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The Carnage of the Art

Chapter Text

The skater’s pain is a constant worrying pulse—

no one sees these marks of the flagellant,

no one must know the carnage of their art.


- Kwame Dawes, “On Beauty and Power” 

 

 

Yurio

The fourth time in an hour that Yuri Plisetsky crashes to the ice—body slamming into the unyielding surface of the rink with the full force of a quad salchow and skidding until he’s nearly kissing the boards—it’s the silence of his rinkmates that has him snarling as he shoves himself upright.

The first time, Yakov had yelled at him, foaming at the mouth about his sloppy technique, how he needed to watch his free leg. The second time Mila teased him gently, throwing up a spray of ice at him as she snowplow stopped beside him, hauling him to his feet with a wink and a shove before Yakov could turn back from his phone call and catch that it happened. The third time, Georgi called out to ask if he was alright from across the rink with Victor, probably locked in another stupidly dramatic discussion on the woes of being in love with people on the other side of the world.

Blue eyes narrowed critically at him across the ice had sent him speeding into this final ill-fated jump, away from the questions he could see Victor barely holding back by the finger pressed to his lips.

Now he’s fallen again and this silence is damning, judgmental, and complete. There’s no slice of blades across the ice, no murmuring of discussion. Everything is still and quiet. Yuri can feel eyes on him as he grabs hold of the wall like a stupid foal-legged fool on the ice for the first time, and it makes him spit a quiet curse just to break the hush that’s fallen over the rink.  He hates this silence, almost as much as it seems hateful to him.

But fuck-all if he’s going to stand here and wait for someone to try and talk to him.

He doesn’t want Yakov to tell him that he’s done for the day. He doesn’t want Victor’s asinine singsong voice as he outlines what he could do better. He doesn’t want Georgi’s mournful commiseration or Mila’s stupid concern. He doesn’t want any of them to even look at him right now, and he’s not going to give them the chance to try to do more than that.

Yuri doesn’t limp as he launches himself into a glide across the ice to the gate, savagely embracing the sharp stab of pain through his shin and knee as he makes it take his weight, a spiteful twist to the metaphorical knife. He doesn’t acknowledge Yakov’s attempt to speak to him as he slaps on his skate guards and stomps towards the locker rooms, and he doesn’t slow when he hears Victor leave the ice to make excuses for him.

He’s done crying in front of people. He can barely handle that he did it in victory at the Grand Prix Final, he draws the line at letting them see him cry in defeat. He promised a long time ago, he’d never let that happen again. A curtain of blond hair hides his expression in shadow, lips twisted into a rictus of pain and fury, and when he reaches the changing room he slams his fist into the lockers, furious when the gesture doesn’t leave a dent.

Grabbing his bag, Yuri drops gracelessly onto the bench to unlace his skates, tugging them off and shoving his feet into his sneakers. He hastily dashes a hand across his eyes before yanking his hair back into a harsh ponytail, the elastic too tight, the pull enhancing the growing headache in a way that he appreciates right now. It’s a distraction from the shards of glass that seem to have taken up residence in his knee, the low throbbing in his elbows, the deep ache in his bruised hip. He doesn’t let himself check for bruises as he switches out joggers for jeans. He wants to be gone from here, but like all of them he’s a slave to the routine of this, the necessary evils of shucking skate guards for soakers to keep his blades from rusting, the Tetris game of fitting his skates neatly into the bag and changing from his training gear into street clothes and layers so he won’t be recognized by anyone on the streets of St. Petersburg. Right now, he’d cut loose on any of those ‘Angels’ to come within ten feet of him, and he can’t handle the blow to his income that tearing apart his fans would give him right now, when he’s already afraid he’s poised to lose it all.

Yuri doesn’t want to talk to anyone, and made that as clear as humanly possible. So naturally, the assholes here refuse to let him leave in peace. He can tell when Victor enters the room without turning, the feeling of eyes on him even more a give-away than the soft hush of the swinging door. He doesn’t know how he can tell it’s Victor, specifically, but he doesn’t have to look away from his bag to know.

“Go away, you stupid old bastard. I’m not in the mood for your bullshit.”

“Thankfully, then, I’m not in the mood to give you any.” Victor’s got that voice, the faintly clipped undertone to each word that belies the seemingly cheerful bullshit demeanor that the press eats up with a spoon. Victor is going through the same routine at the first locker in the row, now, but he treats his skates like they’re truly the gold of their blade color, tucking them away gently. He watches as Yuri winds a scarf around his neck, hiding himself, and ignores the obvious attempt to disengage. “You know, I noticed the other day. I think you’re almost as tall as Yuuri now.”

