Yuri Plisetsky & Agape

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I have seen other studies on Yuri and his connection to Agape, but I feel there is more yet to add. So please read on, and feel free to comment!

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Agape is described in the series as selfless, all-encompassing love. In real life, agape is a Greco-Christian word defined as “the highest form of love, charity” (Wikipedia). Viktor choreographed the program, intending it for Yuri (not that he told him that at first, classic Viktor).

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Yuri shows a lot of disdain for the song, specifically saying it’s the innocence of the piece that disgusts him. Keep in mind that he’s 15 years old at the start of the series, so he’s still fairly young himself – so why such loathing in someone so young?

There are a few factors involved in this. Firstly, you may recall that Yuri was the main source of income for his family since his early competition days. The government aid for his skating kept him and his family going, so he’s not your average 15 year old in that he’s the bread winner of the house, not his grandfather who raised him.

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On that note, agape is also focused on pure, unconditional love – like that of a parent. And Yuri grew up without either parent actively in his life. His personality is based on independence, pride, and strength. As a child without his parents, he did what most children in that position do: try to find a reason why they weren’t there.

Only he took his own path. Based on how he is now, it looks like child Yuri decided it didn’t matter why they left him with his grandfather, he didn’t need them. And he was very young when those thoughts first occurred to him.

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So he resolved to support himself and his grandfather without parents, and I’m pretty sure that part of him wanted to make them regret leaving him for the rest of their lives. Yuri Plisetsky doesn’t need your innocent, unconditional love – he’s too powerful for something as silly as that.

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Even when he agreed to skate to the program, it was because of his career, because he wanted his senior debut to succeed, and he wanted Viktor to come back to Russia as his coach. On the surface, these are all ambitious reasons that fit the image of himself that Yuri shows publicly.

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As Viktor explained to both of them, he assigned these programs the way he did so they could surprise the audience by doing what they didn’t expect. And surely no one would expect the Ice Tiger of Russia to skate to a song about pure love.

But…

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Skating to the program requires Yuri to find an “in” for conveying agape well enough in his program so he can win. This pure love he scorns so persistently is now something he’s not just going to have to understand, but depict on the ice as a competitive skater.

As we all know now, he finds that inspiration through memories of his grandfather. But it’s easy to forget that he struggled to get there. Viktor told him not to skate with so much confidence, that this was not the place to show it off. He suggested going to a temple twice, and then Viktor said maybe a waterfall would help.

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Yuuri had already picked katsudon as his eros by then, so Yuri was actually falling behind. Losing, at least in his eyes. When they both end up at the waterfall, Yuri says:

“Who cares about agape? Forget all of them.”

Which is odd because agape is not a “them”. He’s talking about people, people who have told him that love is pure and valuable and should be prized – directly contradicting everything Yuri had taught himself as a child. And before, he was right, but by then he needed to understand love, or he would lose.

Why was Yuuri able to understand eros, but he couldn’t understand agape? It was beyond just his external need to win, evolving into a feeling of missing something critical as a person. This is unspoken, of course, and shown most plainly in his expression just after saying those words:

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The words are angry, and he even swore moments before that, but this is not an angry expression. This is unease. It’s not just the audience he’s surprising, but himself. That self-awareness catches him off guard more than once, whether he struggles to get to agape or he reaches it well.

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This is the end of his performance of Agape in episode 11, but I would encourage everyone to see all of his performances of this short program to compare his thoughts and final reactions to preforming it. This is a physically challenging choreography, true, but there’s an emotional vulnerability that Yuri experiences with every performance that is intriguing to see.

This is a side of himself he’s shown to select few people (his grandfather, Otabek, Yuuko, and sometimes Yakov, Lillia, Viktor, and Yuuri), and that is something you catch a glimpse of when he performs Agape. Not only that, you can sometimes see the vulnerability that Yuuri saw in Yuri when he first found his agape.

