“And Victor Nikiforov is starting his short program with a quadruple toe loop—oh, he under-rotates and lands on the ice!”
Victor can hear the crowd gasp, because what, no, Victor Nikiforov doesn’t make mistakes. No, he must be injured, what else could it be?
He very seriously debates not getting up. But he isn’t injured, and he can’t pretend to be. So he gets up.
“Victor Nikiforov is—he’s getting up, folks. He can certainly make up for this if he nails the rest of his difficult program.”
But Victor’s heart isn’t in it. He turns his next quad into a single, and he doesn’t even care when the crowd starts muttering to each other.
He doesn’t even bother to do his last jump of the first half, and does only a halfhearted double salchow in place of his first quad of the second half.
The audience gasps again and again, and Victor feels something twist inside him. Apparently, the only way he can surprise anyone anymore is to fail.
He ends with a simple spin. The arena falls silent. He tries not to feel angry.
’What, haven’t they ever seen a star fall before?’
He exits the ice. Yakov says something to him, but he doesn’t feel like listening.
His score is the lowest he’s gotten in years.
If Victor skates a perfect free skate, he would probably place (bronze, but a medal’s a medal, and he’s Victor Nikiforov).
He doesn’t want to.
He listens to the song through his headphones, and he knows he could skate a beautiful performance if he wanted to. He could bring the whole arena to tears.
Because, despite telling everyone that his theme for the year was “longing,” Victor knows what his real theme is.
He could go out there and skate his loneliness to the world, if he wanted. But that wouldn’t make it go away.
So instead, he goes and gives the worst performance of his career. One last performance to shock the audience before he retires.
He still doesn’t come in last.
“—which made Victor Nikiforov come in a surprising fifth. The only person getting a lower score this year is Yuuri Katsuki, who wasn’t able to land a single jump this competition, and—“
“Yuuri, you shouldn’t read these things,” Celestino tells him, but Yuuri doesn’t care.
His own awful performance.
Victor performed awfully too?
(But Victor can still beat Yuuri without even trying. Yuuri knew that already, he knew that, but what made Victor stop trying?)
His world is falling apart.
He sees Victor pushing his way through the crowd of reporters and skaters. Their eyes accidentally meet.
His eyes look dead (so do Yuuri’s).
He wants to say something, but what comfort could he, the bigger failure, ever provide?
Victor doesn’t want to go to the banquet.
Yakov makes him.
He spouts nonsense and pretty words as everyone tries to talk to him.
Then he spots someone in the corner of the room.
Yuuri Katsuki, the only skater who performed worse than he did. He looks worse than Victor feels.
Also, he’s hogging all the alcohol. Alcohol that Victor desperately needs.
He walks over.
“Hello, my name is Victor,” he introduces himself (as if anyone in the room didn’t know who he was). “Can I have some champagne, too?”
Yuuri looks at him for a moment before handing him the full glass in his left hand.
“Katsukiii Yuuri,” he slurs out. “That’s, that’s Yuuri Katsuki. Forgot we weren’t in Japan for a second.”
“Do you mind if I keep drinking with you?” Victor asked, because he hadn’t completely forgotten his manners, yet.
“Dunno why you’d wanna drink with the fuckup, but sure,” Yuuri agreed, passing him another glass.
“Funny, I thought I was the fuckup,” Victor responds, because hey, he feels like a fuckup, and he and Yuuri are alone, and surely it won’t matter.
Apparently, it matters.
“That’s a LIE,” Yuuri slurs out. “It’s a lie… sl-slander, and I’m gonna sue you in De-troit.”
Victor laughs. “Oh, okay. So which part of my performance was good, then? Because I don’t remember.”
Yuuri slams his empty glass down on the table.
“See, it’s ‘cause, you’re not, you’re not like me, ‘cause you didn’t miss,” he insists. “’Cause you coulda done your stuff, but you didn’t want to.”
“Oh,” Victor says, and he’s surprised that anyone looked behind the “it’s an injury” explanation to see that he was performing poorly on purpose. “You’re right,” he admits.
“Yeah,” Yuuri says, like it’s obvious. “Been watchin’ you forever. Know how you skate.”
Before Victor can respond to that, Yuuri continues.
“But it was still good, y’know?”
Victor doesn’t know.
“It was good, not, not for winning. Good for feeling,” Yuuri says, putting a hand on his heart. “Didn’t look like ‘longing’ though. Looked like ‘lonely.’ Thought your theme was longing til now, but, no. Right? Made me sad.”
Victor nods wordlessly, and he feels like his heart his going to beat out of his chest as it surges with what might be the warmest feeling he’s felt all year.
‘Someone understands me.’
And suddenly, he feels horribly guilty, because he’s never seen Yuuri Katsuki skate before, and he can’t think of a single thing to make him forget his own failure.
’You’re not a fuckup either, you’re a beautiful and insightful man,’ is what he thinks, but it isn’t really enough, doesn’t really express how grateful Victor is to have met him tonight.
“Maybe you should stop drinking now,” he says instead, gently guiding the glass from Yuuri’s hands.
“Wby? What else is there to do?” Yuuri protests.
“Not much. Everyone else here is boring. But if you don’t stop now, you might not remember anything tomorrow,” Victor warns him, smiling.
Yuuri looks confused.
“Was that not the point?”
“I wouldn’t want you to forget about me,” Victor tells him.
He isn’t prepared for the way Yuuri lights up. And Victor Nikiforov, who does not blush, is blushing.
“Yeah, no! No more drinking!” Yuuri says vehemently. He eyes the half-empty glass still in Victor’s hand.
“I’ve had less than you, you know,” he teases. His face still feels hot, but it could be the alcohol (he knows it’s not). “But it would be no fun drinking without you, anyway,” he continues, draining the remainder of his glass and discarding it.
Victor thinks he would be more than fine just standing next to Yuuri all night, but then Yuuri’s gaze flickers to something behind Victor, and suddenly Victor is being dragged by the hand outside of the room.
“Wow, Yuuri, where are we going?” he asks cheerfully, not at all sorry to be leaving the banquet.
“Dunno,” Yuuri says with a shrug. “Saw your coach, though. Thought we should leave.” He shoots Victor a grin.
Victor nods. “I don’t want to see him. We’ll have more fun without all those stuffy people who only care about jumps.”
“Yeah, they don’t care about artistry,” Yuuri agrees. “We’re artists, Victor! We don’t need to listen to them.”
He pulls Victor down a hallway, and they spin together.
“Quads are overrated,” Victor continues. “Spins are best. Like we’re doing now. We’d get full points for spins.”
Yuuri laughs. “Spins are so good. And step sequences. All you need to win. Stupid judges.”
“Stupid judges,” Victor echoes in agreement.
“Yeah, they’re just, wh-whoa—“
Because they’ve both been spinning, already dizzy-drunk, it was only a matter of time before one of them fell.
Because their hands have been clasped together the whole time, they both end up on the ground.
Victor lands first, and though it doesn’t exactly hurt, he still finds himself instinctively pulling Yuuri towards him, so that he lands on Victor’s chest rather than the cold, hard (though nothing compared to the ice) floor.
Victor did not think this plan through.
Because then Yuuri sits up, and looks at Victor with his bright eyes, and…
Victor really wants to kiss him.
For a moment, it looks like Yuuri wants to kiss him, too. Their faces move closer together, but then…
Their foreheads bump together, and suddenly they’re both laughing.
“Ssssssssorry, Victor, that’s, hahaha,” Yuuri tries to say, but dissolves into more laughter.
“Yuuri, Yuuri, you have to, you have to get up now, or, or, hahaha.”
They try to roll off of each other, but they end up rolling in the same direction, which makes them laugh harder.
When a uniformed staff member comes up and asks if she can help them, Yuuri reluctantly reaches for her hand. His other hand is still attached to Victor, though, and so he ends up pulling him up, too, which would have been enough to send them both back on the floor with laughter were it not for the irritated expression on the staff member’s face. Yuuri bites his lip to keep from laughing. Victor covers his mouth with his free hand.
“Yuuri, Yuuri, hey, hey, let’s go to my, no, your room. Let’s go to your room,” he says in what he thinks is a whisper.
“Okay. Okay, but why mine? But okay,” Yuuri responds in the same not-whisper.
“I don’t want Yakov to find me,” he confides, again attempting to whisper.
“Oh, yeah,” Yuuri nods. “My coach won’t bother us. He’ll leave me alone because he thinks I’m sad.”
“Oh,” Victor says, and suddenly he just has to grab Yuuri’s other hand.
“Yuuri, are you sad?” Victor asks, because it’s really, really important to him that Yuuri isn’t sad.
“I’m not now,” Yuuri says, and Victor breathes a sigh of relief. “I was before, but I’m not with you.”
“I’m not sad with you, either.” Victor smiles. “Let’s go and be not-sad together, okay?”
When Yuuri wakes up, the first thing he notices (besides his hangover) is that he’s on a couch, not a bed.
The next thing he notices is that he is lying on top of another person, currently using their chest as a pillow.
Thirdly, and to his relief, he notices that both he and his mystery pillow are fully clothed.
He tries to get up, but whoever is lying with him has their hands around his back. They pull him closer and nuzzle the top of his head.
Yuuri doesn’t try to get up again, just tilts his face up to see who is currently cuddling with him.
He catches a glimpse of silver hair and the face of an angel.
Oh, no way.
His memories from the night before, though somewhat hazy, return to him.
”I wouldn’t want you to forget about me,” Victor says.
Yuuri can feel his face (which is resting on Victor Nikiforov’s chest!!!) grow hot.
Underneath him, Victor stirs. His eyes flutter open, and he graces Yuuri with what surely must be the most beautiful smile ever to be seen on Earth.
“Yuuri,” he says softly. “What time is it?”
Yuuri doesn’t know, and even if he did, he doubts he would be able to speak.
Victor shifts so he can pull out a phone from his pocket.
