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Gotta Have Soul [ON HIATUS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE]

Chapter Text

Without inspiration, you’re as good as dead.

That’s why Victor Nikiforov kept creating, even if all he had left were fragments of imaginary scenarios and pieces of information about lives he didn’t know or bother to learn more about as he toured the world. He strummed on his guitar, played the black and white keys, and sang the lyrics. Applause flooded each venue, but the adrenaline didn't keep him coming back for more, not like it used to.

He played a show in Sochi against his will. If you asked him like a considerate human being where he wanted to perform after long years of being away from the only city he truly knew, he would have answered, "I prefer playing in St. Petersburg. It's been quite a while, and I miss it." It was traditional for artists to play their final performance of the year in their hometown, but Victor’s manager, Yakov, insisted that Sochi hear his voice one last time.

Earlier before his set--before he even set foot in the Winter Theatre’s foyer--Victor had reporter after reporter asking him about what he planned to do with his career once Sochi’s spotlights dimmed.

”Victor, will this be your last performance of the year?” A journalist asked him earlier. Victor simply smiled and winked at the camera. It wasn’t that he wanted to evade the question; he just didn’t know the true answer. Sure, his schedule and manager said so, but when did he follow the rules? ”Will you collaborate with another artist before the season’s end?” Again, Victor didn’t know how to answer. He didn’t nod or shake his head. He just smiled as he reached for his bottle of water hidden in his coat pocket.

”I don’t know what the next year holds for me. I’m hoping to find something or someone that makes me want to write another album.” Victor answered suggestively because he knew how much fans ate that up (and ate the “love interest” alive, but he would deal with that later).

"But you revealed a demo for a song called ‘Eros.’ Can you tell us about that?”

Luckily, Victor’s manager stepped in at that moment, escorting Victor away from the hungry journalists and taking him back to his dressing room to warm up for his final gig.

”Vitya,” Yakov sighed, rubbing his temples with his fingers. “You can’t avoid their questions forever. When are you going to tell them?” Victor shook his head.

”There’s nothing to tell,” Victor protested, a hint of desperation in his voice. “I’m bone-dry of inspiration, and I need to keep searching.” Victor reached for a scarf, sunglasses, hat, and coat. “There’s still five hours until the doors open. I’m going for a walk."

Victor explored the streets of Sochi. The hat covered his noteworthy hair, and his oh-so-dazzling eyes were shielded by the glasses. Even though the city was known as the unofficial “Summer Capital of Russia,” the streets were still alive with businessmen, teenagers, and starving artists of all kinds. Victor stopped to listen to some of them, free to do as he pleased in his disguise.

Then, he found a young man playing a keyboard just a couple streets down from the theatre. Yes, that’s him.

Yuuri Katsuki was simply another musician trying to make it in the music scene, as far as he was concerned. He didn’t even want to be famous; he just wanted to be known somewhere other than Hasetsu, a small castle-town in Kyushu, Japan. He had black hair that hung in his face as he played the keyboard, and he was in layers upon layers of warm clothing. His bulky coat didn’t seem to limit his ability, and despite wearing gloves, he didn’t show any vulnerability to the cold. His brown eyes shone bright as he continued to press on the keys and sway in time with the music, and he wore a timid, but telling smile.

However, Victor knew this man far too well. Yuuri’s music was one of his guilty pleasures on YouTube while he was touring; waiting for him to upload new videos, watching his Q&A’s with his fans, even sending him a gift every once in awhile. He would never admit it to anyone who asked, but he was subscribed to Yuuri Katsuki under a fake name.

Victor made sure to keep his face hidden from the musician in fear that he would scare him off and not hear his beautiful music anymore, and he simply hovered near the Japanese man, keeping his hands in his pockets and letting the music flow through him.

Yuuri played the notes on his keyboard and didn’t let the loud environment of the streets or the cold get to him. Victor opened his eyes for a moment to find that Yuuri had closed his, rocking into the piano as he played each note with more fervor than the last.

“What’s someone like you doing out here in the cold? In Sochi nonetheless?” Victor asked the pianist after he finished playing another song, throwing a few rubles in his empty guitar case. Most likely an original; I haven’t heard anything like it. Yuuri’s eyes shot open, and he let out a tiny scream at the witness of his performance.

“Oh, gomen! Gomen!” Yuuri apologized profusely, falling back into his Japanese. “I was just startled; I didn’t think anyone was watching that…”

“You’re out here performing, and you’re startled by an audience?” Victor chuckled at the irony. “So, you’re out here because…” Victor rotated his right hand in a circular motion, signaling for Yuuri to finish his sentence.

“Well, college is expensive,” Yuuri laughed. “But I do what I can to make money. Sometimes, I just need a break from helping out at the onsen.

Onsen?” Victor cocked his head like a confused puppy hearing police sirens for the first time. Yuuri searched for the words.

“It’s… Ah, what do you call it… Hot spring! Yeah, a hot spring run by my family. I usually help out there, but lately, I’d been missing the music,” Yuuri gazed lovingly at his keyboard, and Victor stared off into the distance.

“I know what you mean,” He mused. Snapping out of his trance, he turned back to Yuuri. “So, what song was that? That you were playing just now,” He clarified.

“Oh, that? It’s, uh, an original piece. I don’t know what to call it yet, but I’ll figure something out.”

“I’m sure you will; it’s beautiful, and you play with such… Soul,” Victor commented. Yuuri shook his head.

“Thank you, but it’s nothing compared to the one who’s playing Sochi tonight.”

“Really? You know Victor Nikiforov’s music?” Yuuri snorted, and Victor couldn’t help but smile at that.

“Who doesn’t? He’s one of the biggest artists to hit the scene lately, and I, um, well,” Yuuri’s voice cracked when the stranger brought up his idol.

“Yes?” Victor stepped closer to him.

“I… Kind of love his music. A lot. But not in a creepy way! He’s just really inspirational, and it’s not like I have a shrine or anything--” Victor laughed softly, cutting him off.

“I thought I heard some influences of his in your piece.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s kinda obvious, huh,” Victor smiled, and he felt the familiar tugs at the corners of his mouth without the overwhelming strain of a fake smile.

“Tell me something, Yuuri. Do you think he’s lost soul in his music?” Victor wondered.

“I don’t think so,” Yuuri said. “Maybe he’s lost, but it’s none of my business. He’s playing despite that, so I commend him for it,” Victor’s eyes widened, but of course, the Japanese musician couldn’t see that. For the thousandth time that day, Victor was thankful for his disguise.

“Did you come here to see him tonight?” Yuuri nodded.

“I, well, I saved up a lot of money to get into the meet-and-greet tonight! He’s one of my biggest inspirations, and I really want him to see this,” Yuuri grabbed a little present out of his coat pocket. Victor stared at the wrapping inquisitively.

“What is it?” Yuuri laughed awkwardly, realizing his dilemma immediately.

“It doesn’t look like much, but it’s something for Victor,” Victor perked up at this, his sunglasses almost falling off.

“Do you send other gifts as well?” Yuuri shook his head, his cheeks becoming a darker shade of red. Victor couldn’t tell if it was because of the biting winds or the mention of the international star, literally standing feet away from him if he would just figure it out.

“It’s a big deal to me that he sees this. He’s the one who’s pushed me thus far as an artist; I want to repay him in some way.”

“That’s sweet,” Victor grinned, his eyes softening at such a genuine fan.

“I just… I hope he likes it,” Yuuri blushed.

“I have a feeling that he will,” Victor smiled knowingly. Yuuri stared down at the concrete--he didn’t see the way that Victor encoded Yuuri’s gift wrapping in his memory--and he shoved the gift back into his pocket.

“You think so? I don’t think he’ll even notice me,” Victor’s eyes widened.

“Why do you say that?” Yuuri shook his head, smiling sadly.

“I’m not exactly the most memorable person out there. Besides, there are bigger fans than me who will probably treasure him more.”

“You can’t think like that, though,” Victor pointed out, ever the optimist. “He has to at least remember your name!” Yuuri chuckled.

“Highly unlikely, but thanks for giving me some hope. You’re too kind,” Yuuri looked down at the only money in his case. One day, he would realize that it was his idol who actually helped him during that tough time, but for now, he just suspected a friendly stranger who for some reason wore sunglasses in the winter time. Victor checked the time on his watch and kept in mind how many minutes he would need to talk to someone about this fan who seriously doesn’t have a clue who he’s talking to.

“Well, I must get going, but hopefully we meet again!” Victor waved to him.

“Oh, uh, who are you, exactly?” Yuuri asked. Victor was shaken out of his usual facade and couldn’t respond for a few moments.

“You mean… You can’t tell by my voice?”

“Not really, sorry,” Yuuri apologized, and Victor laughed.

“It’s okay! The name’s Igor. You’ll know me when you see me,” Victor winked at him, falling back into his flirtatious act. Maybe he would know the name; Victor didn’t want to overthink that.

“I’m sure I will,” Yuuri replied, a glint in his eye as he spoke. With that, Victor, or Igor, walked away from the boy playing music in the streets. The playboy never rests, does he? Victor sighed to himself, turning back slightly to find that Yuuri was going back to playing beautiful melodies on his keyboard, this time with contentment shining on his face.

I wonder how he sounds with a grand piano…


All the reporters kept asking him about what he wanted to do after releasing his fifth album and even tracking every instrument necessary by himself.

“Doesn’t solo work get lonely?”

“What are you planning to do after this year’s album?”

"Are you going to turn in a different direction for next year?"

“Victor, is it true that you’re going out with--”

Solo work wasn't always lonely. The next album? Hanging in the air. Let me know if you can do any better, Victor thought bitingly. A different direction? Maybe home, but where was that anymore? As for going out with anyone; who would? Yes, there were millions of fans who would gladly lock lips and dote on the famous Victor, but what about flawed Victor?

There was nothing awaiting him in St. Petersburg, besides his beloved dog Makkachin. The questions became daunting and exhausting. He’d tried working with several different artists: Otabek Altin (a rising star from Kazakhstan), Christophe Giacometti (an artist known for his, ahem, sexual appeal), and even Jean Jacque Leroy (the frontman of a well-known rock band in Canada). However, he just couldn’t find the spark that he loved about music years ago. Where is the adventure? Where is the thrill? Why can’t I find that anymore?

In the end, his mind kept backtracking to the Japanese musician he had met.

Needless to say: Victor Nikiforov--instrument extraordinaire, lyric machine, seemingly-eternal bachelor of the music industry--was absolutely stuck.

Maybe... That pianist could be his muse.


“Yuri, you should have seen him. He played with such finesse and passion,” Victor enthused to his bassist, Yuri Plisetsky. Of course, Victor talked his ear off for a good half an hour about the other Yuuri he met. Yuri was fifteen, but at such a young age, he was an amazing instrumentalist who needed to make money to provide for his family.

”Vitya, you can’t play an acoustic guitar forever. You need a band and fast,” Yakov lectured, and Victor nodded, simply going through the motions.

“Who is our next candidate?” Victor inquired, staring at the headshot of a possible bassist.

”This is Yuri Plisetsky; a spitfire and arrogant as hell, but he gets the job done. Is he the best for your image, Victor?” Victor put curled fingers to his lips, considering the possibility.

”Everyone is expecting me to choose someone agreeable to complement me, so…” Victor gazed at the boy’s long hair, cheetah-printed bomber jacket, and permanent scowl.

"We’ll have to do the opposite of what they expect,” Yakov finished, sighing. “Will that work forever? People will end up expecting the unexpected from you…” The manager trailed off, realizing that Victor wasn’t even listening to his words of caution at this point.

”Exactly,” Victor replied with a newfound determination. “This ‘Russian Tiger’ will be huge by the time we get to Sochi.”

Now, a year after that audition, Yuri was rolling his eyes and looking for a pair of cat ears he got from a fan. Surprisingly enough, Yuri was a hit with the fans, and as much as he hated to admit it, he wore the cat ears to make them happy.

“Why are you so obsessed with this guy? He’s just another musician who seems to have that, what do you call it?”

“Spark,” Victor supplied, acting sunny in an attempt to lighten the Russian Tiger’s mood.

“Victor, you just want to get in his--”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” Victor growled as Yuri glowered.

“What would you do if you met him? What would he do? You said it yourself; he’s a huge fan. What if he does have a shrine of you? That’s creepy as hell if you ask me,” Shudders ran down Yuri’s spine as he spoke.

“We’ll have to find out!” Victor chirped. “I see him in a little while!”

“What!?” Yuri shouted.

“Were you not listening to my tale?”

“I kinda tuned you out when you kept describing his features and wouldn’t stop for a good five minutes,” Victor’s cheeks tinted pink, and he returned to his original point.

“I said that he got tickets for my meet-and-greet today! So, I’ll get to see the present he got for me!” Victor smiled like a giddy fangirl, and Yuri rolled his eyes for the umpteenth time.

“Are you going to open it in front of him? You usually don’t, and you disappoint all those fans, too,” Yuri smirked, and Victor’s jaw dropped.

“I have to! I’m dying to know what he gave me!” Victor pushed aside the angel on his shoulder and gave into the wonder.

“Whatever, loverboy.”


If Victor thought that Yuuri was nervous talking about his idol, then he certainly wasn’t ready for the man talking to his idol.

“H-hi!” Yuuri sputtered, his cheeks rouge and his eyes glimmering with the absolute euphoria that came from meeting someone who had such an impact on your life.

“Hello,” Victor said smoothly, a little chuckle as he recognized him. “What’s your name?”

“Y-yuuri K-katsuki, nice to meet you,” Yuuri tripped over his words, but Victor didn’t mind. If anything, he found it endearing.

“What’s that in your hand?” Victor wondered, trying to shake the teasing out of his voice. He didn’t want Yuuri to be nervous after going through so much trouble to meet him for a moment or two.

“It’s a, uh, a gift! For you! Since your birthday is in about six days--I-I’m just g-guessing though--I wanted to give you something, to mark the occasion,” Yuuri sighed heavily, letting all of the air out that he used to utter those incredibly difficult words.

Spasibo,” Victor lit up, and in turn, Yuuri beamed.

“It’s not much, but I thought maybe you’d get some use out of it…” Normally, Victor wouldn’t open one of his fans’ presents in front of them, but after seeing Yuuri earlier… Well, he had to satisfy his curiosity.

Yuuri anxiously looked behind him, hoping that not too many people would murder him for the scene that was about to take place.

“I-is it really okay for you to, you know... ?” Yuuri couldn’t even finish his words. Victor’s eyebrows raised in amusement.

“Are you worried about them?” Yuuri nodded. “Some of them are scary, but,” Victor leaned over the table to Yuuri’s ear, whispering. “I can protect you if needed.” Yuuri’s entire face turned a candy apple red. Victor, of course, was teasing, but he genuinely didn’t want one of his fans to get hurt on his account.

“T-that won’t be n-necessary!” Yuuri waved his hands furiously, trying to save himself.

“Alright, alright, let’s see the present,” Victor chuckled, carefully removing the bow and the wrapping. The paper was covered in cartoon poodles (resembling Victor’s beloved pet), and the bow was expertly tied. Victor’s eyes crinkled at the edges. He really went through all of that trouble for me? How sweet.

Victor opened the gift to find a box full of customized picks. Some of them had ice skates--one of Victor’s favorite pastimes as revealed in an interview from years ago--and others had some of Yuuri’s favorite song titles of Victor’s inscribed. The font was small, yes, but the present was, well, thoughtful. There was even one with Makkachin! Did he paint that himself?

“It’s not much, but I thought you could use it when you’re playing,” Yuuri told him, unwittingly using the same words that he did with his idol only hours before this encounter.

“Did you make these yourself?” Victor asked, mesmerized by the intricate details. Yuuri nodded quickly, happy to have finally found the courage to give these to him. Originally, he intended to send these in a package a few years ago, but Yuuri talked himself out of it. Victor picked up each pick carefully, looking over the details of each design. Fans became antsy to get their one-time interaction with Victor, and some of them even grew angry at Yuuri’s elongated time.

“I-I’m glad you like it,” Yuuri said over the increasingly eager fans.

“Like it? I love it! They’re wonderful!” Victor threw his arms around Yuuri. At first, Yuuri was frozen, but he eventually felt his body sink into the hug, timidly wrapping his arms around his idol.

“Thank you, Victor,” Yuuri murmured into his shoulder. Yuuri felt Victor shaking against his shoulder.

“I should be the one thanking you!” Victor detached himself from the pianist and stored the picks back into the box. “You play music as well, right?”

“Y-yes! I do! How did you know?” Victor winked.

“Musician's intuition. Keep creating,” Yuuri lit up, and Victor leaned close to Yuuri again, his breath against Yuuri’s ear. This is so intimate; why is he so close!? Yuuri couldn’t help but think, feeling his face heat up. “They’re going to riot any minute, so I’ll escort you out quickly. Mila’s a good friend of mine; she’ll help you. She can even fight them off if required,” Victor chuckled at this, but Yuuri just stared at him in disbelief, wide-eyed with a jaw hanging like an opera singer. Yuuri looked over at the strong, but sweet-looking girl with short red hair and sapphire eyes. She looked friendly enough, so Yuuri took a chance on walking towards her, still checking behind. One girl was crying, and another was angrily typing on her phone. Some even took pictures, and Yuuri darted his head back to Mila’s direction, praying that he wouldn’t get mobbed later tonight.

“It was nice to meet you, Victor!” Yuuri called out as Mila threw an arm around his shoulder, shielding his face from the fans.

“It was nice meeting you, too, Yuuri. Until next time.” Victor purposefully emphasized his name, and Yuuri squeaked, hiding his face in his hands as he walked away.

“Did that just happen?” Mila grinned, still wary of those who could sneak up on the most-hated man in the Winter Theatre currently.

“It’s not very often that Victor finds someone he wants to protect. You must be special,” She looked around and found that they were finally out of range of the debacle.

“Why, though? I’m just… Me,” Mila smirked, remembering what she overheard Victor and Yuri discussing earlier.

“I guess that’s enough for him.” Yuuri kept his gaze on the clammy hands that found the courage to give Victor a birthday present, hardly believing his eyes.

With that, Yuuri attended the concert, sang his heart out, and thought that it was all over. He would never see Victor in concert again, and he would never find Igor, the dashing stranger that encouraged him to go for it.

However, that was just the beginning because Yuuri Katsuki was memorable, indeed.

Chapter Text

Burnt out. Death by pencil. Would do anything to not work on this.

Yuuri Katsuki was in a slump unlike any other that had come before. Usually, the issue was a lack of inspiration or even a lack of equipment. No, it was worse.

It wasn’t necessarily that he couldn’t make music, but he felt his self-efficacy wash away as quickly as Victor tried to rebuild it. Why am I writing this song? What’s the point when someone’s probably written this before? Why am I picking up this guitar, just to put it down and feel stumped again? These were the questions that ate away at Yuuri’s conscience, and he didn’t know how to stop his anxiety from taking over.

He had met with his manager, Celestino. Celestino was a seasoned professional in taking care of his recording artists, and he always pushed his artists to strive for perfection. It didn’t have to be catchy or off-the-charts good; it just had to resemble the person as an artist.

This wasn’t always the job of a manager, but Celestino dropped out of sound-mixing a long time ago. Now, he just helped Yuuri be the best Japanese singer-songwriter out there. Right now, his range was Hasetsu, so he wasn’t exactly famous. However, Celestino had faith.

There was no demo yet, but Yuuri chose to share the lyrics he had with Celestino with his acoustic guitar and a shaky voice. After listening, Celestino put his hands with a fist, his thumb touching his top lip.

“Yuuri, it’s good, but…”

“It’s not my best. I know. I just wanted to try something new. Something that wasn’t, I don’t know--” Yuuri twiddled his thumbs.

“Your usual?” Celestino chuckled. “You’re not the first who’s thought that. Take a look at all the chart-toppers,” Celestino began to count off names, but Yuuri spaced out once Celestino started listing singers he didn’t really care about. Where was the genuine love for the music they created? Where was the soul?

“Yuuri?”

“Y-yes!” Celestino smiled.

“You’ve got a good idea here. Keep workshopping this piece, and you might have something you can use for your next gig,” Celestino handed him a business card. “I’ve called a cafe nearby and talked about showcasing your best songs in a short set; about fifteen minutes. I sent them one of your songs, and they agreed! Five or six songs should do it,”

“W-wait! When is this!?”

“Three weeks.”

“That’s not nearly enough time to perfect this piece!” Yuuri waved his hands frantically, gesturing to his guitar and trying to convey that this was just a fragment. Celestino closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled, regaining his patience. He knew that Yuuri was right, but why did he have to come up with something new now?

“You can do it, Katsuki. I believe in you,”

“Th-thank you, Ciao-ciao,” Yuuri smiled with a waver in his voice, using his manager’s nickname.

“Of course, of course!” Celestino gathered his briefcase and waved “goodbye” to Yuuri. He didn’t bother to turn his head and find a forlorn look on the singer-songwriter’s face. Do I have it in me? To write one more song before then?


A week after meeting both Igor and Victor, Yuuri kept writing lyrics about something he couldn’t describe. It wasn’t a love song; he was lost. He scribbled verses down on any paper he could find when he was struck by inspiration. He was grasping for something he couldn’t reach, and his mind plagued him with memories that he held dear while the ones involved… Did they even bother to remember his name? Of course not. You’re not memorable by any means.

Yuuri sighed, twirling a pen in his hand while sitting in bed, staring at a nearly finished piece that needed a teensy push. This chorus just need two final lines. That’s it. Two lines.

So if I call you "captivating”
Don't mind me: I'm suffocating…

Where was Igor now? As far as Yuuri could tell, he was still in Sochi, and he was probably going around to different musicians and making them feel special. The word in itself felt unreal to Yuuri. That didn’t change the fact that Yuuri was affected by his presence and his absence. He couldn’t see his eyes, but he was sure they were a beautiful shade of blue. His hair was covered by a hat, but Yuuri liked to imagine him with abnormally colored hair. Maybe white? What if it was dyed hot pink? Would the hair be soft? Would it be silver--just like Victor’s?

Whenever Yuuri started to think of Victor, he immediately tried to think of something else, anything else. Don’t think of Victor Nikiforov liking your present. Don’t think of Victor Nikiforov hugging you. Don’t think of Victor Nikiforov protecting you. Whatever you do, don’t think about those things. They’re long gone, and he’ll never think of you in passing memory again.

Yuuri struggled to push down arguably the most joyous events of his life he would ever have the privilege of treasuring, but in the blink of an eye, he was whisked away to the present. Back to Hasetsu, and back to his normal life. What was he thinking? There was no way he could keep reliving that day, as if stuck in an hourglass where the sand ceased all movement. Yuuri knew that he was his own worst enemy, but someone needed to bring him back to reality. Why not be that person?

“Yuuriiii, please come out. Someone wants to speak with you,” His mother called to him. Yuuri reluctantly rolled out of his bed and started to wander to the dining room. His hair became frazzled with his unconscious habit of running fingers through his hair, and he hadn’t changed out of his pajamas in two days. However, he couldn’t find it in himself to bring these simple statements up to his mother and refuse a guest.

He rounded the corner and lo and behold: his lovely friend. Yuuko Nishigori chose to wear a jean jacket and graphic T-shirt of her favorite rock band with jeans and boots, staying true to her aesthetic as a musician.

“Y-yuuko, it’s you,” Yuuri breathed a sigh of relief. “How have you been?” Yuuko shook her head and motioned for Yuuri to come sit down next to her. He took a seat, feeling heavy in the unusually quiet atmosphere of Yu-topia.

“No way, Katsuki. This meeting is about you. You went all the way to Sochi to meet your idol, and every single website wouldn’t stop posting about it! Have you even checked your phone since then!?” Yuuko screeched, and Yuuri winced. He hadn’t dared to open his social media, let alone look himself or Victor up with his spare time.

“I’ve been writing, so I haven’t checked in a while. Or slept,” Yuuri murmured the last part, and Yuuko raised her eyebrows and laughed into her hand.

“You’re acting really nonchalant about this, as if it didn’t happen,” She said, throwing her hands up in an “I give up” motion. “Give me details, Yuuri! Make me envious of your time with Victor!”

“Yuuko, you’re married,” Yuuri reminded her, scratching the back of his head.

“Doesn’t matter; this is Victor Nikiforov we’re talking about! International superstar! Genius instrumentalist of all variations!” Yuuko felt herself getting out of breath just talking about him. “Don’t hold out on me, Yuuri! I’ll love it, no matter what!” With just a few swipes of her finger, Yuuko pulled up her Instagram feed and shoved her phone in Yuuri’s face. “See, this is what you’re failing to mention!”

Yuuri’s eyes adjusted to the close vicinity of the screen to his eyes, and his throat emitted a screech-and-gasp combination.

“Wh-what!?”

There it was, plain as daylight. The silver hair was unmistakable, and the bright blue eyes definitely caught his attention. It was Victor Nikiforov, alright, and the coat was the same as Yuuri’s--it was them. Victor’s arms were wrapped around him, and he was smiling. The Victor Nikiforov was smiling as he embraced Yuuri Katsuki, but why? Why did his happiness look so genuine? And why… Why did it look something like a sliver of love--no, no, no. I can’t let myself think that’s true.

