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Viva Las Viktor

Chapter Text

Yuuri hadn’t meant to fall in love with Viktor Nikiforov. All he wanted to do was get through his thesis project. 

“No, no, no,” Minako snapped. It was no wonder she was frustrated. Even after four run throughs, Yuuri still couldn’t focus tonight. “Where’s your confidence? Where’s your attitude?” 

Yuuri wiped his brow and tried to catch his breath. “I’m focusing on the steps.” 

That had always worked for him before, but he had always stuck to classical ballet. Grace came naturally to him, but his advisors always wanted more. They always wanted something Yuuri hadn’t shown them before. 

Sometimes it felt like he was running out of tricks. 

He kept Phichit’s idea (Just perform drunk!) in his back pocket, but if it ever came to that, he might as well pack up and go home.

“The steps don’t matter if you don’t have passion!” Minako punctuated the last words with claps. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. It’s all about how you carry yourself! How you sell it!” 

“Even if I knew how to sell it, no one would want to buy it,” Yuuri muttered. 

“Not with that attitude they won’t.” Minako crossed her arms. “You know what the problem is, don’t you? You’re a perfectionist.”

Yuuri’s eyes went wide as countless hours in Minako’s studio flashed before them. He left so much blood, sweat, and tears on her floor that it could qualify as a biohazard zone, but it was never going to be enough. “Drilling is the only thing I’ve ever been good at.”

“Don’t lie to me, Yuuri. It’s not like you to back down from a challenge.” Minako sighed and scratched her head. “Maybe we need to switch things up. Haven’t you ever seen a performance so enthralling that you didn’t care about anything else?”

“Well, sure.” Yuuri rubbed a scuff mark off the floor with his foot. “I mean, I guess.”

The only time a wrinkle graced Minako’s face was when she curled her lip like she was doing right now. “If you can't remember, then you obviously haven’t.”

He hung his head and started gathering his things. There was no point in forcing it tonight.

“Think of iconic performers, Yuuri! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Elvis Presley?”

Yuuri didn’t even look up. “Isn’t he dead?”

Minako was shaking his shoulders before he had even finished his question. “His spirit will never die as long as we remember him!”

“Sorry!” Yuuri coughed out. He broke out of her grasp and massaged his neck. “I had no idea you were such a big fan.” 

“Everyone is an Elvis fan! Come on, what’s your favorite Elvis song?”

Yuuri dug deep, but from the look on Minako’s face, she knew he was drawing a blank. “Was he the one who sang Rock Around the Clock?” 

Minako’s mouth dropped open like she was the one with whiplash. “I’m going to have a talk with your mother! But in the meantime, cancel your plans tonight. I have a new assignment for you.” Ominously, she added, “Wear something nice.”

It wasn’t like Yuuri had plans to cancel. Phichit did, but he tagged along anyway. 

“It’s a free show!” was his reasoning.

“Do you have a favorite Elvis song?” Yuuri asked. Phichit was even younger than him, so he was probably clueless.

Jailhouse Rock is a classic!” Phichit didn't miss a beat. That’s the one Yuuri was trying to think of earlier. “But Can’t Help Falling in Love is good, too. Oh, and Hound Dog!”

All of those titles sounded familiar but Yuuri couldn’t have hummed a single one even if his life depended on it. 

Phichit picked an outfit for him and they met Minako at the casino. A huge sign with a picture of a man in a black wig with sideburns and a flashy costume announced Elvis Tribute Tonight. He was handsome, but Yuuri groaned. Tribute shows were always hokey and the place was packed with old women.

Phichit was bouncing on his heels. “I googled him. Did you know he came in first in the Ultimate Elvis Contest?”

“There’s an Ultimate Elvis Contest?” Yuuri wondered. He was almost positive Elvis was dead, but he forgot to check. The closest thing he could think of was that boyband his sister was obsessed with, but as far as he knew they didn’t have tribute contests.

“Yep, in Graceland.” From the way Phichit said it, Yuuri got the idea he was supposed to know where or what Graceland was.

“Oh, good, Hisashi came through,” said Minako. Minako knew everyone and those connections always led to perks, but the VIP spot Morooka had secured for them was way too close to the stage. Minako didn’t seem to notice. “Now, Yuuri, I want you to turn your brain off tonight and just enjoy the show.”

A little alcohol would have gone a long way to that end, but since she called it an assignment Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to buy a drink. He took a few deep breaths. How hard could it be to get through one little show?

When he looked up, Morooka was standing center stage. “Oh, friends, you’re in for a treat tonight,” he said. “From Russia to Graceland, and all the way to Detroit, please welcome Viktor Nikiforov!”

The lights flicked out. A spotlight switched on, framing a tall, well-built silhouette. From behind. Yuuri squeezed his hands into fists. Focus on the guitar, he told himself. But the moment Viktor strummed it, those hips jutted out to one side. 

Yuuri felt it like a shockwave through his chest.

Someone—Minako—screamed and Phichit gasped, but Yuuri’s vision tunneled to Viktor’s ass. Sculpted in black leather and shimmering in the spotlight, it was a thing of beauty.

He spun around and Yuuri’s heart split in two. God, Viktor was even better looking than the poster.

His voice—oh god, he was singing—mended Yuuri’s heart and soul. He couldn’t place the song but he didn’t care. Viktor sang like he was in love with the song, or maybe the audience was the object of his affection.

The way he moved, his casual winks, his deep, rich voice… Yuuri couldn’t pin down all the intangible things that made him fall in love with Viktor Nikiforov. All he could do was squirm in his chair and watch as Viktor promised him all of his wildest dreams—things Yuuri didn’t even know he wanted.

Fast songs hit hard and ballads hit deep, but Viktor’s silky voice never wavered. He was singing to Yuuri and no one else, looking him dead in the eye and coaxing out emotions Yuuri hadn’t felt in years. Maybe never.

Just when Yuuri thought his heart could take no more, Viktor was taking his hand and crooning honeyed words. Yuuri would have done anything Viktor asked, so going on stage was nothing. 

“And what might your name be?” 

Was that question for Yuuri? Sure, Viktor could sing to him, but speaking to him was another matter. Speaking made it real, an interaction rather than a fantasy, but Viktor’s bright blue eyes crinkled in curiosity. His lips parted in anticipation, like he really did care about the answer.

“Yuuri,” Yuuri remembered. Viktor smiled.

“Yuuri,” he repeated. “Well, if that isn’t the loveliest name I’ve ever heard. I’d like to sing to you, Yuuri, if that’s all right.”

It was all Yuuri could do to nod. 

Yuuri couldn’t have remembered a single word Viktor sang up until now, but these? He branded these lyrics onto his brain. 

"Are you lonesome tonight?
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?"

A tear trailed down Yuuri’s cheek—when had he started crying? It was a sad song, and Viktor wore a sad smile, coming closer and closer until his hand brushed Yuuri’s face.

Yuuri was never going to wash his face again. He never wanted to blink again, lest he forget those crystal eyes and graceful lashes. The song was over, the show was over, but he was never going to be the same.

With one last longing look at Yuuri, Viktor bid him goodnight, and then he was gone.

Yuuri had no idea how much time had passed when he finally registered Minako gaping at him. 

