Otabek loves the snow.
When he was younger, he’d run outside the second he saw snow. His mom would insist on him wearing all those layers of scarves and undershirts before he did. He had to be protected from the cold, she’d decided. A child that would spend his life on ice should feel the cold no more than necessary. But he insisted; he wanted to feel the cold. He had to feel the cold, so that he could be one with the white beauty.
The snow somehow looks even more beautiful with St. Petersburg in the background.
“Ugh, it snowed again,” the seventeen year old next to him grumbles and kicks the ground wearily. Otabek used to think that Yuri would calm down like the sea after a while – he used to be sure that the fire inside him would burn out. If anything, that fire has only dimmed a little.
“I like the snow,” Otabek mumbles as he looks down to the ground. The snow really does marvelous things. It makes the ground and sky intertwine in the beauty of the white. Had Otabek been the believer his parents once hoped him to be, he’d say that the snow brought heaven on earth.
Yuri chuckles lightly and nudges Otabek with his arm. Otabek looks up to see Yuri’s rare, precious smile that melts all the snow around them. A strong wind wavers in his face, but Otabek feels nothing. He’s warm inside.
Yuri sometimes does that; he looks at Otabek as if he hates him less than the others around them, as if he actually cares what happens to him. It gives Otabek a kind of hope that he knows is useless and empty. Maybe it’s not the fire around Yuri that keeps Otabek all warmed up, maybe it’s that empty hope he desperately clings to – the hope that makes him hate himself more than Yuri could ever hate anyone around him… but the smile is missing something; it isn’t as warm as it used to look. Or maybe Yuri has always smiled so cold and Otabek just hasn’t been near Yuri to remember that.
Otabek smiles anyway. It isn’t Yuri’s fault that his eyes are more beautiful than any snow Otabek has ever seen.
“Come on, I’ll show you a good place to eat,” Yuri says and grabs Otabek’s arm. All Otabek can do is to hold tight.
When he’s at home in Almaty, Otabek likes to wander around when it’s snowing after practice. Everyone at the rink finds him crazy because of it – who would want to go see some more cold after a day on the ice, they ask – but he goes out, anyway. At first, he wasn’t really sure what the force that draws him to the snow no matter where he is was, but he’s long realized it by now. Ever since Yuri invited him to St. Petersburg it’s been for sure – the snow reminds him of Yuri, cold yet attractive to those who don’t know how to approach to it but unbelievably fun to those who do. And pure, so pure that Otabek feels he’s been washed away from all the bad things he’s done. So pure that he almost feels clean.
“Don’t be such a downer,” Yuri would say. “None of us can be pure.” They’d both know that wasn’t true. Yuri fakes being dirty and sinful, but he is pure despite everything he’s been through, like snow under the dirty tires. Yuri is perfect in every way, while Otabek is so desperately human. He sometimes hates admitting that. Humans have flaws. Humans make mistakes.
Otabek’s mistake is to hope for something he knows is impossible. To hope for something he’ll never get.
To hope for Yuri Plisetsky’s love.
‘Human error,’ he thinks. Despite himself, he asks the question that’s been nagging him anyway.
“Who’re you texting?”
Yuri chuckles to his phone for the fifth time. Otabek feels something squeezing his chest. Yuri types something, then looks at Otabek with no trace of the interest he showed a minute ago.
‘Ah, yes ,’ Otabek thinks. ‘ Your friend .’ The friend who is nameless to Otabek because Yuri refuses to give a name. Otabek’s never asked for one anyway; he’s too scared to put a name to the description Yuri gave him. Yuri’s friend doesn’t feel real now, not without a face and a name. Otabek would die for the possibility of things staying that way.
“Oh,” he manages to spit out. Yuri goes back to his phone when it vibrates in his hand again. He chuckles, and Otabek’s heart breaks a bit. It makes his ears ring. Otabek can’t help but hurt – he should be happy that Yuri’s having fun with someone other than Otabek, that he is not dependent to him, that he actually has another friend and can grow healthy relationships. Instead all he feels is the empty, choking feeling that has been on the back of his throat only to spread all around his chest the second Yuri has mentioned his friend the first time.
