Look, this is all Tony Stark’s fault. Viktor just wants to make colorful, happy technology that makes people’s lives better and more efficient. It’s not his fault his mother sent him to school to become best friends with the shiniest sky hot rod red babe in the world, who just so happens to know one of the best construction firms in the United States—which is run by the sassiest, most adorable CEO that Viktor has ever seen.
Yuuri Katsuki is just amazing .
Viktor needs him to know that he thinks they’re soulmates (for business reasons, of course).
Viktor Nikiforov is the CEO of F4UR Enterprises, a publicly-owned family company involved in the development of high-quality, accessible technology with a single goal – to simplify and enrich lives around the world (a BIG goal, why was his mother so extra about this stuff?). His mother built it from the ground up, focusing mainly on medical technology at the periphery of the Internet age.
In fact, Emilie Nikiforova is both the mother of Viktor Nikiforov and (sort of) the Internet. To say they’re rich is an understatement. And Viktor loves her endlessly, even if his brother (again, the Internet,) gives him the worst headaches some days. Now, here’s how Viktor remembers Emilie: A whirlwind of a tornado with platinum blond curls and sharp grey eyes, always wearing bright red Chanel lipstick and sharp red-bottom heels to murder anyone that even dared to imply her technology wasn’t #1 around the world. (“Stark Enterprises can suck it,” Viktor once said at boarding school when he was six and made Tony Stark cry; it’s all in the past, they text frequently now and get together for sushi in New York City at least once a year).
So, no one is surprised when fourteen-year-old Viktor Nikiforov invents a really colorful laptop made of some water-resistant plastic and embeds it with learning technology that is, in a single pun, fun ctional. Or, at least that’s how Viktor describes it to his mother, who considers it for a minute: “It’s very cute, dear,” Emilie says, accent extra thick as she hands it to one of her assistants for inspection. Overnight, Viktor is the “Father of Joyful Education,” and he finds his purpose: To bring joy back into the world. (Silly, but workable.)
Shortly thereafter, Emilie has a vision — which is described by the doctors as a meditative realization that she needed to relax after almost having a heart-attack (doctors say she didn’t almost have a heart attack and probably just had a panic attack and a really bad case of acid reflux), and almost immediately Viktor goes from having a Shark Mom to a very soft… Squid Mom? She’s still very smart, but sort of squishy and soft, and she hugs him even more than before (which is always a plus), starts wearing designer flip flops and—“This is my chance to experience all of the world, Vitya!” And isn’t that something? Viktor and Yakov drive her to the airport, wish her well, and proceed to take over the company.
Viktor is essentially left to run F4UR on his own (with Yakov, who he consistently ignores). It’s fine. Emilie sends him back the best kimchi and art. Makkachin gets three beds inside his new giant CEO office in Paris, because they’d had some issues when he was little with having the headquarters in Moscow.
So, Viktor is a thirty-three-year-old with a technological empire looking to bring more color into people’s work offices and spaces. Why can’t his board understand that? Viktor is an icon . He took a company in obscurity and made it cool. European cool , not American cool (he’s not sure what it means, other than this is just another way to differentiate from Starktech). So, if he says that the future is colorful hospitals, he needs colorful hospitals to ensure patients don’t fall into an existential depression! -- It’s a big deal. Viktor feels like he’s about to enter an existential depression just from how not a single person in his company understands him.
“They just don’t get it,” he groans, stuffing more sashimi into his mouth. His board is always saying no.
And Tony pretends he’s listening (but he’s really just tracking his other best friend again, the one that doesn’t have as good (or as blond) hair as Viktor but looks better in spandex,) and then there’s a ping coming from his phone and – “Did you hack my phone again?”
“I wouldn’t have to if you’d just concede and get a Stark phone,” he grins, stealing Viktor’s last piece of tuna from across the table. Viktor would usually say something about Tony implying his phone technology is inferior, but he’s in too much of a funk to care.
“Whatever—oh my god, who is this?”
Liking is one thing. Viktor loves this person. This must be love at first sight. He doesn’t even question for a moment that this guy has to be one of Tony’s business contacts. He looks too classy to fall for the charms of Iron Man. Right? -- Viktor realizes that might be wishful thinking only a minute too late.
