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The measure of the year (the mind of men)

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He wins in the winter. He wins.

It’s a strange, bubbling in his stomach when he gets up on the podium. He’s proud of himself, he realizes. It’s unfamiliar. There’s always been someone better before. There’s always been Victor on this podium.

Victor is standing in front of him, at the edge of the crowd and the media. Does he miss standing here, he wonders. Does he wish it were him? Worries crowd in his head, an over-filled elevator rising up; does he regret the past year?

He looks, really looks at Victor. He’s smiling, so wide it can’t possibly be false, and he’s jumping. He’s gleeful. Like a kid at the beach on the first day of summer. And suddenly Yuuri’s smiling too. Like someone has pressed play, his face springs to life, and he’s crying. He reaches up a hand to wave to Victor. It’s shaking. He’s shaking.

God, what even happened? He just won. He’s the first person other than Victor Nikiforov to stand at the top of this podium in five years.

 

The judges called his performance flawless. He had shaken his head when he’d heard that, sat in the kiss and cry box with Victor, in front of all of the cameras. Victor had nodded vigorously, which was just ridiculous. No-one who had seen Victor skate could possibly believe anyone else could be flawless. That title was reserved.

Besides, a truly flawless thing couldn’t exist. An ideal was just an idea. Something could always be improved. That’s what Victor had always shown the audience. Every year you could get better. Perfect was only ever temporary.

“Yuuri,” Victor had murmured in his eat at that point, interrupting his musing, “Smile for the cameras. Just a little longer.”

Victor tapped his fingers against his back.

Then he slammed into him so hard in a hug that they both tumbled off the stool. 337.43. His score. He’d never dreamed of scoring so high. He could barely believe it. Mouthed it to himself in shock, in front of the flashing cameras. 337.43.

Victor was screaming in his ear – so loud, so excited. Shaking his hands. Yuuri could hardly feel it. Could barely hear anything past the rushing in his head. He won.

 

Victor has to help him down from the podium, holding his shaking hands.

The interviews pass in a blue. It feels like both a second and a year before he’s done and in the cab back to the hotel with Victor. Victor who is stroking his hair, apparently bored of massaging his heads.

“So Yuuri, how do you feel? Now that you’ve shown the world the power of your love?” Yuuri scowls to himself when he realizes he doesn’t have the energy to shove his hand into that smirking face. Gosh, he’s so tired. Victor laughs. It’s a nice laugh, light and soft. Like his hair. 

“Ah I see. Too good to answer your coach now.” Victor’s words tease, but his hands stay soft in Yuuri’s hair. It’s nice. He’s nice.

 

He wakes when the cab pulls to a stop with a jerk. They’re at the hotel. His neck hurts and he can barely contain a whine. Before he can figure out how to coordinate his limbs however, Victor pulls him out of the car, arms secure around his back.

“How are you so sleepy, Yuuri?” Victor sounds honestly confused. What a silly question. How could anyone not be tired? His body has been hardened and trained. He just performed two complex and physically strenuous routines. His head hurts from all of the camera flashes and questions screamed in his face. He just achieved his lifelong dream. He put everything into this – he’s got nothing left to give.

“Been working hard,” He finally murmurs, eyes slipping shut again. He thinks he can hear Victor click his tongue, and pull out his phone to start texting, but he quickly stops following the noises. The bed is too soft.

 

Life as a Grand Prix winner is delightful.

His parents, and friends had been over the moon, screaming and hugging him ceaselessly for the first week after he’d come home. Minako had popped a bottle of champagne and Yuuko had burst into tears. Random people in the streets of Hasetsu stopped for his autograph, which never stopped amusing Victor.

But for all of that, it’s the quiet moments with Victor that Yuuri cherishes the most. They skate together now for fun, but no more often than they walk Makkachin on the beach. Victor finally lets Yuuri eat katsudon. It’s good. But nowhere near as good as seeing the pride on Victor’s face.

 

Yuuri’s family don’t celebrate Christmas, but he gives Victor a gift. Victor hadn’t mentioned anything, but he knows it’s his birthday. It’s just some tea leaves, but Victor looks delighted. He makes a pot straight away. He laughs halfway through. At what, Yuuri doesn’t know – maybe at how good the tea is – and snorts it from his nose. It should be disgusting, but Yuuri’s preoccupied by how much pain Victor seems to be in. He never does explain what caused it. Maybe it just doesn’t translate. 

