The thing about packets of ramen noodles is that they taste so good, until they don’t anymore.
Yuuri cries into his bowl, biting into his spoon as he watches yet another commercial showing a juicy burger flambeed with the full lineup of usual condiments. Logically, Yuuri knows melted mayonnaise would be gross. As a broke college student, though, Yuuri just wants beef patties instead of flavored powder for dinner. Four nights in with the same noodles, he knows he’s in serious danger of throwing up his next spoonful or developing hypertension. The latter is looking more and more likely by the second. Next to him, his phone pings with another alert that Phichit has probably posted another picture of Thai food.
“You know,” he tells Vicchan, watching the dog gobble down his mountain of kibble. “Life would be a lot easier if humans also only depended on one type of food. Maybe if I invent dog-food for people, I could become rich.”
The poodle doesn’t even respond, tail wagging and face down. It’s not that Yuuri wants to share Vicchan’s dog food, but the very fact that his dog doesn’t even consider sharing or validating another one of his ideas makes him feel just a little hurt.
(And that’s how Yuuri decides he needs human interaction after a weekend mostly stuck indoors.)
Really, life would be easier if work would give him some extra hours a week over at the library. But hours are limited now that it’s summer, and beggars can’t be choosers. So, Yuuri sits and watches a commercial about pancake batter and salivates when he sees spirals of thick syrup descending from screen right onto a fluffy stack of flapjacks.
“College in America is hard,” he whines and drops on his side, hugging the bowl close to his chest. It’s not even a fair statement because Yuuri isn’t finding his one summer class difficult at all. But Yuuri has always loved food, and he’s not sure he can survive through the deprivation for much longer.
(Lucky for him, the thought comes about the same time as he finds his first twenty-dollar bill, tucked neatly into the crevice of his sofa: “How long has this been here?” Yuuri mutters to himself, looking around the room like someone might come and claim it – which is unlikely because Yuuri lives alone.)
“Yay, he likes it!” Viktor gasps, pressing both hands against his cheeks. It’s such a fun part of his new experiment, watching Yuuri find money. He’d started with small coins first, mostly pennies, but he’d stepped over them in the street. Then, Viktor upgraded to dollar bills hidden in pockets, but Yuuri didn’t seem to consider them as anything special. Even a ten-dollar bill was easily mistaken as a lucky coincidence, but the twenty? – Viktor could tell just from Yuuri’s eyes flickering over the crisp bill that he was considering how and when he would’ve tucked the twenty into his sofa. He wouldn’t have, and Viktor was capitalizing on his doubt.
“Another!” Viktor beams, trying to figure out where he can stick his next twenty. He chooses to be a little more obvious, tucking one between two books resting on a shelf easily at eye-level. “Oh!” he grins, leaving one clipped by a refrigerator magnet.
As he grows bolder, he decides he might as well go all out and creates a green trail right into Yuuri’s room.
Look, before Yuuri, Viktor isn’t exactly happy about being a money fairy:
Money isn’t very useful for a supernatural being: What need does a trade-based economy have for thin pieces of colorful paper (that’s not confetti)? The decorative use isn’t even all that utilitarian either; no one wants to use paper bills to line the walls of their home, just like no one wants to put in the work to rip the paper into tiny shreds. He sighs, resting his chin on both his hands as he sits cross-legged on top of a candle. He leans against the wick, making an unhappy sound when he sees it stain his arm.
The thing is that Viktor finds humans fascinating because they actually seem to appreciate money – whatever vague concept that’s supposed to be, having far evolved from gold (which was somewhat useful) into clinky round things and flat paper and now into random numbers on computer screens.
For weeks, Viktor has been following some guy always dressed in sleek gray suits that match his sparse, gray hair, who seems to do well with money. And, he’s even been wooing a young woman with big blond hair, big blue eyes, and a big tall boyfriend, too. Viktor has been taking notes religiously on both, trying to better understand why money makes people so happy without yet understanding at all. All he knows (so far) is that the guy brings out little sleek pieces of plastic or stacks of money and hands them over at stores to get wrapped boxes or large paper bags with funny looking shapes, and the woman jumps up and down and hugs him (and sometimes then goes home and gives some of the gifts to her boyfriend). It’s strange. But Viktor remains fascinated.
Now that they’re at a restaurant, he takes copious notes every time they ask for something from some person that keeps coming by their table and then brings them yummy food.
