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i wanna be (the best you've ever known)

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All Viktor actually wants is to spoil Yuuri.

Apparently, he’s not able to spoil Yuuri so much as he seems able to spoil things with Yuuri. It is terribly unfair. Perhaps the universe actually has it out for him.

It starts with winter in St Petersburg: taking Makkachin out for walks on their rare days away from training, Yuuri bundles himself into coats like puffy sleeping bags. It is awful. Viktor has never seen coats as ugly as this; it has the effect of making him feel simultaneously frustrated and desperately fond.

“I’ll buy you a new coat,” he offers, trying not to actually sound as desperate as he feels, “shall we go to Burberry? Prada?” Yuuri would look excellent in Prada, Viktor thinks privately. All his soft-sharp lines accentuated in clean Italian tailoring; it makes Viktor’s heart beat a little faster. Yuuri just shrugs.

“I like this coat,” he says. “I’m warm. What's wrong with it?”

“Nothing,” Viktor says hastily. Tucks his scarf cunningly around Yuuri’s throat. It improves matters a little, Viktor thinks, and admires the way Yuuri flushes warm across his cheekbones, the rich chocolate of his eyes. It gives Viktor ideas.

“I'll be right back, sweetheart,” he tells Yuuri. “Keep Makkachin company for me, will you?”

“Where are you going?” Yuuri asks, but doesn't object when Viktor kisses his cheek, dashes off. They're close to Viktor's favorite café; it doesn't take him long to fetch what he's after, to come back carefully carrying the two paper cups.

“Here,” he says, holding one out. “A treat. Since you've been working so hard.” Lilia would scowl so hard Yuuri might cry, he thinks to himself. It's worth it, for the way the hot chocolate smudges Yuuri's lip as he takes his first sip.

“Oh,” Yuuri says, smiling. Drinks another mouthful. “Wait, is… is there cream in this?” The steam is clouding his glasses and the tip of his nose is pink and Viktor wants nothing more than to tug him in for a kiss.

“Yes!” Viktor says happily. “I think it's mostly cream and chocolate, actually. Only the best hot chocolate for you, Yuuri.”

“Oh,” Yuuri says again. Bites his lip. “It’s just, um, I’m actually, ah, I can’t eat dairy.”

“You can’t?” Viktor asks, and he can’t help the note of stricken disappointment that creeps into his voice.

“I’m sorry!” Yuuri tells him. Colour rising in his cheeks, and oh, he is so very, very pretty. “A lot of Japanese—”

“Of course,” Viktor says as smoothly as he can. “You don’t have to apologize, sweetheart. I should have asked.” He takes the paper cup out of Yuuri’s hands. Tosses them both into the nearest garbage can.

“You didn't have to throw away yours too,” Yuuri murmurs, “I wouldn't have minded,” and Viktor shrugs.

“It's fine,” he says, and doesn't add I didn't want to enjoy something you couldn't, my darling. The point was not hot chocolate. The point was Yuuri, his Yuuri, enjoying something Viktor bought for him. Never mind. He'll do better next time.

 

They've been at the rink since seven, and Viktor can tell Yuuri is fading: his jumps losing height, his exhaustion bleeding through the projected emotion of his routine until even Viktor finds himself yawning. It's still breathtaking. Don't take your eyes off me, Yuuri had told him once, and Viktor can't. He never can.

“I have a surprise for you tonight,” Viktor tells Yuuri smugly, and Yuuri perks up.

“A surprise? What is it?”

“It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you,” Viktor says with satisfaction. Kisses the tip of his nose. Behind them, Yurio makes vomiting noises. Viktor does not care. Viktor's got two tickets to the Bolshoi, premium box seats, because he is going to take Yuuri on a date and it is going to be perfect.

It is, in fact, perfect all the way up until fifteen minutes into the first act, when Viktor feels Yuuri’s head drop heavy against his shoulder. That’s nice, he thinks, Yuuri cuddling in against him, and then Yuuri lets out a quiet little snore, snuffling a little in his sleep, and Viktor thinks, oh.

