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A Choreographer's Dilemma

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It’s only a brush of wet warmth against his lips before they’re falling, and Viktor’s cheek is against his, and Viktor’s hand is curled protectively around the back of his skull—and then they hit the ice, and it’s a pain Yuuri is used to, but he doesn’t feel it. All he feels is Viktor’s weight and the phantom pressure of a kiss that lasted barely a second. Viktor pulls back to look at him.

“This was the only thing I could think of to surprise you more than you surprised me.”

There’s a saying in English—someone’s heart shining in their eyes, or being in their eyes, or something, and Yuuri thinks he understands it now as he gazes back at Viktor. This close, even a shortsighted guy like him can see. He wonders what Viktor sees in his face, whether he’s as easy to read as Viktor is.

“Really?” Yuuri is still trying to process the fact that Viktor kissed him in front of all these people, which has to be the point. He should be panicking.

He’s not.

Viktor. Ever since he was a child, that name’s carried a charge. It was the name of his idol, the name of a person he elevated above himself, the pinnacle of achievement—the person to aim for, if he was really serious about this ice skating thing. It had been a name so far from himself he’d felt no compunction calling his dog the same thing, the same way others named pets after their favourite fictional characters.

The name—the man—means so much more now.

Somehow they tear themselves away from each other long enough to leave the ice. Yuuri’s mind whirls in a blur of thoughts—good and bad—during the congratulations, the medal ceremony, the interviews. He’s sure he answers people when they ask him things, but his state of mind still makes everything hard to absorb, especially when everything is in his second language. He loses track of words, sentences, but he doesn’t ask anyone to repeat themselves. Viktor sticks by him, bragging—and glowing—enough for them both. When Yuuri changes back into his clothes he looks at his costume as if it might explain to him what’s happening, but all it does is shimmer softly as he stuffs it into his bag along with his track suit.

He and Viktor leave the complex together. The weight of Viktor’s arm across his shoulders, normally steadying, dizzies him now. The cameras and the constant buzzing of his phone in his pocket have him picturing himself from an outsider’s perspective, his face beside Viktor’s, their names linked in captions. Is this really me? Is he really him?

Is this real?

Viktor doesn’t comment on his dazed state. They get dragged along in Phichit’s celebration—no hardship—and Yuuri prepares for him to get sloppy drunk.

Instead, Viktor starts to tug him away from the bar by drink number two. Viktor’s only had enough to set a blush to his cheeks, his eyes still clear.

“Are we exploring the city again?” Yuuri asks. Now that they’re alone again he can’t stop his heart from pounding like he’s just come off the ice, though it makes little sense. He’s used to spending most of his waking moments with Viktor, and a good amount of his unconscious ones too; he’s used to Viktor throwing his arms around him at the least opportunity. It’s not the closeness that intimidates him now but the sense that there are things unspoken between them, or rather, that the things unspoken between them might be coming to light.

“No,” Viktor says. He wears a smile as he steers them back to the hotel.

“Ah,” is Yuuri’s only reply. He wishes Viktor might say something more to set him at ease, but he doesn’t, and the look on his face is hard to decipher. This mood isn’t one Yuuri recognises. I guess I did surprise him, he thinks, wondering if he ought to regret it. No—he can’t. He can still see Viktor start to run to the edge of the ice, the panic/need/exhilaration of going to meet him there. Surprising Viktor was only the first step.

He doesn’t know step two or three or four, but he trusts they’ll come to him as he goes.

They wave at the front desk lady in the lobby of the hotel and pass smoothly into an empty elevator. It’s well-lit, and once upon a time that would have set Yuuri shrinking away, but he stands tall. He’s curious, intrigued by the glances Viktor steals at him.

He kissed me on TV, Yuuri thinks. It wasn’t their first kiss, exactly. There was the kiss on his temple when Viktor was sleep-sodden after Yuuri had woken him up to show him a video. There was the peppering of kisses on his face the time he said something—he can’t now remember what—about the challenges to come. There were several soft, slow kisses when Viktor was particularly impressed; Viktor’s eyes had shone then too.

Those kisses seemed like a ploy. Look at the attention I give you, they said. Be more confident, practice harder, express more. Yuuri couldn’t trust them, because Viktor was still experimenting at being a coach. He’d gone so far as to admit he’d be anything Yuuri wanted if it would drive him harder.

