Yuuri had called ahead to let his parents know that they were bringing another person with them.
As soon as they poured into Yu-topia, Yuuri was engulfed in hugs, as though he’d been gone for ages. And moments later, Victor received the same treatment.
“Oh, and you must be Yuri!” Hiroko exclaimed when she set eyes on the newcomer.
She attempted to pronounce his name the way it was supposed to be pronounced in Russian, which was a bit different from the way her son's name sounded; and although it didn’t quite come out right, Yuri appreciated the effort. Like most athletes, he was used to sports commentators and journalists messing up his name as though Internet didn't exist. And it wasn't even a particularly difficult name.
At least Hiroko tried.
“Yes, hello,” he replied. “Nice to meet you.”
He bowed, feeling a bit awkward, but Hiroko smiled brightly at him, doing her best to make him feel comfortable.
“We’ve prepared a room for you,” she said. “You can stay for as long as you need.”
Yuri intended to eventually get his own place, but it was nice to not have to worry about where he would stay for the time being. Especially considering that his knowledge of Japanese was virtually non-existent, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he didn’t have to go and try to make his own way around Japan right off the plane.
“Let’s get you settled in,” Hiroko said, leading Yuri to his new room.
Meanwhile Yuuri and Victor remained in the lounge, where Toshiya immediately offered them food and drink, and asked them all about their trip, congratulating Victor once again on his wins at Nationals.
“You’re going international now, Victor?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I remember the first time Yuuri went to an international competition. He was so nervous, my poor boy,” Toshiya said, making Yuuri blush. “Are you nervous, Victor?”
“I...I’m not sure.” Victor laughed, because that was such a strange thing to say, but it was true. He wasn’t sure how he felt. “Right now I’m mostly just excited. I think the nerves will kick in a bit later. There’s certainly a lot of pressure.”
“I’m sure you’ll do great!” Toshiya said cheerfully. “I don’t understand the sport the way you two do, but I can see talent. I think everyone can see yours.”
He poured them more tea, and they chatted for a bit longer. Toshiya would occasionally slip into Japanese when his English failed him, and Victor was glad to realize that he could understand almost everything now. He still wasn’t entirely comfortable speaking the language, but his comprehension was improving drastically.
Eventually, Toshiya had to attend to customers, so Yuuri and Victor left the lounge. They went to Victor’s room, which was essentially their room now, as they always slept in it and most of their things were in it. Yuuri’s room was still Yuuri’s room, and always would be. His parents had told him a long time ago that they would never occupy it, even if he never lived in it again, it would still be his. It gave Yuuri great comfort to know that he had this safe space that was his no matter what.
As they entered Victor’s room, Victor let out a contented sigh.
“I’ve missed this place,” he said, then flopped down on the bed happily.
Yuuri, on the other hand, had a bit of a different reaction to the homecoming.
“It’s tiny,” he said, as thought that somehow hadn’t been obvious before.
It had always been tiny, but after having lived in Victor’s penthouse for a while, the size of this room became all the more apparent. It wasn't that it bothered him all that much, but he suddenly became worried that this was just nowhere near comfortable enough in the long run. Of course, Victor had lived in much worse places than this, but that was exactly why Yuuri thought that he shouldn't have to anymore.
“I like it,” Victor said with a small shrug. “It’s cozy.”
“There’s cozy, and then there’s how-do-you-even-fit-the-bed-in-here.”
“It’s not so bad,” he said, but then he realized that this was the perfect opportunity to bring up something he’d been thinking of for a long time now. “Although, if you want more space, we could...you know...get our own place?”
Yuuri’s turned sharply to meet Victor's eyes.
“You...would want that?”
“I would love that.” He sat up on the bed, took Yuuri’s hands in his and pulled Yuuri closer. “Don’t get me wrong, I love living here. I love seeing your parents every morning. I love being this close to the onsen. And I do actually love this room. But...I think at some point it would make sense for us to get our own home.”
Hope warred with apprehension in Yuuri’s chest.
“I don’t have a lot of money,” he reminded quietly.
“But I do,” Victor reminded back.
“Victor, I’m not going to let you just buy us a house or something.”
“Hmm...” Victor looked up, pretending to think. “How about this? We find a house we like, calculate which percentage of the money I have its price would take up, and then you can pay the same percentage out of your own savings!”
Victor accompanied his convoluted plan with lots of gesticulation. Yuuri rolled his eyes.
“Right. I’d end up paying like 5 yen. Very fair.”
“Actually, it would be fair,” Victor said, sounding more serious than before. “It would be fairer than paying half and half, when it would eat up all your savings, while not even putting a dent in mine.” His eyes lit up with an idea. “Hey, we should get a joint account! Then my money will be yours! Problem solved!”
Yuuri groaned, sitting down on the bed next to Victor.
“We can’t do that.”
“I’ve already told you, I have several accounts, some of which I never touch. We don’t have to share all my money. But we can definitely share some. It makes sense. We’re...a family, aren’t we?”
Yuuri looked at Victor, whose eyes were filled with hope and a hint of insecurity.
“Of course we’re a family,” Yuuri said without hesitation.
He was surprised to realize how easy that was, how smoothly he settled into a realization that he and Victor were now a family unit. It wasn’t even that big of a deal. It felt right, like it had been true for a while, and now it has simply been said out loud.
“Great! We can have a joint account set up tomorrow then! I’ll just write you into the one I use for everyday spending. And then we can start looking at places to live.”
“Okay,” Yuuri said, placing his head on Victor’s shoulder and resigning himself to having a joint account with a multimillionaire. “I guess this means you don’t have to pay me a coaching fee anymore. I was starting to feel really weird about that.”
It was true, Victor was still technically paying Yuuri a coaching fee. Though it was automatic and they never actually talked about it, still, every time that money dropped into Yuuri’s account at the beginning of a month, he felt strange about it. There wasn’t really anything wrong with it – he was being paid for a service he was providing to Victor – but it still felt weird that he was charging his boyfriend for something he would happily do for free.
“I suppose,” Victor said nonchalantly. “I guess I’ll have that fee covered for a while by giving you access to about 7 million dollars.”
Yuuri almost choked on his own breath.
The first day after arriving in Hasetsu, everyone was still settling in. Yuri was acquainting himself with the onsen, and with the part of town immediately adjacent to it.
Everyone ate at the inn. Yuri was welcomed with open arms, which made him both grateful and moderately uncomfortable. Part of him craved belonging and warmth, but another, slightly bigger part of him demanded independence at all costs, so while he liked being in Yu-topia, he was definitely not planning to stay there long-term.
On the second day after arrival, Yuri demanded to be shown to the rink where he’d be practicing, and Victor was all too happy to back him up. He’d been itching to skate, and it was time for him to start practicing for the international competition.
Yuuri called ahead to book the time at the rink, and the three of them set out for Ice Castle Hasetsu. They walked all the way, and Yuri made sure to remember the road as best he could so as to be able to find the rink on his own in the future.
When they arrived, the ice was being resurfaced. Yuuko was driving the resurfacer, while Takeshi evened out the edges of the rink. Yuuko was wearing big, fluffy noise-canceling headphones that almost looked bigger than her head. She waved at Yuuri when she noticed him. After parking the machine, she approached the skater gang, giving Yuuri a hug and waving at Victor.
“Oh, and you must be the other Yuri!” she said to Plisetsky, but as soon as the words left her mouth, her face contorted in guilt. “I’m so sorry, that was so rude!”
Yuri wasn’t entirely sure how to react to that. He didn’t want to lash out at her. He’d been trying to manage his anger better the past few years.
“It’s fine,” he said, with as little emotion as possible, though the words came out mostly through his teeth.
“It will get confusing though,” Victor pointed out. “Two Yu(u)ris...Oh!” his face lit up in excitement. “We need to give you a nickname!” he said to Plisetsky.
“Why me?” Yuri said, now having a harder time containing his anger. “Why don’t you give a nickname to Katsuki?”
“Well, he was here first,” Victor said, tilting his head. “And he is your coach.” Victor only smiled when Yuri groaned in response. “Okay, how about we name you–”
“Wait!” Yuuri interrupted him mid-stream. He knew that whatever Victor came up with, Yuri would instantly hate it, and since Victor could be pretty insensitive at times, he would likely still call him that, and Yuri would get angry every time he did. There was no need to create animosity in this little group right off the bat. “Ah, Yuri, how about your think of a nickname for yourself? Something that you wouldn’t mind being called?” he looked at Yuri pleadingly, hoping this would work. “Or me. You can think of a nickname for me, if you’d prefer.”
Yuuri didn’t really want a nickname. But he also didn’t want conflict.
“Fine,” Yuri said flatly. He took a minute to think before responding. “You can call me Yurio.”
“That sounds like a rapper name!” Victor said with a wide smile. “I love it! Welcome to the rink, Yurio!”
For a moment Victor considered giving Yuri a hug, but decided against it. Perhaps they weren’t at that state of acquaintance yet. Especially considering that the last time they had physical contact had been borderline violent.
“It’s nice to meet you, Yurio,” Yuuko said with a gentle smile. “I’m Yuuko. And that’s Takeshi.” She motioned toward her husband who was finishing up the edges of the ice. “Let us know if you need anything.”
She retreated into the backrooms. Yurio sat down to put on his skates, and the others soon followed.
Takeshi stepped off the ice just as everyone was finishing up their laces.
“Ice is ready for you,” he said. “Hey, new guy!” he waved at Yurio. “Welcome to the show.”
He went into the observation deck, while the skaters took the ice.
Yurio immediately felt uncertainty and determination battle for dominance in his chest. This was the beginning of the next step for him. What it would bring he didn’t yet know, but he hoped that he would find out soon.
Victor felt relief as he entered the rink. He’d been off the ice for a while, and it was starting to make him uncomfortable. He still often felt like staying off the ice too long would throw back his progress, so finally getting to practice again was putting his mind at ease.
Yuuri was...worried. He had 2 skaters now. One was Russia’s favorite skating star, who turned his whole life upside down in order to chase his inspiration; the other was an international celebrity that brought the world’s attention to adult figure skating, and turned millions of people who had never cared about the sport before into figure skating fans.
“Alright,” Yuuri said, attracting his students’ attention. “This isn’t really a training session yet, we’re just here to get used to the ice, get back to it. Practice your basics. If you want to do jumps, you may, but be careful. I want to see how you’re doing, see what you need to work on.”
Victor and Yurio nodded, then skated in opposite directions.
Yuuri took some time to skate as well. He hadn’t been on the ice in a while either, and he missed it. Sometimes he wondered if he should do exhibitions. He missed performing sometimes, especially if there was no pressure to win anything. But the fear of failing in front of an audience was what usually stopped him from taking the offers to perform. He wasn’t always sure if there was a good balance between the thrill and the anxiety that came with a public performance.
