Chapter 1: prologue
They find him with blood dripping down his nose.
He tastes rusted metal on his tongue, but he’s too tired to spit out. He watches the flames nip at his heels. They singe his skin, leave nasty marks that become a ring of scars around his ankles. He sits in silence, with hands folded neatly in his lap and lets the fire surround him.
He closes his eyes and pretends to hear his mother’s voice. He pretends she cards her fingers through his hair and he imagines pressing his ear up against her chest until he hears the gentle thrum of her heart. She hums instead of singing because she doesn’t like her voice. He remembers thinking it sounded weird; broken and out-of-tune. She laughed and pinched his cheeks when he made her pinky-swear to never sing in the shower. With her in mind, the embers almost sizzle out and the last crackles of fire almost lull him to sleep.
It works for a little while. But the fear crawls back up his throat all at once, he feels his blood freeze and heart pound in his ears. He glances down at his neatly folded hands; they tremble. He can’t focus on his thoughts anymore, they scream words at him he doesn’t understand. But underneath them, he thinks that real fear isn’t all that different after all.
He does not scream.
He lifts a dirt-covered hand to rub the sleep from his eyes. When he gets dust in them, he wonders if the tears have been there all along.
They find him with blood dripping down his nose and a hollow look in his eyes.
They tell him things – he doesn’t listen. He falls asleep in someone’s arms – listening instead to the crackle of fire and losing the last of a home.
Chapter 2: i
Yuuri wakes up exactly one minute early to the sound of a heavy crash. He curls deeper into his covers and watches the glowing red numbers of his alarm clock blink back at him. Yuuri waits for the shrill screech of his alarm before he rubs the remnants of sleep from his eyes.
He still doesn’t rise, but listens to the sound of muted police sirens and his own alarm. Yuuri uncurls, splays out on his bed so his fingers hang off the edges, and stares at his ceiling while counting under his breath. When he gets to fifteen, he hears the sound of an ambulance, and finally kicks off the covers to start another day.
Yuuri moved to St. Petersburg six months ago; but it only took him three to learn all the tricks. He knows by now it’s pointless to step foot outside until the ambulance arrives. There’s a high chance he’d walk straight into some kind of squabble. A squabble that will most likely land him in the hospital with at least two broken bones, and enough blood loss that will make him hallucinate his boss giving him a raise. At least, that’s what Mila grumbles every time she stumbles into work after another incident. Yuuri believes it, she’s a loud grumbler and not once has Yakov denied it.
Yuuri almost whimpers at the amount of snow that coats the ground. He got used to the unusual amount of superhero crime in St. Petersburg, but he still hasn’t gotten used to the hypothermia-inducing cold that nips at his toes every time he takes a step outside.
Yuuri fumbles around his counter for his medication and pops a pill dry when he finds it buried underneath a pile of old newspapers. He hates the scratchy feeling it leaves as it slides down his throat, but the feeling keeps him grounded.
Yuuri suits up in what feels like battle armor and calls out to an empty house, “I’m leaving!”
If he pretends hard enough, he can hear his mother’s voice calling back. “Take care!”
Yuuri digs his hands into his pockets, he wears two sets of gloves but his fingers already feel the sharp chill of St. Petersburg’s harsh winds. He buries his nose deeper into his scarf and catches a glimpse of the incident site. Yuuri smiles at the sharp-edged spears of ice rising from the ground – Viktor came.
Viktor Nikiforov, a man known for many things, but the public’s favorite falls on his powers. Viktor wields ice, he dances with it like a lover. Viktor uses magic like a song he choreographs himself, and the ice at his fingertips sway to his tune. It reminds Yuuri of a snake-charmer; the way ice bends to Viktor’s will.
But Viktor (surprisingly) has friends who have a hold on the other elements. Evidence for that lies in the crooked sidewalk formations and cracked streets. Apparently, they – Viktor and his friend group – form some kind of vigilante team. It makes Yuuri think of superhero manga back home, and he can almost picture Viktor getting a spotlight in Shonen Weekly. It sure would make the fangirls go crazy, they live to see Viktor use his magic.
And Yuuri? Well, he admires Viktor too, for all the wrong reasons. Contrary to popular belief, Yuuri doesn’t give a damn about what Viktor can do with his magic – he loves to watch him skate.
It’s against the rules to use any kind of magic in sports competitions, and that’s why Yuuri loves it. Viktor in an ice rink has no authority, the ice bends him, and it does so beautifully. When Viktor saves the world, the ice dances for him.
But when Viktor is free, he dances for the ice.
“Morning Mila,” Yuuri mumbles softly as he uncoils his scarf from his neck. He finds the redhead half-asleep with her mouth hanging open. Yuuri finishes removing his infinite layers and shakes out the bit of snow before it melts in his hair before he gives Mila a nudge.
She blinks up at him unceremoniously, removes her apron, throws it around Yuuri’s neck and charges out the door in nothing but jeans and a T-shirt. She turns and snorts at Yuuri, “Fuck this place.” She storms out.
Yuuri adjusts the apron around his neck with a soft smile. Mila declaring her hatred usually acts as a greeting, Yakov calls her melodramatic, but Yuuri can’t really blame her. The store has an infamous reputation for attracting the snarkier customers in the city. Sometimes Yuuri wonders if they have a huge neon sign invisible to him that reads “Ask for the Manager and Get an Extra 50% Off!” Sometimes he wonders if Yakov posts it, the man has so much pent up rage he yearns to chew a customer’s ear off until they waddle out of his store in tears.
Yuuri grabs a figure-skating magazine off the side of the counter. Viktor’s glossy smile beams up at him and Yuuri smiles back at it as he stretches out and prepares to bum out until someone actually walks in.
Even though Mila must have covered half a block by now, and there’s not a single customer, Yuuri calls out to an empty store, “Have a nice day.”
Viktor drops the box, ignoring the sound of glass shattering and reaches up to stretch his arms. He practically purrs like a cat and wiggles out his fingers before turning back to his partner. “So, ready to continue?”
The man leaning against the wall crosses his arms over his chest and raises an eyebrow. He wears a look that Viktor easily recognizes as the ever-famous Chris-is-choosing-to-pretend-you-aren’t-this-stupid look. But really, if Viktor truly gave a damn about Chris’ feelings, he just wouldn’t be Viktor.
He chooses to saddle up to his best friend and throw an arm around his shoulders to guide him off the wall. “Come on now, don’t you just love spending time with me, your absolute best friend?” Viktor tosses him one of his top smiles – complete with a suggestive eyebrow wiggle and that, if anything, earns a groan and enough energy that makes Chris follow him on his own.
“I was not built for manual labor,” Chris clicks his tongue and throws his arms out dramatically, “You better appreciate this Nikiforov, I’m risking pulling a muscle just for you right now,” Viktor rolls his eyes and resists the urge to accidentally drop an icicle a foot above Chris’ head. The image of Chris floundering around whining about his hair getting wet does tempt him, though.
“Quit whining, you volunteered to help,” Viktor reminds him.
Chris holds out his palms and focuses his eyes on an unsteady pile of snow resting against the side of Viktor’s new apartment complex. With a small flick of the wrist, Chris pushes it into an even layer that clears a path for Viktor and the new cardboard box he lugs into the elevator. “I’m still not sure why you’re moving,” Chris grimaces, “Is it really because of Yuri?”
Viktor wrinkles his nose, “Yuratchka is a growing boy that needs his privacy,” he says. Chris snorts and gives Viktor his signature look until the silver-haired man sighs, “I feel off,” he admits. “I just need some time away from everything, and everyone cramped into one apartment doesn’t really let that happen,”
Chris’ frown deepens, “You get time away at the rink, don’t you?”
Viktor shrugs, “Time away from that too,”
It’s obvious that Chris doesn’t understand; Viktor doesn’t expect him too. He doesn’t know what to name the feeling that grips his heart. His brain calls it loneliness, but Viktor doesn’t understand. He has friends whom he’d trust enough to openly offer his beating heart and a knife to stab it with. They all stand behind him, waiting to hoist him back up every time he falls. But then, Viktor thinks, maybe that’s just it.
In all twenty-seven years of his life, Viktor’s never found someone worthy of calling his equal. Sometimes standing alone on a pedestal made of gold feels as if Viktor carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and they all lean over and watch. They watch for him to slip and leave them to topple so everyone can say they saw the day Viktor Nikiforov couldn’t win anymore.
“I always knew you were a vain man, but don’t you think you have too much stuff?” Chris tears him from his thoughts by gesturing to the remaining load of stacked boxes in his trunk. “And did you really need to take the coffee maker? You realize you’re leaving the rest of us to deal with the monster that is JJ without coffee in the morning,”
Viktor strolls past Chris and pats his cheek with his frozen fingers in the process. He relishes at the hiss he receives and barely dodges the swat to his head. Viktor grabs the coffee machine and hugs it close to his chest, “This, my friend, is quite possibly the one thing I could never live without. I would trade every gold medal I’ve ever won, but not this.”
Viktor catches Chris mumble drama queen under his breath but chooses to ignore it. He heads back towards his apartment and sets his coffee maker gingerly on the counter when his phone goes off.
He and Chris share a glance as Viktor grabs his phone. He scans the message and sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Well, Chris, looks like you’re going to need to finish this move in job alone. Looks like Yakov’s getting robbed…again.”
Viktor thinks about starting a one of those days without accidents calendars for Yakov’s stupid little convenience store.
“I’m not even moving!” Chris blanches. But of course, Viktor ignores him and starts down the street anyways.
Chris mumbles to himself and the ice beneath his shoes starts to melt. “I’m starting a petition to kick Viktor Nikiforov out of Russia.” Chris pauses, thinks of the Grand Prix, and amends his statement, “Off of the planet,”
“Open the register!”
Yuuri glances up from his magazine with a bored look. One of the men holds open a potato sack bag and the other tries to glare his way into Yuuri’s soul. Yuuri’s heart starts to race, and he feels a familiar lump forming in his throat. Yuuri understands he’s probably going to die, but he has a lot of practice acting calm in situations like this. Acting calm doesn’t give him the coherency of calmness, though, so the smartest thing he can force his dry lips to say is, “Huh?”
The first man slams his hands on the counter and presses his nose close to Yuuri’s face. Yuuri idly gives thanks that he’s wearing a ski mask, because the man practically growls in his face, so much so that Yuuri can almost imagine how much spit would fly at him right now. “Open. The. Register.”
Yuuri tries to shut up the loud screaming in his head and find the thoughts buried underneath them. But all those thoughts think how ironic it is that his anxiety helps him appear badass in a hostage situation when he’s just unfortunately used to the constant feeling of fear bubbling in his throat. So Yuuri tries something else, “Let me get my manager,”
The man hurls over the counter and wraps his arm around Yuuri’s throat. Yuuri thinks he feels tears start to form in his eyes and his fingers start to quake. The sane thought in his head wonders if he should have popped an extra pill today, for all the bullshit he’s going through. But Yuuri’s anxiety has its quirks. He touches the small strip of exposed skin between the man’s gloves and his jacket, and he doesn’t let go. Even when the man screams and pulls back and Yuuri smells sizzling flesh – he doesn’t let go.
The pills can only contain his fire so much, after all. Yuuri takes the opportunity to duck underneath the counter and make a bee-line for the back room. He faintly hears the men snarl something at each other before pounding footsteps start to follow him. Idly, Yuuri thinks ice powers would come in handy, he could have spilled the expired milk everywhere and frozen it over. He could have done it for fun to make an ice rink.
But who says he’d control that power any better?
Yuuri shoves a chair underneath the door handle for extra protection and falls limply against the wall. Yuuri’s hands vibrate, in fact, his whole body shakes and Yuuri feels on the verge of passing out. He closes his eyes so tightly that spots litter his vision and shakily uses his dry throat to count to ten before he so much as moves. It works as much as he expects it to, but it works a little. It works enough that Yuuri manages to silently text Yakov while the men try to kick down the door.
“Sorry to bother you, but I think we’re being robbed.”
Yakov replies instantly and Yuuri wonders if he’s used to this. “I’ll call a friend.”
Yuuri brings his knees up to his chest and listens to the rapping against the door. Yuuri watches his own fingers shake with a bored look and holds in a dry laugh. He’s freaking out on the inside, and his screaming thoughts yell that he’s going to die at the young age of twenty-three and he hasn’t even said goodbye to his family yet.
The single sane thought wonders how many empty coffee cups Yakov has stored in this room and Yuuri wonders if it’s really that sane after all. The wood starts to splinter and Yuuri curls tighter around himself, fisting his hands into his jeans and burying his head into his knees so he at least doesn’t have to watch himself die.
“Got you now, you little brat,” the man sneers and makes another grab for Yuuri.
Instead, the man screams again – a lot louder than when Yuuri burned him. Yuuri slowly lifts his head and finds a puddle of red blood starting to drip near his feet. Vaguely he wonders if he’ll have to clean that, more importantly he looks up and finds a delicately crafted spear of ice neatly slicing through the man’s hand.
“Do you?” Yuuri steals a glance behind the man, and that earns an audible gasp out of him. Leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and the smirkiest of smirks Yuuri’s ever seen – stands the Viktor Nikiforov.
Viktor looks over and notices his wide-eyed stare and smiles. “I can’t really let you off for terrorizing such a cutie,” Viktor clicks his tongue. Yuuri feels heat rising in his cheeks and the screaming thoughts for once sound sane. Yuuri doesn’t know what he’s feeling right now, it feels like a fear he’s not used to, a fear he doesn’t know how to react to. Watching Viktor in the flesh starts his heart in a different way.
The second man tries to kick out Viktor’s legs from beneath him. Of course, that doesn’t work. Viktor simply slides to the side and clocks his own knee straight into the man’s chest. Yuuri watches him fall to the ground, clutching his stomach and wheezing for breath. The first man takes a fearful step back, and Viktor actually laughs. “This is too easy,”
Viktor steps around him his smile is dazzling. He giggles at Yuuri and stretches out a hand. Yuuri thinks the sun catches his hair in a way that makes the silver strands glitter. For a moment, he wonders if he’s staring at Viktor or a bouquet of diamonds. He says something to him, something Yuuri can’t make out so he responds in the worst way possible, “Y-Y-You’re Viktor!!!”
