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The Silver Devils Play

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Yuuri was at his wit’s end.

 

The cold light of dawn was shimmering over the steady waves rushing over the Hastesu shoreline.  Yuuri was running by the water, his music blasting in his ears.  His dark hair kept falling in his eyes, and he huffed, slicking it back with the sweat beading on his hairline.

 

Viktor was going to be the death of him.

 

He’d been up all night with the man.  After insisting that they sleep together, he’d quickly unfolded a sleeping bag on the floor and turned to Yuuri, demanding with sparkles in his eyes, “Tell me about your sexual history.”

 

Yuuri had gone from tired to wide awake to beet red in record time, spluttering, “Why!?”

 

Viktor had a small smirk playing on his lips, his knowing stare piercing through Yuuri’s very soul.  “If I’m going to help you perfect your Eros, I need to know what I’m working with.”

 

Yuuri puzzled through that really quickly.  The logic was sound.  It made sense, right?  The words were sticking in his throat, though, the topic not something he particularly enjoyed discussing.

 

“You first.”

 

It tumbled out before he even realized it.  His eyes widened into saucers as soon as it was in the open, the two tiny words hanging heavily between them in his cramped bedroom.

 

The only light in the room had been his desk lamp, and it was casting shadows across Viktor’s face, his silver bangs brushed back between his fingers, suddenly thoughtful.

 

“Are you sure you want to know, Yuuri?”

 

The question startled Yuuri, and he felt his initial panic quell to contemplation.  It might hurt Yuuri’s feelings, hearing about all of Viktor’s past partners.  It wasn’t a secret that Viktor was a playboy.  Yuuri had fought so hard to keep him here as a coach, that he hadn’t considered…

 

What if he had been so desperate to keep him here because there was something else bubbling below the surface?

 

Would hearing about Viktor’s past partners hurt him?  What if they were only women, and cemented the idea that Viktor was straight?  Sometimes not knowing keeps hope alive.

 

However, he knew that he couldn’t talk about himself until he knew what he was being compared to.

 

“Yes.”

 

Viktor nodded, suddenly very animated.  He sat up eagerly, pulling Makka into his lap, who lazily allowed it as soon as Viktor set to scratching her belly.

 

Yuuri knew he had made a mistake once Victor licked his lips and fixed the younger man with a playful grin.

 

“Let’s see, I lost my virginity when I was nineteen to Chris.”

 

The pressure building up in Yuuri’s mind released with a pop.

 

“We fooled around but were never really an item.  Then right before my twentieth birthday I started dating this lovely ice dancer named Sasha, but we only went out for a few months and quickly realized that we weren’t emotionally compatible.  She was a cat person,” Viktor waved the thought off as if it were all the explanation needed, then pressed his index finger to his mouth, thinking.  “We went at it like bunnies, though.”

 

Viktor winked at that.

 

The sudden image Yuuri had in his mind had him fumbling to pull a pillow into his lap, which he leaned on in a guise of exhaustion.  

 

“Then I went a whole year without anyone, until I started seeing Damien, who was in an open relationship with his husband.  They were lovely people.  Their daughter was the cutest thing on the face of this earth.  However, eventually I realized I wanted more, and parted with him amicably after a year and a half.  Then there was Stephan, who I saw for a few months when I was twenty three.  He was extremely possessive which stopped being cute after the honeymoon phase ended.”

 

Viktor got quiet for a moment, his eyes losing their sparkle.  Yuuri shifted uncomfortably, and Makka nosed at Viktor’s hand pointedly, because it had stilled.

 

Then, as quickly as he stopped, his tone perked back up.

 

“Elena was next.  We were close friends and bored one day so the idea just seemed to make sense.  We were physical for over two years, and saw other people in that time.  I bedded more than a few of her friends and she did more than a few of mine.  There was one crazy night with an orgy- that’s a story for another time, though.”

 

Yuuri was sure that his blush must have spread down to his toes.

 

“Then I was physical with Chris again until last year when him and his boyfriend started seeing each other.  So, I think I ended up having about eleven partners?”

 

Yuuri tried really hard to look passive as his mind whispered to be expected from the legendary Viktor Nikiforov…

 

The room was quiet for a few minutes while Yuuri held his breath, hoping that Viktor had forgotten his question altogether.

 

Finally, Viktor whined, “Yuuuuuuri it’s your tuuuuurn,” annunciating the u’s in the way that Yuuri loved.

 

“I… I um…” Yuuri stammered, searching back in his mind for any way out of this.

 

Viktor was on his knees suddenly, his head level with Yuuri’s pillow, face pouting perfectly.

 

Yuuri was a sucker for Viktor’s pout.  He couldn’t deny his idol this.

 

“I, um, well, there was this one guy in college, Matt, we were friends and um, we had sex-” Yuuri gulped at the word as Viktor nodded in encouragement, “-he was really nice and we did it a few times but after we stopped I hooked up with a few people but it never progressed to sex ever so, I’ve had one partner?”

 

It finished off like a question, and Viktor clucked his tongue.  “That’s nothing to be ashamed of Yuuri!”

 

There was something in Viktor’s expression that changed, that Yuuri couldn’t place, but Viktor continued on for the rest of the night, talking about past skating routines and grating on and on about all of his favorite new Japanese food, asking Yuuri for the correct pronunciations, which Yuuri grumbled through his pillow as he tried to sleep through most of the prattling.

 

He stood on the beach, stretching, wondering why Viktor had inquired in the first place if he was just going to abruptly change the subject.

 

Was Viktor disappointed?  Mad?  Happy?  Underwhelmed?  All the possibilities whirred around in Yuuri’s head long after Viktor fell asleep, a broken top, and finally he’d seen dawn illuminate his bed frame and carefully stepped past Viktor to go on a morning jog without him.

 

They had planned to take the day off from training.  After the Hot Springs on Ice extravaganza Viktor wanted Yuuri to focus on content for his free skate, which meant he had a lot of free time to panic about not knowing what he wanted to do.

 

When the famous Viktor Nikiforov had shown up, Yuuri had been flabbergasted at first.  Once he moved past that into acceptance, he waited eagerly to see what he had choreographed, because Yuuri had spent his whole life studying that man’s choreography, and to have two programs that were designed for him would be his teenage wet dream.

 

However, Viktor wouldn’t touch the free program until Yuuri came up with music of his own.

 

The thought had Yuuri’s anxiety spiraling into overdrive.  His skin, even now, felt itchy and too tight, and he wanted to scratch himself out of it, or go home and dig through the refrigerator until he found some food that would temporarily distract him from the stress.

 

Yuuri found himself laughing darkly.   If only Viktor could see me now he started running again, mind swirling with the dark thoughts, he wouldn’t know what to do with a mess like me.  He’d pack up and go straight back to Russia.  He’d find Yuri and tell him that it’d all been a huge mistake.  Yuri deserves him more than me.

 

With all the spinning thoughts, he hadn’t realized that he had gotten back to the onsen until he almost tripped over Makkachin, who was bounding towards him while he wasn’t looking.

 

“Bad Makka,” Viktor said without any real force, kneeling over and opening his arms for the dog.  He was in his training outfit, looking at Yuuri with a frown.  “I thought we were going to run together.”

 

Yuuri avoided his eyes, those perfect blue orbs the picture of innocent sadness.  

 

“I couldn’t sleep,” he responded, popping out his earbuds and pushing past him towards the front door.

 

Viktor trailed after him hesitantly, like he wasn’t quite sure what else to do with himself.  “Yuuri, want to get breakfast out in town?  I heard they make really fluffy pancakes at that place by the train station…”

 

Yuuri thought about the pancakes, and how once he started eating them he knew he wouldn’t stop.  “No, thank you.  I’m not hungry.”

 

In protest, his stomach rumbled, and Viktor looked doubtful.  “Yuuuuri, we were going to take the day off to work on your free program.  How do you expect to do that if you won’t spend time with me?”

 

Yuuri couldn’t help but meet his eyes then, seeing Viktor’s searching, hopeful look.  It made him cringe.

 

“I’ll take care of it myself,” he said, and couldn’t help the chill that settled over them at the words.  Viktor even took a step back, stunned.  

 

“I’ll go help Mari in the laundry room, then.  Come get me if you need me, da?”  

 

When a lightbulb flashes on a camera, afterward the absence of light is so noticeable because of how it had previously been so bright.  That was Viktor’s face, devoid of all affection as he walked dutifully away.

 

The guilt seized him in a vice-like grip.  Here was his hero, going out of his way to come find Yuuri and teach him, and Yuuri didn’t even want to be near him.

 

Stupid, stupid…

 

He made his way to the kitchens without thinking, still sticky from his run, the sweat cooling on his skin and making the whole world feel chillier around him.  Or, maybe that was because he felt so lost.

 

I’m sorry Viktor, I’m not who you thought I was…

 

No one was there.  His mother would have finished preparing breakfast twenty minutes ago and put out the serving dishes in the dining room.  The smell of fresh pastries still hovered in the air, and Yuuri’s stomach turned, wanting to inhale them.

 

No you just lost all that weight you need to keep it off.

 

His fingers reached out, brushing against the counter and the cold metal surface, running his fingertips over it until he reached the cabinet that his parents kept all of the utensils in.

 

Yuuri’s mind was moving on one track, without conscious thought or reason as he clutched the steak knife, biting his lip.  He wanted to make the bad thoughts go away.  This had worked in the past, whenever his anxiety got to be too much.  Phichit had made him promise to stop, but Phichit wasn’t here…

 

I’m sorry Phichit…

 

***

 

Later that night in his room, he was fiddling with his laptop, trying to figure out the song.  Finally, he gave in.  His anxiety, which had been running wild before he pressed the knife to his skin,  was starting to come back, and he needed his friend.

 

He facetimed Phichit before he could back out of the idea

 

They talked for a while about his music, and at the end of it Phichit had narrowed his eyes at Yuuri pointedly.

 

What’s really bothering you, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri bit his lip, thinking back to pushing Viktor away earlier, about feeling like a disappointment.  “I… I think Viktor is going to leave.”

 

“What?  That’s ridiculous.  A guy doesn’t drop his whole life for you and then leave after only a few weeks of work.”

 

“I’m… I’m not living up to his expectations, Phich.  I’m just waiting for him to figure it out.”

 

The words deflated him, finally saying them out loud.  Phichit, who was getting a barrage of curses from Celestino for not coming back to the ice, hissed.

 

“It’s bad again, isn’t it?”

 

Yuuri nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

 

“Yuuri, listen before Celestino rips my head off.  Viktor is not going to leave.  This will work itself out, but you need to talk to Viktor.”

 

Yuuri nodded, feeling empty having put everything out on the table.

 

“It’ll be okay.  Let’s talk tomorrow, yeah?”

 

Yuuri nodded again robotically, still feeling anxious.

 

If you talk to Viktor he’ll see all your insecurities.  You can’t tell him.  He’ll see that you’re weak.

 

Yuuri laid in his bed, heavy with fear, ignoring Viktor’s cheerful calls from outside his door that he wanted to have another sleepover.

 

All he wanted was for Victor to assuage his fears and hold him close, but Viktor getting too close was also the source of them. 

 

It was a miserable dichotomy.  

Chapter Text

 

The next morning, as Yuuri rolled over and over trying to stay asleep, Viktor threw the door open without even bothering to knock.

 

“Let’s go to the beach!”

 

Viktor’s heart shaped mouth was open in excitement, and it was such a surprise that Yuuri couldn’t say anything other than, “S-sure.”

 

Hiroko fussed over them, handing them a little picnic basket.  “You should go swimming afterwards!  Oh, and bring Makkachin!  She’s been cooped up in this inn for too long…”

 

Somehow, despite Yuuri being adamantly against leaving his room today, he was walking down to the beach with Viktor, who was leading Makkachin and being unusually quiet.

 

They silently made their way through the town, waving hello to whoever they passed.  Yuuri was immensely surprised at how many people Viktor seemed to know after only a few weeks.  He enthusiastically waved and said hello in poor and choppy Japanese, but no one seemed perturbed by this.  If anything, they all seemed to find it charming.

 

While Yuuri wasn’t looking, Viktor had started making a home here.

 

The feeling settled in the bottom of his stomach, and he realized that he was pleased.

 

The weight that had been pressing down on him lightened infinitesimally.

 

When they got to the beach, it was still chilly, and they kept on their sweatshirts and sweatpants and left their picnic basket and towels by the entrance.  Viktor laughed as Makkachin started bounding from rock to rock, and cooed at her, jumping after her like a child, looking back at Yuuri with the blinding happiness of the sun.

 

Yuuri couldn’t help but smile back.

 

I’ve got it bad

 

They settled onto one of the rocks, and Yuuri found himself explaining why he’d been avoiding Viktor.  Internally he was screaming, but the word vomit wouldn’t stop, bringing up when a girl had tried to comfort him a few years ago, and how he had pushed her away.

 

Viktor looked over the ocean, pensive, his fingers absentmindedly running through Makkachin’s fur.  His silver hair fell in his eyes, and Yuuri was having a hard time deciphering exactly what emotion was stirring there.

 

“What do you want me to be to you?  A father figure?  A brother, or a friend?”

 

Yuuri found himself shaking his head, getting flustered.  No, he didn’t need another loving family member…

 

“Your lover, then.  I’ll do my best.”  

 

Yuuri shot three feet in the air, and missed the comical sparkle in Viktor’s eye as he thought wildly that he didn’t want another loving family member, didn’t need a boyfriend, he just needed Viktor to be… Viktor.

 

For the first time since they met, Viktor looked speechless.

 

“Myself,” he muttered softly after a few minutes, lips pursed and eyes distant.  Yuuri’s nerves returned suddenly, before he nodded.  “Myself, then.”

 

Yuuri wasn’t sure whether he meant to say that out loud, but suddenly the cloud of worry that had been hovering over Yuuri dissipated, and he gushed, “want to go swimming?”

 

Blinking a few times, Yuuri saw the excitement in the Russian’s eyes, and he had leaned towards Yuuri, invading his personal space just enough to leave Yuuri breathless and his skin tingling.

 

Before he knew it, Viktor was wiggling out of his clothes, throwing them to their towels.  Yuuri couldn’t help but gape at him, even though he saw him naked all the time, and laughed as Viktor walked towards him, tugging at his shirt.  

 

“Swim with me, Yuuri!”

 

It was irresistible.  Yuuri couldn’t help but laugh, taking off his shirt and hopping out of his pants awkwardly.  Viktor didn’t seem to mind, grabbing him by the hands and yanking him towards the water.

 

It was the most fun Yuuri had in, well, he couldn’t remember.  Viktor splashed him, tickled him, and they made dramatic shows of going over or under the waves coming towards them.  Eventually the cold water drove them out, but they were still laughing.

 

Yuuri and Viktor were showering the salt water off when he realized that Viktor was leaning over, and quietly picked up a handful of sand and, without warning, smushed it into Viktor’s hair.

 

He yelped, diving for the sand and grabbing some himself, and Yuuri didn’t have time to react either as a cold heap of sand fell into his hair.

 

Somehow that transitioned to them washing each other’s hair, and as they wandered back towards the onsen, Yuuri felt lighter than he had in days.

 

Viktor was listening with rapt attention as Yuuri described the rink back in America.

 

“Yeah, and Phichit and I roomed together all through college.  He’s going to finish up online, I think.”

 

“Were you close with anyone else there?”

 

Yuuri was now leading Makkachin, who was bounding ahead of them, sniffing her way back home.  “We all spent a lot of time together, but I think Phichit was my closest friend there.”

 

“And Celestino?”

“He was… strict.  He was more like a guardian than a coach sometimes.  He didn’t push me.  I think he was worried that I’d break.”

 

Viktor nodded, listening intently.

 

“Not like you.  You push me to be better.  I… I know you haven’t been here that long, but I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

 

The sentence had creeped up from the darkest corners of his mind, the insecurity that had been slowly eating him alive for the last two days, turning all the fun they had had on it’s head really quickly.

 

“I’m not going to stop pushing you.  You are amazing, Yuuri.  I just need you to see that.”

 

The fear evaporated into a rushing stream of affection as Viktor smiled at Yuuri.

 

That smile could light up the sky during a hurricane.

 

That smile can light up my heart even through the anxiety storming around.

 

They parted at Yuuri’s room so that he could go shower, and when he got to his computer he saw that he had a new message.  

 

She had emailed him back.

  

 

***

 

The next morning, Yuuri felt like he was waking up from a really bad dream.

 

Viktor and him had breakfast and then went off to Ice Castle, the early morning chill hanging on them like a calming wave.  Yuuri couldn’t remember where his fears had come from.  They were allayed with each time Viktor waved at the townspeople, with every poorly uttered Japanese word.

 

Once they started on the ice, Viktor had him running jumps.

 

“With that day off you should have plenty of energy!”

 

Yuuri was about ready to murder him by his third try at a quad sal.  

 

“Your balance is off,” Viktor said for the third time, tapping his finger against his chin thoughtfully.  Yuuri’s fingers were twitching.  

 

“What does that even mean?”

 

Viktor skating towards him, and without warning gently placed his hands on his hips.  Yuuri stiffened, but tried to focus on the pressure there.  

 

“You aren’t even in your hips when you come down.  It’s making you off balance.  Here,” his voice lowered, and Yuuri could almost feel Viktor’s chest against his back with the warmth radiating off of him.  His hands were putting pressure on his hips, trying to show him which direction he should be leaning, but Yuuri’s mind was too busy short circuiting.

 

“You got that?”

 

Blinking, Yuuri nodded, still having no idea what he was talking about.

 

When he went up for the jump, though, he remembered those hands splaying across his hips, creating delicious warmth in his gut…

 

He landed the jump.

 

Viktor skated up to him, cheering.  “See!  That was perfect, Yuuri,” he folded Yuuri into a tight hug, and the younger man melted into the embrace.  It was so strong and safe and Viktor.   He went boneless, leaning against Viktor, feeling pride well in his chest.

 

I can do this.  I’m better, and Viktor will keep working with me until I’m perfect.  Maybe… maybe I actually can win.

 

For just a moment, he saw what Viktor saw.  Himself on the top of the podium, smiling with a gold medal, Viktor pulling him down off the podium into a crushing kiss…

 

Yuuri shook his head to clear it as Viktor pulled away from Yuuri a little, just enough to make eye contact with him.  He looked… Yuuri’s eyes widened at how vulnerable he looked all of a sudden, his soft pink lips slightly parted, his wide blue eyes searching, trying to find…

 

It happened in a blink.  Yuuri couldn’t help himself.  He licked his lips unthinkingly and then pressed them up to Viktor’s, a chaste kiss.

 

Viktor gasped, pulling back suddenly, pressing a finger to his lips.

 

The world stopped.   No, no, I messed up, he didn’t want…

 

Then Viktor dove back in, crushing Yuuri in a searing kiss.  Yuuri opened his mouth to him automatically, like he’d opened every other part of his life, because it was Viktor.  It was Viktor, the man he’d loved longer than he’d even known he was gay.  It was Viktor, the man who’d flown across the world on a whim and had so much passion for everything he did.

 

A wolf whistle broke them apart.

 

Even though they pulled away, Viktor’s hands snaked around Yuuri’s middle, keeping him close to him as they turned to see Takeshi giving them a thumbs up.

 

Mortified, Yuuri couldn’t even think of something to say, but Viktor chuckled, brushing a kiss on his temple.  “Later then, da?”

The tension in his body faded almost as quickly as it had come.  It was Takeshi, anyway.  Takeshi was one of Yuuri’s oldest friends.  It wasn’t a secret that he wanted Viktor.

 

Now Viktor might want me back…

 

As Viktor withdrew his embrace, Yuuri felt it hit him like a truck.

 

Viktor just kissed me.

 

Wait… what does he mean later?  Does he want… what if he wants… I’m not ready.  I can’t, I won’t be good enough, I haven’t had enough sex, I don’t know what I’m doing…

 

His mind was buzzing with nerves as he ran Eros one more time.  Viktor made quite a few comments about the technique, but Yuuri wasn’t even sure exactly what he said.

 

The run home was quiet.

 

When they got back to the inn, Viktor suggested that they go to the baths, but Yuuri declined, almost tripping over himself to get to his room…

 

The panic attack ripped out of him as soon as he was alone.

 

His fingers were tingling, breath hitching in his chest, as he tried to run through his usual coping skill, by finding five things he could see, four things he could hear, three things he could touch…

 

Slowly, the panic started to subside, and Yuuri’s tunnel vision faded to find himself seated on the floor in fetal position.

 

Shakily, he moved to the bed, clutching his pillow to ground himself.  The air was still thick like syrup, but he managed to keep himself from losing control of it again.

 

Minutes or hours later, a gentle knock at the door sounded.

 

“Yuuuuuuuri, come on out.  Your mother wants to play family games!”

 

Yuuri couldn’t find his voice.  He squeaked out some sound before all his breath was punched out of him again.

 

The door flew open, and Viktor’s eyes blew wide, taking in the younger skater, still in his outfit from training, holding onto his pillow, tears silently flowing down his cheeks and chest heaving in panic.

 

No no no he can’t see me like this…

 

Viktor seemed to get a hold of himself all at once.  At some point he’d showered and changed to lounge pants and a t-shirt, and he close the door, padding quietly towards the bed.

 

Yuuri shrunk further into himself, pressing his face into the pillow, trying to hide.

 

“No, solnishko , let me see.”

 

Breath was still punching out of Yuuri’s chest as he felt, suddenly, Viktor settle in behind him, gently weaving his arms and legs around Yuuri, then leveraging him up so that he was sitting, cross legged with Viktor tucked in behind him, the Russian’s cold hands running over Yuuri’s arms soothingly, and when the rushing in Yuuri’s ears quieted, he realized that Viktor was singing.

 

Then he realized that the back of his t-shirt was wet.

 

His breath was still gasping, but he no longer felt like he was dying.  Hoarsely, he whispered, “Viktor, are you… crying?”

 

“I’m sorry, I should be comforting you right now, but seeing you like that…” he trailed off, and Viktor’s arms snaked around Yuuri’s middle, crushing him in a hug from behind as Viktor pressed his face into the space between Yuuri’s shoulder blades.  “I had no idea.”

 

Yuuri gulped, not sure how to even continue.  “I… I don’t tell people when it gets bad,” his voice was still scratchy.  “It feels like an inconvenience…”

 

Viktor cursed in what sounded like French.  “Don’t you dare do that to me again.  You tell me.  You come straight to me.  Do you understand?”

The command was so unlike Viktor that Yuuri couldn’t help but whisper, “Yes.”

 

After a moment, Yuuri leaned back into the embrace, and Viktor’s breath caught, falling back against the wall behind him, pulling Yuuri back with him.  Automatically, the younger man curled up into Viktor’s lap.  He turned to his side and balled his hand in Viktor’s shirt, trying to hold himself in the moment.

 

“What can I do?”  Viktor’s voice was hesitant.

 

Yuuri sighed, closing his eyes.  “There’s nothing you can do.  Just… stay with me.”

 

Viktor’s voice was resolute.  “I can do that.”

 

The Russian’s hands started combing through Yuuri’s hair absently as he tried his best to focus on the touches and the sensations over his mountain anxieties, over the crushing weight bearing down on his chest.

 

At some point, the door to the room opened, but Yuuri didn’t move.  Viktor started talking quietly, and then he was being offered water.  He shook his head, realizing on some level that he had dissociated and disconnected from the world around him, but none of that seemed as pressing as keeping himself together.

 

After a while, his lower back started to cramp, and he moved to sit up, but Viktor’s arms tightened around him.

 

“Viktor,” he whispered, but the arms only continued to hold him tightly.

 

“Are you with me again, solnishko ?”

 

“I think so.”

 

His arms loosened at Yuuri’s voice, and Yuuri was able to sit up and stretch a little bit, easing out of the awkward position.  

 

For a few moments, it was silent as Yuuri climbed off the bed and started stretching again.

 

“How long, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri wouldn’t look up.  “Since we got back from practice.”

 

“That’s three hours, Yuuri,” his voice was pitched, and Yuuri tried not to wince.

 

They went a few more minutes before Viktor asked, “Was it me?”

 

Yes.

 

“No,” Yuuri said it firmly, and he finally looked up, forcing himself to make eye contact with Viktor, whose eyes were red-rimmed and exhausted.  “I’ve had anxiety my whole life.  This is just how some days are.”

 

Viktor reached out suddenly, coming up on his knees on the bed.  “Has this happened any other time since I got here?”

 

“I mean, you saw me before the Hot Springs on Ice exhibition,” Yuuri thought back to the crushing fear that had almost prevented him from performing.

 

“I thought it was just performance anxiety.”

 

Viktor’s hands had found Yuuri’s face, and Yuuri realized that tears were still drying on his cheeks.  The Russian's thumbs rubbed the salty lines away, and he tenderly kissed Yuuri’s forehead.

 

They sat there like that for a few moments, silent, before Yuuri asked, “Viktor?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“What does solnishko mean?”

 

Viktor looked stunned, but then a watery smile split his face.  “It means sun.  You are my sunlight, Yuuri.  When you’re sad it’s a rainstorm.”

 

Yuuri sighed, taking one of Viktor’s hands in his own.

 

“What happens now?”

 

Viktor cocked his head to the side.  “What do you mean…”

 

Tears started rolling down Yuuri’s cheeks again, and he hated how weak and helpless he felt, hated showing this side of himself.  “Well, you’re leaving, right?  You know now, that I’m a mess.  This is why I can’t do better…”

 

“Yuuri,” Viktor cut him off, and Yuuri was stunned to see that Viktor was shaking.  “I’m not giving up on you.  Don’t you dare ever say something like that again.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Okay.”

 

Yuuri gently crawled back into the bed, and Viktor laid down, folding Yuuri against his chest, holding him there.  They laid like that until the two of them fell asleep, tangled in each other’s arms.

Chapter Text

Yuuri was having a really good dream when he woke up and felt something hard against his leg.

 

Then a warm breath tickled the hair on the back of his neck and he felt himself start to react to how close the Russian was, stiffening more as the man behind him shifted so that his hardness was unbelievably close to his ass…

 

Yuuri’s breathing quickened.  He simultaneously wanted to jump off the bed and grind back into the attention.

 

It’s just morning wood.  Get your shit together.

 

“Viktor,” Yuuri whispered, his hand brushing against the arm Viktor had slung over Yuuri in the night.

 

“Hmmm,” he came to and pressed a kiss gently against Yuuri’s neck.  “How are you feeling this morning?”

 

“Um, better, but…”

 

Viktor went stock still suddenly, and rolled over quickly.  “I, ah, I’ll go take a shower.  Meet you downstairs for breakfast?”

 

Yuuri nodded before Viktor brushed his lips against his cheek, jumping out of bed and shuffling out of the room.

 

Yuuri couldn’t stop thinking about the feeling of Viktor against him, couldn’t stop imagining what it would have felt like if the man had started moving…

 

Viktor was probably in the shower, doing the same thing, which only got Yuuri more riled up.

 

He reached his hand down his pants and jerked off desperately fast, looking for a gasping, quick release to take the edge off.  He came whispering Viktor’s name and imagining what the Russian was doing only a few rooms away.


***

 

When Yuuri stepped out of the shower, he cursed suddenly, flying to his phone, which had fallen under the bed in his panic the day before.

 

There were over thirty texts from Phichit and five missed calls.

 

Yuuri scrolled to the last few and cringed.

 

P: Yuuri, I’m calling your parents.  If you’re hurting yourself I’ll never forgive you…

 

P: Celestino gave me your mother’s number

 

P: Your mother had informed me that you can’t be reached because you are ASLEEP IN THE BED WITH VIKTOR TELL ME EVERYTHING

 

P: ANSWER ME DAMNIT

 

P: TELL ME YOU WERE AT LEAST SAFE

 

Yuuri gaped at the phone, wondering at what point his mother had peeked her head inside to see them curled up together on his tiny twin bed…

 

Mortified, he got dressed, shooting a quick text back.

 

Y: Sorry for worrying you.  I had a bad day yesterday.  Viktor was comforting me, nothing happened.

 

He thought about it again, and realized with all the worrying he should at least throw Phichit a bone.

 

Y: There was kissing though.  Lots of kisses

 

He could feel the vibrations going off in his pocket, but he ignored them for now, walking towards the smell of food drifting from the kitchen.

 

Viktor and his mother were at the stove, moving around each other like a well oiled machine, and when Yuuri walked in they both stopped what they were doing and waved.  

 

“Yuuri, your mother is teaching me how to make the fluffy pancakes!”

 

His smile was so wide that Yuuri’s heart melted a little bit.

 

He sat at the counter and watched them work, throwing short phrases back and forth in a combination of English and Japanese and sometimes just gestures.  When Hiroko gushed over the finished product of Victor’s towering stack of pancakes, Viktor pressed a kiss to her cheek, and she blushed.  

 

“Yuuri, I’ve decided that I get to keep your mother in the divorce.”

 

The term was thrown out so easily, that Yuuri barely skipped a beat.  “You don’t get to keep my mother, Viktor.”

 

Hiriko had moved back to the dining room to help with the customers, and Viktor pushed a stack of two of the jiggling pancakes in front of Yuuri.

 

“These are for my hot boyfriend.  You wouldn’t have seen him around here, would you?”

 

Yuuri reacted to the term “boyfriend” by turning bright pink.  “I, uh…”

 

Viktor laughed suddenly, kissing Yuuri’s cheeks, flooded with color.  “No pressure, Yuuri.  I was just teasing you.”

 

Yuuri nodded, dazed, before Viktor grabbed his own plate and sat down at the counter with Yuuri, taking a bite and yelling, “Vkusno!” before putting his fork and knife down pointedly.

 

“How are you doing, though?”

 

Yuuri had taken a bite of his own pancakes, and couldn’t help but smile at the taste, reminding him of lazy Saturday mornings as a kid.  “This is delicious.”

 

Viktor beamed.  “Thanks, it was mostly Hiroko though…” he blinked, frowning suddenly.  “Your sister told me you deflect.  I didn’t realize how good at it you were.  How… how often do you do that?”

 

Yuuri couldn’t look at him.  The anxiety that had been quiet all morning was starting to buzz under his skin and swirl in his stomach.

 

“Yuuri,” Viktor’s gentle voice shocked the younger man into looking into his sad face.  “Stay here with me, now, da?”

 

Yuuri was dazed, feeling the anxiety only slightly abate at Viktor’s words.   I can see the pancakes, Viktor, the stove, mom…

 

Once he felt himself get a hold of himself, he continued, “So, practice today…”

 

“I had it pushed back a little.  Yuuko was very understanding.  The hockey league had cancelled anyway.”

 

Yuuri was relieved, worried that Viktor would go overboard and cancel practice.  He needed the ice more than ever if he was going to get past this.  Skating was always an outlet for him in his darkest moments.

 

They finished breakfast with some small talk, but Yuuri was mostly already running Eros through his head, with each step sequence and jump, trying to find something to hold onto.


***



Yuuri finished his thousandth run through of Eros before Viktor called it a night.

 

He secretly wondered whether Viktor knew that the ice was his refuge right now, and that was why he was being so strict, but didn’t want to ask him.  He would just let it be.

 

When Yuuri skated off the ice, Viktor followed him and tugged on his sleeve, gently wrapping him into a hug.

 

Yuuri let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding and chuckled.  “Feeling clingy, coach?”

 

“Is that a bad thing?”  Viktor’s sultry voice whispered into Yuuri’s ear, and Yuuri couldn’t help but gasp at the way it made his skin tingle.

 

“Uh… no,” the younger man decided, letting his fingers travel over the expanse of Viktor’s back, listening to Viktor’s breathing start to hitch.  

 

“We should head back,” Viktor said mournfully, pulling back and pressing a chaste kiss to Yuuri’s lips.  The Japanese man smiled, and he even found the courage to lace his fingers with Viktor’s.  The Russian started, but beamed back at Yuuri, like he was the luckiest man in the world.

 

They changed out of their skates and headed to the onsen.  Once they were out of ice castle they let their hands drop, knowing that public displays of affection, regardless of the genders of those partaking, were frowned upon here.

 

The wind whispered in the trees above them as they walked back, Viktor telling Yuuri the story of meeting Chris’ boyfriend for the first time.

 

“You have to understand that Chris usually dates these wild types.  Pink mohawk, piercings in places I didn’t even know could be pierced, and he walks in with this totally ordinary looking, if very attractive, man and I thought it was just someone that happened to follow him in.  Then they sat down, and he introducing Henrick, and I couldn’t pick my jaw off the floor.”

 

Yuuri was laughing, and couldn’t help but love the way that Viktor used his whole body to tell stories, waving around with his hands, angling his body to indicate direction, changing speeds of his walking in time with the speed of his recounting.

 

It was the little things that Yuuri had started to love about Viktor.  His perfect image of his idol was being peeled back, layer by layer, and replaced by a very real man, who sometimes talks with his mouth full, who sucks a pep talks, who feels everything so fully and dramatically that it’s hard to look away.

 

“What did you do then?” Yuuri asked.

 

“I asked him a thousand questions.  Where does he work?  He was a lawyer.  How did they meet?  At a coffee shop, no less. They both ordered the same thing and talked for three hours before agreeing to meet up again.  Henrick was unbelievably normal and smart and well off.  Once he left I made sure to tell Chris to marry him immediately, before he changes his mind.”

 

“Viktor!” Yuuri squealed, unable to control his barking laughter.  Someone who was watering their plants waved at the two of them, and Viktor waved back, but Yuuri was barely catching his breath.  “You’re terrible.”

 

“I’m a fantastic friend,” the Russian scoffed, looking mock offended.  They had made it back to the onsen at that point, and once they were in the door and past the guest areas to the Katsuki’s quarters Viktor’s hand sought Yuuri’s, pulling him in for another kiss.

 

Yuuri allowed it, letting Viktor press kiss after kiss to his lips, until finally he requested access to his mouth by sliding his tongue over the seam of his lips.

 

A shiver ran through Yuuri as he allowed it, and it was like a switch had flipped; the moment that Viktor slipped his tongue in, Yuuri was ravenous.

 

In seconds he had pinned Viktor against the hallway wall, licking into his mouth with a whine, pressing his chest against Viktor’s.  The older man groaned, fists tightening on the front of Yuuri’s shirt, and they stayed like that for a few minutes before Yuuri pulled back.

 

“We should move…”

 

Viktor nodded, dazed, and pulled him into his bedroom, sliding the door shut and guiding Yuuri back to the bed slowly, taking time to press soft, chaste kisses to his lips and cheeks as he did so.

 

Once Yuuri had almost hit the mattress, Viktor turned them so that he plopped into a sitting position on the end of the bed, looking up at Yuuri through silver lashes.

 

“Where are our boundaries tonight, Yuuri?”

 

The question made Yuuri warm all over.  His concerns from the day before about Viktor pressuring him evaporated into thin air like a heavy fog at morning light.  Yuuri took a moment to run his fingers along Viktor’s pale and strong jawline, trying to memorize the shape of his face.

 

“I don’t think I’m ready for sex tonight.”

 

Viktor nodded, hands seeking out Yuuri’s. “Be explicit, solnishko.  Don’t be embarrassed.”

 

Yuuri bit his lip, starting to get excited thinking about all of the things they could do.  “We can… see each other.  And… use hands, but not mouths yet.  Is that… okay?”

 

Viktor’s cheeks had become a little pink at the words, pupils starting to dilate. “Y-yeah,” he said softly, leaning forward and pressing a kiss against Yuuri’s belly.  “Let me see you then, Yuuri.”

 

Shaking a little, Yuuri’s fingers sought the bottom of his shirt, and he brought the fabric over his head.  Viktor smiled, attacking the expanse of skin, placing sloppy, open-mouthed kisses over the site.  “You’re beautiful, darling.  Every inch of you.”

 

Tears threatened to form in Yuuri’s eyes, and he blinked a few times to clear them, fingers seeking out purchase on Viktor’s shirt.  The Russian got the idea and flung it off, and Yuuri marveled again at the flat expanse of his chest, fingers brushing against his sides.  Viktor spasmed a little as he passed there, and Yuuri made a mental note that he must be ticklish.

 

This was going to be fun.

 

His fingers grazed Viktor’s nipples next, and the Russian gasped, hands falling on Yuuri’s stomach, splaying over the skin there.  

 

Yuuri took the initiative and crawled into Viktor’s lap as the older man scooted back onto the bed, so that Yuuri’s legs were bracketing Viktor’s hips.  Yuuri’s fingers tilted Viktor’s chin up for a kiss, and Yuuri closed his eyes, reveling in the feeling of the man underneath him.

 

They made out for a while, exploring each other’s chests, seeking out where the other was sensitive, memorizing the shape of the other.  Yuuri would never get enough of learning Viktor’s body.  He could imagine spending every day for the rest of his life doing it.

