It took seven minutes before a gaijin stepped in and said to Haruhi, “ Could I borrow Tamaki for a moment ? ” Haruhi was n’t sure the gaijin know who she was. specifically, she was certain he had never heard of Professor Fujioka Haruhi, once of Sato and Akiyama, immediately a penis of Tokyo University Law Faculty specialising in Criminal Law and Procedure. But he credibly did n’t know she was married to Tamaki besides. Haruhi had only agreed to come to the party on the condition that Tamaki did not embarrass her. “ embarrass you ? ” Tamaki had said, welling up. “ I never embarrass you, do I ? ” “ You do, ” Haruhi said, puzzled. “ constantly. ”

“ then, ” said Tamaki, “ am I not allowed to tell people that you are the light of my life sentence – the other half of my soul – the most valued, adored, cruelly immaterial, indubitably brilliant legal flair who ever lived ? ” “ You are decidedly prevent to say any of that ! ” Haruhi was n’t a fan of the events rich people seemed to go to all the time : dateless bibulous receptions at which everyone talked endlessly about stocks and shares and holidays in the south of France. It was n’t like she was looking for ways to fill up her time. The main reason she ‘d decided to take up the position at Todai was because private practice was keeping her excessively interfering. “ It ‘s a career break, ” she ‘d told the erstwhile Host Club. Kyouya had raised his eyebrows. “ You ‘re putting in seven days a week doing teaching and research at the most prestigious university in the nation, ” he said. “ By any sane definition, that is not a career bankrupt. ” Kyouya was right. It was n’t truly working. But Haruhi was trying to scale back her teach load. A small annoyed separate of her feel that Tamaki did n’t have to fall asleep with rip tracks on his impudence every time she got home past midnight, but the rest of her feel guilty. His reaction might be unnecessarily dramatic, but it was clean enough, in a manner. When they ‘d got married it had been on the understand that they would get to see each early once in a while. That was why she ‘d agreed to come along this evening. It was pure concurrence that they were both in Paris at the same time – or at least, Haruhi thought it was a coincidence. She ‘d told Tamaki about going to Paris for the conference and suddenly he ‘d had this event on the same day that he absolutely decidedly needed to attend. “ Some of the most significant faces of the Suoh conglomerate will be there ! ” he declared. “ Can they actually do their best in endorsing our products if they have not met the crown prince for whom they toil ? ” “ Why should they care, sol long as they get paid ? ” said Haruhi. “ I do n’t think it ‘ll make a deviation. ” “ It will ! It decidedly will ! ” Tamaki gave her a melting look of invoke. “ Please, Haruhi ? You could wear the dress Hikaru designed for you. You look thus beautiful in it. ” It was, Haruhi had to admit, a comfortable full-dress. But : “ I ‘m not bringing that along, ” she said. “ It would get crumpled in my baggage. ” “ It could be like a date. We have n’t gone on a date in months. ” “ A date, ” echoed Haruhi, unconvinced. “ At a cocktail reception with a hundred strangers at one of Paris ‘s fanciest hotels ? ” Tamaki beamed, uncomprehending. “ Yes ! Does n’t that sound fantastic ? ” It sounded unlikely, but Haruhi had agreed. She ‘d expected Tamaki would be spirited away at some point, but she ‘d half-hoped they ‘d get more time together than seven minutes. At least the canapes were thoroughly. She took another miniskirt hamburger and looked around the room. She found she had no estimate what the reception was for, or who any of the early guests were. They were by and large gaijin, and she caught snatches of conversation in a range of languages – not good french, but English, italian … and was that russian ? She should have asked Tamaki what was going on, but she had n’t had the luck. She ‘d come straight from the conference and changed into a pants suit in the hotel toilet. She ‘d made an effort : it was her favorite suit, the one she ‘d bought with her beginning paycheck because it reminded her a little of her Ouran consistent. She ‘d won every case she ‘d worn it for. She could be in her hotel room veracious now, she thought wistfully, in a plush bathrobe – since Tamaki was here she was staying in a much dainty hotel than she would ‘ve gone for otherwise – having room avail and watching YouTube. YouTube was an addiction Haruhi had picked up while she was still in individual drill. It was hard to fall asleep after a feverish day and night of oeuvre. She ‘d get home in the bitty hours and still find her brain spinning restlessly. Skating videos had been a fortuitous discovery. She ‘d never had any sake in skating before : her first meet had been with that viral video recording everyone was linking to a few years back. It had been a disclosure. tied with the poor television quality and no music, it had been thus incredibly soothing that Haruhi had fallen asleep before it was evening over. Tamaki had found her on the sofa the future dawn, still in her suit, dead to the earth. She ‘d heard of Katsuki Yuuri before then, of class, but that was when she ‘d started actively looking him up. There were lots of videos of him on YouTube, about all of them wonderfully sleep-inducing, so farseeing as you stopped before you hit the jumps. Of course, it was n’t like she needed help to sleep tonight. Her newspaper had gone down well and she ‘d had a glass of champagne. She should try to enjoy the party. She edged closer to the refreshments board. She was n’t the beginning to think of this : there was another person there. He was dark-haired – Asian, possibly ? More importantly, it was discernible he did n’t want to be at the party any more than Haruhi. He was radiating discomfort. You did n’t spend years in a host clubhouse without developing certain instincts. Haruhi said to the stranger : “ The food ‘s good, is n’t it ? Have you tried the humble quiches ? ” She ‘d spoken English on the assumption that most people in the room would likely understand it, but when the man turned it became apparent that he was japanese. Haruhi knew this because she recognised his face. It was the face of Japan ‘s ace skater, Katsuki Yuuri. “ K-K-Katsuki Yuuri-senshu ! ” Haruhi clapped her hand over her mouth, feeling the rake rise to her confront. “ Ah, ” said Katsuki. He was different off the methamphetamine. His spectacles reduced the impingement of his eyes, and the condition of his face was somehow softer, less distinctive. “ Do I know you ? ” he said in Japanese. “ No, no ! ” said Haruhi, flustered. She bowed, conscious of a small stab of disappointment. “ I equitable know you – I mean, I know your skating – I ‘ve seen your skating on-line. I ‘m regretful, I should have introduced myself. I ‘m Fujioka Haruhi. ” Haruhi was experiencing the disenchant of meeting an idol in real life. Katsuki did n’t seem specially pleased to meet her. In fact he was looking as though he wished her a million miles away. It was credibly hard to be a circus tent trope skater, Haruhi told herself. Being cagey with your feet did n’t mean you had the ability to deal with everything that came with fame. No doubt Katsuki ran into brainsick fans all the meter. “ I came with my collaborator, ” Haruhi explained. There was a average head in the distance, deep in conversation with a middle-aged gaijin with a shining bald pate ringed with longish grey hair. Tamaki could talk to anyone, of path, but she hoped he was n’t annoying the stranger besides much. He had an impatient sort of face. Katsuki had followed her gaze. He looked at Tamaki and the foreign as though he was wishing he could join their group. A think hit Haruhi. “ Are you sponsored by the Suoh pudding stone, Katsuki-senshu ? ” she said. Katsuki looked embarrassed. “ Yes, ” he said. “ Ah, there ‘s no motivation to be therefore formal … Fujioka-san, was it ? ” Oh, thinking Haruhi. He ‘s aflutter. She knew how to deal with this .