He doesn’t wake up until the very end of the last act. Blinks his eyes open, sits up straight like maybe Viktor won’t have noticed. It’s adorable, Viktor can’t help but think, and doesn’t have the heart to be offended.

“That was lovely,” Yuuri says valiantly afterwards, and Viktor laughs out loud. “No,” Yuuri protests, “it was, I liked it. The, uh, the lead was really good.” Nuzzles his face into Viktor’s shoulder, and Viktor very much wishes to believe that Yuuri is just being affectionate, but he rather suspects Yuuri’s actually trying to hide a yawn.

“You fell asleep,” he says. Not reproachfully, exactly, but Yuuri ducks his head anyway, covers his mouth as he yawns again even wider.

“Sorry,” he says around the sigh, “I really did want to enjoy it. I'm just tired. Couldn't sleep last night, really, I was too busy rehearsing the new routine in my head.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Viktor murmurs. “The new routine is perfection. You are perfection.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Yuuri grumbles. “Come on, you'd better get perfection home to bed before I fall asleep on you again.” His eyes widen suddenly, mouth falling open in shock, and he clutches at Viktor's arm. Chews his lip. “Oh no, don't tell Minako or Lilia I fell asleep, they'll be horrified, I'll never live it down.”

“I wouldn't dream of it,” Viktor lies gamely. Thinks a little guiltily of the photo he has in his phone, Yuuri's closed eyes, mouth falling softly open, and brushes a kiss to Yuuri's forehead. Tucks his coat more snugly up around his throat. “Let's go home, sweetheart.”

 

When Yuuri texts him one afternoon to say he’s staying late at the rink, trying to lock down a new step sequence while he's got Yakov to himself, it feels like the perfect time to try something new.

“Hi!” he says. Smiling very brightly down the Skype connection. “I was wondering if you can tell me how to make katsudon?” Hiroko smiles indulgently at him.

“Of course!” she chirps. Talks him through it like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Making katsudon should be reasonably simple, he thinks. It's not— he doesn't expect that it will be as good as Yuuri's mother's cooking, or anything. He's not so cocky about his own skills that he'd fly that far. But he should be able to make them dinner, something quick and tasty. Crumbed pork cutlets, a bowl of rice, some egg and seasoning, it can't be that hard.

It is not simple. It is, in fact, extremely fucking difficult.

“No,” he says, “Makkachin, don't—” It's too late. Makkachin is already licking at the puddle of egg on the floor, fragments of eggshell sticking in the fur of his muzzle. Viktor sighs.

“Makkachin,” he says, “help.”

Things get worse, not better, after that, and before he knows it, he hears Yuuri’s key in the lock.

“Hi,” Yuuri calls from the front door. The thump as he drops his duffel bag in the hall, the excited murmurs of him greeting Makkachin the same way he does every evening, and then footsteps getting closer, Yuuri talking to the dog about his day.

“Hey, Makkachin has egg in his fur, why does he have…” Yuuri is saying, and trails off as he reaches the kitchen.

“Welcome home,” Viktor says optimistically. Yuuri stares at him, mouth falling slowly open.

What,” he says.

“I cooked,” Viktor announces brightly. Yuuri blinks a couple of times.

“Yes,” he manages after a minute or so. “I see that.”

“I’m willing to admit, it didn’t go as well as it could have.”

“Yes,” Yuuri says again. “I also see that. How did you get egg on the ceiling, Viktor?”

“I,” Viktor says. Glances upward, and sees that Yuuri’s right. “You know what, I don’t know. It’s all a bit of a blur.”

“Oh, sweetheart. We’re not eating whatever you cooked, are we?”

“Well, it kind of, um,” Viktor starts. Steps aside so that Yuuri can see the blackened pork cutlets, and Yuuri’s mouth falls into a perfect round of surprise. “I knocked the bowl over,” Viktor explains. “I knocked the bowl off the bench, and then by the time I got Makkachin to stop stepping in it, they’d burned, and I—” He cuts himself short as Yuuri steps closer, reaches out, grabs him by the belt loops.

“You have flour in your eyebrows,” Yuuri says, brushing the pad of his thumb over one of them. “You're a mess, Vitya.” It sounds fond, Viktor thinks hopefully.