Today is a particularly boring night. He huffs, blowing at his fringe and wondering if maybe the two specimens have outlasted their utility when –
“Darling! What? I can’t believe it!”
— Viktor’s eyes grow wide as he sits up with renewed interest. The blue flower crown falls over his eyes and he groans, pushing it back. He’s never seen an actual human engagement. Fairies don’t exactly get engaged. They don’t even mate for life, although some have been known to bond (and still not for life, as Chris likes to remind him often).
Diamonds, he takes mental notes. Money can buy diamonds. And people like diamonds. A lot.
His wings flutter happily as he lifts himself high above the flame of the other candle on the table, and he claps: Money does a lot of things for humans!
And humans can do a lot of things for Viktor! He’s not even sure what, exactly, but he’s very excited to find out.
Christophe is Viktor’s best friend. He’s a pleasure fairy (whatever that’s supposed to mean, Viktor thinks with a roll of his eyes,) that spends his days waxing poetic about love and admiring beautiful things. He grows some of the prettiest flowers in the entire garden, and Viktor likes to lounge on them while Chris tries to shoo him into a wine glass for a swim. Typically, they end up drunk, watching as late-night picnic goers make-out over an anthill.
Chris loves seeing people in love. Viktor likes eating the leftover food.
“Ah, that guy,” Chis hiccups after listening to Viktor talk for a long while about his most recent study session, “they call them Sugar Daddies. She would be his Sugar Baby.”
“But I’ve been following them for weeks and not once did I see him give her any sugar,” Viktor muses out loud, confused. He tries to run through his mental archive. Maybe he missed the exchange of sugar? “Are you sure?”
“The sugar is figurative,” Chris laughs, “it’s more like he gives her lots of presents and money, and she gives him attention. I have a lot of respect for Sugar Daddies. Like me, they appreciate beautiful things. Only, they pay for them. And I don’t. Which makes me naturally better.”
Viktor nods, looking very studious as his ponytail bounces, “sounds simple enough.”
“Yes,” Chris shrugs, “quite simple for people with access to money.”
“I have access to a lot of money! Do you think I should get myself a Sugar Baby?”
“Yes, we all know. And that depends: Do you feel such a desperate need for companionship?”
That’s an interesting question, considering Viktor hasn’t exactly considered companionship before. He’d considered getting a dog before, a poodle only because it was the only breed he’d seen up close through his careful study of humankind, but the idea of keeping an animal made him nervous. At his size, Viktor would be a speck barely visible to most, who would naturally assume his animal friend was homeless. Viktor eats a baguette crumb. His legs swing from the edge of the glass of wine as he watches people walk through the park, completely ignoring the two bodies starting to roll around the picnic blanket. His eyes catch sight of an average-height male human with tussled dark hair and dark-brown eyes. He’s dressed in a tuxedo, running through the park and laughing, even as another group of guys around the same age follow right behind him.
“I think we’re about to witness the miracle of life!” Chris claps, giddy.
Viktor elevates, flapping his wings wildly.
“Where are you going?” Chris asks. “It’s about to get good!”
“I’m going to follow that guy!” Viktor preens, waving at Chris before floating away.
Chris scoffs, confused again by Viktor as he asks, “But why?”
Viktor tells Yuuri about the first time he saw him: “You were stripping!”
“I was what?” Yuuri gasps. His stomach dips low with the horrible realization that Viktor might have seen him almost black-out drunk, or a spin away from throwing up.
Apparently, Viktor had followed Yuuri to a fancy party he had crashed with Phichit and Leo, where Yuuri had proceeded to strip and collect quite a few bills thrown his way, probably as a joke, or maybe in encouragement from people who really did think he was a stripper. The fact a little, tiny, almost invisible fairy had managed to wander in and had probably joined in the fray of flying dollar bills makes him want to laugh. Yuuri can easily imagine Viktor’s wowface, his fingers snapping and making it sprinkle green bills like rain.
“It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!” Viktor clasps his hands together, sighing in remembrance.
Yuuri laughs, rubbing at his neck in embarrassment.
“Can you do it again? I can make it rain hundreds!” Viktor promises, eyes shining with the potential promise of a pole dance.
Yuuri is a little taken aback by his enthusiasm, but shrugs, slipping off his jacket: “I guess I do need to practice. But don’t make the bills too crisp, or else it’s gonna look weird again when I try to spend the money. And you have to stay human-sized and wear clothes.”
