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What is Love? (Baby Don't Hurt Me)

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“Viktor! Congratulations on a stunning display!”

The reporter was short and blond, curves on her hips generously effecting her natural sway. If Viktor was the playboy the media labeled him as h might have been tempted, if he was the legal age anyway.

Spasibo, madam.”

Viktor gave his normal media smile, turning towards the reporter and her camerawoman, steeling himself for the questions he knew that she was going to ask.

“Do you have a moment to answer some questions, Viktor?” her dark eyes were gleaming and he knew, without a doubt, that she was going to ask every single question he was preparing for.

“Oh for you madam, certainly.”

His signature wink escaped him without thought and he evened the breathing through his nose to ready himself.

“What drove you to this course of action?”

Viktor blinked at the question, wide smile falling slightly as blue eyes widened. Was she really a reporter? That question was way too broad…

“Why, I love to surprise, it is the reason that I skate, my choreographies always reflect that.”

He was being way too nice. He could have completely ignored the subtext and said something completely unrelated to what she really wanted, but…well he kind of wanted to answer the questions…

“Ahh…yes, well, um…why…” she started to stutter and Viktor smiled warmly as he flicked his long hair behind his shoulder. He knew that wasn’t what she meant to ask.

“Why-why the see-through outfit for your Short Program?”

Good job. She finally got it out but Viktor wasn’t about to start being too nice now, then all the media dogs would be out for him because they smelt blood.

“Oh? It fit my theme rather well, I think, I had it specially tailored for this performance after all.”

He couldn’t stop his wide smile from turning a tad sadistic as the reporter fumbled with her mic at his answer. She really needed to work on her wording. Maybe she was trying to be polite…

Viktor laughed at the thought, that was too different for the media, she was most likely too nervous about interviewing him.

“Did you bare your soulmark on purpose?”

That gave him pause. Finally. A question that focused on what she actually wanted to know. And, subsequently, the one he really wanted to answer.

“Yes.”

The image of his back came to mind immediately. Pale skin common amongst Russians, muscles thinly layered due to age, and most importantly, the bright white wing marks that covered the whole space of his back. Feathers even spread to his sides and the top of his shoulders.

It was a large soulmark, one he designed his whole Short Program and outfit around.

He may only be sixteen, but he wanted to meet his soulmate, wanted to have what his parents had.

“Why?” Viktor blinked rapidly at the blond reporter, he’d forgotten that she was there. A soft smile graced his face, completely different from any of his media smiles and the reporter blushed heavily at the sight.

“Because I would like to meet them of course!”

He was careful to not say a specific gender, his soulmate could be either after all, but mostly because of Russian’s weird laws on same-sex soulmates.

The reporter was stuttering again and Viktor left her with a happy “Do svidaniya” as he left for the changing room.

Plenty of cameras had caught his Short Skate today, his soulmate MUST have seen him. Seen the mark at the very least.

Viktor felt bad about the pain his soulmate would be in but it was only going to be a short while, surely his soulmate would search him out. Especially to stop the pain.

Finally.

The moment he’s been waiting for since he manifested the month before his fourth birthday.

With a slight skip in his step, Viktor couldn’t stop himself from fantasizing about their meeting, disregarding the stress that should be there for tomorrow’s Free Skate.

He’d be meeting his soulmate in only a few more days. For sure.

Meanwhile in Japan…

Yuuri felt the exact moment the camera caught the full view of Viktor Nikiforov’s back. Of the skater’s soulmark.

The pain was immediate and rushed up from his waist to his shoulders in a series of pangs before combining into a dull throb.

He wasn’t entirely sure how he kept it from both Yu-chan and Nishigori, but both were watching the computer with complete focus.

Pulling tightly on his jacket, Yuuri ignored the pain, and what the pain meant, and continued to watch Viktor skate.

Watching the interview that Yu-chan clicked on, his back throbbed again. It wasn’t anything more painful than a crash on the hard ice in the rink, so he ignored it to listen to Viktor speak, crutching on the Japanese subtitles to properly understand the English.

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

Yuuri kept ignoring the pain, as he fanboyed with Yuko, as he skated with her some, doing worse than usual because of the pain; as he walked slowly home, as he ate dinner with his family, as he bathed alone, as he laid in bed looking up at the ceiling.

He thought about it briefly, thinking it was strange how his back had started hurting while watching Viktor Nikiforov’s performance.

He probably strained it or something.

Yuuri kept on ignoring the pain, learning to skate through it and continued to fanboy over Viktor with Yu-chan.

“Ne ne, Yuuri, when do you think Viktor’s soulmate will announce themselves?” Yu-chan asked suddenly and Yuuri stumbled and landed harshly on the ice as he slipped onto his back.

Idly he thought about how nice the ice felt on his throbbing back as Yu-chan bent over him worriedly. Yuuri smiled back, ignoring her hand stretched out to help him up, preferring to stay on the ice for a little bit longer.

“You okay, Yuuri?”

He nodded slowly, closing his eyes with Yu-chan now slowly skating in a circle around him.

“So when do you think?” she asked again, voice high as she sighed and skated wider around him.

“Hmmm?”

“Mou! Yuuri! Pay attention! Viktor’s soulmate! When do you think they’ll announce themselves?!”

Yu-chan’s hands were on her hips as she skated when Yuuri decided to sit up.

He was a bit confused.

“What do you mean, Yu-chan?”

Pink eyes blinked slowly as Yuuri continued to stare at her blankly. She opened her mouth to say something but then she shut it again, closing her eyes and letting her breath out slowly through her nose.

