Actions

Work Header

The Glass Coffin

Work Text:

Magic today isn't the same as it used to be. 

Centuries ago, magic had been as strong as a flood, flowing freely and terrorizing the people with its awesome might. The source of this power came from the hands of the Patrons, astral beings of another plane and time who willingly gifted their guidance and companionship to those who showed an inkling of talent. 

In the past, everyone could use magic; very few showed true mastery of the craft. Those blessed with a Patron's attention gravitated towards positions of power, their names and lives forever recorded in history. Those who lacked the ambition or failed to harness the potential of casting were forgotten.

Eventually the strength of the power had weakened. The Patrons were rumored to be in hibernation, having grown weary of humanity's wars and greed. They chose to punish them by reducing the flood to a trickle, revoking their presence and leaving them with just a taste of what they could have had if not for their pride.

But echos of that magic are still around today, of course; just not as strong as the mythologies left by the past would have us believe. There was magic within the florist with the green thumb, the grandmother whose home cooking evoked memories of childhood. The best friend who always knew just the right words to say, the artist's eye for aesthetic. 

There were also more fantastical examples of magic present: the teenager who could summon flames with a snap of his fingers, the girl whose song could put one to sleep, the child who could warp a toy from across the room by making 'grabby hands.'

Yuuri wasn't as fortunate as those blessed with more explicit forms of magic. His best friend was able to levitate, which made him a terror in the skating world. His father was considered a 'fire mage,' unaffected by hot temperatures and always seeming to puff smoke whenever he held his breath for too long. Mari had slight control over water and mist, making her a huge help for the family onsen's sauna rooms. His mother's was less pronounced than the other two, but her eidetic memory ensured that the business ran smoothly. 

Yuuri's own magic was a form of hindsight. As long as he remained in contact with his target, he would be able to clearly see their past. This would have worked wonderfully if he had gone into the law as an officer or lawyer, but there had yet to be a magic revealed that could confirm if he was telling the truth. 

Besides, he wasn't particularly interested in law enforcement. 

 


 

"Thank you, Chris," Yuuri adjusted the strap of his camera bag over his shoulder, butterflies fluttering wildly in his stomach. The museum curator, a long time friend from his high school days, graced him with a dazzling smile. His emerald eyes seemed to sparkle from mirth, but Yuuri knew it was a manifestation of his own personal magic - Christophe's vision was attuned to any condition, any brightness, any obscurity. This made him the perfect candidate to venture into pitch black caves, misty forests and dimly lit temples. Truly, he was an archeologist with adventures that seemed to come straight from the movie screens. 

"No, thank you , Yuuri," he purred, giving his bicep a friendly squeeze as he led him through the exhibits, "there's no one else I would rather have to photograph these fine specimens than you. You truly have an eye for the beauty in these pieces."

The exhibit in question focused on the life and times of the infamous caster, Victor Nikiforov. He was at one point in time the most powerful and terrifying figure in history. Many records during this time mentioned his name, and most of those even credited the blame of humanity's magical restriction to his own sins. He systematically and ruthlessly conquered the kingdoms surrounding his country with little effort, annihilating their royal families and forcing their people to live under his rule. The brutality he exhibited in times of war overshadowed the peace and wealth his reign bestowed unto his subjects, and that was why Yuuri was there that day. 

Recent discoveries had come to light about how everyday commoners, nobles, and civilizations not part of his bloody campaign lived during his reign. The events had passed nearly 600 years ago, but an archeological discovery made by the blond before him had changed what everyone thought they knew about the murderous caster.

In his observation and exploration of the Nikiforov's castle, Chris had discovered a hidden stairwell that led into the dark bowels of the palace. There, he found a maze of sealed rooms that appeared to be the command center for his domination. There were hundreds of documents detailing the mundane going-ons of the kingdom: recording landowners properties, merchants business dealings and permits, complaints made by citizens and the solutions provided by the political authorities, everything preserved perfectly by magic.

The evidence seemed to show that many countries conquered had a majority of their population who grew to accept Victor's reign and prospered fairly well during his rule. Yes, uprisings from destroyed bloodlines' loyalists were mercilessly put down, but once claimed, the people of those previous kingdoms were afforded every respect and privilege as an original member of the caster's citizens.

