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And Again, Once More

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“Of course,” Yuuri says simply. “Of course, always. Tell me everything.”

Viktor has to laugh because this man, dear god. “What did I ever do to deserve you,” Viktor says, mostly to himself. “It was my past self that visited me? I saw my nineteen year old self, and…”

Yuuri’s mouth falls open. “Wow,” Yuuri breathes.

Viktor breathes out a laugh and goes to hug Yuuri tightly. Yuuri just lets him, one band on the back of his neck and the other on the small of his back. “I was very sad back then,” Viktor says softly, and Yuuri just strokes his hair. “Oh, Yuuri, I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Wow,” Yuuri says again, with a hint of an emotion that Viktor can’t name. But it fades out for concern to take its place, “What happened?”

Viktor laughs a little in the crook of Yuuri’s neck, peeking up a little sheepishly. “We might have had sex?”

Yuuri goes flushed red down past he collar of his shirt. “What?” He squeaks like one of Makkachin’s toys.

“It, it wasn’t anything too intense, but he was so lonely and desperate, and it was right after he went on that stupid cruise with Alec and…” Viktor scrunches up his face, feeling a little bitter and mournful. “I wanted him to feel loved, and, well, we got each other off.”

Yuuri is still flushed but smiling, a little baffled. “You wanted him to feel loved and that’s how you do it?”

Viktor laughs a little, not entirely sure how to explain it. “I was so lonely back then, Yuuri. Sex was the only thing I understood.” Yuuri’s face softens at that, and it looks like he wants to ask something, but first… “You’re not mad?”

Another little smile. “No, of course not,” Yuuri says, kissing Viktor’s forehead gently. “I know you love me, and that’s all I need.” He’s silent for a moment, but then he mumbles, “Plus, that’s a little hot. I’m kind of jealous.”

Viktor chokes on a laugh, leaning up to kiss Yuuri, because he has to, and they kiss through bursts of giggles. “Tell me, Yuuri, how much do you wish you were in my shoes last night?” Yuuri shoves Viktor, still laughing.

“It’s just,” Yuuri says, gesturing helplessly, “the hair.” He says it emphatically, like that is all he needs to say and Viktor is inclined to agree.

“Yes, I did know how to use that to my advantage,” Viktor says, laughter dying down and Yuuri looks at him a little concerned. He seems to come to a conclusion a moment later and bustles away to put a kettle on, already grabbing two cups before Viktor can get a word in edgewise. “Yuuri, what—“

“Tea,” Yuuri says, “You need tea and cuddles and if you’re willing to tell me, I… I would really like to hear about nineteen year old Viktor.”

“You want the dirty details? How scandalous.” Viktor teases and he sees the back of Yuuri’s neck flush.

“No!” He casts a sharp glance at Viktor. “No, no. I just only knew you from interviews and photographs back then and I’d—you never talk about your past, and…” He trails off nervously, and looks at Viktor from the corner of his eye.

“Sure, my Yuuri. I’ll tell you anything you want to know. You just have to ask.”

“Only if you want to,” Yuuri says firmly, settling against the counter while he waits for the water to boil. Then, softer, “I wouldn’t mind hearing about last night, either…”

This man. He loves this man. He thinks of young Vitya in St. Petersburg, alone, lost, so confused, and he wants to cry a little. At nineteen he’s not sure he would have even understood this kind of love; something that is quiet and kind and all encompassing. It took twenty seven years, but now he has something that he never could’ve imagined.


Yuuri gathers them onto the couch soon after, armed with two cups of tea and the heavy quilt. Viktor sits down and lets Yuuri arrange them together so that they’re sitting close, cups of tea in hand. Yuuri leans his head against Viktor’s shoulder, and Viktor feels better with Yuuri at his side.

“What do you want to know?” Viktor asks, quietly wondering what he could tell Yuuri that he doesn’t already know about. The only notable thing about him back then was his skating, and surely Yuuri knows all about that.

