Objectively, Victor Nikiforov was attractive. His attractiveness was universal to everyone regardless of gender or sexuality. Therefore, finding Victor Nikiforov attractive was not an indication of one’s preference.
No, it did not have to mean anything, Yuri told himself. Nothing at all. Like how, objectively, cats were the most adorable creatures and obviously loving a cat didn’t mean one wished to marry their cat. Generally, people loved their pet. It didn’t have to mean anything. Except for Victor’s insistence that his dog was the second love of his life and skating was his first. But Victor was weird. And he dared to be mad at Yuri when Yuri didn’t want to listen to him.
So sure, there were people that were convinced figure skating was a very gay sport and men who were into it clearly liked to rub cocks with other men. Like that bastard in Yuri’s class three years ago who dared to tell Yuri that Yuri was a cocksucker for loving this sport. Well, after Yuri was finished with him, he didn’t dare show up to class, let alone make those kind of comments anymore. He nearly got suspended from skating for that, but he was too damn good, and Russia needed a successor if Victor retired.
“No, not if, but when,” Yuri thought to himself as he watched the men senior skaters do their warm ups on the ice, Victor standing out even with all the other skaters in their showy outfits. One guy actually had something that looked like a furry animal printed on his pants—what the fuck was his designer thinking??
Or, even better: if Victor stayed on the next season when Yuri entered the senior competition, and Yuri could defeat Victor himself. That would be a damn sweet start.
Looking through the men in this season’s Grand Prix, Yuri was sure that Victor had no real competition here. It was almost disappointing.
A flash of blue dragonfly wings burst out at the corner of his eyes, and Yuri jerked from his thought.
No, it couldn’t be.
Yuri swiveled to his left, desperate to find that sight again. He only missed it by a second, but he could have sworn that was a perfect quadruple loop. Who was it?
There were only a handful skaters, and two in blue. Which one?
Yuri turned to Victor, who had finished his warm up and was now approaching him. He didn’t even notice, frantic as he was to find that blue skater.
“Did you see that quadruple loop??” Yuri rushed up to Victor. “Did you?”
“Calm down,” Victor held up both hand. Clearly he didn’t know anything if he thought that was enough to placate Yuri. “What quadruple loop?”
“The one that’s over there, on the left side of the rink!” Yuri pointed to the spot where he last saw the blue skater, but now it was empty. That skater with the dead animal carcass imprinted on his ass slid up to that place now to do a spin—wow, what an eyesore. Should have gone with a classic leopard print. “You didn’t see it?”
“I didn’t notice it,” Victor said. Then, tilting his head a little to the side, he gave Yuri a contemplative look that Yuri didn’t like. “I’ve never seen you so excited about another skater before.”
Yuri scowled, and then straightened his posture. He hoped that he looked as indifferent as he wanted to appear. “Forget it.”
“No, it’s okay,” Victor said, sounding disappointed that Yuri was brushing him off. “So, who was it?”
If I knew, then I wouldn’t have to ask you, Yuri thought, feeling irritation bubbling inside him. “Who knows.”
“Well, alright then. Why don’t—” Victor began, but didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence because some idiot crashed into his back.
“I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!” One of the most pathetic voice Yuri had ever heard spoke up in Japanese. At least, that was what Yuri guessed the man had said.
“Ah, it’s okay,” Victor said, turning around to help the man who had fallen onto the floor get up on his feet. Of course it was said in Russian, so there was no hope that the man knew what Victor was saying.
“V—Victor!” The guy stammered, and perhaps it was because Yuri had never seen a guy get that flustered before, he began to take note of this newcomer. A pretty small guy—only slightly taller than Yuri—was this person really in the senior division? He looked like a teenager.
And—Yuri blinked—he was wearing a cobalt blue costume with navy pants—the same shade of blue that Yuri saw earlier.
Victor effortlessly switched to English, speaking too fast for Yuri to catch everything he was saying. But whatever it was, it just made the other guy even more flustered, so much so that he couldn’t meet Victor in the eyes anymore.
Yuri narrowed his eyes. Could it be?
In his effort to avoid direct eye contact with Victor, the guy accidentally locked eyes with Yuri. Yuri stared. The guy made a strange noise like a frightened animal, and then frantically looked away.
Seriously? This guy? This guy landed that quadruple loop earlier? Him?
However, talent was talent. It didn’t matter what the skater appearance was. Detaching himself from his comfortable perch on the railing, Yuri strolled up to the guy. “Hey!”
If possible, the other guy tried to make himself appear even smaller at Yuri’s voice. “E—Eh?”
More rapid English from Victor, and Yuri frowned when he noticed that it made the other guy cowering even more in fear.
“Victor, what are you telling him?” Yuri snarled.
“Just that he shouldn’t feel so intimidated by you, even though you have a reputation as the Russian punk,” Victor said with a wink, that smug bastard.
“Damn,” Yuri sighed. Well, clearly this guy would never talk to Yuri now. “Hey you!”
