Chapter 1: Prologue
It started as a lark; a way for Yuri to pass the time between training for Nationals, competing in Nationals, training for Worlds, and competing in Worlds. He never dedicated much time to it; an hour here and there, twenty minutes during a bus ride, maybe longer on the rare nights he couldn't sleep and Beka (his only friend who was actually awake after 10PM on any kind of consistent basis) wasn't around to distract him. If anyone had asked (and they wouldn't because he kept his personal shit private unlike some shitty old men he could name) he would have told them he never expected to actually succeed. All he had to go on were two names that might not even be real, physical descriptions, and the usual intangibles that only ever made themselves known when meeting someone in person. He certainly never expected to almost stumble upon what had to be one of the best kept secrets in the world.
(Okay, maybe not best kept, since he managed to figure it out with two names and a bunch of halfhearted internet searches, but still.)
Tim Drake-Wayne and Jason Todd.
Batman and Robin.
Because there was that one reporter who did a series of articles about Tim maybe being someone called Red Robin a while back, but since Tim had been shot and had his leg in a cast while he was supposed to be flying around as this Red Robin person Yuri ignored them. A bit more searching uncovered a whole slew of Bat-people who were supposedly flying around Gotham (including a Catwoman, which was pretty much all Yuri talked about for like a solid month), and yeah Red Robin's name showed up there too, but no one seemed to be able to agree on any of them actually existing except for Batman and Robin (and Catwoman). Which was fine with Yuri. Those two were hard enough to figure out, and if it wasn't for him finding a video clip of Tim giving a TED Talk about low-budget video game design he probably never would have. But he did, and when Tim had opened the floor for a Q&A and a big guy with the exact same white streak in his hair that Robin had asked him a question the mic didn't quite pick up but made Tim flustered enough to break out into a blush and say “Jason, get off the microphone”, it had yanked Yuri right out of the half-doze he'd been slipping into.
It would never hold up to anyone if he tried to explain, but Yuri knew.
The skinny nerd talking passionately about paid internships over work-study programs was Batman. Which meant Jason had to be Robin. It took a few more hours, but a newly energized Yuri searched for anyone named Jason who might have even the smallest connection between someone named Tim Drake, Tim Wayne, Tim Drake-Wayne, or anyone who shared those last names. When he finally found himself looking at a picture of Jason from an old internet article, he knew he'd found his guy. He also knew two other things he hadn't been expecting.
One, Jason Todd was even hotter when you could see his eyes.
(And fuck if Yuri didn't need another crush on an older guy who wasn't available. At least he wasn't interested in Tim, so the chances of this unattainable crush ending the way his last two did, with both of them falling stupidly in love with each other and never fucking shutting up about it was pretty fucking slim. But still.)
Two, Jason Todd had been dead for years.
Which, obviously, not true. But it was still weird for Yuri to be looking at a picture of a younger Jason in some private school uniform smiling with these giant dimples while the headline above proclaimed his death. He wondered what Jason was like back then. If whatever had “killed” him was the reason why he became Robin or if he maybe faked his own death to keep anyone from figuring out he was already Robin. And what the hell were the odds of the same man adopting both Batman and Robin?
Either Bruce Wayne was the least observant person in the world, or he was secretly funding the whole thing.
(Judging by the articles he pulled up about Bruce Wayne, it was 50/50 either way.)
So yeah, Yuri had figured out who Batman and Robin were in his free time while his stupid brain wouldn't shut up enough for him to get to sleep. He felt a vicious spike of white hot satisfaction. When the fuck had Katsudon's anxiety ever done something like this.
(He completely ignored the fact that Katsudon's anxiety had, technically, landed him the shitty old man. Fuck that. That didn't count. Those two idiots were obviously soulmates anyway. They would have found each other sooner or later and even if Yuri had managed to somehow turn Katsudon into the greatest skater the world had ever seen and win his heart just by yelling at him in a bathroom stall, he still would have met Victor at some point and that would have been it.
(Also, what the fuck had 15 year old Yuri been thinking? Now that he was older and infinitely more mature and emotionally stable, Yuri promised himself that, the next time he fell in love with someone, he'd just ask them out like a fucking normal person instead of yelling at them to give up their dreams or constantly telling them he was going to destroy them.)
Thing is, he never really expected to figure out who they were, so he never really gave any thought to what he'd do once he found out. It wasn't like he wanted to talk to them or anything. (Especially not Jason, whose thighs might actually be thicker than Katsudon's in the off season and Yuri hated that he was self-aware enough to know how much of a kink that was for him.) And he sure as hell wasn't going to blackmail them, even if they were rich as fuck. Yuri had never accepted a single ruble from anyone unless he earned it himself, and he wasn't about to start now. So Yuri's kind of at a loss. In the end, he decides to take his victory lap in the form of 3AM diet-breaking Pirozhki and call it a night.
Life went on. And before he knew it, it was another off-season.
Yuri hated the off-season. Hated the entire idea of it, really. It was like when Yakov would be out of town for a day or two and everyone at the rink besides Yuri and Katsudon would slack off, except it lasted for months. Yuri hated not training. He hated stagnating. He hated that his stupid body needed to take breaks and he couldn't go all out, all day, every day and have that translate into him being the best. He especially hated how stupid fucking puberty kept fucking his body up and every fucking year it seemed like he had to relearn every goddamn thing he knew while everyone else spent the off-season getting fat and lazy and came back better than ever. That first year after his senior debut was the worst wake up call he'd ever had. Some might have called it karmic justice after what he'd said to Katsudon in the bathroom at Sochi (Victor had. To his face. And fuck had that hurt) but when Yuri had to spend his entire season flubbing jumps and watching Katsudon and the old man flaunting themselves every fucking chance they got it was like his own personal year of hell. The part he hated the most, though, was how supportive they'd all been. Even Victor, after his karma comment, had stayed after practice and helped Yuri learn how to deal with his new body. (And it wasn't even that big of a difference, just an inch or two of height, slightly longer legs, and a bit more muscle, but it fucked everything up) Katsudon too. No matter how much Yuri yelled and cursed and told them off and blamed them for his problems they never left him alone. They helped him, and spent time with him, and fucking held him when everything got to be too much and he couldn't stop from fucking crying like a goddamn child.
How the fuck was he supposed to get rid of these fucking feelings when they kept doing shit like that?
It was almost bearable, when he was exhausted and every iota of his being was focused on getting on at least one podium (and how was that for a fall from grace? The Ice Tiger of Russia, who won his very first senior Grand Prix by breaking Victor fucking Nikiforov's world record, struggling to even make it to the fucking podium). When his brain and body would literally shut down at night and he didn't have to think. But in the off-season? All he could think about was how their arms felt wrapped around him. If he was feeling particularly masochistic, he wondered if they held him the way they held each other. Or if there was some level of tenderness that he'd never get to experience no matter how many times he broke down.