Victor started by doing some single jumps, which Yuuri silently approved. It was smart to start simple. Going into the second hour of the session, Victor did some doubles. He was landing a few of them very cleanly now, so progressing to the Gold division next season was starting to look like a real possibility.
Yuuri wondered how long it would be before Victor would want to do triples. Very few adult skaters advanced past doubles, and Yuuri still wasn’t sure how good of an idea it was and if it would be a successful endeavor, but he knew, perhaps, it was inevitable that sooner or later Victor would try.
Yurio did very few jumps. He was doing a lot of moving-in-the-field elements, and occasionally he’d throw in a triple jump, which by Yurio’s standards was fairly tame. He even did a double once. On purpose.
Yuuri watched him carefully, trying to understand his new student’s needs as well as he could. Yurio was graceful and his technique was superb, but there was something else. A sort of restlessness, dissatisfaction. Like he wanted to do something, but didn’t know what it was. Or did know what it was, but wasn’t sure if he could achieve it. Yuuri knew that a large part of skating was psychological, so he knew that there was a lot he would need to understand about his new student before he could become a truly effective coach for him.
The truth was that Yurio was unhappy. He had won 5 Grand Prix Finals, 3 World Championships, Silver and Gold at 2 different Olympics, and every single Russian National competition since entering the Senior division. He wasn’t entirely unbeatable, though he’d never fallen below silver in a final. Winning was what was expected of him now. The pressure of it didn’t bother him as much as the tedium. What on Earth does one do when winning international competitions becomes boring?
Yurio loved skating, and he didn’t want to quit. He wasn’t going to retire until he absolutely had to. But it couldn’t be all about winning anymore. He needed something else. But he wasn’t entirely sure what it was.
Yuuri was lost in thought as he watched Yurio, and it startled him a little when Victor skated up to him and stopped at his side.
Yuuri smiled, bumping his shoulder against Victor’s.
“Something’s wrong with him,” Yuuri said quietly.
“Yes,” Victor replied. “I think I might know what it is.”
“You do?” Yuuri looked at Victor hopefully.
“I’ve had it. With music. He loves his art, but he’s lost the spark. He knows something needs to change, but doesn’t yet know what it is.” Victor shrugged. “I think. I might be wrong. I barely know him.”
Yuuri turned back to Yurio, watching him with interest and concern.
“Well,” he said, taking a deep breath, “I’m his coach now. If he’s lost his spark, I’ll do everything in my power to help him find it.”
Yuuri and Victor refer to the international competition in which Victor will participate as 'Worlds', but it's not really called that. There are no adult Worlds, they've just fallen into using the name for a specific competition in this particular social group.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When the skaters stepped off the ice and started packing away their gear, the rink became eerily quiet. But that didn’t last, as soon 3 girls entered the building, talking and laughing amongst each other.
“Who’s that?” Yurio whispered at Yuuri.
“Oh, that’s Axel, Lutz and Loop. Yuuko and Takeshi’s kids.”
“Axel, Lutz and Loop? Seriously?”
Yuuri suppressed a giggle.
“Yeah, it was less ridiculous when they were younger. Now they’ve grown into individual people...named after jumps.”
Yurio looked at them for a while as the girls went into the back rooms to find their parents.
“Which is which?”
Yuuri blushed, feeling a bit ashamed.
“I’ve no idea.”
Victor laughed softly at his side.
The girls soon came out in the the rink area. Two of them started putting on skates, the third set up shop on one of the benches, taking out a sketch book and some drawing equipment.
Yuuri, Victor and Yurio went to take a shower and change. Yurio was the first to be ready to leave. On his way out he passed one of the triplets, the one who wasn’t skating. He took a peak at what she was doing.
Her sketch of her sisters wasn’t very detailed and still lacked in technical skill, but it looked good, and had a unique style. Yurio wasn’t much of an art enthusiast, so all he knew was that he liked the drawing.
The girl looked up from her work and stared at Yurio.
“You must be the new guy,” she said.
“And you must be the odd one out,” he replied.
She smiled in response.
She looked back down at her drawing, starting to add more shadows.
“Mind if I draw you next time you come to skate?” she asked.
“Knock yourself out.”
Yurio walked off to wait for Yuuri and Victor outside.
Lutz knew who he was, of course. She might not have been the best skater in the family, but she still liked the sport, so of course she knew who Yuri Plisetsky was. She was quite proud of herself for having managed to play it so cool.
Her sisters soon skated up to the edge of the rink to interrogate her about her conversation with the skating star. Sometimes there were advantages to being the only one off the ice.
Yuuri and Victor were still in the locker room. Victor always took longer in the shower than anyone Yuuri had ever known, and then he’d come home and go into the hot spring as if he hadn’t just poured water over himself for 15 minutes barely an hour earlier.
“Yuuri,” Victor said as he closed his locker, “do you think it was a mistake to take those 2 weeks off? Should I have been practicing all this time? Worlds are in barely a month.”
“Actually, you’re doing really well.” Yuuri shrugged, and it wasn’t even a deliberate attempt at reassurance. He genuinely felt like Victor didn’t have much to worry about. “Your programs are solid. There are always little things to work on, nothing’s ever perfect, but there are no glaring problems. If anything, I thought you would want to add more complex elements to your programs.”
Yuuri immediately regretted saying this, because Victor’s eyes lit up, and it was all Yuuri’s fault that he’d put this thought into Victor’s head.
Well, it had been in Victor’s head all along, of course, but now his coach all but approved of it.
“That’s a great idea, Yuuri!” he said, lunging himself at Yuuri in a massive hug.
“No, no, it’s not. Victor, you just said there’s barely a month before Worlds. It’s not enough time to change anything.”
“It’s enough time to try...”
“Victor, you’ve basically already maxed out your allowed technical difficulty.”
“It doesn’t have to be more difficult. It can just be new.”
Yuuri sighed. Victor knew that sigh well – it was a sigh of positive resignation. It was a sigh Yuuri let out when he was about to give Victor what he wanted, and he wasn’t even all that mad about it, but he needed to punctuate the decision with some sort of filler sound.
When it came to Victor’s skating, and especially his safety and health, Yuuri was more than capable of saying ‘no’. But more often than not, he didn’t, because he knew Victor wouldn’t have gotten where he did as quickly as he did if Yuuri held him back. As long as Victor wasn’t intending to do anything obviously dangerous, Yuuri would guide him rather than tell him not to do it, since that would likely only cause Victor to do it anyway, on his own.
“Fine,” he said. “We can change up your flying spins. And maybe make your step sequence a bit more elaborate.”
Victor was practically jumping up and down with excitement. It had been a bit of a dream of his to change up his programs mid-season. But it had been more of a distant, hypothetical dream, the kind that resides somewhere in the back of your head without truly surfacing. Now, however, it looked like it could be a real possibility.
Victor knew his programs back and forth. He could always just fall back on them if this plan didn’t quite work out. But if it did...if he could change his programs between Nationals and Worlds. Well...wouldn’t that be a surprise?
Victor and Yuuri left the Ice Castle holding hands. They waved at the Nishigoris as they left the building, then met up with Yurio outside.
Yurio watched them with an expression of mild disgust. They looked at each other with adoration and joy. It looked almost like they were cuddling even though they were walking down a street.
“Must you be so...” Yurio tried to find a word that meant ‘adorable’, but was also adequately mean. He couldn’t. “So...lovey-dovey.”
Yuuri chuckled and blushed. Victor turned to face Yurio, faking seriousness.
“Well, if you have to know, yes, we must,” he said. “We are in love, and there’s no reason for us not to display it.”
“It’s gross. That should be reason enough.”
“It’s only gross to you,” Victor said, cocking an eyebrow.
“It’s gross to everyone. I’m just the only one who’s telling you that.”
“Come on, Yurio, you know that is factually incorrect.”
Yurio fumed. Victor was right, but...that didn’t mean he had to admit it.
“Yurio, if it bothers you this much, we can stop,” Yuuri said apologetically, earning a shocked gasp from Victor. But Yuuri did mean it. It had taken him a long time to get used to how affectionate Victor was in public, and he still often felt a little uneasy about it. Public displays of affection weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and if it bothered Yurio so much, Yuuri was prepared to tone it down in his presence.
Yurio looked at Yuuri for a few seconds, considering.
“Whatever,” he said, picking up pace.
He was really grateful to his 3-hours-ago self for remembering the road well enough that he could now return to Yu-topia on his own.
Truth be told, he wasn’t really disgusted by Yuuri and Victor’s behavior. He simply tried to cover up his true emotions by pretending to be grossed out. Like Victor said, they were in love, and there was no reason for them to hide it. Once upon a time, Yurio would have thought it pointless. But then something happened that changed his perspective on love. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as well for him as it did for Victor and Yuuri. It took a tiny piece of his heart, and though it was mostly in the past, sometimes, when he saw people that were in love and happy, his heart ached for its missing piece. But there was little he could do about it, so instead he told himself that love was gross and pointless and he was better off without it.
He pulled up his hood and walked faster, leaving Yuuri and Victor as far behind him as he could.
When they returned to Yu-topia, Minako was in the lounge. She smiled brightly when she saw them.
“My favorite students, past and present!” she exclaimed. “Ready to get back to practice, Victor?”
“Very much so,” Victor replied. “Same schedule?”
“Yep. Kept your time slots for you.”
“What’s all this?” Yurio asked after watching the exchange.
“Oh, this is Minako, Victor’s ballet coach,” Yuuri explained.
“Ballet?” Yurio perked up.
“Yes, you do ballet?”
“I used to, for a while. It helped my skating. I paused during my growth spurt, and then my skating style changed, and I just...never really went back to it.”
“Do you miss it?”
“I...don’t know,” Yurio admitted. “I didn’t really enjoy it at the time. It was a means to an end. But...it was helpful.”
“It still could be,” Minako chimed in. “If you’re interested, I wouldn’t mind having another athlete in the studio.”
These days most of Minako’s students were kids who would never go into ballet on any kind of serious level. Some of them enjoyed it, some had talent, but most were just trying it out and quit fairly quickly. Minako didn’t often admit it out loud, but it was a bit dissatisfying to spend so much energy on students that didn’t much care for the sport. Victor was indeed her favorite student by far. Even though ballet wasn't his priority, he was dedicated and, at the very least, took it seriously.
And maybe Yurio wouldn’t care much for ballet either, only using it to improve his skating, but at least he was an athlete, and had done ballet before. It would be a nice change.
“Alright,” Yurio said. “As soon as coach here works out my training schedule, I’ll see if I can make room for ballet.”
