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One phrase can be used to currently describe Victor Nikiforov in this current present time: ‘absolute hot mess’.

In this current present time, Victor Nikiforov has artblock. The kind of crippling artblock that has him start a piece in his sketchbook to only to stop halfway through and angrily discard it when he can’t visualize the final product.

At least Makkachin is enjoying himself by chasing after the balled up pieces of paper Victor throws away in frustration, so there’s one positive to this annoying mental block of his.

There’s a steadfast mountain of failed attempts at producing actual art growing in the corner of Victor’s studio apartment, overflowing his wastebasket and spilling out onto the floor. Victor tells himself that he needs to really clean up around here, but every time he looks at Mount Failure in the trashcan, he is overwhelmed with a feeling close to self-hatred and a desire to drown himself in booze.

Victor rolls onto his stomach and breathes out a heavy sigh. He’s been lying on the floor in the hopes that maybe he’ll just close his eyes and suddenly awaken with his mind brimming with ideas to paint and sketch. So far, he’s only gotten a pain forming in his lower back and Makkachin licking at his face to check that his owner hasn’t died from a lack of creative spirit.

He pushes himself onto his knees and squints his eyes at the clock. It’s getting late. . .he hasn’t even taken Makkachin out for his walk or started cooking dinner. He groans and rubs his face with his palms, dragging his fingers down his cheeks and resting his hands on his lap. Makkachin places his front paws over the back of Victor’s hands, panting and wagging his tail.

Victor smiles. “Ready for your walk, huh?” he asks. Makkachin barks and licks his face for an enthusiastic ‘yes!’.

Victor gets to his feet and goes to grab his jacket that’s hanging on the hook and slips on his shoes. He also grabs a small notepad and charcoal pencil in the off chance that something will catch his eye on their walk. He also grabs his wallet because he honestly doesn’t feel like cooking anything at all and will rather get take out so he can hurry up, eat, and eventually rejoin his ‘I lost my inspiration and my passion for art’ crisis. 

Keys in hand, he whistles for Makkachin and both depart from the messy studio and out into the night air.

 


 

The city landscape and bright lights of the shops does absolutely nothing to spark Victor’s inspiration. There’s no spark and no bursting need for him to grab his notepad and draw until his fingers ached and could no longer hold a pencil. He grabs some takeout from a food cart in the park, and does some minor sketches of joggers on the trail in between bites of his food. They’re relatively simple and more gesture practice than actual drawings. It only shows him that he hasn’t gotten rusty during this long drought of inspiration, but it doesn’t make him feel any better about himself.

Once he fills the entire first page of gesture drawings and small bits of scenery surrounding him, he tucks the notepad back into his pocket and rises from the bench that he was sitting on.

“Another dull night,” Victor complains aloud to no one in particular. He feels Makkachin nuzzle against his leg and he reaches down to run his fingers through Makkachin’s curly fur. “Okay, come on then,” Victor calls out and Makkachin barks in agreement.

They continue down the path through the park, over the hill overlooking the outdoor skating rink. It’s late, so they do not come across many people during their stroll. The lack of people should give Victor needed silence to focus on creating something, but it just reminds him that reality too is bleak and boring like his current art style.

Christophe isn’t going to pay for this crap that Victor is producing. But Victor doesn’t know what to do to make something worthy appear on paper in front of him. The ideas shut down before Victor can even get a concept of what they can be, and he finds himself staring at blank canvases more often than he likes.

They make their descent down the hill and Victor glances over to the skating rink. During the daytime, the rink is filled to the brim with young children learning to skate with their families. As the evening rolls in, couples flock to the rink for dates and groups of kids from the nearby college come to hang out. Tonight, however, there’s only one person out on the ice.

From this distance, Victor can’t see their face all that well. But there’s something about how they move on the ice that belongs all to themselves. They move languid and slow, losing themselves in their thoughts and the music playing through their headphones on their head.

Victor draws closer to the rink, mildly captivated by the sight. He reaches the far southern wall as the figure – he sees now that it’s a young man – glides backwards and then sharply turns on the inside edge of his skate. He runs his hands down the sides of his body and Victor’s breath hitches in his chest at the movement, slow and sensual.

The man runs his hands back up and wraps his arms around himself, pushing forward with his right foot to gain some speed. His throws one arm up as he goes into a right forward outside counter and exits backwards on his right inside edge, holding one hand to his earphones to keep them steady. Triple turn, cross over with the left, triple turn and Mohawk from the back inside edge. Makkachin is bracing himself up against the wall, trying to see what it is that has Victor practically halfway over the wall as his owner marvels at the skater’s movements.

He hasn’t seemed to notice that Victor is there ogling as moves to the further edge of the rink with each step and turn and glide. He leans his weight onto the right edge and enters into a triple loop triple toe combo, before his legs move wide open into a spread eagle on the inside edge and god, that sexy curve of his back!

Victor yanks his notepad out from his pocket and flips open to a clean page. He fumbles with his pencil and quickly begins to sketch the pose while it’s still fresh in his mind. Long strokes to elongate his legs and curvy lines for the turns with his hips and his arms that move with a ‘come hither’ motion.

He flips to a new page every time he finishes one rough sketch to move onto another, bracing himself against the wall when he feels his knees trembling from standing for so long. In hindsight, he should have dressed way warmer than just throwing on this thin jacket. He feels his lips drying from the cool air and he sees the way how the lines are becoming more and more shaky from his trembling fingers.

But he just can’t stop now! Not with inspiration in living flesh demanding Victor to capture each movement, each jump, each spin as he slinks and ebbs over the ice. Victor ignores the way his jaw chatters and the blistering feeling in his hands growing numb from the cold as he continues to flip to a clean page and draw, mentally demanding his body just allow him to do this and not allow this inspiration to slip from him again.

Unfortunately, as the skater goes into a flying camel spin and Victor feels his hand cramping, Makkachin’s paw gently digs into his calf. Victor tears his eyes away from his notepad to look at his companion, who is whimpering and shivering just as much as his owner. Victor’s eyes grow remorseful; it’s one thing to force himself to withstand the cold, it’s another thing to put Makkachin through it.

He gets down on one knee and runs a hand through Makkachin’s fur, temporarily warming his hand for a moment as he rubs along his back and behind the ears. “Right, we should get home. We’re not dressed for this weather, huh?” Victor says, teeth chattering as he smiles. He rises back to his feet and tucks his notepad and pencil away, patting his stiff hand against his thigh and begins to walk away with his thoughts swirling and buzzing around his head.

When they return home, Victor turns on the heater for Makkachin to get comfortable and for his hands to thaw out. The second he feels his blood circulating and warmth beneath his fingertips, he digs out his larger sketchbook from underneath his sofa and a few sets of pencils.

The ideas are fresh in his mind and they flourish as he moves the nub of the pencil over the paper with more ease than he’s had in a while. He doesn’t bother to look at the clock, too entranced by filling the page with an image of a figure basking in the moonlight, moving like they are floating on air.

Victor will be lying if he says he isn’t curious about the other man. From his distance, Victor couldn’t see his features up close. He only knows the curves of the man’s body from the way his practice gear clung to his frame. He wonders what does his body look like underneath those clothes and if there is softness to the curves of his hips, or toned muscle as he stretches his legs out with kicks and spins. Does he usually skate there? Does he skate alone by himself or is he there with the usual crowd? Is he doing this as a hobby or is he training for a competition? Is this a one-time thing? Will he be there tomorrow? 

Victor’s eyes begin to grow too heavy for him to stay awake and add any finishing touches to the creation on his lap. He falls asleep as morning begins to dawn and the red hues of the sun filter through his window, and dreams of the man gliding on the ice in shades of watercolors.

 


 

Victor bursts through the smoothie shop and announces to all three people inside, “I found my inspiration!”.

He can see that Yuri is ignoring him - or at least trying to act like there isn’t a tall Russian man with horrible bedhair in the entry way - as he hands the customers their change. Victor marches up to the front counter and braces his hands against the green surface top, eyes bloodshot from oversleeping.

“I found,” Victor says slowly, “my inspiration.”

“What do you want me to do? Give you a fucking cookie?” Yuri asks sarcastically and Victor smiles.

“No, but you can give your big brother a ‘Strawberry Kiwi Twist’,” he says. Yuri furrows his eyebrows and juts out his lower lip in a pout.

“I hate making that drink.”

“But you’ll do it for your big brother that loves you so much, won’t you?” Victor fawns and Yuri rolls his eyes. Victor fishes out the needed money from his pants pocket and hands it to Yuri, who takes it and begrudgingly unfolds and straightens each bill before ringing up the order and placing it into the register.

Yuri turns and sets out to begin working on the drink at a fast pace to get Victor the hell out of here, while Victor rests his back against the counter and crosses his arms. “He’s a figure skater,” Victor begins, when it becomes obvious that his brother isn’t going to ask him just what gave his inspiration back, “I saw him last night at that outdoor rink in the park when I took Makkachin out for a walk. He’s really good. Really good.”

Yuri makes a grunt and Victor doesn’t know if he’s really listening to him, or if he’s getting irritated with the blender again. Since the teen punches the machine with his fist, Victor guesses it’s probably the blender. He continues anyways.

