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eternity will be born from hope

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March 

 

from : 宮本.リナ@jsf.jp  [miyamoto.rina@jsf.jp] 

to: 郡-優子@line.js [nishigori-yuuko@line.js] 

date: Mar 10, 2XXX, 8:47AM 

subject : アイスキャッスルサマースクール  [Ice Castle Summer School] 

 

 

Dear Ms. Nishigori,  

In response to your previous email, my office has sent out an email advertising your summer school to other smaller skating clubs within the country.

After an overwhelmingly positive response, I have thought it prudent to help you narrow down the vast volume of applications. I have handpicked current athletes from the novice to intermediate range for the seminar in accordance with the criteria you have provided. Further to your previous email, I suggest the dates of the summer school to take place on July 18th till August 1st, as most schools will be starting summer vacation from that date. Please find attached the list of contact details of all these athletes in the email below.

On a personal note, Katsuki- senshu has mentioned privately to me that he will be heading the seminars alongside Olympian Suzuki Sophia- senshu , who I know is currently employed as the Head Coach at Ice Castle.

Katsuki-senshu has been a pivotal figure in the current rise of figure skating within our country. As the Junior World Champion, he has brought prestige by bringing Japan to the top of the international rankings and has earned three spots for the future Junior skaters at next year’s Junior Worlds - spots we have never had before.

He has opened up the door for his kouhais and we as a federation cannot thank him enough. The fact that he is at the forefront of the summer school during a time where most would be celebrating after such a career-defining season speaks to the kind of athlete Katsuki-senshu is. 

On behalf of the Japanese Skating Federation, we would like to thank you for giving an opportunity for smaller skating schools. Katsuki-senshu has become a role model for many of the athletes in the country, and we thank Ice Castle for raising such a commendable athlete. 

As an employee of the Japanese Skating Federation, I cannot help but feel chastised that such a young athlete is providing so much for our own skaters. As such, I hope you do not see this as overstepping, but I have mentioned the summer school to my superiors and would like to propose an idea.

The Japanese Skating Federation would like to collaborate with Ice Castle’s summer school, covering the cost of all accommodation and daily necessities needed for students attending the two-week long seminar. I know that this is very last minute, as the summer school will begin within two month’s time, but if you could contact me within the week with your answer, I would be most obliged.

Please do not feel like you are required to agree, this is just our own way of wanting to give back to Katsuki-senshu who has helped the sport so much in the last few months. We will accept whatever conditions you have.

We hope that this summer school will foster new talents and usher in a new age of figure skating within Japan. 

All the best, 

Miyamoto Rina

Head Supervisor, Figure Skating: Junior Division 

Japanese Skating Federation 

 

***

[VIDEO: A very short clip from SC2 (Sports Channel 2), the major Russian Sports Channel that is broadcasted across the country. They are doing a weekly report with an overview of the figure skating season, with a particular interest in Viktor Nikiforov’s world record of breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in history and his recent win at the World Championships. 

“Of course, we cannot talk about Nikiforov’s world records without talking about the Junior World Champion. 

The Japanese skater broke all of Nikiforov’s junior world records heading into his senior debut. Whilst this is a feat in itself, the biggest shock is that he can speak Russian! 

Here, we have an interview with YouTube vloggers, Figure of Eight where Katsuki answers all of his questions fluently in Russian. 

Coached by the revered Minako Okukawa, an alumni of Vaganova who was also a principal ballerina at Mariinsky, he is not just athletic but incredibly intelligent too.News broke out earlier this week in Japan that Katsuki ranked within the top 1% of students in the entire nation. For a country that hosts over 12 million, it is an incredible feat!” 

The clip continues to speak more in-depth about other Russian Junior skaters, as well as what to look forward to next season. They gloss over the current environment between Viktor’s fans and a handful of Yuuri supporters, deciding to ignore it completely.]  

*** 

Hime-Mimie 

[VIDEO: A YouTube video of Mimi, one of the most influential beauty vloggers in Japan. It is a refreshing picture of her with clear skin and no-makeup. Around her face are inserts of a few skincare products.] 

モーニングルーチン | 生産性を上げましょう|朝のスキンケアと毎日のヨガのルーチン

[MORNING ROUTINE | let’s get productive | morning skincare and daily yoga routine]   

1,012,241 views.  Apr. 09     👍 11k   👎 1k   

 

Hime-Mimie

821k subscribers 

 

7841 comments … SORT BY 

 

Add a comment …  



遠藤江藤 2 days ago  

うわー、これが広告ではないなんて信じられない、ミミは本当にこのブランドが好きでなければならない

[Woow, i can’t believe this isn’t an Ad, Mimi must really like this brand] 

👍 147 👎   REPLY  

 

00ducky 4 hours ago 

今、保湿剤を買っています!

[I’m buying the moisturiser now!]

👍 17 👎   REPLY  

 

私はキラです 6 hours ago 

私はいつもミミのレビューを信頼しています。彼女が後援されているときでさえ、彼女が製品がたわごとであると思うならば、彼女はいつも真実ですハハハハ

[I always trust Mimi's reviews. Even when she's being sponsored, she's always truthful if she thinks the product is shit hahahaha]  

👍 278 👎 1  REPLY

 

アイドルファン 1 day ago 

うわー、その保湿剤は彼女の肌をとても涙にぬれたように見せましたO.O

[Wow, that moisturiser made her skin look so dewy O.O]   

👍 1.7k 👎 18  REPLY

view all replies 

 

 

山口妻 4 hours ago

知っている!使った後も肌が輝き続けた

[I know! Her skin kept glowing after she used it]

👍 5 👎   REPLY

 

アドラー。ファン 1 day ago 

KUMAのことは聞いたことがありません!

[I’ve never heard about KUMA before!] 

 👍   👎   REPLY

view all replies 

 

ニーナニーナ 3 hours ago

それは市場で新しいです。彼らは先月この製品をリリースしただけです!

[It’s new on the market. They only released this product last month!]  

👍 12 👎   REPLY

 

サラによるメイク 4 days ago 

私は有名人業界で働いており、KUMAはすべてメイクアップアーティストのクライアントへの推薦です。とても軽いスキンケアですが、とても潤いがあります。彼らはまもなく全ラインをリリースする予定だと聞きました。私はすでに彼らの順番待ちリストに載っています!

[I work in the celebrity industry, and KUMA is all make-up artists' recommendations to their clients. It’s such a light skincare but it’s so hydrating. I hear they’re going to release a whole line soon, I’ve already put myself on their waiting list!]  

👍 2.1k 👎 74  REPLY

view all replies 

 

春姫 2 days ago 

ミミは決して嘘をつかない!できるだけ早くクリームを購入します

[Mimi never lies! I’m going to buy the cream ASAP! ]

👍 3 👎   REPLY

 

***

KUMA Inc. 

Tokyo, Japan 

 

“Mari-neesan!” The sound of Momo’s screeching slams into Mari’s ears as soon as she walks through the revolving doors of the office. The security immediately bow, allowing her through without a swipe of her ID, and a few employees still in the entrance stare widely as she walks directly towards the reception area.  

That’s her, isn't it? Katsuki Mari.”

“What- who is she?”

“Haven’t you heard?! She’s the main chairwoman on the board of directors. She saved the company even before it started!” 

“Wha- really?!”

“Yes! There was a big noise about it, remember? She bought the building for Kataoka-buchuo and kicked out the old landlord that exploited them. She’s the reason they could even afford to hire us.” 

