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Look at the Stars (and Dream)

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"Yuri! Come on! You never want to do anything with us!"

"Hag, I'm working. Take your change and move. Don't block the queue. Next, please!" Yuri doesn't have time to listen to Mila complain today. His manager already warned him earlier when he arrived late. And all because his damn phone didn't charge during the night, so his alarm never went off. So, no. Yuri just wants to go home and sleep. "Hi, welcome to Tiger Coffee, your best companion. What can I get you?" He greets the next customer even though Mila's still standing there.

"Mila, let's go over there." Georgi takes her hand and they walk to the end of the counter to wait for their orders. Like normal people.

"Hi, can I get an abominable snowman?"

"Sorry, but we don't serve that here?"

The woman rolls her eyes, apparently not amused by Yuri's confusion. "Yeah ... you do? I got the same thing last week."

"Um, let me—"

"Yuri, is everything okay?" Ugh. Seung-gil. This guy has the best fucking radar, always appears exactly when Yuri is having 'issues' with customers.

"Our … loyal customer here wants to order a—what was the name again?"

"An abominable snowman."

Recognition briefly flashes across Seung-gil's face. Or as much as it shows anything anyway. Yuri's been working here for long enough to pick up the signs, though. "Ah, yes. I believe I made it for you last week. Don't worry, I'll handle it." The guy doesn't smile, but his tone is kind and he nods, already moving around the coffee machine to make whatever concoction the woman ordered. "Ah, that will be $11.50."

The woman pays and Yuri steals glances at Seung-gil as he makes this 'Abominable Snowman'. Crushed ice, equal parts toffee cream and mint syrup, then the iced coffee, and actual mint to finish it off—something Yuri didn't even know they had around. In the end, it looks like a regular cold brew coffee, honestly.

Seung-gil hands it to the woman after Mila and Georgi take their usual spot near the front windows overlooking the amazing scenery of the hustling and bustling city center. "Here, Yuri." When Yuri turns, his manager is hanging up a note on the corkboard next to the sink with the ingredients and instructions for the drink, as well as the price. "In case she comes back while I'm not around."

"Thank you."

"No problem. If she or anyone else gets difficult, just Google the drink they want and double the price of one of our medium-fancy drinks." He shrugs and walks back to the tiny office to go over some papers. Yuri's slightly impressed. "Oh, and you can clock out already. Your shift ended ten minutes ago."

"But I was late—"

"No buts. You know we can't afford overtime."

With a sigh, Yuri goes to the back to grab his backpack and now fully-charged phone. He's not surprised to find Mila and Georgi waiting for him at their table. "Really, guys? Stalker much."

"Yurochka, you know you love us." Georgi raises a perfectly groomed eyebrow.

It makes Yuri's lips quirk up against his will. These two have been with him through thick and thin. "No idea what you're talking about."

He's about to join them for a bit before heading home when Mila opens her big fat mouth. "Oh, please, stop it with the tough act and say you'll come with us to the rink?"

Ugh. Nevermind. They are thick. "Do I look like I'm made of money, hag?"

"Today's half price if we get there before 2 pm." Yuri takes his cell phone out of his pocket. 1:10.

"Can we even make it on time?"

Georgi taps his chin. "I mean, we gotta catch the next train and then power-walk a bit but—wait, you're coming?"

Yuri shrugs. "I mean, don't have anything better to do today, so."

"Yay!" Mila throws her arms around his shoulders and squeezes him a little too tightly.

 


 

Yuri stretches a bit and rolls his shoulders. He's stiffer than he thought after almost two weeks off the ice. But he simply can't afford more. It's an expensive hobby for someone who works two jobs to make ends meet, yet he never feels as free as he does when he glides across freshly renewed ice. He isn't good at it. Not good-good at least. Maybe he could be, if he trained properly. If he'd started earlier. If he had any kind of support network. But not in this life.

Instead of doing fancy jumps like Mila or flashy spins like Georgi, he uses the ice time to train his balance. It's a different kind of strain on his muscles than ballet, so he still gets the rewarding burn at the end of the day that tells him he actually did something. He turns backward and the move is wonkier than Yuri would like it to be. The price of dedicating his life to another art form. Dancing will always be his first and last love.

