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Lost in Translations

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Victor Nikiforov was long-accustomed to being misunderstood. Years of international competition had helped his English, to a point. But his Japanese was rudimentary at best, and a blade-sharp focus on skating had left little room for developing much of anything in the way of interpersonal relationships. His body worked as a well-tuned instrument on the ice, but it was a studied thing, and did not carry over well once the skates were off.

But he’d spent a lifetime watching people, developing an emotional repertoire as much for his skating as for anything else, and it had been a survival skill to understand others. He thought, after all, that he was probably pretty good at reading people, even when the languages were so different.

That it took eight months for him to realize just how badly he’d read Yuuri threw him for a loop.

The landing wasn’t pretty.

&~@

He’d been charmed by Yuuri from the start, his usual crash from his post-win high stopped by the most ridiculous breathless fun he could remember. That this crushed boy could fly so high and do so well while drunk enough that most people could not even stand…

And the way Yuuri had looked at Victor… he’d brushed it off as drunken infatuation when nothing came of it, until the video.

How could that be anything but a love letter? Someone finally speaking his native tongue, and saying, “I see you. I understand.”

He’d been looking for direction, looking for a sign, and this ridiculous man had reached out to him, grabbed him, and he couldn’t help but follow.

Victor Nikiforov was the best jumper in the world, well-used to leaping blind and landing clean in ways no one could match. Falling was for other people. Stumbling was not acceptable. It had been a long time since the wind had been knocked out of him so thoroughly.

@*~)

Victor had worried over the problem—of course he had—for months. The clearest moments came when Yuuri stood breathless on the ice, heaving, staring, his face seeming to say, “For you. Only you. Always for you.” And Victor would reach out, and Yuuri would pull back, and the whole thing would begin again.

Watching Yuuri buy him a ring, and then say words that seemed to undercut such an unmistakable symbol, he sighed, smiled, and gave up with translations to slide the other ring onto Yuuri’s finger because really, it was absurd.

Chris cornered him, the next morning, over a breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant. “Engaged, really?”

“Maybe,” Victor said. “I don’t know. He’s sleeping.”

Chris stared at him. “You are wearing rings. How can you not know? You love him. He’s never stopped looking hungry at you.”

“He speaks so little Russian,” Victor said. “I speak just enough Japanese to not wet myself or starve.”

“I’ve heard you use more than that,” Chris said.

“Still,” Victor said. “Some things don’t translate, and it’s hard to know what to ask, how not to give offense. English is fine, but the assumptions we make don’t translate.”

“Perhaps you should figure that out before you decide if you’re actually engaged,” Chris said. “Or not. I want a chance at a medal, and the more confused the two of you are, the better my chances.”

“Don’t count on that,” Victor said, laughing. “He and I speak the same language on the ice.”

“Eros?” Chris said, laughing. “That boy has never fucked or been fucked.”

“Is romantic love, also,” Victor said. “And the desire is there.”

“Is it?” Chris said, still chuckling. “You’re blushing. Your desire? Or his?”

Victor stared down at the pastry he’d been systematically pulling apart, and said nothing.

“He’s sexy as hell when he wants to be,” Chris said. “When he’s drunk, anyway. You should send him out on the ice that way, maybe.”

Victor looked up at Chris and raised an eyebrow.

“Or not, what do I know?” Chris said. “I’m no coach.”

“You want gold just like everyone,” Victor said. “Not going to trust that advice.”

“Ask him what he wants,” Chris said.

“I did. He said he wanted to skate with me forever and eat katsudon with me. I thought it was a metaphor,” Victor said.

Chris let out a burst of laughter. “You look so confused, my friend. What do you want?”

“I want to make him fly,” Victor said. “I want to help him find perfection.”

“That could be interpreted quite a number of ways,” Chris said, with a waggle of his eyebrows.

Victor flicked a packet of sugar at Chris, and stood. “Right now, I just want to get him through the short program. Thank you… For listening.”

“Talk to him,” Chris said. “He really is crazy about you.”

Victor blushed, and gave Chris a wry smile, but said nothing more as he turned to go back up to the room where Yuuri slept.  

↝⟲⤼⤽

Victor felt the world spinning away from him as Yuuri bowed before him, the formality of his thanks cutting like a blade. But it was the tenderness that ripped him open, as Yuuri’s hand came up, and he could not bear it.

The cognitive dissonance twisted and pulled until he wanted to scream. That Yuuri might actually think this was all about skating seemed impossible, but the words they said never had lined up with the emotions they put into skating together.  

Something froze inside him, and cracked, and he could hear himself lashing out but couldn’t push through the ice to say what needed to be said.

If he wants it to be about skating, I will make it about skating. It was, after all, the only native language they shared.

⥩⃕⥁⤭⥣

Later, just before Yuuri went out onto the ice for his free skate, Victor could hear his own words falling from his mouth, could see Yuuri reacting, felt like clawing the words back until he finally realized some understanding might be taking shape. And the exhibition performance, that they had practiced in bits and drabs, laughing, then not laughing, and still it was a story they were telling without knowing if it was true or not… that performance felt like the most public declaration Victor had ever tried to make.

At the gala, later, Yuuri steadfastly avoided all the alcohol while blushing furiously at every sly comment from the other competitors. He let Phichit drag him off to meet someone.

Victor watched him go, leaning against a pillar in the ballroom and snagging a glass of champagne himself.

“Are you sure you’re going to wait until he wins gold?” Chris said to Victor. “That exhibition was… something. Have you seen it yet?”

Victor shook his head. “No.”

“Tell me you’re at least fucking,” Chris said. “Tell me I wasn’t beaten by two virgins skating about love.”

“I wouldn’t tell you if we were,” Victor said.

“But you’re not. Christ, that performance felt like foreplay. How could you possibly not…”

“Foreplay is before,” Victor said, watching as Yuuri gave a polite bow to someone, and then looked back to meet his gaze. Victor smiled, and then smiled wider as Yuuri grinned back at him.

“Shit,” Chris said. “Watch the recording. I’ll send you the link. Watch it together.” He dug into his pocket and said, “Put out your hand.”

Victor gave a bemused frown and held out his right hand.

Chris looked down at the ring, shook his head, and said, “You two are ridiculous,” and slapped something into his palm.

Victor looked curiously, then jerked, sloshing champagne over his left hand as his right reflexively closed around two small packets, to hide them from view. “Chris, what… You can’t just hand those to me here.” He moved to stuff them back in Chris’s breast pocket, but the other skater was stepping back and laughing.

“Keep them, Vitya,” Chris said. “Oh, don’t look at me that way. Be safe. You’re going to need them.”

Victor looked around. Most people were ignoring them, but Yuuri was headed back. Victor stuffed his hand into his pocket and plastered an awkward grin on his face.

