his short skirts. If Yuuri had been in form, he might have evaporated his phone with his laser vision. However, he took a mental step back and reminded himself that he had blanket consent to bury himself in that glorious chest whenever he wanted to and that made dealing with the doubt easier.
Yuuri had spent the previous evening at Victor’s apartment and he had read some of the online comments out loud to him. Part of him did worry that Victor was a bit too good for him, while the other part leaned toward a screw their opinions stance. He had gotten Victor to crush on him twice, surely that counted for something. His reassurance had come when Victor rolled his eyes and gently took the phone from Yuuri’s hands, replacing it with a kiss to the lips. That had worked like a charm, Yuuri melting away into mush that Victor had to literally pick up, making them both laugh as he nearly tripped over a dozing Makkachin.
Eros had some official social media accounts that had been set up and were typically run by Phichit to keep them from being completely lacking in content. Yuuri was more of a lurker than a poster and that carried over to his magical form. However, they had posted photos of a pair of festival tickets, a more subtle way to letting people—and Georgi—know that Eros intended to be in attendance. All was left to do was wait and see if Georgi did in fact show up.
Phichit had also brought up the fact that Victor and Yuuri showing up ready in costume would likely draw too much attention and he was right. They would no doubt be swarmed. They went in plain form, though Victor carried a bag slung over his shoulder that had his new costume in it, which Yuuri had yet to be allowed to see. Victor said he wanted it to be a surprise. Yuuri kept his eyes vigilant for any purple smoke. They had seen Minami coming in. The boy had gotten a job collecting tickets at the gate and waved to them when they passed through.
Victor as he was still attracted attention, though that should have been expected of a local celebrity. Yuuri noticed eyes following them, the high pitched tone of gossip starting between groups and couples they passed. It made him uneasy, but he tried to shrug it off, finding solace in the firm hold Victor’s hand had on his. They did get stopped at one point by two young women who were full of compliments for Victor’s work, one of them showing him photos for her dog before asking a price quote for his styling services. When he gave it to her, she faked buckling at the knees and laughed with a reply that she would consider it. Yuuri actually felt like buckling, because he had always assumed Victor would charge a lot but that amount was beyond ridiculous. To style a dog. Though, Victor did need to finance his Vicious ventures and paying the adoption fees for all the cats in the city surely had not been cheap.
Yuuri did want to do his best to enjoy the festival. He laughed when Victor had let a girl at a booth paint rainbows on his cheekbones, shaking his head when Victor tried to tempt him in with an unfairly attractive pout. Yuuri only just resisted, not knowing what would happen to the paint if he had to transform. He did not want it to get caught up in the magic and leave him rainbow colored for days, as unlikely as that was.
After getting his face painted with added streaks of glitter, Victor bought a funnel cake, making the excuse that he was getting a head start on loading up the energy he expected to burn. Yuuri cast a gaze at his trim waist and well-defined arms and honestly hated him for all of one second. He needed to file a complaint with whatever witch had given him his powers, because he did not find it fair that Victor got to eat while he was forced into hibernation. Then Victor placed a piece of the sweet treat between Yuuri’s lips and proceeded to kiss the powder sugar off the corner of his mouth. Yuuri liked him again. He stole another piece.
A parade of costumes and floats was scheduled for the afternoon. At the far end of the festival plaza, a band was playing poppy love songs, the music flowing over speakers. There were plenty of people around, dressed in vivid colors. Victor had convinced Yuuri to let them wear matching shirts, lightweight button-downs that Victor had designed. Victor’s was patterned with blue roses and petals, while Yuuri’s had the blue hearts he had produced when he had turned into Eros 2.0. A bit daring, but if no one had seen through their magic yet, they should be fine with that much. They could always claim to be Eros and Vicious shippers if anyone inquired. Plus, Yuuri did admit that Victor’s design skills were beyond compare. The roses and hearts were all stitched from a blue thread that shimmered in the sunlight.
Plenty of food and game stalls lined the cleared streets. Victor and Yuuri both lost hopelessly at a few shooting gallery games, though their hand-eye coordination should have been objectively better since both of them could manage it with magic just fine. Victor whispered to Yuuri about whether he could fire off one of his roses at the target and Yuuri shushed him, promptly pushing his boyfriend away before the stall keep could cast them any suspicious looks.
The first hour passed by calmly, the two of them wandering together. They paused to look at things being sold, from skimpy shimmery clothes that even Eros would be embarrassed to wear to homemade soaps to toys to toys to dyed silk scarves that Victor stopped to look at, inquiring about techniques with the woman who claimed to have made them. He purchased a couple, tying one around Yuuri’s neck in the shape of a bow angled toward one side of his collar. Victor said it was cute. Yuuri thought he looked like a Japanese airline hostess. He kept it on though, for Victor.
In the second hour, they moved toward the stage and found some tables where they could sit and eat lunch. It was not just Yuuri, but also Victor whose gaze kept wandering. They were both prepared to wait the whole day for Georgi to appear if necessary, but so far, things were quiet. “Hey... last time, he came after me. Why don’t you take a photo of us together to post?”