Yuuri didn’t dare to lower his eyes to the comments below, and Yuuko pulled the screen back slightly and swiped left to show him more pictures. Sure enough, there was Victor and Yuuri’s one-time interaction, immortalized and online for the entire world to see. For all of Victor’s fans to see. The gift being unwrapped. Victor’s expression--amazement?--as he examined the guitar picks. The seemingly-heart-shaped smile that Victor wore when he conveyed his gratitude. Victor winking at Yuuri. Victor’s lips nearly touching Yuuri’s ear. The young musician shivered just thinking about it.

“Please tell me I haven’t gotten death threats,” Yuuri whispered, and Yuuko’s eyebrows lowered in pity.

“You don’t want to know what they’ve been saying about you,” Yuuko muttered, and Yuuri’s shock and fear only worsened. “I mean… They’re not that bad! I’m sure they’re not serious.”

“You can’t distract me from a confirmation of death threats.”

“Just keep swiping!” Yuuko urged him, her hand shaking as she held up her phone. Yuuri took the phone from Yuuko’s hands and did as he was told, his eyes growing bigger by the second.

He could not find the words. He had spent so long trying to erase the memories, but they were in full-motion, as if it was happening all over again. He could almost smell Victor’s cologne, hear the screaming of fans, feel the warm breath on his ear in such a cold place…

“Like it? I love it! They’re wonderful!”

With just that one phrase, he was sent back to a happier time, and he was smiling once again. Then, his face fell.

“Yuuko,” Yuuri began, searching for his next sentences.

“What is it?” Yuuko’s brows knitted into a thread of concern, noticing the shift in Yuuri’s pitch. He took on a more somber tone, eyes and voice lowered to the ground.

“I… I’ve been trying to forget,” Yuuri held up his hand before his best friend could open her mouth. “Because there’s no point in preserving the moment. It was so miniscule in his world, and Igo--I know he won’t remember me. I know it’s awful to say, but c’mon, Yuuko. I need to be realistic. I have to.”

“That’s bullshit.” Yuuri’s head shot up in spite of his mood.

“Yuuko--”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it. You know what you saw, what you heard, and what you felt that day. You know how Victor made you feel,” Yuuko took a deep breath, feeling her anger get the best of her. “So why do you try to forget that? All of the evidence is in the palm of your hand, Yuuri. He enjoyed his time with you. He won’t forget you.”

“Yuuko, I’m just trying to cope--”

“If anything,” Yuuko interrupted with no regard for what Yuuri had to say because he was dead wrong. “You should commemorate the entire day. You need to let him--no--the world know how you felt!” Yuuri laughed nervously.

“Yuuko, I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself. I don’t even know if I have it in me to write a song like that. It’s so… Out there,” Yuuri thought back to his younger days when he wrote songs about Victor. It was as embarrassing as it sounded. Cheesy as hell and definitely something he could never reveal to anyone. Immortalizing his meeting with Victor is just as embarrassing, if not more.

Of course, he kept writing about the Victor he knew and the Igor he met. The Victor he knew was unattainable and downright incredible. The Igor he conversed with was a different story. Mysterious and exciting. Inviting and somewhat comforting. Yuuri changed pronouns constantly and words carefully, so as not to allude to a certain person in his life. His fans were devoted and far too kind than he deserved (he believed), but sometimes, they analyzed a biiit too much for his liking.

“That’s the point!” She argued. “Music is meant to be shared with an audience. So please,” Yuuko took his hand in her own. “Share what you have with me so far. I know you feel like it’s not enough, but it truly is, to me.”

Shakily, Yuuri nodded and grabbed his acoustic guitar from the closet in his bedroom. He rushed back to the dining room and adjusted the chair so he could sit up while keeping tempo with his right foot. He placed a capo on the third fret and placed his fingers in a C chord. Softly, he began to strum and breathed deeply. “Don’t laugh at me.” Yuuri made her promise, and Yuuko quickly crossed her heart.

Breathe in.

Out.

”I come up with an idea
And don't know how to verbalize
So I sink into someone else's phrases
That mask how I don't socialize
We are just a string
Of miscommunication
We destroy our words
In the midst of creation

So if I call you captivating,
Don’t mind me; I’m suffocating”

With the final words, Yuuri cut himself off abruptly and hung his head. “It-it’s terrible, I know, b-but I needed something to describe, well, everything! There was a lot that went on in my head--my mind was racing, you have no idea--and I don’t know how to put the entire experience into words! If it sucks, I’m sorry!” Yuuri winced as he closed his eyes, but after a few seconds, he glanced up from his lap and at his friend.

Yuuko’s eyes doubled in size, and before she could say anything, she squealed. Then, she cleared her throat and grasped Yuuri’s shoulders in earnest.

“Yuuri Katsuki, you need to get this recorded. Right now. Come to the studio, and for the love of everything, let it all out.” Yuuko commanded in her most solemn tone.

“I-it’s not finished--didn’t you just hear it? It’s not done, and I don’t know how to continue at the moment--”

“Remember. Dig deep. Whether you acknowledge it or not, he’s still out there. If you need help, think back to your time with Victor. It might save you from your writer’s block.” Yuuko quickly bowed her head and ducked out of the empty dining room.

After a few quiet seconds, the conversation that just took place sunk into Yuuri’s brain. He’s not “Victor.” We’ll never be on a first-name basis. Without a second thought, Yuuri slammed his guitar case shut and carried it, grabbed his notebook and a pen in the other hand, and sprinted to the Nishigori Studio.


“What are you going to do about the scandal?” Yakov demanded as Victor raked his fingers through his hair, the finishing touch before laying down. For months, they toured, and Victor was relieved to sleep in the bed of a bus for the last time.

“What are they referring to as a ‘scandal?’” Victor called out in a nonchalant manner, walking away from the mirror in his room to the couch sitting across from his manager. Yakov facepalmed and motioned in an are-you-actually-kidding-right-now way with his arms.

“The special treatment! You don’t know what fresh hell you’ve brought upon yourself! The press is going insane with theories, and have you even checked Twitter or Tumblr? The fans need answers…” Victor stopped listening as soon as Yakov brought up the theories. The music star was half-tempted to do a quick Google and see if these claims were actually true.

He wanted to see what they were saying about Yuuri.

Everyone knew Victor Nikiforov as the eternal bachelor of the music industry. Now, Victor hugged a fan--like he did in his daily routine--opened the gift, showed his appreciation for the fan’s dedication, and they were coming up with theories, like the blushing, affectionate boy was some experiment for the public to pick at and mull over time and time again? And wait a second: were those death threats? Before he closed out of all of his social media accounts and called it a day, he reprimanded those who felt the need to tear down another fan and asked to keep the comment sections as civil as possible. He knew it wouldn’t work because people got riled up over the tiniest things, but he had to try something.

Victor sighed as he looked past Yakov and out the window behind his head. It had been a week since he met the boy in the streets. No, that title in his head--boy--wasn’t true. He knew the musician’s name all too well: Yuuri Katsuki.

Yuuri Katsuki with the passionate playing and lyrics that took his breath every time he listened. Yuuri Katsuki with newfound confidence, yet a shy demeanor. Yuuri Katsuki with blushing cheeks and poorly-formed words that Victor just knew he rehearsed in order to get right. Yuuri Katsuki with unadulterated happiness when he conversed with his fans.

Victor wasn’t blind to the adoration, even if Yuri and Yakov argued otherwise. He knew that Yuuri was more than a giant fanatic. He was a singer-songwriter who played for the sake of getting his voice heard. Yuuri wrote original songs that inspired Victor to keep writing, regardless of the rut he couldn’t get out of at the moment.

Why couldn’t he be intrigued in a normal setting? Instead of being scrutinized by the public as he took interest in someone, he could be a regular at a cafe. He could gaze at the act onstage that didn’t stop playing even if he didn’t get applause. He could be the one; someone who supported and cheered. Someone without notoriety.

Someone without a status as the bachelor with millions of eyes surrounding him.

That’s it, Victor decided as soon as he listened to Yakov’s full rant. I need to see him perform with a clear audience.

“Vitya, are you even listening!?” Yakov yelled while Victor scrolled through a private playlist and found a personal favorite tune that Yuuri wrote: Effortless.

“I’ll do my best to take care of things,” Victor replied distractedly, smiling down at the song he wanted to click on. Quickly, he fished a pair of earbuds out of his pocket and plugged them in, impatiently pressing the play button and feeling his mouth settle into an easy grin as he heard the first chord ring out.

With all of the commotion, Yuri Plisetsky could not take a simple nap, and he rubbed at his eyes, then proceeded to glare at those who disturbed his slumber.

“Dammit, Victor,” Yuri assigned the blame naturally.

“I wasn’t even being loud,” The accused complained, taking an earbud out but refusing to pause the song currently playing.

“Victor, what are you listening to?” Yakov said, and Victor smiled. However, the white teeth didn’t glimmer with reassurance but with a secretive edge.

“Why do you need to know?”

“The very reason you needed to know what was inside that gift of that boy’s.”

“He has a name, you know,” Victor argued half-heartedly, not quite letting them hear what was on his mind. Yuri and Yakov just stared at the other expectantly.

“Victor, just show us already.”

“No.”

“Does it have anything to do with the fan?” Yuri smirked. Victor tried not to let it show, but sure enough, his cheeks told them all.

“Aha! So it is about him!”

“His name is Yuuri!” Victor shouted and startled Yakov and Yuri into a stunned silence. Victor took a deep breath and lowered his voice. “His name is Yuuri Katsuki, and he plays his own music. I happened to stumble upon it,”

“Just today?” Yakov asked, and without a second thought, Victor nodded. They didn’t need to know all of the details, especially when Yuri would egg him on for months about it.

“What’s going on?” Another voice chirped. Mila walked out to the makeshift living room Victor had made in the months of traveling.

“It’s about the fan,” Yuri stated quite proudly.

“Shut up!” Victor yelled.

Nikogda!” Yuri shot back. “Tell us what song it is!”

“I can’t!” Victor simply held his head in his hands, trying to block out the incessant guesses Yuri was spouting off.

“Why are you even keeping tabs on him? He was nothing more than a flustered idiot,” Yuri said, and Victor’s head perked up with similarity to a meerkat.

“Flustered, but never an idiot.” Victor asserted. Mila rubbed her eyes with her fingertips and put a stop to the madness.

“Yakov, would you mind leaving me and Victor alone for a few moments? You too, Yuri,” Yakov retreated to the other side of the bus while Yuri burrowed himself in his bed, attempting to take a nap before he got home. “Wear earbuds, you sneak!” Mila called out to Yuri, and he muttered an expletive in Russian while scrambling around for a pair of headphones.

Mila straightened her top and sat right in front of Victor.

“Now, would you please tell me what this is all about?” Mila tried to coax the truth out of her friend. Victor nodded.

“Please don’t tell anyone, Mila. Please. I can’t let this leak online, and I can’t afford to tell a soul--” Mila placed her hand on top of Victor’s and linked his pinkie with hers.

“I won’t tell anyone; you have my word,” Mila took a deep breath before switching to a more gentle, understanding tone. “Let me listen to the song you have playing on loop.”

“How did you know it was on loop?” Victor laughed weakly.

“Because you’ve been wearing the same goofy grin for ten minutes, and I assume it has something to do with the song,” Mila rolled her eyes. Victor pouted and wordlessly handed her an earbud. Mila moved to sit next to him so the cord wouldn’t stretch across and feel so awkward to the two of them.

After four minutes were up, Mila returned the bud and gawked at Victor.

“So, uh,”

“Yeah?”

“That’s Yuuri’s music?” Victor nodded, feeling his cheeks heat up. “So what’s the story?”

“I, well,” Victor shook his head, feeling himself about to lie to his bodyguard. “At first, I was just curious. I knew he was a fan, but then I heard him, and Mila,”

“Yes?”

“He made the music feel alive,” Victor replied with apparent desperation in his voice.

“Like, with a heartbeat and working lungs?” Mila raised an eyebrow at him. He furiously shook his head.

“No, no no, not like that! He-he was just so passionate about every note he played, and his voice--Mila, you heard it. It’s beautiful,” Victor said breathlessly.

“Of course,” Mila agreed. “But there’s more than you’re letting on,” Victor sighed.

“He made… He made me feel alive.”

His mind flashed back to Igor meeting Yuuri Katsuki. He was free to do as he pleased, not choosing words carefully or making sure he followed a set of rules that Yakov established when Victor Nikiforov interacted with any and all humans.

Igor was down-to-earth. Igor was kind. Igor was generous.

Igor was everything that the Victor Nikiforov failed to be. A life of stardom took him by storm, and soon enough, he was tossed to different locations, never getting attached to hotel rooms or those who were invited inside them. Victor was suave and persuasive, but he wasn’t loved, even though his fans would argue otherwise. He was not loved as just Victor, but he was loved an idol put on a pedestal impossible to reach even on tiptoes and the start of a ladder. Why have they put me in such an unattainable place? He wondered constantly.

But Igor, no. Igor saw Yuuri perform and felt his heart swell with a yearning he never experienced before. Igor wanted to pick up a guitar and write a million songs about his feelings in the streets of Sochi. Igor wanted to be there when Yuuri gathered a crowd and made his voice heard in a sea of business and formality. Igor was a common man who wanted to help, wanted to nurture, wanted to love. One day, Igor would cease to exist, and just Victor would remain.

That day wouldn’t come soon enough.

At the confession that spilled from Victor’s lips, Mila raised a hand to her mouth.

“O-oh,”

“Yeah,” Victor cradled his head once more, and Mila yawned.

“Are you going to do anything about it?”

“I have to find him.” Victor answered without hesitation, his fingers digging into his scalp. The atmosphere grew quiet and uncertain, and the international star realized what he just proclaimed. “I-I have to find him, and I have to see him perform.”

“What are you planning, Victor?” Mila said exhaustedly, feeling the wear-and-tear of being on a bus for more than twelve hours. Victor raised his head and put his curled fingers to his lips in careful consideration.

Chapter Text

”Help me,” Victor put his hands to his face, curling up in a ball and feeling absolutely vulnerable. He was much like a child in this position, and he loathed the comparison. The faces that he tried to talk to were blank and lifeless, and the bodies remained inactive as Victor cried. Why didn’t they move? Why couldn’t they help him when he was so obviously in pain?

“Please,” he begged. “Is there anyone out there?”

Then, he awoke to a set of lyrics drowning out the terrors that greeted him, “It’s so/ Out of character.” Similar to freefall, Victor jerked awake. Fifteen hours down, fifteen to go, Victor thought to himself as he stirred from his nap, finding that he fell asleep on the couch with his earbuds in once again. Victor wiped the sweat that formed on his forehead, and the blanket that surrounded him became an intrusion. He threw the offending cloth to the ground and raked his fingers through matted hair.

This recurring nightmare became routine during his months of touring, and now that he was finally coming home, he let himself fall asleep to the sound of Yuuri’s music without a shred of embarrassment. Of course, that didn’t clear his head any better than when he talked with Mila. Upon remembering his conversation with his bodyguard earlier, Victor’s head was on a swivel, and he frantically searched for Yakov, Yuri, and Mila.

“I’m right here,” Mila reassured him, and Victor put a hand to his heart.

“Sorry, I just woke up from that nightmare--”

“Where you were all alone. It’s become the norm for you, sadly,” Mila’s expression softened as Victor grabbed his earbuds and paused the song’s blaring.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Victor said in his own way of apologizing.

“Don’t worry about it,” Mila shook her head. Then, something hit her. “Victor,”

“Yeah?” Mila needed to word this carefully.

“Does… does Yuuri’s music help you?” Victor fiddled with his hands, avoiding eye contact.

“Well, uh,” Mila picked up the blanket and folded it to hang on the arm of the couch.

“I mean, does his voice lull you to sleep?” More times than I can count, Victor thought honestly.

“I guess it did this time,” He opted out of the truth. Mila smiled.

“Is that why you want to find him?” Victor’s jaw dropped.

“No, no, no! That’s not it at all!” He objected.

“Theeeen,” Victor grew flustered.

“I-I,” Victor gave himself a moment to breathe. “I want to see him perform.”

“He’s from Japan, right?” Victor nodded. “That’s a long way to meet a fan,”

“But he’s not just a fan, Mila,” Victor said exasperatedly. “He’s the one who’s made me want to make music again. Maybe with him,” he murmured the last part. Mila’s eyes widened.

“You’re really serious about this guy, aren’t you?” Victor let his face say everything that he couldn’t formulate.

“Heyyy, Victorrrr,” Yuri slurred from waking up from another nap. His hair was tousled, and lo and behold, the toughest and youngest musician was wearing a cheetah onesie.

Victor tried to hold back his laughter, but the redhead guffawed, pointing at him.

“Stop laughing, hag!” Yuri growled, but that only spurred on more laughter from Mila.

“Georgi! Oh my God, Georgi; you need to come see this!” She waved the drummer over, who was comfortable in his bunk scrolling through Instagram and definitely not stalking his ex because that would be rude and inconsiderate and no don’t check my phone you heathen.

“What is it--oh my,” Georgi slipped his phone in his pocket and started giggling along with Mila.

“I’ve got to send this to Sara,” Mila laughed, watching Yuri run to his bunk and close the curtain. “Awww, don’t get changed now, Yura! I haven’t gotten a picture of you yet!”

“Shut up!” Yuri barked back. After changing, he returned to the living room and threw his phone at Victor.

“What do you want,” Victor pouted, and the younger bassist rolled his eyes.

“I’m not gonna make fun of you, idiot,”

“Then why are you here?”

“I need someone to log into the Netflix account. I forgot the password again.” Victor rubbed his eyes with his fingertips.

“Dammit, Yura,” he cursed under his breath as he typed in the password. “There you go.” Yuri didn’t utter a word of thanks and simply grunted, walking back to his bunk.

“Make sure you get comfy in your onesie again!” Mila called out, and Victor blocked out the hijinks that seemed to never end.


Yuuri walked inside the doors of the Nishigori Studio and immediately felt relieved of any and all pressure. He put his guitar, notebook, and pen down and waved to his best friend’s husband.

“Hey, Yuuri!” Takeshi greeted, carrying the keys to all the recording rooms.

“Do you have a spare that I can borrow? Celestino needs me to perfect a piece in less than three weeks,” The singer-songwriter laughed nervously, and Takeshi clapped him on the back.

“For you? Anything!” He tossed the keys to Yuuri.

“The one with the treble clef sticker, right?”

“You know it!” With that, Takeshi returned to his work, and Yuuri scrambled to gather his things.

“Wait, I--” It was too late, though. He already slammed the door on Yuuri. Tiredly, Yuuri picked up his guitar case once again and tucked the notebook and pen into his armpit. He walked down the hall to the small, but useful recording room, and he set his things down once again. The key fit so perfectly inside the lock, and Yuuri felt a sense of belonging as he settled into the room where he spent the majority of his days, especially during college.

“So, what to do, what to do,” Yuuri fumbled with the mic stand’s height and slung the guitar strap around his head. He took a deep breath. “Maybe… Maybe I can record a song for Victor, like the old days.”

He adjusted the capo to clamp onto the fourth fret, and he let his fingers rest into a G chord. The atmosphere was no longer stuffy with the impending doom that came with due dates. It became more relaxed. It made breathing easier.

He strummed a G chord and settled into a carefree rhythm.

"It’s not a surprise that you’re here on my doorstep
You woke up the dog, but I can’t get mad
We’re escaping in the night
To get our caffeine fill
’Cause you can never get enough
And I live for feeling in love
Drivin’ for miles on end
For one night, can I be more than a friend?

So I can fall asleep on your shoulder
Make wishes in the night when the air gets colder
Make a blanket fort on a rainy evening
Talk about our dreams as we stare up at the ceiling
So I can stay up with you as long as I can
So I don’t have to go back home way too soon
Hum a melody on the way to my bed
So I can play songs and dedicate them to you

Because even though at one point
We'll be in shambles
Even though I'll be broken
And unable to let go
’Cause you can never get enough
And I live for feeling in love
Drivin’ for miles on end
For one night, can I be more than a friend?

So I can fall asleep on your shoulder
Make wishes in the night when the air gets colder
Make a blanket fort on a rainy evening
Talk about our dreams as we stare up at the ceiling
So I can stay up with you as long as I can
So I don’t have to go back home way too soon
Hum a melody on the way to my bed
So I can play songs and dedicate them to you

I'd rather just accept your flaws
Than say "I'm putting up with this for love"
'Cause that's not love to me
I want you to accept me
Wholeheartedly
I'll do the same for you
If you don't try to transform me
Do you even have a clue
What you have done for me?

You’ll never fall asleep on my shoulder
Make wishes in the night when the air gets colder
Or make a blanket fort on a rainy evening
You’re my dream as I stare up at the ceiling
I can’t stay up with you as long as I can
I will have to go back home way too soon
Hum your melody on the way to my bed
I’ll still play songs… And dedicate them to you"

Yuuri played a resounding G chord, and he stopped recording, carefully removing his headphones. He put his guitar on a spare stand and sat down in a stool.

“I… I can’t finish. It’s not realistic. None of this is,” Yuuri put his elbows on his knees and cradled his head. Just as he was about to wallow in self-pity, he heard a knock on the window.

“Yuuri?” He quickly stood up and opened the door for his friend.

“Yuuko, what are you doing here?” She giggled.

“If I know anything about Yuuri Katsuki, it’s that he either goes here or Minako’s record store to unwind,”

“Fair enough,”

“So, was that a new song?” Yuuri shook his head.

“Nah, it was just a song from, what, four years ago?”

“You were still in college,” Yuuko mused.

“Yeah, it feels like an eternity ago,”

“And you still had that Victor phone case--”

“I thought we agreed to never talk about that!” Yuuri squeaked, and Yuuko tousled his hair.

“I’m just teasing you. Seriously, that was a good song.”

“Thanks,” Yuuri mumbled. “So, where’s Takeshi?”

“Ah, well,”

“Hiiiii!” Three high-pitched voices greeted, running all around the little studio. Axel fiddled with some cords while Lutz and Loop picked at the strings on Yuuri’s guitar.

“Wait, no--I’m still trying to--come back here--” Yuuri tried and failed to get the girls to listen.

“Hey!” Yuuko exclaimed, and the girls scurried to her side.

“You haven’t seen them in a while, but you remember Axel, Lutz, and Loop, right?”

“All too well,” Yuuri murmured. “Hey girls!”

“Hey, Yuuri!” Lutz said.

“Is it true that you met Victor Nikiforov?”

“Are you two dating?”

“Was that song you were recording about him?”

”Hey!” Yuuko shouted once more, then regained what little composure she had left. “Girls, let’s go. I’m sure Yuuri has a lot that he wants to finish.” Yuuri nodded gratefully and waved to Yuuko’s children.


The day was going as well as it could. Yuuri woke up to one of his favorite songs by Victor Nikiforov, and he helped out around the onsen. None of the customers gave him too much trouble (besides Minako pestering him about Victor’s Instagram), and he didn’t have a care in the world.

That was, he didn’t have a care in the world until he typed the passcode into his phone and found hundreds of notifications flooding his phone. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram--everything flooded.

Then, he gasped that screech again.

”Japanese Nobody Dedicates Song to Victor Nikiforov--what!?” His eyes bulged out of his head as he scanned the headline again. And again. And again.

“Yuuri? Are you alright?” Yuuri’s mother called from the kitchen.

“I-I’m f-fine!” Yuuri lied, falling over from exhaustion. Then, his phone rang. Takeshi.

“Yuuri, I can explain--”

“Please do!”

“Okay, so the girls were messing around in the studio, and they found your song. Then, they uploaded the song,” Yuuri winced.

“They tagged Victor, didn’t they,” It wasn’t a question.

“The moment they heard your, uh, confession,” Takeshi admitted. Yuuri blanched.

“C-confession?”

“Writing a song for Victor, ‘like the old days,’”

“I-oh no; it caught what I was saying before I played,” Yuuri whispered, bile rising in his throat. “Right into the mic--I can’t live this down. I’ll have to move to another country. No, I’ll change my name and disappear! Why me, why now?” Yuuri spoke at the speed of a child fast-forwarding through the bad parts of a movie straight to the happy ending. Sadly, Yuuri couldn't just press a button and watch the whole situation blow over.

“Yuuri, if it’s any consolation, Victor--”

“Don’t tell me,” Yuuri pleaded. “I already know what he was thinking, and I really don’t want to hear it right now,”

“But Yuuri,” Takeshi gave up as quickly as he spoke up. “I’ll let you process this on your own. Just… Don’t let this ruin you, okay? You have a song to finish in time for your first gig in months,” Yuuri nodded and quickly answered, realizing that he was still on the phone.

“I won’t. Thanks for calling,” He hung up on the father of those troublemakers, and he pulled his sheets over his head, wishing for a dreamless bout of slumber. With his luck, he wouldn’t be able to close his eyes. He kept his gaze on the posters of Victor that surrounded him.

In that moment, Yuuri wanted to take them down. (He wouldn’t, but he certainly felt an imaginary burning as the man on the posters stared back at him.)

“Why did I have to run my stupid mouth,” He sighed.