“What did you think of your nineteen year old self? It probably wasn’t the same way it felt when you were living it, but…” Yuuri shrugs a little, “I just—I want to know what you were like. Back then.”

“Arrogant,” Viktor says softly. “He was very charming, though. Very…  Intentionally beautiful and talented, and ready to take on the world by storm.”

“Yes,” Yuuri says, somewhat wistfully. “I remember that much from the interviews. I found you enrapturing and motivating, but yes, a little arrogant.” He smiles at Viktor like he always does, softly, so full of love that Viktor can’t believe it. “That was still the Viktor that inspired me to skate every day.”

Viktor imagines Yuuri meeting his younger self, all casual hostility and a façade of confidence, and he feels a bit ill. “I forgot how—he wasn’t nice. I—I wasn’t nice. I was crude, I just wanted to get people’s attention, make an impression on them. I…” He remembers being there, feeling that making himself pretty was necessary because if not skating then what. He still can’t help but feel a little disgusted with himself.

“Viktor?” Yuuri’s staring at him, and Viktor takes a sip of tea, trying to ease away whatever expression had passed over his face.

“Sorry,” Viktor says. “I guess I’m a little upset. I just—when he first appeared he was mad that I was old and that I didn’t win all the time. He threw a tantrum when I tried to tell him that winning wasn’t everything.” Viktor wants to laugh but he can’t quite figure out how. “Skating was everything. I thought that if I slipped up I’d have nothing. I’d lose the media attention, and the fans, and the… people I’d let use me because I wanted to feel useful.”

“Like Alec?”

“Yes,” Viktor says. “Like Alec. He spoiled me and told me that he loved me. I knew it wasn’t true but it still took me years to figure out how bad that week actually made me feel.”

“… were there others?” Viktor gives a slow nod and Yuuri’s face scrunches up. “Oh, Viktor,” Yuuri abandons his tea and wraps himself around Viktor. Viktor puts his tea down after a moment, and just lets himself be coddled.

Viktor gives a weak laugh. “Dozens. I never bothered counting. No one ever mattered until you.”

Yuuri burrows closer. “I wish I could’ve been there for you sooner.”

“I don’t,” Viktor says, frowning. “I would’ve been cruel. I didn’t know how to be kind.”

“You still didn’t deserve to be alone,” Yuuri says, and Viktor shrugs.

“I had Yakov. He was as much my father as anything, even though I didn’t want to see that. I had Chris and Georgi later…” Viktor hugs Yuuri tighter, “Anyway, I’d do it all again if it meant finding you.”

Yuuri doesn’t look reassured, though. He reaches a hand up to cup Viktor’s face and Viktor just presses a kiss into his palm. “You always looked so happy on the screen, though. I thought…”

Viktor laughs gently, “That I was perfect? Yuuri, my darling, you’re not the only one that has cried in bathrooms over a performance.

“I almost don’t believe you.”

“Nineteen year old me would’ve been proud of that,” Viktor says somewhat grimly.

Yuuri’s looking at him, brown eyes burning with emotion. “Do you ever still feel like that? Useless and helpless?”

Never, Viktor wants to say, but he knows that’s not true. “Not often anymore. Skating doesn’t feel like work anymore, and, well, I have you here to remind me the best in life.”

“But it still happens,” Yuuri says, with eyes that could see right through him. Sometimes it scares Viktor how Yuuri can do that. Viktor spent his whole life training to lie, and Yuuri can read him like a book.

“Yes,” Viktor says slowly, almost afraid of where this is going. “It’s, it’s not a big deal, solnyshko, everyone has bad days. I—“  

“No,” Yuuri frowns. “You weren’t going to tell me that this upset, were you? You wanted to make this into a weird joke and let it go, right?”