“ Oh , you like that?” Tony grins, sharp like a shark. It makes Viktor miss his mom. “That’s Katsuki Yuuri. He’s how I get my New York headquarters rebuilt so quickly. If anyone understands design, it’s that guy. Trust me.”
“Katsuki Yuuri,” Viktor hums, intrigued.
Katsuki Yuuri is a bit of a mess that morning.
He’s always been a little bit of a mess, but in an endearing way that made his workers trust him a little bit more, which is important because Katsuki Enterprises is a small, family-owned construction firm trying to expand with as little debt-equity ratio as is humanly possible. Yuuri had promised his father he wouldn’t sell the company to others, so stocks are not something he can consider right now, which means he needs to be cautious and visionary in acquiring new contracts.
How he ends up in this HUGE panel at a convention in Vegas on the future of American construction and design is something else, but he does have opinions—some, at least.
“It’ll be great for your new Twitter account!” Phichit, his assistant, squeals as he follows behind Yuuri with his phone. Yuuri hands him his lukewarm coffee cup. “Go boss!”
“Phichit,” Yuuri squeaks, still not used to his best friend calling his boss. Phichit had been in need of a job, just when Yuuri had been in need of an assistant. It had been excellent timing. “D--don’t call me boss.”
“Okay, boss!” he winks, sending Yuuri onto the stage.
Yuuri is one of seven people on the stage according to the number of chairs spread out over the stage. He picks the one closest to the stairs, watching as bored people mill into the room slowly. It’s a morning panel, which means half the people are going to ditch for morning meetings and the other half will show up to eat or get free coffee.
But, Yuuri is just a little hungover still.
When the panel starts, he stays relatively quiet. He wonders whether he might be able to stay quiet the entire time, but eventually the moderator calls his name, and Yuuri is a little too embarrassed to admit he didn’t even register the question. So far, there’s a clear pattern, though. Everyone has been talking about architectural sustainability and new “sustainable” practices, and the “edge in green,” and this is a sign Yuuri is old now. He should’ve known when Phichit talked to him about the twitter and Yuuri tried to hide his head under a napkin.
“Well,” he says, chewing on his words slowly. Phichit gives him a thumbs up from his seat in one of the front row tables. He’s filming now. “Back in my day, we just called it intelligent design and it was part of every degree program. We aimed for sustainability as a rule, not an exception.”
The moderator’s cheek twitches.
“Would you care to elaborate?”
“Look,” Yuuri sighs, rubbing at his face. He leans forward so his elbows rest on his knees, “the trend against intelligent design started a while back as a way to promote cost-cutting measures because the business climate in the United States, at the time, prioritized cheap over anything else. Sorry, I said it. So, now that we’ve realized infrastructure isn’t forever , we are bringing back sustainability as, again, a cost-saving measure that still completely misses the point of what intelligent design should be and where we should be going. So, for all the young people in the room: We’ve actually gone backwards in the construction field, despite having made incredible technological advances that would enable us to build better, sometimes for cheaper in terms of long-term investment, but definitely still at a higher cost than concrete and steel.”
Someone in the very back of the room actually claps, and Yuuri lifts his head, surprised. A few more claps follow. The moderator looks intrigued, even as the other guests -- all younger than Yuuri -- look on in contempt.
“Are you saying that the move towards green and energy-efficient buildings is… wrong?” a young male brunette asks, twiddling his thumbs nervously.
Yuuri gulps, “No. I’m just saying that if your buildings ever hurt the environment before people started vocally caring and investing in green, you’ve been doing it wrong. My company has always put sustainability first. I don’t know a single company executive that has ever told me, ‘Yuuri, I want to kill the Earth.’ So, why do we keep pretending like this is a comparative advantage? #SustainableBuildings is so 2017. Let’s just admit that the industry buckled to external pressures from business interests and stopped teaching an entire generation in the industry to put intelligent design first, instead of cheap design, and move on. And while we’re at it, if your company owes the environment an apology, then now’s your moment to mention it, too.”
