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“What do you think you’re DOING?!”

Yuri whipped around to face his partner. “GET OUT! YOU’RE WASTING MY TIME, YOU WORTHLESS KAKASHKA!” His partner stood dazed in frustration at the fiery Russian.

“DID I STUTTER?! LEAVE!”

As his ex-partner grabbed his practice bag and shoved on his blade protectors, Yakov calmly walked over to where Yuri was leaning on the rink wall, arms folded. “Yuratchka, this is the fifth one this month. How am I supposed to coach a pair if only one person is willing to cooperate? I’ll just have to call some friends tonight, see if they know have any partner openings, as well…”

“WELL, GOOD!”, Yuri shrieked. “Hell, we might as well hold open partner tryouts for the famed Russian Fairy, with the guys you're bringing in,” he spat. “Didn’t you see how sloppy his sit spin was, and he nearly dropped me when we practiced the ending hip lift! And don’t even get me started on his attempt at a lateral twi- ”

“YURI! I’M FED UP! IF YOU GET THROW OUT ONE MORE PARTNER, I’LL STOP COACHING YOU!”

Yuri seemed to cool down at his hot-headed coach’s unabashed remark. He couldn’t meet Yakov’s eyes and turned away, face hot.

“Do I make myself clear?” The blond nodded, still avoiding his coach’s blazing eyes. “LOOK AT ME!”

Yuri’s head shot up. “Yessir,” he said timidly. An unsolicited silence invoked the two Russians.

“Um okay, I’ll just go…check my music- or something…yeah. Get ready for the game tonight- or…yeah, o-okay.” He backed away from his fuming coach and skated over to the exit, pulled off his skates, and ran as far away as he could.

- - -

The roar of the fans seemed to be heard for miles, or at least that’s what Otabek Altin thought in the locker room where they had been waiting for the past half hour.

“Tonight’s game is really important, boys.” Their manager had explained that the fans, from both their team and their rivals, had sold out the game and the ticket collectors needed extra time to get them into the 100,000-seat indoor arena.

The Russian National team had been the Kazakh team’s biggest rival for what seemed like forever; their games were always heated. Since they were the visiting team, they expected the boos and jeers even more so. The short, but muscular captain stood along with the rest of his team as he led them out through the tunnel and onto the ice for warmups.

---

Yuri ran through the crowd of screaming fans. This was definitely one of the reasons he preferred figure skating over hockey. At least his fans knew how to control themselves.

Yuri actually hated hockey, the only reason he suffered through these games were because of the season box tickets his grandfather had bought for the two of them. The old man, Nikolai, had raised Yuri as his own since he could remember. Growing up, he’d had the occasional drunk visit from his mother, screaming that she wanted him back, but he had never met his father. Not that he actually cared to.

He adjusted his cat sweater, slipped the all-access pass over his neck, and opened the glass door of the box.

The game hadn’t started yet but both teams were on the ice, warming up in an annoying goal-scoring rotation that made Yuri yawn.

“Yuratchka!” The blond turned around and felt his grandfather’s large hand ruffle his shoulder-length hair.

“Hey dedushka.” He turned around to hug the old man around his middle. Once Yuri let go he asked, “Soo, who are the zjelobs we’re playing today?” The greying man shot his grandson a threatening look but Yuri looked expectantly in the other direction. “The Kazakhs. I heard their new captain is quite a force to be reckoned with on the ice.”

“Yeah right, I’d whoop his sraka any fucking day,” Yuri muttered under his breath, ensuring the protection of his grandfather’s precious Orthodox ears.

“What number is he?” His grandfather answered, pointing out to the ice. “Nine, he was originally two but for some reason the Kazakhs must have some superstition about demoting their captain’s number because it’s happened before.”

Yuri rolled his eyes at his dedushka’s annoyingly overwhelming knowledge of the stupid game. His grandfather was the one to push him (literally and figuratively) to skate. He remembered his dedushka waking him up early on Saturdays to the smell of freshly baked pirozhkis, and going out to the frozen pond behind his childhood home to skate. “Yuratchka?”

Yuri looked over to the old man. “Oh sorry. What did you say?” Nikolai chuckled. “Would you like to sit down? These box seats are being wasted if we don’t.” Yuri nodded, blushing.