“It’s 8:00,” he informs him. “Should we order something for breakfast?”
Yuuri tries to speak, but all that comes out is a flustered “ah.”
“Oh, Yuuri. Aren’t we passed this?”
Yuuri thinks about the previous night, and after everything that happened, he does feel a little silly.
“We did a lot last night,” he mumbles. “I guess it’s too late to make a good impression.”
“That’s right,” Victor says cheerfully (and Yuuri wonders how he can possibly be so upbeat when he drank a lot of alcohol, too). “So tell me what you want for breakfast and don’t pretend we’re strangers, okay?”
“I’m not hungry,” he complains. His stomach doesn’t hurt, but he’s still not confident he could keep down a meal.
“You should eat anyway,” Victor insists. “You can share with me. I am having… the word is “blini.” They are like… pancakes,” he explains. “They’re good. You’ll like it.”
“Well, okay,” Yuuri relents. After all, this might be the only chance he ever gets to share a meal with Victor.
’I can enjoy myself for just a moment, can’t I?’
“Great!” Victor cheers. He taps out a number on his phone and says something in Russian.
Yuuri is still lying on top of him. Neither of them moves.
That is, neither of them moves until they hear a knock at the door.
“Yuuri,” Victor says sweetly (his name always sounds sweet from Victor’s lips). “Should I get the door?”
And suddenly, Yuuri imagines with horror the headlines that would appear if someone walked by and saw Victor in his room.
SKATING’S BIGGEST FAILURE TRICKS RUSSIA’S LIVING LEGEND INTO SPENDING THE NIGHT
“It wasn’t like that!!!” — Yuuri Katsuki, protesting too much
“No, no! You stay there,” Yuuri says quickly, practically launching himself off of Victor.
After managing to convince room service that yes, he was fine, and no, he didn’t need help carrying anything in, Yuuri is finally able to take the food. He places it on the table in front of the couch.
Victor, who is now sitting up, hands him a water bottle.
“I took it from your refrigerator,” he admits, “because you need to drink water.”
So Yuuri takes the water and sips on it faithfully while Victor takes little bites of his food, pairing them alternatively with sour cream and jam. When he’s about halfway through, he turns to Yuuri.
“Do you think you can eat now? Here, have a bite.”
He extends his fork towards Yuuri, and Yuuri has it in his mouth before he can realize a couple things.
One, Victor is still holding the fork. Yuuri’s hands are still cupping the water bottle, and he had clearly made no move to hold the fork himself.
Second, the fork is, in fact, Victor’s fork. Victor’s fork that he had been eating with. Victor’s fork that Yuuri had just eaten food from.
He snaps his head up, searching Victor’s face to see if he’s crossed a line, but Victor not only looks comfortable, he’s beaming.
“Do you like it, Yuuri?”
Yuuri actually doesn’t know whether he likes the food, having paid absolutely no attention to the food once he realized the situation he was in.
“I need another bite to see,” he tells Victor.
Victor presents the fork to him again. This time, he presses it even closer to Yuuri’s lips, a little insistently, and Yuuri has to fight back a laugh.
’Ha, he actually liked it when I did that.’
Maybe it’s the way Victor keeps smiling at him, but Yuuri can’t possibly deny him. He closes his mouth around the fork, and really, he tries to focus on the taste, but…
“Do you need more?” Victor asks, already cutting another piece.
“Yes,” Yuuri answers. “Please.”
By the time they finish, Yuuri still can’t say whether he actually likes the food.
Yuuri expects Victor to leave after breakfast. After all, what could he possibly want to do in Yuuri’s room?
Watch TV, apparently.
“News, news, do we get anything but news in this hotel?” Victor mutters.
“I don’t want to see the news,” Yuuri grumbles. He’s afraid everyone will be talking about the GPF disaster.
Sure enough, he sees a clip of Victor lying on the ice before the channel switches.
The next channel has a side-by-side comparison of Victor’s fall and his own fall (well, one of his many). He covers his eyes with his arm.
“Oh, no! Yuuri, don’t be sad,” Victor exclaims, wrapping an arm around Yuuri’s shoulders. “Let’s not think about skating.” He flips the channel again, finally landing on some Russian cooking show.
But all Yuuri can think about now is skating.
“it was awful. I’ve never been that good, but this was the worst I’ve ever done.”
“Yuuri,” Victor starts to say, but Yuuri isn’t listening.
“Everyone’s saying my career is over after this. Honestly, I’m surprised I made it this far.”
He finally moves his arm away from his face, and he looks into Victor’s concerned eyes.
“I’m going to retire,” he confesses, and he feels lighter, somehow, now that he’s said it. He laughs in relief.
Victor looks at him sadly.
“After everything you’ve worked for, really? You have time to make a comeback,” Victor says quietly.
But Yuuri has never felt surer of any decision in his life.
’My dream was always to skate beside Victor.’ he remembers. ’I miss those days copying him with Yuuko. Nobody had their hopes riding on me back then.’
Japan deserved a better skater than him as their representative.
’Time to let go.’
Victor’s arm is still around his shoulder. His sad look has morphed into one of curiosity.
“You look happy,” Victor says after a moment.
“I… I am happy,” Yuuri says honestly.
“Hmm, maybe I should retire?” Yuuri’s eyes widen, and Victor laughs. “I want to be happy, too.”
Yuuri wants to protest, to tell him that he’s still needed on the ice. But he remembers how Victor looked after the competition, how empty he had seemed, and Yuuri can’t bear to suggest that he go back to that.
“Won’t that be something,” he says instead. “A double retirement.”
Victor laughs again.
It’s all too easy to let Victor pull him back into the position they had been in that morning, with Victor’s arms around him and Yuuri’s head on his chest.
Victor translates what the people on TV are saying, not that either of them actually cares about keeping potatoes fresh or making sauces from various vegetables.
When Yuuri gets the first text message, he ignores it.
He ignores the next five, too.
It’s only when he ignores the phone call and puts his phone on silent that Victor says anything.
“Was that your coach?”
“Are you hiding from him?” Victor asks next.
“No,” he decides. “I just don’t feel like talking to him.”
He probably should talk to him, at least to tell him about his retirement plans. He owes so much to his coach, though, and he knows retirement is not the repayment Celestino deserves. He’ll be disappointed, Yuuri knows, and try to talk him out of it, and that isn’t what Yuuri wants to hear right now.
“I understand,” he says, which is what Yuuri wants to hear right now.
At noon, they eat lunch, and Yuuri finally texts his coach back.
— I’ve been resting. No need to worry. Sorry.
He feels slightly guilty when Celestino responds immediately.
’He’s probably been waiting by his phone for me this whole time.’
—Are you feeling okay?
—Have you packed? Do you need me to come over and help you?
— I’m fine, coach. Everything is already packed, so please don’t be concerned.
Celestino calls again, but Yuuri doesn’t pick up.
“Your coach again?” Victor asks, sipping a spoonful of soup.
“He wanted to make sure I packed,” Yuuri explains, “and I have.”
Victor stares silently into his bowl for a moment, and then he inches closer to Yuuri.
“So, when is your flight?”
“Not until tonight,” Yuuri tells him.
“Don’t go,” Victor says, so quietly that Yuuri almost doesn’t hear it.
But he does hear it.
“No, listen. Do you know what you’re going to do now that you’re retiring?” Victor questions, and there’s something desperate in his tone.
Yuuri thinks about what awaits him back in America. His coach, his rinkmates that he can’t bear to face, everyone’s disappointment when he tells them he’s retiring.
He thinks about his home in Japan. His family that he hasn’t seen in five years. The absence of Vicchan. Yuuko and Takeshi, his childhood friends.
He isn’t ready to face any of them.
“No,” he tells Victor.
“Neither do I,” Victor admits, his voice growing softer. “But we could figure it out together.”
’Oh god, am I being seduced by Victor Nikiforov?’ Yuuri thinks dazedly.
“Forget whatever the media says about us. I’ll go anywhere you want,” Victor continues, twining his fingers with Yuuri’s. “Please, will you think about it?”
’Ah, yes, I am definitely being seduced by Victor Nikiforov.’
And even though he can still feel the lingering effects of his earlier hangover, Yuuri decides that he must still have alcohol in his blood, because (really, he thought he had more sense, and yet) he doesn’t say no.
It’s more like an enthusiastic “yes.”
“Really? You’ll think about it?” Victor asks excitedly.
“I mean yes, I’ll stay with you,” Yuuri clarifies, a small embarrassed smile on his face. “I really don’t know how this is going to work, though.”
“Yuuri!” Victor exclaims, and he practically pounces on Yuuri. “It’s going to be the best! I won’t let you regret it!”
Anyone who’s ever known Victor Nikiforov could tell you that he thinks with his heart, not his head.
Victor always thought that was why he was able to skate so beautifully.
Still, even he could admit that he had some pretty ridiculous ideas. Christophe Giacometti has never let him live down the time he suggested they open a skating-themed bar where the drinks were all “on the rocks,” and, okay, Victor can accept that.
So when he basically asks Yuuri Katsuki to run away with him, he knows he might get shot down and mocked for the rest of his life. But he has to make the offer, because he doesn’t think he’s ever been as happy as he’s been in the short amount of time he’s known Yuuri, and if they go their separate ways, they may never meet again.
Non te ne andare
And Yuuri, the incredible man, agrees.
’We are soulmates,’ Victor thinks. ’Nobody else would let me get away with this.’
Victor is only able to pry himself off of Yuuri because they were in the middle of lunch (and because they had each had only half of a meal that morning, he knew Yuuri had to be as hungry as he was).
He eats, but he doesn’t really care about the food. He’s too busy watching Yuuri (who is not doing any better than he is at paying attention to the food). Every time their eyes meet, Victor can feel his smile grow a little larger.
He should probably be embarrassed, really. Teenagers dream of fleeing from their responsibilities with a hot lover by their side; adults, having settled into the rhythm of their lives, are supposed to know better.