“Full marks on your homework tonight, Yuuri!” she exclaimed. “Do you understand now?”

“Huh?” Yuuri had no idea what she was talking about.

“Your assignment!” Phichit reminded him, grinning from ear to ear. “You were supposed to get into the performance, and from where I’m standing, you’re still in it.”

Red-faced, Yuuri tried to shake off his daze. “I’m good, I’m good. He was really good. Viktor, I mean.”

Minako headed off to talk to Morooka, still shaking her head in amusement.

“We knew what you meant,” Phichit chuckled. He gestured to the stage. “Do you wanna stick around? Try to get those digits?”

“What?!” Yuuri didn’t need a phone number; he needed water. He headed for one of the free soft drink stations they’d passed on the way in and drank four cups in rapid succession.

When he turned around, Phichit was smirking at him. “Feeling thirsty?” 

“It’s hot in here!” Yuuri insisted, as if Phichit hadn’t just witnessed his religious experience.

“Sure.” Phichit stuck out his hand. “Give me your keys. I don’t trust you to drive right now.”

Yuuri wasn’t drunk but his hands were still shaking, so he did as Phichit said. It was a good thing, too, because as they made their way out of the casino, he thought he heard someone saying his name.

Chapter Text

It was all downhill from there, at least for Yuuri’s dance studies. 

If he were getting a master’s degree in Viktor Nikiforov, he would be a smashing success. It turned out following a performer from show to show didn’t leave a lot of time to practice. Viktor had a little circuit of casinos and smaller venues within a three hour radius and Yuuri hit them all. 

Usually, he hung in the back, afraid to expose himself again, but on those nights he stood in the front, Viktor would invariably take him by the hand and bring him on stage.

It was a different song every time—Don’t Be Cruel, All Shook Up, Stuck on You—and Yuuri was starting to learn them by heart. His heart almost burst when Viktor sang his rendition of Unchained Melody, which wasn’t even an Elvis song (songs Elvis had covered, Yuuri gathered, were fair game). Yuuri melted every time Viktor said his name, because Viktor remembered it now. He said Yuuri so lovingly that Yuuri could almost fool himself into thinking Viktor was something other than a convincing performer. 

But that would have been silly. Viktor was an Elvis Tribute Artist, albeit a very good one, and Yuuri was just a devoted fan. 

And right after every show, Yuuri would drive home alone and think about how he wasn’t practicing dance. He’d never finish his degree at this rate, but he didn’t care. All that mattered was following Viktor. 

When he wasn’t at Viktor’s shows, he was on his social media, planning the next trip. Yuuri spent the rest of his free time learning Elvis songs. He could honestly say he was an Elvis fan now, and since Elvis had passed on, Viktor was the next best thing.

Or at least that was what Yuuri told other people. 

He saw the worry in Phichit’s eyes when he said he was going to another show. He saw the disapproval in Minako’s when he said he was leaving practice early again. 

“I guess my plan backfired,” she muttered, thinking he couldn’t hear. 

Phichit tried to be more optimistic. “It sounds like this is the break you needed.”

“Maybe,” Yuuri said. But the truth was, he couldn’t bring himself to care about classes as much as he cared about Viktor. “So do you want to come with me to Las Vegas next week?”

Phichit almost spit out his energy drink. “Next week? But we have finals.”

“I know, but Viktor’s doing a week of headline shows on Fremont Street, and—”

“Yuuri.” Phichit put his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders. “You know how much it pains me to be the voice of reason, but if you go, that’s it for this semester. I won’t stop you, but I just want you to be sure this is really what you want to do.”

Yuuri appreciated his concern, but he had already bought the tickets. “I have to do this,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”

“Well, in that case, have a great trip!” Phichit flashed him a huge smile, only a little forced. “Take lots of pictures, okay?”

Yuuri nodded. “Of course.”

“And hey,” Phichit added. “Promise me you’ll try to talk to him, okay?” 

“Talk to Viktor?!” The thought alone gave Yuuri chills, and he wasn’t sure if they were the good kind or the bad kind. 

“I mean, if it were me and I had made such an impact on someone’s life, I’d want to know. Wouldn’t you?”

Yuuri was still thinking about Phichit’s words on the plane. 

He thought about them every night in Las Vegas, at least when he wasn’t watching Viktor with starry eyes and a racing heart. Viktor didn’t have anyone come up on stage, which hurt a little, but Yuuri understood. The crowd was too large, and that thrilled him. Viktor made so many people happy, but he made Yuuri the happiest of all. 

Except he had no idea how to keep his promise to Phichit.

Yuuri’s phone buzzed with another text from Minako and he dismissed it with a sigh. He needed a drink.

No sooner had he sat down when a bartender was on him. “You playing?”

“I’m sorry?” Yuuri looked up—way up, because the bartender was tall. He was handsome, too, with bleached ends and long eyelashes.

The bartender tapped the bar in front of Yuuri. A monitor was embedded into the table; Yuuri hadn’t noticed it before. 

“Even a cutie like you has to play to get comped,” the bartender explained. 

Yuuri flushed but fished a twenty dollar bill out of his wallet. He held it over the screen, trying to figure out what to do. “Um, where do I put it?”

The bartender chuckled. “It goes in this slot, cutie.” He tapped a black slot that read INSERT BILL and smiled. “Assuming you’re talking about the money, that is.” 

Yuuri laughed nervously and put the money in. He still didn’t know what it meant to be comped, or how to play poker (or whatever this game was), but at least the bartender had finally taken his order. 

He drank and fiddled with the screen, but all he could think about was his flight home in the morning. Phichit would like the pictures, but that was all Yuuri had to offer. For Minako, he had even less. He had deferred a whole semester’s worth of classes but had nothing to show for it.

“Yuuri?”

Yuuri looked up from the screen. A newcomer was looking right at him, but something didn’t add up. Yuuri glanced back to see if the newcomer was looking at the bartender. That had to be it, because this tall, gorgeous stranger couldn’t be looking at him. 

“Yes, I’m talking to you, Yuuri!” 

Yuuri whipped around again—the tall stranger was closer now, tucking strands of that gorgeous silvery hair behind an ear and smiling the most brilliant smile Yuuri had ever seen. 

He stared but couldn’t think of anything to say.

The stranger sat down next to him like they were old friends “Finally! I’ve been wanting to talk to you for ages!”

Yuuri couldn’t quite place that accent—Slavic, maybe—and for a moment, he considered pretending he couldn’t speak English. 

“Um, I’m sorry,” Yuuri said instead. “I don’t think we know each other.” He was about to warn the stranger about comps, but the bartender appeared out of nowhere. 

He was all smiles for the newcomer. “The usual?” 

The stranger nodded. “Thanks, Chris! And another one of whatever my friend here is drinking.” He patted Yuuri’s hand, sending his heart rocketing out of his chest.

Behind the bar, Chris had the glasses ready before Yuuri could even breathe. “You should have said something,” Chris told him. “Go on and cash out—you’re drinking on the house now.”

“I think there’s been some kind of mistake.” But Yuuri’s protests were useless. Chris had already started the drinks.

The stranger laughed. “Don’t tell me you don’t recognize me, Yuuri?”

“Uh…” Yuuri’s cheeks grew hotter under his burning gaze. It can’t be...