There were even recordings of Victor's daily life, including the shocking revelation that the man's Patron had been called Feltsman, the discovery of a beloved pet, and that the caster had been romantically involved with the general of his armies. Documents and diaries aside, Yuuri was there to photograph the crowning jewels of the collection: a handful of relics, a smattering of paintings, and (allegedly) the body of the nightmare himself.  

3 stories below the initial basement level Chris had discovered, he stumbled upon the most important discovery of his life - the Nikiforov tomb. 

Resting in the center of the simply designed room had been a coffin constructed entirely of glass and embedded with blue gems. Inside held the corpse of Victor Nikiforov, untouched by time and seemingly sleeping with a sword in his grasp, enchanted with the same preservation magic that protected everything else.

Yuuri had read the grand descriptions of the finds, but he was going to be the first  one to take the photos to be released to the public. Whether this job came from a place of pity or a legitimate kindness, Yuuri didn't care. This was an opportunity he would never have again, and he would've been a fool to reject it. 

After months of documentation and study, all of the sexy and attention grabbing pieces had been moved into a museum. They were to be exhibited as a group for 3 months before being distributed to other galleries around the world. The coffin, however, would return to a secure location for its magic and contents to be investigated.

Chris pushed the heavy oak doors open to reveal the Western Wing where the pieces were already displayed. 

"The crew finished yesterday and I spent the night making sure everything was the way I wanted it to be," he gestured for Yuuri to enter before closing the door behind them, "I request that you take a standard portrait of each item from the front before moving in to do your more aesthetically pleasing shots."

"Of course," Yuuri said, placing his bag on one of the benches in the center of the hall and getting to work.

The first items he captured were books and documents written by Victor himself and his closest advisors. The flowy script appeared to be done with fresh ink, but the light would occasionally catch onto a blue sheen, revealing the magical preservation of the writing. These documents were little more than letters detailing war plans, changes to the economy with every claimed territory, and even a note of grief written by an advisor over a lost lover; she had apparently left him for another man.

"Poor Georgi," Yuuri had said when he finished. The letter had painted the Advisor in a new light for him - no longer the stoic right hand man of the caster, merely a gentleman scorned in love. 

The following items were general household goods and decorations pulled from the 'treasure vault,' including vases, jewels, weapons, armor, and books. Many of them glittered prettily in the light, and he figured that they were intended to be fluff pieces in order to give the exhibit more sustenance. His favorite item from the pile had been a carefully crafted plush of a dog. It was a vague suggestion of a poodle, but Yuuri was able to immediately identify the worn item for what it was. He had a poodle of his own at home, after all.

"Yuuri, I have a question," Chris said, taking a few steps toward the case as Yuuri snapped the last of the shots. It was when he zoomed in on the face that he noticed the eyes were made of obsidian beads, gleaming with that same blue shimmer that preserved the rest of the pieces. 

"Sure," he straightened up.

"I know your abilities allow you to see the past of a person by touching them," he said, pulling a key from his pocket, "I'm wondering if you would be able to catch a glimpse of those memories by touching the objects someone clearly cared for."

Yuuri hesitated, "it's never occured to me to try."

"Would you like to?"

"... I don't think it would work. The items themselves are the memory, but they don't hold the memory."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. With the amount of stuff I photograph and touch on a regular basis, I think it would have happened by now," in reality, he was afraid that if he tried to use his magic on the items then it would somehow cancel out the preservation they were currently enchanted with. Better to not risk it.

Chris only looked slightly disappointed and returned the key to his pocket.

"I suppose you're right," he said, unconvinced, "let's move onto the portraits. There are a few items that would be of interest to you."

He hadn't been wrong so far. They walked into the next room that housed all of the paintings that had been tucked away in the palace's hidden basement. It was as if the Patrons had decided to smile on them, for each one maintained the original label of the sitter engraved into the frame. Descriptions of notable men and women from that time survived in stories and rare documents, occasionally a stained glass window or hidden sketch books from visitors invited to the kingdom, but these portraits were absolutely stunning.

Georgi was no longer a figment of his imagination, and Yuuri could easily see why many descriptions painted him to be a stoic, intimidating figure. A handsome face, broad shoulders, sharp features, but there was a softness in his eyes that allowed Yuuri to see the soul of a romantic. 