“I drew so much last night. I still have ideas for what else I want to create just from the rough sketches of him, but I need to stop by the store to get some more supplies. He moved so beautifully, Yuri. You should have seen him. His spread eagle – his spread eagle-”

“Why don’t you have any adult friends to talk about this instead of bothering me at work? I already hate this place, I don’t need to hear you talking about some random guy while I make your stupid drink order with this stupid-” Yuri’s fist connects with the blender when he sees that the ice still hasn’t been blended properly. “God! No one uses these blenders anymore! I bet Java Hut doesn’t have to put up with this crap!”

“And how he was moving was just so sexy. He had headphones on so it’s not like I could hear the type of music that he was listening to, but it must have been something like a tango number. Something with a lot of passion as its driving force. He skated like he was trying to seduce an invisible lover watching him and hold their attention for the entire night. I probably would have stayed and sketched him the entire time he was out there too-”

A drink slams down in front of him. “Strawberry Kiwi Twist. Thank you for coming, have a nice day,” Yuri recites in a deadpan voice and face that screams for Victor to just ‘leave him alone’. Victor blinks, then takes the drink in his hand and a napkin to wipe up the trails along the sides.

“Tell Mom I said hi,” Victor says and Yuri rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, yeah,” Yuri grumbles. Victor spies a window of opportunity, and quickly leans in to give Yuri a small peck on the forehead underneath the standard lime green uniform hat.

Yuri screams bloody murder, swatting at Victor’s arm with his cheeks flushed red. “Get out of here! You’re so embarrassing!” he yells and Victor laughs, dashing out the door before Yuri can try to wrap his hands around his brother’s throat.

Victor arrives back at his studio about twenty minutes later after stopping at the crafts store and leisurely strolling through the park to check if the skater might be there amongst all the children. When he enters, Makkachin jumps around his legs in that eager little way to let Victor know he wants to go outside.

Victor shakes his head and drops his supplies in his workspace. “We’ll go out in a little bit,” he tells the poodle, and grabs a squeaky toy from a box on a shelf right above his easel. He gives the rubber ball a firm squeeze and it lets out this shrill wheezing noise, Makkachin’s ears immediately perking upwards.

Victor gives it a gentle toss and Makkachin makes a dive for it, scampering after it as it rolls under Victor’s small dining table used more for spreading junk mail out on it than eating food on, and into the kitchen.

Victor chuckles, taking a seat on his couch and grabbing his sketchbook to continue the work he started last night.

He adds a burst of color and outlines the figure on paper flying and twisting into the air. He uses reds and yellows and oranges to create a warm piece of a male figure posing sensually against an explosion of fiery colors. He draws more figures and tries to invoke that same feeling he had when he watched the skater into his pieces, but is finding it difficult with most of these figures not having a face. The shape and lines of the figures has the sexuality he witnessed from the skater, but Victor feels it’s rather incomplete without a face to match with.

He takes a sip of his smoothie – which less Strawberry Kiwi Twist and more ‘weird, watered down concoction that sort of tastes like strawberries and kiwis’ – and glances at the clock hanging on the far wall in the direction of his bedroom. It’s not around the same time he left last night, but he wonders if he can catch the skater before he arrives and ask about possibly posing for a few pieces.

He works on some pieces using left over pastels, finishes off the disgusting elixir his little brother made for him out of love, and warms up some leftover pasta from two nights ago to inhale down in a hurry.

He grabs a heavier coat, his scarf and gloves, and stuffs his needed supplies into his messenger bag to sling over his shoulder. “Okay, come on Makkachin,” Victor calls out, listening to the sound of the ball wheezing before Makkachin scampers to his side. He smiles fondly at his dog, grabs his keys and both head out the door.

Victor moreso runs than strolls to the park with Makkachin eagerly following behind him. They hurry down the path, Victor ushering apologies to the people he almost runs over that are casually walking through the park on this quiet night. Victor nearly falls as he rushes down the hill, and sure enough there he is. The same skater in the middle of an empty rink skating dreamily along to the music in his ears.

Victor this time, takes a seat on a bench directly in front of the rink and underneath a lamp pole, giving him a much needed source of light. Makkachin hops onto the bench next to him and takes up the rest of the space as he lies down. Victor doesn’t mind, placing his bag in between his legs and fishes out his sketchbook, pencils and erasers to balance them all on his lap.

He hasn’t been spotted yet by the skater and Victor isn’t as close as he would like to be, but he can make out a lot more of the skater’s features than before. Silently, Victor begins to draw. His eyes continue to flicker up and down, back and forth, observing the skater and his movements before he translates it onto paper and adds more detail and more of Victor’s own unique touch to it.

The skater enters into triple axel, triple toe combination and turns outwards, bending forward and raising his free leg upwards in a charlotte spiral as he glides along the far edge of the rink away from Victor. Victor hums, drawing the leg a little bit straighter than how the skater is currently holding it, before he goes back and observes him.

He’s finding that the longer he spends out here, the longer he spends himself just watching the skater. He certainly moves with grace and has a sensual air about him that makes you want to watch and draw you in, but there’s also something like naivety hidden in the way that he does his spin combinations and exits on the inner edge of his skates, retreating farther and farther away from wandering eyes.

He flips to another page and continued to draw as the ideas filled his head and his hand moves with confidence as he fills the page up and runs his pencil down till its dull. He discards the dull pencil and grabs another one to continue, shading in the night sky above and the bright moon that silhouettes the skater.

The skater moves forward towards the center of the rink from behind and his feet splay apart momentarily as he sets up a jump. He looks over his shoulder and Victor’s eyes immediately find themselves locked with big, chocolate brown ones.

Oh.

The skater takes off into a Salchow jump, overrotates, comes down with too much weight on the outside edge of his right foot, and crashes hard. He slides forward towards Victor, his headphones hitting the edge of the rink with a tiny thud. Victor is immediately on his feet, his supplies falling onto the ground as he runs to the wall.

“Are you okay?!” Victor calls out and the skater quickly scrambles to his feet, grabbing his headphones and meeting Victor’s gaze yet again with their faces only a few inches apart from each other.

Oh.

He’s really cute.

Although that bloody nose doesn’t look too good.

His face is round and soft and his eyes are wide with shock and confusion. His hair is just as black as the night and pushed back in a way that Victor finds extremely attractive. He looks young, definitely not young like Yuri but not as old as Victor is. Maybe a few years younger than him. God damn, he’s cute.

Both of them kind of just stare at each other, blood still spurting from the skater’s nose and no one moving an inch from where they stand. Five minutes into their awkward stare down, Victor raises his hand and waves, thinking that if he can make this encounter any less weird and uncomfortable, he should start by introducing himself.

“I’m Victor Nikiforov,” he introduces and smiles, though he’s cringing on the inside at how he sounds like some tacky salesperson ready to make an offer that you can’t find in any store. He reaches his hand out towards the skater, who flinches away. Okay, bad reaction. Victor’s heart picks up speed for some reason. “I’ve been watching you skate and I saw you last night skating and I was wondering-” Victor word vomits and the skater’s eyes grow as big as saucer plates.

He makes a sharp turn and fucking bolts towards the exit, one hand to hold his bloody nose while the other grips to his headphones.

Victor jolts in surprise. “W-Wait! Wait!” he yells and begins to run towards the exit, watching as the skater hurriedly shucks his skates off and throws them in his duffle bag. The exit is so far, farther than from where Victor is sitting. Makkachin jumps off from the bench and runs ahead of Victor, Victor reaching a hand out towards his dog.

“Makkachin, wait! You’re going to scare him away!” Victor shouts. The skater throws the bag over his shoulder and quickly unlocks a bike parked against the rental shack. He throws one look over his shoulder at Victor and Makkachin running towards him, then throws one leg over and pedals like mad.

The skater disappears into the night on the bike, Victor just barely catching him. He groans and hunches over, resting his hands on his knees as he catches his breath. 

Well, that went horribly wrong.

 


 

Victor arrives at the outdoor rink far earlier than the previous two nights with hot chocolate and donuts as a mild peace offering to the skater because Victor admits that he really fucked up last night, and nothing says ‘I’m sorry I scared you, I was just inspired by your beauty’ than liquid chocolate and tasty fried dough.

He sits and waits on the same bench he was on last night, watching an empty rink with no one skating on it. He drinks his own hot chocolate very slowly to try and preserve its warmth and eats one donut when he hears his stomach growl underneath the layers of thermals and sweaters.

He waits and waits and waits. People pass by him on their evening jog or their evening walk with their dogs. Makkachin watches each one that passes by with forlorn eyes, like he would rather be doing something else than sitting here waiting for a stranger like his stupid owner is.

They continue to wait. Victor does some doodles of Makkachin to keep him from checking the time on his phone, but the only poses Makkachin does is lying on his belly and giving Victor a look that screams ‘if we were going to sit out here this long, you should have brought my squeaky toy’. When he fills two pages up, he switches to drawing the remaining donuts meant for the skater to somewhat satiate his hunger.

After three hours, the hot chocolate becomes cold sludge and the tasty fried dough becomes overly chewy and not tasty at all. Trying to savor his drink doesn’t prevent his body from trembling and shuddering from the cold air.

Another hour later, the lights illuminating the skating rink shuts off, and Victor and Makkachin are sitting in darkness.

“Ah. . .maybe he’ll be here tomorrow,” Victor says with a weak laugh. 

So, Victor tosses the donuts that are stale and cup of cold misery into the trash. He runs his hands through Makkachin’s fur to cheer his dog up, or maybe to cheer himself up with Makkachin’s happy smile as he scratches behind the ears. “It’ll be a warmer night tomorrow. He’ll definitely drop by here tomorrow!” he tells Makkachin with a grin.