When Yuuri makes no move to take his hand Viktor only chuckles and leans down to pull him up himself. And against proper judgement Yuuri actually squeaks. Viktor giggles and ruffles his hair, he takes a moment to marvel at the softness before pinning Yuuri with his most suggestive look. “Commemorative photo?”
Yuuri thinks his face turns at least ten shades of red and his hands tremble to a whole new degree. Yuuri tries to remember how to form words, but his throat feels a lot drier with the Viktor watching him. It doesn’t help that Viktor still holds his hand while he leads them out of danger.
He shuts what’s left of the splintered door and leans against it while still watching Yuuri stumble for words. The way he watches him makes Yuuri want to whimper, he’s scared and turned on all at once and he doesn’t know which feeling to act on right now. He chooses the one he knows best.
“I…I um…watch you-“
“Save the city?” Viktor chuckles, “That is what Heroes do,”
“…skate,” Yuuri finishes lamely.
That catches Viktor off guard, enough that his smirk peels away to reveal genuine shock. “You only watch me skate?”
The incredulous look in Viktor’s eye gives Yuuri back his ability to speak. It’s easier to talk when Viktor doesn’t look like a lion waiting to devour him. “Uh…yea. You’re amazing,” Yuuri mumbles with a blush.
“I just saved your life,” Viktor tells him. He grabs Yuuri’s shoulders and leans impeccably close. Yuuri thought his face couldn’t get any hotter but here Viktor is, proving him wrong. “I just saved your life,” he repeats.
“Uh…thanks?” Yuuri tries. Against his better judgement, Yuuri mumbles, “But I’m only a fan of your skating,”
The police and Yakov show up after that. Viktor grudgingly answers their questions and ignore the sneering looks of the police – they clearly are a fan of neither his skating nor his heroics. When Viktor turns to look for Yuuri, the small man is long gone. Yakov looks at him questioningly when he demands to know the name of “the adorable, squishy kid.”
“Yuuri,” Yakov tells him, “Leave him alone Viktor, he’s a good kid.”
But Viktor wouldn’t dream of that; for the first time in a while, he felt alive.
Viktor grudgingly admits that Chris does a good job of keeping all of his stuff intact. His only regret is the yellow-sticky note stuck to his door. It’s written in Chris’ familiar chicken-scratch writing and it reads, ‘you unpack the porn yourself.’ Underneath he draws a very thorough, very detailed, picture of a dick. Viktor takes a moment to pray his neighbors understand the concept of a joke and crumples up the note before shoving it in his pocket.
Viktor barely gets a foot in the door before he’s knocked back out. Viktor laughs when his poodle pounces on him and begins to nuzzle his neck. “Sorry Makkachin, new environment must have been scary for you, huh?” The poodle barks in confirmation and presses a big, slobbering kiss to the side of Viktor’s face.
Viktor tries coaxing Makkachin back into their apartment but she stubbornly plants her butt outside his door and refuses to budge. Viktor adores his poodle more than he tolerates most humans, but considering they live in a pet-free apartment building – he can’t let Makkachin have her way this time.
“Maka, you will get in here right now.” Viktor crosses his arms and stomps his foot to prove his point. But Makkachin has her owner wrapped around her paw, she displays the best puppy dog eyes she can muster and even lets out an experimental whimper.
As expected, Viktor turns to mush. “Oh, Maka!” He drops to the floor and wraps his arms around her body and scratches all the right places. He nuzzles into her neck and Makkachin licks the side of his face again, earning a laugh. Viktor attempts to reason with his poodle, but Makkachin’s attention is quickly drawn elsewhere.
Viktor’s ears perk up at the sound of a surprised yelp and he looks over to find that Makkachin has claimed a new victim for her kisses. Viktor panics, “Maka, no!” he gasps and makes a grab for her collar. Before he pulls her off though, the boy she sits on laughs it off and scratches at all the places Viktor knows to scratch.
“It’s okay, I have a poodle like her back home and – V-Viktor?!”
Viktor’s smile stretches impossibly large. So large Yuuri thinks he’s actually going to rip his face in half – it’s as creepy as it is attractive and that makes Yuuri question himself on a whole new level. Viktor squats down so he’s eye level with newly flustered Yuuri and giggles. “Oh Yuuri, if you came this far to talk to me, you could have just asked for my number,”
Yuuri looks away with a flustered face, “I live here,” he mumbles and jiggles his keys in Viktor’s direction for emphasis.
Viktor blinks, “You…live here?”
And as if Makkachin understands the implications of that, she wags her tail excitedly and licks a long stripe down the side of Yuuri’s face. Viktor feels like she’s welcoming him to the family, Yuuri feels like she’s dragging him into hell. “Um…sorry for asking but if you didn’t know I live here, then what are you doing here?” Yuuri questions, idly scratching behind Makachin’s ears in a way that makes her curl against his stomach.
For some reason, the sight makes Viktor’s cheeks warm. Viktor chooses to play around, because watching Yuuri’s cheeks color makes his own heart swell. He leans closer to Yuuri’s face so that their noses bump against each other and looks directly into Yuuri’s widening eyes as he speaks, “Who says I didn’t come here for a cutie like you?”
Yuuri, un-shockingly, shoves Viktor away and turns his red face away. Makkachin whines when Yuuri gently pushes her off his lap and stands up, brushing her fur from his jeans. “Really,” he reiterates, pretending the deep flush on his cheeks isn’t there, “Why did you come here?”
Viktor giggles and shakes his own keys an inch away from Yuuri’s face. “It looks like we’re neighbors!” He throws an arm around Yuuri’s shoulders and presses their faces together. “This must be a dream come true for you, you get to live next door to me!”
Despite proper judgement, Yuuri does wear a tiny smile. He’s arrogant and loud, but he’s not wrong. After all, even when Katsuki Yuuri was six years old and a happy little boy that didn’t care about the fire that coursed through his veins, his dream was to share the ice with the Viktor Nikiforov.
“Well,” Yuuri sighs while awkwardly patting Viktor on the head. “I guess it’s close enough,”
It turns out, despite saving people’s ass every day and earning countless gold medals to frame on his wall – Viktor Nikiforov is a terrible neighbor. Perhaps calling him terrible is cruel; Yuuri settles for extremely annoying.
Viktor has little boundaries for personal space. Yuuri’s not huge on touching, partly due to his culture but also partly because his inability to control his magic often left people getting burned. His medication helps with that now, but old habits die hard.
Viktor, on the other hand, lives to touch. Whenever they talk Viktor always has to touch him. Viktor always greets him with a hug – usually by surprise. They always linger just a bit too long, but Yuuri’s given up on pushing him off. He learns it’s a lot easier to just let Viktor have his way, but that results in even more touching. Sometimes they get the mail together and Viktor keeps a casual arm around is shoulders as they walk. If Yuuri ever catches him in the laundry room, Viktor presses up against his side and leans his head on his shoulder and takes a mini-nap while he waits for his whites for finish.
It’s difficult for Yuuri, so scared of touch to deal with all this. He usually goes rigid in Viktor’s arms, and awkwardly pats him on the back until he lets go. It dies down the more time goes on, but Yuuri’s face still flushes a deep shade of red every time he comes across Viktor. It’s difficult, but eventually Yuuri gets used to it enough to actually relax when Viktor hugs him.
But those only constitute as minor annoyances.
The major annoyance comes when Viktor bangs on Yuuri’s door at six am in the morning and screams, “Yuuri, hurry!!! It’s an emergency!”.
Yuuri tumbles out of his bed, blanket still coiled around his ankles and takes an extra thirty seconds kicking it off before bolting towards his door. He yanks the door open and finds Viktor staring down at him a huge pout and that’s when Yuuri realizes – this probably isn’t an emergency. “Viktor,” he mumbles, “It’s too early for this…”
Yuuri absently reaches up to rub his eyes and lets out a yawn. It takes his sleep-ridden brain a moment to realize Viktor hasn’t spoken yet. “Oi…” Yuuri waves his hand around to grab his attention, “What’s your emergency?”
His “emergency” slips Viktor’s brain completely. He’s too preoccupied with Katsuki Yuuri answering his door in nothing but a pair of boxers and an oversized t-shirt. There’s nothing suggestive about it – the T-shirt has some faded Japanese letters sewn across the chest and they’re a normal pair of plaid boxers. But something about hearing Yuuri mumble while rubbing his eyes makes Viktor want to reach over and smooth down the unruly strands of hair and pull Yuuri into his chest and crawl back into bed. He wants to press his nose into those soft brown locks and breathe in that strange mix of lavender and vanilla that he always finds on Yuuri.
Viktor snaps out of it when Yuuri flicks his nose. He blinks and suddenly remembers the cause for his dilemma. “Yuuuuuuri!!!” Viktor throws his arms around the smaller boy, almost toppling them both to the ground. Yuuri lets out a small “Uf!” and readjusts to accommodate both their weight. “My friends are coming over later and I want to impress them and show them that I’m the most amazing cook in the world but I don’t know how to cook!”
Yuuri wonders just how sad of a life he must live when all of that nonsense actually makes sense as a Viktor-emergency.
Yuuri names off the simplest Russian things that come to the top of his head. Viktor shoots them all down because, ‘I can’t beat JJ with something like that!’ With an exasperated groan, Yuuri suggests, “How about Katsudon?”
As expected, Viktor wears a confused look that resembles a constipated puppy. Even Makkachin looks concerned. “Are you insinuating we cook you?”
Yuuri can’t help it, he snorts and laughs in Viktor’s face. The Russian man retaliates with a pinch to his cheek and whines, “Yuuuuri, don’t laugh at me!”
“I’m sorry,” Yuuri clutches his stomach and holds in a wheeze. “Sorry, it’s Japanese. I can’t do it justice, but I can try?” He offers a quick explanation to what Katsudon even is, and Viktor’s eyes light up.
Yuuri decides to stay to help – he really doesn’t like the idea of leaving Viktor alone in a kitchen with sharp things and fire. Somehow, he feels Makkachin appreciates the sentiment with the look she gives him. It doesn’t end up in as huge of a disaster as he thinks, although Viktor’s gains a lot more stains than it started with (Yuuri knows some of those are his fault – but Viktor the idiot naturally assumes they must have been him, and Yuuri doesn’t bother to correct him.)
Yuuri forgets how much rice to add, and by instinct, reaches out to his phone. His thumb hovers over her name but he stops himself. Makkachin’s ears perk up, she nudges Yuuri at the back of his knees and he gives her a friendly pat. If his smile doesn’t reach quite as high as it usually does, Maka doesn’t comment. “Hey Viktor, can you google how much rice to add? I forgot,”
Yuuri’s phone screen locks with the picture of a woman who has his eyes and wears his smile. Her smile stretches far, but so does the red burn mark on the right side of her face. They took the picture years later, but the burn still looks fresh, as if someone smacked her across the face yet she still has the strength to smile. Yuuri ignores the pang in his heart when he catches a glimpse of the name Mom.
Yuuri’s Katsudon is a hit.
Viktor wears a proud smile when JJ licks the bowl clean. Viktor throws an arm around Yuuri’s shoulder as he speaks. “See? I told you I could beat you,” Viktor smirks. JJ glances up, rice sticking to his teeth and narrows his eyes at Yuuri. The poor boy keeps his shoulders tense and hands fisted into his jeans – people already make him nervous, but JJ looks downright predatory.
As if sensing Yuuri’s apprehension JJ clears his throat. “Thank you,” he purposely points a chopstick at Yuuri, “For this,” he mumbles. Viktor bristles and starts to argue – JJ shuts him up by flicking a piece of rice that actually goes up Viktor’s nose.
Yuuri laughs so hard he cries, and he decides that maybe Viktor’s friends aren’t so bad after all. “It’s not that great,” another one mumbles. Yuuri recognizes him as Yuri Plisetsky, and Viktor warned him Yuri doesn’t take well to new people. A tall man lightly taps Yuri on the shoulder, Viktor introduced him as Otabek, Yuri ignores him with a grunt.
Yuuri shrugs, “My mom could do better,” he agrees.
Viktor finally manages to snort out the piece of rice and accidentally freezes the tiles underneath JJ’s feet. “Yura!” he whines and angrily points a finger at Yuri, “Don’t be so mean!”
Yuri scoffs, “There’s only room for one Yuri, and it sure ain’t him,” he grumbles. Otabek taps Yuri on the shoulder again, this time his lips dip only slightly – and Yuuri only guesses it’s meant to be a frown. Yuri crosses his arms with a huff, and Yuuri wonders if Otabek actually sighs at that or if it’s a trick of the light.
“So Yuuri,” another man besides Viktor throws his arm over his shoulders and squeezes him against his side. Yuuri stumbles for a moment but looks up to find Chris’ smiling widely at him. Unlike Viktor’s smile that dazzles a little bit – this is just creepy. “How did Viktor manage to catch someone as delectable as you?”
At this Viktor swoops around Chris and manages to steal Yuuri back, “None of your business, Yuuri’s my friend,” he snaps.
“Viktor, I’m not a toy,” Yuuri grumbles, poking him under the chin. “I have other friends, you know.”
Viktor fakes hurt, and Yuuri rolls his eyes and ignores him. He’s used to Viktor’s melodrama by now (and he even thinks Plisetsky gives him a nod of approval for that). “I live next door,” he responds to Chris’ question. “We just sort of hit it off from there,”
Well, Viktor more-so demanded Yuuri play a constant role in his life, but Yuuri decides to spare Viktor the embarrassment and leaves that out.
The tile beneath JJ’s feet begins to smoke. He pins Viktor with a smirk as his little ice tile becomes JJ’s owns personal hot spring. He snorts, “Please, no one can actually beat the undefeated King JJ,” He kicks his feet on the couch and everyone (even Otabek) groans.
“Didn’t know your couch was the throne of King Asshole – should have at least got 50% off for that,” Yuri snorts. Otabek doesn’t even move and Yuuri smiles at that.
JJ flips him off and even adds a little spark that makes Yuri yelp and scoot into Otabek. “Viktor! He’s trying to turn me into a s’more!”
“You’d make a pretty salty one,” Chris remarks.