There was a painting of a young girl, early 20's it appeared, decked in shiny armor with her helmet tucked under her arm. She was Victor's best knight, Mila Babicheva. The hair in the portrait was more subdued than the 'fiery red curls' that had been described in previous documents, but the slight smirk of her lips promised that she had every right to be as arrogant about her skills as the war reports and soldiers diaries would have one believe.

There were other impressive paintings around the room, each varying in size and subject: there was a beautiful woman with a severe expression in a yellow dress, a young lady with pitch black hair and purple eyes, a young man with the same eyes to match and a lighter shade of brown hair. There were landscapes that depicted what the countryside looked like during the Nikiforov's reign. There were tapestries depicting battles, marriages, balls and banquets.  

Yuuri was just beginning to wonder what it was Chris had hinted at earlier when he spotted the portrait himself. It nearly knocked the wind out of him.

It was a portrait of Victor NIkiforov, sitting elegantly in a chair in full military regalia. At his side was a poodle, sitting up straight and proud with its own jewels around its neck. On the king’s head was an ostentatious crown, bejeweled in a way that would make today's royal families cry, the gold work contrasting pleasantly against his long silver hair. His bright eyes seemed to sparkle with hidden mirth - Yuuri was nearly convinced that they had placed actual gemstones into the portrait to achieve the effect - but it wasn't the handsome man's expression or accurate(?) face reveal that stunned him.

Beside the King stood the general of his armies, a man whose battle prowess and intellect was second only to the king himself; the supposed secret lover. Short black hair slicked out of his face, a black uniform with blue accents and silver medals, and the hilt of his own sword resting in his hand. 

He appeared to be the spitting image of Yuuri.

"Incredible, isn't it?" Chris sighed as they observed the piece, "we finally get to have a look at the man whose name and actions inspired hundreds of years of public obsession. After his death, many images made in his likeness were destroyed after the fall of his kingdom; it's truly a miracle that we're able to obtain not only preserved images of the man in life, but his preserved remains as well.

"Oh, and the General! He looks just like you, right? You even share the same name!"

Yuuri managed to tear his gaze away from the eerily similar face to read the plaque in the frame. 

'His Majesty Victor Nikiforov, his beloved hound Makkachin, and the General of the Seven Armies, Yuuri Takagawa.'

"Did you offer me this job because I look like the general?"

"Hm? Oh, no, my dear. It's a charming coincidence but you have always been my first choice whenever I come back from my expeditions with exciting new artifacts," he waited patiently for Yuuri to finish taking pictures of the portrait - which took longer than the rest given how shaken he was by their mirrored looks - before moving him onto the next area.

"Over here we have sketches and doodles made by Victor in his spare time. Some of them were done on the battlefield, on official documents during meetings, on napkins at balls - the fact that he had such a hobby makes him even more adorable in my eyes."

Yuuri wouldn't use 'doodling' to describe the pictures. Victor was a very talented artist and these sketches were better than any other portrait he had seen from the same timeline.

"These are incredible," Yuuri gasped, his eyes trained onto a sketch of Mila and… 'other' Yuuri laughing. There were sketches of Georgi with a woman - probably the one who broke his heart - and many, many, many images of his dog. Of course there had been many tiny drawings of the General, what with their recently revealed status as lovers , but there was also the image of an old man with severe wrinkles and young boy with shoulder length hair and a scowl. 

Yuuri glanced back at all of the paintings he had passed but was unable to mark any similarities between the figures and the sketch.

"Who is this boy?"

"Aah, we don't know for sure," Chris began, leaning in close to squint at the sketch, "but we have an idea. There's a name that pops up in many documents whose appearance and actions match the demeanor of the boy in the sketch. We think he's Yuri Plisetsky, Victor's ward and protege. He went missing around the time of Victor's death; hardly anyone can guess what his fate was."

Ohoooo, Mystery.

Yuuri carefully and systematically documented the sketches with his camera, zooming in enough to capture the delicate nature of the ink strokes and the steady hand it took to create them. 

"There are only a few known likenesses of him that we found," Chris continued, "these sketches here and a statue in the tomb."

"Oh," Yuuri said, a little disappointed. He would have liked the opportunity to see it. Chris frowned.

