Chapter 1: Manifesting Normal
Yuuri had been so excited to manifest. The Katsuki’s were a famous Japanese family - or famous where it counted, anyway. Sure, civilians just thought they owned the only hot springs resort in Hasetsu. If civilians thought anything about them at all. But in the superhero world? The name Katsuki could get you most favours. Not that the Katsuki’s would accept them. They were a modest family and that was partly why they were so talented. They worked hard - talent could only get you so far, after all. Yuuri had been taught that hard work got you further than talent in the end. Talent was luck, hard work was who you were. Yuuri wanted to work hard from the moment he understood the concept.
From the moment he woke up on his eight birthday, Yuuri had been so excited. Any day could be the day. Mari hadn’t manifested until she was twelve and his mother and father were both fifteen, so he didn’t expect anything too soon. That being said, he held out hope. Yuuri had been a quiet child, preferring to read on his own more often than not. His parents and sister worried slightly at his lack of friends, he had Yuuko, a girl two years older than him, who would read with him and exchange books. They’d even tried writing together, but Yuuri was too self conscious about his ideas. He didn’t really feel like he needed anyone else. Yuuko manifested when she was twelve and that’s when things started changing for Yuuri. Not in the way he expected, though.
Yuuko’s power was the ability to control H2O in any form - ice, water or steam. It was pretty cool and she’d even convinced Yuuri to try out ice skating with her creating ice from water around him. It grabbed the attention of Takeshi, a kid in Yuuko’s class. For a while, it was just the three of them, the two older children and Yuuri. Then, when Yuuri was almost thirteen more people started hanging around. He figured they found Yuuko’s power fun to play with. Yuuri found life became more exhausting then. He had never really been a fan of lots of people. His parents merely told him it would be good practice. Besides, he wasn’t rude, he just found the more people around, the more tired he was.
Yuuri went through school reasonably uneventfully, hoping every day he would manifest. He dreamed of what his power would be. No one in his family was alike. His father could make anyone feel any emotion he wanted. His mother was able to summon any object - so long as she had previously touched it. Mari was able to look at someone and then look at a calendar and find out the next date that individual would feel extreme emotion. They were all so cool and so useful. Yuuri adored hearing how his family had helped other people and was excited to do so himself. Maybe he would be a mind reader, or control an element, like Yuuko. Yuuri dreamed and dreamed of his potential power.
Even at the age of seventeen, Yuuri looked forward to finding out his power. There was no doubt he’d have one, he was a Katsuki after all. Yuuri’s hope only dwindled when he’d spent too long on his own. A rare occasion, despite him thinking he preferred to be alone. He so often had people come round and ask to spend time with him. When he sat down and thought about it, he realised he almost always had someone in the same room as him. It was tiring. Friends would stop by, classmates would ask for him to study with them. Yuuko was still his best friend, but she teased Yuuri about his following.
“They’re your friends, Yuuko.” He insisted.
“Then why do they come over to your house?” She responded.
“I don’t know. Maybe there’s more water there for you to play with and make them laugh.” Yuuri pointed out, knowing for a fact they had played with the hot springs water once. Just once. His mother had not been too happy. He hadn’t dared suggest it again.
“Yuuri, one day you’ll see you are special.”
“I’m a Katsuki. It’s impossible for me to be special, because we’re all special. I can’t be uniquely special.” He pointed out.
“You’re fond of oxymorons.” Yuuko said.
“Well, if I never manifest then-”
“Yuuri! Don’t say that.” Yuuko scolded him.
“Yuuko, we know powers aren’t automatic. No one truly understands the genetics behind powers. What if I’m special in how normal I am compared to my family?” Yuuri felt tears come to his eyes.
He had never voiced this fear before, had never admitted this outloud. He had had dreams - or nightmares - about being a normal human. He had sobbed into his pillow until he had no more tears left. He had rocked back and forth, worrying, wondering. But now he spoke the words allowed.
“Yuuri, you’ll just be a late bloomer.” Yuuko’s reassurance pulled him out of his spiral.
“I’m 18 in a month.” Yuuri pointed out.
“There are a few cases of post 18 manifestation.” She shrugged, “you’re a Katsuki, Yuuri. You’re special by default and I’ve known you your whole life. You’re not just default special. You’re uniquely special.”
Yuuri walked home with ‘uniquely special’ floating in his mind. Yuuko comforted him like she had for all his other worries since he could remember, but this worry was too huge to go away forever.
“Yuuri, come to the dining room please!” Hiroko called when she heard her son enter the family’s private quarters, separated from the rest of the resort.