Viktor doesn’t answer – he watches Yuuri instead. Yuuri’s hands sit neatly in his lap, but he wears a broken smile. If Viktor looks closely, he sees Yuuri’s finger tremble slightly and he wants to assume its nerves – but his eyes. Yuuri’s eyes watch the flame dancing on JJ’s hands as he torments Yuri. The younger Russian shrieks and uses his own wind magic to blow it out, but JJ keeps conjuring a new flame with a cackle. Yuuri almost looks longing. The smile he wears looks torn, like someone ripped it in half and desperately tried to sew it back together.
Judging on the forlorn look in Yuuri’s eyes, they didn’t do a very good job. “Yuuri?” Viktor nudges him gently and Yuuri jumps.
“Ah sorry, just spacing out,” he laughs nervously and quickly looks away.
Viktor frowns, he loves to tease Yuuri, but this isn’t that. This isn’t Yuuri looking away to hide a blush. “Are you okay?” He tries again.
Yuuri smiles up at him, a smile Viktor hopes he never sees again, “Yea, why wouldn’t I be?” Viktor relents only due to Makkachin nudging her nose into his legs. He reaches over to give her a pat but she ducks away to snuggle into Yuuri instead. At least, Viktor thinks, his dog can provide comfort where he can’t.
“So anyways,” Chris interrupts Yuri and JJ’s mini-squabble with a huff. “How does it feel?” He smiles towards Yuuri, “To be inducted into a group of world-saving heroes,” he wiggles his eyebrows.
JJ rolls his eyes, “Are we though? Viktor takes all the credit for everything,”
Viktor flashes a smile, “Jealous?”
Yuri and JJ share a resigned look, but JJ doesn’t speak and they all turn back to Yuuri. “Eh?” He scratches the back of his neck, “It’s not that cool,” he answers honestly. JJ and Chris snap to attention and shout something Yuuri barely makes out. “E-Eh I mean it’s nice and all but a lot of people have powers…it’s really not that cool,”
“Yuuri likes skating better,” Viktor says.
Surprisingly, Yuri jumps this time. “Skating? Like ice-skating?” He looks at Yuuri so viciously that he wonders if Yuri knows how to wear emotions without acting like he’s going to cut someone’s throat open.
“Y-yea,” Yuuri stammers, “Your quads are really good – by the way,”
Yuri leans back with a smirk, “Of course they are.” He crosses his arms behind his head and wears a smirk, “I guess your friend is kind of ok,”
And for the first time that night, Otabek speaks, “That means Yuri likes you,”
Yuuri jumps and nearly falls off his stool. Yuuri frantically mumbles out a greeting but finds Yuri Plisetsky glowering at him instead. “Oh, it’s just you,” he relaxes slightly but Yuri still sneers at him. But from what he’s been told, that’s how Yuri says hello.
JJ rolls his eyes and kicks Yuri in the shin, who yelps, but still glowers – this time at JJ. “You work here?” JJ questions.
“Yea,” Yuuri shrugs.
Yuri narrows his eyes, “Yakov or Mila never mentioned that,”
Yuuri raises an eyebrow, “You know them?”
“You didn’t know? Yakov’s our coach – well everyone’s coach,” JJ responds, then chuckles. “In more ways than one,”
As if on cue, Yakov marches out of the back room with his typical gruff look. Yuuri giggles at the way both JJ and Yuri just stiffen. “Well, Yuuri, nice to see you again. Lovely chat, but we have errands to run, don’t we?” JJ reaches over to give him a quit pat and makes a bee-line for the exit.
“Yes!” Yuri agrees and it’s almost comical how they try so hard to simply march out the store as if Yakov hasn’t already prepared to attack. “Errands, so many. I think my cat is hungry, she’s always hungry.”
“My socks are dirty,” JJ supplies.
Yakov grabs them both by the collar and yanks them back. “Really?” he snarls, “These sound like problems you could have solved in the morning – you know, when you weren’t at practice,”
“I swear it’s Yuri’s fault,” JJ says.
“MY fault???” Yuri points an accusatory finger, “He gave alcohol to a minor!”
“That minor was you!” JJ snaps and tries to push Yakov off to make a lunge for Yuri’s throat. “You blackmailed me!!”
Yakov narrows his eyes, “Unless you boys want to explain any part of that,” both JJ and Yuri vehemently nod their heads in disagreement, “I suggest you wake up extra early tomorrow. Three times as early, no four times as early and you will do every jump ever created in the existence of skating until your feet bleed.”
Yuuri almost expects them to salute and cry out ‘Sir, yes sir!’ as if Yakov is a military commander. He sure looks the part, anyways. Yakov turns to Yuuri and the boy jumps at the ferocity of his gaze. “And you stop getting involved with my skaters! They’re idiots!”
“I-I didn’t know they were your skaters,” Yuuri stammers.
Yakov huffs. “I’ve been tasked with the unfortunate duty to train these idiots in everything,” JJ mouths the word ‘sorry’ towards Yuuri while younger Yuri rolls his eyes. At first Yuuri doesn’t understand.
Then, Yakov spends an actual hour complaining how not one of his kids ever do anything he tells them to. “They’re trash.” He finishes, and glares daggers at his students for emphasis. “Every single one of them is trash. And they’re magic is worse.”
And that catches Yuuri’s attention, “You can use magic?”
Yakov blinks, “You didn’t know? I used to be headmaster for that fancy pants magic Academy in America. But that place went downhill, so I quit and became a skating coach – one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” He grunts.
Yuuri smiles softly, “Yea, I haven’t heard very nice things about that place.”
“You know Yuuri,” JJ starts, trying to steer Yakov away from belittling them, “Why are you in St. Petersburg anyways?”
Yuuri falters for a moment, “E-eh? O-Oh I…” he swallows thickly and Yakov narrows his eyes. “W-Well I just always liked the city,” he lies, racking his brain for something to say. ‘I wanted to get as far as possible from any connection to my old life’ doesn’t sound like the right thing to say. “It’s pretty here, and I felt bored at home,”
“Oi,” Yakov slams his palms on the table. “What are you idiots doing here anyways? If you have time to waste, get the hell out of my store and practice!” Once again, both skaters jump to attention and JJ grabs Yuri by the scruff of the neck and drags him out. Yuuri hears him wailing something about cat food, but JJ shuts him up with another kick to the shin.
“What’s your last name again?” Yakov asks.
Yuuri looks down at his hands, “Katsuki.”
“Katsuki Yuuri,” Yakov repeats. Yuuri waits for him to continue, but Yakov stays silent for a long time. Long enough that Yuuri counts to thirty, and he still can’t stop skipping breaths.
Yuuri chooses to break the silence, to quell his anxiety. “D-Do you remember…?”
“A Katsuki Yuuri?” Yakov snorts. “I’ve never heard that name in my life.”
Yuuri wears a shaky smile. “T-Thank you, I-I –“
Yakov cuffs him on the head gently, “Shut up you brat. Didn’t vote for you to get kicked out anyways,” he grumbles under his breath. “I’m going to stock the shelves,”
Yakov heads back towards his office, and Yuuri knows he’s not going to stock the shelves. He’s going to laze around in there and sleep for a few hours until he yells and makes Yuuri do it. But that’s not why he leaves – Yuuri reaches up and feels the trace of tears on his cheeks and sucks in another shaky breath. Yakov can’t hear him, but Yuuri whimpers out a small, “Thank you,” anyways.
Yakov falls lazily into his favorite chair and counts the empty coffee mugs that litter his desks. Yakov stares at the brown spots on his ceiling and idly wonders what cruel twist of fate made him adopt all the broken kids in the world.
With a sigh, Yakov kicks his feet on his desk and lowers his cap to cover his eyes. “I, for one, did not sign up for this bullshit,” he mutters to no one.
But even so, Yakov will accept his duties all the same. Someone has to keep these kids in line. What’s another one to add to the list?
Later that night Viktor runs into Yuuri in the laundry room, staring at the washing machine with an empty look in his eye. “Yuuuuri!” Viktor prances over and bumps their shoulders together – Yuuri flinches.
Flinch serves as an understatement, Yuuri practically leaps five feet in the air and for a moment, Viktor swears he sees traces of fear in his eyes. “Woah, are you alright?” Viktor steadies Yuuri by the shoulders and the younger man slumps against the wall.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in,” he mumbles.
Viktor slowly lets go and shifts positions so they stand side by side. “I’d find that concerning enough due to the fact that I am simply the most amazing man in Russia, and you should always be alerted to my presence,” Yuuri snorts and Viktor notes that as a minor victory. “But I mostly find it concerning considering you complain about hearing this particular door slam even though we live two floors up,” Yuuri smiles still, but lowers his gaze, “Penny for your thoughts?”
Yuuri doesn’t speak. Viktor doesn’t press. They stand with their shoulders pressed together and Viktor feels warm. The gentle hum of the washing machine and Yuuri’s warm body pressed up against his makes his eyes droop and slides down to the floor and drags Yuuri with him.
Then, Yuuri speaks.
“What would I have to do to make you hate me?” He whispers.
“Huh?” Viktor pulls away to glance over, and Yuuri’s eyes look cold. He pulls his knees up against his chest and rests his head on them so Viktor can see the reflection of the washer in his eyes. That’s all he sees – Yuuri sits expressionless. “Yuuri, you could never do anything to make me hate you,” Viktor says.
“I’m serious.” Yuuri steels his voice, but Viktor watches the way his fingers curl into his jeans. “Hypothetically, what would make you hate me?”
Viktor leans against the wall. “A lot of things, I guess,” he admits.
“What if…” Yuuri whispers, “What if I hurt you?”
“There’s a lot of ways to hurt someone, Yuuri,”
Yuuri doesn’t speak for a long time. “I guess so, huh?”
Viktor doesn’t know what’s happening. He’s not good at comforting people. But he does what his mother used to do to him and gently coaxes Yuuri over to him. He rests Yuuri’s head against his chest and waits until his shoulders sag to slowly start running his fingers through his hair. “I wouldn’t hate you if you hurt me, Yuuri.”
Yuuri shudders against him and Viktor’s chest feels wet. Yuuri curls his fingers into his shirt and whimpers and Viktor has the pressing urge to find out what caused this. Who caused this. But Viktor sits silently, gently loosening the tangles out of Yuuri’s hair and rubbing his back. Yuuri cries quietly, so quietly Viktor can barely hear him over the sound of the washer. “Do you…do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” Yuuri says instantly. “No, I…” he moves to pull away but Viktor pulls him back down.
“We don’t have to,” he counters, “It just…might help?”
Yuuri ponders over that. He tries to think back to the last time he’s ever spoke with anybody. He thinks back to rooming with Phichit and Phichit rubbing warm circles down his back when he cried. Yuuri thinks to all the times Phichit’s hands would sport angry red marks and Phichit would smack him senseless if Yuuri ever dared to hesitate to touch him. But even so, even Phichit could only do so much.
Yuuri lifts his hand and turns it over a few times. Viktor watches the remnants of tears glimmer in his eyes and it all makes his heart seize. Yuuri looks so hopeless, he examines his own hands as if they once held something so precious and then it slipped through his fingers. Viktor imagines Yuuri laying in an empty bed just like this. He imagines him with hollows eyes, curled under a blanket and holding back sobs with no one to hold him and it kills him.
It doesn’t bother him that it’s Yuuri, it bothers him that Viktor knows the feeling. He owns five gold medals neatly plastered on his wall – but Viktor Nikiforov knows loneliness. “Yuuri, how about a sleepover?”
Yuuri lifts his head off Viktor’s chest and looks up at him with that same coldness that he can’t seem to shake. Yuuri starts to protest, but then stops himself. For a second, a bit of warmth returns to his gaze and Yuuri shrugs, “Yea, okay.”
A few days later, Yuuri once again stands before him in nothing but boxers and a T-shirt, with his hair all disheveled but this time the look in his eye looks more annoyed than concerned. “What is it this time?” Yuuri murmurs while stifling a yawn.
But Viktor smiles at him, “Have you looked outside?”
Yuuri blinks, he leaves the apartment door open to allow Viktor to stroll inside and watch Yuuri peak behind his blinds. “It’s…snowing?” he looks back and finds Viktor nodding encouragingly. “This may come as a shock to you,” Yuuri grumbles, “But snow is a rather common thing during winter.”
Viktor rolls his eyes, “It’s also cold,”
Yuuri crosses his arms, “Yes, I hear that’s a pretty popular feeling too,”
“Yuuuuuriii!” Viktor whines, “It’s cold enough to make ice! We can skate, outside!”
That catches Yuuri’s attention, “Outside? We can…is there even an outdoor rink?”
Viktor shrugs, “Technically? Not really, but there’s that lake in the park – it’s probably mostly frozen – I can help it along the rest of the way,” he winks.
“Hold on, let me get changed,” Yuuri sprints back to his room and he’s so excited it reminds Viktor of a child. It reminds him of his own childhood, back when he skated for fun with other kids and no one cared about jumps but only about who could get the most snow stuffed down their pants by the end of the day without crying. And Viktor misses that, it’s like he lost a part of his love when he chose to skate competitively.
Then Yuuri stumbled into his life in order to bring it all back.
But while Viktor waits for Yuuri, he can’t help but wander around. Yuuri doesn’t have very many pictures up – a few of what must be his family back home, and one of him cradling a dog that looks a lot like Makkachin in her younger days. But then something catches his eye and Viktor can’t keep his curiosity at bay.
Alprazolam for 0.5mg.
Take once a day as needed.
“Hey Yuuri,” he calls, “What are these for?”
Yuuri pops his head out the door and Viktor giggles, his hair still sticks out everywhere and he’s currently half dressed in a fluffy winter coat and a pair of Pokémon boxers. “I wish I could take a picture of this,”
“Shut up,” Yuuri snaps back and tries to return to his hunt for pants.
“Wait you didn’t answer, what are these for?” Viktor reminds him.
