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Winning Hearts

Chapter Text

Victor Nikiforov, gold medalist in his first Grand Prix Final in the senior division (and soon-to-be gold medalist in his second, he’s confident), is bored.

His rinkmate, Georgi, is still in Juniors, and his first event is being held in the United States. So their coach, Yakov, decided that, since there’s not a lot of time between it and Skate America, where Victor has been assigned, the best thing to do is to have them stay together in America for a little longer than usual and just watch each other’s events.

He and Yakov, have already checked into the hotel the competitors are staying at. Unfortunately, Georgi is having trouble checking in, prompting Yakov to come to his aid.

“Vitya,” Yakov speaks gruffly. “I can trust you not to get into trouble on your own, can’t I?”

“Of course!” Victor says cheerfully. “I’m much older and wiser than last year.”

At his first competition last year, Victor had sneaked away from his coach to have lunch with the other competitors, convinced them to get wine… a lot of wine… and, well, Yakov hadn’t appreciated having to deal with a drunk 16 year old for the rest of the day.

Yakov fixes him with a commanding stare before going off to help Georgi.

And so, with nobody to talk to, Victor is bored.

“I guess I’ll go skate a little to pass the time,” he decides, completely ignoring the fact that Yakov probably would prefer that he stay in his room.

He ties his long hair back into a ponytail and grabbed his skates. He fully expects to be the only one at the rink. Even though the hotel is booked full with skaters, he knows that most had not yet arrived, and, furthermore, they would take a while to settle in, even if they felt like practicing.

So when Victor arrives only to see somebody else already on the ice, he’s surprised. Surprised enough to keep quiet and just watch.

The boy looks to be younger than Georgi, so Victor assumes he must be competing in the Junior Grand Prix Final. He’s practicing triple toe loops, but he can rarely land them, and even when he does, his form is all wrong.

’If he gets any stiffer he’s going to snap in two.’

Finally, the boy stops the toe loops and moves into a new routine, and it’s incredible how his entire demeanor shifts, as if some weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

And even without music, Victor recognizes it. It’s his own short program from two years ago, the last he had done before moving into the senior division. The quad he had in the original gets reduced to a triple, and the original triple axel gets reduced to a double, but other than that…

’He can move. He could win if he skates like this.’

Though the only sound came from the scraping of blades on ice, Victor can practically feel the music reaching him. It emanates from the boy’s every movement.

As the boy finishes Victor’s program, he adds one more jump, the triple toe loop that he had been practicing before. With his body more relaxed, it comes out much better, but…

“You need to shift your center of gravity a bit!” Victor, who had gravitated to the side of the rink, calls out.

The boy looks up, takes one glance at Victor, shrieks, and falls forward.

“Oh, my,” Victor says, quickly entering the rink to help him up. The thought of what Yakov would say if he accidentally hurt someone before the competition is enough to send a shudder through him.

“V-V-Victor Nikiforov! D-Do you need the ice? I’m so sorry! I’ll leave right now! I- I just, I…”

“No need to stop on my account,” Victor says cheerfully, patting the boy’s shoulder gently after pulling him to his feet. “You almost had the hang of that toe loop. Here, watch me and I’ll show you why you’re doing it wrong.”

The boy is, well, as frozen as the ice he was standing on. Victor frowns.

“No, don’t tense up again. Just look at what I do.”

He skates a couple of loose circles around the center of the ice before launching himself into a triple toe loop. He lands smoothly and glides back towards the boy.

“See? Do it like that,” he says..

“I-I can’t…” the boy whispers miserably.

“What do you mean you can’t? You almost did before!” Victor protests.

“Not… I didn’t know you were there… I…”

Victor crosses his arms in frustration.

“You can’t do it if I’m watching you?”

When the boy nods, he continues.

“So are you planning to fall on your face tomorrow, too?”

“N-No!” The boy looks up in alarm.

“You know I’m going to be there, don’t you? I’m just trying to help you out. You already know how to copy me, yes?” Victor says, smiling encouragingly.

The boy covers his face, which has become entirely red, with his hands.

“You saw that…” he moans.

The boy looks ready to explode. This isn’t good…

“I saw it and I loved it!” Victor exclaims. “And I can’t wait to see what your short program is. I’m guessing you have a triple toe loop? What else?” he says coaxingly.

It seems to work, because the boy lowers his hands from his face.

“Uh… the triple toe loop… a double axel… a… a double lutz…”

Victor nods encouragingly.

“and… a sit spin.”

Well, it wasn’t too bad, but it’s not what Victor would have told him to do.

“Is this your first Grand Prix?” he asks the boy.

“Yes. Uh, I’m 13.”

Good, he’d have time to improve.

“Okay, ah… What’s your name?” Victor asks.

“Y-Yuuri Katsuki!” the boy says, finally looking him in the eye.

“Okay, Yuuri, I really want to see you make it to the Final, so here’s some advice. Your step sequences are good, but you’re not going to be able to jump if you’re too stiff. You need to relax, first, and then focus on keeping your balance. You can do that, right?”


“Good! Show me!” Victor says excitedly.

“Okay…” Yuuri looks at him shyly, clearly trying to say something else. Victor waits for him.

“But first, can… can you… can you show me the jump again? Please…” he asks, fidgeting nervously with his hands.

Victor smiles broadly.


They spend about an hour together practicing moves. Yuuri refuses to do any jumps on his own, but he’s willing to copy Victor’s jumps if prompted to. Victor is surprised at the feeling of pride that flows through him whenever Yuuri finally nails his triple toe loop.

’Is this what being a mentor feels like?’ he wonders. Then, he smirks. ’Take that, Yakov! I’m totally a good role model.’

Their practice comes to an end when Yuuri’s phone rings and he has to rush off the ice to answer it. He speaks in what Victor thinks he recognizes as Japanese. As soon as he hangs up, he starts cramming all of his things into his bag.

“Ah, sorry, Victor. I have to go meet my coach,” he explains without looking up. “I… I had a good time skating with you, uh… “

Victor exits the ice as well, though he takes his time pulling off his skates.

“I had a good time skating with you, too, Yuuri! Good luck with your short program tomorrow!” he says, waving as Yuuri runs out the door.

He’s a bit disappointed to watch Yuuri go, but it’s probably about time for him to show his face around Yakov, anyway, lest his coach think he got into trouble on the first day... again.

“Hmm, but I wonder if Yuuri can beat Georgi? I’d better not mention that I’m rooting for another competitor,” he says to himself.

But hey, there are three medals, so it’s not so bad if he hopes Yuuri gets one, is it?

Chapter Text

It’s Yuuri’s first time competing in the Junior Grand Prix, and honestly, he still can’t believe that the JSF is letting him do this.

He would be nervous anyway, but knowing that Victor Nikiforov is there (to watch his rinkmate, apparently? Yuuri was not PREPARED for this) is definitely making him freak out even more.

And speaking of Victor Nikiforov, what had even happened between them the day before? When Yuuri had said he wanted to skate on the same ice as his idol, he had meant that he wanted to compete against him one day (one day in the distant future!) not accidentally give an embarrassing performance of one of Victor’s old programs and then end up copying his jumps while Victor, his one and only incredible idol, watched and… helped!

And now, well… the thought of Victor watching him from somewhere in the audience was both terrifying and embarrassingly motivating.

’They hold the Grand Prix Finals for juniors and seniors at the same place,’ he remembers. ’If I can qualify, I’d be able to watch him skate his programs in person… Plus, he told me he wants to see me there…’

Yuuri feels like his heart is going to burst with happiness every time he thinks about all the things Victor said when they were practicing together.

”I saw it and I loved it! And I can’t wait to see what your short program is!”

Victor Nikiforov had said that! To him, a 13 year old dime-a-dozen skater!

And, more importantly, Victor had actually helped him by showing him the triple toe loop until he could nail it. Sure, his explanations weren’t that great (“When you feel the whoosh thing, you know, the whoo-oosh, that’s when you jump”), but that was okay, because whenever Yuuri watched Victor skate… he could just lose himself in the movement. Victor could have stayed completely silent and his actions would still have said everything that Yuuri needed to know about skating.

And now, Yuuri’s heart is thundering his chest (this would normally be the part where he panics), but for once, he can’t even think about the crowd, about the competitors, about the judges… All he can think about is…

”And I can’t wait to see your short program!”

He skates to the center of the ice.

’Please, please look at me, Victor. I want to be just like you.’

The triple toe loop is his hardest jump, and he hadn’t been able to land it in his previous competitions, but after practicing it so many times with Victor, he is finally able to land it cleanly. He can’t help the proud grin that tugs at his mouth.

’See? I can jump like you do! Even in front of everyone!’

At the end of the day, he’s fourth in the rankings, which is pretty good considering his program’s low base score.

He tries not to think about how Georgi Popovich is in second.

And he tries desperately to stop staring at the Russian skater and his coach, but it’s just that it’s his best chance of seeing Victor, and… Yep, there he is, on the other side of his coach, saying something to Georgi.

’I should stop staring now,’ Yuuri thinks as he continues to stare. ’What if they see me! This is too— oh no.’

“Yuuri!” Victor says, waving his arms.

Maybe he can still leave if he just…

Victor starts walking towards him, ignoring the angry Russian sounds coming out of his coach’s mouth.

“Yuuri, that triple toe loop was great. You did very well,” he praises.

“Ah… th-thank you,” Yuuri says, flushing slightly.

“You could get more points if you’d change some of those doubles to triples, you know. And push more jumps into the second half; you weren’t even tired when you finished this time, so I know you can handle it,” Victor advises. “Something to think about for next time.”

“Uh… yeah… Yeah!” Yuuri says, nodding enthusiastically. This is, after all, advice from Victor Nkiforov and if anyone knows about skating advice, it’s him. So even though Yuuri is absolutely terrified to think about making those doubles into triples, if that’s what Victor thinks he should do, he’ll do it.

Victor’s coach yells some more in Russian, and Victor turns around to yell something back.

“I should g—“

“Wait!” Yuuri says, reaching out unthinkingly. He almost gasps when his hand brushes against Victor’s shoulder, but Victor just turns around with a smile.


“I… Um…” Yuuri takes a deep breath to steel his nerves. It doesn’t make him feel any better, but at least it gives him a second to gather his thoughts.

“Tomorrow… In my free skate, there are three doubles. Should I… Should I change something?” he asks. He can’t believe he’s daring to ask his idol such a question, but…

The truth is, Yuuri already knows what he wants to do. But he needs someone to tell him that he can, that it’s okay.

Victor shrugs, but he’s smiling.

“Well, you certainly aren’t going to medal if you don’t.”

That’s what he needed.

Yuuri nods.

“Okay,” he says. Then, he looks at alarm at the other two Russians still waiting for Victor. “Oh no, are they angry? I’m sorry for holding you up.”

Victor laughs and shakes his head.

“They aren’t angry, Yuuri. They’re just shocked that I have a friend.”

Before Yuuri can say anything, Victor is already turning again to leave.

“Good luck, Yuuri!” he says, waving cheerfully. “See you later.”

Wait, what?

”See you later.”

”They’re just shocked I have a friend.”

There’s no way that he had actually made friends with Victor Nikiforov. That would be just too ridiculous for words.

Yuuri can’t help but smile anyway.

Chapter Text

Victor can’t hide his excitement during the free skate part of the competition.

“You are lucky that Georgi is too busy chasing girls to care about your opinion right now, Vitya, because you are being incredibly rude.”

Victor waves him off.

“You’re right, Georgi doesn’t care about what I have to say. You know who does? Yuuri.”

He leans forward in his seat in anticipation.

“Ah, yes, the wonderful feeling of having someone listen to you. I wouldn’t know it, because none of my skaters ever listen,” Yakov remarks dryly.

Victor ignores him.

“He just has something. I don’t know what it is. I don’t think he knows what it is. But I want to be there when he finds out,” he continues. “He’s too unskilled now, but someday… Yakov, we’re going to share the podium someday.”

Yakov sighs.

“You are going to set a horrible example for that child. I pity his coach already.”

“Shh, he’s coming out!”

And there Yuuri is. Small, still too tense, and wearing a costume he’s probably going to regret in two years, he’s not much of a sight. Until he starts skating.

“Isn’t he just captivating?” he asks Yakov.

“He’s trained in dance. He’s good at that. His jumps, on the other hand, are completely sloppy.”

“Too bad you aren’t coaching him, Yakov. Then he could—“

“No,” Yakov says firmly.

“I didn’t even finish my sentence!” Victor complains.

