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Victor Nikiforov, Jedi Knight, has seen many systems over the years. There isn’t anything particular about this one. If anything, Hasetsu is amazingly plain: a tiny mid-rim planet with no influence to speak of, mostly beaches and resorts and agricultural land. 

He’d never even heard of it until recently, and likely never would’ve, if it hadn’t been discovered that the planet has significant thorilide reserves that the Trade Federation had immediately attempted to claim ownership of. Unsurprisingly, the local government was very displeased with this turn of events.

The Trade Federation being what it is, the planet’s senator – Chulanont is his name, Victor thinks – was quick to ask for Jedi intervention. And so here Victor is, along with his apprentice, who is very unhappy about it.

As he lands his ship, the descent satisfyingly smooth, he can’t help having a feeling about this place. Not a bad one, per se, but a whisper at the edge of his awareness.

“Ugh,” Yuri complains, tossing back his long hair, “did we really have to come here?”

He stalks off without waiting for an answer, but Victor figures the question was rhetorical anyway. They usually are.

Victor watches the boy as he imperiously inspects their new surroundings, quick on his feet despite his too-big robes. Victor follows him at a more sedate pace: He’s long learned that letting him blow off steam is far more efficient than lectures on proper behaviour. His methods may not be the most orthodox, he reasons, but then neither is his student.

The whole Jedi Order knows that Yuri can be—difficult. He had practically demanded that Victor take him on once he was old enough to be apprenticed, because of a long-forgotten promise Victor had made him. In his defense, Victor had barely been knighted himself, when he’d idly offered to teach him if he proved to be the best at the Initiate Tournament. 

Yuri had indeed been the best, and then come to collect his due, much to Victor’s bewilderment.  He’d almost refused, because the offer had never been made with serious intent and he had no use for a Padawan. Except he’d seen some of himself in the young prodigy: too talented to fit in with his peers, strong-headed, with a Force presence so bright it made others uncomfortable, and hadn’t had the heart to say no to him. 

Victor doesn’t regret his decision. Most of the time, that is. Even Victor’s patience has limits, and Yuri is very good at testing them.

He finds himself internally apologizing to Master Yakov far too often, these days, for the things he did at that age.

Victor likes a challenge, but making a proper Jedi out of an angry teenager has to be his biggest yet. He’s had to admit, if only to himself, that he’s struggling with the idea of being responsible for someone. Especially someone so ready to throw himself headfirst into every conflict that comes along. The quiet of Hasetsu will do the two of them some good, Victor thinks. Surely even Yuri won’t be able to get himself into too much trouble here.

The Council was surprised, when he requested this assignment. It’s an easy protection and diplomacy mission, one a younger knight might’ve easily handled, or even an experienced Padawan. It’s nothing like Victor’s usual preferences, which tend towards the perilous and unusual. They must’ve thought he wanted a vacation, of sorts, and allowed it because he has not been on extended leave for – years, certainly. 

If the Council really knew the reason behind his request, there’s no way they would’ve allowed it, because the truth is that Victor has a rather – personal interest in Duke Katsuki, the current ruler. Not that he’d really known, at the time they’d met, who the other man was. He’d resigned himself to not knowing, before he’d heard the familiar name spoken in relation to a mission.

He’d spoken up to request the assignment before he could think twice about it.

He’s perfectly aware that he’s walking a dangerous line, that it would be in his best interest to stay as far away as possible from the man that caught his attention so completely. But despite the time that’s passed since that one night on Coruscant, despite his best efforts to banish the feelings entirely, he finds himself burning with longing and curiosity both. Since meditation has been useless, he may as well try to get it out of his system in a more entertaining way.

 

They’re met at the small spaceport’s gate by one of the Duke’s most trusted advisors. She takes a long look at them, hums in what Victor thinks is approval, and gestures for them to follow her. She introduces herself – her name is Minako – as she walks, practically dragging them along through the streets when they prove to be too slow for her tastes, and leads them to the old-fashioned castle that overlooks the quiet town that serves as the planet’s capital.

“Yuuri – that is, the Duke – will be meeting with you right away, and then I’ll show you where you can leave your things,” the woman tells them.   

The throne room is rather more modest than Victor expected, given the size of the castle, but the Duke does look very regal, in blue robes and with a serious expression in his dark eyes. As he offers them a smile and an assessing look, Victor suddenly thinks that maybe coming here was a terrible idea, because he’s fairly certain that his heart’s not supposed to do that.  The effect is somewhat ruined when Minako walks up to the Duke and ruffles his hair, making him lose his composure and flush red, batting her hands away with an indignant squawk.

Sensei,” the man complains, trying to pull himself back together. “I’m sorry,” he tells the two Jedi. “Welcome to Hasetsu, Master Nikiforov, Padawan Plisetsky. I’m very grateful for your help with this – uncomfortable situation.”

Uncomfortable is a bit of understatement, Victor thinks. The man is facing tremendous pressure and has little to no leverage to sway things in his favour. His position seems sustained by the hope that the newly discovered resources will ensure a better future for his people and sheer stubbornness alone. Victor is impressed.

He looks very different, like this. Far more restrained than the last time they met, which Victor supposes is no surprise, but no less attractive.

There is recognition in the man’s eyes, certainly. Admiration, yes, but nothing that seems like familiarity.

Victor discretely steps on his apprentice’s foot so he bows properly and is answered with a hiss, but the boy complies.

“Please, call me Victor,” he hears himself say, though he does manage to refrain from batting his eyelashes. He does have some self-control.

He feels a spike of bewildered annoyance from Yuri in response to his unusual behaviour. Victor is no stranger to diplomacy missions, and knows the weight of the Jedi’s status. He doesn’t usually allow himself much familiarity with their hosts. In this case though, he can’t bring himself to be formal. Not when he remembers so well the night he spent in this man’s arms.

“Call me Yuuri, then.”

The other man must be thinking something similar, if the way he's colouring is any indication.

There is work to be done, he reminds himself: discussions to have, and meetings to set up. Then, maybe, if he has the time –

He’ll have to be careful not to get attached, of course, but that’s never been an issue before.

 

Victor expects them be assigned quarters at the castle, but Yuuri explains, somewhat awkwardly, that no one really lives there. The building is old, would need extensive repairs to be habitable again, and only serves for formal occasions. His family’s inn, he says, is much more suited to entertaining guests.

Yuri is unimpressed, to say the least, though the inn is rather lavish compared to the austere living quarters back at the Temple. Victor cannot wait to try the hot springs.

The food is delicious, and the owners – Yuuri’s parents – considerate hosts. Yuuri eats with them, cheeks reddening whenever he catches Victor’s gaze, but he makes himself scarce afterwards, taking piles and piles of datapads to what serves as his office. Victor doesn’t envy him the paperwork, but does regret having to spend the rest of the evening without him.