 

Then, his fingers trailed lower and found that the Russian had responded very positively to the touching.

 

“Oh, Viktor, do you like me touching you?”

 

“Obviously,” Viktor growled, trying to claim Yuuri’s mouth again, but Yuuri placed a finger against his lips, shaking his head.  

 

Yuuri’s fingers snapped at the band of Viktor’s exercise pants.  “Off.”

 

The older man looked a little shocked at the order, but then recovered quickly and fell back against the bed, hitching up his hips to pull down the pants.  Once they were halfway down Yuuri took care of them the rest of the way, and Viktor smirked.

 

“Anxious, are we…”

 

But Yuuri was already pulling down Viktor’s boxers and had taken the Russian’s cock in hand, making the Russian fall back against the bed in ecstasy.

 

“Fuck,” he gasped, and Yuuri straddled Viktor’s lap, not knowing where all the confidence came from but liking this new side of himself.

 

That wasn’t true, per se.  Yuuri knew that he like to be in control from past experiences.  Maybe it was specifically seeing Viktor splayed under him, his alabaster cock flushed in Yuuri’s tanned hands, blush blooming across his chest, that made it so special.  

 

Yuuri started a very unhurried pace, but Viktor quickly leaned forward to claim Yuuri’s mouth with his own, muttering, “You too.”

 

Yuuri obliged, kicking his own sweats off and taking Viktors hand to knead at his growing erection together.  Viktor didn’t break the kiss as he thrust his hand down Yuuri’s pants, pulling them down so that they were tangled together horizontally across the bed, and they set a leisurely pace on each other, curling into each other’s touches.  They were wound together and breathing each other’s air, stimulation sending Yuuri’s mind into overdrive, just wanting to feel Viktor’s hand on him, to feel Viktor feel good...

 

Their foreheads were rested together, sweat beading as they worked.  Yuuri’s hips started to thrust erratically, and Viktor followed suit, and it was almost like they were fucking, so close that Yuuri couldn’t help but imagine that Viktor’s warm hand was really his hole, stretching for him.

 

“Yuuri,” Viktor gasped, breath catching before he moaned, spilling all over Yuuri’s hand.  The sound of Yuuri’s name in Viktor’s mouth did it for Yuuri, sending him over the edge a minute later.

 

They gasped, staying close together for a few moments, before Viktor lifted his hand, covered in their releases, between them, and Yuuri leaned forward, possessed, and started licking his fingers.

 

“Yuuri,” Viktor hissed as the Japanese man worked, sliding his tongue along the length of the Russian man's long, piano player fingers, bobbing his head to take the whole finger between his lips, swirling his tongue in the space between the digits.  He could feel Vikor start to get excited again against his thigh, and suddenly Viktor flipped them so that he was on top, surveying Yuuri from above.

 

Yuuri’s breath caught at the wrecked man above him, his hair falling in sweaty locks against his forehead, eyes bright with satisfaction.  Viktor’s finger slipped underneath Yuuri’s briefs and snapped the elastic, whispering hoarsely, “Off.”

 

It was a mimic of what Yuuri had said earlier, and Yuuri understood why Vikor had reacted the way he did.  He scrambled out of the underwear quickly, reaching up to claim Viktor’s mouth again…

 

But Vikor had gone very still.

 

Confusion fell over Yuuri.  His cock had started to get hard again with the command, and was aching to be touched.  “Viktor, please…”

 

“Yuuri,” the name was hissed darkly, and Yuuri didn’t know what was wrong, but he knew that whatever it was, they weren’t going to be continuing at all this evening.

 

It was then that Yuuri realized that Viktor’s fingers had fallen to four thin lines decorating his hip, still red from the other day and scabbed over, jagged from the steak knife.

 

Yuuri’s vision started to prickle on the edges.  Oh.   Oh. Yuuri could see it now, too, the array of interlacing scars, that Yuuri had been careful to keep in his underwear line.  The story of years of anxiety played with a knife like a bow on a violin, the sweet melody of cutting breaking through every bad thought like a sounding call.

 

Viktor was mouthing words as his fingers traced the white lines, one at a time, before the fingers started shaking.

 

“How could you?”

 

The words cut like daggers to Yuuri’s heart as Viktor’s eyes started to fill with angry tears.  

 

“How could you.  You promised you would come to me…” his voice was getting very shaky as the tears started to spill over, falling against the scarred skin.

 

“You never noticed before?”  Yuuri whispered, feeling like his tethers to reality were being cut like strings to a balloon.

 

“I don’t make it a habit to stare at you when we’re in the baths.  Not here.  I never wanted to make you uncomfortable…” the words were biting and sad all at once, and Yuuri had thought that Viktor hadn’t seen the scars, but thinking it and seeing it were two different things.  It was different seeing his eyes spill over with tears, falling in salty droplets on his own tanned skin, in sharp contrast with the thin white lines.

 

Finally, Yuuri managed to get a hold of himself and pulled back, fumbling for his underwear and pants.  “I’m sorry you had to see that…”

 

“Where are you going?”  Suddenly Viktor was up in a flash, grabbing Yuuri’s wrist in a vice-like grip, voice pleading.  “You can’t leave.”

 

Yuuri hovered somewhere between understanding Viktor’s concern and his anxiety starting to make his skin itch, screaming that he didn’t want to be touched right now.  

 

“Let me go, Viktor,” Yuuri intoned darkly, and the Russian pulled away like he’d been slapped.  Yuuri threw his pants on, not even bothering with the shirt, and sped out the door.

Chapter Text

Yuuri was lying in his bed, watching his ceiling fan spin, as he heard the desperate voice of Viktor descend from irritation to sheer terror.  

 

“Please, open up, I need to know you’re okay, please…”

 

At some point the poor man started sobbing in Russian.  Then, at some other point, Yuuri bristled when he heard his sister’s voice from the other side of his door, trying to calm Viktor down enough so he could explain.

 

Yuuri couldn’t hear the exchange, it was whispered, but Mari was pounding on the door before long.

 

“Open up, Yuuri.”

 

Panic seized him around the middle, and he curled in on himself, trying to keep himself from falling apart, even though he knew it was only a matter of time until…

 

We still keep a key to your room in my room, ” Mari rushed in Japanese so Viktor wouldn’t understand, “ Either you open this door, or we’ll do it for you.

 

Yuuri’s hands shook as Mari sighed, her voice softening.  “ I won’t stay in there for long.  You probably need alone time.  I just need to assess your mental state, okay?  I just want you to be okay.”

 

The words made the tears that he’d been holding back start to pool in his eyes, and he got up shakily, grabbing a shirt from his drawer and pressing his forehead against his door.

 

Just you.

 

Viktor knew enough Japanese to get the gist of what Yuuri had said, and started running off in English to Mari, about needed to be there, but he heard her cut him off.

 

“Go help mom in the kitchen.”

 

“But…”

 

“I have this, Viktor.  I’ll let you know what happens.  Let me take care of this.”

 

Yuuri could imagine the stare that Mari was fixing Viktor with, and before he knew it there was the sound of footsteps padding away.

 

After a few moments, Yuuri opened the door a crack, and Mari moved in quickly, shutting the door, then composing herself.

 

Breathing deeply as she took in her brother’s messy hair and tear-stained cheek, she nodded to the bed.  “Sit.”

 

Yuuri followed the order dutifully, doing his best to avoid eye contact.  Her dark brown eyes could see right into his soul, and that was the last thing he needed.

 

“How many times?”

 

Yuuri swallowed.  “Only once.  It was on impulse, not premeditated.”

 

She nodded.  “How long ago?”

 

“Three days.”

 

Mari cursed under her breath, leaning against his dresser.  She ran her fingers through the ends of her dyed-blonde hair, and Yuuri could smell the cigarette smoke floating towards him like a soft comfort.

 

“You promise you wouldn’t do it again after Phichit called us.”

 

Phichit had had too much, and had called Yuuri’s family in a last ditch effort to get Yuuri to stop before sending him to the hospital.  It had been a hard few hours of phone calls, quite a few shed tears, but he had promised his devastated mother that he would stop.

 

“It… got bad again.”

 

Mari nodded, crossing her arms over her chest.  “I thought that was what the meds were for?”

 

She didn’t mean it in any way, but it hit Yuuri hard, hearing his sister say that.  “The medication eases the day-to-day, yeah, but it won’t completely get rid of the issue.  I’ll always have anxiety.”

 

I’ll always have anxiety .  The words echoed in his head like a broken record.  The medications that he had been prescribed a few months ago helped, but they weren’t a cure-all.

 

“Maybe you should talk to your doctor about getting them adjusted,” she said matter-of-factly, “It can’t hurt anything.”

 

Yuuri nodded, easing into the idea of setting a plan in place, the concept smoothing over the anxiety like an iron over wrinkles.

 

“You can’t do that again,” her voice was hushed, full of emotion.  “You need to talk to one of us if you have the urge.  You need to get help.”

 

Tears were falling freely from his eyes again.  “It’s easy to say that now.  Right now, I feel safe.  I want to say that I agree, that I will come to you.  It’s so much harder when I’m in that dark place.  It’s so hard to imagine that someone would want to help me, that I’m not just seeking attention…”

 

Mari growled somewhere from low in her throat, suddenly.  “You never were one for attention.  That’s the anxiety talking.”

 

Nodding, Yuuri leaned back onto the bed, looking up at the ceiling, hands coming up to his face.  “I messed up.”

 

“No shit.  Viktor was a mess,” Mari’s voice softened.  “He really cares about you, I think.”

 

“Doesn’t matter,” he grumbled, “He’s not going to stay after seeing this.”

 

Mari clucked her tongue.  “You’ve really learned nothing, then.”

 

The two of them sat in silence for a moment or two.

 

“How are you doing, right now?  Do you want to hurt yourself?”

 

Yuuri shook his head, closing his eyes, not wanting to talk about it anymore.  He felt fine now.  Anxious as hell about Viktor knowing, and angry at himself for not reaching out, but he didn’t want to hurt himself.

 

“I’m going to get the futon.  I’m going to sleep in here with you tonight…”

 

Yuuri sat up, eyes widened.  “Mari, that’s…”

 

His sister glared at him.  “If you say unnecessary, I swear…”

 

He swallowed the word down, hard, and nodded.  

 

“Now, dinner.  I was thinking some of my curry.  Want to help prepare it?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  The two of them got out the futon from the hall closet and set it up, then made their way towards the kitchen.  

 

The closer he got, the more he wanted to just freeze, stop moving, because he knew Viktor was only so many steps away, waiting for him…

 

“How could you…”

 

“Yuuri, you’re shaking,” Mari pressed her thumbs in soothing motions on Yuuri’s hands, and he took a calming breath.  “We’ll do our thing, Viktor will help mom with dinner.  I’ll go ahead of you and explain so you won’t have to talk.  Okay?”

 

Relief flooded him, and he felt the sudden desire to tackle his sister with a hug.  Mari and him had never been overly affectionate towards each other, but they were always there if the other needed them.  

 

Arigatou gozaimasu ” Yuuri whispered, squeezing her hands.

 

She went into the kitchen, and he heard Viktor and her arguing for a few minutes, and he stood stock still, trying to drown out the sounds and not listen.

 

“Come on, Yuuri.  He agreed to give us space.”

 

He padded into the room, and saw his mother at work over the stove, nonplussed.  Viktor, however, was looking at Yuuri with some emotion he couldn’t place between frustration and longing and sadness.  

 

Hiroko barked orders at Viktor then, and the man started helping immediately, snapping to attention.

 

Yuuri followed Mari to their own side of the stove, and she took out the cutting board and threw some vegetables in the bowl for Yuuri to slice while she started going through the spice cabinet and pulling out other materials they would need.

 

Yuuri started in on the carrots first.  The slicing was calming in a way he wasn’t expecting it to be.  He could see Viktor out of his periphery, and he was eyeing the knife with an unreadable expression.

 

The dicing put him into a meditative state.  No one spoke as they each worked, other than the occasional order from Hiroko or question from Viktor.  Mari and Yuuri had made this dish together so many times, they didn’t need to speak.  Yuuri handed to potatoes over without her asking, she handed him materials as he needed them.

 

They were a well oiled machine.  Yuuri always found cooking soothing when he was in a high anxiety state.  Though being around other people was stressing him out, he understood why he wasn’t allowed to be alone.  

 

Making a food dish had the calming affect of knowing that you were doing something vital to other’s survival, that you had a purpose.  Yuuri fell into that role easily.

 

Once the curry was boiling, Mari nodded to the dining room.  “Hang out in there.  Want me to get you anything from your room to do?”

 

“Just… my laptop,” he blushed a little at how childish it felt, but there was something soothing about handing over control.

 

Viktor looked over at the words, from where he was chopping up tofu, and moved toward him, but Hiroko snapped, “I need those chopped, dear.”

 

At attention once more, the Russian went back to his work, and Yuuri let out the breath he had been holding.

 

Mari and Yuuri ate in comfortable silence.  Hiroko and Viktor didn’t stop long enough to eat until the sibling were already cleaning up, and Viktor watched dejectedly as Yuuri walked with his sister back to his room.

 

His sister had a book and he was on his email, responding to a few friends and some of the media that was reaching out for interviews.  They worked in silence, until Yuuri finally called it a night and switched off the lamp.

 

Mari nodded and curled up in her futon, and once he knew she was asleep, he whispered, “I love you, too.”

 

***



Yuuri yawned when he woke up the next morning, and stopped dead when he saw Viktor sitting on Mari’s futon, on Instagram with Makkachin lazily tucked between his legs.

 

The Russian looked a little worse for wear, but far more calm today.  When he heard Yuuri moving, he looked up, dropping his phone immediately.

 

“Yuuri, I…”

 

“No,” Yuuri shook his head, rubbing his eyes.  “Breakfast first, okay?”

 

Yuuri knew he wouldn’t be able to think straight until he got rid of the cobwebs.  Otherwise he’s absolutely useless in the morning.  

 

Viktor followed dutifully behind Yuuri, looking like he couldn’t figure out what to do with himself.  As Yuuri set to work starting the tea pot, Viktor pulled out the eggs and some vegetables and started making omelettes.  

 

At Yuuri’s raised brows, Viktor smiled sheepishly.  “What?  Cooking with your mother has taught me some things.”

 

Yuuri’s heart swelled a little watching him carefully cook up the vegetables, then whisk the eggs before pouring it over.  Yuuri watched quietly as he put cheese on them and set them on two separate plates.  

 

Viktor started walking towards the main dining room, but Yuuri shook his head.

 

They went back towards one of the family’s private party rooms and settled around the table there.  Yuuri poured them each out a cup of tea and then tucked in, quiet for a long time.

 

Once Yuuri finished his food, Viktor began.

 

“Yuuri, you have to…”

“No, I don’t,” Yuuri said softly, so softly that he was surprised that Viktor heard him at all.  “Me first.”

 

Viktor nodded shortly.

 

“I need you to understand some things about me.”

 

The Russian’s eyes widened, but he nodded again.

 

“When I was fifteen I started having anxiety.  It had been a problem all my life, but really got the worst then.  I’ve struggled with it for so long that I forget that people don’t know how to react to it.  I forget that I need to teach them.”

 

Yuuri swirled his tea around a little before taking a long sip.  The Russian waited patiently, hands folded together in his lap despite his breakfast only being half eaten.

 

“When I was a sophomore in college I started cutting.  It was a lot of things that I don’t want to get into now, but there was one thing that a lot of people don’t understand.  It was never about anyone else.  When I cut, it isn’t me telling anyone that I hate them or that I want to hurt them.  I cut for me.  To quiet the anxiety running loose in my head.”

 

Yuuri was waiting for the anxiety to start creeping up, but surprisingly he was feeling fairly calm.  His finger started tracing the pattern on the side of the tea pot.  

 

“Yesterday, when you said ‘how could you?’ I heard ‘You betrayed me.’  That’s not it at all.  It was never about you in the first place.”

 

Yuuri knew that on some level it was about Viktor, but not in any way he could control, and not in any way that negated his own actions in the matter.

 

“I hadn’t cut in two years.  The other day was just a culmination of a lot of things all at once.  When I get like that, it isn’t so much that I decide to do it as much as I see no other way.”

 

Yuuri blushed a little as he continued, “I really enjoyed yesterday, and I hate that me making a stupid decision a few days ago ruined it.  It’s… something that is a part of me.  When you looked at me with disgust, I felt it, like you were disgusted with me.”

 

They sat there quietly for a moment before Viktor asked quietly, “May I speak, now?”

 

A little dazed, Yuuri nodded.

 

“I reacted badly.  I saw something I had no experience with and my first reaction was to feel afraid and confused.  I don’t have anyone in my life who has gone through that, and seeing you, someone I admire, resort to something so outside of my realm of understanding, hit me hard.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t help but feel emotion well up inside of him at the words “someone I admire”.

 

“I had a conversation with Mari this morning.  She told me that the most important thing for you right now is to have someone with you, who is ready to support you when you need it.  But I don’t know how to be support for someone who hurts themselves.  I… I’m out of my depth,” Viktor ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, “I need you to tell me the right thing to do.”

 

It was like he’d poured cold water down Yuuri’s back.  It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t know what to do, but it still stung to know how much he was inconveniencing his coach.

 

“Just stay close to me.”

 

The reflection of the routine that brought them together had Yuuri start choking in emotion, and he felt Viktor move around the table and gently slide his hands around his waist from behind.  Yuuri leaned back into the embrace, closing his eyes.

 

“I need you to tell me when things are bad.  I can’t help if you don’t tell me.”

 

Yuuri nodded, feeling more idiotic by the minute.  “It… it’s different.  When things are really bad I have a hard time remembering that the people who love me want to help.”

 

Viktor nodded, brushing his fingers soothingly across his chest.

 

“I need you to remind me, sometimes,” Yuuri’s voice was low and choked now, “I hate asking, and being an inconvenience…”

 

“No, solnishko , I’ll tell you every day.”

 

His voice was firm, and Yuuri nodded, suddenly feeling the emotions start to edge out, and his fingers laced with Viktor’s.

 

“Talk to Phichit,” Yuuri said softly, his fingers tracing Viktor’s hand, “He was there when I went through this a few years ago.  He probably could help you sort it all out.”

 

Viktor pressed a kiss to Yuuri’s hairline.  “Thanks for letting me know.  I’ll call him later today.”

 

“About practice…”

 

“Like normal,” Viktor said calmly, “Our rink time is booked like normal.  We need to head over soon.”

 

Yuuri breathed a sigh of relief and smiled, relishing in the thought of letting himself give over to the strict practice of the body instead of the mind.

Chapter Text

Viktor had Yuuri working on jumps for four hours.

 

By the end of it, everything hurt.  He had bruises in places that he didn’t even know he could bruise.

 

Viktor was beaming at him.

 

“You’re so close to getting the quad salchow consistently!  Your triple axel is looking sharper as well.”

 

Yuuri nodded, still trying to catch his breath.  Despite his stamina, perfecting his jumps for so long had punched a hole in his resolve.  

 

It had, however, kept his mind busy, without any time to slow down.

 

“Your mother is teaching me how to make her Italian marinara sauce tonight!  She’s making chicken parmesan.  I’m amazed by her talents.  She could probably work in a five-star restaurant!”

 

Yuuri nodded, exhaustion making it incredibly difficult to focus.  

 

“We’ve got two hours until then.  Let’s head back and soak in the hot springs.”

 

His words were running right past Yuuri; the younger man nodded, but wasn’t really taking in what the Russian was saying.

 

“Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri blinked, and shook his head to clear it.  “Sorry, long day.  I’m going to splash some cold water on my face.”

 

Viktor nodded, already looking at his phone and scrolling through his Snapchat.  

 

Yuuri went over to the sinks in the locker room, taking in himself in the mirror.  He gulped, leaning over and running the water.  He looked like shit.  His hair was sticking to his forehead with sweat, and his face was red from exertion.  

 

I feel… normal, though.  Good.

 

A small smile appeared on his lips, and he couldn’t help but feel a rush of happiness.  Viktor was smart.  He knew just how to keep Yuuri occupied.

 

Speaking of Viktor…

 

It was a conversation that they had to have.  They’d kissed, and done… other things, and they still hadn’t talked about what their relationship meant.  Yuuri wanted to believe that the older man had feelings for him, real, true feelings, but had no evidence to support the claim.

 

He took a steadying breath, hoping that he would be able to get this out without falling asleep in the baths.

 

The walk back was quiet, mostly just Viktor recounting funny things he saw on social media.  Yuuri felt the drag in every muscle in his body, and fought relentlessly to stay present in the moment.

 

When they got to the locker room of the onsen, Yuuri stripped, not really thinking about what he was doing.  When he turned around, Viktor was already stripped down, and he carefully avoided looking at Yuuri’s hips.

 

“Shall we?”

 

Yuuri nodded, fighting the urge to cover back up.  This was a trust test.  Viktor needed to be able to take all of him, every jagged edge.  This was a part of him as much as everything else.

 

Yuuri caught a look of himself in the mirror, and his eyes widened at the patchwork of purple and blue on his body.  It had felt good, stretching his body to the limits, and he smiled in spite of the pain.

 

Once they rinsed off and eased into the bath, Viktor started to work easing Yuuri into careful stretches, so that he didn’t stiffen too much that night.  Yuuri was trying his best to focus on the stretch, but the naked Russian brushing up against him was proving difficult to ignore.

 

When Viktor considered Yuuri sufficiently stretched, they leaned back against the edge of the spring only a few feet apart, silent but for the running of the water.

 

Viktor beat him to it.

 

“I was thinking, today, about the other night.”

 

Yuuri blushed, but Viktor quickly clarified.

 

“No, no, not then.  The night that we slept next to each other.  I want to do that again.”

 

Yuuri nodded, eyes narrowing, trying to get a grasp of where Viktor was going with that.

 

“I guess I’m saying that I wanted to post a picture today, and I didn’t know what to say.  This is me and my student?  This is me and my boyfriend?  I wanted to know…”

 

Yuuri chuckled, fighting his urge to fall asleep against the rocks.  “Is this your DTR introduction?”

 

Viktor brushed back his silver hair, confusion splayed over his features.  “DTR?”

 

“Oh,” Yuuri blushed, realizing that it wasn’t common knowledge.  “It was an American phrase.  It meant Define The Relationship.”

 

Viktor smiled suddenly, pointing at Yuuri excitedly.  “Yes, that!  I want to do that.”  

 

Yuuri blinked, muttering, “I think we’ve passed the point of just friends a while ago.”

 

Viktor nodded, winking at him.  “I want to figure out what kind of feelings we have between us.  I don’t just want to help you become a better skater.  I find myself wondering what your favorite color is, the rhythm of you coming down the stairs, whether you’re ticklish…”

 

At that Yuuri felt fingers snake under the water and start poking at his sides, and he gasped, jumping up.  He felt more awake then than he had in almost an hour.  

 

Laughing, he pulled Viktor’s hands into his own, lacing their fingers together: nervously, suddenly.  “I want to learn those things about you too.  My favorite color is blue, by the way.”

 

Viktor smiled, and they pulled their hands apart for the sake of the other guests, but there was something that settled over them, a blanket of intimacy that went beyond physical touching.

 

“So… what should I call you, then?”

 

Viktor pressed his finger to his lips.  “How about your lover?”

 

Yuuri blushed again, starting to feel the exhaustion threaten to pull him under.  “How about my boyfriend?”

 

Viktor’s eyes sparkled, and he nodded, touching a soft hand to Yuuri’s shoulder.

 

“You’re exhausted, Yuuri.  Why don’t you take a nap?  I’m helping your mother with dinner soon anyway.”

 

The dark haired man nodded, blinking back the exhaustion as it hit him like a ton of bricks.  Viktor helped him from the water.  He didn’t have the energy to put his clothes back on, so Viktor helped him into one of the inn’s robes.

 

“Boyfriend,” Yuuri hummed the word appreciatively, and Viktor looked at him fondly, tying the robe off in the front.  

 

“Boyfriend,” Viktor agreed, and he lead the exhausted man through the inn until they were moving past Viktor’s room towards Yuuri’s, but the younger man stopped.

 

“Come on, your room…”

 

“No,” Yuuri mumbled grumpily, hazy from the tiredness, “I want to sleep here.”

 

Viktor cocked his head to the side, walking to stand face to face with Yuuri, brushing his dark, damp hair back.  

 

“It smells like you,” Yuuri said finally, looking sheepish.

 

The Russian’s bright blue eyes lit up, and he grinned mischievously.  “You like my smell, Yuuri?”

 

Yuuri nodded, leaning his forehead against the Russian’s shoulder.  “I’m tired, Viktor,” he muttered grumpily, and Viktor chuckled, helping him into the room and settling him onto the bed.

 

“Sleep tight, solnishko .”



***



Viktor quietly pulled out an old t-shirt and jeans from his drawers, careful not to wake Yuuri, though he was pretty sure nothing could wake Yuuri at that moment.  He made the mistake of wearing one of his designer shirts the first time him and Hiroko cooked, and only cried for ten minutes when he had to throw it out later that night.

 

He wasn’t sacrificing any more of his designer outfits.

 

As he padded towards the kitchen, he passed the living room, where Mari was playing with Makkachin, happily cooing at the dog.

 

Viktor’s heart melted at the sight, and leaned against the door frame until the woman noticed him.

 

She smiled tightly.  “Viktor.”

 

“Is Mari good to you, Makka?” Viktor said happily, leaning over to pet his beloved dog.  “She’s been taking such good care of you while I’m in the baths.”

 

Mari pulled her cigarette pack out, motioning for the door.  “Join me, yeah?”

 

Viktor felt himself freeze up, but nodded, following the older Katsuki sibling out onto the back patio as she lit her cigarette, her long drag illuminating the shadows in the late afternoon sun.  

 

“How is he?”

 

“Asleep,” Viktor said, but sighed when she eyed him pointedly.  “I don’t know, Mari.  I’m way out of my depth.”

 

“Are you going to leave?”

 

The question wasn’t unexpected, but it made the Russian bristle.  “No.  I care about him, Mari.  I’m not going anywhere.”

 

She nodded, flicking the ash onto the patio.  “It’s not going to get easier.  He’s been struggling since he was a teenager.  I had almost forgot, because he had been gone for so long, but having him back is reminding me of how exhausting it is.”

 

Viktor cringed, muttering darkly, “That’s…”

 

Quickly, her eyes widened.  “I didn’t mean… I love him.  He’s so important to me.  Yuuri is a great brother.  For every moment I have to keep an eye out for him he makes it worth it a thousand times over.  Sometimes I think he does things that are so thoughtful because he thinks he owes the people around him.  Watch out for that.”

 

Viktor started to get a little panicked at how fast the list of things he needed to keep an eye on was growing.

 

“I’m here, if it ever gets too much.  Mom and dad know a lot, but they aren’t ever the ones he confides in about these things.  When you don’t feel like you have anyone, you have me.  Oh, and Phichit.  Have you called him yet?”

 

Viktor shook his head.  “I’m supposed to help your mother with dinner.”

 

Her calloused hands gripped Viktor’s shoulder, bracing him.  “Good luck with that.”

 

Viktor blinked through his curtain of silver bangs.  “But I love cooking with Hiroko…”

 

Mari just laughed, a hearty, deep thing, and wandered out into the yard, leaving Viktor confused in her wake.

 

When he got to the kitchen, the sweet Hiroko gasped in excitement.  “Vicchan!  Onions,” she pointed to the onions waiting for him on the cutting board, and he nodded, starting to dice them immediately.

 

The first few times he tried, dicing onions seemed a daunting and time-consuming task, but it quickly became a simple matter of planning and patience, and Hiroko shooting advice over his shoulder while on her way to do twelve other things.

 

“I have to sautee the onions and garlic first with the sausage.  Toss it into the pot, dear,” she peeled off the casings of the sausage and plopped them into the pot, breaking them apart with the wooden spoon before Viktor put his own offering in, along with a few cloves of garlic.

 

“We’ll let that cook a while before we add the liquids,” she instructed, handing him a few tomatoes.  “Blend these for me, would you?”

 

Viktor nodded eagerly, the smells a symphony in his nostrils and made his mouth water already.

 

“How was practice today?”

 

“Great!  Yuuri’s jumps are coming together very well.  He’s very talented, your son.”

 

The mother nodded, eyes scrunching in happiness behind her glasses.  “We always knew.  It was just convincing him.”

 

They were quiet for a moment as Viktor started the blender up, offering up bits of tomato as he sliced them into the tiny slot in the top.  

 

“You bring out a side of him we haven’t seen before,” she said after a while, stirring the contents in the pot.  “We’re so lucky to have you here, Vicchan.”

 

Emotion swirled within the man, and he took a moment to control his features before he started to cry.  His own relationship with his mother was… troubled.  He never found the courage to say it out loud, but spending so much time with Hiroko was something that was bringing out new sides to him, too.

 

“Grab some fresh basil from the herb box outside, would you?”

 

Viktor took a deep breath, smiling brightly at the woman.  “Of course, Mama Katsuki.”

 

The nickname had been something he’d used before, but not when they were alone.  Her eyes widened, and she stopped what she was doing a moment, watching the Russian leave the room.



***



When Viktor edged into his room and flicked the light on, he was met with a decadent sight.

 

Yuuri was sprawled out on his mattress, having kicked aside the blankets.  At some point Makkachin had gathered them and turned them into a pseudo-doggy bed on the floor.

 

His chest was rising and falling in drawn out breaths, and the robe he was wearing had parted, only coming together just at his navel.  Viktor did his best to avoid staring for too long at how precious the young man looked before he set down on the bed, running his fingers over the younger man’s hair.  His eyelids were fluttering, probably from a dream he was having, and Viktor was loathe to wake him, but knew he needed to eat dinner.

 

“Time to rejoin the living, Yuuri,” he whispered into the young man’s ear, and Yuuri groaned, rolling over and away from Viktor.

 

Viktor chuckled, poking Yuuri’s side and eliciting a hiss from the Japanese man.  “Come on, Yuuri, your mother made dinner.”

 

Sitting up, blinking sleep out of his eyes, he slid his glasses back on.

 

Once he could see, he balked, looking around him frantically.  “When… when did I get here?”

 

“Here as in the onsen or here as in my bed?”

 

“Viktor,” Yuuri groaned, “You know what I mean.”

 

The Russian smiled widely.  “You said you wanted to sleep here because you liked my smell.”

 

The blush lit like a fire across Yuuri’s cheekbones, and he buried his head in his hands.  “Oh, no…”

 

“No, it was adorable , trust me,” Viktor cooed, encircling Yuuri in his arms.  “You are adorable.”

 

Yuuri groaned again, but was smiling now.  “I’ll go get dressed, then.”

 

He made to get up, but Viktor tugged on his sleeve suddenly, coming up onto his knees so that he was eye level with the other man.

 

Putting on a perfect pout, Viktor whispered, “Kiss, first?”

 

Yuuri rubbed his eyes under his glasses, a grin splitting his face.  “No one warned me how dangerous you were when you pout.”

 

“I’m used to getting what I want,” the Russian countered, and Yuuri leaned in, pressing a light kiss the Viktor’s lips, making him hum in appreciation.



***



After dinner died down and Yuuri retired for the night, Viktor took his phone out into the front garden, tapping his foot for a few minutes until he decided on exactly what he was going to say.

 

The Thai man answered on the third ring.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi, Phichit, it’s Viktor Nikiforov.  Yuuri gave me your number.”

 

There was a rush of garbled and excited Thai on the other line before, “It’s so nice to talk to you!  I have a million questions for you.  Did you really adopt Makkachin from an abusive family?  Are you really going to stay retired?  Is there…”

 

“Phichit, slow down,” Viktor chuckled good-naturedly, “We’ll have plenty of time to discuss all of that, but first, I’m calling about Yuuri.”

 

Phichit stopped, his voice changing tone immediately from excited to sober.  “He texted me earlier to warn me that you might.  He explained what happened.”

 

“How did you do it, Phichit?”  Viktor’s voice trembled a little bit.  “If I’m not with him I have no idea what he’ll do.  At any moment he could be hurting himself.  It’s so much.”

 

Viktor took a moment to breathe and collect himself as the other man thought over his response.  Viktor took a moment to stare at the flowers, which in the silver light pouring down from the sky lost all color.  He couldn’t, for the life of him, remember what color they were supposed to be, and wondered why he was so bothered by it.

 

Finally, Phichit found his words.

 

“I can tell you what I did, if that helps.”

 

Viktor perked up, nodding even though the other man couldn’t see him.

 

“He minimizes a lot.  Do you know what that means?”

 

“No, I don’t,” Viktor confessed, feeling out of his depth already.

 

“That’s fine.  It means that he makes things seem the least concerning possible.  He’ll brush off really serious situations as no big deal.  It is a big deal, though.”

 

VIktor bit his lip.  “Go on.”

 

“He gets stubborn and proud sometimes.  He won’t want you to help him.  At those moments, you have to let him come to you.”

 

The thought of waiting for Yuuri to come to him didn’t sit well with Viktor, but he wanted to take the other skater’s advice to heart.  

 

“When he’s having a really bad day, he likes to skate, but sometimes he doesn’t stop.  When he gets like that, really caught up in his own head, you have to give him clear directives.  Like ‘eat this’ and ‘go to sleep’.  Don’t be convoluted.  His mind is muddled enough as it is.”

 

Viktor wish he had thought to bring a notebook and pen out with him.  “Got it.”

 

There was silence for a moment on the other line. “I understand what it feels like, to have to surrender control to someone who had trouble helping themselves.  Sometimes when he doesn’t respond for too long, I think that this is it.  This is the time I’m going to get a call that my best friend is dead.”

 

The phrase knocked the wind out of Viktor. It shocked him and suddenly his hands were shaking.

 

“It isn’t easy.  He’s worth it, though.”

 

“I know,” VIktor whispered, trying to steady his hand by placing it on his chest.

 

“If you ever need advice, you have my number now,” there was a slight pause, “and if you break his heart, I can hack all of your social media accounts.  Don’t make me do it, Nikiforov.”

 

He couldn’t help it, he burst out laughing.  The Thai man followed suit on the other end.  “So, about Makkachin…”

Chapter Text

 

The ice slid underneath Yuuri smoothly, fresh from the zamboni.  Something was different today.  He could feel it, a subtle shift under his skin, like he was a piano that was finally tuned correctly.

 

Their time on the ice was scheduled for after public skate, and the two of them had spent the morning going over more cooking and food terms in Japanese.  Viktor had insisted that if he wanted to cook with Hiroko that he had to know the way she would say things.   Yuuri had walked around the kitchen with Viktor following dutifully at his heels, pointing at different objects and walking him slowly through the proper pronunciation.

 

Yuuri was still sore from jumps the day before, so Viktor had him running step sequences and basics for a few hours before he finally clapped his hands together.  “Right!  Let’s run Eros three times and call it a day.”

 

Yuuri shook his head.  “I can go longer…”

 

“Nope!  Coach’s orders,” Viktor grinned, and Yuuri wondered how the man managed to pull off adorable and menacing simultaneously.

 

Once Yuuri heard the music start, he knew what had changed.

 

He wasn’t just dancing to allure Viktor anymore.  Now he knew what he felt like, what he tasted like, and was not only trying to seduce him, but to remind the other man what it felt like to be seduced by him.

 

He ran the whole thing through once and skated over to the Russian man, who looked a little pink cheeked and bright eyed.

 

“What did you think?” Yuuri tried his best to keep a straight face.

 

“It was perfect!” Viktor pulled Yuuri into a hug, whispering, “Now run it again and think of all of the things you want me to do to you when we get home.”

 

Home .  Viktor said it like it was both of their homes, and that made Yuuri’s possessive side growl in appreciation, until he realized that he had growled out loud.

 

“Yuuri…”

 

He didn’t want to think twice about it, but slid his fingers to the back of Viktor’s neck and pulled him down for an all-consuming kiss.

 

Viktor spluttered, but let himself be taken by Yuuri for a moment before Yuuri pushed away from him suddenly, winking.

 

“Ready to watch me run it again, coach ?”

 

Nodding, dazed, Viktor fumbled with the music and started it again.

 

It was hitting him now.  The thought of running his hands all over Viktor’s body, of kissing down his chest, of feeling his delicious hardness in between his fingers, or maybe even swallowing Viktor down into his mouth, and bobbing and licking until he came, salty and perfect…

 

By time he finished running through the second time, Viktor decided that twice was enough.

 

They barely made it into the locker room before Viktor pressed Yuuri up against the lockers, diving into the younger man’s mouth with his tongue.