Gliding over the ice, Yuri closes his eyes. Beach. Or maybe snow capped mountains? They make more sense to think about in a rink. Going skiing. Hot chocolate in the cabin he rented for himself and … hmm. Yuri opens his eyes again. He's so desperately, irrevocably single that even his mind's eye can't conjure a Mister Plisetsky. Well fuck it, who cares? Yuri's happy. Who needs a man to be happy? Certainly not him. Eyes slip closed again and Yuri's on top of the mountain. Snow whips around him, ruffling his hair and shaking him gently, but Yuri's made of stone and can't be moved except according to his own volition. Like when he dances. Perfect control.

The rink's almost empty, most people are still at work or on their lunch break, so for a while, not encountering anyone doesn't seem too weird. But eventually, Yuri has to wonder. Where is everyone? There are Mila and Georgi, sure, but they're busy with their ridiculous couple choreography and—oh! There's a zamboni waiting at the side of the rink. Maybe the others stepped off the ice and went to grab some fries or—what the fuck? They've been a bit slow in leaving the rink, but the zamboni starts up without warning, and urgh, Yuri would lie if he said he didn't startle. By now, Mila and Georgi seem similarly confused and Yuri backs away to the exit so the vehicle can do its job.

Except the driver seems to have a personal problem with Yuri. The large machine isn't stopping and waiting until they're gone, no. Yuri's about to hurl very specific insults at the wanker's head, but … there's no one. The zamboni is empty, yet it continues to creep across the ice. What the hell is going on? Is this a ghost? God, how lame would it be if he died here, now, killed by a possessed zamboni and he couldn't even tell anyone? What would the newspapers write? 'Local boy dies on the ice, zamboni drags his corpse around' ? Shitty headline.

Before he can do his part in making it a reality, Yuri flees the scene. Or he tries. But the damn thing's put it into its nonexisting brain to chase his ass. Does he not go through enough stress in his life as it is? He doesn't need this bullshit. With his skates still strapped to his feet, Yuri can't run as fast as he'd like to on the solid ground of the rinkside. Mila and Georgi run in front of him, still sporting athletic gear, too. They should be able to make it out without an issue, but—FUCK.

On the right, a door left ajar rattles and opens, and some sort of document shredder begins to wiggle across the floor. It looks like the world's worst caterpillar imitation, except the thing appears to be just as set on killing them as the zamboni currently doing its goddamn best to break through the barrier surrounding the rink.

There's a scanner slamming against a glass door to his left and okay, shit, whatever is going on isn't cute. Yuri rushes down the hallway and away from the hellish machines. At the same time, relative safety means leaving Georgi and Mila behind as some sort of very angry roomba separates them. Or—SHIT! They actually left him behind! Because the two of them stand right in front of the exit now. The door doesn't open, but Georgi isn't a wimp, so he pulls his shirt off, wraps it around his fist, and punches the glass. What a hero. Mila and he are safe, but Yuri?

From his left comes a second zamboni, rolling closer. Why do they even have two? Doesn't matter. The way to the main entrance is blocked and he's about to be surrounded by insane technology. There's only one way out now—the backdoor.

Yuri follows the green glowing signs and hurries to reach the fire exit, but once he finally reaches the metal door and pulls—no reaction. What the ever loving fuck? Some idiot probably thought a rink wouldn't burn down. Well, they obviously didn't plan for murderous zambonis and angry roombas. The little fuckers are coming closer, tires screech loudly across the floor. And where's Yuri supposed to go now?

He tugs off his skates. Maybe the blade at the bottom will be of use to him. Somehow. Not like he has any better ideas right now anyway. Weapons held up high, he almost falls over from shock when someone calls out to him.

"Up here!" Yuri frowns and looks around. There's a staircase and—of course! Zambonis can't fucking climb! He rushes up the stairs just as one of the roombas rounds the corner, finds him, and starts beeping at the top of its robotical lungs. No way back, whoever is at the top of those stairs had better be ready to fight for them both. Or just for themself. That would already help, admittedly. Just, hopefully, they aren't someone Yuri has to save.