“Yuuri!” Chris said. “I was just telling Victor that you two should—” Victor elbowed him and Chris’s face became a perfect mask of wounded dignity— “I was just going to say that you two should go watch the clip of the exhibition together. It’s way more interesting than this party could possibly be if you aren’t going to drink.”

At that, Victor took a large mouthful of champagne.

“Why is Victor red?” Yuuri asked. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen his face that color.”

Chris grinned. “I have no idea. Maybe he needs to lie down?”

“Victor, are you alright?” Yuuri asked, as Victor started to cough.

Chris bumped Victor’s champagne hand in the guise of reaching around to pat him on the back. “Oh, Victor, you’ve spilled your drink. Yuuri, I think he’s going to need a little help. He might have had too much.”

Yuuri’s eyes widened, and he took Victor’s other elbow. “Oh, of course, I wouldn’t want something unfortunate to happen. We’ll just…” He gestured in the direction of the door.

“I didn’t… I had less than half…” Victor tried to say, but Yuuri was tugging him off to the elevator and Chris was grinning widely and holding up his cell phone, tapping the screen.

“I’m not drunk,” Victor finally managed, as soon as the elevator doors closed and they were alone.

“I know,” Yuuri said. “But you smell like champagne. And I am… curious.”

“Curious?” Victor asked.

“Something made you turn red,” Yuuri said.

“I… He said we needed to watch the exhibition performance.”

“We didn’t make a mistake,” Yuuri said. “Why would that be distressing?”

The elevator dinged, and opened, and they walked across the hideous hotel carpet to their room.

“You didn’t answer?” Yuuri said as the door closed.

“It’s embarrassing.”

“Skating with me?” Yuuri said, a frown starting to move across his face.

Victor let out a short, sharp laugh. “Never. I’d skate with you for the rest of my life. You are not an embarrassment.”

At that, Yuuri flushed. “Even if I didn’t win gold?”

Victor shook his head, a silent, almost bitter laugh shaking him. “Oh, Yuuri. I never have the right words for you. Maybe Chris is right.”

The hurt left Yuuri’s face, but he looked completely perplexed.

Victor looked at his damp shirt, and grimaced. “I’ve got to get out of this, the champagne is going to dry sticky.” He shrugged out of his jacket, hung it on a hanger, then flipped open his laptop and opened Twitter. Sure enough, Chris had linked publicly to the exhibition skate. Victor sighed, opened the video, and started to unbutton his shirt.

“You mimicked me perfectly,” he murmured as the program began.

“I’ve had practice,” Yuuri said with a small, wry laugh as he sat down in the hotel room’s one chair in front of the laptop to watch.

The program unfolded before them, and Victor swallowed. He knew how it felt, skating with Yuuri, but with the lights, how it looked. He dared a glance at Yuuri, and then slapped his hand on the spacebar at the look of naked horror on Yuuri’s face.

“Was it so bad, seeing that?” Victor said, feeling his own hurt creeping in like a tide starting to turn.

“I can’t… they’ll…” Yuuri covered his mouth with both hands. “I don’t know how…” He turned and looked up at Victor, “I’m so sorry I made you do this.”

“Why?” Victor said, as the tide crested over his head. “That was stunning. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever skated. And the truest. Surely it meant something to you, more than just blades on ice. Surely it cannot be so terrible to be seen skating with me. Have I understood so little? Was this truly only about skating for you? We painted a picture of perfect love, and I don’t understand why you keep pulling away!”

“I don’t want to pull away,” Yuuri’s voice was almost a whisper. “I’ve wanted to be with you, to skate with you, for as long as I can remember.”

“Then why?” Victor asked, running his hand through his hair, shirt and cuffs unbuttoned, the ring catching the yellow hotel room lamplight. “Why do you keep pushing me away? Why do you look so horrified?”

“Because I’m afraid they’re going to kill you,” Yuuri said. “And that program… The way we skated it… it reveals too much. Too public.”

“You practically declared your love for me at a press conference,” Victor said. “And you’re worried about a routine?”

“I kicked myself for weeks. I’d promised myself and then I couldn’t stop talking and… they took it as this platonic thing and I was so relieved.”

“And who is they?” Victor said.

“Russia,” Yuuri said. “When I was in school, so many people didn’t go to the Olympics because it was in Russia. Phichit used to tease me about you, and he asked me then what I’d do if I had the chance to ask you out, and I laughed at him because I could never put you in such danger. I was in Detroit when the US let gay people marry. And he teased me then about marrying you.”

“That was last year, before the season even began,” Victor said. “Had we even met?”

“That was when my skating started to improve,” Yuuri said. “Not because of that, but no, I hadn’t made it so far before, so we never… But I watched everything you ever skated. Yuuko and I tried to do everything you ever did. She’s the one I was skating for, her little girls recorded it, the video that brought you to me. It was my first year to go that high and skate that well. I thought I blew my chance to meet you.”

“But you saw that it was possible, two men, you knew, you have to know how strong my feelings are for you. These rings were never a joke for me.”

“I thought…” Yuuri sighed. “I don’t know what I thought. I just couldn’t stand the thought of not being with you, even if it might never be safe to be with you. Even the US is not so safe now. It was one thing before… I thought things were getting better everywhere.”

“Japan’s not too bad,” Victor said. “And Russia…it’s not always so bad as that.”

“At least in the States more of the people are okay with it. In Russia? You have so few allies. And it is getting worse.”

“I bring glory,” Victor said. “They’ll overlook a lot.”

“If you’re secretive about it,” Yuuri said. “If you hide. But what are they going to say when your gay lover wins gold, beats you and the kitten in the process, and you reward him by marrying him?” He clapped his hands over his mouth.

“I’d be willing to find out,” Victor said gently, “if it meant I got to be your lover and marry you. And watch you win gold.”

Yuuri looked at Victor over his own hands, eyes wide. His shoulders shuddered abruptly and he swallowed hard as tears began to flow.

Victor put his hand down on the spacebar to resume the video, and then wrapped his arms around Yuuri from behind the chair, hanging over him. “This is us. Look at us. That is who I want to be with you, to you, and I am not going to be ashamed of that.”

“We might never win gold again, if the judges don’t like it,” Yuuri whispered, his hands coming up to Victor’s.

“We will show them the most beautiful skating the world has ever seen,” Victor said. “And if they don’t accept it, the world will change until they do.”

“Do I really have to win gold before you kiss me?” Yuuri asked, twisting a little in his chair to look up and back at Victor.

Victor laughed, and pulled Yuuri’s right hand to his lips. “I just said I’d kiss your medal if you won gold. I never said you.”

“So you won’t kiss me?” Yuuri said, his voice hovering between worried and teasing.

