This was not the biggest change that had happened to him in his 24 years on this planet. But it felt like it was. And that’s all that mattered to him as he stressed and fought off anxiety attacks almost daily for two weeks.
Yuri was essentially packing up his entire world for the third time. Trying to fit his passions, his memories, and love into the cardboard boxes. Trying hard to limit himself to what he knew he needed, versus what he simply wanted, was never easy. It didn’t feel this extreme the last two times either. He wasn’t sure what to expect now. Dorm rooms and home were basic. They spelled themselves out to Yuri, made sense.
Now though? He felt his throat tighten, his heart hadn’t let him rest in well over 24 hours. Yuri thought a work out in the afternoon would have tired him out enough to sleep. But it didn’t. He thought he could work around it and just sleep the three to four hours on the flight. But he didn’t.
Now, he felt glued to his seat still. Not out of exhaustion, but out of sheer anxiety. The rows in front of him hadn’t even begun to stand up yet to make their way off the plane yet he could feel his limbs stiffening in protest.
He thought he was going to have a panic attack. Or maybe he was in denial about having one right now. Yuri wasn’t sure. Because there were also butterflies of pure joy stuck in his empty stomach. The stress had kept his hunger at bay for almost three days now. He had to force himself to eat, and even then he was only able to get a few bites down. The last of his packing and saying goodbye to friends and family had done him in it seemed.
It’s not like moving was the end of his time in Japan, he knew that. It was just the beginning of the rest of his life. His unclear, unrehearsed, but also exciting new life. For a moment he felt lighter than air and couldn’t help but let a huge smile cross his lips. Yuri buried his face in the sushi pillow he carried, one thrown to him at the Grand Prix Finale. He brought it with him in case he could sleep but it only served as something to hug onto. The pillow smelled like home and though he felt the sting of some tears building behind his eyes he couldn’t stop smiling. There was a flood of memories intertwined with hopeful daydreams of the future flashing through his mind.
The row before him finally stood and began pulling their carry ons down from the overheads, carefully shuffling forward in the crush of people wanting to get off the plane.
He sighed, the panic starting to overtake him again as he reached for his backpack under the seat in front of him and forced himself to stand. Yuri joined the shuffling crowd until he reached the open overhead where his extra carry on was. The people in front of him had now begun to hurry down the aisle and his heart skipped a beat while he pulled the small luggage free.
In order to not annoy anyone behind him, he willed his legs to move and let the suitcase down to push it along. This was it. The moment he stepped off the plane he would be making the last part of his journey to his new life.
He inhaled deeply, making his way through first class. “Thank you for flying Aeroflot!” He heard one of the stewardesses say as he got closer to the exit. Yuri nodded stiffly, trying to smile to her, but he was sure it didn’t come across. “Enjoy your time in Saint Petersburg!”
Yuri’s eyes widened nervously as he wrinkled his brow, making the turn to finally exit the plane. Hearing that was shocking, because up until now it oddly enough didn’t feel real.. He exhaled slowly as he made his way up the ramp. Until now it was stressful and caused him the worst anxiety of his life, worse than any skating competition. But he also always felt like he was floating through the motions in some bizarre daydream-like state. After the welcome and now the first sign in Russian at the gate, he was crashing back down to reality.
“This is real... I’m here…” He whispered glancing over the signs overhead that pointed towards baggage claim. Yuri swallowed hard. He knew who would be waiting for him there. They made sure times were confirmed before he left. He promised Yuri the moment he got there he would be waiting, but Yuri’s overworking mind always got the better of him.
What if he was late? What if something came up and he just couldn’t make it? What if he changed his mind completely? No. ‘Stop this Yuri.’ he told himself. He steeled his grip on the pillow and suitcase and continued to follow the crowd and signs.
Just when he thought he had calmed himself enough during the walk through Pulkovo Airport the last escalator down to the luggage carousels appeared before him. There was a somewhat large crowd at the bottom, most likely people all waiting to see loved ones from various arriving flights. Should he try looking for the familiar face? A list of worries ran through his head again but he couldn’t keep his eyes from darting across the crowd anyway. Couples kissing, friends and family hugging, drivers holding signs. How would he be greeted?
