“Good job, Ai!” Katsuki Yuuri smiled proudly, as he watched the seven year old skate smoothly on the ice. The little girl was one of his many students in the Hasetsu Ice Castle. It was Yuuko’s idea to start an ice skating class, and between this and helping Minako with her ballet class, Yuuri got himself busy after his retirement two years ago, when he was at the top of his figure skating career. Now, he was happy with teaching kids to skate and dance in the ballet studio.
“Yuuri-sensei… Show me how to do the spinning thing now!” Said a small, nine year old boy, as he tugged at Yuuri’s athletic pants.
“No, Sensei! The jump! The jump!” other children demanded, and soon, Yuuri was swarmed with his students, all demanding their own things that they wanted to try. Yuuri loved it. Sure, being away from competitive figure skating was hard at first, but now, he just enjoyed teaching the children new things. His class mostly consisted of children age six to ten. Right now he had ten students, all went to his class on Monday and Thursday, some of them showed up on Sunday because they knew Yuuri spent his Sundays in the ice skating rink and they wanted to be with their favorite teacher.
Yuuri enjoyed his retirement, after a year of being depressed because of his disastrous performance during his fifth year of the Grand Prix Final, he had been ready to snatch his third gold after being beaten in the last three seasons by Viktor Nikiforov, so after he realized he could only get silver, he shocked the world with his retirement when his career had just reached the top. He remembered how furious Chris and Viktor were, even Viktor’s coach, Yakov, also yelled at him for the abrupt retirement.
But he didn’t care at the time.
After he finished his class for the day, Yuuri helped Yuuko in the rink until night. Yuuko always let him use the rink as much as he wanted, and Yuuri felt like skating tonight.
He put on his skates and walked to the ice slowly. For a while, he was just skated around aimlessly until he got an idea. Viktor’s ‘Stay Close to Me’ was an amazing performance Yuuri saw during this season’s Grand Prix and the World Championship. No one was in the rink right now, so Yuuri knew he could perform as he liked. He didn’t play any music so he wouldn’t attract Yuuko’s attention. Besides, he remembered every note of that song in his head.
Here we go!
Yuri Plisetsky couldn’t believe that that man had forgotten about his promise! He won the Junior Grand Prix without any quads, and Viktor Nikiforov promised him he would choreograph Yuri’s program for his senior debut… But that asshole just forgot, and it pissed Yuri off. If Viktor didn’t want to, Yuri would just have to find someone else. Someone who could help him beat Viktor.
But Viktor had been unbeatable for these past five years. He had won five consecutive gold medals in the World championship already, and next season he would win his sixth. Yuri’s blood boiled in anger when he remembered that. This year he would topple that old man from his throne. Yuri sipped his juice as he saw Viktor, who was being interviewed by reporters for his fifth gold medal in the World Championship.
“What do you have in mind for the next season?” one of the reporters asked. Of course they would ask. Everyone had heard the rumors about Viktor’s retirement. He was after all, already 27 years old. But Yuri knew better. Viktor was still good for at least two or three more seasons. He was Russia’s Living Legend.
“Next season?” Viktor put on a charming smile. “Hmm… I haven’t thought about anything yet… But I really hope I can skate on the same ice as Yuuri Katsuki from Japan again…”
Yuri blinked slowly. The reporters were uproaring, even Christophe Giacometti face palmed at Viktor’s bluntness. Yuuri Katsuki. Yuri knew that name very well. A Japanese skater with the same name as him, and the only one who ever beat Viktor in two consecutive seasons of Grand Prix and Worlds, despite being four years younger than the Russian skater. When Katsuki was still active, Viktor had been settled with second place, with merely two or three point’s difference between them for two seasons, before he managed to beat the Japanese with merely one point or less. Yuri had watched Katsuki’s performance, and he was enthralled.
And right now, Viktor was wishing for Yuuri Katsuki’s return to figure skating and was ignoring Yuri’s senior debut?
The younger skater swore he would beat Viktor in his debut. And to do that, he would make Yuuri Katsuki his coach.
The answer came when Yuri was browsing on his phone, trying to find more about Katsuki Yuuri. And it came in a form of a video, just uploaded a few hours ago, and it had already became viral on YouTube. Yuri frowned when he saw the title.
[Yuuri Katsuki] Tried to Skate Viktor Nikiforov’s FS Program [Stay Close to Me].
Yuri smirked. He knew the video was new. He tapped the screen and watched the video. And he knew why Yuuri Katsuki managed to be on par with Viktor. He was another genius. Viktor might be good at the technical aspect, but Yuuri made up for it in his performance. Yuri swore the step sequences were better than Viktor’s with added complexity and modification to the routine.
Yuri checked the news and saw the figure skating world was in uproar, saying that it might mean that Yuuri Katsuki would return to figure skating after hearing Viktor’s words in the interview. The Japanese news still hadn’t gotten an answer yet, despite them hunting the man down right to his hometown in Hasetsu.
Yuri nodded. He quickly packed his bag and booked a ticket. He called Yakov.
“Yakov, I’m going to Japan!” he yelled at the phone.
Yuri didn’t know how he was supposed to find Yuuri Katsuki when he arrived at the train station in Hasetsu. He didn’t know Japanese. And when he tried to ask the police officer outside the train station, the police’s broken English made Yuri Plisetsky give up. He started to wonder, tired and hungry. Without realizing it, he was arrived near the beach, without knowing where to go. He had dragging his suitcase all over Hasetsu to find Yuuri Katsuki.