Victor swore softly, and then laughed, and then pulled Yuuri to his feet and into his arms. “You are ridiculous, Kobuta-chan. You are already golden.”

Yuuri’s arms slipped around Victor’s torso, his head bowed slightly,

Victor brought his right hand under Yuuri’s chin, and nudged until Yuuri looked up. Victor smiled and said, “Better,” before closing the short distance between them. It was not the first time their lips had met, but every other time had been fleeting, faster than a jump, but this, this was a slow glide, opening bars.

It was Yuuri who deepened it, pulling Victor in closer, lips parting, but they had been dancing so long together that each move was easy to follow, easy to meet and echo and elaborate upon. It was Yuuri who pulled the slightly damp shirt off of Victor’s shoulders and let it drop, his fingertips tracing muscles, a feather-light touch that made Victor shiver.

Yuuri pulled back. “Cold?”

Victor breathed out a chuckle, “Not at all.” Then he looked down at Yuuri. “You’re wearing too many clothes.”

Yuuri blushed, and his hands, shaking a little, went to the buttons of his shirt.

“Let me,” Victor said.

“You never said why you were so red when Chris was talking to you,” Yuuri murmured as his shirt fell open, revealing that his own flush had gone halfway down his chest.

Victor froze.

Yuuri tipped his head to one side, curious, and then said, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to? If it’s that bad?”

Victor sighed, and then stuck his hand into his pocket, and pulled out the condom and lube packet that Chris had handed him earlier.

Yuuri’s eyebrows went up. “Useful. Does he do that often?” Then he turned a brighter shade of red.

“No, not often,” Victor said.

“He’s done it before?” Yuuri asked, voice teasing, eyes sparkling with something else.

“It’s the first time he managed to get away before I could stuff them back in his jacket,” Victor said. “If that’s what you’re asking.”

Yuuri looked away abruptly, saying, “I don’t assume you are innocent, Victor. I never have.”

“I’m not guilty,” Victor said, returning the packets to his pocket and putting his hands on Yuuri’s hips to bring him closer. “And the things I’ve done, I’m not ashamed of, nor were they… exciting enough to require Chris’s… help. Not when he was around to give it.”

“I haven’t allowed myself to…” Yuuri blushed again.

“If it is what you want, I am here,” Victor said. “But it isn’t something I need to function, or to love, or to live.”

“Do you want me? That way?” Yuuri asked.

“You… I don’t know how else to make it clear to you that I want you. In my life. However I can get you. I was resigning myself to simply being the best friend and skating guide and partner I could possibly be. I want you, but I want you, not the idea of you, and that means I only want you that way, as a lover, if you want me, too. Not because you think it will make me happy, but because you want me.”

“I’ve always wanted you,” Yuuri said. “I couldn’t… it wasn’t safe to use words.”

“You used skating.”

“Someday I might tell you just how long,” Yuuri said, and shrugged out of his shirt, which Victor tossed over the chair. “But yes, I want you. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anyone else.”

Victor ran his hands along Yuuri’s shoulders, and grinned as Yuuri shivered. “Cold?”

“Ha.”

“There is one thing,” Victor said, as he trailed his fingers down Yuuri’s chest.

“Anything,” Yuuri said, leaning toward the light touch.

“We’re going to be competitors. And I don’t ever want you to hold back from your best just because I’m on the ice against you.”

Yuuri laughed. “I never would. It would be… disrespectful toward you for me to think that you needed that from me. And I would hope the same would be true of you.”

“As if I would ever,” Victor said, pretending offense. “That you could think that of me…”

“You do have more riding on losing than I do.” Yuuri kissed Victor’s shoulder. “We can’t both win gold at the same time, and you’ve already been champion, so many times.”

“There’s an easy way to avoid that,” Victor said. “Take away my incentive to lose.” Yuuri’s ear was so close that he didn’t even have to lean to catch the lobe with his lips.

“How?” Yuuri murmured against Victor’s skin.

“Marry me. Before we get to the next competition against each other.”

Yuuri froze, his lips on Victor’s collarbone. He pulled back, to look at Victor, his fingers coming up to Victor’s lips. “All you have to do is say that it’s not dependent on winning. We don’t need to rush into it just to make sure you’re not holding back.”

“Is it rushing?” Victor asked. “You started seducing me a year ago.”

“Oh god,” Yuuri said. “Just…” He gave up on words, and shook his head, but he was smiling as he pivoted them and then neatly tipped Victor back onto the bed, landing belly to belly on top of him.

Victor laughed, delighted. “Is that a yes?” He reached up to run his fingers through Yuuri’s hair.

“Augh. Shut up. Yes, I will marry you. Eventually. But you have to promise never to bring up that gala again.” Yuuri leaned a little into the touch.

Victor stuck his bottom lip out. “I started falling in love with you at that gala. It was life-changing.”

“You fell in love with drunk me, and I still can’t remember,” Yuuri said. “I don’t even know how to be that Yuuri sober.”

“I love who you are, sober or otherwise,” Victor said. “Drunk Yuuri was charming but you—you are so much more than that. Though I wouldn’t say no to more pole dancing.”

“Shut up,” Yuuri said. “I thought you wanted to marry me.”

“Make me.”

Yuuri considered for a moment, then dropped his head down. Victor met him, lip to lip.

⥤⤔⤞⥉

It might have been fifteen minutes later or it might have been a couple hours, that they stopped kissing long enough for Yuuri to say, “Wait, was I shutting you up or getting you to marry me?”

“Yes,” Victor said.

“Oh, okay.” Yuuri grinned.

“You’ll come to Russia with me?” Victor asked. “To train?”

Yuuri rolled off of Victor and onto his side. “If you think we’ll be safe enough there.”

“We cannot be guaranteed safety anywhere, but in all of Russia, St. Petersburg is probably the safest,” Victor said. “We can’t talk to Yurio about it there, though, because of his age.”

Yuuri laughed. “I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that we can’t. And do they really think that teenagers can’t find information?”

“The world has gone mad,” Victor said with a shrug. “If it’s all going to fall apart, I’d rather that happen with you by my side. And skating… the three of us training together, with Yakov… the rest of the world will never be able to catch up.”

“If it gets bad, we can always go back to Hasetsu,” Yuuri said.

“I’ll go where you are,” Victor said. “I have another year or two of competitive skating in me. I’d like to spend it with Yakov, but if it comes down to a choice, I think… you already know.”

“I don't want you to have to choose,” Yuuri said, tucking his head against Victor’s left shoulder. “I never want to hold you back.” Yuuri’s left hand rested lightly near his own cheek, on Victor’s shoulder.

“You know you’ve only made me better,” Victor said. “I’ve more challenge to work towards between you and Yurio than I’ve seen in the rest of my skating career combined. And we make each other’s skating better.”

