“Hi, Yurio, it’s nice to see you, we had a lot of fun sightseeing in Barcelona, thank you for asking,” Victor says cheerily when Yuri shoves past him the moment he opens the door.
“Someone just saved me just now,” Yuri declares, ignoring Victor.
“We know,” Yuuri says, from where he’s sprawled out over—
Goddammit, did they join their beds up? Disgusting.
“Yuuri just saw it off your fanclub’s Instagram page,” Victor tells Yuri. “Hero of Kazakhstan is apparently what they’re calling him.”
Yuri makes a face at the name, but no, now isn’t the time to discuss Otabek Altin’s press nickname.
“I should thank him, right?” he blurts out, because it’s the only thing that’s been going through his mind the entire time he was surreptitiously making his way back to the hotel. “For saving me? I mean, he didn’t have to, but he did. So, I should thank him, right?”
Yuuri and Victor both blink at him.
“I…suppose you should,” Yuuri finally says. “It would be good manners.”
Satisfied, Yuri whips out his phone, going straight for the Instagram icon.
“What are you doing?” Victor asks.
“Finding his Instagram account so I can DM him to thank him,” Yuri replies, biting back on the ‘obviously’ he’d meant to add on to his sentence. “There! I found him.”
Yuri does a double take. Three posts? Who the hell only has three posts on Instagram for that number of followers? And Jesus Christ, two of the photos are even press photos, what the fuck?
“Do we want to know why you have that look on your face?” Yuuri asks tentatively.
“He’s not active on Instagram,” Yuri bites out, still reeling at Otabek’s three posts in comparison to his own two thousand odd Instagram posts.
“Some people just don’t like it,” Yuuri says gently.
Yuri scowls. First at his phone, then up at Yuuri. He says, “I can’t thank him in a DM if he isn’t going to see it till like, what? Six months later?”
“There’s always talking to him before the free skate,” Victor points out. “Or the gala, after. The gala is great for building relationships.”
Victor smile grows a little more pointed as he speaks, and in response, the Katsudon’s cheeks grow steadily redder.
Yuri groans. “Disgusting!” he snaps at them, before storming out of their room.
Back in his own room, Yuri tries to find evidence of Otabek Altin being somewhat decent at using social media, and finds nothing.
Well, nothing is not the right word for it.
He finds many of Otabek’s fans lamenting over Otabek’s lack of Instagram uploads or Twitter updates.
He tries, otabekbae23 tweets in defence of Otabek’s Twitter account, and Yuri snorts because “tries” is a bit of an overstatement, given how Otabek’s entire Twitter account consists of him announcing the tournaments that he’s going to be in, and updates of his skating scores.
“What the fuck,” Yuri repeats.
altinforgold mentions it’s sad how the only way we learn about his personal life is when interviewers try to dig deep, and Yuri, curiosity already too far sparked, pulls up a new tab on his laptop, and turns to YouTube for answers.
Over the next two hours, Yuri learns three things about Otabek Altin that don’t relate to the guy’s skating:
1) His social media accounts are so depressing because: “Honestly, I don’t see the point. There’s nothing near interesting or exciting going on with my life, and I would hate to bore my fans with insignificant updates of what I’m doing on a daily basis.”
Which, honestly, Yuri doesn’t know whether he should feel chastised, or offended, however indirectly.
2) He isn’t dating anyone because: “No-one right has come across so far, and my focus right now is on skating and maintaining my relationship with my family.”
His family, Otabek’s Wikipedia page tells him, consists of his parents, and two sisters, one of whom is the subject of Otabek’s only relevant Instagram post.
3) He is very good at interviews. They’re too professional, too to the point, too fucking short, and-
Yuri slams his laptop shut, and then considers opening the window so he can fling it out, because this is too much. He’s getting too into learning about Otabek Altin, when all he’d wanted to do was to try to figure out the motivation behind him saving Yuri from his overexcited fans.
Instead he’s here, face suspiciously warm, heartbeat uncharacteristically fast, with what feels like the beginnings of a crush.
Again, what the fuck.
He doesn’t approach Otabek.
Not at the finals, because it’s bad enough that he’s already a little distracted by the fact that he apparently grew a crush on the guy just because he swooped in like a prince in shining armour to save him from rabid fans.