"Darling, I brought it with me."

"You did?!" He asked, a little too excited.

"Of course, dear. I brought the statue and the coffin."

Yuuri nearly choked on his spit, " the coffin is actually here?! "

"It's the centerpiece of the whole collection, why wouldn't it be here?"

"I don't know! Maybe to protect it?"

"I have the best security money can buy watching over it - highly trained guards, state of the art equipment, everything to make sure nothing happens to my precious baby."

"Why not craft a copy and display it instead?" Yuuri frowned. Christophe gave him a pitying smile and shook his head, turning on his heel to lead Yuuri out of the room.

"It's something you have to see for yourself."

"Wait! What about the other items?"

"We're gonna take a detour. You simply have to see this man in person."

Yuuri quickly followed after him, suddenly noticing just how much security had been placed around the exhibit hall. They passed rooms of art, replicas of weapons and armor, and an entire section dedicated to the books Victor had read and studied before stopping in front of a large archway. 

The room was circular, with security posted every 8 feet. Upon initially entering the room, the statue of a teenager stood in its own glass case, looking relaxed with his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. His expression seemed bored and the craftsmanship that went into the carving of the statue was truly beyond human capabilities. It must have been done with magic. 

"Here, the little soldier stands guard over his master's tomb," Christophe passed him by as Yuuri gawked at the marble figure, "and here, the King himself sleeps for eternity."

It took effort to walk away from the boy, but it was well worth it. The glass coffin was just as he had heard: the panels were indeed made of crystal clear glass, the corners and edges sealed in golden filigree. Blue gemstones - sapphires or crystals, he couldn't tell - had been polished and implanted into the metal work, appearing to be glowing with magical energy in the light of the room. The coffin itself was propped up at an angle so that one could easily view the figure inside it, and had Yuuri not been through the hall to see how well preserved the paintings and documents were, he definitely wouldn't have believed this to be genuine.

Victor looked nearly identical to the painting in the gallery. He appeared peaceful, untouched by time. His long silver hair had been braided and tucked to one side, the crown sitting lightly upon his head. It certainly was even more impressive to see it up close, as well as the bejeweled sword he held in both hands. The outfit he wore was similar to the one the General had sported in the previous painting. The coffin rested inside a glass dome constructed by the museum to protect the piece from wandering hands. To get inside was a door with a silver lock and handle, which Christophe was now opening and beckoning Yuuri to come. 

"Oh my god," Yuuri gasped, fumbling with his camera as his eyes remained glued to the corpse. He felt uncomfortable even referring to it as that, he truly did look like he was asleep, "this is unbelievable. He looks incredible."

"The preservation magic is strongest here," he said, "I believe it has something to do with the crystals."

"They must be ritual-grade," Yuuri commented, bringing his camera up to zoom in on a gem, "you can't find ritual tools like these nowadays. Hardly anyone has the prowess to craft them."

"I wouldn't be surprised if the source of the preservation magic came from these gems. We've yet to put a decent amount of distance between the collection and the coffin; I wonder if that will affect the preservation of the paintings and books."

"How did he die? Where was he stabbed?" There were rumors about his untimely death, but nothing had ever been confirmed. Yuuri put his camera down in order to inspect what seemingly flawless skin had been revealed in the conservative outfit. The royal even wore gloves.

"I'm not about to break whatever spell has been cast on the coffin just so I can confirm method of death. Patron knows that the other archeologists I work with would love to get their grubby hands on him," he shrugged, "besides, the report that Georgi wrote on the incident tells us plenty."

"Which theory is right?"

Chris hesitated for a moment, "Uhm… well, according to Georgi's report, it was suicide." 

Yuuri stopped and backed away from the coffin, forcing himself to look at his companion. The expression on his face was sombre.

"I thought he died in battle."

"For a long time, that's what history speculated. But the truth has been distorted over the years."

"Then what is the truth?" 

Christophe sighed.

"According to the Advisor, the General was killed in battle. His body was taken before Victor could get to him. It's… unclear what they did with his corpse, but all we know is that rumors spread about what might have happened and it was enough for Victor to give up his life."

"Oh no…" Yuuri looked at the figure with a new found sympathy, "that's terrible."