“Your mother said it would be easy,” he says ruefully.

“My mother—” Yuuri says. Bites his lip like he's amused. “You called her?”

“I wanted to know how to cook something for you,” Viktor admits. “Something that was a taste of home.”

“Viktor,” Yuuri sighs, “you have never cooked anything in your life. You burn toast.”

“Yes,” Viktor says with dignity, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn.”

“No,” Yuuri allows, “that is true. But perhaps next time we can do it while I’m here to talk you through it, huh?”

“That would probably make more sense,” Viktor agrees. Sighs heavily and drops his face into the curve of Yuuri’s neck, smelling the chill of ice and his dried sweat, the faint sweetness of his shampoo. “I just wanted to cook for you,” he mumbles, and Yuuri wraps his arms around Viktor’s waist.

“I know,” he says, “I know. It’s very nice of you. Let’s just order in. Thai or Italian?”

“Whichever you’d rather,” Viktor says. Scratches at the patches of flour stuck to his wrists. “I guess I should clean this up.”

“I'll help,” Yuuri says, and kisses Viktor's cheek. “Thank you for trying. You want to mop the floor or give Makkachin a bath?”

 

Giving Makkachin a bath leads to ideas, and Viktor thinks, this time he will not fuck it up.

They're both late home again the next night, grabbing a bite to eat with Yurio and Mila after they finish, and Yuuri is yawning, heavy-eyed.

“You think we could just get into bed?” he asks, slurring with tiredness, and Viktor kisses his forehead, pushes him down on the couch.

“I have something you'll like better,” he promises, “just— stay there, just for a minute, okay?”

It doesn't take long to get the bathtub filling, to dig out the L’Occitane bath salts and scented candles. He's sitting back on his heels, waiting for the water level to rise high enough, when Yuuri comes in to find him, leaning in the doorway.

“Oh—” he says, eyes going wide and glasses immediately steaming up, “You—”

“I know it's not the same as the onsen,” Viktor says, “but I thought—”

“It's lovely,” Yuuri says firmly. “It really is. I don't know that we'll both fit, though.”

“No, darling, it's for you,” Viktor tells him. “Come on, get in.”

“Let me shower first,” Yuuri says, “western baths are so weird,” and strips off his sweatpants and t-shirt with a complete lack of restraint, disappears behind the shower curtain. By the time he's done, the bath is full; he glances at Viktor, maybe a little embarrassed, and then shrugs, walks naked across the bathroom and gets into the bath. Yes, Viktor thinks, this is an excellent idea.

“Ahh,” Yuuri sighs, sinking back into the water. His cheeks are flushed with the heat, hair long and messy and damp at the ends, stuck to his forehead and clinging to the curve of his neck, and Viktor aches for loving him, this sweetly beautiful boy.

“Champagne?” Viktor asks, and Yuuri cracks one eye open, glares half-heartedly at him.

“You know what happens when I drink champagne,” he says, only mildly accusatory, and Viktor lets himself dimple at him.

“I do, sweetheart, that's why I'm offering,” he says, and Yuuri rolls his eyes.

“Oh, what the hell. Just one glass.”

“Just one glass,” Viktor agrees, “and then I'll wash your back for you,” and goes to get the bottle from the fridge.

It's too, too easy to keep touching Yuuri while he's stretched out like this, all slick skin and lean muscle half-submerged under the water, and Viktor thinks not for the first time that it is a fucking miracle he managed to keep his hands to himself all those months at Yu-topia.

“You're going to get your clothes wet if you keep doing that,” Yuuri murmurs, but not perhaps like he especially minds. He sounds languid, relaxed for the first time in weeks, and Viktor privately congratulates himself for a job well done.

It is, apparently, entirely premature.

“What's that smell?” Yuuri asks a minute later, wrinkling his nose, and Viktor smiles.

“Jasmine frangipani, I think,” he says, and Yuuri frowns.

“No,” he says, “it isn't,” and cracks open one eye, sits bolt upright in horror and a wave of bathwater, and then suddenly Viktor has a faceful of champagne and Yuuri is frantically batting at his hair and the candles.

