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Hold Me Tight

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1.

During the mornings, Victor hugs like an octopus.

Or like a big Russian parasite that has icy feet and leeches warmth off Yuuri.

There’s no better way to describe it, Yuuri thinks with a defeated groan as he tries to rub away the remaining sleep in his eyes and simultaneously pry off the limbs clutching at his torso. It’s way too early in the morning, the first rays of sun barely peeking on the horizon and there’s an uncomfortable pressure in his bladder that’s begging to be relieved.

“Victor,” He croaks, voice still rough from having just woken up. Next to him, Victor is all but dead to the world, half his face buried on the pillow and half on the crook of Yuuri’s neck. It’s an adorably heartwarming sight as it always is every morning, with Victor’s face peaceful and his silver hair mussed from moving around in his sleep but Yuuri really, really has to go to the bathroom. “Victor, let go.”

“Mm.” Victor presses up even closer in response, refusing to open his eyes.

“Victor, come on.” Yuuri makes a stronger attempt to free himself, and the older man scrunches up his face in displeasure. “I have to pee.”

“Pee later,” Victor mumbles. When barely awake, his accent makes itself known, thick and heavy. It takes Yuuri a full minute to decipher what he said (well, half a minute, to be honest; the other half is spent marveling at the low drop of Victor’s voice) and then Victor is being pushed away again, Yuuri standing up before Victor’s hands can haul him back to bed.

“I’ll be quick,” Yuuri says and smiles when instead of answering, Victor grunts in annoyance, burying his face on the pillow Yuuri previously occupied.

When Yuuri comes back from the bathroom, he slides back in under the covers and lets Victor’s arms pull him close once more, smiling fondly as he hears Victor sigh in what sounds like contentment. However, as Victor’s feet brush up against the back of his legs, the smile fades and Yuuri makes an undignified noise.

“Victor!”

Victor’s laugh sounds too satisfied for someone supposedly asleep.

“You’re terrible,” Yuuri huffs out, trying to inch away from the clammy touch but Victor has latched onto him tightly with his limbs, caging him, and is grinning against the skin of Yuuri’s neck. “Honestly, why do you have cold feet? I’m the one who got out of bed!”

“It’s a talent,” Victor murmurs, brushing his lips on Yuuri’s pulse as some sort of apology. “It helps me get revenge on those who leave me with no one to cuddle.”

“I was only gone for five minutes.”

“I suffered greatly for five minutes.”

“You’re such a drama queen,” Yuuri says, turning to face him, and Victor laughs again, low and melodious in Yuuri’s ears. He ignores the fluttering sensation in his chest at the sound, and instead buries a hand into Victor’s soft hair, letting his fingers gently massage the scalp.

Victor gives a sleepy hum of appreciation, nuzzling closer. His eyelashes are long and beautiful with his eyes closed, fanned out across his cheeks. There’s the faintest smile playing on his lips, the soft kind that Yuuri only ever sees when they’re alone together. Yuuri’s heart skips a beat and he swallows back the lump in his throat. Victor is so unfairly breathtaking sometimes.

“Go back to sleep,” He whispers, feeling ridiculously overcome with adoration, and plays with Victor’s hair until his breath is even and deep. Victor’s feet may be outrageously cold but his palms are warm splayed against Yuuri’s back and Yuuri feels more loved than he’s ever been inside Victor’s embrace.

 

2.

In front of the Katsuki family, Victor is kind of shameless.

Not shameless in an obscene way, no. Okay, sometimes in an obscene way, too. But definitely shameless, because he doesn’t seem to care about whoever it is that’s present around them, Victor will touch Yuuri when he wants to touch him and nothing short of Yuuri’s “no” can stop him from doing so. And goodness knows Yuuri sucks at denying Victor anything.

They’re playing Jenga on one of the tables, Yuuri and his sister Mari, during a slow night at the onsen. It’s late and most of the patrons have gone home, so it’s quiet in the inn save for the two of them. Their father is still at the front desk, calculating the day’s sales, and their mother is holed up at the kitchen, putting away the last of the washed dishes.

“Damn,” Mari swears as she glares at the wooden tower, turning her head here and there as if it’ll help her decide better which block she’s supposed to move. She tugs at one of her earrings, a habit of frustration, and Yuuri grins. “You’ve gotten way too good at this, Yuuri.”