“Come on,” Yuri says even though he is still typing. “I’m starving. Let’s go get some food – I know the perfect place.” How many perfect places can Yuri know Otabek fails to guess, as Yuri’s been saying that for the past week, ever since he arrived in St Petersburg. Then, something happens – painfully, slowly, Yuri puts his phone in the pocket of his jeans. Otabek internally sighs in relief, then feels the guilt. ‘ You’re being rude,’ he tells himself. ‘ You’re so full of himself that you can’t even be happy for your friend.’ Otabek gulps and tries to stop thinking. He puts on the stoic face that has been a gift that has hid his insecurities through all his life, and straightens his back.
“Let’s go,” he says, and even though it’s in a slightly odd tone, it’s obvious to him that Yuri’s never going to care.
Otabek knows a lot of things about Yuri’s friend . He knows that he, much like Yuri, has a cat. He knows that he’s a hockey player but unlike his teammates is fascinated by figure skating. He knows that he’s always there for Yuri when he’s at home and feels down or happy or ambitious – he’s always there for Yuri, especially when Otabek can’t be. Objectively, he’s a good friend – way better than Otabek, anyway. Of course he deserves the attention that he gets from Yuri.
It doesn’t mean that Otabek doesn’t feel a bit left out, though.
“It’s snowing. Again.” Yuri sounds so done with the weather, and Otabek can’t help but wonder if Yuri’s so done with him as well. After all, Otabek did talk about the song he was thinking for his short program of the upcoming season, having found the song in the middle of the season that they’ve just ended, before they got out of the hotel that Otabek was staying in. Yuri has insisted on having Otabek as his guest in St Petersburg the minute the season ended, and Otabek has accepted it with a condition of staying in a hotel and not at Yuri’s place. He knows that would make Yuri uncomfortable. Yuri is untouchable, unattainable. Yuri is fiercely free, is cold looking but burns the skin if looked at for long. Otabek does not deserve Yuri’s hostility; he’d just ruin it.
“I like the snow,” he mumbles and brings himself out of the depths of his mind. Yuri gives him a toothy grin.
“Dude, don’t you have enough cold in your life? You’re an ice skater. I know that it’s been cold wherever you went this season. It’s fucking April for God’s sake, why can’t I ever see a bit of sun?”
“It’s Russia . Plus, it’s over zero degrees,” Otabek informs him uselessly. Yuri would never understand, he knows that. If there’s anything Otabek knows, it’s that things that are too much alike repel each other – after all, Yuri can’t possibly fall for himself. Otabek has to do that for him. He therefore simply shrugs amiably and shuts his mouth. Yuri chuckles, and when Otabek looks at him he’s not holding his phone.
“You’re weird,” Yuri giggles. His voice is getting even deeper nowadays, causing him to make odd noises out of his will. He’s getting taller and taller every day and looks very awkward. By all means he should be ridiculous, but his eyes are shining and Otabek has it bad for him; he doesn’t have much of a choice but to accept that fact. He’s in love.
“I, unlike you, am a reasonable guy, and hate the snow,” Yuri says in a sardonic tone. “But it’s okay. C’mon, I arranged a five-minute thing in our schedule so that you can meet my friend. He’s real cool so I know that you’ll get along well.”
Oh. Otabek feels uneasy. He does not want to put a face or a name to the guy Yuri’s been depicting to him. He’s far too gone for this to become real. He cannot lose Yuri yet. He wants to beg to stay, to cling to Yuri and never let go. He wants to be aggressive, wants to go out there and defend his friendship with Yuri against some stranger that Yuri calls a friend. Most of all, he wants to cry.
‘Five-minute thing,’ he tells himself. ‘ You’re being silly. It’s a five-minute thing.’
“I can’t wait for it,” he says politely. He’ll do this because Yuri wants him to. It will be worth it, too, because Yuri gives him that precious smile, the one that has always led Otabek to empty hopes. That smile, as usual, carves a little more into Otabek’s heart.
Yuri’s friend , Otabek finds out, is definitely not someone he can compete with.