“Woah.”

“That’s so cool.” 

“Do you think I would look nice if I cut my hair like her?”

‘“Who do you think you are? That hair style only works because of Katsuki-shachoh!”

“Maybe I should get a few piercings too.”  

“You’d look like a gangster-” 

“You’re here, Katsuki-shachoh.” Their newly hired receptionist, Tanaka-san, rises up from her desk at the entrance, bowing deeply to Mari as she begins to sign in. “I apologise for the loud noise. Tamura-buchou made it clear I should let her know about your arrival as soon as possible.” 

“I’m used to it.” Mari waves her hand indifferently, raising her eyebrow as she watches Momo skip down the escalators, two steps at a time. “Momo-chan, you’ll get hurt.”

Wah, she’s so cool.”

“Can she call me by my name too?”

“Neesan, I’ll be your fan from today.” 

“Mari-san!” Mari struggles with the sudden added weight of Momo throwing her arms around her shoulders exuberantly. “We did it! We really did it!” 

“Slow down.” Mari pinches her arm, ignoring the scowl Momo shoots her way. “You’re the Head Scientist, stop acting like a child.”

“But we’ve done it!” She pouts. “We sold out our hydrating cream!” 

The two of them stand still as the escalator rises, making their way through the small hallway until they reach a private elevator. “Yui told me over the phone. Is it just in the stores?”

“In the warehouse !” Momo screams. “It’s a dream come true. We’ve had to set up a waiting list because of the influx of orders. Did you see the video Hime-Mimie did? I never thought of viral marketing, but it worked out!” 

Mari nudges her forward, as they make their way towards Yui’s office. “We should send her a PR kit when all the products come out.”

“That’s a good idea, I’ll mention it to Nako-chan in the meeting.”

Mari checks the time, before knocking lightly on Yui’s door. The door slams open and another pair of arms wrap around Mari’s shoulders. “We did it!”

“Yes, yes, congratulations.” Mari rolls her eyes, patting Yui’s back. “Where’s Nako, the meeting is starting soon right?”

“What’s the rush? Let’s bask in the fact that our company is doing so well, so quickly. I’m half convinced it’s a dream.” Yui links her arm with her friends, Mari on one side and Momo on the other. “So, what was the family thing you had to do?”

“Oh, my brother was at a competition, so I needed to help out with the inn. Did you get the database I sent you on time?”

“It was perfect .” Nako grins. “But a competition? That’s so exciting, did you get to watch him then?” 

“Oh, no. It was overseas so-.”

“Who was overseas?” Nako interrupts as the three of them meet her in a small boardroom. The office building’s renovations had breathed new life into the space, whilst still small compared to the rest of the street, it was a far cry from when they were all stuck in the basement together. 

The girls all flood around her, as Nako pours water into some glasses, handing out the files for their meeting in preparation. Yue pipes up, “We were talking about why Mari-san took a break. Apparently, her brother was competing at an overseas competition.”

“Wow!” Nako gapes. “Did you go over to watch him?”

“Oh no.” Mari sips her water, leaning back against her seat. She crosses her legs and says, nonchalantly, “The timezone was so bad, I had to stay up until three in the morning just to watch it.” 

“Wait, your brother’s competition was televised?” 

“Yeah, I mean it’s a pretty popular sport nowadays so-”

“Woah, the more I find out about your family, the more impressed I get.” 

Nako claps her hands in excitement. “Tell us more about him! He’s still in high school right?”

“Just graduated.” 

“Oof.” Momo cringes. “Poor kid, they’ve been talking about the poor results for months now.” 

Mari smirks lightly to herself. “He did well for himself. He got into the college of his choice, so we’re all very proud of him.”

“What about his sport? If he just graduated that means he’s a student athlete!” Yui leans forward, curious. 

“Oh, he’s a figure skater.” Mari places her cup back down. “Are you sure I’ve never talked about him before?”

“Of course you haven’t!” Momo cries. “We would’ve remembered if your brother was a figure skater! It’s like the new trendy thing everyone’s become obsessed with because of that one skater. What’s his name again?” 

Nako frowns, “Katyama?”

“No, I’m pretty sure there was an ‘s’ somewhere.” Yui argues. “Katsumi? Kat Kats-... Katsu…-” 

All of their eyes snap towards Mari. She sips her water elegantly. 

Momo chokes, slamming a hand against her mouth. “Mari-san… erm, your brother wouldn’t happen to be that athlete?”

“Who?” Mari purses her lip to stop the spreading of a smirk. 

“Please- please tell me that your brother isn’t Katsuki Yuuri-senshu.”

Mari winks, “The one and the same.”

“WHAT THE FUCK?!” Nako screams, her chair tipping over as she jumps to her feet. “ The Katsuki Yuuri-senshu? The guy where any picture of him on twitter gets over a million likes??” 

“Hmm, yes. That handsome child is my flesh and bone.” 

“I’m feeling a little faint.” Yui trembles out. “This whole time your brother was a national athlete and you never told us ?”

“Forget being a national athlete!” Nako slaps Momo’s arm, shaking her phone in front of her face. An article flashes before Mari’s eyes, one where Yuuri is holding a large gold medal and trophy. “Look, here! It says he’s a world champion!”

“WHAT?!”

“Mari-san. You have a strange way of saying your brother did well.” Yui pulls at her hair. “Wasn’t there an article saying he was in the top 1%?”

“Oh, yeah. He scored almost full marks.”

“Fu-full marks…”

“Mari-san. I hope you know that while you’re still our favourite Katsuki, please can your brother be our spokesmodel?”

Mari chokes on her water. “What?!”

“Think about it!” Nako screeches, gripping Mari’s shoulders. “He doesn’t even have a public social media account and yet he trends every other day. There are compilation videos of him on YouTube that have over 300k views! His photos get up to millions of engagements a week!” 

“Nako, you’re so right!” Momo shrieks. “He’s perfect for our brand aesthetic too!” 

“But, wait… Yuuri’s leaving for America in September. He won’t have a lot of time to shoot a commercial and a spread-”

“We can do it now, right? He doesn’t have a competition, does he?”

“Well, no… Worlds was the last one-”

“Let’s go now!” Yui grabs Mari’s hands, looking at her imploringly. “Please, convince him!” 

“Go where?!”

***

Hasetsu, Kyushu

Japan 

 

Waahh!” Nako inhales loudly. “The air is so crisp! Is this what being next to the sea does to you? I’m going to take so many videos and rub it in Yui and Momo’s faces!”

Mari has a visual imaginary warning of Momo’s tears after being stuck in the lab today, and decides she’d then and there she’ll be working from home the next month to escape the younger girl’s complaints. 

“Oi, come on.” Mari nudges Nako forward, “We need to check in.” 

“Wah! Mari-san’s parent’s inn!” Nako chooses to ignore her, clapping her hands repeatedly in happiness. “I’m so excited.’

“This isn’t supposed to be a vacation.” Mari tugs her coworker’s luggage along the cobblestone pavements. “What time are the photographer’s coming?”

“He messaged me that his team just reached Yojakuminami, so they’ll be around thirty minutes? Enough time for us to prepare the golden hour shoot. The sun sets at half six, correct?”

Mari lifts Nako’s luggage up the stairs, nodding. “Yuuri should be waiting for us at the inn, kaasan said she’s made some fresh miso soup for breakfast so we should hurry.” 

