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Living with Yuuri is a little strange.

For one thing, Victor is unnerved. He’s unused to having someone in his place - occasionally Yakov, perhaps, and his rink mates sometimes stopped by if they needed somewhere to crash after a night out on the town. Unlike other unwelcome guests, Yuuri asks for permission to do things like using Victor’s microwave. He sleeps on the couch, despite Victor’s insistence that Yuuri at least take the bed on the weekends.

Yuuri is unlike the man from the posters Victor imagined him to be. He makes himself small and moves out the way, like he’s intruding, instead of gracing Victor with his presence. As sweet as Yuuri is, it makes Victor nervous. Victor’s not sure why his new coach is this wary of him and his living space. If anything, they should be getting to know each other, becoming slowly more intimate.

The first few weeks after Yuuri moves in, he lives out of his suitcase, shops carefully, and minds his manners.

Yuuri’s obfuscating politeness keeps Victor on his toes, to the point that he’s afraid to reach out and tap Yuuri on the shoulder, sure that the older man would scream at the gesture.

//

After Yuuri starts training Victor in ballet, slowly working his body to become more flexible, the tension between them is slightly eased. They go through stretches, Yuuri’s hands warm on Victor’s back and sides.

Victor is a tactile person, and even though he’s determined to practice, Yuuri’s voice is soft and warm, and his hands are even warmer.

By the time they pack up and leave the studio, Victor’s legs burn like hell and his face isn’t much better. He’s sweaty and gross, but Yuuri gives him a contented little grin and Victor’s breath catches in his throat.

“Hmm?” Yuuri blinks up at Victor, voice trailing off at the end of a story. “Something wrong?”

The silver-haired man wants to reach over, cup Yuuri’s jaw in his hands, and just stare at him. This would hardly be proper, but Yuuri is within arms length now. He’s so close, and gentle, and Victor is frustrated at his inability to act on his impulse.

“Ha ha,” Victor laughs dryly, hands pressed to his sides to avoid doing something stupid. “Nope, everything’s fine.”

When he has more confidence that he won’t be brazenly knocked to the ground, won’t make Yuuri blush and run as far away from him as possible, Victor’s going to hug the shorter man until Yuuri pleads for him to let go.

//

Something shifts between Yuuri and Victor after the regionals in St. Petersburg.

Ever since Victor had his skating competition with Yuri Plisetsky, he’s been on fire. His programs have really taken a step up with his dance lessons, and he’s become close enough to Yuuri to sneak in a couple of arm-locks and even two or three brief embraces.

Yuuri lectures Victor about his over-affectionate behavior; Victor retaliates by saying that Yuuri could stand to open up a little more. The two of them are cagey until Victor’s ready to take the ice, and he feels exhausted when he skates back to Yuuri’s side after the warm up.

Suddenly, before Victor can anticipate the motion, Yuuri reaches for Victor’s hand, cheeks dusted red. “Hey.” Victor’s blue eyes grow wide, voice trapped in the pit of his stomach. “I’m always watching, you know? You don’t have to try so hard to make sure I am. I promise.”

A smile slowly blooms on Victor’s face and he nods. He’s jittery beside his coach until his name is called. He goes out and pushes himself even harder, which is probably the opposite of what Yuuri meant by his words of encouragement, nearly wiping out on the ice.

When he skates off the ice with his free program, giving the teenagers around him a run for their money, Yuuri just slowly shakes his head and opens his arms.

Victor falls into them with a gratified sigh, moved to tears.

“New personal best,” Yuuri huffs against his chest, toying with the sweaty ends of Victor’s messy ponytail. “But I told you not to do that last quad.”

“You’re lecturing me about that now?”

Yuuri pulls back and taps Victor lightly on the forehead, looking awfully smug. “If not now, when?”

Victor’s been crushing on Yuuri for years. Over the last few weeks, the crush has moved into a full-blown, realized infatuation, and in this moment, Victor would dramatically claim that this is the first pull of love blooming between himself and his mentor.

//

As Yuuri and Victor move through customs to go to China, Yuuri feels like he’s going to vibrate out of his skin. Recently, Victor’s gotten a lot more vocal about asking to hold hands, about draping his arms over Yuuri’s back, and so forth. His pale hands are cold on Yuuri’s sides, seeking warmth with low whines. His fingers creep around his coach’s waist, sweep over Yuuri’s chest - Victor just loves to be so close and it makes Yuuri flush constantly.

Right on cue, Victor skips to Yuuri’s side and slumps forward, chin resting on his coach’s gelled-back hair. Cool it, Yuuri, the older man tells himself, fighting down the heat he feels rising up his chest. He’s just. Tactile. “Airports are such a nuisance. At least we have each other!”

“Mmhmm,” Yuuri says, forcing himself to relax. When Victor’s hand slips between his arm and the taller man drags him down the terminal, he fights to keep his breathing even. “It’s a long flight, so we might as well enjoy being able to walk around and stretch our legs while we can.”

“Very true,” Victor agrees, squeezing Yuuri’s arm. Yuuri inhales sharply and the taller man gives him a knowing look, adjusting so that his fingers are curling around Yuuri’s elbow. “We’re early enough to grab a snack - would you like to?”

Yuuri swallows dryly, nodding, as he currently finds it so difficult to focus.

He’s acting so cute and bashful that Victor could scream.

