A Little Like Whiplash
Jonathan isn’t generally a judgemental person. He likes to think that he sees the best in most people, even if they don’t deserve it.
For some reason, he’s never been able to do that with Yuri Plisetsky, the Russian bombshell that nobody knows or cares to know because he’s terrifying and has a tendency to be an asshole.
He has the distinct impression that Yuri, despite clearly not being a scholarship kid (he’s wearing designer everything, and he drives a Maserati; there’s no way that he came to Portland State for any reason other than that he wanted to), would rather be anywhere but here. He sleeps through the two classes that he shares with Jonathan, and for some reason, the professors allow it. If he was a bit less of an antisocial shit, though, Jonathan would probably have a crush; for all his faults, Yuri is one the most attractive person that he’s ever seen outside of magazines with his immaculately braided, waist-length hair and pouty lips and perfect eyeliner (Jonathan is sure he’s the only one that’s noticed that last bit; the subtlety of it is the reason it’s so damn perfect).
The first time he ever actually says anything, it’s one of those days that the professor decides, for whatever reason, not to show up for class. Until the fifteen minute limit passes, the class hums with a low buzz of noise. Yuri, predictably, is asleep.
Jonathan has a few friends in this class, Anthony and Thomas, and they’re chatting quietly about the baseball game on Saturday. Somehow, the topic shifts to that one asshole that’s always sleeping through class.
“Fifteen minutes!” The girl by the door calls out, and the class gets up.
“I’m just saying, why pay for the classes if you’re just gonna sleep through them?” Anthony says, shouldering his bag and heading for the door.
There’s a snort from behind them. Veronica. Jonathan really doesn’t want to deal with her right now; she’s even worse than Yuri, if only because she isn’t quiet about her disdain for the rest of them. “You know they only accept applications from people like him because he’s part of a minority, right?”
When she sees Jonathan’s raised eyebrows, she mistakes his irritation for curiosity. “Come on, don’t tell me you can’t tell. He’s a goddamn fairy.”
He’s wondering if outing himself here and now would make the situation better or worse when there’s an angry “Huh?” from behind them. The loud bang that follows terrifies all of them, but particularly Jonathan, Veronica, and the other two. Jonathan hadn’t even noticed that Yuri was awake, much less that he was nearby. Now his foot is against the wall, not even an inch from Veronica’s head (flexible, Jonathan can’t help but think). The look on his face pumps shards of ice through Jonathan’s veins.
“There is nothing wrong with being gay,” he growls.
His voice is different than Jonathan would have expected; maybe it’s a bit stereotypical, but he’d expected a low tenor, rather than a mezzo baritone, and his accent is there, but not nearly as thick as Jonathan expected. He stalks out of the room dangerously, and the entire class just stands there in shock for a moment.
Next week, when Veronica stops coming to class and he hears that she’s been expelled, Jonathan is sure that it has everything to do with the rich guy sleeping two seats behind him.
“Jonathan, there are only three people in your group for the upcoming term paper,” the professor says, jolting Jonathan out of his thoughts. It’s true; he, Anthony, and Thomas are planning on working together, since there were an odd number of people in the class. Now that Veronica is gone, that’s not true anymore. “I’m assigning Yuri to your group.”
Fantastic, Jonathan thinks, glancing at Yuri.
He looks up blearily and mutters something in the most snide, sarcastic voice Jonathan has ever heard– yoroshiku onegaishimasu –before dropping his head back on his arms. That didn’t sound like Russian, Jonathan thinks, packing up to leave.
Thomas nudges him. “Dude!” he whispers. “He speaks Japanese? What the hell? And I think that was supposed to be polite, but it sounded like an insult.”
“He can also hear you,” comes from behind them. Yuri has apparently given up on sleep since class is over, and has his phone in his hand. The one that isn’t texting reaches behind him and tugs on something that releases the bun he’s sporting today, letting the waist-length braid fall down his back. He leans his face in one hand and stares at his phone boredly. “You three aren’t the most oblivious people I know, but you’re definitely in the top twenty.”