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For someone who has never valued pure love, never thought he needed it, and indeed looked down it, the realization that he always had it and it did motivate him… It’s not just knowing himself better. It’s a touch of fear because he didn’t realize that he’d needed that all along, and the knowledge makes him face that fear in relation to the person he holds himself to be – fierce, righteous, unstoppable – and now, loved and able to love.

Thank you for reading!

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Who Are You

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
Read the previous post.
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Art by Astor Alexander.

Aiming at the woman standing closest, Tenenbaum cocked the hammer of her pistol. “Who are you, why are you here?!” The little girl rushed to her side, her small fingers burying in the folds of Tenenbaum’s dress.

“Off to a fine start, Elizabeth,” the man grumbled, his voice as handsome as he was, a warm, gravelly tone to it. It nearly reminded her of Fontaine’s, but crisper. She narrowed her eyes. These girls needed her, she could not get distracted.

“Oh, enough, Booker.” The other woman turned her back on Tenenbaum for a moment to scold him, either a sign of trust or innocence. She sighed as she looked back to Tenenbaum, stepping forward. Her face softened, a gentle smile coming to her face and lighting up in her pale blue eyes.

“We’re here to help, Dr. Tenenbaum,” she began, folding her arms casually in front of her. “I’m Elizabeth, and he is–“

“Booker, yes. Why are you here,” Tenenbaum snapped, hearing the other Little Sisters as they shuffled in to hide behind her. Better here than alone, but still…

“We know about the Little Sisters, and how you want to save them.” She took another few steps forward, pausing a few long strides away. “And we want to help, but there’s a little boy that needs us too. I think you know him?”

“Verdammt!” Ryan or Fontaine sent them, Suchong would not have bothered. But this place, it was secure, she’d made sure of it. It was near the sewers, no one cared to look closer. Regardless, Tenenbaum could not risk it. She shifted her aim to Booker, who raised his own weapon too late to stop her firing.

The two screamed, a few of the Little Sisters shouting to kill him. He stood, Tenenbaum in his sights, the woman took cover, and yet… He did not shoot back. Blood stained his sleeve, but not much. She’d only grazed him, it seemed, so why not return fire?

Following his gaze, Tenenbaum looked to the little one beside her… “Ah, you cannot be with Ryan or Fontaine. You are too soft.” She lowered her gun, and he did the same, his expression contorted in confusion or pain. Perhaps with both. She chuckled, patting the girl’s head. “It’s alright, little ones, come out.”

Elizabeth also stood, smoothing her hair. “Dr. Tenenbaum… You’re clearly willing to go to great lengths for the safety of these little girls.” She spoke between breaths, surprised but not afraid. “Doesn’t Jack deserve the same thing? We need your help, and we’re willing to help you in return. Please.”

– – –

What do you want to do, Tenenbaum?

Read the next post.

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Suggestions from the last chapter:

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There’s Still Time

Read how to join this choose your own adventure story here.
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September 1958.

The lab had been falling to Ryan’s men as Tenenbaum saved a handful of the children. So few of those she’d brutalized in her experiments, but there was still time for the others…

These little ones followed her, all eyes on her back. Water dripped around them as they left the crawl space leading into the sewers of Olympus Heights, the city rumbling distantly with the barely contained war between Ryan and Fontaine.

“Miss Tenenbaum,” the first girl said, a whine to her voice. “Where are we going?”

“Home, child,” she answered, opening the doorway she’d designed for their hideout. Shame she had to kill the man who put it in, but… No one could know of this place if they were to be safe.

A smaller door for the girls to crawl through rested in the bottom of the larger door, a source of comfort for the children. It was like the flower chutes, and once inside… She could administer the plasmid to them to free them from what she’d done.

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“Go now, quickly, child.” That lifeless look and smile, and she nodded, dropping to her hands and knees to shuffle through the small opening. The other girls went to follow until from the other side came a scream. “Little one!”

She entered the code to open the large door, running in with pistol drawn to see two people, a man and woman, standing among the beds and toys.

