“Hurry up,” Chris called as he tapped his foot repeatedly against the floor, a clear sign of his irritation. “The chariot that awaits you is going to be late, your highness.”
Victor rolled his eyes, making sure the hotel card key was in his wallet before pocketing it and heading toward the door. “I still don’t understand why we’re doing this.”
“As I have previously stated, it will become obvious once you see it,” Chris replied, motioning for Victor to get out of the room and into the hallway.
Victor obliged him, though he was sorely tempted to press all the elevator buttons on their way down. Just for the amusement of what would surely be a marvelously exasperated reaction from Chris. He resisted.
The ice show tour had been proceeding normally, up until the flight to Detroit. They had been awaiting boarding when Chris had gone rigid in his lounge chair upon seeing something on his phone. That had been the point the cryptic scheming had started. Chris had insisted they rent a car upon arriving and abandon all previous plans made for their spare day off. Victor had not been permitted to argue, though he did wonder if Chris had perhaps hit his head on the ice during one of the recent rehearsals when his companion told him that they would be going to a car wash. That had, in theory, explained the car rental.
In theory, it also explained the type of car rental. Because they had not picked up the typical twenty-nine dollars a day plus insurance four-door economy-class Kia Rio from a counter in the airport lobby. No, Chris had rented them a convertible Dodge Charger Hellcat. In hot pink. Victor did not oppose the choice but he had cast Chris a look when he first saw it, to which he received a response of, “What? We’re queer, we’re in America, let’s act like it, chéri.” Victor only lamented that it wasn’t a classic Cadillac.
The car was fetched by the valet while Chris input their destination into his phone navigation app. Victor did not bother to look, since it would only result in more questions that Chris was not answering. The best thing to do was to go and see for himself what the big deal was. It had to be something special, if Chris wanted to rent a car simply to get it washed.
The answer was hinted at when they approached their destination to a traffic jam going what appeared to be a few blocks on the right-hand side of the street. Victor turned on the blinker and made to maneuver around it, but was stopped by Chris laying a hand on his arm. “Oh no, darling. This is the line in.”
“The line?” Victor asked, laughing curtly. “For a car wash?” They had passed a fully automated one at a gasoline station, not half a street back.
“It’s a charity event,” Chris said, as if that explained all of it. “An annual fundraiser for the local animal shelter. All the proceeds from the car wash go to help get the pooches treated and adopted.”
Well, that explained a little bit. If Victor lived in the city and knew about the event, he would absolutely come to get his car washed. That did not explain why Chris knew about it. Or had been so insistent on them coming. Or why there was such a huge line for th—oh, okay, he understood.
Making her way up the line of waiting cars was a cute and busty girl who appeared to be in her early twenties, with full blonde hair up in a high ponytail and cut-off jean shorts that exposed long legs and dainty calves. She also had on a white tshirt which was twisted up in the back with a hair-tie, showing off a sliver of midriff. She was undeniably pretty and not at all Victor’s type. Yet he saw the appeal. Yes, that would certainly help sell the charity car wash.
It was a minute before she was at their car, flashing a toothy smile and greeting them with the good old American accent. “Hi there! You guys have a ticket?”
Chris held out his phone with the reservation receipt slip displayed. Tickets. Timed reservation tickets, for a car wash. How many hot blondes did they have up there?
“Oh, nice!” she smiled when she saw it and took a step back. “You guys can actually drive up to the front then! You’ll be in the Labrador Lot. Gabby over there will direct you. Just show her the ticket when you get there. Have a fanpawstic day!”
“Fanpawstic,” Chris repeated with a snicker as Victor followed her general directions, driving past the line of cars.
Gabby, as it turned out, was not a hot blonde but a cute brunette. Still with the cut-off shorts and the tied-up white tshirt. She had an equally charming smile as she directed them past Collie Corner toward the Labrador Lot. Victor was mildly amused by the spectacle of the fantasy car wash: cute girls in skimpy clothing soaping up cars and splashing water.
The amusement turned to him nearly forgetting to hit the brakes once they reached Labrador Lot. Because Labrador Lot wasn’t being staffed by the cute girls in skimpy clothes. It was being staffed by cute boys in skimpy clothes. The “uniform” had remained unchanged. Cut-off jean shorts, tied-up white tshirt, bit of the midriff showing. And in a tshirt that was soaking wet, laughing as he jumped to reach the top of a pickup truck with his soapy sponge, was a cute boy whom Victor recognized.
“Ohmygod, it’s Yuuri Katsuki,” Victor exhaled, his fingers suddenly going tingly around the steering wheel.
There were a few things Victor knew about Yuuri Katsuki: that he was Japan’s top male skater, that they had competed at the same Grand Prix qualifier the previous year although in separate groups, that he should be at a far higher rank than he actually was, and that he was gorgeous. That last one was personal opinion but the point remained. Victor had caught the start of Yuuri’s free skate at that qualifier and been captivated. The musicality of his skating and his technique—when he wasn’t flubbing jumps out of visible nerves—would be an undoubtable challenge to Victor’s record with a little bit of polish. It was a shame that they had never had the chance to interact.
“Your jaw is on the floor. Pick it up before he comes over here,” Chris drawled, his tone overflowing with amusement.
“This is…” Victor trailed off, not sure how to best describe what he was witnessing. The truck in front of them was being rinsed off, though the person with the hose was spraying Yuuri nearly as much as the vehicle. Perhaps their plane had crashed and he actually had died and gone to heaven. “Wow.”
“Mmm, you’re welcome.”
“How did you know about this?”
“How else?” Chris laughed, leaning back with a satisfied smirk. “Social media.”