“I’ve learned some tricks while in college in Detroit,” Yuuri admits as he watches his sister struggle to remove a block, the tower wobbling dangerously before staying put again. Mari heaves a loud sigh, placing the block on top.

“Where’d you learn the tricks from?”

Yuuri smiles, a little smug, and confidently pushes at one of the blocks in the middle. Mari tenses but the tower doesn’t even budge as Yuuri removes the piece and stacks it next to Mari’s previous block. “From engineering majors.”

“Goddammit, that’s so unfair.”

Yuuri laughs. “It’s your turn, nee-chan.”

It’s then that Victor rounds a corner and walks into the dining room, pausing for a second at the odd sight before breaking into a wide grin. “Jenga!” He exclaims excitedly, dropping to a seat next to Yuuri and latching by his side. Yuuri almost smacks the tower down as he flails his hands to get his balance back. Victor’s not light by any means.

“Victor,” Yuuri says at the same time Mari collapses into laughter, “be careful.”

“No, no, you should have tackled him harder,” Mari argues, grinning at Victor. “You play Jenga?”

“I try,” Victor admits sheepishly, hugging Yuuri close and resting his silver head on his shoulder. Yuuri blushes a little, sending Mari a self-conscious glance but his sister’s focus is on Victor. It’s still a little ridiculous, how unfazed Yuuri’s family is with Victor and his antics, or with the fact that Yuuri is in a relationship with his childhood idol and coach. Yuuri muses he should just be grateful they’re not weird about it. “Yurio says I’m too excitable for the game.”

“Oh, that cute boy,” Mari sighs as Yuuri takes his turn again, “He should visit Japan again sometime. Tell him we miss him here.”

“I’ll pass on the message,” Victor says. His smile widens at the skillful way Yuuri removes a block, the motion of his hand smooth and steady as he places it on top of the tower. “Wow, I didn’t know you’re so good at Jenga, Yuuri!”

Yuuri preens at the praise.

“If only you had the same confidence on ice!”

Aaaand, there it is. Of course Victor won’t be able to pass up an opportunity to make a playful jab at him. Yuuri rolls his eyes with the tiniest of sighs, elbowing Victor gently. Victor’s mock pout of sadness is cute but Yuuri’s not about to tell him that.

“He’s too good,” Mari huffs out as she takes her turn, scowling as Yuuri shoots her a smile. When the stack shakes again, both she and Victor gasp in terror. “Victor, help!”

“Okay!” Victor’s free hand reaches up in reflex but Yuuri pulls it back before it can support the wooden tower.

“Cheating,” Yuuri complains. He goes ignored as the tower stills, and both his sister and Victor let out twin breaths of relief.

“I think it’s only fair,” Mari shoots back. “You learned tricks from engineering people.”

Yuuri arches an eyebrow. “The rules don’t say anything about that.” Next to him, Victor lets out a thoughtful hum. The older man presses closer until he’s practically glued to Yuuri’s side, until soft hair strands are tickling the sensitive area of Yuuri’s neck but Yuuri thinks none of it.

Mari huffs again, but relents. “Fine.”

They continue the game with a few protests and curses from Mari every now and then and extreme concentration from Yuuri. As the minutes tick by, the pieces on the lower levels start missing, and the tower gets more unstable. Victor presses impossibly closer.

The game is getting…difficult.

Not only because half of the pile is leaning sideways now like a small, wooden replica of the Tower of Pisa and Yuuri’s choices are becoming limited, but also because there is a very attractive Russian man breathing softly against his ear, sending shivers down his spine, smooth lips brushing against Yuuri’s cheek from time to time and clever fingers tracing patterns by his hips under the table and It. Is. Really. Distracting.

“Victor,” Yuuri tuts under his breath, brows furrowing as he focused on taking out a piece. Victor kisses his cheek. “Stop it.” Any other time, Yuuri might give in to Victor’s touches gladly but this is Jenga. Jenga. Yuuri has spent countless embarrassing times losing against Engineering Majors just so he can beat Mari at this game when he came back home.