He’s everything Otabek can never be. He smiles from the depths of his heart and shines bright to everything. He’s even shinier than Yuri because he has vibrant ginger hair that reminds Otabek of the sunset. He and Yuri look so bright together that Otabek hurts. It’s so odd that Yuri’s befriended him – maybe Yuri is growing up and is starting to open up more, and Otabek is not seeing it. Yuri’s friend smiles widely at Otabek and tells him that he is extremely happy to meet him. Otabek gives him his obligatory smile, the one that he doesn’t use often. It may or may not look like a grimace. Oh well. Yuri’s friend hugs him anyway, and Otabek’s so shell-shocked that he doesn’t push away.
Yuri is grinning as well. “Looks like you guys are getting along pretty well,” he says. Otabek tries to give him a sign of help by an expression, but he either fails or Yuri’s too busy to notice.
“Yuri talks a lot about you,” Otabek tells the dude who is still hanging off on his shoulders, and slightly shifts so that the guy gets the message. It goes successfully, and Yuri snickers. “He never told me your name, though,” Otabek continues. Yuri goes red and his friend laughs.
“That’s all right,” he says with a soft voice. All Otabek can think of is how his own voice is rough and cuts around the edges. “My name is Mikhail.”
“Nice to meet you, Mikhail,” Otabek rambles. At this point he’s choking because of the adoring looks Yuri’s been giving to this guy ever since they got here. Yuri’s never looked at Otabek this way, with such affection. Their friendship seems like a formality to Otabek now. But why would Yuri force himself to be friends with Otabek? He knows that Otabek has a few friends in pretty much everywhere; he also knows that Otabek tends to keep to himself except for that one time he approached to Yuri, the exceptional one-time event that started their friendship about a year and a half ago. He is overthinking again, he realizes, and immediately wipes the frown that has at some point appeared off his face. Mikhail laughs.
“Can’t handle my good looks?” he jokes, blissfully unaware of how close it hits home. This guy is the textbook definition of ‘handsome’ – maybe Otabek’s a bit biased. Had this been about anybody else but Yuri, had Otabek been fallen for another guy and been pining after him because of another friend, he would have shared this thought with Yuri, and Yuri probably would’ve laughed. He would have teased him about how jealous he’s being, and maybe scold him for being such a miserable mess. Instead here Otabek is, pining wildly after Yuri and trying to not cry in front of Mikhail, who looks like Adonis and is Yuri’s friend . This is getting ridiculous. Otabek needs help. He gulps again and performs his expressionless look.
‘A five-minute thing.’
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he mumbles. He knows he’s being sufficient when Yuri pats his shoulder.
“That’s Beka for you,” he tells Mikhail, clearly amused. “Ever so stoic and even so funny.” Otabek’s heart breaks at the thought that Yuri thinks that he’s trying to be funny, but he swallows the lump in his throat down and pushes his thoughts in a small box and tucks them deep away in his mind. He gives a small smile. It’s painfully awkward, but Yuri doesn’t seem to realize that. He just smiles warmly at Mikhail. After a few minutes that feel like years, he gives Otabek a tighter smile and sighs.
“We should get going. I’ve still got many places to show Otabek,” he says finally. He looks apologetic, and Otabek can’t help but wonder what would his face look like if the person he were ditching was Otabek instead. Would he apologize for going away with Mikhail, or would he leave Otabek to his own devices, assuming that he wouldn’t be offended? He cringes slightly at this terribly selfish thought. This is not about him.
“That’s okay,” Mikhail says and gives Yuri a smile that is as warm as sun would be on a summer day. Yuri beams back.
“Let’s get going, then,” he tells Otabek with that smile that just misses something Otabek can’t seem to place. Is he really that terrible to be alone with? He chokes out an “Okay,” and follows Yuri like a beaten dog.
“What do you think?” Yuri asks him once they hit the street. “Do you think he’s safe? Okay?”
‘Okay for what? For whom?’ Otabek wants to scream. Did Yuri bring him down here just to make him judge his friend – or worse, did he bring him down here to get his approval ?
“He’s all right, I guess,” he mumbles. “He was very… friendly.” Yuri snorts.
“You could say that,” he laughs. “To be honest I have no idea how he puts up with me. You know how I get.”
