There are few things that give Yuri pleasure—the taste of accomplishment like cinnamon sugar on the back of his tongue after landing a quad; having a comeback so cutting that he practically draws blood; that soft murrf a cat makes when it decides it trusts him; the little green screenshot arrow appearing next to Otabek’s name in Snapchat—but they all pale in comparison to whenever the Russian hockey team visits the rink.
Skating is something Yuri has put his blood, sweat, tears, and time into perfecting, and letting a bunch of human trees with the reading comprehension of a two-year old onto his domain is a goddamn perversion of the ice. Where figure skaters bend wind and water and gravity to their will, hockey players are sheer power, made entirely of blood thirst, built like they’re going to war. Otabek says that Yuri has the eyes of a soldier, but he wouldn’t last a second against the warriors of Russia, armed and primed for battle. He doesn’t appreciate the reminder.
But, like all instruments of war, the hockey players have their uses. After all, it’s not the drop of the puck and the clash of bodies that sends frissons of joy up and down Yuri’s spine when they practically crash through the boards to get into the rink.
On the ice, #27 presses against Katsudon from behind, caging him within arms as thick as industrial pipes, huge hands curled over the pig’s as he demonstrates how to make a perfect slapshot. When their arms go up with the hockey stick #31 had pressed into Katsudon’s hands with a shy grin, their bodies arc as one. #8, who looks like he ate three whole bison for breakfast this morning, calls out in heavily-accented English that the pig is “looking too good for ice.” #14 is taking photos of Katsudon’s junk and not even bothering to try and hide it.
Katsudon gently disengages #27 to practice the swing on his own, and the entire team perks up at the sight of his ass like a pride of lions witnessing a wounded gazelle limping by.
And from his perch on the sidelines, Victor watches it all with a capital-S Smile.
“Vitya, if the skating thing doesn’t work out, I could try my hand at hockey!” Katsudon carols, demonstrating his new slapshot technique. Without the sweating hulk of living brick shit house snugged up against him, the pig turns the swoop of his arms and the twist of his back into something beautiful, a math equation rendered in human flesh. If he doesn’t work that into his next routine, Yuri’s stealing it for himself.
The players watch, rapt. Any second now, they’re going to drag him down to the ice and devour him.
Victor’s jaw is clenched so hard around his Smile that if Yuri listens closely he could probably hear teeth breaking. “That’s wonderful!”
Yuri opens his text app and types, im about to witness a fucking murder
The ‘whoosh’ it makes as it flies on gilded wings to Otabek, who’d better be either working on his quad loop or mixing something mind-blowingly awesome for Yuri’s free skate program if he knows what’s good for him, is a heavenly chorus to Yuri’s ears. He glances to the space just underneath the text bubble to make sure it delivered before tucking his phone away to watch the rest of the show.
#18 hulks up next to Katsudon and slings a friendly arm around his waist, like he’s the alternate universe ex-Marine version of Phichit Chulanont in a hockey helmet. He says something that makes the dipshit practically sparkle with laughter and then turns the smuggest fucking smirk that’s ever graced a human head on Victor with laser beam precision.
“Aww, look how happy the piglet looks rolling around with the other hogs,” Yuri coos. He bats his eyelashes to really sell it.
Victor Smiles at him. “Hey, Yurio, I’ve been meaning to ask. How’s Otabek? Still not your boyfriend?”
The temperature in the rink drops thirty degrees. “Shut. The. Fuck. Up.”
“You know, Yuuri and I think he should come for a visit. We’d make ourselves scarce, of course, so long as you use the opportunity to—”
This is like a waking nightmare. “You’ve talked about this? Get fucked, old man!”
“Twice this morning, as a matter of fact,” Victor smarms. “Unlike some people I could name.”
“I’m going to kill you with your own skates and make it look like an accident.”
Victor throws an arm around his shoulders and squeezes. Hard. “My favorite virgin murderer.”