And that’s exactly how Yuuri earns the nickname #SassyCEO.
It’s deserved, as far as Viktor is concerned.
In fact, Viktor is in love. Like, if he thought he was in love while eating sashimi, he now knows for a fact this man is his future. This man (as in Yuuri Katsuki, or Katsuki Yuuri, or, actually, why not just call him Katsuki-Nikiforov Yuuri already,) is his destiny . Viktor is sure. He’s also currently all over every single social media platform over his comments about sustainable design. And Viktor is so on board with someone calling out the industry for succumbing to the whims of cheap CEOs. Then again, maybe Viktor is sympathetic because this is the kind of thing he would do regularly.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to send Yuuri Katsuki(-Nikiforov) a series of clap emojis to crown Yuuri’s already insightful set of comments. The videos are also such a nice touch. Yuuri’s PR person deserves an award, as does Yuuri, of course. He can picture it now: Yuuri and Viktor receiving (during their honeymoon, no doubt,) lifetime achievement awards for successfully designing colorful hospitals. That deserves even more clap emojis. Eventually Mila calls him and tells him to stop sending clap emojis to a fellow CEO on accident, and Viktor has to tell her it is totally not on accident and, “do you think flower emojis are classier?”
It’s extremely awkward, though, when his future husband proceeds to ignore him.
“Maybe I should send him more clap emojis?” Viktor whines to Tony Stark, while pretending to read over quarterly financial statements again. He’s overdue to send his mother a report of company finances. Viktor can’t focus, though, with Yuuri’s video playing on loop. He hasn’t even had an opportunity to reach out to him about the hospital project.
“Or maybe not?” Tony yawns. He probably hasn’t slept in 48 hours again. “He doesn’t check his own social media like you and me. He has people for that. Yuuri isn’t big on all technology. I actually had to set up his phone for him. Sometimes, he still likes to draw plans by hand.”
“By hand?” Viktor says, both distraught and mildly horrified. “But that’s completely against 2018 construction trends!”
“Hey now, at least it means he’s very gifted with his hands,” Tony teases before hanging up.
Yuuri’s life is over.
It’s a good thing his company is a family-owned enterprise, completely privately funded by company profits and without any outside investors. So, Yuuri can go ahead and keep accepting all the invitations flooding his desk from the hundred (well, ten or so) panels taking place in the remainder of the conference season focusing exclusively on sustainability in construction (and the one on keeping your employees happy, or something). That is exactly how Yuuri ends up making a series of very interesting comments (that earn him enough new Twitter followers to keep Phichit happy,) including:
- “I’ve never understood why people keep putting solar panels on the roof. Windows, my friends. Windows. And if you make them different colors, not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but even more functional than when they’re just clear.” (This leads to a very creative little meme about ‘Windows, my friend, Windows 10 is the only window that will never be functional.’ Phichit has to admit Yuuri’s face looks on point in the picture.)
- “I’m big on ‘bring your dog to work policies.’ I actually borrowed that policy from my good friend, CEO Seung-Gil Lee, who actually brings his dog to work every day and found that, after letting his employees do the same, in designated spaces, of course, the level of productivity really went up because stress levels went down. If you’re working in a team without allergies, you’re able to bring your dog or cat to work on Thursdays, right into your office. If you’re in a team that prevents that from happening, you can bring your dog to work -- but to the doggie daycare on site! We have a children’s daycare, too, but that one is available every day! Hopefully, soon we can do the same for pets.” (CEO Viktor Nikiforov responds to that one with an emoji with heart eyes. Phichit isn’t sure what to make of it, but he shows Yuuri, who simply blushes bright red and asks, “Is that, is he a supermodel? Y--you know I’m bad with pop culture.” And Phichit has the great pleasure of explaining that, no, that’s technology genius Viktor Nikiforov, who seems to be growing progressively hot for Yuuri on Twitter.)
- “I like to think of modular buildings as the adult engineer/architect’s legos!” (After this one, the Internet melts. Mila Babicheva introduces herself as a member of the Government Relations team that follows Viktor Nikiforov around everywhere. She begs Phichit to have his boss send some kind of social media smoke signal back. “Every time he tweets, our stock value decreases. I swear I’m going to get fired!” -- And that’s how Phichit discloses Yuuri doesn’t check his own social media.)