//

When Yuuri goes home to see his mother in the hospital, Victor has a lot of time to think.

The silent space of the hotel room makes Victor stressed out, so he runs to the Russian team to at least get properly chewed out by Yakov and Yuri. Every time he thinks about skating without Yuuri, Victor feels like crying.

He’d dozed off on Yuuri’s shoulders three times in the last week, woken up to his bleary coach softly smiling down at him, and tripped over his feet when Yuuri had stepped out of the shower.

Before this trip, Victor had never seen the older man undressed, and had definitely never seen him with his hair fully down. With his bangs in his face and no glasses on, Yuuri had looked incredibly young and innocent, and Victor’s heart had stopped.

Usually, the memory would make Victor sigh happily and trace heart symbols on the blankets.

Tonight, his face burns with tears, and the impression of the soft kiss Yuuri had planted on his cheek before taking off. Yakov’s voice gets lower when he realizes that Victor is weeping, and even Yuri stops rambling to let Victor cry his heart out.

Neither of them could have imagined just how devastated the separation makes Victor.

//

Yakov sees Victor back to his apartment, telling him to rest. It’ll take a while for Yuuri to get back from Japan.

Victor constantly refreshes his social media, trying to take his mind off of things. He waits for a message, for any sort of sign, with watery eyes. He brushes Yukachin and murmurs softly to his gentle boy, who’s been staying in a pet hotel while he and Yuuri have been traveling.

When the email from Yuuri comes with his flight details, Victor paces the apartment anxiously. Two hours before Yuuri’s plane is due to arrive, he calls a cab and waits at baggage claim for the older man.

Yukachin follows closely behind Victor, who jostles his legs and reads through his phone until Yuuri comes down the escalator and they lock eyes.

Yuuri’s hair is mussed, wind-swept, barely gelled back. Strands are falling over his glasses, and he looks so exhausted; he looks as bad as Victor feels. Victor opens up his arms and Yuuri dashes into them, practically falling into the hug.

“God, I missed you,” Yuuri breathes, tears hot on Victor’s shoulder.

Victor had promised himself not to cry, but with Yukachin’s paws on his thigh and Yuuri warm in his embrace, he can’t hold back the urge. “Yeah, same here.” When he runs a hand through Yuuri’s hair, both of them crying, he searches Yuuri’s dark eyes for an answer.

Yuuri nods, and Victor exhales happily, eyes falling closed and lips meeting his coach’s for the first time.

The kiss is more of a comfort than anything, but Victor will remember the sensation for the rest of his life.

//

After their airport reunion, Victor starts peppering Yuuri’s whole body with kisses, at every moment he can manage it.

He runs his hands through Yuuri’s hair, making the older man click his tongue at Victor, but he doesn’t stop him from doing it. Every so often, and each time it is a surprise, Yuuri initiates contact, snuggling next to Victor on the couch, or pressing his lips to Victor’s.

By the time Rostelecom rolls around, the two of them are sappily wishing the teenaged Yuri well for his skate, kissing each other’s boots and nearly smooching over the signboards. He rolls his eyes at the gross lovebirds, sickened by their actions, as per usual.

Yakov just sighs. He’s not really sure how Victor got to be such a clingy boy, but he’s riding on cloud nine these days, making his new coach blush out of his skin and giving the rest of his rink mates happy kisses on their cheeks as well in his joy.

“Spreading the love!” Victor says every time, wiggling his fingers as he dashes to Yuuri’s side, making the older man roll his eyes when Victor gathers Yuuri in his arms. “So much love!”

Yuuri giggles, kissing his fiancé softly.

//

[epilogue]

Things are different after the GPF, but not in a bad way.

Yuuri has become exceedingly comfortable with Victor’s proximity, and Victor loves to sigh and drape himself all over Yuuri.

One afternoon when practice is over, Victor plays with the band on Yuuri’s right hand, kissing his ring finger. “Why don’t you let your hair down more often?”

The older man rolls his eyes, left hand roaming over Victor’s back while the television plays in the background. “I dunno. Why don’t you?” His fingers toy with Victor’s lazy bun.

“Too much work,” Victor answers with a sigh. “What’s your excuse?” There is a long period of silence where Victor’s fiancé says nothing, so the younger man flicks his blue eyes up. Yuuri averts his eyes and Victor squints. “Yuuri?”

He grumbles something.

“Sorry, what?”

“I said,” Yuuri murmurs, “My old coaches told me I looked too young with my hair down.” He huffs when Victor snorts. “I’m just used to it now, and I guess I’m too tired to switch it up. It’s like my thing now, or whatever.”

“I mean, I like it,” Victor comments, rolling over to stare at Yuuri, smiling. “I like it both ways. You’re incredibly handsome.”

Yuuri flushes at the praise, though his lips are still stubbornly twisted in a scowl. “You can’t just say stuff like that.”

Victor sits up suddenly, wrapping his arms around Yuuri’s neck even as the older man groans, dragging him down for a languid kiss. “Sure I can,” he says, eyes half-mast. “It’s true, after all.”

“Overconfident jerk,” Yuuri says, humming into Victor’s mouth. When he pulls away again, he finally smiles and says, “I guess I shouldn’t stroke your ego with a compliment in return, huh?”

The younger man whines as Yuuri slips out of his grip, whining apologies for the rest of the night, showering the older man with praise.