“Great,” Minako said, letting on a lot less excitement than she was feeling. “I have to go now, but Yuuri knows how to contact me.”
“Actually, we should get on that scheduling,” Yuuri said after Minako left. “You can train at the same time as Victor or I could train you separately. Since I only have 2 skaters, I could give you both undivided attention. The Ice Castle won’t mind if we buy out more time, especially during the day, I’ve already asked. There’s almost no one there for public skating at mid-day anyway.”
The Ice Castle wasn’t exactly making ends meet these days, being the only rink in town, but they weren’t making all that much money either. There were surges of popularity after a Japanese skater did well at a competition, but most of the time there weren’t that many people coming to the rink. Sometimes people came to see Victor, but most of them didn’t actually skate, they just sat outside and watched as he came and went.
The Nishigoris, who now owned the rink, had offered Yuuri and Victor to use the rink for free, but they’d rejected the offer. Victor could afford to pay for the time, and he was glad to support the rink. After all, he didn’t want it to go out of business.
Now, if Yurio was to train separately, that would mean more steady income for the rink, which was a lot more reliable than waiting for casual skaters to come by. And, ironically, despite there being less time available for public skating, it would likely bring in more clients, because now the Ice Castle was home to not 1 but 2 celebrity skaters, as well as their famous, albeit retired coach.
By the end of the day, everyone’s schedules were worked out and all required session times were booked for the foreseeable future. Yurio scheduled 3 ballet sessions a week for now, though he intended to increase that if they were beneficial and/or enjoyable.
Yuuri smiled internally at the realization that his students were ever-so-slightly boosting Hasetsu’s economy. Helping the Ice Castle, Minako’s studio, and Yu-topia. To be fair, Victor did also plow through a lot of food he never paid for, but that was nothing compared to how much money the inn made from people that dropped by to stay in the same building as the pop-star/skater/hot guy from Versace ads.
The next day, Yuuri and Yurio went right to planning the new programs for Yurio’s upcoming season. There was, after all, no time to waste.
Victor was sitting in the bleachers, having stayed at the Ice Castle after his own session was over. He didn’t have anything planned for a few hours, so he decided to watch Yurio’s practice.
“Do you have music selected?” Yuuri asked.
“I have some options, but nothing I’m certain of. Everything’s just...not quite right.”
Yurio knew that he probably couldn’t find the right music because he didn’t actually know what he wanted. It was always difficult to find a preexisting piece of music to satisfy the emotional needs of a program, and harder still when you weren’t quite sure what those needs even were.
He hooked up his phone to speakers and started playing the pieces to Yuuri one by one, demonstrating elements he wanted to use in his program. When he was done, Yuuri was deep in thought, trying to process what he’d just seen and heard. It was a lot of options and nothing concrete. He needed more information in order to understand what Yurio needed.
“Do you know what you want your theme to be?” he asked.
“I think, maybe...Change.”
“Oh. That’s...good.” Having a theme always helped. Now Yuuri could see the music in a new perspective. “Do you want to do your own choreography or do you want help?”
Yurio groaned. He hated that there was so much uncertainty. He thrived on being sure, on picking a path and walking it. This new state of being – undecided, in flux – it made him angry and frustrated.
He hated to admit it, but he wasn’t a very good choreographer. Perhaps the only self-choreographed program that he could call a success was an exhibition skate that he created with the help of his...friend. He enjoyed skating that program probably more than anything else in his career. But there were things you could do in an exhibition that you couldn’t in competition. He could go out onto the ice and skate his heart out, but he didn’t quite know how to do that in combination with fulfilling all the requirements and making sure his technical score would be sufficient.
“Okay, well, let’s start with what we know then,” Yuuri said, picking up his notebook and pen. “How many quads do you want in your programs?”
“Three in the short, and 5 in the free skate.”
“But I want to do them all in the second half.”
Yuuri looked up from his notes. This was, well, not impossible, but not very wise. These days, 4 quads was considered fairly tame. Several skaters did 5 quads in a single program. Yuuri himself had been the first skater in the world to land 6 quads in his free skate, utilizing his best asset – his stamina – to achieve the feet. But it was ridiculously hard, and he knew he’d be paying for it for the rest of his life in joint pains and spinal problems.
Five quads was not as unheard of now as it had once been, but doing them all in the second half...well, that wasn’t something you’d see every day.
“Are you sure?” he asked. “Can you do it in practice?”
“I see.” Yuuri looked back down at his notes.
“You don’t think I can do it?” Yurio asked defensively.
“I don’t know yet. I just started coaching you,” Yuuri replied calmly. “But...if that’s what you want, then that’s what we’ll do.”
The anger that had started to rise in Yurio’s chest was quickly quenched. He had been prepared to defend his plans, but it turned out that he didn’t have to. Not for the first time he thought that he had made the right choice in changing his coach. His former coach had never stopped him when he tried to push boundaries, but she hadn’t been too keen on reckless ideas with a high probability of failure.
“I want...I think maybe I want to do a slow dance in the first half, make it...graceful.” He felt strange describing it that way, but that was what he wanted. “And then in the second half, get more aggressive, faster, and that’s where all the hard elements would be.”
Yuuri knew this was an incredibly risky idea, but he also knew that Yurio was well aware of that himself. He had come to Yuuri for freedom, so at the very least, Yuuri could give him that.
“Alright,” he said, making on a note in his notebook, “it looks like things are starting to take shape.” He gave Yurio a reassuring smile. “Let’s get to work.”
In the first week and a half since returning to Hasetsu, Victor has managed to re-choreograph his programs almost completely. He kept the music and the theme, but he changed most of the movements to the point where he was essentially skating new programs.
Yuuri actually had to look up if that was even allowed, because, despite having put every effort into becoming the best coach he could, there were still some thing about the adult figure skating world that he didn't yet know.
Changing one's programs between competitions wasn't against the rules, especially considering that adult competitions weren’t as interconnected as those in the Junior and Senior divisions. But many skaters did compete in both national and international competitions, and changing their programs completely in the short span of time between events was something people simply didn’t do very often. Which, of course, only made Victor more certain that this was what he wanted to do.
The idea of people coming to see him do one thing, but seeing something completely different filled him with more excitement than even the prospect of winning. Winning was great, but it would be a lot more satisfying to be surprising.
As Yuuri watched Victor skate his new programs he realized that aside from the choreography, Victor had managed to change the feeling that the programs portrayed. They had originally been created to express grief over the loss of a friend, but that grief was now gradually subsiding as time passed and new things happened. It wasn’t completely gone, and maybe never would be, but it wasn’t front and center anymore. So Victor changed his programs to reflect that. The programs were still about grief, but perhaps about a different stage of it.
Victor’s new choreography was just as captivating, if not more so, and Yuuri marveled once again at Victor’s ability to put emotion into his skating with such clarity.
Even Yurio, who rarely took much interest in other people’s skating unless he was personally attached to them, started coming to the rink early so he could watch Victor skate. Part of him almost felt bad about what he had said to him during their first meeting. He wasn’t about to initiate an apology, but he’s certainly changed his opinion quite a lot about Victor.
Two weeks into his time in Hasetsu, Yurio was still struggling to find music for his programs, and it was really starting to frustrate him. There was less and less time left before the GP series, and he couldn’t begin practicing his programs when he didn’t even have them, and he couldn’t have them until there was music.
Yuuri had suggested several good options for music, but none of them were quite right. Nothing really fit, and Yurio was beginning to think that the music he needed simply did not exist.
One day as he arrived at the rink in a foul mood, Victor was just getting off the ice. As he saw Yurio, his face lit up and he waved at his rinkmate excitedly. It actually made Yurio’s mood worse, because seeing someone else happy when he was feeling so wretched himself only made him more grumpy.
“I have something for you!” Victor said. He picked up his phone from the table where it was hooked up to speakers and pushed a few buttons to find what he was looking for.
“Unless it’s magic in digital form, I doubt I’ll enjoy it,” Yurio said.
Victor smiled at him, unfazed, and pressed play.
The music that flowed out of the speakers caught Yurio by surprise. It was fast and energetic at first, but halfway through it transformed organically into a more gentle melody that gradually tapered off, leaving a sensation of a promise of more.
“And now the free skate,” Victor said, pressing another button.
The second piece started out where the first left off, sounding like a continuation of the first piece, but the melody wasn’t the same. It was a completely different tune, which simply happened to compliment the first. The music was soft, comforting, but about 2 minutes in, it switched rapidly into a faster form of itself, with more aggressive and elaborate arrangements. It ended on an angry, almost pompous note, and Yurio could feel his whole body sort of...activating. He wanted to skate to this music. And he wanted the whole world to see it.
“That’s...” he trailed off, uncertain of how to formulate the obvious question.
“Yours if you want it,” Victor said helpfully. “I composed these pieces based on what you’ve said about what you want your programs to be. They’re just demos, of course, but if you like them, we can have them recorded properly.” Victor looked at Yurio, feeling just a tiny bit of uncertainty. “Do you like them?”
Yurio didn’t want to demonstrate just how much he liked them, but his excitement was leaking out of him in a way that he couldn’t quite control.
“They’re perfect,” he said simply.
“Great!” Victor said, smilingly brightly. “I’ll commission an orchestra to record them. Should be ready in a couple of weeks, maybe less.” He headed back toward the rink entrance, taking off his guards as he stepped onto the ice. “And while we’re at it, I had some ideas for your short program.”
He nodded to Yuuri to play the first piece, and started skating. Yurio was...surprised to say the least. He knew Victor was a talented skater, but for an adult skater who was still fairly inexperienced to choreograph for a Senior division skater with a boxful of medals wasn’t something anyone would really expect, so Yurio was skeptical.
But not for long. Because Victor’s choreography was captivating, and Yurio watched with increasing excitement as Victor skated what would become Yurio’s short program for the upcoming season. Of course, a lot of the elements were downgraded in Victor’s version, and would be replaced with more advanced ones when Yurio would perform, but the frame of the program was solid, and the connective parts that turned a bunch of technical requirements into a piece of art on ice were better than most of what Yurio had ever been given by professional choreographers.
When Victor was done, Yurio’s mouth was hanging slightly open. To say he had not expected that would be an understatement. It simply never would have occurred to him that he would have his program choreographed by an adult figure skater that couldn’t even do triple jumps. But here he was, itching to skate this program to its full potential.
“Something like that,” Victor said as he skated up to the barrier. “I’m sure you can easily upgrade it to your skill level.”
Yurio just stared at him, unsure of how to react.
“Thank you,” he said at last.
Victor smiled, stepping off the ice.
As he disappeared into the back of the Ice Castle to take a shower and change, Yurio turned to Yuuri, who had been silent all through this event.
