Yuuri just wanted the plane to take off.
The last few days had been a whirlwind of the competition to the exhibition to press conferences to the flight with barely a second to himself. One of the reporters had asked him how he'd liked St. Petersburg and he hadn't even known how to answer. Cold? Pretty boring from the inside of a skating rink? Filled with an unfair percentage of hot guys? None of those sounded like proper public answers. Celestino had elbowed him, reminding him gently that people were interested in what he had to say because he was the reigning Japanese national champion and Grand Prix silver medalist, but that still sort of felt like something out of a dream.
The captain came over the loudspeaker, announcing in Russian and English that takeoff would be delayed by a few minutes because a passenger just made the final boarding call. Yuuri suppressed the groan he desperately wanted to make, years of polite reflexes from his upbringing kicking in automatically. But what a hassle; even a few extra minutes were a lot when someone was feeling as ungenerous as Yuuri.
"Welcome aboard, sir," said one of the flight attendants moments later.
"Thank you," late-to-the-gate replied, from behind the partition. Yuuri craned his neck to see who was delaying him from Hasetsu by five minutes and was smacked in the face by the hottest guy he'd ever seen in his life. Not, like, literally. But in that second Yuuri thought he might not be opposed to that.
Hot Guy was tall, probably a little under six-foot, had killer blue eyes, and flashed Yuuri a megawatt grin as he slid into the window seat – oh god – right across the empty aisle from him. Yuuri tried not to be too obvious as he watched Handsome Man stretching to store his carry-on in the overhead compartment because, yeah, of course he had an ass that wouldn't quit, too. Yuuri felt his face going hot; he gulped and suddenly became very interested in the in-flight magazine.
The plane got ready for takeoff then, Yuuri sneaking glances during the safety instructions and announcements about the weather in Tokyo. And he felt guilty about it every time. Why wouldn't he? Here he was being a full-on perv over a guy who was so far out of his league that he was probably in a special invitation-only league. Yuuri got tongue-tied talking to just regular attractive people, never mind Mr. International Male Model.
The plane took off without any other hiccups and the flight attendants told everyone they could use their devices again. Which is when Yuuri started thinking about what would happen later when he tried telling this to Phichit and Minako-san. Phichit's text of pics or it didn't happen lol was so obvious and vivid that Yuuri could already see it, and Minako would lecture him about not putting himself out there more. If she could just see, then maybe she wouldn't hassle him about it. She'd get it. She was probably in the Invitational Hot People League herself anyway.
Yuuri bit his lip and dug his phone out of his jacket pocket, and turned it on again. He pretended to play his cupcake match game for a few minutes, then slowly and hopefully subtly, shifted around in his seat so he was angled toward Hot Guy. He swiped into his camera app and held it up, again hopefully subtly, until Hot Guy's Hot Everything filled the frame. Yuuri almost sighed out loud, the picture was so pretty. The guy was reading something on a tablet, light hair falling into his face, teeth sunk into his bottom lip in deep concentration. A wave of want washed through Yuuri's whole body as he thought about biting down on that lip himself.
Then, he pressed the button to take the picture.
The shutter noise went off.
The flash went off.
Tall and handsome obviously looked up.
Yuuri wanted to jump out of the plane window. Maybe he'd grab his seat cushion and use it as a floatation device. Or maybe he'd just die because just right then that sounded okay, too.
"Did you just take my picture?" Hot Guy asked.
Yuuri slid down into his seat and covered his face with his hands. "I'm so sorry," he wailed, the apology muffled by his palms. "I'll delete it." He reached out and blindly flung his phone across the plane. "You delete it!"
Of course the guy hadn't been expecting the phone, but he still caught it. "It's a good picture!" he exclaimed in Russian-accented English after a few seconds. "A commemorative photo of our flight together?"
Yuuri made a sound that barely counted as human and tried to turn himself invisible. But then he heard the scrape of a metal seatbelt and the cushion next to him sunk down.
"I'm Victor," said the nicest man on Earth. In the air. Whatever. "What's your name?"
Yuuri peeled away his hands and peered at the man – Victor – with one eye. "You're not mad?"
"That's a funny name," Victor said and laughed. "Of course I'm not mad. Who gets mad when a cute guy wants to take your picture? A cute guy, who has a name, which is…?"
"Yuuri. Katsuki Yuuri – Yuuri Katsuki."
"Like the ice skater?" Victor said. "Wow!"
Yuuri froze and he lifted his head all the way. Then, Victor's eyes went wide with recognition.
"You're him, aren't you?" Victor said.
Yuuri nodded, slowly.
"Wow!" Victor said again. Apparently, he liked that word, which was good because Yuuri liked how he sounded when he said it. "I loved your performance at World's last year. You're a beautiful skater."
Yuuri felt his cheeks go hot. "Why do you know so much about ice skating?"
"Oh," Victor said. "I used to compete – a long time ago, as a teenager, before I got injured. I modeled for a little while, nothing too big, and now I mostly work behind the scenes." He shrugged. "C'est la vie."
Yuuri sucked in a breath. He pictured this Victor with longer hair, younger, shorter, and shook his head hard. No. This was too much of a coincidence. There was no way.
"Are—are you Victor Nikiforov?" Yuuri asked in a small voice.
Victor looked surprised. "Why do you know who I am?"
"Because," Yuuri said, "you're the whole reason I started ice skating."
Phichit was never going to believe this.