It was Vicchan that led Victor and Makkachin to Yuuri
If he were honest with himself, Victor should have thought more thoroughly ahead. But he had a tendency to make decisions without considering all the ramifications of his action. Wearing a costume inspired by bondage lingerie at age 16. Chopping off his hair. Dancing with a drunk Japanese skater at an official ISU banquet and then flying halfway around the world.
But, maybe, it would have been helpful if Victor had Googled the address of the inn that Yuuri’s family was supposed to own before arriving in town. Because the taxi driver he had hailed outside of Hasetsu station was giving him a very blank look that said I won’t understand your English no matter how slowly or loudly you talk at me.
And how was Victor supposed to explain, I’m looking for the hot spring inn run by the family of the skater that stole my heart by dry-humping my leg while totally sloshed on four bottles of champagne, through mime?
The rapid-fire and starting-to-sound-irritated Japanese which came back to him had Victor huffing in exasperation. “Okay, wait, wait!” Victor held up a hand and dug his phone out from the inside of his coat. Maybe he had something saved on there that would help. The driver had not recognized Yuuri’s name, no matter how different ways Victor tried to repeat it. Makkachin was whining from inside his cage and it was making Victor feel all the more pressure, especially with the odd glances that they were collecting from people passing by.
“I want to go to an inn? A hotel? Hotel? With hot springs?” He tried again, flurry of thoughts not producing the Japanese word for it. What was it. He’d looked it up. He knew it. He’d been to them before, on a previous trip to Japan for competition. “On… on-something… Onsen! Onsen, that’s it!”
The driver quirked up at eyebrow. Then nodded slowly, as if half in understanding.
Victor flipped rapidly through photo files on his phone, now feeling a little less ridiculous at having saved the few of Yuuri’s social media posts he had managed to find. One or two photos, courtesy of that Thai skater he couldn’t remember the name of, but the driver had already blinked at the posters Victor had pointed to outside the station.
“Yeah, an onsen!” Victor said, and then sorted through a few other photos. “They have this!” A photo of katsudon that Yuuri used as his Instagram profile picture. Victor scrolled to the next one. A photo Yuuri had posted a few years back, of his older sister and poodle. Victor felt a pange of guilt, having read online after the Grand Prix that the dog died mid-event. No wonder Yuuri had performed so poorly. He went to quickly switch to the next one, hoping anything might trigger a reaction, but the driver stopped him.
Victor froze as the taxi driver squinted at the photo of Mari and the miniature brown poodle, and then looked up at Victor. More Japanese, followed by pointing to the photo on Victor’s phone and then at Makkachin, who was pawing at the door of his cage.
Gaping, Victor’s brain caught up. “Yes! A dog, like mine! A poodle. From that onsen inn?”
Relief washed over the driver’s aged face and he laughed shortly. “Vicchan!” he declared, clapping his hands together, “Onsen? Katsuki-san no Yutopia darou? Wakatta!”
“Yes! Katsuki!” Victor realized how much his pronunciation of the name differed from the driver’s.
“Hai, hai, ii yo. Ikou!” The man gestured at his taxi and went to help Victor load his excessive amounts of luggage into the trunk.
Victor could not help but fist-pump in celebration.