The banquet is in full swing when Phichit shows up. He hands his phone to a waiter, who takes his picture in front of a block of ice chiseled into the shape of a cherub. Phichit posts it to Insta with the caption me and my date!, finishing it off with a kissy face emoji. It already has ten likes when he reloads just to make sure it looks okay.
"Did you have anything to eat?" Celestino asks him, holding two little plates of food, one in each hand. "The mini-pizzas are out of this world!"
Phichit reaches out for one of the plates, but Celestino jerks it away suddenly. "I can get my own," Phichit says and laughs. He leans in for a picture with Celestino while flashing the victory sign, before leaving Ciao Ciao alone for some quality time with his mini-pizzas.
The banquet is probably the biggest party Phichit's ever been invited to; the ones for the other Grand Prix events don't even compare. He grabs a spring roll from a tray as it goes by, but spits it out into his napkin after one bite. The terrible spring roll makes Phichit suddenly miss home, and reminds him of why he had to move back to Thailand this year. It isn't like he hated his four years training in America, but America doesn't compare to home and neither do crappy banquet spring rolls. And now he has a napkin filled with half-chewed food.
"You can just put that on a tray," someone murmurs into Phichit's ear, making him jump a foot.
"Chris!" Phichit spins on his heel and laughs. "You can't just sneak up on people!"
Chris is drinking champagne and dressed in a suit that probably cost thousands of dollars, but also somehow looks like he could tear it off, stripper-style, at a moment's notice. It's pretty obviously deliberate, but Phichit isn't exactly buying what Chris is selling. Everyone always talks about Christophe's sex appeal, but Phichit never forgets that his feed is like fifty percent cat pictures. Phichit likes Chris.
"Where did you get that?" Phichit asks, pointing at the champagne flute.
"How old are you again?"
"Twenty!" Phichit wags his finger at Christophe. "Older than JJ, even. And don't act like you don't already know lots about me. You always like the pictures I post."
Christophe tilts his head and gives Phichit a quick up-down glance. Phichit bets that with most people, he gets away with doing that without them even noticing, but Phichit notices a lot. After all, how can he expect to get good pictures if he never opens his eyes? "Let's get you a drink," Christophe says.
Phichit hasn't had a lot of champagne before, but he likes it even though the bubbles tickle his nose. They stand off to the side and walk around the room, people coming up for pictures and congratulating them on making it as far as they did. Phichit knows what that really means — the two of them had ended up in last and next-to-last place and no one wants to say that out loud.
Chris side-steps closer, pressing their shoulders together. "Does it bother you?" he asks.
Phichit's scanning the crowd, not really focusing on any one thing for long. JJ dances alone in front of the DJ; Yuri Plisetsky turns eight shades of red when two little girls lean in to kiss his cheeks and take their picture together; Victor hangs all over Yuuri, who looks happier than he ever looked in Detroit. Reporters keep interrupting them for questions, comments, but none of the reporters have disturbed Phichit and Chris. "Does what bother me?" he asks, draining his glass and exchanging it for a new one.
"Being in the same place Yuuri was last year."
"Yuuri's in nearly the same place you were last year," Phichit points out mildly. "Does that bother you?"
Chris laughs. "Of course it does."
Phichit looks over at Chris; he's smiling in a friendly way but it doesn't quite meet his eyes, and suddenly Phichit wishes he were happier. Phichit likes making people happy. He bumps Chris's shoulder with his. "You were great, you know."
"You, too?" Christophe says, sipping from his glass. "I didn't think you'd be into empty flattery."
"I'm not!" Phichit is kind of offended. "This is full flattery. I watched your performance on the monitors. I was rooting for you, out loud! You can ask Ciao Ciao if you don't believe me." He gestures across the room, where his coach is into the mini-pizzas again. "I wish I could do half of what you do on the ice."
Christophe grabs his ass at that and does a complicated little shimmy, making Phichit laugh again.
"Not that," Phichit says. "All the quads, the spins, the footwork, all of it." He shrugs. "Okay, maybe the butts a little."
"This banquet is dead," Christophe declares, changing the subject, but the real smile pulling at the corners of his mouth fills Phichit with quiet triumph. "Let's get out of here."
Phichit tilts his head. "Where do you want to go?"
"Are you staying in this hotel?" Chris asks.
Phichit is cheerful, not stupid. He's also not uninterested. "Fourteenth floor. You?"
"Twelfth," Chris says. "So I'm closer."