“Fat fucking deal, stop bringing your stupid boyfriend into every discussion like anyone cares. Leave me alone. You have another two hours of practice at least if you’re not going to embarrass yourself and your pet pig at Worlds.” There are times that Yuri can feel and hear himself snarling, lashing out, where he’s already questioning it inside his head—waiting for it to be too much, too far, too mean, and for him to lose someone else from his life consequently—but this time he’s entirely committed to it, biting out each word like an attack, hurting Victor as Victor is inadvertently hurting him.

Victor hums quietly, infuriatingly refusing to show that Yuri landed a hit with his cutting remarks, slipping into that faint curl to his lips that fails to convey any humor or anger but seems to judge Yuri all the same. He’s sick of it. He’s sick of Victor’s stupid interference, and his silence, and his words, and… everything. He’s not fit to be around other people right now, and it’s in both of their interests if he leaves before Victor gets any farther under his skin, or he digs his claws into Victor any deeper. Kicking his bag into motion, Yuri spins in place, ponytail flying, and stomps towards the door.

“Yakov will bench you, winning right now or not. He tried to bench me, and I was already farther ahead than you are.” Victor’s words hit like a physical blow, staggering Yuri where he stands, hand outstretched to shove the door but not yet connecting. He keeps going as if he doesn’t realize the impact his comments made, but he continues nonetheless, clearly aware that Yuri is frozen and unable to leave without hearing this. He knows all of this—he’s been counting down to the end every time he touched the ice or barre for weeks—but Victor’s confirmation is chilling. “He wouldn’t be wrong, either. It’s probably better for your health. Yakov’s a good coach and he’s working from a team perspective; he’ll bank on Georgi and I having at least another year left in us, and make you prove you can handle everything from the basics on when you’ve been cleared.”

Yuri isn’t prone to panic. Not like his Japanese counterpart. The door in front of him is swimming because he’s holding in furious tears, not because he’s being taken hostage by nerves. But he can hear the too-fast drumbeat of his heart in his ears underscoring a quiet whisper that promises that being benched right now would destroy him. He just had a record breaking senior debut, the biggest victory of his life, and it finally, finally, brought enough sponsors and prize money to take care of his grandpa and himself for months. If he takes time off, he’s old news. If he steps off the ice, people will wonder if he’ll ever be able to come back.

His words come out steadier than he feels—small blessing—the rough undertone sounding angry and challenging rather than fearful.

“What the hell do you know about it, anyway.”

They both know it’s a genuine question, half a plea but worded as a challenge. If anyone in this world can understand the self-destructive need to keep going, it’s Victor Nikiforov, who gave up twenty years of his life to the all-consuming blaze of sport and spotlight. Victor’s hand rests on Yuri’s shoulder, anchoring him without making him turn, without making him reveal his weakness. “I know enough… Like I said, Yakov only tried to bench me.”

He squeezes Yuri’s shoulder, then slips past him to push open the door, glancing back once to make sure Yuri will follow him.

Yuri’s hope is like his anger; a fierce, hungry thing.

He follows. 

 

 

Victor

Victor has been nesting. He knows it’s ridiculous, knows he’s ridiculous, but he still can’t quite help it. Yuuri will be coming in just two short days, and every box sent ahead of him has been a promise of a future together. They haven’t seen each other since they parted ways for their respective Nationals, inconveniently overlapping and far too soon after their disagreement at the GPF for comfort. Yuuri sent Victor home to focus on returning to competition with a kiss, a ring, and a promise that his return to Hasetsu would be temporary—allowing him to pack all of his belongings and obtain the appropriate visas to let him legally call Russia home.

It’s not that he doubted Yuuri would return to him, but it’s been a month since he’s gotten to kiss his fiancé, gotten to push the glasses up his nose when he stared dazedly down at Victor, gotten to wrap his arms around him and pull him close, gotten to see him blush and stammer without a computer screen keeping him from being able to chase the heat coloring his cheeks with fingertips and lips. He had to watch from halfway across the world and hours behind as Minako stood in his place at Yuuri’s side at the Japanese Nationals, as Yuuri gave the camera strained smiles and short answers, as his lover stumbled and Minako struggled to help him. Even with Victor’s closest friendships over the years, with skaters flung to the far corners of the earth for months at a time, he’s never felt a distance so keenly.