 

Victor touches him more in public now. He hadn’t thought it was possible. But before where there had been only frequent hugs, now it seems they are constantly in contact. It makes him feel warm inside. Victor holds his hand when they walk, taps his fingers on Yuuri’s leg or plays with his hair when they sit. Victor leans against him in the car, at dinner, when they watch movies. They go on dates now too. It’s fun. Some are romantic, some are silly, the first was awkward – Yuuri cringes whenever he thinks about it. Which is often.

 

“Yuuri,” Victor had interrupted his morning stretch routine, his voice sounding oddly serious.

“Yes?” What a serious face, Yuuri noticed with some concern, “Is everything alright? You’re not usually up this early!”

“Yes! I want – or, I would like – or, it would be nice – more than nice! If, um,” Yuuri had watched with fascination as Victor had flushed. Victor so rarely got so worked up. He blushed sometimes, went red with exertion like anyone (though, nowhere near as bad as Yuuri did) but he had never before stuttered like this.

Yuuri allowed himself to get distracted for at least a minute, preferring to focus on the way Victor’s hands were flexing and grasping at fists by his sides, before finally interrupting,

“Victor, what’s going on?”

Victor heaved a sigh, such a heavy sound. It made Yuuri nervous to hear it, and that was all it had taken for his thoughts to spiral out of control. Was Victor leaving? Was he finally bored? Was the celebrating period over? What he going to –

“Would you like to go out with me?”

- end it?

Yuuri’s thoughts skidded to a halt, threw him over the handlebars, he’d completely lost the thread of the conversation. Laughed awkwardly.

“Out with you? Like, date you?”

“Yes!” Victor’s smile lit up his face, so sunshine bright Yuuri could barely look at him, couldn’t bear to look away, “Date! I had forgotten the English word. Will you date me?”

Victor snapped his fingers and pointed at Yuuri. So dramatic.

“Aren’t we already dating?” Yuuri had finally managed to get out, feeling like he was being strangled. Although whether it was around his throat or his heart, he honestly wasn’t sure.

“Yes?” Victor cocked his head, looking confused.

“So why are you asking me to date you?” Victor blinked, then opened eyes wide.

“Go on a date with me! Ah, I was never any good at those compound verbs in school. Will you go on a date with me? We haven’t yet gone on one properly!”

“Oh. Yes. A date. Sounds good. Tonight?” The blinding grin was back.

“Yay! I can start to woo you properly!”

“You met me naked. What wooing is left to do?”

“You wound me Yuuri! First with your blank gaze when I ask you to dinner, now with your scandalous teasing.” Victor had flounced out of the room, leaving Yuuri with his speeding heart, and relief.

 

Dinner was at seven. Victor had told Yuuri to get changed into “fancy!” twice. So Yuuri had ended up in his most expensive shirt, and a suit outside of the nicest restaurant in the town, with a fidgeting Victor.

“I’m so excited! I’ve wanted to take you here for months!”

But dinner was a disaster. Yuuri’s shirt had itched so much Victor had asked if there were fleas. The waiter had overheard, laughed and accidentally poured half a bottle of wine on Victor’s shirt. Worst of all were the awkward silences. Yuuri had found himself with nothing to say, despite the fact that they managed to fill the days for the past year just fine. Maybe they needed skating after all. Yuuri wasn’t a very interesting person even with figure skating, his personality outside of it left a lot to be desired. He was so nervous he ordered a meal he hated, but luckily could barely taste. Victor kept frowning, and looked so disappointed in the taxi back to the resort. It made Yuuri’s insides twist.

He had unlocked the door in silence. When they were both safely in his room he turned to Victor, head bowed, and apologised. Victor’s head had jerked up at that point, astonishment evident. He had waved his hands, holding them out to Yuuri.

“No, Yuuri! I’m sorry.”

“You were so excited, and I ruined it,” Yuuri had murmured.

“I was excited to spend an evening dedicated to you,” Victor had said, arms still out in front of him, “This was just the only way I knew how to do it. I should have known something more casual would suit you better, like ramen,” Yuuri had curled even more into himself at that point, “Suit us better.” Victor had looked so distressingly sincere that Yuuri had dived in for the invited hug.

 

The evening had ended well. So yes, Yuuri thinks about it often. It doesn’t stop him cringing at how much he must have embarrassed Victor.