Jonathan doesn’t know what to say, really. The hottest, laziest guy in class is in a group with him for a paper that’s worth twenty percent of their grade, and their first conversation has gotten off to the worst start possible.
“So,” Anthony says awkwardly. “When do you guys want to meet up?”
“I’m only free on Tuesdays. Yuri, I’m pretty sure you only have class twice a week? Maybe we can meet up for lunch,” Thomas says, trying a friendly approach.
“I can’t meet up on my days off. I have training. It’s a paper on the Japan’s involvement in World War II and how it affects today, right?” Yuri asks, still looking bored.
“Yeah. What do you mean? Do you practice all day on every one of your days off or something?” Anthony sounds mildly teasing, but there’s an undertone of disbelief there.
Yuri looks at Anthony, as if he can’t believe he would ask such a stupid question. “Um, yes? What else would I be doing?”
None of them really has a response for that. Yuri doesn’t look like the athletic type, really. He’s lean, almost willowy; not skinny by any means, since there’s definitely muscle there, but it’s not the build Jonathan would expect from an athlete who practices as much as Yuri claims to.
“Anyway, I’ll deal with the history part,” Yuri says, standing up and stretching. Jonathan tries not to stare at the thin strip of skin that appears when he does. What? He may be an asshole, but Yuri is gorgeous. He’d have to be dead not to notice. “I’ll have it to you by… Tuesday, right?”
“I can do Tuesday,” Jonathan says, not really sure what’s happening anymore.
“So can I.”
Yuri blinks and glances at the table searchingly. “Right,” he says, picking up a sticky note he’d left there and scribbling something down. “Here’s my number. Text me your emails and I’ll send you my part of the project. Bye.”
He walks out of the room, phone already at his ear. “Beka! Vy prikhodite na obed segodnya?”
Jonathan looks at Anthony and Thomas, not totally sure what just happened. “So who’s going to pick up the slack on his part?”
That’s not actually necessary, it turns out. Jonathan sent Yuri his email out of courtesy, but when he rolls out of bed on Saturday morning, he finds four pages of 12 point Times New Roman font on Japan’s involvement in World War II, complete with instructions to let Yuri know if there’s anything else that they want him to do (but he won’t be doing the whole damn thing, he doesn’t have time for that).
Except for a few grammatical errors, there’s almost nothing wrong with the work. Jonathan is floored. Maybe this is why the professors let Yuri sleep through class. It’s disrespectful as all hell, but from the way he writes, it’s almost like he doesn’t need to be there at all.
When he’s awake and recovered enough to send a reply, he does. He lets Yuri that there’s nothing wrong with the work, and that he’s looking forward to class on Wednesday. He’s not, but it’s the polite thing to do.
Apparently, Yuri doesn’t planning on extending the same courtesy. “Can’t make it,” he says again, looking bored as he taps away on his phone.
This time, Jonathan actually speaks up. “We could meet up after you’re done with practice or something. It actually works out better for me and Anthony, since we have class on Tuesday.”
“That would work, I guess, but I’m going to be in Japan on Tuesday.” The tone of Yuri’s voice doesn’t change, despite the bomb he’s just dropped.
Why the hell would anyone just up and leave for Japan in the middle of the semester? No matter how rich Yuri is (and he’s definitely rich; they may not know anything about him, but he’s definitely a rich Russian of some sort) it makes no sense. He’s going to miss at least three days of class even if he’s only going to be in Japan for one day, which Jonathan highly doubts. He doesn’t care how pretty or smart this kid thinks he is, there’s no way for him to pass his classes with the way he acts.
“Then cancel it.” He doesn’t even realize that he’s saying the words until they’re out of his mouth, and by then it’s too late.
The look that Yuri fixes on him is as dangerous as it was that day with Veronica. “Fuck you.”