With frustration he turned to the ocean and started to yell out loud.
“Yuuri Katsuki, where the hell are you?!!!”
He didn’t realize there was a middle-aged man standing beside him, fishing.
“Oh? A friend of Yuuri-kun?” the man asked. His English was bad, but at least Yuri understood him better. “If you are looking for him, he is probably at the ice skating rink near that castle,” the man said, pointing at a eastern-styled castle.
After a quick thank you, Yuri dragged his suitcase to the ice skating rink the man mentioned. The building was old, but it was well taken care of. Yuri couldn’t read the kanji, but the English written under it clearly said ‘Ice Castle’. Yuri pushed the door open and his eyes met a brown haired woman standing behind the counter.
“If you’re a reporter, I’ve told you Katsuki Yuuri isn’t here,” the woman said without looking up. “Please leave before I call the police!”
The woman said it in English. Probably reporters had come to this place to find Katsuki Yuuri, Yuuri knew they could be quite persistent.
“I’m not a reporter,” Yuri told the woman.
Finally, she looked at Yuri and her eyes widened in surprise. “Yuri Plisetsky!” she gasped. Yuri didn’t smile or anything, he just nodded. Well, he was pretty famous as the upcoming skater from Russia. “Why are you here?” she asked. Her English was heavily accented.
“I want to meet Yuuri Katsuki,” Yuri said quickly. “Tell me where he is.”
“Yuuri-kun? Oh… Ah… He’s inside…?” the woman seemed hesitant to tell Yuri, but the younger Russian didn’t care. He dragged his suitcase to the rink side and stopped when he saw Yuuri Katsuki gliding smoothly on the ice.
Yuri didn’t recognize the program Katsuki Yuuri was doing; it might just be some random choreography. There was no music playing; only the smooth sounds of the blades across the ice. But from Yuuri Katsuki’s moves, Yuri could hear the music. Something seductive… Yuri thought as he watched. The way Katsuki moved, the way he tilted his head, moving his arms, legs, and hips in the choreography screamed seduction, and Yuri could feel his cheek heat up slightly.
When Katsuki stopped and looked deep in thought, Yuri stepped in and shouted the the Japanese skater.
“Yuuri Katsuki! I want you to become my coach!”
“Yura went to Japan?” Viktor Nikiforov asked Yakov when he came to practice that morning. “What for?” he tilted his head in confusion.
“Vitya doesn’t know? It has been big news all over the place,” Mila Babicheva said as he skated to the silver haired skater and his coach. “I thought you of all people would catch up with the news already…” the woman commented.
“I dropped my phone in the toilet when I got back here from Japan. I haven’t watched any news…” Viktor rubbed his head in confusion.
Yakov grumbled something, and left Mila and Viktor. Mila had fished her phone from her pocket and tapped the link to a YouTube video. Viktor waited for the video to load.
“It was posted after your careless declaration during interview after the World Championship. Remember? When you said you wanted to compete with Yuuri Katsuki from Japan once again,” Mila said. The video loaded and Viktor’s eyes widened when he saw Yuuri Katsuki perform his free skate program this year.
He almost dropped Mila’s phone when he rushed to bench, unlaced his skates and went to buy new phone. In six hours, Viktor had jumped to the next flight to Japan. He had to see Yuuri and talk to him.
Katsuki Yuuri stared at the Russian teenager in front of him. Of course he knew who it was. Yuri Plisetsky, the Russian Fairy. He had seen him several times on TV and watched some of his performances in his Junior championships. Yuri Plisetsky was good. He was talented, beautiful, and he also already had a coach.
“No,” Yuuri said simply.
“Why not?” Yuri Plisetsky asked.
“Because I already have enough attention right now, I don’t need to add fuel to the fire by becoming your coach. Don’t you already have a coach? Yakov is great,” Yuuri said when he remembered the good old Yakov and all of his lectures. Yakov chewed him off more than Yuuri’s own coach, Celestino, sometimes.
“Yakov is busy with Viktor,” Yuri said bitterly.
“Viktor is a big boy. He always ignores Yakov anyway,” said Yuuri.
“I can’t have Yakov coach me because I don’t want to have the same coach as Viktor’s!” Yuri said. “I want to beat him. And in order to do that, I need you to coach me. You don’t have to worry about fees and all that. I’ll pay you!”
Yuuri rubbed his forehead as the incoming headache started to form in his head. He really didn’t want to return to skating. But after the Nishigori triplets uploaded his video on YouTube, everyone had been expecting him to return. Yuuri didn’t want to return to competitive figure skating. It was tiring, and after he messed up two years ago, he finally found a perfect reason to stop completely and started his small skating class. Everyone was shocked when he announced his retirement three years ago. Yuuri just lost his reason to skate after that disastrous performance. But he still loved the ice. And he loved teaching children how to dance on the ice.
Being Yuri Plisetsky’s coach might be his only escape for now. But Yuuri felt bad for using the boy like that.
“Why do you want to defeat Viktor?” Yuuri asked.
“Because he forgot his promise,” Yuri Plisetsky said. “He promised he would choreograph a routine for me, and when I asked him, he just said he forgot. He told me he would do it next year.”
“Then just wait next year,” Yuuri said.
“No! I’ll show him I don’t need his choreography to win! I don’t need his help.”
“So you come to me instead?” Yuuri raised an eyebrow.