The thing is, Victor settled into a rhythm when he was still a teenager. From the day he won his first gold in the junior division, he knew the world’s eyes were on him. Instead of ever settling down like everyone else, he was pushed up so he could shine in the sky like the star he was, a beautiful star for the figure skating world to orbit.
Victor doesn’t regret it, would never be able to regret it, but even so, he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he’d won a little more silver and a little less gold. Would he still be the same? Would he still be the Northern star for aspiring figure skating champions?
See, being a celestial figure isn’t as nice as it seems. Once everyone knows star-you, they stop caring about human-you. Victor thinks this is the reason for his troubles. Everyone is speaking to the wrong Victor when they talk to him.
It happens with his lovers, too. They think they’re going to bed with “Victor Nikiforov, skating king and sex god” and he can’t bear to disappoint them by acting like a human. He puts on the show they’re looking for, and they’re almost always gone by morning (or, if not, they’re looking for a round two, and Victor Nikiforov doesn’t disappoint).
But with Yuuri…
For one, they had really just slept. So many things could have happened in Yuuri’s room, but no, after they had drunkenly danced until past midnight, when Victor was lying on the couch with Yuuri pressed against him, all Yuuri had said was “Sleep, you’re tired.”
And then, in the morning, when he thought, maybe, he could have just a bit more fun, Yuuri had played along with his silly romantic games. He had even looked like he was enjoying himself, too.
(The last time Victor had tried ordering breakfast for a lover that had stayed overnight, he had coldly rejected his offer. “That’s not the kind of sausage I want to eat this morning,” he had said with a smirk.)
Yuuri didn’t ask him to do anything special. Yuuri wasn’t disappointed that he was acting like himself.
Yuuri was going to stay with him.
Victor remembers, now, what it feels like to be a human.
“I will seriously make sure you won’t regret it,” he promises Yuuri again.
And Yuuri (the angel who never demands more than Victor gives) just smiles at him and says “I’ll make sure you don’t regret it, either.”
They make their way back to Victor’s room after lunch, both because Yuuri has to vacate his own, and because Yuuri wants to be far away from his last known whereabouts when he tells his coach the news.
Yuuri has the sense to change his clothes before leaving. Victor doesn’t exactly have the option.
Thus, when they come across one Christophe Giacometti (latest gold medal winner) in the hallway, it doesn’t take much for him to draw his own conclusions.
“Looks like someone had a loooong night,” he says with a wink. “Victor, I’m hurt. What happened to “I don’t sleep with the competition,” hmm?”
Victor remembered a night many years ago, when Chris had won his first silver medal.
“I like you and all, but I don’t sleep with the competition, Chris,” Victor had said, forcing a laugh.
(He never sleeps with skaters, because what would they do if they realized their star was false all along?)
“That rule is only for gold medal winners. It’s your problem, now,” Victor deflects, not bothering to try to explain that they hadn’t actually been having sex for the past ten hours (Chris probably already knew that, anyway).
“Oh, no, I’m not playing like that. Have you seen that Michele Crispino? I’d like to crisp his—“
“Ch-Chris!” Yuuri interrupts quickly, and Victor almost laughs at the shocked look on his face.
“Hey, Yuuri. It’s been a while,” Chris greets. “I never thought you’d be into this,” he says jokingly, gesturing up and down Victor’s body. “But congratulations, I guess. Why don’t you invite me next time?”
Yuuri starts waving his arms in large x-shapes, and Victor figures he should help him.
“Come on, Yuuri. I’m sure Chris is very busy,” he says, staring pointedly at Chris.
Chris raises an eyebrow back at him, but he shrugs.
“I can take a hint,” he says. “Hey, Yuuri, is Victor driving you to the airport or something?” he adds, seeing Yuuri’s luggage.
“Something like that,” Victor answers for him, grabbing Yuuri’s hand. “We’ve got to go now, lots of things to do,” he says, and Yuuri follows without complaint.
Victor can feel his phone buzzing in his pocket as soon as he and Yuuri enter his room.
“Sorry, Yuuri, I’ll be with you in just a moment,” he says apologetically. “Make yourself comfortable. There are drinks in the refrigerator. Do you have enough light? There are some magazines in English on the table if you want to look at them.”
Yuuri quirks his lips up in a small smile. “Thank you. I’ll be here,” he says as he takes a seat on Victor’s couch.
Victor rushes to the bathroom and pulls out his phone. He ignores all the messages in Russian and taps on the most recent ones from Chris.
— I don’t know what you’re doing, but be careful.
— Yuuri Katsuki has always looked up to you.
— He’s a good guy, Victor. Don’t hurt him.
And Victor would be offended that his own friend doesn’t trust him with Yuuri, but there’s something else that bothers him more.
Yuuri Katsuki has always looked up to you.
There’s no reason it should bother him.
’What skater hasn’t looked up to me at some point?’
Even Chris had admitted, once, that he had been awestruck the first time Victor had spoken to him.
But then, he didn’t feel the same way about Chris as he does about Yuuri.
’Shit, what if he’s just humoring me.’
“Hey, Yuuri,” Victor calls, peeking his head slightly out the bathroom door. “Can I ask you something?”
Yuuri looks up from the magazine he’s staring at (Victor wonders if he realizes he’s holding it upside down).
“You, er, didn’t… hmm…” Victor isn’t sure how to ask for what he actually wants to know.
’Am I making a fool of myself?’
“You did consider my offer seriously, didn’t you?” he finally asks. “You didn’t just agree to whatever came out of Victor Nikiforov’s mouth?”
Yuuri looks confused for a moment, but it’s quickly replaced by understanding.
“You think I only like you because you’re famous,” he states plainly.
“It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened to me,” Victor admits.
Yuuri’s eyes soften.
“I'm sorry. It must be hard.”
Victor’s heart aches, and he’s about to apologize for ever doubting him when Yuuri speaks up again.
“Of course I respect you as a skater. You’ve always inspired me.” Yuuri smiles. “But we’re both retiring now, aren’t we?”
“That’s true,” Victor agrees.
“If you’ve changed your mind about leaving with me, I understand,” Yuuri continues. “I haven’t called Celestino yet, so I can still—“
“No!” Victor interrupts. “I still want you to stay with me.”
“That’s good.” Yuuri laughs, slightly relieved. “Because I still want to stay with you.”
Victor beams at him.
“I’ll be right with you, Yuuri. Just give me another minute.”
His fingers fly across his phone as he replies to Chris.
— He’s too good for me Chris!!!
— What do I do???
Victor taps his fingers impatiently on the screen as he waits for a response.
— Seriously? How should I know?
— Just take things slow.
Victor shrugs and pockets his phone.
He just wants to return to Yuuri’s side.
Yuuri is fine right up until the moment his phone is in his hand.
He’s about to press the number he’s set to speedial Celestino, but…
“He’s going to hate me!” Yuuri exclaims, throwing his phone across the room so that it lands on the soft carpet of hotel room.
“I don’t think anyone in the entire world could hate you,” Victor argues as he fetches Yuuri’s phone for the third time.
“Maybe I should just not call him,” Yuuri whispers when Victor places the phone back in his hands.
“I would not feel bad about this plan,” Victor tells him. “But you would.”
Yuuri thinks about what Celestino’s worried face would look like.
’He’d cancel his flight to look for me,’ he thinks guiltily. ’I can’t just disappear.’
“You’re right,” Yuuri groans. His fingers hover over the screen again, his hands shaking.
Victor takes the phone back before Yuuri can throw it again.
“Okay. You are worried. I will call for you, then. What’s the number?”
“Zero,” Yuuri says immediately, but he jumps to his feet as soon as he realizes what he’s said. “Wait, no!”
“Hello? Yuuri’s coach?” Victor says into the phone.
“No!” Yuuri screeches, practically tackling Victor to the floor. Victor drops the phone into Yuuri’s hands and gives him a thumbs up.
“Yuuri? Are you alright? Is somebody there with you?” Celestino’s worried voice comes from over the phone.
“Ah, yes coach. N-Nobody’s here with me.” At Victor’s pout, he corrects himself. “Well, actually there is, but, no, I’m calling you because… because…”
“Yuuri,” Celestino says slowly. “Breathe. Tell me where you are, and I’ll come to you.”
Yuuri shakes his head, not that his coach can see it.
“No, no! I’m calling to tell you… I’m… I’m retiring, coach.” Yuuri whimpers.
The line goes silent for a few seconds.
“Oh, Yuuri,” Celestino sighs. “I told you not to listen to what the press was saying. I know you’re upset, but there’s no need for this. I’m sure if we work on refining your quads, you can make a strong showing at Nationals, even Worlds. Don’t give up now.”
Yuuri’s eyes are brimming with tears now, and it’s all he can do to not dissolve into sobbing.
“I’m s-sorry,” he chokes out. “You-You’ve always been a great coach, and I… can’t… do it anymore.”
“Yuuri, it’s okay,” Celestino says comfortingly. “Come on, I’ll come over and pick you up. We don’t have to talk about this right now.”
“N-No,” Yuuri says desperately. “We do. I-I’m trying to tell you that… that I’m not going back with you, I… I can’t go back.”
“Shh, you aren’t thinking clearly. Just breathe,” Celestino pleads. “I understand if you want to go home, but you need to come back with me to America tonight, first.”
“No,” Yuuri repeats. “I can’t… I’m not going… I’m not going home, coach, I’m…”
“What do you mean, you aren’t going home?” Celestino asks in alarm. “Yuuri, where are you?”
“Yuuri,” Victor whispers, “can I talk to him?”
Yuuri sighs in relief as he hands Victor the phone. Surely Victor will be able to get the idea across to Celestino.
“I’m going to put it on speaker,” Victor announces.
“C-Celestino,” Yuuri sniffles as he tries to get his breathing under control.
“Hi, Celestino,” Victor repeats. “So, what Yuuri is trying to say, is—“
“Victor Nikiforov?” Celestino interrupts incredulously.