 

Thankfully their other dates have gone much better. The second time they try Thai, and Victor almost cries from how spicy it is. Yuuri actually does. The third time they have a squid-bonanza from the morning markets. Even if Victor has been bored, he never looks it. He smiles at Yuuri like he always has: like he’s proud and happy, like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

Yuuri should like it. He does. But it also makes him nervous.

Soon enough, their dates go back to ‘normal’: just the two of them spending time together, hanging out. Yuuri’s favourite is when they watch the sunset together, holding hands on the pier. It’s freezing, but they don’t mind. Victor’s hair and eyes seem to shimmer in the crepuscular light. He always looks so beautiful. Yuuri wishes he could work up the courage to tell him that.

 

He barely notices time passing at all. Instead it feels like every day is a unique gift – a holiday, yes, but not just from skating. From reality too. The way everything looks brighter, shiner in the winter light adds to the illusion. It’s almost like a dream: everything is at once familiar – the town, the pier, the rink, and unfamiliar – the walks, the hand-holding, the duet dances.

It makes him unsteady on his feet sometimes. He can never quite shake the feeling that the ground beneath his feet will give way. But he’s determined to enjoy it. After all, he wants it, he’s wanted it for so long. Besides, he reasons to himself in the morning, as he studies Victor’s face, he fought for everyone to hate him for stealing Victor away. If Victor’s happy to be stolen, he will cherish it.

 

Funnily enough, it’s Yuuko that breaks the reverie. Neither Victor not his parents, but his dearest friend.

They’re out to dinner, the four of them: Yuuko, Takeshi, Victor and himself. It’s an infrequent occasion, to see Yuuko and Takeshi without their girls. Victor’s on fire tonight, laughing and joking. His Japanese is getting better, and Yuuri can tell Yuuko and Takeshi have been putting in some effort to their English as well. He’s grateful. It lets him watch, and pay attention rather than hurry to interpret all the time. He’s able to notice, for example, how Victor purses his lips and drums his fingers on his knees under the table when he can’t remember how to say a word in either English or Japanese. There’s a hilarious moment when Victor visibly gives up and uses the phrase “car ball” when telling a story about the first time he had to change a tyre. It’s almost as funny as the image of Victor Nikiforov, 18 years old and shitfaced, stuck on the side of the road in yesterday’s clothes.

“I thought I was going to die. I was late for a training session with Yakov, and I was – how do you say it – pissed. Very drunk.”

“Did you call it a ‘car ball’ when you asked for help then?” Yuuko asks, chortling.

“You know, I don’t recall. Maybe I did.”

And Yuuri can count the number of times Victor goes to refill his sake and then stops himself. Or how he always uses the chopsticks to poke at the food he doesn’t recognize, with such an expression of concentration, as if he fears it will bite back. Yuuko notices him watching Victor, and he flushes, glances away. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her smile and squeeze Takeshi’s hand.

“So Victor, how did it feel to watch Yuuri win the Grand Prix?” Victor turns to look at Yuuri, who shivers. Victor’s gaze is intense. Yuuri feels pinned to the spot, burning under the spotlight for just a second, before the moment breaks and Victor turns back to Yuuko.

“Brilliant, of course. I knew Yuuri had the ability, but actually see it was beautiful.”

“Did it surprise you?” Yuuri looks away, willing Yuuko to stop these questions. Victor’s gaze is heavy on the side of his face again. There’s a lengthy silence. Victor seems to be considering his answer.

“Yes, but not that I thought he couldn’t do the routine. Rather,” Victor seems to roll the words around in this mouth, checking if they’ll sound right, “I wasn’t sure Yuuri would have the confidence to let himself feel the routine.”

Across the table, Yuuko splutters, “But he showed us at every stage that he could put his feelings into each performance! How can you have such little faith?”

She bangs his fist on the table, upending the sake bottle. Victor catches it smoothly, and moves it out of her reach.

“Of course Yuuri has shown us he can put feeling into a routine. He has a particular gift for it actually,” Yuuri’s cheeks feel warm. He takes a large gulp of sake to try to cover it. From Victor’s small smile, he didn’t succeed, “I meant more, whether Yuuri would show his own feelings. The routines were always about vulnerability. We saw Yuuri as katsudon, as a woman, as a thief of sorts. He didn’t see Yuuri as Yuuri: an uncertain young man. His theme was love, yes? Love can be desire, or lust – eros, maybe, but it can greedy too,” Victor’s not looking at any of them now, “But isn’t love scary most of the time? The possibility of joy, the fear of loss.”