Not at the gala, because Otabek is absent from it, and Yuri spares a moment to feel sorry for him, because Otabek’d performed so well. His free skate was flawless. And Yuri would have much preferred to have Otabek taking home bronze instead of, ugh, JJ.
And also not on any social media website, because how bad would it feel to have Otabek not reply? Like, Yuri would be stuck wondering if he simply hasn’t seen his messages yet, or if he’s seen them and doesn’t think they matter enough to warrant a response.
He scowls at the thought, and decides to chase the negativity away by watching Otabek’s free skate on replay.
It goes on like this for a few days after the GPF in Barcelona.
Yuri wouldn’t categorically say that he’s moping.
It’s just a crush, after all, and he’s not too worried about it because it’s not going to be a problem.
Crushes are fleeting, they go away with time, and Yuri’s never been the kind (unlike Victor, because Yuri is better than him) to fixate on a person. Yuri is fine, he is in control of his feelings. He hasn’t even checked Otabek’s Instagram account today yet!
So, it’s completely unjustified that both Victor and Yuuri are holding this thing they aren’t calling an intervention for him.
“It’s not an intervention,” Victor says again, for what feels like the billionth time, even though it’s a lie, because he’s a fucking liar.
“We’re just worried,” Yuuri adds on, “and we thought that you could do well with another outlet for your tension.”
“I am not tense!” Yuri objects hotly, only to receive twin what were you saying again? looks. He crosses his arms over his chest, irritated. “Okay, I’m a little tense.”
Yuri recognises the smile on the Katsudon’s face, and takes a preemptive step back from him. Like hell he’s going to let him ruffle his hair again.
“We bought you a gift!” Victor says, excited, and brandishes it from behind the couch.
It’s a guitar.
“You play, don’t you?” Yuuri asks, and Yuri scowls, remembering that moment of weakness where he’d told the Katsudon about how his grandpa taught him how to play the guitar when he was younger.
“Not well,” he answers.
“Then get better, and serenade your way into his heart,” Victor suggests.
He’s about to scowl at them, and then leave noisily, but he catches the cat carvings under the bridge of the guitar. The cats are designed in a way to spell out his name, and holy shit, this must be a custom order that Victor and Yuuri (but mostly Victor) blew a lot of money on.
He would never admit it, not even at gunpoint, but his eyes sting a little, and he has to blink quickly in succession so as to not embarrass himself even more than he already is.
Yuri snatches the guitar over from Victor’s hands, and pointedly pretends not to notice them exchanging smiles.
It takes a little while to get used to playing the guitar again, but a few video calls with his grandpa later, Yuri’s back to playing pretty decently.
He’d uploaded a photo of the guitar back when he’d first gotten it from Victor and Yuuri (caption: thanks dads #thatwassarcasmbtw #NOTMYDADS), and he’s mostly unsurprised to find that there have since been a lot of requests from his fans for him to play them a little something.
So he does.
He uploads a thirty-second long cover of I Hate Love, just long enough for him to proclaim all the ways in which love sucks. He captions it, unthinkingly, with: take it from me, crushes are horrible.
Within seconds of him posting the video, his Instagram blows up with comments of omg do you have a crush and WHO DO I HAVE TO FIGHT!!!!!, and Yuri would be more concerned about just having announced to the world that he has a crush —a crush he’s actively trying to get the fuck over—, except reading the comments from Yuri’s Angels take his mind off Otabek Altin more effectively than anything else he’s tried has.
He grins to himself, and then pulls up Google to look for the guitar chords for Like Real People Do.
If this crush isn’t going to go away on it’s own, Yuri is going to sing it the fuck away.
“Just talk to him!” Yuri mutters to himself in a mocking, over-pitched voice. He’s aware that his impression of Yuuri is exaggerated, but honestly, he doesn’t fucking care for accuracy right now. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
That Otabek fucking Altin wouldn’t respond, that’s what.
A nod. Yuri had psyched himself up the whole night before the free skate to finally take the initiative to talk to Otabek, maybe work his way up to finally saying thank you to him for that time in Barcelona, and the asshole had nodded at him.
Yuri’d toyed with the idea that maybe Otabek was just sore about placing third and losing to Yuri, but his (very intensive) research into Otabek tells him that Otabek has always been a gracious loser, and is reported to be polite to all his competitors.