“Did you know he was doing this?” Yurio asked.
“I knew he was writing music for you, though this is the first time I got to hear the whole thing.” He sighed. “He practiced the program without me. He does that sometimes.” He pulled out his notebook. “I have some suggestions on which elements need to be replaced to boost your technical score though.”
“Obviously,” Yurio said, starting to regain his sass after the shock of what had just been given to him started to subside. “He barely had enough rotations to make a quad in all of his jumps combined.”
Yuuri rolled his eyes and restarted the music.
That night in bed Victor pressed his nose into Yuuri’s chest in a way he sometimes did when he was feeling guilty about something.
“I’m sorry I worked on that program without telling you,” he finally said. “I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of you.”
Yuuri kissed the top of Victor’s head.
“And I’m sure getting to dramatically reveal it wasn’t entirely unwelcome either.”
“You know me so well.”
Yuuri ran his hand through Victor’s hair for a few moments before speaking again.
“I’ve been working on a free skate program for Yurio on my own as well.”
Victor laughed, sending vibrations through Yuuri’s chest.
“During your ballet sessions. It’s nowhere near is complete as what you’ve achieved, but now that there’s music, it’ll get easier.”
“Nishigoris are really good at keeping everyone’s secrets, aren’t they?”
Yuuri joined Victor in laughter.
“Our lives would make a great reality show.”
Victor raised his head and his eyes lit up.
“Oh, that’s a great idea! I could make it happen, you know.”
“No! Victor, no. We are not making out lives into a reality show.”
Victor dropped his head onto Yuuri’s chest, laughing.
“I know, I know. I’m just messing with you,” he said, placing kisses above Yuuri’s heart. “It wouldn’t work anyway. Yurio would swear so much, half of the episodes would be nothing but beeps.” He watched Yuuri laugh, feeling his chest fill up with warmth. “Although, if it was on a cable channel...”
I feel like every long fic in this fandom has to have at least one chapter ending in Yuuri dramatically shouting "Victor!" after Victor says or does something moderately outrageous, so this was my contribution. XD
This chapter is kind of discombobulated and nothing really happens. I'm sorry. It's sort of just getting from point A to point B.
Victor’s international competition was getting closer and closer.
“Are you coming with us?” Yuuri asked Yurio one day as they were discussing the details of adult Worlds.
“Why would I do that?”
“To watch. To support Victor.”
“Do I have to?”
“No, of course, you don’t have to. You just can, if you want.”
Yurio thought about this for a moment. Victor had helped him a lot, and he didn’t want to be disrespectful or dismissive of his competition, but he also...didn’t really want to go.
“I’d rather practice,” he said honestly. “I don’t have much time.”
“Yes, of course,” Yuuri said. He looked at Yurio apologetically. “I’m sorry I’m leaving you at such a critical moment.”
“No, it’s fine,” Yurio said flatly. “Victor needs you.”
To an extent, Yurio still felt like adult competitions were inferior to the Senior division, because...well, the whole world thought so. But he was starting to shed this belief the more he watched how hard Victor worked and how much the sport meant to him. Maybe he still felt, just a little bit, like his training should take priority over Victor’s silly contest, but he pushed that feeling down, because he knew now that it wasn’t true.
Besides, Victor was Yuuri’s student first. He had dibs.
After Yuuri showed his ideas for Yurio’s free skate to him, Yurio has calmed down significantly. Things were taking shape now, and all he needed to do was work and practice. He knew how to do that.
About a week before Victor’s Worlds, Yurio’s programs were effectively done, with only a few elements still in flux. He wanted to do a charlotte spin, but he wasn’t sure if he could. He used to be very flexible when he was younger, but has lost a lot of that flexibility with age. Still, it wasn’t impossible, and Minako assured him that she could help him stretch. The quadruple flip-triple axel combo that he intended to put in his short program still made Yuuri twitch with apprehensiveness, but Yurio was determined.
So he would have plenty to work on while his coach and rinkmate were away.
The idea of staying alone in Hasetsu did make him a little worried. This worry wasn’t common for him. Yurio didn’t fear new places or experiences, and even the fact that he didn’t understand the language in the slightest didn’t much bother him. What bothered him, he realized eventually, was that he would be staying on his own in Yuuri’s parents’ house. And he would probably have to talk to them at some point. Usually, he would silently join everyone at dinner, participate in conversation if he felt like it, stay silent if he didn’t. And then he’d leave and stay in his room or go out on his own. Victor and Yuuri served as a buffer between Yurio and the rest of the Katsuki family, but that would no longer be the case. It made him a little nervous. He didn’t fear loneliness and he didn’t fear new things. But he did sort of fear bonding with people. Even if he actually kind of liked them.
Yuuri gave Yurio a lot of instructions before leaving, even though he’d only be gone for about a week. Yurio silently accepted the lecture and the printed work-out and training plan. He actually intended to follow them too. Well, for the most part.
Yuuri asked Minako and Yuuko to keep an eye on his student, and he asked his parents to not bother him too much even if it seemed like he could use some company. He said that Yurio was like a cat. He would come when he wanted to, or he wouldn’t, and it was better to just accept that. Trying to get affectionate with him against his will would only result in scratches.
The trip to Vancouver, where the adult international competition was taking place, was long and exhausting, and by the time it was over Victor and Yuuri didn’t even know what day or time it was. They knew theoretically, but they lost the feeling of time. Traveling long distances wasn’t anything new for either of them, but it never got any less unpleasant or disorienting.
Victor’s first practice time wasn’t until later the next day, so as soon as they entered their hotel room, they fell face-first onto the bed.
“Food or sleep?” Yuuri asked after about 15 minutes of just lying on the bed.
“Shower,” Victor said into the mattress.
“Of course you’d pick an option that wasn’t listed,” Yuuri replied with a smile.
They showered together, relaxing even further thanks to the hot water and steam. Then they crawled into bed, struggling to stay awake.
“This will ruin our sleeping schedules,” Victor mumbled, snuggling up to Yuuri.
It was just after 7pm. If they fell asleep now, they’d likely wake up in the middle of the night.
“We can try to stay awake longer. Order food. Go...somewhere.” Yuuri couldn’t even pretend like he was committed to that idea.
Victor only grumbled in response, and a few minutes later, they were both asleep.
Yuuri woke up when it was still dark, but Victor was still asleep, wrapped around Yuuri like a possessive octopus, so Yuuri resigned to his fate of staying in bed, and eventually fell back asleep. The next time he woke up, Victor was awake and gently running his fingers through Yuuri’s hair. When he noticed that Yuuri had awoken, he started applying a bit more pressure, massaging Yuuri’s skull.
“Mm, that feels nice,” Yuuri said. “What time is it?”
Yuuri raised an eyebrow.
“We slept for 12 hours?”
“Hmm. Well, they always say it’s good to be well-rested before a competition.”
“The competition is tomorrow. We’ll need to somehow fall asleep tonight after having slept for half a day.”
Victor didn’t want to think about the competition right now. He just wanted to enjoy his morning cuddle with Yuuri before going back to reality. Not that reality was bad right now. It was quite good, actually. Victor was about to participate in an international figure skating competition, with programs he liked and enjoyed skating. It was a dream come true. And his chances of winning were quite good.
But this – being with Yuuri like nothing else in the world mattered, it was important too. It was a dream he’d never thought he had, and yet it was handed to him, and he still didn’t know what he’d done to deserve it. Probably nothing. He probably just got lucky.
Yuuri’s stomach grumbled.
“We should probably get up,” Yuuri said reluctantly.
“Yes,” Victor agreed, placing a kiss on the top of Yuuri’s head. “Let’s go see what Canada has to offer.”
They were walking through a mall, wearing some of Victor’s more elaborate disguises.
They’d eaten at the food court, which was something neither of them had done in years. Victor was hoping his stomach wouldn’t rebel against mall food so close to a competition, but so far there were no signs of a storm.
“Have you seen Canada before?” Victor asked. “I know you’ve been here on competition, but have you actually gone out to see it?”
“No,” Yuuri said. “The only times I went sightseeing and such were when I was assigned somewhere together with Phichit. On my own, I would generally just stay in the hotel or close by. Celestino was a great coach, but we weren’t close enough to really hang out together, and going out on my own in a foreign country made me too anxious.”
“Hm.” Victor wove their arms together as they walked. “When I first started touring internationally, I wanted to see everything. I would go out everywhere, shop, eat at the quaintest restaurants I could find. And it was fun at first, but it got sort of...lonely.” He tried not to sound too melancholic, though he wasn’t quite succeeding. “When I was still working under Yakov, I was effectively alone. There was no permanent band. There were some musicians that came and went faster than I could befriend them. Yakov himself wasn’t always on tour with me, and even when he was, he was always busy and we weren’t all that close either. I always wished I could go to all those places with someone I cared about.” Victor sighed. Then he forced himself to brighten up and think of the present instead of the past. “But now I get to do this. With you.”
He took one of Yuuri’s hands in his and brought it up to his lips for a quick kiss.
Yuuri was looking down at the floor, not daring to look up at Victor just yet. He wanted to compose himself first. He wasn’t sure what Victor would see in his eyes, and he didn’t want Victor to feel pitied.
Finally, he looked up at Victor with all the love that he felt for him and smiled.
“We can travel more, if you want. You can compete in non-qualifies, skate in exhibitions. Plus...no pressure, you don’t have to, of course, but I would really appreciate it if you would accompany me to Yurio’s competitions as well.”
Victor’s smile was wide and excited.
“Of course! I’d love that.”
He couldn’t help but put a short kiss on Yuuri’s lips.
Yuuri felt something in his chest. Like a sense of incompleteness, like he needed to do something, resolve an issue, make things better. He wasn’t sure what exactly it was and what he could do, but the feeling was still there, and he was trying to figure out what it was that he needed to do.
What Victor had said made him want to hold him close and never let go. He knew that he and Victor were a family now, but sometimes Yuuri felt like Victor was doing more committing than Yuuri ever did. He moved to Hasetsu, he gave Yuuri his money, and what has Yuuri done? He didn’t doubt that Victor knew how much he meant to Yuuri, but he still wanted to give him something more. Something tangible. Something like...
He saw a jewelry store and an idea popped into his head. He practically ran toward the store, pulling Victor with him.
Inside, he selected 2 simple gold bands, paying for them from his separate account rather than from the one he shared with Victor. Perhaps, it didn’t really matter, but he wanted it to be a gift, not a joint purchase.
Back when he skated, he’d always wanted to have a good luck charm, but it just sort of never happened. But it was never too late to get one. And this...it could be a thank you to Victor, a symbol of their commitment to each other, and, perhaps, a promise.
Victor watched in mild shock at Yuuri picked out the rings. He wasn’t entirely sure what this meant exactly, but it certainly felt pretty important.