“Oishī!” Nako cheers, strategically choosing not to mention the large bento box she had on the train.  

“Just a word of warning,” Mari heaves a deep sigh. “I had to threaten him to do this, so if he complains, just tell me and I’ll smack it out of him.”

Nako stills. “Woah. Nee-san, you’re so violent. That’s our Nation’s athlete! Poor Katsuki-senshu.”

“I’m his older sister,” Mari opens the gates towards the inn, sneering. “It’s my birthright.” 

The sound of yipping is heard soon after, and the most adorable puppy comes bouncing towards herself and Mari. Mari immediately leans down to let the puppy lick at her hand, and Nako can only look back in awe at the transformation of her cold-hearted boss becoming weak at the sight of a cute dog. 

“Hello,” Nako feels the air leave her lungs as a soft voice calls out towards them. “You must be Nishimura-san.” 

Katsuki Yuuri - the saviour of all her problems. Forget Hime-Mimie, this boy right here, he was a walking bank. 

“Katsuki-senshu!” Nako leaps forward, grabbing his hand and shaking it overenthusiastically. “I’d love to say I’ve heard all about you from Mari-san, but it seems that she’s kept you a secret!”

Katsuki-san looks at his sister with a pursed look, as if he was trying to stop his laughter from bursting through. He was taller than Nako had thought. Perhaps it was because of the grandeur of his online presence, but seeing Katsuki-senshu in person was overwhelming. 

“Well! Since you signed the contract earlier this week, we thought it be best to get on with the commercial.”

“Ah, yes.” He bows lightly towards her again, opening the door for her sweetly. “I apologise for rushing, since I’ll be focused on training soon, I thought it best to get it done as quickly as possible.” Mari snorts behind her, and Nako has the imminent feeling that she was missing some of the story between the two siblings. 

(“Why would I do a commercial for a skincare company?!”

“You think I’d let you miss out on this?!” Mari snarls, her hand gripping into Yuuri’s shoulders painfully. “18 million yen! If you won’t let me transfer the money you used for investments, then this is the compromise.”)  

“Great! We’ll check in and then have a meeting with the photographer about today’s concept.” Nako tightens her jacket, suddenly. “I hope it gets warmer though! We can’t have Katsuki-senshu catching a cold.”

“Hmm?” Yuuri frowns. “Why would I catch a cold? Are we not shooting in the rink?”

“Did Mari not tell you?!” Nako gapes, turning on her heel to glower at Mari. 

“Tell me what?” flustered, Katsuki-senshu stares between his sister and Nako. “What?” He repeats, anxiously awaiting his sister’s response as the silence stretches between them.

“It’s an ocean photoshoot.” Mari huffs out. “A shirtless ocean photoshoot.” 

***

“I’m not doing it.”

“You already signed the contract.”

“That was before you said what the concept was!”

“It’s not racy!” Nishimura-san interrupts. Yuuri scowls in his seat, the makeup artists fluttering around him despite his reservations. “You’re still only eighteen. Most of your body will be covered by the waves. Our concept is to push beyond your limits towards freedom, it’s why we think you are the best fit for our brand, and why we came to the ocean.”

“But-”

“Katsuki-senshu. Here are the concept photos.” The photographer, Tanaka-san, inches forward as if he was approaching a muzzled dog. Yuuri almost feels sorry, if not for the fact the photographer was the cause of all of this. He takes the handed out portfolio anyways.  

“If you see here, you’ll be blinded by most of the light. The main subject will be your back.” 

Yuuri heaves a heavy sigh.

It’s not the photographer’s fault Yuuri was in a shitty mood. He did promise to do the photoshoot, (maybe he should’ve just let Mari transfer him the money instead), and it’s not like he hasn’t done shirtless photoshoots before (emphasis on the fact that they were always with Viktor and so he never felt too anxious about it since everyone’s focus would be on his husband anyway). 

Speaking of his husband - and the reason for his soured mood - Viktor was being a little bitch. 

It has been two weeks since Junior Worlds with no texts sent between them. Fuck, Yuuri’s been texting Yurio more than Viktor. Sure, he must be busy with Worlds being right around the corner, but he could at least send Yuuri an acknowledgement that they’d actually met, right? 

It’s like a personal hell made just for Yuuri - he spends most of his time with his phone glued to his hand. Does he really have to be the bigger person and reach out to him first? He’s eighteen! Viktor’s supposed to be the adult in the friendship! There’s no way Viktor had forgotten all about their coffee date! Yuuri knows his husband well - Viktor was at least enjoying himself, even if he spent most of the time spatting with Yurio. 

Speaking of Yurio, Yuuri was at his wits end. After realising that his friend had been exploited by other skaters to gain Viktor’s affections, Yuuri had purposely refused to mention Viktor during his texts. It had the added layer of the two becoming close - not a day would pass without Yurio sending him a cute video of a cat or asking him for some skating help. It was so easy talking to Yurio, so why was Viktor being so difficult?! 

Yuuri flings off his glasses in frustration, refusing to look at the portfolio any longer. Maybe the cold, spring breeze would be a welcome distraction. “I’ll do it.” 

“Great!” Tanaka claps loudly, and the makeup team around him starts tugging him up from his chair. His shirt is removed immediately and he’s slathered in some kind of oily substance that makes his skin crawl. 

“Perfect!” Nishimura-san looks over Yuuri critically. “Not too muscular, just how we want. The main focus isn’t going to be on your body, so you won’t have to worry too much. Girls, make sure you focus the highlighter on his collarbones, his neck will be above water-”

Yuuri frowns to himself, for once glad about his impaired vision. He closes his eyes and lets the professionals do what they have to do.  

“It won’t take long, Katsuki-senshu.” One of the makeup artists pats him on the back. He smooths some more cream over Yuuri’s collarbones, before stepping aside to let another one of his team members come up and start dusting some kind of see-through glitter along the bones. 

“There we go!” Yuuri is moved towards the mirror. “You look incredible!”

He squints, able to make out a blob of pale skin that must be him. “I’ll take your word for it.” 

“Katsuki-senshu!” What sounds like Nishimura-san manifests beside him. “While we’re waiting for the photography team to set up the camera, let’s start with your social media account. If you could follow us, that would be great, here-”

“Oh, I don’t have a social media account.”

Nishimura-san blinks. “What?”

“I don’t have social media.”

“N-not at all? Not even a private account?”

Yuuri feels an itch at the back of his neck. “Well, I have like a twitter, but that’s…” Heat rushes up Yuuri’s body, spilling across his cheeks and neck as embarrassment floods him. 

“It’s his Viktor fan account, Nako-chan.” Mari rolls her eyes, entering the tent. “Ooooh, Yuuri, you look so… different.”

Neesan!” 

“Am I wrong? You asked me to make you one so you could sign up to EMPEROR , remember- oooh!” Mari coos. “My little brother looks so handsome! Let me send this picture to Minako-sensei!”

Yuuri swats her hand, hoping it ruins her shot. “Either way, I do not want that account to be known.” 

“I- do you at least have an instagram?” Nishimura-san’s voice turns into a horrified whisper. 

“No, sorry.”

“Wha-” Nishimura-san closes her eyes slowly. “You are eighteen right? What eighteen year old doesn’t have instagram?!”