"I'm not so sure," Chris shrugged, his usual empathy eerily absent, "I found some documents during my set up last night that I seemed to have overlooked from my initial discovery," Yuuri remained silent, waiting for him to continue, "I think… the suicide was part of a ritual."

He frowned and looked back at Chris, "Ritual? The preservation enchantment?"

"No. I think he created a curse that killed the people who murdered the General. I wouldn't put it past him, we can't forget that he was ruthless."

Yuuri's jaw nearly dropped. Curses weren't a laughing matter. No one ever messed with curses. Many historians theorized that humanity's restricted use of magic was the result of a human casting a curse. Some had liked to credit the rumors to Victor Nikiforov, but had Chris found evidence?

"What exactly did the document say?"

Chris's frown deepened, "I can't recall exactly… I'd have to go back and look for it."

He turned on his heel and started to walk out.

"Wait, come back! We can look at it later!"

"Keep taking photos! Maybe there's evidence on the coffin that can confirm his death to be part of a curse!" Christophe closed the door behind him and smiled sweetly at Yuuri, "I'll be right back! It'll take 2 seconds!" 

Yuuri huffed and looked back at the body as he sauntered away. He didn't feel very safe now knowing Chris' suspicion. What if there was residual energy? What if those bad vibes rubbed off on him?

His initial excitement faded to anxiety as he lifted the camera. He took the required basic portrait before walking around slowly and zooming in on different parts of the coffin and Victor's body. A shot of the sword, a picture of the crown, a profile view that emphasized Victor's long lashes. It was absolutely amazing how perfectly preserved he was. 

He utilized the plain background and the security guards spaced around the room to take some aesthetic photos for his own personal portfolio. He accidentally made eye contact with one of them and quickly looked down at his camera, a bit embarrassed. Security had been so quiet and stoic the whole time they'd been there, it was a little intimidating.

He flicked through the pictures hoping he'd be struck with some sort of inspiration for more photos when he realized the profile shot and the front portrait came out blurry. He frowned, deleted the images, and lined the camera up once more to take a new shot.

Even through the viewfinder, he was having trouble clearing the image. He huffed and messed with the focus, but it was all in vain. 

"This better not be bad juju from your curse, Victor," he groaned, and squatted next to his camera bag, looking for a lense that would get the job done. He hadn't brought all of his equipment with him, and was slowly starting to feel like he had fucked up in traveling light.

Phichit was right, he really needed to label these things. 

Of the 5 lenses he brought, only 2 were meant for the camera in his hands, and one of them did what he actually wanted. 

"Real professional, Yuuri," he scolded himself and swapped them out, straightening back up. He wiped the dust from the lense and peered through the viewfinder, focusing on the back of the statue to take a test shot-

Wait…

He lowered the camera and squinted.

He really wished he had taken a photo of it first.

He could have sworn the statue was facing the other way.

The marble boy looked much different than how Yuuri initially thought he looked. He faced him and his knees were slightly bent, expression cold, poised in a way that suggested he was in the process of drawing his sword. 

Yuuri took his glasses off and cleaned them with his shirt. 

Nope, he still looked the same. Angry and ready for a fight.

Weird. 

He lifted the camera and took a quick photo. Whatever was messing with the statue - if anything was messing with the statue - he wanted proof so Chris wouldn't think he was crazy.

He glanced at a few of the security guards, but they remained perfectly still, stoically silent. It was clear that either whatever happened didn't actually happen or this was normal for the exhibit. 

His gaze flitted to the door. Chris was taking an awfully long time. He should probably finish up and go looking for him. 

He turned around and raised the camera, only to have it ripped from his grasp. A gloved hand went for his throat and clenched tightly, hauling him from his feet and slamming him into the glass wall behind him. Yuuri screamed and struggled, kicking and clawing at the arm that held him aloft.

"What the hell?!"

"Hush, lovely."

"Let go! Let me go! Guards!!"

"Calm down."

"Chris! Someone, please!" Yuuri squinted to the side, horrified that security had yet to move from their positions around the room. He started to breath shallow, finally looking down to see who exactly was holding him hostage.

Long silver hair, black suit, a golden crown. Victor Nikiforov stared up at him with a mixture of caution and disbelief in his sparkling blue eyes. 

Yuuri froze. 