 

Yuuri groaned in appreciation, responding in kind, moving his hands to encircle Viktor’s waist, holding him in place in front of him.  He pressed sloppy kisses down Viktor’s neck then, as Viktor whispered breathily, “I’ve imagined bringing you in here to fuck so many times after watching you do Eros…”

 

Yuuri pulled away, a little surprised, when Viktor huffed in annoyance.  

 

“Do you really think I would watch you dance a seduction routine this many times and not have thought about this…?” Viktor’s pale fingers brushed down the front of Yuuri’s shirt, and Yuuri sighed at the contact.

 

“Not sex,” Yuuri said breathily as Viktor took his turn to press kisses along his collarbone.  

 

“No,” Viktor agreed, “I had this other fantasy, where after you finished I would bring you in here and get on my knees and suck you off until you were screaming my name and begging me to let you come.”

 

The image went right to Yuuri’s cock, and he started to react to the mental image of Viktor on his knees in front of him…

 

“Do you like that, Yuuri?  Your breath caught,” Viktor nuzzled into his neck, whispering just below his ear, “Would you like me to do that, Yuuri?”

 

“We’re in public,” Yuuri gasped, but if he really cared about that he wouldn’t be making out with Viktor in the locker room in the first place.  

 

“Hmm, you’re right,” Viktor’s fingers were playing with the waistband of Yuuri’s pants now, “Anyone could just walk in.  I kind of want them to.  I want everyone to see how much I want you.  I want them to see how I just can’t wait to get home, it has to be here.”

 

Yuuri was sure, in that moment, that Viktor was going to be the death of him.

 

“I need your permission, Yuuri,” Viktor dropped a kiss to just below his earlobe, “I want you to let me make you feel good.”

 

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  “God, yes.”

 

It was all Viktor needed before he dropped on his knees in front of Yuuri.  The younger man was still wearing his skates, but it put him at the perfect height for Viktor’s mouth, and that thought alone was making Yuuri’s mind spin.

 

“Tell me if I do something you don’t like,” Viktor said seriously, looking up at Yuuri through silver lashes, and Yuuri thought momentarily that he looked so delicious that way, looking up at him.  Then again there were very few positions that Yuuri didn’t think that he looked delicious.

 

The Russian tenderly nosed at Yuuri’s growing and clothed erection, growling in appreciation before pulling down his pants and underwear to mid-thigh in one swoop.

 

Yuuri’s heart was hammering as Viktor ignored Yuuri’s half-hard member and instead tenderly pressed kisses to the fresh cuts on his hips.

 

He accepts all of me, Yuuri thought, and that thought made his eyes start to tear up and stomach twist into happy knots.  

 

Viktor continued to press chaste kisses to the scars there, before passing back over Yuuri’s erection and doing the same to the other side, being careful to catch each one, and Yuuri’s knees started to feel a little weak at the onrush of emotion at the sight.

 

Once Viktor was done, his fingers danced below Yuuri until they brushed up against Yuuri’s balls, and he gasped, not expecting it, as Viktor gently kneaded the flesh there, sending shivers down Yuuri’s spine.  While doing that, Yuuri breathed a sigh of relief as the Russian finally showed attention to his cock, licking a long stripe on the underside, his warm tongue leaving a fresh trail of rapidly cooling saliva that made Yuuri moan in appreciation

 

Viktor wasn’t kidding about Yuuri begging.  He was taking his time, slow and leisurely, pressing open mouth, sloppy kisses to the base of Yuuri’s erection, fingers playing with his sensitive sack, and Yuuri couldn’t help but whisper breathily, “Viktor.”

 

“Hmmm,” Viktor moved his lips up Yuuri’s cock, continuing to press kisses along the side until he hit the top, looking up at Yuuri through his lashes again, and Yuuri swore that the other man was taunting him.  “Say it again.”

 

In time with his request, Viktor’s fingers moved from his balls and grasped Yuuri’s cock, making Yuuri gasp, “VIktor!”

“Mmmm,” Viktor approved, and he delicately licked the slit and the beading precum that had formed there, making Yuuri buck unexpectedly, and Viktor tsk-ed him.  “Impatient, are we?”

 

“Please,” Yuuri gasped, and Viktor swallowed him to the hilt.

 

Yuuri tried very hard to stay still, but the feeling was just too good .  He hadn’t been touched like this in too long, so long that he felt tears drip down his cheeks.  He needed this.  He needed to feel wanted, to feel sought after.  He needed someone to make him feel irresistible.

 

And Viktor, whose tongue was now swirling maddeningly over Yuuri’s hardness, was doing a damn good job.

 

Yuuri’s breathing was labored, and he sobbed out, “Viktor!” as the man bobbed down again, fingers gathering the saliva leftover and pumping him slowly as his tongue gave proper attention to the head.

 

VIktor hummed in appreciation of his name, and the vibrations were unreal.

 

Yuuri was breathing in mostly gasps now, desperately holding onto the lockers behind him, feeling like his legs would give out at any minute.

 

For a moment, he desperately tried to remember which time Yuuko usually came out of the office to shut everything down and lock up, when the janitor would come through to mop the floors, but he saw white suddenly when Viktor gently dragged his teeth along the sensitive skin of his head.

 

“Fuck, Viktor!” Yuuri chanted his name like a prayer, because he was praying, praying to whatever god was kind enough to send him someone like Viktor; someone who’d turned Yuuri’s life upside down in all the right ways, who was teaching him, with every lick and stroke, that he was worthy of being loved.

 

“I’m close,” was all the warning he gave before Viktor hummed appreciatively and the vibrations sent him over the edge, jerking erratically as he spilled into Viktor’s mouth, the Russian not popping off until Yuuri was properly spent.

 

“Vkusno,” Viktor whispered, leaning back onto his feet on the floor, wiping a small dribble of come that was tracking down his chin and sucking on his thumb appreciatively.

 

Yuuri was working hard to slow down his breathing, and quickly pulled his pants up, in case anyone would walk in.  Viktor stood, dusting off his knees, and Yuuri moaned low in his throat at how debauched his boyfriend looked, lips red and swollen from sucking, cheeks flushed, hair messy and falling against his bright blue eyes.

 

Viktor pressed a kiss to Yuuri’s cheek then, smiling dubiously.  “Good?”

 

Yuuri laughed at that and could barely catch his breath, leaning onto Viktor’s shoulder and nodding against his shirt.

 

“Very good.”



***




When the two of them got home, the inn was quiet save for Toshiya cleaning up the kitchen.  Yuuri sincerely hoped that neither of them looked like what they had just done at the rink, and his father didn’t seem fazed by the two of them.

 

Hey, dad ,” Yuuri said with a smile in Japanese, knowing that of all his family members his father’s English was the worst.

 

Hey, Yuuri.  How was practice?”

 

Yuuri glanced over at Viktor, who was divvying out two bowls of watermelon for the two of them.  “ It went well.  Viktor’s challenging me.  It’s… good.”

 

Toshiya nodded, continuing to wipe down the counter.  “ How have you been feeling?

 

Yuuri bristled at the question, but knew that his father just wanted to help.  “ Better, these last few days.  If it gets bad again I’ll let you know.

 

The older man nodded again, his salt-and-pepper hair falling into his face.  “ We love you, you know that, right?

 

Yuuri’s throat started to close up with emotion.  “ I know.  I think I’m learning how to accept that.

 

Toshiya smiled and wend back to his work, and Yuuri wondered briefly how much of his life he spent ignoring the love he was so dutifully given.

 

Viktor brushed his hand against Yuuri’s pulling him towards the dining room.

 

“You okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded, still a little stupefied.  “I’m getting there.”



***



Yuuri was sitting on his laptop later that night when a little ding notified him that the girl had gotten back to him about the music.

 

Excitement rushed through him as he listened for the first time, and he ignored the fact that Viktor had already fallen asleep for the night and ran into his room, almost stepping on poor Makkachin in the process.

 

Yuuri didn’t even blink that the Russian wasn’t wearing any clothes and yelled, “It’s here!”

 

He put the headphones in the other man’s ears and pressed play.

 

The expression on Viktor’s face went from tired and slow to serious to excited over the course of listening.  Yuuri waited with bated breath until Viktor’s face lit up like the sun, nodding in excitement.

 

“I was thinking, we could start with some decisive musical movements…”

 

Viktor scrambled to get a pad and paper next to his bed, and the two of them started from the beginning, listening to the piece over and over, coming up with the composition, until they passed out, the content of the program cradled between them, fingers interlaced over the pen.



***



“I meant to ask last night,” Viktor said slowly, “Did you change the musical theme?”

 

Yuuri did his best to push down all of his fears as he nodded.  “The theme is ‘On My Love’.”

 

Yuuri’s heart hammered in his chest as Viktor stared at him a moment, lips parted slightly, before his lips split into a grin.  “I think that’s a perfect choice.”

 

As Yuuri started the program and Viktor skated around him, making corrections and comments, Yuuri felt it, bubbling up beneath the surface, a confidence that he hadn’t felt in a long time.


I think I can win .

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri went to Minako’s place after practice with Viktor to touch up on his form.  His friend was waiting for him, in loose fitting clothes and wearing a small smile.

 

They briefly caught up, Minako guiding Yuuri through some stretches, working on his flexibilty/

 

When Yuuri and her were finished with their stretches, she finally broke.

 

“I heard you and Viktor stepped up your relationship.”

 

Yuuri froze, shaking a little bit as he sat up.  “Who…”

 

In lieu of answering, she brought out her phone, and handed it to Yuuri, whose eyes widened unbelievably, whispering, “Viktor…”

 

He was mortified.  Viktor had mentioned tagging Yuuri in a photograph, but Yuuri had been too tired to register the comment past remembering that he said it.  

 

There he was though, a picture of him during his first run through of his step sequence today.  He had to admit that the picture was a good one; it was early in practice so he wasn’t sweaty and red yet, and he looked determined, in a position that showed off his ass.

 

It was meant for Viktor’s eyes only, though.  He hadn’t even seen the other man snap the picture.

 

It was captioned:

 

The glorious Yuuri Katsuki practicing his free program for me.  I’m the luckiest man in the world #bestboyfriendever #roadtograndprix #iceskating #yuurionice ….

 

The hashtags went on for quite a while, but Yuuri’s shaking hands dropped the phone.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong?  You’ve always wanted to be with Viktor.”

 

The room was spinning a little bit, breath coming in short gasps as his throat started burning because there wasn’t enough getting in and oh no I’m having a panic attack.

 

Minako was well versed in how to talk him through it, though, quickly easing him to put his head between his knees.  After she got him settled she dialed a number and was talking quietly in the background.

 

“Yuuri, Mari is coming to get you.  Come back tomorrow instead, okay?  I don’t have a class at this time.  Go talk to Viktor.  I think you two need to have a long chat.”

 

Yuuri snapped his head up, still struggling to breathe, and opened his mouth to talk, but nothing came out.

 

“Come on, list the different kinds of jumps in figure skating.”

 

Yuuri gasped a few times before sputtering, “L-lutz, l-l-loop…”

 

After a few moments the older woman whistled, letting her hair down and brushing through it with her fingers.  “It’s because you haven’t told anyone yet, right?”

 

“No,” Yuuri said quickly, breathing still labored but manageable, “It’s because I’m his student.  I don’t want anyone to think he chose me for a lay.  He put our business out into the world without even consulting me first…”

 

Minako nodded, leaning up against the mirror, the back of her body dissolving into the start of a new one at the surface.  “I understand.  Talk to him.  I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it.”

 

Yuuri made the mistake of picking up his phone next, to about forty texts from Phichit.

 

P: Holy shit you guys are official!?

 

P: Wait, did Viktor tell you he was doing this?

 

P: Fuck, he didn’t, did he!?!?

 

P: Text me back Katsuki I’m dying over here

 

Yuuri shook his head, mildly amused at how well his best friend could read his mind.

 

A car horn honked outside, and Yuuri got up, the edges of his vision spinning a little bit.  His fingers were still tingling as well, but otherwise he felt like he had control

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she waved Yuuri off, and he stalked out into the car, trying to compose himself.

 

Don’t yell at Viktor he didn’t mean it

 

How could he do this without asking me, though?

 

What if people think that I’m too easy, now, or that the relationship it unprofessional.  What if they judge me for it?  What if the public hates us together?  

 

What if the JSF cites me on the relationship…

 

“Yuuri, you’re zoning out,” Mari warned, glancing at him.  “You haven’t said a word this whole ride.  Talk to me.”

 

“It’s Viktor,” Yuuri grit out.  “He did something without asking me.”

 

Mari sighed.  “Sounds like him.  It probably wasn’t meant in any way.”

 

“Yeah, well, it still hurt.”

 

Mari was staring carefully ahead of her.  “Did you make that appointment with your psychiatrist yet, Yuuri?”

 

“What!?” Yuuri yelled, exasperated, but quickly dialed it back.  “What does that have to do with anything?”

 

“You said you would after the other day,” her tone was carefully controlled, if a little tired.  

 

“I’ve been fine,” Yuuri countered, crossing his arms and staring out the window.  

 

“Yeah, but you weren’t.  You need to make that appointment, or I’ll make it for you.”

 

They drove in silence the rest of the way.  Once they were at the onsen Yuuri hopped out of the car, storming through the main dining area.

 

Viktor was in the kitchen, of course, pointing at different items with Hiroko and showing off how his kitchen vocabulary was coming together.

 

Once he saw him, the world stopped.  He was about to… scream at Viktor... when his boyfriend was having such a nice time with his mother…

 

His breathing slowed down a little, and Viktor suddenly caught sight of him, brightening up.  “Yuuri, come see!  Your mother and I just finished making pot pies!”

 

Most of them were out with the customers, but there were still a few on the stove, the crusts perfectly brown.

 

Yuuri’s stomach rumbled.  “Viktor, can I talk to you a minute?”

 

His tone was strained, and Viktor nodded, touching Hiroko’s arm.  The woman frowned at her son.  “Is everything alright, Yuuri?”

 

“Yeah,” he responded quickly, forcing a smile that his mother would probably see right through, “It’ll be quick.”

 

The Russian man followed him into one of the private living quarters, and Yuuri held out his hand.

 

“Can I see your phone?”

 

Viktor’s face screwed up in confusion.  “Why?  Is this about the picture I took of you yesterday asleep?  If you saw me looking at it in my defense…”

 

Momentarily distracted, Yuuri remembered why he was there, noting that he would have to have a separate conversation with Viktor about asking before snapping a photo.  

 

“It’s the post.”

 

Viktor’s lips pursed in confusion.  Then he remembered, hands coming together.  “Didn’t you look so hot?  I was very proud…”

 

“Delete it.”

 

The words made the whole room drop five degrees.  Viktor’s face went from excited to unreadable.

 

“Oh, I see.”

 

Yuuri’s throat became thick.  “You understand, right?”

 

Viktor tapped around on his phone for a minute in silence, and showed Yuuri the post, which already had over a thousand likes in one hour, and pressed “delete”

 

“There, better?”

 

Yuuri could barely contain his relief before Viktor moved past him out of the room.  “Viktor, what…”

 

“I was having a lovely time with your mother.  It’s time I got back to that.”

 

His voice was like ice, and Yuuri was momentarily dumbfounded as to why he was left out in the cold.


***


The midnight hour in Ice Castle was always Yuuri’s favorite.

 

There was something about the way the sounds would echo around him after jumps, how the long shadows felt like he was skating through the climax of a fairy tale.  It was quiet, too, quiet enough that the music in his head was almost real enough to fill the whole room.

 

He skated his feelings; laid everything out on the ice.  His frustration was a furious and hurried step sequence, his confusion as to where things went wrong was a careful and elegant spin.

 

Yuuko appeared on the edge at some point, and Yuuri stopped, confused.

 

“What are you…”

 

She pointed at the exit, and Yuuri cursed silently that the red light was on.  He forgot to disable the security system when he came in.

 

“No worries, once I checked the cameras I knew it was you and didn’t call the cops,” she pulled her jacket tighter around her.  “Rough night?”

 

Yuuri sighed, deflating.  “I fucked up with a lot of people.”

 

“You never were someone to do something halfway.  It was all or nothing with you, always.”

 

She leaned over the divider as he skated up to her, and fixed him with a pointed look.  “I knew things were bad when you got back.  Should I be worried, Yuuri?”

 

The dark-haired man sighed, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes in frustration.  “It’s been hard, and people keep trying to help me, and I’m trying to let them but sometimes I put my foot in my mouth.”

 

She nodded, her bright eyes meeting his.  “Are you going to the festival on Saturday?”

 

Yuuri balked.  “What…”

 

“The founder’s festival!  The elementary school is putting it on.  The triplets are doing a ring toss.  There will be fireworks and a bonfire and a few local businesses are setting up tents by the school.  It’ll be just like when we were kids.  Remember our booth?”

 

The memory flooded over Yuuri, a comforting one, of him and Yuuko doing a psychic reading booth, where they gave fake fortunes to everyone who came by.  They had spent days sprawled out on Yuuko’s floor with crayons and construction paper, using the dictionary to get all the words just right.

 

“Takeshi trashed our crystal ball,” Yuuri said with a laugh, remembering the cellophane mess that they had thrown together that the young Takeshi had smashed into the dirt, prompting Yuuko to cry and Yuuri to punch Takeshi in the face.

 

“He always said that you punching him that day is what made him decide he liked you,” her tone was teasing, but she smiled warmly, saying, “Come.  Bring Viktor, support the local tents and the triplets.  I’m not sure it will fix anything, but it’ll give you two something to look forward to.”

 

He hadn’t realized how much he’d calmed down just reminiscing with his oldest friend, before he leaned over the divider and crushed her in a hug.

 

Yuuri normally wasn’t the touching type, but Yuuko had always been one of the exceptions.  They’d been friends for so long, that it didn’t even phase him

 

She patted him on the back, holding him tightly.  “It will be okay.  You can fix this.  Just don’t be afraid to beg a little bit.”

 

Laughing, Yuuri tightened his grip on her suddenly.  “I’ll remember that.”


***


The next morning, Yuuri went out early on a run, and came back with two presents.

 

The first was an appointment card from his psychiatrist’s office for Friday.  He handed it to his sister, who nodded and accepted it.  Yuuri knew that that would be the end of it.

 

The next one he stood outside Viktor’s door with, fidgeting before knocking three times.

 

He heard Makkachin bark, and Viktor came to the door, still sleep mussed but already dressed for the day.  His silver hair wasn’t brushed and stood up in funny tufts atop his head.  

 

When he saw Yuuri, his expression immediately closed off, his eyes saying a thousand things that Yuuri couldn’t understand.  

 

He pulled the bouquet out from behind his back, five roses of different colors tied together in a silver bow.  Viktor’s eyes widened and his breath caught, reaching out and touching one of the petals.

 

“I overreacted yesterday.  I was under a lot of stress and shouldn’t have taken it out on you.  You’re perfect.”

 

Viktor nodded, looking a little confused, but still closed off.

 

Trembling a little at the lack of response, Yuuri added, “I should have discussed going public with you before then.  I just didn’t want anyone to think you only coached me because we’re together.  That would…”

 

Viktor gasped, hand snaking out and touching Yuuri’s shoulder, eyes narrowing.  “That’s… that’s why?”

 

Panicked, Yuuri’s eyes widened, dipping his head.  “ Hai .”

 

“I… I thought…” Viktor laughed suddenly, tears forming in his eyes, gently taking the bouquet from Yuuri’s hands and breathing in the scent of the fresh cut flowers.  “I thought you were ashamed because you weren’t out to the public.”

 

“I… what?” It was Yuuri’s turn to laugh, this time with relief.  “Why would I ever be ashamed of you.  You’re Viktor Nikiforov .  I’m the luckiest person in the world to be with you.”

 

Viktor leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to Yuuri’s lips, smiling now.  “We should fight more often.  I could always use more fresh flowers.”

 

Yuuri visibly paled at that, and Viktor bit his lip.

 

“Maybe not,” he agreed, lacing his fingers with Yuuri’s.  “We aren’t skating today, right?  We’re doing a workout then you’re going to Minako’s?”

 

“That’s right.  Guide me, coach.  We’ve got to get to the gym and chase those gains.”

 

Viktor groaned.  “You’ll be the death of me, Yuuri Katsuki.”

 

And you’re the life in me, Viktor Nikiforov.

Chapter Text



On Friday, Yuuri’s heels were bouncing in the waiting room.

 

Mari had driven him, insisting that it wasn’t out of her way, though he knew it was because she wanted to make sure he went.

 

“Dr. Yamara will see you now,” the secretary said smoothly, crossing her stilletto-clad legs under the modern, glass desk.

 

You can do this.  Come on.

 

The office was comfortable enough.  Dr. Yamara particularly enjoyed the color purple, and most everything in the office was some shade of it.  Dr. Yamara shook Yuuri’s hand, looking at him with interest from behind her horn-rimmed spectacles.  

 

“It’s nice to see you again, Yuuri.  I was surprised to get your name today.  You seemed very adamant against changing your medications last I saw you.”

 

Yuuri nodded, fidgeting in his seat, fingers swirling together.  “I, um, I had a relapse of self injury.”

 

“Ah,” the doctor flipped open her notebook, jotting something down.  “When did this happen?”

 

“About a week or so ago?”

 

Her eyes darted up.  “We discussed last time that you’re supposed to call me or go to the emergency room if you have the urge again.  What happened to that plan?”

 

I agreed to it without really wanting to.

 

“It seemed… excessive,” he said slowly, wincing at his own terminology.

 

Dr. Yamara frowned, biting her pen between her teeth really quickly as she studied him.  “You think that maintaining your own personal safety is… excessive?”

 

Wow, when you say it like that…

 

“Yuuri, I’m concerned for you.  You have a history of self injury, disordered eating, and severe panic attacks.  Have you given any thought to finding a therapist that you could see regularly?”

 

He had, he had even looked a few up the last time his anxiety was over the top, but then it calmed down.  Then Viktor had shown up, he just said that he didn’t have time to look for one.

 

The thought of spilling his secrets to a stranger made him cringe.  

 

He thought about how worried Viktor and Mari had been, and how much Phichit had given of his own well-being to keep Yuuri from doing anything foolish.

 

“I… I’d be willing to try it.”

 

“Great,” she shuffled through some papers on her desk, handing him a short list.  “These are all covered by your insurance.  If any of them works out, give them my name so the two of us can coordinate your care.”

 

Yuuri nodded, glancing down the list, taking note of the addresses closest to the onsen.

 

“Now, you’re on an SSRI, right?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  

 

“I explained to you last time that everyone’s body is different, and that’s why there are so many drugs that help with these conditions.  Some of them work better for people than others.  I’m going to start you a different SSRI.”

 

Yuuri froze up.  “I’m in training though.  What if I have bad side effects?  It could hamper my performance…”

 

Putting her hand up, the doctor peered at Yuuri over her glasses.  “What’s the phrase on the plaque outside of my office?”

 

Yuuri blinked.  He’d never paid that much attention before.  She sighed, hopping up and ducking out of the room.  There was the sound of something scraping against the wall, and then she was walking back in with an artful plaque that must have been made by one of her previous patients.

 

There’s always time for your mental health .”

 

“Precisely.  You aren’t competing right now, right?  I would understand if competitions were around the corner, but you’re only in practices.  If the side effects are too much we’ll consider other options.  Deal?”

 

Yuuri nodded glumly, and she jotted some more things down on her paper.

 

“Do you have a strong support system?”

 

At that, Yuuri brightened up.  “Yeah.  The best.”

 

Dr. Yamara grinned.  “I’m glad.  Don’t forget to spend time with them and let them help you.  They’re your best resource, remember that.”



***



When Yuuri collapsed onto Viktor’s bed next to the older skater, Viktor poked at his shoulder.  

 

“Look!  Mila took a video of Yuri doing Agape for me to see!  Help me shred it to pieces.”

 

Yuuri glanced up at Viktor, whose face went from excited to sad.  “Rough appointment?”

 

“I’m on new meds,” he said, dejected.  “I don’t know how I’ll react and I’m… scared.”

 

Viktor laid down next to him, pulling the younger man to him so that Yuuri’s face was pressed into his chest.

 

“We’re still going to the festival tomorrow, right?”

 

Viktor pressed a kiss to the top of Yuuri’s head. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Spending time with you, seeing all our friends and enjoying delicious food?  It’ll be a dream come true.”

 

They focused on his free program that day, running the jumps and spins, and by the end of it Yuuri felt like he was on top of the world.  

 

He took his new prescription and fell asleep in his bed, wonderfully exhausted.

 

The next morning when Viktor woke him up, he groaned.

 

“Come on my litte Katsudon, we have to get some practice in if we’re going to support the little ones later.”

 

Yuuri sat up, blinking sleep back from his eyes, and immediately gagged, running for the bathroom.

 

There wasn’t anything on his stomach, so he writhed over the toilet for a minute and a half, barely able to catch his breath.  Viktor had rushed in after him, soothingly running his hand over his back, before whispering, “Is this a side effect?”

 

Yuuri groaned, leaning against the cool tile of the bathroom, feeling feverish.  “I… I don’t know.”

 

“I’m going to get your mother.  Practice can wait.”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes, trying to make the room stop spinning.

 

His mother was back in twenty minutes with Viktor, a tray of things with her that she brought into Yuuri’s room.  He walked gingerly in with her, sitting at the desk where she placed a small bowl of miso soup, crackers, and ginger ale.

 

“Eat, baby.  Viktor looked it up and he said that it’s normal to feel a little nauseous with your medication.  If you don’t feel better we’ll call your doctor, okay?”

 

Yuuri nodded glumly, taking a few careful bites of cracker.

 

“I’ll be in the kitchen.  Let me know if he needs anything else,” Hiroko touched Viktor’s arm gently, exchanging a meaningful glance with him.

 

The Russian excused himself for a minute and came back with his laptop, lounging on Yuuri’s bed while Yuuri ate through his snacks.  “When you’re done you can decide if you want to practice or not.”

 

The thought made Yuuri feel worse.  Missing a day of practice with Viktor meant falling behind everyone else.  It also meant that he was wasting the man’s time.

 

Yuuri kept nibbling at the crackers, and finally took a small sip of soup, the warmth soothing his throat.

 

Once he’d eaten all the soup, a few crackers, and some of the ginger ale, he stood up, assessing how he felt.  

 

“Yuuri?”

 

“I… I want to try to practice,” Yuuri said confidently, though his face was still flushed and there was still sweat on his brow.

 

Viktor frowned, putting his laptop down.  “We don’t have to.  We could just cuddle, instead.”

 

Yuuri huffed, smiling.  He had forgotten, that he wasn’t wasting Viktor’s time.  Viktor enjoyed spending time with him, against all logic and reason.

 

“I want to try.  If I can’t we can come home and cuddle.”

 

“Great!” Viktor beamed.  “We’ll have Mari drive us, though.  I don’t want you running like this.”

 

Thirty minutes later they were on the ice, and they kept it simple, marking his jumps and working through his programs little bit by little bit, giving him plenty of time to relax in between.  

 

They got an hour before Yuuri started to feel like himself again, the nausea almost completely gone.  He even felt good enough by the end to run his free skate through once with jumps, and managed to do it perfectly.

 

“That looked great, Yuuri!  That’s only a week’s work, imagine what we can do with the next few months!”

 

Yuuri was smiling ear to ear.  They left the rink and showered off, soaking in the onsen for a while before donning their street clothes and walking towards the elementary school.

 

At three on a Saturday the area was usually quiet, but with the festival it was clamoring with life.  Children were yelling out about their booths, water balloons were being thrown, and the smell of all the food wafted over to the two skaters, whose mouths started watering.

 

Viktor and Yuuri got crepes and wandered around, eventually finding a booth where two kids were playing the cello together, faces screwed up in concentration.  They stopped in front of them for a few moments, nibbling at their food.  Viktor even took a bite out of Yuuri’s crepe, to which Yuuri gasped.

 

“Yours looks better, though,” Viktor pouted, and Yuuri laughed, holding his crepe to the other side of him and away from Viktor’s reach, when he felt someone move it.

 

“Hey…” Yuuri turned around to see that Minako had taken a bite, her eyes mischievous.  

 

“How are you supposed to keep that weight off if you eat like this?  I’m doing you a favor,” she took another bite for good measure, and Yuuri rolled his eyes.

 

“Do you know where the girls’ ring toss booth is?”

 

Minako pointed towards the water, where a crowd of people were standing around.

 

“Wow, it looks popular…”

 

“It would be,” Minako jabbed Yuuri in the side affectionately.  “You were nice for letting them use lessons with you as the grand prize.”

 

Viktor raised his eyebrows at Yuuri, who choked on his crepe.

 

“I didn’t agree…” he said, wandering over to the girl’s booth, spellbound.

 

“Step right up!  Win five in a row and you win a free private skate lesson with none other than our local celebrity Yuuri Katsuki!”

 

One of his neighbors nudged the person they were with.  “Hey, there’s Katsuki now!”

 

There was a clamor as Yuuri fought to get to the front of the group.  Once Loop caught his eyes, she muttered, “Uh-oh, busted…”

 

Lutz and Axel gasped, quickly covering up the sign that read “Free Lessons with Yuuri Katsuki”, the three of them smiling innocently up at him.

 

“Wanna play ring toss?” Axel offered, “You can play for free…”

 

Viktor had caught up to them though, smiling at the crowd.  “I’d like to add a second grand prize of a free lesson with me as well!  Two Grand Prix finalists for the price of one!”

 

The girls shrieked, whipping out their phones and starting to alert social media.  More people wandered over to the booth, and Viktor steered Yuuri away from the crowd.

 

Yuuri was completely at a loss.

 

“Better?”

 

Yuuri sighed once they weren’t around so many people.  “They didn’t even…”

 

“Hey,” Viktor got his attention.  “Does it matter?  It’s one afternoon.  We can spare one afternoon.  It’s important that you maintain your fanbase.  People look up to you.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t meet his eyes, couldn’t admit that he didn’t think he deserved a fan base at all

 

Viktor nudged him, and the two of them made their way around the block, stopping at each booth.  They got quite a few arts and crafts.  Viktor was very excited over the color-your-own-mask station, and started coloring in the dog immediately.  Yuuri grabbed a bunny and started working on his, but found himself watching Viktor instead.  The older man’s tongue stuck out while he colored, and his eyes scanned the colors carefully, selecting his next one.

 

Yuuri could imagine little Viktor, very focused on his task at hand.  

 

“How do I look?” the Russian finally asked, holding the popsicle stick with the mask up, and Viktor had made a near perfect Makkachin.  Yuuri laughed, holding up his own attempt at a bunny, and Viktor gushed, taking a picture of them together with their masks on.

 

“I won’t hashtag anything revealing,” Viktor assured his boyfriend, setting to work on his post as Yuuri looked around.

 

They spent the rest of the day wandering.  At some point, Viktor excitedly bought the cotton candy, and they sat off on a bench to the side, where it was less public, and spent the next ten minutes feeding it to each other.

 

“I hate us right now,” Yuuri grumbled, letting the sugar melt on his tongue.

 

“We’re the worst,” Viktor agreed, opening his mouth for more.

 

Just before sunset, they found Yuuko and Takeshi, who had collected the girls from their booth and were apologizing profusely for the mix-up with the lesson.

 

“Don’t worry.  It’s just an afternoon,” Yuuri said, glancing back at Viktor, who was smiling proudly at him.

 

They had a blanket, and they all walked down to the beach, settling into the sand and talking through Yuuko’s youngest skate class.  “They’re all still learning figures, and there’s this one little jerk who keeps trying jumps.  He’d really good, but if he falls his parents will murder me.  It’s supposed to be a basics class…”

 

“Look!” Viktor gasped, grabbing at Yuuri’s hand and pointing over the waves.

 

The small boats that were out over the water had started setting off the fireworks, lighting up the night sky with greens and blues and reds.  Viktor’s eyes were wide, and his smile faded until he was staring in awe.  Yuuri thought, briefly, that there was something else going on behind the surface, but elected to let it be.

 

Yuuri was probably just overthinking things, anyway.

 

The girls were busy taking live videos of the fireworks for their instagram and blog pages, and Takeshi let them take turns on his shoulders to get a better view.

 

Viktor’s hand on Yuuri’s squeezed, and Yuuri squeezed back, until he realized that Viktor was tightening his grip further.

 

“Viktor?”

 

The Russian didn’t look away from the display, but asked breathily, “You’ll stay with me, right, Yuuri?”

 

“Of course.”

 

He leaned against Yuuri’s shoulder, silver hair falling against his dark shirt in sharp contrast.  “Promise?”

 

“Where is this coming from?”

 

“Promise.”

 

Yuuri pressed a soft kiss to his hair, grateful that everyone was too busy looking at the fireworks to notice.

 

“Promise.”

 

They stayed like that, all the colors of the rainbow reflecting in their eyes.  It was one of those moments that anyone who looked at them would have found incredibly breathtaking.  Two dorks in love, completely enraptured in the moment, would have that effect on people.

Chapter Text

It was two in the morning.

 

Yuuri was staring at his ceiling, mind thrumming with life, refusing to shut down.

 

At one in the morning he looked up that insomnia was also a side effect of his new meds.

 

At one thirty he started asking “what if”.

 

What if Viktor only came here because he was bored?

 

What if my meds keep messing with my training schedule?

 

What if I’m not good enough to win?

 

What if Viktor is… insecure.

 

The thought had never occurred to him.  His idol, insecure in anything?  But the way that he had looked today, the way that he clutched at Yuuri, led him to believe that something was up.

 

What if it was…?

 

An idea came to him all at once, a plan in place.  For a moment he wondered if he should, but then he reasoned that anything was better than staring at his ceiling, anyway.

 

I want to do this, for him.  For me, too.  

 

Yuuri moved down the hallway quietly, reaching Viktor’s room and opening his door gently.

 

The Russian was just a dark blob, until Yuuri turned on his desk lamp.  The room was barely illuminated by it, just a small spotlight that revealed dust, suspended in animation in the air, and Viktor.

 

Yuuri was grateful that his boyfriend had slept through his moving around, because the sight was too precious.  He just stood there, rocking back on his heels, breath hitching as he took the Russian in, tangled in the sheets, his bare chest rising and falling with sleep, his face so peaceful and innocent, silver hair tangled around his face.

 

Yuuri didn’t think he’d ever get enough of looking at him, but eventually he moved on the bed, waking Makkachin, who huffed and hopped down onto her doggy bed in frustration.

 

Viktor stirred then, turning his face towards Yuuri.  His eyes opened a crack, muttering, “Yuuri…”

 

“Hey,” he said softly, leaning down and kissing his boyfriend.

 

“What are you doing up?”

 

The younger man’s fingers started tracing patterns on Viktor’s bare chest, and the other man sucked in his breath at the sensation.

 

“I couldn’t sleep.  I wanted to make you feel good.”

 

Eyes still glaring through hooded lids, he asked, “What do you…”

 

Yuuri’s fingers pinched Viktor’s nipple suddenly, and the Russian gasped at the sensation, eyes finally widening.  

 

The puzzle pieces fell together, and Viktor stuttered, “You mean…?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri took a moment to straddle the Russian, bracketing his prone figure with his shins, leaning back onto his heels so that he was hovering dangerously closely to Viktor’s crotch.  “Tell me what you want, Viktor.”

 

“What I want…” he was staring at Yuuri intently, eyes sparkling with an emotion that Yuuri couldn’t quite place.

 

Yuuri stared, wondering if he would ever really know what the older man was thinking.  It occurred to him that he hadn’t really given any thought to what Viktor wanted.  They’d been so focused on him for the last few days that Viktor’s needs had gone to the wayside.

 

Knowing that Viktor was still a little sleep-addled, he started rocking onto his heels in the movement that looked eerily like grinding, just above the blanket covering Viktor’s crotch.  

 

Biting his lip, Viktor whispered, “Mouth.  I want you to use your mouth.”

 

Yuuri leaned over him, catching the older man’s lips in a kiss, whispering, “That’s what I was hoping you’d say.”

 

“Fuck, Yuuri,” Viktor gasped as the younger man started peppering his chest with kisses, tongue tracing lewd lines down his pale abdomen.  Viktor shivered at the sensation, and Yuuri could swear that, for a moment, he saw Viktor shed a tear.

 

Yuuri pulled back the blankets and laughed a little bit, having forgot that Viktor usually slept completely in the nude.  His half-hard cock bobbed at the weight being thrown off it, and Yuuri gazed at it, taking it in.  

 

He didn’t really get to look at it for long when they’d used their hands, but now Yuuri hovered over it, like predator to prey.  Then he looked up at Viktor with a wry smile.  “You look delicious, babe.”

 

Viktor’s breathing quickened as he mumbled, “Yuuri…”

 

"I've imagined this so many times.  I've gotten off to this.  Even before you and I got to know each other.  The idea of having you completely at my mercy..."