They took their seats in front of the large glass window, looking down over the large rink. The overhead lights dimmed and all of a sudden, the deep-voiced Russian announcer belted out the players’ names as they rushed out onto the ice. As the players skated around the rink, lasers and lights flashed along to the blaring music of an unfamiliar pop song. After a while, the players skated towards the middle to shake their opponent’s hands, signaling the beginning of the game.

---

As a respectful captain should, Otabek was the last of his team to shake hands. He skated back over to his team and removed his helmet for Russia’s wordless anthem. When the song ended, he shoved his helmet back on and sped to the center of the rink. He intimidatingly slammed his stick on the ice a few times and stared down the Russian center.

FWEEE!!

The whistle signaled the beginning of the race between the two centers. The Kazakh’s quick reflexes easily won him the puck. He rushed across the ice, carefully dodging the opposing players. He raced around the goal to observe where his closest teammates were. He was so focused; he hadn’t noticed he was right in front of the goal. Otabek nearly tripped when the goalie stuck out his padded leg to defend his goal. The Russian shot him a nasty glare that, if translated into words, would’ve caused every parent in the arena to lean over and cover their children’s ears.

Skating away from the goal, he finally managed to spot an open teammate and shot the puck in their direction. Otabek zoomed towards his mark, the other center on the ice, but wasn’t too careful in breaking with his skates as he approached the Russian. The opposing center quickly turned around, not seeing Otabek and collided into him, knocking off the Kazakh captain’s helmet, his head smashing into the ice.

Chapter Text

Yuri could feel chills down his spine as he envisioned the hockey player’s head smashing into the ice for what felt like the tenth time that day. The blond Russian had been quite bored in the last week; Yakov still hadn’t found him a suitable (or willing) partner. So Yuri was trapped in the endless cycle of his skating as well as the recently-added ballet regimen.

Yuri sighed as he finished his stretches and moved to the barre exercises Lilia had added to his leg conditioning.

---

“The doctor is ready to see you now Mr. Altin.” A nurse with a too-friendly smile gestured for Otabek to follow her down the corridor. As they approached the room, the nurse stopped him before opening the door.

“Could I have your autograph? My son is a huge fan! He started playing because of you.”

The stoic man cracked a small, but sincere smile. “Of course, we all appreciate our fans so much.”

She passed him a leaf of paper from her clipboard and a pen. He signed the paper quickly and thanked the lady for stopping him, shaking her hand in his two larger ones. She let him in the door with a now-genuine smile.

The doctor stood up and shook his hand in both of his, with a stern smile. “Please sit, Mr. Altin. That was quite a blow to your head.”

Otabek sat in one of the two chairs across from the doctor. The team had been with this doctor for a while; whenever they were Almaty to see him, that is. He had treated many of the captain’s injuries in the past, but nothing quite as serious or painful as this one.

Otabek looked down at his shoes. “It was, sir.”

The doctor looked through his file, at Otabek’s diagnosis and prescribed medications. “Have you had any memory problems lately? Or anything that might be of concern, in regards to your injury?”

“Well, honestly, I've been wondering. Wh-What actually happened to m-my head? I don’t really remember what-” He cleared his throat and took a deep breath, finally looking up at the man across from him.

“All I remember was playing and then all of a sudden, I wake up a few days later in the hospital!”

Why am I yelling?

The doctor’s eyes widened at his outburst and Otabek realized the boundaries he’d crossed. “Sorry, sir! I-I meant no disrespect on your practice, sir, I’m just…” He hesitated. “-frustrated. Sir.”

Goddammit, Altin. He's just trying to help.

The old man chuckled. “I understand, Mr. Altin.” He pulled up Otabek’s CT and MRI scans on his desktop. “The CT scan is from when you were first admitted in the hospital. The black areas are the blood pooling in your skull, on your brain more specifically. The surgeon managed to clean those areas up quite nicely, however-” He pointed to the MRI. “-your left occipital lobe sustained the majority of the damage. This was taken at this morning’s scan. Tell me, Mr. Altin. Have you been having any problems with your eyes, your left one perhaps?”