“Yes, hi. So, as I was saying, Yuuri—“
“Are you there with him? Is he safe?” Celestino demands.
“Yes to both,” Victor answers curtly. “So, what Yuuri’s been saying is that he’s not going back to America or to Japan. Actually, he’s going to be staying with me for a while,” he explains.
“Maybe,” Victor says noncommittally. “Anyway, Yuuri has been horribly worried about how you’re going to take this, but you aren’t angry, are you?”
“He’s right,” Yuuri says. His voice is weak, but he’s no longer crying, at least.
“Yuuri, of course I’m not angry! But I’m so worried about you!” Celestino exclaims. “This is very unlike you; are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
“Yes,” Yuuri says quietly. “Please, Celestino, this is what I need to do now.”
“You know I don’t want to stop you from improving, be it in skating or in life” Celestino says. “But, Yuuri, I hope you know that you can always come back. Everyone here loves you, you know.”
“Th-thank you…” Yuuri closes his eyes to prevent more tears from falling, but his mouth twists up in a smile.
“Oh!” Victor exclaims. “Celestino, you can’t see it, but he’s smiling beautifully right now!”
“Victor…” Yuuri groans, keeping his eyes shut.
“And you, Nikiforov,” Celestino continues more sharply, “had better not harm a single hair on him.”
“You really care about Yuuri. I like that!” Victor says cheerfully. “But I don’t know why everyone thinks I want to hurt him. I am not a monster, you know?”
“Be safe, Yuuri,” Celestino continues, ignoring Victor completely.
“Bye, coach…” Yuuri says softly.
When the call ends, Yuuri buries his head in the couch.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he mumbles, not sure that Victor can even hear him.
Yuuri has no idea what kind of expression is on Victor’s face, but he feels the couch depress as Victor takes a seat beside him.
“I’m not used to people crying in front of me,” Victor says quietly. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help.”
Things are easier after that. Yuuri texts his family (it doesn’t hurt quite as much, he thinks, because they weren’t really expecting him to come home, anyway) while Victor searches for flights to St. Petersburg.
“I don’t want to stay there very long,” Victor explains as he clicks through the available schedules. “I just need to pick up my dog.”
“I understand,” Yuuri replies, even as his heart clenches.
’I got Vicchan after Victor got Makka.’ he remembers. 'I bet Victor never leaves his dog for years at a time.’
He can remember the last time he saw his own dog, just before he took a plane to America.
“I’m going to do my best, so please watch me,” he had told his family. “You too, Vicchan.”
He didin’t know, back then, that it would be the last thing he would say to him.
'I’m really sorry I couldn’t see you one last time, Vicchan.’
But the sadness doesn’t last too long, because he’s soon laughing at Victor, who’s keeping a running commentary of every plane trip he’s ever been on.
“—and my hair was still long then, so it got stuck in the bag, and when I tried to put it overhead, it just ripped the whole strand out. So there I was, crying in the middle of the airplane, but the thing is, nobody else saw what happened. And Yakov had this look on his face like ‘I can’t take this man anywhere,’ and Georgi, the traitor, called me a drama queen. Georgi.”
Yuuri, who has competed against Georgi Popovich in previous competitions, can’t help but laugh.
“I guess he’d know.”
“Yuuri! I was in pain."
“Is that why you cut your hair?” he asks, looking down as the flashing dots on his phone tell him that his mother is typing something.
“No!” Victor says, laughing.
— We’re all proud of you, Yuuri. Come back home soon and eat katsudon ❤❤❤
’Thanks for not asking too many questions, Mom,’ he thinks gratefully. He knows his family has never really understood his life as a figure skater, but they’ve always supported his choices.
“Hey Yuuri, would you be offended if I booked a three a.m. flight?” Victor asks when Yuuri looks up from his phone.
“Uh, no, but why?”
“Because I want to get in and out of the city before Yakov comes back with Mila and Yuri,” Victor explains as he places an order for the tickets.
“It doesn’t bother me, but…” Yuuri pauses before speaking again. “Are you really not going to tell them anything?”
Victor waves his hand dismissively.
“I’ll tell Yakov, of course,” he says, “when we’re out of Sochi and he won’t have time to come after me.”
“Won’t he worry about you?”
Victor shakes his head.
“I’m his biggest headache, so he’ll probably be pleased that he doesn’t have to keep up with me anymore.” He laughs. “I’m sure he’ll yell at me, but I’ve never known anything to actually break his heart. He’s a great coach; nothing can shake him,” he assures Yuuri.
Yuuri doesn’t believe for a second that Victor’s coach will be pleased that Victor is leaving. But then, it’s not his place to tell Victor how to interact with his coach, so he says nothing.
’I can’t believe this is actually happening,’ Yuuri thinks.
Yuuri’s stomach churns nervously, but as the plane is already taking off, it’s far too late to turn back, even if he wanted to.
He turns toward a smiling Victor in the seat next to him, and he knows he definitely doesn’t want to.
“Yuuri, do you want to sleep?” Victor asks him cheerfully. “The flight’s only three hours.”
Yuuri shakes his head in amusement. “I think we’re both too excited to sleep right now.”
Victor nods. “I think we’re the only ones not sleeping, though.”
There are only a few other passengers on the plane with them. Yuuri can hear soft snoring sounds coming from several seats behind. A businessman sits a couple rows in front of them, and while his laptop is open, his eyes are not.
“Since they don’t have movies on this flight, let’s get to know each other more,” Victor continues.
’That’s right, we’ve only known each other for a day,’ Yuuri remembers, flushing slightly. ’But so much has happened that I feel like it’s been years since that ‘Grand Prix Final of Tears.’
“Right, okay,” Yuuri agrees. But skating has been his life for so long that it’s difficult to think of anything else to say about himself. Eventually, he decides to just talk about his childhood in Hasetsu.
Victor pays rapt attention to his stories and asks a million questions about every cultural thing Yuuri mentions. Yuuri, to his own surprise, enjoys telling Victor about his family, and even finds himself talking about Vicchan.
“Oh…” Victor’s eyes turn watery (Yuuri has never seen Victor Nikiforov cry; maybe they really are getting to know each other). “Of course you were upset. If anything happened to Makka, I…”
“He was such a good dog,” Yuuri says. Embarrassingly, his eyes are also wet. “One time there was a cat stuck in a tree outside, and instead of barking at it, he came straight to alert us.”
“A perfect angel,” Victor sniffs.
They spent the rest of their flight exchanging dog stories, and time flies.
Yuuri has such a good time that he’s a little disappointed when the overhead chimes and a voice tells them that they can exit the plane.
When he first sees Makka, Yuuri thinks he’s looking at a ghost.
Then he gets tackled to the floor, and he remembers that Vicchan was much, much smaller.
“Makka, get off of him,” Victor tells the dog, who’s happily licking Yuuri’s face. “You’re supposed to kiss me first.”
Victor has very few things he wants to bring with him, and within an hour, they’re back at the airport buying more tickets.
“England or Italy?” Victor asks, pointing to two different flights.
“Italy, I guess,” Yuuri decides. “I don’t want to understand what people are saying behind our backs.”
“Are you worried about someone seeing us?” Victor asks as he pays. “Don’t worry! Nobody will recognize you as an athlete. With your thick glasses and awful taste in ties, everyone will think you’re a completely boring office worker.”
Yuuri can’t help it. He snorts.
Victor’s head whips around in alarm.
Yuuri cuts him off.
“You don’t have to censor yourself around me,” he assures him. “I understand what you mean about the glasses, but what’s wrong with the tie? I like this tie!”
Victor shakes his head and sighs dramatically.
“That’s tragic, Yuuri. Nobody has worn a tie like that in ten years.”
“Is that a problem?” Yuuri asks. He genuinely has no idea about what’s in style, and he’s pretty sure that Celestino picked out most of his ties, anyway.
“I can see that we need to have a little chat about fashion,” Victor says. “A discussion for the plane, then.”
Victor doesn’t want to call Yakov, but he grudgingly admits that he needs to. Plus, Yuuri keeps looking over anxiously at Victor’s phone.
’Is he trying to be subtle? I don’t think he realizes what he’s doing.’
“I get it. We have to wait two hours for the plane. Plenty of time to call Yakov,” he says aloud.
“I-I wasn’t trying to pressure you!’ Yuuri rushes to tell him.
“No, you’re right. It will be bad if he thinks I’ve been kidnapped.”
Yuuri nods vigorously.
“Ah, just be prepared,” Victor warns him. “He will sound much angrier than he feels.”
“VITYA!” Yakov yells as soon as he picks up the phone. “FOR 32 HOURS WE HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO CONTACT YOU! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR YOURSELF?”
Victor mouths the word “see” to Yuuri before he responds back to his (soon to be ex-) coach.
“I’ve been thinking a lot, Yakov,” he says in English (for Yuuri’s benefit only; he knows Yakov will continue to yell at him in Russian, the native language that he doesn’t have to mince words in). “I think it is time for me to retire.”
“No,” Yakov states firmly (even though he surely knows that Victor isn’t asking).
“If we were together in person, I would kiss you on the cheek and bid you my most beautiful farewell,” Victor continues, ignoring Yakov’s previous statement entirely. “Alas, this phone call is all we have.”
“Vitya! I will not listen to this! You know you won’t be able to come back if you leave now? You don’t want to end things like this!”
“All stars die out some day, Yakov,” he says (and he brushes a strand of hair out of his face for the proper effect; Yakov can’t see it, but he’s sure he’s already imagining it). “I’m sorry I can’t listen to you this time.”
“You never—“ Yakov starts.
“Do svidaniya,” Victor whispers, finally breaking out the Russian for poignancy.
He brandishes his phone outwards and ends the call with a single finger.
“Boy am I glad that’s over,” he says, turning to Yuuri.
But, oh, Yuuri is frowning at him.