They exited the mall and found a nice, secluded spot in a nearby park, under a big cherry tree. Yuuri took the rings out of his pocket. He took one of Victor’s hands and carefully pulled off his glove.
“Victor,” he said, his voice shaking a little. “I don’t think I’ve ever really known love properly before meeting you. I know there are many people in my life that love me, and I love them back. But you’re the first person I’ve ever really wanted to keep. And I never want to be apart from you.” He gently slid the ring onto Victor’s finger. “Say something for me?” he said as he handed Victor the other ring.
Victor took his hand and looked Yuuri in the eyes.
“Yuuri...You’ve helped me make the biggest dream of my life come true. But you’ve given me so much more, so many things I never even thought to dream of. You gave me a new understanding of love and life itself. And I would be honored if you would keep teaching me about them for as long as I’m alive.” He slid the ring on Yuuri’s finger and smiled.
They kissed, perhaps a little too passionately for a public place, but they hardly cared.
Later that day, Victor arrived at the event arena for his practice.
He saw other skaters and coaches staring surreptitiously and whispering amongst each other, which was nothing new. But now it wasn’t just his fame and his unexpected ascent in a new art. People noticed his and Yuuri’s rings, looked at Victor and then and Yuuri, trying to figure out what was happening, what the rings meant. If they were engaged or married, or something else.
Whatever the rings meant, it was obvious that Victor and Yuuri were committed, tethered to each other. And everyone around could see it every time they saw the rings shining on their fingers.
And Victor had never been happier.
That year, the competition had to be moved from its usual arena to a slightly bigger stadium, because the demand for tickets was so high that the original arena wouldn’t be sufficient.
When Yuuri and Victor arrived at the stadium and saw how packed it was, Victor’s eyes lit up in excitement.
“Think I can take credit for this?” Victor said quietly, indicating the massive audience turn-out.
Yuuri rolled his eyes affectionately.
“Not all the credit,” he said. “But some, definitely.”
When Yuuri first started coaching Victor, he watched many videos of adult figure skaters, and it was disheartening to see just how little attention adult competitions usually got. Many events had so few spectators that it seemed like the arenas were practically empty. Yuuri was glad to see that this was finally changing.
Victor’s group was skating in the afternoon. They arrived early – this time without disguises – to watch the other performances. Considering how many different age groups and skill level divisions were performing, the event had a lot to offer, and Victor was happy to think that he helped, to whatever extent, to bring more viewers in.
They watched some of the performances from the bleachers, eventually moving into the skaters’ area so Victor could warm up and stretch, but they kept watching on a screen.
“You know,” Yuuri said, watching as one of the ladies in the Silver division performed her artistic program. “This is almost more pleasant to watch than the Senior division.”
“I love figure skating, but I’ve often found watching it a bit...stressful,” Yuuri explained. “People on sharp metal blades perform complex acrobatic sequences, jump up into the air, rotate several times around their own axis, then attempt to land on that same sharp blade. There’s so much potential for disaster there. And I’m often scared to watch, because I’m afraid that the skater will fall and hurt themselves. Adult skaters don’t do as many complex elements, so it’s not as terrifying to watch them. Especially the artistic programs. You get the beauty of figure skating, but with less danger.”
Victor laughed softly and wrapped his arms around Yuuri’s shoulders.
Yuuri rolled his eyes with a smile.
“Thanks,” he said sarcastically, but with good humor.
“You could always just watch ice dancing,” Victor suggested.
“I do. I love ice dancing.”
This just made Victor giggle more. He really did find it endearing that Yuuri had had no problem putting his own health on the line as he performed the most complicated elements that existed in figure skating, but he was too worried to watch someone else do it.
Victor and Yuuri were still being subtly stared at, but they were getting used to it now, if one could ever get used to such a thing. It got slightly less unnerving once they learned to expect it.
Popovich and Chakharidze were also there. Chakharidze gave Victor and Yuuri a respectful nod. Popovich even smiled at them. Victor counted this as significant progress.
Victor was skating last in his group, and by the time it was his turn to take the ice, he almost regretted coming to the arena as early as they did. Though this allowed him to watch the other skaters, he was also starting to get tired of waiting. He was blessed with not having an anxiety disorder like Yuuri did, but spending this much time waiting for his turn to skate has gotten him a bit worried.
Yuuri recognized this as soon as the symptoms started cropping up, and immediately rushed to reassure his student.
“Victor, you’ll do great,” he said quietly. “Your program is amazing, you’re in great shape, you know all your elements. You’re as prepared as one could be.”
Victor smiled. He liked when Yuuri gave him pep talks. They were very efficient and logical. Not just some generic ‘you’re amazing’ speech, but actual lists of facts that would make Victor feel more certain.
“Thank you, Yuuri,” he said, placing a kiss on Yuuri’s cheek just before heading out into the rink area.
Victor appeared before the audience to the familiar sound of cheers and applause. He waved, causing an even louder reaction. People cheered even when he had been on the ice a bit earlier for a warm-up, but now was time to perform, and the crowd was roaring in anticipation.
There was no way of telling how many people that came to watch him specifically were his fans and how many just thought he was an entertaining peculiarity, but either way, he was going to give them a show.
After a final hug from Yuuri, Victor skated to center ice, getting his mind into the proper mood. As Victor was skating away, Yuuri brought his hand up to his lips and kissed his ring for good luck.
Victor started in the same position as he had during Russian Nationals, but as soon as the music started, the differences between his old and new programs became evident to anyone who was paying attention.
Where his old program started reserved and closed off, his movements in the new program were open from the start. Broad sweeps of his arms accompanied wide circles skated across the ice. The flying camel spin was one of the newer additions, and he performed it flawlessly, making Yuuri beam proudly as he watched.
Though the program was still rooted in sadness and grief, Victor’s movements were lighter and softer, giving the performance an air of acceptance.
Of course, most of the people who watched Victor skate had no idea what his program was really about, so they didn’t get quite as detailed a picture as Yuuri did, and the program was more of a blur of emotions to them, rather than a story. But it was beautiful and evocative – everyone could appreciate that, even if they didn’t know the specifics of Victor’s inspiration.
When Victor froze in his final pose as the last notes died down, the crowd cheered him on, showering him in flowers and plushies.
Yuuri was waiting for him at rink exit with a loving smile. They embraced before heading to the Kiss&Cry.
Victor’s score didn’t break any records, but it did put him comfortably in first place, and soon enough Victor was being awarded his first gold at an international figure skating competition.
As Yuuri and Victor headed back into the skaters’ area, Yuuri wove their fingers together.
“You’re making a habit of being in first place, aren’t you?”
“It’s not hard,” Victor replied with a soft smile. “I have an amazing coach.”
Yuuri's feelings about figure skating are all mine. I'm not afraid of skating myself, but I'm terrified of seeing other people do it because I'm afraid they'll get hurt.
The situation with the press at this event was even more overwhelming than at Nationals. This was an international competition, everyone knew Victor would be there, so the amount of people who wanted to ask Victor a question was slightly unnerving.
In fact, the event organizers had to limit media presence to representatives of channels, websites, and magazines that had at least something to do with sport, because otherwise reporters would simply overflow the arena. Media attention was welcome, of course, but there was such a thing as too much of it.
“Mr Nikiforov, why did you change your program so much? Did you not like your old one?”
“Why didn’t you change the music?”
“Did you change the free skate as well? What can be expect tomorrow?”
“What do the rings mean? Are you married?”
“Do you plan to keep skating?”
Victor answered several questions, politely evaded a few others. He didn’t want to comment on his free skate, because there was no point in doing so – everyone would see it the next day. He didn’t comment on the rings, because he didn’t think Yuuri would want him to. He was excited to note that there were barely any questions about him going back to his music career. Not that he was disowning of it or anything, but he didn’t want to be asked about it at a skating competition. It reminded him that there were still people there that weren’t there for his skating, but merely because of his fame.
Once Victor answered as many questions as he could manage without getting annoyed, he and Yuuri finally escaped, changed, and headed out of the arena.
Just as they were leaving, an unfamiliar voice called out to them. Victor turned around, expecting a fan asking for an autograph, but was met with a surprise.
“Mr Katsuki, Mr Nikiforov, I’m–”
“Sakamoto Tora!” Victor exclaimed. “You were at my first competition. You won spectacularly. You were amazing!”
She looked at him with her mouth hanging slightly open. She’d spent quite a long time preparing for this meeting, thinking of ways to hold their attention long enough to make her case. She hadn’t even thought to consider the possibility that she’d be recognized, let alone with such excitement.
“Thank you,” she said. “You were quite good as well. Though, of course, you’ve improved significantly since then.”
“Thank you!” Victor replied, still brimming with excitement. “Are you competing today? Tomorrow? In which division?”
Victor’s enthusiasm was almost unnerving to Tora who had never been recognized for her skating before in her life.
“Oh,” Victor said with obvious disappointment.
He hadn’t thought of her in a while, but he remembered now that he’d hoped to see her skate again when he first watched her program on the day of his first competition. He’d wondered if they would both be competing at an international competition, and now here they both were. Though, apparently, she wasn’t skating.
“I had a mild injury a few months ago, so I’m sitting this one out.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Victor said.
Yuuri watched this exchange with a slightly dumbfounded expression, because what was even happening, seriously?
“It’s nothing serious, just a twisted ankle, but it’s best not to risk it.”
“Of course. So you’re just here to watch?” Victor asked.
“Yes. I have family here. My father was Canadian.”
“Did he skate?” After asking this, Victor realized that it was a strange thing to say – it almost sounded like he was assuming that being Canadian somehow made a person more likely to be a skater, but Tora was taking the strange interrogation in her stride.
“He did, yes. He was an ice dancer. Though he didn’t compete much. He started coaching really young. He loved coaching.”
Yuuri continued to watch, wondering if he should insert himself into the conversation or not. It looked like this could take a while, and he wondered if at some point Victor would remember that this stranger came up to them with some sort of purpose, before Victor decided to learn everything there was to know about her.
“Did he get you into skating?” Victor continued.
“Yes. But then...some things happened, and I was only able to get back into skating in my 30s.” She turned to Yuuri. “Mr Katsuki,” she said, hoping that it wasn’t too strange to refer to him as ‘Mr’. She was never quite sure which honorifics to use when crossing cultures and languages. “I’m...in need of a coach.”
“Oh.” Yuuri’s eyes widened. Another person was asking him to coach them? Why did this keep happening to him? Wasn’t this backwards? Wasn’t he supposed to go out and try to find students? He still felt like any day now Victor and Yurio would realize that he wasn’t that great of a coach, and now another person wanted his services? “I...”