‘It’s almost like they’re married,’ Otabek can’t help himself. He feels terribly left out. He can’t help but think so selfishly – he was Yuri’s friend first, he found him first. Yuri is the love of his life; Mikhail will just play him, unlike Otabek. He stops himself after that thought, ashamed of himself. Why would Mikhail just ruin Yuri? The guy seems enough of a good man, and he’s basically done nothing to prove otherwise. Otabek should be lucky that he liked him; he wouldn’t want Yuri’s only other friend to not like him. So what if Otabek found Yuri first? Mikhail is obviously a way better suit for Yuri: someone suitable to take care of him. Otabek should be happy , and here he is, just going on and on about what a bastard a guy whom he met five minutes ago is. ‘Selfish, selfish, selfish.’ Otabek should learn to be the better person. He’s really being ridiculous, and he can’t even control himself. ‘Incompetent.’
Though, to be honest, it’s neither his nor Yuri’s fault that they see each other not nearly enough to be really close. He tightens his jaw. Yuri is here now, and Otabek’s practically spending their only time together scolding himself.
“Where are we going?” he asks to change the topic.
“I’m taking you to Церктовь Спаса на Крови ,” Yuri says. Otabek should have guessed it. Despite arriving in St. Petersburg around five days ago, Otabek still hasn’t done any sightseeing. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is the perfect place to start.
“Let’s go faster, then,” he says and Yuri smiles that odd smile again. Otabek can’t hurt this time, because Yuri’s eyes are the only color he sees in the abundance of white around them.
Otabek’s not the biggest fan of churches – any place of worship, actually. It’s not that he doesn’t find them fascinating or believe that people finding comfort in spirituality is good; it’s just the religion itself that makes him uneasy inside. The spirituality of the people inside churches makes him face his own reality in some way, a reality where he’s truly alone in the universe. He and his god just grew apart after all those years where he tried for his highest potential yet always felt like there could be more done. He’s long figured out that he doesn’t deserve a god’s love: When he had been utterly crushed, stomped onto, chewed, it hadn’t been Allah or God or anything else that he’d tried believing in that saved him – it had been himself and himself only. There was no one else to help him out, just him and his eternal loneliness. He, therefore, feels so out of place in churches and mosques, as if he’s an intruder that is shamelessly interrupting the holy atmosphere.
It’s different when Yuri’s standing next to him, like a guardian angel who is giving him permission to enter.
The church is huge from both inside and outside, and it’s been a while since Otabek’s seen so much color together and not nurtured a headache. Everything feels in harmony, almost like a blessing from the God that these people believe in. Even Otabek feels blessed when Yuri suddenly grabs his hand and gives it a squeeze.
“Come on,” Yuri says. They sit somewhere in the nave. Yuri’s staring at the walls, clearly fascinated. All Otabek can see is Yuri, though. His eyes shine even brighter than the walls, yet Otabek still doesn’t get the headache or the heartache he’s expecting.
“I’ve never actually came here before,” Yuri admits. “There was simply no time. When I moved here I had to be the best, and when I actually became the best…” he trails off. It’s silence for a while before Otabek starts speaking.
“They needed you to do more than that,” he says quietly. Yuri is startled and is looking at him.
“When you became the best you could ever be, I mean,” Otabek clarifies.
“It was either that or being ignored,” Yuri says. “I had to be bright and loud and fierce, or to be poor old Yulia Plisetskaya’s son who had already spent enough time for a lifetime being ignored.” Otabek feels like he knows how it is for Yuri. A mother who once was at the top of the world but then was forgotten immediately after, who’s never stopped living that dream, even in the poverty around the time Yuri, the heir to Yulia’s throne, was born.
“You’re visiting it now,” Otabek whispers. He can feel his own heart beating loudly and slowly. “You’re here now.”
Yuri chuckles half-heartedly. Otabek’s never seen him this heavy before. “I guess by dragging you down here I was also giving myself a chance to visit as well.” Otabek’s silent, for Yuri is grieving. Yuri sighs, looking at their hands that are still tangled together. He must feel how sweaty Otabek’s hand is, as he suddenly draws his own hand away, looking uncomfortable. Otabek feels like he’s intruding again.