 


 

Except, the figure skater doesn’t show up tomorrow night.

Or the night after.

Or the night after that.

Victor tells Makkachin that he’s sure the figure skater will come by tomorrow night and they just have to be a bit patient and hey, he’s getting practice drawing landscapes and the night sky so it’s not a total waste, right?

Makkachin always licks Victor’s cheek when he tells him this with a strained smile, possibly out of pity for Victor’s delusions.

One week passes by since the incident. All Victor has to show for waiting outside in freezing temperatures for his muse is a stuffy nose, a sore throat, gripping headaches and a dawning horror that he might have screwed up way worse than he thought.

 


 

“It’s because you were being creepy and watching him. Anybody would have run away in that situation,” Yuri states simply to Victor who is slumped over the table at McDonald’s.

“I wasn’t being creepy. I was watching him and drawing him like a normal, law abiding citizen,” Victor says defensively, adjusting his face mask. He groans and rubs his eyes; fluorescent lights are not being kind to him right now.

“You say ‘law-abiding citizen’, I say ‘creepy stalker’. Like, you’re a twenty-seven-year-old man and this is how you approach someone?” Yuri asks with a sly smile and Victor sits up, snatching up the cream pie off Yuri’s tray.

“That’s it, I’m revoking your dessert,” Victor says and Yuri gapes. He lunges for it and Victor holds it out of reach, shaking the cream pie tauntingly above Yuri’s head. “You have a job, right? This ‘creepy stalker’ doesn’t need to buy his darling baby brother anything, but he does so anyways out of the kindness of his heart,” Victor says as he holds his chest with his other hand and gives a pathetic sniffle.

Yuri figures that this isn’t worth his energy or his sanity, so he sits back down and crosses his arms.

“Psh, whatever. It’s not my fault you were dumb. Why couldn’t you talk to him before you started drawing him anyways?”

“He looked so into it, I didn’t want to disturb him. Plus, the moves he was performing were so well done, I needed to sketch them out while the ideas were still fresh in my head. You know how I work,” Victor says and Yuri rolls his eyes.

“Yeah. Once ‘inspiration’ strikes you, you obsess over it for weeks until you finally get bored of creating the same thing over and over in different styles. I feel sorry for that figure skater. You already gave him a bloody nose and now you’re probably going to stalk him until you’ve had your ‘art fix’.”

Victor feels like he should be defending himself, but Yuri is probably right and can back it up with stories from their past that Victor forgot about.

Victor shrugs it off. “Anyways, if he’s there tonight-”

If,” Yuri interrupts with a snort and Victor narrows his eyes at him.

When he’s there tonight, I’ll apologize for startling him and ask him if he’d like to officially pose for me since you say I’m being a creepy stalker by observing him in a natural setting.”

“You make it sound like he’s some sort of endangered animal,” Yuri says with a roll of his eyes. “What if he says no?”

Victor rubs his chin and furrows his eyebrows. He didn’t think that far ahead. Honestly, he’s just hoping to at least get a name out of the other man for starters.

“Hmm. . .I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it,” Victor says eventually and laughs it off with a handwave. No need to think so hard about it. Victor knows that everything will just fall into place if he doesn’t try and rush it. He just has to keep that thought in the back of his mind. 

Just have to be patient. . .

 


 

Day twelve, still no signs of the figure skater.

Victor has improved with drawing scenery and backgrounds by drawing the layout of the rink over and over again and the cityscape behind it, but he’s honestly starting to grow tired of having to sit out here with Makkachin for about three hours in hopes that the guy will show up. He’s being pathetic right now. And also a creepy stalker like Yuri accused him of. A pathetic, creepy stalker whose nose is beginning to run from being exposed to the cold air for so long.

Victor yawns and gets to his feet, putting away his supplies and his sketchbook that has fewer drawings in it. “Come on, Makkachin. Let’s grab a coffee really quick and head home,” Victor mumbles, too tired to really form a sentence of coherent words. Or walk. His legs feel sluggish and numb and his nose is getting all gross and snotty.

He’s not going to bother coming tomorrow night, unless he wants to make this minor cold even worse. They wait at a stoplight for it to turn green, the coffee shop just a few feet away. It’s open late for the college kids, but it shouldn’t be a problem if Victor just swings by really quick, grabs his drink and leaves.

The light changes and Makkachin walks a few inches ahead of Victor, crossing first and waiting for his owner to follow him to the left. Victor can faintly smell the warming aroma of coffee beans in the night sky and he hums in content and breathes out a sigh of relief as he approaches and rounds the corner.

That’s when Victor crashes directly into a patron leaving the coffee shop and a tall, steaming hot chai tea latte becomes well acquainted with the front of his coat.

Makkachin jumps back to avoid the spill. Victor is thankful that he is wearing a fuckton of layers underneath, because a hot cloud of steam erupts in front of his face. He can only guess that the temperature of that drink must have been around the same as boiling hot lava from the volcanoes of Hawaii.

He doesn’t feel the burn as much, but he certainly feels a warm spot on his stomach. The only person that’s screaming is the one he ran into, a smaller male who dropped his duffle bag onto the ground to quickly grab the napkins out of his brown paper bag still firmly clutched in his right hand.

“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod,” he rattles, voice an absolute nervous wreck. He immediately begins patting Victor down and trying to absorb as much chai tea latte as possible while spewing out apologies, even though Victor was the one that mowed him over. Victor just stands there, too confused and exhausted to make much sense of the situation.

He glances down just as the man looks up at him to offer to pay for Victor’s dry cleaning and both freeze in place.

Victor recognizes those big eyes. Even if they’re now behind a pair of glasses.

Of course, another stare down ensues. But this time, Victor is ready and has a better way of making a first impression. And by better way, he opens his arms wide and yanks him into his body in a crushing hold, trapping him in place so the male can’t run away even if he tried.

The man gasps, face flushed as Victor draws his face closer and his hot breath ghosts over the male’s soft, plush lips. His eyes are wide in shock, unable to tear his gaze away from Victor’s eyes. He’s trembling in Victor’s hold, his stomach pressed up firmly against the coffee spill on Victor’s coat. He’s definitely softer, Victor thinks in his head. Right after the much louder thoughts of what the fuck am I doing???

“Please,” Victor says, voice quiet and the man gulps. “Let me draw you.”

He stares.

Victor stares.

Makkachin’s head looks back and forth between them, happily confused.

And of course, Victor’s nose chooses this time to grow all red and snotty.

 


 

After a couple of tissues are handed out, a chai tea latte is repurchased along with a tall hot coffee with two creams and four sugars, and a quick adjustment of clothes, Victor and the skater find themselves sitting outside behind the coffee shop in the shopping area overpopulated with heating lamps. Makkachin is splayed over Victor’s feet, while Victor keeps giving quick glances over at the skater squirming across from him at the small table.

He really wants to talk to this guy, but he seems so nervous to even be in breathing distance of Victor. A complete contrast to what Victor witnessed out on the ice. Is this even the same person? No, Victor knows those eyes. He’s been thinking about those eyes ever since they last met, and has tried time and time again to recreate a palette that encompasses all the colors needed to create that beautifully alluring shade. So why is he being so nervous right now and determined to keep his head down and shoulders hunched up to his reddened ears?

Victor takes a sip of his coffee and sighs.

“I want to apologize for startling you at the ice rink,” Victor says, desperate to get some conversation going. “And also for running you over and making you spill your drink-”

“But I crashed into you!” the skater says, looking forlornly at the stain on Victor’s coat. “Please, at least let me offer to pay for it to get cleaned. It’s such a nice coat and I just-”

“No, no. It’s fine!” Victor says with a laugh, waving his hand. “I barely wear this thing out anyways. It’s not like it’s my favorite coat.”

The skater averts his eyes. “But still-”

“More importantly,” Victor interrupts and leans towards the man, who instinctively leans back out of surprise. “I want to know if you would consider posing for my artwork. We can even discuss payment if you want it, and I won’t ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable with either. Just,” Victor’s eyes sparkle as he grabs hold of the skater’s hand, like he just needs to feel Victor’s energy and all the passionate emotions burning through his chest.

“When I saw you skating that first time, I was hit with such inspiration that I haven’t had in a long time. Just looking at you move like that set my heart on fire, and I’ve been coming to the rink every night in hopes of seeing you so I can continue creating more and more art. Ah! I think I have some in my sketchbook I have with me, actually!”

Victor releases the skater’s hand and sets his coffee down, hurriedly digging through his bag to fish out his sketchbook. He flips through a couple of pages until he lands on a picture he particularly likes, handing the open book to the skater to take in his hands. The skater takes a moment, staring at the picture Victor drew of him performing his step sequence. His eyes move over the page, following Victor’s curvy lines that evoke a sense of sensual movement.

“. . .This is me,” he finally says, dumbfounded.

Victor nods his head, grinning. “Yes, it’s you.”

The skater flips the page and stares at the drawing of him, then flips the page again to stare at the drawing of him on that page. The more he turns the pages, the redder his round cheeks grow. He looks up at Victor, hands trembling as he holds the book.

“Y-You drew all of these? Of me?

“Yes, yes! I mean, I have a lot more at home and I’m currently working on a painting as well-”

“But why?

