Flashbulbs blind Victor on the red carpet on his way into the banquet. He glances over to see how Yuuri's doing, but Yuuri looks unfazed. Maybe a lifetime of being blind has prepared him for this.
"Victor! Victor!" one reporter shouts. "When are you planning your return?"
"Russian Nationals. Little Yurio had better watch out," Victor says smoothly and walks away.
He steps closer to Yuuri, loops his arm around Yuuri's waist and leans in, catching another reporter asking Yuuri, "So now that Victor's announced his comeback, how do you feel about competing against your boyfriend?"
Victor braces for the usual: Yuuri blushing from head-to-toe, stammering out that they're not like that, that Yuuri loves Victor, but Victor's his coach and his inspiration and —
"I feel great about it," Yuuri says immediately. "I can't wait to stand higher than Victor on the podium."
With that, Yuuri grabs Victor's hand and pulls him inside.
Once they're inside, Victor looks around. The setup is so much like last year's, most of the same faces, the junior competitors getting swatted away from the bar as usual. When Victor was fourteen and won his last junior GPF before moving up to the senior division, he remembers shouting at the bartender, "Don't you understand? I'm Russian!" and coming up empty-handed anyway. Victor's never been used to hearing no.
But things are different now, too, he reminds himself. Like, how he's prouder of someone else's silver medal than he was of last year's gold. Or how someone whose name he barely knew a year ago is now the person he could never do without. Or how the emptiness that he thought might overtake him has been replaced by something that he has no more control of, but that he likes so much more.
"I'm going to get a drink. Do you want something?" Victor asks Yuuri, remembering last year and fully expecting to be turned down.
"Sure," Yuuri says. Victor blinks at him, but Yuuri just smiles brilliantly and squeezes Victor's hand. "It's a party, isn't it?"
Victor gets them drinks, and then Yuuri gets them drinks, and then Yuuri's cheeks start going pink and Victor knows he probably looks the same. It takes everything he has not to drag Yuuri outside right then and push him up against the nearest wall. Or let Yuuri push him against the nearest wall. Victor hasn't competed for a while, but that doesn't mean he isn't flexible. But Yuuri looks so happy to be there, chattering with Phichit and Celestino, and Victor figures he can wait for a little bit.
Everyone wants to talk to Victor about his return, but everyone wants to talk to Yuuri, too. The ladies' singles finalists all clutch at Yuuri's hands and praise his flexibility during his sit spins and spirals, cooing over his ring. Christophe congratulates Yuuri on his medal and tells Victor to watch his back because you never know who's coming up from behind, which Victor doesn't think Chris means as a come-on, but maybe he does. Probably he does.
After their fourth glasses of champagne, Yuuri tugs Victor across the room to bother Yurio, who's talking to Otabek. When he sees Yuuri and Victor smile and wave at him, Yurio scowls huge, like he didn't just break one of Victor's world records and also become the first person ever to win the men's singles at the GPF in his senior debut.
"How many of those have you had, pork chop?" Yurio says, jerking his head at Yuuri's champagne glass. "Because if you challenge me to another dance-off, I'm going to kick your skinny ass for the second time today."
"Skinny ass?" Yuuri repeats in wonder.
Otabek lets out a snort of laughter. "Don't mind him. He's just angry because they wouldn't give him any champagne."
"I'm Russian," Yurio says indignantly, which only makes Otabek laugh harder.
"Maybe next year," Otabek says reassuringly.
Yurio lets out a frustrated grunt, and pokes Yuuri in the belly. "So are you retiring or what?"
"Not yet," Yuuri says.
"I'm surprised," Yurio replies, but Victor doesn't miss the way the tension goes out of Yurio's shoulders. "Figured you'd be too scared to compete against your boyfriend," adds Yurio, and there's that word again. Victor once again waits for protests that never come.
Yuuri reaches over to ruffle Yurio's hair, laughing as Yurio hisses and shrinks away like an indignant cat. "Victor doesn't scare me anymore," he says, and gives Victor a warm look that could melt an iceberg. "Much," he adds, and Victor's heart goes liquid and his toes tingle.
"Jesus, get a room," Yurio mumbles under his breath.
"Let's get another drink," Yuuri says to Victor, then looks at Yurio. "Can I get you anything? Oh, wait." Yuuri saunters away with Victor close behind, and Otabek's howl of laughter can probably be heard in Kazakhstan.
The music starts up after they're just finishing up their fifth drinks. Yuuri loosens his tie and loses his jacket and this — this, Victor thinks, is when Yuuri starts seducing the whole room. And he does, but not in the way Victor thinks. Instead, he pushes Victor's jacket off his shoulders into a puddle on the floor. Victor spares a thought for his poor thousand-dollar jacket, then forgets about it completely when Yuuri loosens Victor's tie for him, too. Victor can feel that other people are watching them, but he only has eyes for Yuuri as Yuuri leads them out on the dance floor.
They dance a waltz and a tango, a paso doble, and a rumba. Every ballroom dance step Victor ever learned for the ice comes into play here, but backwards because Yuuri's leading and, damn it, Victor doesn't want it any other way. By the time they get to a swing dance, Victor's body finally realizes he's halfway drunk and hasn't been competing for nearly a year, and just won't bend the way he wants. He's breathless and overwhelmed, but honestly, it's not just because of the dancing.
Yuuri leans in, his lips against the shell of Victor's ear. "How are you going to surpass me again when you're like this, old man?" he whispers, and Victor has never been so turned on by being insulted.
"Can we go now?" Victor asks.
"Sure," Yuuri says, and smiles, a huge smile that makes the corners of his eyes crinkle up. He wraps his arm around Victor's waist and shouts, "Attention, everyone! My boyfriend, Victor Nikiforov, and I are now leaving this banquet, together, and if Phichit posts anything that happened here tonight to Instagram, I will make him very, very sorry."
"Aw man, Yuuri!" Phichit yells from across the room.
"Good night, everyone!" Yuuri shouts as they start to back out of the room. A waiter hands them their discarded jackets, and Victor tries thanking him, but Yuuri's too busy announcing, "I can't wait to kick all of your butts at World's!" Victor buries his face in Yuuri's neck and shakes with laughter.
Yuuri kisses Victor right outside the banquet hall, running his fingers down the front of Victor's shirt, bump-bump-bumping down each button in time with Victor's heartbeat. They manage to make it upstairs to their room, stopping along the way to kiss again and again, and Victor's body thrums with anticipation of soon. But when they get inside, Yuuri yawns huge as he takes off his shoes, flopping back onto the bed and looking at Victory with heavy eyelids. Yuuri murmurs, "I'm so glad you're in my life, Victor," and that's the last thing Victor hears before Yuuri starts softly snoring. He still has his glasses on.
Well. It's been a long day, after all.
Victor gently pulls the glasses from Yuuri's face and puts them on their nightstand, climbing into bed a few minutes later and curling around Yuuri like a question mark. After the banquet last year, Victor fell asleep alone with his gold medal and thought of Yuuri all night, so if their soon isn't now, well, Victor can wait a little longer still.