“You were about to beg me to coach this boy who you just met,” Yakov says harshly. “I can see talent, too, but this is not a decision you are allowed to make, Vitya!”

Victor sulks, knowing that he has lost. There are issues that he can press, and there are times he can ignore Yakov’s words, but in this situation, he knows his coach is right.

“… So what am I supposed to do?” he mutters.

Yakov looks incredulously at him.

“I am not the right person to ask about friendship,” he says seriously, “and you are 17 years old. This is something you have to work out.”

Victor falls silent. Yakov is right. Neither of them have friends, so to speak. In fact, Victor is sure that the only reason he and his coach can get along at all is because of that shared sense of loneliness.

But Victor hates it.

And he knows that soon enough, his chances of making friends is going to go down in flames. He’s already a rising celebrity among the public; he’s already seen enough of false flattery, and it will only get worse as he continues to succeed. As long as he’s a skater, he should be able to get along with his fellow competitors. But the problem is that skaters learn too quickly what he’s really like. There are few people who desire to keep talking to him once they realize that the amazingly talented Victor Nikiforov is actually an asshole with no tact.

(He’s not a fool. He knows he can’t seem to say the right things. But he doesn’t know what the “right things” are, and how is he supposed to know? He has a trust fund and a gold medal; people won’t tell him to his face what he’s doing wrong.)

And maybe Victor is being a little bit selfish. Yuuri Katsuki has a certain vibrancy to him, but so do many other skaters. He has the potential to be great, but so do many other skaters. Time and money and injury and sickness wear the masses away until only a few are left to leave their mark on the sport. There are many skaters with talent in the world.

There are not many skaters who will put up with who Victor is as a person.

There are not many skaters who will listen to him unintentionally insult them and yet still take his advice.

There are not many skaters who will smile so genuinely at him when they land a jump and say “Thank you, Victor! I finally understand!” with shining eyes.

So maybe he’s being a bit selfish when he wants Yuuri to win numerous medals and one day stand next to him on the podium.

Maybe he’s even selfish for desperately wanting to be friends with this brand new skater (poor guy can’t even go one competition without getting dragged into Victor’s drama).

But Yuuri had smiled at him. A real smile, not the kind of polite smile that most competitors give him (after he’s already messed up by insulting them).

“So, do you think he’d want to exchange phone numbers?” he asks aloud.

He doesn’t expect a response from Yakov, and he doesn’t get one.

Which is fine, because he’s quickly absorbed into Yuuri’s skating.

Apparently, Yuuri has decided that the best thing to do is to change all of his jumps to triples. Unfortunately, the only one he lands cleanly is the toe loop. Still, he manages to get enough rotations in on the others, and the increase in base score is ultimately greater than the loss of points for errors.

When he finishes, his score puts him in second place.

“The others will push him down to fourth,” Yakov points out.

Victor shrugs.

“But we know what he can do, now.”

In the end, an injury to the first-place contender keeps Yuuri in third place.

And yet, looking at him, he seems to be more upset than the guy who got injured.

When Victor goes to try to congratulate him, he’s just standing there, unmoving, staring at the bronze medal in his hands.

“It’s a mistake,” is all Yuuri can say, over and over again.

“It’s not a mistake,” Victor protests. “Or do you think the judges are incompetent? They certainly would never cheat in your favor.”

Something seems to snap back into place, and Yuuri starts shaking his head vigorously.

“No, no! But I don’t… I don’t deserve anything!” he exclaims. “I messed up on everything! And… and that American skater got hurt… This can’t be happening!”

Yuuri’s eyes begin to water, and Victor doesn’t know what to do.

People do not cry in front of Victor Nikiforov.

(And his own tears have never left his room. Only his dog has ever witnessed them.)

Yakov certainly has never been a model of comfort.

He has to figure this out himself.

“Yuuri!” he shouts, grabbing the bronze medal out of his hands. “Look at me!”

Yuuri’s eyes snap up to meet his. Victor dangles the medal in front of him.

“You made mistakes. So did the other skaters. Your score was higher,” Victor tells him.


“Nobody likes to win this way,” Victor says, cutting off any protests.

He places the medal around Yuuri’s head.

“If you can’t be proud of this one, then work harder to win one you can.”

Yuuri’s eyes are still watery, and he sniffs once as he nods. But when he speaks, his voice, though shaky, is no longer filled with pain.

“Th-thank you, Victor… f-for everything,” he says after taking a few deep breaths. “Really. I feel like… like I can be a better skater because of you…” he continues, a faint blush coloring the top of his cheeks.

’Did that really work?’ Victor thinks in astonishment. ’I said something that didn’t make everything worse?’

Victor smiles gently at Yuuri.

“Friends should inspire each other, yes?”

Yuuri smiles back shyly.

“If… we’re friends, then…” he starts hesitantly. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, and when he reopens them, there’s determination burning in them. “I want to inspire you, too!”

Victor nods.

“Of course! I’m already inspired! I can’t slack off with you watching me, now can I?” Victor smiles again. “You will keep watching me, right?”

“Yes!” Yuuri nods vigorously. “Watch me too, please!”

“I will! Hey, Yuuri, let’s keep in touch,” Victor says, pulling out his phone. “Can you put your number in my phone? Don’t worry about reading the Russian; I can put your name in myself.”

And even though Yuuri looks dazed, he shakily enters his number into Victor’s phone and hands it back to him.

“Thanks, Yuuri,” he says, typing out the same thing on his phone and sending it to his newest contact. “Keep me updated on how those triples go.”

“Uh… Y-Yeah, alright,” Yuuri agrees. “I guess I’ll… talk to you later? My coach is probably starting to get worried about me…”

“Oh, sure. Bye, Yuuri!” Victor waves cheerfully as Yuuri walks past him.

Victor grins as he walks back to join Georgi and Yakov.

’I can’t believe any of that worked.’

Chapter Text

When Yuuri returns home, he isn’t entirely sure that the events of his competition in America are more than just a dream.

But the medal on his neck is heavy (much too heavy, this is something he wasn’t meant to earn) and it reminds him that this, that everything, is real.

And on his phone, there’s still that message from Victor.

— Thanks Yuuri ))))

The text is marked unread, but only because Yuuri wants it to stay at the top of his messages. He’s read it at least twice an hour since he’s received it.

And it’s been a week now.

“Yuuko, I can’t believe it,” he gushes to his friend. “Can you believe it? I met Victor Nikiforov and he wanted to be my friend!”

Yuuko laughs.

“You’ve said that a hundred times already, silly!” She gives him a friendly pat on the head. “Just don’t forget about me now that you’re getting famous, okay?”

“What? No way I’d ever forget you!”

Yuuri’s hardly getting famous, but he is working harder than ever before. Victor’s right that he isn’t going to win anything with a bunch of doubles, and he desperately wants to have the full set of triples under his belt… but it’s harder than it sounds.

He’s especially troubled by his inability to master the triple axel. The extra half-rotation keeps throwing him off, and he’s constantly under-rotating it. The worst part is that he knows Victor was able to do it at 13.

Speaking of Victor, he’s about to compete at Skate America. Yuuri can’t wait to see what he does.

He glances towards the phone sitting across from him on the bed, and before he can think better of it, it’s in his hands.

’He’s probably really busy,’ Yuuri reminds himself. ’He’s probably forgotten all about you. He probably won’t reply at all.’

He still sends a text anyway.

— Hi, Victor. You’re skating tomorrow, aren’t you? I’ll be cheering for you from Japan!

Of course, he wants to die the second he’s sent it.

’Oh my god, that’s so embarrassing. Why would I write that? Maybe he won’t read it… What if he reads it and regrets giving me his number? What if he blocks me? How do you know if someone has blocked you?’

But the chime of his phone’s text notification tone breaks him out of his internal despairing.

— Thanks Yuuri! ))))
— How’s your skating going? When’s your next competition?

Yuuri almost drops his phone in shock. Victor responded to him?

His heart beats rapidly as he tries to steady his fingers enough to reply.

— Oh, it’s going okay. I’m still working on triples. My next event’s in Germany in a couple months.

And now Yuuri’s questioning himself again.

’Is this alright to say? Does he even care about this? What if he’s just being polite? Ugh, he’s such a good person, so of course he’d be polite even if I bore him to tears…’

Again, the chime of his phone distracts him from worrying.

— Germany is a lovely place )))) But cold that time of year. Wear a coat!
— What triples are you doing?

Yuuri bites his lip as he debates whether he should admit his troubles, or if that would just sound like whining. Finally, he shrugs. Victor shouldn’t ask these things if he doesn’t want to know.

— I’ve got the 3T down and I can usually land the 3Lo. I’m trying to get a 3A but it isn’t going well.

This time, the alert tone doesn’t surprise him.

— No 3S?

Yuuri sighs. Salchows are not the easiest for him.

— I keep stepping out of the 3S. I’m working on it, but my coach says it’s better to work on the axel for the competition.

He buries his face into his pillow while he waits for Victor to reply again. He feels the bed tremble, and soon enough Vicchan is pawing at his side. He rolls over and sits up, pulling his dog towards him with one hand and holding his phone with the other.

— 3A is worth more. You think you’ll get it in 2 months?
— You want my advice?

Yes. Yes, of course Yuuri wants Victor’s advice! He’s so excited he can barely type. Vicchan whines in his grasp, and Yuuri lets him go, moving the steady the phone with his newly freed hand.

— Please tell me anything you can.

And so Victor does, typing out several paragraphs of text and linking Yuuri to a few videos of his old performances.

Yuuri memorizes every word and every motion.

Even Yuuri’s coach, who knows the tenacity with which he practices, remarks on how impressive Yuuri’s newfound determination is.

Still, it’s hard for him. He has none of Victor’s genius, none of his natural grace. All he has is free time to spend practicing. He tells this to his parents, Minako, and Yuuko, and while they all try to offer words of encouragement, that’s not want Yuuri wants. He just wants acknowledgment.

It’s going to take him forever to master the same things that come so simply to Victor, but he’s going to do it anyway.

But when his next competition comes around, he doesn’t feel like he’s ready. His stomach aches and his head hurts and his idol (friend?) isn’t there to shock him out of his nerves by telling him that he wants to see his performance.

Except he might as well be there…

— Yuuri, good luck ))))
— I can’t wait to see all those triples you’ve been telling me about
— Remember to take deep breaths and relax
— Yakov told me that I should be practicing right now but I really want to watch your SP live so I’ll just put in more hours later ))))

And actually, it’s kind of helpful. It’s hard to overthink everything when he has to keep replying to text messages.

See, Yuuri has learned something over the couple of months he’s been exchanging texts with Victor.

Victor Nikiforov is needy. He will send Yuuri twelve variants of “Yuuri, are you there?” and “Am I bothering you? Just tell me if I’m bothering you!” until he gets a response (an unfortunate fact Yuuri realized when his phone ran out of battery one morning and he couldn’t charge it until that evening).

Of course, all it takes is a single “I’m in class” or “I have to practice” and Victor will quiet down immediately. But ignoring him does not work.

Admittedly, Yuuri’s grown fond of texting his Russian friend at random hours of the day (and night—time zones are horrible). Sometimes when he knows Victor has to be away from his phone, Yuuri will send him a couple of lines of text or a picture, just so he’ll have something to respond to when he comes back.

It’s almost time for Yuuri to go out, so he texts Victor one more time before handing his phone to his coach for safekeeping.

— Thanks, Victor. You should listen to your coach more, but I’m happy you’re not this time. Please watch me.

And so he goes.

He still feels frozen when the bronze goes around his neck, but this time, at least, no one has been injured, and he doesn’t feel weighed down by a medal figuratively soaked in blood.

— I can be proud of this one.

That’s all he replies to Victor’s avalanche of congratulatory texts.

He still can’t help but mentally revisit every single mistake he made. For one, he might have been able to do better if he hadn’t stepped out of the triple axel during his free skate. The bitterness that rises in his throat all but disappears, however, with Victor’s next messages.

— You should be very proud ))))
— You killed it with the 3Lo3A combo
— You know you’ll make it to the final with that score, right?

And Yuuri almost forgets how to breathe.

The Junior Grand Prix Final. Held concurrently with the senior final. The senior final that Victor will certainly qualify for.

— It’s in Beijing, isn’t it? Will we get a chance to see each other?

Victor replies so quickly that Yuuri’s phone almost vibrates out of his hands.

— Yes it’s in Beijing
— Of course we’ll be able to see each other ))))
— We should meet up before it starts. Everyone gets busy afterwards.
— I’ve never been to Beijing before so it should be a real adventure
— Have you had hot pot? I want to try it while I’m there

Yuuri smiles as he imagines the two of them exploring the city.