Every box has been a gift, a small piece of Yuuri to fill the empty spaces in Victor’s home, the way Yuuri will soon join him to fill that Yuuri-shaped hole in his life. He spent sleepless nights eagerly unpacking every box that Yuuri sent ahead, and right away it emphasized the bare, blank, austere space that Victor’s home had been before. Victor’s condo had been perfect for entertaining, staged like a photograph, ready for magazine features, and absolutely functional. Cold and clean and white white white, like fresh powder on the ice, just a background to showcase him.

Yuuri deserves comfort, so Victor has tried to provide it. It’s no Hasetsu, but as Victor crouches down to greet an over-excited Makkachin, he knows what Yuri is seeing when he looks around. He’s been here before, crashing in the guest room before catching a ride on early flights out, so he knows what the place looked like before Yuuri took up permanent residence in Victor’s heart. While Yuuri will likely never know how much he’s rearranged to make room for their relationship in his life, Yuri is getting a front row seat to it.

The condo still smells like fresh paint and sawdust, but everything is softer now, the bamboo floors warmer under Victor’s feet than the porcelain tile ever was, the drag of fleece throw blankets under his fingertips indulgent as he trails his hand along the couch while he walks deeper into his home to let Makkachin out into the dog run on the terrace. Curtains cover the slatted metal blinds now, soft area rugs define the living spaces with plush textures that will be easy on battered feet. Yuuri’s books fill shelves once left to vases and statues that came with the furniture set, his movies and gaming console are tucked into the entertainment center; there are a few drug-store printed photos from Victor’s phone framed on the shelves, and Yuuri’s awards and medals are framed and displayed as proudly as Victor’s own, with room deliberately left for more as a silent challenge to them both.

“Shoes off. Go change. I’ll be right back.”

“You’re such a sap. You did all this for him?”

It’d be easy to shrug and nod and accept that—pretend to be the selfless caregiver catering to his boyfriend’s needs alone, or the indulgent rich man who can simply spoil his lover on a whim—but Victor considers the question a moment before smiling and shaking his head, turning away from watching Makkachin. “Not just for him. For me, too. For us.”

He’s happier now; this ache of missing Yuuri is a temporary thing, one that he can see an end to unlike the crushing loneliness of before. He wants this for himself, as much as he wants it for Yuuri. He’s been changed by their time together, and stubbornly denying that is pointless. Now that happiness is at his fingertips, he wants a home, a husband, he wants to live his life and he wants to keep Yuuri’s love. He wants it, and will commit himself wholly to achieve whatever prize he wants the way he always has. He doesn’t feel shame in that.

Yuri makes his characteristic unattractive retching sound, scrunching his nose up like being in the presence of affection of any sort is repellant to him, and turns away to prowl through the condo, surveying the redecoration. “Whatever.”

He’s limping, and Victor narrows in on the slight hitch of his leg as a sharp reminder of why they’re here. He hates seeing a skater injured, and seeing one of his team of skaters injured is a personal insult.

“Change. You’re not done with practice just because we’re here, and you’re going to be useless if you won’t listen.” The bite of command in his voice snaps Yuri’s attention back and narrows his eyes, hooking into that part of a skater’s mind hardwired to hear a coach even when they want to ignore, but cold enough to reach farther, to dig at him. He called a wounded athlete useless.

It was poorly done on Victor’s part, and this time he knows as soon as the words leave his mouth.

There are ways in which Yuri reminds Victor strongly of himself, even with their obvious differences; it’s in their similar roots and their upbringing in Russia’s unforgiving production line of champions. They both gave themselves up completely to this sport to make something more of themselves than where they came from, and both chose to take all the skills the schools gave them while rejecting the authority they had over them. Neither of them does well with callous authority.

The program at Sambo never truly worked for Yuri—too structured for a temper as strong as Yuri Plisetsky’s—but like Victor he is still a product of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia through and through. They owed their lives to those schools from the time they were accepted as children until they each found their way to Yakov, and even now both pay the programs lip service as poster athletes. At Dynamo everything from Victor’s education to his diet, to his social activities, sleep schedule, and above all his training were under their constant control as soon as they realized his potential, and it was the same for Yuri at Sambo. Every skater was a competitor from the moment they set foot on the ice, the only advancement possible through winning. Anything less, and you were a failure. Yakov may be a taskmaster as a coach, but he has never sapped their spirit the way the schools did, and Victor loves the old man for that.