- “I don’t think we talk nearly enough about the Internet of Things,” Yuuri says another time. He pauses for a minute to think, then continues, “Like, everyone likes the idea of your refrigerator telling you that you’re out of milk, and I’m happy to make that happen for you, but do you want your refrigerator telling your next door neighbor that you are also conveniently out of eggs on the day his house got TPed? I don’t think so.” (Viktor Nikiforov is all over that video. He writes an entire essay on Twitter. He copies it onto his Facebook page. Phichit shows Yuuri, who takes the phone from his hands for the first time and smiles as he reads every single comment. “Hey Phichit? How do I check this thing at home?”)
Viktor isn’t giving up. Makkachin has needed another father figure for years and he can’t think of a better man than Yuuri ‘Heal the World’ Katsuki, helping Mother Earth live to see another year with his tinted window solar panels. So, Viktor decides he needs to be smooth, but direct: “Okay, but can we talk about how energy efficiency should be the norm? Because I don’t know of any client that would ever say, ‘I want an inefficient building that eats electricity and costs me a shit ton of money.’ So, why do we keep having to put these things on the agenda like they’re blue sky ideas? Solar is becoming more affordable by the day, thanks to new battery and storage technology, both of which have my company at the forefront of innovation.”
Viktor decides to finish his statement with the flick of his wrist and a little wink at the camera livestreaming the panel on Facebook.
(Apparently, being persistent works, because @YuuriKatsuki likes the tweet with his comment and then also likes the tweet with the video and then also likes the infographic Viktor tweeted out after making his team work on it in 30 minutes just so he could take advantage of Yuuri finally noticing his page. Viktor makes sure to say @YuuriKatsuki thank you for liking my tweet , every single time. But he’s confused. Why won’t Yuuri actually say anything? Viktor talked about energy! He talked about pretty solar panels (and gave additional seed funding to the R&D department in his company focusing on solar panels)! He was obviously talking about Yuuri’s church-like craftsmanship of pretty, functional, energy-efficient, renewable-energy windows, and the only attention he’s getting is from @TonyStark sending him that meme abou Yuuri and the windows.
But apparently Yuuri really likes Viktor’s comments and at his next panel quotes him, adding, “I am always a little concerned about the LEED certification craze. I know it’s a big trend for this year, but hear me out…” And naturally Viktor does, through a screen, with hearts in his eyes.)
Phichit likes being on a first-name basis with Mila, the Phichit of the Nikiforov camp. Yuuri is still in denial that he has a camp, nevermind that he’s the CEO of one of the most in-demand construction firms in the world, but that’s Yuuri -- ever the humble Japanese CEO. Phichit is not humble; it comes with being a long-time owner of hamsters (but don’t ask him to explain because it could take hours). Phichit chugs down a bottle of Coca-Cola, picking at his sushi as Mila munches on some pad thai on the other side of the screen.
“#SassyCEOs has been trending for two days now,” Mila sighs, rubbing at her forehead. “There’s a poll now. The Economist literally has a poll on their page asking people to vote on who is sassier.”
“Wow. That’s the kind of thing I expected from, like, Time, but the Economist? Really?” Phichit says, intrigued. “Who’s winning?”
“Yuuri, thankfully. I think our entire Board of Directors would up and quit if Viktor won. Not that he cares. He’s literally voting for himself every minute from a different web browser so he can impress your boss. And we’ve created a lot of web browsers, trust me. A lot of them. I almost want to steal all his devices.”
“You might want to tell him Tony Stark has a thousand AIs voting every second for Yuuri, just so he doesn’t waste his time,” Phichit chuckles. “Found another meme!”
“My boss or yours?” Mila panics. This seems to be Mila’s new normal. Either she’s panicking over dinner or crying over her lunch. There’s a lot of emotions involved now that their bosses seem incapable
And Phichit does love his job. It’s so nice not to have to worry about stock prices dropping if his boss cuts his hair. Their headquarters in California are also a really big plus. He grins, “yours.”