Yuri doesn’t have a good comeback for that one except to scream at the top of his lungs right into Victor’s ear, and if it were anyone else he’d be worried about rattling their brains but with Victor he’s basically shouting into an empty house. He scratches at Victor’s arm until he’s free, then stages a retreat to plot his next attack. Out on the ice, Katsudon waves at them. #14 and #8 wave too.
“Can’t you kill them and make it look like an accident?” Victor mutters, rubbing his ear.
If anyone knows when when the rivalry between Victor and the hockey team started, it’s certainly not Yuri, because no one fucking tells him anything. As far as he knows, it’s been a years-long thing, two houses alike in dignity and all that bullshit. He saw it his first day at the rink: ducking under his grandpa’s arm to rush up to the entrance to the ice just in time to hear a giant in a red-and-white jersey snarl something about ‘prima donna fags in spandex.’
He’d been so ready to be part of something bigger than himself, to find connections and make the kind of friends that he read about in stories—steadfast loyalty and inside jokes, a bond forged from hard work and genuine love—that he hadn’t been prepared for the reality to disappoint. To see the person he’d looked up to for so long be disrespected by someone who was part of the ‘rink family’ was all it took for the slow simmer of anger that had always been in Yuri’s gut to boil over and turn to sludge, sticking to the inside of his ribs. By the end of the week, Yuri had reduced that player to tears twice in front of the rest of the hockey team. By the end of the second week, the guy quit.
But even as Yuri adopted the unwitting role of rabid attack dog, Victor never rose to the bait, just wore that ‘who me? I’m just a brainless ditz’ mask and met each barb and pointed remark with throwaway comments whose cruelty couldn’t be measured or even proven. No one could tell if he was genuine or genuinely mean with the shit that he would say, and so no one could call him on it. Victor had it down to an art form. The hockey team hated him. Victor hated them right back.
And so it went, back and forth, until Yuuri Katsuki came on the scene and screwed the whole dynamic up.
There’s sudden movement out of the corner of Yuri’s eye and he jumps almost out of his skin, but it’s just Mila, beaming as she slumps next to him, curls bouncing merrily to distract from the glint in her eyes when she turns to Victor.
“Sorry, Victor. I didn’t think Sasha would bring the whole team, but when they heard that Yuuri was going to be here…” Mila doesn’t sound apologetic in the least, because Mila’s a cutthroat asshole who lives for this kind of thing. If starting drama in other people’s lives were an Olympic sport, she’d be the undefeated world champion. It’s one of the few things he appreciates about her.
“No, no,” Victor says. “It’s fine.”
On the ice, Katsudon shrieks with laughter as #14 lumbers behind him like a bull, shoving his head between the pig’s legs and standing up so that he’s sitting on the guy’s shoulders. The other players cheer as #14 carts the dipshit around like a king on a throne.
It’s absolutely apparent how very not fine this is. Mila shoots Yuri a viciously amused glance, her smile sharper than the very blades they’ve staked their careers on.
Yuri’s living his best life.
There’s a buzz at his hip—Otabek’s reply winging in just as #54 lifts a hand and shouts, “Too chickenshit to skate with us, Nikiforov?”
“Is that what you call it? You know, I heard the captain of the Canadiens on TV the other day saying that you move like a brain dead hippo seconds before it drowns! Surely he doesn’t have the right of it! You do just fine, I promise,” Victor calls back sunnily, like he even knows or cares who the captain of the Canadiens is.
“Why don’t you come over here and sink a goal. If your noodle arms can even hold my stick, that is.”
“Vasiliev, if I have to handle anyone’s stick, it’s sure as hell isn’t gonna be yours.”
Yuri takes his phone out to read Otabek’s text, but mostly to get Snapchat open and ready for when a brawl breaks out. With any luck, Victor will take off a skate and cut #14 with it.
The green bubble of Otabek’s reply seems vaguely accusing. If Victor murders one of them and you do nothing, you will be charged as an accessory. You won’t look good in orange.