There’ll be plenty of time for that later, he supposes.  

 Mari, Yuuri’s older sister, takes them around the town before nightfall, to allow them to get used to their surroundings. The locals are friendly but a little subdued, which is to be expected considering the situation. Still, the fact that they remain welcoming to outsiders despite their troubles says a lot. Yuri grumbles and drags his feet, but doesn’t say no to the sweets they’re offered by streets vendors. The population seems mostly human, though Victor does notice a few Mon Calamari and a Nautolan family.

Hasetsu really is lovely, he thinks to himself later that night, wrapped in a thick blanket to ward off the chill of the ocean air. He will enjoy his time here.

 

He’s up at dawn and so, he decides, will his apprentice be. Some needling and much yelling later, they’re both standing in the courtyard, lightsabers drawn.

Usually they make peace long enough for practice – whatever problems they may have, getting Yuri to work on his forms is not one of them – but this time his apprentice is irritable and distracted, so Victor eventually asks what has him thinking so hard.

“What are you playing at, Victor? Why come here? Is it a vacation?

 He ignores the disrespect, because his life would be much too complicated if he took offense whenever Yuri decides to be rude.

Besides, the question is a fair one. His apprentice is right, in a way. Victor is looking for a distraction. His interest in Yuuri is one thing, of course, but he is growing weary to the battlefields that are starting to blur into each other, of the petty squabbles he is always expected to be able to solve effortlessly. He is Victor Nikiforov, rising star of the Jedi Order, after all.

Some time in this quiet town by the sea might help, if only because he’ll be itching to get back into action soon enough. And if he manages to tempt Yuuri into a few nights of passion, well. That’s not forbidden.

Not that he’s going to tell his apprentice that.

“It’s a mission like any other,” he answers eventually.

“Do you think I’m stupid? Anyone could’ve done this. We’re only here so those ugly Trade Federation bastards know they’re being watched.”

“Among other things, yes.”

 “What else is there? Making eyes at that twitchy guy? He’s not even good-looking and he keeps panicking whenever you look at him.”

Victor always forgets how perceptive the boy can be. Well, Yuri was at that banquet too. Still, he finds himself irritated by the jabs. Not so much because they’re untrue, but because it reminds him that he’s been unlucky so far. He doesn’t understand why his seduction attempts have failed – though, yes, they were perhaps a little excessive, Victor’s never had to be subtle with this sort of thing before. But Yuuri keeps fleeing whenever Victor attempts to pick things up where they left them. Victor knows that the man is still attracted to him, but he’s found himself a little at a loss.

He sighs.

“These people are in a terrible situation and have been nothing but kind to us, don’t you think we should help them as best we can?”

“I just don’t see why we have to do it!”

“We’ll be back to more exciting things soon enough, Padawan. Have some patience. Besides, you could use the time to train. That footwork is sloppy.”

He’s aware that he’s being a little unfair. Victor’s not certain he would’ve done any better at that age, and he certainly would’ve hated being stranded on some boring planet. Fortunately for him, fairness is not part of a Jedi master’s job description.  

The boy’s twin lightsabers clash with his repeatedly as he keeps needling him, two blues against his single purple, but he doesn’t find the opening he’s looking for. The boy has great potential, yes, but his mastery of himself still leaves a lot to be desired, which Victor frequently reminds him of.

Once he’s tired of sparring, Victor assigns him the most boring and harrowing exercises he can think of, and then goes looking for Yuuri. Maybe this time he won’t run away with a flimsy excuse the second they’re alone together in a room.

Let it never be said that Victor isn’t an optimist. 

 

The first meeting with the Trade Federation Victor attends takes place via holoprojector, which means that at least he doesn’t have to worry about physical threats.

The demands the representatives – Victor’s decided he won’t bother learning their names – are ridiculous, and the sanctions they’re talking of imposing if they don’t get their way truly outrageous. They’re also very unhappy to see Victor there. Yuuri’s obviously heard all this before, because he barely blinks, and steadily refuses to give any ground. Victor hangs back, observing the situation, as they trade strained pleasantries and lie about considering each other’s property claims.

When the call is over Yuuri sighs, running a hand through his slicked back hair and mussing it up. Victor resists the urge to fix it for him.

“Well, that was unproductive.”

“You don’t say. It’s been like this for months now. We’re rationing a lot already, I don’t know what we’ll do if the sanctions actually increase –“

“What have you given them so far?”

“What? Nothing. They don’t own anything here, except a few installations that have nothing to do with the mines. I can’t just let them take whatever they want, because if it starts they’ll never stop.”

“You might have to make some concessions, if you want to get anywhere.”

Yuuri shakes his head.

“Maybe. I don’t know, I’m terrible at this. The only thing I know how to do is stand my ground, and it’s been working for now, but how long will that last?”

Victor hums, thoughtful.

“I can help you negotiate, but I think we’ll need external help. Who are your closest allies? What can you offer them in return for their help? Do you have a good reputation, as a ruler?”

Yuuri laughs, but there is nothing amused about it.

“I wish I knew how to answer any of these. I don’t know. Politics are – I don’t like politics.”

“Do you not enjoy your position?” Victor asks, somewhat puzzled. He’s seen monarchs who only ruled out of attachment to tradition, but Hasetsu’s leaders are elected. Is Yuuri an idealist, then, disillusioned with the realities of political rule? Is it simply momentary discouragement? To be of any use, Victor will have to understand him better.

Yuuri shakes his head.

“I’m – not much of a politician, to be honest. I was a minor celebrity – I had a decent run in swoop racing, and well, you know how people can get about it—so Minako thought it would be funny to sign me up for the election. It was a landslide, and I didn’t want to disappoint all these people, so I just – stayed on.” He huffs a laugh. “It’s been three years now, and I’ve gotten used to it. Hasetsu’s people are good people, and I’ve been doing my best to be worthy of their trust but – I never dreamed something like this would happen, not here. I usually leave foreign affair to Phichit— our Senator – and just handle things locally.” 

Victor considers the news. Accidentally finding himself ruling a planet? Yuuri never ceases to amaze. Though it can’t be all of it: admiration for a local champion wouldn’t account for all the fondness and respect he’s seen from the locals. 

“Things seem to have worked out. I’ve never seen a politician so beloved before.”

Yuuri flushes, more in frustration than in embarrassment this time.

“They’re far too kind to me. I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m too weak to protect anyone.”

Victor smiles at him.

“You’re fighting one of the most powerful organisations in the galaxy to defend your people’s interests. I don’t think anyone would call that weak.”

“If it doesn’t work, then what do my intentions matter?”

Victor thinks that they matter a lot.

“Well then, I promise you that Hasetsu will be at peace again, if you and I work together.”