So why is it that he absolutely refused to talk to Yuri when Yuri had taken the first step to congratulate him? God, was Yuri really so unimportant and insignificant that Otabek couldn’t even be bothered to take two seconds to say thank you?
Probably, considering Otabek hadn’t even bothered to look at Yuri while Yuri was skating.
He knows that some of the skaters have superstitions around watching their competitors skate, but Yuri was watching Otabek watch Phichit, so really, the problem isn’t with Otabek.
It’s with Yuri.
He kicks at the elevator door.
Fuck Katsuki Yuuri for his shitty advice.
Fuck crushes for being so unpleasant.
And most of all, fuck Otabek Altin for being an asshole.
He starts angrily playing I Hate Everything About You when he gets back to his hotel room, but the cover he ends up posting on Instagram two days later is a mellowed out, sad version of the song, and he kind of hates himself a little for being so weak in the face of love.
At some point, Yuri becomes aware that Lee Seung-gil knows that he has a crush on Otabek.
yuri-plisetsky WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
leesg You look at him differently.
yuri-plisetsky NO I DON’T
yuri-plisetsky FUCK YOU
leesg Relax. I just wanted to tell you that if you need to talk to someone who understands, I’m here.
yuri-plisetsky ………what do you mean you understand
leesg What do you think I mean?
yuri-plisetsky fuck me
yuri-plisetsky do you have a crush on him too what the fuck
leesg Not him.
yuri-plisetsky yeah okay i get what you mean when you say i look at him differently now
leesg He seems more perceptive. If you don’t want him to find out, you should tone it down.
yuri-plisetsky it honestly doesn’t matter. he’s not even on instagram much so it’s not like he’ll ever see me fucking pining over him
yuri-plisetsky crushes suck
leesg We can drink to that at World’s.
yuri-plisetsky yes please
And as it turns out, having someone who isn’t Victor or Yuuri, and therefore doesn’t give him shitty advice tailored upon the misconception that “love will prevail, trust us Yuri”, is pretty great. Seung-gil listens to him bitch about Otabek and his ridiculous face, and doesn’t tell him to go do anything stupid about it. In fact, most of Seung-gil’s advice sum up to conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know, and Yuri approves wholly.
He dedicates his Frozen cover to Seung-gil, captioning it #loveguruextraordinaire, and Seung-gil rolls his eyes, but reciprocates by tearing JJ’s short program into pieces for Yuri’s entertainment, so Yuri figures they’re cool.
Two days before World’s, Yuri gets hooked onto a Korean song, thanks to Seung-gil. He’s not skilled enough to learn the lyrics, but he does upload a guitar cover.
‘Are you coming to me slowly?’ Of course not. Do you even know who I am? #whenwillirecoverfromthis #lovesucks, the caption reads.
He checks Otabek’s Instagram once more before he sleeps, hoping for some new content, any new content, but nope, still the same three posts. He settles, instead, for watching the videos of one of Otabek’s old skates.
He goes to bed, semi-irritated, but mostly filled with a longing he can’t seem to assuage.
After that whole thing that is Otabek acknowledging him at World’s, Yuri thinks he seriously needs to stop hanging out with Yuuri and Victor for good.
Logically speaking, Yuri knows it’s nothing to scream about, because all Otabek’d done was to nod at him, and that really can’t be considered as an improvement from World’s last year, but instead, Yuri’s treacherous heart chooses to focus on the fact that Otabek is the one to initiate contact this year.
Otabek had nodded at him first, and clearly, clearly that must mean something.
He scowls at himself in the mirror, but the scowl doesn’t last long on his face. All he has to do is to think about Otabek nodding at him, and his lips end up curving into a reluctant smile.
This is Victor’s fault. He’s witnessed Victor smile sappily at Yuuri over the most inane things too many times that he’s turning into Victor from the prolonged association with the fool.
He should put Otabek out of his mind for now, and focus on other things, but he can’t help but to bring up Otabek’s free skate from that day one more time before he sleeps, and smiles at the way Otabek executes all of his jumps.
Otabek Altin skates with precision that Yuri admires, and with determination that Yuri wishes he felt more keenly.
It’s mesmerising to watch.