Victor pauses, not sure where the man is getting at. “Isn’t it obvious? You were beautiful out there; I couldn’t help but draw you. That’s why I want you to pose for me so I can draw you up close,” Victor says, voice firm. The man looks back down at the drawings and flips the page.

“. . .You’re serious.”

Victor frowns. “Why wouldn’t I be?” He wouldn’t be sitting out in the cold for four hours for the past week and a half if he wasn’t serious.

The man pushes his glasses that’s slipping down his nose back up. “I just. . . are you sure you want someone like me to pose for you? I’m not. . .I’m not exactly model material or anything-”

“Yes. I want you,” Victor answers quickly, but then rubs the back of his neck. “But I want you to agree to it on your own terms. I don’t want you to feel like I’m twisting your arm into doing this-”

“N-No, I would like to! But I just don’t think it’ll be anything worthwhile-”

You will?!

Victor nearly knocks the entire table over as he leaps up from his chair, grabbing hold of the skater’s hands and yanking him forward. Victor grins from ear to ear, kissing the skater’s bare knuckles that are cold and trembling. “Thank you. Thank you,” Victor breathes over his skin, hot and heavy and ohsograteful.

The skater yanks his hands away and immediately places them back into his lap, turning his face downwards. Ah, well, Victor’s sure they’ll become more intimate through this process and he won’t be so jumpy around him for long.

Victor sits back down in his chair and gets his cell phone out from the pocket of his jacket. “Let’s see, we can probably start next week if you’d like. And we can also work out payment and how much you’d want – I need to start working on a theme for this. Plus, I need to call my friend and see if he’s planning an exhibition I can participate in – hey, can I have your phone number?” Victor fires off all in one breath.

The skater opens his mouth to offer some sort of response, but a low growl silences him and he holds his stomach.

“Ah,” Victor pauses, “have you had dinner yet?”

“No,” the skater admits.

“Do you want me to buy you something? I’ve kept you out her longer than you were planning-”

“No, no, no!” the skater quickly says, waving his hands. “You already bought my drink, you don’t have to buy me dinner too,” he says and gives a timid smile. “Um, if I give you my phone number, do you think we can talk about this tomorrow?” he asks and glances down at the coffee stain on his shirt from Victor forcing him up against him, “Preferably when we’re both not covered in coffee and freezing?”

Victor chuckles. “Yeah, that sounds like a good plan!”

He hands the skater his cell phone and the skater does the same with his. Victor inputs his contact information and also a couple of fun emojis after his name, before he hands the phone back and accepts his phone from the skater. He looks over the contact information, eyes crinkling as he reads the name of his current muse.

“Yuuri Katsuki?” Victor asks. He nods, adjusting his glasses as he does so. Yuuri Katsuki. Yuuri Katsuki. Victor sounds out the name a couple of times, enjoying the way it sounds on his tongue. He chuckles, going back to his contacts.

“I have a little brother named Yuri,” Victor says, tapping Yuri’s contact and showing Yuuri his photo.

Victor remembers the day he took it. It was an early Sunday morning and when he went to get Yuri for breakfast, his brother just looked so peaceful and vulnerable that he just had to take the picture. Unfortunately, Makkachin accompanied Victor at the time and assumed that when Victor took out his phone and aimed it in Yuri’s direction, that Yuri should be awake and properly ready to take the photo.

So Makkachin, being the kindhearted canine he is, pounced on Yuri to wake him up with a jolt. Yuri screamed like someone was stabbing him with a knife, and Victor quickly snapped the photo.

It’s by far the ugliest picture Victor has of Yuri, but his brother’s facial expression is just too funny for Victor to delete it. Plus, it’s not like Yuri will see the contact photo he saved for him, so Victor doesn't feel a particular need to delete it.

Yuuri stares at the photo, trying to come up with words to describe it. “He’s. . .cute,” he eventually says with a smile and Victor smiles back. Yeah, he’s going to like this guy. He’s sweet and cute and makes Victor want to draw and paint until his hands fall off his wrists.

Victor pockets his phone and both rise to their feet, Makkachin moving to stretch his legs.

“Do you happen to live close by?” Victor asks and Yuuri bites the inside of his cheek.

“Um, not that far. Do you?”

“I live a couple blocks away.”

“Ah.”

More silence. Yuuri twiddles his thumbs, biting on his lower lip. “Um, well thank you for buying my drink. And I’m really sorry about your coat-”

“It’s fine, it’s fine~” Victor reassures for the twentieth time.

“And I hope things will turn out okay with me posing for you,” Yuuri says, gently scuffing the tip of his right shoe into the brick pavement. “I-I’ll try my best!”

Victor smiles. “Yeah, same here. And like I said, I won’t ask you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. We can hash out what you’re fine with and what you’re not tomorrow too, if you want.”

Yuuri rubs the back of his neck. “Well, as long as you’re not planning to do something creepy like. . .murder me and use my blood as paint or something, haha. . .” Yuuri says with an awkward laugh and Victor rubs his chin.

“Of course not. Blood will look terrible on a canvas.”

Yuri has told him once that there is a time and place for dark humor. This clearly isn’t that time.

Yuuri stares at Victor with his smile frozen on his face, while Victor wonders if he should quickly apologize and offer to buy Yuuri dinner to convince him he’s not some serial killer.

But eventually, it seems Yuuri gets the joke and laughs a genuine laugh. The tension that zapped through Victor’s spine in that moment has now melted away, a warm feeling in his stomach appearing as he laughs along with Yuuri. Yeah, he’s cute. Definitely cute.

They depart a few minutes later after Yuuri promises to call after he gets off from work to see about when can he start. He also stops to pet Makkachin before he leaves, because he reminds Yuuri of his puppy he had when he was younger. Victor watches him depart in the opposite direction he needs to leave for his own studio, and then continues on home himself with an extra bounce in his step and that bubbly warm feeling still lingering in his stomach.

 


 

“He agreed?”

“Yes.”

“He voluntarily agreed?” Yuri asks again, like there is absolutely no way.

Yes, he agreed.”

The boy leans back into the couch cushion and narrows his eyes. “What did you do to him? Did he knock his brains out when he face-planted on the ice or something?” Yuri questions.

“He says he wants to do it. I’m offering to pay him too so he might be looking for some extra money,” Victor says. He checks his phone for possibly the fortieth time to see if Yuuri has texted him back, but so far has had no message come through. Victor promised himself that he’s not going to act too eager about this. Yuuri is very delicate and shy; he doesn’t want to scare him away again when he finally has him all to himself.

Yuri gets up from the couch and strolls over to look at Victor’s current painting of Yuuri. It’s very simple, an extreme close up of Yuuri’s face from Victor’s memories last night, with only his facial features visible and the eyes being the most prominent.

“And this is him?” Yuri asks. Victor nods his head and Yuri stares at the painting a little bit longer. “The guy that you said shares my name? Your ‘inspiration’?”

“Yep.”

Yuri hums and judges Yuuri’s face as painted by Victor for a couple more minutes, then shrugs. 

“Meh, he doesn’t look like anything special.”

 


 

Yuuri Katsuki is twenty-three years old. That’s one of the first things Victor finds out about him when Yuuri finally texts him back and offers to meet up at the park again. Victor also finds out over some hot chocolate and pastries Yuuri bought from the coffee shop, that Yuuri is a recent college graduate with a major in organic chemistry. Which, okay, is 100000x times a lot more impressive than Victor’s art major, and he doesn’t believe that Yuuri can possibly get more attractive. Brains and beauty, what a package.

He’s currently living with a roommate and he works at a bookstore, occasionally helping out at his family’s inn whenever they need the extra hands. Yuuri recommends Victor tries their hot springs if he’s ever down in the countryside.

He’s been skating ever since he was little and has also won quite a few junior championships, but never went professional due to concerns about how his parents could pay for the costs. He skates at the outdoor rink and also at Ice Castle, which is conveniently located near his apartment building, but doesn’t offer the same ambience that the outdoor rink gives.

They hash out working agreements and times that they can meet up so Victor can draw Yuuri as he skates. They also make agreements for Yuuri to come to Victor’s apartment to pose for still art as he tries to tie together a theme of some sorts.

After their meeting, they head down to the outdoor ice rink where there’s more people on the ice than normal. Yuuri didn’t bring his skates and Victor didn’t plan on drawing anything, so they both sit on the bench and watch everyone go around and around the ice rink.

Makkachin, Victor’s ever faithful companion, has his head rested on Yuuri’s knee and Yuuri’s hand is gently stroking the curly fur atop his head. It doesn’t surprise Victor how Makkachin has taken to Yuuri; Makkachin has always been a very friendly dog and Yuuri has a very friendly aura about him. One that draws Victor to him in curiosity and wonder how does Yuuri’s personality shift so much when he performs on the ice.

“Yuuri, are you seeing someone?” Victor asks. Yuuri looks up from petting Makkachin.

“Huh?”

“Are you dating anybody right now?”

“H-Huh? No, I’m not,” Yuuri says and Victor scoots in closer on the bench.

“Do you have an ex?”

“No.”

“A secret lover?”

“Wha - no!” Yuuri stammers. “I’m 100% single. No secret lovers or ex’s. At all,” Yuuri finishes lamely and Victor hums.

“When I saw you skating that one time, it looked like you were trying to seduce someone watching you. You weren’t thinking about anyone in particular when you were moving like that?” Victor asks and Yuuri hunches his shoulders, glancing over towards the ice.

“No. . .”