“Yes, mum?” Yuuri called as he entered the room. He froze when he looked at the table. A university prospectus lay on the table. “Mum…”
“We want you to go. We’ve been talking to Minako. She’s convinced you’ll manifest even if it’s late and you have an automatic place.”
“Mum.” Yuuri repeated, cringing at her words. “It’d be a waste of tuition money.” He reasoned.
“You’ll get a scholarship.”
“I haven’t manifested. I might not manifest.”
“We will work it out.” A deeper voice, Toshiya, his father, broke in to the conversation.
“Dad, I don’t know…”
“Think about it, Yuuri.” His mother pleaded.
Yuuri picked up the prospectus for Ice Castle University , glancing at the front cover. It looked almost like a normal university prospectus with a Chinese girl, a black boy and a Pakistani girl looking almost like they would naturally be sat with the most attractive blonde haired white girl and brunette white boy. Multicultural friends sat making daisy chains on the university campus grounds. Normal. Except for the fact the black boy was levitating in the hair, the white girl had fire conjured in her hands and the Pakistani girl’s eyes were glowing gold.
At least tokenism was a thing in the superhero world too, he thought bitterly as he flopped down onto his bed.
What would he even study?
What was he good at?
Maybe he would manifest before October.
What if he didn’t?
How could his parents do this to him.
Chapter 2: A Left Sock on a Right Foot
The beginning of school goes...okay?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It was the first day of class. Superhero class. Yuuri arrived early on purpose to hide at the back of the classroom. He couldn’t believe his parents had managed this. They never asked for favours from anyone, so naturally the one time they did ask for anything, it was to humiliate him. Ice Castle wasn’t meant to admit those who hadn’t manifested. Yet here he was. A fraud. A dime-a-dozen normal, born to superhero parents. Nothing special.
Ice Castle wasn’t like other universities. It was the biggest in the world, with people often coming from every corner of the world. It was based in the Yorkshire Moors and had a glamour around to stop civilians from locating it. They had superheroes to train and as such kept a strict routine. It was like school had merely got bigger and further away from home. A 9-4 timetable except for Wednesdays wasn’t something he looked forward to after a long summer of being able to lie in. Honestly the only reason he was awake right now to be early was because he’d barely slept. His sleep had been riddled with anxiety dreams. And who could blame him? He was at a university specifically meant for people who were not him. They were better than him.
His flat was nice enough, at least. The person in the room opposite him, Phichit, was from Thailand and seemed enthusiastically nice. The boy next to him, Kenjiro, was Japanese like Yuuri and weirdly enthusiastic about going to fresher events with him. Yuuri had never felt encouraged to attend things before, in fact, he’d never felt like he had anyone other than Yuuko. Now he had two more friends. Freshers had felt draining though. There were so many people around, Yuuri often found himself in a large circle being pulled into discussions and once or twice, the middle of the circle itself. He was looking forward to socialising calming down with classes beginning.
Phichit was sat next to him in the classroom, Yuuri was grateful the boy had been put in the same introductory classes. Phichit was able to control any technology, including hacking into high profile websites. The boy only really used his power to make the Instagram algorithm work for him, for now. Yuuri was almost jealous to meet someone with such a useful power - Phichit was likely to be recruited before the end of the first term for part time work, just as soon as he understood his power enough to control it.
Yuuri was surprised to find out that Ice Castle was far more like a school than a university. The people who helped him move in explained it was far more hands on learning than most higher education facilities.
“We’re still learning broad scale things. We may get a degree classification, but it’s nothing like normie degrees. They do way different things.” The girl had explained. Yuuri sighed, when he didn’t manifest maybe he’d get a ‘normie’ degree. Not that he’d ever really loved academia, but it wasn’t like his parents knew what he could do with his life if he didn’t have powers. He wondered if he’d just spend his whole life at the onsen, maintaining their cover story while they saved the world.
The classroom slowly filled up, many people turning up far earlier than Yuuri suspected they usually would. By 8:50, the only spare seats were either side of Phichit and Yuuri. The last two still arrived before the teacher, two tall men, a blonde and a silver-haired man who were laughing as they pushed the door open. Their laughter cut off reasonably abruptly as they saw the full classroom of mostly silent apprehensive freshers. Scanning the room, the blonde pointed at Yuuri and whispered something. The two men made their way to the back.
Logically, Yuuri knew that, of course, they had been pointing at the empty seats near him. His anxiety had been slowly building over the twenty minutes he had been sat watching his classmates, all of whom deserved to be there far more than he, fill up the room. His mind had been reminding him he was sat in a seat someone else deserved. Whose place had he taken away? Someone who had manifested and wouldn’t be wasting three years at Ice Castle, that’s who.
The voice that was always at the back of his head had come to the front and crushed any other thoughts. Until he made eye contact with the silver haired man who had sat next to him by now.