It had gotten a bit better as the years went on. Not that Yuri ever really got over them, but the pain hadn't gotten any worse, and he'd adapted. He didn't cut them out of his life, they'd never let that happen and Yuri knew it wouldn't help anything anyway, but he did make an effort to expand his circle, a bit. He still spent most of his non-Yuuri-and-Victor time with Beka, Potya, or Grandpa, but he forced himself to talk to more of his competition too. (Which was strangely easier now that they were competition and not so far beneath him he could have skated over their corpses and not even noticed) Sueng-Gil was probably his favorite. He never talked much, so they could just sit next to each other in a cafe or whatever and read or play on their travel consoles (Switch for Yuri, 3DS for Sueng-Gil) for hours and people would leave them alone because they were together. Phichit was his least favorite, easily, aside from Loser Style of course. He had absolutely no concept of personal space and after years of dealing with the Yuri's Angels the sight of a cell phone camera pointed right at Yuri's face made him twitchy. Surprisingly Minami wasn't too bad, once he got over being the biggest Yuuri Katsuki fanboy in the world and chilled the fuck out. (Also, he managed to get Yuri some official Yuuri Katsuki Fanclub merch without actually having to publicly join, which Yuri appreciated more than he would ever say even if he couldn't look Minami in the eye without blushing for like a month) It helped that they were both carrying a torch for the same oblivious idiot, and Minami, unlike Yuri, never seemed to care that it would be forever unrequited. He'd asked him, once, when they were both visiting Yu-topia at the same time and everyone else had already gone to bed and Yuri had filched them the last of the sake, if it ever hurt seeing Yuuri with Victor. Minami was slightly drunk and, if he ever had any defenses to questions like that, they were completely down around Yuri by that point and he'd answered immediately and honestly.
“Nope! I think I'll probably always love Yuuri, but that means I want him to be happy. He's happy with Victor, so I'm happy too.”
Yuri couldn't accept that anyone outside of one of those stupid shonen mangas Yuri definitely wasn't addicted to could actually feel that way. “So? What if he was even happier with you? You don't even care about that? And what about you? Are you just gonna love him forever and die alone with a million stupid poodles named Yuuri?”
Even drunk, Minami had given him a look of such painful understanding that Yuri had almost thrown up. (Or maybe that was just the sake. Fuck off, just because he couldn't hold his alcohol didn't make him any less Russian) “I won't say it never hurts,” Minami had said slowly, “but I don't think either of us will end up alone. It gets easier, and when you really love someone the first thing you have to do is be honest with yourself. Would I love it if I could be with Yuuri? Of course. But I'm honest enough to know that, even if Yuuri could give me what I need, I don't think I could give him what he needs. Not the way Victor does. Victor gave the world the Yuuri I always saw. All I would have been able to do was keep him for myself.”
Yuri thought a lot about what Minami had said over the following months. It was all he could think about, and he was almost glad his body had decided to fuck with him again so he had an excuse for why he kept fucking up besides what what was going on inside his head. Because every time he thought about Minami's words they were always followed by a crystal clear recollection of everything he'd said to Yuuri in Sochi.
In the end, Minami was right.
Neither one of them could have given Yuuri what he needed. And Victor...
Victor had never needed or wanted Yuri the way he did Yuuri.
So yeah, Yuri never really intended to contact Tim or Jason ever again, even after he figured out who they were. But the thing was, he'd spent so much time thinking about them and wondering about them and it was hard to turn that off. Especially during this particular off season. Grandpa was sick, and while it wasn't life threatening, Yuri wouldn't have left his side for a second even if there was a tiger petting convention happening right across the street. With Katsudon and the old man back in Hasetsu, and Beka spending most of the off season in Almaty with his family, Yuri was fresh out of people to talk to. And while he knew his friends would make time for him if he called, his phone felt like a cinder block in his hands whenever he tried. That tiny voice in the back of his head wouldn't shut up with it's constant refrain of you're just bothering them everyone's happy without you they don't need you not the way you need them no one wants to talk to you no one wants you in their life you can't even win a gold meal anymore when Grandpa dies you'll be all alone and everyone will forget you over and over until Yuri threw his phone at the wall and buried himself under all the pillows and cat plushes on his bed.
It didn't help. He still had all these feelings building up in him and no way to let them out. It felt like his insides were coated with burning tar that kept bubbling and boiling and roasting him from the inside out.
Later on, if someone were to ask him when it started, he wouldn't be able to say, exactly. All he knew is that, at some point, he started composing long rambling text conversations in his head. Everything he was feeling, everything he wished he could say out loud, everything he hated about himself, everything he couldn't keep inside for another second, all of it was gone over in painstaking detail in his mind. He imagined himself pushing send on an imaginary phone, letting those texts out into the world. He imagined someone reading them, their eyes scanning every vitriol-laced word, their face shadowy, the only part of them visible would be pale, tight lips lit up by the glow from their phone as they typed up a response. There was no set schedule when he would do this, and the texts were always different even if the issues he vented about stayed the same. The only constant were the words he began his imaginary conversation with.
Yuri wrote responses, too. Which sounded all kinds of stupid if he'd actually tried to explain it to anyone, but fuck if it didn't help. Maybe it was because he'd met Batman, and even if they'd shared a few moments of kinship over sneering at the annoying fanboys, he was still different from Yuri. So Yuri tried to keep his responses in character, and sometimes he just ended up yelling at himself inside his own head, but other times trying to think, really think, about how Batman would respond to him actually gave him a different perspective on his issues. And by the time Grandpa recovered and the idiots in Japan remembered he existed and Beka took a whole week to come visit Yuri, things had sort of evened out. Of course, “even” for Yuri these days still meant he was stressed about his skating, worried that next time Grandpa might not get better, and nursing this stupid heartache every time Katsudon and the old man so much as smiled at each other (or even worse, him). But it's a status quo he'd been dealing with for years, so, if nothing else, it was manageable.
He never quite fell out of the habit of “texting” Batman, though.
Which was why, when Victor fucked up more than usual and got them all in trouble with the Russian mob, he knew exactly who to call to save their asses.
There were days when Tim Drake-Wayne absolutely loved his day job. Days when it was stimulating, where he could go toe to toe with the most powerful people in the world and win without throwing a single punch, where he could lay down on the decadent leather couch in his and Jason's apartment at the end of a long day and know at least one tiny part the world was slightly better off for his efforts.
Then there were days when his biggest accomplishment was breaking the record for how many pencils he could stick into the ceiling of his office. Which was 66.
He opened a new pack of pencils, aimed, and threw.
Maybe I should start going for some kind of pattern?
A bat would look pretty cool.
His intercom flared to life.
“Mr Wayne, you have a call on line two.”
Tim jerked in surprise. Which would have been the end of it, normally, but he'd been balancing his chair on two of its eight wheels to make his pencil-sticking a little more fun, and he just barely caught himself on the edge of his massive desk as his chair slid out from under him and he went crashing down. His relief lasted for all of two seconds, before about half of the 70 pencils stuck directly above him came loose and bounced off his head.
Not for the first time (far from the first time, very far from the first time) Tim hated the fact that Bruce had security cameras in his office.
“Okay,” he said quietly, knowing the cams would pick it up along with his unfortunate blush, “what do I have to do to make sure Jason and Damian never see this footage?”
His phone didn't buzz, but that was okay. Babs would get back to him at some point, and he'd been nice to her recently. Surely she wouldn't demand anything too terrible.
Oh. Right. Work.
“Thanks Denise,” he said, his voice surprisingly cool and calm even though he was still clinging to his desk. And, also, still Tim. “I'll take it now.”
He didn't bother asking who it was.
Tim gathered himself up, straightened out his suit, and picked up his phone.
“Tim Pencil—Drake—Wayne! Tim Wayne.” Tim closed his eyes. He could feel the Earth cringing and looking away in secondhand embarrassment. “How can I help you?”
At least today can't possibly get any worse.
“Uh. Is this Batman?”
Tim dropped the phone.
One of these days he was really going to learn not to say that.
Yuuri Katsuki does not like Russia.