The stranger’s smile transformed into a smirk and his bright eyes started to smolder. He pitched his voice down, his accent transforming into an unmistakable Southern drawl. “Maybe if I gave you a little serenade?”

Yuuri’s mouth dropped into an “O” and he was sure he was even redder than before. Those eyes were awfully blue. If he added dark hair, sideburns, and a sparkling costume, this man would be the spitting image of Viktor Nikiforov. 

Yuuri felt like a jerk. Of course there was a real person under all that glitz. A real person who was somehow even more handsome here in this bar than he was on stage.

In the blink of an eye, Elvis was gone and Viktor’s boyish grin came back. Yuuri’s heart fluttered.

“One vodka soda and,” Chris snickered, “one White Russian. Or should I say two?”

The Russian accent. Viktor was from Russia. Yuuri felt sillier than before. “I’m sorry, I’ve never seen—I mean, you look—” 

“Different?” Viktor supplied. He sipped his drink, eyes sparkling. “It’s all right. I try to keep pictures of my real face private. It shatters the illusion. But I must admit, I was hoping you’d see the real me one day.”

“Me too.” And Yuuri meant  it (even if he only just realized it).

Viktor looked him directly in the eyes, staring deep into his very soul. “Thank you for coming to all of my shows, Yuuri. You have no idea how much it means to look out into the crowd and see your face.”

For a moment, Yuuri was too stunned to speak. Viktor liked to see him? “I should be thanking you,” he managed to say after a gulp of his drink. “Watching you perform has been the highlight of my year.”

Viktor giggled like he was the one who was starstruck. “So, how long have you been an Elvis fan?”

“I’m—well…”

“Was it your parents who got you hooked? A sibling?” Viktor leaned closer; he smelled sublime. “Perhaps a lover?”

“What?” Yuuri shook his head. “No, I’m actually just a fan, um, of yours?” It wasn’t really a question but he was afraid of the answer just the same.

Viktor blinked. He took a drink. Then another. “But you like The King, right?” 

“I guess?” Yuuri said. Viktor’s face starts to fall and he scrambled to add, “Now I do! Because of you.” 

Yuuri couldn’t quite make sense of Viktor’s expression, but they stared at each other, neither of them moving. After what felt like an eternity, Viktor relaxed into his loveliest smile yet. “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

It broke a dam inside of Yuuri (or maybe that was just the White Russians hitting him). “When I watch you, I don’t think about anything but your performance. It’s like we’re the only people in the room and I can’t take my eyes off of you because missing even a second would split my heart in two.” He took a deep breath; Viktor was holding his. That was a lot Yuuri just dumped on him, and he had to salvage it. “I wish I could do what you do. I want to make people feel how you make them feel.” 

Viktor let out his breath but he didn’t stop smiling. “Now, I know that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

“It’s true,” said Yuuri. “You inspire me.”

Without warning, Viktor’s hand was on his again, warm, soft, and perfectly kept. “And you inspire me.”

He was probably just saying that, but Yuuri almost believed him. 

“Tell me, Yuuri, what do you do?” Viktor didn’t let his hand go.

Yuuri looked down at his half-finished drink. “I’m just a student.” It wasn’t a lie because he was going to go back, but it still felt weird to say. 

Cool fingers lifted his chin—Viktor was touching his face, hands chilled from his glass. “But you’re a performer. I can tell by your posture.” 

“I dance.” Why was it so hot in this bar? Yuuri swallowed and added, “Mostly ballet.”

Viktor’s eyes went round with wonder. “How marvelous! I’d love to see you dance, Yuuri.”

“No!” Yuuri shook his head free from Viktor’s light grasp, but it was even colder without his fingers there. “No, I would just embarrass myself. I’m not at your level at all. Technically, I’m not even a student right now."

“What does that matter?” Viktor looked genuinely confused, and it was no wonder; Yuuri couldn’t explain it. 

He tried again, for Viktor. “It’s just…all my performances, they’re academic, you know? Technical. It’s not like what you do.” 

Viktor raised his eyebrows. “Do you have something to say about my intonation? My technique?”

“NO!” Yuuri was saying this all wrong, and now he was yelling at Viktor. He lowered his voice and continued, “No. Of course not. You’re amazing!”

Viktor preened. “I was just kidding, but thank you!” And he really looked flattered, too. After another sip, he calmed down. “I’d offer to help you, but I can’t help if I don’t understand the problem.” 

That was Yuuri’s problem, too. He’d been dancing for his entire life but the only thing that had sparked his passion in the last decade was a magnificent Elvis Tribute Artist. It would sound ridiculous if Yuuri wasn’t living it. Maybe he just wasn’t meant to be a dancer. He couldn’t command an audience like Viktor, couldn’t captivate a room or make people fall in love…

“My performances are empty!” Yuuri was shouting again. He winced, drank, and lowered his voice. “There’s no passion, and I don’t know why. I’m never going to finish my thesis. Maybe I should just drop out.” 

He didn’t know why he was telling Viktor any of this, either. He needed to leave, to let Viktor spend the rest of his night in peace. They were strangers, after all. Yuuri was just a rabid fan. But before he could get up, Viktor sighed.

“Yuuri…” Did Viktor even know what kind of power he had, to say Yuuri’s name like that and freeze him in place? “Do you know why I love Elvis?”

Yuuri swallowed. He had no idea because this person sitting next to him—Viktor Nikiforov? Yuuri had no idea who he truly was.

“It’s not just his voice or the way he moved. He became a legend just by being himself. You can’t explain that kind of pull, that magnetism. You just know you want to be close to it.” 

Yuuri understood that completely. 

“He was long gone before I was born,” Viktor went on, sorrow creeping into his voice. He gestured to himself. “This is as close as I can get to him, because his music and his spirit got me through some awful times.” 

Then, Viktor’s eyes went distant and oh, how Yuuri wanted to share his troubles and help carry his burden. You have no right, he admonished himself. He kept listening.

Viktor smiled. “But I’m getting off topic. What I wanted to say is that I see that same pull in you, Yuuri. I can’t put it into words. I just feel it.”

Even though Yuuri hadn’t said much, that admission left him truly speechless. Viktor...was drawn to him? He couldn’t make sense of it.

“And Elvis knew a thing or two about a comeback.” Viktor winked, blissfully unaware of Yuuri’s internal combustion. Viktor reached into his collar and pulled out a ring on a chain. He slipped it over his head and held it out to Yuuri. “I want you to have this.”

Yuuri gaped at the gold ring and chain, like if he touched anything, the whole night, the week, Viktor himself, would turn out to be a dream. “I couldn’t. It’s—”

“It’s the least I can do after everything you’ve done for me,” said Viktor, voice low but entirely his own. Viktor took Yuuri’s hand yet again, turned it palm up, and placed the ring in his hand. He closed Yuuri’s fingers around it and dipped to place a kiss on top.

Yuuri couldn’t breathe. 

When Viktor lifted his head, his eyes were half-closed, long lashes elegant over regal cheekbones. “It sounds like you need a little confidence, and maybe a little luck.”

Yuuri tore his eyes away to look at the ring in his hand. It was shaped like a horseshoe.