Once he rushes up the last few steps and swings around the corner, he lands face first in a stiff, dark leather jacket. Ouch. Yuri scrunches up his nose and rubs it with the back of his hand. Unpleasant. What isn't unpleasant, however, is the gorgeous man in front of him. A bit taller than Yuri, with almost black hair and eyes so deep they've surely seen the universe. The stranger grins. "This way!" He points at a door that must lead into one of the offices and Yuri vehemently shakes his head.

"No! All the machines have gone insane! I won't go into one of those rooms, that's a trap! You haven't seen what it's like down there!"

"Well, I actually did but … anyway, I promise you there's no danger behind that door. Come along, you don't have to worry!" He wants to ask who the hell the overconfident twat is, but the guy's already running over to the indicated door.

Yuri seriously doubts the bloke knows what he's doing, but on the other hand, he thought about steps when Yuri didn't. So who's he to judge? Nah. He rushes after the stranger. How charming and fit he is plays absolutely no role in this. Yuri simply determined it as his best chance to survive. The office door opens and inside is … a police call box? Inside a building?

He raises his eyebrows and slowly shakes his head at the stranger. "Oh, we don't do that here. Calling the police only leaves you with more problems than solutions. Trust me, they aren't fun in this area."

Now the man shakes his head. "Oh, this isn't the police. She just hides herself in plain sight."

"She?"

"The TARDIS."

Is this guy even speaking the same language as Yuri? And why does he look at him so … strangely? "The what?"

"I can't explain right now." The other opens the door and walks inside the box. What the fuck? "Come on! We don't have much time!"

Of all the people Yuri could've possibly found up here in this B-movie pandemonium, he had to run into the wacko. Of course. With one final look toward the rink downstairs, Yuri walks inside and—"It's bigger on the inside!"

"Oh, you followed me, great!" The stranger's lips lift up, barely. And then, "Also, yeah, it is. Again, we don't really have time right now. Close the doors, will you?"

Yuri does without a word, his eyes taking in the … room? It's shaped like a dome of sorts. The walls aren't wood but metal. With circles adorning them but they don't seem to be windows to the outside. There are curved pillars that touch the floor, made of perforated metal sheets. Cables hang from the ceiling and disappear inside the walls. And in the middle of it all is this bloke, standing by a round console with a million buttons, levers, and a screen. At the center of it, there's a tube, glowing green, and Yuri's half-fascinated by it, half-scared that Zordon's face is going to appear and start talking to him about his new life as one of the chosen Power Rangers.

"Who the fuck are you?" The words come tumbling out of Yuri's mouth just as a whirring noise fills the air and the entire structure starts shaking.

"Language!" the man admonishes. Yuri parts his lips to curse again, just out of spite, when everything stops moving and the man sighs. Is there some hint of sadness in his voice? "And I'm the Doctor."

"Doctor? Doctor who?"

"Just that. The Doctor."

Yuri huffs and folds his arms. "Fine, don't tell me your name."

The … 'Doctor' walks over to Yuri and circles him, studying him. It's unnerving. "What about you, Yuri?"

"W-what about me?" And how does the guy know who he is? Know his name? Is he one of the employees Yuri keeps ignoring at the front desk? Sure, he doesn't look at them too often, but wouldn't he remember that face? 

The Doctor smiles and opens the door as the wailing of sirens in the distance reaches Yuri's ears. He runs outside and … wait, he's actually outside. They're behind the rink.

"What the fuck?" he breathes, almost collapsing to his knees. Almost.

"Seriously, you need to stop cursing. What if children heard you?"

"I don't give a shit, mate!" Yuri turns to the stranger. "What—How—I mean—"

"Science."

"What? That's a bullshit answer. How did you do that?"

The Doctor grimaces. "Thank you for your interest, Yuri. But I can't tell you, and even if I could, we really don't have time, sorry."

"What do you mean? There's plenty of time. Explain."

With a shake of his head, the Doctor closes the distance between them and puts his hands on Yuri's shoulders. "Listen, I've got to go and save the world now. In there ..." He gestures toward the rink to their right, to the building, "some aliens planted a computer bug, like a virus, that jumps from machine to machine and infects them. Makes them all go crazy, as you saw already."