They’re all staring at Victor now. Yuuri’s never heard him sound so serious. Yuuko and Takeshi have probably never heard him sound anything but blasé.

Quickly though, Victor snaps out of whatever mood he’s in, and laughs – a little self-deprecating snort.

“Ah, sorry sorry! Too serious for such a fun night out. You inspired such musing in me, Yuuri – with your final performance,” Victor’s eyes seem to hold a promise. It’s one that Yuuri hopes Yuuko and Takeshi don’t recognize, but given that they have children, it’s probably too much to hope for.

Then, Victor claps his hands. Just like that, the mood jolts back into festive.

 

Later, when they’re in bed, Victor curled around Yuuri, legs tangled, Yuuri asks him,

“Did you mean that? What you said earlier tonight,” Victor hums questioningly, fingers tracing over Yuuri’s, “That you were surprised to see my honest emotions?”

He’s a little hurt, he’s realized after some thought. He really had shown so much of himself to Victor. He’s never cried so much in front of someone before. He skated his love each time.

“You’re a hard person to know, Yuuri. I knew you – ” Victor pauses, draws a deep breath, grabs Yuuri’s hand and slots their fingers together, “You so rarely show me what you’re feeling. At the Cup of China, you were suddenly different before your performance. You told me to keep my eyes on you – I didn’t understand why until much later. So much happens up in your head, but you don’t always share it. Then on the ice, you show us the end result of whatever you’ve been pondering. Your performances are exquisite, I’ve known that since the start, since you performed mine.”

“You don’t – ” But Yuuri doesn’t know where he’s going with the interruption. Still, Victor waits for him patiently, until it’s clear he won’t say anything else.

“Like now, for example. I don’t really know if you want me here.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you enjoy our dates? Because it’s hard for me to tell. As soon as I hold your hand you seem to freeze. Are you nervous? I thought maybe you didn’t like it but you tighten your grip if I try to pull away. You hardly talk at our dinners. You’ll make a man think he’s bad company, Yuuri.” Victor’s voice sounds teasing, but Yuuri feels cold. Maybe he’s misjudged. He desperately fishes for some of his courage,

“I’m just nervous, I guess.”

“About what Yuuri? I can’t help if you don’t tell me.” Victor’s voice is deep and soft, velveteen behind his ear. And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? But how to vocalise the twisting, squirming fear inside of him? Why did you come, and do you regret it? And when you leave will you forgive me for my selfishness?

“I guess I can’t believe you’re here with me,” is what he finally gets out. It’s not false, but it’s nowhere near complete.

Victor is silent for a long moment, long enough that Yuuri’s hearing adjusts and he can hear the clock tick faintly, long enough that he starts to worry that he’s said too much.

“You know, Yuuri, I really liked seeing you skate your love story with the ice in your free skate,” is what Victor finally says as he resumes stroking Yuuri’s side. It makes him feel brave,

“It wasn’t just my love of skating Victor,” Does he know this? Yuuri thinks despairingly. He rolls over, suddenly very sure that he has to say this, “I can’t differentiate between skating and you. It was a love story for you.” He hasn’t spoken so bolding for a long time, maybe not since that interview when he declared his theme.

“I’m glad to hear that Yuuri. I felt like I fell more in love with you each time I watched it.” Victor’s hands are stroking more firmly now, his lips on Yuuri’s ear. It makes him shiver. He can feel Victor smile, and let’s himself be pulled closer.

 

The equinox passes and the days start to grow shorter. It happens so slowly that Yuuri hardly notices until one day their walk along the pier at seven takes place almost entirely in the light. Soon enough, new leaves start to appear, and Victor swaps out his heavy coats for lighter sweaters. It distracts Yuuri. Victor looks like an ice price, winter royalty, at least until he opens his mouth. The deep red sweater is his favourite. He pulls it on once, just to see if it feels as soft on the inside as it does from the outside. It does, although Victor doesn’t let him keep it on for very long – a reaction Yuuri makes sure to remember.

 

They still go to the rink most days. Yuuko leaves it open just for them a few hours each evening. One day though, Victor asks if they can go in the morning.