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Art by casino-toast.

What do you want to do, Tenenbaum?

Read the next post.

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BioQuest: BioShock CYO Story

Greetings to you all!

For those of you who are not familiar, CYO stands for “choose your own”. Meaning all of the readers out there can help steer this story together! There are rules, however. And here, you may find out how to participate in this Choose Your Own Adventure story for BioShock.

Read the first part here.

See the story so far here.

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How it works:

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not played BioShock 1 and BioShock Infinite, and you intend to play (or avoid spoilers), please go play the games and return to participate afterwards.

Comment with your choices:

With each update, you’ll have the opportunity to post your suggestion for what the perspective character does next!

You don’t have to suggest something every time. You can suggest sporadically as the whim strikes or you can suggest something every time – whenever you have an idea for what you’d like to see happen next, comment on the blog post with your idea.

EXAMPLES:

Follow the Little Sister.

Check the room for supplies.

Lastly, please don’t be upset if your suggestion isn’t chosen.

Stay timely:

Avoid posting suggestions on outdated posts, please! Check this wiki to make sure you’re on the latest post.

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Tenenbaum art on the right side by Astor Alexander.

Know who you control:

There are two main perspective characters you control as the plot moves along: Tenenbaum and Elizabeth.

You can only control their actions one at a time, and each update will show at the end who is the perspective character at that time.

Any suggestions made for other characters or that introduce other elements/characters will not be considered.

Think of it this way: I’m the GM, and you’re all the players. You all have Elizabeth or Tenenbaum depending on the scene, and the setting and all other characters are my pieces.

Update schedule:

This will be updated as regularly as possible, but it does of course require input. The more compelling suggestions there are, the more frequent updates can happen.

What makes a good suggestion:

Make it clear so I know what you’re asking. The example “Follow the Little Sister” is straightforward and leads to more story events.

The example “Check the room for supplies” can give all the people following the story more ideas on what to suggest next based on what they have nearby.

The suggestions that are most popular and/or interesting will be selected. If you see a suggestion you like, remember to actually like it so I can see which ones are the most popular!

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Standard actions:

Like any game, there are certain things you can do that aren’t story related.

At any time, anyone can comment with “Check Inventory” or “Inventory Check” to get a list or image of what is in all present characters’ inventories.

If you want to check a certain person’s inventory, you would specify by commenting “Check Elizabeth’s inventory” or “Elizabeth: inventory check”. Note that some characters may refuse or be unable to show their inventory.

You can also talk to specific people and look at certain items with the following formats as an example:

“Tenenbaum: ask Booker how he knows Elizabeth.”

“Elizabeth: look inside the center drawer on the desk.”

Be specific! I can more easily act on detailed requests.

Have fun!

This is about making a story together as a community, so remember to have fun with it! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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Your Memories

OC: Balder Holt
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He had his mark. Randa Boulos. 37 years old, deceptively muscular despite a curvy frame, and well connected. A scientist in Leader’s employ for five years, Randa dropped off the radar at the same time as certain secure files. She had a safe house in Boston, where she could conceal herself in a crowd. His studio, rented under a false name, was in the building across from hers and one level higher. He smiled, however slight. Nothing was safe from Leader. Not for long.

“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran played on the radio and a YouTube video of vacuuming played over that. He had an alarm to remind him to change the audio to a shower in 15 minutes. Balder was to maintain the illusion of a regular resident until the mole had revealed her employers, a task he’d been familiar with for years but remained easier with T class units present. Despite their militant attributes, the T class had a childlike nature that allowed them to more easily mimic standard living. Singing along, ordering out, and talking to neighbors. Being that this was a covert operation, those practices were unacceptable and Balder was assigned on his own.

The small light mounted on his scope blinked, indicating detected motion in her apartment. He leaned forward, seeing her enter with a paper bag in one arm and a bag strap over her shoulder. She was missing the laptop bag she left with, the one he’d planted a tracker in. Sitting back, he took out his phone and messaged Leader’s aide, Ms. Temple, through an encrypted connection.