Victor makes a questioning sound, somehow clueless of what he’s doing to Yuuri, and then proceeds to nuzzle his face against Yuuri’s throat.

Yuuri tenses, and the tower wobbles for the first time during his turn.

“Oh, oh!” Mari braces herself in excitement. “It’s going to fall—!”

It doesn’t, and Yuuri lets loose the breath he’s holding in.

“So good,” Victor murmurs in his ear, his embrace around Yuuri tightening for a moment, “You’re so good, Yuuri.” His voice is low, breathy, reminding Yuuri of their more thrilling nights spent together sharing a bed. Yuuri shudders.

He flushes immediately, and scowls. “Victor, I’m trying to win here.”

“I know,” Victor breathes out but squeezes Yuuri’s thigh, smiling when Yuuri jumps a bit in his seat and lets out a startled protest. “Win for me, okay?”

Yuuri looks at Mari again, feeling more than a little mortified at how Victor is blatantly flirting with him in front of his sister, but Mari can’t be bothered, apparently. Her glare is on the Jenga tower and nothing else.

She chooses a piece, takes it out carefully, and places it on top of the pile. The tower doesn’t even move an inch. Mari smirks. “Your turn, otouto.

Yuuri purses his lips as he takes his turn, weighing his options carefully and studying the stack. There’s a piece on the upper level that’s in the middle, another piece by the bottom part that’s already sticking out and is much easier to remove, but there’s also a piece near the side that seems safe to take out and there’s—

There’s Victor’s warm hand sneaking up his shirt.

Victor,” Yuuri hisses, face burning, “knock it off.

He pinches the back of Victor’s hand, heaving a sigh when the older man winces and takes it out. Yuuri ignores Victor’s pouting in favor of choosing the block at the bottom, keeping his hand steady. He’ll apologize to Victor later for the pinching but for now, Yuuri sticks out his tongue and concentrates, gently pulling the piece out of the pile.

It’s halfway through when the tower wobbles and Mari tenses up. Yuuri holds his breath, halting his movement. The pile becomes stable again.

“Come on, come on,” Yuuri chants as resumes taking it out. It’s so close, he’s so close to removing it, slowly, slowly

Victor bites his earlobe and Yuuri shrieks.

His hand jerks violently, shocked, and through his askew glasses, Yuuri sees the tower collapse into a mess of wooden blocks, crashing noisily against the table. His mouth drops open in both surprise and disbelief as Mari bolts up from her seat and whoops loudly.

Next to Yuuri, Victor is torn between chuckling and cooing sympathetically, pulling away from Yuuri to rub his back in consolation.

“Yes!” Mari throws her hands up in triumph, laughing. “I guess I win. Better luck next time, otouto.” Before she leaves Yuuri behind to stare at the Jenga pieces in utter defeat, Mari turns to look at Victor and smirks. She throws him an easy thumbs-up. “Good job, lover boy.”

Victor grins at her and returns the gesture.

Yuuri stares at them, incredulous.

What.

The.

Hell.

“Did you just,” Yuuri starts lowly, voice flat and eyes dead on Victor, “plot against me? With my sister?

Victor’s blue eyes are wide as they turn to him, blinking innocently. Too innocently. “What do you mean?” Victor asks, and then looks at the disaster of the Jenga tower and grins. He transfers to the other side of the table facing Yuuri. “Yuuri, play with me now!”

Yuuri closes his eyes, takes a calming deep breath, and plays with him.

Later, if Victor’s defeated wails sound like music to Yuuri’s ears and Yuuri seems a little too delighted in seeing his boyfriend lose for the third time around, then no one can really blame him, can they?

 

3.

In competitions, Victor’s hugs are fierce and passionate.

The lights are too bright, and the roar of the crowd, voices blending into and clashing terribly with one another, makes his ears ring. The chill of the ice seeps into his skin and settles deep within his bones as Yuuri clutches at the wall of the rink with a grip so tight, his knuckles are losing color.

I can do this, Yuuri tells himself. He takes a deep breath, releases it as a shuddering sigh. The current contestant attempts a triple Axel and lands badly, falling down on the rink. The audience’s echoing dismay cuts sharper into Yuuri’s heart than a skating blade cuts through ice.