Even though Victor instilled the fear of “the Russian punk,” the guy did finally meet Yuri’s eyes with Yuri’s poor attempt at speaking English. Fucking finally.
“What’s your name?” Yuri asked, his tongue stumbled clumsily with each syllable. He wished he had practiced, like Victor warned him.
“Katsuki Yuuri,” the guy said. He looked relieved that Yuri didn’t attack him or something, but he still seemed suspicious. Thanks a lot, Victor.
“I’ll remember that,” Yuri said. And then, since there was nothing more to say, he promptly walked away. No need to spook this Yuuri guy any further. He clearly wasn’t looking forward to having a conversation with the Russian punk.
Besides, the important thing was that Yuri got his name. He always remembered the names of potential rivals.
Victor caught up to him later at lunch, and of course, he ignored Yuri’s wish to not talk about what happened. “So…Yuuri Katsuki. His name is Yuuri too, isn’t it?”
Yuri didn’t bother responding.
But damn, Victor was nothing but persistent. Yuri hated him sometimes. “Is that the guy who did the quadruple loop?”
Yuri made a show of slurping from his soda can. Loudly. And then kept sucking in air when the can was empty.
But it was too late. Victor had that awful look on his face, and Yuri froze. The last time Yuri saw this expression was when Victor found out something embarrassing about Yuri and wouldn’t shut up about it.
Yuri braced himself.
“Can this be—” Victor began, and then paused for dramatic effect. He tapped his chin in a faux-thoughtful expression. “Yuri’s first love?”
Yuri threw the can at Victor’s head.
What confused Yuri whenever he tried to figure out whether he liked guys or not was the fact that he wasn’t interested in guys the way Victor was. He didn’t care for them 99% of the time. The only thing he cared about was how they skate. It was that simple. And that was enough for him.
So the pure anticipation in his chest when it was Yuuri Katsuki’s turn to skate was nothing more than him eyeing a new rival. That was all. That deep want that rumbled inside him was nothing more than a need to challenge Yuuri on the rink someday. There was nothing to it.
Yuri repeated this to himself, over and over. But he couldn’t keep control of the devastation when Yuuri Katsuki placed last.
He couldn’t prevent himself from losing it when Yuuri Katsuki wasn’t the skater that Yuri thought he could be.
Yuri didn’t know why he followed him to the bathroom. There was no reason to. So what if Japanese Yuuri didn’t live up to his expectation? So what if he wasn’t going to be the rival that Yuri wished him to be? Who cared?
But for some reason unknown to Yuri, he wanted to grab the other Yuuri and shake him. He didn’t know why. They were complete strangers. He shouldn’t even be here. Yet, there he was, standing in front of the stall that Yuuri just locked himself in like some kind of creepy stalker.
He needed to leave. This would just be damn awkward when Yuuri finally get out of his stall and saw him. He should—
Yuri grew still when he heard soft, muffled sobs.
His chest burned painfully at the sound, and he couldn’t bear to listen to this. He couldn’t. Fuck. He hated Yuuri so much. He hated his stupid quadruple loop and his stupid earnest eyes and his stupid glasses. He hated his awful performance out on the ice tonight. He hated how he wouldn’t meet him in the eyes.
He hated how Yuuri made him felt so many conflicting emotions all in one day.
Yuri couldn’t take this anymore. He. Just. Couldn’t.
A hard kick to the door, and the sobbing stopped immediately. Good.
He was about to land another kick when the stall door opened slowly. Somehow, the teary, red-faced, utterly defeated expression on Yuuri’s face pissed him off even more, if that was even possible. Yuri didn’t even say anything yet, and the other guy was already shaking in fear.
“Hey!” Yuri said, and Yuuri straightened. The pathetic quaking stopped. Good. “I’m competing in the senior division next year.”
Yuuri seemed confused that he would even say that, but he wasn’t done.
“We don’t need two Yuris in the same bracket.”
Comprehension dawned on Yuuri’s face.
“Incompetents like you should just retire already.” And, to reiterate his point, Yuri jumped to the tip of his toes until he was only an inch away from Yuuri’s face, so close that he swore he could taste the salt from Yuuri’s tears. “Moron!”
Yuuri still looked defeated, but at least when Yuri left him, he wasn’t wallowing in tears anymore. Fuck, just thinking about it was making Yuri all irritated again.
A year later, when Yuri saw a video of Katsuki Yuuri’s skating with Victor’s routine, he couldn’t help but feel annoyed, again. Really? He wanted to make a comeback by mooching off someone else’s routine?
“That Japanese Yuuri is an idiot.”
But, as Yuuri landed that perfect quadruple loop, he couldn’t help but feel that odd flare of warmth across his chest. That pure anticipation bubbled up deep inside him again. One day, he knew, they would face off against each other in an international competition.
It was as if not a day had passed since a year ago, when he stood in front of that man, wanting to ink that name in his memory.
Yuuri Katsuki, he thought. Come. I’ve been waiting.