As far as sentiments went, he thought that one was pretty straight forward and hard to misinterpret. Russia was cold. Unbearably cold. Yuuri had thought he had a pretty high tolerance for extreme temperature, what with living in Hasetsu during the winter and spending most of his life in an ice rink, but Russia was cold. It was like, when the Earth was being created and weather was being doled out Russia showed up late still a little drunk from the night before and the only things left were Russia and Antarctica. (And he wasn't even sure Russia got the better of the two, at least Antarctica had penguins) It didn't help that no one in Russia spoke English or Japanese, or that, despite being a nightmarish hellscape of frozen tundra, not one single shop seemed to sell a jacket that could stop Yuuri's near constant shivering every time he stepped outside a building. He'd never had to take off layers when he walked into an ice rink because he immediately started sweating until he moved to Russia. Of course, the few Russians that weren't part of Yakov's stable who did speak something that sounded almost like the broken English Yuuri had been able to manage when he first moved to Detroit (okay, he's being generous here, surely, even young, pre-staying-up-all-night-practicing-English-with-Phichit-while-binging-Kitchen-Nightmares Yuuri had never been this bad) were less than helpful. They all seemed to think he was an adorable foreigner wrapped up in his cute layers and his precious three scarves. And their advice, when they stopped pinching his cheeks and stuffing him with various hot bun dishes (okay so maybe they weren't all bad) was to fortify himself against the cold with a stiff shot (or three) of good Russian vodka.
This was not advice Yuuri would be taking.
Aside from the fact that, if Yuuri had to take a shot every time he was cold, he'd very quickly die of alcohol poisoning, it was well documented that Yuuri and alcohol do not mix. He would deal with the hellish cold a thousand times over before he'd ever consider warming himself with the alcohol poisoning in a bottle the insane Russians tried to pass off as spirits. Yuuri's hard and fast rule since Sochi was no more than two light beers, one shot, or three reasonably sized cups of sake per 24 hour period. This was the only way to keep him from humiliating himself (again) and bringing shame upon his entire ancestral lineage (again). Besides, he'd already won a husband with his drunken escapades, so there was no sense in pushing his luck.
(His success with this rule was...debatable. But he always maintained that it was a very good guideline regardless of how many times he slipped up and he dared anyone to resist as many times as he had when they had Victor Nikiforov sloppy drunk and hanging off of them with that damn pout and begging them to have “just one drink with me Yuuuuuuri~~~!”)
Speaking of husbands, one would think that, living with a man who was not only independently wealthy, but was also hailed as a hero by his countrymen and fluently spoke the language and refused to leave Yuuri's side unless he absolutely had to would make his adjustment to his new home somewhat easier.
One would be wrong.
That's not to say Victor wasn't a lifesaver, or that Yuuri didn't love him with an intensity that only seemed to increase with every passing second. Yuuri was well aware his life would be a trashcan dumped into a toilet bowl and set on fire if it wasn't for Victor (and Yuri, and Yakov, and his parents, and...well, a lot of people, actually. But mostly Victor). And, since Victor was Victor and utterly incapable of not being Victor, Yuuri's cheeks spent a good deal of time doing their part to warm him from the intensity of their blushing. So there was that.
But here's the thing.
Victor was Victor and utterly incapable of not being Victor.
Which was great, right up until it wasn't.
Case in point: When he drunkenly punched the son of a Russian mob boss for hitting on Yuuri, and ended up with a hit put out on them.
As you do.
Considering, Yuuri thought he was handling it pretty well.
“Yuuri? Are you okay in there?”
“I'm fine, Victor.”
“Okay...” An audible sigh, then, “It's just, you've been in the bathroom for three hours, now.”
“And the shower has been running the whole time.”
“Have you been in the shower for three hours, Yuuri?”
A long pause. “Did you take your clothes off first?”
“Oh. Is that...crying, I hear?”
“Have you been crying in the shower for three hours, Yuuri?”
“It seems that way.”
“Oh.” Another long pause. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Yuuri tilted his head up into the spray (which hadn't even begun to cool, score one for insanely expensive hotel rooms and the in-the-doghouse husbands who spring for them) and let it wash away the latest build up of tears and snot from his face. He was very glad his glasses were...somewhere. There were a lot of reflective surfaces in this shower, and one of the few saving graces of his present situation was that he couldn't, currently, see how much of a mess he was.
The other was that Victor couldn't see.
Because, while right now there was a mean, vindictive part of Yuuri that wanted Victor to see exactly what his actions had caused, he was still rational enough to know that, if they somehow survived the next week or so without actually being killed and dismembered and thrown in the Neva Bay, he'd actually, literally, die of humiliation if he let the only person who had ever been attracted to him (half-drunk and obviously blind mafia kids don't count) see him all puffy and red faced and covered in tears and mucus.
“Can...can you call Yurio and make sure he's okay?”
Because it wasn't even close to a secret how close Yuri was to them, and aside from the ice rink, Yuri's apartment (where he lived alone, because Yuuri needed something else to worry about) was probably the first place anyone looking for Victor and Yuuri would go.
He would never forgive himself (or Victor) if anything happened to Yuri because of this.
“I just talked to him ten minutes ago. He was perfectly fine.” Another pause. “Or at least as fine as Yurio ever is, I suppose.”
Yuuri took a deep, shaky breath. “Please?”
He wasn't even sure the weak, breathy plea had carried over the sound of the shower and the closed door, but if he opened his mouth again all that would come out would be a big, ugly sob and Yuuri's throat (and chest, and head, and soul) already hurt too much to be able to handle that right now.
“All right,” Victor said. He sounded resigned and defeated.
Yuuri said nothing else, and eventually Victor left.
Twenty minutes later the hot water abruptly cut out, and Yuuri's shower ended with a shriek.
He made a token effort to clean himself up in the sink (though why freezing cold sink water was somehow okay when freezing cold shower water wasn't he couldn't say) but he'd reached the “I don't care how I look anymore I need fifteen bowls of Katsudon” point of his depression spiral and gave up after the cold water just made his nose even redder.
Victor could deal. It wasn't like he could just divorce Yuuri there in the (obscenely expensive) hotel room while they were hiding from the mob. If nothing else, there would always be that little piece of paper tying Victor to him like a chain holding a poor, captive native to the walls of the ship ferrying them across the sea to a life of slavery.
With that happy thought in mind, Yuuri picked his glasses up off the floor, put them on, and walked naked out of the bathroom. He stopped in the middle of their bedroom (the hotel suite had multiple rooms, naturally) and frowned.
Victor was nowhere to be seen.
“Victor...?” Yuuri called.
There was no answer.
A chill that had nothing to do with exhausted water heaters settled over his heart.
Oh no, they found us. They have Victor. They tortured him. They raped him. They killed him. No, they raped him then killed him. Or killed him then raped him!
Yuuri grabbed the nearest heavy object and ran out into the lounge.
“Get away from my husband!” he yelled, brandishing his weapon.
Victor, standing ten feet away completely unharmed, dropped his phone in surprise. “Yuuri!”
“Victor! You're okay!” He looked around wildly. “Where are they? Did they already rape you?”
Victor blinked, then adopted what Yuuri, when he was in his right mind (or what passed for it), called his “Yuuri is upset and crazy, but for some reason that may never be explained by science I still love him so I am trying to figure out how to humor him without sending him into a black hole of panic and despair from which no light or sanity will ever escape” expression.
“There's no one here but us, my love. No one is raping anyone.”
“Are you sure?”
Victor gave Yuuri's naked body a very long once over. “I'm sure.”