Right, Yuuri thinks again, swallowing tightly. He feels cold, his fingertips are freezing, but his palms are sweating bullets and everything is awkwardly gross. I was wrong, I can’t do this.

He knows it’s just his anxiety talking. Of course, he knows.

Yuuri also knows he’s well-prepared for the competition despite his nerves, he and Victor literally practicing his program for hours on end until everything was smooth and perfectly in sync with the music, until his jumps were all beautifully landed. He hasn’t gotten this far with just mere luck—this was the result of months of rigorous training, effort and hard work.

That’s not to say Yuuri’s lungs aren’t starting to burn from the frigid air, his breath coming in short and stuttering. Not now, Yuuri begs himself, clenching his fists, not now, please. His confidence is a work in progress, his anxiety slowly getting better, but this must be a spectacularly bad day because all Yuuri wants to do is to curl up into a ball and breathe into a paper bag.

“Yuuri~!”

All of a sudden, there’s someone putting their arm around his shoulder, bumping against his side playfully. Yuuri makes a startled noise, wobbling on his skates, but Victor rights him before he can completely lose balance.

“Victor!” Yuuri turns to him in protest. Victor’s smile is bright and amused, and unconsciously, Yuuri lets out a shaky breath of relief despite the scare that just sent his heart racing. “I almost fell!”

“Don’t worry,” Victor says with a brilliant grin, “I’ll always be there to catch you when you fall, Yuuri.” He adds in a wink, one that makes him look dangerously charming, and Yuuri rolls his eyes, pretending not to know about the heat growing on his cheeks.

How Victor can keep saying those cheesy lines with such a straight face, Yuuri will never know.

“You look ravishing in that outfit,” Victor comments with a suggestively raised eyebrow. Yuuri pointedly ignores him. “Look at you, you are so hot, you’re sweating.”

Yuuri grits his teeth. He’s all too aware that he’s sweating through his thin costume. “I’m sweating because I’m nervous, you prick.”

He flushes into a deep red as soon as he swears, mortified at his words. “Oh god, no,” Yuuri groans out in embarrassment, burying his face into his sweaty palms. Next to him, Victor laughs in delight. “It just slipped out, I didn’t mean—Stop laughing, Victor, it’s not funny.”

“My, what a dirty mouth,” Victor grins, patting Yuuri on the shoulder. His hand slides up, staying on the side of Yuuri’s neck, and his thumb starts to rub soothing circles at the nape. The movement is delightful, and Yuuri can’t help but close his eyes. He sucks in another deep breath, slowly sagging against Victor.

“Yuuri,” Victor whispers, saying his name with tenderness far deeper than a coach should have for a student and it’s times like these that Yuuri appreciates the fact that both of them have always had a difficult time pretending they share nothing more than a professional relationship. He finds that he needs Victor’s reassurance right now more than ever. “Breathe with me, solnyshko.

Yuuri obeys. He keeps his eyes closed and breathes in time with Victor’s inhales and exhales, the thick cloud of doubt and fear in his mind fading little by little as Victor speaks low enough that only Yuuri can hear it, narrating the elements in his program.

“A quadruple Salchow in the second part of the program, followed by a sit spin,” Victor says, sounding as if he’s trying to recall them, even when both he and Yuuri know that he’s doing it for Yuuri’s sake, “After that…what was it again? Ah, yes, a triple toe loop and a triple flip combination.” Yuuri remembers this part, remembers the impossibly numerous times he’s had to do it in practice again and again. He remembers the memorable time Victor skated to the middle of the rink in his excitement to kiss Yuuri stupid when he landed both consecutive jumps cleanly. “And then, a—”

“—triple Lutz, and a combination spin for the ending,” Yuuri recites. He glances to the side, where Victor is smiling at him with the slightest hints of worry in his eyes, and Yuuri manages a brave smile in return. He feels better, if not a little chilly.

Yuuri braces himself as the contestant on the ice finishes his performance and the speakers announce his name next—it’s his turn to skate. Victor fusses with his hair in the last minute, smoothing out strands that stick out of place.

“Alright,” Victor says once he’s satisfied, “go seduce me, my sexy Katsudon.”