“I love the man, but his taste in jewelry was a bit gauche,” Viktor said, sounding a little ashamed. “My mentor gave this to me when I was struggling—not that I’m your mentor. Unless you want me to be, of course.”

The ring, the alcohol, the kiss—everything slammed Yuuri at once and he locked eyes with Viktor.

“Please be my mentor, Viktor!” Clutching the ring tight, Yuuri bowed to him. “Please teach me how to perform!”

Viktor’s eyes went wide, like he wasn’t expecting Yuuri to accept. For a moment, Yuuri considered playing it off like a joke, but Viktor spoke first.

“Mentor sounds so stuffy.” He stroked his chin until his eyes brightened. “I know! I’ll be your coach.”

“Coach?” Yuuri repeated. 

“You have a thesis to finish, right?” Viktor swept his hair to the side and smiled. “I’ll help you. Like a tutor.”

It took Yuuri a minute to find his voice. “But you haven’t even seen me dance.” He didn’t even know if Viktor could dance, although if the way he moved his hips was any indication... 

“I just have a good feeling,” said Viktor. And maybe it was Viktor’s smile that compelled Yuuri to put the chain around his neck. The ring swung low and came to rest over his sternum, heavy enough to keep his pounding heart safe inside his chest.

Chapter Text

As it happened, Viktor and Yuuri only lived twenty minutes apart. Yuuri couldn’t believe Viktor had been so close all this time.

The first time he rang Viktor’s doorbell, Yuuri wanted to throw up, but then a dog barked and his heart got a little lighter.

Viktor opened the door, looking as casual as Yuuri had ever seen him in a V-neck T-shirt and jeans. But before his eyes could linger too long on Viktor’s collarbones, a full-sized poodle bowled Yuuri over. 

“Makkachin!” Viktor cried. “I’m so sorry, Yuuri, she doesn’t know her own strength.”

But Yuuri didn’t care about getting knocked over when Viktor’s poodle was licking his face. “It’s okay! It’s nice to meet you, Makkachin.” He reached up to pet her fluffy curls and she backed off enough to let him sit up. 

“I’m so glad you two finally got to meet.” Viktor crouched down and smiled at both of them. “I’ve told her all about you.” Makkachin let out a happy bark and Yuuri’s heart melted a little more. 

Viktor’s house was much more tastefully decorated than Yuuri expected. From the front room and the kitchen, Yuuri would have had no idea what Viktor did for a living. There was a full guitar stand in one corner, but Elvis tribute artists didn’t have a monopoly on guitars.

Come to think of it, Yuuri didn’t know what Viktor did for a living. Did he make enough to impersonate Elvis all the time? 

Yuuri could have asked. He should have. But instead, he looked around the house for clues. Viktor had as many records as most people had books. At least, Yuuri thought they were records. His parents were too young to have listened to vinyl, so he wasn’t entirely sure. The turntables on the shelves suggested his hunch was right, though. 

Viktor excused himself to the kitchen to make some tea. Makkachin followed him and Yuuri took the opportunity to get a closer look at the albums. 

As expected, most of them were Elvis Presley recordings, but Viktor didn’t seem to limit his music taste. Motown, jazz, Frank Sinatra, classic country, musical soundtracks, even some modern pop-rock bands lined his shelves. 

“I’m a bit of a collector,” said Viktor. “I suppose it comes with the territory.”

“The territory?” Yuuri echoed.

“I work in a record store when I’m not performing,” Viktor said, placing a modest tea service tray on his coffee table. “It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Yuuri tried to imagine Viktor in a hemp parka, a bong in one hand and an incense burner in the other, but the image wouldn’t come.

“Flexible hours,” Viktor explained, as if reading Yuuri's mind. He waved his hand in the air. “I tried to do the whole 9 to 5 thing, but like Dolly said, it’s a rich man’s game, and I got tired of putting money in his wallet.”

“It’s not for me, either.” Yuuri accepted some tea. He sipped it and looked up to find Viktor staring at him with rapt interest.

“Yuuri,” Viktor said when Yuuri stretched the silence too long. “Is that what drew you to dance? You’d rather tour the world with a troupe? Choreograph for Broadway shows? Or perhaps you want to teach?”

“Yeah, something like that, I guess.” But Yuuri didn’t believe his own words. He wanted to talk about Viktor, not himself.

Viktor’s smile faded a bit. “Well, you don’t have to have it all figured out now. I’m almost 30 and I’m not there yet.”

“Really?” Yuuri put his tea down and gaped at Viktor. “But you’re so good at what you do. You’ve won contests!” If Viktor didn’t know what he wanted out of life, what hope was there for Yuuri?

Viktor let out a soft laugh. “You should know by now that I’m a very convincing faker, Yuuri.”

What was Yuuri supposed to say to that?

Viktor filled the silence. “Don’t get me wrong. I like what I do. But I don’t want to do it forever.”

“What do you want to do?” Yuuri asked. 

“We were supposed to be talking about you,” Viktor pointed out. “But I’d like to get back to using my own voice someday.”

“Viktor…” What did Viktor’s true singing voice sound like? The thought hadn’t occurred to Yuuri before. And it almost sounded like he had used his own voice before.

Viktor put a finger to Yuuri’s lips before he could ask anything else. “I’m happy,” he said. “But it sounds to me like you’re burned out.”

Burned out? That thought had never occurred to Yuuri, either. “But I’m only in the second year of my master’s program.” Some of Yuuri’s classmates had been at it for years and they handled it just fine.

“There’s no time requirement for burnout,” Viktor replied. “But sometimes it can help to change things up. I’m no dancer, but you didn’t ask for a dance tutor, did you?”

Yuuri had no idea what he had asked for, but he wanted anything Viktor would give him.

Viktor stood up and Makkachin scrambled to his side. “Want to see my shrine?” he asked, offering his arm, presumably for Yuuri to take. 

Slowly, Yuuri rose to his feet and linked his arm through Viktor’s. The full force of Viktor’s grin was too warm, too bright, but Yuuri didn’t dare look away.

Viktor led him down the hall, to a closed door. “I don’t let Makkachin in here unsupervised,” he told Yuuri. “I feel bad, but…” 

He pushed the door open and turned on the light. If Viktor’s grin was bright, the rhinestones were blinding. Glittering costumes hung on the walls next to brilliant gold records and pristine posters. The guitars in this room were brighter, too, lovingly polished, gleaming black and white bodies catching the light.

“Wow,” Yuuri breathed out. “This is all yours?”

“I won some of it, bought some of it,” Viktor explained as he gestured around the room, “got some things as gifts. I suppose you could say I’m easy to shop for.” He gestured to some Elvis dolls and decorative plates on a shelf. 

Under the clear, crisp lights of his “shrine,” Viktor’s hair seemed to sparkle. His whole demeanor changed the moment he set foot in this room; he got a little cockier, a little sexier. Like he was stepping into the persona. 

Yuuri wished he had brought a notebook to take some notes, and when Viktor bent down to pick up the white guitar, it took all of Yuuri’s composure not to grab his phone and start recording.

“Do you play?” Viktor asked as he plugged in his guitar. Yuuri shook his head and Viktor smiled. “That’s okay, Elvis didn’t play much either. Remember? It’s all in how you sell it.”