“Too bad there are no men’s pairs,” Yuuri said.

“I will never skate another exhibition without you, if I can help it,” Victor said, his left arm wrapping around Yuuri, hand splayed across Yuuri’s lower back. He reached his other hand over, and clasped the hand on his shoulder, then smiled to feel lips against his knuckles. “We can skate our pairs then, and they will create a competition for it simply to see more of it.”

“We were beautiful,” Yuuri said. “I was just so scared.”

“Your free skate was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen,” Victor said. “If you’d come off the ice and said, ‘Let’s fly somewhere and get married tonight,’ I would have done it.”

“I didn’t win,” Yuuri said.

“Because you took a chance on the short program. I can’t… I want you to win. I don’t want you to stop daring. Sometimes the one… prevents the other. You will practice the harder programs, and next time you will probably not fall. You have proven yourself capable of besting anyone in the world. Even Yurio. Even me.” With that, Victor brought his right hand up to Yuuri’s cheek.

“Impossible,” Yuuri said, and slid his hand down Victor’s chest, to settle on Victor’s bare stomach.  Which reacted to his touch rather a lot. Yuuri looked up at Victor’s face with a grin. “Are you ticklish?”

Victor seemed to be rippling under his hand, his head thrown back for a moment, and then he turned, pinning Yuuri under him. “I would not call it that,” Victor said, and then latched on to the sensitive skin just beneath Yuuri’s ear.

Yuuri gasped, turning his head to allow better access, his body lighting up until his hips rolled up against Victor of their own accord. Victor chuckled, his breath puffing against Yuuri’s ear, and let his own hips press down in response.

Yuuri’s hands flailed against the duvet cover for a moment, and then came up to find the bare skin of Victor’s back, which apparently steadied him, as his hands moved smoothly once they made contact, up to Victor’s shoulder blades, and then down to the waistband of his slacks, where a leather belt held them firmly in place.

Yuuri made a small noise and Victor pulled away long enough to ask, “Do you want me to take it off?”

Yuuri looked up at him, dazed, and then said, “Oh. Yes. Please.”

Victor laughed. “Fair’s fair.” He nodded in the general direction of Yuuri’s own belt as he stood to remove his own.

Yuuri blushed all the way down to his belly button.

“We don’t have to…” Victor started, but despite the blush, the look Yuuri shot him was every bit the seductress, and there was a determination to the way his hands moved to his belt that left Victor’s mouth completely dry.

“Or we definitely could,” Victor said, and slowly removed his own belt. Slowly because his hands didn’t seem to be obeying him very well.

Yuuri had already removed his pants by the time Victor managed to get the buckle open on his recalcitrant belt. Yuuri kicked them off the foot of the bed and lay there, watching Victor with all kinds of obvious interest, in his boxer briefs and his dress socks. Victor stopped working on his pants for a moment, and knelt at the foot of the bed to pull the socks off, taking a moment to kiss the insides of Yuuri’s ankles as he did so.

The response was heartening, as Yuuri’s whole body reacted to the surprising touch.

“How… “ Yuuri’s voice was surprisingly hoarse. “Why did that feel that way? There?”

“I didn’t know it would,” Victor said. “I don’t think everyone is sensitive in the same places in the same ways. But I want to know what makes you react.” With that, he pressed his lips to the inside of Yuuri’s knee and traced a slow, circle with his tongue. It wasn’t until he inhaled that Yuuri swore.

Victor laughed, rolled onto his side between Yuuri’s legs, and sucked a small kiss a little higher, up the inner thigh. Yuuri’s other leg wrapped around him, foot stroking down Victor’s back as pelvis rolled up, legs catching Victor tightly as he moved a little farther upwards.

The questing foot against his back stopped abruptly when Yuuri’s toes found his slacks, still on.

“If you don’t take those off, Victor…” Toes moved across Victor’s ass, and gave an impatient tug on the fabric.

Victor laughed, still kissing Yuuri’s thigh, and managed to flick the clasp of his trousers open, holding onto Yuuri’s leg with one arm as he used the other to shove everything off. He glanced over and snorted. “Your toes are so talented. I am in awe.”

Yuuri had used his toes to lift the packets out of Victor’s pocket.

“It’s a gift,” Yuuri said, using the momentary reduction in sensation to sit up and snag the two packets with one hand. “Oh,” he said, then. “You’re naked.”

Victor grinned up at him. “You’re not. We could fix that.” He rolled over and tugged at the waistband.

Yuuri blushed, and then lifted his hips, one hand coming up involuntarily to cover himself.

Victor shook his head. “I’ve seen you naked so many times, milyi…”

“Not like this,” Yuuri said.

Victor grinned. “Your point?” And he sat back on his knees, his obvious erection showing. “My point.”

Yuuri laughed and dropped his hand away.

Victor nodded. “Better, but we’re not ready for that yet.”

Yuuri frowned. “Looks ready. Feels ready.”

“I’m not done finding out what makes you wiggle,” Victor said.

Yuuri fell backwards, saying, “I’m a dead man.”

Victor flopped down next to him, on his side. “I think I will start with your fingers.”

He pulled one of Yuuri’s fingers into his mouth, studying Yuuri’s face all the while. Yuuri looked bemused. Then Victor grinned around the finger, and Yuuri shook his head. “You look ridiculous.”

Victor pouted around Yuuri’s index finger, and then sucked on it, letting his tongue play with the tip. He chuckled as Yuuri’s eyes closed, and glanced downward. He let go. “It’s like a thermostat. Warmer, colder…”

“A madman,” Yuuri said. “I’m in bed with a mad… ohhhh.”

Victor had moved on to the inside of Yuuri’s wrist, and the reaction was dramatic. He sucked a small mark onto Yuuri’s wrist, and then rolled to get at the inner elbow. One of Yuuri’s heels started bouncing against the bed. When he started working his way up the inside of Yuuri’s upper arm, Yuuri squeaked and then said, “That’s it,” and flipped over.

“Are we done?” Victor asked, rolling back.

“Are we…” Yuuri gave an exasperated sigh, and tackled him, straddling his belly and pinning his hands in place so they could not continue to tease. “You’re driving me crazy.”

“That’s the point,” Victor said.

“No, this is the point,” Yuuri said, looking down.

Victor grinned, and tossed his hips up. Yuuri’s eyes widened as he felt something tapping against his rear. Victor laughed. “You’ve got me, now what are you going to do with me?”

Yuuri blushed.

“Yuuri, you are sitting naked on my naked belly, and you’re blushing. Will you show me what you’re thinking? Or am I going to have to guess? I’m tired of guessing.”