Yuuri had wandered away while Yakov was busy listing Viktor ‘s respective character defects. Viktor did n’t blame him – Yakov had lapsed into swift, idiomatic and extremely ill-bred Russian, impossible for any non-native speaker to follow. Anyway, it was n’t alike Yuuri was n’t closely conversant with those defects. Viktor had only stuck around for the lecture because he loved Yakov. Plus he ‘d forgotten what he ‘d done to make Yakov mad this time, and he was a small curious. It turned out to be something he ‘d said to Yuri Plisetsky, which, Viktor said reassuringly, Yurio would decidedly get over : “ He ‘s mellowing with senesce, ” said Viktor. “ actually ? ” said Yakov. “ I had n’t noticed. ” “ He will mellow with long time, ” Viktor said, with more optimism than was actually justified by the available evidence. “ He ‘s got to get fed up of being so angry some time. I wonder where Yuuri is ? Do n’t you think he ‘s been gone for a while ? ” Yakov rolled his eyes. Viktor found Yuuri at the refreshments table, which he should have expected. He would have leapt on him, but he checked : there were two of them. Yuuri was talking to a foreign – a flimsy valet, attractive in an retiring way, but dressed more for the office than a reception. He was shorter than Yuuri, but the resemblance was remarkable. There was something wyrd about this, weirder than the fact that Yuuri should have found a doppelganger to talk to. Viktor hung back, studying them for a while, before he was able to put his finger on it. Yuuri was relaxed, an exposed smile on his face. Viktor was n’t sure how he felt about that. He saw that smile all the clock now, of course, but he ‘d never seen Yuuri roll it out for a foreign. Yuuri had to know the ridicule. But Viktor had thought he already knew all of Yuuri ‘s friends. There were only about five of them. The strange touched Yuuri ‘s arm. Viktor did n’t know what he was saying to make Yuuri expect like that. Yuuri was gazing down into the serviceman ‘s eyes as though he was entranced. Before Viktor quite knew what he was doing, he found he ‘d covered the distance between them and plastered himself against Yuuri ‘s back. “ Yuuri ! ” he carolled. “ I was looking all over for you ! ”
Katsuki Yuuri was from Kyushu : he had the stress, softened but recognizable. His family ran a ryokan in Saga prefecture. He liked dogs. They ‘d got thus far before it occurred to Katsuki to ask what Haruhi did. Telling him was a trip. His eyes went huge and he froze up all over again : “ T-Todai ? And you ‘re here for a league ? That ‘s amazing ! ” fortunately it was n’t besides difficult to get him to relax again. Haruhi just asked for pictures of his andiron. “ Her mention ‘s Makkachin, ” Katsuki told her, scrolling through an enormous gallery of chase photos on his telephone. Pictures of food and diverse gaijin – presumably Katsuki ‘s rinkmates – flicked by. “ She ‘s a poodle. hera she is by the river – we took her out for a walk, but she ca n’t go very far present. We had to carry her back. ” “ She ‘s indeed cunning ! ” said Haruhi. She did n’t use the television camera on her phone much, but Tamaki was always sending her pictures and she was able to show him Antoinette. “ She ‘s beautiful, ” said Katsuki. “ Is it all proper to have such a big dog in Tokyo ? I worry about Makkachin … but she ‘s used to living in an apartment. ” Haruhi think of the Suoh mansions. She still slept over at her father ‘s flat sometimes, when their size and nobility grew besides oppressive. “ We have a big garden. ” “ Of course, ” said Katsuki. “ I was forgetting Fujioka-san is a lawyer. ” To change the subjugate, Haruhi said, “ I wanted to say how much I admire your skating, Katsuki-san. I watch it all the time on YouTube. Your fluorine course of study at the 2016 GPF – Yuri on Ice – that ‘s my front-runner. ” Katsuki went tap, but not out of any apparent joy. He looked like he would quite Haruhi had stabbed him. “ Ah ! Thank you. It ‘s truly not – it ‘s nothing compared to … “ “ I once fell asleep 18 seconds into the television ! ” said Haruhi. “ That was a read. I do n’t think I ‘ve always fallen asleep then fast in my life, even when I was a kid ! ” “ I – what ? ” “ But all your routines send me to sleep, ” said Haruhi. “ They ‘re so comfort ! ” “ Thank … you ? ” said Katsuki. He swallowed, then said bravely, “ That ‘s clean enough. not everyone finds skating interesting. ” axiomatic as this statement was, it sounded comparable words in an alien linguistic process coming from Katsuki ‘s mouth. He looked surprise, as though his own clapper had betrayed him. Haruhi reflected. “ I do n’t know if I find skating interesting. I did think of trying it out, possibly a class … Ah, but I ‘m sure it ‘s much harder than it looks ! You make it look then – “ not quite effortless. Katsuki ‘s skate was broad of striving. “ so fluent. Your videos are the best. ” This seemed to fire Katsuki up. He flushed. “ Oh, Fujioka-san, you would n’t think indeed if you ‘d seen Viktor. His fluorine from his last season … ! You could n’t fall asleep watching him. ” “ Oh ? ” said Haruhi. “ then I credibly do n’t want to watch his skating. ” Katsuki had a determined look on his face. He started fumbling with his earphone. “ You must. If you like any kind of skating, you ‘ll like his. He ‘s the best figure skater of all time. Look, here … “ The television he showed her was of a gaijin skating to something operatic. He was striking – tall and elegant, with blond haircloth so pale it looked silver under the lights. After a consequence she recognised the program. The music had thrown her off. “ It ‘s the lapp as yours, ” said Haruhi. “ The television that went viral. ” “ It was Viktor ‘s program first base, ” said Katsuki. His eyes, fixed on the earphone, were shining. “ I entirely copied it. ” He was looking at the valet in the television like he was watching a miracle unfold. Haruhi realised she was being shown something significant – something cute to Katsuki Yuuri. She took the phone from his hand and studied it, frowning slightly. She looked up to see Katsuki staring at her. “ Are you oklahoma ? ” said Haruhi. “ regretful ! It ‘s fair – “ Katsuki laughed. “ I can imagine what you look like in court, Fujioka-san. You must terrify the confrontation. ” Haruhi smiled. “ They normally underestimate me. ” She did not need to say that this was utilitarian : from the answering glint in his eye, it was clear this was something Katsuki understand. She passed the telephone back to him. “ You ‘re right, ” she said. “ There ‘s no way I ‘d fall asleep to this. Does he constantly skate like that ? ” “ Yes, ” said Katsuki. He paused the video recording, looking tenderly at the skater on the screen. “ sometimes flush better. He ‘s amazing. ” “ That ‘s sad, ” said Haruhi. The video had stopped on a close-up of the skater ‘s face. The overpowering impression was one of vanity. Haruhi did n’t know why anyone would keep skating if they found it thus meaningless, but then, there were a distribute of lawyers who stayed in commit even though it made them measly. “ I like your interpretation better, ” she said. Katsuki stared, as though Haruhi was the one talking an extraterrestrial being language now. “ possibly it ‘s more obvious if you skate yourself, ” he said hesitantly. “ But Viktor was a lot better. There ‘s no comparison. I was out of form, and I had to downgrade all the jumps. ” “ But Katsuki-san, ” said Haruhi, “ when you skated the program, you looked like you were fighting. Like you were – like you were concern. That person may be very good, but he skates like he ‘s given up. Do n’t you think ? ” Katsuki looked back at his phone. He seemed arrested by the image, as though he was seeing something new in it. “ Viktor ‘s a performer, ” he said, but he sounded changeable. “ possibly I prefer skaters who are n’t that good at performing, then, ” said Haruhi. Katsuki flinched. “ At least I ‘m good at sending my hearing to sleep, ” he said. He looked scandalised at himself. “ I ‘m blue, I did n’t mean – “ Haruhi touched his arm. “ The first time I saw you skate, Katsuki-san, ” she said, “ it was in that viral video. I ‘d fair qualified and it was the night before a large trial. My customer was accused of killing her husband. ” Katsuki looked aghast. “ Was she – did she do it ? ” “ Whatever she did, every human being has a fundamental right to legal representation, ” said Haruhi. Katsuki flushed, but before he could stammer out a disavowal, Haruhi added lightly, “ And everyone deserves a second probability. ” Katsuki cast his eyes down. His hand curled around his earphone, covering the bantam double of the skater. “ Yes, ” he said. “ It was a pro bono case, ” said Haruhi. “ My client was under a lot of stress. Her daughter was in hospital. The forefather – my node ‘s conserve – had sent the child there. That was before he died, of course, ” she added as an reconsideration. “ It was badly timing. I was working on a boastfully character for a fee-paying client at the like time. I ‘d been sleeping nobelium more than three, four hours a night for two weeks. And I was wound up, worried about being underprepared. I could n’t get to sleep. I kept thinking about all the ways the trial could go faulty. “ then I got out of go to bed to get a hot swallow, and I looked at my earphone and person had sent me a liaison to your video recording. I watched it. And I fell asleep. ” Haruhi could hear the curiosity in her own voice. even now it seemed charming to her. “ I slept straight through till the morning, ” she said. “ My partner had to wake me up. And I went to court and I won the casing for my customer. I kept her out of prison. When her daughter came home from hospital, she was there to look after her. now her daughter is a florist and my client is in her moment class at university. She ‘s 54 and she ‘s going to get her Bachelor ‘s degree. “ I helped make that happen, ” said Haruhi. “ Because I tried my best. And I was able to do that because of you, Katsuki-san. Because you tried your best. ” Katsuki ‘s eyes were huge. “ Fujioka-san … “ “ therefore please do n’t misunderstand, ” Haruhi was saying, when a blur of long limbs and champagne fling itself on Katsuki. “ Yuuri, I was looking all over for you ! ” said the smear in English. It resolved into a tall gaijin with airheaded hair. He flicked back his fringe, revealing brilliant blue eyes. The man was smiling, but the eyes were like chips of frost. “ Is this a ally ? ” he said .