Victor extends a hand, and Yuuri takes it.

 

“I thought you Jedi were supposed to be a quiet bunch.” Mari says as she leans against the doorway to smoke. Victor, who’s been standing in the garden, making his apprentice do a handstand while he’s throwing rocks at him for the past twenty minutes – which has earned him a rather impressive array of curses-- can’t help the laughter.

“I’m sorry my apprentice and I are the first members of the Order you meet. I don’t think we’re very representative of it.”

Mari shrugs.

“As long as you can protect my brother, I don’t give a damn if you’re proper or not.”

Victor sobers up.

“I’ll do my very best.”

She gives him a long, considering look, finishes her cigarette, and straightens.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Try not to be too hard on Yurio.”

“Yurio?”

“Well, we already have a Yuuri. Do you think he’ll mind?”

Victor grins.

“Oh, he’ll hate it. It’s perfect.”

Mari leaves, and Victor picks up some more projectiles.

“—If you thrown one more fucking rock at me, you degenerate old man –“

“Don’t be so mean to your poor old master, Yurio.”

“What the fuck did you call me?”

“And straighten your back, would you?”

Victor hopes the incoherent screams of rage don’t bother the other guests too much.

 

The stalemate goes on despite Victor’s best attempts at moving things along, and he knows the pressure is taking its toll on Yuuri. He finds him sitting in a darkened room after another unsuccessful attempt, head in his hands. At Victor’s approach, he raises his head and hastily wipes away the tear tracks on his cheeks. Victor finds himself at a bit of a loss. He always is when faced with crying or upset people. Jedi don’t usually – do comforting people. In the end Yuuri breaks the silence himself before Victor can think of anything to say.

“I’m sorry! Did I forget I was supposed to be meeting with you?”

Victor startles.

 “No, no! Not until later. I just thought – it doesn’t matter. What should I – Can I help you with anything? It’s why I’m here, after all.”

Yuuri shakes his head, clearly embarrassed.

“Please don’t worry about me. I just get – nervous, and I always forget what I wanted to say and I – ”

“Why don’t you practice on me?”

“What?”

“Like a rehearsal. That way you’ll be prepared to answer”

“I – suppose it could work.”

Victor reaches out with the Force to bring a box of tissues to himself, when he looks back at him he sees Yuuri staring at it, eyes wide with wonder.

Victor winks at him.

“Don’t tell Yurio about my casual use of the Force. I don’t want to set a bad example.”

Yuuri turns red again but laughs, a little wetly, and takes a tissue. Somehow it feels like a major victory.

 

Victor had wondered, at first, how a “minor celebrity”, in Yuuri’s own words, had wound up winning an election without even trying, but he learns quickly not to take what Yuuri says about himself at face value. He tends towards self-depreciation, but Victor has seen holovids of some of Yuuri’s most impressive races – they run constantly on the local channels. They’re mildly terrifying to watch, even though he knows that Yuuri obviously made it out of them more or less unscathed.

The more time he spends in Hasetsu, the more he realises how much Yuuri had downplayed his own influence. He’s not so much a local celebrity as he is a local hero. There are posters of him all over the place.

Victor finds himself befriending one of Yuuri’s most enthusiastic supporters, Minami Kenjirou. The boy is a prominent government employee even though he’s barely older than Yurio, and an endless source of information on Yuuri’s numerous achievements.

Yuuri always sputters and blushes in the most adorable way when Victor brings up some newly acquired facts.

“Where do you get all this?”

Victor grins.

“I have my sources.”

If his sources are Yuuri’s fan club, well. They’re very dedicated.  

It becomes equally apparent that Yuuri hardly ever interacts with anyone outside of his family, staff, and close friends. For all that he worries about Hasetsu’s people, he doesn’t talk to them, too embarrassed by the way he’s swarmed with admirers whenever he goes out in public.

Though Victor’s not certain he realises they’re admirers.  

He will, however, reluctantly take Victor sight-seeing, and can’t very well run off when Victor starts conversing with every other person they come across, or reassuring them that they’re doing all they can to solve the situation.

After a while Yuuri is less tense when Victor stops to chat with someone on the way to the market, and the people, more used to seeing Yuuri around, are less enthusiastic about it. Victor is very proud of himself, when he sees Yuuri ask after an old woman’s family all on his own.

 

A scaly brown creature takes to following Victor when he goes on walks through the town. He doesn’t really know what to do about it, though it seems friendly. Eventually he stops to pet it, and then it just won’t leave him.  

He brings it to Yuuri. 

“Ah. It’s an Akk dog.”  He says, a little surprised. “They’re sweet creatures, really. I had one myself as a pet, when I was younger.”

Yuuri looks a little sad, so Victor doesn’t press. He contemplates the creature currently rolling onto its back so Yuuri will scratch its belly and smiles down at it, thoughtful.

“Makkachin,” Victor says, and Yuuri turns to look at him.

“What?”

“That’s what I’m going to name him.”

Yuuri smiles.

“That’s nice.”

And so Victor acquires an affectionate ball of hard edges that sleeps in his bed, and eats his leftovers, and is much less difficult to train than Yurio.  

 

It’s not all strolls by the sea shore and visits to the market. Victor and Yuuri, occasionally helped by a cranky Yurio, work long hours, writing pleas to various allied systems to impose sanctions on the Trade Federation, digging up similar cases in the Republic’s legal registries in an attempt to get the Senate to do something about the situation.

Either Victor or Yurio is always following Yuuri around– Victor’s pretty sure Yuuri prefers having him around, but that doesn’t mean much, considering Yurio is Yurio -- because the Nemoidians are growing impatient and their demands have taken a more threatening edge.

Yuuri is undaunted, though. He grows in confidence, even when he has to announce publicly that they’ll have to do without this or that product for the foreseeable future. He still has the people’s confidence, even if some groups are growing impatient.

It’s a delight, for Victor, to see him this way, self-assured and decisive and unflinching – of course it is mostly an illusion, because Yuuri still worries himself sick when they’re in private.

You would never know it by looking at him, though.

Meanwhile, Victor is calling in favours left and right. Jedi are meant to be impartial, and he knows that there might be consequences if the Council catches wind of what he’s doing, but Victor has made very powerful friends, through the years. He’s saved important lives, defended beloved lands.

Surely that’s worth a Senate hearing?

Viceroy Giacometti groans when he calls to harass him again, but eventually he agrees to support Senator Chulanont’s motion, because Victor did rescue his husband when he was kidnapped a few years earlier.

He runs to tell Yuuri, interrupting his meeting with regional governors and getting scandalised looks when he asks to borrow him for a few minutes.

“Victor! What are you doing?!”

“I got you a hearing!”

“A – at the Senate?! Phichit’s been trying for months, how did you – really?

“Really.”