(See, that's how outside observers familiar with the intricacies of the Domestic Victurri would know there was a Serious Happening taking place. Victor very manfully refrained from following up with something like “but unless you get some clothes on soon I can't make any promises about what might happen in the next few minutes”. Phichit had once spent a whole week on vacation with Victor and Yuuri meticulously recording every detail of their daily life together, and was the one to actually point out the “Yuuri is upset and crazy etc etc” look to Yuuri for the first time. Since then, the part of Yuuri that wasn't horrifically embarrassed to realize every single private moment between him and his husband on that particular vacation had been witnessed and documented by his best friend couldn't stop noticing all the sweet little Victor things Victor did for Yuuri that he'd never picked up on before. This was the only reason he didn't completely stop speaking to Phichit after they came home that year.)
Yuuri nearly collapsed with relief, though his anxiety wouldn't quite let him drop his weapon or stop searching every dark corner of the room (of which there were none, the lighting was very well done) for hidden assailants.
Yuuri must have made some noise of acknowledgment, because after a moment Victor continued.
“Is that water bottle for me?”
“What water bottle?”
Victor pointed to Yuuri's weapon.
Which, oh...that is a water bottle.
A half filled one at that.
Yuuri felt his cheeks begin to warm.
So of course that was when the hotel room door was violently kicked open.
Yurio stomped through the open door, snarling.
“All right, losers! Stop your cowering and get in here and thank me! I just solved all your...stupid...”
Yurio stared, slack-jawed, at Yuuri.
Time began to slow.
Yurio's eyes, which had been fixed on Yuuri's damp chest, began to move lower at the speed of a geologic age.
From nearby, a long, drawn out “Nooooooooo!” could be heard slowly breaking through the silence of years.
Yurio's eyes reached Yuuri's pre-season paunch.
A shadow passed across Yuuri's vision.
Then, all of a sudden, the normal flow of time came crashing back in.
Along with Victor.
Yuuri went down hard, Victor having thrown himself at his husband with little thought to how thin the carpeting actually was. Yuuri's tall, muscley husband landed right on top of his lower abdomen, driving the air out of his lungs and, by some miracle, not actually crushing his balls to a fine powered dust.
“No Yurio! Don't look! Keep yourself pure! Don't look at my naked Yuuri!”
Distantly, Yuuri heard a phantom skating announcer.
“And Katsuki is down and probably out, folks. I don't know if he can recover from this one. The hopes and dreams of an entire nation may have just been crushed here tonight at the Grand Prix Final.”
“I wasn't looking at anything old man! Why would I wanna see your fat husband naked? That's gross. You're gross. I hate you both you're so fucking disgusting!”
“Yuuri isn't gross! Yuuri is beautiful. You'd be lucky to see him naked!”
“Katsuki is conscious but still not moving. You would have to assume the humiliation and embarrassment is setting in right now. How could anyone come through something like this unscathed?”
“Agh! Don't get off him! I thought you didn't want me to see it?”
“That was before you called my Yuuri gross. Look at that! Is that gross?”
“Yep. I am sorry to say it looks like tonight we may have seen the end of Katsuki Yuuri.”
“Yes, my Yuuri? Are you okay? Did you hit your head?”
“Stop straddling him!”
“Yes? I'm listening. Do you want me to get Makka?”
“Your stupid dog is with Yakov, you idiot.”
“Please bury me with Vicchan.”
“Nooo! You have to be buried with me! Are you really that upset with me you want to be torn apart in the afterlife?”
“Oh my god, this is disgusting, I'm fucking leaving. Don't have sex while I'm gone, I'll be back soon and I can't walk in on that again!”
Yuuri vaguely registered the sound of a door slamming.
“Yuuri? Yuuri, please answer me. Are you still mad at me?”
Yuuri's eye began to twitch. “Did you just show my penis to Yurio?”
Victor was silent for a long moment. “Maybe?”
“Then yes. Yes, I'm still mad at you.”
Victor wailed. Yuuri closed his eyes.
“Today may go down as the blackest day in the history of figure skating.”
Yuri glared at the hotel room door. The door stared back placidly. Yuri hated it.
He just had no idea if he hated it because it hadn't kept him from seeing naked Katsudon, or because Katsudon might still be naked behind the door and Yuri couldn't see through it.
Beka was right. I need so much therapy.
Yuri flinched as a different door from somewhere else in the stupidly expensive hotel Victor had decided to hide out in (seriously? Has that stupid old man ever heard of being inconspicuous?). It probably wasn't someone from the mob who had followed Yuri and was now about to catch him outside Katsudon and the Old Man's hotel room, shove him inside, tie them up, and cut off all their fingers and toes before boiling them alive in acid, but Yuri wasn't about to take any chances.
He'd rather suffer through an entire lifetime of wet dreams about Stupid Victor straddling Naked Katsudon than get his toes chopped off.
In a concession to stealth, Yuri kicked the door open gently.
“You losers better not be fucking in here!” He covered his eyes, but left enough room between his fingers so he could still sort of see through.
So much fucking therapy.
“We're decent,” Katsudon said.
Yuri let out a sigh and let his hands drop. “Good.” He sounded so convincing he almost believed himself.
Katsudon and Victor were sitting at opposite ends of the couch. Yuri almost didn't notice at first, because it was pretty much a rule that, if the PDA Kings of Figure Skating weren't joined at the hip, then one of them wasn't in the room. He saw Yuuri with no Victor and assumed the old man was in the bathroom, or something. When he did notice, something like dread began to curl inside him.
“No,” Katsudon said evenly.
“Yes,” the Old Man wailed despondently.
“No.” Katsudon's expression hardened but he didn't so much as glance at Victor. No, he stared right at Yuri. “We are not fighting. I'm just not speaking to Victor because everything bad that happens in the world is his fault.”
His eyes seemed to be daring Yuri to disagree with him.
Yuri had no plans to do any such thing. And apparently Katsudon's steely glare was powerful enough to effect Victor even while pointedly not looking at him, because half a second later Victor wilted and nodded morosely.
“Yuuri is right. It's all my fault.”
He went limp and slid halfway down the couch.
I should have let the mob find me. I'd rather cut my own damn toes off than be in the middle of this.
“I hate you both so much.”
“See what you did, Victor? Yurio hates us now.” He let the words hang in the air for a moment before going in for the kill. “And it's all your fault.”
The Old Man wailed again.
Yuri couldn't believe how savage Katsudon was being. Yuri had always thought him and Victor were all puppies and rainbows and embarrassingly public kiss-and-cuddle fests. He didn't even think they knew how to fight; not real fights, anyway. Just “Victor hasn't spent all day running his fingers through my hair since I got it cut do you think he hates it?” or “Yuuri only smiled at me 300 times today what did I do wrong?” Victor and Yuuri bullshit.
He had no idea how to handle this, beyond a very small part of his brain waving its arms and shouting “now's your chance!” He ruthlessly shut that shit down.
Yuri Plisetsky was no homewrecker.
“Was there something you wanted, Yuri?” Yuuri said calmly, completely ignoring his melting husband.
Yuri scowled at the sound of his real name.
What? So the stupid nickname wasn't the worst fucking thing in the world, what's the big fucking deal? It wasn't like it mattered what he was called, really. And it wasn't like he actually liked it. It wasn't like there was this huge fucking line drawn down the middle of his life that separated Yuri from Yurio. It wasn't like his life had changed dramatically since he first heard that dumb name, or that everything good, really good, the kind of good that changes a person for the better, that had ever happened in his life happened to Yurio and not Yuri. And it definitely wasn't like he loved hearing the name spoken with Katsudon's faint Japanese accent or Victor's lilting, sing-song tones.