Victor wasn’t the kind of man you dedicated a song to. He was the kind of person you wanted to write a song for. Oceanic eyes you could practically dive into opened up brand new universes Yuuri had yet to explore, and his smile comforted like rain after a long drought. He possessed traits Yuuri could never gain, even if he had a fraction of the same amount of experience Victor had.

Yuuri Katsuki was not a sought-after bachelor, and Victor was not the kind to be swayed by such simple, predictable lyrics. He was still in college when he wrote that silly song, for crying out loud! Why would Victor even glance in his direction when he could… When he could have anyone he wanted?

Meanwhile, the aspiring singer-songwriter sat in his room, waiting on an arrival that would never show.


Yuuri woke up to his alarm. Sure enough, Victor’s voice rang through the speakers, and Yuuri felt the urge to throw the device across his room and watch the screen shatter just like his world.

“They’re going to laugh as soon as I come down the hallway,” Yuuri muttered. Before he left his room, he changed into a sweater and sweatpants and grabbed the same notebook and pencil he’d been trying to avoid since Celestino gave him a deadline.

“Lovely morning, isn’t it, Yuuri?” A guest greeted him when Yuuri left his room, and Yuuri waved, keeping his eyes to the ground as he traversed the hallway. His eyes widened when he found that they didn’t mention the losing battle he was in with social media. Upon second inspection, the guest was significantly older than him. Yuuri sighed, walking to the dining room. The next person I see will laugh for sure.

“Good morning, Yuuri!” His mother sang, and Yuuri weakly smiled.

“Hi, Mom,” There was no reason to act rudely towards his mother, and keeping that in mind, he managed.

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Nothing for me, thanks,” Yuuri slipped by his mother, ignoring her pleas of grabbing at least a snack before he left the house.

“Wait, Yuuri! Where are you going?”

“To Minako’s,” He replied. “I’ll be back later!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Yuuri turned his head and froze. She found me. Run. RUN.

But, Yuuri wasn’t even granted that luxury when Minako tugged at his arm.

“Minako, please let me go--”

“Explain yourself, Katsuki!” Minako demanded. Her eyes resembled a bubbling volcano as she stomped over to her long-time friend and patron of her record store. Yuuri’s shoulders slumped, and his chin dropped to his chest. His own grasp on Minako weakened.

“Just, let me go, please,” His voice was tiny and unlike a twenty-three-year-old’s bravado. Minako released her grip and gestured to follow her into a spare room at the inn. She locked the door and sat down next to him on the bed.

“Yuuri, you need to tell me what happened. I can’t help you if you don’t explain what’s bothering you.” Yuuri laughed, but there was no mirth to be found.

“You already heard it, so what do you want from me?” Minako rubbed his shoulder in sympathy.

“Yuuri, you sound so dead,”

“Oh thanks,” Yuuri said sarcastically.

“Yuuri, it’s not that bad. In fact, the song is beautiful,”

“It’s pathetic,” Yuuri snapped. “I’ve done nothing with my life except pine after someone who didn’t even know I existed until I gave him a present. Not only that, but I’ve subjected actual people to my awful music,” Yuuri immediately curled into a ball, and Minako stood up.

“You know that’s not true! You’ve gone to college, made music all by yourself, and met some amazing people including Victor Nikiforov! Don’t sell yourself short by saying you’ve done nothing ‘except’ for what you think you’ve done. You’ve accomplished so much more than you let on, Katsuki,”

Yuuri shook his head, but he said “thanks” anyways, not feeling like arguing with the one who taught him everything about recording equipment.

“I can’t finish the song now,”

“You have to,” Minako stated. “Yuuri, I believe in you, and so do a ton of people; some you don’t even know. Don’t think that you’re done for just because of one mistake.”

But, Yuuri couldn’t help but think catastrophically. His train of thought was currently a wreck, and he could not focus on anything.

He slinked back into his room and did the only thing he could do: write until his hand cramped and then write through the pain.


As Victor prepared a microwaveable dinner and scratched Makkachin on top of his head, Victor’s phone vibrated once, then twice, then far too many times to count. What the hell? He typed in his passcode and saw one name: Yuuri Katsuki. This time, however, the hype over the interaction was not in the spotlight.

He could’ve sworn his heart stopped. His phone vibrated, and Yakov’s name flashed across the screen.

“Hello?”

“Pick up on the first ring next time,” Yakov growled.

“What’s going on?”

“Victor,” Said person’s manager barked through the receiver. “Type in the fan’s name on SoundCloud. You need to listen to this. Let me know your first impression when you hear it,”

“Wait, hear what!?”

“It’s a song,” Victor internally screamed.

What do you think?” Victor narrowed his eyes, fully understanding that Yakov couldn’t see his expression.

“You’ll want to hear it, Vitya.” Yakov hung up, and Victor gaped at his phone. If Yakov wants me to hear it, then it must be good. Victor did as he was told, and his heartbeat stuttered. Japanese Fan Dedicates Song to Victor Nikiforov; Listen here: Below the title was a link to Yuuri’s SoundCloud.

“For me?” Victor impatiently clicked on the link and refreshed the screen until the song appeared.

“So, what to do, what to do. Maybe… Maybe I can record a song for Victor, like the old days.”

Victor’s hand flew up to his mouth when he heard the familiar voice. “He really, he really dedicated a song to me?” How many years did he spend writing songs for me? Victor imagined the Yuuri he met scribbling away in a notebook with a little smile. Yuuri’s tousled hair because he rolled out of bed to eagerly pen down an idea. The bags under Yuuri’s eyes because it had to be just right.

Victor could sympathize with that.

Yuuri’s voice crooned into the microphone, and Victor felt himself melt under the soulful spell the Japanese singer’s melody cast upon him. ”So I can fall asleep on your shoulder/ Make wishes in the night when the air gets colder/ Make a blanket fort on a rainy evening/ Talk about our dreams as we stare up at the ceiling,”

Victor rewinded to that specific set of lyrics three times before he played the rest of the song. He felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes. Before he fell into that routine of playing a new song of Yuuri’s 15,000 times, he dialed Yakov’s number.

“Victor,” Yakov said. “What do you think?” Victor ignored his question.

“I have to find him. Right now.” He hung up and took his earbuds out of the headphone jack, letting Yuuri’s voice fill the void in his apartment.

”I want you to accept me/ Wholeheartedly/ I’ll do the same for you/ If you don’t try to transform me/ Do you even have a clue/ What you have done for me?”

Victor’s mind drifted to Sochi, and he thought of one phrase: I should be the one thanking you!

Yuuri Katsuki really had no clue how he affected Victor, and that tore up the Russian superstar inside. Yuuri couldn’t have a shred of a hint how many times Victor played his music on the way to his studio, and he couldn’t even fathom the assurance that he provided when Victor felt absolutely drained after a show. Just watching a simple video where Yuuri was smiling at a fan and laughing nervously made the nerves bubbling in Victor’s stomach dissipate. (He did quite a bit of research online to find videos just like that.)

“So I can play songs and dedicate them to you,” He sleepily sang along to Yuuri’s song, his head hitting the couch's arm.

Before Victor fell asleep on his couch with Makkachin buried in his side and earbuds playing Yuuri’s song at a much lower volume, he put a reminder in his phone to book a flight for Fukuoka.


In two weeks time, Yuuri finished his newest song called “Escapism,” and he managed to hide out at Nishigori Studio, Minako’s shop, and his room long enough to ride out the embarrassment that came from becoming an Internet sensation because you literally made a song for the biggest singer-songwriter out there what were you thinking.

“I’m headed to Treble Cafe to play a gig! Don’t wait up,” Yuuri shouted to his family as he tried to slip by his sister, father, and mother. Of course, that didn’t work.

“Good luck, Yuuri!” His proud mother cheered.

“Knock ‘em dead!” His father added.

“Do your thing,” Mari grinned, not quite as enthusiastic as her parents but still proud.

”Arigato,” Yuuri replied gratefully as he kicked the door open without a friend or a free hand.

Before Yuuri stepped foot inside Treble Cafe, a music cafe in Hasetsu, he tried to open the door and jabbed himself in the stomach with his guitar case. His mic stand fell, but it didn’t sustain too much damage.

“Aaah,” Yuuri hissed, landing on his back. Then, a hand helped him up. The hand looked somehow… Familiar. Nevertheless, Yuuri took it and smiled at the stranger.

“Thank you…” He trailed off, not knowing the person’s name.

“No problem,” He said in a Russian accent; not quite the response Yuuri expected. Yuuri still couldn’t tell who they were, but he held the door open for Yuuri like a gentleman. He reminds me of Igor, the way he puts a stranger’s comfort before his own. Yuuri tried to push that thought away.

“Usually, I’m not this much of a klutz when I first meet someone,” Yuuri laughed nervously, but the man didn’t seem to mind.

“It’s cute,” He grinned. Yuuri blushed and headed to the main stage, setting up his equipment before any others would arrive.

“So, what brings you to Treble?” Yuuri tried making small talk, and the stranger shook his head.

“At first, I was just walking around this town. Then, I came across your body in the street, and I wanted to help,” He answered. Yuuri’s cheeks reddened a shade darker than what was normal for December.

“W-well, thank you again,” Yuuri told him, feeling lost in the direction of the conversation.

“You performing tonight?” Yuuri nodded, pulling up a stool from a random table and setting it onstage. “I look forward to watching you." Yuuri snorted, and the stranger’s breath caught in his throat. Yuuri didn’t seem to notice.

“Why would you look forward to that? You don’t even know me,” He stated the obvious as he unclasped the locks on his guitar and handled it with care. He repeatedly strummed the low E string, making sure his instrument was in tune.

“I don’t have to know you. I can just tell,” He replied easily, and Yuuri paused long enough to gawk at him. He wore a hat similar to Igor’s, and unlike Igor, he wasn’t wearing sunglasses. His voice definitely reminded him of Victor, and the warmth the man emitted felt comforting. His coat was not a common man’s garment, but he didn’t have the confident air of an aristocrat. When the man cleared his throat, Yuuri squeaked and averted his gaze back to his instrument.

“Do I know you?” Yuuri asked tentatively, still embarrassed about being caught staring. The stranger smiled.

“Perhaps in another life, but I just met you today.” Yuuri nodded, not quite understanding the “another life” comment. So that shoots down the Igor/Victor theory, at least. But if that’s the case… Yuuri glanced at the nameless man who had been so quick to help him.

Then who is this man?

Chapter Text

Victor knew he should’ve been anywhere else but there. He should not have been in a cafe, waiting for a performance reminiscent of his first open mic night at a bar. He should not have been glancing in Yuuri Katsuki’s direction as he gathered all of the materials necessary to make that night successful. He should not have been there.

Victor Nikiforov, musical hero of St. Petersburg, should have been working on his newest album. Victor Nikiforov should have been getting scolded by his manager for pursuing someone who seemed so insignificant but had quickly become everything to the starving artist. He was not starving per se, but he was arid of ideas. Without ideas, he was useless. Without music, he was useless, and that was what Victor Nikiforov truly believed.

Yet, here was Victor in Hasetsu; reduced to a simple human who wanted to help an artist with remarkable potential.

“Um, sir,” Yuuri began, and Victor looked up from his mug of coffee. He shouldn’t have grabbed a cup this late, but when did he lead a healthy lifestyle? (Certainly not in the months of touring and certainly not in Yuuri’s presence.)

Victor indulged in a moment to take in Yuuri’s appearance. It had been weeks since he saw him in Sochi. Here, he looked natural and cool. Yuuri sported a pair of jeans with black sneakers, and his white button-up had the first two buttons undone. Yuuri’s hair was messy--like he barely managed it before his performance--but for some reason, the look was endearing. Yuuri Katsuki was truly a man of wonder in Victor’s eyes.

In a story that lost the element of surprise, Yuuri was the most unexpected character to enter his life.

“Yes?” Yuuri cleared his throat and turned to Victor.

“P-please don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you in Hasetsu of all places?” Victor shook his head.

“Because I heard you were here.” Yuuri’s cheeks grew pink and prompted for the man to continue while taking a sip from his water bottle. “Well, you’re the one, right? Who wrote that song for Victor Nikiforov?” Yuuri choked on his water, not expecting that answer.

“Y-yeah, that’s me,” Yuuri answered after he he stopped choking.

“That song was beautiful. Better than anything I could write,” Victor assumed the role of Igor and let himself pretend for just a moment that he wasn’t a world-renowned singer-songwriter. However, he could never pretend to be enthralled by Yuuri’s music.

“It was just something I came up with when I was younger,” Yuuri said, and Victor smiled knowingly.

“Why don’t you sit down for a moment? You’ve been working so hard on setting up, but if you’re not careful, you’ll wear yourself out before you even perform!” Yuuri agreed and took a seat a few tables away from the man. Victor laughed. “No, with me, I mean.”

“O-oh!” Yuuri scrambled to the table and took a seat in front of Victor. “S-sorry, I guess I’m a little scatterbrained,” That made the Russian man laugh.

“Don’t worry about it,” Victor interjected. “I’m just glad you’re here. Most people wouldn’t resurface after something like that,” Yuuri knew exactly what that was referring to, and he really didn’t want to talk about that.

“W-well I had this gig scheduled anyways. I couldn’t just skip out after something as… Disastrous, as the song,” But it wasn’t disastrous, He wanted to say. It’s what brought me that much closer to you. Victor refrained from arguing and settled on plucking a menu from the wooden case on the table.

“Mmm, I could go for some tea. Would you like a cup?” Yuuri waved his hands frantically.

“That’d be too much trouble! You don’t have to do that!” Victor reached for his wallet in his coat pocket anyways.

“I’m happy to help in any way I can. Please, just let me buy you a cup of tea. Jasmine okay?” Yuuri nodded and fiddled with his thumbs.

“Thank you, really. You didn’t have to do… Any of this,” Victor shook his head.

“It’s my pleasure,” He answered honestly. “Hello, I’d like one cup of jasmine tea for the gentleman playing here tonight,” The waitress taking the order grinned and nodded.

“Good luck, Yuuri!” She chirped, and Yuuri simply waved while avoiding eye contact.

“What are you doing?” Victor whispered, and Yuuri shook his head. “Are you scared to talk to her?” He shook his head again. “Then why aren’t you?”

“I-I… I’m not good at talking, so I opt out of it sometimes,”

“Then why do you talk to me, hmm?” Victor smiled knowingly. Yuuri looked anywhere but the man in front of him and instead stared down at the table.

“Y-you’re easier to talk to, somehow,” Yuuri replied, and Victor felt himself warming up at that confession. “Oh, arigato.” Yuuri said to the lady once she set the small cup of jasmine tea in front of him. Victor watched as Yuuri sipped on the scalding tea. “Perfect, thank you, sir.”

“O-oh, no problem.” Victor stuttered.

If Yuuri thought anything about the Russian man’s reaction, he didn’t say a word, just blew on the steam and tried not to think too much about what he just admitted.


“You’re on in five,” The manager of Treble Cafe told Yuuri, and he nodded. Everything was in place. Acoustic guitar, check. Electric keyboard, check. Mic stand and height adjustment, check. His water bottle was close by, and the setlist was taped on the back of his amp. For just a moment, Yuuri stepped away from the stage and joined the stranger who still wouldn’t reveal his name. The tea soothed his throat and calmed him down.

“Relax, my friend. Break a leg,” Yuuri grinned.

“You kind of saved me from that, so,” The Russian stranger laughed, and it left Yuuri with a roller coaster kind of nervousness in his stomach. It was the little drop in the ride that you weren’t supposed to be scared of, but it terrified you all the same because of the many times you were told that it wouldn’t be that bad but ultimately the friend you rode with on the coaster lied to you. Lied to you about love and happiness and everything good in the world--

Regardless of roller coaster drops and whatever the laugh incited concerning Yuuri, he had a show to play and a soul to bare to starving people with smartphones and open ears.

“So, uh, hi,” Yuuri spoke into the mic while timidly waving to the rather large crowd, and the handsome stranger who sat just a few feet away from the stage smiled and encouraged him. Yuuri cleared his throat. “I’m Yuuri Katsuki--”

“Hey, aren’t you the guy who wrote that mushy song for Victor Nikiforov?” Someone from the audience called out, making Yuuri’s face light on fire.

“Y-yes, that’s me,” Yuuri tried to brush the comment aside. That was a bit mushy, wasn’t it. Oh geez. “I have a few songs I want to show you guys tonight, if that’s cool,” He tried to be chill about the whole situation, and he should have expected something like this to happen. It still caught him off-guard, and that was the last thing Yuuri needed.

“Show us the Victor song!” Yuuri resisted the temptation to roll his eyes and instead smiled.

“That song is called ‘Apostrophe to Love,’ but this first song--”

“Play ‘Apostrophe to Love!’”

“Yeah!” An audience member agreed.

“Play the Victor song!”

“Vic-to-ry! Vic-to-ry!” Someone cheered while others joined in, and Yuuri knew this crowd wouldn’t be appeased with just any of the songs he played. He had to cater to them, as much as it pained him to be solely recognized for his mishap. His face fell, but he plastered a fake smile on so as not to anger those who came for the one song.

“Screw it, let’s play his song,” Yuuri adjusted the capo to sit on the fourth fret, and the girls swooned while the guys nodded in approval. The Russian man adjusted his seat closer to the stage so he could see the singer-songwriter better, but Yuuri didn’t notice.

He began his tune with a shaky strum. ”It’s not a surprise that you’re here on my doorstep,” He was singing, but then, his ears caught voices chanting--no, singing--along to his song. Happy tears started to form in his eyes as he continued singing. This was just a silly fan letter in the form of a song that he wrote when he was still a jelly-legged, starstruck college student. Now, it became an anthem of sorts.

”So I can fall asleep on your shoulder/ Make wishes in the night when the air gets colder/ Make a blanket fort on a rainy evening/ Talk about our dreams as we stare up at the ceiling” Yuuri grinned when he caught the stranger’s mouth forming the same shapes as his. Who am I singing for? Yuuri found a brick behind the man’s head and tried not to look into his eyes, fruitless in the attempt. Oh yeah.

“Thank you,” Yuuri finished, and everyone clapped and hooted. Yuuri moved the capo to the third fret and got in the headspace for his next piece. “Okay, this next song is a new one called ‘Escapism,’ hope you like it.” He picked at the first three strings in a steady pattern and started singing into the mic.

”I come up with an idea
And don't know how to verbalize
So I sink into someone else's phrases
That mask how I don't socialize
We are just a string
Of miscommunication
We destroy our words
In the midst of creation

So if I call you "captivating"
Don't mind me: I'm suffocating
And if I trip all over my words
Just talk for the both of us and save me the hurt

I don't know how to be in love
I don't know the first steps on my own
I've been working towards things I’ve only imagined
But love hasn't been part of the equation

So if I call you "captivating"
Don't mind me: I'm suffocating
And if I trip all over my words
Just talk for the both of us and save me the hurt

Be honest with me
What do you think
When I won't ever stop
Writing about the same thing?
Be honest with me
What do you think
When I won't ever
Stop stuttering?

So if I have trouble articulating
It's no bother; I'm not fascinating
And if I trip all over my words
Just talk for the both of us while I question my worth
So if I call you up and it's past four
Don't pick up; I know when people get bored”

The song ended, and Yuuri thanked the audience. They clapped and cheered. They're just clapping politely, Yuuri thought, but he kept baring his teeth. The show continued, and with each song, he managed to completely enchant his audience. He couldn’t tell because their gaping and talking to friends looked to him like they were making fun of his performance. Even onstage in his element, Yuuri couldn’t find solace.

That was just the way it was.

All shows must come to an end, and Yuuri played a cover of one of Victor’s songs “Stay Close To Me/Never Let Me Go” on his electric keyboard to appease the audience once again. (The two songs blended into each other on the album, so technically, he played two different songs without an awkwardly silent transition.) For a moment, Yuuri thought he saw the stranger blushing. Probably just my imagination.


“Can I get your autograph?” A teenage-looking girl squealed, and Yuuri laughed.

“Of course,” Yuuri signed a menu booklet with a big smile on his face. The girl’s reaction to the treble clef next to his name was priceless.

“I’m going to treasure this forever! I’ve been a huge fan of yours since you uploaded your first song,” Yuuri’s brows shot up in surprise.

“Really? That’s amazing! Thank you for your continued support,” The teenager squealed once more before leaving the cafe.

“Nice job, man!” A college student patted him on the back.

“Thanks for coming!” Yuuri replied, and the student pointed finger-guns at him. More audience members and patrons of Treble Cafe passed by and congratulated Yuuri on a stellar performance, but the man that had helped Yuuri in the first place disappeared completely. Yuuri tried to pay attention to each individual comment, but his eyes scanned the room anxiously for the Russian fellow.

“Have a good night, everyone!” The singer-songwriter called out as he waved to those who were filing out after his show. The cafe seemed overwhelmingly empty now, and to offset his nerves about such a quiet environment, Yuuri packed up his equipment quickly and tried the best that he could to handle the gifts that he had been given by several different fans. People really were far too generous to him.

The buzz after a performance was unlike any other, and Yuuri couldn’t help but beam as he walked out the door. Mari came by earlier to pick up the equipment and presents so Yuuri’s arms wouldn’t give out as he walked home. That didn’t stop her from making fun of her brother for waiting to see a mysterious man. (“Am I going to meet this handsome stranger you speak of?” “Oh, shut up.”)

“Hello, Yuuri.” Yuuri froze. He knew that voice anywhere. Slowly, he turned to the source of the voice and found Victor Nikiforov.

Yes, he heard that right: Victor frickin’ Nikiforov was addressing Yuuri.

His silver hair draped across one eye as his signature style, and his effortless appearance was completely unfair in Yuuri’s eyes. He wore a plum-colored scarf with a dark gray coat, and his eyes were darker somehow. Whatever lied beneath, it shook Yuuri to the bone.

“Sorry to startle you like this,” The figure emerged from the shadowed alley next to Treble Cafe, and Yuuri let out an inhuman sound. “I just had to see the star attraction of Hasetsu.”

“Sta-star attraction?” Yuuri squeaked.

"Of course! You've become quite the sensation online; I've heard," Victor smirked, and horror overtook Yuuri's expression.

“Oh my God! I--you didn’t have to listen to that if you didn’t want to! It’s f-fine, really! It’s probably terrible by your standards, and well, aaaah,” Yuuri wailed helplessly, and Victor laughed in what could only be described as a rumble. The blood in Yuuri’s body rushed to his cheeks. Why did it sound so… So what? What is it that I feel?

“On the contrary,” Victor inched closer to Yuuri’s ear just like the last time they met. “It’s all I’ve listened to on my plane ride here.” Yuuri prevented himself from screaming like a fangirl (because seriously, what was this interaction?) and backed away from Victor, only to meet an alley wall.

“R-really?” It was so dark, but the string lights along Treble Cafe provided a bit of clarity.

“Well, when you write a song specifically for me, I have to listen, don’t I?” Yuuri tried to defend himself again to no avail.

“I-I don’t know how it happened! Honestly, I was just feeling a little worn out and I needed something to distract me so I thought about you--no, wait. That’s weird. I’m so sorry--” Victor cut him off.

“It’s okay, Yuuri. I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I find it cute,” He chuckled, and Yuuri looked down at the ground, avoiding eye contact with the Victor Nikiforov.

“Please don’t patronize me like this,” He requested timidly, and Victor’s forehead crinkled in confusion.

“Patronize you? Yuuri,” Victor brushed a stray bang in Yuuri’s face behind his ear. “I truly believe you are a talented person.” Yuuri shook his head in disbelief.

“But why,” he mumbled, still avoiding eye contact. Look anywhere but at Victor Nikiforov standing in front of you. Don’t think about Sochi. Don’t think about Sochi. Eventually, Yuuri had to meet his eyes, and he found something he wasn't expecting in a million years. Something like... love. Don't look at me like that. I might actually start to believe what everyone's been saying. Victor slid his fingertips under Yuuri's chin, forcing him to look directly at the man, and Yuuri prayed that the light wouldn't reveal how entranced he was by the Russian playboy.

“Let's get to know each other, Yuuri. Would you like to have dinner with me?” Victor asked him in earnest, and Yuuri nodded, words failing him ultimately. “Then, let’s go! The night is young, and you are too divine to go unnoticed!” Victor winked as he tugged on Yuuri’s hand into a nearby street lamp’s light, stringing him along for an evening Yuuri would never forget.


“Where are we, Victor?” Yuuri asked, but he couldn’t get used to the name rolling off of his tongue. Victor was still holding onto Yuuri's hand, and as they neared the entrance, he let go. Yuuri felt himself sort of missing the contact, but he couldn't complain.

"Nagahama Ramen, I think? I heard their ramen is a specialty here in Hasetsu!" Victor cheered as he opened the door for Yuuri. “After you,” he purred, and Yuuri felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu from just hours ago. How the hell does he go from adorable to sexy in not even two seconds?

“Thank you,” Yuuri said politely, taking a seat. Victor slid in the chair right next to him.

“Have you gone here before?” Yuuri shook his head. Victor pulled aside a waiter. “Two waters, please.” The waiter nodded, and Yuuri looked nervously around the restaurant.

“I, uh, haven’t been home in quite a while. Five years, I think?” Victor whistled.