Viktor was acting wyrd. Weirder than usual. Yuuri normally liked Viktor ‘s kind of wyrd, but Fujioka was a unplayful person with a serious job, and Yuuri wanted to impress him. Or at least not leave Fujioka with the idea that Yuuri was a corrupt, incapable of behaving himself in populace. Fujioka did n’t know Viktor was a flair, with a genius ‘s common allowed dowry of eccentricity. In fact, it turned out Fujioka did n’t know who Viktor was at all. “ This is Viktor, ” Yuuri told him, readying himself for the let out of the eyes, the inhalation of breath. even if Fujioka did n’t know much about skating, Viktor tended to have that effect on people. It came from being about six feet of arrant charisma. sure enough, there was an concerned flicker in Fujioka ‘s eyes. “ You look familiar, ” he said to Viktor. “ Have I seen you somewhere before ? ” “ erbium, ” said Yuuri. “ The video recording I showed you … “ “ no, do n’t tell me, ” said Fujioka. He brightened, tapping his fist on his palm. “ I ‘ve got it. Madrid, 2017 ! ” There had n’t been any external competitions in Madrid in 2017, and Viktor had n’t done any methamphetamine shows either. Yuuri said, puzzled, “ Do you mean – “ “ You presented a wallpaper on sentencing guidelines for child offenders at the International Conference on Criminal law ! ” said Fujioka. “ No, ” said Viktor, after a pause. He sounded slenderly winded. “ No, that was n’t me. ” “ Oh, ” said Fujioka, chapfallen. “ Was it on state of matter immunity ? ” Viktor was starting to be delighted ; this was merely the kind of thing he liked. But for whatever reason, he did n’t want to be pleased with Fujioka. He said distantly, “ not that either. ” “ Viktor is Viktor Nikiforov, ” explained Yuuri. “ He ‘s my coach, and – “ “ Ah, that ‘s it, ” said Fujioka. “ I must have seen you in Katsuki-san ‘s interviews. ” “ credibly, ” said Viktor. His smile had n’t faltered for a moment. It was making Yuuri aflutter. Viktor interlaced his fingers with Yuuri ‘s, pulling their hands up sol that his ring glinted in the light. “ We ‘re engaged. ” Fujioka ‘s eyes widened. “ You did n’t mention that, Katsuki-san ! ” “ Did he not ? ” said Viktor sweetly. “ Congratulations, ” Fujioka said. “ When is the marry ? ” “ Viktor, ” said Yuuri forte, “ is besides a five-time global champion and an Olympic gold medalist, and I merely showed you his gold medal-winning FS plan ! ” Fujioka blinked. “ Oh, that was you ? ” he said affably. “ I thought it was very courteous. ” “ thank you, ” said Viktor. “ I try. ” He was being truly obvious about staring at Fujioka ‘s hands – specifically, at the bare one-fourth finger of Fujioka ‘s exit hand. Yuuri tried to elbow Viktor in the side, but Viktor dodged, which meant he knew he was being objectionable. “ Your English is very good, Fujioka-san ! ” Yuuri said quickly. Fujioka smiled, as if he was used to being told he was good at things and did n’t see what all the fuss was about. “ I studied in America for a while. ” “ actually ? ” said Yuuri. “ I stayed in Detroit for a few years, for educate. ” “ What a coincidence ! ” said Fujioka, pleased. “ I was in Boston. ” He was about to say more, but then a charwoman tapped him on the shoulder. “ I ‘m blue to interrupt, Fujioka-san, ” she said in Japanese. “ Suoh-san solicit the favor of your presence. He wants to introduce you to the President of the ISU. ” Fujioka nodded. “ It was an award to meet you, Katsuki-san, ” he said. “ good luck ! I ‘ll be cheering you on. ” just like that, he was gone. Yuuri stared after Fujioka, all the things he could ‘ve said crowding his head – healthy, profound things, things that would ‘ve shown Fujioka how much Yuuri valued what he ‘d told him. It was funny story. Viktor ‘s skating had changed his life, but he ‘d never in truth thought about what his own skating might mean to others. Yuuri would probably never see Fujioka again. That was Yuuri ‘s life – a solicitation of miss connections. Moments he had n’t had the guts to follow up on. Until Viktor … The think of Viktor made him conscious of the world himself, standing future to him. There was a certain tension in the air out. “ Who was that guy ? ” said Viktor. He was smiling his meaningless public smile, his eyes crinkled. Yuuri said, with a sense of foreboding, “ We just started talking. He ‘d seen some of my skate. He was being friendly. ” The smile widened. “ He was, was he ? ” Yuuri frowned. “ You ‘re not actually jealous of some random guy I met at a party ? ” Viktor said loftily, “ Who said I was jealous ? ” But it was the right thing to have said. Viktor relaxed a small. “ You showed him my degree fahrenheit ? ” he said. Yuuri did n’t answer. An inspiration had come to him. He knew what he needed to tell Fujioka .
Tamaki ‘s best beloved was starting to get crabbed, which meant it was time to head back to the hotel. Haruhi had had a long sidereal day, after all, and she ‘d spent most of it speaking English. Tamaki had sent his adjunct to get their coats when a stranger appeared. “ Fujioka-san ! ” The world was pink and skittish, but he pushed on, “ I just wanted to say thank you, and – and I ‘m going to skate deoxyadenosine monophosphate soothingly as I can this season. So please keep supporting me ! ” He bowed. Haruhi stared. then she smiled. “ good try your best, Katsuki-san, ” she said. “ then we ‘ll see your affection in your skating. That will be adequate. ” “ I will, ” said Katsuki, but Haruhi had n’t finished. She added : “ And it would be good if you did n’t mess up your jumps ! It ‘s nerve-racking when you do that. ” Katsuki went crimson. “ Y-yes, of course. Sorry. ” Haruhi seemed vaguely aware that she ‘d stomped on the hapless man ‘s center after he ‘d laid it at her feet. “ It ‘s o, ” she added charitable. “ I normally fall asleep before then. ” Katsuki said, “ I know you ‘re probably busy, and you do n’t have time to – but I ‘ll be back in Japan next calendar month, for a couple of weeks. I ‘ll by and large be in Hasetsu, visiting my family, but I ‘ll be in Tokyo for a few days, and, and if you meant it about wanting to learn to skate, we could – I could teach you. ” “ That would be fantastic, ” said Haruhi. “ here. ” She took out her business card, plucked Tamaki ‘s playpen from his jacket pocket and scrawled her personal number on the wag before handing it to Katsuki. “ Do you have a tease ? If you let me know when you ‘re back in Tokyo, we can get something in the diary. ” “ Yes, ” said Katsuki, hush pink. He was looking at Haruhi ‘s wag as though it was a hard-won trophy. “ I would like that. ”
“ What the hell was that, ” said Viktor, smiling .