Yuri just didn't like how pissy Katsudon was being, that's all.
“Shut up!” He took his phone out of his pocket and threw it at Katsudon. It hit him in the chest with a loud thump and bounced into his lap.
“Ow! Yurio, what—”
“Open it and read the text conversation at the top, idiot. I'm too pissed off to talk to you right now.”
“What did I do?”
“You didn't do anything! Shut up! Read the fucking texts!”
To Yuri's mild surprise, Katsudon did what he asked. After a few minutes he frowned down at Yuri's phone.
“Are...are you mad that Minami still uses the old doge meme?”
“What? No! Not that conversation! The one above it!”
“Oh.” Katsudon tapped the phone a few times. Yuri knew he had the right conversation this time when Yuuri gasped and nearly dropped the phone. “Yurio! What did you do?”
Yuri crossed his arms and smirked. “I told you before. I solved your fucking problem.”
Two days earlier
“What the fuck was that? Did you drop your phone?”
There was silence from Yuri's phone for so long he had to check to make sure it hadn't hung up. It hadn't, and Yuri glared.
“Are you ignoring me? Hey, Batman! Answer me!”
A beat, then, “Ah, who is this?”
“Shit. I mean—wow, an international skating superstar calling me, how...how cool. Um, is there something I can do for you Mr Plisetsky? Did you maybe want Wayne Tech to sponsor you, because I can transfer you to the—”
“What the hell are you talking about? Wayne Tech Russia already sponsors me. Are you trying to pretend you're not Batman?”
“We already sponsor you?”
Yuri rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I wore your stupid skates all last season. Now shut up and listen, I need your help.”
“...were the skates not satisfactory?”
Yuri growled. “Shut up about the fucking skates! I need you to beat up the Russian mob for me.”
This isn't how any of my imaginary conversations went.
“What? That...” Yuri heard Tim take a deep breath. “Mr Plisetsky...I don't know why you're calling my office about this, but—”
“Because you're Batman. Look, I get it, okay? You need to protect your secret identity and all that shit. But I'm not stupid. I know who you are. You and Jason Todd.” Yuri paused, then thought, fuck it why not and continued, “Bruce Wayne, too.”
The last thing Yuri expected to hear was a snort.
“You have some...very interesting ideas, Mr Plisetsky. I can assure you, though, you're incorrect. I'm not Batman.”
Yuri pushed down the sudden disappointment that rose up in his chest. Tim was a lot more useful when he was just in Yuri's head.
I don't have time for this shit.
“Fine. You know what? Fuck off then. I'll just call Robin up and tell him Katsud—Katsuki is in trouble and needs his help. He seems like the kind of loser Piggy fan that would come running to help his stupid ass.”
“No! Don't do that. I have no idea what you're talking about. But don't call Jason, whoever that is, and tell him anything like that.”
“I never said Jason was Robin.”
There was a long pause, followed by, “Fuck...”
“Wait! No, you did say Jason's name. Earlier. You said you knew about Jason Todd and Bruce Wayne, and everyone knows Robin is younger than Batman so, if anything, Jason would be Robin and Bruce would be Batm—”
Tim was cut of by a sound Yuri recognized from years of Katsudon wrestling a phone away from the old man when he started oversharing about their personal life. (Which was a fucking joke. Put a few shots into him and Katsudon would draw a to-scale replica of the old man's dick with permanent marker on a table in any bar in the world. Not that Yuri ever took advantage of that. Not more than a few times anyway.) Sure enough, after a minute of scuffling noised punctuated by snippets of Tim saying things like “oh thank god fix this please” and “I'm so sorry Bruce”, the next voice to speak to Yuri was definitely not Tim.
“Hi! Bruce Wayne here. Sorry to interrupt your conversation like this but I was walking by Tim's office and overheard him and I just had to ask...is this really Yuri Plitenskey the figure skater?”
“Plisetsky,” Yuri growled.
“Oh.” Wayne said, nonplussed. “Is that Polish?”
“What the hell? It's Russian you dumbass!”
“Russian, huh? That's amazing. Anyway, my son's a huge fan, and I was wondering if I could buy an autograph or maybe a meet and greet with you? Do you do charity auctions? He'd love some old skates, or maybe a few costumes or something. His birthday's coming up and I really can't afford to forget again this year.”
He finished with a loud, booming laugh; the same kind Yuri had heard a million times from stupid sponsors who had no idea what the fuck they were talking about, but knew he had to laugh along with them because they were giving him money. It took every bit of self-control he had not to chuck his phone across the room.
I can't believe I thought this idiot knew Tim was Batman.
Yuri wanted to scream at him to put Tim back on the phone, but he'd dealt with enough rich dumbasses to know that wouldn't get him anywhere. As much as he hated it, he'd have to keep calm and be nice to the loser until he got bored and went back to his stocks or whatever the hell he did all day.
Yuri took a deep breath.
“Listen you fuck—”
That's not being nice, Yurio! shouted the tiny Katsudon that lived in his head.
“—ing good business man. I'll, uh, give your kid an autograph, or something. Put Tim Drake back on the phone and we can work out the details.”
Fuck you, Katsudon. I can do nice.
“Great! You really saved my bacon, Mr Plets...can I call you Yuri?”
“Fantastic! You really saved my bacon, Yuri. You would not believe how upset Damian gets when I forget things like that.” Another one of those booming, mostly vacant laughs. This one was tinted with a hint of can you believe how unreasonable that boy is sometimes? Yuri had to actually bite his lip to keep from telling this asshole off.
Maybe I'll actually send the kid some autographed skates or something. He deserves it for having to deal with this asshole as a dad.
“Anyway,” the asshole was saying, “I've got a better idea. Why don't you call me back on my personal number and we can work out the details. Don't wanna tie up Timmy's work phone too long. Just 'cause he's the boss doesn't mean he should be taking personal calls on company time.”
“What? No! I don't want your fucking—”
“Good! I'll text you the number and we can pick this up in a minute. Can't wait to hear from you Yuri!”
The piece of shit hung up.
“You fucking asshole!”
His phone chimed with a text from an unfamiliar number. It was a number, followed by a fucking backwards (: basic bitch ass smiley face. Even Victor used kaomojis, and he was like 50.
“How the hell do you even know my number?” Yuri yelled at no one. Potya lifted his head from where he was sleeping, gave Yuri a glare, then went back to sleep. Yuri grimaced and slightly lowered the volume of his next outburst. “And if you have it why don't you just fucking call me?”
His phone chimed again.
Unknown number: Because Bruce is hoping you won't call.
Yuri almost dropped his phone.
“What the fuck?”
Unknown number: Language.
“What the fuck?!”
Yuri threw his phone across the room. It chimed three more times when it landed, vibrating across his hardwood floor. Which made the whole thing even more fucked up, because he always had vibration turned off.
He ran around his apartment, pulling all his curtains shut and taping over the camera on his laptop, then shutting it for good measure. When he was as sure as he could be that no one could see him, he warily inched his way over to his phone. He meant to smash it into tiny pieces then flush those pieces down the toilet, but when it chimed and buzzed again his curiosity got the better of him.
“If you explode in my hand, I'm gonna hunt you down and cut your face off,” he said to whoever was spying on him through his phone.
Unless it's a ghost. If it's haunted I'm fucking gone like the old man's hairline.
He picked it up and opened his messages.
Unknown number: You're gonna break your phone if you throw it like that.