“Deal!” Viktor beams, already magically holding a stack of wrinkled up cash in his hands.
“I said clothes, Viktor,” Yuuri reminds him, walking over to his bedroom to bring out his portable pole. “You know you’re going to need to start wearing those when Phichit moves back in at the beginning of the new semester.”
Nobody tells Yuuri about money fairies, which, when he thinks about it, is a terrible disservice because people deserve to know that five dollars tucked inside an old wallet could mean (literally) selling their souls (to a gorgeous supernatural being, but that’s semantics, and not Yuuri’s thoughts because—Viktor!).
“It was more like $5,000 in a pile of crisp hundreds under your bed. You should’ve know something was off when you saw all that money next to the dust bunnies you never clean. Who else would put it there if not a fairy? – It’s not like you have a history of sleep walking,” Viktor scoffs, crossing his arms petulantly as he glares at the television. There’s no mention of the random twenties he’d also stuck in all the corners of Yuuri’s apartment, including inside the milk carton.
Yuuri’s money fairy, Viktor, takes some of Yuuri’s thoughts very personally, probably because they are personally related to him. Technically, Yuuri was the one who willingly entered into an arrangement with Viktor. He can’t blame anyone but himself. Viktor gives Yuuri lots of money, so much money, like he could fill the entire room in any currency Yuuri wants, and in exchange he gets to live with Yuuri forever. But it’s the indignation Yuuri peppers over every forever that enters his waking thoughts which makes Viktor pouty and mildly petty. And Yuuri panics, not just because he’s pretty sure there might now be a coin in his ear, but because he regularly forgets that Viktor can read his thoughts – that Viktor shares completely in his every waking and sleeping minute, potentially for eternity.
No, for eternity period, not potentially. You took my money!
“Stop it, Yuuri,” Viktor kicks out his legs like a child. He’s naked again. Yuuri’s not sure he’s ever really clothed. Point is that Viktor’s naked and sitting on Yuuri’s sofa, which isn’t terrible, except Yuuri doesn’t understand why Viktor has such an aversion to wearing clothes. He’s the one that wants to be human so badly (but maybe that’s just because being human means he can own a dog). “They’re constricting, that’s why. And, I feel safe here. You let me be vulnerable, Yuuri. Isn’t that something wonderful we can say about our relationship?”
“I thought we settled on some ground rules,” Yuuri squeaks, turning a bright shade of pink. “Like no feeding me thoughts? Or telling me when you’re reading my thoughts by commenting on things I haven’t said? And, no holding me accountable for just thoughts—”
“I can’t help being so talented,” Viktor whines, wrapping his arms like an octopus around Yuuri’s torso. He stays like that, breathing in the smell of Yuuri’s neck while he watches a documentary about sharks on television. Yuuri doesn’t even like sharks. They’re the reason he stays in shallow water at the beach. “They leave humans alone for the most part, you know,” Viktor says, running a hand up and down Yuuri’s flank.
And Yuuri thinks: This is my life now.
“You think that like it’s a terrible thing!” Viktor sobs, sitting cross-legged. Yuuri tries not to look down at his lap because, apparently, fairies aren’t exactly proportional in bigger size and Viktor might have exaggerated certain aspects of his anatomy thanks to the advice of his best friend Chris. “Why can’t you just appreciate me?”
I didn’t say I didn’t like it, Viktor.
Viktor sniffles, studying Yuuri carefully before he smiles wide and says, “Oh!”
“Yeah,” Yuuri sighs, giving him a small, tentative smile back. “Can you put some clothes on, though? You’re getting butt marks on the sofa.”
“Sorry, Yuuri, but no! I must be free for as long as I can be before this Phichit of yours moves back in!” Viktor cheers, and when Vicchan barks at him, he preens. “Thank you, small Victor. You’re looking especially small and cute today, too.”
“What did he say now?” Yuuri is always curious about how Vicchan and Viktor can communicate. His dog tends to make very innocent, albeit inappropriate-sounding comments about Viktor’s random quirks, including his nudity.
“He said I smell very nice. And he’s still amazed by how shiny my hair is,” Viktor winks, flipping his long ponytail over his shoulders a couple of times.