“That is a long time. Why were you absent, may I ask?”

“Well, I was staying in America with a friend of mine, Phichit,”

“Chulanont?” Victor inquired. A waiter came by with their drinks, setting them down and smiling at Yuuri. “Ah, thank you,” Victor said.

“Welcome home, Yuuri,” The waiter enthused, and Yuuri waved once again. Victor looked amused at the flustered singer-songwriter but allowed him to answer.

“Uh, yeah, he helped me track drums in my first songs. I went to university there with him, and we played shows at bars, toured a bit; that sort of thing.”

“Interesting,” Victor murmured. “So, when did you start making music officially?” Yuuri shrugged his shoulders and stirred his drink with his straw for no particular reason.

“I’ve been writing lyrics since high school, but I started recording with Phichit and a small group of friends when I was about… Nineteen, I think?”

“Wow, so the lyrics,” Victor scooted a bit closer to Yuuri--close enough to whisper in his ear and not have anyone hear him--and continued. “Were those always written for me?" Yuuri’s ears burned, and he tried to forget about the notebooks he stashed away back in his childhood room. Countless days were spent looking up at poster-clad walls and daydreaming about what it would be like to talk to Victor, hold Victor be with Victor. Now that he was here, his senses went into overdrive.

“I--it’s embarrassing, really, so if we could please just not talk about it,” Yuuri pleaded, and a rather uncomfortable silence set in. Victor moved his chair back to its original position.

“Your performance was brilliant, you know. You showed humility while keeping an audience focused on you,” Victor remarked, but Yuuri stayed quiet, trying to function. How do I think? What do I think? What is a thought? How did I get here? I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t question anything.

“You were there?” Yuuri decided to ask, failing to think--well, that was the first problem.

“I had to see for myself why everyone was so captivated by that song of yours. I aim to surprise, and I suppose it worked very well. It took me forever to slip away from the public eye, though,”

“How did you manage that?”

“Yuuri,” Victor elongated the “u” sound in his name, and Yuuri shuddered. “You met a Russian man outside of the cafe tonight, but you never caught his name, did you?” Yuuri shook his head, his breathing becoming labored. Victor was sitting right by him--having dinner with him and conversing--and it was taking a toll on Yuuri’s ability to focus and most importantly to say more than a few words at a time. I was doing just fine a minute ago; what happened to that?

“N-no?”

“That was me,” Victor admitted, and he giggled. Yuuri ran his fingers through his hair anxiously while Victor regained his suave composure once again. “Yes, that was me. Clever, right? Plus,” He pointed to the side with his thumb. “I can’t exactly go to a local show in Hasetsu as myself. It’s impractical.”

“Th-that makes sense,” Yuuri said, still feeling the affects of Victor’s proximity. Sure, he wasn’t up close and personal, but he was there. That was enough to cloud Yuuri’s mind. Apparently, Yuuri was staring because Victor cleared his throat.

“Is something wrong?”

Yuuri squeaked. It seemed to be the only thing he could do at the moment. He kind of stopped working after a minute or two of conversation with Victor, even though it was mostly one-way.

“It-it’s you,” Yuuri spoke dumbly. Victor smiled.

“And it’s you. I know it’s odd, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to your music,” Victor nervously tucked a strand of hair behind his ear, and it was then that Yuuri truly took a look at him.

Victor’s eyes were blue and kind, and the way that he leaned in to listen to Yuuri’s every word… It felt like a fantasy from his days in high school. How many times did he think about hanging out with the Victor Nikiforov? In Sochi, Victor looked like a god, but here, he looked less unattainable. Here, in a ramen restaurant, he was more human, and because of that, Yuuri wouldn’t allow himself to dream. Why is here? For me? There’s just no way…

“What songs have you listened to?” Yuuri asked, taking a drink of water.

“Well, all of them,” Victor answered breezily.

“All of them?”

“Hard to believe, huh,” Victor laughed. “But the moment you showed that song to the world, it opened many doors for me. I wanted to hear your voice.” The words sounded innocent enough, but when Victor spoke them, they sounded… Sultry. Yuuri couldn’t stop himself from thinking that, and he drank his ice water in an attempt to cool himself down. Dinner with Victor Nikiforov! It was just too much.

“S-so, what kind of ramen do you think you’ll get?” Yuuri tried to change the subject, and Victor’s eyebrows furrowed.

“I’m not sure. I’ll figure something out,” He shrugged, and Yuuri nodded, knowing that Victor would return to the real subject at hand. After ordering their ramen and receiving it, the two of them ate in a comfortable silence until Victor spoke up.

“Yuuri,” He said, taking a drink of ice water. “I have a proposal for you,” Yuuri immediately turned pink. Why did he have to word it like that? Why does he have to tease me? Probably because it's easy. Ugh.

“O-oh?”

“I would like to help you produce your first studio album,” Yuuri stopped picking up ramen with his chopsticks and instead looked at Victor expectantly.

“Isn’t that what I’m working on right now? I’ve been going to Nishigori Studio and recording my newest pieces,”

“Ah, but this won’t be just any album, Yuuri. It will be a debut that shakes up the industry! Because,” Victor stole a piece of pork from Yuuri’s bowl and chewed on it. “I’ll work on it with you!” Yuuri's eyes grew considerably larger.

“E-excuse me?”

“Your debut album will feature me! Look, Yuuri,” Victor proceeded to take another pork cutlet from Yuuri’s bowl, earning a “Hey!” but Victor smiled cheekily and ignored his protest. “You need harmonies in your music. You need diversity, and I can provide that. You can do them yourself, yes, but I would like to sing with you! How fun will that be?” Yuuri stared down at his bowl.

“Victor, I… I wouldn’t feel right doing this,” Victor cocked his head and tried to search for any hints of deception in Yuuri's eyes.

“Why is that?”

“You-you’ve done plenty for me, coming to my show and not ridiculing me for that God-awful song,” Yuuri’s shoulders slumped. Victor took Yuuri’s hand in his and looked straight at Yuuri.

“Yuuri Katsuki, that was a beautiful song no matter what you think, and if you’ll let me, I’d like to create more amazing music with you,” This time, Yuuri searched for something else in Victor’s eyes, but he could only find a serious glint. Yuuri gulped, and Victor grinned as their waiter came by.

“Here’s your check,” He said, and Victor slid him his card.

“I’ll take care of this meal,” Yuuri protested immediately.

“N-no! You’ve already paid for my tea earlier, and you don’t have to do this,” Victor laughed.

“Yuuri, I do this because I want to, so don’t worry about me, okay? I can afford it,”

“I know, but it--” Victor put his finger to Yuuri’s lips.

“Ah-ah-ahhh. Let me,” Victor scribbled his name down messily and handed the receipt to the waiter. Yuuri fidgeted in his seat and looked in the Russian’s direction.

“I… I’ll have to think about it, if that’s okay,” Yuuri’s eyebrows raised in worry, and Victor tried to reassure him by putting his hand on top of Yuuri’s.

“That’s okay, Yuuri. Take all the time you need to consider it. Just know,” Victor leaned close, emitting a squeak from the younger man. “I would love to write with you.” Victor penned his number down on a spare napkin for Yuuri, grabbed his coat, and pushed his chair in, sliding the napkin to Yuuri. “Call me once you’ve made your decision. I’d like to know as soon as possible so we can focus on writing new music.”

Victor left the restaurant, leaving Yuuri in a state of disbelief.

Did… did that just happen?

Chapter Text

Yuuri sat in the chair for a minute, dumbfounded. Then, a minute stretched into five, and he took one last gulp of ice water before he left Nagahama Ramen. He gathered his coat and told the workers to have a good night before he opened the door.

The air was cold, but Yuuri could hardly notice. In fact, it was a relief with how hot he was when Victor kept flirting and didn’t intend to stop.

Yuuri counted tiles of the sidewalk as he walked to Yu-topia and thought about everything that had just happened. Victor was the Russian man who helped me outside of Treble Cafe. Then, he proceeded to corner me. He asked to go to dinner, and he asked me to let him work on my debut album. That’s what I know factually, but… Yuuri carded a hand through his hair. This isn’t just anyone asking me to dinner or asking to write music with me. This is Victor Nikiforov.

“This is so insane!” Yuuri hissed under his breath. “Why would he ask to write music with me? I am the epitome of the creepy fan if the song’s anything to go by!”

”On the contrary, it’s all I’ve listened to on my plane ride here.”

Yuuri blushed and tried to refrain from grinning stupidly at the ground when he remembered what Victor said. He failed in the end, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Those words made him believe that everything would be alright, that he wasn’t an idiot for writing that song and thinking about Victor--

Yuuri ran straight into a man carrying a very hot cup of coffee.

“O-oh, s-sorry,” He muttered, walking a tad bit faster so he wouldn’t have to face the man he had just offended. The man grunted, and Yuuri waved shakily before breaking out into a sprint. This Victor thing really has my head in a daze. I mean, how many people can say that Victor Nikiforov came to their show? Well, besides the bands that have opened for Victor. Anyways, Yuuri stopped in front of a street lamp and grabbed the pole to catch his breath. is he serious about recording an album with me? Celestino wants an authentic sound, but Victor’s not exactly the most… Truthful, when it comes to his emotions. Yuuri looked back at Nagahama Ramen a good couple of blocks away and rubbed his eyes.

There’s just no way he meant what he said at Treble, in the alley, or at the restaurant. I’m not that extraordinary. Yuuri felt the crumpled napkin in his pocket and tried to make out the smudged numbers in the useful, but not quite helpful rays from the street light. I should just do it, Yuuri thought. Yeah; I’ll go for it.

To: Unknown
From: Me
Hey, this is Yuuri. Just thought I should give you my number in case I need to text you when I come to a decision.

Yuuri put his phone back in his pocket and didn’t look back anymore as he jogged ahead to his home-not-an-apartment.


Meanwhile, Victor was staying in a room at Yu-topia, the Katsuki family’s onsen and inn. He had just emerged from the hot spring and sported a green robe with sandals. He was sitting in the dining room, enjoying a hot cup of tea similar to Treble Cafe’s brew.

“Vicchan, is there anything else you would like?” Hiroko, the kind mother of Yuuri, asked with a spring in her step (no pun intended). Victor showed a polite smile.

“No thank you; you’ve done plenty. Thank you for your hospitality,” Hiroko smiled as she spooned herself a bowl of rice.

“It’s not very common to find a foreigner as handsome as you in Hasetsu! My son, Yuuri, would love to meet with you. He’s been a fan of yours for quite a while,” Hiroko chuckled, and Victor raised an eyebrow.

“For how long, do you know?” Hiroko shook her head and threw her hands up in an “I wouldn’t know even if I tried to calculate it” way.

“At least since middle school; for his birthday, he wanted your first album from the record shop in town. Minako made sure it was in stock just for him,” The eldest Katsuki woman hummed, drying a few dishes. When Hiroko’s statement sank into his head, Victor felt his face become hot. He couldn’t tell if it was from the hot springs or the fact that Yuuri had been a fan of his since the very beginning of his career. “I think it was Yuuko’s doing. Yuuko was naturally a musician, but Yuuri struggled with guitar at first. It wasn’t until she showed your music to Yuuri that he really started getting serious about writing and playing. He wasn’t even close to wanting to play professionally,” Hiroko beamed down at the foreigner. “I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for Yuuri. He told us all about your meeting in Sochi, and I’ve never seen him happier.”

Victor’s head started spinning. ”It wasn’t until she showed your music to Yuuri that he really started getting serious about writing.” He had been told by probably millions of people that Victor “inspired” them, but it was the first time he had truly come face-to-face with that exact sentiment.

To say that the realization was overwhelming was an understatement.

“M-my pleasure… I-I think I’ll go to my room now. C-can I just leave this here?” Hiroko nodded and waved to “Vicchan.”

Victor kept one hand against the wall as he walked back to his room. As he stepped inside his new room, he felt his forehead with the back of his hand. It’s not like it’s news that Yuuri’s a fan, Victor thought as he gathered at least a pair of pajama pants from his dresser, folding them over his forearm and sitting down at the foot of his bed. So why does it affect me this much? Victor tried to shake that thought out of his head and get changed into a pair of sweatpants. Out of habit, he checked his phone and found a message from an unknown number. Victor squinted at his phone, adjusting the screen’s brightness with the pad of his thumb.

To: Victor
From: Unknown Number
Hey, this is Yuuri. Just thought I should give you my number in case I need to text you when I come to a decision.
Victor eagerly saved Yuuri’s number in his phone and texted him back.

To: Yuuri <3
From: Me
Hey, Yuuri! This is Victor. Glad to see you got my number ;)

To: Victor
From: Yuuri
Yeah :) So where are you staying if you’re not in St. Petersburg?

Victor stared down at his phone’s screen, almost tempted not to open the message out of pure embarrassment. I was just fine in the restaurant (and the alley, seriously what the hell were you thinking) so what happened? Why can’t I answer him? Victor looked around his room at Yu-topia and suddenly felt very intrusive. He winced as he typed the characters.

To: Yuuri <3
From: Me
So, your family runs a hot spring and an inn…

Victor could almost hear Yuuri’s panic when he sent the message and impatiently waited for the other’s response.

To: Victor
From: Yuuri
You don’t mean…

To: Yuuri <3
From: Me
It was the most affordable and comfortable option!

To: Victor
From: Yuuri
… Fine. I’ll buy that. Just please, whatever you do, don’t go in my room without my permission.

Victor quirked an eyebrow at Yuuri’s text. I would’ve thought he’d want me out in the streets by now, and why mention his bedroom? Victor tossed his phone on the nightstand next to his bed and fell against the mattress, staring up at the ceiling.

Ever since Victor found “Apostrophe to Love” that day, his world had transformed irreversibly. Yuuri transformed him irreversibly.

It was easy for Victor to believe his own lie about only finding out about Yuuri when he uploaded that song on SoundCloud, but the truth was that Victor was a fan of his since he uploaded his first cover on YouTube. The moment Victor played Yuuri’s EPYuuri Katsuki in his car, he wanted to drive everywhere and anywhere. He wanted to take the soul in Yuuri’s voice and transport it into his own.

Victor reminisced on the day as if experiencing it hours ago.

He was just scrolling through YouTube, the mundane life of record album, host the release party, play show, host the after party, and repeat getting the best of him. Then, his eye caught sight of a title: Motivation (Cover) - Yuuri Katsuki. That was one of Victor’s songs.

He clicked on the video, and he was blown away.

Victor was never fond of “Motivation.” He wrote it in a period of angst and frustration, especially when he was sought after for fame and money by far too many people. “Heartbreak, heartbreak/ Come back to me/ Motivate me to finish what I have started/ Come on, I'm a starving artist” The song was overly produced for the sake of radio plays and popularity. Every time that Victor sang the words “starving artist,” they felt like a terrible lie. He was at the peak of his career, nowhere near starving. Sales skyrocketed, but Victor felt numb.

When Yuuri Katsuki played the song with only piano and vocals, though, he no longer detested the lyrics. The voice was a bit timid, yet clear, and each note he played was not only immaculate but soulful. As Yuuri sang, he grew more confident and belted out the chorus against a beautiful crescendo that Victor wished he had written in himself. The raw beauty of Yuuri Katsuki’s music was unfair, Victor decided.

Just thinking about that day made Victor feel flustered because he was here, in Yuuri’s childhood home. He was just a door down from his room. Victor smothered his face with a pillow, resisting the temptation to scream his frustrations into it. Why did I have to go and be the playboy again? I was doing so well as Igor…

“I’m home! The gig went well,” Yuuri called out, and Victor squealed. Yep, the great Victor Nikiforov squealed, and he was definitely not okay with it or the source.

“Yuuri!” Victor could hear Hiroko’s voice and the pounding of excited footsteps. “How did it go? Mari brought home quite a few gifts from the fans!” Victor smiled to himself as he imagined Hiroko winking at Yuuri.

“Uh, it went great!”

“Soooo, tell me about the Russian man Mari was spewing about!” Victor almost laughed into his hand as he pictured Yuuri getting red all over like usual.

“M-mari!” Yuuri said accusingly, and Victor heard a new set of footsteps.

“What? Mom asked to report anything interesting, and you meeting someone is the walking definition,” The older female voice that Victor presumed to be Mari chuckled. “So, would this Russian happen to have anything to do with why the Victor Nikiforov is staying here?” At this, Victor swung his head around the door’s entrance and peered at the beeline to the dining room. I probably shouldn’t startle him. That didn’t go very well last time, Victor thought. Maybe I’ll just sneak around the corner to get a better idea of what they’re saying.

Victor crept from his room to the hallway. He hid behind a wall, sticking his head out barely but enough to see Yuuri. Sure enough, he was red as a poinsettia and waving his hands frantically, denying any and all connection to Victor. That made Victor frown a little.

“Awwww, c’mon Yuuri! We all know you’ve admired him forever,” Mari teased, and Yuuri sighed.

“I think I’m gonna call it a night. See you guys in the--hwaaah--morning,” Yuuri yawned, sleepily trudging near Victor’s hiding spot.

“Tell us about the gig tomorrow, then!” Mari yelled, still laughing about her remark about Yuuri’s long-time crush.

When Yuuri started walking back to his room, he quickly scurried back to bed, careful not to alert Yuuri.

“H-hello?” Yuuri questioned the empty atmosphere, certain that he heard something running through the halls. Victor crawled back into bed and adjusted himself to look as natural as possible, closing his eyes and covering himself with his comforter. With only the moonlight to help Yuuri traverse through the darkness, he looked around the room. When Yuuri wasn’t looking over in Victor’s direction, Victor opened one eye and returned to his sleeping act, feeling his face heat up. Yuuri stood over Victor--he could tell by Yuuri’s warmth--and almost leaned down to brush a strand of hair away from Victor’s face. In that moment, Victor decided to squint his eyes open in a lazy fashion. He stretched out his arms convincingly.

Yuuri’s hair was even more mangled than before, and with dazzling, moonlit eyes, he looked angelic. Victor could have clutched his heart right then and there, but that wasn't exactly natural for sleep.

“Hello, Yuuri,” Victor feigned exhaustion, and Yuuri looked down at the position of his hand, looked at Victor, looked at his hand again, and bolted from Victor’s bed to the door he accidentally slammed shut. Yuuri winced at the loud noise.

“S-sorry! I just noticed something or someone was in the hall, and I was checking on the guests because I don’t want anyone to get hurt…” Yuuri trailed off, watching Victor sit up and noticing that he was half-naked. He gasped. “Y-you’re not wearing a shirt! Gomen'nasai! I-I’ll just go now,” Yuuri started to walk away, and Victor tugged at his arm lightly. Yuuri felt himself lurch back and saw Victor.

Victor was so used to being the poised one in a room, but in this unfamiliar environment with the one who unknowingly garnered all of his affections, he felt absolutely imbalanced. Was his hair messy? Did he have bags under his eyes? Victor didn’t know, and more than ever, Victor cared. Am I supposed to? I don’t know anymore.

“I… I’m sorry,” The nervous Russian spoke, staring into Yuuri’s eyes--chocolate and full of questions left answered. “I’m sorry that I made you feel embarrassed. I was just trying to get comfortable, and well, I joked my way out of it. But,” Victor tore his gaze away. “You shouldn’t have been subjected to that. I’m sorry.” Yuuri stayed silent, and Victor tried to continue in an effort to save himself from the grave he effectively dug for himself. “If you don’t want to work with me, I completely understand, and if you want to tell the world how completely insensitive I am, it’s completely alright--”

“Victor,” Yuuri interrupted him, and Victor swiveled his eyes back to Yuuri.

“Yeah?” Victor whispered, hanging onto Yuuri’s every word.

“It’s… It’s okay, really. I just--all I ask is don’t tease me about my lyrics in the future. That’s--you’re what led me to my career, so please…” Yuuri requested. Victor nodded. I want to understand you, Yuuri. I want to know you, better than I know myself.

“Yeah, I… I promise,” He vowed, then let go of Yuuri’s arm slowly. “Can we talk for a little while longer?” Yuuri shook his head in uncertainty.

“Don’t you need your sleep?” Victor laughed softly with the weight of falling snowflakes on delicate eyelashes. Their voices were hushed, and Yuuri had taken Victor Nikiforov's mind by storm; first thunder, then lightning, now the quiet patter of rain.

He could not stop the words from coming out of his mouth.

“I don’t think I’m going to sleep anyways. Sure would like some company,” Yuuri stared wide-eyed at the other side of Victor’s bed. It was inviting. It was probably warm next to him. It looked like the perfect size to tuck into and hear his heartbeat, see if it ever caught up to his own--

It couldn’t happen.

“S-sorry, I can’t,” Yuuri stared at Victor, turned to walk away, and looked back again with eyes similar to a puppy. “Good night, Victor.” Yuuri breathed. He opened the door and closed it, his footsteps sounding through the hallway.

“Good night, Yuuri,” Victor said with a sad smile, Yuuri long gone in his bedroom.

One was desperate for inspiration before it hit him like a speeding train, the other desperate for some sort of salvation from the embarrassment he already faced.

There was only so much you could squeeze into during the night at Nagahama Ramen.


After dressing in a light, gray sweater, jeans, and sneakers, Yuuri headed out the door with his guitar case and notebook in hand until Victor pulled him back by the collar.

“Yuuuuuriiii,” Victor reprimanded lightly, giving Yuuri a smug smile. “You cannot skip breakfast before going into a studio for who knows how long. You know as well as I do that once you start recording a song, you don’t stop,” Yuuri nodded and reluctantly headed back to the dining room.

“Oh good! Now eat,” Hiroko shoved a relatively healthy bowl of rice, fish, and vegetables in Yuuri’s face, and Yuuri chomped down excitedly, his appetite kicking in.

“Good! Now, let’s go over some things before we head off to the studio,” Yuuri looked up from his bowl.

“I-I still haven’t decided if I want to work with you, though!” He fussed, and Victor’s heart sank a bit further.

“Uhhh huh…” Then, Victor’s face lit up, shooting his pointer finger in the air excitedly. “Think of it as a trial! Yeah, like a free trial for if you want me on your debut or not,” Victor winked, and Yuuri’s face turned red. “So, it’s decided? One day?” Victor held his hand out, and hesitantly, Yuuri shook it. Hiroko gave the newcomer an all-knowing look, and Victor charmed her with his best smile.

“What did you want to go over?” Victor glanced over at the young musician.

“Your strengths and weaknesses.” Yuuri panicked immediately.

“I--uh--is--is now the time to talk about that?” Victor considered that for a moment and thought of a solution.

“Let’s go to my room. We can talk privately there,” Yuuri’s face warmed at the word “privately.” Even though it was just Victor Nikiforov’s temporary bedroom, Yuuri thought of the implications that could stem from that one word.

“U-um, okay,” Yuuri agreed, and Victor took his hand, mirroring the previous night’s actions. Victor led his protege through the doorway and clicked the door shut, watching as Yuuri got flustered with his room yet again. Yuuri sat on the foot of the bed, furthest from Victor, and Victor chuckled, easily sliding next to him.

“Yuuri,” Victor said in a more serious tone. “It can be very difficult to analyze yourself, so I will analyze your performance from last night,”

“Th-that sounds fair,” Yuuri nodded his head slowly, slightly afraid of the critique. Victor sighed heavily.

“Interactions with the crowd before a show are just as important as during and after. Keep that in mind. I also notice that you’re not very confident in some notes while fully singing others?” Yuuri’s head fell to his chest, pushing his two pointer fingers together.

“I--well, I lack confidence,” Yuuri confessed, and Victor nodded.

“Right. We’ll work on that. One final thing: always have soul. As someone who’s lost it recently in their work, I speak from experience. What magnetizes your audience is how much soul you have in your performance, how raw it is. Remember that,” Victor lectured, and Yuuri nodded quickly.

“Is… Is that all?” Victor thought for a moment.

“I’ll think of more as I see you record today. It will just be you today because you’re still unsure about working with me, but I will be on the other side of the glass, listening,” Yuuri’s breath hitched at that statement. On the other side, listening… It was too good to be true. Yuuri almost pinched himself, but there was no use; Victor was close. Victor was there.

Victor wanted to hear more of his music.

“So! What are we waiting for? Let’s head out!” Victor waved his arm to the direction of the exit, but Yuuri stayed seated.

“Victor,” Yuuri said quietly, and Victor moved to sit back down next to him.

“Yes, Yuuri?” Yuuri gulped.

“I… I know I’m not the best… B-but I won’t let you down!” Victor chuckled at that.

“Yuuri, as long as you’re putting one-hundred percent of yourself in the music, that’s what counts. I just want to make you the show-stopper I know you can be.”

With his guitar case in hand and Victor carrying his notebook, Yuuri set foot into a world he didn’t believe was possible; a world where Victor Nikiforov would want to sing with him.

Yuuri was afraid, but he could not run, not from this opportunity. Not from this, he thought. Yuuri braved the cold air of winter and knew what he had to do.

Never again.


It was one thing to see Victor perform in Sochi, but it was another to be on the other side of the glass; listening to Victor’s voice, seeing the man the industry made him become. He was so suave and unreal, and his vocal range seemed endless. Victor knew how to capture attention and keep everyone's eyes on him at all times. Everything about him screamed “perfection,” and Yuuri just didn't feel equal.