Well, he can’t entirely deny that, but… “What? Yuuri—“

Yuuri puts both hands back on Viktor’s face, turning his head up and making his eyes snap to Yuuri’s. “Please tell me whenever you feel like that, okay? I don’t care if I’m sleeping or busy or anxious, I don’t want you ever to be alone again.” Viktor’s eyes must have started to drift away because Yuuri shakes him gently, “I know that you now know how important you are to me, my family, Yurio, Yakov, so many more. You are not only necessary and loved, but you are allowed to want. “

“Okay,” Viktor says, only a little shaky. He’s not quite sure what Yuuri’s getting at here, but the fire in his eyes is enough for Viktor to drown in.

“I’m not done,” Yuuri says, not unkindly. “I know that those terrible feelings aren’t as distant as you want them to be. I just want you to know that if your past ever bothers you, or if you ever feel empty like that again, I’ll—I’ll always be here, with whatever you need. None of your past makes you a bad person, and neither does feeling upset by it and I’m not going anywhere, okay?”

“Okay,” Viktor says, and this time it’s significantly harder to say. He burrows himself in Yuuri’s arms, letting him hold him close. It’s something he’s never going to take for granted.

“I love you,” Yuuri whispers, “I’m here, I’m here.”


The incident falls to the back of their minds faster Viktor thought it would. It was just another stumble in the both of them learning what it’s like to be loved and to love, and honestly it had been weird. They both excused it as a crazy story they would laugh about in the future. It was one of those things no one ever believe them about, so what did it matter.

When the next Visiting day rolled around, neither of them thought much of the previous year’s Visit. Yuuri had written Vicchan on his ribbon again, and Victor wrote his mother’s name. They both settled down in their separate rooms again and waited.

The thing was when Yuuri opened his eyes instead of his dog sitting there, it was a younger Viktor. Tall, graceful, long flowing hair pinned back in an elegant ponytail.

“Oh my god,” Yuuri says, and little Vitya turns to look at him.

“Who are you supposed to be?” Vitya squints at him, one hand on his hip. Yuuri remembers Viktor saying that he didn’t want to tell his younger self much in fear of changing the past, but Yuuri’s speaking before he could even think.

“Your husband,” Yuuri blurts out and then blushes, “In… well, in the future I am.”

The effect is almost a full body motion. Vitya’s mouth goes slack in surprise, eyes going wide. His whole body relaxes the hostility and tension bleeding out in one quick wave. It doesn’t last long, though, because the aloofness is back in between breaths. Vitya huffs, his smile soft but with an edge of skepticism.

“Oh. I was expecting that’d I’d find something different,” Vitya says, “Are you even an athlete?”

Yuuri looks down at himself, dressed in an oversized sweatshirt that Viktor says makes him look soft and lovable. Yuuri looks up at Vitya, and despite his derisive words he’s looking at Yuuri up and down. Right, Yuuri remembers, rude.

”I compete with you.”

“Are you good?” He says it almost like an accusation. “Do you win?”

“Sometimes,” Yuuri smiles, trying not to laugh, “Sometimes you win. Sometimes neither.”

Vitya scoffs, “I must get soft in the future.  Is that why I decided to settle down?” Ah, yes, Yuuri remembers now. He threw a tantrum when I tried to tell him that winning wasn’t everything. Yuuri tries a different approach.

“You’re happier now.”

“Sure I am,” Vitya says, though his expression flickers curiously, “It’s easy to be happy when you’ve abandoned all your dignity.” So much for that. Yuuri sighs inwardly.

“How old are you?” Yuuri asks, gesturing for Vitya to sit on the bed with him, and after a moment he does.

“Twenty.” So, almost the same age as last year’s. A year’s difference. Vitya sits himself across from Yuuri, crossing his legs and leaning his elbows on his knees. There’s a moment of hesitation before he seems to steel himself.

“So, tell me,” he begins conspiratorially, “What was it that got your attention? Was it the hair? The beautiful body? No? I bet it’s the amazing sex. I give amazing blowjobs now I imagine after years of practice I—“ 

“My husband is incredibly kind,” Yuuri says like he didn’t even hear Vitya talking. “I fell in love with his selflessness and his enthusiasm, but I love him for everything he is.”