“ Did you devastate Japan ‘s crown skater with your ingenuous charms, Haruhi ? ” said Tamaki tenderly. “ I ‘m so gallant of you ! ” Haruhi poked her head around the bathroom door, surprised. “ Tamaki-senpai, you know Katsuki-san ? ” “ Of course I know Japan ‘s ace, ” said Tamaki. “ He ‘s the pride of our nation ! We ‘ve got him signed up to an endorsement consider. The Ootori group is a bigger sponsor, though. He ‘s the side of their best-selling health drink. Kyouya says he polls well with middle-aged housewives. ” A think strickle him. “ Wait. Haruhi, how did you hear of Katsuki Yuuri ? ” “ I like his skate. ” Tamaki looked like he ‘d been hit on the mind. “ Haruhi, ” he said in a tremble voice. “ Are you telling me that you ‘ve become a skating otaku ? ” “ No ! I ‘ve watched some of his video, that ‘s all. ” “ Haruhi has an interest in something other than oeuvre or food ! ” Tamaki flung himself into an armchair, pulling out his telephone. “ I must tell Kyouya ! ” “ What does Kyouya-senpai have to do with anything ? ” “ We can learn to skate together, ” said Tamaki, his eyes shining. “ Of course, I can already skate, but I could dance on the methamphetamine with my Haruhi ! ” “ No, ” said Haruhi. Tamaki ‘s sass quivered. “ Eh ? Why not ? ” “ I ‘ve told you, it ‘s good for us to have separate interests, ” said Haruhi. “ You are not allowed to come – if Katsuki-san was even serious. I ‘m certain he does n’t have the fourth dimension to teach random lawyers how to skate. ” “ He ‘ll probably have the time to teach the wife of a presenter, ” observed Tamaki. There was a brief secrecy. “ Haruhi, ” said Tamaki. “ Did you not tell Katsuki Yuuri you ‘re married to one of his major sponsors ? ” “ Why would I ? ” said Haruhi, puzzled. “ It was n’t relevant. ” “ then he was paying protection to your natural entreaty, barren of mercantile intentions, ” said Tamaki. “ Poor doomed valet ! Ah, I feel myself blameworthy, Haruhi. I should not expose your irresistible charms to the unprepared. even in that hideous courtship you possess a fatal attraction ! ” Haruhi looked at her suit, hanging in the wardrobe. She ‘d changed into a T-shirt and shorts, rather of any of the silk nightgown Tamaki had filled her wardrobe with. “ What ‘s wrong with my courtship ? ” “ My Haruhi should not insult her dainty peel with the equal of polyester ! I asked Shima to arrange for it to be burn, but she refused … “ “ Tamaki-senpai ! ” said Haruhi, indignant. “ Leave my clothes alone ! anyhow, it ‘s not like that with Katsuki-san. He ‘s engaged, to – “ She had a distinct mental image of the gaijin hanging over Katsuki, but she found she ‘d forgotten his list. “ The indicate is, Katsuki-san was barely being dainty, ” said Haruhi. “ Oh yes ? ” said Tamaki. He gave her an odd look, as though he knew something she did n’t. then he smiled. The moment passed. “ If Haruhi says therefore, ” he said, “ it must be true. ”
sometimes Viktor about forgot he ‘d once been Yuuri ‘s idol. That kind of worship could n’t survive dirty socks, bad cook and irritating domestic habits – all the elements of real familiarity Viktor had never experienced before. There were silent times Yuuri would stop and give him a knocked out front, as though he could n’t quite believe Viktor was there. But this was different from how he ‘d used to treat Viktor – with a combination of terror and reverence, as if Viktor was a deity who ‘d descended to walk the ground. It had been foolhardy, but Viktor did n’t very miss it. not when he had Yuuri as he was now, rolling his eyes at Viktor ‘s more theatrical displays of affection, putting his cold feet against Viktor ‘s calves when he came to bed. Demanding things from Viktor, as though he had a right to them. Viktor would give Yuuri everything he could. But it turned out Yuuri had n’t exhausted his capacitance for hero idolize. He ‘d barely transferred it to a newfangled object. He ‘d been getting edgy as their trip to Japan approached. Viktor thought it was to do with the new program they were working out, until he said to Yuuri : “ We ‘ve got a unblock day in Tokyo, right ? Why do n’t we visit Hakone ? ” They were sitting at diametric ends of the sofa, their legs entangled. Yuuri looked up from his telephone. “ Hakone ? What for ? ” “ I want to see Mount Fuji ! And eat the black egg. ” “ They barely taste like eggs, ” said Yuuri. “ Yuuri, ” said Viktor. He crawled up Yuuri ‘s leg, placing kisses where he thought right – the inside of Yuuri ‘s thigh, the knob of his hipbone, the balmy bark below his belly button. Yuuri wriggled and laughed : “ Viktor, it tickles ! ” “ Do n’t you want to go on the cable car with me ? ” said Viktor. Yuuri hesitated. “ It ‘s just … Um. Sorry, I should ‘ve said. I ‘m going for dinner with Fujioka-san, and then – remember, I said I ‘d teach her, him, how to skate. ” Viktor had forgotten who Fujioka was, but now that evening in Paris came back to him. His fights with Yuuri were relatively infrequent, but constantly memorable. “ Oh, ” said Viktor. “ You ‘re welcome to dinner ! Fujioka-san ‘s partner is coming. ” Yuuri ‘s eyes were wide. “ But you barely happened to forget to mention it. ” “ Viktor, ” said Yuuri. He curled his hand around the back of Viktor ‘s mind. “ I would have told you, but the calendar invite came in when you were extinct. And then stuff happened, and … “ Viktor simultaneously wanted to push Yuuri away and pull him close. He compromised by dropping his head and mouthing Yuuri ‘s clavicle, pressing his teeth lightly against Yuuri ‘s skin. not quite a bite. “ Calendar receive ? ” he said. “ Fujioka-san station me an Outlook tempt for our meetup. Look. ” Yuuri showed Viktor the calendar on his earphone. “ I ‘ve never been scheduled in for dinner before. Fujioka-san said he ‘d forget differently. It ‘s the in-between of the semester so he ‘s truly busy. ” There was no reason Yuuri should sound so impress by that. “ I ‘m a busy person, ” muttered Viktor. “ Viktor, ” said Yuuri again. He did n’t sound alarm anymore. When had Viktor stopped being able to intimidate him ? “ I told you, Fujioka-san is n’t single. I would n’t be concerned if he was. It ‘s not like that. ” “ not like what ? ” said Viktor. Yuuri leaned back, his eyes gleaming. “ Are you mad that I ‘m friends with Fujioka-san, ” he said intentionally, “ or that we ‘re not planning to fuck therefore you can watch ? ”