Jonathan backpedals. “I didn’t mean–”
Yuri’s phone rings, cutting him off. The ringtone in itself is enough to cause all three jaws to drop; it’s some classical thing with a boys’ choir singing in what sounds like Latin. Yuri sneers at them, and Jonathan can’t help but think he may have fucked up pretty bad. “Just send me whatever part you want me to handle for the presentation and I’ll do it. Tell me to cancel my trip again, and I won’t do my bit. I’ll still pass without this stupid project.”
He gets up and stalks toward the door, picking up the phone. “Yeah, yeah. I’m on my way to the parking lot now. Shit! Would it kill you to wait a minute and a half, Dad? I said I’ll be there in a minute! Katsudon, get your husband off the goddamn phone when he’s driving. Do you want to die?”
Yet again, there’s this feeling of not really knowing what’s happening by the time Yuri is out of sight. I’ll still pass without this stupid project, he said. That’s almost impossible, unless he has an A in the class. Which he shouldn’t, because he sleeps through it. His participation grade alone should have dropped him to a B unless he’s gotten A’s on every single assignment. There’s no way.
“I need a drink,” Jonathan mutters, and there are murmured agreements from Anthony and Thomas both. “You guys want to go to Shizuku?”
“I’m down.” Anthony says. “Hell, I’ll pay. My treat, after all of that bullshit.”
It’s not even ten minutes to their favorite restaurant by car, but they figure it’ll be easier to walk. There’s no point in driving three cars to get to one place, and none of them are keen on getting their cars out of the student lot right now, since it’s nearly rush hour.
It takes them about thirty minutes to get there, and it’s blessedly empty when they do. There are only a few occupied tables. Still, it seems louder than it usually does, Jonathan notices as they’re waiting to be seated. There’s one table in particular that seems to be making more noise than the rest of the restaurant combined. That makes sense, he thinks, eyeing the back of a silver-haired man’s head. There are a lot of them. At least six, it looks like.
“Posmotrite na kotenke, Beka! Eto tak milo! Posmotrite na svoikh malen'kikh lapakh i khvoste.” That voice… it sounds way too happy to be him, but given how the day has gone, Jonathan wouldn’t be surprised.
The silver haired guy moves slightly. It looks like he leaned his face on his hand. “Yurio, don’t be rude. You and your friend aren’t the only people at this table, you know. Richard and Estephania are here too, and they don’t speak Russian.”
“It’s fine,” the person on silver haired’s left says. She has long, dark hair that swishes when she shakes her head. “It’s funny to see Yuri so excited about something for once.”
Jonathan gets a partial view of someone with dark hair and a very serious face. It’s almost scary how quickly he realises that he’s being looked at, and he looks Jonathan dead in the eye. The man nods once, then looks away without acknowledging him further.
“Beka? What are you looking at?” A head of blond hair comes into view, and Jonathan finds himself looking directly into the eyes of Yuri Plisetsky.
I fucked up, Jonathan thinks immediately, watching the mirth drain out of Yuri’s eyes almost instantly, replaced with irritation.
“Johnny? What is it– Oh, shit.” Anthony hides behind a menu.
“If you’re stalking me, I swear to god I will shove my silverware up your respective asses,” Yuri says, looking dead serious. “I have more than enough stalkers.”
That’s cause enough for Jonathan to pause and wonder what he means, but then the strangest thing happens. Instead of looking even remotely alarmed, the way any normal person would, the three people with their backs facing toward Jonathan, Anthony, and Thomas all turn at a totally normal, unhurried pace. Two of them, the silver haired man and the Asian looking man next to him, are even smiling.
“Hello!” the silver haired man says, waving. “Are you Yurio’s friends? Here, come sit with us! We’ve never met any of his friends from school before.”
Who the hell says something like that after hearing him call us stalkers? Jonathan thinks, feeling out of his element and way too overwhelmed. There’s really nothing to do but accept, so the three of them walk to the table as a group.
“Ya dumal, chto u vas ne bylo druzey v Amerike,” the serious man says to Yuri quietly, probably trying not to be heard.
Yuri looks murderous. “Ya ne.”
There’s a split second war between Thomas, Jonathan, and Anthony as to who is going to sit next to the scary serious guy. Jonathan loses. It’s fine. He’ll take scary serious guy over angry Yuri Plisetsky any day.