“I had a dream,” he explains, looking excited, “I have to try to make it a reality.”

Yuuri’s too groggy in the mornings to try to figure out what’s going on in Victor’s head. Why does this man always seem to burst awake, like a sunflower, when the sun rises? He grumbles in his mind, as he puts on his shirt for the second time, the right way around this time. Victor’s already dressed. Yuuri waves him off, and he spins around, a sloppy pirouette, and runs down the hall. Yuuri breathes a sigh of relief, and goes to brush his teeth. If he’s not careful, Victor can give him a headache in the morning. Like a full day out in the sun without water, prolonged and unprepared exposure to Victor is enough to give anyone heatstroke.


By the time he gets to the rink, it’s been 45 minutes. He’s brought breakfast for them both. Victor will need it if he’s been skating all this time.

Yuuko grabs his arm before he can get to the rink though.

“It’s beautiful, Yuuri,” She gushes, to his confusion, “The new routine.”

‘It’s beautiful’ never seems enough to describe Victor. Victor has been beautiful since he was a teenager and burst onto the Junior World scene. Yuuri’s well aware that his obsession with Victor was embarrassing, but it’s always seemed justified. With each routine Victor evolved, grew even more polished, but never lost that sparkling beauty of a rare gem.

This new routine is no exception.  It’s fluid; Victor seems to float on the ice. It looks deceptively easy. No individual component is exceptionally difficult, Yuuri notes. Rather, it seems to be a compact routine that relies on flexibility. It would be exhausting to perform. It’s so different from anything he’s seen from Victor before. It looks like ballet.

It’s a routine of yearning, Yuuri suddenly realizes. Victor’s arms pull in and out, trying to reel something in, and failing – never quite connecting. It always gets free, whatever he’s chasing, leaving Victor to chase after it again.

He’s clapping before he thinks about it, catches himself off-guard. Victor always brings out his emotions like nothing, or no-one else. Victor pulls to a stop, chest heaving. His head snaps up searching for the source of the sudden noise.

Victor’s telling him about the routine, but he’s not listening. He’s just seeing it again in his mind.

“It’s beautiful, Victor.” He’s probably interrupted him, but it also probably doesn’t matter. Victor talks a lot.

“Not yet, but it will be.” Yuuri rolls his eyes at Victor’s dramatics and infinite self-assurance.

 

“He’s pretty arrogant, isn’t he?” Yuuko had asked him once, early after Victor had arrived.

“I don’t think so,” He’d replied slowly.

“I think he just acts with his body. I’m not sure it occurs to his mind to start doubting.”

“That’s pretty harsh, Yuuri. And isn’t that the same thing as arrogance?”

“I just mean, it’s not baseless or exaggerated. It’s just the truth.” Yuuko had sighed then,

“You know Yuuri, you don’t have to think he’s perfect, even if he’s your coach and your childhood crush.” She’d left Yuuri and his thoughts alone in the locker room then. But Victor wasn’t perfect, Yuuri continued the argument in his head. He could be cruel, almost sadistically blunt if he didn’t know to be otherwise. He was clingy and almost childish if he didn’t get his way. But everyone had faults, he reasoned. And being too honest certainly wasn’t the worst thing to be.

 

“Yuri liked my routine,” Victor explains over dinner.

“Is that what you’re going to do now?” Minako asks in response, eyesbrows raised. It wasn’t a silly question, Yuuri thinks, despite Victor’s look of surprise. She just vocalised what we’ve been thinking for months: what is five-time World Champion Victor Nikiforov going to do now that the reason he quit skating has retired?

“I’m not sure. I like choreographing routines, but I’m not sure that’s all I want to do. I’m possessive, you see,” He winks at Yuuri, “I don’t like just giving up what’s mine.”

“So what are you going to do then?” Why was she pressing the point? Yuuri frets internally. Was she trying to drive him away? But Victor just shrugs.

“What about you, Yuuri-chan?” This was worse, to have both pairs of eyes on him, barely blinking.

“You’re only 24. What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know. I never made up my mind last time, before Victor showed up.” Minako looks amused, like she wants to laugh at him. It’s unpleasant.

“You could always help Yuuko give some beginner ice-skating lessons.” It’s not a bad idea, actually, and he tells her so. Her “you’re welcome” sounds a little sarcastic.