Yuuri calls out from his bedroom, “Nothing really, I use them for anxiety when my nerves get a little bad,”
Yuuri prays that Viktor drops it – it’s not completely a lie. But it’s not completely the truth either, and that’s really not something Yuuri wants to deal with right now. He stumbles out of his room, all bundled up and weaving a scarf around his neck. “You ready?” Yuuri grabs his skates out of his closet and he feels giddy. “I haven’t really had the time to skate in forever,” he laughs wistfully. “So forgive me if I’m not gold-medal material,”
Viktor laughs and shoves him lightly and he ponders how much of a friend he’s found in Yuuri. Katsuki Yuuri is fun to mess with, Viktor loves being affectionate enough to turn Yuuri the color of a firetruck. But there’s something else about him, something that finally makes Viktor feel alive. He doesn’t regret leaving his old home, not if it earned him a beautiful new neighbor that gives Viktor his inspiration back.
The best part, Viktor thinks, Yuuri doesn’t even know it. He doesn’t know that Viktor thinks of his smile when he skates, or that bright look in his eye. Katsuki Yuuri doesn’t know that he inspired Viktor’s routine this year, and Viktor can’t wait to show him. Especially with the Rostelecom cup just around the corner.
Speaking of, Viktor laces up his skates and gets a smug look on his face. “Sooo, Yuuri.”
Yuuri finishes tying up his own skates and looks up at Viktor, “Hm?”
“I think I have something that will make you grovel at my feet and declare your undying love,” Viktor wiggles an eyebrow suggestively.
“Oh really, and what would that be?”
“It’s a surprise!” Viktor laughs. “How about this, if you can….” Viktor ponders for a moment, and smirks, “If you can nail a quad flip – I’ll tell you right now, otherwise you have to wait.”
Viktor expects Yuuri to pout and push him into the snow. But instead Yuuri just giggles, and stretches out a hand, “Yea? Shake on it then,” he demands. Viktor reluctantly shakes Yuuri’s outstretched hand and briefly wonders if he’s somehow getting hustled.
Yuuri smirks at him and all of a sudden Viktor feels himself blush. There’s something in the way Yuuri looks at him, oozing an amount of confidence Viktor never knew Yuuri even had that makes his cheeks go pink and heart race even faster for the younger man than it did before. “Remember, Nikiforov, you made this bet,” Yuuri actually winks.
And then, Viktor realizes, Yuuri’s actually going to attempt it. Viktor quickly scrambles onto the ice, “Yuuri wait, don’t actually do it! That’s a very dangerous jump, even I still flub the landing sometimes – you’re going to hurt yourself.”
Yuuri giggles back at him, “I’ve never made the landing before, but I think I’ll give it a shot,”
Before Viktor can question him, Yuuri shoots off, making a few wide circles on the ice and then he jumps. Viktor considers shutting his eyes, he doesn’t want to watch Yuuri come tumbling down – but then he realizes, Yuuri knows what he’s doing.
Viktor’s jaw drops, Yuuri makes the perfect amount of rotations and his form is marvelous. It’s the exact form a skater should have – but that’s not what takes Viktor’s breath away. Yuuri smiles in a way that Viktor feels like he’s watching the sun. Yuuri shines out there, his face drips with happiness. And then Yuuri laughs, he laughs so loud and boisterous that Viktor feels his heart cry.
Never in his life had Viktor heard a laugh that truly embodied the definition of happiness until he heard that.
Yuuri stumbles on the landing, almost falls straight on his ass – but he lands it. And before Viktor can help himself, he’s tackling Yuuri to the ice with a surge of emotion he’s never felt before.
And because he truly, truly can’t help himself – Viktor kisses him.
And when he pulls away Yuuri’s smiling up at him, “I flubbed the landing, but I still got the surprise?”
“Idiot!” Viktor snaps, “That wasn’t the surprise,” And then Yuuri laughs his magical laugh again and Viktor pulls the smaller man into his arms. “I didn’t know you were actually a skater! That’s not fair!”
Yuuri shrugs, “I tried to do it professionally, but my anxiety and competitions just don’t mix. So what’s your surprise?”
Viktor laughs and bunch their foreheads together, “I wanted to ask you to join me at the Kiss and Cry at the Rostelecom Cup – but you already got the kiss so I think I take back that invite,”
Yuuri giggles, “Well, I already got invited,”
Viktor pulls away and does a double take, “By who?”
Yuuri winks back at him, “That’s a surprise,”
“Katsuki Yuuri, you are not allowed to act like this!”
Yuuri just laughs, and shoves snow down Viktor’s pants.
Viktor finds out just who dared to invite Yuuri to the Kiss and Cry before him on his own.
“Yuuurii,” he calls, rapping on his door.
When the door swings open – it’s not Yuuri who opens it. Viktor freezes. “Um.”
“Hello.” The boy states with a blank expression. “Yuuri is busy at the moment.”
“And you’re….staying with Yuuri?”.
And then the gears in Viktor’s head start to turn. “You invited Yuuri to the Kiss and Cry before me???”
Phichit narrows his eyes and shuts the door in Viktor’s face. Behind closed doors, Viktor hears: “Yuuri, your boyfriend is an idiot.” And Yuuri’s characteristic, embarrassed squawking.
“Yes,” Viktor says to a closed door, “I am.”
The day of his performance, Viktor doesn’t give a damn about the medals. Instead of practicing, he watches Yuuri fidget in the stands. Viktor feels love-struck, just watching Yuuri shred the program in his hands makes him chuckle. Yuuri looks nervous, glancing around the stands, but there’s a happy flush in his cheeks and Viktor feels proud. He feels proud that he caused that.
Viktor smooths out the seams of his costume, today’s performance means a lot more than just a gold medal. He’s gonna show Yuuri just how amazing Viktor Nikiforov truly is. He pictures pouncing into Yuuri’s open arms at the kiss and cry, and he gets giddy at the thought. Yuri throws him a weird look at that – but he mumbles something about “old man’s going insane.” Before strolling away to practice some of his jumps.
But then, it happens.
Viktor doesn’t pay attention the first time a police officer marches into arena. But when a flock of them saddle up to Yakov – things start to get worrisome. Yakov frowns, and beckons Viktor over. “Looks like you’re needed elsewhere, Vitya,” he says gruffly.
Viktor feels his heart plummet. “They’re postponing the competition for now,” Yakov continues. “There’s some kind of beast terrorizing the city – apparently the police can’t handle it but they think you can,” he gestures towards the other skaters that have already started removing their skates. No one else seems to care as much as Viktor. Viktor glances up to the stands and he sees Yuuri’s confused face, and Viktor’s heart sinks even more.
Yakov frowns, “I’m sorry Vitya,”
Viktor huffs and gives Yuuri an apologetic look, and Yuuri nods back like he understands. But Viktor sees the disappointment in his eyes. For a brief moment, he wonders if he could quit this hero business just to skate for Katsuki Yuuri forever and watch that smile light up his face. “Come on,” Yuri tugs on his sleeve, and Viktor finds it ironic he looks just as disappointed as the other Yuuri.
“You know,” Chris starts, “I don’t think figure-skating costumes and superhero suits are really meant to be the same thing,”
“Just be grateful we’re fighting an actual monster and not a person to laugh at this,” JJ mumbles.
Viktor ignores them and calculates the amount of time it would take to spear an icicle straight through the beast’s throat. It stands at twice his height and it has slime dripping out of its mouth. The scales look heavy duty and Viktor has no idea if his ice can even pierce that. But Viktor aims to make this quick – he doesn’t need the promise of a medal to skate for Yuuri, he can do it just the two of them.
Viktor thinks this will be quick, Viktor is wrong.
Against proper judgement, Yuuri bolts from the arena and tries to follow Viktor. They don’t notice him (he hopes it stays that way; Viktor wouldn’t like this) but Yuuri can only make it so far until he’s stopped by a police officer claiming moving any farther will get him killed. But Yuuri makes it just in time.
Just in time to watch the beast slash at Viktor’s arm hard enough that it tears straight through his flesh.
Yuuri’s heart leaps into his throat when he hears Viktor cry out. His face contorts in pain and he clutches his arm tightly against his chest. Yuuri watches blood start to stain Viktor’s uniform and then drip onto the pavement and his chest tightens. And that thing, Yuuri swears, senses Viktor’s pain and pounces with its teeth bared – ready to consume its prey. “Yuri!” Viktor calls – Yuuri can hear the strain in his voice, and the way his fingers fist into the shimmering fabric, his arm must feel like hell.
Yuri creates a storm of dust with the wind. He aims it for the monster’s eyes and smirks when the creature doubles backward. It reaches out it’s paws and claws at its own face with angered mewls. Yuri signs something at JJ and he answers with a nod. JJ constructs a whip of fire with a gentle inhale (Yuuri ignores the jealous twinge in his heart) and strikes at the monster’s feet so it falls to his knees.
Viktor stumbles and barks something at Chris that Yuuri can’t hear. But Chris squeezes his shoulder and rushes forward, already forming a sheet of ice beneath the monster’s feet.
It looks easy, and Yuuri almost sighs in relief. Almost.
When the monster’s feet touch the ice, it’s like he understands. It’s like he gains a new level sentience and he shrieks. He shrieks so loud Yuuri slams his hands over his ears and tries to shut out the sound. His thoughts scream at him enough as it is, he doesn’t need this to add fuel to the fire.
The monster blindly throws a paw forward and clocks Yuri straight in the stomach to send the boy flying. “Yuri!” Viktor screams, and Yuuri feels his own heart stop. Yuri lies still on the asphalt. The monster reaches up to rub the dust out of his eyes again, and releases a snarl that makes Yuuri’s blood curdle. It starts to sprint toward Yuri with a roar that resembles a battle cry.
Yuuri screams Yuri’s name so loud his own throat goes scratchy and dry – like it feels when he dry-swallows a pill. JJ and Chris hurl balls of fire and water, but the monster only pounds towards Yuri.
And Yuuri feels angry. He looks down and finds that his fingers are trembling. They shake and Yuuri’s heart pounds so loud in his ears he can’t hear his thoughts screaming at him anymore. Yuuri knows what fear feels like, he knows what anxiety feels like – this isn’t that. His fingers tremble with anticipation. And for the first time in years, Yuuri feels sparks sizzle at his fingertips.
Katsuki Yuuri never dares to reach for the fire coursing through his veins.
Not once has Yuuri called on his own magic. He swallows pills to shut it up, he folds his hands to keep it still. Yuuri took his pills this morning and he keeps his hands formed into fists so tight his nails leave marks in his skin. But it burns. Yuuri feels the fire roaring in his blood, he feels it pooling at the webs of his fingers crying for a release. And Yuuri’s not sure why. Anger? Fear? He doesn’t know – but he knows that the fire curling in his body screams so loud he can’t take it anymore.
His fire begs for release. Yuuri hears it crying in his mind, it pushes against his skin and yearns for an escape. And as he watches Yuri’s unmoving form, sprawled across the asphalt – Yuuri let’s go.
For the first time in years, Yuuri breathes.
He feels a huge rush of oxygen fill his lungs – he wonders if he’s flying. Pent-up fire licks the streets and Yuuri relishes the sound of the monster screeching. It tumbles back but there’s nowhere to run – fire is everywhere.
The fire leaves him like blood and Yuuri feels so alive. Yuuri actually laughs, he laughs so loud he wonders if Viktor can hear him through the ring of fire he’s encased in. The monster panics, bashing its head against the rising flames and Yuuri doesn’t give a damn. He forgets why he did this, but he remembers that it feels so good.
He forgets about Viktor and Yuri, and everything that’s happened. He just feels heat pouring out of his skin. He relishes in the feeling of fire licking everything, fire coating the streets, fire that belongs to him. And Yuuri wonders why he’s never done this, why he’s kept it all locked away. Why is fire bad again? Why can’t he do this?
And then, someone calls to him. “Yuuri! Yuuri, stop! Yuuri!”
At first Yuuri hears it for what it is, he hears Viktor’s frantic screaming – hears sirens. He hears people shouting over the roar of his flames but then it disappears.
Yuuri turns ten years old and hears his mother’s scream as fire snaps at her face. Yuuri gasps, and the oxygen leaves his lungs. The fire turns a searing white, it burns so hot Yuuri feels it singing his skin without touching it. Yuuri hears his own voice crying, he hears his mother’s sobbing. “I-I’m sorry,” he whimpers. Yuuri stumbles back and the fire kisses his back. It’s so hot Yuuri thinks it could melt his skin.
Yuuri’s hands start to tremble. His heart races and his breathing constricts and it’s back – the reason why fire is so bad. Yuuri feels the familiar traces of fear climb up his throat like an old friend.
And suddenly, Yuuri remembers what it feels like to be scared.
The fire doesn’t burn out – it dies. It falls to ash and Yuuri watches Viktor’s eyes search for him. He thinks Viktor runs over, he thinks Viktor reaches out to him. He thinks he feels Viktor running his fingers over his face, but all Yuuri remembers are his mother’s gentle hands and the burn on her face.
Yuuri passes out while looking Viktor dead and the eye and whimpering, “I’m sorry, Mom.”
Viktor sits with his legs crossed and no one so much as glances in his direction. Yuri attempts to coax food into him, but Viktor looks murderous. “I’m sure he has reasons,” Yuri tries, but Viktor grunts and nods his head towards the exit. Yuri leaves him reluctantly, mumbles something about going home and getting sleep – Viktor doesn’t bat an eye – Yuri suspects he’s not really hearing him anyway.
Viktor waits at the end of a hospital corridor and his head droops against the window. The glass feels cool against his skin – refreshing in a way that he feels his magic nipping for release. He’s never felt that before – his magic bubbling under his skin. Viktor’s never needed to wait for his magic to get to that point.
But perhaps, it’s not quite that way for everyone.
He clenches his fists and tries to suck in a breath – it comes in shaky and wrong and it makes him cough until he catches it again. Viktor remembers Yuuri’s face – he wore a manic expression, and the fire poured out of him as if it had begged for escape.
Viktor wonders if it had – Viktor wonders how long Yuuri stored up pent up magic to flow in his body. Viktor never considered holding in his magic, the rush that comes with it feels too exhilarating to ignore. Not to mention, it’s dangerous. His idiot of a boyfriend currently knocked out cold is proof of that.
Viktor remembers the fear he felt. He’d never seen Yuuri look simultaneously so terrifying yet so free. Briefly his heart thrummed with the thought that maybe, maybe, this is the true Katsuki Yuuri. A Katsuki Yuuri singeing the ground and releasing waves of flames to usurp the city.