U RAT BASTARD I LOOK GOOD IN EVERY COLOR!!! And If he has to go to prison in order to prove that point, well, he would do a lot worse for a lot less. u would go to prison w/ me right?
No?? Why would I do that?
They’ve been doing a pretty good job of ignoring Yuri’s world-rattling feelings for Otabek for the last few years, which means he’s gotta come up with a better answer than Because I’m way too pretty to go to jail. You’d have to stake your claim and let everyone know that the only person who gets to touch me is you. Losing his best friend wasn’t on the docket for today.
He’ll get back to Otabek in a minute. #20’s doing some weird mating display that involves dabbing and something that looks like the foxtrot, and it’s fucking hilarious. Even Victor looks like he wants to drop the angry pug face and laugh, but it goes on long enough that Yuri almost feels sorry for the guy, so he opens his phone to tell Otabek when his eyes catch on the last message in the chat window. The one in his colors.
bc im way too pretty to go to jail? u would have to stake ur claim and let everyone know that the only person who gets to touch me is u
When he was younger, Yuri almost choked to death on a too-big piece of blini and he’ll go to his grave remembering the way the world narrowed and became crushingly dark, pressing in on him from all sides, while his lungs spasmed and fought back against the inevitability of what came next, but the feeling of imminent death in that moment was nothing compared to what he’s feeling now, because oh god, he actually sent that.
There’s only one thing to do.
“Hey, crypt keeper,” Yuri snaps his fingers at Victor. “How do I get to the roof?”
Normally, that would be a giant sign nailed to a tree declaring it open season to ask why Yuri needs to even go there, who he’s talking to, is he okay, why does he look so angry when Yuuri Katsuki exists in the world, but Victor doesn’t even deign to look his way. “Unmarked door by the ladies’ room.”
“Great. Make sure my tombstone says ‘Gold Medalist, Beloved Grandson, and Better Than Yuuri Katsuki.”
“I think the fuck not!” Victor wakes up at that, whirling on him in utter horror. “No one’s better than Yuuri.”
Mila presses close. “The roof, huh. Gonna take a flying leap?”
“Shut up,” Yuri mutters, clutching his phone to his chest to hide the text messages, but it’s too late. Damage done. Mila zones in on it with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile.
She could probably stand to find a little less enjoyment in his despair. Not that she would. “Awww, did you open your big, fat mouth and finally tell the good Hero of Kazakhstan how you feel? Good job, Yurochka, get that dick.”
“Mind your own business, hag!”
He can just picture it: Otabek in his room, surrounded by his stupidly expensive recording equipment with a dumbfounded expression on his stupidly handsome face, most likely regretting ever rescuing Yuri from those fans in Barcelona if it meant being saddled with such a clingy little emo barnacle like him. Yuri’s fingers shake as they type out haha jk but I *am* too pretty for prison.
There. It won’t change the fact that he basically coughed his feelings into Otabek’s eyes, but it ought to bring things back to some semblance of normalcy. At least enough so they can pretend this never happened.
“Hey there, kitty.” It’s a new player, #19—a sandy-haired beast with unfairly good skin and perfect teeth, but his good looks are marred with the ugly look of someone spoiling for a fight. Or, more accurately, searching for one to impress his new rinkmates. The guy’s mouth tilts up in a grin and he gently knocks his hockey stick against Yuri’s arm. “Bet you’d love it if I—”
The adrenaline dump from the accidental text must’ve been a big one, because Yuri yanks the stick right out of his hands before the little douche can finish whatever Shakespearean sonnet’s about to come out of his mouth, and the mean look on his face is taken behind the proverbial shed and murdered by shock.
“Touch me again with that fucking thing and I’ll give you a colonoscopy with it!” Yuri roars and, arm rearing back, throws the stick like a javelin back onto the ice. It lands about fifteen feet away.
With a snarl, Yuri hoists himself onto the top of the boards and perches there, blades biting into the polished wood, and tightens his spine in case he needs to tackle the fucker to the ice. “Who even are you?! The next time you show your disgusting face anywhere near me I’ll rip your fucking tongue out through your teeth! Got it?”