Crashing down to the ice, Yuuri had felt nothing but love, underpinned by Viktor’s unique brand of unpredictableness. Yuuri’s surprise had melted to pleasure before they even made impact.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Viktor says. His lilting tone renders it playful, but the sharp look in his eyes betrays something else.

Yuuri inclines his head. He could answer—but sometimes it’s more fun to leave Viktor hanging, and the ding of the elevator reaching their floor makes for a good excuse. They exit, and he ignores Viktor’s sidelong look.

“Yuuri,” Viktor says in a scolding tone; Yuuri can’t help smiling.

“Viktor?”

“You’re ignoring me.”

Yuuri throws him a wide-eyed look as they walk. “Does that sound like something I’d do?”

“Who knew you had this side to you?” Viktor asks, mock-hurt.

They stop in front of Yuuri’s door. No part of him is surprised when Viktor follows him in; he hits the light switch. “You’ve known for a while.”

Viktor’s grin is softened by the warmth in his eyes. “So I have.”

Yuuri hangs up his coat and turns to take Viktor’s, but Viktor stands with his arms at his sides, still smiling down at Yuuri. This really is a new mood. Part expectant, part—something else.

“Yuuri,” Viktor says, but he seems to say it more to himself than to him. Yuuri’s heart drums a rhythm, and he wonders if his own reluctance to bring up the kiss is cowardice or cunning. Some things matter too much to consign them to deep discussion, he thinks; they can only be said lightly, or in gestures. They can be poured into movement on the ice, as Viktor and Yuuri both know, but to bring them up in a quiet hotel room—it feels wrong. Or is he just putting things off? Maybe if he’d been more willing to talk about his feelings he wouldn’t have had to explode at Viktor earlier; Viktor would have known not to threaten or test him before the competition. Maybe.

At last Yuuri stops waiting for Viktor to move. He unwinds Viktor’s scarf and shakes it out before hanging it up beside his own coat. Viktor stays motionless, watching, and Yuuri slips his hands under his open coat, moving it back over his shoulders. At last Viktor moves, letting the coat slide down his arms, and Yuuri catches it. It’s heavy, and if Yuuri puts his nose to the collar the scent there will remind him of euphoria and Viktor’s outflung arms, his mouth against his. It will smell like an arm thrown over his shoulders to gather him close and words whispered in his ear.

Yuuri shivers as he hangs the coat up. Viktor is less bulky now, but instead of being diminished he’s only grown more striking. Yuuri takes off his own shoes and leaves Viktor in the entryway to follow, or else to stand there and continue his enigmatic statue routine; Yuuri pulls out his phone and sits on the bed in the meantime.

“How many times should I offer?” Viktor asks at last, when Yuuri’s given up on him. He’s leaning against the wall of the entryway, his shoes still on.

Yuuri sets his phone down, ignoring the slew of missed calls. “Hm?”

“For you to say yes. Should I kiss you when I ask?”

A shiver races down Yuuri’s spine. He sits at attention as Viktor throws his shoes back towards the entryway and moves to join him, seating himself on the bed with one leg pulled up so he can face Yuuri completely. His hand comes up, touches Yuuri’s jaw.

“I don’t remember a question,” Yuuri mumbles. His gaze is on Viktor’s other hand between them, the elegantly curled fingers, the prominent knuckles, the bones in his wrist like the fine details of a sculpture.

“What do you want me to be?” Viktor asks. His voice is soft. “Don’t say you want me to be myself. I’m the most myself person in the world.”

“Probably,” Yuuri agrees, thinking of the heedless way Viktor tears through life, his attention caught by everything bright and shiny and beautiful. It occurs to him that Viktor started by asking what would make him say yes, and he draws himself back to the point. “What do you want me to be isn’t a yes/no question.”

He can’t stop looking at Viktor’s hand against the coverlet, relaxed beside his leg.

“Yuuri.”

He should have remembered the other hand on his jaw. It guides him now, turning his face gently to Viktor’s. He knows the kiss is coming, but somehow it still catches him unprepared, making his heart jump in his chest and his hands shake. His eyes close tightly, not with fear but with emotion—relief. He wants to always be kissing Viktor, to smell his light cologne and feel the tracing of Viktor’s fingertips against his skin, the soft opening of his mouth against his.