And that thought alone fills Viktor with a kind of fear he can’t place. It becomes clear, so suddenly, that Katsuki Yuuri’s a man entirely different than Viktor ever imagined him to be.
“Mr. Nikiforov?” Viktor snaps up when the nurse calls him with a gentle smile. “Your friend is starting to come to,”
Viktor shoots up from his perch, nearly tripping over his own legs. They’ve fallen asleep – courtesy of sitting rock-still in one position for hours on end. Though, Viktor couldn’t muster up the mental energy to move even if he wanted to. He stops at the door, staring at the ugly gray frame and fear thrumming in his heart. Viktor is scared, scared of what’s about to greet him – who’s about to greet him.
He knew a Katsuki Yuuri with chubby cheeks and no magic. But this – this is a fire wielder that created flames so large they nearly engulfed the city. “Yuuri?”
Yuuri lifts his head slowly. His pupils are dilated beyond belief, and he can’t quite focus directly on Viktor and Viktor feels reluctant to gently take his hand. “Yuuri? I’m right here,” he squeezes Yuuri’s hand – they feel like ice. That already tells Viktor a lot – a fire wielder should never feel cold – JJ complains endlessly about that. Viktor swallows a lump climbing up his throat. “Yuuri, do you know who I am?” he tries.
“V-Viktor,” Yuuri whispers, and Viktor feels the scratch in his throat as if it itches in his own. He takes the cup of water and holds it to Yuuri’s lips – the younger boy tries to grasp it with his own hands, but his fingers shake and just swallowing a few gulps tires him out enough that he collapses back against the bed and his breathing comes out in small pants. “W-Where?” Yuuri mumbles.
“At a hospital,” Viktor says, he squeezes the cup in his hand – so much so that a small bit of water spills over the top and Yuuri’s eyes follow them sliding down the side of the glass. “For people with magic,” Viktor says hoarsely.
“Oh.” Yuuri scrunches his nose and perhaps if it were another situation, Viktor would have called it cute. “I-I used magic?” Yuuri still stumbles over his words, but the strength slowly returns to his voice.
“You used it to save Yuri, do you remember?” Viktor questions softly.
Yuuri scrunches his eyebrows, pondering for a moment before nodding, “Yea…I think I remember a bit,”
Viktor tries to remind himself that Yuuri’s currently lying on a hospital bed – weak beyond belief – and barely has any idea of what went down. But Viktor’s not an empathetic person, “Do you remember not telling me you had magic?” he whispers.
Viktor curls his fingers into his jeans and bows his head so a curtain of silver hair shrouds his eyes. Yuuri sighs, “I’d rather not talk about it,”
Viktor’s head shoots up at that, “You – you’re kidding, right?” He snaps. Yuuri meets his gaze and shrugs, and Viktor sees some strange bit of rough confidence he’s never seen in Yuuri before. “Do you know how dangerous it is to hold in magic like that? You could have cooked yourself – you almost did.” He snarls. “Yuuri, why didn’t you tell me?”
Yuuri turns and looks out the window instead and watches the birds perched on the windowsill peck at the corners. “It’s more dangerous for me to use it,”
“How so?” Viktor demands.
Yuuri looks back at him with a challenge in his eyes, “I don’t want to talk about it,”
Viktor throws his arms up, “Yuuri, we have to talk about this!” Viktor cries, “You almost – you could have – don’t you get it?” Viktor snaps.
“Died? Yea, it’s happened before,” Yuuri shrugs again. “And I didn’t talk about it then and I came out alive,”
“I don’t understand,” Viktor whispers, “I thought…don’t you trust me?”
Yuuri’s eyes soften and Viktor finds a man well beyond his years in them. There’s something in Yuuri’s eyes that looks resigned. As if he’s seen things a boy of twenty-three years doesn’t need to see – that no one needs to see. “Don’t you?” he counters.
Despite that – despite the pain swimming behind Yuuri’s eyes – Viktor snaps, “I don’t know.”
He storms home.
That night, Viktor falls asleep to loneliness creeping in his heart.
When Yuuri comes home – Viktor doesn’t greet him.
Surprisingly, it’s Yuri and JJ that coddle him all the way until he plops on his couch and promptly passes out (in their own, twisted, ‘we pretend we don’t care but we’re huge softies and everyone knows it kind of way). He wakes up to a plate full of something that looks suspiciously like Yuri’s grandpa’s famous piroshkies, and he bites into a little piece of heaven similar to his mom’s pork cutlet bowl.
Yuuri tries not to think about what the real thing would taste like, now, years later. He pushes out the thought of that steam curling into his nose, her warm hands pushing it forward and just how happy watching him eat would make her. Yuuri hates thinking of her – so he thinks of Viktor instead.
Viktor – un-shockingly – ignores him.
Yuuri glances wistfully at his neighbor’s door and goes against his proper judgement and knocks.
Viktor opens and stares him down with a poker face. “Uh…. can I borrow some sugar?” Yuuri asks.
Viktor – without saying a word – shoves a bag at him and slams the door shut. Yuuri barely has the time to blink, and when he looks down at the bag so unceremoniously dumped open him – he notices that the word salt has a line drawn through it in sharpie, and the word sugar written over it in Viktor’s ridiculously swirly handwriting.
And really, Yuuri can’t help laughing out loud.
“Thanks for the salt,” He calls at the door and he hears Viktor huff – close enough as if he’s got his ear pressed against the wood, waiting for the sound of Yuuri’s fading footsteps.
Neither of them speak until Yuuri breaks the silence by letting the salt fall to the ground with a plop. “Look,” he starts and at first Yuuri puts force into his voice, but the confidence drains quickly. “I don’t – I just don’t know where to begin,” he admits. Viktor still doesn’t speak.
“I trust you,” he whispers, leaning his forehead against the door. “I do, Viktor but –” Yuuri takes a deep breath, “This isn’t about trust. My – my fire isn’t a secret. It wasn’t meant to be,” he admits. “It just…hurts.”
The door swings open and Yuuri squawks. He literally tumbles – head first – into Viktor’s chest, and it’s only due to Viktor’s quick reflexes that they both stay upright. One arm goes to his waist, and another steadies Yuuri by the shoulders. The warmth feels familiar in a way Yuuri can’t place, and he subconsciously nuzzles his head closer so he can feel the vibration of Viktor’s throat when he speaks and the beat of his heart drumming in his ears. “Magic isn’t meant to be contained, it’s going to hurt,”
Yuuri leans his weight more into Viktor, enough that the older man tightens his grasp. “I know that,” he says – slightly snappier than intended. But Yuuri wilts more into Viktor’s arms, “Trust me, no one knows that better than I,”
Viktor releases him and scoffs. “Clearly, you do – not that I would know,”
Yuuri rolls his eyes, “I didn’t mean for this to happen,” he mumbles.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Viktor asks. When Yuuri looks at him he looks hurt – real hurt. None of that puppy-dog eyes nonsense he pulls when Yuuri shoves him off the couch, but the kind of hurt that stings in Yuuri’s heart. His eyes look cold, as if he’s holding in his expression, holding back in front of Yuuri. And that, Yuuri finds, hurts a lot.
At the back of his mind, Yuuri wonders, if his fire will ever bring him any good.
“I’ve done bad things,” Yuuri whispers. “Bad things I don’t want anyone to know about. I trust you Viktor, with everything I have. But I don’t think you would forgive me,”
“But I would forgive you!” Viktor cries, “I would forgive you for anything – I’ve told you Yuuri – you can’t make me hate you, not so easily.”
Yuuri lets out a dry laugh. “That’s the thing,” he scoffs. “I don’t want you to forgive me, Viktor. I want to be hated for this. I deserve to be hated for this.” He looks up into Viktor’s eyes and the Russian man finds desperation. It’s as if Yuuri begs him to tell him he’s right – as if he fears forgiveness itself.
Viktor’s never been asked to hate someone before. First, he thinks Yuuri hit his head and something’s seriously wrong. And then he thinks back to that day, back to the unridden fear in his eyes when he collapsed into Viktor’s arms. It’s as if Yuuri relived a memory – something clawing beneath his skin for years and years that he yearns to suppress. And Viktor thinks how strange, for a Japanese man to end up all the way in St. Petersburg. And finally, Viktor realizes, Yuuri ran away.
“You don’t deserve to be hated for anything,” Yuuri starts to protest but Viktor pulls him back into his arms, savoring the feeling of his cheek nuzzling against soft black hair that he missed so dearly these past few days. “We don’t have to talk about it, anymore.”
Yuuri visibly relaxes into his arms and presses his head against Viktor’s chest as if his life depends on it, “Thank you.” He whispers.
“Yea,” Viktor swallows. He wonders if this is right, allowing something so big to get swept beneath the rug. The thought that this troubles Yuuri so much that he feels unforgiveable gnaws at Viktor’s heart – screams at him that something is wrong.
But Viktor can’t find it in him to argue with those tired eyes that just beg for silence. For now, he gives in and decides to let whatever battle Yuuri fights within him to sleep. Clearly, talking about it wilts Yuuri out a lot more anyways.
Viktor prays silently that this isn’t a bad choice. He prays that this won’t come back to bite him in the ass.
Viktor’s never had much luck with prayers before – he shouldn’t expect to now.
“You know,” Viktor tells Yuuri the next time they skate lazy circles around each other on Viktor’s home-made frozen park pond. “I always hoped I’d teach my future lover how to skate. I wanted to hold your hands and make you cling on to me,” he whines.
Yuuri snorts and laps Viktor, “I’m really not that great,”
Viktor raises an eyebrow, watches Yuri nail a quad toe loop just for the hell of it and repeats – air quotes included – “Really not that great,”
Yuuri giggles, “I miss this,” he admits and skates a few wide circles around Viktor. “Skating freely like this – even when I tried competitions, they just…they were never this, “he admits.
Viktor joins Yuuri and tosses in a few leisure jumps of his own. “I get it,” he smiles. “Competitions feel lonely when all you do is win them.”
Viktor expects Yuuri to laugh at him, but Yuuri intertwines their fingers and pulls Viktor around the ice in lazy circles. They get lapped by a few kids, and some girl wrinkles her nose at him and asks if he’s really a master figure skater (Viktor sticks his tongue at her and Yuuri clocks him on the head for that). “What does this feel like?” Yuuri asks him.
Viktor ponders about that. He watches the way the sun dances off of Yuuri’s hair, his usual dark-brown, nearly jet-black hair shows its true chocolatey color and Viktor loves it. But it’s not that – it’s the smile Yuuri wears. Perhaps to a stranger it truly looks no different from Yuuri’s normal smile, and Viktor bets his own looks the same too. But there’s just something about it.
Something in the ice makes the warmth come to Yuuri’s cheeks. It’s like he’s glowing – more than glowing – he shines as bright as the sun. And Viktor even goes as far as wondering if the universe accidentally dropped a star because Yuuri belongs on the ice. Viktor thinks he belongs here more than himself, and he won five gold medals dammit. Five.
“This feels…indescribable,” Viktor chooses. “It feels so beautiful I don’t think a word could really be put to it, for me,” Viktor smiles at the color rising on the back of Yuuri’s neck.
“It feels free,” Yuuri whispers. And Viktor vaguely finds it ironic, that a fire wielder feels his freest on the ice. “I feel alive here,”
Viktor laughs and wraps his arms around Yuuri’s waist, settling to rest his chin atop his head. The kids skate by them again and make fake puke sounds in their direction. And well, if a little bit of extra snow falls on their heads – Yuuri doesn’t say anything about that this time.
And Viktor realizes, in that moment, he wants to stay like this forever. He wants to keep his arms around Yuuri’s waist, feel the weight of the younger man leaning against his chest and just skate lazy circles and talk about stupid things for the rest of his life. Viktor finds he wouldn’t mind this, keeping St. Petersburg in an eternal winter just to watch Yuuri skate and hold his hand while they listen to the sound of stupid kids racing each other. “I really love this,” Viktor whispers into his hair and places his hand on Yuuri’s heart.
Yuuri hums, and Viktor feels Yuuri vibrate with the sound, “I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
And it’s in that moment, that Viktor realizes, he is in no doubt, irrevocably, madly in love with one bumbling Katsuki Yuuri.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
They skate back to the edge of the lake and Viktor finds his phone buzzing with notifications. “Ugh. It’s probably Yakov,” he whines, “It’s my day off and the guy wants me to practice my short program until I start skating in my sleep,”
Yuuri giggles at the thought of Viktor skating but then imagines Viktor being stupid enough to stab himself in the face. Yuuri shudders, “Somehow, I don’t think that will bode very well,” he imagines Viktor breaking into his apartment and dragging sleep-induced Yuuri along for the ride, “for anyone,” he finishes.
Viktor gives him a dry look as if he can read his thoughts. “For once, it’s not the old nuisance,” he scratches his head in thought. “Apparently, I’ve got a gig in America,”
Yuuri blinks, “Like a skating show?”
Viktor rolls his eyes, “A superhero gig,” he amends.
Yuuri mouths out oh and gets on his tip toes to peek at Viktor’s phone, “Are you going?” he pretends to go for nonchalance – but Viktor sees through that in a second.
“Oh, my darling little solnyshko, do you miss me already?” He nuzzles deeper into Yuuri’s hair and relishes the feel of the younger man giggling against his chest.
“Oh shut up,” he snorts and shoves Viktor off his head. “I will not, besides – I have Makkachin to keep me company. We can have a sleepover and talk about you,”
Viktor rolls his eyes, “So basically – I’m going to save the world’s super power country– and you’re going to talk shit about me to my dog?”
Yuuri shrugs and wiggles his eyebrows suggestively, “I’m sure she’s got a lot to say,”
Viktor scoffs, “Somehow – I doubt that.” He glances at his phone again, “Anyways, I don’t really know if I should go. I don’t know if I can really leave the fate of Russia to the idiot team,”
“Viktor,” Yuuri says slowly, “You’re the leader of the idiot team,”
“They still need me,” Viktor grumbles.