Halfway down the escalator is when he finally spotted him. Arm waving wildly above the crowd, buried about ¾ of the way deep, “Yuri!” The man called out loudly, barely noticeable over the crowd and announcements, but solidly grabbing his attention.
His heart jumped, “Victor…” The smile he caught on his face before the crowd swallowed him was so bright it banished any of the darker thoughts Yuri had earlier. And the moment he was able to walk again he found himself dashing forward, around the crowd, spying Victor’s hair coming around the same side, weaving around a few families.
Yuri broke out into a run, noticing Victor do the same. They’d done this before, but it felt so different this time. Having to separate for a month to get themselves ready was necessary torture. Victor hadn’t truly been home in a year and had a lot of unpacking from his move to do, and then prepping for Yuri’s arrival. It caused their first real break during the summer to be cut short. And while texting and late night face time sessions were a nice way to stay connected it wasn’t the same as having the real thing.
Unlike his crash into reality with the welcoming stewardess and the Russian signs, Victor was warm and uplifting. Literally. Yuri dropped what he was carrying and the moment they had their arms around each other their lips locked. Victor’s arms squeezed him around his ribs as they abandoned any sense of shame during the passionate kiss. Yuri felt like he was floating, feet dancing from the ground as the kiss only grew deeper. It was only when Victor’s tight embrace began to loosen a little that he realized he had been lifted off the ground, in Victor’s arms.
Yuri was gently placed back down, the kiss broken, as Victor smiled down at him, “Yuuri,” he rest his forehead onto Yuri’s, finding it too hard to let go of one another. “I missed you so much.” He nuzzled Yuri before going in for a quick peck. How Yuri missed Victor doing this. It was these simple affectionate touches that seemed to liquefy him from the inside out. Some days it felt like he lived for them.
“I missed you more.” Yuri whispered. He found it hard to get the smile off his face. That insanely warm greeting was more than he could have imagined, and he only continued to melt as Victor held him closely. Victor had this amazing ability to calm any fears Yuri might have, even if it was just a temporary assurance of ‘I’m here for you.’
A blaring alarm from the luggage carousel next to them pulled them from their moment. “Let’s get your stuff.” Victor said, reaching down to grab the fallen carry on.
Yuri nodded and grabbed his sushi pillow up, following suit. He clutched it to his chest tightly, but the feeling just wasn’t what he hoped for. After a month apart, Yuri wanted nothing more than to be tied to Victor. The hug was too brief, the kiss not deep enough. The public act of affection was something he’d shy away from normally, but it seemed like nothing else mattered. Let them judge. Let anyone watch as they devoured each other. Yuri played with the idea of grabbing Victor for another kiss, but didn’t want to step over any lines.
“Is there anything you want to eat, Yuri?” Victor's voice pulled him from his thoughts as they stopped walking.
His eyes were unconsciously locked on Victor's perfect ass, his dress pants hugging all the right places. “Oh, I'm not hungry.”
He barely noticed Victor tilting his head at him, bending over to see where his line of sight was so intensely focused. “Yuri you look so tired,” he touched his hand, clutch it against the sushi pillow. “Do you want to just go sleep right now?”
Yuri shook his head, trying to snap himself out of his daze. The lack of food, sleep, and a calm moment to just sit and breathe was finally starting to catch up with him a bit. Victor was making him lose all focus and what little control remained. “I'm ok.” He looked up and smiled, getting a warm one right back.
“Well I just came from a meeting, and there's still time before dinner. Let's stop for coffee when we get out of here.” Victor stroked Yuri’s hand reassuringly. “And you need to grab more of these sushi pillows next competition, I want a room full of sushi pillows!”
Yuri couldn't help but chuckle. “Victor, that would be so ridiculous!”
Another alarm buzzed from the carousel they were standing by. “Nonsense, it would be amazing! Besides, whatever you like, I want you to feel at home.”
To feel at home. Yuri wasn’t sure when that would happen, if it ever would. He never felt at home at the dorms in Detroit. But then again who ever feels at home in a dorm room?