"And what exactly will you do?"

The man releases Yuri's shoulders and puts his hands on his hips, almost like a superhero pose. "Remove the source of it." He says it like it's the most natural thing in the world. Just a regular Friday. Chasing aliens, ruining evil bug lords' plans who want to control Earth's archaic machines.

Yuri bends over and laughs. All the tension from earlier leaves him as the man's words paint this entire situation like a cheap horror movie plot. There's got to be hidden cameras somewhere. Wasn't that prank show from the early 2000s cancelled long ago? Is Ashton Kutcher waiting for him in a van parked around the corner? Are Mila and Georgi in on this? Is that why they were so adamant about going to the rink, today, at that precise time and why no one else seemed to be around?

Ridiculous! His wheezing stops and he wipes the tears at the corner of his eyes. "I still have no idea how you got us out of there, but this is seriously the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my twenty years of existence. Thank you."

"I mean … you're welcome? I don't see how you can be laughing right now. This is serious. What will happen when this spreads and gets to banks, government buildings, hospitals?!"

Yuri wants to laugh again but … the man's tone is different. Like he actually believes this stuff. Yuri puts up his hands, trying to placate him. "Woah, okay. Listen. I've had a shitty day. I just … want to find my friends and go home."

"That would be for the best. I'd suggest moving in groups, yes. Better not to be alone right now." His lip twitches, but somehow it's nothing related to a smile.

With a nod, Yuri's about to turn away as the Doctor tries to open the back door of the rink. Unsuccessfully. Of course. Everything was locked earlier. Yuri groans. "Mate …" The man ignores him and takes a long, silver object out of his jacket pocket. Aiming it at the lock, he presses a button, and the door clicks and flies open. "What—"

The Doctor turns his head, seemingly surprised to see Yuri still there. "Oh, this?" He waves the … tube-thingy in the air, and it's the same green color as the console inside the police box. "Sonic screwdriver. Pretty handy." Yuri stares. The Doctor smiles. "So, take care, Yuri. I'm off!"

"Wait!" Hesitating, the man looks back at Yuri, hand on the handle. "When you said 'bug', did you mean a virus or an actual insect?"

"Ah, well, both? They're these cute little things, kind of slippery, that, once in contact with a computer's circuit, can infect it and then spread this … disease into other machines. Even those seemingly innocent ones like a roomba, printer, anything."

"And you're gonna destroy that bug alone?"

"Well, yeah. It's not that big. You just have to put it in a jar or something."

"Wait, you're not gonna kill it?"

The Doctor looks horrified. "What?! Noooo! They're an endangered species! No, no. That would go against the Accords! No, no, no."

"Okay, fine. You'll catch it. But you'll need help, right?"

"Not necessarily. Just have to be fast enough to distract the machines and then grab it."

Yuri nods. "I'll help you."

"Hmm, it's dangerous, you know?" Instead of a frown, the man smiles. Fucking smiles. "You could die. We're talking serious business here." Yuri swallows as the Doctor holds the door open and offers his hand. "So … are you coming or not?"

 


 

Yuri's running circles around the rink as fast as his legs can carry him, the Doctor by his side. He'd love to have his sneakers on right now. "I thought you had a plan!"

"Never said that!"

He groans and throws his body against the first door he sees. The one that Georgi and Mila escaped through it seems, if the hole in the glass is anything to go by. It doesn't give way, but … "Doctor? We could climb in here, I think."

The other man rushes up to him and blinks. "This one leads outside, how is it supposed to help us?"

"How is anything supposed to help? I don't even know what we are trying to do!"

"We have to catch the bug."

"And how do we do that, you genius?"

The Doctor produces a little glass jar from his coat and tilts it left and right. "Well, I told you, we grab it and—"

"You can't grab a computer bug, though. They're inside the code?"

"Not this one."

It's not the first time they've gone over the entire spiel, but Yuri's still not sure he understands. "We're talking physical insects here?"

"Yes."

"And they reproduce inside the machines and jump between them? Like fleas?"