He presses a hand over his own heart. He was right; it’s racing. As the kiss deepens, the sweep of Viktor’s tongue against his own sends a wash of arousal through him, uncovering a more deep-seated need, and he finds himself reaching out for Viktor—but he pulls back at the last moment, twisting his hand into his own shirt. Don’t, he scolds, but he can’t stop himself from kissing back with all the longing he fights to suppress; for once his mouth is the most honest part of him.

Viktor draws back too soon, and Yuuri has to curl his hands into fists to stop from grabbing him and pulling him back.

“Do you want me to be your boyfriend?” Viktor asks.

It’s the wrong phrasing. Yuuri isn’t a sick person needing attending to. He can’t stand do you want me to be your boyfriend being in the same class of questions as do you want a glass of water.

“Do you want to be mine?” Yuuri asks, meeting Viktor’s gaze at last. It’s a forceful, almost angry retort—but Viktor’s smile is pure sunlight.

“Yes.”

There’s a roaring in his ears. “Because it’ll help me?”

Viktor shakes his head.

In Yuuri’s mind they’re falling again, crashing back onto the ice in front of hundreds of people. He’s feeling Viktor’s lips against his and hearing the rush of blood in his ears, the exhilaration of having done everything right. Not perfectly—he remembers the falls during his programme even if adrenaline blocks the pain—but to the limit of his abilities, and beyond Viktor’s expectations.

His face flushes with colour. He knows Viktor loves him in his own unique way, but as a lover, for his sake and not for Yuuri’s…?

Sensation trickles through the numb shock. Viktor is taking his hand, pressing a kiss to the inside of Yuuri’s wrist as he sets Yuuri’s palm against his cheek. “Well?”

“I never know,” Yuuri says slowly, “when you’re being serious.”

“Serious as the grave.” Viktor is smiling. “Serious as—ah—Georgi. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have offered the same just to coach you more effectively, but…”

“You would have become my lover just to motivate me?” Yuuri asks. He’d been right to worry. Some part of him had always known Viktor’s dedication to his craft—and pleasure—went beyond anything most people considered normal.

“Is that strange? You’re energetic, beautiful, talented. I would have enjoyed every moment.”

Yuuri’s glad he didn’t take those kisses to heart, heady as they’d been. His voice trembles as he asks, “And now?”

Viktor kisses the palm of Yuuri’s hand, then holds it in both his own, examining it. “Now I want nothing more. It’s been that way for a long time, though your performance tonight makes me even more sure.”

Yuuri looks up. By the warmth in his cheeks he expects he’s blushing, but he doesn’t try to hide it.

“It’s very hard,” Viktor continues, pulling back Yuuri’s sleeve to kiss further up the inside of his arm, “to keep my hands off you.”

For a moment, all Yuuri feels is a squirming need to crawl into Viktor’s lap, utterly seduced—and then he remembers what the past several months have consisted of. “You haven’t kept your hands off me at all!” he says, emerging from the haze of lust enough to scold. Trust Viktor to play the pining lover just because it suits him; he’s done whatever he wants from the start.

Viktor has the grace to laugh, throwing his head back. It’s a long laugh; his eyes squeeze shut with enjoyment before he calms and looks back at Yuuri, who tries not to be affected by the line of Viktor’s neck, his jaw, his hair falling softly over his forehead.

“You used to let me get away with things like that,” Viktor says.

“I was in awe. And younger. And I wasn’t used to you yet.”

“Used to me,” Viktor echoes. He sounds almost concerned.

“Don’t worry,” Yuuri says, low-voiced. “You’ll always be the most glamorous person of any room you happen to be in.”

“Even to you?”

“Especially to me.”

Viktor smiles. “Ah, Yuuri, that’s no good. You’re meant to be the glamorous one now. As your coach, I disapprove.”

“And as my boyfriend?” Yuuri asks. It costs him nothing to say it, but he gets to watch Viktor’s eyes widen in surprise, his mouth opening slightly. His cheeks flush—and Yuuri starts to suspect he wasn’t exaggerating when he said he didn’t want anything more than to be Yuuri’s partner.

“Yuuri!”

Yuuri is knocked back onto the bed. Viktor climbs on top of him, bumping his glasses with his chin, kissing his forehead, his cheeks, the side of his nose. At last he dips down to claim Yuuri’s mouth again, hands cupping his face with all the finesse his approach lacked.