Yuuri breathes in relief. He admires Viktor’s hair, too, amazed by how the long strands look more silver than blond. When his fingers twitch, he reaches for the brush on the side table. He lifts it sheepishly, cheeks red, “why don’t I brush your hair?”
Viktor purrs, crawling over to sit between Yuuri’s legs. He takes off the scrunchie holding up his ponytail and let’s Yuuri play with his hair. It’s always an experience for Yuuri, feeling the silky strands as they slip between his knuckles. Vicchan wastes no time in jumping onto the sofa to sit on space left empty, and Yuuri listens attentively, trying to piece their conversation together from Viktor’s responses.
Phichit moves back in and tries (for a week) not to mention the random young guy that now lives in Yuuri’s bedroom and wears some of Yuuri’s oversized sweatshirts like thigh-length dresses with tights. It doesn’t help that Viktor looks barely eighteen with his high-cheekbones and long-hair, not to mention the bright sparkle in his eyes. When he introduces himself (“Hi, I’m Vitya! I live with Yuuri now because I’m his Sugar Daddy!”) and tells Phichit that he’s twenty-seven, Phichit laughs – and Yuuri can’t even blame him. It’s not too weird that Yuuri might date an eighteen or nineteen-year-old. He’s only twenty himself. But twenty-seven is a stretch for all of them (much less the idea that someone barely over the hump of teenagerhood could be anything other than a Sugar Baby himself), so Yuuri amends Viktor’s age (“He’s kidding! He’s nineteen!”) and expects Phichit will be a good best friend and pretend that’s totally normal, too.
“Who is he really, Yuuri?” Phichit asks and locks himself in the bathroom with Yuuri.
“A Sophomore?” Yuuri tries his luck, cringing. He knows the whole thing looks weird, from Viktor’s affinity for lounging for hours on Yuuri’s bed and commenting on how he loves the way Yuuri’s clothes smell, all the way to the fact Viktor jumps every time the blender grinds or the microwave beeps. His obsession with trying to find a poodle of his own and spending numerous hours at the city’s shelters doesn’t help Yuuri either. It’s impossible to think that even the most careless of students wouldn’t spend at least one hour on homework, even if not in class. “He’s a Sophomore.”
“Well, duh. But why is he in your room instead of the dorms?”
“Uh, because he’s my boyfriend?”
“Are you not sure?” Phichit’s voice squeaks in shock. “Yuuri!”
“Look, he pays his share and he’s nice,” Yuuri shrugs, hoping they can finish the conversation before Viktor assumes the apartment is uninhabited and he can run around naked again. “If you don’t want him around, I’ll talk to him. We’ll find an apartment—”
“We?” Phichit frowns. “Oh my god, how good is the dick you’re getting that you’d even consider leaving your best friend for a complete stranger who drinks his coffee while laughing at your dog’s barks! Yuuri! I’m so hurt!”
“It’s not like that!”
“Then what’s it like?”
“Viktor’s my money fairy!” Yuuri panics, hyperventilating as he says quickly, “I accidentally accepted money from him and now we’re bonded for life! He really is my Sugar Daddy!”
Phichit stares at him, studying his face for a long while before he opens the door to peek at Viktor lounging (as Yuuri well knew would happen) naked by the kitchen island.
“Are you serious?”
Yuuri nods, wringing his hands, “Would I lie about having a supernatural Sugar Daddy who can read my mind and talk to my dog and seems obsessed with nudity?”
Phichit considers his words carefully, “And you didn’t lose your virginity to this ‘Fairy Daddy,’ did you? You didn’t meet him at some sketchy summer frat party where they were handing out neon drinks in red solo cups? – You know I’ve told you to keep a close eye on your drinks.”
“No!” Yuuri whimpers, opening the cabinet underneath the sink to show Phichit some of the stacks of money left from the summer.
“And you didn’t rob a bank?” Phichit asks.
“Phichit, you know I’m scared to talk to the school security guards, much less risk seeing the police!”
“Okay, okay,” Phichit kneels, reaching for a stack to fan the bills. “I believe you.”
Yuuri almost wishes he hadn’t said anything to Phichit at all. Apparently, Phichit decides that if Yuuri is going to have a magical Sugar Daddy who can make money appear from thin air, he’s in. He also decides Viktor is going about his Sugar Daddy status all wrong because their arrangement is devoid of fancy dates, expensive cars, international travel, and, well, things Yuuri doesn’t want to explain to an innocent little fairy that would have watched people have sex while lounging inside a cup of wine without any titillation (“Only because I was educational,” Viktor explains).