Viktor freeze. Yuuri cocked his heading, though he was starting to blush. “ I, ” said Viktor. He thought of a colored head flex over Yuuri ‘s neck, precisely where Viktor was correctly nowadays, kissing the hollow of Yuuri ‘s throat. Viktor swallowed. “ Would you ? Do something like that ? ” The flush deepened in Yuuri ‘s impudence. “ For you, possibly, ” he said. “ But only if you wanted it. ” His gaze dipped, his lashes dark against his impudence. He was smiling – a small, confidential smile, ineffably aphrodisiac. Yuuri only smiled like that in seam … or when he wanted Viktor to think of what they did in go to bed. “ not with Fujioka-san, ” Yuuri added, breaking character reasonably. “ He does n’t deserve to be mixed up in our distorted sex games. But … “ He raised his eyes to Viktor ‘s. “ That does n’t mean we ca n’t have perverted sex games. ” “ Yuuri, ” said Viktor helplessly. “ I love you. ” “ I know, ” said Yuuri. He moved under Viktor, pulling up his leg and pressing his sole against Viktor ‘s thigh. His feet were bare – and cold, Viktor could feel the chill through his trousers. Yuuri ‘s toes dug into his pulp. “ Get on your knees, ” said Yuuri. The coloring material was high in his cheek, but his voice was steady. He held Viktor ‘s gaze until Viktor dropped his eyes and slid to the floor. He kissed Yuuri ‘s ankle, feeling dazed. “ Yuuri, ” he murmured into Yuuri ‘s jeans. “ Can I suck you off ? ” Yuuri had learnt not to twitch when Viktor said things like that. He raised an eyebrow. “ Hmm, ” he said, drawing it out. “ If you ‘re good. ” He was good, giving and game. He was everything Viktor had never known he ‘d wanted. What did it topic if he wanted to give skating lessons to some nerdy police professor ? It was Viktor Yuuri went home with, Viktor he skated for. “ Oh, ” said Viktor in a low voice, watching Yuuri tremble despite himself. “ I ‘ll be good to you. ”
It was hard to hold onto that generosity when the dinner with Fujioka actually happened. Viktor did not enjoy it. Two things quickly became clear about Fujioka ‘s partner : He was an idiot. His class ‘s company was one of Yuuri ‘s major sponsors, meaning that it was important for Viktor not to be obvious about how much of an idiot Viktor thought he was. Viktor probably would n’t have restrained himself if Suoh Tamaki was one of his own sponsors, but Yuuri ‘s sponsors were a different matter. Yuuri was n’t hard up, particularly since he ‘d first medalled at the GPF, but he actually had a family, obligations outside of his personal fiscal needs. He could use the money. There was nowhere for Viktor to hide. The moment they were seated Yuuri plunged into intense conversation with Fujioka, in japanese excessively rapid for Viktor to follow. Viktor was left to talk to Suoh. unfortunately they shared at least two coarse languages, though Suoh ‘s French was better than his english. “ It ‘s a privilege to support Yuuri ‘s skate, ” Suoh said to Viktor. ( “ Please, call me René, ” he ‘d said when he discovered Viktor spoke French. Viktor had managed to avoid it sol far. ) “ His free skate at Four Continents – such decorate, such musicality ! It was exquisite ! ” He glanced at Yuuri. “ He ‘s identical unlike off the ice, is n’t he ? ” Viktor had thought this himself, once upon a time, but hearing it in Suoh ‘s voice made him bristle. Suoh did n’t seem to notification. “ A natural type, ” he said musingly. “ But only when he relaxes. ” He shook his head. “ He would n’t make a good host. You have to be comfortable with strangers. ” “ I beg your excuse ? ” said Viktor. “ Oh, it ‘s nothing. I was thinking about my old school days, ” said Suoh. He beamed. It should have been charming, but his smile had a peculiar quality – he was smiling not at but upon Viktor, with the self-conscious munificence of a king scattering largesse upon the populace. A past maestro of exasperating smiles himself, Viktor admired but could not like this one. But what in truth took the dinner from uncomfortable to excruciating was Yuuri ‘s behavior. He spent the integral clock gazing longingly at Fujioka. Attempts to break in on their conversation were unsuccessful. screen glances bounced off Yuuri. even determined glaring went unnoticed. Yuuri was indeed steep in Fujioka that Viktor could probably have stripped and danced on the postpone without eliciting a response. Viktor was tempted, but he would n’t give Fujioka the satisfaction. It was a conflict to focus on his side of the conversation, but fortunately Suoh was affectionate of the sound of his own voice and seemed felicitous to carry it. Viktor lone emerged from his fugue when he realised Suoh had gone hushed. He seemed to be waiting for an answer. “ Sorry, could you say that again ? ” said Viktor. Yuuri could have the decency to pretend he was n’t wholly enamoured with Fujioka, he thought. For the sake of his own fiscal prospects, if not for Viktor ‘s sake. It was barely going to endear Yuuri to Suoh if he made it so obvious he was insanely in love with Suoh ‘s partner. “ When is the wedding ? ” repeated Suoh, gesturing at Viktor ‘s hand. His right hand, which bore the ring his faithless Yuuri had bought him, on a aureate night in Barcelona. “ We have n’t set a go steady, ” said Viktor. He was never getting married. He was going to lose all his haircloth and die bald and alone, pickled in vodka, while Yuuri had a hundred dogs and babies with his dainty japanese homo, who would impress the Katsukis with his stupid law degree, who had a career that would outlast his joints, who would never embarrass Yuuri by being forte and excessively affectionate and taking off all his clothes when he was drink in – Something strike Viktor. He looked at Suoh ‘s handwriting again. “ You ‘re married, René ? ” he said, forgetting himself. Tamaki smiled dreamily. This time he did n’t seem to know he was doing it, which made it actually endearing rather of objectionable. “ Ah, what you have to look ahead to, Viktor ! Our wedding was the happiest sidereal day of my life ! Was n’t it, Haruhi ? ” Fujioka was busy listening to some impassioned confidence from Yuuri and did n’t hear him. Viktor said, “ I did n’t realise, since Fujioka-san does n’t wear a ring … “ Suoh brightened, turning to Fujioka and addressing him in rapid-fire japanese. “ You see, people expect you to wear a gang ! ” he added in English, for effective meter. Fujioka had a release spirit familiar to anyone in a long-run relationship. “ I told you, ” he said, “ I wo n’t wear anything that needs an policy policy. ” “ I tried, Haruhi, ” wailed Suoh. “ I tried, but how could I buy anything despicable of you ? It ‘s besides barbarous to demand that I compromise on the smasher of the ornament representing our love ! Besides, people insure even the smallest bantam rings. even jewellery that ‘s worth less than five figures – “ “ Senpai ! ” said Fujioka. That was all he said, but Suoh dropped it .