"What? No, no, nonono-" Victor shushed him and slowly lowered him back down to his feet. Yuuri looked behind him and saw that the glass coffin had indeed been open, the sword still tucked inside the plush interior.

"Breathe, just focus on breathing."

"How is this happening? How-how did you - you're dead-"

"Not dead, just sleeping."

"Guards! Chris!"

"Time has been stopped for the moment, so you can relax."

" What is happening right now?! "

"You're not my Yuuri," he finally seemed to conclude, his expression hardening slightly, "where are we?"

His hold had loosened slightly, but Yuuri was positive that he would willingly crush his windpipe if he tried to escape, "we're in a museum."

"Museum?" He said the foreign word with a frown. His other hand came up and gently pushed Yuuri's hair out of his face,  "what is the year?"

"Uhm… 20XX."

"Hm," he seemed to decide on something and snapped his fingers. Through the glass behind him, Yuuri heard the clash of glass breaking, someone falling and a string of curse words. 

"You did that on purpose!" He heard someone squak from behind, unable to tear his eyes away from the living legend in front of him. Victor tilted his head as he continued to stare down at him, eventually moving to take his glasses from his face. Yuuri flinched when the frames slid off of his nose, "Admit it! You've been awake for years!"

"Only a few days, actually." 

He had been awake for days ?! Yuuri immediately snapped his head to the right when he saw movement in his peripheral. A slightly blurry boy looking exactly like the statue outside opened the door to the glass room and stormed in, zeroing in on Yuuri and invading his personal space.

"Well? Is it him or not?" He asked, scrutinizing Yuuri's expression. For what, he wasn't sure; all he knew was that he was afraid of the answer. 

"I'm still not so sure myself," Victor said, gently steering Yuuri to look at him once more with a finger under his chin, "What is your name?"

Should he lie? Would telling the truth endanger him?

"Katsuki."

He settled on a half truth.

"Full name."

"We'll know if you're lying, dog shit," the blond hissed, his hand tightening on the hilt of his sword.  

"Yurochka, enough," Victor released his neck, keeping his hand pressed against Yuuri's chest as a silent warning to stay put, "Your full name, please."

Whether or not this was all an elaborate prank or reality had yet to be made clear. The only thing Yuuri knew for sure was that the guards weren't helping, Chris was still gone, and two strange men were cornering him in a glass room - with one of them being the most terrifying man in human history .

"Yuuri Katsuki." 

Victor seemed to repress a smile. Yuuri didn't know if that was good or bad.

"Another Yuuri…"

"That doesn't prove anything, Victor."

"I know. It's still a funny coincidence," the hand on his chest reached up and snagged the collar of his shirt, pulling the henley down roughly to expose a portion of his pecs.

"Stop!" He screeched and immediately grabbed Victor's wrist, shoving it away. Victor frowned and grabbed one of his wrists, the blond boy grabbing the other and pinning it to the glass wall he was trapped against.

"What the hell was that?!" He sheathed his sword and reached forward to pull the fabric down once more, revealing the blue rose tattoo on Yuuri's chest, "Explain yourself!"

"I-it's a tattoo!"

"What? Why is it there?"

"I wanted to cover a birthmark."

"Birthmark?" Victor leaned down to squint at the blue and black ink, making Yuuri blush red from the attention and struggle a little harder against the men. He lightly traced over the patch of marked skin with his fingertips, and Yuuri thrashed against them with his eyes squeezed shut, "how big? What did it look like? Where was it?"

"Don't touch me!"

"Answer the question, pig!"

"Yuri, enough," Yuuri flinched at the command and caught himself on the verge of a whimper. The fingers on his chest moved up to his cheek and he jerked away from them, "I'm sorry, I was talking to the other Yuri."

"Stop calling me that! I was here first!" Yuuri cracked his eyes open and looked up at Victor, his face now inches away with a kind smile in place.

"Yuuri, I'm sorry that we've made you uncomfortable," he swatted blond 'Yuri's hand away from his shirt, "would it be alright if you answered my questions? I just need to confirm something."

Yuuri hesitated and glanced over at the frozen guards one last time. It didn't look like help was coming anytime soon. He slowly nodded, and tension seemed to ease slightly from Victor's shoulders.

"Thank you. The truth, please."