It had been Victor’s Instagram from their restaurant date that had tipped Georgi off. If his professor was still focused on chasing after alleged heartbreaker Yuuri, then they might as well increase their chances.
Victor lit up. “Good idea! Come here, I’ll get one of us?”
Yuuri scooted in closer till he was shoulder to shoulder with Victor. Yuuri was not too fond of having photos taken of himself. He did not mind it as much when he was Eros, because he was playing a character. Eros was supposed to be attractive, cute and seductive at the same time. Or at least that was what people said about him. Yuuri was Yuuri. Plain, passing for appealing on a very good day. He did not stack up at all to Victor, who was gorgeous day and night.
Victor wrapped an arm around his shoulder and tugged Yuuri against him, cheek to cheek. He angled up the camera and flipped his hair in a way that was way too smooth to not be practiced. “Say magic!” Victor laughed, his heart-shaped smile full and beautiful across his face. He was everything Yuuri could have dreamed of. Sweet and handsome and way too much fun to be healthy for Yuuri’s nerves. He would not trade it for anything. Just before Victor snapped the photo, Yuuri pressed his lips to Victor’s cheek, right below his painted rainbow flag. His lips may come back glittering as a result, but that was a chance he was willing to take.
How the photo came out, Yuuri did not find out because Victor set the phone down and cradled his face instead, catching him in a full on kiss. Again, Yuuri melted. He was still getting used to it: Victor’s kisses. They alternated between light pecks which left him fluttering in surprise and deep ones that sought out the heat of his tongue and left him quivering in want of more after they finished. This one rode the line in between and when Victor pulled back, Yuuri was pretty sure he was breathless. Love Fest, yeah, good name. He felt like there was a miniature love fest going on in the patter of his heart.
“I wanna show you something,” Victor said and Yuuri nodded, in that hazy post state kiss where he would agree to almost anything.
Victor grabbed his hand and dragged him from the table, weaving them through the crowd of people gathered around the stage where the band was playing. They kept going, all the way to the end of the festival block. It was a little quieter, but there were still people gathered, couples lined up in wait. Victor brought them to the end of the line, Yuuri noticing the pink flush dusting out from the bridge of his nose. It was cute.
What they came to at the front of the line was a globe covered in heart shaped papers. The couple in front of them picked one from a box, writing something onto the paper before going to tie theirs in with the others.
“What is it?”
“You know those walls and bridges where people leave locks to signify their bond?” Victor asked. “This is kinda like that. It’s actually an art piece, it tours around events like this all over the world. Couples are supposed to add their name to it for luck in love and as they do, it’ll gradually grow bigger and bigger. Like all the love in the world. So, I thought, we could add our names in.”
“For luck in love?” Yuuri felt like the whole city needed that as long as Georgi was still around.
“If you want to.”
“Is it supposed to keep us together forever?” Yuuri asked, watching the couple at the globe share a quick kiss after tying in their paper heart.
“I think that’s really up to us,” Victor replied with a smile. He held out a paper heart and a pencil for Yuuri, offering.
Victor was right. Yuuri accepted the paper and signed his name across the bottom, leaving room for Victor on top. It was added in with elegant loops, which dipped and swept across the tips of Yuuri’s scripted letters. For some reason, that made Yuuri smile.
They went up to the ball of paper hearts, Victor finding a good spot for them to add in theirs. They tied it in, adding to the bundles which had already come from the festival. One heart amongst hundreds, thousands more. Yuuri took the initiative this time, fingers curling into the lines of Victor’s collar. He tipped up on the balls of his feet and sought out a sweet, lingering kiss. Victor kissed back, smiling against Yuuri’s lips. It made it so easy to forget that they were supposed to be there for work, to be cautious. Yuuri wanted to keep Victor pulled in, to keep kissing at the joy on his lips until someone cleared their throat and chased them away.
Fingers winding together, Victor tugged Yuuri from the art installation so they could let the next couple through. They wandered back to the main street where the music was flowing, people being cleared off to the sides as the parade was scheduled to start. Victor and Yuuri found a good spot where they could watch while also keeping an eye out for any potential disruptions.
The parade started out with a procession of street dancers, dressed in vivid colors that altogether made up the rainbow. Victor whispered a joke into Yuuri’s ear about running in to join them. Yuuri made sure to keep a tight hold of his hand to prevent that from happening.
A few floats went by, decorated by various organizations and businesses in the city. With each, Yuuri grew a bit more tense, waiting for something to happen. Victor must have felt him tense up, because he stroked a thumb over the back of Yuuri’s palm in comfort. They did not have to wait for too long.
Through the flowing music broke screams. Victor’s hand dropped Yuuri’s, the both of them standing rigid at attention. Those who had been walking down the street for the parade rushed for the sides, getting out of the way. It was not purple smoke that chased them. Yuuri’s chest seized when he saw the globe of paper hearts, torn off its stand, rolling at speed. It smashed into the back of a float, throwing off those riding it. The ball split open, falling apart and raining down waves of broken hearts onto the surrounding streets.