— I don’t know how much time we’ll have. I can ask my coach if we can fly in a little early.
— I want to try Chinese hot pot, too. In Japan we have “nabemono” but I hear the Chinese make theirs differently.

Unfortunately, he has to pocket his phone when his coach tells him he’s needed for a picture.

But at least it’s easy for him to give a genuine smile.

Chapter Text

Victor knows Yakov thinks he’s not taking his skating seriously enough. It’s true that he often ignores him, but only because he has vision, damn it, and he won’t sacrifice it for the sake of a few base points.

That’s why he’s currently practicing quadruple flips instead of lutzes like Yakov had wanted him to do.

Now, it’s not that he’s doing much better at the quad flips. In fact, he’s pretty sure that he’s actually closer to mastering the quad lutz. But that isn’t what he wants to do. He’s just not in the mood for a lutz. Something about the quadruple flip speaks to him, even if he can’t seem to get it right.

He misses the landing again and falls onto the ice. While he’s down there, he wonders what Yuuri would think about his struggles with the quad flip. On one hand, Yuuri is always saying that he should listen to his coach more (Victor has told Yakov this, and it seems to amuse him). On the other hand, Yuuri always cares about artistry, as well.

’Is that what I saw in him the first time? Art?’ he thinks, but he’s sure that isn’t the full explanation.

But even if he still isn’t sure what it is that first drew him in, he’s glad that he met Yuuri. He’s probably the best friend Victor could possibly get.

“You know, at first I was too starstruck to notice, but you really aren’t anything like you seem on TV,” Yuuri had told him once, after they had decided to have a real phone conversation with each other. “I always thought you were being dramatic in front of the cameras, but you actually just don’t know what to say, do you?”

“Do you mind that I’m like this?” Victor had had to ask. He’d been vulnerable in that moment. Yuuri would probably never realize it, but he could have broken him right then with a single word.

But Yuuri is a good person, and he did not end Victor Nikiforov’s existence with one fell remark. Instead, his voice, warm and understand, reached out to him from thousands of miles away.

“Of course not,” he’d said. “I want you to be yourself.”

And that was the exact moment that Yuuri Katsuki went from “friend” to “best friend forever” (to be protected at all costs).

“I’m not much better, you know,” Yuuri had continued. “I have two friends at home in Japan, but they don’t skate competitively. And there’s you, of course. Other than that, I mostly keep to myself. I don’t know how to talk to other competitors…”

Victor had thought, then, about how all the senior competitors seemed to know each other, how they would hug and laugh and share stories while Victor can only watch, as if some invisible wall was separating him.

“You’re going to have years to make friends, Yuuri,” he had tried to say encouragingly, because Yuuri shouldn’t be trapped behind an invisible wall, too.

“Mm, I guess. I’m not too concerned,” Yuuri had replied. “You talk enough for twelve friends, anyway” he’d joked.

And it’s true that he and Yuuri talk a lot. Even now, his hand itches for his phone, though of course he does not have it with him on the ice. Moreover, he knows it’s midnight in Japan. Even though Yuuri had told him that he sleeps with his phone off and midnight texts won’t bother him, Victor doesn’t want to get in the habit of ignoring his friend’s schedule.

Besides, he really does need to practice.

Victor still can’t land the quad flip when the Grand Prix Final comes around, and frankly, it’s a little terrifying. Fresh off his last GPF victory, he knows the world will be watching him closely this year. Can he do it again? Is he a genius or a fluke? (He’s a genius; he can prove it, but…)

Yakov has told him in no uncertain terms that he absolutely is not to do the quad flip. It is not an official part of his program, but his coach knows full well that Victor would not have practiced so intensely if he was not intending to change it.

“Stick to the salchow, Vitya” Yakov had insisted. And Victor had, in the previous competitions. But the Grand Prix Final is different. He has to do something different, or his skating will be predictable and boring. That isn’t how you win the hearts of the audience, by being predictable. So he’ll do a quad flip, just for the looks on their faces. There’s no point in trying to be anything less than the best.

Or at least, that’s what he tells himself. He tells it to Yuuri, too, but…

“I’m going to lose,” Yuuri says miserably. “I’m going to lose badly. My “best” is a mess and I shouldn’t even be here. God, the first medal… I shouldn’t be here, Victor! I shouldn’t be here and everyone can tell and—“

“Whoa, stop!” Victor exclaims, holding his hands up.

Sometimes he forgets that this is still Yuuri’s first season. And Yuuri sounds so confident whenever he speaks to Victor on the phone that Victor has almost wiped away the image of the frightened boy who screamed that he couldn’t do a toe loop if someone was watching.

No, now that he thinks about it, Yuuri is always focusing on his mistakes. If he had an excellent step sequence, Yuuri would only speak about the steps he missed. If he had a clean jump in his short program, he would focus on the missed landing in his free skate.

’He actually thinks he’s bad,’ Victor thinks as everything starts to click into place. ’He doesn’t even remember the good parts. No wonder he thinks he didn’t deserve to qualify.’

But Victor can’t just say that, because it’s obvious now that Yuuri hasn’t paid attention to a single one of Victor’s previous compliments. A surge of frustration courses through him. Why is he so bad at this?

“Let’s go eat already. I’m starving,” Victor ends up saying.

And that clearly isn’t the right thing to say at all! Victor knows this! So why is Yuuri willing to go along with it?

“Really? You’re going to let me talk to you like that?” he snaps

At least that gets a real response

“Oh, like you have anything better to say? I didn’t expect you to understand. What would Victor Nikiforov know about failure?” he asks bitingly “And as it happens, I’m also hungry, so let’s go.

They stay silent as they walk, but Victor thinks it says something that they still walk together.

Still, something burns inside him as they walk.

’Is figure skating all you can do, Victor?’ he asks himself. ’Do you not have a single useful skill off the ice?’

Eventually, Victor slows to a halt.

“Yuuri,” he says, instinctively reaching out a hand.

Victor is starved for touch. But he can’t get it easily, not with those invisible walls always in the way. (Makka enjoys his touch, but the warmth of a dog cannot replace what he isn’t getting from the people around him.)

Yuuri is surprised at the first contact, but then his face turns serious. And even though he’s still frustrated from before, he makes no move to pull away.

For once, Victor doesn’t hit an invisible wall.

Yuuri doesn’t pull away, and Victor speaks.

“It’s not actually about winning. I know that’s rich coming from me,” he says, cutting off any protest before it can begin. “But the judges, the points, it’s all arbitrary. Everyone wants to see you skate beautifully. Your score doesn’t matter; just skate so enchantingly that they can’t forget you. Skate so mesmerizingly that they’re begging to see you again.”

Yuuri sighs, and some of the tension in his body relaxes.

“I can’t captivate the room like you can, Victor,” he says, but he’s not angry anymore. He looks… resigned.

No, no, no, no.

“Yes, you can,” Victor insists. “You can’t see your own performances like the audience does, so you can’t tell, but Yuuri, nobody can look away! You only just turned 14; nobody expects you to skate flawlessly! Just skate your best, and you’ll shine.”

Yuuri gasps.

“Are you crying?” he asks in confusion.

And to Victor’s own surprise, he is. He has to remove his arm from Yuuri’s shoulder in order to wipe away the water blurring his vision.

“I’m mad, okay?” he says in frustration. “You won’t listen to me!”

He isn’t used to feeling like this. He has cried before after falling on the ice, and he’s cried because of loneliness, but he’s never cried because he cares about somebody else, and what’s he supposed to do?

“It’s hard to believe what you’re saying!” Yuuri snaps, but in the next moment, his face grows soft.

“Uh, Victor…” he starts. “This is really hard for me to say, so please don’t make me repeat it, but…”

He takes a deep breath.

“I actually really, really hate to lose. A-And I know I can’t win here, I know! But it still hurts… so much…”

Tears spring to Yuuri’s eyes, and Victor hates it. How is he ever supposed to stop crying if Yuuri starts?

“H-how am I supposed to skate like this, Victor? How am I supposed to make anyone look at me when the others are so much better? I’m the youngest one to get to the final this year and I should be happy about it, but I’m not! I’m not happy! I can’t win gold. I don’t even deserve to win gold. But I still… I still wanted…” He abruptly ends his sentence with a sob.

Neither of them can say any more through their tears, so Victor does the only thing he can think of and pulls Yuuri into a hug.

(In the corner of his mind, he wonders what a strange sight they must be, two foreign teenagers crying in front of a restaurant.)

“Y-You can still win, Yuuri. Forget the medals… G-go for their hearts.”

And when Yuuri finally skates, Victor’s heart goes first, followed by every other person in the audience.

Even if he does take sixth.

And as for Victor…

“A quadruple flip and a quadruple lutz? You can’t do either of those jumps! What were you thinking? You’d have gold if you’d done your program right!” Yakov scolds him.

The bronze around his neck gleams as he turns it in his hand.

“But didn’t you see, Yakov? I won their hearts.”

Chapter Text

— Are you going to Junior Worlds?
— I’m asking rhetorically. You took gold in Nationals so you’d better be going ))))
— Georgi made it for Russia but I don’t think I can go watch TnT
— Yakov won’t let me take any “vacations” until I can do the 4F and 4Lz right. My punishment for not listening to him at the GPF.

Yuuri rolls his eyes as he replies.

— Obviously I’m going. I still don’t know how I managed to fool the judges into thinking I should get gold, though.
— And your coach has a point about listening to him! You could have won gold easily if you didn’t change your quads into jumps you couldn’t do.
— Of course, you would have been a terrible hypocrite if you had, but whose fault is that?

At first, Yuuri had thought the whole “win their hearts” thing was just a way to motivate Yuuri. But no, Victor took it so seriously that it became his own driving force. He’d even brought it up in TV interviews!

But admittedly, it was helpful for Yuuri, too.

Yuuri can’t stand losing, but his motivation to skate was never just to get a medal, even a pretty gold one.

No, Yuuri had been satisfied skating for fun with Yuuko until he had seen Victor Nikiforov skate. Yuuri had only been nine then, and he certainly didn’t understand how scoring worked then. He hadn’t liked Victor because he was a winner; he’d been captivated by something else entirely. And Yuuri had wanted to be like him.

So maybe that was why he skated. Not for medals, but for hearts. It kind of made sense.

He tries to maximize his strengths in his programs, putting more step sequences, keeping the jumps in the second half because he has the stamina. There’s only so much his coach can do for him, though.

He knows that Victor choreographs his own programs, sometimes. Well, it’s more that he just ignores his coach and does whatever jumps he likes, but it’s only a matter of time before Victor officially takes his own reigns. And it will be incredible, Yuuri’s sure.

But Yuuri’s still only 14, and he isn’t ready to follow in Victor’s footsteps. Not yet. So he lets his coach manage everything, and he focuses on mastering his jumps.

He can reliably land the triple axel by Worlds. He might have even medaled if he could have landed his triple salchow…

But when Yuuri remembers the crowd cheering for him, fourth place doesn’t hurt so much.

— Amazing, Yuuri!!!!
— I didn’t think you’d lead with the 3S!!!! I gasped out loud!!!!
— The camera did a close up of the crowd and there were hearts in everyone’s eyes ))))

And Victor’s texts bring a smile to his face, as usual.

The Junior Grand Prix series soon comes around again, and Yuuri is determined to win gold this time.

He takes silver at his first competition, and bronze at his second.

Of course, the final is where it really counts.

“I still couldn’t do it,” he hisses into Victor’s ear when they’re lucky enough to meet up. Victor’s the only one who’ll understand what he means.

’I really, really hate losing,’

Victor pats him on the shoulder sympathetically.

“But look, Yuuri, we match!” Victor says, pulling Yuuri into a one-armed hug as he holds up his silver medal with his free hand.

It’s the first time Victor Nikiforov and Yuuri Katsuki appear in a photo together.

And boy, does Yuuri’s fanbase ever grow after that.

“I know they’re your fans because they all have names like @nikiforlove111,” he tells Victor over the phone as he looks at his Twitter account.

(His coach had assured him that Twitter was becoming popular, but Yuuri was never good with social media. What was he supposed to say? “It’s perfect for you, only 140 characters,” his coach insisted. Hmph.)

“How many do you have?” Victor asks with a laugh.

“Uh, like 100?”

“That’s way too low. Here, I’ll help. ‘Please follow my best friend @yuurikatsuki.’ There, it’s posted!” Victor says cheerfully.