“I was going to make one!” Yuuri counters. “Honestly! Just… well, I don’t do well with too much attention. Besides, it’s not like anyone really wants to follow me-” 

(Do you hear that? It’s the sound of Nako’s heart being stabbed.) “I’m going to choose to ignore that comment. We just need a few re-posts here and there, maybe some stories of you using the product and tagging us. You don’t need to follow us directly, but it would do wonders if you actually do have some kind of social media we could follow and tag you on in our posts.”

Yuuri scratches the back of his neck. “I was going to hire someone to deal with all that. Minako-sensei was saying that it would be better to directly interact with fans, but I’m not that good at posting.” 

Nishimura-san frowns. “Well, if you want to interact with fans, I don’t think you should hire someone to manage it. A publicist wouldn’t be too bad to hire. Maybe you could have two accounts? One for official use, and a personal one where you can post as little to as much as you would like. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about how much you post or how to interact with your fans.”

“That- that sounds clever.”

“Well,” Mari interrupts, rolling her eyes. “She is Head of Marketing at KUMA. Do you have any links with people in the publicist circle?”

“Leave it all to me.” Nishimura-san grins, pulling out her phone.

When they finally step out of the makeshift tent-turned-wardrobe department, the biting, ocean air aims at his body like arrows finding their target. 

He shivers immediately, and Nako is quick to throw a thick robe over his body. “Can’t have the face of our business too cold, Suzuki-san, bring the heat packs over here!” 

“Oooh, what’s going on here?”

“Ahh, isn’t that Yuuri-kun?”

“Waah, there’s cameras! Kaasan, look there’s cameras!”

“Are they filming something?”

“Apparently, it’s a photoshoot!” 

“I’m going to kill you.” Yuuri seethes, glaring at his sister. 

She grins, patting his head. “You could call this all karma.” 

***

ESPN Figure Skating ✓  @ESPN_FS

Russia’s figure skating hero, Viktor Nikiforov, wins consecutive World title 

tweet

135 🗨️ 325 ⟲ 1.2k ♡ 

 

Euro Sports    @ESports_Figure Skating

Viktor Nikiforov becomes the first male figure skater in over twenty years to win consecutive World titles 

92 🗨️  35 ⟲ 921♡ 

 

Национальная спортивная газета  @NSN_RUS

Виктор Никифоров - Эпоха господства: первый человек за более чем 20 лет, выигравший титул чемпиона мира подряд

[Viktor Nikiforov - An Age of Dominance: The first man in over 20 years to win a consecutive world title] 

12🗨️ 351 ⟲ 845 ♡ 

 

Москва Таймс  @MOSCOW-TIMES 

Виктор Никифоров ошеломил домашнюю публику, привез золото на родину на чемпионате мира по фигурному катанию в Москве

[Viktor Nikiforov wows a home crowd, brings back gold in his home country at the World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow]   

241🗨️  523 ⟲ 5.1k ♡ 

***

April  

Saint Petersburg, 

Russia 

 

Woof!” 

“You are so right, Makka.” Viktor laments into his pup’s fur. “I’ve ruined all my chances.” 

Makkachin’s eyes narrow as Viktor burrows himself into her side, although she allows her owner to flip her on her back, conceding to the sudden attack of belly rubs. (Whatever it takes for Viktor to feel better, she supposes.) 

Viktor rises up from the couch, stretching his back tightly as his joints pop in their sockets. The sound echoes against the emptiness of his flat, reverberating against the cold grey walls. The pendant lights above him swing with his movement, and he lethargically slips his feet into his slippers, moving towards the kitchen. His coffee machine rattles as he refills the grounds, and he leans against the counter, face twisting now that he was alone. 

It’s sort of my fault , he thinks to himself, watching as steam floods his surroundings as the machine beeps along. His coffee spills over his cup, far too small for the latte that was pouring out, and yet, all Viktor could do was watch glass-eyed as the cream-coloured liquid drips down the sides of his ceramic, novelty mug. 

It’s too quiet, and yet, the silence is deafening. His phone lays on the counter beside him, void of any sound. No notification, no ring of a call, no tweet. The latest model, the fastest model, and yet, nothing. It was all his fault. 

Viktor’s legs collapse, and he crouches to the floor, gripping his hair tightly. Makka yelps from her place on the coach, hopping over the sofa with practised ease. She rushes towards Vitkor, the padding of her paws loud against the wooden floor, and yet, the sound is muffled by the screams of Viktor’s thoughts. 

“He probably hates me, right?” He whispers. “There’s no way he’d want anything to do with me if he saw those tweets.” Makka whines next to him.

“Why on earth would you say that?!” Yakov screams. “What, do you like inciting the flames? This isn’t the first time you’ve said things like this, but towards a Junior skater?”

“I didn’t say that!” Viktor cries. “I swear to god, - swear, I- I didn’t.. That’s not what-”

“Vitya, Vitya-” All he can hear is the swarming of his mind burning against his ears. He can’t hear anything - it’s like the world has squeezed itself into his brain and he’s clawing for some room, some space to fucking breath- 

“VITYA!” Lilia’s hands dig into his shoulders, grounding him. “Vitya, look at me.” 

Shocks of pain stab at his eyes, and he blinks suddenly, brain stuttering to a stop. Tears leak out as a burning ache smears across his eyes. He’s crying. How long has it been since he last cried? Why is he crying? 

“I- I didn’t know he was a reporter-” Viktor gasps out. “I- He was at the rink, so I thought he was some kind of ice technician. You never let press in the rink anyways, so what else am I supposed to think? All I said was that Worlds was more serious for me at the moment- that it was all I was focusing on! I swear, I didn’t mean- I didn’t mean that about Yuuri. I swear, I would never say that about him- I-”

“Viktor.” Yakov’s voice is clear and deep. It rings across the room, loud and imposing. “I will sort this out. Do you understand? But for now, turn off notifications from twitter, Instagram, everything. Do you understand me? I don’t want a peep out of you until after Worlds. If any of the reporters ask you questions about it, you let me handle it. Understood?”

Understood. His phone lay dormant next to him, unused after a month of silence. 

Regardless if he hadn’t run his mouth, Viktor was positive Katsuki would never want anything to do with him after a month of silence. Would Yuuri even want to be Viktor’s friend now? Why would he, when he’d diminished him in the eyes of the entire fucking world? 

“He hates me.” Viktor speaks into the emptiness of his apartment. “I am sure of it.” 

A loud ping breaks through the room. Makka jumps at the sound, slamming half of her weight into Viktor’s side. He groans in pain, rubbing his side, before sliding his phone open. 

Instagram: 1m ago 

[katsuki-y has followed you] 

Makka startles at the sound of Viktor’s screech. He swipes the notification, fingers shaking. “Yuuri?” He asks himself. Was it truly him? Why was he following him? But- Yuuri didn’t have any social media! He didn’t-

As the sudden aching seconds of buffering as the Instagram account loads, Viktor hardly realised the image he made. Sprawled out on the kitchen floor, Makkachin bounding around by his side after realising his sudden exuberance of happiness, with coffee dripping down the countertops, Viktor was a mess in all the ways his polished image could never be. 

The profile is empty, following no-one other than himself. His heart drops. It wasn’t him - it couldn’t be him. The profile picture was of Makkachin’s back, tail swishing in the breeze amongst a meadow of buttercups. A fan page, one that was perhaps a fan of both of them. 

Viktor’s heart eases slightly, although a heavy weight still persists - a fan page, one that was perhaps a fan of the both of them. At least this way, Viktor and Yuuri could be side by side. Makka’s nose nudges his phone, sensing his owner’s waning emotions. “Off, Makka. It’s not him- why do you keep nudging the phon-”

Makka’s nose slobbers across his screen, a drool of goop against the profile picture. Viktor huffs, rising to grab a dishcloth to wipe it when he realises. 

