On Studying Eros

Eros, huh? Yuri Katsuki frowned. That's so not me, he thought.

But Victor seemed quite adamant on assigning him that particular piece, so no use in backing out now.

Yuri had only an inkling of what eros meant, what it felt like. He'd been single all his life, never hooked up with anyone to know the fiery passion of being in love. He should study up on it if he was to understand it. What better way to resolve his issue than at the library? Besides, he needed sanctuary from his house, which suddenly felt smaller and cramped with the arrival of certain esteemed guests. The other Yuri didn't understand the meaning of peace and quiet. (Yuri thought, mistakenly, that Russians were a cool and aloof sort of people. That was what he got for generalizing.)

Yuri listened to the track on loop as he headed for the library, putting a bit of a spring to his step.

Yuri had long embraced the fact he was a nerd. He could bury his nose into books for hours, with not a care of the world spinning about him unless someone gave him a hard shake on the shoulder, or his phone rang to remind him that he needed to get his head out of the clouds. Not that it made his sight any better, but hell, reading was fun. It sure beat sitting around at home having to put up with the other Yuri's grumbles and rants.

The librarian greeted him with a wave and a warm smile; she knew him to be a regular at the library, especially when he had to cram for high school tests. The faint musk of aged books gave the young man solace. Shelves of information, lying in wait to be discovered, enveloped him like a pair of welcoming arms.

Yuri sequestered himself on the second floor at a table for one. He started out with the dictionary, cracking open the chunky tome to the E index. He brushed his finger down the list of words till he hit the entry for eros. There he read,

"(1) The sum of life-preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind."

"(2) Love conceived by Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element. Erotic love or desire."

Yuri thought about last night, about his declaration of attributing eros to his all-time favorite dish: the pork cutlet bowl. He supposed he wasn't that far off or ridiculous. Food, especially good food, gratified the basic need to eat and survive. Still, he felt something was missing. He just couldn't put a finger on what that might be. Thinking of pork cutlet bowls was all right, he supposed, but could he really skate and seize victory to the thought of that?

Yuri frowned and put away the dictionary, getting up to draw in more books to his desk. He leafed through The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. His next consultation was a collection of Greek mythology, and he turned his attention to the story of the Greek god Eros. Yuri never finished it, however, as a light tap on his shoulder made him jolt. He uttered a little yelp and whirled around.

Victor stood back with a hand at his hip, put a finger to his lips, and suppressed a snicker. "Ssh. You're in a library."

The younger man flushed. "H-how did you know I'd be here?"

"You seem like the studious type. My hunch is on point, no?"

Wonder what gave that away? Yuri grumbled to himself. He ruefully adjusted his glasses. "C-can I help you with something? Need anything?"

Victor shrugged. "Well, I was just wondering where you ran off to after practice." He peered around. "Now that I'm here, I might as well enjoy a book or two."

That piqued Yuri's curiosity. "What do you like to read?"

Victor cracked a smirk. "Before you say anything—no, I'm not a fan of Russian novels. They tend to be long and painfully depressing. Anna Karenina broke my heart, and I blame Tolstoy for dashing it into a million tiny pieces." He waved a hand. "I'm an optimist. I like happy endings. Romance riddled with angst and conflict in the middle, perhaps, but I prefer stories ending with the lovers surviving and getting together."

"I see."

"Oh, my apologies, I'm distracting you from your studies. Carry on."

But how can he concentrate now, with Victor here? Despite his best efforts, Yuri could not redirect his focus to the books before him. His eyes kept wandering back to Victor, who was strolling down the aisle that held romance books. Victor surveyed the library's selection with a thoughtful frown, his brow knitted, and fingers straddling his chin. It had always put off Yuri to see his greatest idol acting so capricious and silly. It just seemed so…so un-Victorlike, but perhaps being in Japan took the load off his shoulders, what with his lofty reputation of being one of the world's finest skaters. The seriousness and grace of Victor on ice was the Victor he knew, and how he looked now in the library, turning over and cracking open books to read, came pretty close to that image Yuri adored.

Focus, Yuri. You're getting distracted. You gotta read. Yuri scrunched up his face, squared his shoulders, and forced himself to finish the task at hand.

"Hmm. You have the cutest reading face."

Yuri jolted again, embarrassed that a squeak slipped out between his lips. He ducked behind the book he'd been holding. Victor had stolen up on him like a ninja.

"Come now, no need to be shy. I just gave you a compliment." Victor chuckled. "You ought to thank me."

Yuri felt hard pressed to change the subject. "Um, you didn't bring back any books."

"Couldn't find what I was looking for," Victor replied with a forlorn sigh. Then he shrugged. "I suppose that a public library like this wouldn't have smut or harlequin romance lying around."

Yuri felt the tips of his ears burn. "Y-you read that kind of stuff—"

"It's more for you than for me, to be honest."

"For me—"

"I just want to help out."

Help me with what!? Turn me into a pervert? But Yuri kept his lips sealed, out of fear of offending his idol. He squinted, but Victor didn't look drunk.

Victor peered at the books sprawled on Yuri's desk. "You're on a quest to find the meaning of eros, but I don't think you'll reach it through just reading, anyway. Eros is something you can't put down in words. It's a feeling. An impulse. A raw rush." Victor's voice dipped to a low husk. "You've got to feel it, Yuri. Come on, I know you can do it."

Firm hands gripped his shoulders, then they loosened as they dipped down to his arms and rose across his chest, up his neck. Yuri's throat was too dry for him to even gulp. A shiver lanced down his spine. Victor was close, way too close. Yuri's eyes darted in every direction. No one else around, just him and Victor. Still, he felt that the books somehow had eyes, all trained on him.

"Reach in, dig in deep," Victor murmured. "Feel your soul stir, your body on fire." Even his breath tickling Yuri's ear was a warm purr. "You like that? Feels good?" Victor pulled Yuri into a hug, back meeting chest. "Want more?"

"Victor, please." Part of him begged Victor to stop while another part, to his utter shock, begged him to keep going.

Victor pulled away, as if to escape the raging heat Yuri felt was eating him alive. "Took you by surprise, huh? No room for thinking, just the feeling."

"Y-yeah, I guess…"

"Don't think. Feel!" Victor leaned back, appraising Yuri with a glint in his eye. "Well, my friend, I hope you got a taste of what eros truly means."

Yuri squirmed in his seat, unable to muster any words for a dignified response. That heated moment seemed more enticing than a pork cutlet bowl, made it seem like a cold pile of slime in comparison. How was that even possible? Did Victor come here planning it all along? Or was that done on a whim?

A creative impulse, with a sensual element. Yes, that's eros. Is that what he's trying to tell me?

Victor turned away with a cheery wave. "Dasvidanie, Yuri. Don't stay up too long, or you'll miss dinner and make your parents worry."

Yuri felt way too hot and flustered to keep reading, anyway. He made to sure to wait until he felt sure Victor had gone on far ahead. Then he slunk toward the exit, barely uttering a farewell to the librarian. Even the walk back home, amid falling winter snow, would not cool down the inferno within him.