“Actually, I have. And I’ve been having some problems with balance, too.” Otabek started to panic as he thought about his symptoms. “I mean, nothing too serious though. I probably just haven’t been getting enough water, or maybe I haven’t been getting much sleep either, but that’s pretty normal for someone with a concussion…right?”

No, not right.

It's not okay. It won't be fine.

Wise up, Altin.

The doctor stood up from his seat and began pacing, thinking. “Mr. Altin, I’m sorry to say this but, I-I’m afraid to say that you won’t be able to play hockey again. According to our scans and tests, you’ve lost most of the vision in your left eye.”

And Otabek saw red.

---

“YURI!”

The skater looked up from his phone, assuming his ten-minute break had been cut short by his temperamental coach.

He sighed and sped over to his coach, leaving his phone in his bag. Yakov took off his hat and smoothed his graying hair down as Yuri approached him alongside the rink, one of the geezer’s telltale signs of frustration.

“Yeah?” Yuri paled at the pitiful sight of his coach. Did I do this?

“It hasn’t been going well at all, Yura.” Yep. “Let me be straight with you, I know you have high-ass standards but none of the coaches and skaters I’ve talked to want to put up with your temper. Now, what we need to do is get y-”

Yuri cut him off immediately. “No. NONONONO! I’m not going around ‘advertising’ myself. Sorry, but I’m a skinny-as-shit skater who wouldn’t fare very well as a breathing billboard. I re-FUSE!” Yuri skated away with a humph.

“You’re obviously not looking hard enough, old man,” he muttered under his breath.

Acknowledging the end of their heavily one-sided conversation, Yakov placed his hat on his head and made his way out into the cold St. Petersburg wind.

---

Whenever the coach was lacking motivation or needed inspiration for a program, he started up his 1977 VAZ-2106 and went for a drive through the mountains bordering Kazakhstan. He even installed, and used the cassette player Lilia had given him as a retirement gift.

Just for this reason.

Roadtrips. Yuri-induced ones, to be exact.

Yakov sighed and remembered the days when he had coached Victor Nikiforov, the first male pair skater to skate with another male in a competition. Victor had been Yuri’s inspiration and Yuri’s persistent grandfather had practically begged for Yakov to coach the temperamental brat. Victor hadn’t always been easy to coach either; he was a flighty, indecisive creature, always seeking reason in odd places normal people wouldn’t think of. He had even, Yakov reminisced, taken a season off to coach his now-husband and convince him to quit individual skating and become his official partner. Yuuri Katsuki was a grounding element for Victor, keeping him stable and reasonably dealing with his insistent mood swings and, in the process, Victor keeping Yuuri positive to stave off his ever-present anxieties. They were complicated, but stronger because of it.

Yakov needed to find someone to balance out his Russian Tiger and, he knew it sounded awful, but to get him off his back, too. He didn’t know who he was looking for but he knew he was headed in the right direction. The coach had an undeniable ability to sniff out the trail that lead right up to what he needed. And right now he needed several shots of strong vodka.

---

Otabek was at a loss.

His brother had been considerate to offer him the distraction of DJing at his bar- The Idiot, the name of Alibek’s favorite historical novel. He was enjoying himself and was extremely thankful for his older brother’s kindnesses, he really was, but it wasn’t enough for his hockey-addicted body. He didn’t really care about the break from playing, he just wanted to step onto the ice one more time, feel his skates curl and bend to the sheer ice. Otabek tried to schedule correctional surgery but all of the consultants, surgeons, and doctors seemed he had talked to seemed to have the same thoughts:

“Damage is too severe.” “Ask somewhere else.” “Risk is too high.”

He pushed away his looming thoughts and focused on watching the people coming in and out of the bar. His well-trained eyes fell upon an older man who was definitely foreign; a pale white man. Not the traditional golden and rich caramel hues of the native Kazakhs. However, there was something about the gentlemen that made him fit into the mismatched bar. Otabek moved to get closer to the man. Drawing ever closer, he could hear the white man ordering a very strong drink, too strong in fact for the frequents of his brother’s bar as Alibek had to reach to the highest shelf to accommodate his order. He watched as his brother carefully poured three shots of Tovarich! vodka he'd had imported from Russia.