His anxiety voice suddenly shut up as all Yuuri could think about were the smiling blue eyes, diving into his soul and the silver hair that somehow worked.
“Hi, I’m Viktor.” The man smiled as he opened a notebook.
“Uh, hi.” Yuuri coughed to get the frog out of his throat, “I’m Yuuri.”
“Nice to meet you. That’s Chris.” The man nodded at the blonde who was now sat by Phichit.
“I’m Phichit! From Thailand! Yuuri is Japanese. Where are you both from?” His outgoing roommate seemed more than happy to talk to these new people. Yuuri had developed a polite list of questions to ask, but they still felt so intrusive, unlike when Phichit asked.
“I’m from Switzerland and Viktor is from Russia, but we met at a summer camp two years ago. Thank god for instagram.” The blonde - Chris - smiled indulgently at the Thai man who was almost vibrating in his seat from excitement.
“Ooh what are your tags? I’ll follow you!” Phichit asked excitedly, eyes lighting up at the mention of his favourite social media app. Yuuri was in awe of his flatmate for the successful way he made friends.
They continued discussing the typical small talk questions that Yuuri had rehearsed many times over the welcome week. Yuuri discovered that Chris was able to read people’s desires and instantly worried his desire to manifest would be discovered, outing him as someone without powers in a class for people with them. Sensing both boy’s worries he reassured them quickly he tried to tune it out unless there was purpose.
“When I can’t, I just move on. Don’t worry - no judgement here if I accidentally peak.” The last part came with a confusingly sexual wink. Yuuri suspected Chris was someone he would like better at a pub after a few drinks.
Viktor’s power, however, came very close for Yuuri to feel genuine jealously for the first time in his entire wholesome life. Of course such a beautiful and,as far from the seven minutes of conversation could tell, kind man, would also have such a power. Yuuri supposed it was typical that he didn’t seem to have a weakness or even a small flaw. Viktor admitted he had already been asked to go on a few missions. It seemed Viktor manifested at nine so had had half his life to explore and find out what seemed like genuine invulnerability. Viktor hadn’t been ill for nine years. He couldn’t be hurt, he couldn’t be manipulated. Viktor’s skin was bulletproof, his mind was impenetrable.
“It’s why we’re such good friends,” Chris joked, “I can’t hear his disgusting desires, so we actually get to gossip about them.” The blonde winked.
“Chris!” His friend scolded, laughing good naturedly.
So why did Viktor look so sad when he explained his power?
Chris stayed quiet while Phichit gasped in awe. Yuuri braced himself for the conversation to turn to his power. He had managed to avoid saying anything to anyone who wasn’t Phichit so far, able to get out of the conversation just in time at parties and in the pub. He wasn’t sure what he could do in a seated classroom, when the door opened and their teacher walked in followed by half the department. Silence fell immediately and Yuuri had never been so grateful for a thirty minute introduction talk before.
There was very little covered he didn’t know, so despite being glad for the interruption, his brain wandered throughout the talk and introductions from the faculty. His mind became increasingly curious about the man sat next to him who had taken to drawing doodles on his freshly bought notebook. Yuuri’s musings were abruptly put to a halt with the changing of slides and a wave of groans throughout the room. The words Group Project was glaring down at the students.
“Most universities will have group projects. They’ll explain the importance of them and it may even be true. Here, we know group working is vital. Your career potential means you might very well rely on others to save your life. Group work is far more valuable here than people who will be in a 9-5 office job.” The harsh words were matched with a twinkle in the teacher’s eyes. Yuuri would have appreciated the reassurance that group work really did have value, if he wasn’t now miserably imagining the 9-5 office so many of those sat in this very room mocked often.
“You will all be working with the closest person to you that you did not know before this morning. Now pay attention to the task.” The slide changed and Yuuri looked apprehensive at Phichit before turning to Viktor, who was grinning at him. He supposed it could be worse, the man seemed nice enough.
“This will be a term long project, due to give you a good understanding of our world. Some of you will have grown up with it, some of you are new. I do not expect any superiority - you have all been given a place in this class from your own talents, whatever your family.” Yuuri felt himself sink into his seat ever so slightly, the opposite was true for him.
The first week's task was to find case studies of superheroes to work on. They were to research the various uses of their powers and also explore the potential problems and the way the superheroes worked to reduce them. Yuuri’s breath caught in his throat when the teacher went on to explain the week after, they’d do the same for their own powers. He supposed Viktor wouldn’t be smiling at him for long. His mind began to wonder how he would respond - would he demand another partner? Would he tell everyone who would listen? Would he mock and belittle Yuuri?
Shaking his head slowly, he tried to push his anxiety back down and focus on the project. It would be on the VLE anyway, he supposed.