 

Viktor gasped at the sensation of Yuuri's hot breath ghosting over his cock at the words, choking out, "Yuuri..."

 

“Hmmm, you’re right, let’s get to it then,” and Yuuri pressed his lips to the tip, sending a new rush of sensation through Viktor.  

 

Viktor sobbed out a little at the feeling, and Yuuri knew Viktor was crying now, and Yuuri looked up in concern before Viktor gasped, “God, don’t stop .”

 

Grinning, Yuuri resumed his attention to the head, engulfing it between his lips and setting a gentle pace of his tongue against the slit.  

 

“Shit,” the older man gasped, “Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri hummed in response, sending vibrations through Viktor’s whole body that were unreal.

 

Yuuri then bobbed his head down, hollowing out his cheeks, and Viktor started bucking, pressing his forearm to his mouth to suppress his own whimpers.

 

Yuuri bobbed a few times before he swallowed the hardness down to the hilt, Viktor sobbing, “Yuuri, Yuuri, you feel so good,” before it dissolved into frantic Russian.

 

Yuuri alternated bobbing and sucking, his tongue tracing up the sides.

 

Viktor was writhing on the bed, his words lost in translation.  Yuuri loved the sensation of Viktor stretching his mouth, the closeness of the moment, the power her had over the other man.  He continued his movement, until  Viktor whispered, “Yuuri, I’m close…”

 

Yuuri hummed again, and the sensation made Viktor gasp before spilling into the younger man’s mouth.  

 

Yuuri continued sucking until Viktor gasped from the over-stimulation, and Yuuri fell onto the bed next to his boyfriend, pressing kisses to his hand.

 

“This is all just a dream, right?”

 

Yuuri chuckled.  “A really good dream, I think.”

 

Viktor looked at Yuuri, their eyes meeting, and for one heart-stopping moment Yuuri saw something, some longing that he couldn’t quite place, before it disappeared and Viktor pressed a kiss to Yuuri’s forehead.

 

“Stay here?”

 

Yuuri nodded, shuffling closer to be Viktor’s big spoon.  Though the Russian was taller than Yuuri, he liked resting his cheek against the older man’s back. After a moment he pressed a feather-light kiss there, feeling sleepy for the first time all night.

 

“Goodnight, Viktor.”

 

“Goodnight, my love.”

 

The words didn’t have time to register before Yuuri drifted off into wonderful dreams, mostly having to do with a bunny and a dog having adventures under a glittering expanse of stars.



***



Yuuri was up at seven in the morning, eyes cracking open in a flash when he remembered what was whispered to him the night before.

 

Goodnight, my love.

 

Was that… was Viktor…

 

Yuuri was trying his best not to move, but he had forgotten why he hated cuddling.  His left arm was asleep, and his back hurt, but if he moved he risked waking up Viktor.  

 

Did he really say that?  Does that constitute an “I love you” or am I overreacting?  If it is, does that mean he wants me to say it back?

 

Yuuri’s breath came out in a squeak, and he gently drew his arms away from Viktor, who rolled onto his stomach without waking.  Yuuri eased out of the bed.

 

As he pulled out an outfit to go on a run in, he thought back to all the time that he spent with Viktor.

 

He walked out into the brisk morning, seeing a bird flutter by, it’s feathers nearly the same color as Viktor’s hair, flying in excited circles.

 

They’d said it, hadn’t they?  Viktor had told Yuuri that pushing him was “how I show my love,” Yuuri had declared his theme for the season, “on my love”, so why…

 

Why does it feel like it was new, wonderful, and also completely terrifying?



***



Yuuri was trying his best not to stare at Viktor during breakfast, but he couldn’t help it. He was hoping that he’d find some indicator there at whether the other man had really meant…

 

“I got a text from Yuri today.  He wants me to come back for a few days to Russia and work on his short program soon.”

 

Viktor’s tone was very neutral as he continued, “I’ve been helping him with videos but he wants one-on-one time with me.  I told him I needed to ask you.”

 

Yuuri’s hand froze, eggs falling off his fork.  “Can’t he come here?”

 

“Yakov won’t let him leave again,” Viktor said, studying Yuuri carefully.  “I can say no.”

 

Yuuri shook his head.  “No, that’s fine.  For that week I can always work with Minako and run the programs through with Yuuko.”

 

Viktor nodded, picking up his phone.    

 

They spent the day at the rink, then Yuuri was at Minako’s, dancing.  Viktor had said nothing to him as they parted at the rink.

 

When he got home at dinner time Viktor was laughing animatedly with Hiroko and Toshiya in piecemeal Japanese.  Yuuri leaned against the doorframe, watching Viktor’s face screw up in concentration as he tried to get a word out.  When Hiroko threw out a few English words, he shook his head, then started miming running.

 

Yuuri came up behind the Russian, placing his fingers on his shoulder.  Viktor looked up, bright, “Yuuri, I’m telling your parents about the first time Yakov saw me try a quad!  I wasn't supposed to and he chased me around the rink but I wouldn't stop doing it and he was so angry that Mila started sobbing that he was dying he was so red.”

 

Yuuri smiled, pressing a light kiss to his cheek.  “Sounds like you, forgetful and rebellious.”

 

Toshiya laughed, waving it off.  “ I’m sure it was fine.  You’re Viktor Nikiforov after all.”

 

Viktor squinted his eyes, thinking over the words carefully before responding, “ not back then.  Back then I was just an idiot kid who…” Viktor was thoughtful for a moment, pointing at his heart, then brightened back up when he remembered, “ gave Yakov’s heart doctor a lot of stress.”

 

Yuuri was stunned.  “Your Japanese is getting better.”

 

“Mari helped me translate the story,” Viktor said, “we went over it a few times before I came to dinner.”

 

Yuuri’s heart stuttered.  He’s trying so hard to be a part of Yuuri’s life.  Was Yuuri worth the trouble?

 

Yes he thought defiantly, you are.

Chapter Text

Yuuri was on his phone in his room when a knock came on his door.

 

It was Viktor, who was smiling brightly at him in his robe.  “Sleepover?”

 

Yuuri laughed, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to Viktor’s temple.  “Would you hate me if I said no?”  

 

Viktor blinked, pouting.  “But whyyyy?”

 

“I have to send some emails tonight.  I have some therapists to contact and see what their availabilities are.”

 

Viktor’s face screwed up.  “I thought that's where you went on Friday?”

 

“That was a psychiatrist, she prescribes me medication.  A therapist is someone you talk things out with.  My psychiatrist gave me a list of names that I have to get through, and I know that if I'm with you I won't be focusing on that,” Yuuri’s eyes flicked down to the place where the Russian’s robes parted, “at all.”

 

Viktor’s face changed.  It was just a second; a flash more than a look, before he was nodding, face unreadable.  “Alright then.  Goodnight, love.”

 

Viktor leaned forward and kissed Yuuri, willful and lingering, fingers tightening on Yuuri’s forearm until it was almost painful.  Yuuri watched his boyfriend disappear down the hall, his own fingers tracing the red hand print forming on his skin.



***



It wasn't just in his head, right?  

 

As he sent out his fifth email of the night, copying and pasting the necessary information and forming an introduction and signature, he wondered what Viktor's weird behavior meant.  

 

Closing his laptop, he changed into sleeping clothes and wandered down the hall, popping his head into Viktor’s room, frowning when he saw Makka fast asleep on her bed, but no Viktor.

 

Anxiety started thrumming through his veins.  Where was he?  He checked the kitchen, nothing.  Checked the dining room: just a few guests straggling with a bottle of sake, watching a soccer match.

 

It was when he wandered out to the baths that he saw Viktor, the only one left outside.  The Russian was wearing an expression that Yuuri had never seen before, eyes glazed over, lips drawn.

 

Yuuri was about to strip and shower off to join the other man, but paused when he saw Viktor slip under the water.

 

Bemused, Yuuri wandered into the locker room, quickly shedding his clothes and showering off.  

 

When he got back to the baths, he saw a few bubbles hovering on the surface, but no Viktor still.

 

Yuuri waited for him to come back up, panic starting to seep into his veins.

 

The bubbles that were above Viktor had all popped, and through the steaming water Yuuri couldn't tell what was the grey bottom of the baths and what was Viktor.

 

Yuuri ran over, gasping, mind spinning out of control with images of Viktor, that same expression on his face, sinking to the bottom of the ocean.  Once he caught sight of a flash of silver hair, he plunged his arms in, dragging the other man up.  

 

Viktor broke the surface of the water, wiggling and gasping, trying to get out of Yuuri’s grasp, but the younger man just pulled harder until the back of Viktor’s legs scraped up the back of the concrete edge of the bath, both of them spluttering and breathing heavily.

 

Viktor’s silver hair was damp, plastered against his face as he stared up at the sky.  Yuuri was on his side next to him, trying to fight his throat threatening to close up.

 

“Why did you bring me up?”

 

Yuuri swore he must have misheard.  His breathing was becoming more erratic.  

 

“Wh… what?”

 

Viktor looked over at Yuuri, and it was like there was no one home.  His glassy eyes reflected the lights coming from the inn the way a doll’s would.  

 

“I was fine,” Viktor said calmly.  “I just wanted to see how long I could hold my breath.”

 

Yuuri sat up, water starting to drip off his arms, leaving a spattering of darker stone beneath him.  There were no other sounds than the shushing of the water from the waterfall and the singing of the crickets as the Japanese man stared at his boyfriend.

 

Viktor sat up too, and somewhere in the transition he managed to pull up a tight smile an unreadable expression; a robot changing its setting.

 

“Don’t you have to email therapists?”

 

Yuuri was at a loss.  “You… I finished,” he said lamely, and Viktor nodded.

 

“Okay.  You wanted to soak in the hot spring.  I guess I’ll just head to bed.”

 

Viktor stood, avoiding Yuuri’s eyes, but Yuuri’s whole body reacted suddenly, latching onto Viktor’s arm.

 

“You, um, there’s blood.”

 

Viktor looked down at the back of his legs, and there were shallow scrapes there; the blood was mingling with water to create a pink dribble.

 

“I’ll be fine.”

 

Yuuri was staring at the blood though, his mind chaotic in trying to figure out what had happened, and there was blood , smooth, mesmerizing rivulets...

 

The singular, wanting desire came back.  He wanted to feel what Viktor was feeling, the singing, aching rush, the euphoria as endorphins rushed through his bloodstream, the satisfaction of a quiet mind, if only for a few moments.

 

Viktor headed towards the locker room, and Yuuri’s ears were ringing.

 

Everything was moving really slowly.  Yuuri knew that relapses reset your self control basically back to zero,  but he hadn’t realized just how real that was.  A few weeks ago he would have been able to talk himself through it, but right now his brain just wasn’t having it.  

 

His feet were moving, following Viktor, but by time he drifted into the locker room, his boyfriend had already exited.  Yuuri toweled off, easing back into his clothes, brain running on one track nonstop directly for…

 

...he was in the kitchen in moments, fingertips tracing the tiles on the walls as he wandered towards the cabinet, until…

 

…his fingers tugged at the padlock that was fastened there now, starting to shake, feeling desperate.  Mari must have done it.  He started wondering where he could find something else, anything else to end the spinning something’s wrong with Viktor I don’t know what’s happening he won’t talk to me what the hell do I do he’s my coach do I even really know him what if he leaves what if I did the wrong thing pulling him up he looked upset something’s wrong with…

 

Yuuri was moving quickly now, managing his breathing by going categorically through his head where the nearest sharp objects would be.  All of the kitchen utensils were locked up, but there were razors in the bathroom…

 

...when he got to his bathroom and opened up the cabinet, his eyes widened.  His razor was gone.

 

He didn’t have to shave too often, but on the rare occasion he did, he had an electric razor.

 

It had been taken.

 

Panic was starting to seize his chest.  There was so much pent up anguish and he just wanted to write it on his skin

 

…he was outside of Mari’s private bathroom.  His sister was out with friends tonight.  He went to open the door…

 

... it was locked.

 

“Fuck,” he whispered, leaning against the door, fist pounding on the wood.  “Fuck…”

 

Tears were streaming down his face.  He just wanted it to stop: the spinning thoughts, his breath rushing, his heart racing…

 

Before he knew it, he was in the back room.

 

There were box cutters here, for when the onsen got shipments.  There were boxes piled high with extra napkins, garbage bags, mop heads.  Yuuri moved through the room like a ghost, eyes flicking around, until they settled upon the blue handle.

 

No, that won’t be clean… Yuuri’s brain stopped him, hand shaking over the handle, searching around on the bench for the extra blades.  

 

Where is it where is it where is it…

 

The search was becoming frantic, until he tossed aside rubber gloves, and there the tiny blue box was.  He was eerily calm as he opened it, taking out one of the clean blades, seeing the reflection of his eyes in the metal.

 

He looked calm, too.  His eyes, previously darting and frantic, had settled and focused on the task at hand.

 

He pulled down his sweats and underwear to his thigh, fingers tracing the healing lines already there, and wondered…

 

...his mind flashed to the image of Viktor’s face, angry, “How could you…?”

 

He dropped the blade like it was on fire, backing up so quickly that he knocked into a few of the stacks of boxes, them teetering unsteadily.

 

“No,” he said out loud, his mental image locked on Viktor’s anguished face when he saw the marks the first time.  They were revisiting Viktor’s soft lips feathering over the marks in love and acceptance.

 

I can't...

 

Hollow with the victory, he fled from the room.



***



Yuuri was sitting on the front porch as Mari walked up thirty minutes later, face unreadable.

 

“Where?” she asked simply, hand on her hip, stomping out her cigarette on the walkway.

 

“The store room.  The box cutters.”

 

Nodding, she moved past him into the onsen, the ashes from the cigarette still glowing a little, not completely out.



***



Yuuri spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling, mind buzzing, Mari asleep on the futon next to his bed.

 

The next morning, when she woke up at six, she found him in exactly the same state that she’d left him.

 

“You didn’t sleep,” she said simply, and he didn’t respond at first; just flicked his gaze to her.  

 

“Side effect,” he said glumly, rubbing his itchy eyes.

 

“Right.  I’ll go get Viktor…”

 

Yuuri sat up quickly.  “Not Viktor.”

 

She stretched in her pajamas, band t-shirt riding up past her navel.  “I didn’t realize you were okay with mom and dad taking the day off to watch you.”

 

The intention wasn’t to guilt Yuuri, but he felt it anyway.  

 

“Alright, then you’re with me for the day.  We’re starting with washing out the baths.”

 

Yuuri changed robotically, pulling on a pair of ratty sweatpants.  He hadn’t washed the baths out in years, but his mind was relishing in the thought of doing something so mundane and methodological.

 

Yuuri followed Mari to her room and waited outside while she got changed, and then they were in the store room, taking out all the cleaning supplies they would need, and Yuuri’s eyes wandered to the workbench. There was a new padlock on one of the drawers.



***



Yuuri was stirring his oatmeal, watching the cinnamon lines he was drawing in the breakfast, as Mari said calmly, “your psychiatrist would be up by now.”

 

He winced.  “I’m fine now.  It’s not a big deal…”

 

Mari slammed her own spoon down on the table, snatching Yuuri’s from his hand and holding the dripping breakfast up to him.  “Fine, then.  Eat this.”

 

Yuuri’s brain was short circuiting.  The thought of eating anything made his stomach feel like it was full of battery acid.  

 

“You call them, or I will.”

 

Nose crinkling, he handed her his phone.  “It’s stupid.  Why would they care that I almost cut?  I didn’t do it.  I’d just be wasting their time.”

 

“Damnit, Yuuri,” she hissed, picking up the phone and scrolling through his contacts, “Your brain isn’t right, right now. Don’t you see that?  Doesn’t what you’re saying sound off?”

 

Bringing his knees up to his chest, he rested his chin on them.  “I don’t know.”

 

“If Phichit was here, what would he say?”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes.  “He’d say ‘Yuuri, get up and go to practice’.”

 

Mari narrowed her eyes.  “What time were you and Viktor starting today?”

 

“Ten.  He was letting me sleep in today.”

 

Mari glanced at the clock that read 8:45.  “He’s usually up by now, isn’t he?”

 

He was.  Viktor was up every morning, regardless of what time he went to bed, at seven thirty.

 

“Sometimes he takes Makkachin on a walk,” he said, uneasy.  Yuuri got up, Mari saying something about his breakfast but he ignored her, and wandered upstairs.

 

He knocked.

 

No answer.

 

Opening the door, he peered inside, and saw that Makkachin was still on her doggy bed, almost like she hadn’t moved at all.

 

No Viktor.

 

Yuuri was shaking again, legs unsteady.  The room was spinning.  

 

“Yuuri?”

 

The voice shattered his panic, making his breath catch.

 

Viktor ,” he breathed, tackling his boyfriend with a hug so hard that they stumbled a bit together, Viktor frozen in place.  

 

“Yuuri, are you alright?”

 

He was clutching onto the Russian.  “Where were you?”

 

Viktor responded to the hug finally, arms wrapping around Yuuri.  “On a run.”

 

He could feel it now, the sweat salty on his skin.  Yuuri found himself pressing his lips to his neck, tasting it, as if to get confirmation, from his last of his five senses, that the man was really here.

 

Viktor chuckled heavily, the sound reverberating through his whole body.  “If you just wanted to jump me, next time start with that.”

 

“Are you really here?”

 

“Yeah, Yuuri, what…”

 

He heard the footsteps behind Viktor, and Mari was watching Yuuri pointedly, walking towards him with his phone.

 

“It’s your doctor.  They want to speak with you.”

 

Viktor pulled back suddenly, and his eyes did a quick scan of Yuuri’s body, making the younger man step back, feeling like a subject.

 

Grabbing the phone from Mari’s hand, Yuuri choked out, “Yes?”

 

“Hi, Yuuri. Dr. Yamada.  Your sister explained what happened last night.  The clinic isn’t open today, but I can make an emergency house call.  How does thirty minutes from now sound?”

 

He nodded for a few seconds before he remembered that she wouldn’t be able to see his head move.  

 

Hai.”

 

“See you then.”

 

The phone clicked off, and Yuuri met Viktor’s eyes, who was watching him like a time bomb.

 

“Yuuri, did you…”

 

It was the same face.  The same angry, panicked face that had caused Yuuri to stop.  Even after talking it through, even after Viktor promised he would be more understanding, there it was, like a scene from the highlight reel of Yuuri’s lowest moments.

 

“No,” he said quietly, avoiding eye contact.

 

Viktor sharply exhaled, fingers brushing his boyfriend’s wrist.  “Are you okay now?”

 

No.  Right now his brain had hopped back on the tracks, and he knows that everything is wrong right now, that Viktor gave him the look anyway, so why didn’t I just do it it wouldn’t have made a difference now my doctor has to take time from her day off to see me it would have been easier if I hadn’t called Mari last night…

 

Yuuri’s hands had balled into fists, eyes unfocused, and Mari put her hand on Viktor’s shoulder.  The older man backed up, and Mari moved forward, her voice unsteady.

 

“Yuuri, you want to hurt yourself right now, don’t you?”

 

The accusation, no matter how accurate, made rage surge from somewhere  deep inside him, making him hiss, “No.”

 

“Don’t lie, kid  I know your tells.”

 

His resolve was crumbling.  The one track train of thought was slowing down, barely chugging along, until he snapped out of it completely, his sister’s dark eyes guiding him out of it.

 

“I… I need help.”

Chapter Text

Viktor and Mari were sitting on either side of Yuuri on the couch, not touching him, as Hiroko guided Dr. Yamada into the private living room.

 

The doctor had on black leggings and a nice, summery blouse.  She could have been shopping, or out with her boyfriend.  Yuuri felt guilt sew his lips shut.

 

“Thank you,” she said to Hiroko.  “Are you staying?”

 

His mother shook her head.  “Yuuri asked that it just be them, and I respect his wishes.”

 

Viktor had been blindly scrolling through social media, and Mari had kept up a string of Japanese pop songs that she was singing off-key to fill the heavy silence.

 

They waited until Hiroko had left the room.  Then, Dr. Yamada pulled a pad of purple paper and a purple pen from her bag, setting her horn-rimmed glasses on her nose.

 

“Alright, Yuuri, how are you feeling right now?”

 

Yuuri searched through himself, and muttered, “Blank.”

 

Viktor stiffened next to him, and he found himself taking the other man’s hand to steady himself.  Viktor’s thumb brushed soothing lines down his wrist.

 

Writing that down, she peered at him again.  “Is this your partner?”

 

“My boyfriend, Viktor.  You’ve met Mari.”  

 

Dr. Yamada nodded, smiling at his sister.  “So, you felt comfortable going to your sister when you were feeling like hurting yourself, but not calling me or going to an emergency room?”

 

Yuuri glanced away from her.  “That’s correct.”

 

“That can be very dangerous, Yuuri.  It’s important to have someone to talk to, but what if your sister hadn’t answered her phone because she was busy?  You’d be pinning all your hopes on circumventing the urge on one person.  Imagine how she would feel, if she realized that she wasn’t there for you when you needed her?”

 

Mari had her lighter out now, twisting it around between her fingers.

 

Yuuri heard rushing in his ears: his own heartbeat.  “I don’t know.”

 

“You would have gone through with it, if she hadn’t answered?”

 

Yuuri closed his eyes, wanting to believe that he would have had the restraint, but his mind was just running through the scenario again, and every time he ended up hurting himself.

 

Huffing, Yuuri answered, “Yes.”

 

Viktor’s fingers on his boyfriend’s hand tightened.  

“What triggered this?”

 

Viktor looked like a stranger.

 

“Viktor had accidentally cut himself on a rock coming out of the onsen.  I saw the blood, and it… I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.”

 

This time the Russian shot up, letting go of Yuuri, pacing as his fingers ran through his hair.

 

“Do you need a break, Viktor?”

 

The older man shook his head, not looking at Yuuri, sitting back down and resuming his hold on Yuuri’s hand, if tighter.

 

“It seems like you were very easily triggered.  This is likely due to your recent relapse.  However, this is twice now that you promised to call a professional and failed to do so.”

 

“But I didn’t do it…”

 

“It’s not the point.  Your line of thought went from seeing blood to wanting to cut.  You need to learn how to divert your thoughts to coping mechanisms.”

 

Yuuri knew what was coming next.  

 

“I’m going to recommend that you be hospitalized for a few days.  While you’re admitted we can work on your medication and get you an appointment with a therapist that can work on this process with you.  I won’t want you to leave until you have an appointment and can sign a waiver stating, definitively, that you do not plan on hurting yourself upon leaving.”

 

The breath punched out of Yuuri.  

 

Mari said quietly, “He can’t stay here?  We have padlocks on the sharps…”

 

Dr. Yamada narrowed her gaze, pausing in her writing.  “That was necessary?”

 

Mari quickly changed tracks, “No, I just did it as a protective measure…”

 

“It’s amazing that you are so willing to do things to keep your brother safe,” she said, smiling tightly.  “I think it’s good that you put those measures in place, but I want to create a situation where those aren’t necessary.”

 

Mari clutched the lighter then, flicking on the flame, then blowing it out.

 

“Yuuri, it’s up to you.”

 

Yuuri knew that what she was saying was right, on some level, which is the only reason he muttered, “Okay.  Where do I go from here?”



***



“This is stupid,” Yuuri mumbled, crossing his arms in the hospital room.  The nurse had taken his initial information and had said that they needed to get someone from psych down to do an assessment.

 

The nearest emergency room was thirty minutes from Hasetsu.  There was only one folding chair in the room with Yuuri, so Mari had taken it, flicking through the channels.

 

“I’m glad you think that your safety is stupid,” Viktor said darkly, looking out the window to the park down below.

 

“That’s not what I meant,” Yuuri sighed, though he knew that that was exactly what he meant.  It felt stupid to be taking up a room when there were people with real emergencies waiting.

 

Mari excused herself to smoke, and when the door closed, Viktor and Yuuri were alone.

 

“Dr. Yamada is a consulting physician here.  She said she’d come in and explain her plan for care, but that there was no guarantee that they would agree with it.”

 

Viktor nodded, placing his hand against the glass suddenly.  The window was floor length, and Yuuri had a moment of fear that Viktor would fall right through.

 

“Viktor, I wanted to ask…”

 

The door opened suddenly, and there was a wiry man with salt and pepper hair smiling at them.   “Is this Yuuri Katsuki’s room?”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “Would you be able to speak in English?  My boyfriend isn’t fluent.”

 

The doctor nodded, saying, “Alright, so the assessment is going over what brought you here today, but we got a pretty detailed explanation from your referring physician.  I guess I just want your words, then.  Walk me through what happened, exactly, step by step.”

 

“I, um, I thought that Viktor needed my help…” Yuuri looked at the tiled ceiling, “So I pulled him from our outdoor baths and he got scratched.  When I saw the blood running, I felt the urge and I couldn’t suppress it.”

 

“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?” the doctor intoned, and Yuuri winced.

 

“He left, and I was stressed over what happened, so I went to the kitchen first, but I hadn’t realized that Mari padlocked the knives.  Um, then I went to my bathroom, but my razor was gone.  So I went to my sister’s bathroom, but she locked the door.”

 

“Very thorough, that sister,” the doctor smiled, continuing to write down what Yuuri was saying.  “What happened next?”

 

“I went to the back room and found the extra blades from the box cutter.  I pulled one out, and was about to cut, but I remembered what Viktor had said when he saw my cuts from my last relapse, and I dropped the blade.  Then I called my sister and told her what happened, and she came home and locked up the blades and stayed in my room that night.”

 

Yuuri couldn’t look at Viktor, but he could feel his heated stare.

 

“Well, it sounds like Viktor has had a positive influence over you.”

 

“He has,” Yuuri said softly, “He’s changed everything for me.”

 

The doctor glanced up at Yuuri, expression unreadable.  “Okay, that’s good.  I’m thinking that we keep you for a 48-hour observation and during that time our discharge team will get you set up with a therapist that will take you immediately.  Also, I have a little bit of a different philosophy than your doctor on medication.  I think I’m going to put you on a cocktail of more than one.  It looks like you’ve been on a few SSRIs that have helped but have not made the problem go away.  I’m going to add an older prescription to the one that worked the best.”

 

It was a lot to swallow, but Yuuri nodded, finally looking over at Viktor.  The Russian was staring out the window, and Yuuri’s stomach dropped when he realized that he had the blank doll eyes again

 

Don’t leave me again, Viktor.  Don’t leave me in the cold.

 

The doctor left, and Yuuri finally snapped.  “What the hell?”

 

Viktor glanced over at Yuuri, surprised.  “What?”

 

“You weren’t just holding your breath,” Yuuri hissed, “and what was with that just now?  The way you were looking out the window like you weren’t even there…”

 

Viktor stiffened, crossing his arms.  “It’s fine.”

 

“It’s not,” Yuuri insisted, getting up from the table and crossing the room so that he was inches from his boyfriend.  “It’s not and I’m not going to be at the onsen for two days.  I can’t help you from here,” Yuuri threw his arms up to encompass the whole building.

 

The door opened, and Mari looked between the two of them, eyebrows furrowing.  “Did I miss something?”

 

Viktor sighed, and Yuuri felt himself being tugged into the older man’s chest, wrapped in a tight hug.

 

“I’ll be fine, solnishko .  Focus on getting through this for right now.  I’ll be waiting for you when you get out.”

 

Yuuri knew that Viktor wouldn’t want to explore it further, and his stomach was churning at the thought of Viktor being alone in the hot spring, able to slip beneath the water again…

 

“Viktor, can you go get me water?” Yuuri asked suddenly, and the Russian brightened up at the thought of doing something to help.

 

“Of course!  I’ll be right back.”

 

Once his boyfriend was gone, Yuuri rounded on Mari.

 

“Something is wrong with Viktor.”

 

His sister rubbed her temples.  “I only have enough brainpower for one messed up loved one today.”

 

Yuuri winced.  “Ouch.”

 

Mari glanced up at him, surprised, as if she hadn’t realized she had said that out loud.  “What’s up?”

 

“Viktor went under in the baths yesterday and wouldn’t come back up.  I had to drag him up.  He looked… dead inside.”

 

Mari glanced at the door where Viktor had disappeared, and sure enough the Russian popped back in with a glass of water.

 

“Here you go!”

 

The two siblings looked at each other, Yuuri panicked and Mari dubious, until the nurse came in to do Yuuri’s exam and the two visitors were asked to leave.




Chapter Text

Three weeks after Worlds, 2012

St. Petersburg

 

Yakov stood outside the apartment, wiping sweat from his brow.

 

It was early in the morning, and Viktor hadn’t contacted him in two days.  This wasn’t uncommon, for Viktor to lose track of time and become spacey, especially since competition season had ended.

 

What was unusual was that Viktor’s neighbor had called him.

 

Viktor gave all of his neighbors Yakov’s number in case of emergencies, and this particular neighbor was concerned.  

 

Last night I heard some screaming.  Viktor hasn’t left yet.  I’m worried…”

 

The kind old lady would be getting a very generous Easter present.

 

The door was locked, and Yakov sighed, digging his spare key ring out of his pocket. He had one for each of the skaters, and he thumbed through the multicolor ring until his blue “Viktor” key slid into the lock.

 

The first thing that got to him was the state of the apartment.  It was a mess.  Viktor was almost obsessive about his cleanliness, but right now there were pillows thrown.  A picture frame was shattered on the hardwood.  The kitchen looked like it had been abandoned mid-meal, an empty pot on the stove and an onion half-sliced stinking up the place.

 

When he moved into the bedroom, he sucked in his breath, pulling out his phone immediately.

 

Viktor was laying on the bed, curled in on himself.  Makkachin was laying in front of him protectively, and growled when the coach started to get close.

 

The damned dog never growled.

 

“Viktor, what happened…”

 

Then he heard it, quietly, Viktor’s voice whispering something over and over again.

 

“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry…”

 

By time Yakov got the police there, Viktor was staring glassily at the ceiling.  

 

They’d managed to get a very clipped version of what had happened.  His boyfriend, Stephan, had seen Viktor with another man, and thought that Viktor was cheating on him.

 

He then trashed Viktor’s apartment, throwing objects around until Viktor threw him out.  Then Viktor had gone over to the bed and just sat there until Yakov came in, almost twelve hours later.

 

The emergency personnel pulled Yakov aside.  “Has he shown any symptoms like this before?  Becoming this dissociated is usually an indicator of an underlying…”

 

Yakov grunted to cut him off.  “That doesn’t seem relevant.”

 

“For his medical history…”

 

Yakov remembered the many tear-stained nights he’d stayed up with the skater, every few weeks or months since he was fourteen.  Of the progressively older Viktor each time, looking with his desperate eyes, each time begging his coach not to tell anyone as he sobbed for no apparent reason and became about as useful as a rag doll.

 

“That’s something you’ll have to ask him.”

 

One week before the Grand Prix Final 2015

St. Petersburg

 

Yakov banged on Viktor’s door again.  “Get up, you lazy bum, competition is right around the corner and we need to practice!”

 

When the skater didn’t answer, Yakov pulled the spare key to the apartment out, letting himself in.

 

As usual, it was spotless.  Unusually, though, Makkachin hadn’t come bounding to greet him, which made Yakov’s throat go dry.

 

Moving towards the back of the apartment, Yakov opened the door to Viktor’s room, and saw him staring at the ceiling, wearing sweatpants and nothing else, Makkachin nudging his hand.

 

“Viktor,” Yakov barked, and the skater didn’t respond except to blink.

 

Yakov grumbled, coming over to the bed and grabbing Viktor by the cheeks, so that he was forced to look at him.

 

It was like there was no one staring back.  An empty husk.  Yakov sighed, dropping him back onto the bed, where the skater gazed off out the window.

 

“I’m going to make you food.  I’m assuming you haven’t eaten since last time you were at practice, which was… three days ago?”

 

Yakov took one look at the empty fridge and sighed, dialing a number on his phone instead.

 

“Take-out, then.”

 

The coach moved back into the bedroom, where Viktor had moved to curl up into Makkachin, face buried in her fur.  She was whimpering, trying to get at Viktor’s face to lick it.

 

“This one’s bad.”

 

Viktor didn’t respond except to pull his legs in tighter.

 

“You need to skate.  Your sponsors want videos of your practice.”

 

The skater still wouldn’t talk.

 

Grunting, he dialed another number on his phone.  “Hey, it’s me.  I need a favor...”


***


When the food arrived Yakov laid it out on the table, going into the skater’s room.

 

“If you don’t get up and eat something I’m calling an ambulance.”

 

At that Viktor sat up, gazing glassily ahead.  He scooted off the bed and followed Yakov out into the living room.

 

“You smell like you haven’t moved in three days, either.”

 

Viktor sat down in front of the chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese, eyeing the food with the first semblance of attention that Yakov had seen.

 

“I can’t stay with you all day.  I have other skaters to train.  I had to call her.”

 

Viktor just remained silent.

 

“If you’re not at practice tomorrow I’m sending the police here.  I don’t care if you come in the nude, or if I have to attach rockets to your skates to make it look like you’re trying.  You have an obligation.”

 

The older man waited, pacing around the kitchen while Viktor poked his grilled cheese, starting to drift again, eyes becoming glassy.  

 

The coach sighed, placing his hand gently on Viktor’s shoulder.  “I wish you would see someone and get help.”

 

He was very sure that Viktor couldn’t hear him.

 

The doorbell rang, and Yakov answered it, a pretty brunette with sparkling green eyes staring back at him.  “Where is he?”

 

Yakov moved aside so that Elena could enter, and she wandered over to her friend, clucking her tongue.

 

“I’ve got it from here.  I can stay until Thursday, but then I have work and I’ll need someone to take over.”

 

“We have until tomorrow morning before one of his sponsors pull their funding.”

 

Elena frowned, carding through Viktor’s silvery hair.  The man had started stirring the soup, not looking at what he was doing.  Some of the broth was dribbling down the side of the styrofoam cup.


***


The next morning, Yakov was surprised to find that Viktor was already at the rink working, skating his free program the best he’d ever.  Yuri was taking the video on his cell phone, and when the coach wandered over, he realized that Yuri had forwarded it to his own cell phone.

 

“He owes me big for helping him,” Yuri griped, “I had to wake up early for this shit.”

 

The younger skater stomped past Yakov, and for the first time in four days Yakov visibly relaxed.


***


The Morning After the Grand Prix Final 2015

 

Yakov was banging on Viktor’s hotel door, panicked but trying to maintaining some semblance of control over himself.

 

Which is why it surprised him when Viktor opened his door, face blushing, eyes wide.

 

“Yakov!  Just the man I wanted to see.”

 

The coach was pulled into the room, which was as neat and tidy as Viktor had ever kept it, but his bed was a mess with papers.

 

“I’ve been looking it up.  I can’t believe that Yuuri Katsuki hasn’t done better in competition.  It’s extremely strange, because his skill level is so high.  What if it’s his coaching?”

 

Yakov rubbed his eyes.  He had to be seeing things.  Is this the same skater that he literally had to dress and drag to the banquet last night?  Is this the same skater that had skated his Stay Close to Me then collapsed into a conference room until Yuri and Yakov found him, silent tears soaking the carpet?

 

“Yuuri… Katsuki?  The boy you were dancing with last night?”

 

“Yes!” Viktor beamed, shuffling through his papers.  “He asked me to be his coach.  I don’t know how much alcohol had to do with that declaration, but it felt like some sort of sign.”

 

“Sure.  Right.  Viktor, you don’t know the first thing about coaching.”

 

“Oh, of course not.  I wasn’t actually thinking of being his coach.  Maybe I can just sit down with him and give him some pointers.  Or maybe we could just get coffee…” Viktor’s face was lost in some sort of dreamy reverie.  

 

Yakov was dumbfounded.


***


A few months later...

 

This time, Yakov was in his own house, sitting with a mug of spiced cider and his soap opera, when a knock came pounding on his door.

 

When he opened it, Viktor spilled into his apartment with a laptop and a dog, like liquid rushing out of a dam.  

 

“Did you see it Yakov did you see him skate me routine I’m in love Yakov I think I might actually be in love with his skating…”

 

Yakov looked over Viktor’s shoulder, bleary-eyed.   They’d all been talking about it the morning after worlds in the hotel lobby.  His whole team was playing it on their phones while waiting for their bus to take them to the airport.  Yakov had yet to see the video all the way through.

 

He had to admit, after watching it on Viktor’s computer, that the kid had talent.  His presentation was beautiful.  His technical skills were a little lacking, but that could be taught.  

 

You couldn’t teach emotional connection.

 

Viktor had about thirty other tabs up about Yuuri, and his coach sighed, walking into his kitchen to make up another glass of cider.

 

It was going to be a long night.


***


Driving home from Coastal County Psychiatric Emergency Clinic

Present Day

 

Mari glanced over at Viktor.  The older man had said nothing since leaving Yuuri at the hospital.  