“. . .Ah, so you’re just naturally sexy then,” Victor says, nodding his head.

“No, no, no. Me and ‘sexy’ are. . .” Yuuri waves his hands into this shape and gives an awkward chuckle like it’s supposed to signify something. Victor doesn’t get it.

Yuuri turns to continue petting Makkachin and scratching behind his ears. “Anyways, I didn’t think anyone was watching me. I would have been moving a lot differently had I known you were there,” Yuuri admits and Victor hums.

“What would you have done differently?” Victor asks, leaning closer. He turns Yuuri’s attention back to him, gently holding Yuuri by his chin. “Would you have focused on making yourself look good and not make any mistakes?” Victor asks. His thumb rubs against Yuuri’s lower lip. “Or would you have fully let go and expressed yourself, regardless if a stranger was watching you?”

He feels Yuuri’s lower lip tremble under his touch, his warm breath ghosting over the tip of his thumb. He’s stunned, eyes unable to tear away from Victor’s. Victor moves his hand so now it cups Yuuri’s face and feels Yuuri’s skin grow warm against his palm. “I think I want to see you skate for me. I bet I can fill an entire gallery from a program you made for my eyes only,” Victor murmurs.

RING RING BEEP BEEP

Like a snap of the fingers to awake a person out of hypnosis, the chipper ringtone snaps Yuuri out of Victor’s trance. He throws his body backwards, flailing his arms so he doesn’t fall off the bench entirely. His face is scarlet red and he fumbles for his phone in his coat, answering it and holding it to his ear.

“Y-Yeah?! Hello?. . .oh yeah, i-it’s nothing. . .um, I’ll be back soon. . .oh, yeah, sure,” Yuuri says, running a hand through his hair and breathing hard. “Right, I’ll see you later,” Yuuri says, hanging up the call. He turns to Victor, face still flushed over the bridge of his noe and his cheeks. “Um, roommate called. Asked me if I’ll be back for dinner,” Yuuri explains.

“Oh. . .do you find your roommate attractive?” Victor questions.

Yuuri sighs. “No. He’s just a friend,” Yuuri states and Victor laughs.

“Sorry, sorry. You know, you can ask me about my relationships if you want. You know, build up trust and a connection with each other and all?” Victor suggests.

“Um, no. I don’t think I need to know all that,” Yuuri says and Victor cocks his head to the side, confused.

“You’re sure? I don’t mind.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

 


 

Their first week as artist and model goes by extremely quick, trying to adjust to each other’s schedules and work habits. Usually, Victor meets Yuuri outside of his work and both grab a quick bite to eat at the sandwich shop before they go to Yuuri’s apartment so he can change. Victor becomes acquainted with Yuuri’s roommate Phichit, who asks to follow him on Instagram since Yuuri is #socialmediachallenged and has yet to get one, and once Yuuri has all his gear, they head over to Ice Castle.

There’s a little bit of awkwardness at first; Yuuri doesn’t get into the same zone with Victor watching him at first and it shows through his skating with stiff spirals and choppy spins. But Victor is patient, and explains to Yuuri the types of emotions and scenarios he wants to draw that Yuuri is free to express however he likes.

Yuuri loosens up which each day, skating to music playing over his small speakers so Victor can get a better sense of the rhythm in Yuuri’s step sequences. He’s amazed at how versatile Yuuri is in style and rhythm; Yuuri easily transitions from that of a showman performing for the masses, to someone that skates and loses themselves in the music and ignores everything else around him. Sometimes Yuuri forgets that Victor is even there, which works completely fine for Victor since he wants him to move naturally, and sometimes Yuuri gets self-conscious if his choreography is enough to make Victor’s piece a good one.

Victor really likes drawing Yuuri. He likes watching the slow and lazy movements of Yuuri’s arms and the sudden surprising bursts of energy when he goes into a flying sit spin or a quadruple toe jump. Victor likes it when Yuuri challenges himself to give Victor as many dynamic poses to draw from as possible. He has a dozen drawings of Yuuri performing a double axel jump from different angles and has at least one drawing of Yuuri performing every spin. 

Yuuri is just so damn amazing to watch. And every evening when they depart and Victor goes home to translate his drawings into larger pieces with more color, he still feels the electric excitement in the base of his spine from watching Yuuri skate, and it lasts until Victor falls asleep to start the process all over again.

 


  

“So have you two fucked yet?”

“Yuri, he is my model. Who I’m paying,” Victor states very clearly, popping one pretzel bite into his mouth as they stroll through the mall in search of something Yuri can blow his paycheck on.

The teen shrugs. “That just makes it more likely for you to fuck him because you’re paying him. I’ve seen your Instagram pictures with him and it’s not like he’s totally hideous. So what’s taking you so long? It’s been a month.”

Victor pauses by a coin fountain, turning to give his younger brother a raised eyebrow. The kind that usually comes with a lecture attached.

“First off, this isn’t some depraved, sex story that Mom pretends she doesn’t read. This is real life, and what you’re saying will be considered sexual harassment by an employer. Second, if you were stalking my Instagram feed, you could have at least liked one of my photos. I always like the photos of you and Mila hanging out-”

“She only tags me in bad photos!” Yuri accuses.

“And that’s why I always like them! You always look so cute when you least expect it-”

Uuuuugggghhhhh,” Yuri groans aloud, turning on the heel of his boot. He stomps away from Victor with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jacket and Victor chuckles. He tags behind the boy and gives him a gentle nudge with his shoulder.

“I think that Yuuri is cute. But not in a ‘dating’ way,” Victor explains.

“Like a ‘fuckable’ way?” Yuri blurts out, and gets a few looks thrown his way that he counters with a ‘fuck you, you don’t have to listen to our business’ glare of his own. Victor briefly wonders how did his adorable baby brother get so crass and vulgar and loud.

No, not that way either. Like a. . .” Victor rubs his chin and thinks for a few seconds, “he’s like a ‘I just want to stare at you for a while because you’re so captivating to me’ cute.”

Yuri wrinkles his nose and sticks his tongue out. “Wow, that’s creepy. And gay. Really gay.”

Victor pinches Yuri’s cheek in retaliation.

“Yuuri is just my muse. Nothing more than that,” Victor says, continuing on past the shops. Yes, Victor knows that Yuuri is rather attractive, even if the skater himself doesn’t believe so. He does like the warm flush of Yuuri’s face whenever Victor asks to treat him to some coffee after skating. He may like the peaceful, serene expressions that form on Yuuri’s face as he skates and the way his body moves and twists with each movement across the ice.

He might love how whenever they have to make a quick stop at the art store before they head to the rink, Yuuri always geeks out over the model airplanes and space crafts and goes into great detail explaining the make and model to Victor. It all really just flies over Victor’s head and once Yuuri calms down, he apologizes for spazzing out in the first place, but he’s just so damn cute that Victor honestly can listen to Yuuri talk about airplanes and rockets for hours on end.

But just because Victor loves a bunch of Yuuri’s little quirks and think he’s beautiful and smart and Makkachin also adores him (which is a major plus), doesn’t mean that Victor should date him or anything. Because that would be unprofessional and. . .Victor is sure there’s another reason but right now, he just can’t think of it.

“Hey, Yuri,” Victor begins, turning to ask his brother something, but finding the boy is no longer by his side. He pauses and glances around, spotting Yuri a couple feet behind him standing directly in front of a window display.

Victor backtracks to where his brother is standing and takes a good look at what the teen is ogling. A vintage jean jacket, with silver spiked studs lining the shoulders and the cuffs, and a printed image of a tiger giving a mighty roar on the back.

“Oh my god,” Yuri breathes, voice trembling, “That’s so freaking cool!

He runs into the store quicker than Victor can even give his two cents about the jacket. Victor blinks, then sighs and smiles. He slips his hands into the pockets of his blazer and strolls in after, putting those thoughts of Yuuri into the back of his mind for now.

 


 

“Um, I know that I said I’d be fine with anything-”

“Except for the ‘murdering you and using your blood as paint’.”

Yuuri blinks and nods his head, tangling his fingers in the bottom of his knit sweater. “Um, but can I not. . .take my clothes off either?”

Victor looks from behind his easel at Yuuri sitting on the stool.

“Well, I figured that I’d start with your face and we’d get to the full body later. . .I’m not expecting you to pose nude or anything-”

“Oh, I thought-”

“No, no, I-” Victor scratches the back of his head. “Well, I thought about ‘passion’ being a possible theme I can pursue, but I don’t need to draw you in the nude to achieve the same effect,” Victor says and rubs his chin. Although, he’d be lying if he says he hasn’t thought about Yuuri’s naked figure.

For drawing purposes strictly.

Because the absolute last thing Victor wants to do is make things weird between them again because he can’t separate his lust from his art.

. . .Not that that’s happened or anything.

Yuuri looks down at his feet, bare toes against the wooden floor, and pulls his lower lip in between his teeth.

“Is it because you feel like you’d look unattractive without a shirt on or something else?” Victor asks and Yuuri shakes his head.

“Well I. . .I gain weight really easy. I’ve been keeping it off by skating, but I have some ugly stretch marks from it and,” Yuuri scratches his neck and gives a little laugh, “Well I didn’t think that will look good for a painting so-”

“Show me.”

Yuuri blinks. “Huh?”

“Show me. Let me decide whether or not I want to draw you with all your imperfections,” Victor repeats, serious.