Finally, after a long winded explanation of many weeks ahead, the hours class came to an end. During the five minute change over period, Viktor gave him his contact details.
“Meet me tomorrow at 5pm?” Viktor suggested, keen to do well at his first project. Yuuri nodded as he was pulled away by Phichit towards their next class, turning back to see the silver haired man smiling in his direction while the blonde tried to grab his attention.
I'm trying to world build for the first time (I'm really not a good fiction writer - yet!) and based it off Harry Potter by Darren Criss but in an area of the world I know a bit, mixed with what I understand to be a more American style uni, as I figured superhero school while post 18 would be more structured? It makes sense in my head, but the biggest issue with my PhD is I will skip a paragraph of explanation out because I forget not everyone thinks like me or can see inside my head, so... if it doesn't make sense, please let me know nicely <3 (My heart can't take non-constructive criticism rip)
Chapter 3: Two morons and an oxymoron
Yuuri waited tentatively, wondering in the back of his mind how he could manage to get through this project as Viktor’s partner. He was surprised to see the silver haired man running down the stairs two at a time through the glass doors, smiling at him when they made eye contact.
“Hi Yuuri!” Viktor grinned as he opened the door to the flat. “I’m on the 2nd floor, come up.”
He followed the taller man who thankfully was walking up the stairs normally.
Viktor’s room was neat with minimal decoration, most of the flourishes clearly having been obtained since moving in. There were photos of Chris and Viktor smiling and a few tickets from freshers adorning the walls. The desk was neat, Viktor’s notes were in a small spiky handwriting that was both beautiful and lively. Yuuri cursed in his head, even his handwriting was perfect.
They worked solidly for two hours, working well together and their ideas coming together well. Yuuri’s stomach began to rumble and he tried to cough to cover it up as it got louder and louder.
“I can make us dinner and we could watch something to relax? We’ll be spending plenty of time together - maybe we could watch something together as a way to hang out outside of work. I’d like to get to know you.” Yuuri stared at the attractive man and knew his heart couldn’t take it. It couldn’t fake it, even for a week. He’d get it out in the open right now.
“That sounds great.” Yuuri found his mouth responding before he could stop himself.
“How does stir fry sound?” Viktor asked, walking towards the kitchen.
“Yum.” Yuuri followed Viktor, clutching his water bottle to refill it. He always drank when nervous and wanted to save time when thinking of something to say. Viktor hadn’t pointed out his constant breaks and water drinking.
“So, any ideas of what to watch?” Viktor asked as he chopped up vegetables. Yuuri was sat on the kitchen table, legs swinging having had his offer to help declined.
“Umm, anything new on Netflix? I don’t have the most sophisticated tastes, I usually watch stuff to relax so...” He asked, looking at Viktor’s fridge shelf. Did the man manage to shop regularly and use most of what he bought? Even the fruit and veg? What couldn’t this man do?
“Have you seen Avatar the Last Airbender?” Viktor enquired.
“Of course, what do you take me for?!” Yuri was almost offended.
“Okay, okay, just checking! I don’t think we want anything too deep anyway, it’ll just be for a break and if it’s too good we’ll never finish on time!”
“That’s a fair point. Maybe you could introduce me to something then?” The shorter man swung his legs ever so slightly as he looked shyly towards his study partner.
“Hmm,” Viktor turned slightly, placing a knife on the chopping board to tap his lips with a long finger, “Julie and the Phantoms?” In response, a giggling Yuuri unlocked his phone to show his Spotify paused on ‘Unsaid Emily’. “Okay fine,” the Russian rolled his eyes in fake frustration, before going back to chopping “The Dragon Prince?”
“What’s that about?” Yuuri asked and he could see from the side as Viktor’s eyes lit up.
“YUURI! If you love Avatar, you’ll love this. One of the main characters is Sokka’s voice actor and there’s a reference to it and all. It’s so wholesome and even has queer representation.” Viktor was clearly passionate about his cartoons, a fact Yuuri appreciated. He also supposed the rainbows in Viktor’s room, mixed with mentioning queer representation, meant he couldn’t even tell himself the gorgeous man was straight to get over his crush.
“The only thing Scooby Doo is missing: queer representation.” He joked.
“Pfft, Velma. ‘Nuff said it’s one of the best shows.” Viktor shot back, turning his head round to poke his tongue out.
The stir fry was delicious. The show was adorable. They watched the first two episodes, Viktor justifying it with the fact they had to get into it, “besides, it’s week 1,” he pointed out, almost reasonably. After their break, they got back to work and Yuuri could tell this week was going to be amazing. The small voice in his head reminded him of next week, but for once he was able to shut it down and focus on enjoying himself. Well, next week was next week, wasn’t it?