“It’s alright if you don’t want to or don’t have time, I understand,” Tora said, bowing her head slightly. “But just in case you could take on another skater...”
“I...” Yuuri said again. Any moment now he would form a sentence. Any moment now. “I... Ah. If you want me to coach you because of Victor’s success, I assure you, I have very little to do with that.”
Victor snorted dramatically.
“Yuuri, please...” He rolled his eyes affectionately.
“Actually,” Tora said, “while Mr Nikiforov’s performances are indeed quite impressive, they are not why I’d like you to coach me.” She took a deep breath. “I’ve actually wanted you to coach me for years. Since I started skating seriously. But you were still competing then, and besides I had no idea if you’d even want to coach at all, let alone an adult skater. I found a different coach, and it worked well for a while, but now we’re parting ways, and I thought, perhaps, I’d try and ask...”
“Oh...” Yuuri wasn’t really sure what to say, but he knew this probably wasn’t a decision he should be making on the spot. “I’ll think about it?”
“Thank you!” Tora said. She took a small piece of paper out of an inside pocket and offered it to Yuuri. “My phone number and email. Feel free to contact me at any time in any way that’s convenient to you. Oh, and...I’ll be moving out of my current residence in about a couple of months, and I don’t yet know where I’ll be going next, so... I could move to wherever your rink is. I work from home, so location doesn’t matter much.”
“Ah, okay,” Yuuri said awkwardly. She’d really thought this through. Which was slightly terrifying.
“Thank you so much for considering coaching me,” she said with a bow. Then she turned to Victor. “Congratulations on your win today, and good luck tomorrow.”
“Thanks!” Victor said joyfully as she walked away. Then he turned to Yuuri with a bright smile. “You’re popular.”
Victor could see the tension in Yuuri’s body and rushed to comfort him.
“Yuuri, you know you don’t have to do this. We’ve talked about this when Yurio pulled this stunt. Don’t feel pressured.” He rubbed his hands up and down Yuuri’s arms.
That was, of course, easier said than done. Yuuri was already feeling pressured, and would continue to feel pressured, no matter how this all turned out. But at the same time...he couldn’t help but feel incredibly honored as well.
“Let’s go back to the hotel, okay? I need to think about this in a private setting.”
Victor picked up his bag from where it had been resting on the floor and slung it over his shoulder. He wrapped his free arm around Yuuri’s shoulders and they walked out of the back door where a car was waiting to take them to the hotel.
They’d both known this competition would be eventful, but somehow it was managing to defy all expectations.
I don't know if anyone remembers this from the first fic, but Victor did indeed see Tora at his first competition and hoped to see her skate again. I had always intended to introduce her in a later fic, though, admittedly, it took quite a while.
Yuuri was sitting on the hotel bed, looking at the piece of paper that had Tora’s phone number and email on it.
“Victor?” he said quietly.
Victor looked up from his tablet to face Yuuri. He’d been giving Yuuri space but also staying close-by in case Yuuri needed him.
“Do you think I’d be diluting my attention too much if I took on another skater?”
“No,” Victor said. “Plenty of coaches have 5 or more students that skate professionally.”
Yuuri knew this, of course, but he needed Victor to tell him these things so that they would seem more real.
“Do you want me to take her on? You seem to like her.”
“I’m not going to tell you what I want, Yuuri, that wouldn’t be fair.”
“Huh?” Yuuri finally looked up from the paper in his hands to look at Victor instead. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t want to cloud your judgment. This should be your decision, I don’t want to affect it with my own desires.”
Yuuri stared at Victor with slightly widened eyes.
“It’s really not.”
“Of course it is.” Yuuri moved closer to Victor on the bed. “That would have made sense if you were just my student, but you’re my partner in every sense of the word. What you want matters. It always matters.” He took one of Victor’s hands and gave it a squeeze. “Please, tell me what you think.”
Victor opened his mouth, then closed it again. Yuuri had a point, but he still felt like nudging this decision with his own wants was questionable.
“I wouldn’t mind if you took her on,” he said. “I won’t be heartbroken if you don’t, but if you decide that you want to coach her, I’d be glad.”
Yuuri sighed. He knew Victor was holding back and giving him a vague opinion that really didn’t reveal much of his true feelings, but at least it was something.
“Okay, here’s what I think,” Yuuri said. “We’ve seen her skate, we know she’s good. And she seems dedicated. I don’t know if she’s taking the sport as seriously as you do, but she’s willing to move ‘wherever my rink is’, so I’m guessing this isn’t just a hobby for her. So, if I’m to take on another skater, she certainly wouldn’t be a bad option.” He paused before listing the counter-arguments. “But taking on another skater will mean more time working, less time with you. It will mean dispersing my focus. Yurio will probably hate it. But more importantly, I’m afraid that you will hate it. I know you never demanded that I be your personal coach, but if I take on more and more students, then we’ll never again have what we had when you first started training. I probably never would have become a coach if it wasn’t for you. And I know it’s not very logical, but it feels wrong sometimes that you’re only one of my students now, and not the only one.”
Victor stared at Yuuri in mild disbelief.
“Yuuri...I had no idea you felt this way.”
“Yes, well, I’ve never told you.”
Victor closed the small distance between them to hug Yuuri. He held on for a few moments before letting go.
“Okay, I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t want you to stay my personal coach forever. Selfishly, of course, I want all your attention to be on me and only on me. But...I see how much you love coaching Yurio. I love that you get to pass on your knowledge and skills. I love that you’re in demand and that people want you to teach them, because you’re amazing and it wouldn’t be fair if I was the only one who got to enjoy your teaching abilities. And I know that coaching gives you purpose. You deserve to have that.”
“Wow,” Yuuri said quietly. “Thank you.”
It wasn’t very often that they talked about their feelings in such detail, so this was...pretty special. They really should do it more often.
“And another thing...” Victor said.
“Wow, the dam has really broken,” Yuuri said playfully.
“Do you want it to close again?”
“Sorry, sorry!” Yuuri smiled. “Please, go on.”
“Right, well. If you do want to take on another skater...and...if you do want to know what I think...”
“Yes, I really do.”
“Well, I would really appreciate it if you took on another adult skater. Especially one that intends to compete. Because Yurio has learned to tolerate me, maybe even respect my career to some extent, but he will never be able to relate to me, nor I to him. If there was another adult skater in our rink, it would be nice – to have someone with experiences similar to mine.”
Yuuri really hadn’t thought of that. He was so busy worrying that Victor would be upset about him taking on more skaters that it never occurred to him that Victor might want companionship of someone who was traveling the same road as him. And he never would have known if they never had this conversation.
The excessive interest in Tora that Victor had shown earlier made more sense now. She was like him in a way Yurio, or Yuuri for that matter, never would be.
Adult figure skaters that managed to hold on to their ambition, despite how little the general public cared about their sport, were a rare breed. Victor had long since made his peace with the fact that this is one thing he’d have to experience on his own. But it would be nice if he didn’t actually have to.
“We really should talk more,” Yuuri said.
Victor smiled softly.
“Yes, communication is generally a good thing.”
Yuuri felt much lighter now. He’d been worried about the wrong things. The decision really wasn’t as hard as he’d thought it was.
He picked up the piece of paper with Tora’s contact information again.
Taking her up on the offer to contact in whatever way he found most comfortable, he texted her instead of calling. The response was almost instantaneous. They’d be meeting up to discuss details after Victor’s free skate. Tora would be joining Yuuri’s rink.
“Now we have to tell Yurio,” Yuuri said quietly. “Do you think he’ll be mad?”
Victor laughed so joyfully that Yuuri didn’t know whether to be annoyed or laugh with him.
“It’s like he’s a child and you’re telling him that he’s going to have a little sister,” Victor said between fits of laughter.
“Laugh all you want, but you know he can get pretty scary.”
Yuuri’s face lit up with an idea.
“Oh, I know. I’ll text him now, so by the time we get back home, he’ll have it out of his system.”
“Or he’ll hold onto his anger, let it fester and mature until we come back...”
Yuuri groaned and fell face first onto the bed.
“There had to have been other skaters in his former rink, right? Maybe he won’t even care. He’s an adult. He can deal with this like an adult.”
“I’m sure that’s exactly what most people think just before getting punched in the face.”
Yuuri threw a pillow at Victor’s head.
Victor was strangely worried before his free skate. More so than he had been the day before. For some reason, the pressure of an international competition was hitting him harder on the second day than the first, and he wasn’t sure why.
Perhaps it was the fact that he’d won his artistic skate, and the expectations were now higher. It was nice to be able to compete in 2 separate competitions at the same event, but at the same time, there was less room for failure. You couldn’t make up for a less-than-perfect short program with your free skate, you couldn’t afford a mistake in your free skate because your short program score was high. You performed one program and either won or lost. Then you did it again the next day.
Yuuri’s voice brought Victor out of his trance. He’d been staring into thin air for a while.
“Hmm? Sorry,” he said. “I was just...thinking.”
“Do you think people will be disappointed if I don’t win today?”
“Well, they’re here to support you, so, of course they want you to win.”
“But, I mean, will they be...I don’t know, angry?”
Yuuri knew that a large part of coaching in any sport was about helping your student reel in their nerves. Victor didn’t really need as much of that as he was naturally confident, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t occasionally start bending under the pressure as well.
There was more to this than just winning a competition. Victor knew that he was the primary reason the arena was packed. He was bringing fans to adult figure skating, and it was exhilarating. It felt right that people were finally paying attention to the sport, but at the same time, if Victor actually took a moment to think about it, it made him terrified.
What if he lost? What if he didn’t perform the way the audience wanted him to? Would they lose interest? In him, in the sport? Would they no longer come to competitions?
And what would the other skaters think? First he comes into the sport and takes all the attention, but, well, at least people are actually paying attention now, but what if he failed?
Everyone would hate him, wouldn’t they?
Victor has always had a complicated relationship with the idea of pleasing others. He’s spent much of his childhood trying to either please his parents or anger them in order get their attention. Then he spent most of his music career chasing the latest trends in order to stay in demand, while maintaining an illusion of creative independence.
Victor liked to surprise people, largely because he was scared that if he didn’t, then no one would care that he existed.
He started to explore his own creative visions once he parted ways with Yakov, but it was only when he met Yuuri and started skating that he began to truly do what he wanted. In no small part, it was thanks to the fact that Yuuri gave him both freedom and attention at the same time. Victor didn’t need to be perpetually unpredictable in order to keep Yuuri’s affection. He still liked to be surprising, he still relished the look of excitement in Yuuri’s eyes when he did something Yuuri hadn’t expected him to. But he knew now that he didn’t need to do that in order to keep Yuuri. He knew that Yuuri would love him even if he got boring, and the biggest surprises in their lives would be movie night choices and pizza toppings.