Otabek reached the counter where the man was sitting. He opened the swinging gate to go around to the other side of the counter, with his brother.

“Otabek, hey. Could you pour Mr. Feltsman here another shot?” Alibek leaned into Otabek and whispered into his ear. “He tells me he's had quite the throwdown with his baby tiger.” He chuckled as Otabek's eyes widened.

A tiger? Who the hell is this guy?

“So are you gonna pour me a drink or not, kid?” A gruff voice interrupted Otabek’s thoughts. He looked up to where the voice was coming from. He froze once he realized who was addressing him.

“Uh...yeah- I mean, yes sir, of course.” Otabek reached under the counter and grabbed another shot glass. He had poured about half a glass of the vodka when the man- Mr. Feltsman, reached across the counter and tilted the bottle down towards the glass.

“Uh, sir?”

“There's no such thing as a tolerant Russian alcoholic.” He smirked slightly at the Kazakh. “I like you, kid. What do you do for a livin'?” He downed the strong beverage like water on a hot Kazakh day.

Otabek blushed and squirmed under the hard gaze from this Feltsman guy. “I- uh, well I’m kind of...um-” Alibek leaned over the counter and cut in. “He plays hockey for the national team. You should see him on the ice, he's a natural.” He turned back and winked at his brother.

Yakov looked up from his drink, suddenly interested at the turn of the conversation. “Oh? What position, son?” Otabek looked down at his scuffed leather shoes.

“Uh, center.”

His dear brother cut in once more, “He's been the captain for two years.” Otabek glared back at his brother.

Yakov chuckled to himself at his good fortune. He almost patted himself on the back because, once again, he had led himself towards what he needed. Well, maybe wanted, but who's counting?

“I heard a player got injured the other night, such a shame. But I guess it can't be helped, Yuri did say the Russians were more aggressive than usual.” He glanced up at Otabek’s twisted expression. “Ah. Were you two close?”

Otabek nodded and Alibek sauntered away, giving him space. “I guess you could say that.” He sneered at his feet once more. “It was- uh, me.”

Breathe.

Don't look up.

Otabek waited to feel the waves of pity radiating towards him. He hated that feeling. He finally looked up, eyes blinking away the tears.

“Are you done, kid?”

Otabek’s face contorted into an expression he'd never had before. He was taken aback. He was used to the pity and jeers behind his back, or even being coddled and told it was going to be alright, but this? Otabek almost smirked at the man. “Yes, sir.”

“Well, then that's that. Do you wanna be back on the ice, boy?”

His eyes widened with hope. “Of course, sir.” Yakov nodded and called out for Alibek, explaining where he would take his brother and for how long, “about a week or so, until he can adjust to skating with a hockey fella.” Alibek just nodded and raced upstairs to get Otabek's bags packed.

“Mr. Feltsman, who is he?”

Yakov looked bored, staring at him. “It's Yakov, if you please. And he? He is going to be your worst nightmare."

Chapter Text

He never saw the appeal of St. Petersburg. The tall buildings, the large companies lining every street, and the thin layer of smog in the air. A complete opposite of the Kazakh countrysides he grew up in. Otabek tore his gaze from the metropolis and stared at his lap. He played nervously with a loose thread he imagined on his jeans.

Will he like me?

I don't even know what to expect, I've never figure skated before.

What if I fuck this up? What could I use a safety net now?

Otabek murmured at the window, “I can't fuck this up.” He nodded at his reflection as a sort of confirmation with himself. Leaning back in his seat, he closed his eyes and listened to the scratchy, recorded voices playing from Yakov’s cassette player.

Maybe this won't be so bad after all. A small grin cut through his hard expression as he fell asleep.

---

He raced out onto the ice, nearly tripping over the laces he'd forgotten to tie in his sprint.

Yuri wasn't expecting Yakov to be back so soon. And with a partner? The old man had left him a voicemail late last night telling him to be on the ice at 8 am sharp. So what if he was two minutes late? No one was in the rink.

Well, except for Mila. But fuck that hag.

He scowled in her direction and was pleased as she skated away from him. Yuri didn't truly hate her but she always got into his business and she'd always get way too clingy at the worst time.