Sure enough, the tweet pops up as soon as Yuuri refreshes.

“Victor, no,” he whines. His follower count has already grown by 20.

He composes a tweet of his own.

“’Thanks @vnikiforov for promoting me even though I’m inactive.’ Aww, Yuuri, you’re welcome!” Victor says.

“No, I’m very mad! That was just to be polite!” Yuuri insists. “Why would you reply to that with a heart? That wasn’t necessary, was it?”

“Hmm, you’re right! I should have put many more hearts!” Victor laughs again.

“No, stop! These are official accounts!” Yuuri protests, but he’s laughing, too. “People follow us for skating!”

“Okay. ‘Which @yuurikatsuki program is your favorite? I like his FS at last years Nationals.’ There.”

“Not like that!” Yuuri exclaims. “Ugh, fine. I’ll just post a link to a playlist of your performances. Your fans will get distracted by that, for sure.”

By the time they finish, Yuuri’s up to 1,000 followers, which is much more than he knows what to do with.

After taking another silver at Worlds, Yuuri decides that he’s going to continue to compete in the Junior Grand Prix. Of course he wants to see Victor more, to compete against him, but…

He wants to do it with a gold medal.

Ultimately, this is a good decision. He’s sure if he can work quads into his programs, he can finally take gold.

And maybe it’s also for the best that he doesn’t have to see Victor right away. He comes to a horrible realization this year, and it’s all Yuuko’s fault!

It all starts when he walks home from the rink with her one day. He’s been practicing the quad toe loop and is feeling pretty good about it, so he’s in high spirits as he chats with Yuuko.

“So then Takeshi asked me out, and when I asked him if it was a date, he said he wanted it to be!” she says excitedly.

“That’s wonderful, Yuuko!” Yuuri congratulates her. “You’ve had a crush on him for, what, a year now?”

“I know! Dreams do come true!” Her eyes sparkle, and a tiny smirk appears on her face. “So, Yuuri, how are things going with your crush?”

“My what?” Yuuri asks in shock as he abruptly halts. “I don’t have a crush on anyone.”

Well, actually, up until a year ago he had thought he liked Yuuko. But then she had told him about her crush on Takeshi (and they really were adorable together), and Yuuri was spending more and more time practicing, and it became pretty obvious that they wouldn’t work out, so Yuuri had never felt too bad about abandoning that fleeting crush. But maybe he had somehow let Yuuko know about it? What was he supposed to say now?

“Oh, Yuuri, who are you trying to fool?” Yuuko asks with a laugh. “We all know you got a crush on Victor Nikiforov the second you saw him, and somehow it’s only gotten stronger since you met him.”

What?” Yuuri almost shrieks.

That can’t be right. He can’t have a crush on Victor. Sure, Yuuri might have kissed one of his posters of Victor once… or all of them, a couple times… But that was just a passing whim, really. He just wanted to see what it would be like! He wouldn’t kiss the real thing!

“Yuuri, are you okay?” Yuuko asks in concern. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you! It’s really okay! We don’t have to talk about it anymore!”

“W-What makes you think I have a crush on Victor? W-Why would I?” Yuuri asks, laughing nervously.

Yuuko gives him an odd look, but answers him anyway.

“Well, you’re always talking about him… Whenever I talk about something cute Takeshi did, you always have some story about Victor to add… You said he was the most beautiful man you’ve ever seen… He sent you a picture of himself and you sighed lovingly over it for, like, an hour… And every time you skate, you say things like ‘I wonder if Victor would like this step sequence’ or ‘I should ask Victor how to get more height in this jump.’ And just today, I saw how your face lit up when you saw that he texted you.”

Yuuri feels like his heart is going to fall out of his chest. Because, okay, what Yuuko is saying is all true, and sure, it sounds kind of like he has a crush on Victor, but surely there must be some kind of mistake?

“B-But I’ve never thought about k-kissing him—“ forget the posters “—or h-holding hands or… anything.”

“Really?” Yuuko sounds surprised. “But wouldn’t you like to?”

Would he like to?

Victor would never do any of those things with him, of course. But it was easy enough to imagine. Victor is always putting his hands on Yuuri’s arms, shoulders, head… Yuuri knows how soft his hands are. It would be so easy for their hands to just… brush… their fingers to entwine…

And Victor’s warm, bright eyes would look at him with the same happy look he always has when he sees Yuuri. And Yuuri would lean up, brushing their lips together, and…

Oh, no.

“Yes!” he exclaims in horror. “Yuuko, how am I supposed to deal with this?”

Yuuko’s eyes widen.

“Did you just realize you like him?”

He can see her try to hold in her laughter, and he admires her effort, really. But soon enough, she doubles over, her laughter coming out in strangled bursts.

“I… I need to lie down…” Yuuri says weakly. He walks forward distractedly as Yuuko tries to collect herself behind him.

“I’m sorry, Yuuri!” she says as she catches up with him. “I’m not making fun of you, I’m just so surprised! I never would have guessed you didn’t know.

“I just need to think,” Yuuri says quietly.

Although, it turns out that his room isn’t exactly the easiest place to relax at the present time...

’I should have realized sooner. Who has posters of their friends on the wall? And who kisses them? How could I miss something like this?’

But he ignores the posters for the moment in favor of pulling out his phone. He opens the folder that he saves all the pictures of Victor to. He scrolls down a bit to find the first photo that Victor had sent of himself.

Victor’s long hair is loose and splayed across his back. His smile is wide and bright. His dog, Makka, is resting in his lap, and his free hand is gently caressing the dog’s ears.

’Well, he is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen,’ Yuuri admits to himself.

He sighs.

“So, I guess I have a crush on you,” he speaks resignedly to the picture. “What do you think about that?”

His phone begins to ring, and for a horrible second Yuuri fears that somehow Victor has heard him.

But when the call goes to voicemail, Victor’s voice is the same as always.

“Are you still practicing, Yuuri? I’m taking a break right—yes it’s Yuuri, who else would I talk to—sorry, that was one of my rinkmates. Anyway, tell me how your quad toe goes! Talk to you later!”

Yuuri’s heart speeds up as he tries to type out a text message.

— Sorry I can’t talk. My throat hurts.

It isn’t technically a lie. His throat feels strained, like he could cry or scream at any moment. He certainly can’t talk to Victor like this!

— 4T is going great, though.

He hopes Victor will latch on to the mention of practice and not worry about him, but that doesn’t happen.

— Yuuri! Are you okay? Don’t practice when you’re sick!
— Do you have potatoes at your house? You should boil them and breathe the steam. Cures all coughs )
— I will stop texting you so you can rest
— Feel better!!!! ))))

“Victor,” Yuuri groans out loud. “You are doing a terrible job of helping me to stop liking you.”

His phone remains silent.

Yuuri curls into himself, clutches his phone to his chest, and hopes he’ll feel better after a nap.

He doesn’t, really.

It takes Yuuri about a week to come to terms that he has a crush on Victor Nikiforov, but after that, he calms down. Mostly. Besides the occasional new distracting thoughts, nothing has really changed. Victor is still his best friend and the easiest person to talk to. And as for his family, well, if they’d noticed anything had changed, they didn’t say anything. Yuuko had been right, apparently everyone had already known.

It was good, then, that his crush was under control, or else he might have had a bad reaction to seeing Victor post a picture of himself and Christophe Giacometti at the Rostelecom Cup on his Twitter.

Yuuri doesn’t freak out. No, he takes a couple calming breaths and reminds himself that he has absolutely no claim on Victor and Victor can do whatever he wants and just because they’re competing in the same tournament doesn’t mean anything and…

Okay, so he’s relieved when Victor texts him.

— Oh my GOD Yuuri have you met Chris?
— Christophe Giacometti?
— I met him before at the European Championships and I thought he looked sweet and innocent
— I have never been so wrong in my LIFE
— He walked up to the hottest guy I have ever seen in my life and just blurts out the raunchiest innuendo like it’s nothing
— And it WORKS!!! Hot guy’s into it!!!
— Apparently Chris respects me as a skater, so when he asked for a photo with me I had to jump on it!!!
— I can’t believe I witnessed that! I wish you were there to see it too! AMAZING

And Yuuri laughs, follows Chris on Twitter, and calls Victor to make him retell the story to him in person.

Yuuri qualifies for the final again, and this time, this time, he’s going to get that gold.

“It’s in Saint Petersburg this year,” Victor tells him over the phone. “If you want, I can show you the city.”

“Yes! Show me everything!” Yuuri says, laughing. “You know all the good places to eat, right?”

And so they meet in Saint Petersburg, and they go to eat, only everything is much different than two years ago in Beijing, and they don’t cry.

Yet, still…

“I don’t know why, but I feel kind of sad,” Victor remarks.

“Maybe because we’re standing on a hill at dusk watching the city live without us? It’s a lonely sight.”

Victor laughs lightly.

“Yes, maybe.”

They could always move, walk back down to the city streets, make their way back to Yuuri’s hotel.

They don’t.

“I have a better program this year,” Yuuri finally says. “I have a real shot at the gold this time.”

Victor smiles at him.

“Are you worried?” he asks him. His voice is kind.

“Of course I am,” Yuuri replies.

Victor pulls him closer in a half-hug.

“I might be worried, too,” Victor admits quietly.

Yuuri has to tilt his head to get a good view of his friend. Victor, at 19, is larger and more muscular than he’d been at 17, and Yuuri, who’s only recently turned 16, feels tiny in comparison.

“You’re worried you won’t get gold?” Yuuri asks, because it sounds wrong.

“No, I’m afraid that I will,” Victor says with a sigh.

Yuuri is silent for a moment.

“I cannot understand that at all,” he finally responds. “How could you be afraid of that, when…”

’… when I want it so desperately.’

Now it’s Victor’s turn to be silent. Yuuri waits.

“They’re saying I’m going to be the world’s top skater,” Victor says at last. “If I reach the top, where else is there for me to go? I don’t want to peak in my teens, Yuuri.”

Yuuri sighs, and he has to step out of Victor’s embrace so he can stand face-to-face with him.

“Victor,” he says seriously. “Stop being stupid.”

Victor tries to wave it off.

“I know that’s not what you want to hear, Yuuri. I know how much you want to win. But to me, it—“

“No,” Yuuri interrupts. “Listen to me.”

That’s the thing, Victor always listens to Yuuri. While the rest of the world can only make suggestions that Victor might follow, Victor has never once ignored Yuuri’s words.

“Do you think a couple of gold medals can put you on top of the world? You arrogant fool,” Yuuri says in a low voice. “Do you think so little of your fellow competitors?”

Victor’s eyes widen and he opens his mouth, but Yuuri isn’t finished.

“Are you afraid that too many people will sing your praises? Then give me a call, and I’ll put you in your place. But don’t you dare go out there and lose because you have some fucked up sense of superiority,” Yuuri demands. “What happened to winning everyone’s hearts? Be thrilled that nobody can look away from you!”

And honestly, what Yuuri just said was supposed to be mildly insulting, so Victor really has no right to be smiling like he is, and yet…

“You’re right,” Victor says. “I was getting too full of myself, wasn’t I? I’m lucky I have you to remind me of what’s important.”

’He’s an idiot. Why am I in love with this idiot?’


’It’s a lot more than a stupid crush. I’m fucking in love.’

And Yuuri realizes something else.

’Isn’t it supposed to hurt to know that he’ll never feel the same way?’

But it doesn’t hurt. There’s no pain in his heart, only an overpowering feeling of love.

“That’s right, so stop looking so dispirited,” Yuuri says softly, and he launches himself into Victor’s arms.

’I love you. Don’t be sad. I’d do anything to keep you happy. I’ll stay by your side forever if that’s what you want. I love you.’

He has to bite his tongue to keep from saying any of those embarrassing things out loud, but he can’t prevent a smile from spreading across his face.

They both win gold.

Yuuri can’t help but look at Victor more than the camera, but their pictures together still come out nice.

Chapter Text

Yuuri is 16 and his body is going through… changes…

“I thought I was done with this! I already had a growth spurt, and—Victor, stop laughing!” Yuuri whines as Victor’s loud peals of laughter force him to hold the phone away from his ear.

“A-And you thought you were done? Y-You grew a couple inches and you thought that was all that was going to happen?”

“Stop! It’s a serious problem! I can’t land my quads anymore!” Yuuri complains. “I’m finally entering the senior division and this happens.”

Victor is still laughing, but he at least has the decency to sound apologetic.

“You’ll figure it out, Yuuri. We all do, eventually.”

Yuuri just groans.