Yuuri sat up straight, his feet against Victor’s legs, tipped his head backward and closed his eyes, then let go of Victor’s wrists to trail his fingers feather-light up the insides of Victor’s arms. The light tracery made Victor shudder underneath him, and eyes still closed, he smiled, then brought his thumbs down on Victor’s chest, near the nipples, circling, but not touching the tips.

Arms freed, Victor brought his hands up to Yuuri’s hips, where he circled his thumbs just below Yuuri’s hip bones. Yuuri responded by running his palms lightly across Victor’s nipples, smiling when Victor groaned, and then experimentally circling both tips with his thumbs.

“That is good,” Victor whispered. “Are you so sensitive there?”

“There’s only one way to know,” Yuuri said, and then gasped as Victor’s fingers moved upward to tease at his nipples.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Victor said. “Remind me why you aren’t kissing me?”

“I can't think of a reason,” Yuuri said, and shifted to find Victor’s mouth, a strange noise escaping him as the contact became abruptly more intimate.

Victor reached down and said against Yuuri’s mouth, “Lift up a moment.”

At the slight hesitation, Victor sighed and said, “Not for that, just, I need to adjust.”

Yuuri lifted his hips and Victor brought his cock up between them. “You don’t have to stop kissing me, you know,” he said, “It’s okay.”

When Yuuri let himself back down to kiss Victor again, the motion brought their lengths together, and Yuuri stopped for a moment to rest his forehead against Victor’s. “I think I like this adjustment,” he said.

“Shhhh,” Victor said, and ground his hips against Yuuri. “Is good.”

Yuuri pushed back, and groaned. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“You’re feeling good,” Victor said. “Come back down here and kiss me. There is no right way/wrong way. Just feels good or doesn’t. If it doesn’t, we do something else.”

“I don’t know about… “ Yuuri glanced down at the condom.

Victor followed his gaze, and laughed. “No need right now.” He reached over and picked up the lube packet. “Plenty to do without that.” He stared at the little plastic container, and then twisted one end off of it. “We can try something out, and if we don’t like it, we’ll do something different.”

He squeezed a little of the lube onto his hand, and took them both in hand. Yuuri’s head lolled back and he gave an experimental thrust which left them both gasping.

“I think… I like that very much,” Yuuri said.

Victor used his free hand to tug at Yuuri’s shoulder, “You’re too far away.”

Yuuri leaned back down and found Victor’s mouth with his own, and gave another push of his hips.

“Dance with me like we do on the ice,” Victor said, and Yuuri stared at him, then they were moving together in the slick tightness of his grip, finding a natural pace that they lost themselves in.

A few minutes later, Yuuri gasped and lost his rhythm and Victor laughed, delighted, and came a moment later.

“You’re laughing at me,” Yuuri said, his whole body sprawled limp over Victor.

“I’m laughing because you delight me,” Victor said. “This thing our bodies do, it is ridiculous. And it feels wonderful. And I will be happy to do this again with you, because I think you have many surprises for me, yet.”

“And if I stop surprising you?” Yuuri asked.

“Then it’s probably because you’ve found something worth doing twice? Do not worry that I will bore of you, dorogoi.”

“What does that one mean?” Yuuri mumbled

“Hmmm… darling? But it sounds better in Russian.”

“You think everything sounds better in Russian.”

“Watashi wa dekirudake hayaku nihongo o manande imasu,” Victor said.

“I know you are,” Yuuri replied. “Ya uchus' moy russkiy yazyk, lyubov' moya.”

“Is mine as terrible as yours?” Victor asked, laughing.

“Probably,” Yuuri said. “But I think we’ll do all right.”

“Yes, but only if we shower,” Victor said.

“I can’t move,” Yuuri said, splayed like a starfish.

“I just found out that you are very sensitive,” Victor said, trailing his fingers down Yuuri’s back, to his sides, and then wiggling them.

“Nope,” Yuuri said. “Not anymore. My head went pffft and I will never be tickled again.”

Victor threw his arms out dramatically. “Ah, then I am stuck here, pinned, doomed to waste away to nothing while completely covered by my Katsudon.”

“Mmmm, katsudon,” Yuuri said, wiggling a little, and then wincing. “Messy.”

“I told you. We need a shower. You want to fall asleep on me, you must bring a towel next time.”

“Oubouna,” Yuuri said.

“What’s that?” Victor asked.

“Bossy.”

“I am your coach.”

“Not in bed,” Yuuri said, and then pulled back, wincing at the mess. “I need a shower.”

“I just said that,” Victor muttered, shaking his head as Yuuri dashed to the bathroom. “Wait for me!”

Chapter Text

The hotel shower was made of glass, and Yuuri had just stepped in when Victor made it to the bathroom.

Victor watched appreciatively as Yuuri stretched and then leaned forward, letting the water slide down his back. “Share?” Victor asked.

Yuuri reached up to point the spray away from the door, and then nudged the door open, stepping back to make room.

“Hot,” Victor said, as the water hit him.

“You’re hot, too, but you’re blocking the shower,” Yuuri said.

Victor grinned and wrapped his arms around Yuuri, pulling him around so that they both stood, wedged together under the spray. “You’re hotter.”

Yuuri snorted and reached past Victor for the soap.

Victor seized the opportunity to lean in and suck the water from Yuuri’s neck.

With a strange, laughing gasp, Yuuri said, “Ha… that… I’m trying to get clean.”

Victor put his hands behind his head and stuck his chest out. “Do me, first.”

Yuuri looked thoughtful, then grinned and slowly spun the bar of soap in his hands, building lather. “Okay.” He stepped sideways, away from the showerhead, and Victor turned, watching him, the water hitting him in the middle of his back.

Victor was not prepared for the feel of Yuuri’s slick hands on his chest, his stomach. When a soapy hand closed around his cock, his knees almost buckled. The hands moved upward and Yuuri nudged Victor until his back was against the side wall of the shower, the soap disappearing quickly from his front.

Yuuri soaped himself quickly, and stepped into the spray, his hands returning to Victor’s chest. They stuttered and stopped on the clean skin, and Yuuri reached back over to grab a tiny bottle of almond oil.

“Do you want me to... “ Victor started, but Yuuri touched a finger to his lips.

“Stay,” Yuuri murmured, as he poured a small pool of oil into his hands, and slicked them. They slipped easily across Victor’s skin, the water beading wherever his hands passed.

Victor closed his eyes, leaning heavily on the wall behind him as Yuuri’s body pressed against his, hands wandering up and down Victor’s sides. He opened his eyes as the pressure of Yuuri’s body disappeared, and then gasped as Yuuri’s tongue found his nipple. His hand came up to caress Yuuri’s head, which moved down as Yuuri knelt in the small space.

Victor laughed. “I don't think I will be all that interesting there so soon.”