 

“Yuuri said something before I left,” she said slowly, and the Russian visibly winced.  “He said that you weren’t okay.”

 

Mari’s eyes were on the road ahead of her, as she heard Viktor force a laugh.  “Yuuri is just worried about me, that’s all.  He knows that he’s the light of my life.”

 

“Yeah,” Mary said slowly, “How are you going to be, with him gone for two days?  What are you going to do?”

 

The country scenery had transitioned into the mountainous roads of Hasetsu.  

 

“We live at an inn.  There will be plenty to do!”

 

Mari nodded, uneasy.


***


Later that night, Viktor finished cleaning up after cooking with Hiroko, his boyfriend’s mother having made a traditional beef stew for dinner.

 

“You’re always so good, Vicchan.  I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

 

Viktor laughed good-naturedly, his smile splitting his face nearly in two.  Once he retired for the night, he laid back onto his bed, staring up at the ceiling in defeat.

 

Finally, the sobs ripped out from his chest.  He curled in on himself, thrashing around a little, the black hole in his chest sending waves of pain through every limb.  Breathing hurt.  Smiling hurt.  Existing hurt.

 

Everything hurt.

 

Yuuri had seen it. He’d seen when the darkness started to swallow him again.  Viktor had thought that living here would be the cure, but here it is again, back with a vengeance, just in time for Yuuri to be hospitalized.

 

After a few moments he stopped crying, the tears drying up.  He had realized, all of a sudden, that even crying hurt.


***


Mari knocked on Viktor’s door the next day, apprehension in every inch of her.  Yuuri’s words had swirled around in her head like a record stuck on repeat.

 

“Viktor?” she asked, opening the door, and at first it looked fine.  Viktor was laying in bed, maybe a little later than usual, until she realized that his eyes were open, glassy and doll-like, staring at the ceiling, breathing shallow.

 

“Viktor, are you alright?”

 

His face turned to her, confused, starting to focus on the world around him, if only barely.  

 

“I wanted to check on you.”

 

The Russian blinked a few times, opening and closing his mouth.  

 

“Mom wanted help with lunch.  Think you could spare the time?”

 

He just gazed blankly at her for a few unnerving seconds.  Then, all at once, he seemed to come back to himself, nodding.

 

Mari let out the breath she’d been holding and fled the room, trying to shake the feeling that she was staring at a dead man.

Chapter Text

When Yuuri stepped out of the hospital doors in the morning, Viktor was standing there with a small bouquet of blue irises.

 

Mari and Minako were standing behind him, holding a sign that read Yuuri Katsuki Wins This One , to which Yuuri grinned.

 

In the two days since he had been admitted, he managed to meet with his new therapist, who’d made the drive up to see him in the hospital.  He also had started back on an old medication along with a new one, sending his body out-of-whack, but in general, he was feeling a lot… calmer.

 

When he reached Viktor, he took the flowers in hand, admiring the bouquet.  Then, he handed  the flowers to Mari and tackled the older skater in a hug, kissing his way up Viktor’s neck until he planted a kiss firmly on his lips.

 

“I missed you,” he said as way of explanation, but Viktor’s face was affectionate as he pressed a kiss of his own to the younger man’s nose.  

 

“I missed you, too.”

 

They all piled into the car.  Yuuri and Viktor were in the back seat, fingers laced together, Yuuri leaning on Viktor’s shoulder, taking a deep breath.

 

“I missed the way you smelled,” Yuuri whispered, feathering a kiss to his shoulder.  “I feel like I’ve been away forever.”

 

Viktor’s fingers tightened on Yuuri’s.  “I agree.  Let’s not do that again.”

 

They were quiet the rest of the way back to the onsen, Minako and Mari keeping up filler conversation, until they walked Yuuri inside and his mother and father greeted him, showering him in hugs.

 

Yuuri gazed in wonder at a silver bowl of Katsudon on the table.  “Mom, what…”

 

“It’s a victory, Yuuri,” Viktor said happily, wrapping his arm around Yuuri’s waist and pressing a kiss to his neck.  “You won, love.”

 

Yuuri’s whole body became warm at the sensation, and they all sat around the table, eating Katsudon and weaving small talk until it became a pillow of fluff surrounding the party of people.

 

When Yuuri was done he gathered his things and his Viktor and marched upstairs, starting to unload his bags back into his room.

 

Viktor sat on the bed, diligently waiting until Yuuri was done unpacking.

 

Sometime in the middle of that Yuuri fetched a vase for the irises, propping them up on his desk.

 

Once Yuuri was done, he crawled onto the bed, catching Viktor’s mouth in an all-consuming kiss.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Hi,” Viktor grinned, eyes scanning Yuuri’s face with interest.

 

“How was it really while I was gone?”

 

Viktor’s mask of happiness slipped for only a brief spell.  “It was hard.  I missed you, but I spent lots of time cooking with your mother.  She kept me busy.”

 

Yuuri nodded, leaning his forehead against Viktor’s.  “I can’t wait to skate for you today.”

 

Viktor’s face lit up.  “I can’t wait to coach you today.”



***



At the end of practice, Yuuri was grinning.  

 

“I hated not working out there.  I felt like I was going crazy,” he unlaced his skates and threw on his sneakers.  “There’s something really cathartic about using your body.”

 

Viktor nodded, pulling his own bag over his shoulder.  “Mari is picking us up in a few minutes to bring us to your new therapist.”

 

Yuuri nodded.  “She said that she wanted to meet with you towards the end.  I hope that’s okay…”

 

Viktor nodded, pressing a soft kiss to Yuuri’s temple.  “More than okay.  I want to do anything I can do to help.”

 

They climbed into the backseat of the car, Mari bringing them to the other side of town, to a small medical building built by the water.

 

Yuuri and Viktor waited quietly in the waiting room, on their own respective phones, until the therapist popped her head out.  “Hi, Yuuri.  I can take you now.  Is this Viktor?”

 

Yuuri was grateful that she had used English initially, introducing Viktor.  “This is Kya,” Yuuri said happily, and Viktor saw how comfortable that Yuuri was with the woman and felt a lot of the tension in his body dissipate.

 

He waited outside for forty minutes, scrolling through Instagram, until Kya popped her head back out.  “Come on in, Viktor.”

 

Viktor moved into the office, where Yuuri was already sitting on a very comfortable looking leather couch.  He sat next to his boyfriend, clutching his hand for support.

 

“Alright, so I’ve got you both here now.  I need to have a serious talk with both of you.”

 

Yuuri looked a little confused.  “I thought I would just be introducing him so that you can get to know him more in person.”

 

Kya was a person who could be somewhere between twenty and fifty.  Her eyes were soul skewers, and her fingers were playing with her pen, like she was constantly impatient.

 

Viktor wasn’t sure why Yuuri liked her so much.

 

“I won’t lie to you, Yuuri, I’ve been concerned with what you’ve been telling me about your relationship with this man.”

 

Yuuri recoiled as if slapped.  “I don’t understand…”

 

She held up her hand.  “Let me clarify.  I have nothing against homosexuality.  That doesn’t even faze me.  What I am concerned about is how dependant you two seem to be on each other.”

 

She pointed her pen at Viktor.  “You clearly have an undiagnosed condition that made you impossible to reach during the time Yuuri needed you most.”

 

Viktor struggled to find words as she pointed at Yuuri next, “You rely far too much on Viktor to cope.  A person with a mental illness should have coping skills , not coping people .  Sometimes coping is going to a loved one, but it can’t be the only option.  What if Mari hadn’t answered her phone?  How are you planning on taking responsibility for your own decisions that have played into your cutting addiction?”

 

The two of them just stared, mouths agape, at Kya, who then switched her legs to cross them the other way.

 

“We’ll start by getting Viktor assessed.  How does next week sound?”

 

Viktor shook his head.  “That isn’t…”

 

“If you don’t get diagnosed, you risk your unchecked illness triggering Yuuri again.  He’s in a very delicate state right now, and it’s taking a majority of his willpower to not resort to cutting.  If you plan to stay in his life, you have to take care of him by taking care of you.”

 

Viktor said nothing, fingers tightening on Yuuri’s hand.

 

“Make an appointment with my secretary before leaving, yeah?”

 

The two skaters were still at a loss.

 

“Yuuri, your assignment for next time is to come up with a list of three new coping skills that you can divert your urges to.”

 

Yuuri nodded, looking a little dumbfounded.

 

“Alright, I think that’s it for today.  See my secretary on the way out.”

 

They left the office a little worse for wear.  Mari was watching them intently as they stepped into the car.

 

“You look like crap,” she said unapologetically, driving them the rest of the way in silence.



***



When Yuuri knocked on Viktor’s door that evening, the Russian answered, looking relieved.  “I was worried that what she said might have…”

 

Yuuri rushed against Viktor, pressing soft kisses to his face.

 

“Yuuri, what…”

 

“I just need to feel close to you,” Yuuri said softly, closing the door behind him.  “I want to…”

 

His hand kneaded Viktor’s crotch.  The Russian gasped, moaning.  “Yuuri, slow down.”

 

Yuuri whined at the rejection, jumping back in embarrassment. “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to get so… never mind, I was wrong…”

 

Viktor pulled him back in, brushing back his dark locks and kissing him again.  “No, I want to feel close to you, too.”

 

Raising an eyebrow, Viktor continued, “It’s just, we’ve never gone as far as I want to go before…”

 

At that, Yuuri smiled, hugging close to Viktor, his lips at the older man’s ear.  “Doesn’t mean we can’t start now.”

 

That sent a wave of shivers through Viktor’s body.

 

Yuuri murmured with a smirk, “It’s not the first time for either of us.  It’d just be us taking that next step.  You want to feel close, that’s the best way to do it.”

 

Viktor moaned, hugging Yuuri tighter to himself.  They waddled back to the bed like that, giggling and peppering each other with kisses until they fell back, disturbing into the sheets.

 

They settled parallel on the mattress, legs tangled together, kissing lazily for a few minutes.

 

Viktor felt a tug in his gut that made him want more , the darkness coming back with a vengeance.  

 

Yuuri parted Viktor’s legs with his hand, kneading Viktor’s crotch again.  “I… I want to be inside of you.  Is that… okay?”

 

Viktor sighed in relief.  The emptiness inside him needed to be filled, somehow.  Maybe, just maybe, that was what he needed.

 

“That would be perfect.”

 

Yuuri kneeled over Viktor, licking at his earlobe.  “Do you have what we need?”

 

Viktor nodded, directing Yuuri to the correct drawer.  The younger man was back in a flash, setting aside the items in question and straddling Viktor.

 

“Where were we?”

 

Yuuri always loved to feel control in these situations, but this was something deeper.  Yuuri didn’t know parts of Viktor.  

 

It was those same parts that had made the older man duck under the water.  

 

Despite having studied the man his whole life, Yuuri was left without answers, and Viktor wasn’t letting him in.  Yuuri needed to regain control, somehow; he needed to make Viktor realize, finally, that he could trust Yuuri with all of his deepest secrets, starting with something like this.

 

Yuuri worked slowly to take off all of Viktor’s clothes, until the Russian was panting underneath him, blush reaching all the way down his chest.

 

“I want to get you off before I’m inside of you.  How do you want me, Viktor?”

 

The Russian felt the darkness rumble, and he pulled his boyfriend towards him so that Yuuri’s face and his were inches away.  In Yuuri’s eyes, he could see light past the dark brown.  His sun, shining to keep the dark thoughts away.

 

“I want to be able to see you,” Viktor said softly, his voice more vulnerable that it had ever been around Yuuri.

 

The younger skater nodded, shedding his own clothing.  He then leaned over to squirt a little bit of lube on his hand, rubbing it between his fingers to warm it up.  Then, when Yuuri deemed it good enough, he reached between the two of them, grabbing both of their hardening cocks.

 

He set a slow, easy pace, and Viktor whispered loving words between them.  Their foreheads were bent together, eyes drifted shut.  If anyone had walked in during that moment, the two of them wouldn’t have even noticed.  They were too wrapped up in their love.

 

Yuuri stopped working on himself after a little while and set a more punishing pace on Viktor, pressing kisses into his hair.  Viktor moaned when he was close, teeth clamping down on Yuuri’s collarbone as he came.

 

Yuuri gasped happily at the sensation of Viktor leaving his mark on him.

 

Once Viktor was spent, Yuuri laid him back down onto the bed.

 

“Yuuri, you spoil me,” Viktor murmured as Yuuri gathered more lube between his fingers.

 

“No, I’m treating you well now so that by time I’m inside you I don’t have to hold back.”

 

Viktor hummed happily as Yuuri’s first finger started circling his puckered opening.

 

When he pressed in, Viktor moaned deliciously, hands clutching at the sheets.  Yuuri worked slowly and gently.  Viktor had put his trust in Yuuri to keep him from getting hurt and Yuuri would never let that happen, if he could help it.

 

“More,” Viktor hissed, but Yuuri shushed him with a kiss, pushing the second finger in.

 

“Patience, love.  I want to take you apart bit by bit.”

 

Viktor nodded, letting his eyes drift shut at the sensation, until Yuuri pushed in again and hit the sweet spot that made Viktor spasm in ecstasy.

 

“Oh, I think I’m going to enjoy this,” Yuuri purred, adding a third finger and setting a slow pace on Viktor, hitting his prostate with each twitch of his fingers.

 

When Viktor let out a strangled cry, Yuuri knew that he’d given him a dry orgasm.  The Russian relaxed with it, and Yuuri started spreading his fingers, delicately opening his boyfriend up, until Viktor was whispering, “Yuuri, please, you’re killing me.”

 

Yuuri’s cock hadn’t been given enough attention, and when he slipped the condom on his patience was also running thin.  He spread the leftover lube on his own member, wanting it to be as easy as possible on his boyfriend.

 

Lifting his boyfriend’s left leg over his shoulder, he hovered before the entrance, whispering breathily, “Can I?”

 

“God, yes,” Viktor begged, and Yuuri pressed in.

 

He’d done a good job preparing Viktor, because he slid in easily, gasping at the sensation.  “Viktor, you feel so good.”

 

Viktor nodded frantically, probably trying to convey that he agreed, but his words wouldn’t work.

 

Yuuri started slow, but soon he was pounding into his boyfriend, pressing kisses on the inside of Viktor’s leg, then biting into the flesh there, making Viktor see stars.

 

After a few moments, Yuuri realized that he wasn’t getting deep enough.  He pulled out, making Viktor whisper, “Yuuri, why’d you…”

 

Then Yuuri grinned wickedly at his boyfriend, pulling him by the ankles unceremoniously off the side of the bed, so that Viktor’s feet were on the floor and his face was pressed into the mattress.

 

Yuuri surveyed his prize momentarily, Viktor’s hole dripping deliciously with lube, before pressing back in again.

 

“Ah, Yuuri, oh,” Viktor mumbled, pressing into the mattress and yelling nonsense because he just couldn’t think , Yuuri was hitting his prostate with each pound, and Yuuri wasn’t giving Viktor any chance to recover between thrusts.

 

Yuuri felt sweat sweat start to drip down his body, lost to the feeling of filling Viktor, of Viktor’s hole twitching maddeningly around him, of the lewd sounds that were spilling out of the Russian…

 

Yuuri came with a gasp, bending down and pressing kisses into Viktor’s back as he rode out the orgasm.  Viktor hummed as Yuuri reached around and stroked Viktor through one more orgasm, and soon they both collapsed onto the mattress, boneless and dripping in sweat.

 

Relieving himself of the condom, Yuuri grabbed a towel while he was up, coming back to the bed and taking gentle care to wipe Viktor and him down.  Then, he threw the towel into Viktor’s laundry basket and came back to his boyfriend, draping himself over him.  

 

Viktor stroked Yuuri’s head as they laid there, tangled up in each other, their breathing slowly evening out.

 

“Wow,” Viktor whispered, “I have to say, I thought I would be calling the shots when this happened.”

 

Chuckling, Yuuri pressed a kiss into Viktor’s chest.  “You get to call the shots on the ice, and I get to call the shots in here.”

 

At that, Viktor smiled.  “That sounds perfect.”

 

They sat there for a while, basking in their shared comfort, until Yuuri began, “I need you to know…”

 

“Yuuri,” Viktor warned, but Yuuri pulled himself up to make eye contact with his boyfriend.

 

“No, listen.  I… I want to be there for you.  I want to be there for you in every way possible.  If what you need is for me to make love to you, I’ll do it.  If what you need is for me to listen to you, I’ll do that too.  I’m tired of me depending on you.  This has to be a two-way street.  Don’t talk about it until you’re ready, but don’t leave me in the dark either.”

 

Tears were forming in Viktor’s eyes as he nodded, looking up at the ceiling.

 

Yuuri fell asleep like that, listening to the steady beat of Viktor’s heart.

 

Viktor, however, was still up.

 

It had started slowly, creeping in on him as Yuuri drifted to sleep, and it was back now, making Viktor’s limbs weak and his breathing labored.  

 

Viktor started whispering imperceptibly in Russian.  “ It hurts, my love.  It hurts and I don’t know if anyone can help me, let alone you.  Even if that’s true, keep trying.  Keep shining like my sunlight to lead me out of the darkness.  I need you, baby.”

 

For a heart-stopping second Yuuri stirred, breath catching, before drifting back off to sleep.

Chapter Text

When Yuuri woke up the next morning, he knew something was wrong.

 

He expected to wake up to be tangled with Viktor, but to his surprise they’d separated in the night.  Yuuri was laying on his stomach, arms spread out, and Viktor was to his left, back to him.

 

Yuuri felt the distance like a tangible force, and pulled himself over to Viktor, wrapping his arm around him and pressing a kiss to the other man’s cheek.

 

Viktor opened his eyes and looked up at Yuuri, and… Yuuri stared back at the abyss.

 

That was the only way to describe the emotions swirling there, emptiness but also full of something else.  Yuuri’s fingers came up to stroke Viktor’s cheek, and he didn’t react to the attention, just turned to look blankly at the wall.

 

“Viktor,” Yuuri whispered, breath hitching in his chest.  He was a little rough as he flipped Viktor to be on his back, but the Russian barely reacted to that, as well.

 

“Viktor, please, talk to me,” Yuuri whispered, hands shaking as he brushed silver hair back from his boyfriend’s face.  “What’s wrong?”

 

Viktor’s arms were limp on his sides, and Yuuri clutched the hands tightly, but Viktor stayed motionless.

 

Tears formed in Yuuri’s eyes.  “Viktor, please, talk to me, please Viktor don’t leave me by myself” at some point he realized that Viktor wasn’t home, and that what he was saying didn’t matter, and in his mania he’d switched to Japanese.

 

A few minutes later he was pounding at his mother’s door in one of the inn’s robes, and Hiroko came out, eyes wide.  “Yuuri, dear, I was just about to start preparations for breakfast…”

 

“Something’s wrong with Viktor.”

 

They rushed back to the room.  Yuuri had thought ahead and put a pair of lounge pants on Viktor, and the Russian had gone along with it like a doll, letting Yuuri twist him and tug at him in any way he wanted.

 

Yuuri had almost thrown up.

 

When Hiroko came in, Viktor turned away from the door, curling in on himself, whimpering.

 

Relief and concern flooded Yuuri.  It was the first time that Viktor had given any indication that he was conscious of what was going on.  He rushed to the bed, kneeling over his boyfriend.

 

“Viktor, please talk to me. What hurts?”

 

Tears were forming in Viktor’s eyes as he choked out, “ Everything .”



***



Yuuri glided on the ice, his mind buzzing with worry.

 

“Please try to focus, Yuuri,” Yuuko said uneasily, “I don’t want you hurting yourself on a jump.”

 

Yuuri had asked Yuuko to come in and work with him that day.  It took everything in him to leave Viktor, but Hiroko assured Yuuri that they’d be checking up on him periodically.

 

They’d only gotten the one word from him until he was crying, curling in on himself.  At some point Makkachin had hopped on the bed and wiggled herself in the gap between Viktor’s arms, licking away the tears.

 

Yuuri started his free program, the music singing around him, but within a minute he’d lost his train of thought, forgetting how it went.

 

“Come on, Yuuri,” came a voice from his phone; Phichit was being facetimed into the rink to give Yuuri some much-needed feedback.

 

“Try again, Yuuri,” Yuuko said calmly, pressing a few buttons on the disc player.

 

He did the program again and again.  His movements were stiff, and his head was somewhere else.

 

After thirty minutes Phichit had to leave to go to his own practice, and Yuuri thanked him profusely.

 

They ended practice after two hours, Yuuko hugging Yuuri firmly.  “He’ll be okay.  He’ll talk to you when he’s ready, okay?”

 

Yuuri had confided in his friend, though he was worried about whether Viktor would be upset about him divulging the information.  He had no other choice, though.  He couldn’t bottle it up anymore.  The last time he didn’t talk about Viktor being like this he ended up in the hospital.

 

When he entered the inn, he took off his shoes and showered off quickly, putting on comfortable clothes and heading right to Viktor’s room.

 

Mari was reading on his sofa when he got there, and Viktor was laying on his back, spread out like a star fish, eyes blankly staring at the ceiling.

 

“Has he eaten anything?”

 

Mari shook her head.  “We offered him crackers, fruit, even chocolate.  No dice.  He did drink some water, though, which is good.”

 

Yuuri climbed onto the bed, and Viktor glanced over at him, eyes just as destitute as before.

 

“I practiced my free program.  Yuu-chan and Phichit helped.  I landed the quad sal again doing it.”

 

Viktor struggled to smile, reaching up to stroke Yuuri’s cheek.

 

As soon as it happened, the arm dropped like dead weight.

 

“I’ll leave you two alone,” Mari said softly, ducking out of the room.

 

Yuuri placed his head down on Viktor’s chest, listening to his heartbeat.  “Ready yet?”

 

Viktor sighed, his hand coming up to stroke Yuuri’s hair, which was the most complex motion he’d done all day.

 

“Can we just lay here?” his voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper, but Yuuri felt himself start to relax.  Progress.

 

They stayed like that for an hour, until Hiroko popped her head in and said quietly, “Yuuri, do you want me to bring food up?”

 

“Viktor?” he asked hesitantly, and Viktor squinted at Hiroko, swallowing.  

 

“I can try to eat.”

 

Hiroko nodded, leaving again, the door shutting behind her.

 

Yuuri started tracing patterns on Viktor’s chest, looking up at his boyfriend, whose eyes were finally focusing on what was around him but were still empty.

 

“I… get like this, sometimes,” Viktor began, still not looking at Yuuri.  “It’s been happening since I was fourteen.  Sometimes I just… can’t.  It’s not all the time.  I can go weeks, or months without it happening, but when it hits me, it’s paralyzing.”

 

Yuuri nodded, kissing Viktor’s chest where his head lay.

 

“There isn’t… a reason.  Most of the time it just happens.  One minute, I’m going about my day, and the next minute the wind is knocked out of me and I feel like a thousand pounds have been strapped to my body.  There have been times that something happens and I react badly, but most of the times it’s just… this.”

 

They lay there for a while before Yuuri asked, “It was during the fireworks, wasn’t it?”

 

Viktor nodded, closing his eyes.  “There’s this sensation I get before it starts sometimes, like I’m on the precipice of this huge gaping hole.  It’s like my body is preparing me, telling me that the darkness will hit soon.  Even things that should make me happy, or excited, just aren’t as meaningful.  I wanted to be blown away by the fireworks, and when I realized that I wasn’t excited, that I wasn’t reacting the way I should have been, I knew it was coming.”

 

Viktor started stroking Yuuri’s hair again.  “When I get like that, I get desperate.  Anything to fill the void.  Being around you helped so much.  I thought that you were my cure.  That maybe if I was just with you, all the time, I’d finally be happy.”

 

The younger man felt himself start to choke up, but held back the tears.  He needed to be the strong one, right now.

 

“Turns out that it’s just more of the same,” Viktor said coldly, and his fingers stilled in Yuuri’s hair.

 

“Did you make that appointment with Kya?”

 

Viktor shook his head.  “I didn’t like her.  I’ll… I’ll find someone else.”

 

“I liked her because she didn’t treat me like I was delicate,” Yuuri began, “she called me out on my bullshit.  She said the things I was too afraid to.  That might not be what you need.”

 

Yuuri sat up a little bit and nudged Viktor to roll over so that he was spooning the older man, his nose nuzzled into Viktor’s neck.

 

“We’ll get through this,” Yuuri whispered, stroking Viktor’s arm soothingly.

 

“It will get better,” Viktor agreed, “But it isn’t right now.”

 

“That’s okay,” Yuuri said softly, “that’s okay.”



***



In the evening Yuuri left again to work with Minako on his ballet, and when he got back his whole world stopped when he saw that Viktor’s bed was empty.

 

“Viktor!” Yuuri yelled, panic threatening to spill over as he ran down to the dining area to tell his mother…

 

… when he banged open the kitchen door, Viktor’s eyes widened in surprise.  Hiroko clucked her tongue, “Be kind to the house, Yuuri, this place is very old.”

 

Viktor was moving a pot of soup from the stove onto the counter for serving.  He smiled at Yuuri, tightly and falsely.  “How was Minako’s?”

 

It was so… rehearsed.  Yuuri went along with it, unsettled but otherwise deciding to let it slide.  “I went over some stuff from Eros that I needed to touch up.”

 

Viktor nodded, working with Hiroko to start serving dinner.  Yuuri excused himself to change into his house clothes, and when he got back, he saw Viktor sitting around the table with Mari, Hiroko, and Toshiya, explaining in terrible Japanese about how he ruined his first kitchen.

 

I didn’t know how cook,” Viktor trilled happily, “ turns out you can burn pasta bad.”

 

Mari helped correct some of his pronunciations as Yuuri sat next to them.  Once he sat down, Viktor’s fingers latched vice-like onto Yuuri’s hand, and Yuuri felt himself cringe.

 

It hurts right now, doesn’t it?  You’re putting on a show.  Playing a role.

 

He saw it hang off Viktor like a cloud, the exhaustion, and either his family just wasn’t paying attention or maybe they didn’t know Viktor well enough to see it.

 

When they excused themselves for the night, the second that Viktor’s door closed, he collapsed onto the bed, breath-stealing sobs choked out into the mattress.

 

Yuuri shushed him gently, laying down next to him and gathering Viktor into his arms, singing softly until the older man’s tears dried.  Then, Yuuri turned out the light, and sang more until he felt Viktor’s stuttering breath even out as his dreams whisked him somewhere else.



***



The next day, when Yuuri woke up, Viktor was gone.

 

Frantic, he fumbled for his glasses and got out of bed, running into the hall, when he heard Viktor’s laugh drifting from down the hallway.

 

“Oh, of course.  Have to start somewhere!”

 

Yuuri glanced into the dining room and Viktor waved in his robe, smiling at Yuuri.  “I’ve already been on a run and soaked in the baths.  You slept in quite late, love.”

 

Blinking, Yuuri settled down next to Viktor, arm snaking out and capturing his waist to hug him closely to him.

 

He knew that he looked possessive like this, hovering so close, hanging off of his boyfriend, but Yuuri found that somehow he didn’t care.  “We don’t have to stay here, you know,” Yuuri whispered softly, “We can go back to your room.  You don’t have to be around people.”

 

Viktor only chuckled.  “You must be joking, Yuuri, we have practice today!”

 

“I had an idea about that.”

 

Viktor followed Yuuri to the living room a few minutes later, and saw that Yuuri had set up his laptop connected to the tv.  “I bookmark most of the youtube videos of my performances in competitions, and have lots of old footage of me in practices.  I was thinking that today we can just talk through corrections.  It’s easier for me to see what you mean if I’m watching with you.”

 

The first thing that was pulled up was Yuuri’s rendition of the Stay Close to Me routine.  It was paused at the beginning, and Yuuri was standing next to him, smiling warmly.  “I thought we could start with this.”

 

Viktor deflated like a balloon, collapsing into Yuuri and hugging him tightly, breathing ragged.  “Thank god.”

 

“We have to put your wellbeing first, Viktor.  This way it’s still you coaching.”

 

“It took so much just to be at breakfast…” Viktor mumbled into Yuuri’s t-shirt, and Yuuri sighed, patting his head reassuringly.  

 

“Come on.  I’ll pop some popcorn and make some tea.”

 

They spent the rest of the day like that, watching old routines of Yuuri’s, Viktor making comments and Yuuri writing notes carefully.

 

When Viktor was particularly biting in his comments, Yuuri would throw popcorn at him.  When Yuuri saw that Viktor was looking overwhelmed, they switched to snuggling and watching comedies.

 

Mari wandered into the living room to get them for dinner, and saw them curled together in the dark, Viktor fast asleep against Yuuri, Yuuri’s head rested on Viktor.  They were in a tangle of blankets, and there was popcorn all over them.

 

“What messes,” Mari chuckled, letting them be.




Chapter Text

Kya stared pointedly at Yuuri, who was doing his best not to make eye contact.

 

His therapist’s office was very different from his psychiatrist’s.  Where Dr. Yamada’s was like falling into a comfortable purple paint explosion, Kya preferred a minimalistic approach.  There were very few items decorating the walls other than her degrees.  There was a singular picture drawn in crayon, framed and labeled.  There were two potted plants, one a little bigger than the other, bending in the direction of her high-backed chair.

 

If Yuuri didn’t know better, looking at Kya in her chair waiting patiently for him to talk would have reminded him of a villain waiting to give a rousing revenge speech.

 

“Yuuri, you haven’t spoken in five minutes.  You know that, right?”

 

“Hmm?” Yuuri squeaked.

 

“I asked you what three coping skills you’d come up with in the last three days.  That was your assignment.”

 

Yuuri fidgeted, his brain traveling to his last few days.  “I’ve been a bit… preoccupied.”

 

Kya narrowed her eyes, tapping her long, manicured nails on the armrest to her left.  “Tell me about that, then.  What’s been keeping you busy?”

 

“Mostly practice,” Yuuri said honestly.  Hiroko had bought Yuuri some play-doh for his therapy session and it was burning a hole in his pocket with his nerves.

 

He gave in and took it out, but Kya was still tapping her fingernails.

 

“I’ve been working on my free program.  Viktor’s also been helping me refine my technical elements.  We’ve been going over old routines and practices and pulling apart my form bit by bit.  It’s been a little… humbling…”

 

That was the nice way of putting it.  Apparently depressed Viktor doesn’t have a filter, because his comments have been scathing.  They’d developed a method of Yuuri being able to fight back in those moments, tho, and it was usually in the form of popcorn or Yuuri pulling up some of Viktor’s embarrassing Instagram videos from nights out drinking.

 

They both walked out a little humbler from those sessions.

 

When Viktor felt up to it, they went back to the ice, and slowly Yuuri watched him crawl back from whatever darkness he’d been sucked into.  It was slow, but it was progress.

 

“So, what time have you put into getting yourself back on track?”

 

Yuuri started rolling balls out of the play-doh to make a snowman.  “Practice is progress for me.  It’s getting me back to normal.”

 

“You were practicing hard during your last relapse, weren’t you?”

 

Kya was really good at butchering Yuuri with her words.

 

“Yes, that’s right.”

 

“Alright.  Tell me, then, what you’ve been doing to help yourself get back on track.”

 

The snowman fell over on his lap, and he smooshed the hot pink figure satisfyingly between his fingers.

“Um… well, Viktor’s been having a little trouble lately.”

 

“Tell me about that, then.”

 

Yuuri launched into the story, recounting what happened save a few… delicate… details.  “He agreed to see someone once he finds a therapist that he likes.”

 

“I understand him not wanting to see me.  Someone like Viktor, who is used to suffering alone, wouldn’t take kindly to a brutally honest person across from them.”

 

Squishing the play-doh together again, Yuuri visibly relaxed.  He was worried that Kya would be offended.  

 

“So has he made an appointment?”

 

“Uh, huh?  Um, no, not yet, he says he will though…” Yuuri stuttered, forehead crinkling.

 

“He won’t make the appointment, Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri bristled, starting to form a heart with play-doh and dropping it.

 

“You don’t know that.”

 

“Let’s give him one week.  Then we’ll make a plan together for how to get him help.  Until, then though, I need you to remember that you were hospitalized for self-injurious ideation not even a week ago.”

 

“I know,” Yuuri whispered, fingers shaking.  The accusations were making his fingers shake, and he was ripping apart the play-doh viciously now, kind of like how he wanted to tear apart…

 

“You want to hurt yourself right now, don’t you?”

 

Yuuri blinked, and he realized that his thumb nail had started scratching at his opposite wrist without conscious thought.

 

He put the play-doh back in the container and let his arms fall to his sides, defeated.

 

“Let’s walk through, step by step, how we went from me criticizing Viktor to you wanting to hurt yourself.  Let’s start with me criticizing Viktor.  What did that make you feel?”

 

“Defensive,” Yuuri said quietly, fighting the urge to scratch at himself more.

 

“Okay, how did we get from defensive to desiring to hurt yourself?”

 

Yuuri thought back.  First, he got defensive of Viktor, then… “I think then I realized that you might be right, and that I was a fool to think otherwise.”

 

Kya leaned forward then, her fingernails stilling in their tapping for the first time in ten minutes.  “Then?”

 

“I was angry at myself for thinking that I could believe him, when if I was in his shoes it would be like pulling teeth to get help.”

 

Yuuri sagged, continuing, “Then I thought that I was stupid, and decided I needed to be punished.”

 

His brain hurt.  He felt like he’d done a three hour jump training session with Viktor.  Who knew therapy was so exhausting?

 

“Okay,” Kya said, her mouth pulling up into a small smile, dark eyes glittering as they stared proudly at Yuuri.  “I can work with that.”



***



When Yuuri collapsed into the bed with Viktor, who was on his computer reading emails, Viktor smiled over at him.  

 

“Bad day?”

 

“No.  Therapy was very productive,” Yuuri grumbled, “I didn’t know that picking apart feelings would take so much energy.”

 

Viktor patted Yuuri’s back affectionately.  “You did it, though.  I’m proud of you.”

 

Yuuri thought back to what Kya had said.  “Viktor, have you given any thought to getting your own therapist?”

 

Blinking at Yuuri, he asked, “Why?”

 

Anger started bubbling up in Yuuri.  “What do you mean, why?”

 

“I’m fine now, Yuuri,” Viktor laughed, “I’ve felt better all day.  It won’t happen again for a while.  I’ve got all the time in the world.”

 

Sometimes Yuuri forgot how flippant Viktor was.  Sometimes he forgot that Viktor, despite being unbelievably understanding with Yuuri, was a forgetful narcissist.

 

Calming down for a moment, he sat up and gently lifted the laptop of Viktor’s lap, placing it onto the bedside table and straddling the Russian.

 

Viktor chuckled, placing his hands on Yuuri’s waist.  “I was going to complain, but if this is how I get to be distracted…”

 

Smiling, Yuuri leaned down and kissed Viktor harshly, biting his lip as he pulled away and gazing at the beautiful man, hair still a little damp from the shower and eyes dark in the dim lighting.

 

Viktor’s face was flushed, and he whispered Yuuri’s name as they came back together for the kiss.

 

“I want us to come up with a safe word,” Yuuri said softly, and Viktor’s face betrayed that he was not expecting that to be the topic of conversation.

 

Thoughtful for a moment, he asked, “how about a food?  What food do you hate?”

 

“Strawberries,” Yuuri said automatically, and Viktor nodded.

 

“Strawberry it is, then.”

 

Everything after that was hurried and desperate.  Viktor pulled Yuuri on top of him, molding his smaller body to his.  They were grinding up against each other through their pants, but eventually those were lost, too.

 

Once Yuuri had Viktor beneath him, and was stroking his cock leisurely, he whispered, “Who is in charge in here, Viktor?”  

 

Viktor moaned as Yuuri twisted his wrist.  Viktor had grabbed one of their shirts that they’d thrown aside and was biting it to contain his noises.  “You are.”

 

“Right.  I am,” Yuuri revelled in the power he had over the other man.  “Are you going to be a good boy for me, then?”

 

Nodding, Viktor sat up a little against the headboard, so that he could gaze up at Yuuri more clearly.  

 

“Say it.”

 

“Yes, I’ll be good,” Viktor purred, as Yuuri continued his work on the Russian’s painfully hardened cock.

 

“Do you want to come, Viktor?”

 

Viktor cursed as Yuuri lowered himself down so that his ass cheeks were rubbing against Viktor’s hardness.

 

“Hmm, yes.”

 

“Alright, under one condition.”

 

Yuuri stopped all his touching and held his hands up in the air, like he was surrendering, and Viktor gasped, pouting, “Yuuuuri, that’s so mean!”

 

“Call a therapist, Viktor.”

 

Viktor moved to touch himself, and Yuuri grabbed both his wrists and pinned them up against the headboard.