Saint Petersburg is not known for its vast arrays of greenery and meadows. He has never taken a picture of Makka in flowers before. Then… who?

Ignoring Makka’s whimpering, Viktor makes his way towards the sofa. Throwing his body sidewards, his legs hang over the side of the chair, his blanket fallen to the ground. Makka settles down beside him on the floor, head resting primly against her paws. 

He looks at the profile picture. He looks at Makka. Since when has Viktor ever shaved Makka’s fur that short? Or, for that purpose, has Makka ever looked this small? He squints his eyes at the bleary picture. 

His finger swipes through the account, hoping it would refresh with new posts. Alas, the account was as empty as it previously had been. Well, Viktor was never one to back down from a challenge. 

Since his followers were empty, Viktor does the next best thing and clicks on the tagged button. Immediately, a dozen pictures flood his screen. 

 

suzie-suzuki 2h 

Hasetsu Higashi High School

[PHOTO:  https://pin.it/4e5yFzi A picture of a group of high school students. They are all wearing masks, in their school uniform and holding bouquets of flowers. The right male is tagged as @abe-h, the girl next to him is tagged as @meenz, the boy on the left with glasses is tagged as @jjeasd and the boy at the back, holding up a peace sign is tagged as @katsuki-y. It’s hard to tell exactly who they all are.]

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by katsuki-y , abe-h, nana-nina and 210 others

suzie-suzuki: 2XXXのクラス、私たちはそれをやった。ゆうりくんのクラムセッションがなかったら、UGH絵文字にはできなかったでしょう。花ありがとうございます!

View all 74 comments 

Viktor’s heart stutters. Japanese . The one tagged as katsuki-y had liked it, but he was hidden behind other students, a mask covering most of his face.

“He’s not wearing glasses either...” Viktor convinces himself with a pout. “Yuuri wears glasses.” There was no guarantee that the person was a Yuuri anyway. Katsuki was definitely a surname, so it’s not a stretch that there would be others named it. How many Katsukis were there in Japan? Was it even a popular name? 

His thumb slides through the comments, all written in Japanese, before his finger slips and his whole page buffers. Suddenly, the caption blinks above him, changing into English. 

 

[Class of 2XXX, we fucking did it. If it wasn’t for Yuuri-kun’s Cram Sessions, we wouldn’t have made it UGH emoji. Thank you for the flowers, @katsuki-y!]

Yuuri. Yuuri

His fingers tremble as the comments are slowly translated.

 

in.us.all 

…ゆうりくん…かつきせんし?

[… by Yuuri-kun… do you mean Katsuki-senshu?]  

カツカツ

それは彼のインスタグラムですか?

[Is that his instagram?!

 

月光

彼はいつからインスタグラムを持っていますか?

Since when does he have an instagram?! 

 

waku.waku.waku

勝己ははせつに行きます!それは彼のインスタグラムでなければなりません!!!!

Katsuki-senshu goes to Hasetsu! That MUST be his instagram!!!!

 

A lightbulb burns in Viktor’s brain. He slowly glances up at his pendant lights, swinging lightly from side to side. The location… Hasetsu. Yuuri was from Hasetsu. His hand flies across his keypad immediately. 

 

Makka’s Papa  

YURI! 

WHAT HIGH SCHOOL DID YUURI GO TO?!! 

sent

Demon Child 

Fuck off. I thought I told you to never speak to me ever again. 

received

Makka’s Papa 

THIS IS A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION

sent 

Demon Child 

Then die. 

received 

 

“Arrghhh!” Viktor throws himself against the sofa, crying. “Fucking- I will end him, I swear to god.” 

Makkachin whines beside him. Viktor is quick to rub her head, murmuring quietly, “It’s not you, baby. Your uncle is driving me insane, is all.” 

Ever since the carcasses of his online war had been well and truly buried, Yuri had refused to even be in the same room as him. It had made Friday dinner’s with Lilia even more excruciating than usual, (because, honestly, what other divorced couple still regularly met for afternoon tea weekly ?). Forget Yuri Plisetsky. The internet was the modern man’s best friend. 

Viktor refreshes the account page. As if the whole world had been waiting with  bated breath along with Viktor, the account’s followers number had increased exponentially. Katsuki-y was still only following him. 

He couldn’t help the smug smirk that etched itself onto his face. The account was still empty of posts, so he taps back on the tagged icon, and sees a treasure grove. 

At least a dozen new pictures had been uploaded, all from students wearing similar clothes. Viktor taps on the most recent one, and feels his heart stutter from the sight. 

 

hI-hitomi 1h 

Hasetsu Higashi High School

[PHOTO: https://pin.it/4ZuVf3P . A very cute picture of Yuuri with two kouhais. They are both from the Koto club, and were the ones who were at the club playing when Yuuri first heard Tenkyuu. Yuuri and Hitomi are pointing at the camera, with a playful air around them, whilst the other kouhail is covering her face in embarrassment. They also tag Yuuri to the account @katsuki-y]

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by katsuki-y, suzie-suzuki, abe-h and 451 others 

hi-hitomi: 輝かしいジュニア世界チャンピオンと一緒に写真を撮りました。勝己先輩、はせつT.Tを離れないでください [Got to take a picture with the illustrious Junior World Champion. Katsuki-senpai, please don’t leave Hasetsu T.T]

View all 98 comments 

It’s him. It’s actually Yuuri. 

*** 

hana-sgaa 20m 

Hasetsu Higashi High School  

[PHOTO: A picture of the F4 of Hasetsu, the four most beautiful girls at the school. Tagged in the picture is @nana-se, the President of the Koto Club, @kira-kira, the President of the Student Council and @mina-mii, a member of the judo team who made it to nationals. Hana is a manager for the baseball team. All four girls are in the same class as Yuuri.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by katsuki-y, hana-hana, abe-h and 1,247 others  

hana-sgaa : [camera : @katsuki-y ] 卒業写真!ゆうりくんはいつも最高の写真を撮ります![Graduation Picture! Yuuri-kun always takes the best pictures!]   

View all 124 comments 

 

q1wuf 

あなたたちはとてもきれいです!

You guys are all so pretty! 

hi-hitomi 

卒業おめでとう!

[Congratulations on your graduation!] 

hiro0254a

うわー、ゆうりとは、ゆうりという意味だと思いますか?

[Wow, by Yuuri do you think they mean that Yuuri?]

 

25jag2

彼らは同じ学校に通っているので、多分!

[They go to the same school, so maybe!]

waku.waku.waku

私の写真を撮ってもらえますか?

ユウリ・カツキです。

さて、カツキユウリ、私の写真を撮ってください。

[Can you take my picture?

I’m Katsuki Yuuri. 

Okay, Katsuki Yuuri, take my picture.] 