“Anyway,” Yuri says. Otabek’s eyes are fixed on the ground now. “I don’t even know if you’re religious, but I kinda have this love-hate relationship with God that goes on and on.” He chuckles to himself, but Otabek keeps his silence. “I just wanted to… make sure,” Yuri finishes softly. “If that relationship is still there.”
Otabek’s relationship with religion is long gone, but somewhat he is desperate to help Yuri conserve his beliefs. Perhaps, he just doesn’t want Yuri to feel as alone as he feels sometimes.
“Let’s light a candle,” he says suddenly, and is surprised at his own words. Yuri seems to be, too, as his voice probably came out way softer and cracked that he had intended it to be.
“Okay,” Yuri cautiously says. Otabek regrets ever opening his mouth, but it’s too late. There’s no turning back now. They light a candle, and Otabek feels somewhat eased in thoughts. Yuri must notice that, too, as he smiles softly. It’s the first smile that doesn’t look held back and empty Yuri has given him since Otabek got here. It looks alive, and Otabek lives for that smile.
Otabek likes the fresh sun that does not make you feel warm whatsoever in early morning. He especially likes it when Yuri’s next to him when he’s jogging, scowling and clearly not nearly awake enough.
“You’re inhuman,” Yuri grumbles as he wheezes a little. It’s obvious he’s sleepy; he still has his hair in a bun and is wearing his pajama top. “You DJ all night and get up at five AM – I don’t get it.”
Otabek chuckles. “It’s just how I am,” he jokes quietly. He doesn’t mention the nightmares that keep him awake at night, and if Yuri’s noticed as well, he doesn’t mention it. “I’ve got to be in good condition, too,” he continues after he does ten jumping jacks. “We still have that ice show in Japan, remember?”
Yuri huffs. He’s not usually the one to do ice shows, but this year Katsuki Yuuri and Yakov have insisted that he’d give it a shot. Otabek used to do a lot more ice shows, but this year he feels the need to focus on his programs intensely to get to the top and make his country number one. It’s always been his goal, but now he feels almost desperate, as if he’s trying to prove himself.
“Yes I do remember the fucking ice show,” Yuri grumbles. “No reminder needed, thank you very much.” Otabek chuckles to himself. Yuri’s sometimes hilariously grumpy.
“What are you laughing at?” Yuri grunts. Otabek knows that Yuri’s just not in his mood because it’s five AM, but can’t help but think – after all, he’s the one who dragged Yuri down here.
“You could’ve stayed home,” he mumbles. “You didn’t have to come because of me.”
Yuri huffs. “Dumbass,” he says, his voice unexpectedly soft. “Like I’d leave you alone.”
Otabek’s heart does the crazy flipping thing it usually does when he’s with Yuri.
When they’re back at Otabek’s small apartment, they don’t get much time to talk. Instead they hit the rink instantly and don’t come back until it’s six in the evening and they’re both tired out of their minds.
“I want to meet your friends,” says Yuri as he bandages his damaged feet. “Would they be up for dinner tonight?”
“Tonight?” Otabek repeats dumbly. “Aren’t you tired?”
“I’m fine. Tonight’s okay.” Yuri puts on his socks. “It’s not like we’ll be here for long. I want to meet them before we fly to Japan.”
Otabek wonders why. It’s not like they’re dating – they never will be, as Yuri’s not like that – so Yuri has no reason to meet Otabek’s friends. Is he trying to befriend them instead of Otabek? Did he at some point realize that Otabek’s not really that cool and more of a loser? Otabek knows that his friends could be considered as cool , with their shared hobby of clubbing and biking. Unlike Otabek, they don’t tend to overthink, and Yuri could consider that swell. Otabek’s being ridiculous and he knows it. Yuri probably wants to meet his friends the same reason he introduced Otabek to Mikhail. Besides, Otabek hates jealous people, so why is he being a hypocrite?
“All right,” he blurts out before he can stop himself. “I’ll call them. Let’s do it tonight.”
Mixing Yuri and his other friends in Almaty, Otabek realizes, may be either the best or the worst thing that he’s made come true. His friends go crazy when they see Yuri Plisetsky, with his space jacket and skinny jeans, walking in the streets of Almaty.
“The sultan has finally decided to join us!” his friend Farhat declares to the others as Otabek and Yuri approach towards them. “And he has brought the one and only Ice Tiger with him!”