 Victor is fairly certain, for a few moments, that Yuuri is going to kiss him, but he gets a bone-crushing hug instead. Which is fine with him, all things considered.

Three standard months. They just have to hold out until then, and get Yuuri as ready as he can possibly be to plead their case.

 

Victor has taken to sitting by the beach to meditate. He loves the way the ocean feels in the Force, all the life forms he can connect with when he stretches out his senses. 

“Victor!”

He blinks out of his trance, folding himself back into his body as Yuuri comes up to him, Makkachin on his heels.

“I’m sorry, were you meditating?”

“Yes. Sit with me?”

Yuuri does, looking apologetic.

“I didn’t mean to bother you. I’ve tried it before but – it seems my mind is not made for that kind of stillness.”

Victor understands. The spirituals aspects of being a Jedi have never been his strong suit, either. He more than makes up for it with his physical prowess. Never one to pass up an opportunity to show off – especially where Yuuri is concerned – he decides to switch things up a little and draws his lightsaber to run through some of the forms he’s been thinking of.

Yuuri leans forward to seem him better, elbows propped on his knees, and he looks both entranced and puzzled when Victor comes to a stop before him with a final flourish

“I’ve never seen those before. What style is this?”

Victor should be used to it by now, the way Yuuri always manages to surprise him.

“You know lightsaber forms?”

“Only what I’ve seen on the holonet. I mean – I’ve always been intrigued by the Jedi, so. It’s a bit of a pastime of mine, I suppose. Though clearly I don’t know all of them.”

Victor grins.

“You couldn’t possibly know this one, I’m inventing it.”

Yuuri looks surprised, but then his expression turns both fond and amused.

“Of course you are.”

“Do you like it?”

“It’s very graceful. Almost like a dance.”

“Proper lightsaber duelling is an art. You’re a good dancer, aren’t you, Yuuri?”

“I – well, I’m decent.”

Victor extends a hand to help him up, and then draws him close without warning. Though caught off-guard, Yuuri doesn’t stumble at all, lets himself be lead into a sequence without missing a step.

“I could use some inspiration for the footwork.”

 “I don’t see how this’ll be useful –“

“For inspiration, Yuuri.”

Yuuri’s tense at first but eventually relaxes, grows comfortable enough to take the lead when they fall into steps Victor is less familiar with. Victor almost wants to mention the banquet, the last time they danced, but Yuuri seems to be set on acting like it’s never happened, so he’ll respect that.

Victor will also grant that he is a little bit of a coward. He doesn’t want to hear Yuuri say that he regrets it, regrets any of the events that made Victor so happy that night.

They move together in what would’ve once been a seduction, but now—just is. Victor stops thinking and allows himself to savour the moment, the breeze and Yuuri’s laughter.

Yuuri’s forgotten to bring his gloves, Victor notices idly a little later, when they’ve stopped dancing and are simply standing next to each other, catching their breath. The weather is growing colder by the day, so he takes Yuuri’s hands and pushes them inside his long sleeves. Yuuri startles at the gesture, but doesn’t retreat.

Makkachin circles them a few times and then runs off, chasing after some kind of colourful crustacean. Victor looks at him go, a little wistful.  

“You’ll take care of him, right? When this is over?”

Yuuri’s eyes soften.

“Of course.”

The waves lap at Victor’s feet, and he thinks: I could be happy here.

The boredom, the longing to go back to the action he was waiting for has never come. He is peace with himself, with the Force, in a way he rarely has been.

This is a problem.

 

Victor is filled with dread when he asks after his apprentice’s whereabouts and is told that Duke Katsuki’s taken him swoop racing. It’s not that he’s afraid for the boy’s safety, particularly, but he knows Yuri well enough to know that he’s going to have to fetch him from a Coruscant jail because he’s been arrested for illegal racing before the year is out.

They come back flushed and laughing, Yuuri saying that he’s never seen someone so naturally gifted and Yurio already swearing to break all his records. Victor sees the newly acquired respect in his eyes though, grudging as it is, and can’t help smiling at the two of them.

“What?” Yurio grouses, when he notices the attention.

“Nothing. I’m glad you had fun--”

“It’s never nothing with you.”

Well, he’s not wrong about that.

“-- but you’ve been out all day, haven’t you? Whatever happened to your assignments?”

“Oh, come on.”

“Ah, don’t be too harsh on him, Victor, it was my fault.”  Yuuri protests.

“No it wasn’t, shut up!” Yuri snaps at his namesake. “I’ll do the fucking assignments.”

He stalks off as Yuuri and Victor exchange amused looks over his head.

 

After that, whenever he’s not bothering Victor or training, which takes up most of his time, Yurio can usually be found pretending not to enjoy the racing circuit owner’s company. She’s a lovely woman, from what Victor can tell, though he’s seen her tell off men twice her size for getting too rowdy on her circuit. She’s one of Yuuri’s closest friends, and her three daughters are fascinated with the Jedi. None of those facts explain why Yurio likes her, but he does.

If Victor had expected his apprentice to befriend anyone – and he hadn’t – Yuuko certainly wouldn’t have been the obvious candidate. Yuuri makes sure to invite the Nishigori family over more often, when he notices their odd friendship.

Yuuko’s husband, Takeshi, is not Victor’s biggest fan. He was Yuuri’s chief of security before Victor came along and hasn’t quite forgiven him for more or less stealing his job, though there’s still plenty for him to do.

It’s nice, that Yuuri has people looking out for him like that.

The Nishigoris are eating with them, one night, when Yuuri asks for the glass of wine he forgot on the other side of the room. Victor floats it over to him without really thinking about it, and is very pleased with himself when Yuuri gasps in wonder.

"Force," Yurio says, sounding as disgusted as he did when a Hutt sneezed on him, once, and Victor had had to physically hold him back from taking his lightsabers to it. “You two are gross.”

It’s not that Victor hadn’t been aware that the was practically sitting in Yuuri’s lap – he is always very much aware of how much distance separates them – but Yuuri was being remarkably blasé about it and so Victor hadn’t paid much attention to what it must look like, the two of them sharing space that way.

But the Nishigoris are very politely pretending not to be paying attention to them, and Yurio’s outburst seems to have reminded Yuuri of their situation, so he inches away from Victor with an embarrassed smile.

Victor tries not to be too disappointed.

 

The date for the hearing approaches, and the Trade Federation ups the pressure:

“If the situation is to remains as it is, we’ll have no choice but to shut down all hyperspace lanes in your sector,” they open the meeting with.

Yuuri flinches at that, falters in a way he hasn’t since the very first week Victor was there.

“You can’t --!” He starts, and then stops himself, tries to catch his breath. He looks like he’s been struck. Though he’d definitely discussed the possibility of a complete embargo with Victor before, they hadn’t thought it would really come to it.