Victor had found someone whose attention he didn’t have to work for. And though he never intended to take it for granted, it gave him comfort to know that Yuuri’s affection wasn’t conditional upon how exciting, or surprising, or successful Victor was at any given moment.
But it wasn’t all quite as simple when it came to skating competitively. There were thousands of people out there in the stadium that expected him to perform well. There were also undoubtedly those who expected him to fail, and would rejoice in a collective roar of ‘I told you so’ if he did.
He’d changed his programs because he wanted to surprise people, and he’d succeeded. But now everyone expected him to do something exciting for his free skate as well, so it was like they were expecting a surprise, which both kind of defeated the purpose and put additional pressure on Victor to the point where his natural confidence was no longer able to pull the weight, and Victor was starting to feel a little sick.
Yuuri watched as Victor’s face was growing pale. He had to fight down his own oncoming panic as quickly as possible, because Victor needed him right now.
He grabbed Victor’s hands and squeezed them.
“Hey, Victor, look at me,” he said soothingly. “Listen to me, okay? Remember what I said when people were upset about you changing careers?”
“About entitlement? Yes.”
Victor’s voice was cracking a little, and it made Yuuri even more worried.
“Well, that still stands. Sure, people expect certain things from you, but you don’t owe them anything. They chose to come here to watch the event. You didn’t promise them anything. Any expectations they have are on them. Every athlete occasionally fails. People who truly support you will support you even if you wipe out. And those who don’t aren’t worth your worry.”
“What about the people who want me to wipe out?”
That gave Yuuri pause, but not a very long one.
“Well, those people should go fuck themselves.”
Victor’s eyes widened. Yuuri didn’t swear very often, and especially not quite so colorfully. It shocked Victor enough that he started giggling uncontrollably. Yuuri certainly knew just the right moment to surprise Victor.
When his laughing fit was over, Victor felt much lighter. Maybe not entirely carefree, but a lot less terrified. Yuuri had pulled him out of a spiral of fear and uncertainty; much of his nervous energy was released with laughter, and now he could manage his emotions a bit better.
“Thank you,” he said, placing a soft kiss on Yuuri’s temple.
By the time it was Victor’s turn to take the ice, he felt ready. He wanted to skate. Win or lose, he wanted everyone to see his new program.
Victor skated out to the center of the rink and took his starting pose.
As the music started, he began moving slowly. His arm motions were soft and graceful, his body swayed in a way that looked almost as if he wasn’t entirely in control of it, as if he was being carried around by a gentle wind.
The first half of the program was unhurried and soft, filled with the sadness of loss, and the gradual process of saying goodbye.
In the second half, where the music was speeding up, Victor’s movements became wider and faster. He had 2 flying spins in this section. As he performed them, he couldn’t help but think of a time, not so long ago, when he worried that he would never be able to do them.
In his old program, this segment portrayed denial and anger, but the new one was about acceptance, about learning to remember the good things about the ones you’ve lost and cherish the happy memories, so that a part of them can stay with you forever, even when they're no longer there.
Victor spun with his arms outstretched. The music was fast, but he looked calm and open.
Unfortunately, he didn’t go quite right into his Salchow, and he fell as his skate didn’t properly connect with the ice on the landing, but he only smiled as he got back up and continued his program. It barely even disrupted his flow as he skated on as if nothing had gone wrong.
He landed a clean Axel toward the end of the program, earning a few cheers from the audience.
His last spin was faster and longer than the one he’d performed at Nationals. As he finally stopped, he stretched his right arm out to the sky and waved.
At last, he bowed and skated off to the exit as the audience applauded and cheered. Yuuri hugged him when he stepped off the ice, placing a brief kiss on his cheek.
It was a few minutes before the score came in, and when it did, the gasps and sighs rippled through the arena.
He didn’t win. He came in half a point below the skater from Mexico, and would be getting Silver.
Victor shrugged as he looked at the screen. It would be a lie to say he wasn’t disappointed. That botched Salchow would undoubtedly haunt his dreams for a long time still, but these things happened. No one could win all the time.
During the award ceremony, Victor smiled and waved to his fans. The skater who’d placed first looked almost scared as he received his medal, fearing that the legions of Victor’s fans would tear him apart for stealing their idol’s win. He wasn’t wrong - many did feel like Victor deserved Gold more. His presentation was far superior, and it was only the deductions for a fall that had placed him below Martinez.
Victor did his best to demonstrate that there was no animosity, shaking the winner’s hand and congratulating him on the win. He knew that many of his fans would still be enraged by the fact that he didn’t win, but that too was part of the sport, and he couldn’t quite blame people for supporting him too hard.
As he and Yuuri arrived in their hotel room that night, Victor sat down on the bed and looked down at his medal. He couldn’t help but be a bit angry with himself for not skating better, for not winning; but he had to accept this, accept that he wouldn’t always win.
Yuuri wasn’t entirely sure what to say. He knew Victor was disappointed, but he didn’t want to say anything that sounded like a justification or excuse. Victor had such a great start, winning several gold medals right away, so it seemed like Silver was a step down, but it really wasn’t. Most athletes never even made it to the podium. Silver was a very good result. Yuuri didn’t want Victor to feel as if he’d lost.
“Congratulations,” he said at last, unable to come up with anything better to say.
Victor looked up to meet Yuuri’s gaze.
“Like I said...” He tossed his hair back with a smile. “I like silver.”
When they arrived back at Yu-topia, they were met with cheers and congratulations.
Victor was showered with hugs, pats on the back, smiles, and kind words.
There was a party planned for the next day, to commemorate Victor’s medals in his first international competition.
Yurio was standing a little to the side, watching everyone else praise Victor.
When finally the congratulations were over and Victor started to wheel suitcases to the bedroom while Yuuri stayed behind to catch up with his parents, Yurio approached Victor in a way that would be slightly unnerving if Victor didn’t know that Yurio meant him no harm. It felt sort of like being cornered in a dark alley by a shady character, if a dark alley was a hallways of a family inn and the shady character was an Olympic gold medalist.
“You got robbed, Nikiforov,” Yurio said. “You deserved Gold. That other guy may have skated cleaner, but your program was–” He didn’t know how to phrase it without sounding melodramatic. “–art. You program was art. The dude who won just did a bunch of elements cleanly. Maybe if this was Seniors and he was pulling off quads that’d have been something, but winning with a few clean singles against what you did? That’s just fucking wrong.”
Victor stared at Yurio with his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open. He’d had no idea that Yurio even watched his competitions, let alone that he had such passionate opinions about them.
“Thank you,” Victor said.
“Yeah, whatever. See you at the rink,” Yurio said, retreating quickly into his room.
As soon as Yuuri got to the bed that day, he fell asleep and didn’t properly wake up until the next morning. Victor eventually crawled into bed with him, careful not to wake him up, but Yuuri was so deep in sleep, Victor really didn’t need to worry.
When Yuuri finally woke up, the sun was up, and Victor was looking at him affectionately.
“Wow,” Victor said quietly.
“You slept for about 15 hours.” Victor kissed him softly on the forehead. “How are you feeling?”
“Groggy, but rested.” Yuuri started stretching his body carefully. He wasn’t quite ready to get active though, so he ended up just wrapping himself around Victor for a nice long cuddle. “How are you feeling?”
Victor might have sprung back up after his fall on the Salchow, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t leave any damage behind.
“Fine, mostly. My right knee aches a bit.”
Yuuri hugged Victor a little closer, then kicked the blanket away to inspect Victor’s body more carefully. He’d checked for damage right after the competition, but now that a bit of time had passed, the bruises were more obvious. There was a small bruise on Victor’s butt as well, but it didn’t bother him as much as the one on his knee.
Yuuri kissed Victor’s knee and rubbed it gently. Then he started kissing up Victor’s gorgeous long legs, and soon his touches were less about giving comfort and more about giving pleasure, but Victor wasn’t about to complain.
They didn’t get out of bed for another 2 hours, and when they finally emerged from their room, looking sheepish and hoping no one had heard their muffled moans a few minutes ago, they were both independently thinking that it probably was time for their idea to get their own place to become a bit less theoretical.
The party to celebrate Victor’s medals was taking place later that day. Although, it was less a party and more just a gathering of friends and family for food and drinks.
Minako and Victor soon got into something akin to a drinking game, which Yuuri very explicitly did not approve of, but, well, it was Victor’s celebration, so when Victor made puppy eyes at him, Yuuri sighed and gave in. Not that he could ever truly forbid Victor anything, but he was still Victor’s coach, and Victor was actually surprisingly good at listening to his advice, most of the time. Yuuri wasn’t about to ruin that by being too strict.
Toshiya was the life of the party for a while, but eventually as he consumed more and more alcohol, his behavior tipped from fun to train wreck. Soon he was singing at full volume and taking his shirt off, which – considering his relationships to those present – was less entertaining and more uncomfortable and slightly disturbing. Eventually, he was led away by Hiroko, who had anticipated this as this wasn’t the first time it'd happened, and probably wouldn’t be the last.
Yuuri didn’t drink much, though he did consume a lot of food, and ended up on the couch, reclining so as not to aggravate his bulging belly.
On the other side of the couch was Yurio, who had spent much of the evening quietly eating and drinking mostly on his own, watching everyone else as if they were a reality show, and only occasionally interacting.
Now, however, he was more than a little tipsy, which never failed to make him melancholic and far more talkative than usual.
“I miss my cat,” he suddenly told Yuuri, who immediately turned to face Yurio at the confession.
“You have a cat?”
“Yes. I had to leave her with my grandfather when I came here.”
“Why didn’t you bring her along?”
“She didn’t have all the proper shots for international travel. Plus, I didn’t know where I’d be living, and...well.”
He sighed so deeply and sadly that Yuuri almost wanted to hug him. Almost.
“You can bring her now. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t mind. We had a dog living at the inn for a long time.”
“Hmm.” Yurio took another swig of whatever the hell it was that was getting him progressively more and more drunk. “Actually, Minako helped me find an apartment. It’s a 15 minute walk from the rink.”
“Yeah, but...it’s being renovated. So it’ll be a few more weeks before I can move in.”
“Yeah. Grandpa’s getting Dinka ready to travel.”
“Your cat’s name is Dinka?”
“Aha.” Yurio laughed, but it came out more like a snort. “It’s short for L’dinka, which means...ah, little piece of ice.” He rolled his eyes. “She’s actually the daughter of my grandfather’s cat. His name is Snezhok, which means snowball.”
Yuuri tried not to laugh, but failed miserably. He fell sideways and laughed into the cushion of the couch.
“That is adorable!”
“Shut up,” Yurio said, though with a lot less spite than he usually would.