“Victor,” Yuuri pressed on the intercom button, and Victor played a final chord before taking off his headphones.

“Yeah?”

“Do, do you think I should re-record ‘Apostrophe to Love’ with you for the fans?” Victor waved him in, and Yuuri unlocked the door, eagerly rushing to Victor’s side. “Well?” Victor looked down at the guitar.

“Only if you want to,”

“But the fans--”

“The music is meant to be shared, but you have to want to record it,” Victor said with an edge to his tone. Yuuri simply nodded.

“Then, what should I sing?”

“Anything you want; what’s a fan favorite? I want to hear your most popular song, besides ‘Apostrophe,’”

“Hmmm,” Yuuri put curled fingers under his chin. “‘Out of Character.’”

“Can I hear it?” Yuuri nodded, smiling. Victor loved this song of his personally, and he had to admit that his motives were a tiny bit selfish.

“Can I have the room? Oh, and the guitar,” Victor handed the guitar to him, slipping out of the strap and disconnecting the instrument from its amp.

“I want to sing backup vocals.” Yuuri’s eyes widened to the size of bowling balls.

“W-well, um, if you want to?”

“This is what the trial run is for, after all,” Victor reminded him, his eyes turning kind. Yuuri carefully took a seat next to Victor, adjusting the guitar’s strap and plugging it back into the amp.

“Be warned; this might be terrible,” Yuuri laughed shakily, and Victor shook his head.

“I don’t think it can be. Just be yourself. That’s all I ask. I’ll follow your lead.” But will he like it?

“Alright, here we go.” Yuuri moved the capo to the third fret and started strumming.

The dialogue, the back and forth
Something that I always took for granted
I used to say I can’t stand it

Then, Yuuri heard Victor’s harmony and smiled into the microphone.

But now it feels uncharacteristic
If you and I are both silent around each other
Like we’re not friends or lovers

But we did a lot of developing over the years
You don’t laugh nearly as much and I cry way too many tears
The way that people misconstrue us
It’s so
Out of character

We changed settings, you changed your mind
But really though, I’m not surprised
Yeah, I warned ya
I wouldn’t give up on ya

Our talks became caffeinated
Maybe that’s how we got so jaded
We existed
It was short but I sure missed it

But we did a lot of developing over the years
You don’t laugh nearly as much and I cry way too many tears
The way that people misconstrue us
It’s so
Out of character

Tell me please; how do I exist?
Tell me please; am I a love interest?
Yeah, am I the type who hates when you’re not around?
Am I a main character who worships your ground?

Victor glanced over at Yuuri, his voice and guitar gaining volume. He knew he was good, but this… It was unlike anything Victor had heard before. When he recorded this song years ago, Yuuri wasn't this powerhouse. What kind of transformation did he undergo between then and now? Victor wanted to ask Yuuri what--or who, more specifically--this song was about. Who hurt you, Yuuri?

Tell me please; are you writing this script?
Tell me please; can I destroy this?
Tell me now; am I in control?
I need answers if you really say no…

The song slowed down once again, and Victor felt a little sad that this section was ending. Yuuri’s voice turned solemn and accepting, and Victor could definitely hear the shift in tone.

’Cause people write in universes
Different from ours but with same elements
Yeah, I get it
I kind of don’t like how it happened
What’s done is done
What’s past is past
It all went by entirely too fast
It was a season
But we all had our reason

As Yuuri finished his song, Victor just stared into the microphone. He had just heard nothing like "Apostrophe to Love" or "Escapism." They were meaningful and beautiful, yes, but "Out of Character," was a song that felt... Well, just that. Out of character.

Victor at first chalked it up to not knowing really anything about Yuuri Katsuki, but even still, the question plagued him: Who are you referring to?

"So, how was it? That was so cool having another singer with me," Yuuri said, grinning. Then, he noticed Victor's face and started doubting. "Oh no, it was too personal, wasn't it? I-I'm really sorry; I was just so excited to show you this piece--"

"Yuuri," Victor interrupted, rubbing his eyes then staring into the other's. "What is that song about?" Yuuri nervously scratched behind his head.

"Well, uh, it's a long story,"

"Can I hear it sometime?" Victor pressed on, but Yuuri slipped off his headphones.

"It's a bit hard to talk about, even now," He sighed, and Victor took off his headphones as well.

"Is it easier for you to vent through music, then?" Yuuri nodded. "It feels like you don't have to face the issue head-on," Victor chuckled. "I know what you mean."

Victor's gaze was far away and beyond what Yuuri could comprehend. Yuuri looked awkwardly at him for longer than a moment, then remembered where he was and quickly turned to his microphone.

"Victor," Yuuri interrupted the Russian's daydreaming, and Victor cocked his head.

"Hmm?"

"D-did I have enough soul in that? I tried to, I don't know, give more of it that time." It was more than enough. I could feel everything that you were saying. I could understand your pain. I wanted to cry. I wished I'd have written that. A million and one responses passed through Victor's head. When prompted, though, he only uttered a few words with a soft, proud smile.

"You had plenty."

Chapter Text

A piano at midnight shouldn’t have comforted a Russian soul. It should have made him want to scream at the one who was playing at the top of his lungs that he was trying to sleep, God dammit. He should have curled a pillow around his ears and flopped to the other side of the bed angrily.

That was before Victor recognized the tune the pianist was playing.

He should have guessed that Yuuri Katsuki was playing on a keyboard piano at midnight while everyone else was drunk and having fun. He needs a grand piano. Victor thought once again. Through the wall, he could hear notes gliding together in perfect harmony, similar to a dancing routine or maybe even ice skating.

He could see it now: Yuuri in a suit and tie, playing in a large auditorium, taking away the audience’s breath as his fingers danced across the keys. Yuuri in a suit and tie, making conversation with the guests afterwards.

Yuuri in a suit and tie.

Whoa.

Flashes of Sochi tattooed the backs of Victor’s eyelids in an instant. When Yuuri reached a very tender, yet tentative part of his piece, Victor felt himself holding his breath. Where’s the sudden burst of life? I know I heard it last time…

Then, the piano’s tempo sped up slightly and carried into a new melody while staying in the same key, and Victor smiled fondly in a there-it-is kind of way. He could hear Yuuri tapping away at the keys, and he crept to Yuuri’s bedroom where he could see a small lamp illuminating both the “piano” and the musician. Victor kept his footsteps light and breathing almost ghost-like in an attempt not to startle Yuuri as he kept his eyes shut and swayed his body to the direction of the piece. As Yuuri’s foot tapped to the beat lightly on his bedroom floor, Victor simply gaped at the man before him.

When Yuuri finished his piece with an elegant flick of his fingertips, Victor made his presence known by clapping noticeably while keeping the offbeat rhythm of his hands quiet.

“Who is it--V-victor!” Yuuri squawked ungracefully, turning his spinning chair around to see a head of silver hair. “W-what--no, wait--why--”

“That was beautiful, Yuuri,” He breathed, his eyes still blown wide in the wake of Yuuri’s skill with the piano. “How… how do you do that?”

“D-do what?” Yuuri spoke softly, incredulity gracing his tone.

“Make music so effortlessly,” Victor insisted, stepping closer to Yuuri, who was still sitting at his desk in front of his keyboard piano, processing Victor’s words. He waved his hands.

“No, no, no! If anything you make music effortlessly! I’ve been working on this piece for waaaay too long, and I just wanted to play it like I did back in Sochi--”

“Sochi?” Victor interrupted. “Where you met me?” Yuuri’s face turned a dark shade of pink.

“I… Yeah. Where I met you.”

“You played that song there?” Victor feigned obliviousness while Yuuri actually was oblivious. Yuuri spun his chair around to turn off the keyboard and sighed.

“Victor, please sit. I-I need to tell you something,” Victor straightened the sheet where he sat on Yuuri’s bed, and Yuuri’s squeaky chair rolled over to Victor’s location.

“Yes, Yuuri? What is it?” Yuuri ducked his head down and stared at his lap, not daring to look Victor in the eyes.

“I, well… I met someone in Sochi, n-not just you. He--he had on a beanie similar to yours, and while I was playing on the streets in Sochi, he gave me a few rubles. His name was Igor. We, uh, talked for a while, and he gave the courage…” Yuuri took a deep breath and kept his gaze down. “He gave me the courage to give the gift to you.”

Victor already knew all of this, but hearing it from Yuuri’s lips was unlike anything he could have even imagined.

“That’s good isn’t it?” Yuuri ignored that remark, balling up his fists in his lap in a fit of subdued frustration.

“I feel s-so bad saying this, but when I saw you that night at Treble Cafe, I--I can’t believe I’m saying this--I wished it was him.” Yuuri’s ears burned--no, everything burned--at the confession, but he knew he would have to say it eventually. He figured he could get the rejection out of the way while he could.

Victor’s eyes widened for an estimated fifteenth time that night but was probably the third. He’ll never believe me if I tell him. God, what do I say? Do I just go with it?

“Yuuri,” Victor began, his tongue feeling dry as he spoke. “It’s okay.” Yuuri lifted his head to Victor.

“What’s ‘okay?’”

“It’s okay that you wanted to see him again. I would, too,” Victor smiled at Yuuri, but it wasn’t dazzling or for any cameras. No, this was a sad smile without a brand. A smile without a trademark or copyright.

It was a smile he didn’t expect to use in his lifetime.

“B-but d-don’t get me wrong! You’re still wonderful, and it’s been amazing working with you, even if it’s only a few weeks! I just--please don’t hate me,” Yuuri’s voice grew quiet, and Victor could see how much Yuuri was floundering just to get his point across. He admired his strength, and with the limited time he had alone with Yuuri (in the bedroom, just like this), he held Yuuri’s hands in his own.

“Why would I hate you? I’m just happy that you’re talking to me,” Yuuri laughed nervously to break the tension that had built up after Victor’s very honest and undoubtedly true statement.

“Um, my hands are a little clammy. They get that way when I play piano, unfortunately haha,” Victor didn’t mind.

“Yuuri, I have something to ask you.”

“Yeah? What is it?”

“Why are you so nervous around me?” Yuuri snorted, taking his hands back. He leaned back in his spinning chair, the back touching the edge of his desk.

“Isn’t it obvious? You’re Victor Nikiforov,”

“And you’re Yuuri; why does that change anything?” Yuuri’s hands waved around frantically.

“I--Victor, we’re not nearly on the same level,”

“We’re both musicians, aren’t we? We’re both here, we’re both struggling, and on top of it all,” Victor took the arm of Yuuri’s chair and pulled it closer to him until Yuuri was inches away from his face. “We’re both face-to-face with our muses, and I’m just as nervous as you, if not more.”

“How am I your muse?” Yuuri whispered, nearly touching Victor’s lips. Victor grinned.

“You have no idea.” The Russian pushed Yuuri’s chair back to its previous position, and just like he planned, he left Yuuri wanting more.

However, that didn’t help his dilemma in any case. He was hardly aware that there was one to begin with.


Mentorship was difficult to deal with. Putting Yuuri’s ability in Victor’s hands to mold and fit his expectations; it was unlike anything he had experienced prior to working with Celestino. It had only been about two months with Victor, and he still wasn’t used to him in any way, shape, or form.

All Phichit Chulanont asked of Yuuri was to be himself, and Celestino emphasized that same notion. However, Victor was not interested in current Yuuri. No way; he wanted Yuuri to be malleable.

”Be bold,” he said. ”Make the audience want more, always.”

But how bold, Victor? What direction am I headed for? Yuuri questioned in his head constantly. Victor’s newest demo, “Eros,” wasn’t exactly the image Yuuri wanted to make for himself, but nevertheless, Victor wanted him to try it out, like slipping into a new skin and assuming the role of a playboy.

”That’s not me,” Yuuri protested, and Victor shook his head.

”Yuuri, you’ll never grow as an artist if you don’t try out new styles! Switch it up, make it your own,” He insisted, handing Yuuri a costume of sorts. It was tight-fitting with gems that sparkled in the dim light of Victor’s room, and there was a skirt on one side. Yuuri instantly recognized the piece and became fully aware of the fabric in his hand. He held the outfit up and spun it around, back and forth, as if trying to believe in its existence. “You think you can choose your image right now? You’re just beginning. Don’t waste an opportunity to explore, alright?”

”So…” Yuuri started, his eyebrows shot up in amazement. “You want me to wear this? While writing a song with the title ‘Eros?’” Victor nodded.

”Write the piece while you’re wearing this. See what comes to mind.” He winked at Yuuri, and promptly, he blushed at the insinuation, emphasis on the sin.

That’s how Yuuri found himself bent over a keyboard and then with a guitar in the private room at Nishigori Studio. He tried playing some basic chord progressions, but nothing came to mind.

“Why can’t I think of anything?” he hissed under his breath, mindlessly strumming yet again. ”Help me out/ I’ve lost inspiration/ Muse, come over/ It’s a dire situation… Did I just sing that?” Then, Yuuri repeated that line, over and over until he found new words to add.

”Help me out
I’m scared of devotion
I’ll vent to a page
Till I don’t feel emotion
Give me a break
It seems I can’t do this anymore

Yuuri quickly scribbled the words and chord progression down, his hands shaking in excitement and anticipation for more. When he started playing again, however…

Yuuri wasn’t a fool. He knew he couldn’t write eros for a reason.

“Nothing!?” He shouted at the newly-deemed “useless” guitar and put it back in its case. “Where is it. I need inspiration. I need something.” Then, a cycle began, and Yuuri placed his hands on his head and hunched over his knees, his heart rate accelerating and his mental stability starting to shatter.

What if Victor leaves me in here because I can’t grasp a song, not even for him? What if he leaves altogether? Could I have offended him in some way? I still have so much to show him. I’ll mess this up, just like I mess up everything. Where will I go from there? Why can’t I find any of the answers--

“Yuuri?” Victor appeared in front of the anxiety-ridden musician, and Yuuri glanced up and made a muffled sound of surprise and desperation. Victor searched his face, and Yuuri felt himself grow pale rather than a darker shade of pink. “The wheels in your head are turning a bit too much. You doing okay?” Yuuri shook his head, trying to prevent any word vomit that he wouldn’t be able to take back.

Victor placed a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder, and to his astonishment, Yuuri shrugged it off. Victor’s lips shifted from a teasing smile to a concerned frown instantly. “Yuuri, are you alright--”

“M-my phone,” Yuuri stuttered, and Victor could see him visibly shaking from head to toe. Victor’s face paled. “Ph-phone a-and earbuds, please,” Even in this crisis, Yuuri tried to be polite. Victor hurriedly grabbed his phone from the table next to him and fished a pair of earbuds out of the pocket of his jeans. When he saw Yuuri fumbling to untangle them, Victor snatched them from the unsteady hands, quickly undid the knot, and straightened the cords. He handed them back to Yuuri and didn’t breathe until Yuuri slipped them in his ears. A playlist flowed into Yuuri’s ears, and he immediately felt relief.

Victor pulled up a stool and sat across from Yuuri, careful to keep his distance after Yuuri refused his means of assurance. He studied Yuuri’s features until his limbs slowed their shaking.

”Heartbreak, heartbreak/ Come back to me,” Yuuri croaked through ragged breaths, and Victor clapped a hand over his mouth. ”Motivate me-- do that, ple-ease.” Yuuri did not sound like himself, and it scared Victor like nothing else.

“That’s my song,” Victor whispered, but Yuuri just put his hands over his ears, blocking out all sound except for a younger Victor’s soothing voice. The actual Victor kept vigil over Yuuri until he finally removed the earbuds.

”So tell me, what’s replaying in your mind?” Yuuri sang much calmer now, his eyes squeezed shut. Another song of mine, but why choose that one? Why “Fairy Lights” of all the songs on that album? Victor smiled, then remembered where he was and who he was with. Immediately, he wiped the grin off of his face. Yuuri’s vibrating limbs ceased their movement, and Victor let out a sigh of relief. Yuuri lifted his head up, feeling slightly disoriented.

“How… How long was I, y’know?” Yuuri couldn’t finish the sentence. Victor checked his watch.

“Around, uh, ten minutes? Yeah, I think ten,” Victor’s voice grew soft, and Yuuri shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” He murmured, giving the earbuds back to Victor, and Victor gawked at him. “I-I didn’t want you to see that. It--I was weak.” Victor carefully placed his hand on Yuuri’s arm, and this time, Yuuri didn’t push the contact away. He rubbed the arm up and down, and he stared directly at Yuuri.

“Yuuri, you’re not weak. It was bad timing--”

“It was an anxiety attack,” Yuuri rushed. He gauged Victor’s response, which was only his hand stopping its movement. Victor sighed.
“That doesn’t matter. You’re not any weaker of a person. You know that, right?” Yuuri shook his head once again.
“I could have just dealt with it somewhere else,”

“No,” Victor said. “You couldn’t move. There was nothing else I could do, so I just tried to follow what you said,”

“It wasn’t like an allergic reaction or anything--”

“Yuuri, I was worried.” Victor confessed. A few beats of silence passed, and Yuuri fiddled with his fingers. “Do you want to tell me what that was about?” Yuuri took a deep breath and looked for Victor’s reaction, then returned his gaze to his own lap.

“It gets to me when I can’t write. When I can’t create, I’m… I’m not myself. I don’t feel useful in any way. So, I started, well, overthinking everything, and I, uh, spiraled from there,” Yuuri ran a hand through his hair. “I just--I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, and I can’t do anything about it. I’m, shit, I’m losing control.” Yuuri’s voice gave out when he uttered the word “control,” and Victor sat silently, observing a destruction of stability.

June felt promising, but July became a nightmare. Yuuri was overworked, Phichit smiled to keep everyone's spirits up, and Clara. Yuuri had no words to describe Clara.

”Yuuri, you can’t just get in one of your moods and expect us to trail behind, waiting for your lyrics!” She shouted. “What makes you think that’s okay!?”

”I’m sorry, Clara. I’ll do better,” He said, no more tears to shed. He was just empty.

”That’s not gonna work! You want this to work, right?” Her voice hitched, and Yuuri winced. She did this every time--crying to return Yuuri’s attention to the music.

But he’s got bills to pay and hunger to satisfy. He can’t dream like this anymore.

No, I can’t do that to him. I’ll never forgive myself if I do. He’s… Everyone’s waiting impatiently for him to come back.

“I-I can’t hold you back like this. I can’t let you ruin everything you’ve worked towards because I’m struggling. So, just… Just go, okay? Save us the hurt, Victor. It’s--it’s not that I don’t want to work with you, but it’s that you don’t have to. You don’t have to go through all this trouble with other musicians, so why put up with me, right?” Yuuri laughed weakly, but Victor’s expression was angry now.

“So, you think I’ll give up on you. Just like that,” Victor snapped his fingers, and in the stagnant silence, Yuuri jumped. “Then, you obviously don’t know what kind of person I am.” Victor crouched down from the stool and lowered himself to Yuuri’s gaze, bending on his knees to see the broken man. “I’m a believer. I’m a dreamer. I’m an artist, just like you. I believe in your ability, and I’ve dreamed of working with you. You’re an artist, and so am I. What are you waiting for? Approval? A blessing?” Victor then placed a hand on Yuuri’s thigh. “You don’t need any of that. I already approve of you. Didn’t I prove that at the cafe that night? Didn’t I tell you that I listened to your music for hours on end?”

“Victor--” Yuuri tried to explain, but Victor just projected his frustration onto Yuuri.

“So what am I doing wrong? What is causing you to think like this?” Victor begged for the answers, but Yuuri had nothing to offer. After thinking for about thirty seconds--the anticipation killing Victor--Yuuri spoke up.

“It’s not your fault. I-I’m just a mess. A lot… Happened, and now I’m just kind of drained, I guess?”

“I-I’m sorry. That I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never dealt with that kind of thing,”

“Being a mess?”

“No, with the, uh, anxiety. Like, yeah; I get nerves before performing. That’s normal, but what I just witnessed--”

“I get it, Victor. It’s not normal for you. It’s okay,”

“I’ll know what to do next time. I’ll do better,” Yuuri shook his head, and Victor watched his hair sway back and forth. What now?

“You don’t have to do better. You just have to be you. That’s all I want.” Yuuri answered honestly.

“And that’s all I want out of you, alright? I want you to remain who you are,”

“Then why are you having me write a song for--for ‘Eros?'” Yuuri laughed, and Victor tsk-ed at his student.

“I already explained it! You need to break out of your comfort zone and explore while you can, before you’re set to a certain genre.” Victor sing-songed, and Yuuri rolled his eyes at his mentor, still smiling fondly.

“You two make me sick.” A new voice that was thick with a Russian accent and apparent anger pierced through the intercom in the recording studio, and Victor and Yuuri stood up to find a blonde-haired, seething fifteen-year-old on the other side of the glass.

Victor and Yuuri turned to each other, not believing their eyes.

“Is that... ?”

“Yes,” Victor supplied, still staring at the glass. Yuri Plisetsky huffed at their reactions and jiggled the currently locked knob of the door with his shaking fist. "It is."

“Well? Are you gonna let me in or not?”

Chapter Text

This is something I've been meaning to let you guys know since my birthday (I turned 18 on January 18th!!), and I didn't want to put it in a measly author's note at the beginning of Chapter Seven because you guys deserve more than that. Speaking of which, I am working diligently on it, and I'll try to upload as soon as possible.

However, I should let you know that I have a lot going on in my life. When I mean a lot, I mean a lot.

First of all, I have a thousand-and-one performances to, well, perform! That's a hyperbole, obviously, but I do have a lot of performances scheduled for February and March. First, there's the choir performances that I'm attending early on in February. I also am learning an Italian piece in a little less than two months for Solo and Ensemble Contest. Between that, I have musical rehearsals almost every night, and in two weeks, I'm auditioning for a music scholarship to my dream college. Then, I have a gig on the 25th.

On top of that, some of you may have been keeping up with me on Tumblr--and the news isn't quite official yet--but I have discussed recording my debut EP entitled Celestial with a recording studio in my home state! I emailed Eclipse Studios the day after my birthday, and their producer replied, saying that he would like to work with me!! It costs a lot of money, which is why the news is pending, but I thought I would let everyone know so I'm not updating for no reason. The EP would be 4-6 songs, and I would feature songs such as "Apostrophe to Love" and "Out of Character" on it.

Thank you for all of your support on this story, and I will update Gotta Have Soul very soon!!

Bye for now, and stay sick as frick <3

Chapter Text

"Well? Are you gonna let me in or not?" Yuri Plisetsky smirked. Yuuri stared at him wide-eyed while Victor walked calmly to the door.

“Yuri, I didn’t expect you--” Victor opened the door and allowed Yuri to come inside. Are you trying to get me back home? You know that’s pointless…

“And I didn’t expect you to be so disgusting, so that makes two things unexpected,” Yuri said with gritted teeth. “Get out of here. This is between me and him.” Yuri nodded towards, and Yuuri gulped audibly. While Yuri wasn’t looking, Victor called Yuuri’s phone and clicked the speaker button, sliding the phone between the two of them. The screen faded to black, and that was his cue to leave.

“What do you have--” Victor started, but as soon as he uttered the words, he knew he wouldn’t get anywhere arguing with a fifteen-year-old. The Russian singer-songwriter (and current catalyst for Yuri’s incoming heated discussion with the other Yuuri) shook his head and stepped outside, sending Yuuri an apologetic look. He sat below the glass window and held the phone close to his ear.

“So,” Yuuri began. “I-I don’t know why you hate me, but if you need me to do something for you, I will--” That’s so like you, Yuuri. Victor chuckled to himself.

“What have you and Victor been working on? I need to know,” Yuri demanded, and Yuuri shrugged his shoulders.

“He harmonized on an original, and I--well, I was working on a new piece. About ‘eros,’” Yuuri scratched the back of his neck nervously, and Yuri’s eyes flashed dangerously.

“How do you know about the demo?”

“Well, he’s having me write a set of lyrics for the song--” Yuri punched the table underneath him, and Yuuri flinched.

“You can’t handle the pressure, can you, groupie,” He said the last word with a venom that wasn’t present before, and Yuuri’s eyes began to sting. He’s more than that, Victor thought, feeling his eyebrows drawing together. I thought you understood, Yura. “How would you even know what to write for a feeling like ‘eros?’ I’m sure you’ve had plenty of lonely nights with just yourself,” Victor tried not to think about that last sentence.

“Please, stop talking,” Yuuri requested weakly.

“You’ve dreamed of working with Victor, and you can’t even use him to your full advantage!” He laughed. “You’re stopping him from making his sixth album. You know that better than anyone!”

“He’s the one that came to me. What do you want with him?” Yuuri asked him, refusing to let the fifteen-year-old see him cry. Yuri clenched his fists.

“I’m part of his band, so him taking off like this affects me just as much as it affects you,” Yuri explained, the tone in his voice growing angrier by the word. “I make a living off of his music, but he’s not here so I can’t make a living,” Yuuri’s face crinkled in concern.

“Yuri--”

“He has to come back to Russia. Right now.”

“...What?” Yuri grabbed the collar of Yuuri’s shirt and pulled him close.

“Get. Him. He’s coming home with me. Bills can’t pay themselves, dammit,” Yuri spat in his face, and Yuuri gaped at him.