“What—” he manages, and Yuuri refills his glass from the bath, pours it over Viktor's head.

“Your hair was on fire,” he says, like that explains it.

It— yes, it explains it, but still

“You poured your champagne in my face,” Viktor says, blinking it out of his eyes.

“Your hair was on fire,” Yuuri points out, “forgive me for putting it out with the first thing to hand.”

After that, Viktor reflects, it’s probably natural that Yuuri doesn’t stay in the bath much longer. Hard to relax when you’ve just extinguished a fire in your boyfriend’s hair, perhaps. They brush their teeth, climb into bed, and Yuuri flings one leg up over Viktor’s hip, burrows his face down into the pillow.

“Your hair still smells scorched,” he says into Viktor's shoulder. “You'll have to go and get it cut tomorrow.”

“I don't have enough hair to just cut it off,” Viktor says petulantly, pouting and knowing he's pouting but unable to stop. Yuuri pinches him.

“Stop sulking, you'll look just fine.”

Still, Viktor thinks dismally. It definitely could have gone better than it did.

“I liked the candles, at least,” Yuuri adds, through a yawn. “They smelled good. Before the hair, I mean. I don’t know why you don’t use them more often.”

“You like them?” Viktor asks, and Yuuri mumbles agreement. Flowers, Viktor thinks. Determined all over again. It’s basically impossible to mess up flowers, surely.

 

“Oh,” Yuuri says a little blankly the next morning. It’s somewhat underwhelming, as reactions go. That’s okay. It’s early. Yuuri is never a morning person. But he’s blinking at the flowers covering every surface of the kitchen, and then he looks at Viktor, opens his mouth and closes it again. “Did you—”

“You like jasmine, right?” Viktor murmurs, leaning in for a kiss. “The florist said they’d have to order in frangipani, but they had jasmine and lilies and orchids, so I—”

“They’re beautiful,” Yuuri says, “you, uh. You really didn’t have to.”

“I wanted to,” Viktor shrugs, trying to play it casual. “You don’t want to smell them?”

“I can smell them from here,” Yuuri says. Wrinkles his nose, glasses shifting. “We’d better… we’d better go. To the rink.”

“I haven’t even had coffee yet,” Viktor points out. “And you haven’t had your tea. Why don’t you go shower, and I’ll get a cup brewing.”

“You always stew it,” Yuuri says, automatic. Wrinkles his nose again, and sniffs a little like he’s holding back a sneeze. “Don’t worry, I’ll, uh—” Whatever he’s about to say is cut short by a sneeze he can’t repress, so loud it reverberates off the kitchen tile. In the aftermath, Yuuri looks outraged by the noise his own face just made. His eyes are beginning to water.

“Yuuri,” Viktor says, comprehension dawning, “do you have allergies?”

“To lilies,” Yuuri says desperately. “And jasmine. I’m so sorry, Viktor, I—” He sneezes again, trying to catch it in the crook of his elbow, and Viktor bites his lip.

“No,” he says, “sweetheart, that’s not— go and shower, and I’ll get rid of these.”

“They’re beautiful,” Yuuri tells him, miserably stuffy, and disappears into the bathroom. Viktor stares at the kitchen full of flowers in despair. Digs in the drawer until he finds a garbage bag.

“Here,” he says to Yuuri when he gets back out of the shower, “I found these in the first aid. They should help.”

“Allergy medicine?” Yuuri asks, squinting at the Cyrillic on the packet, and Viktor nods.

“I don’t get allergies, but Yurio does sometimes. He’s actually a little allergic to Makkachin, but for god’s sake don’t tell him you know, he’ll be insufferable about you knowing his weakness.”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” Yuuri murmurs. Washes down an antihistamine with a mouthful of tea, and from the face he can’t help but make, Viktor surmises he hasn’t managed not to stew it again this morning. He’ll get there one day, perhaps. “Come on, or we really will be late.”

By the time they get to the rink, Yuuri’s not sniffing as much. Laces up his skates, pecks Viktor on the cheek, pushes himself out onto the ice for his warm-up, and Viktor thinks perhaps they’ve salvaged the situation.