“Because you’re the only one that ever beaten Viktor,” Yuri said. “This is my senior debut. I want to dethrone Viktor in my senior debut just like he did years ago, just like you did…”
Yuuri sighed. He could see the desperation in Yuri’s eyes, and he knew he always weak for that look. Yuri was desperate to prove himself, that he wasn’t the mere shadow of the great Viktor Nikiforov. He wanted to be number one by beating Viktor in figure skating. That thirst for winning and determination… Yuuri couldn’t say he hate them.
“Just for this season,” Yuuri said in the end. “And I want you to be the one who tells Yakov. I’m not going through another one of his lectures. You better beat Viktor this season because I won’t be your coach next year.”
Yuri’s face lit up and he nodded happily.
“Let’s go grab my things in the ballet studio before we go to my place,” Yuuri sighed. He might regret this decision later.
Viktor stepped into the train station and looked around. He hailed a cab, and tried to explain where he wanted to go. Finally, the driver understood Viktor’s destination, Yu-topia Akatsuki, a hot spring inn ran by Yuuri’s family in Hasetsu. Viktor hoped Yuuri still lived in the inn. When he arrived at the inn, he put on his Gucci sunglasses and fishing hat he bought in the airport. Viktor dragged his suitcase into the reception area.
“Welcome! Are you here for a room or our hot spring?” the lady behind the counter asked in broken English with her bubbly voice. Viktor smiled when he quickly recognized her as Yuuri’s mother. They looked alike.
“Ah, yes, a room please,” Viktor smiled and took off his sunglasses. “Do you know if I can meet Yuuri Katsuki?”
“Yuuri? Hm, he’s probably in the ballet studio right now. He left with Yurio this morning,” the bubbly woman said.
“Yurio?” Viktor asked slowly.
“Yes. Yuri Plisetsky, Yuuri said. He’s a figure skater from Russia,” the woman nodded. “Because it will be confusing with two Yu(u)ri’s, Mari called him ‘Yurio’. Mari is Yuuri’s sister. Can I have your name?”
“Of course. It’s Viktor. Viktor Nikiforov,” Viktor said to the lady, waiting for any reaction. It was weird how Yuuri’s parents didn’t seem to know much about him while their son was the best figure skater Viktor knew.
“Oh! You’re also figure skater!” the woman just realized. “Are you friends of our Yuuri too, then? It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Nikiforov.”
Yuuri’s mother called Mari and asked her to show Viktor to his room. Viktor decided he wanted to soak in the hot spring while waiting until Yuuri and Yurio (Viktor just loved that nickname!) returned. He sighed happily when he let himself soak in the hot spring. No wonder Yuuri loved living in his family’s inn if he could enjoy this hot spring every day. Viktor wouldn’t mind if he moved here permanently.
Viktor was almost fell asleep with the warmth of the water relaxing his muscles when suddenly, the door to the outdoor bath slid open violently and two figures burst out of it. Viktor smiled when he saw the familiar blond hair and the dark hair of the Japanese male beside the blond.
“Viktor…” Yurio said in dark tone. “Why are you here…?”
Viktor shamelessly stood up from the bath and reached out his hand dramatically despite his lack of clothing.
“Yuuri…! I’m here to drag you back to competitive figure skating!” he said proudly. “Let’s have a good competition!” he winked.
“Put some clothes on first, Idiot!” Yuuri pulled Yurio back inside and slid the door shut, leaving Viktor standing naked stupidly.
Yuri Plisetsky threw a dark look at Viktor Nikiforov, who was too busy wolfing down his katsudon to pay attention to the younger skater. He was so pissed, finding Viktor in this place. He wasn’t supposed to be here! And what did he mean by dragging Yuuri back to competitive figure skating? Yuuri already agreed to be his coach, and Viktor was a forgetful asshole that Yurio would beat in his senior debut.
“Why are you here?” Yurio glared at Viktor angrily.
“Hm? Taking you back to Yakov and making sure Yuuri will enter this season’s Grand Prix,” Viktor said as he wiped the rice from his face with a bright smile. “Yakov was pissed you abandoned him for much younger and more handsome coach…”
“I’m not going back to Russia now. Yuuri agrees to be my coach for this season…!” There was a finality in his tone as he stood up angrily and stomped back to his room upstairs.
In the morning, all three skaters had gathered in the empty rink of the Ice Castle. Viktor dressed in dark t-shirt and his customized golden skates, Yurio in his hoodie while Yuuri in a dark blue t-shirt. Viktor was smiling and humming, while Yurio was prepared to whatever program Yuuri had come up with.
“There is a ‘project’ you could say that Viktor and I had been working on before my retirement,” Yuuri started, looking at Yurio, “In which both of us choreographed short programs to the same music.”
“Same music?” Yurio raised an eyebrow.
“Same music, but different arrangement with the opposing theme,” Viktor nodded, smiling all too happy for Yurio’s liking. “It is called ‘On Love: Eros and Agape’.”
Yurio looked at both Yuuri and Viktor in confusion. Eros and Agape? Yurio got the gist of the difference. So Yuuri was working on something before he decided to take a break in his career? Yurio still didn’t know the reason, and he didn’t feel like asking Viktor because the silver haired male seemed to know something.
“Have you thought about love before, Yurio?” Yuuri asked the young skater.
Yurio snorted and shook his head. He was never really interested in that kind of thing. He was too busy thinking about skating, thinking about how many quads he could pull. Yuuri gave a knowing smile.
“Well, then, I guess you should listen to the music first,” Yuuri said. He pressed the play button and a soft, beautiful melody started to play.