This time when she held out her hand Yuuri grabbed it and let himself be hefted up and dragged to the side of the rink.

Yu-chan was quiet as she led him off the ice, handing over his skate guards at the same time she put hers on.

Yuuri was still confused, but he knew Yu-chan would explain everything in a minute.

The older girl dragged him all the way to the locker room and sat them both on the bench in front of the TV.

She looked uncharacteristically serious and Yuuri couldn’t stop himself from fidgeting. Yu-chan wasn’t supposed to be serious, she was much too happy for that.

“Yuuri…this is important, okay?” Her voice was still light but the seriousness in her tone made Yuuri straighten and focus on her wholly. He nodded seriously to match her own and smiled when her stiffness relaxed a bit.

She grabbed his gloved hand and laced them together as her pink eyes locked with Yuuri’s brown. He would have blushed but he didn’t think now was the time for his silly crush on the girl.

“What do you know about soulmarks, Yuuri?”

Yu-chan’s question was responded to with wide brown eyes blinking rapidly.

“Um…it’s a mark that appears when your soulmate is born…and it…um…matches your soulmate?”

Yuuri gave Yu-chan a wide eyed look as he answered, looking at her facial expression to see if he was right. The older girl was smiling and nodding as she squeezed his hand tightly.

“Should you flaunt your soulmark if you have one, Yuuri?” Yu-chan’s voice was so serious that he had to look away, thinking about his answer.

Briefly Yuuri thought about Viktor’s Short Program, the white wings shown off underneath glittery fishnet, his back throbbed before he shook his head.

“No…soulmarks are private…”

“That’s right, Yuuri. It’s why I hide my hip, even when changing. Is it ever okay to show your soulmark to others?”

Yuuri blinked widely again, wondering why Yu-chan was going over this…his teachers already taught them all about soulmarks…

“Only if you think they might be your soulmate or…or if you’ve already found your soulmate…and you’re…you’re together…” Yuuri’s face was flushed as he talked about his with Yu-chan…normally friends didn’t talk about this…

“Do you know why that is, Yuuri?” Her fingers tightened on his even as he shook his head. He didn’t think there WAS a reason, just something people did or didn’t do…

“You know what your soulmark looks like, right, Yuuri?” he nodded, his was on his back but he’d inspected it in the mirror as soon as he knew what the mark actually was.

“Well…When you see you’re soulmark on someone else, your mark starts to hurt. It’s different for everyone, but it’s always painful, and it’s your soulmark’s way of telling you that you’ve seen your soulmate…And…” Yu-chan stopped talking suddenly and looked down.

This time Yuuri squeezed her fingers, hoping to make her feel better like she had made him feel better earlier. It worked when she smiled at him, though her eyes were a little wet now.

“And the pain is a punishment…for not staying with your other half, for walking away…it can get pretty painful and effect day to day life…”

Yu-chan was looking really sad again so Yuuri scooted closer and held her hand even tighter. She wrapped an arm around him and squeezed in response.

“Anyway! Viktor was being a bit selfish…okay a LOT selfish…by showing off his mark to the whole world, don’t you think?”

Yu-chan was wiping at her eyes, and Yuuri let the subject change happen as he tilted his head and questioned Yu-chan.

“Why?”

“Arg! Yuuri! Weren’t you listening?! His soulmate’s back has to be hurting like hell right now!”

Yuuri froze, thinking of the moment almost three weeks ago now, when Viktor displayed his soulmark…and when his back started hurting…

“Wh-why their back?” he questioned softly, thinking he was being utterly ridiculous for thinking what he was currently thinking.

“Really Yuuri? Viktor’s soulmark is on his back, so his soulmate’s mark is on their back…it’s pretty safe to assume Viktor’s soulmate’s back must be killing them with pain by now.”

Yu-chan started undoing her skates, getting ready to head back home, but Yuuri was frozen. He kept thinking about Viktor’s dance, his interview, his almost as see-through outfit of his Free Skate, the view of beautiful white wings on an equally pale back, accentuated with glitter and fishnet.

He thought about the sudden pang he felt after the first sight of those wings. Thought about the pain that had been his companion for the past three weeks. Thought about how silly he was being, how there was NO way Viktor’s wings matched his. No chance in hell.

“Yu-Yu-chan…what if…what if Viktor’s soulmate wasn’t watching him skate…?” Yuuri couldn’t stop the question from escaping his mouth and he completely stopped breathing when Yu-chan suddenly froze.

She looked at Yuuri slowly, taking all of him in with narrowed eyes as Yuuri prayed she couldn’t read his mind…couldn’t see what he had thought of…

Suddenly there was a contemplative look on her pretty face as she seemed to think about what Yuuri had just suggested.

“You know what, Yuuri?...You are absolutely right! We love Viktor so much that we think EVERYONE must have seen his performance, he is the new Junior Grand Prix champion after all, but he’s not THAT famous…”

Yu-chan giggled lightly as she turned on the TV, probably to the Junior Grand Prix rerun that was scheduled for today.

Yuuri gave a big sigh of relief as he turned to the TV, ignoring Takeshi coming through the door to sit next to them on the bench.

Again Yuuri pushed away the pain in his back, and the crazy thoughts in his head, and just enjoyed Viktor’s performance.

The black costume looked AMZING, and the half skirt was flowing like his long hair and Yuuri caught sight of a white wing along his the right side of his back. A sharp pain echoed through Yuuri’s body at the glimpse through the TV.

Suddenly it sunk in and Yuuri couldn’t stop the quiet “wow” that came out of his lips, eyes still following Viktor’s form even as his mind thought of something else.

‘Viktor Nikiforov is my soulmate…’