 

アーニャ

ケケケケケ

[Kekekekeke]

 

 

kira-kira 3h

Hasetsu Higashi High School  

[PHOTO: A picture of Yuuri and his classmate, Akira. Yuuri has his arm around her shoulder, leaning his head into her head and smiling into the camera. Akira is grinning into the camera. Yuuri is tagged in the photo.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by katsuki-y, nana-se and 7845 others  

kira-kira: ゆうりくんのおかげで、家族で初めて大学に入学できたことを誇りに思います。もしあなたが私を助けなかったら、私は死んでいたでしょう。物理学に失敗しなかった唯一の理由は、ジュニア世界チャンピオンであると将来の子供たちに話すのが待ちきれません 💀 。無料で私を指導してくれてありがとう、私は決してそれを成し遂げなかっただろう。東京大学、ここに来ました![Thanks to Yuuri-kun, I can proudly become the first person in my family to get into university. If you hadn’t helped me, I would’ve been dead. I can’t wait to tell my future kids that the Junior World Champion was the only reason I didn’t fail Physics 💀. Thanks for tutoring me for free, I would’ve never made it. University of Tokyo, here I come!]    

View all 141 comments

 

yumu-yumi 4h  

Hasetsu Higashi High School  

[PHOTO:  A slightly awkward picture of Yuuri and a kouhai. He is tagged in the photo using the same account everyone else has used.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by katsuki-y, asahi-k and 145 others  

yumu-yumi :勝己さんと一緒に写真が撮れたなんて信じられません!私は今幸せに死ぬことができます![I can’t believe I got a picture with Katsuki-san! I can die happy now!]  

View all 74 comments

 

***

katsuki-y 4h  

Hasetsu Higashi High  

[PHOTO: Yuuri’s first ever post on instagram [ https://pin.it/7xkhLUz .] It is a class photo taken outside in the sun. 

In a surprising turnaround, Yuuri and his classmates had become increasingly close over the last few months, with most of their study sessions happening at Yu-Topia Inn. Most of the class credit Yuuri’s Cram Sessions as the reason why Hasetsu Higashi had a high rate of university acceptance this year, with many of the students passing the entrance exam. 

Yuuri is at the centre, next to his homeroom teacher Fujiwara-sensei, who is looking at the camera with pride. All the other students are surrounding them, each burning with happiness and excitement. The picture is filled with tags to his classmates' instagram accounts.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by mari-k , minako-okukawa, christophe-gc and 974,457 others  

katsuki-y : 高校卒業 [high school graduation]  

View all 978 comments 

 

好き好き大好き

何てことだ

[OH MY GOD]

jalg21 

本当に彼です!

[IT’S REALLY HIM!!]

민현이

한국에서 온 사랑

[Love from Korea!!!] 

mihana 

THE DROUGHT HAS ENDED

S_Hideaki

ゆうりくん 😭 😭 😭 

[YUURI-KUN]

 

 

katsuki-y 3h  

[PHOTO: https://pin.it/6rBcEhr   A candid, funny picture taken after the graduation in the streets of Hasetsu. Yuuri is leaning sideways so that he is the same height as his friend, Nana. Nana was the Kyoto Club President, and was the person who had helped Yuuri find his gala music. Behind them is Abe and another one of their classmates, Mina, who are also pulling funny faces.]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by IceCastle, mari-k, y29110103 and 812,241 others  

katsuki-y: The bestest friends I could have asked for. Thank you Nana-chan, for always being a soundboard for my programs, Abe-kun for helping me de-stress and getting me past level 20, and Mina-chan for sneaking me chocolate behind Minako-sensei’s back.]

[📸: @mari-k] 

View all 1252  comments 

 

 

katsuki-y 3h 

Fun-Fun Arcade and Bowling Alley, Saga City  

[PHOTO:  A collection of fun candid pictures as Yuuri and his friends go celebrating after their graduation ceremony. The first picture is a group picture of five hands holding different types of bubble tea. The second is of Yuuri's friend, tagged as @kira-kira, being hit by a plushie basketball. The last post is a short video of Yuuri decimating Mina during Dance-Dance Revolution.] 

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by d-yamaguchi, christophe-gc, and 741,982 others  

katsuki-y : Our entire class went out to celebrate in Saga! Thanks for treating us, Fujiwara-sensei! I’m going to miss Class 3-1 T.T Also, For some reason, all of the matcha was sold out T.T The strawberry cheesecake boba was really good tho! I recommend O.O  

View all 124,013  comments 

mihana 

Someone get my baby his matcha bubble tea T.T 

好き好き大好き

抹茶くん T.T 

[Matcha-kun]

 

 

katsuki-y 4h 

Hasetsu, Kyushu, Japan 

[PHOTO: Yuuri and his close friends, all striking a silly pose. Yuuri is at the centre, laughing. Tagged in the picture is @abe-h, @kira-kira, @nana-se. @mina-mii, @yamsgucci,]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by christophe-gc, abe-h, kira-kira and 874,879 others  

katsuki-y : 私の高校生活を耐えられるものにしてくれてありがとう。[Thank you for making my high school life bearable.]   

View all 251,153 comments 

 

 

katsuki-y 2h 

Hasetsu Higashi High, Hasetsu, Kyushu, Japan  

[PHOTO: a beautiful picture of Yuuri taken by Kira. Yuuri is without his glasses and looks incredible .]  

♡ 💬  ➤

liked by v-nikiforov, christophe-gc, and 1,001,987 others  

katsuki-y: 📸 : @kira-kira last day ✨ 

View all 982,124 comments 

 

jessie-bessie 

UIHGKAJHGKA 

mihana 

YUURI?! 

y-o-y

とてもハンサムな

[So handsome *-*] 

kagi0k1

待って、ニキフォロフはポストのようでしたか?

[Wait… did Nikiforov just like the post??] 

***

Chris 🍑

You followed Nikiforov before me?! 

read

Yuuri 🌸   

I have no idea what you’re talking about O.O 

sent 

Chris 🍑

dON’t plAY DUMB WITH ME! 

read  

Chris 🍑  has uploaded a picture. 

[PHOTO: A screenshot of Yuuri’s followings on his new Instagram account. There are only nine accounts listed, KUMA.COSMETICS, sara-crispino, christopge-gc, IceCastle, nishi-yuu , minako-okukawa, mari-k and v-nikiforov. By the very fact that Viktor’s account is at the bottom of the following list is proof enough that Viktor was the first person Yuuri had followed on his new instagram account.]  

Yuuri 🌸   

…… 

sent

Chris 🍑  

I AM BETRAYED 

read

Christophe added you to a group chat 

Christophe changed the group chat name to ‘Lesbian Protectors’ 

Christophe changed your name to ‘Lesbian Protector #2’

Christophe changed his name to ‘Lesbian Protector #1’ 

Christophe changed Sara’s name to ‘The Lesbian’ 

Lesbian Protector #1 

You followed Nikiforov on Instagram before me?!  

read

Lesbian Protector #1

How could you, Yuuri? 

read

Lesbian Protector #1

Am I nothing to you? 

read

Lesbian Protector #1

I feel so betrayed! 

read

Lesbian Protector #2

Christophe. 

sent

The Lesbian changes Lesbian Protector 1 to Dumber

The Lesbian changes Lesbian Protector 2 to Dumb 

The Lesbian 

Anyways. Yuuri! Your instagram feed is so pretty, how do you take your pictures?

read

Dumb 

I love photography, so I was thinking of keeping this as a ‘private’ kind of account where I can post what I want and then have a separate, more official figure skate-y one later  

sent

Dumber 

Are we ignoring the fact that Yuuri followed his arch rival before he followed his best friend??? 

read

Dumb changes The Lesbian to Sara 💫 

Dumb changes Dumber to Chris 🍑

You have changed your name ‘Dumb’ to Yuuri 🌸   

Yuuri 🌸  

He’s not my arch rival. Stop being ridiculous.  

sent

Sara 💫 

Yuuri! This is your shot fort an enemies to lovers romance with the Viktor Nikiforov

read  

Chris 🍑   

Yuuri’s too sweet for that! Nikiforov needs to stay away from our baby 

read  

Sara 💫 

True, Viktor would eat him alive 

read  

Yuuri 🌸  

What is this? The eighteenth-century? Is Viktor a rake about to besmirch my innocence? 

sent

Sara 💫 

You’d like that, wouldn’t you 😉

read  

Chris 🍑  

Well, it’s too late anyway. He’s kind of seeing someone

read   

Sara 💫  is typing … 

Yuuri 🌸 is typing … 

Yuuri 🌸 

what. 

sent

Sara 💫 

Like seeing as in sleeping with? Or seeing as in dating?

read   

Chris 🍑  

Is there a difference when it comes to Nikiforov?

read  

Yuuri 🌸   is offline. 