Haunting, pure, innocent. Yurio cringed when he thought he had to skate to something like this. This kind of piece will require a lot of emotion, and Yurio knew he was never good at it. Yuuri and Viktor were looking at him, expecting something from Yurio.
“What do you think?” Yuuri asked after he stopped the music.
“Some pure and innocent crap. Makes me want to barf,” Yurio pulled on a mocking gag to show his feelings.
“Okay, then listen to this one,” Yuuri pressed the play button again and the music changed.
The melody was still the same, but the arrangement was completely the opposite of the first one. The strumming of the guitar, the seductive melody of the violin. It sounded like a totally different song and Yurio’s eyes lit up when he heard the music. This one. This one he could do.
“Oi, Yuuri! I want this one! I want to skate to this one!” he said.
Yuuri was smiling as he continued his explanation. “The first one is ‘On Love: Agape’, the theme is unconditional love. The second one is ‘On Love: Eros’, the theme is sexual love,” Yuuri said. “Viktor and I were working separately on creating choreographies for these two pieces of music. I worked on ‘Eros’ and Viktor worked on ‘Agape’.”
Yurio blinked. He would’ve thought Yuuri would be working on Agape, thinking about the theme and style, it would suit Yuuri better and Viktor’s flirtatious nature and playboy persona would suit Eros. But Yurio guessed, these two were the top skaters in the world with their penchant of surprising the audience. Though Yurio wondered how Yuuri would bring Eros to life, given his title made by fans was ‘Ice Cinnamon Roll-Please Protect Him’.
“So, I’ve talked to Viktor last night, and managed to let you use his ‘Agape’ as your short program,” Yuuri finished.
Yurio blinked, trying to process what Yuuri had just said. “WHAT?! Change it! Like hell I would use the program he choreographed!” Yurio yelled in anger, glaring daggers at Viktor, who was still smiling innocently. “Besides, it doesn’t suit my image at all!”
“’Your image’?” Viktor smile didn’t falter. “You really think so highly of yourself, Yurio~! The key to surprise people is doing the opposite of what they think you would do. Besides, you are far more ordinary and mediocre than you think. You need to be more self-aware, I’m surprised you think you can choose your own image. From the audience’s perspective, you’re just a kitten~” His tone was still light and teasing, but Yurio was shook hearing it.
“You have one week to master this or I’ll take you back to Russia and make Yuuri participate in Grand Prix. If you don’t want to use this program I made, I won’t force you. We can save time and book tickets to Russia now.”
Yurio was speechless, as he looked up to Viktor, who was still smiling innocently, and Yuuri who hadn’t said anything. He didn’t want to return to Russia now. Hearing Viktor’s sharp words, it only pissed him off even more, and pushed him to prove himself even more. He’ll show this old man how far he could go. Yurio would make Viktor regret his words, calling him mediocre. Yurio swore he would beat Viktor in Grand Prix Final. He’ll take the gold from this arrogant bastard.
“I’ll do it, this ‘Agape’,” he said in the end. “I’ll master it in one week and stay with Yuuri as my coach.”
Yuuri smiled at Yurio and patted the blonde’s head gently. “You can do it, Yurio.”
“Good! Then I’ll have your ‘Eros’, Yuuri~” Viktor smiled and hugged Yuuri tightly
“Well, first is ‘On Love: Eros’,” Yuuri smiled as he stood in the middle of the rink. Yuuri had told Viktor he would show him the choreography of Eros and after, Viktor would show Yurio the choreography of Agape.
Beside him, Yurio could see Viktor was smiling in excitement once he saw Yuuri skating on the ice. Viktor had been waiting for Yuuri to return to skating, Yurio mused. He came all the way to convince him. Viktor had been planning on retiring, and this might be his last season. Maybe that was why he was so adamant to compete against Yuuri. After all, the only skater who managed to topple Viktor at the top of his career was Katsuki Yuuri. Yurio knew Viktor was always an airhead with bad habit of being forgetful (maybe it’s because of his age, Yurio snorted), but lately, Viktor seemed to be in a slump. He couldn’t blame him. After winning his fifth gold medal in the World Championship, Viktor was already bored with no real competition.
Yurio watched carefully at how the timid and gentle Katsuki Yuuri turned into a sex God on skates, once the guitar strumming started. All his moves were seductive, inviting, and teasing. Yurio could feel his cheeks heat up when Yuuri turned and gave them that sexy smirk. Viktor whistled beside him as they watched Yuuri dance, telling a story of seduction. Yurio knew Yuuri was a world champion, but he never thought he would be this good. His body created music, his steps and spins telling a story, his jumps seducing the audience.
Right now, he wasn’t the gentle Katsuki Yuuri. Right now, the man on the ice was a seductress, the most beautiful woman in town, luring the playboy to fall in love with her. Yurio didn’t know how Yuuri could move in a feminine way yet still maintain the masculinity. Viktor used to do that when he was younger, when he still had his long hair, but what Yuuri did right now was a whole new level of androgyny. He didn’t realized the music had stopped and Yuuri was panting softly.
“Something like that, Viktor?” he asked the taller Russian.
Viktor had jumped to the ice and went to glomp Yuuri happily. “Amazing, Yuuri! That’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” Viktor scooted closer until his face was only a few centimeters apart from Yuuri’s. His hands gently tipped Yuuri’s chin up while his thumb was caressing Yuuri’s soft lips in sensual manner. “Your Eros is so alluring, Yuuri, I can’t wait to dance it for you and make you pregnant from its sexiness…” he whispered in husky voice.