Like once, Yuri was racing off the ice because he had to pee, so bad. Well, fucking Mila got in my way. She had slung her arm over his shoulder in a sisterly way and reached up with her other hand to ruffle his already-messy hair. And Yuri took two of her fingers in his mouth- up to the knuckle, and bit down. Hard. 

Yuri smirked at the memory of Mila’s bloodcurdling scream. The bitch totally deserved it though.

He finished tying up his laces elegantly, as Lilia had taught him to do after much protest. His dedushka suggested that he wear something nicer than usual because the old timer believed “first impressions are most important.” Yuri decided on one of his more androgynous looks- a white turtleneck, a pair of purple tights, and a flirty little white skirt that was just short enough to show off his perfect ass. His long blonde hair was pulled back in a tight French braid, a pale purple headband keeping the hair out of his face.

He took some warm up laps around the rink to make sure his ensemble was still functional and breathable. The ice felt so good under his favorite skates- the ones with Potya-like cat faces decorating the laces.

Today's gonna be a good day, I can feel it. I've got a new partner and I look fucking hot as hell.

Yuri’s ears perked up when he heard Yakov's booming laughter. I guess that's a good sign.

He skated over to his bag, put on his skate guards, and pulled out his matching leopard print water bottle and towel. He took a swig of water and leaned against the outer wall of the rink, trying to scout out his new partner. Yakov walked into the rink.

Alone.

“Well?!”

Yakov stared blankly at his young protege. “Well what?"

Yuri put his hands on his hips. “Don't shit with me, old man. My new partner? Where is he? He's late.”

Yakov chuckled. “You're excited, that's new. And you even dressed up for the kid.” Yuri snorted under his breath.

“Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, geezer.” He rolled his eyes and pulled out his phone. Yuri muttered some rudely explicit words under his breath as he walked away from Yakov. He walked over to the side of the rink, leaned his elbows against the wall and stretched his leg in the air in a standing vertical split, his favorite position to scroll through Instagram.

“Wow, that's impressive.” Yuri whipped around, surprised by the deep voice that seemingly came out of nowhere. “Who the fuck-?” Yuri snarled as he whipped around, accidentally slamming his leg against the wall of the rink and falling straight on his ass.

“SOOKSIN!” he cried out. His eyes roamed up the unfamiliar figure looming over him. The scowl on his face didn’t seem to phase the man in front of him who was laughing his ass off. “Zacroy rot you, you- svoloch’!”, Yuri sputtered at the stranger above him. He squinted his eyes at that man above him and realized oh great, it’s the new guy. So much for first impressions.

“Are you okay? Wouldn’t want to mess up that pretty outfit of yours.”, the other man asked. Raising an eyebrow, he grabbed the hand the other had stretched down to him, helping to pull him off the floor. Yuri felt his face burn, not so much at the compliment but at the genuine concern the man had for his wellbeing. It caught him off guard.

“I-I’m fine, thank you.”, he responded coldly. He smoothed back the hair that had fallen around his face and brushed down his skirt. He cleared his throat and began his inspection of his potential partner- something he did before starting practice to weed out incompetents without them wasting his time. Yuri circled his new partner like an animal going in for the kill, examining his every feature and looking for any noticeable outward flaws. He was impressed to say the least.

Well, he's not exactly bad looking...actually, he's kinda hot. He hummed quietly. But anyways, strong shoulders, broad chest, wow, nice ass, wait what? He shook his head, cursing himself. Tan, really big- maybe even too big, the sweatpants need to go, nice hair but the fucking undercut needs to go, makes him look like the zasranees Canadian, wait, did I say tan yet?

Yuri finished his thorough examination, making a noncommittal noise in response to Yakov's questioning gaze. “So does it have a name?”

Otabek was taken aback, he doesn't know who I am. “Uh, Otabek Altin.”

Yuri smirked, “Okay, ‘uh Otabek Altin’. Who did you train under? Never heard of you.”

“Wait, wait, wait! Train under? I played hockey. I don't know what you're tal-”

Yuri exploded, turning to Yakov. “What the fuck?! I trust you to get me a goddamn partner, not some hockey monkey!”