“I’m still going to compete, but there’s no way I’m going to make it to the final this year,” Yuuri says. He tries to keep the disappointment out of his voice.

The disappointment is more about not seeing Victor than about not being able to qualify, and Yuuri doesn’t even bother trying to deny it to himself.

“What are your assignments? You might be able to make it,” Victor says hopefully.

“Skate America and NHK,” Yuuri replies. “And I don’t stand a chance without my quads.”

“I have Cup of China and Rostelecom,” Victor says, and he sounds sad. “But Yuuri, if you don’t make it to the final, what am I going to do there?”

“Y-You don’t have to say it like that,” Yuuri replies harshly in an attempt to sound like he isn’t about to cry.

The effect is ruined because he does start to cry.

“Oh, no, I’m sorry Yuuri!” Victor says quickly. “You know I always say the wrong thing. It’s not really about me, I know; I’m just being selfish again. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make it to the final! Whatever the judges say, you’re still the most captivating skater on the ice, and messing up your quads won’t change that!”

“That’s not it!” he yells, though he holds his phone back a little so he won’t hurt Victor’s ears. “I don’t care if I don’t go to the final! I don’t even want to be there if I can’t compete at my best!”


“I’m upset because I miss you, Victor! We see each other once a year, and now that won’t even happen!”

Victor is silent for several seconds. There are shuffling sounds and some muffled Russian in the background.

“You… have your own laptop, don’t you? I know it’s not the same, but… Will you Skype with me?” Victor asks, his voice wavering.

And so video calls become part of their myriad of ways to contact each other. Victor’s right that it isn’t the same as meeting in person, but there’s still something comforting about being able to see each other, if only through a screen.

“Whoa, you cut your hair!” Yuuri exclaims one day when Victor’s face appears on his computer screen.

And damn it, if there was ever a chance that Yuuri could ditch his attraction to the Russian man, it would be now. But no, of course that doesn’t happen. Victor looks more beautiful than ever.

“Does it look alright?” Victor asks, tilting his head around to give Yuuri a better view. “I haven’t shown anyone else.”

Sometimes it’s inconvenient that Victor can see Yuuri’s face, because it means Yuuri can’t stare adoringly at the way Victor smirks (he knows he looks more than alright, the arrogant bastard) or sigh over how soft and fluffy his hair looks.

“Someone call the press. Victor Nikiforov shocks the world again with his stunningly good looks,” Yuuri says sarcastically, even though he’s being truthful about the compliment.

“Oh, they’ll be hearing about this! I just wanted your opinion first,” Victor says. His eyes sparkle when he laughs.

And Yuuri can’t stop the warmth that envelops his heart.

“Seriously, you look fantastic,” Yuuri says softly. “Now send me a picture so I can commemorate this momentous occasion!” he continues, returning to his joking tone.

Victor complies immediately.

Yuuri sighs as he stares at his bronze medal from the NHK Trophy. On one hand, he was lucky that he had gotten the hang of quads again in time to not completely disappoint during the competition in his own country. On the other hand, it didn’t make up for his abysmal performance at Skate America…

He feels a hand pull him by the waist and he yelps.

“Hey, Yuuri,” Chris’s voice purrs into his ear.

“Ah, h-hello, Chris,” he replies, trying to remove Chris’s hands from him as delicately as possible.

Chris gets the hint and raises his hands in surrender.

“What, only Victor gets to hug you?”

“Yes,” Yuuri says without thinking, then shakes his head vigorously. “Wait, no! I mean, I wasn’t ready!”

He gives Chris a short hug, because they’re kind of, almost friends (he’s Victor’s only other friend and Yuuri can’t help but like him a little), and Yuuri likes hugs… But it’s nothing like hugging Victor, and he doesn’t feel like he’s losing anything when he pulls away from Chris.

Chris just laughs.

“I came to congratulate you on your medal,” Chris says, and he snaps a picture of Yuuri with his phone.

Yuuri rolls his eyes.

“You’re sending that to him, aren’t you?” he asks, not bothering to specify that “him” meant Victor. Of course it did.

“He didn’t ask me to, but I’m such a giver.” He winks at Yuuri. “Of course, I don’t mind receiving too, if you know what I mean.”

Yuuri almost, almost ignores the innuendo, but unfortunately it’s impossible to not respond to “if you know what I mean.”

He groans.

“I know you’re like this on Twitter but I forgot you say things like that in real life,” Yuuri says, rolling his eyes again.

“It’s got me my last five boyfriends,” Chris says proudly.

“Really now,” Yuuri responds dryly.

“Anyway, Victor just texted me back with twelve exclamation marks so I think he appreciates my work,” Chris says with a smirk.

Yuuri’s phone vibrates five times in his pocket.

“I’ll talk to him soon,” Yuuri says dismissively. “But seriously, I wanted to congratulate you on the gold, Chris. You took silver in your last competition, didn’t you? So you’re definitely going to the Grand Prix Final, right?”

Chris nods.

“Yes, and I’m hoping for higher than fourth this time,” he says. “Are you going to come watch?”

Yuuri shakes his head.

“No, I don’t really have the time to be flying off to Italy for a competition I’m not part of.”

“Oh, no,” Chris says with a laugh. “Victor’s going to cry.”

Victor cries.

“But Yuuri, why?” he whines over Skype. “Is it the money? I can buy you a ticket! I can buy your whole family a ticket! I can—“

“Victor, no,” Yuuri says firmly. “I don’t need to be taking time off for this! You know I’ll watch the livestream, though.”

“Yuuri, you’re so cruel,” Victor says petulantly.

“I know,” Yuuri replies seriously, but his heart clenches at the expression on Victor’s face. “Don’t look at me like that! You know I miss you more than anything!”


“Damn it, I’m going to cry too!”

So they both cry, but Yuuri still doesn’t change his mind.

Yuuri texts Victor immediately as soon as the final scores are announced, even though he knows Victor won’t be able to respond for hours. He leaves a voicemail, too, for good measure.

He really isn’t expecting to hear anything until the next day, at the earliest, but apparently Victor has other plans.

— I’m sick of these banquets, Yuuri. All these people want to talk to me and I don’t know how to talk about ANYTHING but skating.

Yuuri tries to keep responding to Victor so he won’t be too bored, but, well, he does have things of his own to do! So he should be forgiven for failing to notice how Victor’s messages were deteriorating until…

— yuuri i thijk im dying
— thechampane is weak i thout i didnt have a lot
— i can hold my liquour better than this i made a mistake
— why didnt you come yuuri you wouldve stopped me youre so smart
— youre perfect i wouldnt have felt bad if you came here
— i dont thinj they know im drunk bcus I can talk I just cant SEe
— pls dont let me do this again i cant even have fun bcus theres nobody here i like
— chris left w some guy bcus he has social skills
— and youre at home
— why did you stay home i miss you
— yuuri youre my best frind ever sometimes i frget i was lonely b4 i met you

“Victor…” Yuuri breathes in horror.

’He’s drunk texting me,’ he can barely believe, and it would be hilarious (he’s seen Victor drunk on Skype before), were it not for the fact that he’s supposed to be in the middle of a banquet!

— Victor, I’m going to call you. Can you take that as an excuse to leave?

It’s the only thing he can think of to help, but Victor seems grateful for it.

— Youre the BEST )))))

“Victor, you really aren’t very responsible,” Yuuri says in lieu of a greeting when Victor picks up after the third ring.

“I’m young and free, Yuuri!” Victor responds, laughing.

“You’re four years older than me,” Yuuri reminds him. “Shouldn’t you be setting a good example?”

“Don’t worry Yuuri! When you get drunk I’ll come take care of you!” Victor assures him.

“Oh, really? What if you’re so drunk you can’t see?” Yuuri asks, but he’s smiling.

“You can’t see without your glasses and you’re fine.”

Yuuri laughs.

They talk until Victor starts sounding tired, and Yuuri insists he go to bed unless he wants to be hungover and sleep deprived.

Chapter Text

At first, Yuuri is excited to compete against Victor at Worlds.

But then…


“The audience’s faces—“

“WERE ALL HORRIFIED, AS WAS MINE!” Yuuri’s throat hurts from yelling, so he just stops.

Silence (save for the sound of Yuuri’s sobs) reigns for an entire five minutes, but neither he nor Victor can end the call.

“I’m sorry,” Victor finally says in a tiny voice, so unfitting for him. “I’m always making you cry.”

And that’s so not true, but it’s a conversation for another time.

“Are you okay?” Yuuri asks desperately. “That’s all I care about, Victor. Are you okay?

“Yes,” Victor says. “But…”

For a horrible second, Yuuri is sure that Victor is about to say something devastating, like “I have two weeks to live,” despite the fact that there is no reason that his injury should be life-threatening.

“There’s no way it will heal before Worlds, and they’re saying I’d better sit out of the Grand Prix, too,” Victor admits.

“Oh,” Yuuri manages to say. “But… you will recover?”

“Yes, definitely.”

Yuuri is so relieved that he starts crying again.

He has half a mind to fly over to Russia and attach himself to Victor’s side so he can never do something stupid without him again.

He tells Victor about this desire, and he just chuckles.

“As much as I’m dying—“

“Don’t talk about dying!” Yuuri interrupts.

“—to see you, one of us has to skate this season, Yuuri.”

Yuuri takes bronze at Worlds.

Someone, some nameless commenter, has the nerve to suggest that Yuuri should be thankful for Victor’s absence, since he surely would have pushed Yuuri off the podium if he’d been there.

Yuuri sees red.

Hollow ______y. @vnikiforov

“Yuuri, are you being passive aggressive? This is the first thing you’ve posted in six months,” Victor says when he sees the tweet.

“They think I could possibly be happy without you here, Victor!” Yuuri says angrily. “Do they know who they’re talking to?”

“Calm down, Yuuri,” Victor pleads with him. “Don’t get angry on my behalf. You were the one insulted! Of course you deserve that medal; your programs were breathtaking!”

For a week, the only tweets that come from @vnikiforov are support and praise for Yuuri’s latest Worlds performance. Yuuri sort of expected it, but it’s still embarrassing.

Yuuri has a plan to win gold at the Grand Prix Final this year.

He tells Victor that he has a plan, but he doesn’t tell him what it is.

“Ooh, you know I love surprises,” Victor says excitedly. “It’s… it’s not a quad axel, right…?” he asks hesitantly.

Yuuri rolls his eyes at him.

“I still have nightmares about you falling, so no,” he promises. “Other than that, I’m not telling.”

While Yuuri is working harder than ever on his programs, Victor has to keep himself occupied in other ways.

“No, I told you I was going to watch the livestream. I’m just not sure why you’re calling me during it?” Yuuri questions.

On his computer screen he can see Victor’s face, only unlike their normal Skype sessions, there’s an audience of a few thousand people.

Apparently people are willing to pay significant sums of money to watch Victor Nikiforov fool around off the ice.

“Well… I’m supposed to talk about my life outside of skating, and that’s… mostly you,” Victor replies.

(It’s strange to hear Victor’s voice echo from both the computer and the phone, but it’s even stranger to hear his own voice do the same thing. He mutes the computer.)

“Well, I’m honored,” Yuuri says.

He can figure out what Victor actually meant.

’He’s thinking “Help, Yuuri, I don’t know how to talk to these strangers about anything but figure skating moves!” But I’m not sure why he thinks I know what to do! The only time I use the internet is to talk to him!’

“Maybe you should… answer questions from the audience?” he suggests.

Victor’s face lights up as he nods.

“Yes, of course! That’s a great idea, Yuuri!” he exclaims. He does not hang up the phone.

NoodlesNikiforov: omg I love you Victor!!! I cried for hours when you took that fall

“Me too,” Yuuri mutters under his breath.

“Did you say something, Yuuri?” Victor asks.

“Sorry, just reading the comments.”

Kastsukiforov: I heard Yuuri is on too! Where is he?
Soul-Love: lol Victor called him on the phone. Apparently he’s reading the comments.
Katsukiforov: Hi Yuuri! I hope you win at the GPF!

Yuuri blushes, and he’s very grateful that these people can only hear his voice.

“Okay, someone wants to know what I eat for breakfast? It’s kind of a boring answer, but during the season I…”

Yuuri tunes out Victor’s voice as he reads more of the comments.

Victuuri: haha @Katsukiforov let me guess you came for the same reasons as me
Katsukiforov: I knew Victor was supposed to be doing something like this but I didn’t care until I heard Yuuri was doing it with him
Victuuri: haha it wasn’t planned or anything! Victor just decided to call him, he didn’t even know if he’d pick up! are they in love or what

Yuuri nearly chokes on his own breath.