There’s only so much time Viktor can spend obsessively liking Yuuri’s comments and sending emojis. The Internet is starting to think he’s thirsty , or that’s the new word his cousin Yuri teaches him while making fun of his stupid crush . Viktor is, by definition, extremely thirsty, but he doesn’t need the world to know it.
But then the universe smiles on Viktor and Yuuri retweets him. Or, Yuuri’s handle retweets an article he posted about 2018 construction trends. It’s not a very exciting article, but sometimes love begins unexpectedly--unlike cement. Not that Viktor knows much about cement.
“It’s finally happening,” he screams to Tony on the phone, almost on the verge of tears. He has been waiting a long time for this moment. “Now’s the time to ask him about my project, right?”
“You haven’t contracted his company yet?” Tony spits out on video. Viktor understands he’s been a little unconventional about the whole thing, but is plan was a little out of sorts. “What?”
“What?” Viktor replies back, blinking innocently.
“What?” Tony deadpans, staring him down through the screen.
Viktor simply keeps smiling, hitting a button to disconnect the call.
Viktor is going to have to pull out the nuclear option. He goes to his Board of Directors, looking at Yakov when he pushes a little piece of paper over the table. “I’m going to be saying this in a couple of days at my panel on social innovation and the age of technology. We’ll probably have an interesting day in the stock market. I just wanted you all to be prepared,” he smiles, leaning back to wait for reactions. Viktor had run his statement by Mila. She’d made some tweaks, all of which he had ignored.
Yakov is the first one to reach for the paper. Viktor can almost see the the vein that usually pops on Yakov’s forehead throbbing.
“You can’t use the company to leverage your weird flirting dance with Katsuki Yuuri, Viktor!”
Viktor isn’t sure why not.
Or, he knows why not. They’re a publicly owned company, with investors and stock, and although they don’t survive from public funds alone, they certainly matter -- to Yakov. Viktor’s mother had sent forth her blessing from a Buddhist temple in Cambodia where she was learning to meditate. It wasn’t going well (“You’d think this would be easier with how Julia Roberts made it look so chic in Eat, Pray, Love. Oh well! Just don’t give Yakov a heart attack, Viktor,” she’d said, waving him off before jumping onto the back of a tuk tuk.
“Okay, so I’ll see you all next week,” Viktor ignores Yakov, irreverently pushing his chair back. “Thanks for coming!”
“Viktor!” Yakov yells behind him. And Viktor, as always, puts on his Bluetooth headphones and listens to another one of Yuuri’s glorious interviews, even allowing himself the pleasure of referring to Yuuri by his first name.
Yuuri has to admit Viktor Nikiforov’s unwavering support for every single one of his comments is endearing, to say the least. So, of course he can’t pass up the opportunity to finally be on a panel together. He’s not quite sure how their very different set of experiences and companies can end up in a single panel, but leave it to Tony Stark to figure that out. Yuuri has a bad feeling it’s because Tony must know about Yuuri’s big, fat crush on Viktor Nikiforov.
He’d like to deny it’s not a crush, but Yuuri had bought five turtlenecks from the Viktor Nikiforov Collection at Nordstrom just yesterday while wandering around New York pre-conference because Viktor looked “nice” wearing one on the promotional posters. Pepper had snorted in amusement, albeit kindly patting his shoulder with a simple, “and you look nice in those turtlenecks, too, Yuuri.” Yuuri is pretty sure he looks neckless in the turtlenecks, like an actual turtle with glasses. But he takes the lie to heart and secretly preens.
At the panel, Yuuri sits right next to Viktor Nikiforov, feeling a little self-conscious as he pretends to be really busy reading through emails on his phone. It was a trick he’d developed sometime around conference number four. While Yuuri seemed to blackout and take on a special alter ego come panel time, everything prior to it was mainly Yuuri trying not to sweat profusely under bright, hot lights. It was even worse with Viktor Nikiforov next to him.
Viktor Nikiforov gives him a really big smile, edging a little too close to Yuuri’s bubble as he waits for an opening in between Yuuri’s fake email writing. Eventually, Yuuri can’t ignore him.