“He’s here,” Yuuri hissed and, with a kiss blown to Yuuri, Victor disappeared in a flash of petals. Yuuri ran, quickly finding a corner behind the festival stalls where he whispered his transformation phrase. The glow around him had not fully settled before he sprinted out, having heard more screams and glimpsed the appearance of purple smoke. His pulse pounded in his ears, newly adorned heels clicking on the pavement. He had transformed straight into his second form, skipping the first altogether.
Georgi was there, standing atop the float covered in the purple hearts. He stepped over the papers with the names of couples inked lovingly on, spellbook open in his hands. The smoke spread off him like snakes, slithering through the streets, keeping attendees contained and unable to flee. He already had couples caught in his grasp, multitudes of heart strings drawn out and glimmering, shades ranging from soft pinks to the deepest of reds.
Yuuri was not going to let him get away this time. This needed to be the final fight, the one where he stopped Georgi once and for all. “Georgi, let them go!”
Georgi smiled, the grin spread wide across his face and wholly unpleasant. “Oh, Yuuri, how kind of you to join us. Not too busy two-timing attractive men with your deception?”
Yuuri’s eyes went wide, his hands flying to his face to check his glasses. They sat secure, the cloaking magic present.
“I saw your face at the restaurant,” Georgi explained, taking a step forward. He waved a hand, gesturing his smoke in. It carried a trapped couple toward him, both muted and struggling, their connecting thread a solid red. “It didn’t expect your magic to be so strong! How could I not see it before, my very own student, how much sense it made after I saw! Eros, Yuuri. Surely, the god of love you’ve named yourself after would be ashamed to know how you’ve used your powers to manipulate people.”
“I haven’t manipulated anyone,” Yuuri said, standing his ground. From the corner of his eyes, he glimpsed a bright orange. Kenji was quickly and quietly weaving his way in from behind Georgi, the boy also having transformed.
“You’ve manipulated everyone here,” Georgi said, holding his arms out. “You’re lying to them about who you are. And you’re lying making them think you can do anything to save them. Only I can do that, Yuuri. Only I can save everyone here.” With a flick of the wrist, his scissors appeared.
Yuuri launched an ice heart at him at the same time that Kenji fired an arrow. Plumes of smoke geysered around Georgi, protecting him from both as his scissors sliced in, cutting the thread of the couple. Teeth gritting together, Yuuri rushed in. Not a single one more, he was not going to let any more strings be cut. The book was going to be his and he was going to destroy it before any more love could suffer.
Glowing neons hearts sprouted off his palms. Yuuri threw them with precision, aiming for Georgi’s limbs to get him pinned down. Kenji’s miniature wings had appeared at his back, his fellow magical boy flying in and shooting arrows of light to keep Georgi from dodging easily.
Georgi spun out of the way of two of Yuuri’s hearts, scowl deep as a jump to the left resulted it him being clipped by an arrow. He rushed right, book open. Shields of smoke surrounded him, keeping back the magic attacks long enough for him to conjure up ten more pairs of scissors looming over the captured couples. His direction to them was halted by a thorned vine shooting from the ground, snaring around his wrist, roses blooming all the way down his arm to render it immobile.
Vicious had appeared at Yuuri’s side, casting him a gorgeous smile and a wink. If they were not in the middle of a heated battle, Yuuri might have choked on his tongue. He choked on his tongue anyway. The whole butler idea had been taken and stripped down to the bare minimum, which did match Yuuri’s lack of clothing. Vicious had on a total of very few items, only one of which could count as clothing, because the bowtie, shoes, and frilly wristcuffs surely did not. The shorts he wore, if he turned around, would certainly give glimpse to the exact shape and tone of his wonderful ass. Other than that, he wore a black apron tied around his waist and that was it. His long legs and chest were on prominent display. Yuuri really hoped Vicious could keep himself from getting injured, because he did not want to see a single centimeter of that flawless skin get marred.
“Shall we, my darling Eros?” Vicious invited, bowing in invitation.
Yuuri smiled and nodded. The three of them combined, Georgi did not stand a chance.
Kenji zoomed in, bursting through every pair of conjured scissors. Georgi ripped out of the vines, sending thick ropes of smoke after Vicious, but stumbling back when one of Yuuri’s glowing hearts collided with his leg and froze it to the float. He tried magicking his snakes into existence. An arrow from Kenji cut through the spell before it fully materialized, the smoke dissipating around him. Georgi barely broke out of the ice when another arrow struck, piercing light through his chest. For a moment, the light enveloped him, leaving him motionless. Bushes of roses seized around him, caging him in, while Yuuri’s ice magic crystallized him in place. Georgi was frozen, covered and trapped in a prison of ice and fully bloomed roses. The only part of him left exposed was his right hand, palm open, the book held in it.
Yuuri did not take any chances. He jerked the book out of Georgi’s hand, fingers fisting into the pages which he tore out in chunks, shredding them into confetti until only the cover was left. Shreds of cascading paper gathered at his feet, transforming from pulp into purple smoke around his ankles. Kenji and Vicious watched around them, waiting. The smoke holding people trapped loosened, dropping couples to the ground, their heart strings still exposed.