Every evening, this routine continued. It turned out Viktor was a fantastic cook and Yuuri wasn’t even allowed to contribute financially unless there were one or two ingredients missing when he texted to let the other man know he was on his way. Yuuri appreciated this on both fronts. Being a mediocre cook and a poor student wasn’t the best combination and he mourned the likelihood of going back to cheaper, quicker and more cupboard based dishes once Viktor found out.
Although… Viktor hadn’t pushed on what Yuuri’s superpowers were once. He has brought it up just the one time. Reasonably, Yuuri reasoned, because they were interrupted last time. The youngest of the famed Katsuki family froze, panicked, and asked if Viktor had any bananas. It seemed that Viktor took the hint. Yuuri was a coward. But either way, the Russian had not pushed and prodded. He’d asked twice, been deliberately rebutted once, and left it alone. Very few would have done this. Very few did this, Yuuri noted bitterly, remembering the amount of small talk he’d endured the last week and a half.
But it persisted that Viktor was not like anyone else Yuuri had ever met. He was surprising in a predictable way. The man was extra, but liked the smaller things. He was a romantic who scoffed at the idea of love. He was the oxymoron Yuuko told him he loved. Viktor was accepting and funny and Yuuri found himself thinking of the man throughout the day, thinking about him on his walks home and once or twice, wondering what it would be like to be hugging Viktor, not his pillow, at night.
The night before their work was due, they were going over their work. They’d finished it after two days but Viktor suggested they work together for the rest of the week side by side on their other work.
“I work better with you here, otherwise I’d totally be using netflix as background noise and just start watching it… “
So they had worked together, eaten together and watched The Dragon Prince together.
“There’s only one more episode in season 1.” Yuuri pointed out, biting his lip.
“Let’s watch it after another half an hour of work?” Viktor suggested. Yuuri liked the compromise and nodded. The half an hour went quickly, with Yuuri thinking of tomorrow’s task and not focusing on his work at all. He was on top of it all anyway, it was only week 1 after all and all his evenings had been spent working with Viktor. He was surprised the man hadn’t wanted a break at all, surely he was popular and wanted to go to parties. He knew Phichit was annoyed at Yuuri for coming home too late to drag him out socialising.
After the season finale, Yuuri was tempted to suggest they keep watching. Instead, he found his bravery.
“Viktor?” Yuuri’s voice wavered. It was time.
“Yes, Yuuri?” Viktor smiled down at the smaller man.
“I… have a confession.” When Viktor merely kept smiling at him, he continued, “I haven’t manifested.” His words tumbled over each other.
“Pardon?” The blinding smile barely faltered.
“I haven’t manifested yet.” Yuuri repeated at a normal speed.
“Could you explain, please?” Viktor waited patiently, his enthusiastic smile wasn’t as bright, but his expression wasn’t angry.
“I’ve not developed any powers. I’m a Katsuki, my family has been powerful for generations. My sister is. I’m not. I haven’t manifested and every day it comes more and more unlikely. I’m here as a favour, I don’t belong. I’m not special or important and I can’t help anyone.” It was like a broken dam, everything Yuuri had wanted to say, his voice pushing through his hands that covered his face.
“Yuuri, you’re very special.” Viktor responded after a few seconds of silence, when it was clear Yuuri had finished speaking. The shorter man peaked out from the fingers he spread in surprise. “I’m not good at friends,” the Russian admitted, “I even worried Chris wouldn’t want to be my friend when we went from pen pals to living together. But you’ve taught me so much in the short week I’ve known you. I was told you learn a lot at uni, that I’d find people like me and people different. No one told me I’d meet someone like you. I refuse to believe you aren’t important.” Viktor’s intense eye contact suddenly broke as he stood up.
“Besides, even if you don’t have any powers - plenty of so called ‘normies’ are special.” Viktor used his fingers to highlight his dislike of the slur.
Yuuri was just beginning to wrap his head around Viktor’s quick acceptance of Yuuri when he was suddenly engulfed in warmth. He took a sharp breath and found himself inhaling the deep scent of Viktor. He was.. Being hugged. He hadn’t been hugged since he left Japan. He wasn’t just being hugged though, he was being hugged by Viktor.
“T-thank you.” Yuuri stammered. “Thank you.” Upon the repetition, Yuuri began to cry. He sobbed into the larger man’s shoulder and brought his arms up to return the hug, pulling the man towards him tightly.
The next three weeks were amazing. Yuuri spent almost every night with Viktor. Some studying, others being social. Viktor was incredibly popular, which made sense, but Yuuri much preferred it when they studied or even had a movie night together. There were always so many people that came up to them when they went to a pub, even when Yuuri had suggested one off the beaten university track.