Yuuri’s eyes widen, swallowing down a large lump in his throat. He gets to his feet, wrapping his fingers around the bottom of his sweater. He slowly lifts the sweater up and Victor’s eyes are blessed with creamy skin and a soft looking stomach. But just as Victor’s eyes drink in the sight, Yuuri immediately pulls the sweater back down.

“A-Ah, just,” Yuuri pauses and takes off his glasses, setting them down on Victor’s overcrowded coffee table. He sucks in his breath, thinking about this way too hard. Victor rubs his chin, trying to think of something that can put Yuuri a bit at ease, and the idea clicks.

“Here,” Victor says, rising to his feet. Yuuri watches him, eyes widening as Victor easily peels off his own shirt and tosses it off to the side. “Now you’re not going to be the only person shirtless, so you won’t feel so silly!” Victor says happily.

Yuuri doesn’t take off his sweater. In fact, he just stares at Victor. His eyes obviously roam all over Victor’s torso, up and down his arms and lingers on his chest, before it goes down his abs and outright ogles Victor’s hipbones. Victor stands there for a few minutes, waiting for Yuuri to move or say something or blink, and then claps his hands. “Yuuri!” Victor calls out and Yuuri jumps, face growing scarlet.

“H-Huh?”

“Does this make you feel a little bit more comfortable?” Victor asks, gesturing to his shirtless form.

“Uh. . .I don’t know. . .” Yuuri mumbles distractedly, tearing his eyes away from Victor’s body like it’s so painful to gaze at him. Victor rubs his chin, then places his hands on his belt buckle. He unfastens it and begins to unbutton his jeans until he hears Yuuri yell out for him to stop. Victor looks up and Yuuri has his hand over his eyes.

“What are you doing?!” Yuuri screeches and Victor smiles.

“Well, they say if you’re nervous you should try and imagine people in their underwear so you don’t look as silly. So I just figured-”

“No, no. I’ll take my sweater off. Just,” Yuuri’s hands slide over his mouth and he gives a deep inhale. Victor raises his hands away from his pants and he sees Yuuri’s shoulders visibly sag with relief. The figure skater swallow down another breath of air, then pulls his sweater up over his head and rests it on Victor’s couch.

Yuuri is definitely toned, yet somehow he still looks very soft and pliable. Victor also sees that Yuuri blushes with his body, since a small patch of red blooms out from his chest like a flower, spreading down over his navel and reaching out to his shoulders.

Awkwardly, Yuuri swings his arms back and forth, looking everywhere else but at Victor. He runs both of his hands through his hair, pushing his bangs back and Victor sees it.

“Don’t move,” Victor says suddenly and he steps towards Yuuri, ghosting his fingertips over the muscles in Yuuri’s arms. He feels Yuuri is trembling from his touch, but he is still holding his pose and his fingers are still tangled deep into his raven locks.

Victor steps around Yuuri so he’s behind him, and looks at the curve of Yuuri’s back and moves his fingers to the nape of Yuuri’s neck. Gently, he traces his finger down Yuuri’s spine, through his shoulder blades and down till Victor’s hands touch the brim of Yuuri’s underwear slightly peeking out from his pants. Victor feels. . .something. It’s like the urge he felt when he first saw Yuuri skating, but it feels more intense as he runs his hands back over the span of Yuuri’s back.

He definitely wants to paint Yuuri like this, but there’s also something else he wants to do. He wants to keep touching Yuuri’s body and watch color erupt underneath Yuuri’s skin from his fingers. He wants to feel every soft curve and hard ridge of muscle in Yuuri’s back and around his hips where he sees the faint stretch marks. He runs his tongue over his lower lip and lets his eyes wander back up.

He stares at the back of Yuuri’s neck, finding it strangely sexy. Maybe because it’s always covered with a turtleneck or a scarf or a tight thermal does Victor find seeing this exposed piece of skin more erotic than looking at Yuuri shirtless.

“Um, Victor?”

“Hmm?” Victor traces his hand down Yuuri’s spine once more without giving much thought.

“Are we. . .are you going to start or. . .” Yuuri’s voice sounds unsure and conflicted. . .like he doesn’t want Victor to stop, but he doesn’t know how to ask for him to continue. Or maybe that’s just Victor’s brain imagining that type of tone in Yuuri’s soft and quiet voice. He pulls his hands away from Yuuri’s body and watches how Yuuri gives a sudden shiver.

“Yeah. Can you hold this pose for me?” Victor asks and guides Yuuri back onto the stool. “Kind of like you’re washing your hair, but your head is tilted backwards,” Victor further explains. Yuuri leans back more, his back curving and arching upwards.

“Like this?” he asks and Victor nods his head. He goes back to his easel, looking back at Yuuri.

“Let me know if you start to get tired so we can take a break,” Victor says and Yuuri hums in acknowledgement. Victor nods his head and allows his eyes to follow the curve of Yuuri’s back one more time, before he focuses his attention on the blank canvas in front of him.

Five hours later, Victor places his paint down on tarp underneath him and drops his brush into a small soup can filled with water.

“Okay,” Victor says and Yuuri hunches forward, giving an exhausted sigh. Victor smiles. “Modeling not as fun as skating?”

“I didn’t know it was this difficult to stay still for so long,” Yuuri groans, getting to his feet to stretch and straighten his back. Victor rubs his hands over his thighs, paint dirtying his jeans. He’s still shirtless, since his shirt seems to have disappeared from its spot on the floor. Makkachin must have gotten it when he wasn’t looking and added it to the pile of missing laundry that Victor has yet to discover. It doesn’t seem to bother Yuuri as much as it did before, although Victor does know that Yuuri kept looking over at him while Victor painted and his gaze lingered on Victor’s left bicep and forearm that balanced his palette.

“Do you want to see?” Victor asks as Yuuri pulls on his sweater and grabs his glasses. Yuuri nods his head, crossing over to view the portrait.

Yuuri’s torso takes up the entire canvas and it looks like he is dripping with watercolors. A hue of reds and yellows and greens outline his body, while violets and blues and every color in between form the shadows on Yuuri’s body and outlines the firmness in his arms and his ribcage. Yuuri’s expression in the painting is placid, eyes shut and the length of his eyelashes slightly exaggerated. The rosiness of his cheeks is prominent, and his red lips are slightly parted as if Yuuri is breathing out a heavy sigh and his body just melts from it.

Yuuri is brushing his fingertips over his own lips, possibly wondering if he actually looked like this.

“What do you think?” Victor asks after Yuuri has had a few minutes to view the artwork. Yuuri bites his index finger and shrugs.

“It’s amazing. . .it’s. . .I look. . .it’s. . .” Yuuri waves his right hand around in the space between him and Victor, like he’s trying to pick out an invisible word to fill in the gap.

“. . .Sexy?” Victor suggests and Yuuri grows red. He nods his head and Victor looks back at the painting. “. . .Well, you are sexy. In a cute way. A cute-sexy hybrid. . .” Victor rubs his chin. Is there a word for that? Sute? Cexy? That sounds exactly the same as sexy though if the ‘c’ isn’t pronounced like a ‘k’ sound-

“So your theme,” Yuuri interrupts Victor’s random train of thought and the artist glances upwards.

“Yeah?”

“You said passion. . .but I feel something different from looking at this,” Yuuri explains, looking back at the painting. “It’s not as. . .intense I guess? It’s arousing to look at, but at the same time it feels like someone is experiencing something new. . .like they’re discovering their body for the first time.”

Victor looks back at the painting again, then looks at Yuuri.

“So when you look at this. . .you see something like a sexual awakening?”

“A-Ah, but I don’t really know! I mean, I’m not the art expert or anything here!” Yuuri stammers, but Victor waves his hands.

“No, no! I really like that!” Victor says and looks at the painting. “It’s still innocent, nothing crude or anything. But you can still feel something is happening there, like we’re intruding on something and secretly watching from a hidden spot,” Victor further clarifies and Yuuri nods his head. They both stare at the painting for a couple more minutes, Makkachin even padding over to take a look.

“. . .It’s funny. I feel like I should look away from it, but it’s me,” Yuuri murmurs and Victor rises to his feet.

“Well, soon a lot more people will be looking at it and forming their own opinions,” Victor says and Yuuri gulps. “I’m still talking with my friend about any exhibitions coming up. Once I find out the space I’m in and how many pieces I can display, we’ll work on putting together pieces that form a general theme. . .maybe I’ll use your idea to springboard off of, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh, no. No, go ahead.”

Victor pauses, then crosses his arms over his bare chest. “Yuuri,” he starts and Yuuri looks up into Victor’s eyes. “Is it alright if I put this in the exhibition?”

“. . .Of course it is. That’s why I posed for it in the first place,” Yuuri mumbles and Victor takes a step closer.

“You’re comfortable with strangers seeing this side of you?” Victor asks, voice low and deep in his throat. Yuuri tangles his fingers into his sweater again, gnawing on his lower lip.

“I. . .It’s not like they know me. It would be a waste if you create all this art and can’t display it cause you’re worried about how I feel,” he murmurs. “I’m not posing for them. . .I’m posing for you. . .”

How Yuuri breathes that last word out makes something sharp stab into Victor’s gut and heat rise deep in his ribcage, prickling at his skin. Funny, he doesn’t remember it being so hot in his apartment.

Yuuri runs his hand through his hair. “So um, I’m okay with it. With this. . .thing. . .” Yuuri says, gesturing to nothing.

“Yeah, this thing.”