Then, he started strumming the opening to Burning Love and Yuuri had to back into the wall to keep his knees from giving out. Viktor wasn’t faking—he could play. He started to sing and Yuuri’s heart fluttered in his chest. Makkachin let out happy barks in time with the music and Viktor beamed, turning to face her. 

Girl, girl, girl, girl, you’re gonna set me on fire,” he sang to her, charming Yuuri with every word. “My brain is flaming, I don’t know which way to go.

Yuuri didn’t even realize he was singing along when Viktor got to the chorus. He didn’t realize it until Viktor whirled to face him, eyes wide with delight. Just when Yuuri thought Viktor’s smile couldn’t get any wider, Viktor proved him wrong. 

There had to be something about this room, because Yuuri didn’t stop singing. Or maybe it was Viktor coaxing it out of him using nothing but body language, eye contact, and the lyrics of the song. Viktor switched effortly between harmony and melody, throwing in some backup vocals for Yuuri, never losing the rhythm on his guitar. Makkachin circled them, trotting happily like the Yuuri’s heartbeat come to life. 

Viktor hit the high notes for the finish, dancing while he played. Even Yuuri was shaking his hips, digging deep into his soul to grind out, “Just a-hunk-a-hunk of burning love,” like no one was listening. Guitar neck to the sky, Viktor drew Yuuri into a crescendo of chords and growls. Somehow the music seemed bigger in this tiny room. Viktor didn’t need a backing band or a fancy sound system—he was the show.

“Yuuri!” he squealed, octaves higher than the low notes he had just belted out. “You didn’t tell me you could sing!” He threw out his arms and Yuuri was riding so high he leapt for the hug.

Viktor turned at the last second and the snub stopped Yuuri’s heart. Then, Viktor put down his guitar and looked back at Yuuri. 

“That’s an antique,” Viktor explained, and he drew Yuuri in for a warm consolation hug, squeezing him so tight that Viktor’s heavy ring pressed into both of their chests. “I haven’t had that much fun in a long time.”

“Me neither,” Yuuri admitted. His cheeks burned when he released Viktor and he looked away, performance high fading. “You were incredible.”

“You think so?” Viktor laughed. “I made a ton of mistakes, and it was really more like the Wynonna cover than the original…”

It was just like Minako said. When a performance was truly special, the mistakes faded away. Sure, his master’s thesis review was going to be under tighter scrutiny than a private concert from Viktor, but what was the point of dancing if he wasn’t having a little fun?

And so he and Viktor met every week. Sometimes they just talked, sometimes they shared a meal and walked Makkachin, and sometimes they sang together in Viktor’s shrine to Elvis while Makkachin rested on her rhinestone-trimmed bed.

“Have I told you my favorite Elvis song?” Viktor asked. Yuuri shook his head, a little surprised that it hadn’t come up. Viktor smiled, a little wistful, and went on. “It’s Blue Christmas. I guess I’m a little biased—oh, I suppose I should explain that, too. My birthday is on Christmas.”

“Oh,” said Yuuri, as if he hadn’t looked that up online months ago. 

“I only get to sing it a few times a year, at least in concert, but I love it.” Viktor strummed a few bars and plucked out the melody, acoustic today. “Elvis didn’t really like the song himself, but that’s all right. The lyrics are so simple and sad, but it’s still upbeat. I can relate, you know?” He looked right into Yuuri’s eyes as he spoke.

Yuuri swallowed. “I think so.”

“Have I never sang it for you?” Viktor asked, gaze still locked on Yuuri. “Maybe the timing just didn’t work out.”

“You...” Yuuri licked his lips and tried again. “You could sing it now.”

Viktor smiled. “It’s a good lesson on connecting with your audience,” he mused. “Eye contact is critical in this business, Yuuri. Pick someone in the crowd and fall in love with them. Sing to them.”

“And what if you don’t love them?” Yuuri’s voice wavered on the question. Was it all an act? Viktor always said he was just a good faker. With a deep breath, Yuuri asked, “What if you love someone else?” 

“That’s easy.” Viktor lowered his gaze and his voice. For one wild moment, Yuuri thought Viktor was staring at his lips, but in a blink, Viktor was gazing into his eyes again, strumming softly. “You pretend, Yuuri. It’s what I do when you’re not there.”

The opening words of the song drowned out Yuuri’s gasp, but Yuuri didn’t even register the first verse. Viktor couldn’t mean…?

And when those blue snowflakes start fallin’ That’s when those blue memories start callin’
You’ll be doin’ all right with your Christmas of white
But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas…

A tear trickled down Yuuri’s cheeks as Viktor finished the song, and neither of them spoke for a moment.

“I’ll be going to Graceland for a competition soon, Yuuri,” Viktor said. Yuuri knew. Viktor went every year. “Would you come with me so I don’t have to pretend?”

Yuuri didn’t even have to think about it. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Chapter Text

Packing for an Elvis tribute contest was even more complicated than Yuuri realized. Viktor piled trunks full of costumes and all of his guitars into his mentor’s van for the ride.

Phichit had wanted to tag along, but he had rehearsal at the same time as the first round of the competition (and he was still on track to get his degree on time). But Yuuri couldn’t pretend he was disappointed—he was looking forward to a long car ride with Viktor. 

At least he had been, until he found out that Viktor’s mentor’s van came with Viktor’s mentor. To say Yuuri was nervous to meet Yakov Feltsman was an understatement. Yuuri couldn’t imagine the grizzled, stout, balding man crooning love ballads, but the way Viktor talked to him on the drive almost reminded Yuuri of the way he and his sister Mari had bickered in the back seat when they were growing up.

“You can’t sing Blue Christmas , Vitya,” Yakov grumbled. “You won’t win with that. JJ isn’t going to make it easy for you this year.”

“I don’t care about winning,” Viktor replied blithely. “Elvis wouldn’t have cared.”

“Elvis would have rather danced a naked jig on stage than sing Blue Christmas,” Yakov muttered. And Yakov had actually met Elvis Presley on multiple occasions, as Viktor often reminded Yuuri.

Viktor grinned. “Good thing I’m not him.”

Graceland was like something out of Minako’s fever dream. Elvis was a religion here, and all the impersonators meant he was around every corner. It was surreal. 

“Oi, Viktor!” called a young man with pale blond hair. “I’m going to kick your ass this year.”

“In your dreams, Yuri,” said Viktor. He turned to Yuuri and laughed, as if something had just occurred to him. “Oh, Yuuri! Meet Yuri Plisetsky.”

The smaller Yuri sneered at Yuuri. “You’re the loser who followed Viktor all the way to Las Vegas. Still haven’t gotten a life?”

“It’s, um, nice to meet you,” Yuuri said.

Viktor’s smile never faltered. “He’s just trying to intimidate us. Good luck, Yuri.”

They met the famous JJ, too. His booming laugh and oozing bravado made Viktor look humble, but at least he didn’t trash talk. 

“You’ve had a good run, Viktor, but there’s a reason everyone calls me King JJ!” JJ announced, wrapping his arm around the girl he was with. “And after I win, Isabella and I are going to have our Graceland wedding!”

“Are you still going to get married if you lose?” Viktor asked. Yuuri almost choked on his breath but another tribute artist cut in. “That’s Georgi Popovich,” Viktor whispered to Yuuri.