One Friday, they were having a movie night to avoid the crowded weekend bars and watching the How To Train Your Dragon series.
“There’s a really cute Netflix series we can watch next - we’re almost done with The Dragon Prince.” Viktor told him.
“That sounds nice.” Yuuri was so aware of how close they were sitting, they weren’t quite touching but if Viktor moved away, he knew he’d miss the heat radiating off the man.
Yuuri was suddenly aware of beautiful music floating into his mind and a warm feeling around his shoulders. He lifted his head to stare blearily at the man smiling down at him.
“Good nap?” The man asked.
“Huh?” Came the intelligent response. A laugh vibrated through his body, but it wasn’t his.
“You’re cute when you sleep.” A Russian accent.
Yuuri scrambled up, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise how tired I was and I just..”
“Say, Yuuri?” Viktor interrupted.
“Mmm?” Yuuri was focused on the formatting of their report, lying on his front on Viktor’s bed while the room’s owner sat at his desk, checking their bibliography.
“Can I take you to dinner?” Viktor asked, out of the blue. The pen in Yuuri’s mouth dropped and his head twisted round at such a fast speed he almost felt dizzy.
“Like… dinner dinner or…?” Yuuri had no idea what dinner dinner meant. Luckily, Viktor did.
“Like, a dinner date. Where I pick you up, compliment you, pay for you, and maybe get to kiss you good night.” The Russian was so straight forward and blunt. Yuuri’s anxiety appreciated it, his cultural upbringing was shocked by it.
“I… would like that.” The Japanese man admitted.
“Amazing.” Viktor clapped his hands with delight before twirling back round on his officer chair and opening up a second window with at least ten tabs. “Now, do you have any allergies and what are you favourite foods?”
Chapter 4: Food and Mystery
Sorry, my laptop broke and while I'm privileged enough to have a desktop (and access to the uni library) my brain keeps going "we don't do PhD work on a desktop" "we only write on our laptop" etc. So I'm productively gaming and...not much else outside of zoom meetings where I do admin when old white men talk.
& I'm trying to be two chapters ahead so. But it's been a while so please enjoy <3
Viktor was standing waiting for him outside the Italian restaurant, wearing a crisp blue shirt and black trousers. He was dressed nicely, but casually. Yuuri didn’t own much beyond casual wear, so had black jeans and a white shirt on, but he had tried to do… something, with his hair. Phichit took pity on him and the end result was he looked passable. Almost attractive, he felt. Not that standing next to Viktor would help with that. Although, Viktor’s beauty wasn’t the type that drowned others out. The Russian man didn’t have a shadow that hid his companion’s, he had a sunbeam that amplified those around him.
Yuuri felt the sunbeam hit him as Viktor turned round to grin at him.
“Yuuri!” He called, bringing his arm up to wave. Yuuri hurried to where Viktor was standing and was quickly engulfed in a hug. The Russian smelt delicious and Yuuri had to stop himself inhaling deeply, or, obviously at any rate. “Ready to go inside?” The taller man smiled down, getting a nod in return.
They were seated at a table for two in the corner of the restaurant, a small candle sitting between them. The menu all looked delicious, but Yuuri quickly settled on his go to Italian meal of carbonara, using the rest of the perusing time to sneak glances at the man sat in front of him. The conversation felt light, but with a promise. They discussed their classes and Yuuri spoke about his anxiety with presentations while Viktor confessed a hatred for essay writing.
By the time their drinks arrived, Viktor was telling him about growing up in St Petersburg. Yuuri hung on his every word, he was a good storyteller and Yuuri felt able to picture the streets and shops Viktor described. When their main meal was served, Yuuri was describing his family and Japan.
“Maybe I could meet them. Meeting the famous Katsuki’s who helped bring up such an adorable man. Plus the onsen sounds amazing for a cover story! Oh and you could come and visit St Petersburg. I have a flat there, if you come in summer it’s not cold at all and the heat isn’t unbearable like in other countries.”
“Viktor?” Yuuri’s question couldn’t be held in any longer.
“Well, I- why me?” Yuuri admitted.
“What?” Viktor looked genuinely shocked.
“Why would you be interested in me?”
“Why would I- Yuuri? Are you serious?”
“Yes? I just don’t understand why someone like you-”
“Someone like me? Yuuri? Do you not own a mirror?” Yuuri’s mouth just dropped open in response. Viktor took it as a sign to keep talking. “ Yuuri . You are handsome, so many people check you out as we walk around, I get jealous and have to remind myself you aren’t even mine.” He paused, then cocked his head to the side, “Yet.”
“Viktor!” Yuuri spluttered.
