Victor Nikiforov is a man who only ever thinks the best of people, which is why he had been appointed the task of talking to Otabek Altin. Originally, he'd been asked for the dirt on the Kazakh skater by Mila, who had taken a shine to the dark horse of the championship the moment she laid eyes on him. But after Yuri's extravagant exhibition skate, all eyes had turned to Otabek in a very different fashion, and Mila's self interest had turned to sheer curiosity. Otabek Altin.... and Yuri Plisetsky?
Victor swallows hard, wavering at the door. It hadn't just been Mila who had turned to him with her concerns. His own dear Yuuri had watched the skate from the sidelines beside him, and Victor was sure there would be bruises on his arm from how deeply his darling partner had squeezed him. "Did you know?? Is this a thing? Are they...??"
Victor hadn't replied, he had no right to speak on their behalf. Instead, he had watched, finger pressed to his lips, silent in his appraisal. "Victooooor!" Yuuri's voice joined the Chorus of Nosey Skaters. "You know Yurio best! You've got to find out!"
And so he's here, standing outside a hotel room, gathering the courage to knock the door and steadying himself for the torrent of abuse he was certain would rain his way. He'd chosen to talk to Yuri, Russian Team to Russian Team, rather than approach Otabek himself. Face to face with Yuri's hotel door and the accompanying sign; "Gold Medalist SLEEPING, piss off!!!", Victor isn't entirely sure that he's made the right decision.
He runs a hand through his silver hair and forces his trademark smile. Finally, he knocks, and awaits the kitten's claws.
The door opens a crack, and a narrow green eye peers out. "What do you want, old man?"
"Yurio!" Victor beams. "I just came to formally praise you for your exhibition skate! That was quite the performance."
You freaking bet it was, Yuri thinks to himself. He doesn't open the door any further, but he doesn't chastise Victor for greeting him as 'Yurio', either. The compliment has earned Victor clemency this time. Yuri smirks. "Well, what do you expect from a record breaking gold medalist?"
Victor's smile doesn't falter. "I'd expect nothing less," he replies honestly. He pauses for a moment, eyes sparkling. "Lilia did not choreograph your dance."
"No, I did," Yuri snaps. "You think you're the only one who can choreograph your own routines? That old hag wouldn't let me do something as cool as that!"
Victor laughs. After a lifetime under Lilia's tuition, Victor knew Yuri was speaking the truth. The ex-ballet dancer was a woman of classical tradition and the performance Yuri just completed was anything but traditional or classic. "I expect she and Yakov are both nursing a very large headache tonight,” he grins.
Yuri stares at his elder for a moment. "I don't have time for idle chit-chat, I'm totally busy."
"Your sign says you're sleeping."
"I'm busy sleeping, alright? My skate was faster and more dynamic than your sentimental bullshit. I need my rest."
"About that," Victor says, ignoring Yuri's protest. "It was quite the surprise seeing Otabek sharing your ice. I had no idea you two even knew each other..."
Yuri opens the door a little more, allowing Victor a full view of his face, and his expression is incredulous. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realise you and Katsudon had the monopoly on duetting on the ice. Sure didn't mean to steal the thunder away from the silver medalist."
Oh. Is that it? Had Yuri been jealous? Victor knew Yuri well enough to know he'd taken his free skate score as a failure. The overall gold didn't matter if part of it was tarnished. It wasn't a feeling Victor was accustomed to himself, of course, but he knew Yuri, and he knew that the younger skater was as proud a creature as he had been in his youth.
What he hadn't really considered was that he'd stolen the light from Yuri when he allowed it to fall on him instead. He'd joined Yuuri for his exhibition program only at Yuuri's request. His heart and soul now belonged to the Japanese skater. How on Earth could he say no?
Only now, standing before a much younger, much angrier skater with so much yet to learn, Victor realises his blindness.
"Yuri," he says, catching his tongue before the 'o' slips forth, "I'm sorry. I had no idea."
"Whatever, old man. I won gold. I don't need your apologies." Yuri attempts to shut the door, but Victor places his foot into the gap and stops him.
"I joined Yuuri because he asked me to, and because he is so important to me," Victor says softly. "Is Otabek important to you?"
Christ. Cut to the chase, why don't you? Yuri gapes up at the older man, cheeks flushing bright red. Victor braces himself for impact, for the door to slam shut with or without his foot in the way, but nothing happens. Instead, Yuri stands paralysed, staring up at him, and Victor notices his knuckles are white on the door frame.
That's when he realises that it hadn't just been some rebellious act wrought of jealousy and hormonal anger. This was something entirely more.
And finally, after an eternity, Yuri finds his voice.
"He's my friend, alright? He helped me choreograph the skate."
"And it's none of your goddamned business!"
Victor removes his foot just before the door slams shut.