Otabek gasped angrily, “What’s that supposed to be? Some crack about hockey?” His eyes burned with a fury he hadn't felt in years.

“Well if the fucking shoe fits. And- wait a second, I do know you! Didn't you fucking die though?” He squinted back at him, thinking. “Hold up, are you even cleared to skate at all? Figure skating is out of your league, dead man Altin.”

Furious, Otabek turned to Yakov. “Yeah, you were right! He's a fucking (nightmare!) How do you put up with this pidaras? No wonder he doesn't have a partner!” The two men glared each other into the ground, cheeks blazing, fists clenched at their sides.

“If you two are done.” Yakov calmly stepped between them and he pulled Yuri firmly to the side.

“Remember our little talk last time?” Yuri saw Yakov's eyes go impossibly black while his voice seemingly level. Yuri's head ducked to the ground in shame.

He sighed, “Yeah okay, fine. I'll give him a chance. But don't expect me to like him.” He harrumphed in Otabek's direction, arms crossed and eyebrows ruffled.

Yakov couldn't help but grin a little; he knew Yuri would come around. “Alright! Let's just start with something simple.” He clapped his hands together to get the pair's attention. “Otabek, put your right hand on Yuri's hip. Yuri, left arm out. Otabek, you want to hold his hand.”

Yuri got into his position quickly, seamlessly from years of practice. Otabek hesitantly placed his hands on Yuri, letting out a sigh he'd had pent up for a while. The blond convulsed at this, “When we're done, can we teach Mr. Uh to breathe with its mouth closed?”

Yakov, of course, ignored his comment and clapped their tempo off. “Pyat, shest, syem, vosyem!” Yuri took off on the beat, Otabek slowly trailing after him, still clinging to Yuri's hip and hand. Otabek lost his grip on Yuri and started to flail his arms to try and keep his balance. His too-tight skates slipped against the ice, his face kissed the ground with a loud SMACK.

Yuri turned around to Otabek, kneeling down into his line of vision, snickering loudly. “To~e pick!”, he sing-songed.

---

Otabek had just finished his shower and started wrapping a towel around his waist, as Yuri walked in and shrieked. “OH MY GOD! A warning please, before you go around flaunting your, uh- endowment.” Otabek felt a red hot heat creep into his face all the way down to his toes. He'd had sex before but was never complimented on his-

“Uh? I hate to break up your concentration, but you’re still naked and we’re about to go so…”, Yuri said with a hand over his eyes. Wait.

“We? Like me included?” Yuri opened his eyes to Otabek in sweats and toweling off his curly hair. Hm, so it's naturally curly. And oh my god, his abs are literally glisteni-

“Yuri? Now you're in the trance.” Yuri looked up from his partner’s torso and focused on his concerned, and slightly confused face.

“Oh. I was just saying we're ready to go back to the apartment. We as in Yakov, Lilia, you, and I. Yakov always had thought it was a good idea to have familial bonding amongst our ‘team’, as he likes to call it.” Yuri backed up to the door, opening it slightly and leaning against it with his arms crossed over his chest. “You ready?”

Otabek threw his comfiest crew neck t-shirt over his head and shoved all his other belongings in his duffel, smiling a bit for the first time all day. “Yeah.”

---

Once they arrived, Yuri dashed up the stairs to his wing of the apartment. He pulled out his phone and hit one on speed dial- Dedushka.

Riiing, riiing, ri- “Hello, Yuratchka.”

Yuri lit up with a face-splitting grin. “Hey, grampa. How was your day?”

"Not too bad, I mostly worked in the garden. And I was thinking of you so I made some pirozhki. How is the new boy?”

Yuri’s face darkened into something twisted, as he flopped on his back, onto his queen bed. “Dedushka, he's a mess. He’s not even a figure skater. Remember that hockey game a few weeks ago?” He paused to hear his grandfather hum in understanding. “Well, he's that captain guy, Altin? The one who almost died, and I'm supposed to skate with him? Hell to the no. Sorry, grandpa, but-”

“Yuratchka. I'm sure you two will get along fine. He's got the same fighting power that you do. I'm sure in the next week you'll find that you two are on the same wavelength. I know you'll be fine. Now, how are Yuuri and Vitya? Have you spoken to them recently?”