’What did I do to deserve that look?’ he asks himself, trying to think if he had said anything offensive.
But Yuuri doesn’t say anything about it, just moves so that his hand is resting on Victor’s arm.
“Do you feel better?” is the one thing he asks.
’Not with you looking at me like that,’ Victor thinks, but he knows that isn’t what Yuuri meant.
And, if he’s honest with himself, it does feel as if a slight pressure has been lifted from him.
Yakov could never control him, but Victor does respect the man. There are a thousand things he could have said during that call, and not one of them would have changed Victor’s mind. But…
Yakov had always resisted him retiring, at least before the Grand Prix Final. It would have hurt a bit if he changed his tune just because Victor hadn’t medaled this time.
“I was never worried,” he tells Yuuri truthfully, “but I am glad it went so well.”
On the plane, Yuuri falls asleep within ten minutes of Victor trying to explain the difference between polyester and silk. Victor doesn’t mind, instead taking using the time to see how many times he can stroke Yuuri’s hair without waking him up.
They stop in Germany only briefly. Their flight is delayed, and they rest in a drink shop, where Yuuri sips on a coffee in the hopes of not repeating the previous in-flight nap.
Yuuri’s plan is ultimately pointless, however, because Victor falls asleep soon after they get on their final plane. It’s worth it, though, because Victor sleepily whines the word “hungry” when he wakes up, and Yuuri wouldn’t miss that for the world. (The food they eat when they land in Florence is good, too).
They’ve been in Florence for a month when Yuuri realizes something important.
Sometimes, he’s spending time with Victor. He wears his heart on his sleeve and there’s a look in his eyes that hasn’t been present since his days of skating in Juniors.
But sometimes, the Victor he knows is replaced by “Victor Nikiforov,” a suave man who charms everyone and everything around him, always hides what he’s feeling, and speaks as if he could break into a dramatic monologue any second.
It’s this “Victor Nikiforov” who is currently trying to take him on a date (or what’s supposed to be one), and Yuuri doesn’t like it at all.
They’re walking hand-in-hand down an empty side street, and Victor’s spouting some nonsense about how wine is made (Yuuri had asked what kind of wine was Victor’s favorite, and he had launched into this instead of answering).
Slowly, Yuuri slides his hand away from Victor. Victor immediately halts.
“What’s wrong? Are you upset?” Victor’s smile is forced, Yuuri can see that now. “Should I kiss you until you feel better?”
“No!” Yuuri exclaims.
’This isn’t the time for that. Can’t you tell?’
“Victor,” Yuuri starts. He feels his throat tighten. Great, he’ll probably start crying. But Victor needs to hear this, so he decides he’ll just have to pull through.
“Victor, what are we?”
“Hmm, tourists, I guess?” Victor’s laugh is strained, just like his smile.
“You know what I mean,” Yuuri states, because it’s a fact. “Are we friends? Lovers? What, Victor?”
Yuuri watches as a flicker of his Victor returns (just when he became “his” Victor is not something he can afford to think about at the moment).
“What do you want me to be?” Victor says hesitantly.
“Yourself,” Yuuri says immediately, and he feels like, maybe, they’re finally getting somewhere.
“Myself?” Victor echoes.
“You keep acting like I’m going to stop liking you if you don’t do whatever I want,” Yuuri explains in frustration as the tears start to fall. “But all I want is for you to be yourself!”
Victor stays quiet, and Yuuri continues.
“I already know you aren’t perfect… You already know that I’m not perfect… Can we please stop pretending?” he pleads. “You don’t have to do anything! Just stay close to me, Victor.”
Vctor’s eyes widen.
’He gets it,’ Yuuri thinks with satisfaction.
Victor seems to relax after that, and Yuuri, too, feels like something has improved between them. There’s a natural ease with which they get along over the next few months, and if anything, Victor is actually more affectionate.
One morning, Yuuri goes out early so he can bring back coffee for them both. When he comes back, he can barely set the drinks down before Victor tackles him to the floor and kisses him.
“You’re always surprising me, Yuuri. I wanted to surprise you, too,” Victor says warmly.
“I didn’t think knowing your order would be that much of a surprise,” Yuuri teases.
Victor just stares at him adoringly. Yuuri is pretty sure his own expression matches.
Eventually, they decide they’ve had enough of Italy and make their way to France, instead. It’s nice, because Victor can speak French fluently, so they don’t have to stumble around and ask the locals questions in English all the time.
“Have you ever had real champagne?” Victor whispers in Yuuri’s ear one night, and they have a fun drunken excursion that ends with them both getting escorted out for removing too many pieces of clothing (only their jackets ever managed to come off, but, okay, Yuuri can see how unbuttoning his shirt while Victor loosened his belt might be taken the wrong way).
They have serious discussions, too, while they travel. Yuuri finds himself opening up more than he’s ever wanted to before, and every time, Victor meets him where he is. They exchange pieces of themselves like that, piece by piece, until he’s sure that they must have become integrated with each other.
It’s a feeling he doesn’t have a name for, but he knows he never wants to give it up.
They don’t stay in France as long as they do in Italy, because the reporters have suddenly taken a new interest in them.
Yuuri had thought the media had grown bored after the first two weeks in Italy when they constantly followed them (well, Victor) around, only to catch such exciting and newsworthy moments as “Victor flips his hair dramatically” and “Yuuri accidentally walks into a wall.” But, apparently, some reporter had got a photo of Yuuri kissing Victor, and, well…
“Victor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki Kiss After Secret Date?” Victor reads, translating the headline from French. There’s a blurry photo of Yuuri leaning over, but neither of their faces can be seen due to the angle of the camera.
“Well, gee, Victor,” Yuuri drawls sarcastically. “If I’d known we were keeping a secret, I wouldn’t have kissed your cheek in front of an entire room of people.”
“If only someone had told me,” Victor agrees. “I would have insisted you kiss me on the lips.”
They laugh, and neither is too concerned. After all, skating is niche enough that most people don’t care too much about what Victor and Yuuri are doing, and for the die-hard fans, well, they’ll move on as soon as someone gets gold in the next competition.
But, apparently, this is a huge deal to a small subset of the population, because every so often, they’ll get approached for an interview or photo-op.
Sometimes, they aren’t actually approached, but they give the camera what it wants, anyway.
“Don’t look at them, Victor,” Yuuri says, pulling Victor by his tie so that he’s facing him and not whatever reporter happens to be there this time. “I want you to only look at me,” he says, right before he kisses him head-on.
(He spends an hour hunting down that picture the next day before downloading it to his phone and sending it to Victor with a smiley face.)
But even though they treat the media like a game more than anything else, they both agree that it’s more of a hassle than they’d like.
“We could go visit Chris,” Victor suggests. “He’s offered before.”
“Are you sure that’s all he was offering?” Yuuri asks. Victor mock gasps, and Yuuri laughs. “But okay, let’s go see him.”
Chris graciously lets them stay at his home, even giving them a guest bedroom.
“It’s far away from the master bedroom, so no need to keep quiet,” he tells them, winking suggestively.
And Yuuri is too embarrassed to protest that, for all the times they’ve shared a bed, they’ve never gone beyond kissing.
It’s not that he doesn’t want to, it’s just that Victor’s never brought it up (though by some of the heated looks he’s gotten, he doubts that Victor hasn’t thought about it).
And maybe it’s because they’re hanging out with Christophe “sex-on-ice” Giacometti, but Yuuri doesn’t want to keep waiting.
So one night, when he’s sure Chris won’t be coming back (“I’m not coming back until I’m finished,” he had said, and due to unfortunate circumstances at a past skating event, Yuuri knows that means the next morning, at the earliest), he takes a shower like usual, but instead of changing into nightclothes, he steps into the room with only a towel.
The thing is, Yuuri’s never done anything like this before, so when he drops the towel and Victor literally falls off the bed, his first thought is that he’s messed up, somehow.
“Yuuri! You have to warn me!” Victor says from the floor. “I can only handle so much beauty at one time!”
Yuuri flushes, but the words make him feel better.
“Do you think I’m beautiful, Victor?” he asks as seductively as he can. “Do you want to… touch me?”
“Yes,” Victor says breathily, without a second of hesitation. “Yes, yes, so much.”
And Yuuri launches himself into Victor’s arms. They’re still on the floor (who cares? not Yuuri) and Victor has to lift himself back onto the bed with Yuuri on top of him.
“I was worried,” he whispers to Victor. “You never tried anything. I thought… maybe you didn’t want…“
“Oh, Yuuri,” Victor replies through a flurry of kisses. “You’re beautiful. You’re gorgeous. You’re perfect. Of course I want you.”
Yuuri’s trying the best he can to get Victor’s shirt off, but it’s a little difficult to think with Victor trailing his mouth down his neck and chest and stomach and...
“Can… Can I see you, too?” he rasps out, and he’s never seen Victor get out of his clothes faster.
“Yuuri,” Victor moans into his neck. “I’ve never done this with someone I care about before. So please, please, let me know…anything you want, anything you like, let’s figure it out.”
“Let’s figure it out,” Yuuri agrees, and it’s the last coherent sentence he can form that night.
“Figuring it out” actually ends up being a long process, and while Chris never says a word to them, he winks at them more than ever, and somehow he manages to spend more nights at his new boyfriend’s place than at his own.
(Yuuri and Victor even get introduced to this new boyfriend. They all go out for dinner one evening. It’s nice.)
Sometimes, during the day, they visit the local rink Chris practices at. Yuuri never thought that anything would draw him to put on his skates again, but being at the rink together with Victor and Chris brings something out of him, and soon enough, he’s back on the ice. Without the pressure of competition, he doesn’t have trouble landing his jumps, although he never attempts any quads.
But then, he looks over at Victor, who’s laughing as Chris shows off part of the new short program he’s planning, and Yuuri is filled with the same indescribable feeling that Victor always manages to instill in him.
He does a quadruple salchow. He steps out of the landing, but it’s a lot better than he was ever able to do in practice before.