Sara 💫 

Good job

received  

Sara 💫  has changed Chris 🍑 ‘s‘ name to Idiot Sandwich 🥪. 

I diot Sandwich 🥪

Maybe he should’ve followed me first then. Would’ve saved himself a heartbreak.  

received 

***

April 

Ice Castle Skating RInk,

Hasetsu, Kyushu, Japan 

 

There is an ache in Yuuri, a bone-deep dread that sinks into his every muscle. 

The rink had become a protective bubble of sorts, encapsulating him from the rest of the world. Yuuko refused to allow anyone into the rink during his training time with Haruka, Takeshi would drive him home rather than letting him bike, even his parents had noticed something was different. 

At first, Yuuri had not spent too much time thinking about the online shitstorm that had happened after Worlds. He had prepared himself for some sort of backlash ever since he broke Viktor’s records - it was to be expected

He just didn’t expect the curveball of Viktor’s dating history to break him down like this. Yuuko and Nishigori fully believed it was because of the online comments, and Yuuri didn’t have the heart to say that it was something so shallow. 

Viktor had no obligation towards Yuuri, but still, he had thought things had gone well in Ostrava. It was a coffee date, (albeit whilst babysitting a very cute Yurio); he had even amped up the flirting during it and given Viktor his Line ID, phone number and Skype. 

They should be under a near constant array of messages, only for all communications to cease as soon as he landed back in Japan. 

He had not texted Yuuri once - and then shit hit the ceiling. 

It was worse the first week back, when there were reporters camping outside the rink day and night. Some had gone so far as to book rooms at the inn to get a comment from him, which had meant Yuuri had spent a few tense nights at Minako’s place whilst his parents cleared them out. Everyone was walking on egg-shells around him and it was driving him nuts

The perception of the world was already a battle of its own. Being perceived is a strange thing, even more so when his face was being plastered all across the news. If he thought having the entirety of Russia against him was one thing, it was a whiplash to see the sudden rise of support in Japan.  

He had been called every name in the book ever since Viktor had ‘thrown away’ his career to coach him, a second-rate skater from an obscure village in Japan. Thief, betrayer, user - Yuuri had heard it all before. 

It had seemed like the whole world was against him, but the threat was nothing in comparison to having Viktor by his side. Now, Yuuri cannot stop his brain from going into overdrive, stuck in Hasetsu all alone.  

He had forgotten the man his husband used to be. Viktor Nikiforov was as calculating as any mastermind, a competitor with a brain for strategic mind games - but it still hurt to hear that Yuuri wasn’t even on his radar as a competitor. 

And if he was being honest with himself, Viktor was right. Yuuri was a nobody on the senior circuit. Senior competitions were a completely different field - it could take male skaters up to two years before they settled into competition. Viktor, as always, was an exception.

It still hurts, despite being the truth. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn't met Viktor at Worlds, a Viktor so alike to his, one who was open and warm and so different to the gilded sight of him behind the four-point cage of a screen. 

Maybe Worlds was Viktor’s way of being cordial to a younger skater that had accosted him - and here Yuuri thought he was being clear about his flirting. He can’t help but cringe to himself now - of course it makes sense for Viktor to be seeing someone. 

Well, he can’t give up now. 

It had taken Viktor almost five months before Yuuri figured out the man was heavily flirting with him. It would be a disservice to their love story if Yuuri didn’t put in at least half the same kind of efford. 

But could he do it? The thought of being a homewrecker makes him want to die. 

Wait, why is he even calling himself a homewrecker?! 

Viktor’s the one who wasn’t faithful! How could he cheat on him, when they were going to get married?! 

“Ugh, I’m so embarrassing.” Yuuri curses himself, burying his head into his arms.  

“What have you done now?” A finger pokes at the centre of Yuuri’s forehead. He hadn’t realised he had been frowning. 

“Sophia.” Yuuri stutters out. 

The older woman smiles kindly towards him, resting her hand on his back in a warm greeting. Age has done nothing to curb the beauty of the woman, strands of grey lining her dark, flowing hair. There are crinkles near her eyes, imprints of laughter and smiles that ease Yuuri’s conflicting heart. 

“Come on, out with it.” The English curls out of her lips, and she sends Yuuri a wink. “We can speak in English so no-one overhears.”

Yuuri huffs out a smile at that. Sophia Suzuki was a whirlwind of passion, landing in Hasetsu with her two suitcases filled with dreams and passion. The walls of Ice Castle engulfed her into their embrace, filling the skeleton carcass of its’ empty rink with her breaths of oxygen and bright smile. 

Staying at the inn for the reminder of her time whilst Yuuko sorted out a living space for her closer to the rink, Sophia had fallen into step with the rest of the Katsuki family as quick as breathing. The same age as his mother, Sophia had taken to calling Yuuri her ‘baby nephew’ whenever she was around patrons, always pinching his cheeks and forcing food into his stomach. 

His parents loved her, and would be sad to see her leave at the end of the week. But spending so much time together had its drawbacks - within the two weeks she had been staying with him, she had learnt every miniscule change in his expression there ever was. 

“I’m fine, truly.” He curls his head to rest on his arms, chin tucked into the little hollow joint where his elbow met his arm. Sophia rolls her eyes, following Yuuri’s gaze towards a few kids at the centre of the rink. 

She leans forward. “We’re thinking of sending Haru to a few regional competitions.”

“Isn’t it a bit early?” Yuuri sighs. “How is her double axel?”

Sophia grins. “ So good. She can land it almost entirely by herself now.”

“Are you going to move her up to triples soon?” Yuuri asks wistfully. “I’ll miss not being able to see her grow when I move.”

“Don’t mention the ‘m’ word,” Sophia shudders. “Haru almost burst into tears when she overheard one of the mom’s talking about it yesterday.” 

“Good luck with her mood swings after,” 

Sophia swats at him. “Well, it’s not like you’ll never see her again. I know you’re going to be really busy with training, but I don’t know how we can top your programs for her without outsourcing to a bigger choreographer. The long program you made for Haru is good enough for juniors, let alone novice competitions.”

“It’s only because Haru is such a good student.” Yuuri looks across the rink. “All the new students here are really good.”

“It’s because of their Katsuki-senpai .” Sophia laughs. “The wonders of having the Junior World Champion as their senpai and role model.” 

Yuuri pulls a face. “If you’ll let me, I’d like to make another program for Haru if she does go to some competitions. She’ll need a short program as well, right?”

“Won’t you be too busy?” Sophia frowns. “You have to prepare to move countries.” 