“Are… Are you living by yourself, Yuri?” Yuri rolled his eyes, but Yuuri could tell he was hurting.

“I won’t even bother explaining it to someone like you. Just get me Victor and tell him that you can’t do it. Tell him that you can’t handle the pressure, and leave before you get hurt.”

Yuuri felt his voice coming up to sputter, but then he closed his mouth. Yuuri wasn’t exactly naive; he knew what kind of hurt Yuri Plisetsky was referring to.


After walking awkwardly out of Nishigori Studio, Yuuri kicked the ground and walked aimlessly around Hasetsu, searching for a distraction from his current dilemma.

Of course, Yuuri couldn’t escape the constant reminders of Victor’s arrival and Yuuri’s comeback. Banners lined the town of Hasetsu, saying, “Welcome, Victor!” Fans of Yuri Plisetsky chatted around the shop, squealing over the blurry pictures of the bassist they took on their phones.

“Hey, Yuuri!” Passersby exclaimed, and Yuuri waved politely before slipping in a pair of earbuds and jogging away from the busy part of town. He found himself by a bridge with no one in sight, and he sighed in relief.

Before returning to his exercise, Yuuri stopped by the edge of the bridge, taking in the beauty of the still water and the sun going down, hues of orange and pink blending seamlessly into the sky.

Yuri says to quit, and Victor says to stay. Well, he hasn’t said the words out loud, but he’s hanging around for a reason, right? Then, why am I finding it so difficult to make this decision? What’s stopping me from staying or going? Yuuri remembered Victor’s earlier words about making an album, and he stared absently at the sky. Oh yeah, that’s why. Well, that leaves me with one choice, I suppose.

Yuuri put his music library on shuffle, and lo and behold, Victor Nikiforov’s voice flooded his eardrums. Yuuri shook his head at his cell phone and skipped through tracks. Victor. Victor. JJ. Christophe. Victor. Victor.

Damn it all.

“I guess I won’t listen to music, then,” Yuuri grumbled to himself, removing the earbuds and wincing at the loud volume flowing against the grating speakers of his phone. A few lyrics got out before Yuuri could pause. He groaned.

“Yuuri!” A voice startled him, and he turned to see Victor. He laughed. “I thought I heard my voice somewhere! Have you been listening to me?”

“Of course not,” Yuuri lied, and Victor clicked his tongue, inching closer to him. “How’d you even find me?”

“Yuuri,” He extended “u” like he did whenever he was trying to get Yuuri’s attention, completely ignoring Yuuri’s question. “I don’t favor liars.”

“How’d you find me?” Yuuri demanded, and Victor raised his eyebrows at him. Yuuri crossed his arms in a defensive position. “I-I’m sorry. I, uh, just have a lot on my mind,” You’re not helping, Yuuri added in his head sheepishly.

“Anything I can help with?” Victor winked, and Yuuri blushed expectedly. When did I get so predictable?

“That’s just it. I… I don’t know what to do,” Yuuri confessed, kicking the pebbles at his feet just to do something, anything.

“Yuuri, what is this about?” Victor persisted in his interrogation, and Yuuri shook his head quickly.

“I-it’s nothing! Nothing at all! Crap, I’m lying again! I mean, it is something, but I don’t know if I should talk about it right now, you know? So, I’m sorry,” He finished speaking, and Victor looked at him with rapt attention.

“You don’t have to tell me right now, but as your coach, I hope you’ll have a little more trust in me,” The words weren’t meant to sting, but they caused damage to Yuuri all the same. What more can I say? I’m sorry. That’s it. It’s useless. “As a friend, I understand what it’s like to be faced with a tough decision. Besides, you said from the beginning that you’re not sure if you want to work with me,”

“But it’s been two months, Victor. I want to tell you, trust me,” Yuuri pleaded.

“So, why can’t you?” Yuuri kept his mouth shut, and Victor thought a little longer before replying. “I’ll leave you to your… Devices. See you at dinner.” With nothing more to say, Victor jogged away from Yuuri, and Yuuri was left with a million more questions to sort out.


“Dinner is fantastic, Katsuki-san,” Victor complimented graciously, and Yuuri’s mother blushed.

”Arigato, Vicchan!” Yuuri very noticeably avoided eye contact with “Vicchan,” and Hiroko glanced between the two men. “So, how are things going with recording?” Yuuri coughed, and Victor gave his best smile.

“Very well, thank you for asking! Yuuri is working on a new song; I’m sure it will be excellent,” Victor gushed, and Yuuri coughed a bit more in response.

“Yuuri! Are you alright!?” Hiroko panicked, and Yuuri nodded.

“I--may I be excused? I’m not all that hungry,” Hiroko sighed and shooed him away. Yuuri fled from the dining room, not being able to withstand the awkward tension and the guilt much longer. “That boy’s never been able to handle compliments well,” Victor chuckled.

“I see what you mean, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here,” Victor ate his last bite of katsudon quickly and wiped his mouth with a napkin. Hiroko smiled.

“You’re just as eager as Yuuri. Going back to Nishigori’s?”

“Something like that. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Victor bowed politely before handing his dishes to an employee at the inn. He flashed a winning smile at Yuuri’s mother before heading back to Yuuri’s room. He could hear strong strumming on the strings of his acoustic guitar, and that was definitely the same chord progression as “Eros.” The rhythm felt more aggressive than the original track, and Victor had to wonder if he spurred this in Yuuri when he left him by the bridge.

”I don’t want to lead myself on
When I could possibly be in the wrong
Do you? Do you?
If you’d do anything for me
Cut all ties and
Set me free”

It was unmistakably Yuuri Katuski’s voice, but the words… They were uncharacteristic. Then again, what is characteristic for Yuuri? Victor’s mind shot back. He pressed his ear against the door, sinking down to the floor with a soft thump. A small instrumental break launched Yuuri into the next verse.

”Yeah, I’ll get by
Without you again
I went this long
So what’s the risk?
Don’t whisper all the things
I’ve been dying to hear you say to me
Oh, I won’t say them back
That drives another nail through my coffin”

Victor thought about the night when he listened to Yuuri play piano through the wall and how Victor whispered sweet somethings to him. Victor’s neck felt hot, and he put an icy hand on the back of his neck to relieve himself. Every part of him was heating up, unfortunately. Yuuri sang the chorus once again, and the key of the song changed from minor to major quickly as well as the tempo.

”Don’t fall for an idea
But I already have
Your hold on me is strong
Constantly pulling me back
Until I clear my head
I’ll try to stay intact
But then you seduce me
With everything I lack…”

Victor wanted to know what he meant by “fall for an idea.” The song he wrote for me was a fantasy, right? Is that what he’s referring to?

“Is this his eros?” Victor accidentally thought out loud, and he slapped his hand to his mouth. The notes stopped immediately, and Victor could almost hear Yuuri thinking about opening the door. Victor heard a guitar case closing, and he stood up, adjusting his sweater so wrinkles wouldn't show.

“Why do you have to sneak up on me like that?” Victor thought Yuuri would be mad, but now he was just grinning at him like Victor was an idiot. Maybe he was.

“I was a bit, uh, concerned about you leaving so soon,” Victor said, avoiding Yuuri’s direct gaze.

“No--I’m okay,” Yuuri reassured him, attempting to close the door, but Victor wouldn’t have that. Not now.

“I only heard a bit of the song. Can I hear you play it one more time? Please?” Victor asked, and Yuuri waved him in. Victor sat on the edge of Yuuri’s bed while Yuuri returned to the spinning chair by his guitar case, turning the chair around so he could peer over the back and rest his arms on the chair comfortably. He made sure not to put too much weight on the chair because he didn’t want to fall.

“Victor, why are you here?”

“Yuuri, what are you stressing out about?”

“You first,”

“No, you! I’m the one who asked you earlier!” Victor squeaked, and Yuuri almost laughed at that.

“Why are you here?” Yuuri repeated.

“I want to hear your song. Now, what’s making you so stressed?” Finally, Yuuri conceded. “It’s about… Yuri. Plisetsky, I mean,” Yuuri hedged, but Victor motioned for him to continue for the love of everything. “Fine. Yuri wants you to come back to Russia. There! I said it!” Yuuri threw his hands up, and Victor’s expression changed from playful to understandable sadness.

“I had a feeling he would say that,” Victor ran a hand through his bangs and let them fall back down, tossing his head gently to brush them aside for them just to fall again. “Did you tell him what you would do?”

“He said something very, um, telling,”

“Like what?” Yuuri gulped.

“He told me to leave before I get hurt.”

An uncomfortable silence haunted those words.

“Well?” Victor broke the silence, staring at the floor between him and Yuuri. “Do you believe him?” Yuuri furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

“Believe what?”

“That I’ll hurt you.” Yuuri moved his chair in front of Victor until they were much closer than before. For some reason, the distance felt off to Yuuri.

“If you wanted to take advantage of me, you could have. Even now, you could,” Yuuri stated, his hands itching to comb through Victor’s hair, and Victor’s head snapped up in protest.

“I wouldn’t!”

“Exactly. You won’t. Because you see me as an artist, not a fan. You see me as the singer-songwriter, not--ugh--not just the writer of that song for Victor,” Yuuri made his distaste for the title obvious, and Victor frowned.

“Why are you ashamed of that song? I told you I loved it,”

“It’s not that I’m embarrassed about you liking it. I just--I wish that I was known for my own music,” Yuuri said, shoulders slumped. Victor put a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder, trying to get Yuuri to look him in the eye.

“But that is your music, Yuuri. Sure, it may have involved me, but because of this, we’ve gotten to meet again,” Victor took Yuuri’s hands in his own, and Yuuri was briefly reminded of Nagahama Ramen. This time felt more… Intimate? Yuuri didn’t know what to make of that, and he immediately started blushing. “We’ve gotten a chance to make music together, and when I heard that song, I knew I wanted to sing with someone like you,”

“Someone like me?” Yuuri sputtered, and Victor smiled, this time making his eyes sparkle.

“Someone with passion, with drive…” Victor stared at Yuuri intently. “With soul,” He whispered, the small breaths tickling Yuuri’s chapped lips.

So close.

Too close. Again. Whatamidoingwhatamidoingwhatamidoing, Yuuri panicked.

When Yuuri thought Victor was about to lean in and take what he wanted (what they both wanted?), Victor recognized a pair of sapphire eyes in the corner of his left eye.

“Yuuri,” Victor kept his eyes behind Yuuri, and Yuuri followed where Victor’s eyes led.

Oh.

OH.

“Nonononono, dooon’t! Pleeease,” Yuuri begged, but Victor darted past without a care.

So, like, Victor knew Yuuri was a fan. That was how they met, after all, but this was something Victor Nikiforov was blissfully unaware of in his time staying with Yuuri. Whenever Victor found Yuuri playing piano in his room, the area was dimly lit, and this extensive memorabilia couldn’t be found.

Posters. Posters as far as the eye could see. Limited edition, ones exclusive to certain venues Victor played at, posters torn from magazines from ages ago.

Even one that Victor was certain was from his debut EP.

He’d seen a few posters when Yuuri was vlogging, and Yuuri was very open about how much he loved Victor’s music. That being said, Victor was face-to-face with a sea of Victors lining Yuuri’s walls.

“You’ve… Acquired quite the collection,” Victor opted for saying, still scanning the walls. Yuuri watched in horror as Victor examined all of them. Why me? Yuuri groaned audibly, but Victor didn’t react. There was even a framed picture of Victor performing in Sochi mere months ago on Yuuri’s desk. “Hmm, why have I never seen that one?” Victor said out loud, more to himself. Before Yuuri could stop the word vomit, he opened his mouth.

“Don’t sugarcoat it, Victor! It’s creepy! It’s embarrassing! It’s bordering on stalking! Look, you can leave right now! Leave Hasetsu and never come back because this is way worse than any song I could have ever written, and why are you smiling!?” Yuuri demanded, yelping when Victor snaked his arms around Yuuri’s waist. “Victor!”

“What? It’s another layer to your devotion to me,” Victor chuckled, burrowing his head into Yuuri’s neck. “You’re adorable, Yuuri. You really are one of my biggest fans.” Yuuri put his head down, but that only gave Victor more access to Yuuri’s neck.

“What are you gonna do now? Hold it against me?”

“No,” Victor answered honestly, and Yuuri craned his neck to look at Victor.

“Wait, really?” Victor looked into Yuuri’s eyes with complete sincerity.

“Yuuri, you said it yourself: you are more than just a fan. You’re a musician. That comes first,” Victor said. “Now, about that song! I see that ‘Eros’ is coming along well?” Yuuri tore himself away from Victor’s embrace and scratched the back of his neck.

“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s ‘eros’ enough,” Victor smirked.

“I think it’s definitely ‘eros,’ Yuuri.” Then, Yuuri played the song again on his acoustic guitar while Victor watched from Yuuri’s bed, curled up by a pillow. He always made sure to applaud loudly for the great Yuuri Katsuki.

If anyone else were in the room, they would have said that Victor had love in his eyes, but all Yuuri could concentrate on was memorizing lyrics.


The next morning, Yuri Plisetsky tapped his foot impatiently for Victor and Yuuri to arrive, waiting outside of Nishigori Studio.

“Where the hell are they!?” Yuri shouted, and a small, “Excuse me,” was heard from Yuuko Nishigori.

“Um, hi. Are you looking for Yuuri? He might still be home,” Yuuko smiled. Then, she looked at who she was talking to and gasped. “Oh my gosh, you’re Yuri Plisetsky! I am so so sorry! It’s, uh, very nice to meet you!”

“Uh, yeah,” Yuri held out his hand awkwardly, and Yuuko practically yanked his arm off with the intensity of her handshake.

“Sorry, I’m just a huge fan! I mean, when my girls first saw you, they were absolutely amazed by your talent; at such a young age, too!” Yuri didn’t really know how to respond to this kind of treatment, so he just crossed his arms and looked at Yuuko.

“Are the triplets yours, then?” He grumbled, and Yuuko nodded.

“Mmhmm! Those are my girls! If they post anything about you while you’re here, I’m terribly sorry. They’re, ah, kind of… Obsessive about social media! You know how kids are these days!” Yuuko laughed, but Yuri was still lost on how to approach this woman.

“So, do you know when Yuuri’s arriving?” Yuuko shook her head.

“Ever since he started working with Victor, he’s been coming in later than usual. At first, I thought I would scold Victor, but it seems like Yuuri’s loosening up. I have a feeling that’s because of Victor,” Yuuko grinned.

The squeak of door hinges resounded throughout the foyer of the studio, and Yuuko waved excitedly to a head of raven hair. The other waved back, carrying a guitar case.

“Yay! That’s them!” Yuri glared at the two musicians--well, one fool and one starstruck fan.

“Yuri!” Victor greeted, and the teenager narrowed his eyes. “Uh ohhh, that’s not a happy face! What’s wrong?” The three walked back to Yuuri’s recording room, and before Yuuri could insert the key, Yuri suddenly grabbed Victor’s wrist. Yuuri’s worried eyes flickered to Victor’s, and Victor glanced back helplessly.

“We’re going back to Russia!”

“Wait, Yuri--” Victor dragged his feet, attempting to slow down the bassist, but Yuri wouldn’t stop walking to the studio’s entrance. “No more questions! You have an album to write! The sooner we get it done, the sooner we can get more money!”

“We’re already making plenty. Is it not enough?”

“NO!” Yuri shouted, turning on his heel to face Victor with white-hot rage. “If you weren’t so dense, you would realize why we need you to come back! Russia needs you, Victor!”

“Yuri, calm down--”

”We’re going home!” Yuri decided. Victor looked back at Yuuri, who dropped his case off by the door and strayed slightly behind Victor.

Victor glanced between the earnest hand on his wrist and the desolate eyes of an artist who would lose its muse once again.

Then, a lightbulb gained electricity. This has to work, or else I may risk having both of them hate me.

“Why don’t you two write a song together?”

Chapter Text

A duet. Two people singing together. It’s not backup--it’s a full-on duet. The implication gnawed at Yuuri’s mind until there was nothing but bone remaining. Memories of angry summers and cursing voices steered him directly into a world of hurt.

This is it. Yuuri thought he had reached his breaking point, but now, he had to retreat. Yuuri turned on his heels and just ran.

He wasn’t ready for an impromptu chase--an impromptu anything--but the impromptu recording… No. When there was nothing left to do, he ran until his lungs burned and his throat felt like daggers.

“Oi! Get back here!” Yuri Plisetsky’s rough voice called to him, obviously ticked, and Victor sprinted towards Yuuri. Yuri let out a “hmph” as he watched a pathetically infatuated man bound towards someone who clearly couldn’t handle the pressure of the music business. You can’t scare him off, idiot.

Evidently, Victor didn’t care. He ran with his bangs in his face and desperation engraved in every one of his features.

At one point, Yuuri had to catch his breath, and he stopped next to a tree, clearly far away from Nishigori Studio. That was the way he wanted it right now. If I’m running from the music, where else do I go? That realization sent shivers down his spine, and the world felt empty, desolate.

Hopeless.

Yuuri sank down the trunk of the tree, the back of his jacket getting caught on wood. He ducked his head down like the beginning of an anxiety attack, but the drowning feeling didn’t come. Where was the ocean threatening to sweep him away from reality? Where were the sharks, wading around Yuuri’s body?

For some reason, the lack of an attack made Yuuri feel weaker, like he ran for no reason. Maybe he did.

“What have I done,” Yuuri whispered, closing his eyes. A single tear ran down his cheek and circled his bottom lip. He trembled, and the shaking felt familiar and toxic all at once.

There it was.

He could feel the salt tainting his mouth, and just like that, he cried. He sobbed openly without an audience with hiccuping breaths, disgusting snot, and all the makings of raw confusion and too much at one time. It’s so much easier to let it out when no one’s listening.

He gave himself a few minutes to calm down, and eventually, he found solid ground.

“Pant, pant, Yuuri?”

Scratch that.

Yuuri wiped his tears away with a newfound shame and decided not to face Victor. He kept his head between his knees and wished he could disappear in this moment.

“Yuuri, haaah, please talk to me,” Victor begged, and Yuuri could hear him kneeling next to him, the squeak of his shoes against the morning dew interrupting Yuuri’s train of thought. Yuuri stayed silent with his eyes closed. After half a minute, the guilt ate away at Yuuri, and he opened his eyes at the very least. All he saw was his shadow on top of the grass.

“We-we don’t have to do the duet. I-I just thought I could make things right,” Victor rambled, and Yuuri just listened. “I-I was a coward, okay? I was trying to please both of you, but now I see I can’t do that. It--it hurts, Yuuri,” Victor sounded like he was on the brink of tears. When Yuuri realized this, he lifted his head up and found a heavily panting Victor sitting beside him.

His hair was disheveled, and he looked as if he could collapse right there on the grass. His blue eyes looked devoid of hope, and after seeing true sparks of color in the oceanic orbs, Yuuri knew he messed up. No, you can’t run from everything.

“Victor,” Yuuri said, his voice wavering and unsure.

“I’m--” Victor paused to take a deep breath and shook his head. “I’m not perfect, and I get that. I care too much by a fault. I want to make everyone happy,” Victor wheezed. “Seems I can’t even get that right.” Victor laughed without a trace of happiness, and it broke Yuuri’s heart.

“I just--what’s so terrible about a duet? What’s making you shy away from the mic when you belt it out in an empty room?” Victor demands breathlessly, and Yuuri keeps his eyes shut tight. You don’t get it, but I kind of hope you never will. I’m restless. I’m anxious. I’m paralyzed by fear. I can’t let go. She’s gone, but I can’t let go. How pathetic is that?

After the two of them started to breathe easier, Yuuri chuckled.

“We’re both messes, huh?” Victor smiled sadly.

“You… you don’t have to tell me right now why the duet bothers you, but someday, I’d like to know.” Victor took Yuuri’s hand, and if it weren’t for the absolute exhaustion Yuuri was feeling, he would have backed away or blushed.

“All I ask for is your patience,” Yuuri sighed. “It’s still a bit, uh, fresh,”

“Was it recent?” Victor inquired, but Yuuri shook his head.

“Patience, Victor. That’s all I want.” Victor breathed deeply and searched for something else in Yuuri’s eyes. Now Yuuri was crimson.

“I can do that.” Victor decided and attempted to tug at Yuuri’s hand, but Yuuri stayed put. Yuuri looked down at the ground sheepishly.

“I’m not ready to go back,” He admitted with a whisper, and Victor smiled, wrapping an arm tentatively around Yuuri and leaning his head against Yuuri’s shoulder, sinking into the bark of the tree alongside his muse.

“In that case, neither am I.”


When Yuuri returned to the the studio, Yuri Plisetsky was already gone.

“Looks like I’m not the only reluctant one,” Yuuri commented, and Victor narrowed his eyes at the empty recording booth. The two of them entered the recording studio, Victor accidentally leaving the door ajar.

Yuuri started to pick up the pages and recognized a few of them. Only one song was torn out, and Yuuri’s face burned up. Shit. He found it.

“Yuuri’s what’s that?” Yuuri hurriedly hid the pages behind his back.

“N-nothing!”

“Nothing? Really? Looks important to me, seeing that you’re hiding it and all,” Victor chuckled.

“Aren’t you concerned about Yuri? He’s your bassist, after all,” Yuuri deflected the crumpled papers in his grip, his hands getting sweatier by the minute.

“He’s impatient as hell, but he’s not one to walk out on someone… Hmmm…” Victor put a finger to his lips, concentrated on figuring out the issue at hand. When a conclusion couldn’t be reached, he simply threw his hands up in the air. “I suppose we’ll work on recording a new song of yours. Got anything, Yuuri?” Victor smiled amiably at him, but it didn’t ease Yuuri’s worries. Yuuri defeatedly took the papers out from behind his back.

“I-I’ll show you the song. If you want,” He stumbled for words, but Victor had a curious smile on his face.

“This wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with eros, would it?” Yuuri waved his hands and denied it immediately. “Then, what is it?” Yuuri gulped, backing away from Victor.

“You’ll--you’ll just have to see, I guess,” Promptly, Yuuri glided past Victor and closed the door. He grabbed his acoustic guitar and plugged it into the amp, wincing at the loud volume Yuri previously set it at, then frantically turned down the sound. “Alright, let’s do this.” He waved his arms to loosen up before strumming the first D note sixteen times then B with the same pattern.

It’s easy to play house
When no one’s serious
It’s easy to let it out
When no one’s listening
’Cause I’ve been listening to you babble for all these years
And I’ve been with you through every single shed tear

Victor looked away from the steady fingers playing guitar and turned his attention to Yuuri’s face. His voice is impeccable, but there’s pain in the lyrics. Then, he thought back to when he first heard “Out of Character.” Is this the same person who hurt you, Yuuri?

He shouldn’t be this concerned. He shouldn’t be this concerned.

This isn’t about me, he slowly realized. Not every song is about me.

Yuuri switched from the soft beginning into a harsher tone.

But you look at me like I’m a patient
And I look at you like you’re my oxygen
And that’s the difference between
You and I

And damn, that line hit hard.

But it turns out
We’re just too good
At make believe
Falling into roles
Treating it like love
Made it far too easy
You make the bank, then you come home
I’m there with you; I don’t ever wanna be alone
It turns out
We’re just too good
At playing house

We have petty arguments
Like husband and wife
That’s when I start to question
Can we continue this life?

You look at me like I’m your patient
And I look at you like you’re my oxygen
And that’s the difference between
Acquaintance and bride

The shift from “a patient” to “your patient” didn't go unnoticed, and Victor gaped at Yuuri.

But it turns out
We’re just too good
At make believe
Falling into roles
Treating it like love
Made it far too easy
You make the bank, then you come home
I’m there with you; I don’t ever wanna be alone
It turns out
We’re just too good
At playing house

You gawk at me like I’ve got three heads
I confess to you: you feel like home in my head
And I guess that’s one of the
Reasons why
You gawk at me like I’ve got three heads
I confess to you: you feel like home in my head
And I guess that’s one of the
Reasons why
You know too much
So we can’t cut ties…

When Yuuri finished singing, he put the headphones down with exhausted, shaking hands.

“So? What do you think?” The young singer-songwriter asked, completely out of breath. Victor simply stared.

I could say a million things right now. About the content of the song, about the subject, about the painful and captivating way he sang…

“You hold back.”

“What?”

“You hold back. Why?” Yuuri stared at the ground. Victor put a hand on his shoulder. “Yuuri?” Startled, his shoulder jerked, and he turned back, only to see Victor looking so concerned, why did he have to look so concerned?

“What do you mean ‘I hold back?’” Yuuri inquired instead of answering.

“I mean what I said. You were classically trained in vocal performance, right?” Yuuri raised his eyebrows at Victor.

“How did you know that?”

“Google is a miracle, along with your mother,” Victor winked, then switched his tone once more. “Seriously, use your diaphragm, Yuuri. Don’t hold back.”

“But, Victor--”

“One of your main problems with your performance is not your stamina but your tone. You’re flawless emotionally, but you don’t let the full voice through. You’re only hurting yourself when you sing in head voice forever,”

“So, what do you want me to try?”

“Mixed.” Yuuri’s eyes flickered.

“But--”

“Mixed, Yuuri. A mix of head and chest. You know how to do it, right?” Yuuri nodded.