He remains shaken, unable to regain his previous clear-headedness. It’s fine, Victor want to tell him. It only means that Victor will have to be self-assured enough for the two of them, just for a little while.

“That’s unfortunate,” Victor says, smiling so as not to look too much like he’s thinking about mind-tricking them into jumping off a cliff.

It won’t be too much of a problem. They’re been rationing, and stockpiling, and if they’re careful they won’t run out of anything important before the Senate hearing they’ve managed to have scheduled. In the meantime Victor can arrange for to get medical supplies from other sources – the Federation doesn’t control all the lanes in the area.

“Breathe, Yuuri,” he says once the representatives have left.

Yuuri does.

 

Victor has long given up on the idea of having Yuuri for a few nights. Not because he thinks that he would be unwilling, but because he knows how unsatisfying it would be for the both of them.

They will be friends, he’s decided. Very good friends, who sometimes stand a little too close and pretend not to notice that their hands are brushing together.  Who sometimes spend the night up talking, and hug a lot, and dance.

His plans fall apart the days he asks Yuuri to take him racing. It’s only fair, after all, since Yurio already got to do it, and it’ll take his mind off the embargo.

Victor gets the hang of the swoop bikes quickly – he is the best pilot in the Order, after all – and he may be hopelessly out of Yuuri’s league, but he does do pretty well.  

He gives up eventually, lands by the side of the track as he waits for Yuuri to join him when he’s done. One he’s out of the way, Yuuri actually accelerates, like he was going easy on Victor the whole time. He would be a little offended if he weren’t so entranced.

Yuuri comes to a stop besides him and steps off his bike, hair tousled from his helmet and face reddened by the wind, as happy as Victor’s ever seen him. Victor is suddenly overwhelmed by it, by him. Yuuri is so, so beautiful and he has to do something about it.

Victor, because he’s never been a very sensible man, steps forward and kisses him. He half-expects Yuuri to protest – Yuuri’s not a sensible man, either, but he is more so than Victor – but Yuuri just pulls him closer, holds him in place firmly.

He can tell by Yuuri’s hesitation, when they break apart, that he’s just aware as Victor is that this is a terrible idea.

But that doesn’t keep him from finding his way to Victor’s room, that night, Force presence radiating with anxiety and want but expression determined. Victor has often prided himself on his self-restraint. It seems that he’s just never wanted anything very badly, because he doesn’t even attempt to protest, or even to warn Yuuri away before he pulls him down to his bed.

“I know how it is. I’m not – expecting anything,” Yuuri says, pressed against him in the dark, after. Victor’s heart aches so he kisses Yuuri again until the feeling goes away.

This isn’t breaking the rules, he tells himself. Just bending them slightly. Casual arrangements aren’t forbidden. He can do casual. He’s always managed before.

 

“Not like that you idiot, do you want to kill yourself?!”

“Sorry!”

Victor is a little alarmed by the sounds coming from the garden, and when he reaches them it’s to see Yuuri is holding one of Yurio’s ignited lightsabers, a little awkwardly.

He clears his throat and they both startle like younglings caught out after curfew. Victor raises his eyebrows at them, but doesn’t say anything further, and after a moment Yurio goes back to telling Yuuri how terrible his grip is.

Victor is fairly certain, by the end of the training session – if it can be called that – that Yuuri is at least a little Force-sensitive. Otherwise he’d have lost a hand, or at least a few fingers, being that clumsy.

“I’m trying!” Yuuri protests. “Wait, you really think so?”

Yuuri’s Force presence is just as exceptional as the rest of him, but Victor has a hard time telling how much of what he’s perceiving is due to his own bias. Which – cannot be a good thing, if he thinks about it. He doesn’t.

“What do you think, Yurio?”

“I think it doesn’t fucking matter, he’s way too old to be trained anyway.”

Victor tries to imagine Yuuri as a Jedi, but the thought is unexpectedly painful. A Yuuri who hasn’t grown up surrounded by his family’s love or become Hasetsu’s champion would not be his Yuuri at all.

“You’re right, Yurio. It doesn’t matter.”

 

Everyday life on Hasetsu is slowed down to a crawl by the embargo, the spaceport empty and the tourists scared off. Yuuri is constantly having to answer to the demands of the regional governments, to appease worried citizens. Most of the time Victor is content to stand by his side, offering insight or resources when he can. Except that day, Victor has spent the morning arguing with a cranky and very bored Yurio, and the governors are being impatient with Yuuri, and so he’s a little less polite than he should be, allows them to realise that he’s never bothered to remember their names, lets slip a few barbs that make them hiss in outrage. 

“Victor,Yuuri uncharacteristically snaps at him. He falls silent, chastened and a little flustered, because Yuuri doesn’t usually sound this commanding and certainly doesn’t order Victor around.

The crisis has done wonders for his self-confidence, at least. He’s too busy planning and managing other people’s fears to think of his own.

Victor thinks he like it.

Once they’re own their own again, though, Yuuri stops him with an apologetic hand on his forearm.

“I’m sorry about that, I shouldn’t have gotten angry, I know you’re trying to help, it’s just—“

Victor waves him off.

“Oh, no. I was out of line.” He hesitates a little, but being bold has served him well before, so he throws his arms around Yuuri’s neck, looks down at him. “Feel free to do it again. Possibly in other contexts.”

Yuuri give him a baffled look for a moment, but then understanding dawns on him and he turns red.

“Oh. Oh. That’s—um. We’ll see.”

Victor is thrilled.

 

The Trade Federation had clearly expected them to fold, because as the date of the hearing looms, they get impatient, and then they get stupid.

They try to have Yuuri assassinated. It’s only a couple of assassin droids, which is slightly offensive considering that they know that Yuuri has Jedi guards. Though, admittedly, it might’ve had a better chance of success if Victor hadn’t been in Yuuri’s bed with him at the time of the attack.

It’s the middle of the night when it happens, but Yuuri is still working, typing something on a datapad, wrapped in his sheets while Victor is trying to gather up the willpower to put on his clothes and go back to his own room.

Then the ominous feeling hits and he sits up, startling Yuuri as he calls his lightsaber to himself.

“Victor, what –“

He puts his blade through the first droid the instant it creeps in through the open window, and uses the Force to pull the second one closer as it attempts to flee, as Yuuri fumbles for the blaster he keeps under his bed and shoots it.

The sounds attract the house’s other inhabitants, who are kind enough not to ask why they’re only wearing bedsheets, though Yurio gives Victor a very unimpressed look.

If there are other reactions Victor doesn’t notice them, too busy fuming. He is not a violent man by nature, but if the Nemoidians were in front of him he thinks he might squeeze the air out of their lungs and watch them choke without even blinking.  But the attempt failed, and so Victor doesn’t have to consider going on a murderous rampage.