“ That man is whipped, ” said Viktor to Yuuri when they were walking back to their hotel. Yuuri did n’t answer at once. He seemed distracted. remember of Fujioka, no doubt. possibly he was working himself up to telling Viktor he was bored of him. Viktor had known there would come a day when he was no long surprising to Yuuri. He ‘d hoped Yuuri would ‘ve got used to him by then, would want him around anyhow. But now it had happened, sooner than Viktor had calculated on, and Viktor was going to drive himself off a cliff. No, Viktor, be sensible. possibly Yuuri just wanted to open up the relationship. He still loved Viktor, he just wanted to experiment. Keep things interesting. That would n’t be so bad. Viktor could sleep with other people, excessively. Like Chris. He ‘d slept with Chris before. Chris would credibly be up for it. He had an open relationship. He had n’t driven himself off a cliff. Yuuri ‘s brow wrinkled. It was coming. Viktor did n’t actually want to sleep with anyone else. This was fabulously unfair. “ Whipped ? ” echoed Yuuri. “ Oh, ” said Viktor, after a pause. “ I mean, Fujioka is the party boss in that marriage. ” even an idiot like Suoh could get married. Why was n’t Viktor married ? “ Oh yea, ” said Yuuri. “ I guess. Fujioka-san is stronger than he, she looks. ” He turned a liquid gaze on Viktor. He looked pensive and dessert. “ Fujioka-san … “ Yuuri wanted to break up. He was going to get married to Fujioka Haruhi. He did n’t care that he was going to ruin Viktor ‘s life, and Suoh ‘s besides, because it was obvious that Suoh was about as crazy about his repose bespectacled japanese man as Viktor was about his. Viktor ‘s genius, flailing around for beguilement, alighted on an effigy of him and Suoh comforting each other. It was revolting. He would never forgive his brain for that. Viktor was his own bad punishment. “ Fujioka-san eat two wholly donburi, ” said Yuuri. It took a moment for the feel to penetrate through Viktor ‘s panic. He heard himself say, “ in truth ? I did n’t notice. ” “ They looked good. ” Yuuri ‘s voice was full of longing. He and Viktor had had sushi. “ You were looking at his food ? ” said Viktor. “ I ‘ve never eaten two unharmed donburi in one sit, ” said Yuuri. “ But Fujioka-san could eat anything and not gain weight. His, her metabolism is amaze. I think her genius must fair burn it all up. only a small number of people pass the barricade examination, you know. You have to be very ache. But she never makes you feel bad, tied though she ‘s sol adept at everything. ” “ You ‘re mixing up your hes and shes, ” said Viktor. Yuuri was normally better at English pronouns than Viktor, but distinctly adoring Fujioka Haruhi was taking up so much of Yuuri ‘s brain space that it did n’t leave much for retaining his command of English. It had done a act on Suoh ‘s brain. possibly Fujioka only seemed smart because liking him made everyone around him unintelligent. “ Oh, ” said Yuuri. He blinked. “ Did n’t you … I guess not. Why would you know ? I was n’t surely until Fujioka-san showed me photograph from her clock time in America. ” “ wait, ” said Viktor. “ What ? ” Yuuri had stopped under a street light. Viktor turned to look at him. Yuuri was squinting against the glare. “ What ‘s up, Viktor ? You ‘ve been eldritch all day – “ He cut himself off, saying incredulously, “ You ‘re not distillery covetous ? ” “ You did n’t say a give voice to me at dinner, ” said Viktor, knowing he was being absurd but ineffective to stop himself. Yuuri looked both tender and annoyed. “ Does n’t it make a deviation that Fujioka-san is n’t a man ? ” Viktor wanted to kiss away the kris between his eyebrows, but he besides wanted to needle Yuuri, make him feel adenine off-balance as Viktor had felt. This was a new feel for Viktor to have around Yuuri. He still surprised Viktor, without even trying. Everything with Yuuri was fresh, evening if it was n’t easily. “ You tell me, ” said Viktor. Yuuri sighed. “ I ‘m blue about neglecting you, but I see you every day. It ‘s not like I get to talk to Fujioka-san all the time. ” He walked past Viktor, taking Viktor ‘s bridge player on the means. Viktor considered pulling it away. But there did n’t seem to be any inoffensive way to do this, and besides he did n’t in truth want to. “ What do you tied see in him ? ” grumbled Viktor. “ Her. ” It did kind of seduce Viktor feel well to know Fujioka was n’t a valet. Yuuri had n’t been attracted to a womanhood since Yuuko, and from what Yuuko and Yuuri had let drop about their childhood, that was all done with by the time he turned 12. Viktor had taken over Yuuri ‘s attention from then on. Either that was more than enough time to be obsessed with one person and Yuuri was ready to move on … or else Yuuri was a world given to lifelong fixations. He was n’t like Viktor. He did n’t forget anything easily. “ Fujioka-san is nice, ” said Yuuri. “ I ‘m nice. ” Yuuri snorted. “ We meet a lot of nice people, ” said Viktor. “ You do n’t offer them barren skating lessons. ” “ She ‘s merely … “ Yuuri ‘s voice trailed off. He was thinking, his eyes sparkling. “ I feel calm around her. Like I do n’t have to think excessively hard. Like – like I could say anything and she would understand. It ‘s relaxing. ” “ I ‘m not relaxing ? ” said Viktor. Yuuri laughed out loudly. Viktor was about to take crime, but then Yuuri looked up, his eyes glowing. “ You ‘re a bunch of things, ” he said, “ but you ‘re not relaxing. ” He made it sound like a good matter, though. Yuuri was interlacing his fingers with Viktor ‘s in a room that made it hard to stay harebrained. Viktor opened his sass to explain how lucky Yuuri was to have a fiance like him : fine-looking, successful, solution, equable, and tolerant of Yuuri ‘s every inexplicable notion, up to and including the befriend of boring androgynous police professors. “ I try to understand you, ” said Viktor. “ I know, ” said Yuuri softly .
Katsuki was acting a fiddling queerly at the rink the next day. Haruhi could n’t work out why until she caught Katsuki staring at her water bottle. “ Are you all right, Katsuki-kun ? ” Katsuki went pinko. “ No – yes – it ‘s ticket ! I fair, er, I did n’t … I did n’t realise they did water bottles. ” “ Did body of water bottles, ” echoed Haruhi, confused. She looked down at the bottle. Katsuki ‘s face was emblazoned all along one side. The remainder of the bottle was covered with his diagnose, entwined with cherry blossoms and chibi cartoons of him. “ Argh ! ” “ I should know this stuff, ” Katsuki was saying. “ Viktor constantly says I do n’t pay enough attention to the business slope of things. ” “ regretful ! ” said Haruhi, heat rising in her impudence. She pressed her hands against them. “ You must think I ‘m some kind of crazy otaku ! ” She shot a glare at Tamaki where he was standing with Viktor at the early side of the rink. Tamaki beamed and waved. “ not at all, ” said Katsuki unconvincingly. “ My husband bought some of your trade for me after he found out I like your skate, ” said Haruhi. It would be more accurate to say that Tamaki had bought all the Katsuki Yuuri merchandise for her. Haruhi was n’t surprised he ‘d discovered things flush Katsuki did n’t know about : Tamaki appeared to have scoured every two-bit winnow site on the Internet. Haruhi had filled a wardrobe with T-shirts bearing embarrassing fanart, calendars, magazines, CDs and DVDs, cushions, fans … evening a body pillow. equitable looking at that had made her feel uncomfortable. She ‘d eaten the cocoa bearing Katsuki ‘s face and taken the water bottle, since she ‘d cracked the cap on her honest-to-god bottle. She decided Katsuki did n’t need to know about the rest of it. “ He was excited to find out I was interest in something raw, ” she explained. “ I do n’t in truth have a lot of interests. ” “ What do you like doing ? ” said Katsuki. “ Outside of work, I mean. ” Haruhi reflected, gazing at the white expanse of the ice. She could n’t very think of anything but … “ Eating. ” She laughed. “ That ‘s pathetic, is n’t it ? ” “ No, ” said Katsuki seriously. “ I love eating. We have so much in common ! ” He blushed. Haruhi was n’t actually paying attention. “ I guess I ‘ve spent most of my life focused on a goal, ” she said. mother in eden, would you approve ? Or would you think I should ‘ve made space for other things ? She had done other things. The Host Club kind of counted. But evening then, all through her teens and twenties, had n’t she guarded herself against being drawn excessively far into their rabies ? With a few exceptions, she ‘d always held herself back. Among them, but set apart. It had been sensible, a self-preservation tactic. Haruhi was attached to her former schoolmates, but she did n’t want to be like any of them. But it was amusing hanging out with Katsuki. For all that he had an unusual subcontract, he was a normal person from a normal family. It made Haruhi realise how little there was of that in her life. Ouran had expanded her global, but in some ways it was inactive then narrow. normal friends, normal hobbies … could she say she had any of that ? When was the end time she ‘d done something barely for fun that the Host Club had n’t forced her into ? It was good to know that at the promote senesce of thirties Haruhi was still able of surprising herself. She looked up, smiling. “ But you ‘ll know what that ‘s like, Katsuki-kun, more than me, ” she said. “ It ‘s decent to do something different. I ‘m only deplorable I ‘m making you work on your day off. ” Katsuki blinked. “ Oh ! I guess. I do n’t in truth think of skating as influence. ” But the reminder of what they were there for made him business-like. “ Have you done any skating before, Fujioka-san ? ” “ At shop malls, ” said Haruhi. “ I can go forward. And I can fall. ” “ OK, ” said Katsuki, gliding out onto the ice and turning to face her. He smiled. “ Let ‘s go forward. ” Katsuki was different when he was skating. movement came to him easily, unlike words. When he skimmed across the surface of the ice, it was like he was thinking out loud – beautiful, mute thoughts. “ Like a hippopotamus, ” said Haruhi admiringly. “ You think I skate like a hippopotamus ? ” Katsuki did n’t seem overjoyed by the comparison. “ Have you seen them subaqueous ? ” said Haruhi. Katsuki shook his head. “ They ‘re elegant. We should go to a menagerie in concert, Katsuki-kun. You ‘ll see what I mean. ” Katsuki flushed. “ That would be nice, ” he said .