“Hi. Katsuki Yuuri, right? Or do you prefer Yuuri Katsuki? I never know how the Japanese-American do it. Dr. Viktor Nikiforov, CEO, PhD, Time cover 2016. Huge fan of the way you seem to have no filter on stage,” he says, beaming as he shakes Yuuri’s hand and, simultaneously, manages to pull him in for a selfie. “I also don’t have a filter. Or that’s what Yakov says. He’s the head of my company’s Board of Directors. But I don’t really listen to him. Commemorative photo? -- Oh, you came out a little blurry. Let’s take another one--”
“Over here!” the event photographer waves their way, snapping a picture of them. Yuuri is pretty sure he’s grimacing more than smiling.
“Oh, excellent! Give me just just a second,” Viktor winks, leaving Yuuri to deal with his nerves so he can hound the poor photographer about the picture. Phichit takes that as his cue to slide up to Yuuri, elbowing him gently. He shoves his phone up against Yuuri’s nose, showing him a picture taken from stage left showing Viktor and Yuuri posing for a selfie. It’s actually a really nice picture. It’s also now on Twitter.
“Boss!” he squeals. “The panel hasn’t even started and #SassyCEOs is already trending!”
“That’s not really what I wanted to hear,” Yuuri sighs, rubbing at his temples. “I think I just took the worst picture with Mr. Nikiforov. He just ran over to the photographer to ask him to delete it.”
Phichit frowns, tipping his head, “I think he’s actually asking for a copy? But that’s fine. Just remember to keep your head in the game, boss.”
“Stop calling me boss, Peach.”
“No can do, boss! Now, say some awesome things so I can tweet them!” Phichit encourages him, giving him a big thumbs up before running away.
Yuuri keeps his eyes on Viktor only for a split second, but he seems to catch on, giving him a big smile as he points at the photographer and then at his phone and -- Yuuri wants the floor to eat him up when he hears his phone ping in his pocket. There’s now another picture of Viktor Nikiforov with his arm around Yuuri’s shoulders on Twitter.
He saves this one on his own phone, just because it’s commemorative.
Yuuri wishes he could remember half the things he said on stage, but he can’t. He has three basic memories:
- Tony Stark smoothly slipping off his suit jacket before announcing himself as the moderator of a very special panel that only had Yuuri and Viktor. Apparently, the third chair had been for a moderator that had mysteriously taken ill. Yuuri isn’t even sure that anyone else had been listed or that two people could even be considered a panel, but this is his life now. He now buys turtleneck sweaters, slicks his hair back with gel (because Phichit did a market study,) takes selfies with Viktor Nikiforov, and nerds out about the Internet of Things with Viktor Nikiforov and Tony Stark. He even gets to call it 5G, like he’s in the cool kids’ club.
- The above probably has more than three memories already, but he remembers for a minute sighing while staring at Viktor Nikiforov lean back and talk about the future of energy efficient buildings. Like a lovelorn teenager, he’d sighed. He’s not even going to deny it because there’s video footage of it that somehow ends up on Facebook.
- Once it’s all over, Tony makes a joke that isn’t funny and probably also not a joke about sending them both on a date. Yuuri isn’t even sure how the joke goes because he’s so caught up in trying not to blush when the entire room claps and makes all kinds of noises that indicate they’re excited by the possibility. And Yuuri isn’t even sure how a very serious panel about technology just became about selfies and emojis and a hashtag — and his big, fat crush on Viktor Nikiforov.
Naturally, he’s even more surprised when, after the panel is over, Viktor approaches him. Phichit is already standing by Yuuri, going at rapid fire speed over Yuuri’s schedule. For the CEO of a large and extremely well-known multinational, Viktor stands to the side, waiting patiently for his turn.
Phichit seems to notice him before Yuuri acknowledges him.
“Ah, Yuuri,” Viktor clears his throat, holding his phone in one hand. Yuuri considers asking if Viktor wants another commemorative photo, but it feels cheap, so he bites his tongue.