"Yes, but they don't have to be physically close. Networks, online networks I mean, work just as well."

"Then maybe we should check the server room?"

The doctor turns and blinks at him. "Do you think an rink has a server room?"

"There are offices here, aren't there?" Yuri climbs over one of the desks and tries to look where the cables head to, but they disappear into the floor. "Fuck."

"Language!"

"Sorry, but I'm running around with a lunatic in a leather jacket, trying to find something I don't really believe exists but, if it does, it'll fuck over my planet. Language is my smallest problem right now."

Behind him, the Doctor huffs. "Your planet tries to die every few days, this is no excuse for bad manners."

"Wait, what? My planet?"

"Well, not your planet as in leader of the intergalactic—"

"MY PLANET? What about you?"

The Doctor stops and hesitates for a second. "That's another story entirely."

Nothing about this makes sense. Yuri will probably wake in a few minutes. This time, when he inevitably arrives late to his shift at Tiger Coffee, he'll be grateful. Because it means all of this was a dream and the weird stranger was nothing but his imagination acting up. He needs to go out more if this is his subconsciousness' attempt of conjuring a companion.

But no time to dwell on the inevitable waking later. He first has to kill those … bugs. No. Not kill. The Doctor wants to catch them. Yeah. That. They make their way through the rooms around the back and eventually find a staircase leading into the belly of the rink. There might lie the answer to their problems. But there also seem to be a bunch of very hungry machines.

"Can you tell me more about those bugs we are fighting?"

"Yes, sure!" The Doctor shouldn't sound as chipper as he does. "The first person to name malfunctions in computers 'bugs' was Grace Hopper, a Harvard scientist from the US Navy. She worked on the Mark I, one of the first computers ever. Back then, programming was actually a women's job! Anyway, when a moth flew into her computer, the system fried and basically short-circuited. History doesn't know if it was Hopper herself or someone from her team, but they glued that moth into a log book. It can be viewed in the archives of the Smithsonian—"

"What the fuck are you talking about? I didn't want a history lesson, I want to learn what those little beasts can do!"

The Doctor seems quite unhappy and … is that a pout? A grown man like this shouldn't pout. But it's kind of endearing. "It's not history. It's technology …"

"For real? That's the issue?" Yuri wants to ask him what this entire teacher-mode thing is about, but just then, something large slams against the inside of the door. Without a doubt some machine that went haywire. "This is so creepy."

"Cheer up—" The Doctor reaches into his coat and takes out the screwdriving thing again, holding it in the direction of the door. "It could be Daleks."

"Da—" Yuri doesn't get to ask more, the door springs open and a floor polisher comes out, rolling in their direction with the death glare of a single, flickering diode. The Doctor doesn't even blink. He simply raises the screwdriver again and does … something with it that repels the robot enough to back off at least for some time.

"Davai! It won't be stunned forever!"

It shouldn't be stunned at all by the laws of science Yuri knows and understands, but the thing is still spinning lazily instead of trying to kill them. Which is the best case scenario, apparently. "What now?"

"We've got to find the bug. It has to chew on one of the main computers or else it wouldn't affect the entire network. As far as I can tell, it hasn't reached any larger data transfer posts yet, just the local network. But … we've got to hur—oh!" He jumps to the side as a small yet angry blow dryer rattles across the floor. "Why would those be connected to a network …"

Yuri follows the power cord and sure enough, the thing is plugged in. "Could it be in the electric connections, too?" Not all of the appliances were plugged in, but maybe it's a mixed bag of bug attacks. The Doctor frowns, then rushes back and boops Yuri's nose. What the hell?

"Brilliant! Humans are so brilliant! Simple, yet effective!" He turns and hurries away from the hallway they just entered and back to the bottom of the stairs. "Somewhere … somewhere here … A-HA!"

The Doctor pulls some sort of lever and—everything goes dark. The blow dryer rattles twice, but that's it. Everything else falls silent along with the little demonic thing. "Did you just—"

A light blinks alive at the end of the hallway and the Doctor struts closer, bathed in the green from his screwdriver. The nerd holds it like a torch. "Yes. You're so clever. All those machines are connected by electricity. Even if the bugs spread in the building … Shutting it off stopped what powered those, too. Now the bugs can bite and chew as much as they want, as long as no one pulls that lever up, we should be fine."