No one notices as they leave, the reporters still too busy with the medalists, so Phichit takes a picture of them together right in front of the ice cherub that's slowly melting into a puddle. Then he uploads the pic and tags Chris in it. He's learned that if no one's talking about him, then he has to give people something to talk about.
While they ride up the elevator, Chris talks about the first time he ever visited in Barcelona in his low rumble and Phichit closes his eyes to take the sound in. He lets it wrap around him like a hug, and when he opens his eyes again, Chris has moved closer without Phichit even realizing. "Tired?" Christophe asks. He wraps his fingers around Phichit's wrist, his index finger overlapping his thumb as he pulls Phichit in.
"Yes. Not too tired for this, though," Phichit says, and tilts his chin up to press his mouth to Chris's. Christophe makes a sound, not surprised but pleased, and opens his mouth. Then the elevator dings for the twelfth floor and the door opens too quickly for them to pull away in time. The poor old couple waiting to go down looks scandalized as anything, and Christophe and Phichit crack up as the run down the hallway. They're still laughing when they let themselves into Chris's room.
"Did you ever do this with Yuuri?" Christophe asks when the door shuts behind them.
Phichit backs Chris up against the door and laughs. "Is this your idea of foreplay?"
"Maybe." Chris shrugs, shameless. Phichit likes that about him. But no, he and Yuuri have never done this; Phichit hasn't even entertained the idea, not with Yuuri always being so over-the-moon about Victor Nikiforov, in a way that not even most other skaters are. Phichit has loved Victor for a long time, too — he was only eight when Victor made his senior debut, after all, and Phichit was already in love with skating by then. But he's never been like Yuuri about it, and Phichit is a competitor first. No competitor likes coming in second all the time.
Phichit grabs the lapels of Christophe's jacket, messing up the lines of his expensive suit. Then, he tugs him in. "What about you?" he asks, a breath from Christophe's mouth.
"What about me?"
"You know," Phichit says, pushing up on his toes. His feet are sore from the free skate earlier, but he doesn't care. "You and Victor."
Chris shrugs again, shameless again. "We've known each other a long time," he says, which obviously means yes.
"Well, let's see if I can get you to forget about him for a little while," Phichit says, determined.
Christophe laughs again, rumbling deep in his chest. "I like you," he says approvingly.
Phichit pushes Christophe's jacket off his shoulders, not letting him pick it up as he keeps pulling off more overpriced clothes. Off comes the tie, the belt, the shoes, the pants, underwear — little islands of expensive dress wear dotting Chris's hotel room floor until Chris is naked and Phichit, well, isn't. Phichit backs Chris up while they kiss until Christophe's knees are hitting the edge of his bed, and then all it takes is a little shove to make him topple over. He hasn't let the pressure of the GPF get to him; the difference between Yuuri and him, the reason why he isn't embarrassed by his last place finish, is because he knows he's still evolving when Yuuri didn't let himself believe that. Phichit's evolving in ways people haven't even thought of yet.
Phichit gets his hand around Chris, stretches himself out on the bed next to him and kisses him in rhythm with his hand. Chris keeps trying to touch him and get off his clothes, too, but Phichit keeps pushing him away. There's time enough for that later; all Phichit wants to do right now is learn.
He does learn — Christophe is receptive, which Phichit could have guessed, and loud, which Phichit also could have guessed, but now he knows for sure. Learning about what people like is how best to entertain them, and Phichit can do that whether he's in front of ten-thousand people or just one. And this one likes having his nipple pinched, hard. Phichit moves his hand faster and sucks a mark on Chris's shoulder, just past where the collar of his shirt would sit, something for Christophe to remember later — something just for Chris. Then Christophe goes suddenly pink as he groans and comes all over Phichit's jacket.
"I tried to take this off you," Chris says to Phichit's jacket, patting it fondly, and Phichit finds it all so funny that he has to throw his arm over his face and cover it as he laughs. Anyway, Christophe more than makes up for it a minute later.
Phichit gets out his phone after, snaps a pic of the two of them flopped back on Chris's bed and uploads it with the caption the after after party. It gets over ten-thousand likes by the time he wakes up the next day, but the astonished, "Phichit WHAT?!" text from Yuuri he wakes up to the next day is the best part by far. He replies to Yuuri with ten more pictures that he didn't upload and then sends Celestino a picture of last night's mini-pizzas. Chris is still asleep next to him, but if he doesn't wake up on his own, Phichit's going to do it for him. Then later on, he's going to send Chris his dry-cleaning bill and take a selfie while he does it.
Watch out, world. Phichit Chulanont's just getting started.