#19 lets out a terrified yip and practically cuts off his own feet with his skates in his haste to get away while the rest of the players positively howl with laughter on the other side of the rink. Through the noise, Yuri hears snatches of things like ‘now you know not to mess with that one, dumb ass’ and ‘so beautiful when angry,’ which, ugh, hard pass.
Mila knuckles away tears as she crows, “Sasha, tell your boys that this is what happens when they rattle a tiger’s cage!”
Sasha, who’s patting the douche on the back like a good captain, shouts back, “They have to learn for themselves or they will never learn at all!”
Of all the boyfriends she’s had, Sasha’s the least awful.
“Yurio, why are you like this!” Victor barely manages to get the words out through his laughter, holding his sides like he’s in actual pain. Which he will be in a minute. “You certainly don’t get it from my side of the family!”
“FOR THE LAST TIME, YOU ARE NOT MY DAD!” Yuri lifts a fist to punch him right in the kidney, but his phone buzzes before he can let it fly.
Holy shit, he was so focused on ripping #19’s guts out with his teeth that he forgot to hit send on his fix-it text.
Swallowing past the piece of lava rock that seems to be stuck in his throat, he shows his phone’s lock screen to flash the message preview, and—
Yura, I would kill anyone who tried.
He unlocks his phone to see the actual text, just to make sure it’s real, and spends an eternity embossing every word into his brain when there’s a sudden yelp of surprise that makes both him and Victor jump. The only difference is that Victor grips the edge of the boards, ready to spring into action like a fucking hunting dog scenting blood on the air.
Yuri looks up to see Katsudon skating toward them, shame-faced and curled in on himself, tears pooling in his eyes. He attempts a smile, but it trembles to pieces in seconds. “H-Hey.”
Victor’s on him like shit on velcro, wrapping him in his arms and pressing Katsudon’s face into his neck, shushing him with the most gentle smile Yuri’s ever seen on his dumb face. Almost immediately, Katsudon melts into him, every part of his body liquefying to fill all Victor’s spaces, and Yuri has to squint to see lines of daylight that demarcate where one ends and the other begins. This is the embrace of a lover. Different than when his grandpa hugs him. Different than when Victor or the pig try to pull that shit on him. Seeing them hold each other like this isn’t a new sight by any means, since they do it whenever they fucking can, but seeing it now makes his chest hurt with an angry, black envy.
“The fuck happened?” Yuri demands before he can stop himself, his fingernails digging into his palms so hard that he can feel the skin threaten to split beneath them. “What did they—”
“It’s nothing,” Katsudon whispers. He closes his eyes and a single tear slips down his cheek. “I suppose I was asking for it.”
Victor goes very, very still. “Who was it?”
There’s a pause, followed by a sad little sniff, and then, “N-Number 14.”
“I suddenly feel the need to practice my sit spins,” Victor says brightly. He presses a sweet kiss to the pig’s mouth, then pulls away with a Smile. Death lurks in his eyes. “Be back in a minute.”
Katsudon climbs out of the rink and settles between Yuri and Mila, who hands him his glasses. Before he puts them on, he dispassionately wipes his eyes and, with a sly smile, kicks back to watch the show.
Oh my god. “You fucking liar.”
The smile widens. “Me? Nah.”
“Victor’s going to actually cut that kid’s dick off.” On the ice, Victor launches into a triple toe loop, then kicks out a leg to stabilize the landing, and the blade on his skate comes thisclose to #14, who lets out a shriek. “Why would you let him think—”
“Well, he was taking pictures of my—” Katsudon lowers his voice. “My you know.”
“Don’t you act all high and mighty. You know you’re doing this to get His Majesty revved up.” At Yuri’s confused grunt, Mila clarifies, “Jealousy can be a mighty motivator.”
“Jealousy,” Yuri echoes.