 

Viktor started struggling under Yuuri a little, but whispered, “God, that’s hot…”

 

“Viktor?”

 

Yuuri held both of Viktor’s wrists with one hand and ghosted his other hand over Viktor’s cock, giving it minimal attention, until Viktor was whining, whispering, “Fine.”

 

“Ha!  I win,” Yuuri pressed a kiss to Viktor’s forehead.  “I’ll remember this, by the way.”

 

“What if I forget on purpose so that you do something like this again?”

 

Yuuri laughed, letting his boyfriend’s wrists go and kissing Viktor softly.  “You don’t have to do that, love.  Just tell me that you were a bad boy.  Then I’ll have to punish you.”

 

Viktor pulled Yuuri down for a crushing kiss, and soon they continued what they started.

 

Viktor had flipped their positions so that he was hovering above Yuuri, now.  Yuuri peered up at Viktor, asking innocently, “Is it okay… if we get our hands on some toys to make playtime like that a little more fun?”  

 

Viktor was eyeing Yuuri’s body with his hungry eyes.  “You’re going to be the death of me, Yuuri Katsuki.”

 

Yuuri gasped as Viktor started kissing his way down Yuuri’s chest, and Yuuri whispered breathily, “I don’t know, death by orgasm seems like a good way to… shit!”

 

Yuuri bucked off the bed as Viktor bypassed Yuuri’s straining erection and pressed his tongue against the younger man’s hole.

 

“May I?” Viktor asked, batting his eyelashes at Yuuri.  

 

“I… haven’t cleaned myself out.  I wasn’t exactly prepared for this… rain check?”

 

Viktor nodded, moving back up to press kisses to the side of Yuuri’s shaft.

 

“I’ve wanted to get my mouth on this since last time.  It’s been too long.  I miss the way you taste…”

 

Viktor swirled his tongue around the head as Yuuri moaned in contentment.

 

“Viktor… I want you inside of me this time.”

 

Viktor chuckled with his mouth still on Yuuri’s member, sending funny vibrations that made Yuuri thrash around.

 

The older man pulled off with a pop.  “We’re into switching, are we?”

 

“Is that a bad thing?”

 

Viktor shook his head.  “No.  I like it both ways, too.”

 

Yuuri sighed as Viktor continued his careful worship of his cock, the Russian hollowing out his cheeks and pressing him farther in with each suck.

 

When Yuuri bucked into Viktor’s mouth, Viktor hummed deliciously, and Yuuri did it again, fucking up into Viktor’s mouth with fervor.

 

If the older man had a complaint, Yuuri wasn’t hearing it.

 

Yuuri’s brain was slowly losing its capability for rational thought.  The feeling of Viktor, hot and wet and perfect around him, made his whole body buzz with excitement, and knowing that he could let loose on the older man made him come right over to the edge.

 

When white split his vision and he felt his body soar with the orgasm, Viktor started spreading Yuuri’s legs, reaching into the side table and grabbing the lube.

 

While Yuuri was thoroughly blissed out from coming, Viktor licked his lips as he poured a generous amount of the clear lube onto his fingers and whispered, “Is it okay if I open you up now, love?”

 

Yuuri nodded, dazed and happily sated, feeling the sharp sting of something entering his hole.

 

“Oh,” Yuuri gasped, and Viktor stopped, keeping an eye on Yuuri’s face.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Yuuri nodded, the pain already filling his body with a pleasant sensation of euphoria.  

 

Oh, oh wait, this is the same as…

 

Yuuri’s thought process was cut off as Viktor started moving again, making Yuuri gasp in pleasure at the stretch.

 

“I can stop…” Viktor said hesitantly.

 

Yuuri grabbed Viktor’s wrist, whispering hoarsely, “Don’t stop.  Never stop.”

 

When Viktor started scissoring Yuuri open, the sparks flying behind his eyes from the pain and pleasure mixed together were heavenly.  Once Viktor properly stretched him out and put a condom on, Yuuri waited patiently and pliantly.

 

Viktor pressed in slowly, making Yuuri hiss in appreciation.  Viktor wasn’t much bigger than Yuuri, but in that moment Yuuri took time to appreciate every millimeter of the girth.

 

It took almost a whole minute of gentle prodding before VIktor was fully seated inside Yuuri, and Yuuri was on another plane of existence with the euphoria that was swimming through his bloodstream.

 

Then, Viktor asked quietly, “Can I move?”

 

When Yuuri nodded, Viktor pulled out slowly, then snapped his hips back in.

 

Viktor was slow but harsh, making Yuuri see stars with each thrust.  Eventually Viktor flipped Yuuri onto his stomach and pressed in again, whispering, “Can I smack your ass, love?”

 

“I thought… nhh… I was in charge,” Yuuri gasped as Viktor snapped into him again.

 

“Tell me when to do it, then.”

 

Yuuri laughed a little bit, trying to stay present when his whole body was tugging him to get lost in sensation.  

 

“Hit me, Viktor.”

 

Viktor slapped Yuuri’s ass, and the sharp stinging sent goosebumps up his whole body. He moaned, “Harder.”

 

The older man obliged, smacking Yuuri again, this time making Yuuri scream out in ecstasy.  

 

“God, Viktor, just like that…”

 

Viktor kept up his slow but punishing thrusts, pairing every few with a hard slap, and Yuuri couldn’t even see because his eyes were watering because it hurt so good

 

Apparently, it hurt good enough that Yuuri was coming again without even getting any attention to his cock, and it made his whole body weaken, falling flat onto the mattress with Viktor .

 

Pausing as if he was going to pull out without finishing, Yuuri mumbled incoherently, “Don’t stop on my account…”

 

Chuckling, Viktor pressed kisses into Yuuri’s back, nudging his legs apart so that Viktor’s legs could wrap around them.  Then he wrapped his arms underneath Yuuri’s underarms and clutched at his shoulders, molding himself completely to Yuuri’s back while still inside of him.

 

Then, with the leverage of pulling Yuuri towards him, he plunged into his lover.

 

Yuuri started screaming his name, and if Viktor wasn’t so gone he would have been worried about waking up the family.  

 

They were both so far gone that they just didn’t care anymore.

 

When Viktor came, it was one of the most powerful orgasms of his life.  As he slumped over Yuuri, pressing kisses to the back of his neck, Yuuri whispered, “What the hell was that at the end?”

 

“I’m not sure.  It just felt right.”

 

As Yuuri breathed a blissed-out chuckle, Viktor dismounted his boyfriend and threw out the condom.

 

When Viktor turned around, he was met with a stunning sight.

 

Yuuri must have gotten excited again while Viktor was pounding into him, because Yuuri was stroking himself, lips parted, eyes closed.

 

Growling low in his throat, Viktor came over to help, but Yuuri whispered, “No.  Just watch.  No touching.”

 

Hands stilling, Viktor kneeled a foot away from Yuuri, completely distracted by the scene in front of him.  Yuuri was using his own spill from earlier as the lubrication, stroking himself up and down, giving extra attention under the head, occasionally reaching down with his two fingers closest to the base and pinching at his sack.

 

In a few moments Viktor was doing the same, suddenly excited again, watching Yuuri unblinkingly, because he could imagine doing all those things to Yuuri, wanted to memorize just the way that Yuuri liked to be pleasured so he could it himself…

 

Yuuri came first, squirting over his own chest, smiling widely.

 

Viktor followed soon after, spilling over Yuuri as well, and the younger man gaped at the sight of the comingling of semen.

 

Quickly getting up, Viktor whispered, “Sorry, Yuuri, I wasn’t really thinking…”

 

But Yuuri didn’t seem upset.  If anything, he blushed, reacting to the sight… positively.

 

“Unless…” Viktor whispered dangerously, “You like it when I come on you.”

 

Yuuri growled and sat up, pulling Viktor back towards him and kissing him long and slow.

 

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Viktor teased, “Do you even want to wash off?”

 

After deliberating for a moment, Yuuri decided that he didn’t want it to dry non him, and they went to the shower together, washing each other delicately.

 

When they got back to the bed, they both took one whiff of the room and looked at each other, knowing that it smelled like sweat and sex.

 

They quickly threw on a fan and changed the sheets, collapsing into the clean bed moments later, Viktor enveloping Yuuri in a hug.

 

“Good night, Yuuri.”

 

“Don’t forget to call tomorrow, Viktor.  No more sex until you see a therapist.”

 

Viktor was suddenly wide awake, going pale as a ghost.

 

“What!?”

 

Chapter Text

As Viktor sat in his therapist’s office, he crossed his arms, remembering the week that he had.

 

Yuuri was a vindictive asshole. His boyfriend was a little vixen all week, showing up naked whenever they were alone and not letting Viktor touch him, wearing his tightest clothes during practice.

 

The night before Viktor’s appointment, he woke up to the sound of his boyfriend panting next to him, stroking himself long and slow.

 

When Yuuri saw that Viktor was up, the tormentor laughed breathlessly.  “This could be you, you know.  Just go to your appointment and you can have me all to yourself.”

 

The second that Yuuri had taken sex off the table, Viktor called to make an appointment.  It wasn’t the going that Yuuri had asked for, anyway, it was the calling.  Viktor didn’t have to show up.

 

When Yuuri pieced together that loophole, before Viktor managed to get him alone, Yuuri decided to increase the stakes.

 

“No sex until after your appointment.”

 

It made Viktor antsy, having so much pent up sexual frustration.  It was only worse because Yuuri had tasted Viktor, now.  He knew what Viktor liked.  He knew just how to tempt the man.

 

Yuuri even promised that they would do a little online shopping after the appointment to spice things up.

 

Viktor definitely wasn’t letting that one go.

 

“He’ll see you now, Viktor.”

 

The psychologist Viktor was seeing today was a thirty minute train ride from Hasetsu, but was very well-rated, and one of the few nearby that could do sessions in English.  When Viktor explained his situation on the phone, the man had agreed to take him in a week.

 

Which, Viktor wasn’t sure he could have lasted much longer.  His boyfriend was a sex fiend.

 

As he walked into Dr. Okuma’s office, he instantly relaxed.

 

It was all bamboo paneling, with a small fountain in the corner dribbling water.  The room smelled like lavender and vanilla, and the temperature was somewhere around 65 degrees.

 

Dr. Okuma smiled at Viktor, standing to greet him.  He was a short, balding man with small, bright eyes peering out from bushy eyebrows.  He came off as very academic, with his unkempt appearance and rolled up sleeves.

 

“Viktor, it’s a pleasure to meet you in person.  Sit,” he gestured to a recliner across from his office chair, which was spun around from his desk.  His Mac was open and off there, and Viktor wondered what he’d just been doing on it.

 

“Alright, Viktor, let’s jump right in.  I’m going to ask you some perfunctory questions about your medical and personal history.  This session is longer as it’s an introductory assessment, where I’ll be deciding what work needs to be done.”

 

He was laying out clear, concise directions, and Viktor loved when people were transparent like that.

 

“Sounds good.  Ask away.”

 

Dr. Okuma nodded, picking up a small clipboard and jotting some notes down.  “Alright, let’s start with family.  Describe your nuclear family to me, as in any immediately related siblings as well as parents.”

 

Viktor smiled.  “I was born to Ana and Leo Nikiforov.  My mother was a dancer.  My father was an investment banker.  He passed away when I was twelve, just as my skating career was getting underway.  My mother couldn’t care for me.  I had no siblings.”

 

Dr. Okuma nodded.  “Who did you live with, then?”

 

“My aunt Helda, for a time.  I was very close with my cousin, Ruslan, until he moved to France.  Then, when I turned seventeen, I moved out onto my own.”

 

The older man peered at Viktor curiously.  “That sounds like a very tumultuous childhood.”

 

Viktor shrugged.  “It was what it was.”

 

Without skipping a beat, the therapist asked, “Alright, then, what about abuse history?  Were any of these people cruel to you?”

 

The Russian glanced up at the clock.  It had only been four minutes.

 

“My aunt sometimes ignored me because she was overwhelmed, but never abused me.  My mother and father were kind to me.  They gave me what they could when they could.”

 

“So, other than moving around a lot, your childhood was normal?  What about friends?”

 

Viktor stared at the clock.  It had only been five minutes.

 

“I always had friends.”

 

“Anyone you could confide in?”

 

The questions were starting to dig under his skin.  Unthinkingly, he itched his arm.  “I said I had friends.”

 

“But, after your father died, did you confide in any of them how you were feeling?”

 

“I’m sure I did,” Viktor waved off, and the therapist switched gears.

 

“Tell me about your illness.”

 

“I, um, sometimes get… heavy… lethargic, low energy.  I don’t move or eat or talk really, except when I have to.  Everything… hurts, physically and emotionally, so the less I do, the less it… hurts.”

 

“You’re describing a few key symptoms of depression.  What about the others?  Do you have trouble sleeping, or sleep too much?”

 

Viktor was already bored, and he twiddled his thumbs impatiently, trying to keep his mind on what was waiting for him when he got home…

 

...an image of Yuuri writhing beneath him, wrecked…

 

“Viktor, I feel like I’m wasting your time.”

 

The Russian pulled himself out of his daydream, confused.  “What do you mean?”

 

“Your mind is clearly elsewhere.  Please make the decision, now, whether you’re here as some perfunctory measure to please loved ones or maybe a coworker, or if you’re here to learn about yourself and get better.”

 

I was here so Yuuri would fuck me.

 

Maybe… that was a bad idea…

 

“Can I be honest, Dr. Okuma?”

 

The therapist nodded, gazing at him intently.  He hadn’t taken down notes in a few minutes.

 

“My boyfriend refused to sleep with me until I got help.”

 

The good doctor looked stunned for a moment, then clutched his clipboard and let out a roar of laughter so loud that his secretary came in to check to make sure he was alright.

 

When the laughter died down, Viktor found that the situation would seem funny, to anyone who wasn’t about to crawl out of their skin for how horny they were.

 

Wiping a tear from his eye, Dr. Okuma nodded.  “That is fantastic.  I’ll have to write that boyfriend a thank-you note.  So you’re here to appease him, then?  Tell me about it.”

 

Viktor heaved a heavy sigh.  “That man is such a tease, I swear.  I come down with a little bout of depression for a few days and he insists that there’s something wrong with me.”

 

“Is there?  Something wrong with you?”

 

Biting his lip, Viktor felt himself deflate.  “I… don’t know.”

 

“If you want to find out, I can help you do that.  You have to be involved though.  Therapy is a two person job.  Are you in, or out?”

 

Vikor thought back to every time he went through a serious depression.  He thought back to every time he refused to enter a serious relationship, and the few horrifying times he had .  He remembered drifting around in a fog for months after his father’s death.

 

There were so many things about himself that he didn’t understand, and had swept under the rug because most of the time it was too inconvenient or uncomfortable to talk about.

 

“I… think I’m in.”



**** (skip summary available)



When Viktor arrived home at noon, it was to a sound of music floating from his room.

 

Yuuri was sitting on his bed, in Viktor’s t-shirt, and a pair of boxers, with his laptop up.

 

“Oh good, you’re home.  I’ve already bookmarked some things for you to consider.”

 

Viktor sat down on the mattress, feeling so bloated with emotion and heavy that it was almost like falling back down into a depression again.

 

Therapy was fucking hard .  Remembering things was painful.  Analyzing yourself and making inferences was time consuming.

 

“I… can we just… talk?”

 

Yuuri’s brown eyes met Viktor’s from behind the reflection on his glasses from the screen, and he set the laptop asie, crawling over to his boyfriend.

 

“It’s exhausting, isn’t it?  That’s how you know you did it right.  I’m really proud of you.”

 

Viktor was shaking.  He shed his pants so that he was in just his boxers and then took off his nicer shirt to throw on a sweatshirt that swallowed him just the right way.

 

He laid down on the mattress like that, curling into himself, feeling the phantom pains of all the horrible experiences he’d recounted.

 

They hadn’t even gone deep.  There wasn’t enough time.  It was just topical exploration, checking off boxes on assessment sheets.

 

Yuuri laid down next to Viktor, entwining his fingers with his and pulling his pale hand to his face, gently kissing the knuckles.

 

“What do you want to talk about?”

 

Viktor buried his face into the pillow.  “There’s so much… fucked up stuff that I’d never even paused to think whether it was affecting me or not.  And it has, Yuuri.  So much that I’ve ignored has changed me.”

 

“Is that bad?” Yuuri asked quietly, thumb rubbing reassuringly on Viktor’s fingers.

 

“No.  Yes.  I don’t… know yet.”

 

“Want to talk about some of it?”

 

Viktor nodded, but didn’t speak for a while, and Yuuri waited patiently, trying not to rush him.  

 

“When I was twelve my father died.”

 

Viktor knew that most people were aware of this, because it was very commonly discussed by the press.

 

“What no one knows, except me, is that my mother tried to commit suicide a few weeks after it happened.”

 

Viktor watched Yuuri’s expression go from horror to forced calm in moments.  It was always the reaction; people were appalled, until they remembered that they were supposed to be listening, not having opinions.

 

“My father and her were so in love.  Almost toxically so.  They fought like cats and dogs and loved each other so much that it hurt them.  My father died from a heart attack.  My mother… wasn’t stable without him.  They were like two playing cards balanced on each other.  When my father fell, she… well…”

 

Vikor felt detached, floating above himself, as he continued.  “I… I don’t know if you can hear this part, Yuuri.”

 

Yuuri raised an eyebrow.  “Let me be here for you right now.  We can deal with me tomorrow.”

 

Smiling tightly, Viktor whispered, “I want a whole day of just taking care of you and talking about you.  Promise?”

 

Yuuri nodded, looking fondly back, then prodded, “Whenever you’re ready, love.”

 

Oh, right, this is the part where you’re supposed to start talking…

 

...talking about that thing that you’ve never put into words, that dangerous, no-no topic that shatters in your brain and embeds itself in the oddest parts of your memory, like how he can never look at Yuuri’s scars and not think of…

 

“When I told you I’d never dealt with cutting before, I was lying.  I have.  It’s just… never in a supportive capacity.”

 

The topic made the color drain from Yuuri’s face, but he maintained his composure.

 

“I… had practice that day.  Yakov was going to pick me up because he knew that my mother was useless in the weeks after my father passed.  I was getting ready and I went into my mother’s room to tell her I was leaving…”

 

Reality was shifting, slightly, like a skewed lens catching both what was directly in front of you and something else, something so much worse…

 

“I remember when I was opening the door that I was wearing white socks.  I hadn’t put my shoes on yet.  When I opened the door, I saw that my mother was laying in the bed, like normal.  

 

“She was… kind of propped up?” Viktor’s breath was coming in short gasps, and he took a moment to steady it.  “I thought she was sitting up.  I went over to talk to her…”

 

He couldn’t see Yuuri clearly, he saw a lot of grey as his mind’s eye invaded his vision he was dreaming.

 

“I was annoyed that she wasn’t responding except to mumble incoherently.  I… thought she was drinking again so I was pissed.  We had this really dark multicolored carpeting, right?  Then the carpet started getting all squishy…”

 

He could feel it under his toes in the present and he curled them, feeling like they were exposed, feeling something innately wrong about that, but his mouth kept moving even with that wrongness, “When I reached her I saw that she had slashed once of her wrists and had a few smaller cuts on her chest, right above her heart, like she was thinking about digging around in there for it…”

 

“Viktor, you can stop…”

 

“I just remember reaching out to her and shaking her and asking her why she did it and I still hadn’t figured out why the carpet was so wet and Yuuri it hurt it hurt it hurt.”

 

The words tumbled out of him, over and over, but when Yuuri tried to touch Viktor the man shied away, trembling, fingernails raking through his hair.

 

“I called for an ambulance.  Then I waited for Yakov outside, without putting my shoes on, but I had grabbed my skating bag, and he was trying to figure out why there were bloody footprints on the sidewalk, and then he saw that I had never closed the door.

 

“We never spoke about it, but he knew what it did to me.  It was… I felt so many different ways about it I couldn’t even possibly describe them.”

 

His boyfriend was watching him with wide eyes full of a thousand thoughts and none of them were good.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Yuuri blinked, and the thoughts disappeared and only his kind, chocolate eyes stared back.  “We’re focusing on you today, remember?”

 

“Yeah, yeah…”  Viktor was fighting so hard to stay in the present, to really see his Yuuri watching him with love and sadness, to feel the bed underneath him, but he was also there , standing stock still outside his apartment, staring at traffic going by, counting the cars that passed without stopping, and when the ambulance came and they took her away, they had walked up to Viktor, and asked how he was.

 

“I’m fine,” Viktor said, his voice suddenly peppy, his face suddenly cheery, but he realized that all of that was said out loud, and Yuuri’s eyes widened in fear.

 

“Viktor, are you…”

 

He got up, like the bed was on fire, like Yuuri was poison, like so many metaphors that couldn’t capture the true wave of emotion that passed over Viktor’s face as a smile was plastered and his eyes brightened and if Yuuri hadn’t just heard the whole story and knew how badly Viktor was hurting he would have honestly believed him.

 

“I need to shower,” Viktor said cheerily, grabbing his towel and heading to the hall

 

He fell apart in there, instead.  It’s safer to fall apart alone.  Falling apart with Yuuri during his depression episode was because he didn’t have enough energy to care, but now, if Yuuri saw Viktor this weak, this vulnerable…

 

...it would make Viktor realize that those descriptors were true…

 

Sobs ripped out of him, and then, after a few minutes, a scary calm dawned on him, and he looked up, eyes blank and face emotionless.

 

He mechanically finished his shower, emotions successfully stowed away, and skipped right past his room to the kitchen, where Hiroko was finishing serving lunch.

 

“Vicchan!  I was going to make some muffins for later.  Want to help?”

 

The emptiness, the emotionless expanse, needed to be around people.  Viktor smiled fakely, because he knew that though he didn’t feel any way about it now, Viktor loved cooking with Hiroko.

Chapter Text

When Yuuri woke up the next morning, alone in his bed, his heart ached.  

 

Viktor hadn’t exactly told him to stay away, but instead had acted like nothing had happened, and every time Yuuri tried to steal him away to talk about it more, Viktor found a reason not to.  

 

A little tired and very much anxious, he’d fallen asleep in his bed, wondering what he had done wrong.

 

Now, staring up at the ceiling, he remembered his assignment from Kya.  They had decided to have sessions once a week due to his training schedule, and since his last appointment she had told him that if he didn’t come up with new coping skills, she would pick some for him.

 

Yuuri didn’t want to leave his bed.  If he left his bed, he was out there , in the real world, where his boyfriend was pretending that everything was fine, where he was walking on eggshells, where he couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of tearing into his veins…

 

It was right after Viktor had talked about his mother attempting suicide.  The thought of it, slicing up his arm, dug into his thoughts and invaded everything else.  

 

Now, he knew that if he got up, there was a risk that he’d hurt himself.

 

Picking up his phone grumpily, he googled coping skills .

 

There was a cute article done by a blogger who listed all the coping skills she liked and didn’t and why.  Yuuri scrolled through the list.  He only needed three.

 

Coloring, crocheting, running, writing in a journal, playing an instrument, cooking, cleaning, listening to music…

 

I do half of these already just practicing and helping out around the onsen.

 

Focus on things that will work with training.

 

Yuuri pulled a pad and pen from his desk, scribbling down a short list of the coping skills that could work around his training schedule.

 

Then he started crossing some off.  There ended up being ten on the list.

 

He figured out that he could try a few today.  

 

He could start with yoga.  Yuuri threw on an athletic outfit and grabbed his mat from stretching at competitions.

 

Setting up in the garden, he flipped to a YouTube video of a yoga instructor going through beginner poses.

 

Most of them were a walk in the park between his core strength and dancer flexibility.  Instead of the difficulty he focused on the breath like his instructor was telling him to.

 

When his brain started diverting to the thought of hurting himself, he breathed through the thoughts and focused instead on the stretch and the careful positioning of his body.

 

By the end of the session, he knew he’d figured out at least one.


***


As Yuuri walked in with art supplies, Viktor finally sought him out, bemused.

 

“What’s all this?”

 

“It’s a me day, remember?”

 

Viktor beamed.  “We have practice later in the afternoon.  What do you want to do until then?”

 

Dropping the pile of supplies onto the coffee table, he said simply, “Coping.”

 

They set to work together.  There was an uneasy tension from the night before, but quickly it was diffused as they set to work sorting through the supplies.  Yuuri picked up the materials to crochet, color, paint, knit, as well as countless others.

 

Viktor didn’t ask about why they were doing this; he didn’t have to.  Yuuri was focused on the task at hand.  Painting was quickly given up as he couldn’t find any inspiration.  Surprisingly, he found that crocheting, after the fumbling of the first few strokes, eased his mind.

 

Slamming down his barely done scarf defiantly, he exclaimed, “Two!”

 

Viktor raised his eyebrow, silver hair falling idly in his face.  “You needed three, right?”

 

Yuuri was surprised that his boyfriend had remembered.  “I have yoga, crocheting, and I need one more.”

 

Thoughtful for a moment, he asked, “Does running not count?”

 

“They need to be new,” Yuuri said calmly, combing through the art supplies for another idea.

 

Viktor took Yuuri’s hand, and gently pulled the other man to his feet.  Confused for a moment, Viktor muttered, “is dancing one?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri explained, “I’ve been dancing for years, though, it won’t be…”

 

The Russian took one of Yuuri’s hands in his own and laid his other on Yuuri’s waist.  Yuuri felt his skin tingling from the contact, the memories of what those hands had done to his body sending pleasant shivers down his spine.

 

“Let’s swing dance,” Viktor said eagerly, then let go of Yuuri for a moment to flip through his phone to find the right station, then set it down and took up his position again.

 

“Alright, the basic step is rock-step tri-ple-step…”

 

They fumbled through the basic counts, and Viktor kept pulling Yuuri this way and that, twirling him with laughter and a few “oofs” from stumbling around.

 

Eventually, they fell into step, and Viktor pressed a soft kiss to Yuuri’s forehead.

 

“We don’t always have to talk,” Viktor said calmly, and it dawned on Yuuri then.  

 

Viktor cooking with Hiroko, Viktor going on runs and walking Makkachin.  Sometimes coping wasn’t talking.  Sometimes Viktor didn’t need to talk to Yuuri or explain where his headspace was at.  Viktor had his own ways of coping.  Yuuri just had to trust him to do them, and that he’d talk when he was ready.

 

Sometimes talking wasn’t the answer.  Sometimes there was just as much healing done in not talking , in living your life despite all the swirling darkness.

 

Yuuri leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together.  “I think I found number three.”


***


Yuuri finished his free skate run through, and Viktor was beaming, leaning against the wall of the rink with Yuuko.  “That was great!  Your spin was a little shaky though.  Usually you’re great at those.  Run through it again.”

 

Nodding, Yuuri reset himself, calming himself down.

 

Having Viktor not talk to him the last few days had been... trying.  Viktor had gone to see his therapist that week, but still hadn’t talked at all about his deeper feelings to Yuuri since last week.  It was making Yuuri uneasy, not knowing where Viktor’s head was at, and it was shredding his anxiety up.

 

Kya and him discussed how to divert his urges last time when this topic arose.  Since then he’d crocheted three scarves, and had done yoga every day.  In the evenings after dinner, Yuuri and Viktor laughed their way through dancing.  It made him feel close to Viktor, despite the emotional distance.

 

Neither of them had been up to making love.  Instead, they kissed each other reverently and slept tangled together, conveying a different type of intimacy.

 

Though it was trying, he knew that it’s what Viktor needed.  

 

He finished off his run through of the free skate, and Viktor nodded, pleased.

 

“That was good.  Tomorrow I want us to clean up your presentation, though.  You’re still too focused on the components.  It shows.”

 

Nodding, Yuuri skated over and grabbed his water bottle.  

 

After practice, Mari drove Yuuri to Dr. Yamada’s.  The office was just as purple as he remembered.

 

Dr. Yamada was smiling at him when he walked in.

 

“I have to say, Yuuri, when I got a call from your therapist I was pleasantly surprised.”

 

Blushing a little, Yuuri settled into the couch, pulling out a hat that he was working on.

 

“Coping skill,” he said in way of explanation, “It gives my hands something to do.  I’m building something up instead of tearing myself down.’

 

Yuuri continued the calming strokes and pulls of the yarn as Dr. Yamada watched him carefully.

 

“How have the new meds been?  Felt any better?”

 

Yuuri thought about how he’d been doing in the last two weeks.  “It’s like… the edge is taken off?  I still get anxious, and I still occasionally have urges, but my thoughts aren’t as… linear.  I can see more options than just cutting.  Also, my body feels less tense all the time.”

 

Dr. Yamada nodded, noting it on her paper.  “That’s great, Yuuri.  I’m going to keep you on this medication for at least three more weeks.  I want to see you then, because by that point you should be feeling their full effects.  Deal?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri continued his hat.

 

“You mentioned that you have had urges, but you’ve been able to cope with them.  What’s been triggering you?”

 

Sighing, Yuuri’s fingers stilled.  “Viktor has been dealing with a lot of stuff too.  We’re both in a weird place, and we’re trying to support each other while trying to help ourselves.”

 

Dr Yamada nodded.  “Do you think that you two are impeding each other’s progress?”

 

Yuuri thought back to dancing with Viktor, how at peace he felt.  He thought to watching Viktor cook with Hiroko, and how full of love he got when the two of them bonded.

 

He thought of waking up before his alarm and getting to watch Viktor sleep, face slack and beautiful, and how everything seemed so unbelievably perfect.

 

“I… I think that he’s helping me, at least.  Being with him helps a lot.  The stuff he’s going through would be affecting me whether or not we were dating.”

 

Dr Yamada jotted down some more notes.  “I need you to be actively checking up on that, though.  With your recent relapse I need you to be worried about you, right now.  If you two are too tangled up in each other, you won’t end up helping yourselves.”


***


When Yuuri got home, Viktor was sitting in the living room with Makkachin.  Viktor was petting her and whispering to her, burying his face in her fur.

 

While watching, a slow smile spread on Yuuri’s face.  

 

“Having fun?”

 

Viktor looked up, blue eyes bright.  “My Yuuri!  Makka, look who is back!”

 

The dog hopped up and galloped over to Yuuri, knocking him back a little as she hopped up to lick his face.

 

Yuuri laughed, giving the dog some much needed love, before Viktor followed up behind her and pressed his own kiss to Yuuri’s lips.

 

“How was Dr. Yamada’s?”

 

Yuuri reached out for Viktor’s hand and laced his fingers with his, using his other hand to continue to pet Makka.  “We think I’m on the right medicine for now.  We’re going to check back up on it in a few weeks.”

 

Viktor nodded.  “So I’ve been going through some costume ideas for your free program…”

 

Blinking, Yuuri whispered, “I completely forgot…”

 

“No worries!  I have some ideas,” he guided Yuuri to his laptop, which had a few designs bookmarked.

 

One was a pink suit, which Yuuri immediately grimaced at.  “No pink.”

 

“But whyyy?”

 

Yuuri’s eyes narrowed.  “I hate the color pink on me.  No pink.”

 

Sighing, Viktor closed out of four tabs and grumbled, “Alright, the options have been narrowed…”

 

Mari wandered by, and Viktor perked up.  “Mari, come help us decide!”

 

She was chewing gum loudly and wandered over to the couch, sitting on the armrest.  “What are we looking at?”

 

“Free program costumes,” Yuuri explained, eyes widening at one with a mesh back and neckline that plunges to almost his navel.  “Viktor, that one can’t possibly be allowed…”

 

Pouting, Viktor closed out of that tab too.  “You’re no fun, Yuuri.”

 

They tabbed through a few, until Mari stopped Viktor on one of them.  Viktor gasped,  “That one would make your ass look great, Yuuri!” Viktor smiled at Mari.  “Good eye!”

 

“It’s one of your greatest assets,” Mari agreed, and Yuuri slumped down onto the couch, mortified.

 

Studying the costume closely, however, he found that he did like the design.  It had jewels spotting the back, and it came in a few different colors, including dark blue.

 

“Let’s mark that one as a possible entry,” Yuuri said timidly, and Viktor tackled Yuuri in a hug.  

 

They looked at a few more options, some of which were definitely not going to get past JSF requirements, and one that made Mari laugh so hard that she fled the room.

 

“Viktor, I can’t wear a mesh suit with just a pair of boxers,” Yuuri’s mouth was hanging open at the sight of the costume.

 

“Hmm, you’re right, it doesn’t fit your theme,” Viktor said thoughtfully, and exited out of the tab.

 

“...that’s the argument?”  Yuuri gaped at Viktor, who was looking innocently back at him.  

 

“Alright, I think this one wins.”

 

They filled out the order form for the designer that Viktor picked out and settled back into the couch, sinking towards each other, not wanting to move.

 

“So, Yuuri,” Viktor began, and Yuuri tensed.  They hadn’t talked about anything other than skating and topical subjects in days.  Viktor’s voice was dripping with deeper meaning.

 

“Yes?”

 

“That trip to Russia I have to make to help clean up Yurio’s short program…”

 

Oh, right.  The trip that Yuuri agreed to.  Biting his lip, he muttered, “When?”

 

“I booked the tickets for next Monday.  I’ll come back Saturday morning.  That gives me a solid five days to work with him.”

 

Yuuri felt himself start to panic.  That’s almost a whole week without Viktor by his side.  It seemed possible a few weeks ago, but now…

 

“I need to do this, Yuuri,” Viktor said softly, pulling away from Yuuri’s side and taking his hands.  “With everything that’s been going on with the two of us, I think a week of just focusing on ourselves will be good for us.”

 

It was just like Dr. Yamada had said, about focusing on themselves.  “Okay.  We can do this, then.”

 

Yuuri sounded a lot more confident than he felt.

 

Viktor pulled Yuuri in for a kiss, and he felt at ease.  When they broke apart, Yuuri whispered, “Could we… make love tonight?  I think I need to feel that connection with you.”

 

Eyes softening, Viktor nodded, pressing another kiss to Yuuri’s head.  “I would love that, Yuuri.”


***


When they collapsed into the bed later that night, Yuuri straddled Viktor and started pressing kisses to Viktor’s neck, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses that made Viktor feel like he was dissolving in love.  

 

Yuuri pulled back and let Viktor gently remove his glasses and start kissing down his neck, biting at Yuuri’s collarbone.  When Yuuri gasped, Viktor grinned against the skin there.  

 

“I think this is somewhere I have to keep in mind for future,” Viktor continued along Yuuri’s body until he had to pull off his shirt, continuing to press soft kisses down Yuuri’s chest.

 

“I want to be inside you tonight,” Yuuri whispered, gasping sporadically when Viktor nipped and licked at just the right places.

 

Viktor grinned.  “I was hoping you’d say that.”

 

Continuing his licking and biting, Yuuri whispered, “We never went shopping for those toys.”

 

Groaning, Viktor started laughing.  “You want us to stop?”

 

“No,” Yuuri grumbled.  “Maybe I’ll surprise you with something when you get back from Russia.  Do you have any boundaries or no-no’s I should know about?”

 

Viktor paused, moving to hover over Yuuri’s face.  His hair fell around his pale, blushing face, and his blue eyes were unbelievably tender.  “I wouldn’t be opposed to restraints, or dressing up.  Just nothing super… extreme?”

 

Cocking an eyebrow, Yuuri asked, “How about… whips?”

 

That threw Viktor for a loop.  “... who would be whipping who?”

 

“I would want you to whip me.”

 

Viktor blinked stupidly, his blush spreading wider.  “Yuuri, how many secret kinks do you have?”

 

Embarrassed, Yuuri glanced away.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

 

Viktor shushed him suddenly, guiding him to look back up into his blue eyes.

 

“I love you, Yuuri Katsuki.  Nothing you could ever say would make me think anything less of you.  I want to know it all.”

 

“What… what did you say?”

 

Viktor pressed a lingering kiss to his nose.  “I love you, Yuuri Katsuki.”

 

Still not believing it, Yuuri asked, “Say it again?”

 

“I…” Viktor pressed a kiss to his jaw, “love…” pressed a kiss to his forehead, “you…” he kissed Yuuri full on the lips, tender, unhurried.  

 

“I love you, too,” Yuuri whispered, tears springing to his eyes.  “You know, we haven’t ever said that before?”

 

Smiling, Viktor pressed more kisses to Yuuri’s face, until he was laughing hysterically underneath him at the ridiculousness.  

Giddy, Yuuri flipped their positions so that Yuuri was kneeling in Viktor’s lap, grinding down into his crotch, creating friction where he needed it most.  His stomach was fluttering with love; it was akin to feeling high.

 

Viktor bit at Yuuri’s lip, then pulled away to tug his own shirt off.  They slowly worked each other’s clothes off with kisses and hugs and laughter when Viktor’s one pant leg wouldn’t come off, but eventually Yuuri was hovering over Viktor, licking deliciously up his thighs.