Victor whistles appreciatively. “Do it again, Yuuri!” he calls, even as Chris grumbles about not being able to “distract from the boyfriend.”
Yuuri knows if he were still training with Celestino, missing the landing would have been horribly disappointing. He would repeat it for hours, just trying to turn it into something resembling the proper form. His stomach would ache at the thought that he could never do it, that he would crumble in front of the whole audience, and all of his time was worthless.
The thoughts are still there. Yuuri doubts that he can ever be entirely free of them. But there’s something in him that’s louder, that he must make heard.
He looks at Victor. This feeling has no words; it’s something he can only express on the ice.
He jumps again.
“Good!” Victor praises him. “But next time, keep your leg straighter.”
And, as easily as that, Yuuri feels at home on the ice again.
Eventually, they decide it’s time to leave Chris’s home. It’s almost time for Worlds, and they have no desire to stay there when Chris himself is away.
“Where should we go this time, Yuuri?” Victor asks him.
“I’ve been thinking,” he says slowly, “that, if you’re okay with it, we should visit Japan.”
Victor looks at him in surprise. “Are we going to your hometown?”
“I was thinking about Hasetsu, yes. You could meet my family…”
“I’d love to!” Victor says enthusiastically. “I want to see your family, friends, and everything you’ve told me about the place!”
So Yuuri texts his family, and he and Victor book a flight.
Being back in Japan is nerve-wracking in its own way. He spots a poster of himself in one of his old skating costumes, and he’s never been more grateful that he has Victor there to let Yuuri hide his face in his coat.
“I like them, Yuuri. I’d buy five of them if I didn’t already have the real thing here with me.” Victor tells him cheerfully.
“Ugh, you’re terrible,” Yuuri complains, but then he remembers exactly how many posters he has of Victor, and he groans. “Actually, we’re both terrible. Just remember that for later.”
Minako is waiting for them at the airport, and her eyes grow comically wide when she sees them.
“Yuuri!” she exclaims as they walk over. “You said you were bringing your boyfriend, but you didn’t mention that your boyfriend is Victor Nikiforov.”
Victor looks over curiously at the sound of his name, so Yuuri explains.
“I mentioned you were coming, but I guess I forgot to mention that you were, um, you,” he says sheepishly.
“Is she a fan?” he asks Yuuri as he turns to give Minako a bright smile.
“Everyone knows who you are because I used to be a fan,” Yuuri admits, “but I don’t want you to act differently for them. Turn that smile down before you blind someone with it,” he scolds.
“Ah, I see.” Victor’s smile turns fond. Suddenly, he gasps. “Wait, does that mean you’re not my fan anymore? Yuuri! Yuuri, I’m hurt!”
Yuuri snickers and ignores Victor’s words in favor of turning to Minako, who ‘s been watching them with a smile on her face the whole time.
“Yuuri, look at you. You’re so happy,” she tells him. “We were afraid that you were going to come back depressed after the Grand Prix Final. You didn’t even go to Nationals. But you’re not, are you?”
“I was at first,” he says honestly, “but then I found another feeling to replace it.”
The indescribable feeling that he can only show on the ice.
There’s not really a name for it, but he knows the right thing to call it.
Yuuri’s family reacts the same way as Minako when he first brings Victor inside the home. His only consolation is that they can’t speak enough English to tell Victor all the embarrassing stories he can just imagine them coming up with.
But they’re also quick to adopt him into their midst, despite the language barrier. His mom offers them both katsudon (which is just as amazing as Yuuri remembers) and none of them need to know Russian to understand what Victor means when he exclaims “vkusno!” and devours the entire thing.
Other than Victor’s presence, everything is just like Yuuri remembers. The main change, he realizes, is him.
“You look like you’re shining brighter than ever,” his mom tells him, while his dad says something romantic about love as he draws his wife closer.
Mari complains that it’s unfair that he got a boyfriend before her, but then she slaps him on the back and wishes him the best.
“You finally found someone who can keep up with you,” she congratulates him.
But even though Yuuri’s changed a lot in the five years he’s been away from home, he can feel that his family still loves him.
’I’m glad Victor came back with me,’ he thinks. ’I missed everyone.’
Letting Victor into his room was a mistake.
“Wow, Yuuri, you really are terrible! That’s way more than five posters,” Victor says as soon as he enters Yuuri’s room.
Yuuri glares at him as he starts trying to peel them off the walls.
Victor, who is an awful, terrible, person, is laughing so hard he has to place a hand on the wall for support.
“D-Do you want them watching us have sex?” Victor chokes out through his laughter. “That’s a little weird but you know I’d do anything for you, Yuuri.”
He still manages to say Yuuri’s name so lovingly and damn it, Yuuri would kiss that smirk off his face, except he actually doesn’t want the posters to watch, and so he just crosses his arms and glares at Victor again.
“Anything, really?” he asks sweetly
“Start peeling,” Yuuri demands. “And don’t tear anything. I spent a lot of money on these things,” he adds.
“Yeah. I used to think your smile was the most beautiful thing I would ever see,” he confesses, and then, suddenly, his smile turns into a smirk. “But you know, now I think your lips look much better wrapped around my—“
“Yuuri,” Victor whines.
“—lips. Wrapped around my lips.” Yuuri laughs. “Did you think I was going to say something different? We’re in my childhood bedroom, Victor; keep it clean.”
“Yuuri,” Victor whines again, and crap, Yuuri didn’t think this plan through, because now he wants to kiss Victor more than ever.
One day, when they’ve been settled in for a couple of weeks, Yuuri asks Victor to come with him to the local rink, Ice Castle Hasetsu.
“This is where I used to practice,” Yuuri explains. “I want to show you something.”
“Does this have to do with why you’ve been running outside in the middle of the night?” Victor asks.
Yuuri nods and fixes him with a small smile. “I was wondering if you had noticed.”
Of course Victor had noticed. It was incredibly hard to sleep without Yuuri. Even if he did have Makka to cuddle with, it wasn’t the same. But he wasn’t going to say anything, because Yuuri had looked like he was searching for something. Victor just had to let him find it.
“Um, you know the Nishigori family that runs this place, well, they’re my friends,” Yuuri explains as they enter the building. “They let me have the rink for today, so please watch me.”
Victor nods (honestly, how could he possibly do anything except watch Yuuri?)
And then the music comes on, and Yuuri once again surprises him.
His rendition of “Stay Close to Me” isn’t flawless, but it is breathtaking.
The routine which once spoke of Victor’s loneliness has been transformed into a story of two people finding each other, finding love
'It’s about us,’ he thinks, and a smile spreads across his face. ’Of course it’s about us.'
So when Yuuri skates off the ice into his arms and asks if he understands, Victor whispers “I do” into his ear.
“You want to compete again,” Victor says when Yuuri finally pulls away.
“I… Yes,” Yuuri admits. “But not without you. Be my coach, Victor! There’s one last thing I have to tell the world with my skating.”
“Of course I’ll be your coach,” he agrees readily, “but there’s one more thing I have to tell the world, as well.”
“Victor, are you sure this isn’t too much? I wouldn’t have asked you to be my coach if I’d known you wanted to compete,” Yuuri says worriedly as Victor doodles circles in a notebook. “Celestino might work with me again, or I can always just wait until next year, or--”
“You’re forgetting who you’re talking to, Yuuri. I’m Victor Nikiforov. I can choreograph in my sleep,” Victor replies, brushing off Yuuri’s concerns. “I already came up with our short programs.”
“Wait, you did?”
“We’ll go to the rink later and I’ll show you.”
On Love: Eros and On Love: Agape were songs already on his radar. He had thought about using them before, but he’d never felt that he could skate them to their fullest potential. Now, that he had met Yuuri, though…
“You get Eros and I’ll do Agape,” Victor explains
After demonstrating both programs, Victor skates back over to Yuuri.
“Er, they’re both great, but are you sure about giving me Eros?” Yuuri asks, his face flushing adorably. “I don’t know if I can do that. That was… That was really hot,” he says, as if it explained why he couldn’t do it.
“I know. I made this choreography for you. You are really hot,” Victor says with a laugh.
It had been obvious as soon as he’d seen the names of the songs.
“Eros is just what you need, Yuuri. It’s time to show the world what you’re capable of.”
Eros for Yuuri, who had grown into his own confidence right before Victor’s eyes in the time he had known him.
Agape for Victor, who had grown, too, since meeting Yuuri. He had never really understood “life” and “love” before, but Yuuri was teaching him their meaning every day they spent together.
’I hear you calling. My freedom is here. My life is to love.’
He could feel the meaning of the lyrics deep in his soul.
’I pray this is my eternal happiness.’
Coming up with their free skates is more difficult. Yuuri wants to do something that represents the progress of his skating career, and Victor agrees. The problem is that, normally, skaters would commission a song to be written for something like this, but Yuuri had always let his former coach pick his music for him.
“You don’t know anyone who can write you something?” Victor asks. He mentally runs through the names of people who’ve written things for him, but none of them are likely to want to help a Japanese skater.
“Well, actually…” Yuuri says after a moment, like he was only just remembering something. “I had a girl write me something once. It was supposed to represent my skating career, but since I wasn’t very good back then, it was a pretty weak song.” He shrugs. “I might be able to get in touch with her, though. I think she and Phichit still talk sometimes.”
“Yes, do that,” Victor tells him.
At least that’s one problem solved.
Victor doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He can’t seem to find anything that properly expresses how he feels. If he’s going to skate about Yuuri, it has to be the best routine of his life. He can’t pick just anything.
The answer comes to him a week later.
It’s an accidental discovery (the best kind, in Victor’s opinion). He and Yuuri are browsing the internet, not even looking for music, when they come across a website for composers to solicit feedback on their work.
“You Only Live Once,” Victor reads.
As soon as he sees that title, he immediately clicks it. The composer had even posted the lyrics in both English and Japanese.