“Coffee?” Phichit offers, eyes bright. “Meet at 5pm, hotel lobby? We’ll have a car waiting outside. It’ll take you to this cute little shop that looks out towards the tower. It’s really cute and the coffee selections are very chic.”
Yuuri feels a little lost in the fog of Phichit’s sudden decision to add chic as an adjective for coffee. He’s also concerned that his assistant may have asked Viktor Nikiforov on a date on his behalf.
Viktor blinks, nodding excitedly, “that sounds great! I’ll see you later, then, Yuuri!”
Yuuri makes a small, faraway sound with his throat when he finally manages to open his mouth. Phichit gives him a strange look, fruncing his brow as he pushes Yuuri towards another door.
Coffee. Yuuri feels a little odd, wearing a Viktor Nikiforov Collection turtleneck to coffee with Viktor Nikiforov, but Phichit insists he looks great and that this will be a “subtle” compliment. Yuuri isn’t sure how subtle it is when Viktor’s eyes widen at the sight of him: “That’s from my fall collection!” he clasps his hands together, almost swooning as he follows Yuuri into the car.
Yuuri pulls at the neck of his sweater, feeling a little hot and nervous.
“Ah, yeah,” Yuuri says simply. “It was on sale?”
“That’s very flattering, Yuuri,” Viktor whispers, blushing lightly. He clears his throat, pulling out his phone. “So, since I have your attention, I wanted to show you something!”
Yuuri leans forward, confused when he sees pictures of a mock-up hospital room. Oh , he thinks to himself. It’s about business after all . It’s only slightly disappointing that he confused a business meeting for a date, but knowing Viktor doesn’t know about Yuuri’s appreciation means he feels a little more at ease. Yuuri is a good businessman. He’s a good CEO. This makes things easier. He takes the phone from Viktor’s hand, admiring the design work before he scrolls and reads a bit of the description embedded in the report.
“So, this is why you’ve been making all those comments about my decorative window solar panels,” Yuuri hums. “May I?”
Viktor nods, leaning closer.
“Tony help me,” Viktor cries on the phone, again. This has become the new normal, only now Viktor isn’t just emotionally compromised, but slightly sexually frustrated because Yuuri is gorgeous and smart, and that’s a dangerous combination of traits that Viktor can’t overcome, especially not after coffee. Yuuri even had exceptional taste in coffee (and even more exceptional taste in design and clothes). “I’m desperate! I literally only see him at conferences or on Twitter, and now occasionally in my email inbox because he has design ideas, but he won’t give me any indication that he likes me, other than he wore one of my turtlenecks that one time for coffee--”
“He likes dogs,” Tony yawns, chugging down coffee.
“Wait, what?” Viktor can’t imagine how that comment is relevant. Everyone worth knowing likes dogs. Viktor vets his business contacts based on whether they are dog owners, and he definitely refuses to do business with anyone that doesn’t at least own a pet (even a fish). It’s not hard to love something. “That’s a very cryptic message there, Tony.”
“I said, he likes dogs. Y ou have a dog.” When Tony notices Viktor isn’t following, he sighs, rubbing his face, “Tweet him a picture of your dog. ”
Viktor considers this as he basks in the imaginary light illuminating that brilliant idea. Has that been the answer all along?
Probably, because dogs are always the answer. Viktor turns to Makkachin, who lifts her head from her giant pillow bed to focus on his face. She woofs, low and gentle before rolling on her side. Viktor grins.
(Puppies are, indeed, the answer.
Yuuri likes the picture of Makkachin wearing a bowtie. He even sends back a heart emoji. Viktor is pretty sure Yuuri might have meant to send that privately, but instead he sends it out into the void of the Internet and his secret fanbase. This results in Mila running into Viktor’s office, sliding over the top of his desk, and confiscating his phone before he even has time to reciprocate the tweet. “Just call him, like a normal person,” she tells him, fighting him off as she runs into the elevator with his phone.