Unknown number: Aren't you a little old for temper tantrums?
Unknown number: I'm getting bored.
Unknown number: If you don't call you're gonna wake up one night with Batman standing over you *looming*. Just warning you.
Yuri tilted his head. That didn't sound so bad. It got Batman out here and he didn't have to talk to that idiot billionaire ever again.
His phone chimed again.
Unknown number: I know that look. Trust me, Batman showing up in the middle of the night is *not* something you want.
Yuri scowled as he typed a reply.
Me: Get the fuck out of my phone!
Unknown number: No. I live here now.
“How the fuck can someone be more annoying than Victor?” Yuri muttered to himself.
Unknown number: I haven't talked to Victor yet. But I resent that. I'm only trying to help.
Oh great, it can hear me.
“Fuck.” He went and got a piece of tape and covered up both his cameras, front and back. “Can you hear me now?”
Unknown number: Rude.
Unknown number: And yes.
“But you can't see me?”
Unknown number: No. Not even I can see through tape with an iPhone X camera.
Unknown number: Yet.
Unknown number: And really? An iPhone X? I didn't take you for the “more money than sense” type.
Yuri flushed. “Victor bought it for me...”
Unknown number: Ahh. Makes sense. I should have guessed.
Unknown number: Considering half your memory is taken up with pictures of him and Yuuri Katsuki, I mean.
“You don't know what the hell you're talking about! I don't take pictures of those losers! And if I did it's just because I'm studying them so I can destroy them when the season starts back up.”
Unknown number: Oh Yuri. Having a crush isn't the worst thing in the world.
Yuri squeezed his phone so hard the screen nearly cracked. This time, though, there was an undercurrent of fear beneath the anger.
Was it really that easy to see through him?
No. And even if it was, I don't care if everyone else knows as long as Katsudon and the old man never figure it out. And they haven't. Because Victor might be able to pretend he had no idea, but there's no way Yuuri wouldn't give it away the first fucking time we were in the same room together.
Still, he was more than a little freaked out that someone he'd never met figured it out just by hacking into his phone and looking at a few pictures.
“Um. You're not a ghost, are you?”
Unknown number: Not in the traditional sense.
“What the hell does that mean?”
Unknown number: If you wanted to be poetic you could say I slip through firewalls and security systems like a ghost, but I promise I'm all human.
“Oh. So you're, what, a hacker?”
Unknown number: Something like that.
Oracle: You can call me Oracle.
“What the fuck? How did you change your contact information like that?”
Oracle: I'm *spooky* good.
“Oh fuck you. That was terrible.”
Yuri couldn't stop his lips from pulling into a tiny smirk though.
He was doubly glad he decided to tape up his cameras.
He also quickly changed Oracle's contact info from “Oracle” to “Phonetergeist”. Because it was his fucking phone and he had a habit of giving all his contacts names-he-would-be-mortified-if-anyone-found-out-about-but-made-him-snicker.
(He still had no idea how he went an entire month a few years ago with no one looking over his shoulder and noticing that Victor, Yuuri, and Beka were “It Happened A Million Times in a Dream”, “If I Had to Pick Just One”, and “Eagle Two” respectively.)
Phonetergeist: At least my pun made sense
Oracle: There. I fixed it.
Yuri scowled and tried to change it back, but every time he hit the edit contact button he was kicked back to his home screen.
Oracle: That's no way to speak to a lady
“Yeah?” Yuri asked skeptically. “You know if I had an American dollar for every time some guy on the internet told me they were a girl I wouldn't need sponsors, right? You're probably some fifty year old guy with a beer gut living in a warehouse with a poster of a vocaloid on the wall.”
Oracle: You're being very rude to someone who could send really embarrassing texts to all your friends from your phone.
“You won't, though.”
Oracle: You sound very confident about that.
“You still want me to call Bruce Wayne, and I still don't want to. If you start texting my friends I'll just destroy the phone and never talk to you again.” There was a long “silence” from Oracle, and Yuri's lips pulled into a smirk. “I might like bad puns and have stupid crushes, but I know how to deal with people who want something from me. Besides, it's not like this'd be the first time someone stole my phone and sent people creepy texts. Why do you think Victor bought that thousand dollar monstrosity in the first place?”
Oracle: Oh Yuri, I could do so much worse to you than sending a few embarrassing texts.
Oracle: But you're right. I do want you to call Bruce. So I won't threaten you. All I'll do is ask nicely.
“Ugh, why do you ever care? He's just some rich asshole.” Yuri crossed his arms. “All I wanna do is talk to Batman.”
Oracle's reply was suspiciously long in coming.
Oracle: Call Bruce.
“Is he Batman's boss or something?”
Oracle: Something like that.
Yuri scowled. “I knew it,” he grumbled. “Why can't rich people have normal hobbies?”
Oracle: The world may never know.
Oracle: Look, just give him a call and I promise you'll be able to make your case for getting help with the mob straight to Batman himself.
“I thought you said he didn't want me to call?”
Oracle: I said he's hoping you won't. Bruce has a lot on his plate right now and the last thing he wants is to have to deal with someone knowing who Batman is.
Oracle: But Bruce sometimes forgets that he is a force of obsession and control and if you don't call he won't be able to let it go, hence you waking up with Batman looming over you.
“That loser is gonna send Batman after me if I don't call him?”
Oracle: Yes. And if he does that, you can kiss any chance of him helping you with your mafia problem goodbye.
Yuri scowled yet again. “Why the hell didn't you just say that in the first place? Fuck, fine. I'll call the rich idiot. But if Batman and Robin don't help and we all end up dead I'm dragging those assholes out of the afterlife and we're all gonna haunt you for the rest of your fucking life.”
Oracle: Duly noted.
“Damn right it is.”
There was no response text.
Fine, whatever, Yuri could tell when someone didn't want to talk to him anymore. Besides, he had more important shit to do anyway than talk with someone who hacked his fucking phone and had a lame ass fake name like Oracle.
“Boreacle, more like.” He glanced down at his phone. Still nothing. “Psh. Whatever.”
He dredged up the tattered remains of his Yakov mandated “play nice for the rich sponsors Yura or you'll be doing spins until you puke” training and dialed the number Bruce Wayne had texted him. It was picked up after two rings.
Yuri paused. The voice on the other end sounded like Bruce Wayne, but it was way calmer than he'd been expecting. “Uh, yeah. Is this...Bruce Wayne?”
“We're on a secure line,” possibly-Wayne said, completely ignoring Yuri's question. “Why are you trying to contact Batman?”
Well. That was refreshingly direct. Maybe this Bruce Wayne guy (if that's who this was) wasn't that much of an asshole after all?
“Victor pissed off the Russian mob and now they want to kill all of us,” Yuri said. He could do direct with the best of them.
“And how is that Batman's problem?”
Okay, never mind, he was an asshole.
“Because I'm making it his fucking problem!” Yuri bit his lip, hard, to keep himself from saying anything more. Fuck, just pretend this is that douchebag Adidas rep who always tries to get you to take your shoes off. You didn't yell at that shithead, you can be calm now. “I mean, because I need his help. Isn't that what Batman does? Help people?”
“So do the police.”
Yuri snorted. “Yeah, I'll just go call the Russian police on the Russian mob. While I'm waiting for them to show up I'll cut off my own feet and throw myself into the bay to save them some trouble.”
There was a long period of silence, followed by a noise that almost sounded like a sigh. “And can I ask what, exactly, three figure skaters did to anger the mafia?”
“Hey! Don't lump me and Katsudon in with that shitty old man. This is all his fault.”