“I know how, but I don’t know if I should.”

“Yuuri,” Victor put his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders and talk slowly, making sure that he made his points clear. “Think of this way. You’re getting lost in your head all the time, so you have to mix the head and the heart. Without the head, there’s no voice. Without the heart, there’s no emotion,”

“So… Give it both.” Victor nodded.

“Give it both.”

“...Victor?”

“Yes, Yuuri?”

He inhaled and exhaled with a steady rhythm.

“Let’s record one song. Together.”


One song together turned into two songs, and two songs turned into an effortless duet. Without even realizing it, Yuuri was singing a duet, and he wasn’t scared. After a long day of brainstorming, scolding (“Yuuri, you need to let the voice go! Stop restricting it!”), and recording, the two of them left the studio. While walking home, however, Victor and Yuuri ran into a slightly simmered Yuri… And about three dozen reporters who demanded an interview with the two of them.

“Victor! Is it true that you’re recording with Katsuki?”

“Yuuri! How are you feeling right now?”

“Victor! Will you be returning to St. Petersburg after this?”

“What are you doing here with Katsuki?”

One question stood out:

“So? Are we still doing the duet?”

“...” Yuuri was unresponsive, reviewing what could possibly go wrong. Then, Victor hugged his side and squeezed his arm in reassurance. Yuri tapped his foot. “Well?” Victor persisted. Yuuri gulped, turning to look at Victor. He nodded and gave a small smile.

“I’ll… I’ll think about it.”

“Good. We need you.” Victor said, and Yuri gave a tch and walked in the other direction.

“Lovebirds; they’re all annoying.” He muttered, and obviously Yuuri heard it because he started to protest before Yuri walked away. Victor shook his head, then saw an unfamiliar hand reaching for Yuuri’s.

“Ah, let’s go this way!” Victor grabbed Yuuri’s hand, and Yuuri felt the wind in his hair as he ran with Victor to a hidden alley. The ravenous mob of journalism ran right past the alley they snuck into, and Yuuri could finally breathe. He could hear Victor catching his breath as well, and it gave the superstar a sort of, eh, humanity?

In the darkness, he could tell he was clutching to something. Something hard, something warm, something that definitely had bumps of some kind. Victor shone his phone’s flashlight on Yuuri, and he jumped away.

“AAAA!” Victor laughed heartily.

“I didn’t think you would make a pass on me that easily, Yuuri!”

“N-NO! I-it’s not like that at all!” Victor smiled.

“Relax, I was just kidding. So,” Victor shook his head. “It took them awhile, but they’ve found us. Which means that we’ll need to disguise ourselves from now on.”

“Agreed,” Yuuri glanced around. “Um, is it safe yet? To walk out, I mean.”

“Why don’t I check?” Victor murmured, but Yuuri clutched tightly to Victor’s hand.

“Please don’t go.” Yuuri didn’t explain further, but Victor gave him a small, understanding smile.

“Very well, then. Let’s check.” Not once did Victor detach himself from Yuuri’s grip.


Meanwhile, a very concerned Russian teenager was on his phone. The other picked up by two rings.

“Hello?” The familiar, heavy accent greeted.

“Otabek? It’s me. I… I need your help.”

“Yuri?” Yuri’s cheeks heated up as he spoke. It wasn’t like him to request assistance like this, but if anyone could help him, it was Otabek Altin.

“It’s about the other Yuuri,”

“Katsuki?”

“That’s the one. Look, he’s charmed Victor, but…”

“You’re not sure if Victor will stay?” Yuri threw up the hand that wasn’t holding his cell phone.

“Exactly! You know how he is; jumping from project to project! Talk to Chris for one minute, and he’ll tell you all about the three ‘magical’ months he spent recording with Victor,”

“I’ll pass, thank you,” Otabek chuckled. “So, if you know that Victor is going to drop Yuuri in a matter of months, why are you panicking to me?” Yuri gritted his teeth.

”Because Yuuri’s charmed Victor.”

“So? What’s the problem?” Yuri sighed.

“I’ll send it to you, but I found something in Yuuri’s notebook. It’s not really good--I mean, it’s great! His music is great, but… Not for Victor.”

“'Not for Victor,'” Otabek relayed in disbelief. “Yura, you shouldn’t be messing with Yuuri’s notebook in the first place. It could be a simple misunderstanding--” Yuri shook his head.

“It’s about a girl!” That made Otabek pause, and he motioned for Yuri to continue. Yuri smacked his forehead. “Don’t you get it? It’s about someone who used to be in Yuuri’s life!” He ran his fingers through his long, blonde hair and paced around his hotel room. “If Yuuri is still writing about this girl, it means that he’s still hung up over her!”

“I’m pretty sure that Yuuri is fully invested in Victor--”

“No, we’re not sure of that; that’s the whole point! We know that Victor is hopelessly in love with Yuuri, but Yuuri’s as blind as a bat. At first, I thought he was just oblivious, but what if…”

“What if he’s still in love with this other girl?”

“Yeah!”

“How do you know it’s a girl?”

“‘We have petty arguments/ Like husband and wife.’ Yeah, I guess you could call a guy a wife, but I really think this is a girl we’re dealing with here.”

“Yura,” Otabek said with exhaustion. “Get some rest and please, don’t read too much into this,” Yuri nodded reluctantly.

“I know what you’re saying, but…”

“This is Victor; I get it,” Otabek sighed. “When you’re done investigating, talk to me. We’ll work it out. Oh, and Yuri?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you sure this doesn’t have anything to do with your grandfather?” Yuri winced. “Am I right on it?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Yuri grumbled. “Just… I care too much about both of them, but Grandpa is really hurting right now. Don’t get me wrong; I’m getting enough for him, but I’m so scared that he’s getting buried in medical bills,”

“If you want, I can help pay for them,” Otabek suggested, and Yuri quickly declined.

“No way! It’s--I know you want to help, but this is something I have to do for Grandpa. I also have to do this for Victor,” Otabek had a feeling he knew the answer, but he asked anyways.

“What does this have to do with Victor?”

“He’s losing control!” Yuri snapped, then realized his mistake and lowered his voice. “He’s losing who he is as an artist, and Yuuri’s just distracting him,”

“Maybe this isn’t something you want to hear, but…”

“But?”

“What if Yuuri is actually helping him?”

“...”

“Think about it, Yuri. It’s been awhile since anyone has seen Victor this happy. So… Maybe we should just let them go.”

Reluctantly, Yuri semi-agreed with Otabek in his head. Out loud, he “hmphed” and thanked his friend for listening.

“Anytime. Now, get some sleep, okay? Good night.”

“Good night.” Yuri said softly. He placed his cell phone on the bedside table and collapsed on his bed.

Please, Victor. Think about what you’re getting yourself into.


As Yuuri and Victor walked along the street hand-in-hand, a calming silence swept over them. Yuuri simply glanced around the town he’d traveled for years, and Victor smiled at Yuuri.

Hasetsu wasn’t the nicest of towns, but it was far more tranquil than the bustling cities Victor toured. The street lights shone brightly but not to the point of blinding someone. The air was slightly cold but not freezing and impossible to trek through.

Most of all, the cities didn’t have Yuuri to navigate him.

“We escaped the reporters once, but we might have a bit more trouble if we don’t disguise ourselves,” Victor warned Yuuri, and he nodded.

“Do you have an alter ego you use when you go out?” Yuuri suggested, and Victor froze.

“I, um… I need a, uh, hat of some sort. My hair's really noticeable, you know,” Victor stalled. He reached inside his coat pocket and found that the only hat was the one from Sochi. Oh no. He slid the material back into his pocket surreptitiously.

“Here, you can borrow mine,” Yuuri removed his beanie and handed it to Victor. Victor looked at the top of Yuuri’s unruly hair and frowned, giving the hat back to its original owner.

“But now you’ll get cold. You shouldn’t have to suffer because of me,” Yuuri laughed.

“It’s not nearly that dramatic, Victor. I just want you to enjoy yourself without getting bombarded by journalists and fans.”

Yuuri leaned on the tips of his toes to smooth down Victor’s hair and placed the hat over it. Rather than shoving the hat on, Yuuri took his time with patting down the hair, as if comparing his daydreams to his current reality. Was Victor’s hair really this soft in real life? When did Yuuri ever see himself standing on his tiptoes to reach for Victor?

Was this affecting Victor as much as Yuuri?

Yuuri returned to reality as soon as he stood on the soles of his feet. He glanced up slowly at Victor, and the reality crushed him.

“...Igor?”

Chapter Text

Igor.

Igor.

Out of all the names in the world, why did he have to say that one?

“Um… Yuuri?”

“I’m not crazy.” He said in disbelief. Quickly, he rubbed the lenses of his glasses on the bottom of his shirt and really looked at Victor… Igor… Whoever the hell was standing in front of him. He put his head in his hands and paced around the street. “I’m not crazy.”

“Yuuri…”

“I thought I was crazy,” Yuuri mumbled to himself within earshot of Victor. “Everyone thought I was insane--I cared more about a complete stranger whose first name I only knew instead of the actual musician who’s inspired me for years.”

“Yuuri, please,” Victor begged, not really knowing what for. He winced at the enunciation of “years.”

“All that time, I thought he gave me the courage to give you that gift. Turns out it was you all along,” Yuuri shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair, devoid of the hat sitting on… Victor’s head. Tears sprang to his eyes, and Victor forced himself to look away.

“I know how this looks--”

“You really don’t,” Yuuri snapped, the tears adding to the desolation in Yuuri’s voice. “You don’t know the amount of guts it took to even talk to you--and you end up being the same person.” Victor stared at the ground, for the first time not knowing exactly what to say to appease Yuuri, to calm Yuuri.

For the first time, he didn’t know what to do. (Well, when had Victor truly ever known what to do around Yuuri?)

“...Are you mad at me?” Victor asked carefully. “Because I couldn’t tell you who I was?”

“No,” Yuuri replied, softer this time. “I’m mad because you didn’t bother to tell me months afterward.”

Victor froze.

“Bu-but, I couldn’t tell you before, you get that--”

“Yes,” Yuuri cut him off, a feeling of betrayal seeping into his head. “That much I get, but what about the months after? Why couldn’t you tell me then?”

“I was scared,” Victor confessed. “I was scared that I would lose you because you, God, Yuuri,” Victor finished lamely, and Yuuri just stared at the ground.

“What?” Yuuri snapped. “What is it, Victor? What is it that you can’t tell me?”

You’re one of the best things that ever happened to me. Please don’t leave. I worry about you all the time. I can’t bear to see what kind of mess I would turn into if you left.

“Yuuri, I can’t do this right now,”

“Then when will you? When will you let me know?” Then, Victor blew up.

“What can’t you tell me?”

“Victor, that’s not fair. You can’t just turn it around like that--”

”Yuuri, you don’t get it. Yeah, this is a bit world-changing, but--”

“A bit? A bit!?” Yuuri hated yelling, but this time, Victor had disregarded too much. “Victor, you’ve been my world for so long, but this… This secret just pushed me over the edge.”

Asking what “edge” there was seemed like a form of social suicide, and with that in mind, Victor stayed quiet and made an effort to be as stoic as possible. (Handling conflict? Not exactly in Victor’s handy skill set.)

“Do you want me to tell you what happened?” Yuuri muttered, and Victor shook his head. “Then, what do you want from me?”

What do I want from Yuuri? Victor wondered. To tell me that everything’s okay between us? To tell me what’s been on his mind since he wrote that song? To… To…

“Go to dinner with me.”

Yuuri paused, inhaling a breath he didn’t know he needed.

“Wha… What?” The words almost sounded like a hiss.

“Go to dinner. With me. That’s what I want.”

A grating silence formed between the two of them, but they thought better to go back to a dimly lit part of the street instead of the middle of the road where they could be easily spotted by the right people. Victor walked back in step with Yuuri, the thought of eye contact suddenly terrifying and no longer inviting.

The silver-haired man took off the hat and handed it back to Yuuri, unable to even catch a glimpse.

For a moment, Victor glanced, but it broke him in two.


The two of them returned home, and when Yuuri’s mother inquired about their time in the studio, Yuuri simply mumbled something about a new song while Victor avoided talking completely. With a heavy heart, Hiroko Katsuki shook her head.

As Yuuri trudged back to his room, Victor watched his walk completely change from the previous morning. Where he had improved his confident gait, his shoulders slumped, and where a smile sat upon his face, only gloom, betrayal, and the search for something more could only be seen. Yuuri didn’t dare look back, but Victor stood at the bottom of the stairs, backing away as Yuuri progressed up the steps.

“I’m sorry,” Victor whispered when he knew that Yuuri couldn’t even strain to hear his voice from the sheer lack of volume.

Hiroko looked back to her son, and to Victor’s surprise, she didn’t look perturbed or a tiny bit mad. She only seemed concerned, and that made Victor feel slightly more at ease. Of course, that feeling couldn’t last long.

Hiroko eagerly made her foreign guest a cup of tea, always the gracious host.

”Arigato,” Victor thanked her, and Hiroko nodded, sitting down at the table across from Victor’s position.

“Vicchan,” Hiroko raised her eyebrows in worry. “What have you done?” Victor tried to think of a simpler response--or perhaps less blunt response--than, “Hello, Katsuki-san. It seems that I’ve been so selfish and focused on my own need to feel affection that I let the whole you-actually-met-me-in-Sochi-and-gushed-to-me-about-my-own-gift thing slide under the rug, but other than that, how has your day been?”

Victor’s tongue felt unnaturally dry, and he swallowed a nervous gulp on accident. Hiroko laughed.

“Vicchan, you’re not in trouble! I promise. I just want to know so I can assess the situation--from a mother’s perspective, of course.” Victor nodded and carded a hand through his hair.

“I… I’m sorry. No--I’m deeply sorry.” Victor bowed his head and apologized sincerely. Hiroko simply stared down at her Russian guest and laughed with a tinge of nervousness.

“It’s alright, Vicchan, but I still need to know what you did.” Victor took a deep breath.

“Remember the day that Yuuri met me?”

“Yeees?”

“And the day he met the man on the street in Sochi?”

“I don’t understand--”

“I was the man on the street,” Victor blurted out, the truth rushed out before he could consider his next words. “I was in disguise that day.”

Hiroko’s eyes widened significantly more, and she didn’t know where to look, whether it was her hands, Victor’s face, or the stairs where she’d seen the absolute disappointment on her son’s face.

He didn’t even say “good night.”

“Vicchan,” Hiroko said, more serious this time. “I know it’s hard to see with fresh eyes, but you’ve hurt Yuuri,”

“I could see with the blurriest goggles that I’ve hurt Yuuri!” Victor wailed, then remembered his place and waved his hands in front of himself in utter desperation.

“No, no, that came out all wrong--I’m so sorry--”

“You really care about Yuuri, don’t you?” Victor’s cheeks turned a new rosy shade, and Hiroko smiled. “I could see that with the blurriest goggles,”

Victor smiled sheepishly and looked down at his cooled cup of tea. Slowly, he sipped from the small cup and relished in the warmth spreading to his belly. He breathed with the same tempo and cast his gaze down to his fingertips around the mug.

“I’ve hurt him,” Victor said slowly, as if he’d only just realized. Hiroko reached over and put her hand over Victor’s; a similar reassurance Victor had tried to give Yuuri when they first ate dinner at Nagahama Ramen.

“But you don’t know how.” Hiroko pointed out.

“And you do?” Hiroko nodded, then shook her head.

“It’s… Well, it’s not my place to say. I want to help you, Vicchan. I do, but it’s a matter of Yuuri telling you why,”

“How am I supposed to figure that out when he won’t even speak to me?” Hiroko smiled sadly at her guest.

“You might want to talk to Minako about that. She’s been Yuuri’s mentor for quite some time, and she’s probably down at her shop,” Victor nodded, taking another sip.

“So, you know something I don’t know?” Hiroko chuckled.

“Vicchan, I know much more than you do in my old years!”

“But, you’re hardly old!” Victor laughed, and Hiroko blushed. Victor thanked her for the advice and the tea, and he put on a beanie (a different one, this time), his coat, and his shoes and headed to Minako’s Record Shop. “Goodbye, Katsuki-san. I promise that I’ll make this right.”

When Yuuri heard the footsteps fade, he sneaked back down the stairs to his mother and his sister, Mari.

“Is he gone?” Hiroko nodded, and Mari rolled her eyes.

“You’re both being ridiculous. You know that, right?”

“He lied to me. I don’t take that lightly anymore,” Yuuri retorted through gritted teeth.

“I don’t expect you to, Yuuri. I just want you to think a little rationally about this. Calm down--go to Minako’s or something,” Mari held a cigarette between her lips, and just before she brought the lighter to its tip, she said, “Don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

“No! Wait! Don’t go to Minako’s!” Hiroko winced, and Yuuri nodded, not fully understanding.

“I’ll be at the studio, then. See you later.” Yuuri took his guitar, put on his shoes, and left for Nishigori Studio.

Yuuri made sure to take a different path than Victor, which was most likely the only route he knew around Hasetsu. Thankfully, Yuuri remembered a great deal about his hometown and knew the backroads wouldn’t lead him towards Victor.

As Yuuri walked on his path, he found Victor through the tree branches that couldn’t conceal Yuuri forever and cursed under his breath.

I can’t face him! Not like this! Victor caught onto the sound and turned his head, searching for the source.

“Hello?” When no one responded, Victor shrugged his shoulders and kept walking in the direction of Minako’s shop.

Meanwhile, Yuuri breathed heavily as he rushed to Nishigori Studio.


Minako was just thumbing through a collection of vinyls and making sure they were still in order when she heard the chime of a bell. Minako turned to the entrance of the door to find a tall, obviously foreign man standing at the counter.

“Hello! How can I help--” She scrutinized the man for a moment and gasped. Hurriedly, she put the CLOSED sign on her door and turned the blinds so no one could see inside.

“I see you know who I am,” Victor chuckled, removing his hat. Minako whistled and laughed to herself.

“I knew you were in town, but I was wondering how long it would take for Yuuri to come clean about it himself. So--follow me,” Minako motioned for him to follow her back to the break room and pull up a chair as Minako put a cup down at her setting of the table. “How can I help you, Mr. Nikiforov?” Victor sighed as Minako grabbed herself a hidden bottle of sake. “Sake?”

“Yes, please… Minako, was it?”

“Yeah. So, what is it?” Minako poured Victor a glass and slid it across the table in a bartender’s fashion, and Victor happily took a swig.

“I’m afraid that I’ve screwed up and may have lost Yuuri’s trust.” Minako paused her movements and turned to him, narrowing her eyes at him.

“And how have you done that?”

“I lied to him about myself.” With those words, Minako suddenly got up from her chair and pulled on the collar of Victor’s shirt.

“What the hell did you do, you piece of shit!?”

“I--” Victor tugged at Minako’s hold, but she didn’t budge.

“Was it a woman?”

“No, never--” He sputtered.

“A man!?”

“No, I promise--”

“Oh damn, you’re the type to have an entire family back in Russia!”

“What? No!”

”Dammit, Nikiforov! What did you do!?”

“When he first met me, I was disguised as Igor!” Victor shouted. Minako dropped her jaw, staring directly at Victor. Then, she released him from her death grip and slumped down on her chair, still gaping and wide-eyed.

“Wow, so…”

“Yeah,” Victor answered, sitting back down and swishing his glass around. He took another drink.

“You know why he’s so mad, right?”

“He said it was because I didn’t tell him afterwards,”

“And?”

“...I said I didn’t because I was afraid to lose him.” Minako shook her head.

“Guess he’s not over Clara, then,” She remarked mostly to herself, but Victor raised his eyebrows at that.

“What?” Minako realized what she said and waved it off.

“Nothing, just finish that glass and go find him,”

“But he probably won’t talk to me,” Victor protested. Minako nodded.

“That’s a chance you’ll have to take. Just… Give Yuuri space, okay? It’s a lot for him to take in.” Minako finished off her sake and put the bottle back. “Look, you know that Yuuri’s a big fan of yours. So, finding out that you’re Igor--the person he talked to about meeting you before seeing you as Victor--is earth-shattering, to say the least. Yuuri doesn’t take to lying very well,”

“I can see why anyone would, but something must have happened,” Victor mused aloud, and Minako nodded before she could think better of it.

“It’s Yuuri’s story to tell, but be warned; it might take a while before he opens up.”

“That I’ve learned,” Victor smiled sadly, and Minako glanced at the man before her. She smirked.

“You’re not as collected as everyone thinks, Nikiforov,” Victor smiled, circling his finger around the rim of his glass.

“I would hope not; I’d lose my credibility as a raving mad artist!” Victor laughed, and somehow, Minako found herself joining in the merriment. She took the glass from Victor back and pointed her thumb to the door.

“Get your man back, Nikiforov.”

“I, uh, he’s n-not my m-man--” Minako laughed, the once great Victor Nikiforov reduced to stuttering nervously in front of a record store owner.

“I’m just teasing, Victor. Work things out with Yuuri, okay? He really cares about you, you know.” Victor smiled, pushing the chair in and putting on his coat.

“Lucky for him,” Victor waved to Minako. “I really care about him, too.”


“So, with the second capo, we transition from the G to the E minor…” Yuuri scribbled down before it flew from his mind. “Then… Yeah, that should work.”

Late nights at the studio weren’t new for Yuuri, but it was the first time in a few months that Yuuri was alone in the room with no Victor hovering over him.

Yuuri tinkered with lyrics here and there before he settled on a stanza he liked. Since… Everything, he tried to not write about it.

He couldn’t avoid the inevitable forever.

“Phew… Deeeeep breath,” Yuuri said to himself before pressing the button and recording his rough draft. Before he even started singing, he felt tears sting his eyes, but he quickly wiped them away.

One, two, three; here we go
I don’t like being alone
I think that’s the case
But I’m still discovering

One, two, three; here we go
I keep measuring time zones
’Cause when you’re awake
I might be sleeping

I’m sorry to break you this way
I swear I have loved you for so many days
But I can’t function
When I’m scared of apologies

I’m not going to say what I thought
Because I feel my eyes welling up
I’m an idealist
And you were my wish list

At this part, Yuuri felt himself tear up, but he pushed on through. It was time to let go, and the first part of letting go was admitting the problem.

That was before I felt the hurt
Constantly questioning my worth
’Cause then you would cry
And I’d have no spine

I’m sorry I’m not over you
I told my brain that we’re through
But it seems that I can’t convince my heart

A surge of guilt passed through Yuuri as he remembered Detroit, and he strummed a little harder than necessary.

We had big dreams and aspirations
You got lost in the money; I had ambitions
I gotta take you out of the picture
I’m out of breath and losing my mind
So many memories I’m leaving behind
I’m sorry to say… I won’t miss her

One, two, three; here we go
I’m regaining my backbone
One, two, three; that’s the show
They think I will come back
But I won’t

Yuuri stopped recording and took his headphones off. Then, he turned down the volume before unhooking his acoustic guitar, and he let out a long, deep breath.

It took more courage than he thought to come clean.

Maybe I’m being too hard to Victor, Yuuri suddenly thought. I mean, I’m just singing the truth, and it was difficult. Imagine having to come up to me and tell me about Igor!

Yuuri heard the familiar notes of Victor’s song “Flicker,” and he picked up his phone, seeing an old friend calling him.

“H-hello? Phichit?” Yuuri greeted, and Phichit laughed.

“Yuuri! Long time, no see! How is it having Victor as basically your mentor?” Yuuri grimaced.

“About that…”

“Oh, no! What happened? Did he hurt you? ‘Cause I swear, I’ll knock him into next week if he shows his face around here--”

“No!” Yuuri interjected. “I mean, yeah, but not physically,” Yuuri rubbed the back of his neck. Phichit gasped.

“It’s not emotional abuse, is it? If it’s how it was like with--”

“Please!” Yuuri stopped him immediately. “Don’t say her name. It’s… Okay, so remember how I met that guy in Sochi? The one on the street?”

“Yeah, you wouldn’t stop talking about him,” Phichit teased, and Yuuri sighed.

“It was Victor in disguise.”

The two of them stayed silent, and Yuuri couldn’t handle it any longer.

“Phichit, please say something,” Yuuri whimpered.

“Wow,” Was all Phichit could answer with. Then, Phichit thought of something. “You don’t have to feel guilty about falling for Victor while being hopelessly in love with Igor because they’re the same person!”

“Phichit!” Yuuri yelped, scandalized. “I am not falling for Victor, nor was I in love with Igor!”

“You fantasized about seeing Igor again. You even said that you would gladly hug Victor again if you could,” Phichit pointed out, to Yuuri’s chagrin.

“So?”

“Yuuri, there’s something going on between you two. First, he meets you in Sochi--twice,” Yuuri grunted at that. “Then, you accidentally record a song for Victor, and he flies out all the way to Fukuoka to see you! It’s been how many months since you two started working together?”

“A few,” Yuuri supplied, sulking.

“A few months of you two in the studio constantly. How could he not be attracted to you?”

“Just because he’s around me all the time?”

“Haven’t you heard of something called ‘propinquity?’” With no reply on the other end, Phichit continued. “It happens with actors a lot. So, psychology says that when you see someone all the time, you start developing feelings towards them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started feeling something for you,” Phichit winked, even though Yuuri wouldn’t be able to see it.