Yuuri wants to protest at the ridiculous nickname but before he can say anything, Victor is crowding into his space for their traditional “good luck” hug, squeezing Yuuri tight and strong, like Victor’s trying to transfer all his confidence and skating talent to Yuuri through touch alone. Any fear left in Yuuri leaves immediately and he sinks into the embrace, barely able to hug Victor back with his arms pinned to his sides.

“I’d kiss you good luck,” Victor whispers in his ear teasingly, “but I might end up causing a scandal.”

“Let’s not do that,” Yuuri says, feeling a little breathless as Victor finally lets him go. He looks at Victor, at the ocean eyes soft and warm on him, and nods. “Thank you,” he tells Victor. “Keep your eyes on me, okay?”

Victor smiles. “Always.”

Yuuri steps into the rink and skates with his arms spread wide and high, baring himself to the crowd and the audience goes wild. His step sequence is dazzling, his jumps all brilliantly landed. For a moment in his performance, Yuuri can almost swear he caught Victor wolf-whistling at him.

By the end of the night, he wins first place by a wide margin, and the minute they’re back to their hotel room, Victor rewards him with more than just a kiss.

 

4.

On cold nights, Victor is like a personal space heater.

It’s March, just a month shy of being one year since Victor first came to Hasetsu, Japan declaring that he’ll be Yuuri’s new skating coach. Though it’s supposed to be the start of spring, the snow outside is still heavy enough that Victor is entranced.

“It’s just like Russia,” Victor says with the barest hints of nostalgia coloring his voice, his blue eyes transfixed as they watch the snowflakes descend from the dark sky. From the side, Yuuri looks at him in turn with a mix of fondness and guilt.

Fondness, because how can he not be fond?

It seems to be Yuuri’s default emotion nowadays when it comes to Victor. The Russian man is achingly beautiful in the low light of the room, his features almost angelic as he stares up into the heavens, blinking slowly. He’s wearing the inn’s green robe, a thick blanket pulled over his shoulders to fight off the cold and he looks so warm that Yuuri has half a mind to snuggle right up next to him.

And guilt because, well…as thrilled as Yuuri is that Victor is here, it has been almost a year since Victor last went back home to Russia. Seeing Victor stare at the snowfall, Yuuri can’t help but think he’s being incredibly selfish, keeping Victor with him.

Just as Yuuri is shoving the thought away, Victor turns to look at him and smiles, all twinkling eyes and tender expression. Yuuri’s breath catches in his throat, heart hammering in his chest. No matter many times Yuuri looks at him, the sight of Victor never quite stops giving him butterflies.

“Yuuri,” Victor calls brightly, beckoning him over by raising a blanket-covered arm, “come here and cuddle with me!”

“Next to an open window while it’s snowing?” Yuuri asks, amused. “I’d freeze.”

“Noooo,” Victor drawls out, flapping his hand in a persistent ‘come here’ motion. With the blanket draped over his arm and following the movement, he looks ridiculously adorable. “You won’t, I’ll keep you warm.”

Yuuri highly doubts it—he can feel the chilly outside air even from across the room—but he makes his way to Victor nonetheless, because he’s too weak for Victor and can’t say ‘no’ to any of his whims. As soon as Yuuri gets near the window, he feels the biting sting of the frigid air against his skin, hitting his face.

“It’s so cold here,” Yuuri protests, a little surprised that Victor seems unaffected. He can feel shivers travelling through his body already. “How can you stand sitting here for so long?”

Victor opens his arms to invite Yuuri under the blanket and into his embrace, grinning when Yuuri all but dives in to escape the chill. “It’s not that cold,” Victor notes as he shifts in place until Yuuri is between his legs and Victor can drape himself over Yuuri like the blanket is draped over him. “Winter in St. Petersburg is much colder in comparison.”

Yuuri pauses as soon as Victor wraps his arms around him, his eyes going wide with awe. “You’re so warm,” He says with a gasp of disbelief and Victor’s eyebrows jump, taken aback. Yuuri grabs Victor’s hands before the older man can react and promptly presses them up against his cold face, letting out an embarrassing sound of happiness as the heat from Victor’s palms seeps into his skin. “Victor, you’re so warm.

“No, Yuuri,” Victor corrects, and Yuuri can feel his teasing grin where Victor’s mouth is brushing against his cheek, “I’m hot.”