“I assume you're talking about Victor Nikiforov?”
“Do you know any other shitty old men?”
There was a distant noise, like someone in the background on Bruce Wayne's side of the call was talking very quickly, but almost as soon as it started there was a crackle, and then silence. Yuri checked, but the call hadn't been dropped, so he guessed that Wayne either muted it or covered it up with his hand. A minute later he was back.
“What did Victor Nikiforov do?”
“Is this on speaker?”
“Not anymore. What did he do?”
Yuri rolled his eyes. Fuck it. “He punched the son of the city boss in the face for hitting on Katsudon.”
Another long silence. “I'm assuming 'Katsudon' refers to a person, and not an actual pork cutlet bowl?”
“Uh, yeah.” Yuri blinked. Bruce Wayne was actually the first person to ever ask, which was weird. “Yuuri Katsuki. That's who Katsudon is, I mean.”
“All right. And was anyone else involved in this...altercation?”
“No, but everyone around here knows who we are. It's not like Katsudon and the Old Man can just hide out for a few weeks or go on vacation until it blows over or anything. Hits on famous people aren't cheap—or, uh, that's what I was told, anyway.” By Beka, who was suspiciously evasive every time Yuri tried to ask him how he knew so much about mafia hits, but it wasn't like Beka ever lied, so Yuri believed him. “If they don't find them, they'll just come after me, or Yakov, or Mila, or Georgi, or anyone at the rink.”
And, fuck, did Yuri hate admitting that out loud. It sounded way too much like he was scared of some mafia fucks when...okay, fine, that's exactly what he was. Look, it wasn't like Yuri was allergic to self-reflection or some shit like that. He knew all too well that he was all fucked up from losing his parents so young and he tended to push people away so he'd never have to deal with losing them too. That was, like, basic psychology bullshit. He read about that in fucking school. None of that changed the fact that he'd started letting people in over the past few years and now there was a good chance he could lose way too many of them because some drunk asshole at a stupid party couldn't keep his hands to himself. Fuck, Katsudon and Victor shouldn't have even been there. It was just a dumb let's-go-out-with-the-sponsors-and-get-drunk-because-that's-how-shit-gets-done-in-Russia thing that Yuri had done a dozen times since turning legal. The only reason he'd even invited them was because he was hoping Katsudon would have a few too many shots and maybe drag Yuri into another dance off or grind on him a bit before dragging Victor into the nearest bathroom. (Yuri was weak, okay? Fuck off.) Fuck, he didn't even have to beg or yell or anything. Even though Katsudon hates clubs and bars he'd just smiled when Yuri hinted that he didn't feel comfortable going out on his own and asked what time they should be ready. So, really, this was probably all Yuri's fault in the first place.
Which meant it was his responsibility to fix it.
“I don't want that to happen. And I can't keep them all safe by myself” he said, hardening his voice and covering himself in the Ice Tiger of Russia like it was a fucking set of plate mail. “But Batman can. So if he doesn't want his secret identity plastered all over every website and blog from TMZ to RT, tell him to get his ass out here and save my fucking friends.”
So much for being nice...
Bruce Wayne didn't say anything for the longest time. Long enough for Yuri to get nervous. Despite his bravado, he knew Wayne could just hang up on him and Batman could block his number. If they did that, he was fucked. They all were. And despite his threats part of him knew if they did come it would be because they couldn't ignore a cry for help. He was betting hard on the morality of people he didn't really know.
“All right.” It was still Wayne, at least Yuri was 80% sure, but his voice was different. Harder; deeper; more somehow. Even over six thousand miles and through a crappy Russian mobile network it made Yuri shiver. “We'll be there in a few days. I assume your friends can lay low until then?”
I did it...?
“Ye—” His voice caught on the thirty thousand different emotions welling up inside of him—not the least of which were holy fuck this worked and I'm not going to get everyone I love killed—and he pulled the phone away to hide that he needed to clear his throat. “Yeah. They can probably hide out in a hotel for a while.”
“Don't book one under their real name.”
“And don't let anyone recognizable check you in.”
“I won't. I'm not stupid.”
Another silence, this one pointed in a way that raised Yuri's hackles.
“We'll be in touch.”
Wayne hung up.
Two days later, Yuri got a text.
Batman: We're on our way.
Told you updates would be slow
Maybe spending so much time at his apartment when the Russian mob was after two people the media and the figure skating world at large liked to refer to as his “parents” (which, gag) wasn't the smartest thing Yuri ever did.
In his defense, he really liked his apartment. It was the first place he'd ever lived in that didn't have a cent of his grandpa's money tied up in it, and it was also the first place he'd ever picked out by himself. (And decorated, but that was a fucking state secret; he'd just gotten people to stop calling him a fairy, so fuck off and so fucking what if Yuri liked interior decorating?) He loved the floor plan, the entertainment set up, the small home gym, fuck, he even loved the curtains. He knew every inch of his apartment like it was an extension of his soul.
Which was the only reason why, when he came home from spending the day at Yuuri and Victor's hotel room, he realized something was off even before he tried to switch on the lights and nothing happened. He didn't bother flicking the switch again, Yuri had seen enough horror movies to know that shit never worked. But before he could turn and haul ass, the thing in the corner shifted.
It was dark, of course, but even with the blackout curtains drawn and the only light coming from under the recently closed front door of his apartment, the thing seemed to be made of shadows. It was somehow darker than the absence of light, and when it moved it imprinted itself on the tapestry of blurry, indistinct lines that made up Yuri's darkened apartment like a bas relief on the face of reality.
Yuri's heart stopped. Every conspiracy theory he'd ever read about secret Soviet monster experiments came rushing back to the front of his mind, and all he could think was the mob has them now and sent one after me. He closed his eyes and waited for death.
It took him a few minutes to realize he wasn't, actually, being killed.
When he finally screwed up enough courage to open his eyes again, the thing was still exactly where it had been before. Yuri might have thought someone broke in and left him a statue made of shadows as some kind of fucked up supernatural warning if it weren't for the way he could feel the thing looking at him, studying him, silently flaying open his soul and rifling through the very essence of what made up the meat sack known as Yuri Plisetsky.
With the sudden knowledge that he was still alive came the return of his instincts.
“I have skates!” he blurted.
He'd meant to follow it up with something like “and I'll cut your face off with them if you take one step closer” but the way it came out sounded more like he was offering them as tribute to the dark god before him, and the follow up died before it could pass his lips. Threat or supplication, the god made no reaction. Finally, when it seemed like the silence and tension would grow so thick Yuri would suffocate to death on it, the thing spoke in a strangely familiar voice.
It knows my name!
Every old story his grandpa ever told about demons came rushing back, and a pretty common theme was that, if they knew your true name, they could cast spells on you.
“That's not my name,” Yuri said quickly.
Yurio, Yurio, Yurio. My name is Yurio. Everyone fucking calls me Yurio so that's my fucking name now you can't cast a spell on me if you don't use the name everyone uses.
“That's not my fucking name don't cast a spell on me!”
Yuri cringed, partly because he was expecting dark magic to be flung at him at any second and partly because he'd actually said that out loud and if anyone ever heard about this he'd have to run away to Siberia for the rest of his life.
Silence fell once again, and the thing in the corner tilted its shadowy head.
Then, finally, there came what for all the world sounded like an exasperated sigh.
“Turn the lights back on.”
Before Yuri could move—not that he would have, in the confines of his own mind at least he could admit he was too scared for anything as complex as movement—two things happened.