Just thinking it fucking jinxes him, apparently, because it’s not five minutes later that Yuuri pushes into a practice jump, nothing but a simple double, part of the warm-up; it’s something Yuuri could complete with his eyes closed, has completed with his eyes closed, only this time he launches off the wrong edge of his blade, doesn’t tuck in his free leg, and lands hard, ankle twisting out from under him.

Oh— Viktor thinks, a terrible fear slicing through him; he’s seen accidents like this where the skater gets up and walks it off, and accidents like this that end careers. Yuuri’s not getting up, and the dread pierces deeper; he can’t seem to move.

“What happened to the katsudon?” Yurio asks, mildly curious, and then, when Yuuri doesn’t get up and doesn’t get up, his expression flashes serious.

“Yuuri—” Viktor manages, throat tight, and Yuuri’s pushing himself up to his feet, testing his weight on his right ankle, wincing and half-skating, half-hobbling to the edge of the ice.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Yurio demands, obnoxious with concern, and Yuuri shakes his head, closes his eyes.

“That allergy medicine,” he says, “I think it…” Comprehension dawns on Yurio’s face; he swivels to glare at Viktor, small and fierce.

“You gave him my allergy medicine? Viktor, what the hell, that shit’s strong, you can’t skate on it!”

“I didn’t know,” Yuuri says, “I can’t read the Russian. Sorry, I think it’s okay, I just—” He rotates his ankle. Winces again. Viktor feels cold with guilt.

“Come on,” he says, “let’s get it looked at by the physio.”

It’s not a break. Just a sprain; he’ll be back on his feet in days, no permanent damage, but they’re sent home for the rest of the day with strict instructions to keep it raised and iced all afternoon. Yuuri’s stoic about it. It’s not the first injury he’s had, of course it’s not, but Viktor can’t help but think—

Well. Best not to think how bad the alternative could be.

“It’s not your fault,” Yuuri says very firmly, “you didn’t know. I’ll be fine.”

“Yes,” Viktor says, “I know, It’s just…” and Yuuri sighs, shifts himself on the couch.

“Go and get me a sweater,” he says. “That striped one, please.” He only wears Viktor’s clothes when he’s in need of comfort, and the striped sweater is his favorite. Viktor loves it too, the way it falls loose over one shoulder, too long in the sleeves and hanging low around his collarbones. Even now, he appreciates the look of it.

“I could cook something,” he suggests hopefully. “Couldn't I? Are you hungry, my darling?”

“Do not cook for me, Viktor Nikiforov,” Yuuri says firmly, and Viktor sighs. Falls dramatically on the couch next to him and presses his face against Yuuri's thigh.

“I just want to take care of you,” he mutters into the fabric of Yuuri's sweatpants. “I'm terrible at it.”

“Yes,” Yuuri agrees, “you are,” but his voice is light and he strokes his fingers through Viktor's hair as he says it, so it doesn't sting the way it otherwise might have.

“You deserve to be cherished,” Viktor tells him, feeling a little flayed with the painful honesty of admitting it, and Yuuri sighs. Pushes his sleeves up past his wrists, and Viktor reaches for one of his hands, kisses the delicate skin at the inside of his wrist, his fingertips, the band of gold on his finger. Presses a kiss to his palm, lips parting so he can brush his tongue over Yuuri's skin, and Yuuri's breath hitches.

“Do you think I don't feel cherished?” he asks, tugging Viktor up into a kiss. “Do you think I don’t know, Viktor?”

“You didn’t,” Viktor points out, “for a long time,” and Yuuri pauses like he’s silently acknowledging that fact.

“But I do now,” he says eventually. “And I don’t need flowers, or ballet tickets, or home cooking to know it. That’s not what it’s about. You have me, you don’t need to woo me.”

“I just,” Viktor murmurs, “I want you to know.”

“Then never take your eyes off me,” Yuuri tells him, like it’s simple. “Never take your eyes off me and never let me go, Viktor, that’s all I want from you.”

It’s enough that it takes Viktor’s breath away, even now. Never let me go, Yuuri says, as if Viktor would. As if he could.

“I’ll try,” he says, “I’ll do my best,” and thinks, maybe, perhaps, that’s enough.