"Saving the world was literally just shutting off the electricity in a rink?!"

The Doctor beams at him. "Yes! I told you, your planet tries to fall into utter chaos every two days! Sometimes it's a bigger issue, yes, but other times …" He waves his screwdriver left and right, until the shine illuminates what looks like some sort of giant larva chewing on a computer cable.

"Holy fuck."

"Yuri."

"Sorry. Holy hell."

"How is that better?"

"What am I supposed to say? Have you seen this … thing?"

"There's no need to be rude to her."

"It's a 'she'?"

"How else would she spawn new bugs?" The Doctor cooes as he walks closer. "Hello, beautiful. It's nice to meet you. I don't think you'll fit into my jar. But don't worry. We can just—Yuri? Can you open the door to the left?"

Why? What for? Maybe he should stop and try to see reason. Yuri pulls the door open to what should be either an office or a bathroom, but instead, there's the blue phone box. "How the fuck—"

"Language!" Yuri shakes his head and watches with horrified fascination as the Doctor plucks the giant bug off the cables. "Here we go, pretty lady. I have a bunch of old cables for you to chew on until we can take you home. Isn't that nice? Yes, I know." He giggles, yes, giggles, as the thing winds in his arms. It rests there like the ugliest baby on Earth, cradled by the Doctor. "Thank you so much for your help, Yuri. I don't think I would have been half as fast without you."

"Yeah, uh, well, you're welcome?"

The Doctor smiles and walks up to the TARDIS. The blue thing opens its doors automatically and lets the Doctor with the not-baby-larva in. "Take care and keep your sharp mind. It'll be of great use to you one day!"

"Wait—" This sounds like good-bye, doesn't it? No! Yuri still has questions! And all the chaos, what is he supposed to do with the chaos? "Doctor! Can I come with you? Or can we at least talk?"

He receives a sad smile that doesn't reach the Doctor's eyes and a wave with one of the larva's arms. Yikes. "I'm sorry, Yuri. Not this time." He wants to protest, ask what the fuck that's supposed to mean, but the TARDIS doors close and to Yuri's absolute horror, the entire thing starts to fade, accompanied by some scary, scratching sound. Then, from one moment to the next, the Doctor's gone.

Yuri looks around and tries to take in the ruins as the lights come back on. The chewed cables, the appliances everywhere, the broken locks, and the window upstairs. How's he supposed to explain everything? How's he supposed to explain what happened to himself?

He desperately waits to finally wake up, but then … The next morning comes, and Yuri still has the bit of cable he took home as a souvenir.

 


 

"Yuri."

"Seung-gil." The man hands over a bucket with a couple of spray bottles—one with water and another with paint remover—as well as gloves, goggles, and some old rags. Yuri sighs and grabs everything. He saw the graffiti when he came in this morning but he was hoping his manager would ask someone else to do the tedious task of removing it.

Walking out front, Yuri takes his time putting on what little protection he was offered, climbs the ladder already there, and gets to work. Someone's been painting the word 'bad' in big, red, capital letters on the wall next to the shop's sign. Seung-gil and the owner of the place aren't pleased in the slightest. And, since the git doing this seems to prefer to ruin Yuri's life, they always paint the damn word on Sunday night, just so that he has something extra to do on his Monday morning shifts. How fucking thoughtful.

It's been happening so frequently, he's become somewhat of a pro-graffiti cleaner by now. Although the results … "That wall needs repainting." Yuri announces once he reenters the shop and leaves the supplies back in the cleaning closet.

Seung-gil sighs, clearly resigned. "Yeah, I'm afraid so."

"There's still no signs of whoever's doing this in the surveillance cameras?"

"Nothing. I've personally checked ours and the hardware store's footage from next door. Everything's fine until around 4:35 am on Sunday. Then, the word is plastered on the wall at 4:45, like magic."

Yuri snorts. "Weird." His manager nods, frown in place. Not an unusual sight. But Yuri still feels compelled to say something. Even if he doesn't believe it. "I'm sure whoever is guilty will be caught." The tension doesn't leave Seung-gil's shoulders but he nods again anyway.