’Does everyone know I’m in love with him? Am I that obvious?’

He thinks about it for a second.

’Okay, so maybe I’m that obvious, but they don’t have to call me out like that!’

“Yuuri? Yuu-uuri! Did you hang up?” Victor’s voice snaps him back to reality.

“No, no,” he says quickly. “I was reading the comments again.”

“Oh, I can’t see them,” Victor says apologetically. “Are they saying mean things to you? Because—“

“No, nothing like that,” Yuuri assures him.

Sicktor: Katsuki more like KatSUCKi!!! I came here to watch Victor, why are we all talking about this other loser?

Okay, so almost nothing like that.

“Good,” Victor says. “Because if they don’t appreciate you, I can always give a breakdown of your past performances and—“

“Answer your questions, Victor,” Yuuri interrupts.

Katsukiforov: Cute!!!
NeverMeltIce: lol I don’t even ship it but they sure make it hard not to
Skatears: brotp if not otp

Yuuri isn’t sure what half of it means, but he’s pretty sure it’s still about him being in love with Victor, and that makes him blush so badly he thinks he’s going to combust.

“Hey, Yuuri, they have a question for you; are you okay with that?” Victor asks him.

“W-What would they want to ask me?”

Yuuri hates that he can’t keep his voice from wavering.

“What was it like when you first met me?” Victor asks with a laugh. “Actually, I’m interested in this too! I know what our first meeting looked like from my point of view, but…”

“Oh… Well…”

This was an okay topic. Yuuri hadn’t been in love with Victor back when they were only 13 and 17. Even if Yuuko was right and he’d apparently had a crush on Victor forever, everything was different back then. It wasn’t love.

“It was my first time in the Junior Grand Prix and I couldn’t land my only decent jump. He snuck up on my while I was practicing and just yelled advice at me! I was so surprised that I fell.” He smiles at the memory.

Yuuuuuuri: Wow! I came here to listen to Yuuri and this is way more than I bargained for! Backstory!

“And basically he helped me with my jump. He wasn’t very good at explaining, but I’d always learned new moves by watching him on TV, so I guess I was already used to copying him.”

Victuuri: Whoaaaaa
Lovictor: Okay but have you seen the videos of Yuuri’s first JGP competition? He was precioussss

“And after, when I won bronze… uh…”

“Yuuri…” Victor says worriedly

Yuuri can still remember all too well the feelings of panic that enveloped him, back when he felt that he was a nobody and that he didn’t even deserve to be in the Junior Grand Prix, much less standing on the podium.

“I was… very overwhelmed, and… Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without Victor.”

It’s horribly embarrassing to say this on a livestream, but...

’Whatever. I’m a lovesick fool and all these people already know.’

“I think in some other world where we didn’t meet then, there’s a Yuuri Katsuki who’s full of insecurity, a Yuuri Katsuki who’s too afraid reach his full potential.”

Yuuri looks at Victor’s face on the screen. He’s listening to Yuuri, of course. He always is. Yuuri smiles and looks him in the eyes (what does it matter that Victor can’t see).

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you, Victor. You once inspired me to start skating, and you’ve never once stopped inspiring me since the moment we met. Do you know how grateful I am to you?”

Katsukiforov: SCREAMING
Yuuuuuuri: What is this? What is THIS??? Yuuri never talks about himself WHAT IS HAPPENING

Yuuri can’t hear Victor’s gasp, but he sees it on the screen.

“Yuuri… how can you say that when you’re not here?” Victor asks him agitatedly. “How am I supposed to hug you, huh? Did you think about that?”

Victuuri: He wants to hug him awwww
Katsukiforov: I’m dead, can’t process this

“I’m the grateful one! I don’t know if I could keep up my love of skating without you here to motivate me! I get lost so easily, Yuuri, but you bring me back every time…”

Skatears: um… did they forget that this is live?
NeverMeltIce: yeah lol they definitely aren’t talking to us anymore

“Victor… hurry and get better,” Yuuri says. It sounds more like begging than he’d like it to, but then… it is a pretty desperate plea. “I don’t want to skate another season without you.”

“I’ll make sure you don’t have to,” Victor promises.

Katsukiforov: WELL I got more than I ever imagined out of this
Victuuri: #blessed
Yuuuuuuri: So all it takes to get Yuuri to talk is to have Victor ask? Petition to make Victor Nikiforov the interviewer in all future events
NeverMeltIce: lol i could never really get interested in yuuri because he’s so secretive but damn after this i kinda want to look into him more
Soul-Love: Yeah I’m Victor’s fan not Yuuri’s, but agreed
Lovictor: How can you even be a fan of Victor without being a fan of Yuuri? But lol it’s good that this is making him more popular! He’s a top skater in his own right, you know!

Yuuri thinks a lot about his routines this year, but he has a lot of other things on his mind, too.

Now that he’s going to graduate from high school… Well, it’s obvious that he’s not going to quit skating, but where does that leave him?

“There’s a program that would let me attend university under a scholarship while working with their affiliated coach,” Yuuri tells Victor over Skype. He sends a couple of links, as well.

“With Celestino Cialdini? He’s had skaters win gold at the Grand Prix Final before,” Victor comments, his eyes flickering between Yuuri and what is obviously the webpage he pulled up.

“I know. I’ve seen him at competitions. He… told me about the program,” Yuuri says.

“Are you going to do it?”

“Yes,” Yuuri answers easily, because it’s the best option he’s been able to find. He’s already talked to his family. He knows they’ve never really understood figure skating, but they’re all thrilled to see him live out his hopes and dreams. They’re always encouraging him, and they want to see him succeed. He can do that with this program.

“But…” Yuuri is still nervous.

He swallows thickly. Victor just waits for him to continue, and Yuuri is grateful.

“It’s an American university,” he finally says. “I’ll have to move there. To Detroit.”

“Oh,” Victor says, quickly typing something on his computer. “Yuuri, the time difference is even worse than it is now!” he complains.

As soon as Yuuri understands what Victor is doing, he bursts into laughter.

“Was that your first thought? When you’d get to talk to me?” he manages to get out through his laughter. “What about the important things? Like, where am I supposed to get katsudon in Detroit?”

Victor laughs, too, and it’s reassuring to Yuuri. It really is a huge decision, no matter how light they’re making it sound. But it is what he wants to do, it really is, and he’s so happy Victor supports him.

Yuuri makes it to the Grand Prix Final. His programs are good.

He can take silver without any problem. But that’s not what he wants.

The last jump of his free skate is a combination triple axel and quadruple toe loop. He can land it and win silver.

’That’s not going to excite Victor,’ he thinks. ’Not as much as what I’m going to do.’

He’d realized long ago that he wasn’t skating to win gold, or even to win the hearts of the audience. No, there was one singular heart he skated for every time.

He loves the ice, he loves the feeling of freedom as he goes executes his moves, and he loves winning. But none of that can ever compare to the exhilaration of having Victor’s full attention drawn to him.

’I wish you were here, Victor. You’d better be watching me right now.’

He lands his triple axel. Then, instead of going into a toe loop, he changes it to what he had planned from the beginning.

It’s a bit of a risk, because he still can only land it about half of the time, but…

It pays off. The crowd cheers as he pulls off a clean quadruple flip.

“Yuuri, was that for me?” Victor asks as soon as Yuuri has a chance to answer his call. “I-I know that’s arrogant to think, but… my signature…”

“It’s not always about you, Victor,” Yuuri says with a laugh. “But it was this time. Of course I was thinking about you. Were you surprised?”

“I was!” Victor says excitedly. “If I’d known you were going to do that I would have made sure I was there, injury be damned.”

“Oh no you would not have,” Yuuri scolds. “You’d have done something stupid like run onto the ice without skates to meet me. You don’t get to hurt yourself again before the new season, Victor!”

As the gold medalist, Yuuri has to wade through a seemingly endless wave of interviews.

“You and Victor Nikiforov are very close. Are you trying to follow in his footsteps?” someone asks him.

And the reporter’s assumption is so wrong that for a moment Yuuri can’t even speak.

But it’s also shocking, because at one time, that was exactly what Yuuri had wanted to do. Be just like Victor. But now, he doesn’t want to skate like Victor (he wouldn’t be able to if he tried). He wants to skate for Victor.

The camera’s flashes fade into the lights of Saint Petersburg before his eyes.

(“If I reach the top, where else is there for me to go?” Victor’s face had been so sad.)

“No,” Yuuri states firmly. “I’m going to surpass him.”

Chapter Text

America isn’t an awful place for Yuuri, but Detroit is very different from his home in Hasetsu. Everything is large, and loud, and Yuuri just wants to shrink into himself.

He’s never been good at making friends. Yuuko and Takeshi were the first people he had ever skated with, so they were exceptions. And Victor had been the one to reach out to Yuuri, not the other way around.

The other skaters in Detroit all give him a wide berth, even though they’re more than happy to whisper to each other about “the gold medalist” and “Victor Nikiforov’s friend.”

At least his coach is good. Celestino Cialdini is friendly and easy to get along with, and, more importantly, he knows what he’s doing. Yuuri finds himself improving on things he’d long assumed he would never get better at.

But his coach is a little too perceptive, because he keeps trying to set Yuuri up with new friends. Yuuri knows that’s what he’s doing, and it isn’t working, damn it!

Well, it isn’t working until suddenly it is. It’s more or less an accident this time, too.

“Yuuri, this is Phichit Chulanont. He’s been making quite a name for himself and Thailand lately in Juniors,” tells him one day. “He’s only 15 but he’s agreed to work with us under a similar program to yours.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Phichit,” Yuuri says politely.

“We’re having a bit of trouble arranging housing for him, and you’re the only one living in your apartment, Yuuri, so I was wondering…”

“Oh.” Yuuri gets it. He wants so badly to refuse, because he’s kind of gotten used to having the place to himself. Waking up at three in the morning to call Victor would certainly be an inappropriate thing to do with someone else in the apartment.

But it’s not like he can just turn Phichit away! And… he does look friendly enough, leaning casually against Celestino and smiling hopefully at Yuuri.

“Of course you can stay with me,” he tells Phichit. He hopes his voice doesn’t sound strained.

If Phichit notices anything, he doesn’t comment on it.

“Great!” he says cheerily, leaving Celestino in favor of slinging an arm around Yuuri’s shoulder. “I get the feeling we’re going to become good friends.”

And, somehow, they do.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t horribly embarrassing when Phichit walks in while Yuuri is crying to Victor over Skype.

Yuuri hides in his room for the rest of the weekend after that.

But Phichit is nice enough not to bring that up directly.

“I thought you’d be different,” is all Phichit tells him. “You have a bit of a reputation, you know. You and Victor Nikiforov walk around like nobody else matters, so I expected you to be stuck up.”

Phichit laughs at Yuuri’s horrified face.

“I know! You’re not like that at all! You’re just really anxious whenever you’re on your own, right?”

Yuuri isn’t sure he likes how easily Phichit is reading him, but it’s true, so Yuuri nods.

“Look, I know I’m not Victor,” Phichit starts, placing a hand on Yuuri’s shoulder. “But you can rely on me, too. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

And no, Phichit is not Victor. Nobody can make Yuuri feel the way Victor makes him feel. But his heart still feels warmed by Phichit’s words, and he smiles.

“We’re friends,” he agrees. “Let’s rely on each other.”

And Phichit is a good friend. If it were up to Yuuri, he would never go anywhere except to classes and to the rink. But Phichit makes sure he does other things, sometimes.

Victor loves it.

“Phichit’s right, Yuuri, you need to get an Instagram! I made mine last year when I couldn’t skate, but it’s surprisingly fun to keep up with!” Victor says excitedly over Skype.

“Yeah, Yuuri, listen to Victor! You’ll love it!” Phichit says from his spot on the couch next to Yuuri.

“I want to see pictures of all your American adventures!” Victor insists.

“I wouldn’t exactly say I’m having adventures,” Yuuri says, pulling a face. “And besides, I’ve sent you pictures.”

“Aha! You’re already taking pictures, so why not post them online?” Phichit exclaims like Yuuri’s just lost the argument.

“He’s right, Yuuri!” Victor agrees.

Yeah, okay, Yuuri’s lost the argument.

Fine,” Yuuri says, sighing deeply as he pulls out his phone.

“So are you excited to see Victor at the Grand Prix Final?” Phichit asks as soon as Yuuri’s gold medal from the Cup of China confirms his qualification.