 

He’s been feeling unsettled for a while. Maybe having a job will help with that. At least, that’s what Victor suggests. Yuuko agrees the next day when he calls her, and that’s it. Suddenly he’s in charge of three classes of children: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons. Two beginner classes and one ‘intermediate’, although as Yuuko reminds him, they’re only 10 years old so everyone will be a ‘beginner’ compared to what he’s used to seeing.

They’re hopeless. Most can barely stay on their feet at all, and Yuuri thanks Heaven and Earth often that they’re too young to get enough speed up to seriously hurt themselves. He tells Victor as much one evening, when they’re in bed. He can feel Victor chuckle, his chest rumbling under Yuuri’s ear.

“You have to remember how you were at that age, I guess.” Yuuri hums in agreement,

“True. But I’d been skating for two years when I was 10 though. I guess because Yuuko’s family owned the rink.”

“I can’t remember when I started skating,” Victor admits, putting his phone down on the bedside table, “My mother told me I started when I was four. I fell the first time she put me on the ice.”

“You weren’t a natural?” Yuuri teases.

“Apparently I got so upset I threw tantrums every day to go back until I didn’t fall over.” Yuuri laughs. It’s so easy to imagine a tiny Victor (was he a chubby child? Probably not. He dismisses the idea) demanding to go back to the ice.

“Do you parents skate?”

“I’m Russian, Yuuri. Everyone learns to skate.”

“But – I mean, I’ve always been worried that my parents would have preferred it if I had done something else.”

“They weren’t huge skaters though, if that’s what you’re asking,” The past tense makes Yuuri shiver. How did he not know? Yuuri tries to figure out how to respond. Victor has never talked much about his family, and now Yuuri knows why. Feels like a jerk for bringing it up, however unintentionally.

He tries to sound sympathetic, but not pitying. He thinks that would be what he would want in this situation. He asks if their death was what prompted Victor to want to quit skating. Maybe it’s a callous question, but he’s curious. Victor doesn’t seem to mind answering, although the conversation moves on fairly quickly after that.

 

The weather has settled into wet, less ice and more rain.

Victor spends more time on the phone. They stop going on evening walks together. Yuuri walks Makkachin, who loves to jump in the puddles, while Victor sits in front of his phone and talks in Russian.

Victor stays up late more often, and soon Yuuri only ever goes running in the morning alone. They still go to the rink, but Victor mutters more in Russian and spins around Yuuri less. Yuuri starts teaching himself the routine, for wont of anything else to do. He stops quickly when Victor watches him and says to himself, perhaps unaware that Yuuri can hear him,

“No no, I’ll have to change that.” Yuuri tries to convince himself that he was at least useful, but mostly he feels hurt.

 

Victor’s 28 and independent, he tells himself another late night when he’s alone in bed. He’s got work just like you’ve got work, and it’s just unfortunate that the timing isn’t synchronised. His reasoning doesn’t really make him feel better, but gives him something to say when Yuuko pulls him aside and asks him, with so much concern in her voice that it makes him feel ill, whether everything is okay.

Victor’s 28 and if there were a problem, he would tell Yuuri. Yuuri’s almost certain of this, until he remembers that he’s 24 and he definitely hasn’t got a good track record of telling Victor if something’s wrong (unless he’s having a breakdown, his brain unhelpfully reminds him).

So he does ask him, the next day when he catches Victor at the rink,

“Is everything okay?” He says, painfully aware of his whiny his voice sounds, how much like a kid he sounds, “You’ve been pretty busy lately.” Victor barely looks at him, concentrating on his phone.

“Yes, just busy with Yuri.”

Suddenly, Yuuri’s angry. Hearing Victor have so much time for the younger Russian with the same name. But as quickly as the anger rises, it disappears again, leaving only shame. What right does Yuuri have to dictate how Victor spends his time? He’s about to leave, willing to care for his twisting stomach lone when he has an idea.

“Did you,” he pauses to collect his thoughts. It’s a selfish idea, but it’s worth a try, “Do you think you might be free to go out for dinner?”

Victor’s fingers still at that, and he smiles, nodding his head so vigorously that his hair flops in front of his eyes.

“Sounds good!” They smile at each other for a few seconds. Hopefully Yuuko’s not around, they probably look really silly. Then Victor’s phone buzzes, and the moment is over.

“See you tonight then,” Yuuri calls over his shoulder as he heads to the rink. Victor doesn’t reply.