Yuuri is rather philosophical about it, though visibly shaken, and characteristically tries to shrug the whole thing off:

“More proof for the hearing,” he says

Yuuri would take ten assassin droids on his own over having to speak before the Senate, Victor thinks. There’s so much resting on it that Victor can hardly blame him for the fear. And now he’s afraid, too.

He sticks to Yuuri like a burr after that, far more alert than he was before. He’s angry with himself for having been so careless, having let himself be lulled into complacency by their apparently peaceful surroundings, and he takes his frustrations out on a few more assassin droids and, more interestingly, three bounty hunters – though he makes sure to leave one of those to Yurio.

 And then it’s time.

 

Being back on Coruscant after months on Hasetsu is – strange. Victor wishes he had time to show Yuuri the opera, or his favourite restaurants, but there are more pressing matters at hand.

Yuuri looks awful as they step into the Senate building, though he is momentarily distracted when his senator runs out to greet them, thrilled to see Yuuri after months of separation.

Victor knows that Chulanont is one of Yuuri’s closest friends, and from what he’s heard the man is friendly, so he’s surprised to gets a rather cold handshake and something that barely passes for a smile when he greets him. It soon becomes apparent to Victor, when he sees him interact with other people, that this treatment is reserved for him. Yuuri is too focused on his upcoming speech to really notice the odd behaviour, especially since Phichit’s pleasant expression never falters, but his distaste is obvious in his Force presence. Eventually he takes Victor aside.  

“I’m grateful for what you’ve done for us – I know Giacometti didn’t second my motion out of the goodness of his heart – and I know Yuuri’s a grown man who can make his own decisions without me pestering him, but you’re going to hurt him, and he doesn’t deserve that. He really cares about you, Nikiforov.”

Whatever tortured expression passes over Victor’s face at the accusation, it’s pathetic enough that it has the other man blinking in surprise, resentment abating almost instantly.  

“Oh. So that’s how it is.”

Victor doesn’t have anything to answer to that, but Phichit seems a little less hostile, afterwards.

 

When Yuuri steps into the pod that’ll take him to the centre of the room, Victor moves to follow without really thinking about it – it’s what he’s done for months, following Yuuri, supporting him. Yuuri’s the one who stops him, taking hold of both his hands even though there are cameras trained on them already, and giving him a nervous smile.

“Sorry, Victor. This one I have to do on my own. But thank you, for everything so far. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

It sounds like he’s saying goodbye, and it hurts.

“You’ll be great,” he says, raising one of his hands to trail kisses up Yuuri’s arm – it’s inappropriate in more ways than Victor cares to counts, given their location, but it makes Yuuri blush and laugh, and so nothing could stop him from doing it.

“Keep your eyes on me,” Yuuri replies as he pulls away. His smile vanishes, and Duke Katsuki emerges, serene and eloquent and Victor is not worried anymore.

He can barely remember to blink.

 

It goes about as well as they could’ve hoped. The Senate isn’t particularly inclined to care about the plight of small systems, but they do like a good underdog story, and Yuuri’s performance has sold it to them.

The sanctions imposed on the Trade Federation are minor – fines, a few boycotts – just enough that continuing to harass Hasetsu’s people won’t be worthwhile. In all likeliness, they’ll just move on to the next, not as well-defended, planet. But that’s a problem for another day.

“Let’s go home,” Victor says absentmindedly, once he’s hugged Yuuri close, whispered into his hair how proud he is.

He’s too busy thinking of the hot springs and his bed and Hiroko’s homemade food to understand immediately why Yuuri is giving him a such a strange look.

The Temple is home, he reminds himself. It’s visible from the Senate windows, if he finds the right spot. He could drop by, say hello to Master Yakov and collect his apprentice. Yurio’s there to pick up some material for his studies and some new robes for the two of them.

He doesn’t go.

He can’t bring Yuuri to the Temple, and there are rounds to make, to thank what seems like half the galaxy for their support. Viceroy Giacometti just winks at them when Victor gets to him.

Victor finds himself having to deflect questions about his and Yuuri’s relationship from curious politicians, which is unpleasant, but not enough for him to relinquish his hold on Yuuri’s arm.

Yuuri mostly looks dazed, baffled by his sudden popularity, and very much like he wants to get out of there as soon as possibly. Eventually they hide out in Phichit’s office while the Senator serves as distraction so they can leave.

 

Yurio is already at the ship by the time they get there, lounging against the hull as though he’s not burning with curiosity.

“So?”

“So what?” Victor asks, to be contrary.

“How did it go? Is this stupid mission finally going to be over?”

“Soon,” Yuuri says, his smile turning a little wistful. “It’ll all be over soon.”

On the way back Victor knows he’s more subdued than usual, but his companions don’t notice, immersed in a conversation about swoop bikes. Victor wouldn’t have much to contribute, anyway. He’s not much of a mechanic himself. His only interest in the process is the way Yuuri looks when he emerges from under his bike, flushed and covered in grease but very satisfied.

He thinks about the end of his mission instead. It won’t be long now, there are only a few formalities left and the Trade Federation won’t try to attack Yuuri directly again, not with so many eyes on them.

Victor can try to stretch things out a little maybe, but then –

Then what?

 

Landing on Hasetsu is unexpectedly soothing. He greets the spaceport employees by name, thinks about stopping by his favourite fruit merchant’s stall on the way back, and is almost bowled over by an enthusiastic Makkachin. The news must have broken before their arrival, because people are setting up decorations in the streets, cheering as they walk by.

Yuuri makes a point of waving back and stopping to accept congratulations, so it’s late by the time they get back to the inn. Yuuri must be exhausted -- Victor can barely keep his eyes open as he mechanically shovels warm food into his mouth, and he hasn’t been the center of attention all day.

Eventually Yuuri retires for the night, Makkachin on his heels, and Victor knows he won’t be expecting him, that he’ll probably be passing out the moment his head hits his pillow.  

Victor doesn’t go to bed. His mind won’t let him rest despite the exhaustion.

He climbs onto the room, using the Force to enhance his jumps. He can see the sea from there, and the moons. He can think.

These are the facts:

He’s made vows, and made them seriously.

He is a great asset for the Jedi, yes, but still one of thousands.

He hasn’t struggled with the teachings about attachment the way many do, in the past. He’s felt fondness for his master, for his student, for his brothers and sisters. He considers several members of the Order dear friends.

But he hasn’t loved before, not like this.

He hasn’t belonged.  

And he can’t make sense of them anymore, the teachings he’s held to be true his whole life, because when he looks at Yuuri he is filled with light in a way he never has been in the Temple’s halls.

By the time the sun rises, he’s made up his mind.