In Yuuri’s hands, the cover of the spellbook began to vibrate, spilling more smoke. The bits of paper at his feet turned to smoke as well, moving in streams, collecting and coursing away. The vibrating cover grew hot, like embers in Yuuri’s hands, burning his skin enough for him to jump back and drop it with a yelp. It had burned straight through his magical gloves.
Billows of smoke gathered and blasted through the other magic, breaking Georgi free and enveloping him. Yuuri was knocked back by the force, arm up to protect his face. The smoke began to shimmer, growing larger and larger, forming the swirl of a hurricane. Vicious and Kenji fell back as well, watching as the magic soaked into Georgi and began to morph him. The fabric of his costume stretched over his skin, turning him into a deep shade of violet that continued to expand. Yuuri had to scramble back as Georgi grew in size, wings emerging from his back, his hands and feet turning to claws, neck growing long, hair changing into horns.
Crystals of ice and petals of blue laid in useless tatters amongst the rumble of a crushed parade float. Before them, where Georgi had previously stood, was a dragon.
“Ummm, that’s not something I was prepared for,” Kenji squeaked, hands shaking as he withdrew another arrow of light from the quiver on his back. He did not slot it in, bow hanging loosely off his fingers.
Georgi—the dragon—opened its mouth and let out a screech before throwing its head back. Yuuri saw the glow of a vibrant green form in its open jaws and shouted a warning to all around them to run. It came a second too late. Fire streamed from the dragon’s mouth, bathing the streets. Yuuri felt it against his skin, the bite of magic, not hot like real flames but far more devastating. Every single red thread of love the flames came in contact with burned up, not cut but turned completely to ash. In less than a second, Georgi had broken the love of nearly a hundred couples.
Laughter boomed from Georgi, shaking the ground like an earthquake. “Finally! Let me show you all, how much easier life can be without the pain of love!” His wings spread, throwing wind that blew over the festivals stalls and knocking people off their feet. Yuuri felt a yank in his chest and looked down to see that his own string of love had been drawn out of his chest, connecting him to Vicious. Kenji had his out as well, a pastel pink which disappeared somewhere into the city. From all around them, Yuuri saw strings. They glowed from within the surrounding buildings and city streets, seemingly drawn from every single person in Ariaville.
Yuuri felt his heart seize, panic flooding through him. Georgi had drawn out, and intended to destroy, all the love in the city.
Fire built in the dragon’s mouth again, spouting into the air and burning every red string it came near. Lost for a second, Yuuri felt his pulse spike when he saw Georgi turn, aiming his flames for Vicious and Kenji. His own magic glowing brilliant blue around him, Yuuri leapt into the line of fire, hearing muffled shouts at his back. Arms crossed in front of him, Yuuri dug his heels into the ground and pushed back, creating a shield to keep those behind him protected.
The glass-like shield held firm for a minute before splinters began to form, cracking like spiderwebs but Yuuri persisted, pushing, channeling all his power to driving Georgi back. He took a step forward, then another, even as the cracks in his shield grew larger and threatened to split. He was not going to let Georgi take this. “No! Love always wins!” His shield shattered.
The flames never hit him. Shards of magic floated in slow motion around him before sinking into his skin. Yuuri felt the magic pulse through him, spilling off him in flowing ribbons, the light growing brighter and brighter until he had to shut his eyes, blinded it by it. It did not fade, not completely, not even when Yuuri felt the magic settle. It remained around him, the feel of it like the thinnest of layers coating his skin. A glance down at his own hands showed him sparkling, as if he were coated in glitter.
Small sparkling gems cascaded off his shoulders, ribbons of a brilliant blue flanking his hips. Yuuri stood secure in new boots laced up his legs. The fingerless gloves over his palms glowed with strong magic. Yuuri smiled and clenched his hands into fists.
Columns of ice exploded around Georgi, binding his legs and freezing his dragon wings. When he opened his mouth to breathe fire, ribbons of blue snaked around his snout and bound it shut, freezing over. Yuuri strode over with confidence, firing up another column of ice when Georgi attempted to thrash his neck down, rendering the dragon near immobile.
Yuuri plucked up the book cover at Georgi’s frozen feet, the ice in his hands keeping him protected from the heat radiating off it. He pinched his fingers together and draw out a whisper of smoke, looking up.
From the dragon’s chest, a thread of love was pulled. It was not red, barely even pink, glowing so softly it was nearly invisible. It did not run off into the city, did not link to someone else. It looped back to Georgi, a thread of self-love which was split in the middle.
Yuuri felt his heart pange in his chest.
The dragon growled, a voice vibrating it despite its mouth being tied shut. “You see now? How love only hurts? It’s a waste of effort, of energy. The only love we should be protecting is our own, and others will only seek to break it for us.” Georgi pushed back, his wings struggling to stretch out, neck thrashing and legs pulling until Yuuri’s ice started to crack.