“Yeah.”

They stare at each other in silence for a couple of minutes. Victor’s pretty used to it by now.

Yuuri inhales and claps his hands. “Well, I better get going!” he says with a laugh and leans down to rub Makkachin’s head. “Goodbye, Makkachin~” Yuuri fawns, nuzzling around Makkachin’s ears and around his neck, rubbing his hands up and down Makkachin’s back while Makkachin licks at Yuuri’s cheek.

Yuuri laughs and gets to his feet, wiping his face with the sleeve of his sweater before he turns to Victor. Victor holds out his arms expectantly.

“Do I get the same kind of goodbye?” Victor asks and Yuuri blinks.

“Maybe if you put back on your shirt?” he suggests and Victor places hands on his hips. “Or, you know, we can do a friendly handshake since this is just business and all,” Yuuri says, offering his hand forward like a stiff businessman that didn’t pose sensually for four hours without a shirt. It takes a moment, but Victor takes Yuuri’s hand in his grasp. Shaking hands is fine. It’s professional. . .but Victor also wants to pull Yuuri into his arms and do. . .something more. He’s not quite sure what that something more is, but he wants to do it.

They shake hands and Yuuri releases his grip, stepping over the mess of scattered books and bags of supplies as Yuuri makes his way to the door. Victor and Makkachin follow him, seeing Yuuri out as he slips on his shoes.

“So, tomorrow at the outdoor rink? The weather report says it’s not going to be as cold,” Yuuri suggests and Victor nods his head.

“I’ll buy the coffee this time.”

“You bought it last time, it’s my turn,” Yuuri insists.

“I’ll buy us coffee,” Victor says, firm and sure. The argument is over before it can really get started. Yuuri sighs, but gives a nod of the head and opens the door.

“Goodbye,” Yuuri says and Victor waves.

“Good night,” Victor calls out, Makkachin barking farewell. He watches Yuuri walk down the hall to the elevators, giving an extra wave goodbye as he sees Yuuri step inside and the doors slide shut. Victor closes his own front door shut, locks it and sighs, before he walks back over to the painting to observe it once again.

A sexual awakening. . .maybe he can pursue a theme that is sexual in nature, but still holds a trace of innocence and naivety. His eyes move over Yuuri’s figure immortalized in the art, over the muscles and the curve of his body. Those delicious looking lips and those long eyelashes. . .

. . .Wow, Yuuri’s gorgeous.

Victor stares and stares at the painting of Yuuri, longer than he needs to just evaluate his work and moreso drinking in Yuuri’s body and lines. He only moves when he feels Makkachin’s paw nudge at his calf and he jumps, seeing Makkachin holding his food bowl and looking up with shiny eyes.

“A-Ah, dinner time already?” he asks with a laugh. His own stomach growls in response and he scratches the back of his neck. Time really does fly when you watch paint dry, especially if the paint depicts someone attractive like Yuuri.

He bends down and takes Makkachin’s food bowl from the dog’s mouth, going into the kitchen to pop open a can and pour it in. He sets the bowl down and Makkachin already has his face shoved deep down into it. Victor runs his hand through Makkachin’s fur, giving his back a good scratch.

It’s fine if Victor appreciates Yuuri’s body in a professional and artistic manner. He’s not crossing any lines and he’s not acting out on anything. He’s absolutely fine with just admiring Yuuri’s body only on paper and on canvas. He’s fine with only looking with his eyes instead of with his hands. . .not feeling Yuuri’s warm skin beneath his fingertips is totally fine.

Victor repeats ‘this is fine’ over and over again as he stores the painting in a safe spot, warms himself up a meal to eat alone, polish up a painting of Yuuri skating, and falls into a restless sleep.

 


 

When Yuuri said that tonight would be a perfect night to go skating at the outdoor rink, everybody else had the same idea too.

Victor watches as people continually go around and around, filtering in and out of the rink once their sessions end and begin. There’s also a bunch of food stalls set up nearby and people sitting out on the benches and enjoying this bright and fun night. Yuuri is beside him, holding the last remnants of his shake Victor bought from him with one hand and his duffle bag with the other.

“I’m sorry, we should have got here sooner,” Yuuri apologizes, but Victor waves his hand and smiles.

“No, it’s okay. We skipped lunch so we at least needed to eat some dinner,” Victor says. It wasn’t really dinner since all they had was a tray of fries from McDonald’s and shakes, but it didn’t seem to matter to them. They wasted so much time just talking, about figure skating and artwork and that stupid, slasher movie coming out in theatres next week (Phichit’s pressuring Yuuri to see it with him and Victor casually volunteers to tag along and hold Yuuri’s hand if he needs it), that they almost forgot that they were still technically on the job.

Yuuri glances at Victor’s bag on his shoulder, heavy with art supplies. “But you brought all your things and I was the one who suggested we do this at the outdoor rink,” Yuuri says and rubs his chin. “I don’t even know if Ice Castle is open this late. I usually ask my friend if we can stay there, but I don’t know if she’s there right now-”

“Yuuri, it’s alright,” Victor reassures and rubs his hands together to gain some warmth. “Hey, we don’t have to let this night go to waste or anything,” he says and looks over to Yuuri, eyes shining with delight. “Do you just want to, you know, skate around like everyone else?”

Yuuri blinks, then turns his eyes downwards.

“I. . .you sure?”

Victor beams. “Yeah! I mean, I don’t have the stamina like you do to perform all those jumps and spins, but I can skate in a circle for at least an hour,” Victor chuckles. He sees the corner of Yuuri’s mouth pull upwards into a small smile, shy yet teasing.

“Come on, don’t talk like you’re an old man,” Yuuri chides and adjusts his grip on the duffle bag. “But let me pay for this, okay?” Yuuri asks and Victor shrugs.

“Alright.”

Yuuri nods his head, cheeks warm and red. He tosses the empty cup into the trash and Victor gives Yuuri his shoe size for skates, before the skater disappears into the crowd near the ticket booth. Victor rocks back and forth on his heels, digging out his cell phone to scroll through his Instagram feed. He sees that Mila and Yuri are hanging out at the arcade and Mila has once again tagged Yuri in an unflattering photo that Victor likes without any hesitation. Christophe is enjoying a candlelit dinner with his significant other and Phichit has posted about another ten pictures of him and his friend enjoying a concert.

Another photo pops up of Phichit on his feed, twirling around a glowstick between his fingers. Ah, make that eleven.

It takes Yuuri a while, but he eventually returns with a set of skates, two wristbands and a key. “Um, I got us a locker to put our things in. It’s big enough to hold my duffle bag and your supplies,” Yuuri explains, handing the skates to Victor as he begins to get his own skates on. Victor hums, unlacing his shoes.

“I’ll make sure to pay you back-”

“No, no! It’s my treat!” Yuuri interrupts and goes back to unlacing his shoes, blush spread across his face. “I, uh, it’s alright. Besides, the tickets were really cheap, so it’s not like I spent that much money anyways.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. I pointed you out and they gave me a senior citizens discount,” Yuuri says with the cheekiest smile.

Victor places a hand to his chest that suddenly feels too tight; a feeling that sinks low into his gut and ties it into knots. He knows this feeling now; it’s the feeling he had when he let his fingers move over Yuuri’s body. The intensity is stronger than ever and he feels himself grow warm from the inside out and heat his cheeks.

Victor must have taken too long to react, since the bright smile on Yuuri’s face is instantly wiped away and replaced with a look of sheer horror and awkwardness.

“I-I’m sorry! I was only joking! You’re not old or anything! You’re really young! Twenty-seven is still really young! I just – I didn’t mean to – I –” Yuuri stammers and Victor closes his eyes, smile curving onto his lips. He dramatically places a hand to his silvery hair and gives a forlorn sigh.

“How mean~ You’ve hurt me so, Yuuri. I don’t think I can recover from such a harsh blow,” Victor purrs and falls backwards. Yuuri’s arms flail outward and he catches the older man, holding him in his arms. Victor hums, rather content. Yuuri’s very warm. . .

“V-Victor!” Yuuri cries out and Victor glances up at him, so close to those big brown eyes swimming with worry and wracked with nerves. “Honestly, it was just a joke. I didn’t-”

Ah, he hasn’t realized. Victor smiles and raises his hand, gently brushing the back of his fingers against Yuuri’s cheek.

“Well then, I guess you’ll have to hold my hand for the entire hour,” Victor says like it is such an inconvenience, lilt in his voice and a twinkle in his eye. “You know, so the ‘old man’ doesn’t fall and break his hip or whatever.”

Yuuri blinks. “What?” he asks.

“Or maybe I can just get one of those balance tools and chase you around the rink with it,” Victor suggests with a big grin and Yuuri finally realizes Victor is just joking around. He closes his eyes and breathes out a small sigh of relief, before his lips curl into a smile and he gives a little chuckle. Victor begins to laugh too, reluctantly pulling himself from Yuuri’s hold when he feels he might be pushing this warm embrace for too long.

They return to lacing up their skates, stealing glances every couple of seconds and sharing quiet laughs about the joke that is still fresh in their minds. Once all laced up and showing their wristbands to enter, they take to the ice and move with the flow of the other skaters. Victor feels Yuuri’s hand slip over his own, hesitant at first, but with each turn around the rink growing tighter and more confident.