They eventually grabbed up Yuri’s bag and made their way out towards short term parking. Victor spent the drive from the airport to the cafe pointing out landmarks or places he liked. Getting this kind of personal tour from him was really nice and he was sure Victor’s enthusiasm to show him everything in the city would only grow.
When they found parking near the small cafe Yuri was happy to get out and stretch. The late September weather was still pretty warm and the mid afternoon sunshine poking between the taller buildings was soothing. The area they were in was very residential. It had a lot of apartment buildings down the street that seemed to taper off to really expensive looking row houses. It was quaint with an old romantic charm to it. As he closed the car door he took note of how narrow this older street was, another car inching through cautiously. He was thankful he never really learned how to drive, some of this looked too stressful for him. He stepped onto the sidewalk, letting a young woman with a baby stroller jog by, and then joined Victor as they went into the cafe.
“You sure you’re not hungry?” He asked again.
Yuri shook his head, his stomach was still in knots from everything. And now the excitement of a new city had settled into him. “Coffee will be just fine.” They both sidestepped an exiting customer.
Victor smiled, “Ok, I’ll order, take a seat.”
He reluctantly let Victor walk ahead to the counter, falling in line behind another man, and found a table near the front window. The cafe was small, with a lot of old charm to it. The chalk board hanging behind the counter looked like it was hand lettered and was decorated with flowers and vines with the most intense care. Yuri found it hard to believe it was done all with chalk. There were wooden tables in the center with jars of all sizes piled high with candies of all types. Chocolate bars, jars of different jams, honey, other sweet sauces and creams. They all had signs with neatly written pricing. The walls opposite the counter were lined with shelves selling more goods and groceries. And between bunches of the small company products were houseplants, mostly draping vines and succulents bringing a beautiful warmth to the room. Yuri wondered to himself if all cafes here were like this. He liked it better than the faux warmth of the more modern coffee shops. Something about this had years of love poured into it.
Victor’s voice pulled his attention to the counter as he finally greeted the girl taking his order. Listening to him speak Russian always warmed Yuri. He wish he knew how to speak it just so he could always hear Victor’s voice being so natural. It must have been the same for Victor when he was in Japan, wish he could speak it to make things easier for the both of them. It would be nice to finally not have to play translator for a while though.
Either way listening to his openly cheerful voice was relaxing. Yuri watched as he laughed with the barista while she went to work on the order. There was a friendly back and forth going on that led Yuri to wonder if he’d been here before, if she recognized him from skating or if this was just Victor’s winning charm at work. He couldn’t even be jealous at this point, just sigh in content and watch Victor’s hands flying wildly as he said something else sending the two into a fit of laughter. Being able to see him so comfortable and bringing a smile to others just made him feel proud.
The proud moment quickly turned to confusion though as the two of them focused on Yuri, the girl poking her head over the machine she was working on. Victor called him over, as she waved to Yuri, smiling at him brightly. “This is Elena, her Uncle owns this cafe.” She greeted Yuri in Russian, shaking his hand before saying something else to Victor while finishing putting their order in to-go cups. “She says it’s nice to finally meet the man that stole my heart.”
“Eh?!” Yuri’s eyes widened, glancing between the two.
Elena laughed at his reaction as she turned to get something from behind a stainless steel sliding door at the bottom of another counter behind her. She said something over her shoulder causing Victor to get animatedly excited and place his hands over his chest dramatically.
Yuri became even more confused now, watching as Elena pulled out what looked like an unassuming chocolate bar and placed it on the counter next to the two coffees. When Victor pulled his wallet from his back pocket the girl put a hand out to him, refusing to take any money. He tried again but she crossed her arms playfully, nodding her head in the direction of the back of the cafe. “Fine, fine!” Victor caved, putting his wallet back.
Elena smiled to them, saying one last thing before pointing towards the back again. Victor proffered one of the coffees to Yuri, who took it, still confused as to what was going on. The girl waved at them cheerfully and said her goodbye from what he could understand. Yuri waved a shy goodbye in return. But as Victor grabbed his coffee and the chocolate instead of heading back towards the front of the building he led Yuri around the far side of the counter, and into the backroom.