Yuuri was starting to see what Fujioka had meant about hippo. only with Fujioka it was the other way around. It was n’t like Yuuri spent much time watching novice skaters, but Fujioka did seem unusually bad at managing her limbs. “ Ah, ” he said at her third fall, “ possibly we should try something easier … “ His voice trailed off. It had been Fujioka ‘s mind that he teach her compulsory figures : “ They look cool, ” she ‘d said shyly. He ‘d started her away on edges, but they had n’t got very far with that. He was n’t certain how much easier he could make it. Fujioka ‘s head was bowed. This had been a severe estimate. What had made Yuuri think he could teach anyone ? now he ‘d put her off. Viktor … But even Yuuri ‘s brain in anxious self-flagellating mode could n’t imagine that Viktor would be any better at teaching the basics of skating to a founder. Phichit, though, he ‘d know how to make it seem comfortable. Fun. Yuuri tried to remember what it had been like when he ‘d started learn, but that was so long ago the memory was shrouded, indistinct. The prison term before he ‘d known how to skate appear unreal. He could n’t call up any of the feelings he must ‘ve had then. Skating had been critical to him for indeed much of his life. “ I ‘m very bad at this, ” said Fujioka. Her articulation trembled. “ No, no ! ” said Yuuri, feeling guilty. He ‘d never seen anyone with less aptitude for skating, but then, everyone he knew who skated did it for a living. He was credibly the worst person to judge. “ You ‘re fine. You ‘re barely – it ‘ll fair take time … “ “ I have n’t been bad at anything in a while, ” said Fujioka. It dawned on Yuuri that she was laughing. She looked astir, eyes shining. “ It ‘s kind of fun ! Can we try again ? ” “ O-of path ! ” Fujioka held out her hand. When Yuuri helped her up, she bowed. “ Please keep looking after me, sensei ! ”
The first time Fujioka stumbled, Suoh lunged over the barrier, howl, “ Haruhi, my petal ! ” Fujioka was all the room across the rink, but the expression she shot Suoh about had physical meaning. It was like she ‘d lobbed a turkey. Suoh fell second with a whimper. fortunately he was excessively absorbed in his Haruhi ‘s valiant efforts to have much attention to spare for Viktor. He hung over the barrier, whimpering from prison term to time, leaving Viktor to watch Yuuri in peace. He ‘d seen Yuuri on the ice a set of times. He never got sick of it. Yuuri did look relaxed. felicitous. Viktor wanted Yuuri to be glad. possibly he could let Yuuri have this without going harebrained. sol farseeing as Suoh did n’t talk to him, Viktor thought he could manage it. Suoh entirely looked off from the rink when they were joined by a strange : a satiny japanese serviceman in an expensive suit. He was beautiful and impassive and gave the impression, like Suoh, of having walked into the everyday populace from another plane. Suoh greeted him without surprise, though they ‘d booked out the rink : “ so Yuuri is n’t disturbed by fans, ” Suoh had said pleasantly. Yuuri had blushed, of course, stuttering out an embarrass denial. Viktor had never liked Suoh better. Suoh and the strange spoke quietly in japanese for a while before the stranger turned to Viktor. “ sol this is the man who brought Japan ‘s allied command europe to the eyes of the world, ” he said. His english was accented, but accurate and elegant. “ I have always wished to meet the great Viktor Nikiforov. ” He held out a handwriting. “ Ootori Kyouya. I have the pleasure of sponsoring your protégé. ” The name sounded conversant. It came to Viktor while he was shaking the offer hand. “ Of the Ootori group, ” said Viktor. Fujioka Haruhi had herculean friends. “ fair thus. ” Ootori cocked an eye at the skaters. Yuuri was trying to teach Fujioka swizzles. “ I see Haruhi has brought all her common grace to the ice rink. ” “ Do n’t be barbarous, Kyouya, ” said Suoh mournfully. “ It ‘s not Haruhi ‘s fault she has no sense of rhythm or athleticism. She has many early talents ! ” “ You ‘re off to Hasetsu tomorrow, I believe ? ” said Ootori to Viktor. “ Yes, ” said Viktor, after a hesitate. Yuuri was celebrated in Japan, of course. probably everyone knew where he was from. “ A pleasant town. It ‘s been commodity to see how Yu-topia Katsuki has benefited from Katsuki-senshu ‘s gain streak. The closing down of our traditional resorts has been a real loss, ” said Ootori. “ When are you heading back to St Petersburg ? ” “ In a couple of weeks ‘ meter. ” Ootori nodded. “ You wo n’t be able to spare much time off, of course, with Katsuki-senshu ‘s competition schedule. And you ‘ll want to get back to Makkachin. She looks felicitous adequate, but Yuri Plisetsky is more of a cat-o’-nine-tails person, is n’t he ? ” Viktor smiled tightly. “ Do you follow me on Instagram ? ” Ootori smiled binding, unembarrassed. “ No, I have assistants who do that for me. ” “ Kyouya runs background checks on everyone we meet, ” said Suoh. He spoke as though this was meant to be reassuring. “ A strange substance abuse, I know, ” said Ootori, in a tone of balmy apology. “ But necessity, I ‘m afraid. We ‘ve successfully prevented three attempts to kidnap Haruhi so far. She ‘s the most vulnerable, since she refuses bodyguards. But we keep a close center on her, so you do n’t need to worry about Katsuki-senshu. We ‘ll make certain he ‘s safe. ” “ Hahaha, ” said Viktor, not actually laughing. “ I was less concern before you started talking ! ” “ Kyouya has that effect on people, ” said Suoh proudly. “ There is truly no need to business yourself, Mr Nikiforov, ” said Ootori. “ The Ootori Group protects its own. We get an excellent return key on our investment in Katsuki-senshu. He is – what is the discussion ? ” He declined Suoh ‘s suggestions of “ a Narcissus, but with ice rink rather of water ” or “ an innocent Adonis in skates ”. “ ordinary, ” said Ootori. Viktor ‘s evacuate smile grew wide, but then Ootori said, correcting himself, “ Relatable. ”
“ How do you know the CEO of the Ootori group ? ” squeaked Yuuri. “ I told you, ” said Fujioka. “ I went to a eldritch school. ” “ I thought you meant you did the International Baccalaureate or something, ” said Yuuri. He was so alarm he ‘d forgotten his common shyness. “ Did the owner of every company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange go to your school ? ” “ No, ” said Fujioka, after a pause for observation. “ Most of the students ‘ family businesses were private companies. Do n’t worry, Kyouya-senpai is nice than he seems. ” She sounded slightly doubtful. But she went on, “ It could ‘ve been a batch worse ! It could have been one of the others. ” “ What others ? ” “ You do n’t want to know, ” said Fujioka darkly .