“Phichit, that’s a bunch of crazy talk. Look, I like Victor, but who doesn’t?”

“You write songs about him, though,”

“Doesn’t everyone?” Phichit laughed.

“No, Yuuri. That’s how you choose to express your affection,” Yuuri sighed.

“Alright, your theory might have some merit, but I won’t buy into what you’re saying!” Yuuri said with newfound determination. Phichit giggled. “So, what have you been working on since Detroit?”

“Actually,” Phichit laughed nervously. “That’s what I was going to call about. Do you, uh, need a drummer?” Yuuri’s eyes widened.

“Are you serious?” Phichit nodded, then affirmed it when he realized he was on the phone. “I would love for you to play with me on this album!”

“Yuuriii,” Phichit sing-songed. “Are you releasing an album with Victor?” Yuuri paused.

“Oh. Yeah, I haven’t put it online or anything,”

“That’s awesome!” Yuuri rolled his eyes.

“Phichit, you’re missing the part where I’m still mad at Victor,”

“Because he couldn’t tell you his secret identity? Yeah, I kind of get it, but… Alright, tell me how the convo went down,”

“‘The convo?’”

“The conversation, Yuuri! I’m just trying to talk like the cool kids,”

“You’re already cool, but okay. So, he didn’t tell me. I found out for myself.”

“How?”

“The beanie that he used,”

“Not exactly following, but continue, please.”

“Okay, so I got kind of mad. Then, Victor got worried that I was mad, and he said that he didn’t tell me because he was afraid of losing me,” Phichit started humming “Wedding March,” and Yuuri scowled. “Shut up. He lied to me. Isn’t that a red flag?”

“Yuuri,” Phichit started. “I’m sure that Victor had his reasons. I know that you’ve been hurt by lies before, but it doesn’t mean that Victor meant any harm by it. Besides, how did you not figure out it was Victor when Igor was talking?”

“Um…”

“You’re hopeless!” Phichit laughed. “Okay, I see where you’re coming from, but I want you to know something: Victor isn’t--”

“Don’t say it! Why did you have to mention that, anyways?”

“Because he isn’t! She hurt you on purpose, but Victor didn’t do that. At least, I don’t think he did.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that he lied to me,”

“I didn’t say that it changed that he lied to you. I said that it changed the intention.”

“What was the intention, then?” Phichit sighed.

“You’ll have to ask him that yourself, Yuuri. I’m not all-knowing, as much as I like to think I am,” Phichit said.

“Thanks, Phichit?”

“Anytime, Yuuri. I better go pack for Hasetsu! Bye, Yuuri!”

“Wait! Phichit!” Yuuri exclaimed.

“Yeah?”

“How’s she doing?” Phichit shook his head on the other side.

“Probably ruining another life, Yuuri. It happens. Some people just don’t exist for the good of others. Wish I’d known that earlier,” Phichit smiled sadly. “Goodbye, Yuuri.”

When all Yuuri could hear was the dial tone on the other line, he hung up and slid the phone back into his jacket’s pocket. He walked out of the studio and into the real world again.

He knew what he had to do.

Chapter Text

Yuuri recited the words in his head, praying that he wouldn’t stumble over the phrases and mess up everything he’d been dying to speak out loud.

I generalized how your lying would hurt me because I’ve been hurt by lies before.

I’m sorry that I doubted your intentions.

I want to keep working with you.

Please, stay with me.

Admittedly, that last part sounded really needy. Yuuri wanted to be anything but that, but at the moment, he needed Victor to know these things.

He needed Victor Nikiforov to know that he wanted to stay with him for as long as he’ll have Yuuri Katsuki.

He returned back home, only to find Victor at his bedroom door.

Never in his years of playing gigs and talking for interviews had Yuuri felt this shocked and almost glued to the floorboards.

“Yuuri.” The tone sounded final. “I need to talk to you.”

Yuuri gulped.

“B-before you say anything or pack up for St. Petersburg, I just want to say that I overreacted.”

“No,” Victor said. “You didn’t, Yuuri. I lied to you. That should not be okay in a healthy relationship, It’s unacceptable,” Yuuri tried to brush off the term “relationship,” but it sent excitement straight to his brain and made his cheeks turn a nice rosy shade.

“I--Don’t say stuff like that,” Yuuri grumbled, and Victor didn’t even smile.

“Yuuri, I need to understand this so clearly. Please, listen to me. Let me let you in.”

Yuuri nodded and let Victor continue. Sounds like a line from a song: let me let you in. I’ll have to jot it down.

“You don’t have to like me right now. You can hate me all you want, but I want you know that I care. I want to get you to the tops of charts. I want to see you improve as an artist. If I can’t be your friend, let me be your mentor. Even if you hate me.”

“Victor,” Yuuri began. “... Ah, let’s go to dinner.” Together.

“What?”

“Dinner. I don’t feel like talking about this, well, here.”

Victor carded a hand through his hair as Yuuri began to walk away.

“No,” Victor reached out to Yuuri without grasping his hand, and Yuuri looked back, puzzled. “Yuuri, please stop running from me,”

“It’s not that easy,” Yuuri argued, and Victor shook his head.

“The thing about you is that I don’t ever want to have to stop you.”

“...What do you mean, Victor? Speak English,”

“I’ll reach for you, but I don’t have to grasp you. All I want to do is reach,”

“But why would you reach for me? I’m not worth that effort,”

”Yuuri,” Exasperation poured out from Victor’s throat as he kept his arm pointed to Yuuri’s. “It doesn’t have to be effort if you meet me halfway.” Yuuri sighed.

“...Can we talk about this inside?”

“We’re already inside,” Victor pointed out. Yuuri groaned and walked into his own bedroom, and Victor closed the door behind them. No matter how gently the door was closed, the sound was jarring and reminded Yuuri of impending doom.

Victor patted the chair at Yuuri’s keyboard piano across from his bed where he sat, waiting for Yuuri’s acknowledgement.

For the umpteenth time in his life, Yuuri hesitated.

What are you afraid of? He wants to talk to you about this. He wants to fix this. Let him.

The young musician sat down in the spinning chair, this time not facing the instrument that would surely give him an out of this conversation.

No. You have to face the music this time.

“Yuuri.” Victor’s voice commanded attention, and Yuuri immediately flickered his gaze to Victor’s and found intimidating eyes that bore into Yuuri’s innermost thoughts and desires.

Right now, he desired a way out, but Victor wouldn’t need all-knowing eyesight to see that.

“Victor,” Yuuri started. “I… There’s a lot I need to tell you.”

“So I’ve noticed,” Victor replied solemnly, and Yuuri kept his eyes level to Victor’s.

“... I want to tell you; I really do! I don’t know how,” Yuuri then averted his eyes.

“Yuuri, listen to me,” Yuuri nodded, and Victor sighed. “Look at me, please.” Reluctantly, the young man obeyed. Where he expected a hard edge, he found yearning.

“Yuuri, I don’t want you to forgive me quickly. I don’t expect you to. If you want me to stay here, with you, you don’t have to accept an apology just because it’s coming from me,”

“I don’t understand…”

“You, ahhh, you still see me as Victor Nikiforov. Even after all of this time, you see me as the person I want to forget.” ’Want to forget?’ “You still see me as Victor Nikiforov, the star. I will ask of you one thing,” Victor reached across and put his right hand on top of Yuuri’s, currently residing in Yuuri’s lap.

“Please see me as a musician, not ‘the’ musician. And as a musician, I want to see you grow. As a musician, I want to see you vent your anger into black and white keys and strings. I want you to keep creating.”

“Victor, that’s a lot to ask of me,”

“You don’t have to forgive me,” He reminded Yuuri. “Just keep doing what you do, and from now on, let me be your equal.”

Your equal.

Your equal.

The words echoed through Yuuri’s mind, and he wished he could take away from the past all of the nervousness he felt when Victor arrived. “I’m not your equal, though,” Yuuri argued. “I can’t be.” Victor grasped Yuuri’s hand and rubbed his thumb along Yuuri’s skin soothingly.

“We’re both musicians. That should be enough.”


“What are you thinking?”

“Hmm?” Yuuri hummed then realized his mistake. “Oh, um, not much.” Victor chuckled.

“Really, what is it?”

When Victor pressed the pause button on the video, Yuuri stopped holding his breath.

Victor smiled fondly at the other.

“This is what made an instant fan of yours,” He sighed dreamily, and Yuuri’s eyebrows arched up at the remark.

“Wait, what?” Victor’s eyes widened at what he just said.

“I mean, this piece could make anyone an instant fan! Listen to the quality!” He tried to save himself.

Yuuri laughed and wrapped his hands around the warm cup of green tea he ordered. Victor opted for a cappuccino and put far too many sugar packets in his mug for Yuuri to even consider it remotely healthy--let alone the coffee that was surely not good for a world-renowned vocalist!

“Do you really think it’s good enough?” Victor’s eyes sparkled with excitement.

“It’s more than enough, Yuuri! It’s brilliant, and it’ll get people excited for the upcoming album!”

“So, about that,” Yuuri danced around his point. “Are we really, y’know doing this together? Are you going to be a featured artist or included in every piece? Does your manager know that you’re here? What will Yuri think?”

“Yuri’s the least of my worries,” Victor chuckled. “As for everything else… I’m here, so I’m doing this with you. I want you to be the main focus, and Yakov, ah, sent me the recording that led me here.”

Yurri spat out his drink at that.

“WHAT!?”

“Yeah, that’s a thing that happened,” Victor laughed nervously, dabbing at his face and dining area with a napkin. Yuuri blushed.

“I-I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to make a mess--”

“No harm done,” Victor assured him. Then, he took the napkin and said, “Boop!” as he blotted Yuuri’s nose.

“But, I didn’t get anything on my--” Victor then dashed the napkin across his lips, and his fingers tucked into the napkin slid neatly across the chapped but wet-from-tea lips. “V-victor!” Yuuri fought down his blush, but in the end, it was no use. Victor laughed.

“No harm done, see?” Yuuri sighed heavily and put his cup down before continuing to speak.

“Victor, I need to tell you something,” He hedged, and Victor put his mug down before turning his full attention to the man in front of him.

“Take your time,” Victor prompted, and Yuuri stared down at the liquid contained in his mug.

If he were microscopic, he could swim away from this. Do microscopic beings face social anxiety? Is there a language between microbes that I don’t know about?

All Yuuri Katsuki could think was I wish I were small right now.

He cleared his throat and took another sip of his tea.

“I, uh, don’t really know where to begin. I… I guess the beginning would be a good place, heh heh,” Yuuri tried to joke, and Victor smiled back patiently. “It was, ah, Detroit, a few years ago. I had just moved to the city, and that’s, uh, where Phichit and I came to be.”

”Yuuri!” Phichit laughed, a red solo cup in his hand. The Thai man wrapped an arm around Yuuri, and Yuuri smiled, not quite reaching his eyes.

”Hey, Phichit,” Yuuri replied. “Had enough to drink?” Phichit giggled.

”I swear it’s not alcohol! Anyways, I dragged you over here to meet this beauty,”

And a beauty she was.

Clara was just another student who majored in music, but her short, wavy brown hair with almost cinnamon-colored eyes should have entranced Yuuri.

But they didn’t.

”This is Clara! She’s a lover of music, juuust liiike uuuus!” Phichit dragged out, and Clara stuck her hand out to Yuuri.

”Nice to meet you, Yuuri! I’ve heard your stuff on YouTube, and I’m a huge fan,” Clara smiled, and Yuuri should have melted.

But he didn’t.

Yuuri should have said “no” when Clara asked him out.

But… He didn’t.

“There was plenty that I couldn’t say ‘no’ to,” Yuuri laughed, but the taste was bitter but not caffeinated. Victor just seemed concerned.

“I have a feeling that things turned sour at some point.”

“Your feeling would be right!” Yuuri sounded more chipper than necessary, but Victor didn’t comment, only furrowed his eyebrows in worry as Yuuri continued his story.

“So, we started a band. It started out alright, I guess. We were just stupid kids in college,” Yuuri shook his head, and Victor felt the need to reach out for him. “I… Sometimes, I still wonder where I went wrong.”

****
”Yuuri,” Clara huffed, throwing a guitar pick in Yuuri’s face. In her best syrupy, sickeningly sweet voice, she inquired, “Why weren’t you at rehearsal yesterday?”

“I, uh, had a paper due this morning. I had to do some last minute corrections, but the time slipped away from me,” Yuuri scratched the back of his head nervously.

”If you weren’t such a pathetic musician, I would forgive you, sweetie,” Clara took hold of Yuuri’s hand and gritted her teeth. “But you’re just no good to me--to us--if you keep skipping out like this.”

Pathetic. The word still stuck out like a nail hanging on for dear life in Yuuri’s head.

”But, we agreed, Inferno is always going to stick together,” Yuuri babbled, lost in what Clara was saying. Her eyes flickered down from her hold on Yuuri to the man standing in front of her.

”Yuuri,” Clara whipped her hand away, and Yuuri still had the same bewildered look on his face. “If you really cared about the band--if you really cared about me-- you wouldn’t be skipping out on this. Think of all the people who want to hear our music, but they can’t because you,” Clara jabbed Yuuri in the chest, but it wasn’t quite playful as it was back in the day. “Won’t get your shit together and just write!”

”Clara, I’ve told you before; I’m taking some really hard classes, and Phichit knows that I’m working late at the bar and I can’t just write a song in a day--”

”Then learn how to! I’m sick of this shit, Yuuri! Sit down, write a song, and stop coming to band practices if you’re not really in it! If you were, you wouldn’t do this to us,” Clara added biterly before storming away.

Yuuri could quit now. Do his own thing and love life.

But, he couldn’t.
****

As Yuuri relayed his story, Victor brought his napkin to Yuuri’s newly wet cheek.

“I… I had no idea, Yuuri. I’m so sorry--”

“Don’t do that,” Yuuri shook his head and lightly batted the napkin away. He wiped away the tears with his sleeve and sniffled. “I’m not a kicked puppy. I just… I just messed up. I dated the wrong person,”

But it’s not like that, is it, Victor’s brain supplied.

“Yuuri,” Victor said out loud. “I don’t want you to ever have to face that pain again. I--It’s unacceptable, and I won’t let you get hurt again,” Yuuri laughed, but the sound was hollow.

“You can’t guarantee anything, Victor,”

“But, I want to try,” Victor urged, reaching across the table and holding Yuuri’s hand. Yuuri wanted to bat that away, too, but the hand was so comforting and tender.

He couldn’t pry his hand away even if he tried.


“Hey, Victor?” Yuuri said one day while he was adjusting his guitar strap, and Victor glanced over at him, giving a small but reassuring smile.

“Yeah?” He cocked his head like a puppy, and Yuuri only found it charming and adorable. For a moment, he wished that he wasn’t Yuuri Katsuki--the nobody that Victor discovered.

No. You can’t think like that. Victor chided in his head. The last time Yuuri tried undermining his ability, Victor insisted that he try not to be so self-deprecating all the time.

Easier said than done, Yuuri thought to himself as he stared off into space.

“Yuuri? You said something?” Yuuri recoiled in remembrance. You idiot. Can’t even keep up a conversation?

“Oh! Right,” Yuuri laughed nervously, and Victor glanced at him.

“It’s okay, Yuuri. I do that far too often,” Victor laughed with him, and Yuuri’s anxiety didn’t quite dissipate. Just lessened. (It was an improvement). “So, what did you want to tell me before? It’s alright if you don’t remember,” Yuuri shook his head.

“Actually, I do remember, surprisingly enough. I, uh, had a new song I’ve been working on. It’s still really rough, but--”

“It’s better than nothing, Yuuri. Show it to me, please.” Yuuri took a deep breath and braced himself for what was to come.

“Please, if anything, give me your utmost criticism. I, I can’t go on thinking that I’m some, well, golden musician. I have flaws. We all do…” Yuuri trailed off, realizing that he was calling Victor out on something. What it was, he wasn’t quite sure.

“Yuuri, it’s fine,” Victor said. “Show me the piece. Give me a chance before you go on criticizing yourself like this.” Yuuri nodded and grabbed his capo, putting it on the second fret.

“Here goes nothing.” Yuuri began strumming the D, G, and B strings in a C chord, then progressed into new patterns.

Here I stand as a liar
Saying things just to feed the fire
We had some distance driving us
But you’re a drive away so I don’t feel the loss
Here I stand as a liar
Saying things just to feed the fire

Here...
Here I go again
Here I go again

I didn’t want to lie to you
But then I told myself, “we’re through”
And now here you are
On my doorstep

Yuuri’s voice grew in desperation, flowing with the dynamic of the frantic strumming of the guitar.

I didn’t want to speak the truth
But then it all came down to you
And now I’m feeling lost in the fire
Fire
Fire…

Here I stand as a fibber
Trying to keep from crying as we wither
Here I stand as a liar
Saying things just to feed the fire

Here I go again
Trying my best to make amends
Even if you don’t want to
But you don’t make it easier for me

The guitar suddenly decreased in volume, showing a transition from desperation to notable loneliness.

I tried to move on with my life
But then I told myself that I would be alright
With not serving a purpose
But now
But now
But now

Yuuri didn’t dare look up at Victor while he was singing this verse of sorts. It hurt too much, to think that he could write a song like this about Victor someday.

He never wanted to come to that.

But now I look back on that time
With such resentment in my mind
I didn’t want to think of you in that manner
Manner
Manner…

Yuuri continued his strumming pattern from the beginning and found the same demeanor and dynamic from before.

Here I stand as a liar
I can’t say a thing to feed the fire

Yuuri closed his eyes and felt a few tears run down his face as he slowed down the tempo of the song and sang the next lines.

Here I stand as a fibber
How do I keep from crying as we wither…

With an unresolved chord, he ended the song and felt the tightness in his chest grow with each passing second of silence. Time and time again, Victor found himself in a little recording room absolutely speechless. This time, however, a tear had trickled down his cheek.

“I… I… “

“Tell me. What do I need to fix?” Victor smiled a watery smile.

“You need percussion. Then, it will pluck at the heartstrings more than it has already.” Victor shook his head in disbelief. “How do you create something so personal? How do you get away with opening up?” Yuuri looked at the salty trail making its way down Victor’s lip and frowned.

“Are you okay, Victor?” Victor laughed.

“It seems that you have made me cry with your music. Not many artists can say that,” He admitted. “You should be very proud of yourself.”

“But I’m not,” Yuuri argued. “I don’t want to make people cry with my music. There’s enough sadness in the world; I don’t want to add to it.”

“Not all tears are bad, Yuuri,” Victor countered, smiling and wiping away the trail his crying left behind. “It means that your music isn’t soulless. It means that someone feels something--” Victor reached over to Yuuri’s chest and settled his hand under Yuuri’s acoustic guitar in the way of Yuuri’s heartbeat. “Right here.”

Just as Victor rested his hand against Yuuri’s chest, he felt his heart rate elevate. Stop doing this to me. You know--you have to know, or else you wouldn’t be playing with me like this. Spare me, Victor.

Don’t give me something to hold onto.

Yuuri signaled for Victor to remove his hand and hurriedly took off his guitar, placing it in the stand closest to his chair.

“Why…” Yuuri shook his head as Victor put his hand back where it was before.

“I’ve told you over and over again,” Victor whispered, leaning closer to Yuuri. “You’ve gotta have soul to make it in this business. Too many people have sold their souls for the fame, the glory.”

Yuuri’s breath hitched.

“Why, why do you look at me like my eyes are golden?” He begged for the truth, and Victor stared at him with an intensity Yuuri found in his no-nonsense professors who never made jokes.

He felt so scrutinized.

“My stomach isn’t full of butterflies,” Yuuri barely got out. “There’s moths just flitting around.” Victor narrowed his eyes at Yuuri.

“Is that supposed to dissuade me from loving the passion in your voice?” Victor’s voice was low and almost like scattered pebbles in his throat. “Yuuri, you have a heart, and you have a soul. Not a lot of musicians have that anymore. Many lose them along the way. Even I,” Victor cleared his throat, turning away from Yuuri, even though he didn’t want to break the distance. “I lost myself along the way.”

“Am I in danger? Of losing myself?” Victor couldn’t reply, just stared into Yuuri’s eyes, his hand still feeling the anxiety coursing through Yuuri’s veins.

“I’m in danger of losing myself in you,” Victor confessed. “I know it’s cliche, but… It’s true, Yuuri. You don’t know how true that is.”

“Victor…”

“I can’t apologize enough for the things I’ve said and done. I really can’t, but I can’t deny it anymore.” Yuuri couldn’t look anywhere else, like Victor’s gaze locked him into place.

“Victor? What are you saying?”

“It’s not love, but something like it,” Victor said, inching closer to Yuuri.

“Something like it,” Yuuri echoed, his heart squeezing, then releasing.

Why is your hand still over my heart? Why haven’t you backed away, just for us to never speak about this?

Why am I not backing away?

“Can I lose myself? In you?” He whispered, nearly millimeters away from Yuuri.

“Yes,” Yuuri breathed, and slowly, he let himself soak in everything Victor Nikiforov.

No, not the star.

The musician.

A whiff of his cologne felt like it was filling up the room, and his hair looked a tiny bit brighter than usual, even though the lights were dim. The smallest brush of his skin against Yuuri’s set Yuuri’s nerves aflame.

How could something like a voice feel so overwhelmingly intimate and just for Yuuri Katsuki?

Victor made himself aware of Yuuri’s heartbeat and took extra precautions in easing Yuuri into something so intimate. Victor brushed a bang out of Yuuri’s eyes and tucked it behind his ear and cupped his cheek. Before he leaned in, he raised his eyebrows. Is this what you want?

Yes, Yuuri nodded, shutting his eyes and parting his lips.

The movement from Victor’s lips to Yuuri’s felt almost surreal, and as to not scare Yuuri away, Victor gave him a chaste kiss on the lips.

Yuuri felt more tears coming, but this time, he smiled into the kiss. Victor smiled back against Yuuri’s lips.

“I’m okay,” Yuuri promised, and Victor nodded, chasing after Yuuri’s mouth with his own.

When Victor pulled away, Yuuri opened his mouth to speak.

“Can--um,”

“Yes?” Victor grinned, adoration clear in his eyes.

“Can we have Phichit be our percussionist?” Victor nodded, giving Yuuri one more peck.

Yuuri started to giggle, and Victor laughed as well, so unbelievably relieved.

Not all tears are bad, Yuuri repeated in his head.

Not all confessions bring heartache.

Chapter Text

Hi everyone! This is Ava, and I wanted to let everyone know what's been going on lately!

So, I swear I've been trying to write chapter eleven all June. I've opened the document, opened the plot outline, and have even talked to a good friend of mine about what direction I want to take this story. However, it was around time four years ago that I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at the time. Due to that, my PTSD has been kind of holding me back. I'm not asking for pity, just some understanding about the situation. Hopefully, July will be better suited for writing a new chapter. I should have warned you that this might happen, but I honestly didn't know how severe this lack of writing would be for myself. For that, I apologize. Also, I have a beautiful and loving girlfriend, so things are looking up.

On a much happier note, I will be at Anime Midwest July 8th! If you see me, I will be wearing my badge with either my pen name on ao3 or my Tumblr name (celestial-yuuri). Either way, you should be able to find me if you would like to say hi and chat about life! I will be in Fem!Keith cosplay, but hopefully I get to meet some of you there! ^_^

I will try to write as much as I can in July because in August, I will be officially starting college and become veeeery busy, veeeery quickly. I also have upcoming gigs at local coffee shops and other hindrances of writing 24/7, but I am definitely looking forward to being able to write page 134 and beyond of this fic!

Thank you for reading if you have (and didn't get turned off by the underwhelming author's note), and thank you always for your support, kindness, kudos, comments, recs, and so much more. You all have given Gotta Have Soul life.

Much love,
CelestialYuuri

Chapter Text

Alright, so I've been debating for a while whether to go on hiatus or not for this story, simply because my life has been a whirlwind lately. I don't know how to order all of these things, so I'll just make a little list.

1) I'm in college. Scary, right? It's crazy, and I've got tons to do, tons to study.

2) I got a job! Well, I had a job, but then I quit because my boss yelled at me, and I had an anxiety attack. After that, I decided to take my manager up on her offer to leave... So yeah. Still searching for a job right now. Currently running on commissions.

3) The PTSD is strong in this one. I was in a car accident yesterday. I hit a garbage truck, and I am extremely jittery, very sore, and feeling dejected as a result.

4) I swear that this story is my baby, but I am so out of ideas at the moment. I haven't necessarily hit rock-bottom with writer's block yet, but I'm certainly getting there. Just when I think I'm running into a good idea, I come up empty on my keyboard.

Thank you all for sticking by this story, and thank you so so much for always motivating me to continue with this giant tale of a dorky singer-songwriter and his idol who is equally as dorky.

I will let you know when I get my writing juices flowin again, but right now, I'm a bit too empty. I'll do my best to keep writing, even if it isn't Yuri!!! On Ice or even fanfiction. (NaNoWriMo is coming up, after all. :)


Thank you so much for understanding,
CelestialYuuri/Ava <3