“Don’t start,” Yuuri warns.

Distractedly, he hears Victor laughing in his ear but Yuuri is too busy being amazed with his discovery because Victor is so warm and soft and comfortable, he feels like—

“—a kotatsu,” Yuuri sighs, burrowing further into Victor’s hug. Blue eyes blink down at him, Victor’s face alight with childlike curiosity.

“What’s a kotatsu?” Victor asks in the same manner in which he asked what Hatsetsu Castle was months ago.

Yuuri tries to think of how to best explain what it is. “Well, a kotatsu is a low wooden table that has a heating system built inside, either electric or a charcoal heat source, and is covered by a heavy blanket. Most Japanese households have it for winter season.”

“Oh!” Victor’s expression is bright with understanding. “Heater tables!”

Yuuri cracks a smile, nodding in defeat. So much for a proper explanation. “Well, yeah, I guess. Heater tables.”

Victor kisses his temple with a laugh, dropping his hands from Yuuri’s face to intertwine his fingers with Yuuri’s. “So you think I’m like a heating system? I’m touched, Yuuri. But I’m built to be stronger against cold weather, you know,” Victor says playfully, nuzzling at Yuuri’s dark hair. “Otherwise, I won’t survive in Russia at all, solnyshko.”

There it is again, that passing tinge of sadness in Victor’s voice as he mentions his home country. Yuuri peers at him hesitantly, unsure how to broach the topic. After a beat of silence, with Victor turning his attention back to snowfall outside, Yuuri decides to just go for it.

“Do you miss Russia, Victor?” Yuuri asks, glancing out of the window. The snowflakes are dancing with the cold winter breeze, making a flurry of white dust, and it’s a beautiful sight, really. Mercilessly cold perhaps, but still, beautiful.

Yuuri wonders if Russia is the same.

Victor makes a considering noise. “A little,” Victor admits quietly. Yuuri squeezes his hands in reassurance. “I miss the familiar places. I miss eating blini.

Yuuri turns to him. “What’s that?”

Blini, Russian crepes,” Victor answers, and presses another kiss on the slope of Yuuri’s nose. He laughs a little at how Yuuri goes cross-eyed at the action. “I’ll make them for you some time. They’re delicious.”

“Mm,” Yuuri agrees. He snuggles into Victor, burying his head on the crook of Victor’s neck. When hands fall in front of his stomach, stroking the soft flesh adoringly, Yuuri sighs. “What else do you miss?”

“My apartment. The coffee shop near my block that makes the best latte. Yura,” Victor says.

“Yura?”

“Yurio,” Victor clarifies with a small smile. “Well, Yuri. Yura is his nickname.”

“I miss him, too,” Yuuri says, playing with the cloth of Victor’s robe. “He livens up things around here.”

“Really?” Victor raises an eyebrow. “Even when he calls you piggy?”

Yuuri snorts. “Okay, maybe not then. But he’s got his endearing moments.”

“I know,” Victor sounds positively gleeful, “He’s so cute, isn’t he? So tiny and violent. Like a fluffy kitten with anger management issues.”

“Victor,” Yuuri scolds with a smothered laugh, half-heartedly swatting at him. Victor grins. “Don’t make fun of him.”

“But you agree with me!”

“Stop it.”

When their amusement dies down and makes way for the silence to take over again, Yuuri gathers up his courage, and finally asks, “Do you want to go back to Russia?”

The wait is suffocating.

Victor is quiet for a long time, as if he hasn’t heard the question, or at least stubbornly pretends not to have heard it, and Yuuri almost thinks asking has been a mistake but just as he’s beginning to decide to drop the topic, Victor’s answer leaves him as a heavy exhale.

“No,” Victor whispers. He seems weary, all of a sudden. “Not particularly, no.”

The answer feels wrong in a number of ways. Not to mention, confusing. But Yuuri bites back his words, swallows and pushes down on the urge to know more, to understand why. It’s not his place to pry. Victor himself will tell him when he’s ready to tell him.

So for now, Yuuri nods his head and brushes soft kisses on the hollow of Victor’s throat, smiling when Victor breathes easily once more. “Okay,” Yuuri says as one of his hands finds its way over to Victor’s chest. Yuuri counts the heartbeat thrumming underneath his touch, and closes his eyes. He hopes Victor knows he’s there for him. “Okay.”