Yuuri looked up at him,  gave him a wide, predatory grin, and ran his still-slick hands around to Victor’s ass and then down the backs of his thighs. “No?” He leaned forward, and sucked a small mark on Victor’s hip.

Victor’s knees wobbled. “Haaa… maybe.”

Yuuri held up a hand and said, “More oil,” then he returned his attention to the sensitive crease between thigh and groin.

Victor’s hands were shaking a little, but he poured a little oil in Yuuri’s hand.

Yuuri wrapped his slick hand around Victor’s cock, which did, in fact, respond with interest. He turned his head and kissed the shaft.

“I’m not sure I can stay standing if you do that right now,” Victor said.

“You’re a world class athlete,” Yuuri said. “I’ll stop if you want, but it astonishes me to think of the great Victor Nikiforov being felled by a kiss.”

“By your kiss,” Victor said.

“Not likely,” Yuuri said. “I’m an amateur at this.”

Victor laughed. “Yes, but if I have learned anything about you these past few months, lyubov' moya, it is that you… are a quick study.” His chuckle turned into a gasp as Yuuri’s lips wrapped around the now-exposed head of his cock.

He looked down to see Yuuri drenched in the shower, eyes closed. He reached up and moved the showerhead. “Don’t drown, my love.”

Yuuri shook a little with laughter, and did something hesitantly with his tongue. “Yes, more like that,” Victor said, and reached down to stroke the dripping hair off Yuuri’s forehead. “Beautiful.”

Yuuri looked up at him, experimenting with his tongue and watching Victor’s reactions, studying every response. When Yuuri’s hand came up to grip firmly, as his tongue continued to play, Victor closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the glass enclosure.

“I think I want you to do that for a very long time,” Victor said after a few minutes, “But I’m not sure I want you to do that anymore right now.”

Yuuri rocked back on his heels and looked up at him. “No?”

“You will tire your jaw, and my body has already been satisfied, no?”

“I want to study you,” Yuuri said. “To touch…”

“We have a lifetime,” Victor said, tugging at Yuuri’s hands and pulling him upward. “No hurry, moyo zolotse.”

Yuuri reached up and moved the showerhead so that it pointed at both of them, and then smiled at Victor. “I know what that means. Am I to be your trophy husband?”

“Obviously, I am to be yours,” Victor said. “Come, we should get dressed and you should show me off. Make all the other skaters envious.”

“They already are,” Yuuri said. “Of your medals, and of me, for having you.”

“You do have me,” Victor said, turning off the water. “You know that, yes?”

“I know it in my bones,” Yuuri replied, “But part of me can’t believe it, still. That I get to touch you, to love…”

“I want to shout it to the world,” Victor said, “But for now I would settle for telling our friends.”

“I’m sure they’ll be amazed.” Yuuri grabbed a towel and handed it to Victor, who used it to pull them close together. “We won’t get to tell anyone if you…”

He trailed off as Victor’s lips found his throat. Victor said against his skin, “I’m just sharing a little of that oil, so your skin is not too dry.”

Yuuri laughed. “Is that all?”

≂͠⥴⥳≋

Yuuri’s suit was still adequate for the evening, if a little rumpled. Victor laughed when Yuuri worried about his champagne-soaked sleeves and said, “When have you ever known me to pack light?” He produced another suit, put it on, and then said, “All right, we can go.”

Yuuri glanced at the mirror and said, “Oh, no…”

“No?” Victor asked.

“My hair… it looks like I’ve been in the shower.”

“Sit,” Victor said. “Are you worried someone will figure out we are together because your hair is different? I was thinking they might get that from the whole, ‘We’re getting married’ thing.” But he was already bringing out the comb to work Yuuri’s hair back with a little gel.

“Not as much as I usually use,” Victor said under his breath. “Unless you’re planning on drinking?”

“I want to remember this year,” Yuuri said. “I’d rather not drink at all than risk forgetting.”

“I mean, if you’re going to be on a pole again, I ought to use a little more gel.”

Yuuri made a priceless noise and Victor laughed.

“Where did you learn that, anyway? The pole-dancing?”

Yuuri said, “Where else? University.”

“That sounds like a much more interesting university than the ones we have back home.”

“It was a different way of using my body, and I was trying to find ways of being strong and unique. To do it artistically, you need to feel the music and move with it, or it’s just rude. Plus it built a lot of stamina.”

“You are telling me that your edge in figure skating was a college pole dancing class?” Victor started laughing. “Never tell anyone else this.”

Yuuri grinned. “Celestino could not figure out where my improvement was coming from. And it wasn’t even an official class, more of a student club. The girls were upset I was there the first day, then they threatened to make me their mascot by the time I stopped having time for it. I did a different style of dance every year, but that was the last one.”

“A daring choice. Did you ever perform anywhere?” Victor asked.

“Last year’s banquet, apparently,” Yuuri said ruefully. “I’m not surprised that Christophe was so good at it, he moves like he’s spent a lot of time on a pole.”

Victor coughed. “I’m pretty sure he’d be happy on a pole, or being the pole, either way.”

“I meant how he moves when he skates,” Yuuri amended.

“Of course,” Victor said, and put the comb down. “Yoroshī?”

“It’s fine,” Yuuri answered.

“Nervous?” Victor asked.

Yuuri looked thoughtful. “I feel like I should be. But I’ve already said all this to the world today. This is just being clear. And you’ll stay by my side?”

“I’ll even hold your hand,” Victor said.

“I gave you such a good opening,” Yuuri said.

“When have you ever known me to want to do the obvious?” Victor asked.

“I hope the triplets have reaction shots somewhere from the moment you came on the ice in the exhibition skate,” Yuuri said. “That may well be the biggest shock you’ve given an audience in your life.”

“Yeah,” Victor said, looking misty. “It really was.”

~~>~~@

They took the elevator back down to the banquet hall, and before they stepped through the double doors, Yuuri entwined his fingers with Victor’s. Victor looked down, then met Yuuri’s eyes and grinned. Yuuri’s answering smile bloomed.

“God, they got worse.” Yuri leaned against a wall down the hallway, where he had apparently been chatting with Otabek. “What have you two gone and done now?”

“Victor is moving back to Russia,” Yuuri said, sliding his phone out of his pocket casually.

“You’re actually retiring? I cannot believe… how stupid could you…”

“Yurio, I will still be coaching him,” Victor said.

Yuri stared, mouth agape. Yuuri took a picture.

“Did you get it?” Victor asked.

Yuuri grinned, and showed him the result.

“Oh, you’re pulling my leg,” Yuri said, looking annoyed but also disappointed.

“No, I’m coming to St. Petersburg,” Yuuri said. “I just wanted a picture of your face when you found out that Victor is coming back and I’m not retiring.”

A strange series of expressions warred on Yuri’s face until he managed to school his face into a frown. He gave an angry sniff.