“I think you should go,” Yuuri mumbles, “I – we’ll – miss you, but they aren’t keeping you forever. They better not keep you forever,”
Viktor laughs and ruffles his hair, “Trust me, nothing could keep me away from you,” Yuuri smiles at him and Viktor tosses a glance at his phone again. “Well I suppose they must really need the help, eh? They wouldn’t exactly text a Russian superhero otherwise,” he shoots a quick text back and Yuuri pulls him along the ice again.
“Show me your short program again?” he asks, light dancing in his eyes.
Viktor laughs, “Anything for you, miliy moy,”
Yuuri laughs his sparkling laugh and Viktor comes to the conclusion that he is definitely in too deep.
“You uh…you called me?” Yuuri sits across from Chris, and the latter holds an unreadable look in his eye. He sits with his arms folded across his chest and takes a long drag from his coffee.
“Yes, yes I did.” He says and slams his palms on the table, leaning closer and closer until Yuuri and him are mere centimeters apart. Chris doesn’t speak and Yuuri awkwardly clears his throat.
“So did you…want to talk? About something?” He asks, carefully leaning back and taking a small sip of his own hot chocolate.
“I did. About Viktor.” Chris says.
Yuuri blinks, and speaks slowly, “About…Viktor?”
“Yes,” Chris agrees, “Viktor and I are very close. And I seem to see that you two are getting a lot closer,” he sneers.
Yuuri raises an eyebrow, “You didn’t peg me as the jealous type,”
“I’m not jealous!” Chris seethes, “I’m just letting you know that me and Viktor are amazing friends.”
“Chris, you realize you and I are also friends,” Yuuri sighs.
“Yes! But…well someone’s gotta do this for Viktor, so…” Chris mumbles.
“Do…what…?” Yuuri gets even more confused – and then it dawns him. “Is this supposed to be some sort of shovel talk?”
Chris visibly reclines in his chair, “So you get it right? Don’t hurt Viktor – we’ll hurt you, that whole jazz – I didn’t want to do this, but someone had to,”
Yuuri snorts, taking a sip from his hot chocolate, “Who’s idea was it to make you do this anyways?”
Nonchalantly, Chris says, “Yuri,”
Yuuri actually spits out his hot chocolate. “Yuri?!” Chris nods. “As in our Yuri? The Yuri that wouldn’t admit to liking Viktor even if you tried to behead him?”
“The very same,” Chris agrees with a click of his tongue.
“Wow…I…uh…just…wow,” Yuuri can’t help but laugh a little. “Never thought Yuri actually had a heart on him,”
“You’re not the only one surprised,” Chris mumbles, “But I still have to ask – do you know what you’re getting into, Yuuri?”
Yuuri tilts his head, “What do you mean?”
Chris sighs and idly swirls his coffee around, “Although I’m sure this is something you know – Viktor is a vain man. I love him – and I love you, and I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt here.” He admits. “This is really the first time I’ve seen Viktor so invested in someone – and I’m happy it’s you – but I…sometimes Viktor’s interest doesn’t last forever,”
Yuuri smiles tenderly down at his coffee, “I get that,” he agrees. “And thank you, for trying to warn me, I don’t know if…well, if this will last forever – or even for very long, for that matter.” He admits, “But as of right now, I really want it to last a long time – and I’d like to think that Viktor feels the same,”
Chris smiles at him and reaches over to ruffle his hair. “I told those idiots this wasn’t necessary – you’re just as head over heels for that idiot as he is for you,”
Yuuri chuckles and Chris notes the dust of pink coating his cheeks and smirks into his coffee, Viktor made the right choice.
Once again, Viktor ends up knocking on Yuuri’s door to find Yuuri not there. “Oh erm…hello,” he smiles amicably, “Is Yuuri around?”
Phichit glares. “No.”
Viktor pretends not to be fazed, this is enemy territory. He must tread carefully, “Do you know when he’ll be back?”
Phichit glares harder. “No.”
Viktor sighs, “You know, you give off the very strong impression that you don’t like me,”
And at that – Phichit smiles. For a second, Viktor thinks that maybe he’s getting somewhere. “Me and Yuuri used to be roommates back at school. I’ve seen Yuuri at his best, and worst, and I know every little detail about the guy and I also know that he’s a sweetheart and deserves better than what God could give. So no, I don’t like you,”
Viktor sighs and scratches the back of his head, “That’s uh – fair enough, I guess.”
Phichit throws open the door, “Come in, it’s about time we have a chat,”
Despite his brain practically screaming at him to abort mission and high-tail it out of there immediately – Viktor makes the poor decision of following Phichit in and taking up his offer for tea.
As a result, Viktor spends nearly a full hour listening to Phichit ramble about how Katsuki Yuuri deserves far more than anyone on this measly little planet could ever provide. And then, Viktor gets it, “Is this shovel talk?”
Phichit looks at him like he’s stupid, “Obviously, what else would this be. It’s my sole duty as Yuuri’s best friend and future best man to make sure you understand what you’re dealing with here,”
Viktor’s eyes light up, “You’re already planning our wedding?”
“Yuuri’s wedding,” Phichit reminds him, “Whether you play a role in that is still up to debate,”
Viktor laughs nervously and Phichit sighs. “Look – I actually do like you,” Viktor makes a noise but hushes when Phichit shoots him a glare. “I do, it’s just – Yuuri’s been through a lot. Some stuff I know – and a lot more that I don’t. I’d love to be the person that Yuuri tells all his troubles to – but there’s just some borders we never crossed, and I wish every day that we did. Yuuri needs someone,”
Viktor takes Phichit’s hands in his own, “I’ll look after him – if that’s what you’re asking. I want to know too, everything about him. I wish he would open up to me, but I can wait for him. I can wait as long it will take – that much I can promise you,”
Phichit awkwardly snatches his hand back, “Er…yea. Yea that is what I’m asking.”
Viktor smiles, “So…”
“The um…weather sure is nice?” Viktor offers.
Phichit sighs and leans back into the couch with a groan. Viktor mumbles something about actually trying and Phichit thinks to himself, Yuuri made the wrong choice.
Of course, Yuuri thinks, with luck as rotten as his – it’s exactly 0.2 seconds after Viktor’s flight takes off from the ground that everything goes to shit.
At 3am, Yuuri’s ruthlessly awoken by pounding on his door. He almost ignores it – thinking Viktor’s probably freaking out about shedding hair again and blissfully drifts back to sleep. Then, he realizes, Viktor isn’t here.
Yuuri stumbles out of his bed and falls flat on his face with sheets wrapped around his ankles. He groans, shoves them off, and throws open his door. Yuuri does not expect JJ standing there with trembling hands and tears streaming down his face. He curls in on himself and Yuuri’s never seen him look so terrified.
With the gentle stream of moonlight filtering through the windows in his apartment – Yuuri realizes his face is caked with blood. A lot of blood. “I-I fucked up,” he squeaks – his voice comes out raspy and he can’t form words properly around the sobs that shake his body.
It reminds Yuuri a lot of himself. A lot of the fear that settles in the pit of his stomach every time he opens his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
JJ swallows and pulls his knees closer to his chest, “I left Yuri to die,” he whimpers.
Yuuri falters, “W-What do you mean?”
“T-There was something – I don’t know – and I thought, I-I thought with Viktor gone, if we beat it – alone – then maybe…t-then,” JJ lowers his head and curls his hands into fists. He sucks in a breath harsh enough that it makes him wheeze, “But I shouldn’t have. We weren’t strong enough,”
Yuuri swallows, “W-Why did you come to me?”
JJ lowers his gaze. “Yuri – his wind didn’t do anything. A-And my fire – it did. But I’m not strong enough and I don’t know who else to go to. V-Viktor’s already heading back – I called him first, but it won’t be enough time.” he raises his head with hollow eyes, “But you won’t help – will you?” he whispers – defeated.
“Let’s go,” Yuuri says coldly. “You know where you left him, right?”
It’s 3am. Yuuri spares a glance at his medication – it feels like it challenges him, sitting serenely on his tabletop. And the way JJ’s gaze dips to the ground, the way his fingers tremble Yuuri feels it. He feels the speed at which JJ’s heart races, he feels the thoughts that yell at him, that tell him it’s his fault.
It’s all things Yuuri’s felt so in depth before, and perhaps it’s that sense of camaraderie that draws him out.
Yuuri flexes out his fingers and experimentally forms a few sparks – it takes quite a bit of effort itself. But he hasn’t taken his pills this morning and Yuuri knows it’ll come out. When he sees Yuri – trapped in an inescapable position – his anxiety will bubble out of his throat and his fire out of his fingers.
Whoever thought he’d do this on purpose one day?
They find Yuri battered and bleeding. “Yuri?” Yuuri tries, “Are you okay?”
“The fuck do you think, Katsudon.” He snaps. Yuri pushes on his elbows to sit up but ends up falling back with a hiss and a nasty cough tumbles out of his throat. “I-I can still fight,” he snarls and tries again – Yuuri pushes him back down.
“Viktor would kill me if I let you go back out there,” JJ grumbles.
“There won’t be any of you left to kill if I don’t,” Yuri reminds him. They both jump when a small blast of fire tumbles out of Yuuri’s fingertips. “What the hell Katsudon?”
Yuuri glances at his own fingers curiously – they glow a dusky orange, something warm and inviting – the opposite of how Yuuri feels about his magic. “Sorry,” he mumbles – voice hollow, “I don’t use it because stuff like that happens, but, it can’t be helped, right?”
There’s something strange in Yuuri’s eyes – something colder than Viktor’s ice – JJ thinks. He looks like a shell of a human, and the fire at his fingers keeps sparking in a way so unlike his own. It’s like the fire controls itself – as if it controls Yuuri. “Are you sure?” he asks.
“Yea,” Yuuri states. His voice lacks emotion, he speaks like a dead man. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
And then, Yuuri lets go.
He doesn’t bother to really look at what he’s fighting. He just wants it to burn. He hears his screaming thoughts dance – it’s the first time they shout with no fear but – happiness. Yuuri forces his eyes to stay open and forces his sane thoughts to stay detached. He doesn’t listen to them – they’re frantic, clawing at him, begging him to stop and Yuuri ignores them.
Maybe, if he pretends this is okay for long enough, they’ll go away.
It’s as big of a burst of flames as it was the first time. It licks at his arms and legs and it burns white hot – so hot that Yuuri thinks the skin of the creature melts. He pushes forward – ignores every rational bone in his body that cries for him to stop. He ignores the flames that whisper how good this feels, too – this isn’t allowed to feel good.
This is necessity. Yuuri can’t stop.
But he won’t let himself enjoy it either.
Yuuri hears JJ cry out and he dissolves the flames in an instant. He feels them pricking beneath his skin, whining once again for freedom and he whirls around. “Are you okay? Did I burn you?” He asks frantically.
JJ suspiciously shoves an arm behind his back, “No – but…”
Yuuri glances at back. The monster they fight lays fallen. The burns are so bad his face is blackened beyond recognition. Yuuri sighs and takes in a deep breath and starts his trek home, “That’s all you needed me for, right?”
He hears JJ say something – Yuri snaps something as well.
Yuuri ignores them.
He ignores the smell of burnt flesh, the surging heat in his veins, and the lump in his throat that presses his need to cry.
When Yuuri goes home, he pops three pills and tries to sleep.
Viktor doesn’t bother to step foot in his own apartment. Viktor first chooses to pound on Yuuri’s door until the Japanese man opens it with a slurred greeting and disheveled hair – then he crushes him in a hug so strong Yuuri can almost feel his bones cracking. He mumbles something against Viktor’s chest and smacks his back until the idiot lets him go.
“Yuuuuuri!!” Viktor whines, “You shouldn’t have gone!”
Yuuri steels his expression, “It’s fine, had to do it.”
Viktor sighs. It’s like dealing with a toddler and an old wise-man all at once. “You’re giving me mixed signals here, Yuuri, do you use magic or not?”
Yuuri says nothing. He silently starts a pot of tea and watches the tiny bubbles form in the water while Viktor removes his jacket. Yuuri took five pills this morning – but his heart still beats too fast against his ribs. “I need a stronger prescription,” he whispers. When he speaks, Yuuri realizes, he feels breathless.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Yuuri remembers the symptoms of an anxiety attack. Somewhere deep down when he still felt fear, he hated those, but now he feels the familiar feeling crawling under his skin.
“Did you say something, solnyshko?” Viktor questions, sliding behind Yuuri and resting his chin on top of his head.
Yuuri’s fingers shake and he feels as if his heart pounds so hard his ribs will start to crack. He hears Viktor say something but it sounds distant – as if Yuuri floats somewhere far away, or maybe he drowns under water, or maybe he’s already dead and he’s hearing remnants of when he was still alive and hopeless.
Yuuri tries to speak, but instead of words a dry cough comes out of his lips and he can’t breathe. It feels like his lungs cave in, suck in the last bit of oxygen and refuse to take anymore. He feels like someone’s holding down his chest, refusing him any air and he feels Viktor running his hands over his arms and whispering something soft into his ear but Yuuri can’t make it out anymore.
He tries to force himself to be okay, to be fine. Katsuki Yuuri is not weak dammit. But the oxygen won’t come in, the shaking won’t stop, and the only words Yuuri can clearly push out of his throat are, “I burned my mother’s face when I was ten,”
And then, it all stops.
The air rushes back in and Yuuri takes in a breath so greedy he coughs it back out. Viktor gently rubs his back. “Take it easy, did you take your medication?”
“Five pills.” Yuuri rasps out.
Viktor leads him to the couch and holds a glass of water to his lips. Yuuri gulps it down greedily and looks up to find Viktor’s gentle look and he suddenly feels nauseous. He feels undeserving of all the love Viktor’s pouring into him and he wants to puke. Instead, he squeezes the glass in his hands and firmly keeps his head down as he speaks, “I meant it, you know.”
Viktor sits next to him and holds his hand out but retracts it slowly, “Can I…?”
Yuuri falls against his chest as an answer and Viktor slowly envelops in an awkward tangle of limbs that’s meant to be a hug. But he doesn’t complain, only stays quiet and lets Yuuri listen to his heartbeat. “If you want to talk, I’ll listen.” He says.