“Of course they’ll get married,” Georgi moaned. “Their love is real, but I’m going to channel my heartbreak into the best performance any of you have ever seen.”

“Seems like a lot of competition,” Yuuri said at dinner. “How do you handle the pressure?”

Viktor put his knife and fork down and looked sheepish. “Ah, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that. It’s never really bothered me.” Viktor’s phone buzzed and he smiled at Yuuri before answering.

The only way that Yuuri could handle the pressure was avoiding it. But then again, he hadn’t performed for anyone but Viktor since last semester. Maybe when they got back home, he’d be ready to try again. 

“What? Is she okay?” Viktor’s face was stricken. “I understand, please, just get her to the vet.”

That could only mean one thing. Yuuri touched Viktor’s shoulder. “Is Makkachin okay?”

“She choked on some steamed buns. It was an accident, but I just don’t know…” Viktor could barely get the words out.

“You have to go to her,” Yuuri said. “Or I can go, so you can compete.”

“No,” Viktor shook his head, “I have to go. I’ll fly.”

“Vitya.” They had attracted Yakov’s attention. “You’re leaving?”

“What the hell, old man?” Yuri demanded. “This competition only matters if I can beat you.” He ignored Yakov’s glare.

“Do you want me to go with you?” Yuuri asked.

And for the first time since Viktor had received the terrible news, he smiled. “No, Yuuri. I want you to compete instead of me.”

Yakov, Yuri, and Yuuri all shouted in unison. “WHAT?!” 

“You’re a great singer, and you’ve been watching me for so long, I’m sure you know the drill,” Viktor said. 

The drill?” Yakov’s nostrils flared. “People devote their lives to this. YOU devoted your life to this, once upon a time. To let an utter amateur compete would be—”

Viktor spoke to Yuuri, not Yakov. “He’s ready. Consider it his last test as my student.”

And that’s how Yuuri found himself getting into one of Viktor’s old costumes that had somehow made it into a box, hands and legs shaking.

Viktor took the first flight back to Detroit, and Yuuri didn’t breathe until Viktor texted him to say that Makkachin was hanging in there. 

He also texted to say that Yakov was secretly a hugger. 

But Yakov didn’t sound so friendly as he helped Yuuri get dressed. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to make a mockery of it.”

Yuri squirted some hair gel into his hand with an extra rude squelch. “Yeah, you better give it one-hundred-fucking-percent,” he growled, shoving his cold, gooey hands through Yuuri’s hair to slick it back. 

Rude or not, Yuuri would take all the help he could get. Even his graduate school audition hadn’t made him this nervous. Time dragged to a standstill, and Yuuri couldn’t eat or drink, didn’t register anything until Yakov accosted him.

“What are you going to sing?”

Yuuri answered with the first song that came to mind: “Blue Christmas.

Yakov rolled his eyes but didn’t argue.

From the moment the contest began, Yuuri knew he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

All of the anger and teenage rage vanished when Yuri Plisetsky was in his wig and costume. He took the stage and sang, his voice low and pure.

As the snow flies,
On a cold and gray Chicago morning,
A poor little baby child is born, 
In the ghetto…

His approach was totally different from Viktor’s, but even though Yuuri wasn’t in love, he was moved to tears. The whole audience was crying, at least until JJ burst out in iconic black and white stripes to fire them back up. 

Even though Yuuri had never been to one of these contests before, he knew it took guts to perform Jailhouse Rock, and JJ didn’t just sing it; he crushed it. If Yuuri was being honest with himself, JJ’s hip action was better than Viktor’s. The entire audience was on their feet, Isabella singing along loudest of them all. 

True to his word, Georgi brought the real heartbreak in head to toe black. He didn’t go with the obvious Heartbreak Hotel; he came out swinging with (You’re the) Devil in Disguise, so wild and rollicking that Yuuri was tempted to clap along.

Or, he would have if he hadn’t been frozen in place. Yakov clapped him on the back. 

“You’re up,” he grunted. “Heaven help me, but Vitya says you can do this.”

Distantly, Yuuri heard his name, and he wobbled onto the stage. 

So many people. People who had just had their minds blown by one amazing performance after another. How was Yuuri supposed to follow all of that? 

How did Viktor do this? 

He sings to me. And if I’m not in the crowd. He pretends I am.  

Yuuri sang for Viktor all the time. Even though Viktor wasn’t there, Viktor believed in him, and he believed in Viktor.  All he had to do was follow Viktor’s advice. 

Yuuri didn’t have Viktor’s voice, his confidence, or his looks, but he could dance. Even though Viktor hadn’t come out and said it, another thing Yuuri had learned from him was to play to his strengths. Elvis probably didn’t dance much, but Yuuri couldn’t be sure; Elvis was great and all, but Yuuri was a Viktor Nikiforov fan at heart. 

This was probably the wrong crowd to admit that to. 

Yuuri took a deep breath. He was never going to win this anyway, but he was going to give it his all, for Viktor, for the other competitors, and for himself. 

Yuuri looked out into the audience, pictured Viktor’s smiling face, and took a pose. This contest was just like singing and dancing in Viktor’s Elvis shrine, only this shrine was a lot bigger.

He could do this.

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you…

Yuuri couldn’t do full ballet in Viktor’s old costume, but he let his heart lead, blending Viktor’s swagger with his own grace. Sustaining the notes while dancing meant he couldn’t extend his limbs as much as usual, couldn’t hold the notes quite as long, but the more he married the two arts, the less he cared. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, either.

Dancing with Viktor made him free, but dancing for the audience kept him focused. Invigorated, even. Ballet dancers didn’t swing their hips like Elvis, but Elvis didn’t point his toes like a dancer. Purely on instinct, Yuuri did both. 

He only wished Viktor could be there to see it, because cheers couldn’t compare to that smile.

“Vitya didn’t tell me you could dance,” said Yakov when Yuuri met him backstage. “Elvis didn’t dance that much.”

Between the performance high and the depths of longing, Yuuri couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but throw his arms around Yakov. And JJ. And Georgi. Even a reluctant Yuri.

Only adrenaline got Yuuri back onstage for the announcements of the finalists but there was no way he was going to make it. He just needed to get to his phone and call Viktor—

“...and Yuuri Katsuki will advance to the final!”

If Yuri Plisetsky hadn’t grabbed him by his collar, he would have fallen over.

“You got lucky, Katsuki,” Yuri snapped when they were backstage again. Without his wig, his blonde hair hung in his face, and he blew it out of his eyes. “For some reason, the crowd liked your little ballet show. But it’s not going to fly tomorrow.”

“He’s not wrong,” said Yakov. “You caught them by surprise today, but the trouble with surprises is that they only work once.”

“I know,” said Yuuri. But—to his own surprise as much as Yakov’s—he didn’t want to bail. If Viktor couldn’t be there, then he needed to show the world everything Viktor had taught him. 

Viktor wasn’t answering his texts. He’s with Makka, Yuuri told himself. He and Makka are fine.

But he’d be lying if he said it didn’t prickle his nerves. Phichit’s raving texts helped a bit—he’d found a livestream on YouTube—but Yuuri’s heart ached for Viktor. 

And yet part of him dreaded their reunion. Viktor had called this a final exam, a thesis project of sorts, far more important than any grade Yuuri could receive. Was this the end?