“Shut up,” Otabek says with no poison behind his words. He knows that he’s unintentionally ignored his friends. Farhat laughs. The almost signature-like sound calms Otabek down, as Yuri looks startled but amused. Arai, who is standing next to Farhat, smacks him in the arm.
“Don’t be so rude, doofus,” she scolds him. “Otabek obviously had no time whatsoever.” Her eyes soften as she looks at Otabek. “Don’t mind him,” she says. “You know how he is.” Yuri’s eyes flicker with objection for a moment and he looks like he’s ready to say that no, Otabek has had time to meet up with them, but Otabek turns and gives him a look that shuts him up.
It’s not like Otabek has ignored his friends on purpose. It’s more like he sees Yuri way less than he needs to and therefore tries to cherish their time together. Not that Yuri needs to know this.
“Otabek, my man!” Arman says happily. “So good to see you!” He turns to Yuri. “Nice to meet you as well, Yuri Plisetsky. Otabek’s told us a lot of things about you.”
“All good, I hope,” Yuri says with a smile. It’s almost touching, seeing how much Yuri has grown up in all the ways possible in the two years that Otabek’s known him. Arman’s expression turns into a mischievous one.
“Don’t worry, it’s all fantastic, ” he muses, and Otabek slightly turns red. He never should’ve let Yuri meet his friends.
Erkin, who has been uncharacteristically quiet up to that point, bounces a little and shakes hands with Yuri. “We should get going,” he says. “The dinner can’t wait.” Yuri beams.
Otabek knows the look on Erkin’s eyes. It’s a look that may cause Otabek a lot of problems in the future. He’s known for quite some time that Erkin admires Otabek’s friend a little too much, and he’s been okay with it, but he never thought that they actually could be in a situation together. Erkin’s a likeable guy, if Yuri finds him attractive, Otabek wouldn’t blame him. At the same time, he dreads ever making the two meet, but tries to swallow the thought down.
As they walk towards the restaurant, Yuri’s hand finds Otabek’s, and he has a small heart attack.
‘Snap out of it,’ he tells himself. ‘It’s not like that. You know it.’
He can’t help it that his heart beats in his throat, anyway.
“Mikhail’s called, like, three times,” Yuri says once they get home. It’s obvious that the amount of shots he’s done at Farhat’s house still have the effects on him; he’s swaying slightly and smells like alcohol as Otabek helps him take his shoes off from his hurting feet. “I’m going to call him.” With that, Yuri kicks his shoes off and runs to the guest room.
Otabek calmly goes to the bathroom and throws up. It’s definitely because of the alcohol, otherwise he wouldn’t have tears in his eyes.
Even though he adores snow and likes the cold air, Otabek can’t stand rain.
Rain is destructive; it’s scary. It’s dark and muddy and unbelievably sad. Rain is unforgiving, too; rain is the time when he injured his ankle on a cold November night four years ago. Rain is when his mother cried in front of him, unable to hold back the tears and her heartbreak, when Otabek told her that he would never be the son she wanted him to be. Rain is the guilt; rain is the shame that never goes away.
If there’s anything Otabek knows, it’s that things that are too much alike repel each other – maybe that’s why Otabek hates the rain. They’re too much alike, both a disgrace.
He’s a disgrace to Yuri tonight. He can’t help but look deflated as Yuri talks to other skaters. He can’t even find it in himself to answer Yuri when he tries to talk to him.
“What was that earlier?” Yuri demands to know once they get to the hotel. Otabek, his head low in shame, doesn’t answer. It’s pouring outside of their hotel room even in the middle of June, but it is dead silent inside. Yuri looks so angry, and Otabek hates that he’s the one who gave Yuri that face.
“I’ll tell you what that was, Otabek, you were ignoring me,” Yuri growls. His eyes are like a field on a stormy day. “You were ignoring me, and you know it – that’s why you’re not answering.” He huffs in an attempt to calm himself down, and looks away. Otabek gulps, trying to not let the tears on his face fall.