“I think he’s happy about it, you know?” Victor said.

Yuuri looked thoughtful. “One might actually think he wants us there.”

Victor gave Yuuri a pointed look and then looked at the phone.

“Why are you looking like that?” Yuri snarled.

“There’s one more thing,” Yuuri said, and then looked at Victor.

“We’re getting married,” Victor grinned, and Yuuri took another picture.

“Delete those, my god,” Yuri hissed, but there were tears in his eyes. “Really?”

“Is that wise?” Otabek asked.

“It feels…” Victor hesitated.

“Necessary,” Yuuri supplied. “We’ll go to Japan if there’s too much trouble. Or California.”

“Canada might be good.”

“You’d train with that arrogant son of a…” Yuri said.

“We’re probably staying in Russia for the next year,” Victor said. “After that, who knows? I love Hasetsu. You’re welcome to come. We’ll make a school.”

Yuri made a strange noise, and frowned, and then turned from them.

“We’re really proud of you,” Yuuri said.

“I don’t need your pride,” Yuri snapped, and then turned back. “I’m going to beat your records, and neither of you are going to win gold against me. Ever.”

“We’ll see,” Victor said. “You’re amazing, moy letuchiy tigrenok, but you still have room to grow and much to learn. And I think we’ve just started to see what Yuuri can do. If you’d both skated flawlessly, he’d have won gold. We’re not going to go easy on each other, or you.”

“As if!”

“So you’re not waiting until Yuuri wins gold?” Otabek asked, a rare grin sneaking onto his face. “For getting married?”

“We decided that it would be better if I did not have such an incentive to lose,” Victor said.

“Ugh. You’re going to be disgusting, aren’t you? All the time? Wherever I am?” Yuri said, but his expression did not match the revulsion in his voice.

Yuuri and Victor looked at each other and then both nodded. “Absolutely,” Victor said, dropping a light kiss on Yuuri’s forehead.

“As disgusting as we can get away with,” Yuuri said.

“Don’t corrupt me. I’m still a minor,” Yuri said.

“We’re in Spain,” Victor said. “Theoretically we could hang out a few extra days and get married here. Once we’re in Russia, we’ll spare your delicate sensibilities. Probably. But here, now… we get to be who we are. You can deal.”

“My sensitivities are not delicate!” Yuri said, full of righteous indignation.

“Then you would be brave and protect your friends, wouldn’t you?” Otabek said.

“Friends!” Yuri spluttered.

Yuuri and Victor both grinned at him.

Yuri sighed. “God. Fine. If you come and train and compete and don’t just leave again to be gross and stupid.”

“Do you actually care that we’re together? Do you really think it’s disgusting?” Yuuri asked.

“What? It’s gross like thinking about parents or something. I could care less about the gay thing,” Yuri said. “Oh, god, stop looking at me that way. Ugh. Ahhh, stop hugging me. Otabek, help!”

Otabek folded his arms over his chest and looked on, amused, as Yuuri and Victor squished a very angry-looking Yuri between them.

“Aw, a group hug, and I wasn’t invited?”

Yuuri and Victor released Yuri to turn and see Christophe leaning against the door frame at the entrance to the ballroom.

Yuri fled, dragging a vastly-entertained Otabek behind him by the sleeve.

“So, you must have figured something out,” Chris said, looking pointedly at their still-entwined fingers.

“We should tell everyone,” Yuuri said, looking at Victor. “If we try to tell them all one at a time, we’ll never get out of here.”

Chris grinned. “Oh, this should be good.”

Victor met Chris’s eyes and blushed.

“Oh, I can’t wait,” Chris said, and grabbed their hands, dragging them into the ballroom. He snagged a spoon off of one table and a half drunk glass of champagne off of another, and tapped it.

Victor glanced over at Yuuri, who was grinning widely, and sighed happily.

Yuuri looked over the banquet crowd, swallowed, and then said, “We have a couple of things to say. First, I will not be retiring this year, and I will probably skate next year as well.”

A low murmur went through the room.

Victor spoke up. “I have decided to continue coaching Yuuri, as the inspiration he’s given me is unparalleled.”

Another low rumble.

Yuuri smiled wider then, and said, “But he’ll be coaching me in St. Petersburg, so that he can return to competitive skating.”

Christophe frowned and said, “Is that it?”

“Oh, yes,” Victor said. “We’re definitely getting married.”

The room got very noisy then, a strange mix of happy exclamations, grumbling, and conversation. Phichit tried to launch himself at both Victor and Yuuri simultaneously and nearly knocked them over with a hug. Christophe gave each of them a rough one-armed hug, not putting down the champagne glass, and a few minutes later a very tipsy Minako stumbled over, dragging Lilia along with her.

“Victor, does our Yuri know?” Lilia demanded immediately, in Russian.

Victor nodded. “He reacted as well as I could possibly have hoped.”

“Yura cares about you both,” Lilia said in English, looking at Yuuri. “It will be a kindness to him for you to be there. I do not think he would have flown so high here were it not for his experience in Japan.”

“He’s an angry little hellcat,” Minako said. “But we’ve all grown fond.” She looked at Yuuri. “I cannot believe my Yuuri is getting married, and after so many years of…”

“Come along, Minyushka. Leave them be,” Lilia said, coaxing.

“Li-chan, you don’t understand,” Minako whined. “It’s so perfect.”

“Let’s go find some more champagne and celebrate,” Lilia said. “You can tell me all about it.”

“Oh god,” Yuuri said, as they disappeared into the crowd. “Do you think…”

“How old is Minako, anyway?” Chris asked.

“She’s older than my mother,” Yuuri said. “Who is 49.”

A complex expression flitted across Chris’s face. “And how old is Lilia?”

“She was prima in the 1980s,” Victor said, looking fascinated. “So they maybe knew each other?” They stood there, blinking, trying not to think of the possible implications of the ballet dancers’ fond nicknames.

“So silver was good enough?” Phichit asked after a moment.

Victor blinked and then said, “I’ll use whatever I need to use to motivate Yuuri, but if he retired tomorrow, I’d still want to marry him.”

Yuuri blushed and leaned into him. A curious expression crossed his face and he said, “I’m surprised that JJ hasn’t tried to come make this about him.”

Phichit laughed. “Check my Instagram later. I think he was drunker than you were last year.”

Yuuri winced sympathetically.

“It’s ridiculous, you know, that you and Otabek did not score higher,” Victor said.

“I need more quads,” Phichit said. “But Otabek was robbed. And JJ knew it after he watched the tapes.”