Yuuri stays quiet, relishes the feeling of Viktor’s gentle fingers kneading through his hair, sometimes running over his arms and listens to the beat of his heart. It’s racing – almost as fast as Yuuri’s. After ten minutes, when Viktor’s heart steadies out and Yuuri feels sleep tugging at his eyes, he chooses to speak.
“Fire and anxiety don’t mix well – and I’ve had both since I was six,” Viktor doesn’t stop his movements, only rubs small circles on any exposed area of skin his fingers can find and prompts Yuuri to continue.
“I burned through a lot of teachers – literally and figuratively,” Viktor smiles but chides him for joking about something so serious. “But I burned my mom so bad she has a permanent scar on the left side of her face.”
Viktor notes the pure lack of emotion in Yuuri’s voice. His fingers fist into his shirt and he won’t look Viktor in the eye. “You did it on purpose, didn’t you?” Viktor whispers.
Instead of hiding his face, like Viktor expects, Yuuri leans back and looks up at him with glassy black eyes and a stoic face. “Yes.”
“Did she forgive you?” Viktor asks next.
“She shouldn’t have,” Yuuri mumbles.
“That’s not what I asked,” Viktor retaliates. When Yuuri stops talking, he asks, “Why?”
Yuuri laughs a dry, broken laugh. It’s a stark contrast to Yuuri’s voice when he skates or messes or around, or even when he’s angry. It’s a laugh that pierces Viktor’s heart like knives and he never, never, wants to hear a sound like that coming from Yuuri ever again. “Because when your six-year-old fuck-up of a kid can’t control fire – letting him on the ice isn’t very smart.”
Yuuri trembles against Viktor’s chest and the older man squeezes him tighter. “But I was ten and stupid, and I needed it. I wanted it so bad and she said no. She wasn’t going to let me skate anymore and I – I had to.” Viktor starts to speak but Yuuri keeps going, cutting him off completely. “So I – so I told her I’d do it. I told her I’d burn the whole house down if she wouldn’t let me skate.”
“And you did it, you did what you said.” Viktor finishes.
“Yes,” Yuuri whispers, “I did.”
“And you think you deserve to lock up your fire because of it?”
“I – sort of.” Yuuri sighs, “It was the only thing she was ever stern about – and I didn’t understand it at the time. But after I,” Yuuri pauses to take in a shaky breath, “After I burned her – she apologized. She apologized to me.”
“And then she let you skate?” Viktor continues to draw lazy circles on Yuuri’s back and is extra careful to keep his voice soft.
“And then she let me skate,”
They stay quiet again. Then Viktor can’t help but ask, “So why did you end up in St. Petersburg?”
Yuuri trembles against him, “I couldn’t stand to see her face anymore – she loved me so much even after.” Yuuri chokes, “Even after I did all that,”
Viktor almost says that she’s his mother, but he pauses – that’s not it. “She realized what it meant to you – you may have had trouble, but skating was important to you and she didn’t understand that at first. It may have took burning her face to realize it – but would you have done it again?”
Yuuri closes his eyes, “Yes. I would have.”
Viktor takes a deep breath, “So you stopped using fire, since that long ago?”
Yuuri finally pushes off of Viktor’s chest and shrugs, “I’ve tried after that – but I can’t control it. It’s that simple. I went to Detroit specifically to try – and they kicked me out for it. It won’t work,”
Viktor wrinkles his eyebrows, “You controlled it for Yuri,”
“If you call creating giant flames that will destroy everything within half a mile radius control – then sure,” Yuuri retorts.
“I’ll coach you,” Viktor says suddenly.
Yuuri blinks, “Huh?”
Viktor pounces off the couch and grabs Yuuri’s hands in his own, “I, Viktor Nikiforov, will coach you! You’ll at least be able to do simple things, if anything,”
Yuuri looks at Viktor as if he’s gone mad. “Somehow I feel like I’ve gotten myself into a huge mess…”
Getting coached by Viktor goes as well as Yuuri expects it too. He feels his nerves climbing over his skin – he forgoes his medication on days he trains – and it doesn’t do much for his level of control. Sparks jump out of his fingers against his will and Viktor just barely dodges them. “That was on purpose!” he whines.
“It was not!” Yuuri cries (although, he really wishes it was).
“Come on Yuuri, you can do it,”
Yuuri sighs, “Being a giant Russian cheerleader isn’t going to help,” he grumbles. Viktor’s been trying to get him to light a candle for about a week – with no luck. Yuuri’s flames either come out too large or too small. He hasn’t gotten anything in between since before his anxiety settled in and he still couldn’t control anything because he was too young.
“Why do you have so much trouble anyways?” Yuri asks, feet thrown over Viktor’s couch while he lazily swallows spoonfuls of ice cream. Yuuri vaguely wonders how entertaining this must be for Yuri to actually stick around to watch.
“Fire’s not a great element to pair with anxiety,” Yuuri mumbles tiredly.
“I got that, dipshit, but why?” Yuri rolls his eyes.
“Fire is all about the way you move and the way you breathe,” Yuuri says, “You’re supposed to create some kind of harmony between them but I can’t breathe right. You’re supposed to breathe in tune with your movements – clearly that’s not possible for me,”
Yuri furrows his eyebrows, “What about the other way?”
Viktor shoots his head up at the same time that Yuuri mumbles out, “What?”
“The other way?” Yuri snorts, “Come on you went to some high-ass, super prestigious university and no one tried that?” The way Yuuri blinks at him gives it away. “Holy shit. Have you never tried the other way?”
“Yuri,” Yuuri says slowly, “I have no idea what you’re even insinuating right now,”
“Idiot!” Yuri barks, “Move how you breathe, dumbass! If you breathe stupidly, then move stupidly!”
Yuuri blinks. Viktor chews off Yuri’s ear about that sounding ridiculous, but Yuuri can’t fathom why. To a normal person that’s stupid – they breathe at soft, normal place and trying to move that way wouldn’t nearly cause enough friction to create a spark. But maybe – maybe, Viktor continues to bark at Yuri and the younger grumbles something back at him – ignoring his rant completely.
Yuuri closes his eyes and focuses – he hasn’t taken his pills and he counts how many breaths he takes in a minute. They come in erratic and frantic but Yuuri swirls his hand in tune with that, he jerks his hand when a breath comes in too fast – slows it down when it exits too slow and when Yuuri opens his eyes there’s a small, stable flame dancing on his fingers.
Yuuri hisses softly – softly enough that it disrupts his breathing and the fire slinks away. But it was there. He did it. “I-It worked,” he whispers.
Viktor shoots his head back towards Yuuri and Plisetsky snorts. “The whole world is an idiot if no one told you try that before,” he mumbles.
“Do it again!” Viktor demands, and with another shaky breath – and shaky hands – Yuuri creates another tiny flame. With a little flick of his hand – Yuuri lights the candle. A little too well – he lights it so the wax burns up immediately and he jumps back when Viktor drops the candle with a hiss. “Not quite what I meant but you did it!” Viktor cries.
Yuuri looks at the molten mess singeing the floor with pure shock in his eyes. It rings in his voice when he speaks, “I…. I did that? I controlled it?”
“It’s a puddle of wax on a floor, so not really,” Yuri reminds him. Viktor kicks him and Yuri regrettably shuts up.
“It’s something!” Viktor laughs, reaching over to ruffle Yuuri’s hair and shoots a glare at Yuri when he tries to interject. “See Yuuri? It’s not impossible – not easy – but not something you can’t learn,”
Yuuri hears the hidden meaning in Viktor’s words. He feels tears pricking at the corner of his eyes but the two Russians are too busy squabbling about something minor in the corner. Yuuri did that. Yuuri learned fire. His fire obeyed him. And under Viktor’s warm smile, Yuuri hears the words: ‘it’s something you deserve to learn, no matter how much you’ve done.’
“Katsudon…are you crying?” Yuri snaps. Viktor turns to Yuuri and whines something about not crying – Yuuri doesn’t really pay attention. He’s too busy laughing and crying at the same time. He frantically rubs his eyes and tries to assure them that he’s fine – he’s not crying for any reason at all and Viktor just quietly hugs him.
Yuuri thinks back to a time when his fire burned beneath his skin. He thinks back to all those times he’d light up the table instead of the candle. When he’d get scared and the sparks would simmer out involuntarily – he thinks back to his mother. He thinks back to his utter determination to skate and his mother’s support. He scarred her face for it – and she stopped making him quit. And for the first time, Yuuri thinks he understands. He burned her face – he burned their house – but she finally understood. His mother understood something Yuuri couldn’t – he burned his house under complete control. The first time he ever had the slightest control over his fire was when it was about skating. He burned her so bad it scarred, but he did it with control.
“I-I’m happy,” Yuuri whispers, choking over tears as he does. Viktor silences him with a kiss to his forehead and squeezes him tighter against his chest. “I swear I’m happy,” Yuuri repeats – but the tears don’t stop falling.
Yuri looks away with a blush, as if he’s watching something intimate unfold and he shouldn’t be watching. But he casually looks back to mumble, “Just because you’re happy doesn’t mean you’re not sad,”
“I…think…” Yuuri chokes out, “I think I…need to call someone,”
Yuuri carefully plots out the time difference. He judges the perfect the time to call is a little after 3am in St. Petersburg as it will be a little after 9pm in Hasetsu – about when his mom will finish closing up and lazily count up the revenue. She complained about boredom a lot when she did that – Yuuri used to sit on her knees and tell her about school. Sometimes he’d fall asleep like that – curled up in her lap when she idly ran his fingers through his hair. Sometimes she’d gasp, lose count, and get more engrossed in Yuuri’s stories than whatever money they’d made that they.
Yuuri doesn’t call at first.
He sits there and his finger hovers over the button and he feels the fear pounding in his heart. Yuuri’s used to staying composed during times like this – his anxiety drilled the feeling of fear so deep in his bones that he’s used to the heart palpitations, the sweating palms, trembling fingers. But right now, Yuuri gulps and it feels like he’s experiencing fear for the first time all over again.
He puts his phone down and pretends to sleep.
He sits back up after ten minutes.
Yuuri bites his lip – it’s terrifying. He rehearses what he’ll say – some long-winded apology about how dumb he is for not calling, how sorry he is that he didn’t even tell them where he went. So many things that he did – and didn’t do – that deserve explanation. But Yuuri can’t bring himself to do it.
His crippling fear settles back in his heart. Does he deserve this? Does he deserve to call and listen to his mother’s hushed tears as she pretends he never disappeared? Does he deserve her knowing voice silently asking him if he ate, if he slept, as if Yuuri hasn’t avoided them for the past five years? His mother will forgive him in an instant, she won’t even say ‘apology accepted’ she’ll chide him for apologizing to begin with.
He burned her. On purpose – for something so stupid. But like Viktor said, Yuuri would do it again – he’d do it again in a heartbeat. He looks at himself now – he’s not skating, he’s not using fire. He’s running a stupid convenience store in his free time for angry Russian man. Yuuri wants to go back, he wants to train and get into the Grand Prix. He wants to say a big fat ‘fuck you’ to his damn fire and skate until he can’t breathe – due to exhaustion, not anxiety.
Katsuki Yuuri is twenty-three years old but somehow, somehow, he thinks he can still do it all. He thinks he can still get there. But there’s one thing he has to do first.
Yuuri shuts his eyes, holds his breath, and presses the call button.
Yuuri curls his fists into the blankets and waits. He feels like he waits for hours with his heart lodged in his throat, but she answers on the second ring. “Hello?”
Yuuri’s breath hitches – he feels an onslaught of tears sting in his eyes and he holds his hand to his chest to prove to himself that his heart still beats. It takes him a few seconds of that – just breathing in shaky bits of oxygen – and she doesn’t speak. He knows she’s still there, he can hear the jingling of coins in the background and he wonders if she knows. She must – the way she waits for him. “H-Hi,” Yuuri stammers.
“I owe that delivery god a 5-yen coin – although I asked for this about a year ago,”
Her voice doesn’t shake, it stays as composed as Yuuri remembers. His mother rarely cried – she always held warm smiles just so Yuuri could curl into her arms and cry until his eyes dried up. And that’s what he does, Yuuri sobs into the phone, he can’t tell if he says words or not, but he sobs so hard he hears his mother whisper sweetly.
She sounds the same as Yuuri remembers – warm and inviting. Warm in a way that Yuuri wishes he was home, back in Hasetsu where he could curl into her lap and cry his heart out while she rubbed the sobs out of his back. “Come on Yuuri,” she says, “Don’t you want to tell me about your day?”
Yuuri swallows down a sob and he does.
He tells her about every notable thing he’s come across in the last five years. She gasps after every new story, re-counting the registers over and over until Yuuri waits for her to finish before telling her more. He doesn’t hang up when he does – but lays in his bed and listens to her warm humming and the jingling of coins until he feels like he’s back home lounging on her lap half-asleep.
He tells her about Viktor and fire and he tells her, “I want to skate again. Professionally, I mean.”
“Good,” she says, and Yuuri can hear the pride in her voice. “I think you’ll do amazing,” she tells him.
“I…” Yuuri starts and he feels his voice breaking again, “I’m really- “
“It’s okay, Yuuri, you don’t have to,”
“But I do!” Yuuri cries and he feels the sobs start to crawl back ups his chest. “I left you to worry about me all alone, and none of you knew where I went after Detroit. I didn’t call, or e-mail, or do anything.” Yuuri whimpers, “I just – I left. I ran away and I had absolutely no reason too,” He chokes out.
His mother stays silent for a long time. Yuuri listens to the sound of her gentle breath and she listens to his frantic ones. For a long time Yuuri wonders if she knows to stay quiet, if she knows listening to her breathe loosens the tension in Yuuri’s joints far better than even his medication can.
“Do you understand that, now?” She asks him with her sweet voice.
“Yea,” Yuuri mumbles, “A lot more than I’ve understood anything in my life,”
“Then that’s enough for me,”
JJ takes over for Viktor and un-surprisingly, Yuuri improves a lot under his care. It takes weeks for him to create anything over the smallest burst of flames. But JJ stays patient and carefully shows Yuuri how to manipulate his flames with his movements. Yuuri gets exhausted quickly, and JJ never pushes him, he gives him soft smiles and seeing JJ smile every time Yuuri reaches a new level is far more rewarding than Viktor’s constant cheers.