Yuuri held onto the spellbook, at a loss, his gaze on Georgi’s broken thread. The hundreds of threads around them which had been burned away, how was he supposed to mend all of those?
“Eros!” Vicious shouted, breaking Yuuri out of his daze. Rose vines had bloomed from his hands, attempting to keep Georgi from breaking free. “We need to help Georgi get his love back!”
Easier said than done. Yuuri had no idea how he was supposed to make someone love themselves. “How?!”
“I don’t know, you’re supposed to be love personified! Kiss him or something!”
In another moment, Yuuri would have laughed. Love was something that was shared. It was built on by friends, by family, by all those around who cared and supported each other. Love was limitless and giving love to one person did not take love away from another. Love needed to be nurtured, to be given selflessly. Love wasn’t easy, it could be draining and a struggle and it could be painful, but it should always be worth it.
Georgi broke free of his bonds, claws up to tear off the muzzle around his snout. He parted his jaws but before he could burn any more bonds, Yuuri placed his hands on his own chest and drew out all the love he held from his heart. It streamed in ribbons, spilling out, too much for him to hold onto. The deep red of his thread mixed with the glowing blue of his magic, blending into soft pinks in a kaleidoscope of color. His love for everything. For the sound of rain against his window on a weekend morning, for the sight of a wagging dog tail. For hot chocolate in winter and cold lemonade in summer. His family back in Japan and the soothing waters of the onsen. For easy tests and good food and better friends and for everything that made life worth living, even when it was far from perfect. For Victor.
Yuuri walked up and placed his hands on Georgi’s chest, transferring his love over. It coursed from him, tingling through his toes and the tips of his lashes, draining out from the deepest corner of his heart. His love for everything and anything, his love for himself, he gave it all to Georgi. It glowed around them both, surrounding them in color, in the warmth of love that melted Yuuri’s ice and extinguished Georgi’s flames. When the last ribbon tail slipped from Yuuri’s chest and sunk into Georgi, Yuuri fell away. His foot landed heavily behind him, his magic gone, his energy with it.
The purple smoke which had covered Georgi fell off him, shedding the skin of the dragon, dissipating as it all collapsed to the ground. The remaining book cover turned to smoke as well, vanishing with the rest. Georgi had returned back to normal, his eyes wide, hands clutched over his heart. Shaking, he slowly drew his hands away, exposing his love thread. It glowed bright red, the string full and thick, reconnected and sparkling.
Yuuri’s shoulders sagged with relief and he glanced out, finding any of the couples who remained. He saw it then, all the threads, every single one that had been burned away returned and glowing, linked as if they had never been broken. Kenji flew over to grab Georgi just in case, and Yuuri turned.
His legs were heavy, mind buzzing, whole body screaming exhaustion at him. Yuuri saw Victor running up to him, arms held out. The very last of Yuuri’s magic, which was keeping him in Eros form, gave out. He collapsed into Victor’s embrace, transforming back into Yuuri, drained entirely of all his energy and all his love.
Chapter 21: Love Always Wins
Thank you everyone who has followed us on this journey! I expect to start on a new series in October so follow me here or on my blog.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“The nurses think you have competition,” Phichit said as Victor went around the hospital room, reviving all the flowers in the vases positioned everywhere there was space for them. He added more during each visit, despite knowing it was likely to be too much and that so many blossoms might end up causing Yuuri to develop hay fever when he woke up. Victor played with his magic and removed all the pollen, but that had meant the room did not smell as good, so he brought it back. “Cause everyone knows the blue roses are Vicious’ roses.”
Victor could see that. He had actually bought Yuuri the first bouquet of flowers, but they had wilted quickly and not revived as vividly even with his magic. Since then, Victor had kept the window and the bedside table stocked with excessive amounts of magic roses. The fact that they had remained in perfect condition after nearly two weeks would probably make anyone question their origins.
After Yuuri’s collapse, Victor had teleported them home in order to keep Yuuri’s identity protected. After a couple days passed and Yuuri showed no sign of waking, Phichit had agreed that it may be best if they took Yuuri in to a hospital. The explanation they gave the doctors was a true one, even if it was a half truth. That Yuuri had collapsed from exhaustion. His condition puzzled the medics, as all conditions pointed that Yuuri remained healthy and was merely sleeping. He was on an IV to keep him hydrated, a clamp on a finger monitoring his pulse, but otherwise Yuuri stayed a sleeping beauty.
Victor came everyday, waiting and pacing till nurses told him it was time to leave. On multiple occasions he had been tempted to show up as Vicious, just to see if that meant he might get away with seeing Yuuri after visiting hours. His plan to simply poof into existence inside the room was thwarted by Phichit reminding him that the mess of flower petals would leave evidence and might scare hospital staff. So Victor followed the rules, even though the bit of Vicious inside himself did not want to.
“I do compete with myself for Yuuri’s affection,” Victor said with a chuckle. The only reason he had not brought the Vicious dakimakura for Yuuri to hug was the thought of how unfair it would be for him to cuddle with Yuuri while he could not cuddle with Yuuri. And maybe because the hospital would not allow it. But mainly the first thing.