Victor hates that there’s still part of himself as a coach that reflects how he was raised—the part that Yuuri flinches from during his most cutting lectures at the kiss and cry, the part that will work his fiancé until his feet are bruised and bleeding just to get a step sequence perfect, the part that instinctively tore at a skater’s insecurity about his weight to get him back into peak competitive condition, the part that would see an injured skater and lash out at him.

Both Yuri and Yuuri deserve better than that, and Victor is trying hard to be better, even if it makes him indulgent at times in his attempts to swing the opposite direction in apology. So he takes a breath and rephrases again before Yuri can get his back up or the thought can take root, putting apology in his tone if not his words.

“If you want, I’ll show you how to land your jumps again, so Yakov leaves you be until you can figure out a better way.”

He leaves off at that, letting Makkachin in again before retreating, aware of Yuri’s slant-eyed stare aimed at his back until he’s out of sight and can relax again in the master bedroom. Here, there is more of Yuuri than anywhere else. His clothes hang in the closet and sit in the drawers, as if he’s lived here for years. His blanket from Yu-Topia is carelessly bunched on the center of the bed where Victor has clutched it to himself through the night as a poor surrogate for holding Yuuri. A desk, the only furniture piece his fiancé paid to send along, is now settled near the windows overlooking the waterside park. Photo albums, books, childhood trophies, knick-knacks, everything that he’d carefully packed in Japan and shipped ahead of himself have found themselves a place in the bookshelves Victor had installed to match the desk. Everything has a place here, and there are gaps for what remains: a space for his pillow when he arrives, a drawer in the bathroom ready for his toiletries, a cleared off nightstand on his side of the bed waiting for his glasses and phone.

“Two more days,” Victor reminds himself and a forlorn Makkachin as he surveys the room, fighting the absurd pang of Yuuri’s absence from a space he’s never actually been in. Yuuri is probably saying goodbye to his family and friends in Japan, perhaps already getting onto the train to Fukuoka Airport. He can manage to wait that long. Their next chapter, here in St. Petersburg, will begin soon—and wherever they choose to live after skating, they will move to together.

He can’t loiter. God knows what Yuri will get up to if left unsupervised for long. He digs through the closet with Makkachin still following at his heels, sniffing along the clothes surrounding them and whining softly. Even to Victor it smells a little like Yuuri already, his fabric softener and detergent and the scent of his skin long settled into the clothes he loves best.

“I know, girl. Me too.”

Victor pulls out one of the canvas drawers in the organizer unit, shuffling through the contents and gathering supplies before making himself leave, feeding his faithful old companion in the kitchen, then trudging across the flat to find his younger counterpart before he can get himself into trouble.

He comes in on Yuri midst an off-ice loop, knee buckling under him when he touches down, hand snapping out to grab the barre and steady him upright as he curses under his breath. The jump should be nothing to the Prima Ballerina that Lilia declared him to be, or the skater Victor knows that he is. Off-ice jumps should be cake. When Yuri notices Victor in the doorway he straightens, a challenge in his eyes, chin tilted proudly, silently daring him to say anything.

“Well that was horrible.” Victor beams sunnily. Far be it from him to back down from a dare.

“Fuck off, Victor.” Yuri snarls, throwing himself down to sit on the weight bench in the room, arms folded across his chest, every inch the petulant child he tries to pretend he isn’t.

“Such language from someone so young.” Victor tuts teasingly, shaking his head and setting his supplies down on the table near the door.

The room is bathed in natural light, floor to ceiling windows accentuated rather than concealed by the gauzy curtains, making the thin sunlight of St. Petersburg seem warm and buttery. While the third bedroom has always been his gym, the wood floors, the ballet barre, and the mirrors that take up one wall were all newly installed with the renovation. Yuuri is giving up all-hours access to Minako’s studio to live with Victor, so he’s done his best to recreate it in his home gym, giving over space for a dance floor long enough to allow his lover to leap. Victor’s well used (if not well loved) exercise equipment used to fill the space but with renovation he had the door to the walk-in closet removed and the drywall knocked out to lengthen the room, the support columns defining gym and dance spaces to let them train. Victor justified it to himself easily: as his coach and a fellow competitor, it will be more convenient to both of them for off-ice training to take place at home as much as possible.

Even with the bratty expression painted across his face, Yuri fits in this space as well as Victor or Yuuri would, comfortable in the usually unseen trappings of their profession. It stirs that old inclination again, the quiet urge to see how he could shape this promising little monster, leaving the thumbprint of Victor Nikiforov’s teaching in every jump, every step, for the next decade of competition that stretches before this child.