‘The bait was taken.’

Seen immediately. A few seconds reading that notice that she was typing before he got his orders.

‘Get a new supplier.’

Having seen it was all he needed. Balder ended the YouTube video, and the radio had an auto shut-off feature. This place would remain in Leader’s possession for some time before his connections could be sure it wouldn’t trace back to him. They were thorough in their fields, and so was he. Nothing would remain of her.

(Skipping the fight scene for gore reasons.)

Breathing steadily and deeply, he stood from what remained of Randa. Her clothes and sunglasses sat heaped beside the messenger bag she entered with. Balder knelt to retrieve the bag, but instead found himself searching her pockets. A rumpled ticket to the train, discarded; two pennies and a dime, discarded; her wallet… And he stopped, dropping the khakis to the floor. He opened the wallet, noticing an image inside a clear pocket immediately.

“Who carries pictures, Randa?” His voice seemed distant, foreign, and raspy from disuse. A boy and a preteen girl smiled out, trophies in hand. He wore a dress shirt, vest, and bowtie, and the test tube trophy had a plaque reading Science Fair – 2nd Place. In her uniform with a sparring weapon and a badge rather than trophy, he assumed she fell in third place at her competition. “A niece and nephew?”

Randa was unmarried and single, but that meant nothing. Leader was those as well, and he had hundreds of descendents as well as two direct clones. Both dormant, but the fact remained. He removed the picture to review it again, turning it over once he was done. The back revealed nothing. Balder didn’t know her well enough to determine anything from the image other than the two in it were siblings. They loved her, and she treasured them.

“I-” He’d seen this said in the movies they were permitted to watch in their free community time. “I am sorry. May you rest in peace.” Balder stood for a final time, the bag on his shoulder and the picture in the inner chest pocket of his jacket. He walked out to the city’s nighttime streets where an unassuming taxi waited for him. It would carry him to the first stop of many on an intricate trail home. To Leader, Ms. Temple, the other class units, Yua, and the memoir box beneath his bed. The lid closed snugly after the memento from his previous assignment – a locket with a single black and white image inside.

He would need a new box before his next mark.

– – –

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© Jam Blute, 2017

School Starts Challenge: New Beginnings

This was made for the School Starts challenge on the O.C. Amino, and I hope you enjoy it! The OC is Balder Holt.

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– – –

“Welcome to the Eastern Institute of Technology, Balder,” the assistant said, her smile warming in the afternoon sun filtering through arched windows. The central hallway of his dorm building, he assumed.

Rich, redwood doorframes set in regal patterned wallpaper, a stately grandfather clock, and ample seating at regular intervals. Large French doors at either end of the hallway and four rooms leading off the hallway as well. Try as he might to form an opinion on the place, he could only think of how many exits there were, and how accessible they would be.

“I understand this must all feel very new to you, but I’m always here if you have any questions.” He turned to face her instead of the doors at the other end of the hall. Her graying amber-blonde braid hung over her shoulder as she tilted her head to meet his gaze behind the sunglasses.

“A map of the building,” he said, intending to ask for one.

“Oh, it’s…” She pointed to the folder in his arms, a deep green like the school flag hanging outside. “Left pocket, first page, I believe.”

“I see.” So he would make note of the ideal escape routes and combat tactics later. Better to be prepared than caught off guard. Balder adjusted his tie for the third time that hour but felt no less stifled by it. But it was the uniform, and those were the rules of the Lead– Headmistress. Headmistress. “Let’s continue.”

“Alright then,” she chimed, straightening her posture and walking up the stairs with familiar ease. Her hand slid over the railing, fair skin over dark wood and a modest gold band on her left ring finger. He wondered what her home life was like, imagining a calm, loving family. Having picnics. Planning movie nights.

And with a short, sharp breath, he re-centered on the present.