“My name is Otabek. Yuri is my best friend,” scary serious guy says, holding out a hand.
Jonathan takes it hesitantly, but Otabek’s grip isn’t anything but polite. “Jonathan. That’s Thomas, and that’s Anthony. We take American History with Yuri.”
“My name is Victor, and this is my husband Yuuri! Not your Yuri, we call him Yurio,” the silver haired man says. The Japanese man next to him blushes, and Jonathan supposes that he’s the other Yuuri.
“I will shove my knife shoes so far up your ass, Nikiforov, that you won’t be able to sit for a year,” Yuri warns.
“Yurio is our son. We’re so glad Yuri is actually making friends at school, I was worried for a while. I’m sure you know how tricky he can be sometimes,” Victor continues, ignoring the incredibly violent threat as if it happens every day. What the hell did Yuri even mean by knife shoes, anyway?
“You shut the fuck up, old man!”
It doesn’t surprise Jonathan in the slightest that Yuri has two dads; it explains a lot about the whole incident with Veronica earlier this year. What he is surprised about is the fact that Yuri’s dads seem so… nice.
Jonathan isn’t sure if that’s pleasant or terrifying.
“Victor and Yuuri are my figure skating coaches,” Yuri mutters, sounding like he’d rather be doing anything but this.
“Wait, you’re a figure skater?” Thomas asks, looking intrigued; seriously, how that guy manages to be so laid back all the time is– wait, what?
“Is that what you keep missing meetings to practice?” Jonathan asks. Suddenly it all makes sense: the lean muscle, the crazy flexibility and precision it would require to nearly kick someone in the head, the whole random flight to Japan.
The entire table erupts into laughter, even the Hispanic woman and the other man that they haven’t been introduced to yet.
Yuri turns bright red, looking both flustered and annoyed. “Oh, fuck off, all of you. Especially you, Katsudon! You have no right to laugh after what happened with these two.” He points aggressively at the two people Jonathan and the others don’t know.
The Japanese man, Yuuri, is the first one to manage to stop laughing. “I’m sorry, Yura. I’m laughing because I know how you feel.” He turns to Jonathan, Thomas, and Anthony, still smiling brightly. “He actually medalled at the Olympics last year. He’s won gold for Russia several times, as well.”
Jonathan isn’t the only person at the table with his jaw dropped. The waitress comes by and sets waters in front of the three of them. Even when she leaves, he still can’t figure out what he’s supposed to say. He’s pretty sure that earlier today, he just told an Olympian medalist to cancel a trip to what was probably a competition at the last minute. He wants to die of embarrassment, even if he had good reason.
“He probably didn’t mention it because he’s too angry that he let that Canadian get gold and he only got bronze,” Victor teases. He slings an arm around his husband. “Still, my son and my husband on the podium at the same time! It’s any man’s dream. I’m so proud!”
There’s a scraping noise on the table. When Jonathan looks down, he sees that Otabek slid over a phone with the screen open to a news article about men’s figure skating and yep, there’s Yuuri. And that’s definitely Yuri, but he looks… different. Happy. Jonathan looks from Otabek to Yuri to the article, then back to Otabek. He knows he’s panicking, because there’s nothing he can really say to make himself feel less awkward but maybe someone calm like Otabek can help him out.
Otabek gives him a thumbs up.
Translations (let me know if I need to fix any, I don’t speak Russian)
yoroshiku onegaishimasu - Japanese - I look forward to working with you (yes, he’s being a sarcastic little shit here)
Vy prikhodite na obed segodnya? - Russian - roughly translates to “we’re still on for lunch today?”
Posmotrite na kotenke, Beka! Eto tak milo! Posmotrite na svoikh malen'kikh lapakh i khvoste. - Russian - Look at the kitten, Beka! It’s so cute! Look at its little paws and tail.
Ya dumal, chto u vas ne bylo druzey v Amerike - Russian - I thought you said you don’t have friends in America.
Ya ne. - Russian - I don’t.