“In three months! I have everything ready to go now. Besides, the summer school and showcase is my baby. ”

“Ah, yes.” Sophia groans. “Your baby. Remind me later, you’re coming to the meeting tonight, right? About the seminars? Takeshi’s picking Nadiya on Wednesday from Tokyo, right?” 

“Yeah,” Yuuri replies. “We’re having it over at Yuuko’s place, Takeshi’s getting the grill out and everything.”

“Nice!” Sophia grins. “I looked at the pieces you sent me for the group programs in the showcase. Do you even sleep? We’re lucky you have such a knack for choreography.” 

Yuuri snorts. “There are better people out there.” 

“There you go again!” She points a figure at him accusingly. “You always drag yourself down. Tell me another eighteen year old who can choreograph an entire showcase in four days?”

“The programs are for novice skaters .” Yuuri laughs out. “It’s not that big of a deal.” 

“What is with your shitty self-confidence?” Sophia complains. 

“Want the short story or the truth?” Sophia glares at him, slapping the back of his head. “Okay, okay. I’ll be honest with you, Aunty.”

Yuuri sighs, eyes becoming unfocused as he looks up at the ceiling. “What would you do if you misunderstood someone’s actions towards you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s say for example, I had a friend who tried to become friends with a person he really respected, and everything seemed like it was going great when they were in person, but now they don’t contact them and you kind of think they might hate you in reality, or at least, find you annoyin-”

“Okay, I’m going to stop you there.” She raises a hand, closing her eyes as Yuuri’s deluge of ramblings fizzles in her ears. “Let’s not talk in rhetoric, okay kid? Is this about Nikiforov?”

Yuuri flinches. Trust Sophia to rip it off like a band-aid. “Yeah, it’s about Viktor.” 

Sophia sighs to herself. “Let’s go into the meeting room and have some coffee. I need to know the full story, okay.”

***

“Wait, you shoved Nikiforov into a bathroom stall ?!”

“Shhh!” Yuuri’s voice gargles out, and he slams his head on the table. “Someone could hear you!” 

“Yuuko’s teaching and Takeshi can only understand ‘ Hi, my name is Nishigori, thank you, goodbye.’ “ She waves her hand around, sipping her tepid, weak coffee mix. “When you were talking about Nikiforov, I thought it was about the recent ‘rivalry’ shit that’s being spat out by the media, not the fact that you two have a sordid affair .” 

“It’s not a sordid affair!” Yuuri cries. “I didn’t know he was seeing someone.”  

“You don’t have to sound so glum.” Sophia snorts, raising an eyebrow. “You went on a coffee date chaperoned by a ten year old - you can hardly call it cheating.” 

“It felt like it.” Yuuri silently screams into his sleeve. He pops his head up to look at Sophia with a pout. “Do you think that’s why he hasn’t texted me? Maybe he thought it wasn’t a date? Or because of the media circus?” 

“Oh god, is that why you’ve been working like a madman?” Sophia cries. “No wonder you’ve made four new programs for the summer school and scheduled the lesson plans - thank you for that by the way  - it’s because you’re heartbroken. ”  

“I’m not!” Yuuri pouts. “Okay, I might be a little . I-” 

Sophia snickers, leaning back into her seat. “So, you went on a date with this boy, and he hasn’t spoken to you since March. Now, it’s like WW3 on the internet between his fans and yours and he might be seeing someone new. Ah, teenage romance. So dramatic.”

“I barely have fans.”

“Not the point,” Sophia kicks his chair slightly. “Look, I’ve been in the industry for a while, kid. There’s some things about Nikiforov and…” Yuuri’s eyes narrow sharply. 

“Woah! Calm down, Yuuri!” Sophia laughs loudly. “I’m not going to say anything rude about your idol. All I’m saying is, Nikiforov is known to have certain… friendships with people in the figure skating circles.”

As if Yuuri didn’t know all about that

It was common knowledge that during his younger years, Viktor was a bit of a wild child, running around causing trouble and receding Yakov’s hairline. 

You could almost call it Yuuri’s own awakening, he remembers the rabid takes on EMPEROR’s forums dissecting what Viktor’s type was ( it varied, but they were all classically handsome ). Yuuri had spent one too many late nights trying to fit his style to whoever Viktor was rumoured to be dating to incriminatingly embarrassing results. (Mari still has one as her lockscreen photo to this day).  

The turning point had always been Saratov. 

From what little Viktor had told Yuuri, it was at the Olympics that Viktor realised how lonely his life had become. No amount of sex or fame could fill the hole-wrecnhing emptiness inside of his body after that day, when he was alone at the top of the summit. 

He had returned back to the ice for the next four years because he needed to, else what was there to live for except the ice? Yuuri groans to himself, slamming his head onto the table. 

“I’m sorry, Yuuri-kun.” Sophia mistakes his cry as a heartbroken yell for help, her voice so apologetically soft. Yuuri almost feels bad for the misunderstanding. “He might not be seeing someone in the capacity you’re thinking. I’m going to be honest with you because i don’t want you to go over to America and get a culture shock-”

“I won’t-”

“Things are different once you reach seniors, Yuuri. Suddenly, you have a cesspool of handsome, athletic bodies all practically forced into celibacy because of their workload. Why wouldn’t they let off a little steam at competitions? I’m not calling Viktor any rude names - this has been a thing even when I was skating.”

“I know that.” Yuuri closes his eyes and sighs heavily, leaning into his crossed arms. “I’m friends with Chris, trust me. I know too much.” 

Sophia snorts. “All I’m saying is don’t get caught up in the magic of Nikiforov. It’s not the first time a big-name skater gets a promising Junior wrapped around their fingers before they start seniors. I’m not saying he would purposely do that, just be careful. He, of all people, is as ruthless as it comes. He has to be - how else does he become a consecutive World Champion?” 

She sighs, swirling her paper cup. Splashes of coffee tip onto her hand, and she lightly wipes it off with a napkin. “I’m saying this because you’re the kind of person who wears his heart on his sleeve. Listen to Celestino, he’s a good coach and he can protect you.”  

Sophia reaches forward so that her hand rests on Yuuri’s. She pats the back of his hand softly. “He probably didn’t mean the comment in the way everyone is interpreting it to be, but it serves as a reminder. For a champion like him, his career will always come first. If it means throwing someone under the bus, he’ll do it in a heartbeat. Don’t take anything to heart. He’s just doing his job.” 

Yuuri closes his eyes slowly. 

For all intents and purposes, Sophia was right. Viktor was twenty  during this time, it had been one of the reasons Yuuri was so sure he hadn’t been actively pursuing him when he came to Hasetsu, thinking it was another one of his flings. Viktor flirted with everyone. 

Something dark crawls its way through Yuuri’s body. Like tar, fear glues to the sides of his chest, vicious and cruel as it overtakes the airways in his throat. It’s hard to breathe. 

This whole time, Yuuri had been comparing Viktor to his future self. The mannerisms may be the same, the core of what made Vitya Vitya remained, but they were at different stages of their lives.  Experience had moulded his Viktor - Yuuri cannot treat the two of them the same. 

He would have to play the long game. 

Maybe Sophia was right - perhaps this Viktor did not need a lover, but even the loneliest of people need a friend. Yuuri did not need to tap into his eros like he had originally thought.

This Viktor, out of everything, needs someone by his side. Unconditional love - maybe this time, Yuuri should step back and let his agape do the talking.