“Gramps, stop trying to change the subject! This isn't over, remember that. And I haven't talked to the old man or the porozenok  recently. I'm sure they're fine, though. They're still in Japan on their honeymoon, and I don't want to try and FaceTime or call them and find them in the middle of something.” Yuri visibly shuddered at the thought. “Oh! That reminds me. I'll try to come over soon to help you set up FaceTime and the livestream for when we go off to compete.” He sighed. “I hope you're right about Otabek, dedushka.”

---

“Mr. Altin! You’re behind again!”

Otabek was exhausted. He watched as Yuri wiped the thin layer of sweat that had on his face and neck with his towel. He’s not sweating at all. How is that possible? I’ve never worked so hard in my life! He can’t be rea- WHAP! “Pay attention, Mr. Altin. You’re thinking too loud, no idle time in ballet.”

Taking a deep breath, he pulled the drenched t-shirt over his head, messing up his perfectly placed curls. He turned back to Yuri when he felt eyes burning into his well-built torso. And sure enough, when he turned around, there was Yuri, eyes wide staring at his glistening abs once more. “Like what you see, Plisetsky?”, Otabek teased. Yuri whipped his head in the other direction, face burning.

Lilia cut in between them. “Mr. Altin. Left hand up like this.” She moved his hand out and held it there. “Other hand on Yura’s hip.” She moved his right hand to her hip. “You lead him. You are stem and Yura is petal. Together you make flower.” Her face softened as she looked beneath their hard exteriors towards each other. “Now, yeshche raz.”

Yuri unwillingly pushed his feet forward to the now-shirtless Otabek, expertly avoiding his eyes. “Cat got your tongue, Yura?

Chapter Text

Otabek was sitting on the side of the rink, wrapping tape around the handle of his Bauer Vapor hockey stick. He had on his special white jersey with ‘ALTIN BATIR’, emblazoned in royal blue letters and golden lining, on the back and his warm-up sweats on.

 

On Otabek’s side, Yuri was sitting in his leopard print “throne” as he liked to call it. Yuri was wearing black leggings with sheer slits along the sides of his thighs and to top of the ensemble, an obnoxiously large cat sweater. He was bundled up in his heated tiger-striped blanket and had adorned fuzzy ankle socks.

 

“God, what do you people do around here for fun?” He grabbed another of his prized hockey sticks and began re-taping that one as well.

 

“Well, if you’re so bored, why don’t you read a book? Or check Instagram?”, Yuri suggested sarcastically, scrolling through his own feed.

 

Otabek snorted. “You mean, on my phone.”

 

Yuri glanced up from his phone with an eyebrow raised in annoyance. “That is a traditionally accepted format, yes. Oh, and by the way-”, he glanced back down at his phone. “What is your username? It would look good if I added you.”

 

Otabek looked dumbfounded, “Username?” Yuri rolled his eyes with a sigh and snatched up Otabek’s phone. He typed in his birthday- 1031 - and wasn’t surprised when it unlocked. The home screen was a picture of what he assumed to be the abnormally large Altin family.

 

“A family guy, huh? Do they all live with you?”

 

Otabek nodded with a smile. “Well, sort of. All of our cousins live in the houses on either side of ours. So yeah, you could say we do. What about you? Is it possible that the infamous Russian Tiger wasn’t created as a gift from the gods to bless the rest of us poor, meek creatures?”

 

Yuri punched him in the shoulder and shook his head, laughing. “ Zatknis!

 

“Well, I don’t really have any close friends, or really friends at all, if I’m being completely honest.” Yuri felt his cheeks light up in a splotchy pink blush. “I work on my studies. I’ve never been in a school my entire life. It’s quite boring actually. And I live with my dedushka - we’re really close.” He smiled at the thought of his grandfather.

 

He opened up the Instagram app on Otabek’s phone and was surprised when it opened to the sign-up tab. “So you downloaded it, but never made an account. You were this close, Altin.” He signed him up with ease and handed his phone back.

 

“Now. If you don’t have at least one photo up by 10am tomorrow, I’m not talking to you ever again. Got it?”