“Yuuri! Yuuri, it’s perfect!” Victor exclaims after listening to it. “Can you send a message for me?”
Yuuri and Victor, who have, at this point, been out of the figure skating scene for a year, have to qualify for the bigger events.
“This is a joke,” Victor mutters. “Of course we’re both going to take gold.”
The Russian and Japanese events are within 24 hours of each other.
“Ridiculous. Trying to spite me,” Victor continues to mutter.
And the worst part is how awful Yuuri appears. The dark bags under his eyes are a clear indication that he hasn’t slept, and he looks like he’s being haunted by the ghosts of his past.
“You can do it, Yuuri. I’ll be thinking about you the whole time,” Victor says as he clings onto Yuuri at the airport (hey, it’s not like he’s taking it well, either).
Victor medals so fast that he almost feels sorry for the other skaters. But he knows he didn’t perform at his best, not with his minds consumed with thoughts of Yuuri’s terrible sleep-deprived face.
He’s sure Yuuri will be okay on the ice. He’ll get gold.
But he isn’t sure that Yuuri will be okay off the ice. He resists the urge to call him again. If Yuuri sees Victor’s gloomy look, it will surely only make things worse.
Instead, he flicks through his phone’s photo album and curses every second he isn’t right next to Yuuri.
Yuuri is not doing okay. He hasn’t slept, and he feels like he’s being haunted by the ghosts of his past.
A boy skates by wearing what Yuuri recognizes as a slightly modified version of one of his old outfits, and he feels like he’s going to die.
“Y-Yuuri Katsuki!” exclaims said boy. “I’m Kenjirou Minami! I-I-I’ve seen all of your performances!” he exclaims.
“Uh…” Before Yuuri can think of anything to say, the boy continues.
“ I can’t believe that I actually get to meet you! I thought I’d see you at Nationals, but you weren’t there! I’m so happy you’re back! You’re my inspiration!”
A horrible image of Victor and a younger version of himself pops into his head.
’Definitely the ghosts of my past, here.’
“Well… good luck…” he says eventually, which even he realizes is not very inspiring.
’How did Victor manage to keep smiling for his fans for so many years?’ he can’t help but wonder.
But then he thinks about what Victor would have said to him if they’d met when they were younger, and he just can’t leave the boy like that.
All he has to do is channel Victor.
“I’ll look forward to your performance,” he says, mustering up the best smile he can give. ”Show me everything you’ve got.”
And he knows he doesn’t do it as well as Victor. He can’t even imagine Victor looking as haggard as Yuuri does at the moment, and Victor wouldn’t have even had to think about being nice, and he probably would have been more eloquent, too, but…
Minami lets out a squeal of delight.
“That’s right! I’m going to give it my all!”
Yuuri could have done worse.
Yuuri, fortunately, doesn’t have too much time to overthink his decision, because he’s on first.
He sets a new personal best, but he knows it’s nowhere near his actual best.
’I really wish Victor were here. I’m sure he’d hug me and then say “what was with that weak salchow?” in his coach voice,’ He chuckles a little at the thought, but he’s sure he must still look downtrodden. Even though Minako sits with him at the kiss and cry and tries to say motivating things, it’s hard for him to focus on her.
’I’ve got to do better on my free skate,’ Yuuri thinks.’After all, it’s a song about my improvement as a skater… not just that, but as a person.’
He skates well (not excellently, but well) and takes gold by a wide margin.
As soon as he’s able to get out of there, he grabs his phone and is already trying to skype with Victor before he remembers that Victor is probably on a plane at the moment…
… but it turns out he’s on a layover.
“It’s terrible, Yuuri,” Victor complains. “I hate this airline. They aren’t moving fast enough!”
“Don’t I know it,” Yuuri mutters.
“But at least I was able to catch a live stream of the event,” Victor continues.
“Mmhmm. You looked tired,” Victor says softly.
“I am tired,” Yuuri agrees
“But that’s no excuse for a sloppy performance,” Victor continues seriously. “What was with that weak salchow? And you didn’t keep your leg straight. That’s not going to cut it when you make it to the Grand Prix Final. And—“
Yuuri listens to Victor’s critiques, and they talk until Victor is finally able to board his flight.
They grudgingly accept that they have to do separate press conferences, but they absolutely insist that they get to attend each other’s.
Yuuri delivers an impassioned speech that ends with him swearing to get gold. Victor wishes he spoke Japanese so he could hear it himself, even though Yuuri translates for him later, anyway.
It isn’t until Victor gets in front of the video cameras that he becomes aware of how relaxed he’s become living with Yuuri. He searches himself for his old star persona, but it’s like a jacket he’s long outgrown, and he can’t bring himself to be that lonely, distant figure again. So he doesn’t try.
“So, Mr. Nikiforov, you not only choreographed your own program, but Yuuri Katsuki’s as well. Do you think you were able to do the both of you justice?”
Victor nods. “I deliberately created equally complex programs meant to draw out our hidden abilities,” he explains.
Several reporters jot down what he’s saying. Dozens of cameras flash at him, too. He smiles for them, but it’s not his “Victor Nikiforov” smile. He doesn’t need to charm the reporters, doesn’t need their adoration.
“Yuuri Katsuki has gone on record to say that his theme for this year is ‘love’. Is that your theme as well?” someone asks him.
Of course he wants to show his love for Yuuri through his skating. But it’s more than that, so much more. It’s something he can really only express on the ice, but…
“My theme is ‘life’. It’s something I’ve been neglecting for the past 20 years.” Victor smiles again, not for the press this time, but for Yuuri, who he can see sitting in the audience. Even though Yuuri doesn’t know the meaning of the Russian words Victor is saying, he still returns the smile.
“Yuuri has taught me how to live in a whole new way. “ Yuuri, hearing his name, gives him an encouraging nod.
“I’m sure you all remember my performance at the Grand Prix Final last year,” Victor begins
He pauses to let people exchange hushed whispers. He doubts they were expecting him to bring it up, as he and Yuuri had both avoided the subject every time they had been asked. But he has something to say about it now.
“I couldn’t skate at that time because I was missing something, though I didn’t know what.” He turns to look directly in the camera, because this is something he wants everyone to hear clearly. “I see now that what was missing was ‘life’. But now that I’ve found it, I want you all to watch me skate these new feelings on the ice. Victor Nikiforov has not been lost!”
The crowd applauds.
Yuuri and Victor are assigned to different competitions.
“It will be more dramatic when we face each other at the Final,” Victor comments.
“If I make it to the Final…” Yuuri mutters.
“When you make it to the Final,” Victor corrects. “Your combination is looking better than ever and I haven’t seen you step out of the quad salchow in weeks. Granted, you keep under-rotating, but I’m sure you’ll have that figured out by the Cup of China.”
Yuuri nods. “Let’s get some more practice in today.”
Victor’s first event is fairly, well, uneventful.
He takes gold at Skate America, although his margin of victory is not as wide as it had been in previous years. Still, nobody is surprised that he once again takes the top of the podium.
Yuuri’s first event, on the other hand, is more… dramatic.
It starts out well enough. He runs into Phichit, who is also competing, and they go out for dinner.
“Should I call Ciao Ciao, too?” Phichit asks cheerfully, and before Yuuri can say no, he’s already dialing.
Victor, the traitor, insists that he’s not leaving until after dessert, and it’s not like Yuuri’s going to leave alone, so he just has to bear with the embarrassment of talking to his former coach (after not speaking with him for a year after Yuuri’s completely humiliating attempt to tell him about retiring, y’know, no big deal).
But it doesn’t go as bad as he’d feared.
Celestino just claps him on the back and grins.
“I’m happy you got your motivation back, Yuuri. Too bad Phichit’s the one who’ll be getting gold this year.”
Phichit invites Leo de la Iglesia and Guang Hong Ji as well, and for a little while, Yuuri is actually enjoying himself.
But then, somehow, Celestino manages to get locked into an informal drinking contest with Victor. While Celestino passes out, Victor starts getting feely and, wow, Yuuri would absolutely love to pin him to the wall if only the majority of their rivals weren’t there.
“Victor, stop! We can’t get banned from another restaurant!” Yuuri exclaims in horror as Victor starts stripping.
“Another restaurant?” Phichit asks curiously, and Yuuri realizes that he has made a huge mistake.
And this is all before the competition even starts.
Things are looking good the next day. Yuuri is feeling confident, and for once he doesn’t feel like anything is going to go terribly wrong for him in the immediate future.
So of course something goes wrong.
But, this time, it goes wrong for Victor.
Yuuri honestly hadn’t paid much attention when he saw that “Georgi Popovich” would be competing at the Cup of China.
Now, seeing Victor pale and slow to a halt, Yuuri remembers why it should have been important to him.
Victor isn’t prepared to have feelings when he sees his former rinkmate walking next to his former coach.
Because, up until this moment, he had thought he didn’t care about leaving them without a resolution.
But the Victor that had left them was too used to lying to himself.
And Victor isn’t sure what he should do now. He can’t apologize, because he hadn’t been sorry then and he isn’t sorry now. Leaving had been the best decision he had ever made in his entire life.
But he admits that he could have done it more appropriately.
’You can’t outrun your problems forever,’ he reminds himself.
“Do you want to talk to them?” Yuuri whispers into his ear.
He needs a resolution.
So he approaches Yakov when he’s alone. Victor feels something oppressive well in him, shame mixed with years of memories, and he remembers why he wanted to get avoid his former coach in the first place.
Yakov breaks the silence first.
“Well, Vitya,” he says, the familiar name rolling off his lips like an old habit. “It looks like I was wrong. You were able to come back.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Victor says sincerely. “I came back because I…”
“You’re an idiot,” Yakov tells him. “And you won’t skate if your heart’s not already in it.”
“… Yes,” Victor agrees, and the oppressive feeling inside him starts to evaporate. Yakov understood.
How many years had they known each other? Of course he understood.