Yuuri melts into the bed. Oh, he thinks, but no other thoughts are forthcoming. Of all possible responses, he hadn’t imagined Viktor climbing on top of him. He tries not to think of Viktor’s weight straddling his hips, not wanting to embarrass himself by hardening here, now. Very carefully, he sets a hand against Viktor’s side just to signal that he hasn’t fainted, and Viktor kisses him harder, with renewed passion. Yuuri’s hand fists in the fabric of Viktor’s shirt. He’s still holding himself motionless, careful not to give himself away, but he has to remind himself to breathe when he imagines sliding his hands into Viktor’s hair.

Don’t, he thinks, just like before, but this don’t is followed by a why not?

Because you’re not Viktor, he thinks. You can’t just…

His hand travels up Viktor’s side, over his shoulder, finally alighting on Viktor’s scalp to caress his hair. Soft. Just like Yuuri had known it was. He remembers it long, when Viktor had been the most beautiful boy Yuuri had ever seen. He remembers it in Viktor’s face during a spin, a sight more erotic than Yuuri’s teenage boy brain had ever been able to come up with on its own. He remembers it in his own face, Viktor sleeping on his shoulder, all over him but still that last little bit out of reach.

Help, he thinks, even as he kisses Viktor back. What is he meant to do with himself now?

Viktor notices Yuuri’s caress after a moment. He ends the kiss with a nudge of his nose, drawing back to gaze down at Yuuri. Whatever he sees in Yuuri’s face makes him grin, and the grin renders him several years younger—boyish.

“You mean it, don’t you?” he says.

Yuuri twirls a lock of pale hair around his finger, looking at it as if it’s the seventh wonder of the world. “Can you doubt it?” he asks, voice as vague as he feels.

Viktor grins again, and then his weight is gone. He’s pushing himself up, and then he’s pacing in front of the bed, hand at his mouth. Yuuri sits up, watching in bemusement.

“What…?” he asks.

Viktor rakes a hand through his hair, his face still pink. “A first lover has a great deal of responsibility,” he says, like that explains everything. “Almost as much as a coach. A lover-coach…”

Is he brainstorming? Is his mind jumping to plan out a relationship, the same way he’d choreograph a routine for on the ice? Yuuri fears as much.

“I don’t think you have to…” he says, trailing off. He puts up a hand. “I’m comfortable going along as we have been.”

Viktor has been at his side day and sometimes night. He’s kissed him several times, once in front of cameras. For some reason, the sleep-sodden kiss on his temple rises in Yuuri’s mind. He imagines waking Viktor up in the middle of the night and feeling the brush of Viktor’s lips in innocent greeting. Pleasure shivers through him, and he wonders if Viktor will be even more free with his touches now.

Don’t think of that, Yuuri pleads with himself. He can’t think of those things in front of Viktor or he’ll get himself in trouble.

Viktor glances at Yuuri, obviously taking in his statement, but he continues to pace. It takes a while for him to come to a decision. What decision it is Yuuri can’t guess, but Viktor drops to his knees in front of him at last, taking his hands. “Do you trust me?”

Yuuri meets Viktor’s gaze. Viktor is a whirlwind, and often unknowable, and prone to forgetting the things he says from one day to the next—but it doesn’t make him untrustworthy. It makes him… fun. Exciting. Yuuri can never be bored with him around, and the world can never be boring with Viktor in it.

“Of course,” Yuuri says, and Viktor kisses the backs of his hands, first one and then the other. He smiles, and again Yuuri understands the meaning of that phrase, his heart shining in his eyes. Yuuri swallows hard.

“Perfect,” Viktor says, eyes narrowed with happiness—as if the lilt didn’t give it away. “I’m sleeping here tonight.”

Yuuri blinks. “I, uh—I don’t think—”

Viktor smiles, and he rises up on his knees to kiss Yuuri again. “I’ll keep my hands to myself,” he says as he draws back. “As much as I can.”

The Viktor-translator in Yuuri’s brain changes that to I won’t actively try to have sex with you, a mild assurance at best, but it still sets Yuuri at ease. He doesn’t think he’s ready to jump to another stepping stone just now. It’s enough to see Viktor gaze up at him with that expression, like Yuuri is his greatest achievement to date. It’s heady.

“Okay,” Yuuri says, and hopes his heart will calm down enough for sleep—eventually.