What came next? Yuuri was going to have to face Minako eventually, but without Viktor, he wasn’t sure he could find the courage.

“Well?” Yakov stepped back to look at him. “Did you decide which song to butcher next?”

Yuuri just had to keep pretending Viktor was there, and there was only one song that could even come close to putting his feelings into words.

Can’t Help Falling In Love.

Yakov’s expression didn’t change, but he didn’t say no, either.

Chapter Text

In hindsight, Yuuri couldn’t explain how he had gotten through the night without word from Viktor. He didn’t remember getting suited up, either; he just looked in a mirror and suddenly, his track pants and T-shirt had transformed into a Hawaiian shirt and khakis.

“You should wear a lei,” said Yakov.

Robotically, Yuuri shook his head. He pulled his ring out from under his shirt and Yakov’s eyes bulged before he recovered with a nod. 

Yuuri’s competition, pretending for a moment that he was in the same league, sported rhinestones and plunging necklines, but Yuuri felt much more like himself in something simple. Something he might wear if he and Viktor went to Hawaii, because where else would an Elvis Tribute Artist and his adoring husband spend their honeymoon?

Yuuri planted that fantasy in his mind and didn’t let anything else grow. He couldn’t allow himself to think anything had happened to Viktor or Makka, or that anything had changed between him and Viktor. Nothing was going to change, at least not until he got through the competition. 

He had to pass his final. 

Unlike yesterday, he didn’t take in any of the competition, didn’t even register them until Yuri Plisetsky filled his vision and yelled, “Get out there before I grand jete your ass outta Memphis!”

Only much later did Yuuri think to ask how Yuri knew what that meant. 

“Breathe, Yuuri,” Yakov grunted. “Perform like Vitya is watching if you must.”

Perform like Viktor is watching.

He sucked in a deep breath. 

Perform like Viktor is watching.

Exhale.

Walk.

Eye contact. Yuuri scanned the crowd for the first person he could see clearly enough to focus on.

His eyes landed on someone right in the front—silver hair, blue eyes, adoring smile—and he must have been getting very good at pretending, because this guy was a dead ringer for...

Viktor?!

Emotions rammed Yuuri from every direction. When had Viktor gotten back? Was Makkachin okay? Why hadn’t Viktor returned his texts? What was Yuuri supposed to do now? 

Smile never wavering, Viktor nodded at him, silently answering his last question. 

Yuuri took a step forward. Fake confidence wasn’t fake if everyone else believed, and Yuuri didn’t have to fake anything when it came to Viktor.

“There’s someone special out there tonight.” Yuuri couldn’t do the voice and he knew it, but he committed. “I’d love for him to join me on stage.” 

And as he strode into the audience, he let himself believe that it was a huge deal. No star with any sense would walk into a crowd of adoring fans, but Yuuri was no ordinary star. He ignored the gasps and squeals around him, eyes locked on his goal. 

Viktor beamed at him, and Yuuri knew. Viktor wasn’t pretending.

“Well, Viktor?” Yuuri held out his hand, willing it to stop shaking. “What do you say, can I sing you a little song?”

A blush dusted Viktor’s nose and cheeks. The screaming crowd and his nerves went quiet when Viktor took his hand, and Yuuri led him back to the stage.

He gestured for Viktor to sit in the chair Yakov had furnished. They had to release each other, but Viktor stared at him so intently that Yuuri barely felt the loss. 

The music began to play, and Yuuri knew the words by heart. He meant all of them.

Wise men say only fools rush in,
But I can't help falling in love with you…

Viktor blinked up at him, tears shining in his eyes, and Yuuri held out his arm once more, drawing Viktor to his feet.

Of course the crowd recognized Viktor, but they were far from Yuuri’s mind. Every part of Yuuri’s being zeroed in on conveying his feelings through song and touch. He pulled Viktor into his arms and led him into a slow dance. There was no contest, just the two of them, reuniting and making plans for the future. They’d settle the details later. 

Like a river flows, 
Surely to the sea,
Darling, so it goes, 
Some things are meant to be…

Yuuri dipped Viktor back, one hand supporting the elegant curve of his spine, and oh, they would dance like this again and again in the years to come.

Yuuri coaxed Viktor upright once more and their eyes met. Viktor let out a silent laugh and Yuuri smiled back. Today might have marked the end of Yuuri’s short-lived career as a dancing Elvis impersonator, but something far better had begun. 

Take my hand, take my whole life, too,
For I can’t help falling in love with you…

Do you know? Yuuri thought. Do you see how much I mean these words, Viktor? He felt them so deeply that his voice gave out.

Viktor dabbed the corner of Yuuri’s eye with his thumb and nodded once, barely perceptible, and sang where Yuuri could not.

For I can’t help falling in love with you…

Finally, applause and cheers flooded Yuuri’s ears, but Viktor’s lips on his cut it short.

Then, Viktor was touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste—oh, taste. Performing couldn’t compare to this high, and Yuuri had a hunch, a good one, that this wouldn’t be their last kiss. No, Viktor meant every word, too, and this was one that surprise would never get old. 

Viktor drew back, stage lights brightening his eyes even more, reflecting off the swell of his lower lip. 

The whole world began and ended in Viktor’s eyes until the cheering audience crept back into focus. 

“Wow!” The host gaped at them, clapping slowly in disbelief. “Come on and give it up for Yuuri Katsuki and Viktor Nikiforov!”

The crowd got even louder and, loathe though they were to break eye contact, Yuuri mimicked Viktor’s gracious smile as they took a bow. 

“This has never happened before.” The host ran a hand through his hair and turned to the judges. “Is Yuuri still eligible?” 

Yuuri couldn’t believe it—that question got boos. People shouted things like “Yes!” and “Of course!” and Viktor squeezed Yuuri’s hand. 

Putting his lips to Yuuri’s ear, Viktor murmured, “They love you, Yuuri.” Yuuri turned to face him, so close that their lips almost brushed again. “But they can’t have you.”

Yuuri narrowed his eyes and grabbed Viktor by the shoulders. With a yank, he smashed their noses together. “I’m yours.

Eager as Makkachin, Viktor nodded. “And I’m yours, Yuuri!” 

As soon as they were ushered off stage, Yuuri threw his arms around Viktor. “What happened? How’s Makka? When did you get here?”

“Makka’s fine.” Viktor embraced him tighter. “They wouldn’t let me bring her near the stage.”

“She’s here?!” Yuuri pulled back, eyes wide. “Where—”

A bark cut him off and Yuuri turned to see Makkachin charging at them, practically dragging Phichit behind her. 

“Yuuri!” Phichit waved with the hand that wasn’t holding Makkachin’s leash. “You were amazing!”

Yuuri looked from Phichit back to Viktor in shock. “What are you doing here?”

“No rehearsals today!” Phichit replied brightly. But that couldn’t be the whole story. Yuuri hadn’t introduced them yet (one less thing to do now). Reading the room, Phichit added, “I was waiting for Seung-gil to finish his shift when Viktor brought Makkachin in.” He crouched down to pat her head. “So you got treated by the best emergency vet in all of Michigan, didn’t you, Makkachin?”