“I watched the performances last night,” Victor said. “Simple math. There were several judges who weighted Otabek low and JJ very high. If the battle had been for first and second rather than third and fourth, the whole world would be screaming about his free skate score being too high. He was scored 13 points higher than Yurio—who stumbled once skating a staggeringly difficult technical program with more artistry than most adults could muster—though JJ was a mess in many different places, and 32 points higher than Otabek despite Otabek’s perfect program and multiple quads.”

“I hate it when they do that,” Christophe said. “Aren’t you two worried the same thing is going to happen to you?”

“Who do they hate more?” Victor sighed. “Gays, Muslims, Russians, or Canadians? I find that while I like gold, I would rather create beautiful skating and high technical difficulty and we will all know who wins, even if they aren’t fair about who they give the prize money to.”

“Oh!” Yuuri said. “I can afford your coaching fee, now.”

Victor laughed. “You already paid it.”

“Kinky,” Chris said, and Yuuri blushed furiously.

“He is giving me his hand and his whole self. I need not charge an arm and a leg,” Victor said. He looked at Yuuri. “Anyway, you’re going to need it with all the back and forth we’re going to be doing.”

Chris grinned. “Still, Yuuri is blushing.” He reached into his pocket and then stuffed something directly into Victor’s.

“Would you stop tha…” Victor started, but was cut off by a very pink Yuuri elbowing him.

Chris burst out laughing and shook his head. “Have fun, kids,” he said in a terrible American accent, then worked his way back through the crowd and disappeared from view.

Phichit looked both curious and confused. “You will tell me later, Yuuri?”

Yuuri turned a deeper shade of pink.

“Let him be, Phichit,” Victor said. “Oh, but you should come to Russia and skate with us.”

“I need more quads,” Phichit said.

“I’ll teach you,” Yuuri volunteered.

Victor squeaked and wrapped his arms around Yuuri’s middle and lifting him up off the ground.

“What was that for?” Yuuri said, laughing and sliding gracefully back to his feet, facing away from Victor but still caught in the circle of his arms.

Victor pressed a hard kiss to Yuuri’s temple. “Just allow me a moment.”

“Your boyfriend is strange,” Phichit said. “But you two are so cute together.”

“Fiancé, please,” Victor said. “I am just pleased that he is offering to teach. And we’re adorable.” He put his chin over Yuuri’s shoulder and grinned. Yuuri leaned back against him.

Phichit laughed. “So you’ll be training with little Yuri?”

“Don’t let him hear you call him that,” Yuuri said. “But yes.”

“He’s going to hate it,” Phichit said.

“He’s going to make noises like he hates it,” Victor said. “But the kitten likes having his ears scratched, even if he does bite in the middle of it.”

At some point, late in the evening, someone (Victor strongly suspected Christophe) turned on less staid music, and though there was not a dance-off, there was quite a lot of dancing, and much teasing about the fact that Victor and Yuuri didn’t let go of each other the entire time.

“You know,” Victor murmured against Yuuri’s ear, as the music slowed, “you’re the first person in my entire life to ask me to be myself. I came all that way for you, ready to change everything, and you asked me to be me. I don’t think anyone has ever done that before.”

“I worshipped you,” Yuuri said. “And you came so far, and I didn’t understand how someone who didn’t know me could do that for me. I couldn’t ask you to change on top of it. And I didn’t want you to be anyone but you.”

“I don’t even think I knew who I was before you. By asking me to be myself, you changed me more than anyone in my life ever could have. My skating will be better for it. I don’t think you know how gorgeous you are, but especially on the ice.”

“I’m not that special. You’re the one who pushed the limits so far, for so long,” Yuuri demurred.

“You are one of the top three figure skaters in the world,” Victor said. “You are a world record holder. You captured my heart, and you showed that artistry and technical perfection are not mutually exclusive. You’ve inspired better performances out of so many people that I suspect your influence on figure skating will be felt for years to come. So do not argue with me when I say that you are not just special, but a unique, rare talent. A gift. To skating, but also to me, in particular. I made them jump. You’re making the rest of us dance.”

Yuuri shuddered, his face against the top of Victor’s shoulder, sniffed and said, “I’m ruining your other jacket.”

“We could go back up and change,” Victor purred against Yuuri’s earlobe.

Yuuri chuckled, and whispered back. “Or we could just go back up.”

“Hmmm,” Victor said, dropping a hand down Yuuri’s back. “I’d have to take the suit off.”

“I’d help,” Yuuri said. “And it wouldn’t be polite for me to stay clothed if you’re removing yours.” He brought his hand up to Victor’s shirt and flicked open a button.

“I’d let you,” Victor said softly, and dropped a kiss on Yuuri’s neck.

There was a squeak and a scuffle and they looked over to see Chris holding Phichit’s phone high over Phichit’s head, thumbing through and deleting pictures.

“Send them to me first,” Victor said.

“Already did,” Chris said. “But really, you two…”

“We’re going,” Victor said laughing.

“I want that back!” Phichit said, launching himself upward more than high enough to grab the phone but not managing to pry it out of Chris’s hands.

“Ask them first, next time,” Chris said. “Promise.”

“We knew he’d be here,” Yuuri said.

“Still, he’s going to get someone killed one of these days,” Chris said. “People should have some choice in the matter. Some of us have been protecting you for a year.”

“Christophe, we’ve already been filmed kissing by the international press. The world didn’t end. We’re not going to hide. You can give Phichit his phone back,” Yuuri said, pulling away from Victor just enough to face their friends.

“Thank you, Chris, but I think it’s Yuuri’s call,” Victor said.

“Do you understand that this bullshit can kill people?” Chris said to Phichit. “I’m not so worried about those two, their complete lack of any instinct for self-preservation means you’re not likely to make things worse. But there are skaters who would not respond so generously, who could be badly hurt by this kind of thing. It’s bad enough with the press. Don’t help those assholes feed the monster.”

Phichit took the offered phone and pressed his lips together, and then nodded. “I’m just so happy for them.”

“Just ask, please, first,” Victor said.

“We wouldn’t be here together without that kind of thing happening,” Yuuri said.

Victor laughed. “No, I suppose we wouldn’t. But I’d still prefer to be asked.” He pulled Yuuri closer.

“Don’t make me throw champagne on you again,” Chris said.

Phichit said, “Again?”

Yuuri pried himself out of Victor’s arms and laced their fingers together. “We’re going now.”

“Get it, Yuuri,” Phichit said, laughing.

They were barely out of the ballroom when Victor reached for the remaining buttons on his shirt. Yuuri backed him against the wall next to the elevator button with a kiss.

The elevator opened, and Yuri, getting off it, made an unholy noise of disgust.

Victor and Yuuri looked at each other, laughed, and swapped places with the boy. “Don’t worry, tigrenok. We’re leaving,” Victor said.

Yuri groaned, and stalked back into the banquet room.

They didn’t actually remove clothing before getting to the hotel room, but it was a close thing.