 

He doesn’t intend to wake up Yuuri, just wants to lie down with him, but Yuuri’s eyes crack open the moment he walks into the room. Victor expects a scolding for disturbing him at an ungodly hour, but he only gets a sleepy smile as he crawls under the covers. 

They doze together, Victor’s head on Yuuri’s chest, and Yuuri running his fingers through Victor’s hair absentmindedly.

“I’m a terribly selfish man,” Yuuri whispers eventually, low enough that Victor’s not certain he was meant to hear it.

“You’re not.”

“I am. I almost wish we hadn’t solved anything, if it meant you’d never leave.”

“Then I’m just as selfish as you are.”

Yuuri sighs.

“I’ve been thinking – when this is over – I should retire.”

Victor sits up, alarmed.

“What? Why?”

 “I’m tired of it all and I – know Phichit’s been wanting to come home. I could be Senator, don’t you think? And then if I was on Coruscant then maybe we could still – see each other, sometimes. If you wanted. I know it’s not – that Jedi don’t –“

 His voice breaks, and he looks at the wall.

“Yuuri, you don’t like politics,” Victor says, because it’s the easiest part of his statement to respond to. “You’d be miserable in the Senate.”

Yuuri flinches.

“I know.”

“I’m not going.”

“What? Victor, what are you saying?”

Yuuri looks confused, and tired, and Victor is more certain than ever that he’s making the right choice.

“I’m leaving the Order.”

What?

Victor cracks a smile.

“I’m a terrible Jedi, anyway.”

“Y-you’re the best they have!”

Victor hesitates, because it’s not something he’d meant to talk about, not yet, though he supposes that leaving the Order just as good as says it, but Yuuri still looks bewildered, disbelieving, like Victor is about to say any second that he was joking, when he’s never been more serious in his life.

 “A good Jedi wouldn’t have requested a mission just because there was someone they wanted to see again. A good Jedi wouldn’t have moved in with that person and certainly wouldn’t have fallen in love with them.”

“Love.” Yuuri repeats, dumbfounded. “Wait – You knew I existed?”

It’s Victor’s turn to be startled.

“Of course I did! After Coruscant, how could I not?”

Yuuri just looks at him like Victor has gone insane.

“I have – no idea what you’re talking about.”

“The banquet? At the Senate? Where we danced? I was doing security? You were drunk?”

Oh. That time. We – talked?”

“You don’t remember? Any of it?”

Yuuri shakes his head.

Well that does explain some things, Victor thinks faintly. They stare at each other for a long moment, Yuuri flushed in confusion and embarrassment – Victor imagines he much look much the same – and then suddenly Yuuri bursts into laughter.

“Your face,” he wheezes.

Victor pouts, because he was being serious, talking about his feelings. When Yuuri notices he takes hold of his shirt and drags him close to kiss him, though he occasionally has to break away to giggle some more.

Victor adores this man.

 

It’s not the end of it, of course. Victor doesn’t expect it to be, because he knows that it must seem like he’s making an immense sacrifice. He can’t find the words to make Yuuri understand that he’s thought it through – Yuuri who would’ve been willing to become Senator. He still shudders at the thought.

He doesn’t know how to say that since he’s told Yuuri he’s been impossibly relieved, free of a burden he’s always carried without even realising it. It’s not that he’s never been content being Victor Nikiforov, Jedi Knight, but he’s dying to know who plain old Victor will be.

Yuuri watches him run through his morning routine, a few days later, even though Yuuri usually never rises this early if he can help it. He’s silent until Victor turns off his lightsaber and comes sit by him, wiping the sweat off his brow with his sleeve.

“Won’t you miss it?” He says finally.

“Being a Jedi? Yes. But it’s not as though I’ll have to give up my lightsaber. I’ll have more time to work on new forms, if anything.”

“Still, won’t it be lonely, by yourself?”

“I can teach you, if you want. I wouldn’t be lonely then.”

“I think I’d like that.”

They fall into a contemplative silence, and Victor wishes he knew how to make him see. He wants to shout his feelings for the world to know, paint them, dance them. 

Yes, maybe dancing would work --

“You’ll get bored, you know.”

“Of what?”

“Of this. Of Hasetsu. Of me.”

Victor scoff, because Yuuri is ridiculous sometimes.

“That would be like getting bored of breathing.”

Yuuri laughs.

“I don’t know how you say these things with a straight face.”

“You wound me, darling.” He tries out the endearment, a little odd on his tongue, but he likes the way it makes Yuuri blink in surprise. “I stand by every word. Besides, by the time I run out of things to do here, you’ll certainly be retired. We can go travel then. Maybe become bounty hunters, for something exciting to do. I think you’d make a very dashing bounty hunter, don’t you? Exploring the galaxy, just you and me and – Makkachin,” he finishes a little awkwardly, losing some of his cheer.

Yuuri reaches out, presses a hand to his cheek with a sympathetic noise.

“Oh, Victor. Have you told him yet?”

“No. I’ll do it later today.”

“Do you want me there?”

“No, no. It won’t be pleasant, but it’s between me and Yurio. I’ll be letting him down.”

“Are you really sure –“

Yes, I’m sure” Victor snaps. “You protest so much, it’s like you don’t really want me to stay.”

He’s being obnoxious, and they both know it, so Yuuri gives him an unimpressed stare until he lowers his eyes. Yuuri softens almost immediately.

“I just wish it didn’t have to be like this. That you didn’t have to lose so much.”

“I won’t lose anything I can’t live without. I’ve made my choice, Yuuri.”

“So you have.”

They find each other’s hands, and hold on.

 

Victor’s already put off the conversation far longer than he should have. The time of their scheduled departure approaches, and Yurio’s bags are already packed. He’s even in a somewhat decent mood, for once, at the thought of going home. Victor hates to have to ruin it.

 “I can’t wait to be off this dumb planet. Where do you think they’ll send us, next?”

Victor’s always done as he pleased, and he will this time too, but he doesn’t want to hurt the boy, though he must. He’s quiet for too long, because his apprentice picks up on his discomfort, turns to look at him in alarm.

“Master?”

Victor winces. Yuri never calls him that. He takes a deep breath. 

“I’m not coming back, Yurachka. I’m sorry.” He says, softly.

The reaction is immediate: complete surprise soon drowned out by outrage  

“What? You—You can’t leave the Order! And for what, to stay here on this miserable planet just because you want to fuck Katsuki have you gone insane–“

Victor doesn’t answer, though the dismissal of his relationship with Yuuri stings.

Yuri is incandescent with rage, Force presence wilder than ever. His anger is giving Victor a pounding headache. It always does. His own burns cold, is slow to emerge and fades quickly, and the unfamiliar feelings roaring through their bond are painful. He supposes it’s not a problem he’ll have to worry about for much longer.