“Oi! Viktor! Show me that damn Agape now!” Yurio yelled from the rink side, making Yuuri snap into reality, and push Viktor away quickly.
“Stop being silly, and show Yurio the choreography,” Yuuri smacked Viktor’s shoulder and skated over to the rink side. His face was still slightly flushed, though Yurio wasn’t sure if it because of the program or Viktor. That only pissed Yurio even more. Clearly Viktor was trying to distract Yuuri from training him so Yurio would fail, and he wouldn’t let that happen!
Yuuri walked up to the stereo system and played ‘On Love: Agape’ as the soft and sweet melody played. Viktor moved, unlike Yuuri’s passionate and seductive dance, this one was more subdued, controlled, and vulnerable. It was pure and innocent. Each movement, each expression on Viktor’s face was the complete opposite of Yuuri’s ‘Eros’, but it still had the same complexity. Unconditional love. God’s love. It was what it was. Yurio carefully studied each movement until Viktor stroke the final pose, hands entwined and raised up as a prayer to God. It was an emotional piece, something Yurio always thought would come from Yuuri.
“Do you get it, Yurio?” Viktor gave his heart-shaped smile and skated over to Yuuri and Yurio.
“Yeah, I get this gist of it,” Yurio said.
“Good, good. Yuuri told me you will perform Agape in an exhibition in Fukuoka along with other young skaters,” Viktor said happily.
Yurio blinked and turned to Yuuri. “What?! You didn’t tell me!” he growled angrily.
Yuuri just smiled innocently. “Well, it was a last minute call, really. The Newscaster Morooka just contacted me this morning to judge at the exhibition, but I asked him if you can partake in it instead. Viktor and I will be the one to judge the performance.”
“Are you scared, Yurio? If it was me, I think I could win with only a week to work on ‘Eros’,” Viktor winked.
Yurio growled angrily and shouted something at Viktor as he walked out of the rink and slammed the glass door shut. Yuuri sighed and glared at Viktor.
“You shouldn’t provoke him like that,” Yuuri scolded Viktor.
“Why? He left for a run now, and I can have you all to myself,” Viktor hugged Yuuri happily. “Let’s practice your ‘Eros’, Yuuri!” he said in a seductive voice.
Yuuri sighed. “Somehow the way you said it makes me not want to practice with you…”
The training was hellish, Yurio thought as he repeated the choreography over and over again under Yuuri’s supervision. And with Viktor also watching on the side rink, it only pissed Yurio some more, especially when that guy gave him a very useful piece of advice. Was Viktor really looking down at him, he thought Yurio would need his advice? He went to the choreography again until Yuuri stopped him.
“Stop! Stop!” Yuuri said.
Yurio stopped and turned to the dark haired male, looking angry yet confused. He was panting after repeating the dance so many times yet, Yuuri didn’t seem to be satisfied with it.
“What now?” he huffed in annoyance.
“Hmm… Somehow I don’t feel the ‘Agape’ from you,” Yuuri mumbled softly. “Your greed and confidence seemed to mask the vulnerability of the piece.”
“But Viktor skated it confidently!” Yurio protested, glaring at the silver haired figure who was happily watching and leaning against the barrier. “I told you this music wouldn’t suit me!”
“Then, are you giving up?” Yuuri asked gently and patted Yurio’s head. “Will you let Viktor win, then?” Yuuri asked him.. There was no animosity in his voice, it was just simply a question. Yurio turned and threw a heated glare.
“No way!” he shouted. “I’ll do it again,” Yurio pouted.
“Hmm… Let’s take a break for now,” Yuuri said softly. Yurio wanted to protest, but Yuuri’s smile somehow made him follow his soon-to-be-coach’s decision and glided over to the rink side where Viktor was watching with an amused smirk on his face.
Viktor didn’t say anything, as he stepped on the ice and called for Yuuri, asking the Japanese male to watch his program. Yuuri just smiled and nodded, leaning against the barrier while watching Viktor carefully. From his place, Yurio also watched Viktor try the ‘Eros’ program. The strumming of guitar started, and Viktor started to move.
From the corner of his eyes, he could see how much Yuuri was blushing, when he watched the program. Yurio pouted. Viktor’s skating could draw that much of a reaction from Yuuri, making him blush and such. Why could Yurio do the same? He copied Viktor’s movements perfectly and he landed all his jumps, yet Yuuri was still saying his performance was still lacking ‘Agape’.
Yurio watched Viktor moved, carefully watching everything. Huh… his movements are a bit different from Yuuri… Yurio thought. Yuuri moved with sensual grace, almost effeminate. It was easy to see Yuuri played the role of seductress in his ‘Eros’. But Viktor was different. His movements were more masculine, instead of seductress, he was more of a…
“…Playboy…” Yuuri whispered, smiling as he watched Viktor. “That guy will seriously get a man like me pregnant with such ‘Eros’…” Yuuri murmured, he probably didn’t realize he was saying it out loud.
Yurio only pouted harder. How can he beat Viktor? How can he make Yuuri look at him like that? This was the first time Viktor even tried the program, and he was already more or less a master at it while Yurio was still struggling.
It wasn’t fair…
“How was that, Yuuri?” Viktor grinned happily.
“Totally ‘Eros’. But your step sequences are still weak,” Yuuri teased. “And the landing of the quad was a bit shaky at the end…”
“That’s because you packed all your jumps at the second half, Yuuri. Like all of them! Yuuri is really a Spartan. What are you? A sadist for putting me through such a demanding program or a masochist, because you to plan to use this program for yourself?” Viktor protested. “Not everyone has monster stamina like you.”