 

“Yup.” Otabek stared down at his phone. “Okay, but why is my name beka_bear ?”

 

Yuri snickered into his hand. “Well, in my head I always call you Beka. It just fits, ya know?”

 

He hesitated for a moment, blushing again and staring at the floor.

 

“You could always change it if you want.”, Yuri muttered as he scratched the back of his neck.

 

“Yuri, it’s fine.  Seeing you anxious is making me scared. Chill out, dude.”

 

Yuri let out a sigh of relief and crumpled back into his cozy loveseat.

 

“Now.” Otabek threw the second hockey stick at Yuri who caught it easily. “Bet you can’t play hockey.”

 

Yuri cocked up a confident eyebrow. “I’ll beat your ass any day, Altin.” Throwing the blankets off his body, he quickly tied up his skates and rapped his stick on the ground menacingly. Otabek pulled off his skate guards and rushed onto the ice to setup a goal using two cones.

 

“Okay then. İske sät !”  He threw a puck down onto the ice and skated a circle around Yuri to block from getting to the puck. He easily stole the puck and scored the first goal.

 

“WOO! Come on, Yura. Your turn.” Yuri tried and failed to control the stick with his stick. Even though the stick was for his height, he wasn’t use to the awkward addition to his arm length.

 

“Augh!”, Yuri grunted in frustration as Otabek scored for the second, third, fourth, fifth time. “You make me ill!” He skated across the rink, opposite the makeshift goal, and hit the puck as hard as he could.

 

Otabek was just about to comment that “icing is illegal” when the puck flew up off the ice and struck him square in the nose.

 

Yuri raced over to him, falling on his knees next to Otabek’s limp form lying on the ground, screaming for Yakov to call a skoraya pomoshch at the sight of blood pooling out onto the rink.

 

---

 

“Holy shit! Is he okay? My god, if he got hurt, I’ll kill him myself!” Yuri paused, rubbing his frustrated temples. “Wait, shit. It was my fault, oh my god! He’s gonna kill me! It’s all my fault! We’re ruined and we’re never gonna skate again, oh my god.”

 

Yakov watched on from the hard bench in the waiting room as Yuri worried his lips and wringing his hands, as he paced back forth. He smiled quietly to himself knowing that Yuri had finally found a partner.

 

He’s finally using ‘we’.

 

---

 

Three hours. That’s how long Yuri’d been quietly worrying away at his obscenely red puffy bottom lip. He released a long sigh from his shoulders and attempted to relax back into one of those annoying, plastic waiting room chairs.

 

If Beka were here, he’d probably make fun of me for how scared I look. Yuri laughed to himself. His  first impressions of Otabek were totally wrong, he was actually a really thoughtful guy down to his core and he was truly grateful to have him as his partner. He was a super talented skater who became a confident and, dare he even fathom it, sexy creature on the ice.

 

“Anyone here for an Altin?” Yuri shot up in his seat and ran over to the nurse.

 

“Oh my god, is he okay? I didn’t kill him, did I?” The nurse gave him a sad, but sympathetic smile and glanced back down the hallway to a man rolling towards them in a wheelchair, his facial features obscured by gauze. Moans of obvious pain trailed from his bruised lips.

 

It was Otabek.

 

“What did they do to you?! Oh my god!” Yuri kneeled in front of him, his head resting on Otabek’s knee. He could feel tears forming in his eyes, realizing for what felt like the millionth time since they’d arrived that he’d hurt his own partner.

 

Yuri looked up, feeling a heavy hand on his shoulder. Otabek was looking at him as he lifted his hand up to the bandages covering his injured face. Yuri winced as he pulled them down slowly.

 

“Toe pick,” Otabek taunted in a low voice.

 

Yuri could feel his button nose scrunching up in disgust and his thin eyebrows contracting in the most ugly way and his face heating up in anger but he didn’t care.

 

“FUCK YOU, ALTIN! YOU YOBANAYA SUKA SRAKA SVOLOCH’! YOU’RE THE ABSOLUTE WORST!”

 

Otabek chuckled watching Yuri stomp out of the waiting room and out of the wing entirely. He looked over at Yakov and shrugged. “What? He started it.”