Whatever . Viktor just pulls out his laptop and sends a stream of emojis, like a heart in every single color, even black because it’s a heart and Yuuri needs all the hearts. Yuuri doesn’t respond. Viktor is fine with that, though. The ice has been broken. Makkachin has come out victorious in Viktor and Yuuri’s heart, and by default that must mean Yuuri will marry Vikor, if only to claim Viktor’s poodle child as his own.
The plan is back on track.
Then, #SassyCEOsinLove starts trending and Mila sends in her resignation letter. It’s literally a single line sent in by email (“I quit, but still expect an invitation to your wedding.”), with a picture attachment of her throwing darts at a wall full of memes using Viktor’s face. It’s a little insulting that she takes a job at Stark Industries. Viktor is pretty sure it has something to do with her Italian girlfriend moving to New York and not Viktor’s sudden successful love declaration via emojis.)
Yakov yells at Viktor for an hour and tells him he can’t use the corporate plane to fly to Tokyo to serenade his “loverboy” in person. Viktor ignores everything he says after he uses the word loverboy. Yuuri is a sophisticated, brilliant, gorgeous man. He is not a boy, at all. And Viktor is very excited to learn about all the ways in which he is not, even if it means he has to steal a plane to do it.
“Technically,” he reminds Yakov, rolling on his desk chair, “it is work. I’m signing a deal with Yuuri’s company. Remember, Yakov?”
(Technically, Viktor could also wait for Yuuri to return to California, instead of poaching his time away from another investor, but semantics.)
Yakov frowns, throwing a pen right at Viktor’s head: “And when the board approves the project’s contract, then you can go see him with the company plane. In California. Or, we can have him come here. Not before. And definitely not have you host a meeting at an onsen.” -- which is the real tragedy (and the actual reason Viktor wants to go to Japan). Yakov slams Viktor’s laptop closed before he leaves.
Viktor, in a cruel twist of fate, loses his reservations to an onsen in a little town called Hasetsu that seems to have amazing reviews as a major hotspot for tourist couples (and a reputation for beachside engagements).
“Fine. I’ll just fly commercial,” Viktor says petulantly, knowing well rumors of the company’s potential bankruptcy always spike Yakov’s blood pressure. It’s all lies, but optics matter. Viktor seldom flies commercial.
“You do that, then,” Yakov gruffs, slamming the door to Viktor’s office closed.
(Which is how Viktor ends up in Tony Stark’s personal plane, drinking champagne while Tony sips on ginger ale and Pepper Potts taps away efficiently on her phone, red bottom heels tapping against the floor.)
It’s all worth it. Viktor stands expectantly when Yuuri walks into the restaurant in a slim fit blue suit, far better tailored than anything he has worn before. Obviously, then, Yuuri knows this is a date. Viktor beams, making sure to pull out his chair. Yuuri sits carefully, looking amazed at Viktor, who almost trots around the table to sit and admire his new boyfriend (just a soon as he asks).
“So,” Yuuri says, once they’re settled with drinks in front of them. He tries to hide his face behind a menu, “this is unexpected. I thought I’d next see you at the expo in Vegas next month and later in California to sign the contract.”
Viktor clears his throat, leaning forward, “okay, but you must have realized I was starting to get desperate enough that I couldn’t wait another month to see you. I mean, I literally had started to consider a hostile takeover of your company before you responded to my Makkachin post.”
Yuuri arches an eyebrow, flushing lightly as he sets the menu down in front of him.
“I figured you were desperate when you tweeted at me that you had literally bought tickets in economy after your board of directors said you couldn’t use the company plane for personal travel. You know, your PR person has my number. Or my assistant’s number. I didn’t really used to check my phone before you.”
Viktor takes that as a confession, or as much of one as he’s going to get for now.
“She’s not with the company anymore,” Viktor explains.
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“The sacrifices I have made for you, Yuuri,” Viktor sighs, trying to reach for Yuuri’s hand, “I should be commended.”
“Yes, you should,” Yuuri purrs, slipping his hand away and reaching for his glass of wine, “if you had actually traveled economy.” He pulls up his Starkphone to show Viktor a picture sent by Pepper of Viktor and Tony having drinks inside Tony’s private plane.“But maybe you can try again the next time you visit me.”
Viktor grins, giddy with excitement by the implication.