As much as Victor wanted for Yuuri to wake up quickly, he was scared. Yuuri transferring his love into Georgi had destroyed the spellbook and repaired every thread of love which had been broken. But Victor did not know what that meant for Yuuri. Would he even remember what happened or would he awake to the bad soap opera plot of memory loss? If Victor had to make Yuuri fall for him all over again, he would, but he was hoping that would not be the case. Because he was scared that Yuuri draining himself of love might mean that Yuuri would be left hollow, that he would not love anything or anyone, in a blank state. Again, Victor would fight through that. He would wait and have patience, and introduce Yuuri to everything he had ever loved to try to get him back.
The other half of Victor was scared that Yuuri might not wake up at all. That his third form had been so taxing, that it may be years before Yuuri lifted his eyes, only to find that Victor was aged and grey and that the world had moved on. That was ridiculous, he knew. It had to be. The dragon had been slain and all that was left was for sleeping beauty to wake up.
“I’m gonna kiss him,” Victor said, starting forward.
Phichit grabbed onto him, holding him back before Victor could swoop in and potentially get them thrown out by his attempt to make out with an unconscious patient. “Don’t!”
“Why not?!” From Victor’s point of view, no harm could possibly come from him kissing Yuuri. If it didn’t work, there was no problem. If it did, all the more reason to have taken the chance. He was not going to eat Yuuri’s face, just a soft, sweet kiss on the lips. Like in a fairytale. Victor was perfectly entitled to kiss his boyfriend. Yuuri had given him permission to engage in unconscious cuddles and Victor was pretty sure that would extend to unconscious kisses, within limits. He did not intend to test those limits.
Phichit stared at him, blinked a couple of times, then let him go. “Yeah, okay, I don’t really have a good reason. Lemme just record this in case in actually works.” He fished out his phone and then ushered Victor into the framing shot.
Yuuri had been shifting over the past few days, lips parting to murmur nonsensical things from his dreams. The first week he had slept as still as death. When Victor had come in yesterday, Yuuri had been sleeping on his side, hugging a hospital pillow. A shame, it was not nearly what Yuuri deserved. He deserved to be hugging much better things.
Victor moved over to the hospital bed and stroked his fingers through Yuuri’s hair, gentle and slow. Yuuri had been entirely selfless in sharing the power of his love. Georgi had handed himself over after Yuuri’s collapse, in horror of what he had done once his sense of love had been repaired. Yuuri was a hero, the whole city indebted to him. All Victor could hope for was that Yuuri still had love inside himself, because he did not think the world would be able to handle a villainous Eros.
Tipping down, Victor pressed his lips to Yuuri’s forehead. His skin was warm, heartbeat steady. If Yuuri was void of love, then Victor would make it his personal mission to fill Yuuri up with his until he was overflowing. Victor kissed Yuuri’s cheeks and the tip of his nose, but before he could kiss Yuuri’s lips, those full sweeping lashes fluttered and opened.
“No fucking way,” Phichit breathed from the corner. Victor shushed him.
“Yuuri?” Victor’s heart pounded as he waited to see what would happen, how Yuuri would react. He was ready to be pushed away, ready to be questioned. He was ready to have Yuuri gaze at him with confusion and state, once again, that he did not remember. “Good morning…” It was well into the afternoon, but the greeting remained valid, in Victor’s opinion. “How do you feel?”
Yuuri was quiet, remnants of sleep heavy behind his brown eyes. Briefly, he looked around the room, taking in his surroundings, all the flowers. Phichit waved to him from behind his phone. Yuuri did not move from his hospital bed, but he did turn back to look at Victor. “Georgi?” he asked, voice hoarse.
“He’s fine. I mean, he’s defeated. You broke his spells. You saved everyone,” Victor said, not sure what was the best way to explain, not knowing how much Yuuri was aware of. “But Yuuri, all your love… You gave it over, I saw it, I felt it. Are you… do you still feel love?”
Yuuri regarded Victor quietly, his brows furrowing like he was confused by the question. Victor’s pulse jumped, his mind running through arguments, through all the different ways he could convince Yuuri he was still in love, that he was not hollow.
Not much warning came to Victor in how Yuuri chose to respond. He grabbed Victor by the shirt and tugged him down, going face-first into Victor’s chest. He nuzzled in, wearing a full smile, and promptly dozed off again.
Victor did not dare move. Phichit howled in celebration.
Love, after all, was limitless.
Yuuri slept for another twenty-four hours before waking up for real. Victor was not happy about visiting hours being cut into by the nurses and doctors bumbling around the medical oddity that was Yuuri. After they finished checking him over, Victor found himself sitting next to Yuuri, fingers entwined as Victor pressed multiple kisses to Yuuri’s knuckles. Yuuri had been advised to stay for at least another day and had consented, a bit shaken when he was told just how long he had slept.