Yuri realises that he’s so fucking gone for Otabek Altin when he finds himself writing a song about him.
He buries himself under his covers, and feigns illness when Yakov comes to drag him out for practise.
He’s a world champion. Surely he can take a day off to freak out about his feelings?
He ends up covering Adele songs every day on his brand new YouTube channel over the next week.
He only stops because Yuuri and Victor keep threatening to come back from their extended honeymoon early, and no, Yuri does not need them to fix his life.
It’s fine, he doesn’t have to go on an Adele binge. The less time he spends playing Adele covers, the more time he has to figure out how Otabek’s song is going to go.
And then, holy shit, Otabek gives him the thumbs up when Yuri wins gold at the GPF.
Yuri goes online on a photo hunt, after, when he’s in his hotel room, and saves all their photos. Fuck, he’s going to need photographic evidence to convince himself that he didn’t hallucinate the whole thing because he was too desperately hoping for Otabek to acknowledge him.
Victor and Yuuri (but mostly Victor because the Katsudon is less of a shit) send Yuri a link that night with an accompanying message that reads Don’t say we never do anything to celebrate your wins ;). Yuri hesitates over opening the link, because it’s Victor, and knowing Victor, it could be a video of him and Yuuri making out, which 1) Yuri does not want to see, and 2) is not a celebration for Yuri so much as it would be for bleach companies because Yuri would need to buy them out just to clean his eyes.
He opens it eventually, because he’s curious, and it opens with a frozen lake. The camera zooms in to a crack in the ice that is steadily growing bigger, and then Otabek motherfucking Altin rises from the water, shirtless, wet, and really fucking shirtless, holding onto a bottle of water.
There is a gratuitous shot of water droplets running down his skin, and Yuri’s face flames.
“Tassay,” Otabek says then, and fuck, he’s smiling now, just a slight curve of his lips. Yuri wants to die. “Pride of Kazakhstan, energy of life.”
And then, fucking hell, he winks.
Yuri buries his head in the pillow, and screams.
“So,” Victor says, on the ride back from the airport, “any update on the crushing on Otabek front?”
Yuri throws his shoe at him, and wonders if he can convince Yuuri to take Victor away again.
“I hate you so much,” he grits out.
“We missed you too, Yuri,” Yuuri says, smiling.
“Come with us to Gangneung,” is the first thing out of Victor’s lips when Yuri arrives at their apartment.
“Why are you even going?” Yuri asks, scowling. “You can’t even compete.”
Which, if he’s honest with himself, is a stupid question. Even if Victor can’t compete in the 4CC, it’s expected that he’ll go as Yuuri’s coach. And even if he weren’t Yuuri’s coach, Yuuri is going — that’s all the reason Victor needs to tagalong.
“Come support Yuuri!” Victor says. “You know he would do the same for you!”
“Ugh, no,” Yuri says. He’s got better things to do. Training, for example, because he doesn’t expect to glide through this season picking up medals left and right now that Yuuri and Victor are both back. He’s going to have to work harder, now.
“Think about it this way,” Victor says, and Yuri recognises the look on his face one second too late. “It’s the 4CC. You know who’s going to be there?”
Yuri feels his cheeks heat. And damn, he must be going really red, because Victor is outright smirking at him now.
“UGH, FINE!” Yuri yells. “I’LL BUY MY GODDAMN TICKET! SHUT UP, OLD MAN!”
Gangneung ends up being a Bad Idea™.
Yuri is already sick with flu when he lands, and Yuuri and Victor both spend more time than Yuri would like them to babying him, and they absolutely refuse to let him out of the hotel room to go sightseeing with them.
“What’s the point of me coming to Gangneung, then?” Yuri yells at their retreating backs.
“You didn’t come to sightsee,” Victor reminds him, looking over his shoulder to smirk at Yuri. “You came to see Otab-”
“Shut up and leave already!” Yuri growls, cutting him off.
Yuuri smiles at him. “Seung-gil says he’ll be over with ginseng chicken soup later,” he tells Yuri. “But it has to wait till he’s done with practise.”
Yuri gives them a grudging nod. Seeing Seung-gil would be cool. At least he’ll be able to yell about how Victor and Yuuri aren’t his dads, and therefore don’t have authority over where he goes and where he stays, and Seung-gil wouldn’t mind.