God bless social media.
Victor sat up straighter and ran his fingers through his bangs when Yuuri approached them, the pickup in front of them having been handed off to another team for drying. His hair was down and messy, the dark strands wet. He had glasses on, flecked with droplets of water, and that smile was dazzling.
It also faltered when he saw Victor, eyes going wide behind his frames. His jaw was slack, a damp towel hanging precariously from his fingertips. “V-victor?” Yuuri asked, breathless. “Victor Nikiforov??”
Chris leaned over the center divider, waving at Yuuri. “And yours truly.”
Yuuri glanced at Chris only for a split second, promptly returning to staring at Victor directly. His cheeks were flushed and Victor doubted that it was a result of the mild weather. Maybe he was a fan. That would be incredible. What luck.
“Why are you here?” Yuuri exclaimed, clearly flustered.
“Ice show—” Victor started, only to be cut off.
“To get our car washed,” Chris replied. “And to donate to charity.”
“Uhhh, right. Okay. Sure. Wow, ummmm...”
A flustered Yuuri might have been the cutest thing Victor had ever seen. His eyes kept darting between the car washing area and Victor, as if not sure where to direct his attention.
“Just, uhhh… Y-you gotta put the top up,” Yuuri said, taking a deep breath. “And get out. Or don’t. You can stay inside. Some people stay inside. Whatever. Whichever. Excuse me.”
Chris chuckled as Yuuri dashed off, glancing over at Victor. “Would you like to get out or stay inside?”
Victor was tempted for the latter, but then he realized he would not exactly be able to watch with the windows foamed up from the soap. “Get out.”
They got the roof of the convertible up and the car moved into place, with Victor lingering outside the door in the hope that Yuuri might come back and give him a proper chance to introduce himself. Victor did not remember them ever having a proper conversation. Or any conversation at all.
Yuuri did come back, making brief eye contact with Victor, before shifting his gaze. “Nice car.”
“It’s a rental,” Victor replied automatically, his mouth feeling oddly dry. Wow, one cute boy and he was falling apart, his usual charms nowhere to be found. Probably because visions of Yuuri’s mid-routine Ina Bauer were flashing through his head. That curve of his spine, the glint of light off his skates. It was a miracle trying to process how something so simple had been so captivating. Yuuri could stun the world with some better coaching. With a better coac—
“Doesn’t the great Victor Nikiforov have something better to do on a day off than get a rental car washed?”
Yes. Probably. On any other day, in any other situation. “I like dogs?” Victor offered, desperately grasping at straws of conversation. A dumb response, really. Everyone knew that, who didn’t know that, Yuuri would definitely know that.
“I knew that,” Yuuri replied with a small smile.
“Chris likes cats,” Victor spat out, not even sure what he was saying anymore. He needed to leave and gather himself together. He was pretty certain that the last time he had gay panicked this badly, he had been sixteen and Vitas had announced a new studio album…
Yuuri stifled laughter, nodding. “Victor, we can’t start washing your car if you’re standing here.”
“Sorry!” Victor jumped to the side, trying his best not to stare too long at Yuuri’s legs nor pay attention to the fact that the jean shorts were cut purposefully short and, well, figure skaters did tend to be rather gifted in the backside area. “Just… take your time.”
Yuuri muffling more laughter behind him as Victor hurried off was, at least, reassuring. The waiting area was not far off at all, perfect for viewing. A smirking Chris made a comment of some sort but Victor was far too distracted to listen. Yuuri had been joined by another attractive young man with dark hair and dark skin, who kept looking back at Victor and Chris and grinning. Victor recognized him too. A skater, for… Thai, he was Thai. Chula—Chula-something. Chulanont. That was it. He would be entering the senior division that year. Victor vaguely remembered seeing an article about it.
And that was how Victor ended up sitting on a flat metallic bench, watching a hot-pink muscle car get sudded up and washed by two world-ranked skaters in cut-off shorts and wet white tshirts. At some point, Yuuri bent over the hood to reach the center of it, his shorts riding up and the lower curve of his ass cheeks on display. Chris whistled while Victor coughed into his sleeve, his face burning.
“I can’t do this,” he muttered, barely making it to the five minute mark. “This is…”
“Sleazy?” Chris said.
“No. Well, no.” That was not what he meant. Because if he could, Victor would rent twenty more cars and run them all through Yuuri’s spot in Labrador Lot. Though, apparently, that was not possible, as Chris had informed him the timed reservation slots had actually sold out weeks ago.
“You want to go talk to him, don’t you?”
Victor let out a quiet whine much like Makkachin made when she was begging for treats and nodded.
“I don’t think the public is allowed to help wash,” Chris said, just as the Thai skater splashed a bucket of water across the hood of the car with half of the contents soaking Yuuri’s midsection. Victor swallowed the lump in his throat. “But Yuuri’s got a major crush on you, so I doubt he’d object.”
Yuuri’s got a major crush on you, so—
That was all Victor needed to be up on his feet, pocketing his watch as he ran back over to offer his assistance. For charity. Maybe a phone number swap.
Chris was right. Yuuri did not object, handing Victor a spare sponge with very little protest. It was not long before they were flicking water at each other, laughing and neglecting car wash duties as Phichit filmed with very wide eyes over the roof of the less-than-washed car.
In Victor’s opinion, this was far more fun than an ice show. It was possible that he was late to the rehearsal the following morning, because he had accompanied Yuuri to drop off the collected charity proceeds at the animal shelter and then invited him out to breakfast.
Needless to say, the summer would end up being far more exciting than Victor had anticipated.