“Of course!” Yuuri says. “I can’t believe we didn’t get assigned to any of the same qualifying competitions, again!”

Phichit nods. “Yeah, you both took that hard. I still can’t believe he called you in tears at the same time you started crying! You’re so in-sync it’s scary!”

Yuuri flushes slightly.

“It’s been a difficult few years for us,” Yuuri offers as a justification. “Every time we try to meet, something gets in our way. I’m still afraid something will happen before the final and ruin everything again this year.”

“Oh, Yuuri, I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to keep you and your boyfriend apart another year,” Phichit says kindly.

Yuuri, who had pulled out his phone and was about to text Victor, almost drops it in surprise.

“W-We’re not dating,” he says quickly, before he can sound too disappointed about it.

“Uh… are you sure?” Phichit asks in confusion.

“I think I’d know if we were dating, since I’m hopelessly in love with him,” Yuuri says, covering his face with his hands and groaning. “I know I’m super obvious about it, but why’d you have to remind me, Phichit? Ugh, he looks so damn good in his costumes this year, too. I don’t know how I’m going to hold myself together.”

Suddenly, he gasps.

“This is the disaster that will keep us apart! I’m going to take one look at him in his costume and faint so hard that I get kicked out of the competition,” he whines.

“Wow, Yuuri,” Phichit says, blinking. “I don’t even know what to say about that.”

Yuuri drapes himself over the arm of his couch dramatically, which is something that Victor has done many times before.

“Okay, so I don’t know why you two aren’t dating, because you just said you’re hopelessly in love with him, and between the two of you he’s actually way more hopeless…”

“Don’t mock me, Phichit! I know he loves me; we’re best friends! He just doesn’t love me! And how could he? He met me during my embarrassing teenage years, my horrible dark past!”

“Okay, but have you actually asked him about this because I really think—“


“Okay, I’ll let it go. But when you’re both 100 and you’ve been living together for 70 years I want you to think back to this and—“


“Okay, okay! Just get off the couch, Yuuri!”

And when Yuuri and Victor finally meet at the Grand Prix Final, it doesn’t matter to Yuuri how Victor loves him. The only thing that matters is that he can finally, finally run to him, touch him, feel him again.

“Yuuri!” Victor calls out first, breaking into a run.

“Victor!” Yuuri calls back.

They’re in each other’s arms in a heartbeat.

“I missed you!” they exclaim in unison.

Chapter Text

Victor has not seen Yuuri in a very long time. Two years, to be exact. Sure, there’s Skype. There’s the photos. He watches all of Yuuri’s performances. But it’s not the same as seeing him in person.

So Victor thinks he should be forgiven for not being prepared for how beautiful and striking his friend is. It’s not that he didn’t know, it’s just that the feeling is so much stronger in person.

Yuuri has grown into his adult body, but he’s still a little shorter than Victor. Their arms wrap around each other instinctively and Victor never, ever wants to let go.

“I missed you!” they tell each other at the same time. Yuuri looks up at him then, and his brown eyes are so beautiful and bright and warm, and anything Victor would like to say further immediately dies in his throat; he can only gasp.

’This is the part where we kiss and exchange “I love you”s. Victor thinks. ’Except we’ve never done that before, have we?’

He’s debating whether he should just go for it (’Would Yuuri be mad? I could ask… Would he be mad at me for asking?’) when the sound of laughter interrupts them.

“You know you just screamed each other’s names and ran across the hotel lobby?” Yuuri’s friend Phichit asks them.

In his periphery, Victor can see some people staring. Yakov is standing by the front desk and glaring at him with a look that’s somehow both irritated and resigned.

Yuuri shifts slightly so he can see Phichit, but he’s still clinging to Victor (fortunate, because Victor isn’t ready to let go of him).

“Sorry, Phichit. I wasn’t trying to run away from you. I just got excited.”

The faint flush on Yuuri’s cheeks sends a jolt through Victor’s chest.

’What, am I falling for him just like this?’

Victor tries to speak, but he still can’t get any words out, so his mouth just hangs open.

Yuuri turns back to him, a worried look in his eyes.

“Are you okay? Your injury isn’t acting up, is it?” he whispers into Victor’s ear.

And Victor knows the only reason he did it was so the reporters in the lobby wouldn’t hear, but…

Hot damn.

“I’m great,” Victor finally says, “now that you’re here.”

Victor realizes something at that moment. He’s not falling for Yuuri at all. No, he’s way beyond that. It’s clear that he had fallen long ago, and it’s only now that he can appreciate his true position on the ground.

Yuuri smiles at him, and everything is right with the world.

“Yuuri, did you get checked in?” Celestino Cialdini asks, walking up to stand behind Phichit.

Victor sighs at the interruption of his epiphany. He turns Yuuri around so that he’s facing the others, but he doesn’t let go. Instead, he wraps a protective arm around him, resting his hand on Yuuri’s chest. Yuuri leans back against him contentedly.

“No, he got distracted,” Phichit tells his coach, still laughing.

“I still haven’t checked in, either,” Victor chimes in.

I checked in for you, Vitya,” Yakov says, apparently having moved behind him when Victor wasn’t paying attention. “Because you ran off from the middle of the line.”

The only reason Victor turns his head is to shoot his coach a betrayed look.

But then he feels Yuuri tilt his head up to look at him, and Victor quickly snaps his gaze back to Yuuri.

“You should go get settled, Victor,” Yuuri suggests. “Phichit and I were going to go eat after we get everything in our rooms; do you want to come with us?” he asks hopefully.


And only the promise of seeing him again in an hour convinces Victor to detach himself from Yuuri.

They meet up back in the hotel lobby.

Phichit cheerfully informs Victor and Yuuri that he has to leave for a date and that he hopes they have a good time together.

“What do you mean you’re not coming with us?” Yuuri asks in confusion.

“I just told you; I have a date.” Phichit says slowly, as if the problem was him speaking too fast.

“But… But when… But how did you get a date… We’ve only been here for an hour!” Yuuri

Victor, who is holding Yuuri’s arm, squeezes it in what he hopes is a comforting way.

“Well, Yuuri, unlike some people, I know how to ask people out,” Phichit says jokingly. He shoots a glance towards where Victor’s hand is resting on Yuuri.

’Is that a dig at me?’ Victor wonders, feeling somewhat indignant. ’Come on, I haven’t met him in two years! Give me some time to make a move.’

“It’s a shame to split, but I wouldn’t want you guys feeling like third wheels if you went with me,” Phichit continues. “Unless, that is, you have a date too…?”

“You know I don’t, Phichit,” Yuuri says.

Victor is pretty sure he would have heard if Yuuri was dating anybody, but he’s still a little relieved to hear that he is not.

“Maybe Victor does?”

Victor looks at Phichit in horror.

’What are you doing? I thought you understood how I felt? Don’t put bad ideas in his head!’

“I only want to spend time with Yuuri,” Victor replies, carefully trying to not discount the possibility of going on a date with Yuuri.

“Oh, interesting,” Phichit says, and his eyes sparkle mischievously. “I guess it’s a good thing I’m leaving, then, so you can have Yuuri all to yourself.”

After he leaves, Yuuri turns to Victor with a stern look on his face.

“That was mean, Victor,” he says, but he can only keep the stern look for a few seconds before he’s smiling again. “But seriously, I thought you liked Phichit?”

“I do,” Victor says. “I just like you more.”

So, without Phichit, they leave together.

Though they said they were going to eat, they don’t actually have a destination in mind while they walk. But it doesn’t matter that they don’t know where they’re going. It’s nice just to be together.

Victor feels incredibly lucky that Yuuri likes being in his arms as much as Victor likes having him there. He used to crave touch, any living creature’s touch, but somewhere along the way things had changed. Now, he couldn’t be satisfied with anyone other than Yuuri brushing against his skin.

’How did I not realize before how much I love him?’ is his first thought, immediately followed by ’How am I ever going to survive apart from him now?’

Eventually they find their way to a park. It’s a beautiful place, perfect for confessing beautiful feelings to beautiful people, and Victor is going to say something, he really is, but Yuuri beats him to speaking up.

“Remember when we came to Tokyo before? It was the year we both won silver,” Yuuri says softly, looking up at him with shining eyes.

“You were still doing Juniors back then,” Victor says, smiling. “Yes, I remember. You didn’t like your silver.”

“I liked our picture, though,” Yuuri tells him. “I had it framed and everything.”

Victor laughs lightly.

“I wish I’d done that,” he says. “It’s one of my favorites.”

(The picture of them with matching golds is better only because Yuuri is smiling at him in it.)


And Yuuri jolts suddenly upwards.

“Do you want to take one now?” he asks Victor. “We won’t have a chance to get matching medals this time…”

“Okay,” Victor agrees.

They can’t recreate the old photo exactly. Victor has to use one hand to hold his phone, after all, and Yuuri looked more surprised than happy in the original. Here, they’re pressed much more closely together in order to fit both of them into the frame. The setting sun casts everything in a warm glow that flatters their faces.

“This might be the most beautiful photo of you yet,” Yuuri says softly when they look at it.

“That’s funny, I was thinking the same thing about you,” Victor responds.

’This is the time to kiss him,” Victor thinks, and he would have kissed him, but…

“Uh, Victor…” Yuuri says hesitantly. “I don’t think you really want to caption that as ‘bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb’.”

Victor looks down at his phone, quickly moving his finger off the screen.

“’Back in Tokyo.’ That’s what I’m putting,” Victor ends up saying.

“I like that,” Yuuri agrees.

And then it’s dark, and they really are hungry, so they leave to eat.

’I’ll kiss him soon,’ Victor promises himself.

It’s true that they can’t get matching medals, but they can share the podium, which is better, in Victor’s opinion.

He stands proudly, gold medal around his neck, with Yuuri and his silver next to him.

And Victor is so incredibly happy that the next thing he knows he’s pulling Yuuri up to stand with him.

“V-Victor, whoa!” Yuuri yelps, but it’s not like Victor is going to let him fall. They wrap their arms around each other. They, the gold and silver winners, have won the hearts of everyone in the room.

Caught up in the moment, Victor can focus on nothing but Yuuri. And Yuuri, without his glasses, can probably only see a few inches in front of him (Victor). His unobscured eyes are warm, and Victor can’t stand it anymore.

“I love you, Yuuri!” he exclaims, his heart overflowing with happiness.

Yuuri’s arms tighten around him, pushing him forward, so Victor returns the action, pulling Yuuri even closer to him as their lips press together.

It’s hard to tell how long the moment lasts. Even when they break the kiss, they stand there, transfixed by each other’s enthralling presence.

But soon reality creeps back in, and they’re forced to remember that they aren’t the only two people in the world. And before they can even exchange substantive words, they’re being ushered away from each other.

Chapter Text

One glass of champagne—what was that; what happened?

Two glasses—why hasn’t Victor come to the banquet yet?

Three, four glasses—he talks to some people and they congratulate him on his silver (oh, right, that’s what he won).

Five glasses—everyone is apparently fine with him binge drinking, despite him still being a year younger than the drinking age here in his home country.

Six glasses—someone says Victor’s name, and Yuuri’s head whips around; Victor isn’t there, and a few people laugh at his reaction.

Seven, eight glasses—Yuuri can’t keep track anymore.

Then, finally, Victor walks through the door, searching for something…

Oh, right. Of course Victor wants to see him as much as he wants to see Victor.

Yuuri tries to run to him, but the champagne has dulled his senses, and he ends up staggering forward.

And of course, Victor’s there in an instant to catch him before he even has a chance to fall.

“Yuuri.” Victor breathes his name like a sigh of relief. But then he gets a good look at him and gasps. “Did you get drunk?”

Victor tries to shift him around, but it’s warm and safe and nice in Victor’s arms, and Yuuri doesn’t really want to move, so he just clings to Victor harder. He giggles a little.

“Amazing. You’re adorable,” Victor tells him, petting Yuuri’s head gently.

“Let’s go, Victor!” Yuuri demands, trying to steer Victor towards the door. Unfortunately, Victor is big and strong and also sober, so Yuuri’s weak pushing doesn’t do anything.

“I can’t leave yet, Yuuri. I just got here,” Victor says, though he sounds disappointed. “Can you wait just a little longer?”

“Shoulda got here three hours ago like me,” Yuuri complains. But he reluctantly lets go.

“Were you waiting for me that long?” Victor smiles gently. “I’ll make it quick.”

And then Victor’s gone, and Yuuri already misses him.

He spots Chris chatting with Michele and Sara Crispino, so he decides to make his way over there. He throws an arm around Chris, partly because he just wants to hold on to somebody and partly because it’s easier to keep himself upright with the extra support.