“Besides, even if you weren’t as cute and adorable as you are -” An indignant noise came from Yuuri that Viktor decided to ignore, “You’re kind, clever. I’ve loved spending every second I have with you and always miss you as soon as the door closes when you leave. You’re like a breath of fresh air. I... I feel normal with you, Yuuri."
“Normal?” Yuuri felt himself get indignant for an entirely different purpose now, “is this all a cruel joke?”
“What, no? Yuuri! I just, I don’t know how to explain it. Look, I know I’m attractive, I’ve had unwanted attention since I was a teenager from all sorts of people. I know my powers are pretty impressive and I just… always feel on display. I always feel like I need to be special and perform. But the second you looked at me when I sat down next to you, I felt at ease.” Viktor explained. “I knew I wanted to get to know you better, and when I did… you were everything. You make me like who I am, you show me how special I am by how special you are. You’re smart and funny and I know you’re going to be impressive with whatever you choose to do. You’re humble and way too hard on yourself, but most of all? You’re so full of love and life and don’t even realise it.” Viktor looked down with a smile on his face.
“How could I not start falling in love with you?” He raised his head slowly, looking deep into Yuuri’s brown eyes. The shorter man just stared back, frozen.
“How was everything, can I get you anything else? The dessert menu?” A waiter interrupted the silence with a joyful voice. Yuuri went to shake his head but Viktor nodded first.
“Maybe we could share something?” Viktor was giving him a way out. He was grateful.
“I’d like that. Something chocolatey?” He asked hopefully.
Yuuri’s thoughts were, for the first time in five years, no longer focused on when he would manifest. That still crossed his mind, and it would, forever, he suspected. But now, his brain allowed him to think of other things. Of Viktor, specifically. Viktor had snuck up on him and wormed his way into his life so completely and thoroughly, Yuuri couldn’t imagine life without him.
So obviously, that was when things began to change.
His class was just ending as he was caught by the teacher.
“Yuuri Katsuki, correct?”
“One of those Katsuki’s?” He raised his eyebrow.
“Yes…” Yuuri repeated, nervously.
“May I ask what your power is?”
“Uhhhh… I haven’t, I mean, I don’t.. I don’t know.” Yuuri admitted, hanging his head in shame.
“Ahh, that explains this order. You’re to report to lab 5 tomorrow morning.” The teacher doesn’t seem to be phased by Yuuri’s admittance.
“I don’t know any more than those instructions. But Yuuri? You’re a hard worker. I’ve noticed your brilliant work, with Viktor too. You make good partners. Although I’ve also noticed the hand holding.” Yuuri blushed at that. “Be careful. Attachments are all well and good, they make us more powerful, but they also present weakness.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you.”
“I don’t expect work quality to decrease if you have missions.”
Yuuri had no clue why he needed reminding of that expectation. Wasn’t he about to be expelled for the fake he was? Even if he was allowed to stay, the unmanifested never went on missions. Only powerful students went on missions.
He knew he was too normal to even be asked to even run something from HQ after graduation.
At least he could keep running the onsen for Viktor for visit and relax, if he got the time.
If he even wanted to be around someone so normal once he was the famous hero Yuuri knew he’d become.
Chapter 5: Perfectly Normal
The next morning, Yuuri was surprised to find Minako, an old family friend, tapping her foot impatiently at 8:57am outside of lab 5.
“Minako? What are you doing in England?”
“Yuuri! Finally - honestly, you almost weren’t on time.” His old mentor grabbed his hand and pushed the door open. “We need you, kid.”
“What?” Yuuri felt himself tugged in the way only she could pull.
Inside the lab, a man was waiting, looking over some files.
“This is Hisashi Morooka.” Minako introduces. Yuuri bowed respectfully and Morooka bowed back. “His superpower is understanding others’ powers. Pretty helpful.” His teacher explains.
“What?” Yuuri asked, shocked.
“Yuuri.” Morooka says enthusiastically. “It’s an honour to meet someone so powerful.”
“What?” Yuuri repeats, “I’m not powerful. I don’t even have a power.” He explains mournfully.
“Yuuri,” Minako speaks softly, “that’s what we’re telling you.”
“You make people human, Yuuri. What you see as being normal? That’s you helping to ground those around you. It’s probably why your peers have all those crushes Minako told me about.”
“What crushes?!” Yuuri exclaims.
Minako rolls her eyes. “Always putting yourself down. Don’t you see, Yuuri? You’re not normal at all. You’re special. You’re so special because you help others remember who they are. You can calm people down and help to ground them.”
“Yuuri, we need your help.” Morooka says. Not one to beat around the bush, clearly, Yuuri thought dryly to himself.