Yakov sighs. “You still have a long way to go, Vitya. You and that boy of yours cannot win on emotions alone.”
Victor nods. “We have more than that,” he promises.
“Do not underestimate us this year. Georgi’s program is everything that yours never were, and Yuri is constantly training to surpass both you and Yuuri Katsuki, and he has the skills to do it.”
“Yuri Plisetsky? He was pretty good in Juniors.” He smirks challengingly. “I am dying to see him try.”
They part ways on that note.
Victor feels better.
The rest of their time at the Cup of China goes well.
Although Victor kissing him on international television wasn’t exactly part of the plan.
“You just keep surprising me!” Victor tells him as they’re lying on the ice.
And that was fair enough, because in all honestly, ending his free skate with a quadruple flip was surprising for him, too (and even more surprising was that it worked, even if he did miss the landing).
But the thing is, Yuuri can’t think of any more fitting way to end “Yuri on ICE” than this. No, as soon as the thought occurs to him, he knows that he can’t go back to his previously planned quad.
But there’s another reason, too.
Yuuri can’t win without it.
Technically, his and Victor’s programs have the same base score. But if they both perform perfectly, Yuuri knows that Victor will beat him. By only a few points, perhaps, but Victor commands attention in a way that Yuuri is sure will sway the judges in his favor.
Yuuri doesn’t hate the thought of losing to Victor, but he doesn’t like it, either.
But with a quadruple flip…
He can win.
Yuuri takes silver at the Cup of China. Victor scores just a few points higher than Chris to take gold at the Trophée de France, thus securing his placement in the Grand Prix Final (as if anyone had ever doubted it).
Soon enough, it’s time for Yuuri to compete at the Rostelecom Cup.
“Welcome to the madness, shitheads,” Yuri Plisetsky says as soon as Yuuri and Victor walk through the door. “You have some nerve retiring and then coming back.”
“Hello, Yuri- oh, not you, Yuuri,” Victor says, looking at Yuuri apologetically. “Hey, I like it! Yuri-oh. Yurio!”
The sudden new nickname only serves to make “Yurio” angrier.
“I don’t have anything to say to you, you pathetic washout,” he growls, pushing Victor out of the way. “But you!” he says, getting his face close to Yuuri’s. “You had better listen to me!”
Yuuri has faint memories of this teenager yelling at him in a bathroom once, and he blinks at the sudden sense of déjà vu.
“I am going to crush you at the Grand Prix Final, you hear? So you had better not flub your jumps today, moron. I can’t say I’ve beaten you if you don’t even qualify.”
Yurio turns around and storms off in a huff, leaving Yuuri to look at Victor questioningly.
“Ah, I think he is looking forward to competing against you,” Victor says with a laugh.
“Is that what you got from that?” Yuuri asks incredulously.
“It is his senior debut this year. I’m sure he is experiencing many confusing new feelings,” Victor explains.
“Hmm, I see.” Yuuri’s lips quirk into a smile. “Well, I don’t want to disappoint him.”
They watch Yurio skate, and they both agree he has the skills to win gold.
His short program is “Welcome to the Madness,” while his free skate is “Piano Concerto in B Minor: Allegro Appassionato.” Both are fast-moving pieces that show off his energy. His jumps are well-executed and it’s obvious that he’s going to make quite a name for himself in the figure skating world.
“His performance just doesn’t have soul,” Victor laments. “It’s as cold as the ice itself.”
“With such a difficult program, I doubt he has time to think of anything other than his next move,” Yuuri comments. “I’m surprised his coach allowed it.”
Victor laughs. “I don’t think anyone could stop him. Yakov used to always complain that he takes after me.”
Yuuri wins silver again, with Yuri Plisetsky scoring just a single point higher.
“See you at the Grand Prix Final, loser,” the teenager says smugly as he leaves.
Yuuri grins. “See you, Yurio!” he calls after him, smothering a laugh when he gets a growl in response.
Victor, Yuuri, Yurio, Chris, Phichit, and a man named Otabek Altin (who Victor and Yuuri remembered from Skate America, where he had come in third) are officially listed as the competitors for the Grand Prix Final.
Time passes quickly.
Barcelona is a lovely city, and it almost makes Yuuri nostalgic for the time he and Victor spent in Europe.
He feels… nostalgic… grateful… happy for everything they had done.
“Victor, take me sightseeing,” he says, smiling.
He feels love.
And when he catches a glimmer from a store’s window, the feeling overpowers him.
He wants to win, he wants that gold medal, but more than anything (more than anything else in the world) he wants to stay with Victor.
“I’m sure you’ve seen enough gold by now,” Yuuri says softly, “but please accept this, Victor.”
Victor looks at him with the most tender eyes, and he lets Yuuri slide the gold ring onto his finger.
“It’s a prayer of sorts. It’s hard to explain,” he tells Victor. “It’s… for gold, but mostly, it’s… it’s for us.”
And Victor just smiles and pulls out a gold ring of his own.
“Yuuri, you’re always surprising me,” Victor says adoringly. “I was going to ask you after the Final, but I can hardly wait now.”
“How long have you been planning this?” Yuuri asks as Victor slides the ring onto his finger.
“Just before we came to Japan,” Victor admits. “I knew I wanted to marry you then, but I wasn’t sure if it was the right time.”
Yuuri smiles and leans forward.
“I would have said yes if you’d asked,” he whispers.
They kiss sweetly to the serenade of a gentle chorus.
Yuuri skates first.
With the weight of his ring on his finger, he skates his personal best, even if he does step out of the quad flip he and Victor had decided to add.
He knows his score isn’t enough to keep him in first. But that’s okay. He just has to do better in the free skate.
Victor hugs him, and he closes his eyes, letting his fiancé support him.
Victor is the last to skate his short program, and somehow, it feels right. His beautiful Yuuri opened the day with a song of sexual love, now Victor will end it with one of unconditional love.
’Since my life is temporary, it yearns eternal love,’he translates the lyrics to himself.
His body moves gracefully to the music.
’Do you understand?’ he mentally asks the audience. ’I never felt this way before.’
He hardly has to think of his jumps; they flow naturally from his body.
’My life is to love,’ he translates again as he jumps again.
He hopes everyone can see his love in every movement.
He loves Yuuri so, so much.
’I pray this is my eternal happiness,’ he finishes translating as the song ends.
With tears in his eyes, he brings his ring up to his lips.
The crowd’s applause rings in his ears.
“Victor, I think that was your best performance ever,” Yuuri says through tears, embracing him as he leaves the ice. “I don’t just mean of Agape, I mean ever.”
Victor says nothing, just holds his fiancé tightly.
And even if he were to come dead last in the rankings, he knows he would still be happy in that moment.
But he comes in first.
Yuuri’s performance of “Yuri on ICE” is also the best of his career, in Victor’s opinion.
His step sequences are as stunning as always, of course. More importantly, Yuuri isn’t overthinking everything, and his jumps come out gracefully, even though he’s upped the difficulty in an attempt to get more points.
And his quad flip is perfect.
Victor is misty-eyed when Yuuri skates back into his arms.
Yuuri skyrockets into first place, shattering Victor’s previous FS record in the process.
Yuri Plisetsky skates excellently. But for all that he’s driven to win, his skating still lacks… purpose.
He falls once (and Victor knows that he’ll lecture himself for that for much longer than is necessary). He still gets a high score.
He holds onto second place, but he can’t overtake Yuuri.
When Victor glides into the center of the rink, there is one truth on his mind.
If he skates his program the way he’d planned, he won’t be able to beat Yuuri.
And he can already see the changes he needs to make in his head. Push more jumps into the second half. Change the first spin to a combination. He doesn’t have the stamina to do a quad flip as his last jump like Yuuri, but with the right moves, that won’t matter.
But all of these changes will be for a later performance. For Nationals. For Worlds.
For now, all he can do is skate his heart out.
(Who cares about medals? He’s already wearing the most important gold.)
The music begins.
’You’re so beautiful. I was entranced by you tonight,’ his mind echoes.
Yuuri is always beautiful, always entrancing him.
He lands his quad salchow cleanly.
The audience, too, is entranced.
’We mustn’t fear being hurt so we can shine. Shining all the while, that’s what you taught me!’
There’s a reason his quad flip is timed to land on the end of this line. The quad flip, his signature, a move that had come to represent who he was.
Yuuri had taught him that he could be who he was, that he didn’t have to be a distant star in order to shine.
He continues his routine, baring his soul with every swell of the music.
’When you’re sad and having a hard time, we believe in you.’
He’s at the wrong angle to look at Yuuri here, but the ghost of a smile flickers over his otherwise concentrated lips when he pictures his face.
He believes in Yuuri, but more importantly, Yuuri believes in himself, now.
Victor isn’t the only one who found a new way of living.
’We were born so that we could shine. Shining all the while, that’s what you taught me!’
As the music comes to an end, he extends both of his arms toward where Yuuri stands at the side of the rink.
The applause is thunderous.
Funnily enough, Victor beats his previous FS record, but not the new one Yuuri set over it.
Ultimately, Yuuri’s overall score is higher than his by just fractions.
Now, standing on the podium together, it’s amazing how far they’ve come since the previous Grand Prix Final.
It might just be the most surprising comeback in figure skating history.
(And on the other side of the podium Victor can see Yurio, bronze medal around his neck, look at Yuuri with a rekindled fire in his eyes.)
“Hey, Yuuri,” Victor says a few nights later, after the celebrations and interviews and photo-ops have ended and they can finally spend the night together (alone, without interruption).
“Hmm?” Yuuri mumbles sleepily into Victor’s chest.
“It might be difficult to plan a wedding and our programs at the same time,” he says teasingly.
“Mmm,” Yuuri acknowledges, closing his eyes and burrowing further into Victor’s chest. “But you’re Victor Nikiforov. You can choreograph in your sleep.”
“Yes,” Victor agrees. He presses a soft kiss to the top of Yuuri’s head. “I certainly can.”