 

“I love the way your skin tastes,” Yuuri whispered, biting playfully at the skin on his inner thigh, “I can’t ever get enough.”

 

Viktor was grinning preciously at that, like Yuuri had just told him that he loved him all over again.

 

Bending over to the bedside table, Yuuri pulled out the lube, spreading some generously on his fingers, before coming back to Viktor and pressing his finger by the Russian’s opening.

 

“May I?” Yuuri asked huskily, and Viktor nodded frantically.

 

Yuuri pressed in, and simultaneously started stroking Viktor’s cock in time with his finger moving.  He added a second finger, then a third, and Viktor was panting frantically underneath him, whispering, “Yuuri, if you want me to last you need to slow down…”

 

Smiling, Yuuri stopped his attention to Viktor’s cock and focused solely on getting his lover ready.  Once Viktor was stretched, he slid the condom on and bent Viktor over almost in half.  Then, he lined up his member to the entrance and pushed in.

 

Viktor bucked up at the sensation, his cock rubbing against his own legs.  Yuuri bent over so that he could make eye contact with Viktor, and found the Russian gazing widely at him, completely debauched, gorgeously in love.

 

They kissed sweetly, then, and Yuuri started moving.

 

Yuuri had noticed it before, but making love to Viktor felt different than every other type of sex he had had.  Maybe he just hadn’t ever done it with someone he loved before, or maybe it was that he trusted Viktor with all his desires and secrets.  Viktor loved every facet of Yuuri, and Yuuri was honored to be able to share those parts of himself with someone so perfect.

 

Yuuri set a slow, leisurely pace.  He wanted this to last, wanted them begging to come by the end of it, wanted to feel so completely blissed out by the connection.  

 

When Yuuri angled his hips the right way, Viktor started moaning, and Yuuri swallowed down the moan with a kiss, taking gentle care to hit that same spot a few times.  He was unhurried, and soon Viktor was whispering in Russian words that Yuuri would have to get translated later.

 

It felt so fresh, despite it not being their first time together.  They knew each other’s bodies now, so it felt like a whole new world.

 

When Yuuri’s mind started to fuzz out from the feeling, his desperation became a little more pitched.  Pulling a pillow over, he propped Viktor’s hips up to get better access, and started a faster pace.  Yuuri’s own breath was coming in short gasps and leaving him with a whimper each time, Viktor’s hole squeezing around him in just the right way.  

 

The room was filled with the squelching sound of the lube dripping between them, and the noise alone would have made Yuuri giggle, if he weren’t so close...

 

Instead, it sent him over the edge.  

 

He spilled inside of Viktor, and starting stroking Viktor’s cock between them, riding out his orgasm.  Viktor didn’t last long after that, eventually spilling across his stomach.

 

When Yuuri pulled out, he quickly disposed of the condom and came back to the bed.  Without missing a beat, he started licking at Viktor’s chest, lapping up the liquid there.  Viktor groaned, throwing his forearm over his face.

 

“Yuuri, you’re going to get me excited again…” Viktor gasped out, and Yuuri paused in his licking, a dribble of come sliding down his chin, eyebrow cocked.  

 

“Did I say we were done yet?”

 

Blinking, Viktor whispered, “No, you haven’t.”

 

“Do you want to be done?”

 

Viktor shook his head suddenly, still focused on Yuuri’s chin…

 

“Good.  I’m not finished with you just yet,” Yuuri lapped up the rest of Viktor’s spill, then pressed kisses around his chest, biting lightly at his nipples, sucking marks into his hips...

 

“Yuuri, you’re insatiable,” Viktor whispered breathily.

 

Yuuri peered at Viktor’s blue eyes, pupils blown and hazy, asking, “Is that a bad thing?”

 

“No,” Viktor said suddenly, lips red from kissing.  “It just makes loving you that much more enjoyable.”

 

“I just can’t get enough of you, Viktor,” Yuuri said then, feeling immensely vulnerable.  “I love you so much that it scares me.”

 

Stopping, Yuuri came up on his knees and leaned back, taking in what he had just said, eyes going wide with panic.  

 

“I… oh,” he whispered, as tears started to gather in his eyes.

 

Viktor got up immediately, looking a little sore but otherwise fine.  Yuuri could feel the world around him getting smaller, the bed disappearing out from under him, the tips of his fingers tingling…

 

“Yuuri, baby, stay with me,” Viktor coaxed, “I need you to breathe with me.  In, one, two, three, out, one, two, three.”

 

Shaking, Yuuri nodded, face flushed of color and eyes unfocused.

 

It took a few moments, and Yuuri’s heart was still racing uncomfortably, but he was able to speak.  

 

“I’m… sorry.  I think I just got a little overwhelmed.  I was worried that we were getting too dependent, and when I said that it made me think…”

 

“Shh,” Viktor said softly, lifting Yuuri’s hands to his pink lips and kissing them gingerly, “We’ll work on it, love.  We’ll find a balance.  It doesn’t all just happen overnight.  We have to work on it.”

 

Nodding, Yuuri felt his throat start to close up again, whispering, “What… what if we can’t?  What if I’m like this forever…”

 

“Stop,” Viktor said, a little sharper than he intended, then backtracked.  “Sorry, but I need you to stay here, in this moment with me, Yuuri.  We just made love.  We just connected on a deep level, from saying ‘I love you’.  Of course you’re going to be a little emotionally raw.  Despite that, stay with me, here.  Could we lay down on the bed, and I hold you?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri laid down and took one of the pillows and clutched it to him, to ground him.  Viktor settled in behind him, slotting his legs with Yuuri’s, pressing kisses into the back of his neck and hair, whispering reverently in Russian.

 

I love you, Yuuri Katsuki.  I love every side of you, including this one.  I need you to let me.”


 

Chapter Text

Before Yuuri knew it, he was sitting in Kya’s office the next day, chewing nervously on his lip.

 

When she brought him in, he started fidgeting with his crocheting immediately, and she frowned at him.

 

“Are you alright today, Yuuri?”

 

Shaking his head, his fingers struggled to stay still enough to loop through his stitches, but he remained stubborn enough to try.

 

“Last night I had a pretty bad anxiety attack, and it… hasn’t really gone away, ” Yuuri’s voice broke a little at the end, and he finished his sentence in a hush.

 

Kya tapped her fingernails then, looking displeased.  “Can you tell me what triggered this?  We had done so much positive progress.”

 

“We have,” Yuuri said loudly, fumbling through another stitch and throwing his crocheting down on the ground, defeated.  Bringing his knees to his chest, he continued, “I’ve been doing so well and then last night I told Viktor I loved him and that it was scary how much I loved him and now I feel like I love him too much, and that I’m just going to get hurt and crash and burn and end up relapsing again…”

 

Kya’s eyes grew steadily wider as Yuuri’s anxiety was laid out very explicitly on the table.

 

“Okay, Yuuri, I need you to stop for a minute…”

 

“... but what if when he’s gone I can’t handle it?  What if I miss him so much and feel so alone and can’t deal and end up hurting myself again?  He’ll be gone for whole week.  He’ll be back in Russia, with his friends, and maybe he’ll realize that he doesn’t want to keep living with me anymore…”

 

“Yuuri!”

 

Kya’s voice was loud, and it stunned Yuuri enough that he froze in his rambling, staring at her with wide eyes.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, tears forming in his eyes.  “God, no, I need to stop crying I feel so weak right now…”

 

“Okay,” Kya leaned back, “You feel weak.  Why?”

 

“Because I’m crying.  I already explained that.”

 

“No.  You explained that you were crying and that you felt weak.  However, you didn’t specify what about crying made you weak.  Could you tell me?”

 

Yuuri searched, and pulled out, “I feel like I can’t handle my own emotions.”

 

“Why is that bad?  Why does that make you weak?  Isn’t that why you’re here?”

 

Yuuri tightened his grip on his knees, whispering, “I guess so, yeah.”

 

“Okay, then.  So does coming here make you weak?”

 

When Yuuri nodded, Kya sighed.

 

“Yuuri, do you think Viktor is weak for seeing a therapist?”

 

“No,” he said automatically, then thought back, yelping, “Hey, you tricked me!”

 

Kya shook her head, jotting some notes.  “I didn’t trick you.  I pointed out a clear misassociation that came about via your anxiety talking, not your rational mind.  Your rational mind knows that therapy does not make you weak.  You anxiety is telling you the opposite, but only in reference to yourself.  It’s basically saying that it’s fine if other people go to therapy, but Yuuri Katsuki is weak for doing it.”

 

Picking his crocheting back up, Yuuri felt a little numb, like the emotional state he’d been maintaining had drained out of him all at once, all the anxiety dripping to the floor and a hollow feeling took its place.  Now that his fingers weren’t shaking anymore, he continued working on his hat.  

 

They sat in silence for a few minutes, before Kya said, “Yuuri?  What do you think about what I said?”

 

Yuuri shrugged.

 

“Think on it, Yuuri Katsuki.  Let it sink in.  Then, we’ll work through the rest of it.”

 

***

 

When Yuuri got to practice, he was completely devoid of all emotion.

 

He’d had “drops” after therapy, but this was both a drop after an anxiety attack and a drop from therapy simultaneously.  

 

He felt unbelievably empty and exhausted, and everything was shades of grey around him. 

 

When Viktor skated up to his boyfriend, he tipped Yuuri’s chin up to stare into his chocolate eyes thoughtfully.  Yuuri felt a small stirring of emotion from looking up into Viktor’s eyes, but nothing compared to the rush of affection he normally felt.  It was like someone had robbed him of his emotions, love for Viktor and all.

 

“Bad session?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri asked, “I think I just need to skate it off.  Tell me what I’m working on, coach.”

 

Yuuri ran through basic figures and worked on his jump combinations, tightening up the entries and seeing if there was any wiggle room to increase the difficulty.  It was arduous, but it kept Yuuri’s blood pumping and himself moving, eliminating any time for rumination.

 

When they got back to the onsen, Yuuri immediately found his father and asked what there was to do around the house.

 

“You can always clean the men’s locker room.  I was going to do it, but if you’re offering…”

 

Nodding, Yuuri went to the back room and pulled out the materials he would need.  When Viktor found him, he explained what he was doing, pulling on a face mask.

 

“I’ll go help Hiroko with cooking, then,” Viktor said brightly, “We’re making chicken cordon bleu!”

 

Yuuri went to the locker room and put up the “cleaning” signs, then checked to make sure no one was in the bath.  This late in the day, most guests were out exploring the town.  Then, he locked the door.

 

Yuuri started by sweeping up all the hair and and garbage from the ground.  Then he mopped, careful to get into each little nook and cranny.

 

The soothing, consistent motions of the cleaning were calming, creating a sense of responsibility.  He was contributing to something, and doing something good.  No matter what anxiety he felt, no matter how empty he felt, this was something good that he was doing, something productive.

 

When he finished, he felt sore and wary, but a little calmer.

 

That night, as Viktor and him snuggled into bed, Yuuri silently moved his hands over Viktor’s body.  Viktor closed his eyes and let him.  Yuuri’s fingers skimmed over his shoulders, and felt out each of his abdominal muscles.  His fingers were sketching out his lover’s body, taking it in, relishing in his beautiful, pale skin.  The lights were dim, and though Yuuri still felt numb, Viktor's trust was slowly stirring something inside of him, coaxing a blackened piece of wood back to flame.

 

Viktor remained loose and quiet on the bed.

 

It wasn't going anywhere further.  There wasn't any secret motive.  Yuuri wanted his hands to remember Viktor, to know everything about him, even the littlest freckle, even the crescent scar on his knee.

 

If he was going to have trouble with his feelings for Viktor when he was in this emotional state, he would feel his lover in other ways. 

 

When they fell asleep that night, Yuuri dreamed that he was traveling into Viktor’s heart, mapping out the nooks and crannies, planting flowers where he stepped.

 

***

 

Viktor woke Yuuri up on the day before he was leaving with a peppering of kisses to his abdomen, before whispering, “Yuuri, let me make you feel good.”

 

Still a little sleep addled, and relieved that he no longer felt the crushing emptiness from the day before, his brain didn’t fully comprehend what was going on until Viktor’s fingers starting teasing at his sweatpants.

 

Nodding sleepily, he lifted his hips for Viktor to pull his pants down and took tender time to take Yuuri into his mouth and subsequently apart, humming and sucking, biting at his inner thighs, massaging his ass and legs as he went.

 

When Yuuri finished, he whispered, “Hmmm, you’ve set the bar high.  I expect my coach to wake me up like this every day.”

 

Chuckling, Viktor licked up Yuuri’s abdomen to his lips and pressed a chaste kiss there.  “We can switch off every other day.”

 

“Or we can rock paper scissors the night before.”

 

Viktor sat up, tapping his lip in thought.  “Oh!  I know!  We should make a sexual wake-up jar and put every way we want to be woken up and that way we can keep it exciting!”

 

Snorting, Yuuri leaned up and kissed Viktor, the two of them smiled at their joined lips, making the kiss a little awkward but just as sweet.  “I love you, Viktor Nikiforov.”

 

They hadn’t said it since that night, with Yuuri’s anxiety about it, and Viktor’s face flushed, blue eyes brightening.

 

It was like the first time all over again.

 

“I love you too, Yuuri Katsuki.”

 

***

 

They had a longer practice than usual that day, because they wouldn’t be working together for a week.  Yuuri was feeling the pressure by the end of it, and flubbed his third attempt at a salchow in a row, tumbling onto the ice and crying out.

 

“Yuuri!” Viktor yelled, skating over to him and kneeling next to him.  “Are you alright,   solnishko ?”

 

Moaning, Yuuri slammed his fist down onto the ice, taking a deep breath before he got up and started back around the rink for another try.

 

“Yuuri, slow down!  I didn’t even get to check to see if you were injured.  You could exacerbate…”

 

Launching up again, Yuuri put his hand down on the ice then lost his balance, landing flat on his back and sliding, staring up at the ceiling with a grimace.

 

When Viktor reached him, this time it was with annoyance.  “Are you done?”

 

“No,” Yuuri mumbled feebly, sitting up and rubbing his knee.  “I just think I bruised it before.”

 

“No more jumps today, okay?  Give it time to heal.  Competitions are still weeks away, and you were landing it consistently just a few days ago…”

 

“It’s not good enough!” Yuuri huffed, standing up and wiping the sweat from his brow.  “I need to be better.”

 

Without another word, Yuuri skated off and tried again, launching into the air and twisting at an odd angle, coming down hard.

 

Viktor panicked, getting to him as quickly as possible, his heart hammering in his chest as Yuuri groaned, rolling onto his stomach and kicking down at the ice, creating a sharp dent.

 

“I’m fine,” Yuuri muttered, and Viktor grabbed him by the back of the shirt, hauling him up and guiding him off the ice.

 

“No more skating.  We already went an extra two hours today.  We’re done.”

 

Yuuri struggled for a few minutes, then ultimately gave in, letting Viktor lead him to the locker room.  He let Viktor take off his skates, let him check his bruised knee out, let him put on and lace up his street shoes.  It was intimate and real and Viktor could tell that his boyfriend was mentally checking out, not in the moment with him.

 

“Love, I need you to come back to me.”

 

Breathing in shakily, Yuuri brushed his fingers through Viktor’s hair as the older man finished lacing up his shoe.

 

“I need to be better.”

 

Sighing, Viktor started getting out of his own skates.  “It’s not going to happen all at once.  You need patience.”

 

“I need to prove that I deserve you,” Yuuri whispered, and Viktor looked over at him, eyes wide.

 

“Of course you deserve me, love…”

 

Cutting him off, Yuuri whispered “No, no, I meant as my coach.  I need to prove that you coming here was worth it.  That I’m worth it.”

 

The room was silent for a moment, as Viktor worked through what he wanted to say.  The air conditioner hummed loudly in the growing anticipation.

 

“I can’t make you think you’re worth it,” Viktor started slowly, “I’ve told you, and I’ve shown you.  I’ve done everything I can to make you believe that you deserve this chance.  You need to do your part, now.”

 

It hit him right in the gut.  Yuuri felt a wave of dawning wash over him, and then a wave of dread.  “I… I guess I can work on that.”

 

***

 

Later that evening, as Yuuri came out of his room in his lounge clothes, he tried to track Viktor down, but was unsuccessful.  He wasn’t in any of his usual haunts.

 

When he entered the kitchen, he came up to his mother.  “Hey, mom.”

 

“Baby, you just missed Viktor!  He whipped up a surprise for you.”

 

Surprised, Yuuri went to leave, when Hiroko caught his hand.  “No, no, give him a few more minutes.  How was practice?”

 

“I pushed myself too far.  Sometimes I just get so desperate to prove that I can be like Viktor…”

 

Tsk-ing, Hiroko said, “You don’t need to be like Viktor, darling, you need to be like Yuuri.  Viktor didn’t come all the way here to train another version of himself, he came to train you.”

 

His chest felt light all of a sudden, pumped full of helium and affection for his mother.  “How was your day?”

 

“Good!  The onsen has been busier since Viktor’s come.  He’s been so helpful.”

 

Yuuri smiled a little wider, then said, “I asked about you, mom, not the onsen.”

 

Hiroko’s face softened, and she looked up at her son thoughtfully.  “I’ve been reading a lot more, recently.  I’m trying to take better care of myself, like you are.  I’m following your good example.”

 

It wasn’t expected at all, and Yuuri had to go over the words in his mind twice before he really digested them.  

 

It had never occurred to him, in all his life, that taking care of himself would help others.  That maybe, because he was coping better, he was making his loved one’s strive to be better too.

 

Tears welled up in his eyes, and he encircled his mother in a hug.

 

“Yuuri!  I’m in the middle of cooking…”

 

“Oh, right, sorry!”

 

Suddenly, a very excited Viktor appeared in the kitchen, grin reaching from ear to ear.  

 

“I’m ready for you, love.”

 

Viktor took him by the hands and lead him down the hall towards one of their party rooms.

 

“What is it, Viktor?”

 

“Shh!  Close your eyes!”

 

Sighing, Yuuri did as he was told, affection and excitement bubbling under his skin.

 

When he stepped into the room, he immediately smelled something heavenly, and when Viktor closer the door, he whispered breathily, “Open them.”

 

Blinking, Yuuri gasped.  The room had a single table in the middle with an Italian pasta dish.  There were candles lined up along the floor, flickering eagerly in the dim room, and a bottle of wine opened and poured out into two crystalline glasses.

 

The tears that had welled up earlier threatened to come back as he breathed, “Viktor…”

 

“I know, it’s a little much…”

 

Yuuri grabbed Viktor’s hand and pulled his boyfriend towards him forcefully, pressing a hungry and grateful kiss to his lips.

 

Viktor stepped away, completely stunned, then gushed, “Oh, Yuuri, I knew you were a hopeless romantic!” tackling him in a hug.

 

Yelping, Yuuri fought to untangle himself from the octopus arms, laughing hysterically.

 

Soon they were seated at the table, and Viktor proudly pointed at the dish.

 

“Your mother showed me how to make it.  Gnocci and pesto with broccoli and,” Viktor pointed to a small basket, “garlic bread!”

 

Viktor waited expectantly as Yuuri surveyed the offerings.

 

Taking a tentative bite, Yuuri felt his whole body warm at the tastes dancing on his tongue.  “This is so good!”

 

“Really?!” Viktor gasped, face lighting up in excitement.  

 

They ate in relative and comfortable silence, and when they finished Yuuri took his glass of wine and sat right next to Viktor, cuddling into his side.

 

“I’m going to miss this,” Yuuri said honestly, and Viktor pressed a kiss into his hair.

 

“I’ll be back,   solnishko, we’ll be together again before you know it.”

 

When they went back to Viktor’s room, he was busy getting the last of his things together.  Mari was driving him early the next morning to the airport, and Yuuri was watching him with wide eyes.

 

“You need all of those clothes?”

 

Viktor glanced at his suitcase.  “I don’t know what I’ll need!  The weather this time of year is fickle.”

 

“Aren’t you staying at your own apartment?”

 

Staring blankly at Yuuri, he asked, “What does that have to do with anything?”

 

Makkachin whined them, placing her paw on Viktor’s suitcase.  The silver-haired man gasped, petting his dog and dramatically falling to the ground.

 

“I’m so sorry, I’m the worst owner in the world!  I’ll be back soon, though, and you get to sleep with Yuuri while I’m gone.”

 

As if on command, Makkachin hopped onto the bed with Yuuri, who pet her soft fur, stress melting away almost immediately.

 

“Traitor,” Viktor huffed, climbing onto the bed then and settling behind Yuuri, pressing soft kisses into his hair.

 

“You have to get a good night’s sleep,” Yuuri complained sleepily, as Viktor nodded against his skin and continued to trail kisses along his spine.

 

Shivering at the contact through his shirt, Yuuri closed his eyes, surrounded by love on both sides.

 

The next morning, when he woke up, Viktor was busy getting ready, the bed behind him was cold.

 

As Viktor was about to climb into the car, Yuuri handed him a small bag.  Surprised, Viktor took it and opened it, pulling a long red scarf out of it.

 

“I made it,” Yuuri said suddenly; nervously, “It was one of my firsts so it’s a little uneven but I wanted to give you something.”

 

The red scarf was quickly twirled around Viktor’s neck, and Yuuri went bright red.

 

“Viktor it’s like ninety degrees…”

 

“I’m not taking it off,” Viktor argued, an irresistible smile on his lips.  “It smells like you.”

Chapter Text

Viktor

 

Viktor stared at the blank page in front of him, wondering where to begin.  He had gotten to his apartment in the early evening, and was supposed to meet Yurio for their training at seven.

 

However, he had made a promise to his therapist before he left, that he would journal all his feelings over the next week to work through them instead of bottling them up.

 

After he’d unpacked and set the apartment up a little, he was on the couch with the beautiful leather journal, Yuuri’s scarf still tucked securely around his neck.

 

Dear Diary,

 

This is immensely stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway.

 

According to my therapist, I have a habit of “shutting down” instead of feeling emotions as they come, and that that is “unhealthy” and leads to “impulsive acts” like trying to hold my breath in an onsen tub, or flying halfway around the world to coach someone I’d talked to only a few select times.

 

They still can’t prove that going under the water was anything but innocent.  Obviously Yuuri overreacted.

 

Here I am, in St. Petersburg again, in my old apartment.  It’s still the same furniture.  It makes me feel… like I miss Yuuri.

 

I’m going to be coaching Yurio today on his progress with “agape”.  I feel excited to see everyone again.  I feel confident about my ability to help Yurio perform better.  

 

I feel like… I feel like I already hate this.

 

Signed,

Viktor Nikiforov

 

Viktor thought momentarily about his entry, and about how robotic and wrong it sounded, and tossed the book onto his coffee table, staring up at the ceiling.

 

Repressing feelings, huh?


***


When Viktor got to the rink, he heard a squeal from behind him.

 

A flame of red hair tackled him.  “Oh, Vitya, have you gotten shorter?”

 

“Hello, Mila.  Have you gotten prettier?”

 

The young woman chuckled, patting Viktor hard on the back.  “You’re too sweet, Vitya.  How is your Japanese pet?”

 

The term set Viktor immediately on edge.  “What did you…”

 

“Vitya!”

 

The yell was heard clear across the rink, and he sighed, wandering over to the person in question.

 

Yakov glared at Viktor through his bushy eyebrows, mouth set in a line.

 

“Viktor,” he said now, catching himself far too late, “I hear that your pupil has been keeping you very busy.  How did you find the time to come here?”

 

The statement set him even more on edge.  The term “pupil” put so much figurative distance between him and Yuuri, and they were already so far apart…

 

Faking a smile, Viktor touched Yakov’s arm lightly.  “Oh, Yakov, Yuuri is training just fine without me.  Now, where’s Yurio?  I want to see his run-through live!”

 

“He should be here shortly.”

 

They stood in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes until the teen wandered in, hands shoved into a leopard print jacket and bulky headphones loud enough for them to everyone else to hear.

 

When he saw Viktor, his jaw dropped, and he took his headphones off.

 

“You actually remembered?”

 

Blinking, Viktor’s eyes widened, appalled.  “You thought I would forget?”

 

“Well, yeah.  That is what you do, old man.  Now I owe Mila money…”

 

Still in shock, Viktor clapped his hands, evil smile donning his face.  “Alright, little kitten, I want you on the ice in five minutes running figures or you’ll be doing speed laps.”

 

Yurio gulped, yelling, “You can’t tell me what to do!”

With the look of absolute anger on Viktor’s face, Yurio grumbled and moved quickly towards the locker room.

 

“He’s different,” Viktor observed.

 

“You left,” Yakov replied.


***


After Viktor had been working with Yurio for three hours, he was immensely impressed.

 

“Your work ethic seems to have improved,” Viktor cheered loudly, “You’re less of a brat!”

 

“Shut UP!” Yurio sneered.  It was just the two of them in the rink now, as Mila and Yakov had left pretty shortly after Viktor had arrived.  

 

Viktor had tried, and failed, to get Yakov to have an extended conversation with him past pleasantries and speaking about Yurio’s progress.

 

“I feel like you still aren’t quite getting agape.  Your grandfather is your inspiration, yes?”

 

Yurio skated over, nodded as he leaned against the barrier and took a sip of his drink.  “Da.”

 

“So why him?”

 

The teen pushed back his long blonde hair, revealing two green eyes that were misty with thought.  

 

“He’s been my biggest supporter.  When I have no one else, I have him.”

 

The heaviness of the implication weighed on Viktor.  Did Yurio… no, that would be crazy…

 

“You don’t think I abandoned you, do you, Yurio?”

 

It was so unlike him that he clamped his mouth shut as soon as he said it.  

 

Yurio blinked up at him with raw shock.  “Where did that come from?”

Shaking his head to clear it, Viktor decided that he should just follow through.

 

“Answer the question.”

 

Yurio wrinkled his nose, pushing off the barrier.

 

“I’m running it again!”

 

When the skater finished and he came over to Viktor again, the older man was pensive.  

 

“I think you need more than one agape inspiration.  Just like you can’t rely completely on one person for support, you can’t rely on one person for inspiration.”

 

“That actually made sense,” Yurio peered up at Viktor, like he wasn’t quite believing what he was seeing.

 

Viktor smiled.  “I want to be there for you, Yurio.  I want to help you figure your agape out.”

 

“That sounded… sincere ,” Yurio gaped, yelling out suddenly, “Who the hell are you and what did you do with Viktor?”

 

He tore towards the locker room.  

 

“Practice is over, then!” Viktor said cheerily, then his hand fell, and dread spread over him in a wave.

 

What was happening to him?


***


As Viktor sat in his apartment the next morning, staring at another blank page, he began:

 

Dear Diary,

 

Writing in journals makes me feel like I’m five.

 

Talking about my feelings makes me feel like an invalid.

 

This is stupid.

 

Signed,

Viktor Nikiforov

 

When he arrived at practice, Yurio was already warming up.  The older man laced up his skates and joined Yurio on the ice.

 

“What’s the plan today, Viktor?”

 

The teen might be a little jerk, but there was clearly some excitement from his presence.  Yurio might hide it well, but he clearly admired Viktor and wanted to learn from him.

 

“I’m going to skate agape.”

 

Yurio blanked, asking, “Why?  You’ve shown me the moves…”

 

“Yes, I have,” Viktor said softly, “but I showed you the motions, not the emotions.  You have to access them somehow.”

 

I may not be able to write, them, but…

 

Viktor began without music, the melody singing inside his head instead, as clear as if it were real.

 

As Viktor began, his brain started up his own internal commentary, like he always does when he skates.

 

How do I feel?

 

I miss Yuuri.

 

I love him, so much.  I love it when he smiles.  I love it when we’re touching.  I love watching him grow professionally and personally, and am so excited to see who he’ll become.

 

There’s only so much agape, in Yuuri, though.  Eventually it shifts to eros.  This performance has to be pure...

 

Yuuri isn’t my only agape…

 

How did I used to feel while skating this?  Who was on my mind?

 

Or maybe I know who, and I’m just afraid…

 

Viktor paused momentarily, making Yurio’s eyebrows shoot up, and then continued, not letting his hiccup show in any of the rest of his performance.

 

“That was…” Yurio started, and Viktor just shrugged.

 

Stylistically, it was perfect.  However, it was devoid of any emotion by the end.

 

Frustrated, Viktor quickly set Yuri to start the program, taking it apart bit by bit, detail by detail.

 

By the end of it, Yurio was roiling with anger, and Viktor had made a decision.


***


Wednesday, after practice, Viktor stood outside of a large house.

 

It was about two hours away.  The entire car ride had been Viktor telling himself not to turn around.

 

Now, standing at the door, he chickened out and started to walk away, before he saw movement through the window.

 

A woman with white blonde hair was serving dinner to her six-year-old son and her husband, fresh off of work in a suit and tie.  She was smiling and wearing an apron, the picture perfect housewife.

 

The little boy pointed his fork at her and she laughed.  The husband joined in, and soon the picturesque family continued their meal.

 

Viktor’s mother took off her apron and joined them at the table.

 

In all the years that Viktor and his mother had been estranged, he always knew about her life through stories others told him.  About how she married a kind man.  About how she had another son.

 

Not once had Reyna ever reached out to him.  

 

There was an empty seat at the table, and Viktor felt a visceral nausea from imagining himself sitting there, around the table like a big, old fashioned family.

 

He studied his little brother, whose name was Samuel.  The boy had a dark crop of hair and bright blue eyes.  He was small, but already lanky, clearly going to be very tall one day.

 

Maybe one day, Viktor would be sitting at the table with them…

 

...but today was not that day.

 

Tightening his present around his neck, he left.

 

Just after he walked away, Reyna turned to the window, and saw only the tip of a bright red scarf as it retreated from sight.


***


The next day Viktor was pushing Yurio to his limits.  

 

“There was a sloppy leg on that spin!  Do it again.”

 

“Your entry looked like you were a flailing fish.  Again.”

 

“Agape is pure unadulterated love, not love of grimaces!”

 

“I’ll make you grimace…” Yurio hissed, but Yakov threw him a look across the ice.

 

Of course, Yurio may have been grimacing because of Viktor.  The level of intensity of coaching wasn't new, Yurio was used to that; it was the fact that it was coming from Viktor, someone he aimed to emulate, that made it sting so harshly.

 

When Yurio departed the ice, he marched up to Yakov and pointed a finger right in his face.

 

“You deal with him.  I'm out.”

 

Grunting, Yakov looked over at Viktor thoughtfully, surveying his former student, who was skating loops around the ice, extremely fast.

 

“Vitya!  A word!”

 

Viktor skated over, smiling hugely.  “Oh Yakov, you remembered my name!”

 

“Save it,” he snapped, “what was that with Yurio?”

 

Viktor shrugged.  “I learned how to coach from you, didn't I?”

 

That was like a fresh slap, and Yakov’s eyes flashed with anger.  

 

“Apparently I taught you nothing about patience.”

 

Viktor just patted Yakov reassuringly on the shoulder.  “Couldn't have.  There wasn't even an ounce to spare!”

 

The older man peered at Viktor from under his hat, carefully.  

 

“What do you think about us getting a drink?”

 

For a moment, the fake happy peeled back, and Yakov saw the scared little fourteen-year-old who sobbed into his chest, asking why he felt like the world had swallowed him.

 

Then, Viktor responded, “Only if you’re paying.”


***


They sat at the bar, both of them halfway through their drinks without a single word uttered between them.

 

Finally, Yakov broke the silence.

 

“Is this… coaching endeavor… making you happy?”

 

It wasn’t sarcastic or frustrated.  His tone was simply questioning, honestly curious.

 

Viktor swirled his drink, finishing it in one go and waving the bartender for another.  

 

“I thought it would fix me.”

 

The words made Viktor stare down at his empty glass, at the condensation dripping down the sides, at the water disappearing now that the chilly liquid inside the glass was gone.

 

Yakov grunted then, finishing his own drink.  “You never needed to be fixed, Vitya.  You are fine as you are.”

 

The words filled him with something akin to warmth, and comfort.

 

Viktor looked over at the man who had been his strongest backbone, his biggest supporter.

 

When I have nobody else, I have him.

 

Placing a hand on Yakov’s, his halfhearted smile conveyed his mixed emotions.  With Yakov, his mask didn’t have to stay on.  

 

“I’ll buy the next round.”


***


The next evening, as he was showering after practice, someone walked into his bathroom.

 

“Vitya!  How dare you come home and not tell me.  I demand answers!”

 

Viktor’s stomach dropped to his knees and then bounced back up again, elated.

 

He pulled back the curtain, smiling widely at the intruder.

 

“Elena!”

 

Sighing, she handed over a towel.  “If you want me to keep my hands to myself, please cover up.  You know what those abs do to me.”

 

Oh, he did.  Images flashed in his mind, of long nights tossed in the sheets, of implicit trust, of feeling her soak his fingers with…

 

“How did you know?” he asked with a smile, wandering into his room to get dressed.

 

She followed dutifully, green eyes curious and analytical, trying to piece and tease Viktor apart with nothing but her stare.

 

“I have my sources.”

 

Yakov.

 

“When you tweet a video of you at practice with Yurio it tends to drop the hint.”

 

Viktor went stock still, not realizing how idiotic he was, before stepping into his underwear and a pair of sweats.

 

“What do I owe the pleasure?”

 

“I missed you,” she purred, wandering over to the bed, skimming her fingers along the duvet.  It was then that Viktor saw how low her shirt was, how she was angling her body.  “I haven’t had a lover in too long.  I’m needy, my Vitya.  Would you tell me I’m a good girl?”

 

The thoughts rushing through his head, the images flashing, made his body react without any conscious thought, and he said suddenly, darkly, “Elena!”

 

Backing a step up, her eyes went wide with innocence.  “Vitya?  Are you alright?”

 

“I… I have a boyfriend, Elena.”

 

It was a slow yet dramatic metamorphosis.  Elena’s face started at angry, then transitioned to thoughtful, then moved on to something like sadness, then hinged on giddy, before settling on a warm smile and patting the bed happily, sitting down herself and saying, “Tell me about him, then.”

 

Her moods should be studied by psychologists.  

 

Viktor sat down a foot away, angling towards her.  Except, he could tell that she got the hint, because she was sitting up straight, legs crossed, eager to listen.

 

“He’s… the skater I went to coach.”

 

Elena’s cheeks turned pink as she gasped, clasping her hand over her mouth.  “No way, the hot Japanese man?!”

 

“That one.”

 

“Hmmm, he is yummy,” she said happily, hesitantly reaching out and touching Viktor’s hand.  In a show of trust, he let her.  “I’m so excited for you, Vitya.  You know I just want happiness for the both of us.”

 

His relationship with Elena was… tangled, and complicated, but there was a deep love that went farther than friends, that could never quite push to commitment.  It was a delicate balance, but it was a relationship that Viktor treasured.  They were each other’s solace when they needed a human’s touch, they were each other’s strength when they didn’t have any of their own.

 

Elena had bathed Viktor when his depression had him so low that he could barely move without prompting.  She had forced him to eat when his whole being insisted that food was nauseating.  When she went through tough breakups, he was there with a bottle of wine and a couple of fun sex toys to take her mind off of things.

 

“Are you disappointed?” he couldn’t help but asking, and she just shook her head, tightening her hold on his hand.

 

“I meant it, Viktor.  I just want your happiness.  I’ve got plenty of vibrators that will keep me going until I find a new boy toy.”

 

“Wow, I’m so replaceable!” Viktor scoffed, pulling his hand away in mock-offense.

 

“Yes, you are, darling.  At least like that,” she stood up, and pulled him up too, encircling him in a tight hug that calmed him down all the way to his toes.  “Like this, though, as one of my best friends, you are one in a million.”

 

They cracked open a bottle of wine after that, and spent the rest of the night catching up.  Elena told the story of how her and her beau broke up a few months ago, and Viktor wouldn’t shut up about Yuuri.

 

“So I find that I actually prefer him topping, but that isn’t the only thing that’s great about him.  It’s… him.  We fit right.  We say the right things.  We make each other stronger.”

 

Elena was pensive for a moment, green eyes darting away from his as she poured another glass.

 

“What?”

 

She held up a glass.  “To the fact that I’m never sleeping with you again.”

 

It was a running joke, between the two of them.  When one of them would get into a serious relationship or monogamous fling, they would toast to never sleeping together again, because sleeping together implied that they were both single, or available, at the time.

 

Viktor clinked his glass, pulling out his phone now.

 

“So, this is Yuuri eating dinner, and this is Yuuri taking a nap…”


***


Yurio was sitting on the side of the rink on Friday, watching Viktor warm up, eyes alight with interest.