Her face is fighting with itself, trying to hold back her laughter and school her expression at the same time, and the result is a terrifying seizure of emotion. She looks like something out of a horror movie. Yuri isn’t sure whether this is an actual medical emergency or if he should try to burn the demon out of her. “Whenever Sasha gets jealous, he’ll spend the day winding himself up the rest of the way and then will be a little more… attentive than usual later on that night.”
Realization crashes over him like a wave and he turns to look at Katsudon in abject horror. “You pull this shit with the hockey team every time so Victor will—”
The pig’s smile goes lazy and hot, and he very pointedly has nothing to add.
“I need to take a bath. In bleach. And fire. And cement. I hate the both of you, but especially you, pig. You’re dead to me,” Yuri snarls. Time to ditch this freak show, since apparently no one’s getting ice time worth anything.
“Oh, Yurio, I meant to ask.”
Don’t turn around. Don’t turn around. Don’t fall for it—
When he spins on his heel, Katsudon breaks in, eyes wide and innocent, and Yuri wants to punch him in his lying face. “How’s Otabek?”
Yura, I would kill anyone who tried.
He’s still got his phone in his hand, the buttons on the edges biting into the skin of his palm, and somewhere in the tangle of wires and metal is the promise to spill blood on his behalf, and if that isn’t a rock solid promise that he’ll be having incredible jealousy sex someday soon then he’ll eat Victor’s golden skates.
“Oh look, your dumb-as-shit husband is gonna get his ass kicked.” He gestures to the rink where Victor is flying across the ice and laughing, four hockey players on his tail, all screaming some sort of battle cry.
Katsudon sighs, heading back onto the ice. “Oh, Vitya, really.”
“Sasha, if one dipshit in Lululemon is enough to rile up your buffalo herd then you’ll deserve it when the Canadians annihilate you in the Olympics!” Mila rolls up her sleeves and follows the pig. Which is Yuri’s cue to get the hell out before the cops need to be called.
He’s halfway to the parking lot when his phone buzzes again, this time with a call. Yuri picks up on the second ring.
“Are we going to spend another three years not talking about this?” Otabek sounds genuinely curious.
Yuri presses a hand to his face to hide the grin that wants to rip his head in two. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about it when we’re in jail.”
“So, we are going to prison, then. All right. I’ve done stupider things for someone I love. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’m sure they happened,” Otabek sighs, and Yuri wants to reach through the phone, drag his arm through miles and miles of airspace, just to press his hand to Otabek’s chest to feel the cadence of that long-suffering amusement.
“You rolled up like the Terminator to rescue me from my fans,” Yuri points out. “That was pretty stupid. How jealous were you?”
“Not at all? I barely knew you—”
He makes a face. “Wrong. Try again.”
There’s a long pause, then a halting, “… I was blind with jealousy and have been ever since. Wait, this is what does it for you?”
Yuri unlocks his grandpa’s car and starts it up, hooking his phone into the little mount on the dashboard so he can put the call on speaker. “Shut your trap and keep talking.”
“Jealousy isn’t healthy, Yura.”
“‘I’d kill anyone who tried, Yura’,” Yuri sing-songs, turning on the car. “I’m holding you to that, prison or no. I want you primed and ready to bite someone’s head off for even daring to speak to me at a moment’s notice.”
“I’m always primed and ready when it comes to you.”
Yuri’s face is on fire. “Beka…”
Otabek hums. “Put your dashcam on and don’t use the phone while you’re driving. Get home in one piece so we can talk more about my hypothetical prison jealousy fits. Where the hell did this even come from, anyway?”
“Beka, I’ve come to the conclusion that Victor’s a fucking whipped idiot and Katsudon is evil and can’t be trusted.”
“Is it Thursday already?”
Yuri viciously stabs End Call. Then he presses his face to the steering wheel and laughs and laughs. He doesn’t put the car into drive until his heart stops feeling like it’s about to lead a herd of hockey players on a merry chase.
It takes a while.