“Yuuri,” Chris purrs in greeting.

“Congrats on the bronze, Chris,” Yuuri manages to say somewhat normally before breaking into giggles.

Sara covers her mouth as she laughs, and when she removes it, she’s smiling flirtatiously.

“You were on fire out there, Yuuri,” she tells him. “Your skating was so passionate. How did you get so graceful andflexible, hmm? I’m dying to see your moves up close.”

“Oh, thank you, Sara,” Yuuri replies sincerely. “It’s because I trained in ballet. I can show you right now.”

Yuuri ignores Michele’s angry spluttering in favor of yanking his jacket off. But the thing is, he’s still a little unsteady, and he can’t quite get his body in the right position. He mutters a few curse words in Japanese.

“I really need the barre for this,” Yuuri explains in frustration.

“I may not have a barre, but I do have a pole,” Chris says, laughing at the look on Yuuri’s face. “Don’t worry, Yuuri, I didn’t actually mean—“

“You think I can’t work a pole?” Yuuri asks angrily. “You think I’m a one trick horse with ballet?”

“I didn’t say that,” Chris says, but then he smirks. “Now, obviously you couldn’t be better than me, but if you’d like to prove something…”

“Is that a challenge, Chris?” Yuuri asks, already rolling up his sleeves. “Bring out your damn pole. I can out-dance you even when I’m shitfaced.”

“What do you think you’re doing?” Michele cries as his sister squeals in delight.

“Well, you can’t expect me to bring my best in pants,” Chris replies, winking.

So next thing Yuuri knows, he’s lost half of his clothing and he’s hanging by his legs off the pole Chris had managed to set up in the corner (miraculously without alerting anyone who could kick them out).

And soon enough, their little competition attracts a crowd.


Victor pushes through several people standing in his way. His face is red, which Yuuri thinks is a nice color on him. Well, every color is nice on him, but…

“I only left you for an hour! H-How…?”

“Victor!” Yuuri exclaims happily, not bothering to try to answer the question. “Come here!”

Victor walks forward in a daze, and Yuuri wraps his arms around him. His legs still secure him to the pole.

(In his periphery he sees Chris hop off the pole, which Yuuri assumes is an admission of defeat.)

“I’m the best pole dancer, right?” he asks into Victor’s ear.

“Y-Yes,” Victor agrees. He tilts his head back to see Yuuri better, and his blue eyes are so beautiful, and Yuuri loves him.

He wishes Victor would kiss him again.

But now that he thinks about it, it’s totally unfair that Victor got to decide their first kiss earlier even though Yuuri’s the one who’s been imagining them kissing in thousands of different positions for years! That just won’t do!

So Yuuri takes matters into his own hands and captures Victor’s lips with his own.

And this is clearly the best idea Yuuri’s ever had in his life, because Victor responds enthusiastically. But the only problem is that Yuuri can’t get as close as he’d like to when he’s hanging from a pole! So he breaks the kiss for all of two seconds, just long enough to get down, and then he’s pressing Victor against him and burying his hands beneath silver hair.

Someone in the crowd whistles at them. Yuuri takes this as an invitation to continue.

“Ah…” Victor gasps when they have to pull apart for breath. “Yuuri… wait…”

Yuuri could stare at Victor’s face forever, so he has no problem waiting. Whatever Victor wants.

“You… wanted to leave… earlier?” Victor manages to ask through heavy breaths.

That’s right, Yuuri didn’t even want to be at this stupid banquet. Victor was done now, so…

“Yes! Let’s go, Victor!” he says, though a second later he’s frowning. “Where did my clothes go?”

As soon as he says it, though, Victor is slipping his jacket over his shoulders.

“Let me help you, Yuuri,” Victor says softly as he straightens the jacket. “I promised I’d take care of you, long ago. Do you remember that?”

And somewhere deep in Yuuri’s mind he remembers a phone call with a drunken Victor. But his head hurts, and the thought soon escapes him.

“Please take care of me for the rest of my life,” Yuuri says instead, smiling. But his smile falls when Victor looks at him in confusion.

“I don’t know that much Japanese, Yuuri,” Victor says apologetically.


“I love you, idiot,” Yuuri says, purposely using Japanese this time.

Victor smiles adoringly at him.

“Oh, I know all of those words,” he says happily, and then he speaks a Russian phrase that Yuuri also knows.

”I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

Yuuri wakes up the next day curled up next to Victor. He has vague, hazy memories of the banquet, leaving with Victor, clinging to him until he agreed that they could go to his room, and… falling asleep.

They didn’t even get to have hot sex, which is a shame, because now that Yuuri’s sober he has to die, so they’re clearly never going to get a chance to now.

“I can’t believe I actually did something like that! A stripper pole? Really? I can never show my face outside ever again, Victor! Never again!”

“It wasn’t bad, Yuuri. That was the most entertaining things to ever happen at one of those boring parties,” Victor says, trying to be reassuring. “You know, I remember you mentioning something about pole dancing as exercise, but I never imagined—“

Yuuri screams and buries his head in the hotel bed’s pillows.


Victor wraps an arm around him. Yuuri still does not look up.

Victor sighs.

“I’m sorry. I should have stayed with you. I wouldn’t have let you do anything you wouldn’t have liked,” Victor apologizes.

“No,” Yuuri protests. “It’s not your fault… You had no choice… You just got there.”

“I think after that kiss on the podium, everyone knew what was really on my mind,” Victor points out. “I should have just taken you and left.”

Right, the kiss on the podium. The one where Yuuri had been sober.

Finally, he rolls over, pulling himself into a sitting position on the bed. Victor shifts so that they’re sitting side-by-side, their shoulders brushing.

“I guess we need to talk about that,” Yuuri says quietly.

“I guess we do,” Victor agrees.

They say nothing for a few seconds, and then they say each other’s names in unison. And it’s so funny that they both burst into laughter.

When they calm down again, Victor speaks first.

“Yuuri, you know you’re everything to me, right?” he says tenderly. “I couldn’t help myself; you know how I am… But… I’ll never do it again if you don’t want me to…”

And the thought is so terrible for Yuuri that he has to press a quick kiss to Victor’s lips, just to make sure that they haven’t gone away.

“Ah… I…” Yuuri mumbles, embarrassment sinking in now that his wits have returned. “I want you to… Obviously…”

“Okay,” Victor says, and he presses another soft kiss against Yuuri’s lips.

Even though the kiss itself is short, they remain sitting in comfortable silence for several minutes afterwards.

Eventually, Yuuri speaks up.

“Everyone thought we were a couple already,” he says with a chuckle. “How are we supposed to act now?”

“The same as always, I guess,” Victor replies, also chuckling. “Only we kiss each other now.”

“Only we kiss each other now,” Yuuri repeats in agreement. “That, and you can take my clothes off instead of putting them on,” he adds.

Victor’s cheeks are dusted with pink when he nods.

“That, too.”

But now that they’re a couple, parting hurts even more.

“Yuuri, are you doing okay?” Phichit asks him. They’ve only just arrived back in Detroit, and really, Yuuri shouldn’t be feeling this down already, but…

“You know how it is, Phichit,” Yuuri answers glumly. Suddenly, a thought occurs to him. “Actually, are you doing okay? Didn’t you meet someone while you were there?”

Phichit laughs.

“Oh, you mean my date? I went out with one of the other skaters in Juniors, Leo de la Iglesia. He’s American, but he lives pretty far away from us,” Phichit explains.

“Oh… So are you still…?”

Phichit shakes his head.

“He was cool; there just wasn’t anything there between us,” he says, shrugging. “But look! We added each other on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I think he posts about as often as I do!”

Yuuri laughs.

“You mean there’s someone out there who’s as obsessed with social media as you are?” he teases.

“Yeah, apparently!”

Yuuri and Victor’s long-distance relationship really doesn’t change much, except they say “I love you” a lot more often (and, okay, there may have been a few sexy Skype calls… only when Phichit was gone, of course).

“You watched me at Nationals, right?” Victor asks over the phone.

“Do you even need to ask me that?” Yuuri responds, laughing. “As if I would ever miss anything of yours.”

Victor laughs as well, but he soon falls strangely silent.

“Are you alright?” Yuuri asks worriedly. “Do you need to hang up?”

“Ah, no,” Victor says quietly. “Yuuri… You’re at your apartment now, right?”


“Can you just… look out your window for a second?” Victor asks.

“Uh, sure.”

And at first Yuuri isn’t sure what Victor is trying to do. Maybe pull some kind of romantic “we’re under the same sky” nonsense that somehow manages to make Yuuri blush every time.

But then it’s obvious.

Yuuri’s apartment is on the second floor, so he has to look down, but there, clearly standing on the ground, is Victor Nikiforov.

“O-Oh,” Yuuri says into his phone. Victor gives a little wave.

“Are you going to let me in? It’s cold out here!”

But Yuuri has already set his phone down in favor of running out the door.


Victor holds out his arms and Yuuri gladly flings himself into them.

“Victor,” Yuuri whispers, his eyes growing misty. “I missed you.”

Chapter Text

The next Grand Prix Final is in Beijing again.

Victor likes it much more this time around.

“We’ve come a long way since we were teenagers, huh?” Yuuri comments, a nostalgic smile on his face.

“I couldn’t even do my quad flip back then,” Victor adds. “I remember how much I wanted to surprise everyone with it.”

Yuuri slips his hand into Victor’s, and Victor can’t help but caress it.

“You were so inspiring, you know,” Yuuri tells him softly. “I don’t know if I could have gone out there without your words.”

Victor smiles gently.

“You inspired me, too,” he admits. “You already know that, though, don’t you?”

“I inspired you to lose the gold,” Yuuri says, but he’s clearly joking.

“But I won their hearts, and so did you,” Victor protests with a laugh.

Yuuri’s face is beautiful, especially when he’s laughing like he is now.

Victor loves him.

“Your heart is the only one I want to win anymore,” Victor says suddenly.

Yuuri’s face is also beautiful when he blushes.

“Hey, that’s my line, Victor,” he complains.

And suddenly, Victor finds himself between Yuuri and the wall of their hotel room.

“I want you to keep your eyes on me, Victor,” Yuuri whispers in a voice that sends frissons of excitement up Victor’s spine. “I skate in front of millions of people, but the only person I need to see me is you. I want to win your heart, Victor. Over and over again.”

“Ah… Yuuri….”

It’s hard for him to speak when he gets like this. Everything he wants to say gets lost before it can reach his mouth. But…

“I love you,” Victor gasps out.

It’s not clear who initiates the kiss, but soon they’re both melting into each other. Victor manages to steer them to the bed (not that he would have minded the wall).

It’s a while before they leave the room.

When they finally get hungry, neither can resist going out for hot pot.

“It’s been six years, Victor. The place might not even be here anymore,” Yuuri says with a laugh, but he doesn’t protest the destination.

“Then we’ll go somewhere else. But don’t you want to see?”

They’re silent as they walk, just like six years ago. And Victor’s thoughts are occupied by Yuuri, just like six years ago.

’Even back then I cared so much about him. I wanted him to be happy so badly. I was furious that I didn’t know how to make him feel better.

Looking over at Yuuri now, it’s clear that he is, finally, happy.

’We’re both happy now. As skaters and as people.’

Six years ago, Victor remembers that he’d reached out for Yuuri. This time, Yuuri turns around of his own accord.

“Um, Victor…” Yuuri starts shyly.

It’s rare for Yuuri to be shy with him. With strangers, sure, and sometimes with other skaters, but with Victor? It’s unexpected.

Victor smiles at him encouragingly.

“I… still want to win gold…” Yuuri says softly. “But… I really do want your heart more than anything… So…”

And from his pocket, Yuuri pulls out a gold ring.

Oh. Oh.

Yuuri gasps.

“Are you crying?” he asks, reaching a concerned hand out to Victor.

“I’m happy, okay?” Victor says, smiling through his tears. “I had the same thought.”

And he pulls out a ring of his own.

So Yuuri starts crying, too.

They slip the rings on each other’s fingers, and they kiss despite their tears, and it’s like six years ago, but so very different.

(In the corner of his mind, he wonders if anyone is getting déjà vu, seeing two foreign adults crying in each other’s embrace in front of the very same restaurant they had visited in their youth.)

And as Victor skates, the gold on his finger is more inspiring than any gold medal ever could be.

It’s not in his program, but…

A quadruple flip, followed by a quadruple lutz.

’Did that win your heart, Yuuri? Because you’re always winning mine.’