There were days when Yuuri couldn’t believe that this was his life now. A dime-a-dozen figure skater like him, whose only special quality was his willingness and ability to work for hours at a time, didn’t seem like he belonged here. He’d gone from having no proper coach to skating for quite possibly the most prestigious coach in the world. He was fourteen years old, living in a foreign country, at the home of a former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Who happened to be his ballet instructor and choreographer. In a weird way, living in Hasetsu had prepared him for one aspect of his current life: in a small town, you have to think about how people will view what you’re doing because everyone knows everyone and it didn’t take long for rumors to spread. It’s just that now he didn’t know the people who gossiped about him.
There’d been no gradual easing in to being famous. As soon as it became known that he was Viktor Nikiforov’s soulmate, Yuuri became a subject of fascination around the world. Then he started auditioning to train with Yakov, and there were people all over who knew his name. And then he took silver in a Junior Grand Prix event, and it seemed like things had gone nuts.
One good thing had come out of the fame. Yuuri had a new friend. Phichit Chulanont may be eleven, and living in Thailand, but they’d just hit it off after Yuuri had sent him (technically, his older brother, but Phichit was the one who actually used the account) a friend request on Facebook after Phichit’s fan letter. After watching a couple videos of Phichit’s skating, Yuuri was convinced that he could be great. Viktor agreed. The joy Phichit brought to the ice was infectious, and with a good coach, Phichit would make it far.
But for now, Yuuri had a competition to focus on. Tomorrow he was leaving for his second Grand Prix event, the Pokal der Blauen Schwerter, in Germany. With his second-place finish from Romania, he stood a decent chance at making the Finals. Viktor was sure he could do it. He just needed to live up to Viktor’s faith in him.
Yuuri wanted Viktor’s help with his triple loop. It had been a double in the first competition, but he was going to try to go for the triple this time for the points. Christophe had been over 60 for his short program in his first event and would probably be higher, so if Yuuri wanted to win, he needed to do better. He’d only just gotten over 55. Normally, he’d ask Misha, but Misha was out with the flu, and Georgi was busy teaching Mila to do an axel jump. Viktor had been called to a meeting with Yakov, though, so Yuuri was just going to have to wait. In the meantime…
Viktor let out a piercing squeal and hugged Yakov. Everyone on the ice stopped what they were doing and turned to stare. Viktor came over to the rink as quickly as he could on skates and hugged Yuuri. “I get to go with you if you say it’s okay!”
Yuuri hugged back with a big smile. “Of course it’s okay with me, but what about…”
“I’m supposed to be resting my ankle anyway after that sprain yesterday so that it’s all healed up by November!” Viktor shrugged. "Being injured is never fun, but at least I'm getting something good out of it."
Yuuri laughed. Viktor was so ridiculous. “Well then. It’ll be good to have you there.”
“And Chris will be there, too! This is going to be so much fun!”
“Vitya, either get on the ice properly or go do something productive that won’t hurt your ankle. Quit distracting Yuuri.” Yakov scowled out at the skaters still on the ice. “What are you looking at? You all have work to do too!”
“Okay!” Viktor took off his skate guards. “Come on, Yuuri. Show me that triple loop.”
Yakov, Viktor, and Makkachin came over for dinner after practice. Lilia wasn’t going, so she’d agreed to look after the dogs, and with both boys there, it just made sense for Yakov to stay over as well so they could go straight from there to the airport.
Yakov also wanted to talk to Viktor about something over dinner. “An old friend called me earlier today, and I’ve been thinking about him ever since.”
Viktor swallowed the bite of cabbage he’d just taken. “You have old friends?”
“Hush. Kolya and I went to school together, and his daughter Irishka skated for me until she retired… shortly before you started with me, in fact.”
Viktor thought back, trying to remember. Ah, well, not surprising he couldn’t, not if she’d retired before he started. “Okay. What’s that got to do with me?”
“Irishka was in a car accident this morning, and although they expect her to survive, it will be quite some time before she can care for herself, let alone look after a young son. Kolya’s own health isn’t all that great, so he’s not sure he can keep up with both Irishka’s care and looking after the boy.”
Lilia pursed her lips. “The last thing Irishka would want is to let Lev take him, but is there another choice?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to Viktor about. Vitya…”
“Your skaters are like your family. If Irishka needs help, and you can give it, you will.” It was one of the reasons why Viktor had never even considered another coach. Viktor himself was living with Yakov because of that. He was old enough to move out, now, he just hadn’t wanted to until he was moving in with Yuuri. “It’s terrible timing, but when we get back from Germany, I can find an apartment.”
Yakov’s brow furrowed. “You don’t have to. There’s room enough for two boys at my house. I’m not going to stop you if you want to leave, you know that, but I wasn’t just going to bring him in without having talked to you first.”
“Oh! Okay. I’m over here half the time anyway, if you don’t need the room then I don’t see any problem. If I can’t get along with the kid, I’ll just spend even more time here.”