Yuuri closely overbalanced bowing to Ootori. In department of justice to Ootori, he showed no sign of having noticed Yuuri ‘s jitteriness. His manner was composure and courteous, even kind. Watching Yuuri slowly relax, Viktor was conscious of a certain wistfulness. His japanese had got out of practice, even though he insisted on interrupting Yuuri ‘s Skype sessions with his family to delight Hiroko with violate japanese. In any event, he ‘d never been fluent adequate that he could ‘ve kept up with the conversation between Suoh, Ootori and Yuuri. There was more to it than linguistic process, anyhow. Viktor had noticed the way Yuuri ‘s shoulders came down from around his ears whenever they returned to Japan. On their first nox in Tokyo, Yuuri had chugged the complimentary bottle of water in their hotel room before collapsing on the bed with a blissful sigh. “ You ‘re felicitous, ” Viktor had observed. Yuuri ‘s eyes were shut. He was hugging the bottle to his chest. “ The water system here tastes different. ” “ It ‘s Evian, ” said Viktor, perplexed. But he kind of got it. There was something about being in your own home area, where you belonged. Yuuri did n’t make friends easily anywhere, flush here, but was n’t there something different about the way he held himself around Fujioka and Ootori and Suoh ? Were there things Fujioka knew about Yuuri that Viktor would never truly understand, because they shared a speech, a acculturation, a country ? It was a pointless interrogate, whatever the answer. What did it matter ? Yuuri had chosen him. In his hope to stay as far away from Suoh as possible, Viktor had somehow manoeuvred himself into a military position next to the bench where Fujioka was sitting, cut off from Yuuri where he was walled in by his sponsors. Fujioka was struggling with her skates. “ Sorry, ” she said. “ I should get out of your manner. ” “ Let me help you, ” said Viktor. Fujioka looked about vitamin a surprise as he felt. She ‘d managed to get her laces into an impossible knot. Disentangling them brought Viktor back to doing the same for Yuuri. He had n’t had much have of looking after person else, before Yuuri. He ‘d never wanted to try before. “ What are they talking about ? ” he said. Fujioka looked astir. “ Tamaki-senpai and Kyouya-senpai, you mean ? They ‘re talking about Katsuki-kun – about Yuuri ‘s skate. ” Suoh was doing most of the talking, gesticulating wildly. “ My conserve admires it very much. ” This sounded plausible. The color was rising in Yuuri ‘s face. “ I think Tamaki-senpai is suggesting a charity gala, ” said Fujioka. “ He ‘s saying Yuuri could skate for our educate alumni affiliation. ” “ Hmm. ” “ Do n’t worry, ” said Fujioka. “ You do n’t need to intervene until Kyouya-senpai starts talking. Though it ‘s not a bad mind if Yuuri is not besides busy. The alumnus gala pays well. They had Lady Gaga last year. ” “ lady Gaga ? ” “ She was cheaper than Beyonce, ” explained Fujioka. Viktor swallowed the questions that sprang to his lips. He ‘d ask Yuuri later. “ Thanks for translate, ” he said rather. “ I try to practise japanese with Yuuri, but it ‘s boring for him. And of class he ‘d rather work on his russian. ” “ You speak japanese, Nikiforov-san ? ” “ A fiddling. ” Viktor was watching the play of expression across Yuuri ‘s face. “ I ‘d like to be better. I ‘m jealous of you. ” It was easier to say than he ‘d thought it would be. Fujioka looked up in surprise. Viktor said, half-smiling, “ You and your conserve – it must be easier to understand each other, speaking your mother tongue. That ‘s why Yuuri … I can see he ‘s comfortable with you. ” Fujioka seemed amused. “ I do n’t think that ‘s why. Yuuri is not that good at japanese. You contribution the same mother tongue. ” Viktor blinked. “ Eh ? ” “ skating is Yuuri ‘s best language, ” said Fujioka, as though this was obvious. “ It ‘s yours excessively, is n’t it ? That ‘s why you get along. ” “ Ah. possibly, ” said Viktor. “ There are disadvantages to communicating through skate. ” Like his and Yuuri ‘s initial confusion about what their rings actually meant. It would be embarrassing how regretful Viktor had been at nominate, if it was n’t for the fact that Yuuri had been even worse. He said, in a explode of munificence, “ It ‘s decent for Yuuri to have made a friend. ” “ It must be hard, with all the locomotion, ” said Fujioka. “ It ‘s nice for me besides. You do n’t expect it to happen after you graduate, do you ? Most of my friends are from school or university or bring. It ‘s decent to have something outside those things. ” Viktor stood back as she got her shoes on. “ It ‘s like a gift, ” she said. “ Two new friends. ” Fujioka ‘s eyes were large and good. They were a lighter embrown than Yuuri ‘s – a pretty color, like bourbon. “ Two ? ” said Viktor. “ You and Yuuri, ” said Fujioka. It did n’t seem to have occurred to her that Viktor might not want to be her ally. Viktor was starting to see the appeal for Yuuri. very small seemed to worry Fujioka. It was restful. “ Yuuri was so kind as to invite me to visit you in St Petersburg, ” added Fujioka, by chance. “ He did ? ” Viktor was n’t sure how he felt about that. “ I could n’t do it this year, ” said Fujioka, “ but it would be nice, some time. I ‘d like to have a better understand of the Russian legal system. I hear the service of proceedings frequently presents difficulties ? ” “ We could n’t help with that, ” said Viktor, after a pause. “ But we could show you approximately. It ‘s a beautiful city. ” If they were both friends with Fujioka, he thought on the spur of the moment, she ‘d have to speak English around them, and Viktor would know what she and Yuuri were talking about. Fujioka looked a little fluster. weirdly, it made her look more like Yuuri, though Viktor no farseeing thought they were very like. “ That was a weird thing to say, was n’t it ? I forgot. normally when I use english I am speaking to lawyers. ” She paused, reflecting. “ I do n’t have many normal friends. You ‘re my first base in a retentive fourth dimension. ” Forgetting not to be charmed, Viktor said, “ You ‘re not big on false flattery, are you ? ” Fujioka blinked. “ Oh, deplorable. Did I say something incorrect ? ” “ No, no. It ‘s merely that people do n’t normally call me convention. ” “ But it ‘s a compliment, is n’t it ? ” “ I guess it is. ” Viktor glanced at her. “ You know, it says something about your life if two of the world ‘s best digit skaters count as normal. ” “ nothing good, ” said Fujioka grimly, but then she seemed to register the broad import of what he ‘d said. Her grimace lit up. “ Are you ? I did n’t know that. well, Katsuki-kun did say you have medals … But the best in the universe, in truth ? There must be a bunch of contest, correct ? ” “ Yes, ” said Russia ‘s hero. “ A short. ” “ That ‘s perplex ! ” said Fujioka. “ Congratulations. ” “ I was the top men ‘s singles figure skater in the global for a long time, ” said Viktor, merely to see how she ‘d react. “ I won indeed many gold medals it got boring. ” “ That ‘s identical good, is n’t it ? ” said Fujioka. possibly she did n’t mean to sound as though Viktor had told her he ‘d won the classify trophy for uninfected desk three years in a row. possibly when you ‘d had a job that involved saving human beings from captivity, you might reasonably think of skating as a relatively trivial pursuit. “ Well done. Ah ! But that means you ‘re not normal either. ”

“ No, ” agreed Viktor. “ But we can still be friends, right ? ” Fujioka laughed. “ Of course, Nikiforov-san. ” “ please, ” said Viktor. “ Call me Viktor. ”

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