That’s his ego getting away from him, the vain need to secure his legacy long after he’s retired. He’s good, but he’s not sure he’s good enough yet for himself and Yuuri when he’s going back on the ice; he can’t risk dragging Yuri down with them. Especially not when the boy is already unsteady. Getting Yuri back on his feet again, perhaps that could be enough.

“Have you seen a doctor?”

Yuri’s scornful expression is answer enough. Victor doesn’t even know why he bothered to ask. “Of course you haven’t.” He sighs, shaking his head and continuing. “I told Yakov it was growing pains. I doubt he fully believes me, but it’s got enough truth in it that I think we can sell that for a while longer, if you learn how to take care of yourself so you don’t damage your joints before you’re twenty. I’ll help you, but you’re going to talk to a doctor. If I think you’re going to hurt yourself permanently I’ll drag you off of the ice myself, alright?” He waits for Yuri’s terse nod of agreement, Victor’s blue eyes sharp and serious for once. He means this wholeheartedly. His help bypassing a setback will not come at the expense of ruining Yuri.

“I’m not letting any of them know.” It’s not a question, and it’s non-negotiable. Young as he seems, there’s steel in Yuri’s spine, flint in his eyes. “If you say anything to anyone, I will kick your ass. They’re all waiting for me to fail. They’re all sharks. I’m not going to let them smell blood in the water.”

Victor wishes he could argue, but he knows this isn’t paranoia, or wounded pride. They’ve both seen it happen to others. Victor’s been both lucky and cunning in his manipulation of the press—his headlines have been for an injury only twice, and he deftly massaged them both into stories that just spotlighted his seemingly unshakeable will. Everything smaller and less sensational—every fracture, sprain, strain—those he hid from the public. He refuses to be a cautionary tale of professional athletes.

Sullen punk or not, he’ll try not to let it happen to Yuri either. Yuuri’s struggle with the press predates their relationship, and now they carefully watch him at every event, gleefully waiting for signs of mental weakness so they can run a highlight reel of his failures, comment on how tired he looks, or whether he’d been crying, or his weight, latching onto every shift in his posture to speculate. Victor runs interference for him with a steady hand now, providing a glittering distraction and even glimpses of their relationship to give them a new focus and a more engaging story to peddle… but that’s his future husband. He can share the shine the press has given him with Yuuri, but all he can do for Yuri as far as the press is concerned is cast a shadow. Maybe the best he can offer Yuri is a lesson in self-care and shrewd planning.

“I am not going to lie to Yuuri for you. Beyond that, it’s your decision. Even if it’s a stupid decision.”

He’s not sure that answer is enough for Yuri, but it’s the most he can give.

Victor fits a plug into the wall, unravelling the cord with a deft hand before crouching at Yuri’s feet, brow knitted in thought as he taps his landing knee with a silently raised eyebrow, accepting the grudging nod as all the answer he needs. “How long? Don’t lie, I’ll know.”

“Rostelecom, I think. It wasn’t bad then. It was just an ache when I was skating or dancing, until it got worse the past couple of weeks. I’m still fine until I really get going.” Yuri grumbles, hating admitting a weakness even in private. Victor’s low whistle pleases the boy, making his chest puff out, proud that he hid this pain so long and took the GPF gold regardless, even breaking Victor’s record. He really is an idiot.

“You’re lucky you haven’t torn something.” Victor lances that pride neatly, without mercy, and ignores the wounded growl from the kitten as he reaches out and rolls up the leg of his pants neatly, baring a delicate ankle, long muscled calf, and faintly puffy coltish knee. Yuri lets him. He’d think it trust, but it’s more likely the lack of self-consciousness that any of their fellows were left with when prodded and shaped and dressed and rearranged like posable dolls in the dance studios and rinks.

Victor battles down the protective urge that brings in him—Yuri is strangely fragile for all his bluster. This must be what it’s like, having a younger sibling you both want to strangle and shelter. “You’ve shot up significantly in height over this year. It’s enough strain to put on anyone, let alone a skater. During my time in Juniors I went from where you were at the start of the year to...” Victor gestures airily at himself as he unfolds, nearly six feet of lean muscle and sinew “…fast enough that it threw off my center of balance. We’ll use that as a cover story for you, if your practices leak. But I did go to the doctor when my knees finally began to buckle, because I’m not a self-destructive child…”

Green eyes narrow furiously, but Yuri doesn’t interrupt.