“Well, you can move them to the first half,” Yuuri offered. “But you told me you wanted to do it the way I did it…”
“Because it’ll be more surprising when everyone saw how I packed all my jumps later for higher points,” Viktor winked.
“But you change my seductress story,” Yuuri pouted. “What’s with all that playboy persona?” Yuuri huffed.
“Well, I don’t think your feminine moves would work with me. I don’t have your extensive ballet experience to pull off such womanly grace, so I tweaked it a bit to my taste. Do you like it?” Viktor was already so close to Yuuri when he asked this.
“Hm, guess it works,” Yuuri shrugged and casually stepped back to look at Yurio. “Ready to try ‘Agape’ again, Yurio?”
Yurio nodded, still deep in thought. What should he do about the ‘Agape’? What was Viktor thinking when he skated ‘Agape’? The serene atmosphere… Unconditional love… Yurio didn’t understand about all of that. He skated slowly to the ice and watched both world champions talking on the rink side.
Yuuri and Viktor could pull off something like this easily. Yurio knew he always prized himself as the top skater of his age group. But the senior division was different from junior. Everyone was older than him. Despite his age, Viktor didn’t show any signs to retire, not after he met Yuuri again. Yurio knew he should polish his techniques, if he wanted to win gold in his senior debut, and beat Viktor. Yurio went through each move smoothly. He would beat Viktor and proved himself as the top skater!
“Yuuri, why did you ask me to give Yurio my short program?” Viktor asked the Japanese man beside him as they watched Yurio practiced. “The ‘Eros’ would surely be easier for him to master rather than ‘Agape’…”
Yuuri smiled as he watched Yurio move across the ice. “I’m not gonna give a fifteen years old a program about sexual love, Viktor. Besides,” Yuuri watched Yurio land his quad. “I think ‘Agape’ could teach Yurio one or two things that could further his skating.”
Viktor glanced at Yuuri with a soft smile on his face. “You really like him,” Viktor said simply.
“He’s interesting. He’s talented, but he still needs guidance,” Yuuri nodded. “And no, I don’t like him in that way, Viktor,” Yuuri said when he saw the teasing smile on Viktor’s face.
“Good. Because you’re mine, Yuuri,” Viktor easily tipped Yuuri’s chin up until their faces were merely inches apart and Viktor leaned down to Yuuri’s lips as if he would kiss him and…
Yuuri head-butted him.
“Yuuri!” Viktor was holding his nose painfully and whined at the Japanese male. Yuuri only smiled innocently.
“Oops?” he offered happily.
“You’re so mean~!” Viktor rubbed his reddened nose and glared at Yuuri. He was pouting sadly before he turned his attention back to Yurio. “But Yuuri, if you didn’t give him pointers, Yurio would never master ‘Agape’ in a week, you know,” Viktor said in more serious tone. “Just bring him to the temple.”
Yuuri looked up at Viktor and frowned. “You just want to see him being hit by a zen stick, don’t you?”
“We should get rid of that greed though~”
And no, Yuuri didn’t bring Yurio to the temple. Instead, he opted for them to soak in the onsen to release some muscle fatigue and relax after a long day of training. Yurio still looked deep in thought, thinking about his program. Yuuri watched the young skater trying to solve his own problem, waiting in amusement until Yurio looked up to Yuuri in frustration.
“Why were you keep saying you can’t feel ‘Agape’ from my performance?” Yurio asked Yuuri finally.
“Because I can’t,” Yuuri said simply. “You’re very talented, Yurio. You can land your quads perfectly, you can follow any complex choreography. If you compete with your ability right now, you might be on the same level with top skaters judging from technical elements,” Yuuri said. “But figure skating isn’t all about the jumps. There are also performance components like interpretation and choreography. You should notice how my scores used to be the exact opposite of Viktor’s? Surely, Viktor is the well-balanced skater, but his TES are always higher than his PCS. My TES were a bit more than average at best, but I always covered it up with higher PCS.”
Yurio scoffed. A bit more than average? He thought. Yuuri’s ‘a bit more than average’ must be pretty high then, but he wasn’t lying when he said his performance score was always covering up for his higher than average technical.
“When you skate ‘Eros’… what is the image you have in your mind?” Yurio asked curiously.
“Image…?” Yuuri frowned deep in thought. “Well, I guess… the image would be the prettiest bowl of katsudon that enthralls men…?”
Yurio’s jaw dropped.
“Seriously?” he asked.
Yuuri shrugged. “The idea of ‘Eros’ is something that would make you lose your mind and your sense of judgment. For me, it would be katsudon.”
Now Yurio was sure Yuuri was just pulling his leg now. There was no way someone could skate like that while imagining katsudon, no matter how delicious and pretty the katsudon was. But then again, Yurio remembered how other skaters used to describe Yuuri as aloof and quiet (except for Viktor, Christophe Giacometti, and Phichit Chulanont, who said Yuuri was a bit weird and could be very dense in the romantic department, after all, he was the cinnamon roll that must be protected).
“What kind of 23 years old adult male who would have katsudon as his idea of ‘Eros’?” Yurio smirked.
“Shut up, Yurio.”
Agape, unconditional love. God’s infinite love is self-sacrificing and uncalculating. Yurio moved smoothly toward the intricate step sequence. Unconditional love? What was it? He never thought about love before. He never really bothered. He growled as he went to the quad Salchow and landed them, a bit shakier than usual.