Besides, he deserves it, so he grits his teeth and carries on:

“I know Master Yakov will take you on, or Master Lillia, if you’d like. Or Mila, you get along with Mila, don’t you?”

“I don’t want them!”

He doesn’t know why, he knows it’s pointless, but he finds himself continuing anyway:

“You could stay too, if you’d like. I know you like Yuuri – you like Hasetsu –“

The boy shakes his head in furious disbelief, angry tears welling up. Victor wants to wipe them away, but he might get bitten for his troubles.

“I want to be a Jedi! I want to learn from the best, I want you to be there when I’m knighted!”

“I’m not abandoning you, Yurio.”

Yes you are.”

“Tell Master Yakov—“

“Tell him yourself you coward!

Eventually Yuri storms off, when he sees that this isn’t one of Victor’s whims, that he’s deadly serious and won’t be moved.

Victor wonders if the boy will forgive him, one day. If his old master will. He thinks that maybe they won’t. It’s a heavy thought, but nothing like the idea of spending the rest of his life without Yuuri by his side.

 

Victor stops wearing his Jedi robes. It’s a bittersweet moment, another part of his life gone.

Yuuri’s clothes won’t fit him – though he tries – so he has to acquire new ones. It’s not something he’s ever had to do, but he finds that he loves talking to the fabric merchants, picking out the most colourful. He has expensive tastes, it appears.

Which leads him to realise, a little belatedly, that all the credits he has are the Order’s. Thankfully, his Yuuri might just be the richest people on this planet, so it’s not an immediate concern.

Yuuri laughs when he says it, as he’s watching Victor contemplate his reflection from where he’s sprawled on his bed – their bed, now. He’s moved his things into Yuuri’s room at Yuuri’s very flustered invitation, as though Yuuri was somehow being presumptuous, as if that was asking too much.

“I’m sure the merchants are very happy that you’re expanding your wardrobe,” Yuuri says. “My accountant a little less so.”

Victor spins around to face him, his new coat flaring with the movement.  

“Well, I’ll tell them that these are necessary expenses. I’ll have to make you look good, no? As your trophy husband.”

He’s mostly joking, but his heart speeds up with anticipation as he waits for Yuuri’s response. He half-expects a flustered denial, or for Yuuri to laugh it off.

But Yuuri just smiles.

“If you say so.”

Victor’s coat ends up on the floor.

 

The Trade Federation has withdrawn its claims, and removed its presence from Hasetsu airspace. The last page of the accord is signed by Yuuri’s steady hand, Victor standing in his usual spot behind his chair.

Yuuri bows to the Federation representatives, and they nod back in return – Victor doesn’t bristle at the offence, but only because he’s spent years working on mastering himself.

The tallest of the Nemoidians – and ugliest, and probably the most important of them, Victor hasn’t really kept track –trips over nothing on his way out, goes sprawling down on the floor. Yuuri turns to throw him a scandalised glance, but Victor shrugs helplessly. Then he sees Yurio standing in the shadows. He thinks for a second about looking disapproving, but Yurio can feel the amusement through their bond anyway. And Victor’s not – really responsible for him, anymore.

He’ll be going back to the Temple that night, since their mission is over. He’s angry, still, but Victor thinks that maybe he understands. After all, Yurio is not a very good Jedi, either. But maybe with proper guidance he will be, someday. And if not, well. He’ll always be welcome in Hasetsu.  

He’s grudgingly agreed to take back a message to Master Yakov – because Victor will go back to Coruscant, someday, maybe the next time Yuuri is on business there, but he’ll do it on his own terms, won’t be forced to explain himself, to apologize in front of the Council. 

Once the representatives have picked themselves up and left, Yuuri sends him after the teenager, who’s retreated again. They spend the rest of the afternoon duelling, Victor trying to cram all he ever wanted to tech him into a single lesson.

Victor is delighted when Yurio manages to disarm him, just the once.

It’s a new move, not something characteristic of his apprentice’s usually relentless style. Victor wonders where he’s picked it up.

He’s grown, Victor realises, while Victor was busy looking after Yuuri.

“If you let me do that on purpose, you asshole--”

Victor laughs

“Of course not, does that sound like something I would do?”

Yuri pauses, frowns at him.

“No. It doesn’t. You better not let yourself get rusty while you’re here, old man.”

“I won’t,” Victor promises, and corrects his stance.

 

Hasetsu’s skies are lit up with fireworks that night, and Yuuri’s made a few official appearances before coming back to the inn, where his family and Minako and the Nishigoris have gathered to say goodbye to Yurio. The teenager awkwardly promises to keep in touch and is unusually patient with the triplets’ endless questions, so Victor knows he’ll miss them, too.

No one really comments on the fact that Victor is staying, as though it was a foregone conclusion. He spends the night wrapped around Yuuri anyway, in case anyone might be having doubts – Yuuri might be having doubts – floating whatever they might need closer rather than bothering to move.  

Yuri tries to slip away during his own farewell party, but Victor had anticipated something like that and beats him to the ship.

“It’s rude, leaving like that.”

“Don’t talk to me about rude, you can’t even be bothered to tell the council you’re quitting in person.”

“Still, there’s no need for you to follow my terrible example anymore.”

Yuri makes an angry, hurt sound in response, and Victor closes the distance between them to hold him close, willing himself not to cry. Yuri allows it for longer than he would have expected before pushing him away.

“I’m going.”

“Don’t burn the Temple down, Yurio.”

Fuck you, old man. Tell Katsuki I’m taking one of his bikes.”

“I’m sure he’ll be very happy about it.” Yuri climbs inside the ship, throws him one last glance. “May the Force be with you,” Victor chokes out. It seems like the thing to do.

Yuri rolls his eyes at him.

“You two losers better be happy together.”

 

The party is still ongoing when Victor gets back, though he doesn’t think their absences went unnoticed.

“Yurio’s gone, isn’t he?” Yuuri says, expression a little wistful. Victor wonders if he got to say goodbye. He nods.

“Walk with me,” Yuuri says, taking his hand to lead him outside, away from the noise – Yuuri’s father is rather loud, when intoxicated. It must be a family trait.

He doesn’t know if it was Yuuri’s goal all along, but they end up by the beach, throwing sticks for Makkachin to chase after. Both moons shine bright above them, almost full.

“What now?” Yuuri asks, breaking the comfortable silence that’s settled between them.

Victor thinks of the warmth of the inn, of laughter and family. Of practicing his forms in the mornings under Yuuri’s watchful eyes. Of figuring out the best way to nap with Makkachin without scratching himself on his scales. Of standing by Yuuri’s side when he’s being Duke Katsuki, and seeing him rumpled and grumpy first thing in the morning. Of fumbling his way through the courtship rituals he’s started asking Minako about.  

He smiles.

“Now we live.”