“Did I worry you?” Yuuri asked once they had been left to themselves, finally permitted a moment to speak. Yuuri had kept his identity as Eros secret, telling the doctors he did not recall what had triggered his collapse, just that he was an overloaded student. Victor had almost protested, but it was not his place, and he could understand Yuuri’s desire not to risk any leaks about who he was.
“Phichit kept insisting you were fine,” Victor said. He had suspected that Phichit’s determined resolve was more of an act than he would admit, as he had seen Phichit fretting over Yuuri when he thought he wasn’t being observed. Phichit had been around Yuuri for longer, knew his magic better, but that long spent asleep would have worried anyone. “He said he was jealous and that after finals, he wants to be able to knock out for two weeks straight.”
Yuuri laughed. Among all the blue roses decorating his room, there was also a sitting hamster toy holding a get-well card and a balloon that had completely deflated. “I’ll swap with him anytime.”
With the room empty of other ears, they could talk, though Victor leaned in close and kept their voices hushed. Victor told Yuuri about Georgi, about how it turned out he had gotten his magic from seemingly the same place that Victor had. The witch who had given him the spellbook had reportedly wanted to help him deal with the pain of losing love. However, Georgi’s broken self-love had meant he had let the magic influence him in a negative way. He was trying to make amends for it now. Counseling, community service, acknowledged acceptance that while magic had played a part in his villainy, ultimately it was him who had been at the fault of everyone’s anguish. There was also the issue of Georgi’s misdeeds before he had received his magic, but that too was being addressed.
“Did… did people see me?” Yuuri asked after a while. Victor sensed that Yuuri had been holding the question back, worried about the answer.
Victor smiled and let go of Yuuri’s hand, finding his phone. He already had the video favorited and he loaded the clip of the news report so Yuuri could watch for himself.
“They didn’t actually film it...” Yuuri muttered as it loaded up.
“Of course they did.”
The latter half of the battle against Georgi had been caught on video by the local news team, who had already been at the festival covering the events and probably anticipating drama. Sara Crispino shouted a report on what was happening, the camera zooming on Eros as he captured the dragon in columns of ice. Or at least, so it seemed.
Blue magic flooded off Eros’ figure, glittering off his skin and reflecting light. Even when the camera went directly on him, Eros was nothing more than a silhouette. Yuuri exhaled in relief when the camera panned over him, the magic effectively shielding him from view. “Was I like that the whole time?”
“I could see you,” Victor replied as the news footage continued to roll, Yuuri’s magic flooding into Georgi and pulsing throughout the city as he channeled his love into breaking the spells. “You were too brilliant to stare at for long though and I mean that literally. Minami said he couldn’t, that to him you looked just like this. It’s a shame, really, because that booty heart…”
Yuuri dropped the phone in an attempt to clasp his hands over his butt, despite the fact that he was sitting up in the hospital bed.
“Don’t worry, no one saw it. Seemed that you sparkled out of view from everyone but me,” Victor chuckled. It did mean that Phichit would not be able to recreate Yuuri’s outfit for his advanced Eros form. Which was unfortunate, but also Victor kind of liked knowing that he was the only person privileged to know how Eros 3.0 looked. Social media had been aghast to know that not a single photo had captured and not a single person was able to report on Eros’ appearance. The prevailing theory was that he was just naked and that it was magical censorship at play. Victor’s private twitter account was full of likes for the very best of the naked sparkly Eros fanart.
“Why you?” Yuuri asked, picking up the phone again to watch the rest of the footage. He would see himself collapsing into Vicious’ arms, the light fading from his body but before Yuuri could be exposed, Vicious vanished them into a burst of roses.
“Maybe because it’s true love?” Victor guessed, leaning in to playfully peck at Yuuri’s lips.
Yuuri smiled and kissed back, but after a moment, his smile grew wider and he started laughing against Victor’s mouth.
“You told me to kiss Georgi,” Yuuri laughed, flooded with the memory. “Victor!”
“What?!” he snapped back, shrugging in defense. “I didn’t know! How was I supposed to guess what kind of magic you had that could break the spell?”
“You wanted me to kiss my dragon professor,” Yuuri said, scrunching his nose and his brows. “That’s weird.”
“Don’t kinkshame me, Yuuri.”
Yuuri had to muffle his laughter by biting his lower lip. He set the phone to the side and sat up, shifting closer. He opened his arms and Victor leaned into them, embracing Yuuri to him as tightly as he could despite the awkward position. Victor held on, kissing the top of Yuuri’s head, ready to stay there for a whole other week if it meant he could keep Yuuri in his arms the entire time.
“We did it,” Yuuri muttered, fingers curling into the back of Victor’s shirt.
“Did you ever doubt it?” Victor asked, tipping back just a bit so he could look down at Yuuri’s face. He slid his hands up, cupping Yuuri’s cheeks. Yuuri set his hands over Victor’s wrists, clinging onto the contact. “It’s your motto, isn’t it? Love always wins.”
With a smile stretched as wide as could be, Yuuri nearly bowled Victor over as he leapt back into his arms for a full, deep kiss.