“With?” Yuuri wanted to make the question sound suspicious, but his mind was reeling. “Even if that is my power, how is it helpful?”
“Yuuri,” Minako whined.
“Yuuri,” Morooka copied without the tone, “you have the ability to calm people down and help them focus on themselves. You take the feelings power, or lack thereof, provides away. You level the playing field. You bring those with anxiety up and take those with obnoxiousness down. Everyone feels comfortable around you.”
Instead of the joy he had expected, Yuuri felt a rush of cold, and a sick feeling in his stomach.
“So…. people liking me, is my power?” Yuuri spoke slowly, fearfully - a terror that went unnoticed by the two older people.
“Essentially.” Morooka agreed and was stopped dead as he saw the heartbreak in the young man’s eyes.
“So, anyone who likes me? Doesn’t…even…actually, like me?” It explained everything. Why else would Viktor give him the time of day?
“What? No, no that isn’t how it works.” Minako rushed in, recognising the look on her young friend’s face.
“How can’t it be? Does this mean he’s falling in love with my power, not me?” Tears had begun to streak down his face.
He? Minako thought, but filed that away to interrogate a happier Yuuri at a later date. She knew how fragile the youngest son of her oldest friend was. She opened her mouth to say some comforting muddle that came to her, but Morooka got there first.
“Yuuri, your power is the rarest we know about - only two other people have ever had it, we think, and one was a thousand years ago and is only a hypothesis by historians. But the other one was your mother’s grandfather. So I guess it makes sense, genetically. Well, I say that as if anyone can comprehend the genetics related to power beyond potential indicators, but-” Minako coughed. “Sorry, I digress. But, from the records and testing, it shows your presence will calm people, make them feel human and feel calm and able to find the best things about themselves without being dangerously proud. With me so far?”
Yuuri nodded, it made sense but he hadn’t been convinced Viktor wouldn’t love him without his power. After all, Viktor was untouchable, he must love feeling human when for half his life he had been invulnerable and put on a pedestal by so many, before even beginning training.
“But, Yuuri, your grandfather still found love and people who loved him for him. The powers may make people want to be around you, but it doesn’t make people want you. It made your onsen popular, for example, but not necessarily your grandfather. He was apparently quite a difficult man to talk to.”
“Unlike you, Yuuri. You’re lovely and I’m pretty sure your power draws people to you and then you keep them. Nothing wrong with that and everything is genuine. Best of both worlds, right? You always were so shy. I remember your mother telling me how suddenly everyone wanted to hang around you when you turned 13. We think this is when you manifested.” Minako explained.
The small part of Yuuri’s brain that never believed he could be anything special had been overpowered, for once, by his pure joy at finally, finally, having his power. Or knowing his power, he supposed.
“I…” He looked up at his mentor, “I think that makes sense. I remember thinking everyone found Yuuko fun and special, but…” He thought of all the times they hadn’t played with her powers, all the times she was called away and people stayed. Because they hadn’t been there for her, they were there, “for me.” Yuuri vocalised. “They came for me.”
“It’s a good thing we told you. Someone with unknown powers like this can be dangerous.” Morooka half-joked.
“Well, you’ll need to work on controlling it now. There’s always a baseline, you don’t switch off like most powers do - that’s probably why Minako said you often need more sleep.”
“He’s awful in the mornings!” His old mentor grinned.
“Yes, quite, but often when you’re emotional, uncontrolled powers increase or go off. In your case, you could reduce people to a state of average or potentially depending on how strong you went, take away their sense of self. All without knowing it. If you did it unknowingly, it may be irreversible.”
“What?” Gasped Yuuri, “if no one since my grandfather has had this, how do you know?”
“Oh, we don’t.” Minako said, almost joyfully, “it’s all hypothesis and speculation - but being normal is a very powerful thing, don’t you know.”
“It… it is?” Yuuri was sceptical.
“Yes, Yuuri. There’s power in silence, it means everyone listens when you speak. If you’re special, perfect and powerful all the time - that becomes your normal. You can’t surprise people. But when you’re normal - you shock people when you do something special.”
“My head hurts.” Yuuri complained. He knew he was going to have to think long and hard about what she was saying, but he couldn’t help his mind slip to the man he was falling in love with. He thought of having a power that couldn’t be switched off, like invulnerability. He thought of a lonely man, who hid behind a brilliantly blinding smile that screamed of loneliness. He thought of Viktor, and how unlikely it was for Viktor to be anything but perfect in so many eyes. The worry of Viktor’s love only being for his powers had evaporated. He knew he gave Viktor the one thing he craved: belonging. He allowed him to feel normal enough to belong, but the fact he belonged to Yuuri was another matter entirely. They belonged to each other.