They go back to their conversation they had over their ‘dinner’, talks of poses Victor would like to draw Yuuri in as he skates peppered in between Yuuri fawning over the cute children learning how to skate and wobbling beside them. Yuuri talks the most during their time on the ice, Victor just listening and giving a nod when it’s appropriate. He finds that he likes Yuuri’s voice, how it fluctuates in volume when Yuuri talks about something passionate and he’s trying to keep quiet but just can’t help himself. Despite the noise on the rink, Yuuri’s voice is all that nestles in Victor’s ears. A warm ringing that echoes loud and that Victor hangs onto just like Yuuri holds his hand.

They laugh, they almost get ran over by a couple of punks skating far too fast around the rink and Yuuri does get knocked over by an inexperienced skater desperately trying to keep their footing. They take Yuuri and Victor down with them, and after sputtering out their apologies to the two, Victor and Yuuri laugh again and only hold each other’s hands tighter.

Eventually, he hears over the PA system that all skaters with green bands have about five more minutes left in their session before they must leave to make room for the next session.

“What? That couldn’t have been an hour!” Yuuri exclaims and Victor squeezes his hand.

“Want me to buy another hour?”

Yuuri runs a hand through his hair, smoothing it back.

“No. I probably should get back home anyways. It’s getting pretty late,” Yuuri mumbles. A couple passes by them, the woman giggling as she clings onto her partner to stay balanced. Victor glances down at his and Yuuri’s interlocked hands. He. . .kind of wants Yuuri to cling onto his arm like that. . .

But this is fine.

This is absolutely fine.

“We should get out now before everyone starts crowding the exit,” Victor suggests and Yuuri nods his head, allowing Victor to lead them towards the exit area. They take a seat by the nearby benches and begin unlacing their skates as a crowd of people shuffle behind them to get onto the rink. Victor steals a glance over at Yuuri’s hands, his knuckles rosy and fingers swiftly untying them.

“. . .Hey.”

“Hmm?”

“You always wear those fingerless gloves. You’re not cold or anything?” Victor asks,

Yuuri blinks. “Ah, no. I’m fine, really,” he reassures with a laugh and pulls off his right skate, covering the blade. “They don’t even feel cold since I was holding your hand the entire time,” Yuuri says with a smile. A few seconds later, Yuuri’s brain comprehends that he held Victor’s hand for an entire hour and his face turns scarlet. He goes back to unlacing his skates, lips twisted in embarrassment. Victor sighs; goddamn he’s really cute.

They get their shoes on and Victor returns the skates while Yuuri retrieves their bags. A few people have disappeared around the rink, but the food stalls are still open and still drawing people in with the smell of delicious fried and grilled foods. Victor licks his lips, glancing over to Yuuri as he points over at a nearby food stall with his thumb.

“Want to grab something really quick to eat?” Victor asks and Yuuri rocks back and forth on his heels.

“Yeah. . .yeah, okay.”

Victor orders them each takoyaki and pays for the food. They stand underneath the light and Yuuri watches the people ice skating, while Victor watches how Yuuri rubs his hands together every couple of minutes and the rosiness in his cheeks. When they get their food, they take the longer path through the park where there aren’t any joggers coming through. They walk side by side, eating in silence as they moved towards the street corner where they’ll depart on their separate ways.

A little voice in the back of Victor’s head is screaming that he desperately wants to walk Yuuri home. He knows that Yuuri doesn’t live that far away and it’s not like Yuuri takes a shortcut through some dark and murky alley where he can get jumped, but Victor just doesn’t want this night to end. Another voice, the voice of reason, rationalizes that it’s not like Yuuri is going to disappear forever once they reach the stoplight. He’ll see him on Monday when they get back to working on Victor’s art. . .back to model and artist instead of this. . .thing that they are now. This thing that involves holding each other’s hands, and laughing comfortably with each other, and the stabbing feeling in Victor’s gut that always appears when he sees Yuuri’s smile that he realizes he really likes. He likes this thing. He doesn’t want this thing to end.

“Um,” Yuuri’s voice pipes up, shaking Victor out of his thoughts.

“Huh?” he asks, hoping his voice doesn’t sound too startled and out of it. If it does, Yuuri doesn’t seem to pay any mind to it, or at least is nice enough not to comment on it. Yuuri is smiling that soft and gentle smile that makes Victor’s skin prickle with heat, his eyes on his half-eaten tray of takoyaki.

“I had fun tonight,” Yuuri says and Victor smiles, elated.

“Yeah. Me too.”

“. . .We should hang out again sometime,” Yuuri suggests, voice a little bit quieter. Victor blinks; his brain has momentarily short-circuited.

“. . .Yeah. . .cause you know, it’s good to take a break every once in a while. Keeps the creative juices flowing and stuff,” Victor says with a laugh because he doesn’t have a fucking clue what he’s blabbering on about. It makes Yuuri laugh as well though, so Victor doesn’t care if he’s not making any sense whatsoever.

“So, would you want to hang out again next week? Something like this?” Yuuri asks. His eyes are brighter now, bolder and determined. It sends sparks up Victor’s spine.

“Yeah. Can I pick the place?” Victor asks and Yuuri takes another bite of takoyaki.

“Sure. Will I like it?”

“It’s going to be a surprise,” Victor says with a smirk, placing a finger to his lips. Yuuri cocks his head to the side in interest, then glances back in front of them as the streetlights came into view and they approach that damned stoplight far too quick for Victor’s liking. Yuuri presses the button for the light to change, turning back to Victor with the lights of the city illuminating him from behind. He looks like he’s glowing, like Yuuri is just this ethereal being that has decided to bless Victor with this moment in his life for only a few more seconds.

“I’ll let you know when I make it home safe,” Yuuri says and Victor nods his head. It’s on the back of his tongue now. Let me walk you home. Can I walk you home? It’s late, do you just want to just head to my place and spend the night- nononono

The light switches green and both cross, Yuuri’s eyes cast downwards, deep in thought. The reach the other side of the street, the smell of coffee roast filling Victor’s nose. He exhales the same time that Yuuri does, both shuffling their feet.

“Well,” Yuuri begins, shrugging his shoulders and exhaling a puff of warm air. “I should get going.”

“Yeah, me too,” Victor says, paying attention to Yuuri’s tongue as it darts out and wets his lower lip from the cold air. They stand and stare at each other for a few seconds, cars racing past them and cold air tickling Victor’s nose. Yuuri smiles and shudders out a little laugh, before he reaches out and wraps his arms around Victor’s torso in a tight embrace.

Victor hears Yuuri say goodnight, his voice muffled as he speaks against Victor’s chest, and he is already pulling away before Victor can even hug him back or just hold him in his arms to really enjoy the moment. Yuuri’s face is as red as a stoplight himself and he squeezes the strap of his duffle bag on his shoulder tight. “I-I’ll see you later!” he blurts out, turning on his heel and running away.

Victor watches him go, empty tray lined with sauce in his hand, and sighs. He tosses the tray into the nearby trash alongside the coffee shop and sticks his hands into his pockets, heading towards his home.

This is fine. 

This is okay.

 


 

Victor dreams about kissing Yuuri’s soft lips and along his cold knuckles that night, to which he forces himself to awake before the dream Yuuri’s eyes send him past the horizon where he can no longer look at the skater the same way.

Victor flops onto his stomach and tries to dream about something else, but it always ends the same way. The dreams all start off in some form of color that shift and twists into a figure. The figure melts away to reveal Yuuri waiting for him, sometimes clothed in his skating gear while other times completely bare and dripping with watercolors.

Victor will kiss all over Yuuri’s chest and up his smooth neck before he suckles on Yuuri’s lips. And every time, Yuuri will just crave more of Victor’s touch along his body. He forces himself awake, startles Makkachin as he tries to get into another position and attempt to go back to sleep again. In one dream, he’s kissing Yuuri on the ice, holding him nice and tight in a warm embrace. In another dream, he’s making out with Yuuri, hot and heavy on the floor of his apartment with paint spilling everywhere. With each dream, it gets harder for Victor to want to wake up from this. Yuuri is just so soft beneath his fingers and Victor can only imagine what kind of taste Yuuri is on his tongue. He bet he tastes like chocolate. Chocolate and coffee, cool mint and warmth.

He tosses and turns in his bed with each frustrating charge of want that wracks through his body. Makkachin eventually grows sick of getting woken time and time again by Victor’s restless form and retreats to the living room to sleep, which gives Victor more room to try and get comfortable. He feels a cold sweat breaking out over his skin and his hand desiring to move south when one particular dream had Yuuri breathe Victor’s name over his lips right before his tongue slips into Victor’s mouth. It’s all too much.

Victor tries to block out those dreams. He tries to satiate the lustful feeling in his gut as he thinks about Yuuri in bed now. He tries to repeat over and over that what their relationship is right now is okay. This is okay. This is fine. This is appropriate. This is fine.

But it’s not anymore.

Because now all Victor can think about is Yuuri’s smile, Yuuri’s warm embrace, Yuuri’s laugh, Yuuri’s voice. He wants more dreams of Yuuri that have nothing to do with art and everything to do with his desires. He wants to touch Yuuri. He wants to kiss Yuuri. He wants Yuuri.

The realization settles within his bones and cools his heated skin momentarily, his chest heaving up and down as the mantra changes in his head. This isn’t fine. This isn’t okay. This isn’t appropriate. This isn’t enough.

Victor Nikiforov wants Yuuri Katsuki.

Victor rubs his eyes and gives a long groan that ends with a quiet “Shit.”