“You’re rich!” Phichit explains to Viktor, dumping a mountain of expensive, brand-name clothes on their living room rug. Clothing has no appeal to Viktor, until Phichit explains that it’s all part of the human experience, like cars and apartments and credit cards! Yuuri would’ve said the same thing ages ago if he’d known it would keep Viktor clothed. “Rich people with Sugar Babies don’t just stay inside playing with a poodle all day! They show off their wealth!”
Viktor seems intrigued.
“Okay,” he says, decisive and sparkling. He’s always sparkling. Literally. It’s a little blinding under the room’s lighting. “I’ll do it! I’m going to show off Yuuri and be a good human!”
“That’s the spirit!” Phichit claps, and proceeds to walk Viktor through his fool-proof plan to being the best Sugar Daddy. It includes (and Yuuri suddenly understands,) moving into his own apartment. “I’ll help you! Don’t worry; you’re in good hands. Tomorrow, we’ll get your hair cut and then find you a nice car and hire you a chauffer and make reservations and we can’t not go to the bank and get you a credit card! – Yuuri, you’re going to need a nice suit, too.”
Viktor tips his head, looking so innocent it’s terrifying when he says: “I better be. Don’t think I don’t know you’re just trying to get rid of me. But if I don’t get my awesome human experience, I’ll make sure you regret trying to separate me from my human.”
And Yuuri shivers, holding tight to Vicchan in fear.
“Don’t worry!” Phichit chirps, giving Yuuri a wink, “This will be so much fun!”
This is my life now, Yuuri thinks, eyeing his expensive velvet blue blazer.
“Stop thinking,” Viktor whines, drinking apple juice because the waiter most definitely was not about to lose his job just because Viktor wanted to keep saying he was twenty-seven. To impress Yuuri with his knowledge of Sugar Daddies, Viktor had snapped his fingers and asked for the wine menu, only to be shown that it was on the back of the regular menu. He’d poured all the words intently, before trying to order them a dessert wine. The waiter had easily asked for an ID, which Viktor couldn’t produce: Money couldn’t buy everything.
“You know, just because I think it doesn’t mean I don’t like it,” Yuuri explains shyly, still amazed at how striking Viktor looks now that he has short hair and a tailored suit. It seems half the room thinks the same.
Viktor beams, “really?”
“Really,” Yuuri repeats, trying to ignore the three stacked boxes by Viktor’s wrist.
“Okay,” Viktor looks away, a soft blush over his nose. “So, can I give you presents now?”
“I can’t believe you really got me presents,” Yuuri chuckles.
“Of course!” Viktor says, puffing out his chest in pride. “I’m the best Sugar Daddy to the prettiest Sugar Baby!”
Yuuri reaches over the table to press his hand over Viktor’s mouth.
“Maybe let’s not say that out loud?” Yuuri reminds him, eyes flickering around the room to find a few people were looking at them.
“It doesn’t have a good connotation,” Yuuri explains, sipping his drink.
Viktor worries at his bottom lip, “So, then, what can I call you?”
“Boyfriend is fine,” Yuuri whispers, trying to butter his bread. When he hears an unfamiliar ping, he looks up, “What are you doing?”
“I was just texting Phichit to ask if boyfriend is better than Sugar Daddy.”
“W-what, why? Viktor, stop,” Yuuri sighs, “When did you get a phone?”
This is my life now, Yuuri thinks again, rubbing his temples. It’s a strange new life, one in which he has to learn and teach Viktor all about the basic emotions and habits of being human – beyond money and want into affection and need.
“Yuuri!” Viktor pouts, crossing his arms.
This is my life now, with my boyfriend, Yuuri amends and looks up at Viktor with a small smile.
Viktor gives him the largest smile, all teeth and cheeks and Yuuri thinks: Cute.
“Yuuri!” Viktor gasps, flushing pink. “You’re the cute one, not me!”
“Viktor,” Yuuri softens, taking Viktor’s hand, “You’re my boyfriend. I’m supposed to think you’re cute.”
“Oh,” Viktor nods, reaching for a napkin, “so many rules! I better write all of this down!”
Yuuri rests his cheek on his palm, watching Viktor with fondness.