“This is your dorm building, all boys of course, and you’ll be off to the left here,” she chirped, turning on a heel toward the left hallway. “Room 214 A. Now I know you requested first floor, but this was all quite sudden, and I’m afraid this was the best we could do.” She took out the key, bronze with a circular handle and hanging from a thin metal ring, and opened the door.

“But see, it’s right next to the stairs! This is the next best thing, and we do appreciate you being so understanding.” If anything, this was better. Not so close to the door that he could be surprised by an intruder, but close enough that he could access most main areas of the building with ease.

He stood beside her and the doorway, looking into the small room. A single twin bed, another accommodation made for him. The bed was bare save for his luggage, pre-delivered as arranged with the school, and the desk sat empty. Dark blue curtains hung over the window, parted as the sun set on the campus. A piece of broad green expanse in the midst of a bustling city on the ocean.

“And you simply must love this view, don’t you? Quite lucky! Oh, here,” she offered, holding out the key. He took it gingerly, turning it over in his hand. So small, even for a key. He’d never had a locking room before.

“Now,” she began, tapping the key in his hand, “Campus Security does have a spare for emergencies, but they’ll never use it otherwise. And if you lose your key, they’ll make you a copy for $20. You can charge that to your school account, of course.”

“Confirmed,” he replied. Her eyes widened for a moment. She was afraid? …No, surprised. Her expression softened to compassion, the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes smoothing out as her smile fell. He put the key into his pocket, trying to avoid her eyes. Balder cleared his throat. “Understood, ma’am.”

“Oh, just Ellen, please.” She shook her head, her smile returning. “I’ll be your case manager, so you can call me if you need anything. You do have my number, don’t you?” He nodded once, sharply, and she let out a contented breath. “Ah, there is just one more thing I need from you, Balder.”

He drew himself up, taken aback. One more thing? He wore their uniform, held their documentation in hand, and it was his understanding that assignments would be distributed after the first day of train– classes. What could he have missed?

She held out her hand, the compassion returning to her large, hazel eyes. “Your sunglasses, please.”

“My–” His breath caught, brows furrowing. He took a step back and set the folder down on the desk. “Is this an order?”

“No, Balder.” Firm, but a tenderness to her words that stuck to him like barbs. Why did her concern hurt? “But those… They are from your time as a child soldier, are they not?” His heartbeat picked up in his chest, resonating through his limbs. “Do you think it wise to keep them, knowing what they represent to you?”

He was being asked his opinion. This was his choice. Sweat lined his palms already, but a cool stillness lodged in his chest. What was this feeling? Balder reached up for the arm of the glasses, leaving his eyes closed as he slipped the sunglasses off his face.

When he did open his eyes, he stared at the glasses in his hand. “I was not designed for this, Ellen.”

She rested her hands beneath his, cupping his fingers gently. Her skin was soft, more practiced with books than with brutality. Not like his. “No one was truly designed for anything, Balder. Every step in life is a choice, a new beginning. Should you be ready to take it.”

He felt his eyes turning to her, resting on her face for what seemed like the first time. The golden sunlight catching the silvery streaks in her hair, bronzing the brown flecks in her eyes, and adding a radiance to her. The chill left his body, and the stillness remained in its place. Perhaps this was comfort.

“And there is no shame in not being ready. Take your time,” she advised, closing his hand around the glasses. “And know you always have someone to turn to, Balder.” She moved towards the hallway, pausing before she closed the door. “Your first class is in the Franklin building at 9:00 am tomorrow, don’t forget!” She gave a light, graceful wave as she left, the door clicking shut behind her.

Several minutes passed after her short heels thumped down the stairs, and Balder remained as he was when she left. “A choice,” he breathed to himself. “I have a choice.”

He opened the shallow middle drawer of the desk, leaving the sunglasses inside. He was Balder Holt, freshman at the Eastern Institute of Technology. This was his new beginning.

– – –

Thank you for reading!

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– – –

© Jam Blute, 2017