‘What was it?’
Skating this piece while thinking about how hard it was to convey his feelings for it only pissed Yurio off further. Damn Viktor for making this kind of program! Damn Yuuri for keep saying he wasn’t showing enough ‘Agape’ in his performance! He skated just like Viktor did, but it didn’t seem to be enough. The day was getting closer. He only had one week to finish this program, or Viktor would drag him back to Russia, and there was no way he could beat Viktor if he didn’t have Yuuri coached him. Yuuri was different from Yakov, sure, Yakov had much more experience as a coach, but Yurio found that he enjoyed being coached by the Japanese male. Yakov was always patronizing with his tough love approach, but Yurio liked Yuuri’s gentle nurture, yet strict training more.
There was no way he would let the opportunity to be coached by Yuuri slipped by.
He needed Yuuri to win.
After Yurio finished the performance, he looked at Yuuri for approval, but the Japanese male only gave him a lukewarm smile.
“Yuuri, bring him to the waterfall!” Viktor said from the side rink.
“That would only make him catch a cold.” Yuuri sighed. “Let’s wrap it up for today, Yurio.”
Yurio didn’t say anything, he only looked down at his skates. Why he couldn’t do this? ‘Agape’, unconditional love, all of this bullshit… It really pissed him off! His body was aching from all the training, and it only worsened his mood. Yuuri didn’t say anything as the Japanese male led him gently to the onsen and told him to soak and relax for now. Yurio just followed instructions and went to the onsen. It was empty.
After washing himself, Yurio stepped into the hot water and sighed softly. The soothing warmth around him helped to relax his muscles, and slowly he started to think about his program.
Yurio closed his eyes as he remembered the cold winding road in Moscow years ago. A warm calloused hand holding his smaller one warmly and the gentle eyes looking down at him filled with love.
His eyes snapped open when realization hit him.
Yuuri couldn’t hide the smile when he saw Yurio’s practice in the next day. Beside him, Viktor looked really amused with Yurio’s progress. The silver haired man glanced down at Yuuri curiously.
“Is that why you close the whole bath yesterday? To let Yurio meditate alone in onsen?” Viktor smirked. “The waterfall would work better, and I don’t have to wait hours until Yurio got out of the onsen.”
“The onsen would work just fine. He only had to think by himself about what ‘Agape’ meant to him,” Yuuri smiled proudly. “It looks like you might lost your bet, Viktor,” Yuuri teased the taller skater.
Viktor just smiled and leaned closer to Yuuri as they watched Yurio go through each component smoothly, beautifully. “Hmmm… I don’t know about his performance yet, Yuuri. But I still enjoyed being with you like this. Maybe I should tell Yakov I want you to coach me as well, hm?”
“Please, don’t. Yakov would kill me if he knew I took his students from him. It was hard enough for Yurio, and I’m scared to meet Yakov in a competition if I end up coaching him.”
“You still have to make official statement if you end up really coaching him, though.” Viktor said slowly. “Everyone is hoping for your comeback after that video. You know what it means when they’ve found out you’re Yurio’s coach instead of competing…”
Yuuri just propped his chin on his palm quietly, eyes still training on Yurio. He didn’t say anything about Viktor’s words. He didn’t want to think about it right now.
“Yuuri, you should at least take me for a date while I’m here, you know.” Viktor said out of nowhere.
“Sure, but only if you win the bet.” he teased.
The Youth Figure Skating Exhibition was mostly attended by skaters under age 19, and most of them were Japanese. The only foreigner would be Yurio and Ji Guang-Hong from China, with Yurio being the youngest contestant. There were five skaters in total, including a blond with red hi-lite that kept gushing and fanboying when he saw Yuuri and Viktor stepped into the arena to join the small judge panel. There were only three judges for this exhibition, including Yuuri and Viktor. The two of them were being bombarded by the media, mostly asking about Yuuri’s comeback and how Japan was hoping for their ace to return. Yuuri seamlessly avoided to answer the question and directed the attention smoothly to the skaters.
“Is that true Yuri Plisetsky coming all the way to Hasetsu and ask you to be his coach?” this time it was Newscaster Morooka. Yuuri smiled. News traveled so fast.
“Well, I guess Yuuri and I’ll be the judge by the end of this exhibition whether Yuri Plisetsky will be Yuuri’s student, or Yuuri will come back to the competition,” Viktor answered easily, winked at the reporters.
Yuuri sighed when Viktor simply dropped something like that. The reporters started to ask more questions about it, but the officials had ushered them inside for the exhibition to be started. Viktor was still smiling happily and waved at the fans while Yuuri had put on his aloof and cool mask to hide his anxiety. The fans was gushing at “How cool Yuuri-kun” was.
When the performance started, a teenager with brown hair and red costume stepped onto the ice and began his performance. Good, but he was mediocre at best. No quads, some jumps weren’t clean, and he flubbed the triple axel. The second one was about the same age, almost the same as the mediocre performance from the first skater, but his basic scores were lower.
The third skater was more interesting. Ji Guang-Hong from China. Clearly he would start his senior debut this year, just like Yurio. Yuuri and Viktor could see some potential, even though he flubbed his quad toe at the beginning, but he managed to pick himself up quickly and finished the program safely. Viktor and Yuuri smiled, couldn’t help but wondered how good he would be at the Grand Prix.