The poodle did not listen, zipping across the beach and bounding into the incoming waves. She splashed around, biting at the water before running back out. Victor and Yuuri did not have the chance to scatter before she smashed in between them and proceeded to shake herself off, spraying them with the sea water.
Yuuri’s semester had finished without fanfare. With Georgi working quietly to earn back the trust of the city and Vicious suspiciously absent in the couple weeks leading up to finals, Yuuri had managed to round off his career as an undergrad near the top of his class. The graduation ceremony he missed due to an Eros call-out, but he had returned to a party being hosted in his honor. The cap and gown got made better use of at night after everyone else had gone home, Victor congratulating him by bending him over the table, hitching up the gown, and eating him out with as much enthusiasm as Yuuri had eaten his graduation cake.
Summer went by mostly uneventful, but after the madness leading into it, Yuuri preferred it that way. The biggest event was the awards presented to Eros, Vicious, and Kupid Kenji by the mayor, for their work in saving the love in the city. The short press conference afterwards had been dominated by questions regarding the nature of Eros’ and Vicious’ relationship. Eros had blushed and avoided answering, with Vicious making the statement that they were friendly rivals, keeping up his insistence that he wanted to be regarded as a villain and not as a hero like Eros. The denial had not worked, least of all because Kenji kept miming shooting cupid arrows at the two of them in the background.
The police had later made it known that they did have a group in the department dedicated to taking any complaints regarding Vicious, which was headed by Detective Christophe Giacometti. At the time of the press release, no complaints or charges had yet been filed.
Minami took a summer job, working for Georgi at the speed dating cafe the ex-professor had set up. It had taken a while for business to pick up, people understandably cautious, but the amount of success stories that started to come out of it soon had sessions booked weeks in advance. Minami was there to keep everything in check, just in case Georgi went off the rails after a bad date. So far, so good though. Victor and Yuuri had passed by a restaurant on their way to the beach, waving to Georgi who appeared to be having lunch with someone. He had waved back with a genuine smile.
Victor had started a new line of clothes, this one meant for humans. He named it Erotically Vicious, based off the ship name social media had bestowed upon them. He liked making Yuuri model the designs, which Yuuri agreed to do out of love and support, despite the fact the majority of his photos came out with him wearing “the most adorable blush” as Victor called it. Business was booming.
Yuuri, in the meantime, kept busy with his job search, conflicted with entering public service right away and holding back so he could remain serving as Eros for a little while longer. A nine-to-five job would not be the most conducive to sudden skirt-and-heel disappearances. He had floated the idea of revealing his identity to the public past Victor, who told him to do whatever he felt most comfortable with. At the moment, Yuuri remained undecided.
The warm, clear day meant the beach was crowded. Yuuri and Victor passed JJ and Isabella, who were playing volleyball with a group of friends, taking advantage of the weekend. Isabella earned a point on a spike. JJ rushed under the net to hug his wife and opponent, earning a berating from his teammates. He told them that it was “JJBella Style” and that they had to get over it, kissing her cheek.
Leo and Guang Hong were there too, building sand castles that stretched a couple meters. All for Instagram. Yuuri made a mental note to like their photos later. That morning, he had seen progress posts from the cosplay couple, who were back together and planning a magical boy-themed wedding. Victor had told Yuuri that he was actually helping to design the gown, though Phichit kept overriding the majority of his suggestions. Yuuri chose not to get himself involved in that conflict, opting out of any potential boyfriend-versus-best-friend drama. Both Phichit and Victor claimed that was unfair.
They found a quiet spot further down the beach, laying a blanket on which they could sit and enjoy the scenery. Makkachin ran after seagulls before padding over to join them, flopping down in the sand. Washing her later was going to be a nightmare that Yuuri looked forward to. They had a miniature picnic prepared mainly by Victor, though Yuuri had baked some cookies for the occasion. He had gotten better. The first three batches had been inedible, but the fourth came out just fine. When Victor asked Yuuri if he had gotten help, he had vehemently denied it.
Makkachin got a bag of treats to gnaw through, while Victor and Yuuri shared a toast to their first normal date in a while. They ate lunch, threw a frisbee for Makkachin to chase, then kicked off their shoes and splashed at each other in the shallows. By late afternoon, they collapsed back on the beach blanket, laughing as a miniature crab chased Makkachin down the beach.
Victor drew Yuuri closer, a smile gorgeous on his lips as he sought out a kiss. After doing a quick check of whether there were other people closeby, Yuuri knocked Victor onto the blanket and kissed the breath from his lungs. It was sweet and exciting and joyous, Yuuri letting a small moan slip against Victor’s tongue right before both their phones went off.
Matching ringtones chimed and they pulled apart with regret.
The messages requested their aid. There was a report of a burglar dressed in a leopard-print catsuit spotted outside the city museum, who appeared to have magic at his disposal.
Victor pulled Yuuri up and whistled to Makkachin, gathering up all their belongings before he held out his hand in offer. Yuuri took it, lacing their fingers together. Another quick check, and Victor teleported them into a cascade of petals.
The team of Vicious and Eros was on their way. Ariaville was going to be just fine.