“It is! It’s so cute!”
Alcohol had mellowed Yurio out enough that his toughness wasn’t really working properly, so he just rolled his eyes and smiled at his coach giggling maniacally into a couch cushion.
“Okay, fine, it’s...pretty cute, I guess.”
Yuuri rolled onto his side, looking up at Yurio.
“I can’t wait to meet her.”
“She’s not a big fan of strangers.”
“Oh, I wonder who she gets that from.”
Yurio smiled proudly and took another drink.
“You should probably follow your mother’s example and take care of your drunk partner,” he said, pointing at Victor whose head was resting on the table.
“Oh-ooow,” Yuuri said. “I think you’re right.”
It was a few more minutes though before Yuuri actually peeled himself off the couch to go and help Victor to bed.
“Hey, coach,” Yurio said as Yuuri was dragging Victor off to their bedroom. “When’s that other skater gonna join the rink?”
“She’s coming in in 3 weeks to see the rink, but she won’t be properly joining us until about 2 months from now.”
“Okay,” Yurio said quietly. “Good night, Yuuri.”
Yuuri left, helping the mostly-unconscious Victor to stay upright on their way to the bedroom.
Yurio stayed in the lounge for a bit longer, finishing his drink.
Though Yuuri and Victor had assumed Yurio would hate the addition of a new skater to the rink because it would mean his coach would be less focused on him, that wasn’t quite true. He was indeed apprehensive about Tora’s arrival, but not for quite those reasons.
The new rink wasn’t like his old one that often felt like a boot camp, where people were sort of friendly but not really friends, and the coach was respectful, helpful, and efficient, but not someone with whom you were ever truly close.
Training under Yuuri, living in his parents’ inn, he felt included and cared for. For the first time in many years, he didn’t feel alone. He feared that the addition of another skater would somehow disrupt that. Because this new rink, with the owners that kept everyone’s secrets and their daughters that did the opposite, with the onsen that came as a package deal with Yuuri’s coaching, and his parents that accepted Yurio with open arms despite how abrasive and distant he could be...it all felt like a family.
And Yurio was terrified of losing it.
Yurio was on the ice, warming up and skating aimlessly before his session.
Victor had some time off after Worlds, but the rink was still booked for the time when Victor would usually be training, so Yurio had taken to coming to the rink early and utilizing that time to skate on his own.
A few minutes in, he noticed that Lutz had arrived at the rink and sat down in the bleachers. He didn’t speak to her. He knew that she liked to draw skaters, especially when they skated freely, without the restrains of practice and training, so this was a perfect opportunity for her.
He didn’t do anything too complex, mostly concentrating on the simpler moving in the field elements and the parts of his programs that Yuuri liked to refer to as ‘connective tissue’. He didn’t want to get too tired before his coach even showed up, so he skated mostly for pleasure. It was nice to do that sometimes. It could be easy to forget that skating was supposed to be fun when it became a job with pressures and obligations, so doing some aimless skating was almost therapeutic in a sense. It helped Yurio remember that this was something he started doing because he simply enjoyed it.
A few minutes before Yuuri was scheduled to arrive, Yurio stepped off the ice, put his guards on, and climbed up to the bleachers where Lutz was.
He sat a respectful distance away from her before speaking.
“May I see?” he asked.
She hesitated for a moment, but decided that Yurio had the right to see her work, seeing as he was its primary subject.
She hesitantly turned the sketchbook toward him.
“It’s not finished yet,” she said.
Yurio studied the drawing. It wasn’t exactly what he’d expected. Though he wasn’t sure what he’d expected exactly, it just wasn’t this.
The drawing consisted primarily of detached lines that made up the shape of a person on the ice. Everything, from the blades to the skater’s hair, was mapped out with simple strokes. The skater was posed at an angle, seemingly mid-spin, with one arm at the side and the other up over their head, only one skate was touching the ice.
The drawing looked as though it was incredibly simple, even though it had taken a lot of time and effort to place those lines just so. And even though there was so little detail, Yurio could easily recognize himself in the drawing. There was no face, no distinctive consume, and yet, he knew that it was him.
“Damn,” he said. “You’re a fucking genius.”
He was vaguely aware that Lutz’s parents probably wouldn’t be too happy about him swearing in front of their very young daughter, but it was too late now.
“Thank you,” Lutz said, blushing slightly at the praise.
She turned a few pages in her sketch book, showing a few more drawings to Yurio. Some were of him, some of Axel and Loop, some of Yuuko, some of Victor and Yuuri. Most of them weren’t like the first drawing she’d shown him, but they had a certain style that connected them all, the artist’s signature ingrained in the way the lines and shapes went together.
The door clicked open, and Yuuri entered the rink area.
“Good morning,” he said, sounding more cheerful than he usually did in the morning, mostly because it was actually a lot closer to noon.
Victor’s post-competition vacation was doing wonders for Yuuri’s mood because he got to sleep in and didn’t have to start the day barely functioning.
“Morning,” Lutz said.
Yurio just nodded and headed back to the rink entrance.
“Hey, Lutz,” Yuuri said. “Where are your sisters?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “We don’t always come as a package deal, you know.”
She didn’t mean to sound rude, but she has been getting irritated lately about the fact that everyone assumed her and her sisters to be some sort of singular entity. They were gaining more and more independence from each other, yet people continued to think of them simply as ‘the triplets’ and expected them to be inseparable.
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Yuuri said.
“It’s okay,” she said, feeling a bit guilty for the small outburst.
Yuuri smiled at her and sat down to put his skates on.
She flipped to a blank page in her sketchbook and started on another drawing of Yuuri.
“There’re up!” Yuuri finally yelled, startling Victor, even though he really should have known that would happen.
Yuuri quickly got off the bed and ran to Yurio’s room, knocking on his door.
Unlike Yuuri, who’d been expecting Yurio’s Grand Prix assignments with nervous anticipation, Yurio was actually asleep. As far as he was concerned, a few hours would make no difference, so staying up and waiting to see the assignments the second they were up really made no sense. Alas, Yuuri still banged on his door, waking him up.
Yurio dragged himself into the lounge, where Yuuri and Victor were now situated, with Yuuri’s laptop sitting on a table like it was some sort of pedestal of GP assignment revelation.
Yurio sat in front of it and looked at the pulled-up page.
“Skate America and Cup of China,” Yurio read out loud.
“Oh, Skate America!” Victor repeated happily. “That’ll be fun!”
“Wait, why are you coming?” Yurio asked.
“To support you and Yuuri, of course. Besides, I kind of miss America. I lived there for a while before moving here.”
Yurio cringed. He didn’t mind Victor coming per se. It made sense for him to come, if for no other reason than to support Yuuri emotionally, but it also made him a bit worried, because where Victor came, his fame followed, and Yurio didn’t feel like answering reporters’ questions about why his famous rink mate was accompanying him to his competitions.
“American pirozhki are terrible,” he said, just because he wanted to say something mean. “How do you ruin pirozhki? They’re pretty straightforward. What do they even do to them?”
“Same thing Russians do to sushi, I imagine,” Yuuri said matter-of-factly.
Victor let out a bark of laughter. He knew exactly what Yuuri was talking about, remembering the time he and Yuuri went to a very expensive Japanese restaurant in St. Petersburg, and Yuuri was visibly straining to not let on that the food was nowhere near anything that could ever have the right to be called Japanese. Even Victor could tell it was pretty bad. He wouldn’t have been able to tell before, but after having lived in Japan for a few years, even he knew that Russian Japanese restaurants were an epic fail.
Meanwhile, Yuuri remembered the time when Phichit came to visit Japan and, on a whim, they went into a Thai restaurant. Phichit was very polite and cheerful while in the restaurant itself, but as soon as they walked out of the door, he let out a tirade about how horrible the place was, and how insulted he was by the fact that the atrocities served in it were labeled Thai.
Yuuri could understand Yurio's hate for American pitozhki, but if there was one thing that most cultures in the world actually had in common, it was failing at replicating cuisines from other cultures.
Besides, Yuuri knew Yurio was just trying to be mean for the sake of being mean, so turn-around was fair play.
Yurio scowled at Yuuri before getting up and leaving the lounge to go back to sleep. He knew the Katsukis would probably throw some sort of party for him in the morning to celebrate his assignments, and that would be...kind of nice, actually, but for now he just wanted to crawl back into bed. He needed to maintain a decent sleeping schedule during the season, after all.
When Yurio was gone, Victor wrapped an arm around Yuuri’s waist, resting his chin on Yuuri’s shoulder.
“Sassy Yuuri is my favorite Yuuri,” he whispered.
“Is that so?” Yuuri turned to look at Victor. “Two days ago sleepy Yuuri was your favorite Yuuri. And the day before that it was giggly Yuuri. And last week it was strict Yuuri, and before that–”
“Okay, okay, point taken!” Victor laughed. “All the Yuuri’s are my favorite.” He nuzzled Yuuri’s neck, making him giggle. “Oh! there’s giggly Yuuri again! I do adore him so much!”
They kissed for a while, until it started getting a little too heated for the lounge, at which point they retreated to their room.
An hour later, Victor was resting his head on Yuuri’s shoulder, relaxed and content. After a few minutes of silence, he forced himself to roll off Yuuri to pick up his tablet. He opened the right tab and gave the device to Yuuri.
“What’s this?” Yuuri asked, even though he knew what it was, he just...needed Victor to say it, to make it more real.
“A house. For sale. About 3 kilometers from here.”
Yuuri studied the listing. He had to admit the house looked good. It looked neat and sturdy, big, but not too big. It would give them enough space to feel comfortable, but not so much that it would feel extraneous for just the 2 of them... Yuuri started to panic.
Victor noticed immediately.
“Hey, hey, Yuuri, we don’t have to decide anything. If you like it we can look at it, and even then we’re not obligated to make any kind of decision. There’s no pressure. No pressure at all. There are other houses. We don’t have to get this one. And even if we do, we don’t have to move right away. And even if we get it, and we change our minds, we can just sell it. We might even make money on that. And even if we lose some, it won’t be a big deal. We’re rich, remember?”
Yuuri took a deep breath, let it out slowly. Though he still felt strange about the idea of sharing Victor’s millions, he had to admit that Victor’s comforting technique was working. Reminding him that there was no pressure to make a decision in a time frame, no risk of financial trouble, not even the pressure of finality of the decision – it all made Yuuri calm down significantly. Not completely, but enough to be able to think a bit more clearly.
He looked at the listing for a little bit longer.
“Okay,” he finally said. “Next weekend. If it’s still available...let’s go see the house.”
Sorry, I know the assignment announcement scene is kinda silly, I just really wanted an excuse to write a rare sassy Yuuri.