Yuri’s confusion just kept growing, but he trusted Victor, and I guess Elena, despite not understanding the entire conversation the two just had. It was a basic backroom for a cafe he guessed. There was a baker who was working on some goods who waved and gave a jovial greeting to them. They waved back, continuing through another door that led towards a short hallway and another door.
The back entrance to the cafe brought them out to another small, much quieter street. It was lined with trees on the far side, their leaves mixed with oranges, reds, yellows and a few green still clinging to summer. They crossed towards the trees, the warm sunlight hitting them once more now as Victor led him over to a set of stone stairs heading down to water.
Yuri tried his best to take the view in before Victor pulled him down the steps. When they made it to the bottom there was a walkway almost at water level with the canal and a few benches backed up along the stone wall. The sun was still high enough to light up the trees and water on the far side making the early autumn colors sparkle in the reflection. It was simple, but beautiful.
They finally took a seat in the shade. The cooler chill of the setting making Yuri happy her still had his light sweater on from the flight. Victor smiled over at him as he took his first sip of the coffee. “Sorry about that, Elena’s sweet- but she never takes my money, I would have fought her longer if you hadn’t been there.” He chuckled.
Yuri grinned, trying some of the coffee for temperature. “How do you know her Uncle?”
“I sometimes jog this way, when I first passed a few years back I stopped for some coffee because the place looked so cute inside.” Of course, how very Victor of him. “I started coming in enough that eventually his niece recognized me, apparently her boyfriend’s sister is into figure skating and was talking about me over dinner. Ever since she’s refused to take my money so I’ve had to start slipping bills to her Uncle on the side.”
“Wow… that sounds, complicated…” Yuri was unsure what to say to it. It sounded weird, but again, such a Victor thing to have happen.
Victor laughed, noticing the strange look of contemplation on Yuri’s face, “They’re a very nice family.” He put his coffee down carefully in between them and pulled the chocolate out, “Plus they specially order my favorite Swiss chocolate in at no extra charge.” He tore the end open and snapped a piece off, holding it out to Yuri with a wink.
Yuri accepted and took a bite, it was an incredibly smooth dark chocolate with the perfect bitter to sweet ratio. “Do you like it?” Victor asked, taking a bite of his piece.
“Mmm, it’s really good!” Yuri took another bite and then sipped his coffee.
“I’m glad.” Victor smiled, leaning back and staring off across the water.
His mind felt like it was racing a mile a minute while being pleasantly blank all at once. All Yuri could get himself to do was silently finish the chocolate and drink his coffee. A strange calm washed over him despite his brains signals of excitement. The sights were so new but so familiar. He wanted to see them all, experience all the places that had been a part of Victor’s life before Yuri became a part of it. But sitting here like this, sipping coffee and looking up and down the calm canal was so perfect that he didn’t want to move. If locking this moment in time was possible he’d do it.
Yuri watched as Victor tipped his cup up for more coffee, catching a glint of gold, not from the ring on his hand but something behind him. A tall gold spire sparkling between the branches of trees, just around a bend in the canal. “What’s that?” Yuri asked, pointing with his free hand.
Victor swallowed and glanced over. “Oh, that’s the St. Nicholas Cathedral.” He looked over at Yuri, lips curling as he watched him stare off towards the Cathedral. “We can walk over if you like, there are some bridges connecting us near by.”
The wrapper on the chocolate was wrinkled as Victor went for another small piece for himself. Yuri nodded to him as he watched him eat it, “Have you been there before?”
“Yup,” he said through a mouthful. “It’s really beautiful.”
Yuri leaned back and sighed thoughtfully, “Sure, I’d like to see it.”
They remained seated though, Victor wrapping the chocolate back up and slipping it into the pocket of his blazer. There was a warm sensation over Yuri’s left hand that had been resting on the bench. He watched as Victor’s fingers laced themselves with Yuri’s and he immediately felt his body pull towards the other man. Their eyes fluttering shut as their soft lips met. Yuri was suddenly very aware of the longing he’d been carrying to kiss him again since the airport. Victor ever so gently sucked back on Yuri’s lower lip before the two of them leaned in further, encouraging the other for more. Yuri couldn’t help but notice the notes of the bittersweet chocolate still lingering on Victor’s tongue. It only made him want to kiss him deeper. The seeming hunger coming from the other man pulled a quiet moan from Victor and he reached out to cradle the side of Yuri’s face with his free hand.