“But a doctor off the Federation payroll, so they couldn’t spread it to Yakov. They told me there was nothing to be done about it. That I should take a year off, let my body settle, my joints and tendons adjust, and find out afterwards if I’d be able to pick it back up. Osgood Schlatter Disease, they said. It’s common in young skaters, though I think calling it a disease is unnecessarily dramatic. It stops once you’ve grown… a few months, a year… But I’d had my taste of gold, and couldn't give it up. I did the championships by alternating moist heating pads to soften up the tendons before every performance…” Victor holds up the warming terrycloth-covered pad indicatively, before draping it over Yuri’s knee and stepping back, letting him situate the heating pad directly over the worst of the swelling with a grimace. “Quad and hamstring stretches before taking the ice. Icing down my leg after. Menthol creams at night.”

“And Yakov let you get away with all that.” Yuri’s words are part skepticism, part scorn, and all hope. Ah, this child… a mess of contradictions. Victor’s not exactly sure what it is about him that is so endearing, but part of him is glad that he and Yuuri will be here to help him, no matter how resentful he is of their support.

“No, I learned how to do it without Yakov, the press, or the others catching on.” Victor grins, arching one eyebrow smugly. “Did you think you were his first problem child? I was giving coaches the run-around before you were born, Yurio.”

“Finally you admit that you’re ancient, old man.”

Victor purses his lips, annoyed that Yuri scored a point there, and even more annoyed by how snidely amused he is by it.  He doesn’t need this impertinent child to remind him that he’s gotten old. Some days Victor can feel it in his bones, from the stiffness of his right shoulder to the tingling numbness of his left toe, and so many places between. Victor was already a medal contender in Juniors the year Yuri was born, a squalling angry infant with no idea how he’d be served up to the dogs, clawing and fighting to find a place at the top of the heap.

“Fifteen minutes of heat. Fifteen minutes of stretching. Then do your practice. Fifteen minutes of cold. Search online and find a private doctor quickly. Then go back to deal with Yakov with a strategy that will get you through Europe and Worlds, so you can clinch your Olympics spot.”

Yuri huffs a vague agreement and flops down along the exercise bench, stretching his leg gingerly under the heating pad, head tipped back over the other end of the bench and blond ponytail swinging just above the wood floors. In the mirror, Victor can see him closing his eyes, testing a thought and trying to spit out words that seem sour on his tongue, choking on them, and coughing out something else entirely.

“You didn’t live with them, though. Yakov and Lilia.”  The first time he botches a leap or fails to stay en pointe after becoming flawless for her, Lilia will know. The first time Yakov catches him limping, it’s all over. Europe, Worlds, likely even the Olympics if the federation and sponsors have reason to doubt his performance.

“No, I didn’t.” Victor agrees easily, waiting to see if Yuri can make himself voice the request, weighing if he should make him. He knows where Yuri’s mind has gone: he’s rarely ever hard for Victor to predict and nowhere near as complicated as he thinks he is. Would it be good for him to make Yuri ask, perhaps put a crack in the walls he’s slapped up to protect his ego? Or would it crumble his brittle self-image? Skaters and their glass hearts… he’s shattered enough for now while thinking it was for the best, he thinks, remembering warm brown eyes filled with tears, a broken voice echoing through an empty garage.

It’s not like it’s the first time the thought has come to mind. Victor’s own inclination to fold Yuri under his wing was established years ago. Then in Hasetsu, Yuri’s jealousy of Yuuri’s home and family and freedom and command of Victor’s attention was obvious to anyone who looked. By the time Yuko mentioned Lilia’s training methods to Yuuri, even he began hinting at the possibility that Yuri might need a different environment than one where commands were barked at him.

Victor thinks he knows what Yuuri would tell him to do in this situation, and his fiancé is by far a better man than he is so perhaps he should. He’s always been a little withdrawn in his peculiar way, affable but impersonal—the instinctive defense of someone placed too high on a pedestal and afraid of falling—but he’s learning to meet people halfway now. It’s a skill he should continue to hone. He’s wrapped himself around Yuuri now, and perhaps offering a hand to Yuri, keeping an eye on him and making sure he doesn’t destroy himself out of stubborn pride...

It could be fun having him here, anyway. If nothing else, his reaction should be priceless.

Victor offers his widest, most guileless smile, waiting for the aftermath with eager expectation as he throws himself into the next challenge without second-guessing. “Obviously, you’re going to have to move in with Yuuri and I!”

“....Huh?!”