He nodded again.

"Where is your birthmark?"

"... near the center of my chest. Right over my heart."

"Good," Victor nodded eagerly, "what does it look like?"

He gulped nervously, "It's a line. About an inch and a half long."

"Good, good," Victor leaned back a bit and licked his lips, "There's one more thing I need to do. I need to check something, and then I can let you go."

"What are you checking for?" Victor reached forward, his eyes flashing briefly as his hand curled around the air above Yuuri's chest. The energy around his chest shimmered with blue energy and his chest ached. Yuuri felt the hands around both his wrists tighten slightly, "wait, please wait. What is this? What are you doing?"

"You're doing so well," Victor cooed, smiling at him with unconcealed anticipation,"all you have to do is tell me if this hurts."

Yuuri felt his blood run cold, "wait, no! Victor-"

He screamed when Victor lifted his fist away, feeling fire slicing through his heart and spreading throughout his body. The pain was agonizing, as if a sharp blade had been plunged into his chest and was injecting him with acid. 

"Victor, please! Stop this! Stop!" Tears streamed down his face as he violently fought against the two, kicking at them and struggling to pull his hands free. Victor shoved his knee into his thigh, Yuri copying the action with the other leg, in order to keep him stationary. 

As the agony dragged on, Yuuri was able to make out what was happening in the haze of the pain. The blue shimmer that had been rippling around his hand when he first clenched his fist had grown brighter, and with it the image of a sword  appeared in the empty space. Victor slowly pulled the phantom blade from his chest, his expression betraying the amount of concentration and energy it was taking him to complete the action.

"Almost… there… just a little further, darling," he reassured through clenched teeth.

"Hang on, pig!" The blond spat, squinting against the light and energy, "we know this fucking hurts, but it's gotta be done!" 

Just as quickly as the pain appeared, it was gone. In a show of strength, Victor hauled the ghostly sword from his chest and Yuuri gasped, immediately collapsing against the glass wall with the blond being the only thing separating him from a face plant onto the ground. Victor had stumbled back a few steps, the glowing sword pulsating faintly in his hands. Breathing heavily, he dropped the item onto the ground and snatched his own sword from the interior of the glass coffin.

With a spin that Yuuri was pretty sure was completely unnecessary, he stabbed into the transparent blade, shattering it into a smattering of blue energy. The gemstone on the hilt flared with light for a moment before dimming back down to its original state. 

Yuri gently lowered Yuuri to the ground, standing up straight and panting, "damn. It's about time we got rid of that stupid curse."

"Haaa…. ha... curse," Yuuri breathed heavily, his body numb and cheeks tear streaked as he looked up at the boy, "what curse?"

"The one that's been killing you for hundreds of years," 'moron' was left unsaid, but Yuuri was still unable to grasp the meaning, “it’s good to see you commander.”

He looked up at Victor, who was staring at him with a heavy emotion in his eyes.

"It's a lot to explain," he eventually said, tossing the blade to Yuri and approaching the photographer’s weak form. He kneeled in front of him and wiped his tears from his cheeks with both hands, a soft smile on his lips, "I'm about to lose my grip over these men, so we need to move fast."

"W-we?" He frowned and lethargically shook his head, "N-no, I'm not going anywhere with you."

"After all we’ve been through-!"

"Yurochka, he doesn't remember," Victor scolded and cupped Yuuri's face, "I can give details later, but we have to leave. Yuri needs to catch me up on what I've missed, and I'm not in the mood to be made a public spectacle."

"To make a long story short, I've been staring at the same cave wall for nearly a century before some blond idiot stumbled in a few months ago. You haven't missed much."

"Based on what's around me, I suspect that you're making an understatement," he gently lifted Yuuri in his arms and motioned with his chin for Yurio to take point, "I can marvel at this all later, but we need to leave now."

"Please," he could feel residual pain and exhaustion creeping in on him. Yuuri weakly pushed against Victor's chest and squirmed in his arms, "please leave me here."

Victor's smile was warm as he kissed his forehead, "I can't do that. I probably could have a few minutes ago, but I know who you are now," he tightened his grip on his body and started following behind his protege, barely taking his eyes off of the form in his arms.

"I've waited centuries to find you, Yuuri. You're not getting away from me so easily this time."