 

“Something is different about him today,” Yurio muttered to Yakov, who shrugged with indifference.  

 

After setting up, Viktor took a deep breath and began.

 

Yurio saw it the instant he started; something essential had changed in Viktor, and his agape was so perfect, so pure and unbelievable, that he couldn’t help but stare, trying to imprint the image on his mind, so he could practice it to the degree that his own performance was indistinguishable.

 

As Viktor finished, he grinned at the two of them, opening his eyes wide with enthusiasm.  “Yeah, something like that!”

 

Yurio’s first run through had so much emotion that Viktor almost started crying.  The facial expression of a tortured desperation paired with the purity of his movements, the lack of hesitation, perfectly embodied the concept of agape.

 

As Viktor watched Yurio go through the motions, he heard, “He misses you, you know.”

 

VIktor turned around and saw Mila, staring at Yurio with an unreadable expression.  “He always considered you like a big brother.  When you left, it devastated him.”

 

Watching Yurio launch into a quad, Viktor wondered what had made Yurio’s agape come back.

 

Whatever it was, Viktor was grateful.


***


As he sat at the airport waiting for his flight on Saturday morning, he pulled out the barely touched book and set his pen to page, curling up in his travel blanket and smelling his red scarf with a smile.

 

Dear Diary,

 

I feel like I realized that Yuuri makes me stronger.

 

Coming here helped me realize a lot of things about myself.  Yurio was struggling with his agape, and so was I.  Though I had my agape in Yuuri, and Yuuri’s family, they were only so much of my support.  Though I love them dearly, they’ve only known me a few months.  

 

Since coming here, I realized that my agape was everyone I’d left behind, too.  They’re just as much a part of me as my new family.  I thought leaving them behind might help me move past that part of my life but… they’re still people who love me.  They’re still in my heart, and still a part of me.

 

My bad parts are just as important as my good parts, which they’ve seen them all.  They all compose me.

 

Yakov taught me that I didn’t need to be fixed.  That makes me feel… calmer, somehow.  More steady.

 

My… mother… made me realize that family doesn’t mean blood.  I saw two strangers , who were biologically related to me, but wanted nothing to do with me.  That makes me feel both happy and a little sad, with grief for what could have been

 

Elena made me remember that I have someone who has seen every part of me and will still always cheer for my happy ending.  I have someone who loves me unconditionally.  That makes me feel… secure, and whole.  

 

Even Yurio taught me something.  Sometimes love isn’t hugs or kisses or confessions.  Sometimes it’s recognizing another person for exactly what they are, and accepting them at face value, cat claws and all.  That makes me feel… like those dark parts of me could be loved, too.

 

There’s so much more I have to learn about agape.  I think that I get every day of the rest of my life to find out.

 

Forever yours,

Viktor Nikiforov

 

PS Yuuri: when you inevitably read this (because my writing is arguably perfect and I can’t wait to show you how well I did), I love you so much.  Even though you perform Eros for me, you are part of my Agape, too.

Chapter Text

Yuuri

 

The second that Yuuri fell back asleep after seeing Viktor off, something felt innately wrong inside of him.  It was like Viktor leaving had triggered some visceral bodily reaction.

 

Or , he thought as he ran to the bathroom and hurled into the toilet, sweat breaking out over his brow, maybe I’m sick.

 

His mother came into his room with the thermometer, clucking her tongue at the number.  “You definitely have a fever, Yuuri.  Want me to bring back some soup?”

 

Nodding, Yuuri felt a round of chills seize his muscles and make him shake uncontrollably.  It felt like his body was trying to vibrate apart, and the whole world felt like it was suffocating him.

 

As soon as his mother left, he fell into a fever dream.  He dreamt that Viktor was watching him from behind a pane of glass, and that while Yuuri was screaming and crying, Viktor’s vibrant blue eyes were simply staring at Yuuri carefully, like he was trying to decide whether or not to respond.

 

When Yuuri woke up, his mother was hovering over him with a cool washcloth, dabbing at his forehead.

 

“Baby, it was just a dream.”

 

Sighing, Yuuri sat up, and saw the steaming mug of soup on his desk.  His mother handed it to him carefully, and he took a sip, the liquid hitting his stomach heavily.

 

Fighting down his urge to gag, he continued to sip slowly, the liquid just barely warming up his bone-deep chill.

 

Hiroko told him that if he needed anything, just to let her or Toshiya know, and Yuuri nodded, falling back against the bed.

 

This time, the dream was of him and Viktor in a meadow, alone.  The flowers were all purple.  They weren’t wearing any clothes.

 

Viktor touched Yuuri’s face delicately, his eyes tender and mouth split into a grin.  “What is it, my Yuuri?”

 

“You’re just so beautiful,” Yuuri responded, and Viktor chuckled, hugging Yuuri to him.

 

They continued to sit in the meadow, until Yuuri realized that there seemed to be no one and nothing else in this world: just the long grass and the purple flowers shivering in the breeze.

 

“Viktor, where is everyone?”

 

Viktor shushed him, pressing a firm kiss to Yuuri’s lips, and Yuuri woke up again.

 

This time it was hours later, and Yuuri shook his head, checking his phone, stomach swirling with discomfort.

 

Then, he ran to the bathroom again.

 

When he got back to his bed, he tossed and turned for a little while, unable to fall back asleep, but too exhausted to be awake.

 

So, he scrolled through social media, and got an idea to text Phichit.

 

Y: Hey

 

P: Hey!  Long time no hear.  How have things been?

 

Y: Shitty.  Viktor is in Russia for the week and I’m sick.

 

P: I can video chat with you tomorrow during your rink time.  Ciao Ciao is taking a personal day so I don’t have practice

 

Y: That would be great.  How’s the routine coming along?

 

P: Slowly.  I just want to get everything perfect, you know?

 

Y: Understood.  That’s how I feel about Yuri on Ice

 

P: I still love that you named a routine after yourself.  It’s almost JJ-level obnoxious

 

Y: Ouch

 

Yuuri started laughing, sore all over, and passed back out.

 

This time, his dream was even weirder.

 

Yuuri was standing on the ice without skates on, in his street clothes, and a bunch of dark figures were whispering in the stands.

 

The music for his free skate started, and he scrambled to attempt his routine without the skates, but quickly starting slipping and falling and looking like a bumbling fool.

 

No one stopped him.  Instead, they continued to whisper.

 

Viktor came out from the crowd suddenly, and when Yuuri reached out to him, Viktor just shook his head, looking mournful.  

 

Viktor disappeared back into the crowd, and Yuuri attempted the routine again, this time with even less success.

 

He woke up with a start, heart beating very fast, breathing come in short gasps.

 

It happened, sometimes, with a particularly bad nightmare, that Yuuri would get panic attacks in the middle of the night.  It hadn’t happened in months, but here Yuuri was, gasping and choking, trying to steady his breathing but feeling like he was under so much water.  He must be dying from this fever, he must be drowning from the inside out…

 

Yuuri quickly began using his breathing techniques, and was able to calm down, but that didn’t stop him from feeling panicked.

 

When he checked his phone, he saw that it was 5 AM the next day

 

Yuuri had been sleeping on and off for twenty-four hours, a least.

 

Getting up, he wobbled out of his room and towards the kitchen, his stomach swirling on empty.  When he got to the fridge, he opened it, then sighed as everything looked disgusting.

 

Instead, he went into the pantry and found the saltines, nibbling on them slowly.

 

He went back to his room and set up his laptop with Netflix, snacking on the crackers and waiting out the fever.

 

At some point during the show, he fell asleep again.

 

The dream, this time, was that he was helping out in the onsen.  He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and gasped, because was old.

 

Like, eighty years old.

 

There were things he understood about himself that stuck out in his brain like swollen balloons blocking all other thought: he retired from figure skating when he was twenty-six.  Viktor went back to Russia to train Yurio, and Yuuri had remained at the onsen, cleaning and helping out.  Later, when his parents died, him and his sister inherited the onsen and maintained it.

 

Mari was doing some paperwork in the office, and Yuuri was sweeping up the main entrance, whispering, “This is where I die.”

 

When Yuuri woke for the final time, at 10 AM that morning, he knew that his fever had broken.  He felt drained, and altogether empty, but overall stronger.

 

He forgot all of his dreams and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.


***


Later that day at practice, Yuuri was careful to mark his jumps, taking his routine piece by piece and giving himself breaks as needed.

 

Could you point me at Yuuri again, Loop?”

 

The triplets were all sitting on the edge of the rink, passing Phichit around between the three of them like a game of “my arms are tired” hot potato.

 

“I feel like that step sequence seemed sluggish,” Lutz pointed out, “There was no pizzazz.”

 

Sighing, Yuuri took a deep breath before answering.  “It’s not supposed to have pizzazz.  It’s supposed to have soul.”

 

“Yeah, that!”

 

Axel piped up.  “So when are you doing our lesson, Yuuri?  The winners have started asking when they get to learn from you and Viktor.”

 

Freezing up, Yuuri bonked himself on the head, having completely forgot the commitment that he’d made.

 

“The one that won their lesson with you is really excited!”

 

Yuuri thought for a moment, then said, “When Viktor gets back we’ll figure out a day to do the lesson.  For right now, try to give me feedback?”

 

“Yes sir!” they all piped up in unison, even Phichit following suit.

 

Yuuri tried his step sequence again, and Phichit was looking extremely thoughtful.

 

“When you’re doing that sequence, what are you thinking about?”

 

Pondering, Yuuri thought back to what was going through his mind.  That step sequence from his free skate was just before the part that represents Viktor coming into his life.  It was supposed to look desperate and hopeful, waiting for something to change.

 

“I’m usually thinking about the emotions I need to convey for when Viktor comes in.”

 

“It looks like that part is just filler.  You don’t seem to be showing enough of what was going on.  You look mechanical, even though usually your skating is expressive.”

 

“Yeah, you look constipated,” Lutz chuckled out, and Loop and Axel joined in on her laugh.

 

Yuuri sighed, thinking about the story he was trying to tell.

 

It was a story about a man who thought that he’d given up, who thought that it was over for him…

 

Or is it?  

 

Yuuri moved to run it again, this time remembering...

 

I wouldn’t have been skating Viktor’s program for Yuuko that day if I’d really given up.

 

Maybe I wanted to come back.  Maybe I was willing to put in the effort already, and Viktor coming was just my catalyst.

 

Maybe it wasn’t hope; maybe I'm supposed to be conveying desperation and patience.

 

At the end of the step sequence, Phichit yelled from the phone, “ Do it again!  The girls pointed me at the ceiling.”


***


When Yuuri finished practice the next day, his two guest coaches, Yuuko and Minako, took him by either arm and guided him to Minako’s car.

 

“Hey, I have to run home…”

 

“Nope, coaches orders!” Minako insisted, and soon he was in the back seat, driving with the two of them towards the Nishigori residence.

 

When they arrived at the small house, gardens full to bursting with flowers, Lutz, Loop, and Axel were sitting on their front porch, each on their respective phones, and barely blinked when the three of them got out of the car.

 

Yuuko huffed when she saw them, tapping her foot impatiently.  “Did daddy let you spend the whole day on your phones?”

 

“No,” they all said together without looking up.

 

“Are you lying?”

 

The three of them glanced between themselves, nodding as they came to a unanimous decision.  “Yes.”

 

Yuurko sighed and marched inside, and Minako winked at the triplets.  “More afraid of mom than dad, huh?”

 

They all nodded, and went back to their phones.

 

Yuuri and Minako followed Yuuko in, where Takeshi was standing sheepishly in the living room with Yuuko glaring up at him.

 

“Do you want them to become antisocial?”

 

“To be fair, they use the phones to talk to other skating otakus.  Technically, it is them being social.”

 

Sighing, defeated, Yuuko turned around, smiling at her guests.

 

“Takeshi made some grilled unagi for dinner.  Help me set up?’

 

They threw on some music and started setting the table, settling around it with their meals of grilled unagi and rice, with a side of steamed broccoli.

 

“So, Yuuri, how is it without Viktor glued to your hip?” Minako asked, eyes flashing in amusement.

 

“Quiet,” Yuuri said honestly, “It’s been a little relaxing in some ways.  I can sleep a little better…” Yuuri’s cheeks flared as he realized what he’d just said.

 

Minako squealed suddenly, and Yuuko looked over to the front door to make sure the girls were outside.

 

“So you are sleeping together!”  Minako accused,clearly elated at the news.

 

Toshiya got up and patted him on the back, proudly.  “Finally swiping your V-card.  Props.”

 

“Wait, did you all think I was a virgin?!”

 

They all stared blankly at him, before Yuuri’s mortified face fell into his hands.

 

They jumped on him after that, demanding his sexual history.

 

“...Viktor and I… it’s nice.  You get no details, though,” he snapped, peering at Minako over his glasses.

 

She raised her hands in defeat, and they continued their dinner.

 

“So, Yuuri, you know that little shit from my beginner class?’

 

Yuuri nodded, mouth full of fish.

 

“He won your lesson.  His mom reached out about setting up a date.”

 

Swallowing his food, he took a quick sip of water before responding, “The triplets told me that they wanted to schedule it.  I told them I needed to wait until after Viktor came back.  We promised that we wouldn’t talk to each other on the phone this week.  We wanted time and space to ourselves.”

 

Takeshi raised his eyebrow.  “Why?”

 

“We’re both trying to figure a lot of stuff out.  It’s hard to help ourselves if we’re constantly helping each other.  Even though I miss him, I’ve been able to really focus on self control and self care this week.”

 

Yuuko was watching him with wide eyes.  “You sound so… well adjusted…”

 

The implication made Yuuri a little sour.  “I’m working on getting there.”

 

“I’m proud of you.  I’ve known you for years, through all your anxiety in middle school and high school.  You seem stronger, now.”

 

“I am.”

 

They finished their dinner with laughter and small talk, then moved into the living room and popped in a kids movie.  They sat around until the triplets passed out in a heap, then Minako offered to drive Yuuri home.

 

While driving, Minako glanced over at Yuuri, her dark eyes considering him carefully.

 

“How have you been feeling?”

 

Yuuri used to answer that question with, “Fine,” but the word stuck in his throat, and he thought a little harder, saying calmly, “Things are still rough, but I feel sturdier.”

 

“That’s good.  You’re going to need that feeling to get through this skating season.”


***


As Yuuri sat in the baths, alone, he was thoughtful for a while.

 

Then, he pulled himself out of the water, under the sparkling lanterns, and traced the silver lines on his hips.  Some of them he could remember why he did it, some of them he couldn’t.  They were each unique, some darker than others, but all decorating his skin, permanent and real.

 

Sometimes he forgot that he felt so much, pain, but his scars reminded him.  His scars told his story.  

 

In the steam of the baths, Yuuri wondered what it meant to be weak.

 

Was cutting weakness?  Or was it grit?

 

Was crying weakness?  Or was it catharsis?

 

Where is the line?  What does it mean to be strong?

 

Is there even an objective answer to any of these questions?

 

Sighing, Yuuri got up and stretched, then headed out of the baths, the water sparkling off his tanned skin, the silver droplets commingling with the silver lines, so much so that it was hard to tell if Yuuri even had scars.


***


As Yuuri pet Makkachin absently, he continued his online search.

 

He wanted to surprise Viktor with something when he came back.  Though he wanted to try a lot, he wanted to take it slow and ease into the more… select fantasies he had.  Yuuri needed something that was a starter step.

 

Whips, ball gags, cock rings…

 

Yuuri carefully put all of those in the cart, but was still looking for that first experience.

 

What did Yuuri want from Viktor?

 

Closing his eyes, he imagined Viktor writhing under him.  What would turn himself on?  What would make their sex life better?  What could be a fun and memorable experience for the two of them?

 

Handcuffs had their appeal, so he threw those in the cart as well.

 

Oh!  Yuuri found an item and blushed all the way down his chest, completely lost even thinking about it.  It may not exactly be "starter step" material, but it was definitely the level of sexy he was looking for.

 

He shielded Makkachin’s eyes, for Viktor’s sake, and added it to the cart, purchasing his order.

 

Blushing furiously but satisfied, he whispered, “You’re going to be in for a real treat, Viktor.”

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri sighed as he stared at the calendar.

 

Viktor was coming home today.  They’d be picking him up later in the evening at the airport.

 

However, the date was glaring up at him, mocking him.

 

June 15th was only a few days away.  Phichit had mentioned it on the phone with him a few days ago, but Yuuri had dismissed Phichit’s request to come visit him for the occasion.

 

Instead, Yuuri sorted through the mail he’d received that morning that contained a plethora of toys.  There were quite a few exciting items in there, and he took care to sort through, remove from packages, and individually wash each of them.  He had a drawer where he kept lube and condoms for when Viktor and him had sex, and he quickly put the one item he wanted for that evening in there, but took care to put the rest back in the box and hide them behind some things under his bed.

 

Keeping a little excitement in their sex life would do wonders for his eros, right?


***


As Yuuri waited for Viktor at the airport, he thought of all the things he hadn’t said in this last week.

 

Not speaking was hard, but Yuuri learned a lot about himself this week.  He feels stronger for it, stronger to know that he made it through the whole week with just his coping skills and the other people in his life to support him.  

 

There were so many people who loved him.  It was unreal, how much he had been overlooking these past few years.

 

When he caught sight of Viktor, his heart skipped a beat.  The Russian looked impeccable, despite having spent a large majority of the day on a plane.  Even with his light, summery pants and t-shirt, he was still wearing that scarf.

 

Viktor’s face fell as he scanned the airport and didn’t see Yuuri.

 

When Yuuri stood up and waved, and Viktor caught sight of him, it was instantaneous: a broad grin stretched across his face, his eyes lit up, the blue in them sparking like a jolt of electricity.

 

Viktor started moving quickly towards Yuuri, passing through the crowd, trying his best not to run into anyone, but once he was past the crowd he let his bags drop and ran for Yuuri.

 

The Japanese man waited for him, open arms, as Viktor basically rammed into him full force.  They laughed as Yuuri almost fell backwards, but Viktor just pressed a kiss into his hair.

 

“I missed you.  I have so much to tell you.”

 

Yuuri was clutching Viktor with everything he had.  It was unreal, how much the heaviness and warmth of the man he loved felt when Viktor was in his arms.  Yuuri didn’t want to let go; he worried that if he let go, Viktor would disappear again.

 

“I missed you, too.  Let’s get your stuff, though,” Yuuri mourned the loss as Viktor disentangled himself from the embrace and grabbed his bags.  There was a mixture of annoyance and amusement as people took in the two of them, and Yuuri found himself entwining his fingers with Viktor’s free hand, despite being in public.

 

He needed to feel Viktor, here, in the moment with him.

 

When they got in the car, Viktor awkwardly hopped over the center console and smothered Yuuri in a kiss, lips desperate and chapped from the dryness of air travel.

 

Chuckling, Yuuri pushed the seat back to give them more room, making out with Viktor for a few minutes.  It was still hard to grasp, how much just touching his boyfriend gave him a sense of security and love.  He’d missed it this last week.

 

Eventually, Yuuri broke the kiss up, and whispered, “Let’s save the rest until we get home, okay?”

 

“Da,” Viktor agreed, pressing one final kiss to Yuuri’s nose and hopping into the passenger seat.

 

Yuuri wasn’t a big fan of driving, so when he did he was very careful of the road.  They didn’t discuss much past small talk:  Viktor’s flight went well.  The in-flight meal was so spicy that he almost died.  Yurio’s program is definitely one to beat this season.

 

When they got back to the onsen, Yuuri helped Viktor with his bags, trying his best not to smile too much as they stepped into the inn.

 

The main dining room was quiet, as it was basically almost the middle of the night.  They quickly went to Viktor’s room, and as soon as the door was closed, Viktor tackled Yuuri against the bed.

 

“Can’t even wait until you unpack?” Yuuri felt a rush of affection, of feeling so wanted by this man.

 

“No,” Viktor pouted, then kissed Yuuri again, pulling Yuuri’s bottom lip between his teeth.  “Unpacking can wait until tomorrow.  I’m too tired to unpack.”

 

“But not too tired for this?”  Yuuri was grinning stupidly as Viktor started pressing kisses down his jaw and onto his neck, hands starting to pull at Yuuri’s shirt.

 

Finally, Yuuri pushed Viktor up so that they were both seated, staring at each other.

 

“I, um, have a surprise, but if you’re not into it that’s totally fine, I just… um... “

 

Blinking rapidly, Viktor stared at Yuuri for a few moments before nodding eagerly.  “Tell me.”

 

It was a fantasy that Yuuri had had for a few months back when he was nineteen.  It was a little strange, but for those few months it was his go-to thing to imagine when he was jerking off.

 

With shaking fingers, Yuuri removed the item in question and laid it out on the bed.

 

Viktor bit his lip, peering at Yuuri with interest.

 

“You’ll have to let me in on what we’ll be doing with a leash and collar, Yuuri.”

 

His hands were trembling, as he stuttered out, “Well, um, I was thinking… no, actually it’s fine we don’t have to…”

 

Viktor smiled then, taking Yuuri’s hands in his own and pressing a sweet kiss to his forehead.  “Tell me, Yuuri.  I’ve already told you, I’m not going to shame you.  There’s just a lot of possibilities and I want to know what you wanted, specifically.”

 

His trembling was eased a little, and Viktor did something unexpected, and moved to settle in behind Yuuri, who was kneeling on the bed, and hugged him from behind, resting his head on Yuuri’s shoulder.

 

It was odd, but not having to make eye contact with Viktor, yet having him being physically comforting him, made the words start to form.

 

“Okay, so I know that usually I’m in charge in the bedroom, but I had this fantasy, a few years back.  It’s a little… just stop me if you won’t be into it…”

 

“Yuuuuuuri,” Viktor sighed, hiking up Yuuri’s shirt a little to let his fingers wander delicately across Yuuri’s skin, which emboldened Yuuri further.

 

“I imagined that you were dominating me, and fucking me from behind while I was on my hands and knees.  Except, um, you had a collar and leash on me.  So that I couldn’t get away, and you’d tug on it every once and awhile to remind me who was in charge.”

 

His breathing was hiking up.  He didn’t usually explain the content of his kinky imagination out loud, and it was scaring him, not knowing whether Viktor was judging him or not.

 

“So, you’d want me to top?”

 

Yuuri nodded, fingers finding Viktor’s hands and holding onto them for comfort.

 

“It would involve a little bit of role playing then, da?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Hmm.  It would also be a little bit about the asphyxiation of tugging on the leash, right?”

 

Yuuri was glad that VIktor picked up on that without him having to say it out loud.

 

“Our safe word is still strawberry, correct?”

 

“Yupp.”

 

Viktor was thoughtful for a few minutes, then pressed a kiss against Yuuri’s shoulder, just where his head had been resting.  “I wouldn’t want to disappoint with a bad performance though, Yuuri.  I’d hate to ruin this fantasy for you.”

 

Yuuri was so surprised that he turned around, and saw that Viktor looked a little… well, nervous.

 

“You can’t ruin it.  I have plenty of…” Yuuri swallowed the words other fantasies before he continued, “You couldn’t.  Obviously you can say no.  I’m not going to force you into anything.”

 

Pensive for a few minutes, Viktor said, “Yuuri, we never really discussed whether or not your family can hear us from here.”

 

It was so out of the blue that Yuuri couldn’t respond for a moment, until he mumbled, “My parents are on the other side of the inn, by the guests.  Mari is staying at a friend’s house tonight.  We basically have this whole wing to ourselves.”

 

Nodding, Viktor fixed Yuuri with a stare.

 

“Good.  I don’t want anyone but me to hear when you scream my name.”

 

The tone was different, almost an order, so much so that his words shot right to Yuuri’s cock, and he shuddered.

 

“Take off your clothes,” Viktor ordered, and Yuuri was stunned before Viktor fixed him with a look so terrifyingly sexy that Yuuri hopped off the bed, quickly starting to strip…

 

“Slower,” Viktor snapped, and Yuuri was having trouble breathing because Viktor’s voice was doing… things to him...

 

...good things.  His words were almost as sexual as Viktor’s hands on him.

 

Yuuri started with his shirt, hiking it up and drawing it over his head.  Once the shirt was off, though, Viktor put up his finger and said, “Wait, stay still.”

 

Obedient, Yuuri waited as Viktor picked up the black, leather collar and unbuckled it.  He got up, carefully putting it around Yuuri’s neck.  As it was fastened, the soft underside of it fitting comfortably around Yuuri, his pulse picked up.

 

After that, Viktor took the chained leash and buckled it on, tugging on it for good measure.  Yuuri felt himself getting hard at that, loving the way Viktor was smiling at him, the way he looked like he was in complete control.

 

Yuuri might prefer dominating, but tonight he was very happy with being dominated.

 

Once the leash was tested, Viktor eyed Yuuri like he was a particularly delicious meal to be devoured.  Then, he backed up to the bed, giving Yuuri enough leash to stay standing, and held onto the other side, fingers tight around the leather handle.

 

“You can keep going, now.”

 

Yuuri dropped his pants and underwear in one go, and once Viktor’s eyes settled on Yuuri’s cock, he could see his dominating mask falter for a second, then went right back up.

 

“Come here,” Viktor barked, tugging on the leash, and Yuuri could feel his knees going weak from the command, walking over to the bed.

 

Viktor pulled him onto it, then commanded, “Undress me.”

 

His fingers were still tight around the leash.

 

Yuuri’s fingers fumbled with Viktor’s shirt.  Taking it off required Viktor to relinquish the leash for a moment, but as soon as the shirt was tossed onto the floor he picked it back up, pulling Yuuri closer to him with it, a smirk on his lips.

 

“You won’t get away that easily.”

 

It was weird, but also extremely comforting that this was the fantasy Yuuri had chosen for that night.  Their separation had made Yuuri extremely nervous, that Viktor would want to leave, that Yuuri wasn’t good enough for his coach.

 

With Viktor taking control like this, Yuuri thought as he gently unraveled the scarf from around Viktor’s neck and placed it carefully onto the bedside table, Viktor was proving that he wanted Yuuri.  With each tug, Yuuri felt more secure in his feelings.

 

It was also making Yuuri pant and whine and shudder with sexual desire.

 

Once Viktor’s clothes were off, Viktor used the leash to pull Yuuri towards him, and their lips met in a passionate kiss before Viktor ordered, “Hands and knees.”

 

Shaking a little in anticipation, Yuuri turned away from Viktor, forearms on the bed and ass in the air.  He felt so unbelievably exposed in this position, surrendering so much control to Viktor.

 

Usually, that’s why Yuuri prefers to be in control.  Tonight, however it was just what he needed.

 

Yuuri felt a sharp tug on the leash as Viktor commanded, “Stay still.  I’m going to get you ready.”

 

His breathing was labored as he waited for Viktor to get the lube, never letting go of the leash.  Then, the click of the bottle opening, the squirting sound made Yuuri drop his forehead onto the bed, to collect himself.

 

Another sharp tug of the leash brought his head back up as Viktor whispered, “Bad boy.  I told you not to move.”

 

Yuuri hadn’t even been touched yet, and he was painfully, unbearably hard.

 

Then, Yuuri felt a finger start to probe at his opening, and he hissed as the chill against his skin made him tingle in anticipation.

 

Then, Viktor pressed two fingers into him, and Yuuri wanted to writhe at the painful but exhilarating sensation, but Viktor tugged again on the leash, a warning for Yuuri to keep still.

 

At this point, Yuuri was very sure that Viktor was enjoying playing his role.

 

Viktor continued to press into Yuuri, flexing his fingers against his walls, scissoring them to stretch him further, and Yuuri wanted to press back, wanted to move somehow, but he couldn’t, because if he moved he would be disobeying.

 

It was then that Yuuri felt the white-hot feeling pooling in his gut, of being completely at Viktor’s mercy.

 

Viktor continued to open Yuuri up, and at some point Yuuri was very sure that the movement of Viktor’s fingers inside of him was just to mess with him, and tempt Yuuri to move.

 

Instead, Yuuri decided to try something different.

 

“Viktor,” he whined, trying to catch his breath, “I need you, Viktor.  Fuck me, please.”

 

The fingers stilled for a moment, then continued teasing Yuuri.  

 

“I need you to beg for it, Yuuri.”

 

Gasping, Yuuri moaned, “Viktor, I need you,” his voice was breathy and desperate, “I need you to fuck me, baby, please.”

 

Viktor chuckled low in his throat, and Yuuri sighed in relief when Viktor’s fingers left him.  There were a few moments where Viktor must have been putting the condom on, and then there was a press against his opening, and the sharp and luxurious sting of Viktor pressing in.

 

Yuuri started moving his hips back to match Viktor’s thrust, but Viktor tugged on the leash, saying breathlessly, “I told you not to move.”

 

“Oh, please, Viktor, you feel so good,” Yuuri gasped, shaking as he forced himself to stay still, “I can’t help it.”

 

Viktor tightened his grip on the leash as he bottomed out, making Yuuri’s head fall back, staring straight ahead with pressure on his windpipe.

 

“Let me know if you need me to loosen it,” Viktor said softly then, in his normal voice, and Yuuri whined, making Viktor correct himself.

 

“You need to tell me if you need me to let you breathe more, or else I’ll have to punish you.”

 

Yuuri’s chest was expanding and contracting in sharp gasps, and then Viktor started moving.

 

The tight grip Viktor held made it so that Yuuri had to take every thrust harshly, not able to shift his body to lessen the blow, and Yuuri was losing it.  He started babbling incoherently in Japanese, his mind going fuzzy from a combination of lightheadedness from the shortness of breath and pure unadulterated lust.

 

Then, Viktor started tugging gently back with each thrust, making Yuuri take him even more punishingly, and with the change in his angle he hit Yuuri’s prostate a few times in a row.

 

White filled Yuuri’s vision as he came, screaming Viktor’s name, but his ears were ringing from the high and he couldn’t hear himself think let alone hear himself talk.

 

Viktor kept going for a little bit, whispering something to Yuuri, but he couldn’t really hear him past knowing that they were comforting words.

 

The other man must have come as well, because suddenly Yuuri felt the loss from him, hissing as the air hit the lube dripping from his hole, but actually it felt like a lot more lube…

 

Viktor’s hands were suddenly all over Yuuri, whispering soothing words.  The leash was taken off, and Yuuri was guided to lie on his stomach on the bed, kisses peppering his back.

 

“I’m going to get a rag,” Viktor said softly, and Yuuri waited patiently, still feeling like he was floating somewhere in the stratosphere.

 

When Viktor came back, he quickly wiped Yuuri down, then guided him to the side of the bed that was unsoiled.  Viktor massaged his lower back gently, whispering, “That was incredible.  You did so well for me, solnishko .”

 

Yuuri hummed at the praise, eyes closed, as Viktor ran the warm washcloth over his sore muscles.

 

“Yuuri, I’m going to tell you something and I need you not to freak out.”

 

The words hit his stomach, souring his mood, making him open his eyes.  His windpipe was still a little sore as he asked, “What?”

 

“The condom broke,” Viktor said softly, “I’m sure that I’m not carrying anything, but I haven’t been tested since coming here.”

 

Blinking, Yuuri moved to sit up, but the pain in his lower back prevented him from doing so.

 

“There’s a next to zero chance that I gave you something,” Viktor reassured, continuing to rub him down soothingly, “Maybe we should both go get a check-up though?  I think that we put that off for long enough.”

 

Yuuri had finally put together that that extra liquid coming out of him was Viktor’s come, and it made him blush.  Viktor hadn’t been able to get all the way into his hole while cleaning it up, which meant it was still there…

 

Burying his face into the sheets, he was embarrassingly turned on by the idea, especially given the nature of the situation.

 

“We can go this week,” Yuuri agreed, and Viktor’s warm fingers moved to massage his upper back, the soothing release of Yuuri’s muscles making him positively melt.

 

“Was it good for you, love?”

 

“So good,” Yuuri croaked, and was very grateful that they didn’t have practice the next day, because he would have a hard time moving tomorrow.

 

Viktor pressed a grinning kiss to the space between Yuuri’s shoulder blades.  “I’m glad.  It was kind of fun, switching over the power.  I still love when you’re in charge, though.”

 

“Me too,” Yuuri agreed, “I think I needed this tonight, though.  Just wait until we get around to the other things I bought for us.”

 

Viktor stilled.  “Other things?”

 

Chuckling, Yuuri smiled goofily.  “You’ll just have to wait to see.”


***


The next morning, when Viktor walked into the kitchen to retrieve breakfast for Yuuri (he decided to surprise the sore man with breakfast in bed), he gasped when he came into the room to Hiroko putting the finishing touches on a huge stack of fluffy pancakes.

 

“Oh, Vicchan, I’m glad you’re up!  Welcome home!”

 

Viktor’s stomach twisted into happy knots as he stared at the pancakes, saying in chocolate syrup Welcome Back!

 

Choking up a little, Viktor crushed Hiroko into a hug, and the woman laughed, patting his back gently.  

 

“You’re a part of our family, now.  We missed you dearly.  Are you able to prepare dinner with me tonight?”

 

Viktor couldn’t help but think of his own mother in Russia as he tightened his grip on Hiroko.  “Thank you.  I can’t wait to cook with you again.  I missed you all, too.”

 

***


Viktor was watching Yuuri practice on the next morning, very impressed with the improvements he was showcasing regarding his step sequences.

 

That was when he got a call on his phone from Phichit.

 

When he answered, he waved to Yuuri and pointed to his phone, who nodded and continued to work on his step sequence as Viktor wandered towards the locker room.

 

“Phichit!  It’s good to hear from you.  How’s training?”

 

“It’s going very well!  You and Yuuri better watch out, because I’m going to give you a run for your money.”

 

Viktor scoffed, muttering happily, “I’m sure you’re good, but my Yuuri will wipe the floor with the rest of you.”

 

“You’re on, Nikiforov,” Phichit laughed, then stopped abruptly, switching tones.  “I actually called for a specific reason.  Are you with Yuuri right now?”

 

“Just stepped out of practice,” Viktor assured, walking out to the area outside the rink, the sunlight shining against the asphalt and making the air shimmer, looking like the inside of a convection oven.

 

“Okay, so you know how Yuuri hadn’t cut in like two years?”

 

Viktor froze.  The topic hadn’t come up in a few days, and it still made Viktor extremely tense when thinking about the idea of Yuuri hurting himself.  “Yeah, he said something about that.”

 

“Well, Yuuri and I did this thing after he quit.  Every month on the anniversary we’d have a little celebration.  Usually it involved blowing out a candle on a cupcake, or going out to a nice dinner.  It was our way of motivating Yuuri to keep going, for a while.  Then, after the first year, we decided to only celebrate every six months.”

 

The thought of Phichit being so supportive made Viktor’s heart melt a little bit.  “That sounds lovely.”

 

“It is, except for the fact that Thursday is supposed to be his two year anniversary.”

 

Viktor still wasn’t quite understanding.  “You can come visit, you know.  I can even deal with Celestino…”

 

“You don’t get it,” Phichit cut him off, “Yuuri is insisting that he doesn’t deserve to celebrate because of his relapse.  He won’t let me come to visit.”

 

Oh.

 

Viktor’s heart clenched, thinking about how good Yuuri had been doing the last few weeks.  The select few times that Yuuri admitted to feeling the urge to cut, he made sure to inform him or a family member, and would immediately work on utilizing his coping skills.

 

He’d been doing so well, Viktor hadn’t even bothered to wonder if Yuuri was still guilting himself over it.

 

“What should we do?”


***


On Thursday, as Mari and him walked in from after therapy, Yuuri saw that his mother was waving for him to come greet her.

 

“Baby, I need you to follow me, alright?”

 

Confused, Yuuri followed his mother back into the hallway, and she opened the door to one of the party rooms.

 

The room was dark, but there was a tiny assortment of cupcakes on the table in the middle, each with a little candle in them.  When Yuuri got closer, mesmerized, he saw that they were laid out in the shape of a two.

 

Tears formed in his eyes as he looked up and saw Viktor standing there, smiling widely.  The door closed, and they were alone.

 

At least, that’s what he thought, until Viktor said, “You can come out, now.”

 

Yuuri saw movement to his left, and he looked over and saw Phichit smiling at him, and Yuuri launched at his friend, pulling him into a tight hug.

 

Tears were falling down Yuuri’s face as his friend whispered, “Happy anniversary, Yuuri.”

 

When they pulled apart, Viktor lead him back over to the candles, and Yuuri was completely at a loss, between the cupcakes and two of the people he loved the most standing on either side of him, smiling proudly.

 

“Make a wish, love,” Viktor teased, and Yuuri closed his eyes and blew.

 

I wish that I can keep all my loved ones near to me.  I wish that I’m lucky enough to keep them all by my side.  I need them, and cherish them more than they could ever know.