Of course. In his anxious state, Yuuri had forgotten all about Phichit’s boyfriend when Makka needed a vet. Thankfully, Viktor had found Seung-gil anyway. 

“We drove straight down,” Viktor said. “I wanted it to be a surprise. Keeping Phichit quiet was quite the task.” 

“I wanted to tell you so badly!” Phichit whined. “But it was totally worth it for the look on your face. I’ve got pictures!” Grinning, he fished his phone out of his pocket and wiggled it in the air.  

“The hell was that?” came a growl from behind Yuuri. They whirled around to see Yuri Plisetsky in Elvis’s signature black leather, black wig perfectly styled to hang in his eyes. “Bringing him out is cheating.”

Viktor smiled graciously. “I’d say it’s more like pandering.”

“What?” Yuuri shook his head. “No, I wasn’t trying to—”

“You already made a mockery of Graceland,” Yakov huffed. “What’s one more nail in the coffin?”

“Missed you, too, Yakov,” Viktor said. 

“Your performance was incredible,” Phichit said to Yuri Plisetsky. “You brought down the house!”

Yuri wrinkled his nose and gave Makkachin a tentative stroke. “At least one of you isn’t a selfish asshole.” 

“The tension release on the last chorus was perfect, Yuri,” Viktor said, suddenly serious. “A Little Less Conversation really is your song.”

“Whatever,” Yuri muttered, turning away to hide his reddening cheeks. 

The crowd started cheering again as the rest of the contestants made their way to the stage. 

“Get back out there!” Yakov shooed them toward the curtain as Phichit waved, hanging back with Makkachin. “No, not you, Vitya!” 

But Yuuri wasn’t going back out there without him. Gripping each other tight, they joined the others. Viktor tossed out a flirty wave to the delight of the audience.

“What a show we’ve had!” said the host. “Let’s give all our contestants a round of applause!”

The crowd did one better with a standing ovation, and once they finally calmed, the host went on. “We’ve had a bit of an unusual situation this year, so as such, the judges decided to create a new category.”

Murmurs rose up from the crowd and Yuuri looked back up at Viktor. Viktor winked and Yuuri’s chest warmed.

“This year’s Fan Favorite is…” The host trailed off with a grin, stretching the tension. “Oh, y’all know who it is! Yuuri Katsuki!”

It didn’t register at first, but then Viktor was kissing his cheek and squeezing his shoulders. 

Fan Favorite? That couldn’t be. Yuuri had never been popular in his life, and he wasn’t even a Tribute Artist. He was just a dancer. 

But it wasn’t just Viktor congratulating him; the other competitions were clapping him on the back and offering kind words. Yuuri didn’t have time to let it soak in, because the host soon quieted the crowd. 

“Now, it’s time to announce this year’s Ultimate Elvis!” The crowd roared and the host continued. “First, this year’s runner up is none other than Jean-Jacques Leroy!” 

JJ grinned and struck a pose, hooking his fingers into double J-shapes. Yuuri followed his eyes to Isabella in the front row, clapping and shouting loudest of all.

“Which means our Ultimate Elvis is…” The speakers pounded out a drumroll. “Yuri Plisetsky!”

Yuuri was more than happy to give the spotlight to Yuri. He and Viktor congratulated Yuri with proper hugs, then found their way backstage to meet up with Phichit again. The three of them gushed over Yuuri and Makkachin and Elvis until someone elbowed Yuuri in the ribs. Hard.

Wigless and awfully irate for someone who had just won a contest, Yuri Plisetsky glared up at Yuuri. “You better come back next year, and you better play by the goddamn rules.” Prodding Viktor, he added, “You too, asshole. I wanna beat you both, fair and square.”

“Deal,” said Viktor, rising to his full height. “Speaking only for myself, that is.”

Everyone’s eyes flew to Yuuri. He swallowed. It had been exhilarating out there, even better with Viktor watching, but this wasn’t Yuuri’s calling. Not quite. For a moment out there yesterday, Yuuri had gotten close. This just wasn’t his stage. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t take pieces of it with him.

“There’s something I need to do,” Yuuri said. When Yuri sneered, he added, “That’s not a no.” It wasn’t a yes, either, but he could cross that bridge later. 

“It better not be,” Yuri shot back. “Today was just a warm up! I need real competition to perform my best, so you had better practice.”

If Yuuri went through with it, he was going to be practicing a lot. He had a lot of lost time to make up for (and some groveling to do). 

“Minako’s been asking about you,” said Phichit. 

“Yuuri!” Viktor clasped Yuuri’s hands in his own. “Does this mean what I think it means?”

Yuuri put a finger to Viktor’s lips. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”

A smile, pure and sweet, set Viktor’s face alight. “I love surprises.”

And the thing about kisses, Yuuri would come to find, was that even when he was expecting them, every single one was a surprise. 

In the months to come, grad school kept Yuuri from making all of Viktor’s shows like he used to. But Viktor never missed a single one of Yuuri’s recitals. He even made the rehearsals, when he was allowed. 

“You cut school for me,” Viktor reminded him, tapping his nose gently. “It’s the least I can do.” 

Viktor didn’t have to do anything, but Yuuri couldn’t bring himself to tell Viktor not to. And if it weren’t for Viktor and his Elvis act, Yuuri might have burned himself out and given up on dance entirely. 

He pulled Viktor close, hands following the curve of his spine down to where his rear met his thighs. “Come to think of it, there is something you can do for me.” 

“Anything,” said Viktor, one eyebrow quirking up in interest. 

“I need...” Yuuri gave him a squeeze. “A song.” 

“Oh,” Viktor purred, low and long. “I’ll always be the song to your dance, Yuuri.” 

Yuuri’s favor had to wait a bit—some songs and dances were just for the two of them—but they headed for Viktor’s studio in the afterglow. It was hard to call it a shrine now that it housed recording equipment along with the instruments and memorabilia. Viktor was still learning, but he had recorded a few covers, and he was having fun.

Face still flushed, Viktor looped his guitar around his neck. “Did you have a song in mind, my Yuuri?” 

“I do.” Viktor’s tank top hung loose on Yuuri’s shoulders, which would work for dancing (once Yuuri caught his breath). “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.

“Oh, Yuuri, I feel the same way!” Viktor sent him a teasing wink and launched into the opening chords. 

“Hold on,” Yuuri said, stopping him from singing. “I want you to use your voice.”

Viktor nodded, a slow smile spreading in his face. “Anything for you.”

Every day, Makkachin slept on her bedazzled bed while Viktor sang and Yuuri worked out the beginnings of his thesis dance. When the studio wasn’t big enough, Viktor and his guitar joined Yuuri in one of the school practice rooms

And in a black bodysuit with a splash of golden glitter Yuuri stepped into the auditorium for his thesis performance. His nerves didn’t settle until he focused on the review committee. Locking eyes with the one in the center, he pretended, and the music began. Then, the sway of Yuuri’s hips and the lines of his body twined with Viktor’s voice, so tightly that he lost track of everything but the music they made together. 

And they set out, Yuuri with his master’s degree and Viktor with his own voice, together. But no matter where life took them, they made it back to Graceland every year—and not just to keep Yuri on his toes. 

Elvis brought them together, and neither Viktor nor Yuuri could think of a better tribute to his memory.