One, the lights in his apartment suddenly came on. They weren't very bright, and the curtains and the dark red of the walls diffused what harshness they had, but they did their job of taking away the creature's shadows. The thing that stood in the corner was man-shaped—if something that big and hulking could be compared to any kind of mere human—and completely covered in what looked like black armor except for a small, flesh colored area around the mouth and an odd little yellow symbol on its chest. Yuri frowned. That symbol looked almost like a...
The second thing was that his phone began vibrating very violently in his pocket.
Yuri took his phone out without thinking—he'd lived in fear of getting a text saying Katsudon or the old man had been kidnapped or found in little pieces spread over Yakov's ice rink for days, checking every message he got was an obsession at this point—and stared in disbelief at the message he saw.
Oracle: Told you you wouldn't want to wake up with him looming over you.
“What the...?” Yuri glanced up at the thing in the corner. “Who are you?”
The thing wasted no time in answering, in perfect Russian no less.
Yuri's fight or flight instincts—which made up a disproportionate part of his psyche—stalled. Which meant Yuri stalled. Which meant even the thin, ratty, barely-there filter that floated around and sometimes managed to catch in the space between his mouth and his brain couldn't stop him from saying the first thing that popped into his head.
“You don't look like Tim.”
Batman said nothing, which gave Yuri a chance to take in the costume he was wearing a bit more and...
Okay. This one definitely looks more like a bat than Tim's. They both still had the hood mask thing, though, so Yuri wasn't completely wrong. Much better than Victor, who didn't even know Batman existed.
“So...” Yuri took a step back, getting ready to stealthily pull open his door and run. (What? He'd invited Tim and Jason and now there was some strange guy in his house. Running was a perfectly reasonable reaction.) “Did you kill Tim and Jason for stealing your identity?”
Batman still said nothing.
Maybe Batman's really a robot and he just crashed or something.
If that was true, this would make it a perfect time to run. Yuri's hand closed around the doorknob.
“Don't,” said Batman, but it was too late. Yuri was already pulling the door open and running—
Right into a solid chest.
“Hey!” The guy belonging to the chest said. He was tall and broad, wearing a suit that Yuri's Victor-trained eye calculated was probably only half as expensive as it looked. His dull blue eyes narrowed when he saw Yuri. “Oh. Heh.” His lips pulled into a smirk as he grabbed Yuri's wrist with one meaty hand. “This was easier than I thought.”
Yuri didn't need to see the tattoos peeking over the collar of his shirt to figure out the day he'd been dreading had finally come.
“Come on, kid. The boss wants to have a chat with you about some mutual friends. Don't—”
That was as far as he got before Yuri's instincts returned and he burst into action.
“Help!” He screamed at the top of his lungs. He kicked and scratched and punched every inch of the thug he could reach. “Rape! Fire! Fire! There's a fucking fire and we're all gonna die get out right now!”
“Ow, what? Hey! Shut the—” Yuri's boot connected with his shin. “Fuckin—stop that!”
The thug reached back to punch Yuri in the face.
It never connected.
If Yuri lived to be 100 and did nothing but replay this moment over in his head until he died, he'd still have no idea what happened. One minute, he was about to be punched in the face, the next, there was a flapping sound like wings—or a cape—and suddenly the thug was on the ground unconscious and Yuri had been moved several feet away. Batman was standing between them, and, holy shit he was tall. And built.
(And, okay, Yuri's heart might have skipped a beat, because he never knew he was into capes before? All black bodysuits, yes, because black is bad ass and he dares anybody to be a skater their entire lives and not absorb a kink for skintight full body clothing through sheer osmosis. But the cape thing caught him off guard.)
“We need to leave,” Batman said.
“Whoa. Did you kill that guy?”
Batman reached for Yuri, but he dodged out of the way. “No way. I'm not going anywhere. Who are you? Where is Tim Drake? What the hell are—?”
“Do you think the Russian mafia settles its debts by sending one street thug after a secondary target?”
“What...” But even as he was forming the word, he realized what Batman meant.
Yuuri and Victor!
“What the fuck?!” Yuri stomped up to Batman and snarled at him. “Why the fuck are you wasting time with me then!”
“Red Hood and Red Robin are watching over your friends.”
Red Hood and...?
Yuri's eyes widened. “Holy shit. Is that who Tim and Jason are?” Wait, if neither of them are Batman then... Yuri nearly choked as he realized why Batman's voice was so familiar. “You're Bruce Wayne?”
Batman paused and, though Yuri couldn't be sure through the mask, he felt like he was being intently studied.
“We need to go,” was all Batman said, however.
Yuri shook himself. Right. That wasn't really important now, was it?
“Back to Katsu—to Yuuri's hotel room?”
“No. To a safehouse. All three of you are compromised. If you hadn't called Tim Drake when you did...”
Yuri swallowed heavily. “Shit...”
It wasn't like he didn't know his life was in danger, but it hadn't really sunk in until that moment. If he'd done just one thing differently, he would be dead right now. And so would Yuuri and Victor.
Suddenly, whether or not he got to see Yuuri naked again seemed like the least important thing in the universe.
“I need to get Potya,” Yuri said quietly. “My cat. And some clothes.”
“Already taken care of. Your cat and a week's worth of clothing are already at the safehouse.”
“What about my skating stuff?”
But even as he asked, he knew what the answer would be.
“You won't be skating until this is over.”
All of Yuri's usual protests about missing rink time died before he could even open his mouth.
This shit is real, idiot. Keeping Yuuri and Victor safe is more important than perfecting your stupid step sequences.
“What about Yakov? And everyone at the rink?”
“They're being watched,” Batman said. “Once you, Katsuki and Nikiforov are in the safe house we'll evaluate the threat to them and decide what to do.”
“Evaluate the...they could be getting killed right now!”
“They aren't,” Batman said.
“But what if someone shows up and you're wasting time here with me?”
“Then you should get to the safehouse as soon as possible, so I'm free to help them if I need to.”
“Fuck.” Yuri took a deep breath. Then another. Then about five more really fast ones. Shit, I think I'm about to have a panic attack. “Fuck. Okay, let's get the fuck out of here.”
Batman nodded once, then gently grabbed Yuri's shoulder and led him out the door.
“How are we getting there?” Yuri asked. “I don't have a car, or anything...”
Batman smirked. “I've got it covered.”
“Is that a grappling hook?”
“Wait, what are you—AHHHHH!”
It took them about five minutes to reach the safehouse.
“Holy shit,” Yuri said when Batman let him down on shaky legs. “That was the best thing ever!”
Yuri was still shaking with the last of his adrenaline high as Batman led him down from the roof they'd landed on into a small building on the outskirts of the city. From what little he'd seen on the outside, it looked like a condemned apartment building, but from the inside you'd never guess it was abandoned. Sure, the windows on the top floor were all boarded up, but the walls between apartments had been knocked down so the entire place was turned into one, huge penthouse. Well, if penthouses had travel cots and hospital dividers to mark off each “room”, at least. So maybe more like a bomb shelter? Either way, there were computers and medical equipment and an entire wall filled with gadgets and things that were bat shaped.
In fact, there was only one thing Yuri might have needed that he couldn't find any evidence of.
“Where's Victor and Yuuri?”
Short update for such a long wait, but I've actually got the next chapter mostly done so you'll get another, slightly longer one by the end of the year. Yay? Don't get used to it though. Next year the glacier slow updates will continue, but I'll also try to get this finished before 2021. I've got a lot of ideas, but almost no way to connect them, so we'll see.