The embraced emboldened Yuri. He quickly found a surface for his coffee, using the now empty hand to grab the back of Victor’s neck and run his fingers up into the silvery hair. They each fought for their dominance in the kiss. A month’s worth of need for a private kiss like this finally exploding forth.
Yuri’s head felt like it was going to spin right off his shoulders. The kiss at the airport was nice, but they had privacy now. And the way Victor was practically devouring him Yuri thought the man was going to climb into his lap. As it was Yuri had to fight the urge to do just that, whimpering against the kiss in utter defeat. He’d be putty in Victor’s hands, both of which were now caressing Yuri’s jaw and neck, willing to let Victor do what he wanted if this continued. Yuri felt himself slide in to close the gap between their bodies. It wasn’t a conscious decision, neither was the one his other free hand made, now slipping beneath Victor’s jacket. Victor arched into the touch of the hand against his waist, their thighs now pressing tightly together and feeding off the others body heat. “Please…” Yuri found himself moaning between their lips.
They knew what was happening, what they could end up doing here if they allowed themselves to be swallowed by this heat. Yuri whimpered again as Victor kissed at his bottom lip. Their lips finally separated, but Victor placed his forehead to Yuri’s, and the cooling tips of their noses nuzzled together, Victor’s signature ‘I want to kiss you, but I’m trying to hold back’ move. “Fuck,” Victor breathed out in obvious frustration. “You taste like chocolate… I just want to eat you…”
A deep blush blossomed over Yuri. Despite the embarrassment of Victor’s words running hot across his face he found himself going in for another kiss. As if to take him up on the offer, Yuri curled his tongue against Victor’s causing the other man to let out a deep moan. The dirty thoughts finding their way into Yuri’s mind made him clutch at Victor’s side and hair. Either of them could easily find their way to their knees and suck the life out of the other right here. Would that be enough though? Would this old wooden bench be enough to hold a month’s worth of pent up sexual frustration?
But they both knew they couldn’t allow each other to slip here. As exciting as it would be. They mutually broke the kiss, trying to separate for real this time but their hands just wouldn’t let go. They stared at one another for a moment through heavy lidded gazes, just a few inches apart. Yuri’s glasses dangerously close to slipping off the tip of his nose after the recent action. “Vitya…”
Victor breathed in deeply, biting his bottom lip before quickly pulling Yuri against him in a strong embrace. “Fuck… Yuri.. don’t do this to me here…” He rasped into his ear.
Their hearts were racing and they both knew it would be awhile before they could get up to walk any where. The heat between them had built so quickly they didn’t even notice their trapped arousals till now. “I’m sorry, I just…”
“Don’t be.” Victor squeezed him, trying to steady his breathing. Yuri honestly didn’t mean for them to get so caught up like this. But the way Victor tasted and melted against him was just too much after a month apart. He knew Victor felt the same, it wasn’t fair to encourage him like that in public. “We just both… I mean… there’s only so many times I could jerk off with you over the phone before I just want to break.” The Russian’s voice was extremely shaky in Yuri’s ear, and it wasn’t helping.
They were a mess right now. Yuri couldn’t even form words, any sense had drained into his erection. He had a fleeting thought that the area they were in was private enough for hand jobs hidden by Victor’s jacket… but he had to stop himself. It wouldn’t be enough and they’d just get themselves into way more trouble than either wanted.
Slowly and reluctantly, they both separated. Victor rested his elbows on his knees as he pushed his hands through his hair, breathing out hard before grabbing his coffee and taking a huge swig. Meanwhile Yuri could barely move himself to continue with his coffee. He was too busy trying to now fight off thoughts of how horribly they were going to wreck each other tonight.
His hand shook as he finally got a sip of the cooler coffee. “About that walk....”