 


 

Wednesdays suck.

Work is tedious. Always has been. Always will be. The routinary aspect of mixing drinks and brewing coffee, cleaning tables and toilets, dealing with annoying customers … Yuri knew what he was signing up for when he applied.

In general terms, though, it could even be considered pleasant. Being surrounded by the smell of fresh coffee, getting to eat whatever is about to expire for lunch, Georgi and Mila visiting every once in a while to drag him outside and actually socialize. It isn't all bad.

But that's only one of his jobs.

His second job is at a petrol station shop. No one stops by unless they need to use the restroom. And because of the stupid 'bathrooms are only for customers' policy, those who do come by are especially pissy—pun intended. If it isn't that, it's the occasional individual trying to steal when Yuri pretends he isn't looking. Sometimes he lets them get away with it, if the person seems to be in desperate need for food. But more often than not, Yuri has to do something. And maybe, just maybe, he takes some pleasure in scaring the living shit out of groups of entitled teenagers. Sue him. Wankers, the lot of them.

Thankfully, the petrol station job is only three times a week. It fits seamlessly into his coffee shop schedule, but only because Seung-gil and Emil both go out of their way to accommodate Yuri. Sometimes he ponders if it's pity. But does it really matter? Yuri can't afford to be enraged. He needs the jobs and the stability. Both his managers know to call someone else when they're in need of changing schedules because if Yuri isn't at one of his jobs, he's practicing ballet. Just like with his skating, he could be better. Far better, if he could dedicate himself fully to the art. But he can't, so he has to do his best with one leg still ready to run to his other responsibilities.

At least being alone in the shop gives him room to think. For example, about how the news never once reported on the bug incident—he found one teensy mention which then got corrected. Or about the camera footage disappearing, long before they cut the electricity. Or about the letter he found with the information that things will be handled, thank you, but it was all just a theatre production he ran into and probably confused it for real life, the other actors are terribly sorry.

Bullshit. He shakes his head and Googles the name signed at the bottom again, 'Torchwood'. But what he finds doesn't really help. It's a government organization with five locations—London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Delhi. Which makes four. But for some reason, location five isn't listed anywhere. If he wants to believe Wikipedia, it's a special forces team in connection to the UN, the British Prime Minister, and UNIT. At least the London division has an address. Torchwood Tower, located in One Canada Square, the largest of the Canary Wharf skyscrapers. But nothing about this sounds like they would contact Yuri over a theatre play gone bad.

None of it makes sense. But nothing he learned or experienced that day makes any sense. Not the Doctor, not the blue box he has, not the ridiculous screw-whatever. It's frustrating to think about and yet, Yuri can't seem to stop. The Doctor has cast some figurative magic spell over him and he can't break out of it.

It doesn't help how mundane his entire life appears to be during the next few weeks.

On Mondays, he cleans the graffiti. On Tuesdays, he calls the hospital his mother is in and talks to her, even though what she says is nothing but gibberish. Has been for years. When Yuri's grandfather died, she snapped and since then, no one's been able to help her. So he mostly raised himself and tried—tries—to be there for her. On Wednesdays, after his shift at Tiger Coffee, he's locked behind the register at the petrol station, Googling frantically about mysteries and men in blue boxes. Thursdays are practice days, the one time a week he allows himself to see a tutor for his ballet. And Fridays …

"You ready?" Mila smirks and cocks her head.

Fridays are rink days. Yuri doesn't have the money. He doesn't. Period. And still, he pays the fee week after week because he can't stay away from the only place that gave him anything remarkable in years. He'll eat dry pasta and rice seven days a week if it means seeing him again.

Hope is a dangerous, powerful force. And it drives Yuri nuts. Still he has to go, again and again, even though it's probably useless because the man's gone. He won't come back, will he? The world falls into chaos left and right every day. Why should he return to Yuri of all people? The entire universe stretches out in front of them, why go back to someone so plain and boring? An acceptable barista, a mediocre dancer, a bad skater. He's not worth it.

But he has hope.