 

5.

When he’s sick, Victor is absolutely downright clingy.

Even more so than usual, behaving like a stubborn child as he refused to let go of Yuuri—he grips at Yuuri like he’s touch-starved.

“Victor,” Yuuri tries to reason for the third time around, mindful to keep his voice soft. He knows Victor is feeling terrible, and losing patience with him won’t be beneficial to either of them, but Victor isn’t helping himself by not allowing Yuuri to fetch his medicine. “Victor, I’ll be back in a minute, I promise, but I really have to get Ibuprofen for you.”

“Don’t want it,” Victor rasps weakly from where he’s been bundled up by Yuuri’s mom in layers of blankets. He’s trembling and his breath is coming in short and shallow, no doubt experiencing chills. What they first thought was just a common cold is turning out to be a bad flu. “Just stay, Yuuri,” Victor says and there’s something in his voice that strikes Yuuri wrong.

“You really need it,” Yuuri tries again, pulling away from Victor’s grasp. Victor is too weak to hold on to him properly. “We need to get your fever down. I’ll be quick.”

On the bed, Victor shuts his eyes in pain, dropping his hand uselessly on the mattress. It seems like his headache is worsening. “Okay,” Victor whispers as Yuuri’s halfway out the door, “but please come back.”

The plea weighs heavy on his chest.

Yuuri all but half-runs to the kitchen to grab the medicine and a glass of water, and then back to Victor’s room in his haste to return. When he opens the door and walks to the bed, he finds Victor with his eyes still pressed closed, tears sliding past his lashes, and Yuuri’s heart breaks completely at the sight.

“Hey,” Yuuri fusses gently as soon as he places the glass and the medicine by the bedside table, taking a seat at the edge of the bed. He cups Victor’s alarmingly warm cheek with a hand, thumb brushing away the tears. Victor sighs raggedly and presses into his touch. “Hey, what’s wrong? Does something hurt, Victor?”

Victor shakes his head a little, and then erupts into a harsh coughing fit that looks as painful as it sounds. Yuuri supports him into sitting, handing Victor the medicine and guiding his grip on the glass as Victor drinks from it. Once he’s settled down on the bed again, Yuuri cards his fingers through Victor’s hair, smiling worriedly as the older man relaxes under his touch.

“You’re back,” Victor mumbles, eyes heavy with exhaustion as he looks up at Yuuri. He looks awfully relieved, as if the concept of Yuuri going away and abandoning him is even a possibility.

“Well, yeah,” Yuuri says with a heavy swallow, “I told you I’d be quick, didn’t I?” He doesn’t understand what happened to Victor before that makes him so scared of the thought of being left behind. It hurts Yuuri more than it should that he’s helpless to do anything about whatever it is in Victor’s past that’s haunting him now. “Of course I’d come back, Victor.”

“Come here,” Victor croaks, opening his arms feebly. It’s the only invitation Yuuri needs before he’s slipping under the covers with Victor, disregarding the excessive warmth Victor is radiating as he hugs Yuuri tight. He scoots up a little until Victor’s head is pillowed comfortably on his collarbone and presses a kiss on his forehead. Victor sighs.

“Yuuri,” Victor starts in a hushed voice, “are you happy?”

Yuuri blinks. “Well, no, you’re terribly sick—”

“With me,” Victor adds. He shifts a little, hiding his face into Yuuri’s shirt. “Are you happy with me?”

“Of course,” Yuuri breathes. He runs a hand through Victor’s hair again, knowing it soothes him. “I’m really happy with you, Victor.”

Victor nods a little. “Good.”

“Are you?” Yuuri can’t help but ask next. “Are you happy with me? With this?”

This time, Victor hugs him tighter, tiredly pressing a kiss on whichever part of Yuuri he can reach first.

“I am now,” Victor whispers.

Before Yuuri can ask what he means, Victor takes a deep breath and sags against him, falling asleep again. Yuuri sigh shakily, looking down at the man holding him as if he’s something precious.

He hugs Victor back just as tight, and Yuuri wishes he can keep him happy for as long as possible.