“Look, if you don’t want to be friends, just tell me,” Yuri says. It’s obvious that he’s struggling to get the words out as well; his eyes are red and he’s sniffling a bit. “I already have been ignored for the first half of my life, I don’t need you to convey the idea that I’m no more than a nobody. I already know it.” Otabek’s surprised at the words that come out of Yuri’s mouth, but doesn’t trust himself to speak. He just dumbly stares at Yuri instead.
“I can’t believe you,” Yuri yells.
‘He’s furious, you made Yuri furious…’
“Are you still not answering?”
‘It’s all your fault...’
“Do you even care?”
Otabek hears a pained noise. It is only after the shocked expression on Yuri’s face that he realizes he made that sound. Then he feels the wetness on his cheeks, and realizes that he’s started crying.
“Please don’t say that,” he pleads quietly. “Please don’t say that I don’t care.” With that, he breaks down, and starts crying in an ugly way with all the noises that come with it. It’s been long since the last time he’s cried like this, he realizes. He promised he would never again after that night with his mother, but here he is, wailing like a child while Yuri stands shocked in front of him.
“I’ll stop, I promise, I’ll stop,” Otabek says, but doesn’t try to stop crying. “I’m sorry.” He wipes his face, but the tears keep coming. He tries to hide his face from Yuri, who now looks genuinely concerned instead of furious. He sits down on his bed and sniffles. The tears don’t stop, neither does the hiccupping. Otabek cries on. Yuri kneels down in front of him, confusion written all over his face.
“I care, I swear I care,” Otabek says. “Please don’t go. I don’t know who I am without you.”
“What do you mean by that?” Yuri asks, but Otabek knows he can’t answer. It’ll be ruined if Otabek confesses.
“Otabek, what do you mean by that?” Yuri looks exasperated, Otabek’s tiring Yuri out, it shouldn’t have come to this…
“You don’t want to know,” Otabek says through the hiccups. “It’ll be ruined if I say.”
“What will be ruined? What is going on here?” Yuri looks worried.
“It’ll all be gone, I’ll ruin, I’ll ruin…”
“Ruin what? Otabek, tell me!”
“I don’t what?”
“You don’t, I’m ruining it -”
“I swear to God, Otabek -”
“I - I love you,” Otabek says. “It’s not that I don’t care; I was trying to give you space. I -” He’s pretty sure he’s barely audible, but Yuri’s eyes widen.
“You… You love me,” he states, waiting for a confirmation.
‘I’ve ruined it.’
“I’ll stop, I promise I’ll stop,” Otabek swears on all the gods he’s ever believed in, pleads falling out of his mouth like the tears on his face. “Please don’t go.”
Yuri looks like he’s going through catharsis. His face instantly relaxes and tears start falling down from his eyes. He’s no way ugly like Otabek is. ‘Yuri looks like an angel even when he’s crying,’ Otabek realizes, and cries even harder. ‘I’ll never be able to see his face again, I’ve ruined it, it’s all my fault…’
“Dumbass,” Yuri says, sniffles, and smacks Otabek’s arm with his hand. “All this time… You absolute dumbass, why didn’t you just tell me?” He’s sobbing, too. Otabek notes that he caused this.
“I thought you were ignoring me because you found out,” Yuri breathes. “I thought you acted odd because you didn’t want me.”
Otabek doesn’t reply, but hears his own heart pump loudly. Surely Yuri’s not saying what Otabek hopes he’s saying, right?
“I love you back, dumbass,” Yuri says, and then laughs. “All this time I thought… And you…”
“You… What?” Otabek can’t help but ask. He just wants to hear the words come out of Yuri’s mouth again.
“I love you.”
‘He loves me, he loves me, he loves me…’
“But… you’ve never given me that smile,” Otabek says dumbly, instead of just accepting Yuri’s comfort and moving on.
“The smile that you give to M-Mikhail… You look like you hate me afterwards…”
Yuri laughs again. “Dumb fuck,” he says. “I swear to God, Jesus Christ, Otabek,” Yuri says. “I – That’s my friendly smile. I just feel too wired around you.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, come on,” Yuri says. “I mean it as in, you make me feel so flustered.”
“God yes.” With that, Yuri is kissing Otabek.
It’s still raining outside. Otabek’s supposed to hate the rain, but he can’t - not with Yuri by his side.
Rain just might be his favorite weather.