In fact, Viktor gets so annoying that Yuuri and JJ mutually agree to ban him from their training sessions altogether.
Sometimes Yuri Plisetsky stops by – and he usually barks commands at Yuuri as if he knows exactly what he’s doing. That usually ends up with JJ toppling him to the ground and they have a miniature brawl of their own until Yuuri has had his fun laughing at them and jumps in to yank them apart.
And in some, twisted, way – Yuuri thinks he’s found a family. Not just in Viktor who cradles him and squeezes him to death at every opportunity he finds. But in the others as well – there’s something about Yuri and JJ that isn’t as poised as the other three. And Yuuri loves Viktor to death, but this - this is something else altogether.
Yuuri’s never had real friends to compare this too, but every time Yuri begrudgingly praises him it kick-starts something warm in his chest. Something that tells Yuri that he’s 5000 miles away from home, but he’s found a family all the same.
“So?” JJ asks him one day, “Do you feel better about using fire?”
Surprisingly, Yuuri nods his head in agreement. “A lot better,” he admits.
JJ beams at him, “Well obviously,” he smiles proudly, “How could you not, when you’ve got me for a coach?”
Yuri lazily drapes his legs over JJ’s lap. He lies face down on the bench next to them and only lifts his head to interject, “I think that would scare anyone else off – Katsudon’s really a saint,”
JJ rolls his eyes but doesn’t quite bother to dislodge him. He even idly picks off the cat hairs lingering on Yuri’s all black-jeans and Yuuri smiles to himself. They may pretend not to like each other, but Yuri and JJ have a special kind of friendship that makes Yuuri feel warm. He feels even warmer knowing he’s a part of it.
Yuuri looks up at the sky and leans back on his elbows, “I’m happy I ended up here,” he voices out.
Yuri lifts his head, “Here as in with us? Or Here as in Russia?”
Yuuri chuckles, “With you, all of you.”
Yuri blushes slightly and plops his head back down on the bench. JJ looks down at the grass beneath them but doesn’t speak. He lowers his gaze and sighs, “Everyone sure is nice here, huh?” he mumbles.
“Well who wouldn’t be nice when you’re part of a vigilante group that saves everyone’s asses every now and then?” Yuri snorts and drops his head again. He lifts it again to add, “And let’s not forget basically all of us are professional skaters in our free time because why the hell not?”
JJ laughs at that, “You make a fair point there – it’s like we’re part of some kind of drama series,” Yuri rolls his eyes and rolls over onto his back so JJ can get to work on the front of his jeans and he blocks the sun from his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Well that’s all Viktor’s fault, isn’t it?” Yuuri shrugs and smiles shyly. “The idiot practically attracts attention everywhere he goes,”
“Yea,” JJ mumbles. “He really does, doesn’t he?”
JJ collapses against the back of the bench and solemnly looks up at the sun. “I envy him for that,” he admits quietly.
Yuri hums at him, “Because he’s so perfect?”
“Yea,” JJ mumbles.
“You know,” Yuuri says, “I envy all of you a little bit. You have such good control over your powers – and you’re professional skaters,” he sighs wistfully. “It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of,”
“You’ll be joining us soon,” Yuri says softly – almost uncharacteristic. “And it’ll be nice – kind of, to fight for second place,”
JJ fists his hands lightly, “Yea – only second, huh? No one’s ever gonna beat his ass for first,”
The three of them stay quiet. It’s not a lie. “Sometimes I wonder why I got fire,” JJ answers. “I think I’d be better suited for ice,”
“Because you’re a skater?” Yuuri asks.
“Because I’m an asshole,” JJ laughs softly. “And so are Viktor and Chris,”
“You’re not an asshole,” Yuri chides. “A pain in the ass maybe, and annoying as fuck – but not an actual asshole.” He tells him.
JJ shrugs, “I’m only doing this for the fame,” he admits, “I wanted to make my parents proud. They coached me since I was born basically – and I almost cried when I presented with fire magic,” JJ snorts.
“You can’t use magic in competitions anyway, it’s not important,” Yuuri reminds him.
“But doesn’t Viktor just have this spark anyways?” Yuri mumbles solemnly. “He doesn’t use magic – but it’s like his magic is there anyways. He’s always just so much better than the rest of us,”
“Trying to pin that on his magic won’t do you any good,” Yuuri says.
“Yea,” JJ sighs, “Viktor’s just too good for us – magic or no magic,”
“I didn’t say that.”
“No,” JJ shrugs, “I did." He runs his fingers through his hair, “I just want to prove myself, you know? I’m not Viktor’s henchman,” he grumbles.
Everyone sits quietly until Yuri breaks the silence. “I know.” He whispers softly, “I don’t think Viktor really understands. I don’t think he gets what it means to really try to beat someone,”
“Viktor’s not perfect, either,” Yuuri reminds them but Yuri and JJ share a forlorn look as if they’ve been through this before. “Viktor’s lonely – whether he wants to admit it or not,”
“Sure would be nice to be that famous though,” JJ says with a longing look. “No matter how it happens, I just want people to know my face one day.
Yuuri ponders over that, “You mean whether through skating or saving the city?”
JJ smiles a crooked smile, “Yea, I guess so…anything will do,”
“If you think you should have ice, then what kind of person should have fire?” Yuri asks.
“Yuuri, obviously.” JJ rolls his eyes and throws his head back.
Yuuri blinks, “Wouldn’t you think the opposite?” he chuckles.
JJ shrugs, “Not really – fire is warm, isn’t it? It can be warming but it’s also fierce as fuck. How many times have you burned yourself?”
“In my life? A shit ton.” Yuuri chuckles.
JJ smiles, “Exactly. Fire’s a force to be reckoned with you know. And you may not believe it – but so are you, Katsuki Yuuri.”
Yuuri smiles and ducks his head to hide his blush, “Thank you.”
JJ will never know just how much that means.
Maybe, Yuuri thinks, he should have seen it coming. He should have seen the look in JJ’s eyes. He should have seen the envy, the fear, all the things Yuuri sees in himself he should’ve seen. It’s easy to miss the signs when you don’t know what to look for.
But Yuuri does know what to look for. He knows how it feels to be tossed at the bottom of the batch, to be that kid who ‘can’t use magic and isn’t cool enough to play with us’. Yuuri doesn’t think JJ would feel that way – but he thinks back. He thinks back to all those times JJ looks enviously at the ice dancing out of Viktor’s fingers. The way it sprays out beneath the blades of his skates.
Yuuri should have seen it coming.
They all should have. JJ is proud of two things: skating and magic. And Viktor excels in both of them.
They reschedule the Grand Prix as planned.
Viktor comes in first – as expected.
JJ comes in last.
The next time Yuuri finds JJ he’s perched on top of their apartment complex – legs hanging dangerously over the edge and a burst of flames dancing on his fingertips. “JJ?” he asks. JJ called him earlier demanded that Yuuri come to the top of the building or the city would die.
“I’m sick of him,” JJ says.
“I-Is this…is this about the Grand Prix?” Yuuri asks softly.
JJ clenches his fist hard enough that a few wayward sparks tumble out of his fingertips. “No,” he snarls. “This is about Nikiforov winning everything.” JJ trembles and Yuuri starts to worry. “I just want to win something. I want to show my parents I’m good enough.”
“JJ,” Yuuri says slowly, “You don’t have to show anyone you’re good enough,”
“Yea, they all seem too focused on how shitty I am.” He wilts over and Yuuri feels fear striking his heart.
“JJ…what do you mean?” Fire bubbles out of JJ’s finger tips and it’s reminiscent of Yuuri’s own uncontrollable mess. Or what was his uncontrollable mess.
“I…” JJ sighs, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drag you into this. I’m just – just so done.” He pounds his fist against the concrete, hard enough that Yuuri bets the slab cracks a little. “I-I can’t handle this anymore.” JJ groans.
Dark red embers fall from JJ’s fingers and make a pile of ash on the floor. Yuuri sees the confused look in his eyes, he sees JJ reach down to dig his fingers into the ashes, but he doesn’t see it coming.
Viktor throws open the door to the roof, and calls out to Yuuri. “Oh, JJ, what are you doing here? Do you want help – your step sequence was looking weak. I can – “
And then – all hell breaks loose.
The sparks at JJ’s fingers pour out in a way that feels so familiar to Yuuri. But where Yuuri’s lack of control is fueled by the anxiety shrouding his brain – JJ’s is fueled by rage. Yuuri gets engulfed in a circle of flame – acting quick enough to shove Viktor back before the fire gets to him. “JJ!” Yuuri cries but JJ’s eyes are shut tightly and his hands shake.
“JJ, you have to listen – you’re not Viktor. You’re not better than him, but you don’t have to be.” Yuuri cries.
JJ whimpers out something and Yuuri feels searing hot flames lick at his skin. Hot enough that it burns him – Yuuri cries out and yanks his arms away from the flames that dance on the roof. “I’m not good enough,” he hears somewhere amidst the flames. “I’m not good enough for this.”
Yuuri takes a deep breath and does his best to quell the flames nearest him. Shockingly, they simmer down – enough that Yuuri can almost make out Viktor’s terrified face and the words he shouts at him. He yells at Yuuri to get out of there – but no. Yuuri won’t do that.
Yuuri knows this feeling better than anyone. And he will not let one of his friends go down with that.
“Neither am I,” Yuuri says softly. Soft enough that no one can hear it – but the flames carry it over. “But we’re in this together, right? We both suck,” Yuuri doesn’t believe it – but it’s not what JJ’s mind wants to hear.
In times like this, he wants to hear his own perception of the truth. Yuuri knows that.
“It’s okay to suck,” Yuuri says. “Because then you can get better,”
Yuuri reaches out a hand and for the first time – he breathes clearly. He hasn’t taken his pills this morning – but his heart doesn’t scream at him. The thoughts in his mind settle into a quiet hum and JJ shakily takes his hand. “I-I can’t get rid of this,” he whispers. “I-It’s too much and I-I can’t call it back.”
The flames around them simmer and burn white hot. It reminds Yuuri of being ten years old. It reminds him of when he engulfed his whole childhood home in flames with no way to stop them.
But Katsuki Yuuri is not ten years old anymore. He’s twenty-three and he can do this.
“That’s fine,” he says.
Yuuri squeezes JJ’s hand and sucks in the deepest breath he can. A neat trick he learns over their training is that if he holds his breath – he’s capable of a lot more than the average person. Consequently – it’s also not smart to deprive your body of oxygen when trying to use magic.
But Yuuri does it anyway – he focuses on recalling on the flames. He focuses on drawing them back into his own body, pulling the searing heat into his own bloodstream until he sees Viktor in the corner of his vision.
“I-I did it,” he whispers.
“Yuuri?” Viktor asks, coming forward. “You don’t look too hot,”
This time, when Yuuri collapses due to over exertion, he doesn’t regret it for a single second.
just a heads up the last chapter isnt really a chapter. more of a short epilogue to tie up some loose ends so it wont take very long and should be out in a few days.
also yes, i am dork enough to refernce noragami. fight me.
Chapter 4: epilogue
Yuuri wakes up with his head pounding against his skull. He blinks his eyes open and shuts them immediately to the bright lights with a groan. He squints instead and finds a weight pressing down on his lap preventing him from getting up. “V-Viktor?” Yuuri coughs lightly, his tongue feels like sand but Viktor still doesn’t stir.
Yuuri smiles and lets him be. Yuuri lets his head fall against the backboard and closes his eyes again to the light. His head still feels like someone attacks it with a drill, but it’s tolerable. “I did it,” Yuuri whispers to no one. “I did it.”
Yuuri’s torn from his thoughts when someone coughs. He glances down first at Viktor – still sound asleep in his lap and looks up at the door. “JJ?”
“Hi,” JJ whispers. “I wanted to…um…”
“Don’t.” Yuuri says firmly. “Don’t, please.”
JJ wilts, “I should – you got hurt because of me,” he whimpers.
“That was the most amount of fire I’ve controlled in my life – and if you apologize for it I’m gonna punch you the second I can,” Yuuri declares.
JJ lets out a dry laugh. “You’re really amazing, you know? I’d hate me if I were you,”
“It’s hard to hate someone who’s pretty similar to you, don’t you think?” Yuuri raises an eyebrow.
JJ frowns, “We’re nothing alike,”
Yuuri smiles sadly, “I’m not a good person you know. I’d do anything to get what I want – I burned my house down – and burned my mother – just so I could skate.”
JJ’s head shoots up, “W-What?”
Yuuri shrugs bitterly, “I’d do it again too – I’m not a good guy. And neither are you – but that doesn’t mean we can’t do good things.”
JJ frowns at the floor. “You’re…” he swallows, “Interesting.” He finishes.
Yuuri laughs loud enough that it jostles Viktor awake. JJ’s face turns red when Viktor shoots him a glare, but Yuuri elbows him gently and ushers JJ to leave. “We can talk more later – when Viktor’s not being an asshole,”
JJ mechanically walks forward and thrusts a bouquet of flowers in Yuuri’s hand before storming out with a red face. When Yuuri inspects it later he’ll find a card with words written and erased over and over again until the message finally reads ‘thank you’ in dark black ink. And Yuuri will find it fitting.
“How are you feeling?” Viktor asks, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and going for Yuuri’s hand.
“Honestly?” Yuuri snorts, “Like shit.” He mumbles and makes grabby hands for the water pitcher off to the side.
Viktor holds a glass to his lips and when Yuuri sucks it dry Viktor’s already waiting with another. Yuuri smiles, “There’s really not much to say when you’re not mad at me this time,”
Viktor clocks him on the head gently, “Do you want me to be mad at you?”
Yuuri smiles and looks down at his lap. “No, but I want a favor,”
Viktor rubs small circles on the back of his hand. “I think I know it,” he whispers.
“Let me join your team,” Yuuri says and takes Viktor’s hand in his own. Viktor’s almost shocked at the raw determination in Yuuri’s eyes and the strength he finds to squeeze his hand. “Let me join you, and let me skate with you. I want to prove myself,”
Viktor smiles and leans over to press a kiss against Yuuri’s mouth. “I only wish I could have convinced you myself,”