Minami Kenjirou would be the Japanese’s favorite. He was a bit inconsistent with his performance. Sometimes he did good, sometimes he messed his jumps. But he knew how to entertain the audience, and it was a plus. Besides, he won the National this year and qualified for Four Continents, and made it to the World though he got fiftth place. He was good, and Yuuri couldn’t help but smile watching the performance. Minami Kenjirou would give Yurio a hard time in the Grand Prix this year once the Japanese skater cleaned up his triple Axel and quad.
Yurio was the last to perform.
“Please welcome, Yuri Plisetsky, 15 years old from Russia. He would skate to ‘On Love: Agape’,” the announcer said.
Yuuri couldn’t help but smile as he watched Yurio glided smoothly across the ice. Yuri smiled when he saw Yurio donned Yuuri’s old costume, the white glittery see-through one Yuuri wore during his junior year. The music started, the pure and soft vocal, embodied ‘Agape’. Yuuri’s heart was pounding when he watched Yurio moved across the ice. Subdued, calm, vulnerable, like he was baring his soul for God and dancing his unconditional love. It was ‘Agape’. Yuuri touched his chest and felt his heart was pounding at the performance. Yuri Plisetsky, the ever-changing beautiful monster… Yuuri wanted to nurture this monster into the most beautiful being. His heart kept pounding. He didn’t realize Viktor’s gaze fell on him during the performance or the knowing smile on the Russian’s face.
Slowly the song entered the second half and Yuuri felt something shifted in the performance. Other people might not notice it, but Yuuri had spent times watching Yurio to know it.
Yurio was losing his grip to his ‘Agape’.
Yuuri could see his anguish when he entered the flying sit-spin. His hand gripped tightly until Yurio took the final pose with their hands clasped upwards.
The ice rink was exploding with cheers from Yurio’s fans, “Yuri’s Angels”.
The commentators were saying something, but Yurio didn’t hear anything. He messed up. On the second half he started to focus on jumps and he forgot to think about his ‘Agape’. He turned towards judge panel to see Yuuri and Viktor sitting there, smiling as they clapped along.
He lost the bet. He had to go back to Russia now, Yurio thought bitterly as he bowed and smiled for the audience. He didn’t want to see the result. Sure, he got a clean program, but he didn’t skate the way Yuuri wanted him to skate.
In the end, he got first place, Minami Kenjirou got second, and Ji Guang-Hong got third. Viktor and Yuuri went to the podium to congratulate the winners and took a few photos, before asking Yurio to say something about his performance.
“I’ll do better when I enter my senior debut in Grand Prix,” he answered, mumbling and visibly unhappy.
“Katsuki-san, about the comment Mr. Nikiforov made before the exhibition started, can you explain it?” Newscaster Morooka asked Yuuri who was standing by Yurio’s side just like Viktor. “Will you return to figure skating? Or is it the rumor true that you will coach Yuri Plisetsky?”
Yurio looked down. Of course Yuuri would return to figure skating now. Yurio lost the bet, he had to come back with Viktor to Russia and trained under Yakov. It might be hard to beat Viktor like this, but he had to keep trying—
“I’m happy to announce, I will be Yuri Plisetsky’s coach for this season,” Yuuri answered smoothly. “And we’ll make sure to give Mr. Five Consecutive Gold Medals over here a really hard time.” Yuuri glanced at Viktor who was nodding and smiled proudly.
Yurio lifted his head and stared at Yuuri with disbelief. Yuuri was giving him the same gentle smile as he pulled Yurio into a one armed hug.
“Yoroshiku, Yurio.” Yuuri said softly.
Viktor hugged Yurio tightly when they dropped him at Fukuoka International Airport. Yurio squirmed, embarrassed about the gesture and pushed Viktor away quickly. Viktor only laughed in excitement as he proceeded to hug Yuuri. The Japanese male let him go and patted Viktor’s hair gently.
“Yuuri, you didn’t go on a date with me…” Viktor pouted sadly.
“Because you lost the bet, Viktor,” Yuuri smiled. “You should train harder if you don’t want to lose to Yurio.”
Viktor smiled and patted Yurio’s head. “Can’t wait for the two of you in Grand Prix!” Viktor said happily and hugged both Yu(u)ris again. “Oh, and before I go…” Viktor released Yurio as he turned to Yuuri with ease. He smoothly tipped Yuuri’s chin up and brought their faces closer, pressing a soft kiss to Yuuri’s lips.
Yuuri’s eyes widened in shock, and Yurio was speechless.
“Don’t forget to call, Yuuri, Yurio!” Viktor waved happily and entered the terminal, leaving Yuuri and Yurio in shock for very different reasons.
It didn’t take long before Yuuri’s brain finished processing everything and he turned many different shades of red.
“That damn Russian!” Yuuri cursed angrily, though his blushing face betrayed how he actually felt.
“Oi, what’s your relationship with that old man anyway?” Yurio asked.
“Strangers.” Yuuri frowned.
“He’s going to be heartbroken when he hears you call him a stranger.”
“Good, he’ll mess up his performance and we can take the gold medal easier.” Yuuri smirked. “Let’s go back Yurio. We should start working on your free program now.”
Yuuri led them to the train station that would bring them back to Hasetsu. Yurio watched Yuuri walked in front of him, still wondering about the way Yuuri and Viktor interacted with each other.
Is this what people would call ‘complicated’? Yurio mused. Viktor Nikiforov and Katsuki Yuuri: old rivals, more than friends, less than lovers.
Yurio felt like he wanted to barf.