He’ll blame it on his sickness-addled mind later, but while waiting for Seung-gil to show up to keep him company, Yuri decides that it will be educational to Google “yuri plisetsky crush”.
Two hours and several Discourse posts later, Seung-gil shows up, and is mostly unsurprised to see Yuri pissed, and ready to fight Tumblr user jj-babeonice.
“Yeah, about that,” Seung-gil says. “Most people think you’re doing it for the attention.”
“The attention,” Yuri repeats, enraged. “Why the fuck would I put myself through this embarrassing shitstorm of feelings just to get more attention?”
Seung-gil peers over Yuri’s shoulder to check out the post Yuri is reading. “jj-babeonice seems to think it’s because you know your skating isn’t improving, and you need a way to keep your fans from noticing that.”
“Fuck jj-babeonice,” Yuri growls.
“On that note, fuck JJ, too,” Seung-gil adds, and Yuri toasts him with his chicken soup.
He thinks he’s got a semi-decent cover of Closer, even if he sounds a little scratchier than normal, but he apologises for it anyway in the video.
“This is mostly Katsudon’s fault,” Yuri says. “If he hadn’t imprisoned me in my hotel room like I’m a child, no wait, hold up, this is actually Victor’s fault. He was the one who made me come here in the first place!”
He sighs. “Okay, it’s not exactly their fault entirely. It’s this…stupid crush. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him, ugh.” A thought occurs to him. “I bet he doesn’t get sick,” Yuri huffs. “He just doesn’t look like he’s built to get sick. I bet viruses take one look at him, and go hell no.”
He laughs a little, because the medicine and Seung-gil’s chicken soup are starting to get to him, and says, “I hope he does well tomorrow.”
He uploads the video.
The Gangneung video starts up a wave of fan theories as to who Yuri’s crush is.
Yuri, very belatedly, realises that he’s accidentally alerted his fans to the possibility that his crush is 1) a competitive skater, 2) competing in the 4CC.
Even worse, his fans are starting to suspect that it’s Otabek. They’ve started a ship name.
“If you want, we can pretend it’s me,” Seung-gil offers, when Yuri calls to scream his frustrations out.
“You can pretend that you have a secret crush on Yuuri? I mean, it’s not exactly untrue,” Victor suggests, and Yuri slams the door in his face.
Seung-gil was right — he really needs to tone it down before Otabek himself notices. He’s been too careless, really.
He wonders if it’s still a good idea to sing his feelings away.
Probably not, but he’s so close to finishing The Otabek Song (it’s a working title, shut up Victor), and he doesn’t want to give up on it when he’s so close to completion.
Maybe his feelings will fade once he’s finished writing the song. Maybe his feelings are only here to make him aware that he has potential in a songwriting career.
He keeps writing the song.
He finishes it.
Spoiler alert: his feelings don’t go away.
The moment Otabek’s short program music starts to play, Yuri loses his shit.
To be fair, it is very justified. Because Otabek is skating to his song. The song he wrote for Otabek. Otabek’s song.
Seung-gil, Yuuri, and Victor all flock to him, as Otabek skates.
“Tell me I’m hearing this right,” Victor says, and Yuri doesn’t have to look at him to be able to hear the joy in his voice
“What did I tell you about toning it down?” Seung-gil murmurs from Yuri’s other side, but he mostly sounds amused, like he’s aware that Yuri is mentally losing his shit, and is enjoying the whole thing.
“Now you definitely have to talk to him,” Yuuri says.
“I did,” Yuri argues, but doesn’t bother to turn away from Otabek’s skating. “He ignored me.”
“Well, he’s definitely not ignoring you now,” Victor tells him.
“God,” Yuri murmurs, as Otabek executes a perfect quadruple flip. He likes Otabek so much. “Fuck. What does this even mean?”
“It means,” Yuuri says, and his tone bears no argument, “that maybe you weren’t the only one with a crush.”
Yuuri only ever sounds like this when he’s very sure of something.
Yuri’s lips stretch into a self-satisfied grin.
His next twenty-seven second “AHHHHHHHH” video appears just after they have their first date.
He captions it: So much better than any medal. #otabekmorelikeotababe #adifferentkindofgold #abetterkindofgold
This time, Otabek likes the photo.