Yuuri took to practicing the phrase in Russian over and over again, worried that he would stumble over the pronunciation when he finally got to say it Victor. He wanted it to be a surprise, something to make Victor smile in the way that made Yuuri’s heart hurt with how much he loved him.
He never imagined he would get to feel like this—about the man he’d idolized for so long, no less.
Yuuri ducked his head to hide the smile threatening to split his face in two. He couldn’t help it, whenever he thought of Victor his whole body went warm with the affection he felt for him.
“Take it from the triple axel, Yuuri,” Victor called out in what Yuuri had dubbed his Focused Coach Voice.
“Yes, coach,” Yuuri said with a little wink for Victor.
He felt his face heat as he pushed away, glad to have his back to Victor so he wouldn’t see. He knew Victor loved it when he teased him like that, though. Part of him, a part he didn’t tap into very often, liked it, too.
The ring Victor had given him glinted when it caught the overhead light, and again Yuuri repeated the phrase he’d been practicing in his head as he started his approach for the jump.
I love you, I love you, I love you, Yuuri thought over and over as he leapt into the air, twirling so fast that the world became a blur around him.
Just as he was landing, Yuuri got distracted when he saw Victor talking on the phone. His form shifted. His breath caught and he knew with an awful sinking feeling that he was going to land badly—all over a stupid mistake in his form.
It seemed to happen in slow motion. Yuuri dreaded the moment he was going to crash into the ice, tucking his limbs as tight as he could and trying to protect his head. Just before his body made impact he let out a strained whimper in anticipation. His only thought as his body tumbled across the ice like a limp rag doll was of Victor.
The world around him spun like it had when he’d been mid-jump, and then it all went topsy-turvy as his vision swam and faded to black.
The next thing he was aware of was someone stroking his forehead and repeating his name with an increasingly desperate edge to their voice. Yuuri struggled to blink his heavy eyelids open and winced when Victor’s fingers brushed over the lump on his forehead.
“Ow,” Yuuri said pitifully.
“Oh, Yuuri,” Victor crooned, his expression fraught with worry. “You made me sick watching that landing. I thought you’d broken your neck. Are you okay?”
Yuuri breathed in and out slowly through his nose as he listened to his body. He ached and throbbed. He would be bruised black and blue, that was for sure. “I think so. I don’t think anything is broken. Just really banged up.”
Victor’s breath left him in a shaky rush. “Oh thank god. You scared me.”
His hands fluttered over Yuuri, and he let Victor fuss as he focused on not throwing up while Victor helped him sit up. His head throbbed in protest and he swayed, slumping into Victor’s arms.
“Mm,” Yuuri moaned faintly. “Feel dizzy. You smell nice, though.”
“You probably have a concussion. I wouldn’t be surprised after that landing. What happened?” Victor asked, some of his usual sternness seeping back into his voice now that he knew nothing was broken and Yuuri wasn’t seriously injured.
Yuuri tried to shrug, but that wasn’t comfortable, so he just made a vague gesture with his hand. He let his fingers grip at Victor’s coat to have something to anchor him from floating away.
Victor fished his phone out of his pocket. “I’m going to call the doctor to come look at you. As your coach, you’re being put on rest until we make sure you’re really alright. Don’t even try to fight me on this,” Victor said, cutting Yuuri off when he opened his mouth.
Yuuri listened with half an ear as Victor made the call. He toyed with the buttons on Victor’s coat and closed his eyes when Victor stroked his hair absently.
Suddenly, Yuuri’s eyes snapped open. There was something important. Something he had to tell Victor—right now.
“Victor?” Yuuri asked, tugging on the coat. Victor was still on the phone. “Victor!”
Yuuri pulled on the brown wool insistently until he had Victor’s attention. “What, Yuuri? I’m trying to tell the doctor what happened.”
Yuuri took a breath and mustered all of his courage. He looked up into Victor’s eyes and held his brilliant blue gaze as he told him what he needed him to know, “Я люблю тебя. Позаботься обо мне, пожалуйста.”
Yuuri bit his lip. He was sure his tongue tripped over the phrase sloppily. It didn’t sound as perfect as it had when he learned it from the audio clip online. His heart pounded and his palms became clammy with nerves.
“Victor?” Yuuri asked, his eyes searching Victor’s face for any sign of recognition.
Victor’s eyes became shiny and glistening and Yuuri’s breath hitched. Victor’s tears threatened to spill over as Victor stared down at him. He could hear the echo of someone on the line trying to get Victor’s attention on the phone he held away from his face.
“Yuuri,” Victor whispered thickly.
Yuuri’s heart lurched. God, he loved this man so much. He never wanted to be parted from him, ever. They fit together in every way.
“Yuuri,” Victor repeated, choking out his name. “Of course I will, lyubov moya. Always. I will always take care of you.”
There was a pleasant flutter in Yuuri’s chest as Victor hunched down to kiss him gently, careful to cradle his injured head and not hurt him. Yuuri plucked the cell phone from his hands and finished the call with the doctor as Victor snuffled into Yuuri’s neck, overcome with emotion.