Vitya’s expression falls, but again, only for a moment. A brief wince crosses his face, like he’s preparing to hear something terrible. “The sex is that bad?”

Yuuri feels like this must be happening to someone else, incredulity passing over him. Yuuri has to fight back the urge to laugh. “I never said that. Sex and love aren’t the same thing, Vitya.”

Vitya purses his lips, looking at Yuuri strangely.  “We don’t have sex at all?” And Yuuri has to laugh at that.

“No, we definitely do,” Yuuri says, fighting at a smile. “You don’t have to worry about that.”

“I don’t get it,” Vitya says.

“Get what?”

“You married me because I was kind?” Vitya’s begun to look a little distressed, and he squints at Yuuri like he’s speaking another language.

“Among other things.” Yuuri tries to smile gently.

“I don’t know how to do that. How did I get people’s attention by being nice?

Oh. “Vitya,” Yuuri says, watching Vitya wrap himself into knots, his fists going tight against the bed covers. “You don’t have to do anything to get people’s attention. You just have to be you.”

Vitya’s glare swivels to Yuuri’s face, “What does that even mean?”  He suddenly shifts forward, leaning into Yuuri’s space. “When do you meet you? You’re a skater, right? How many years until I skate with you?”

Yuuri hesitates, putting his hands up, placating. “Vitya—“

“Tell me!” Vitya puts his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders, looming over him, but when Yuuri looks at his face he just looks desperate. “Please tell me. I need to know. I need to be ready.”

“Soon enough, sweetheart,” Yuuri says, putting a hand against Vitya’s cheek. He flinches back minutely, eyes squeezing closed before he relaxes into the touch. When he opens his eyes again they’re shiny with unshed tears.

“How long,” Vitya says again, “How many years? How long do I have to wait?”

Yuuri leans forward to kiss Vitya’s forehead and he shudders. “In time, darling. The first times we meet it’s… messy. We figure it out eventually, though.” Yuuri tries to pull back but Vitya’s hands have drifted to Yuuri’s forearms, gripping tightly. It takes a little bit of maneuvering, but Yuuri pulls Vitya into his lap and he tucks his face against Yuuri’s neck.

“Just—just tell me how I got your attention. What did I do?”

Yuuri huffs out a laugh. “Vitya, you’ve had my attention since before I started skating. You didn’t do anything, I was watching from the start.” Vitya’s head whips up so fast he almost cracks his head against Yuuri’s chin, just barely manages to miss.

“Wait, what?” Vitya says, looking a little wide eyed. “You’re a fan? So—I, so you liked me for—“

“Yes,” Yuuri says, “When we met you tried to seduce me with your charms, but it didn’t work. Vitya, I fell in love with you for you, not because you lured me in.” Yuuri smiles demurely, “Though, it helped that you were pretty.”

That was the wrong thing to say, though, because instantly Vitya’s face gains some of that confidence again. He lifts his head so that he’s looming close to Yuuri again, his breath hot on Yuuri’s neck. “Oh, so I was right? Was it the hair, then?” He kisses the corner of Yuuri’s jaw and Yuuri shoves him back slightly.

“Don’t do that,” Yuuri says, keeping Vitya at arm’s length, far enough to look him in the eyes.

“Why not,” Vitya whines, “It’s the same as kissing me when I’m older, isn’t it? You just said you wanted me. You wanted me when you were young and now here I am.” Vitya tries to duck in to kiss Yuuri and he gets shoved away again.

“No,” Yuuri says, moving to stand up only to be stopped by Vitya grabbing at his arm. He knows how to look needy, and he puts out all the stops, trying to tug Yuuri back down.

“Please,” Vitya says, “I want to. You want me. You’ll marry me, how is it any different now?”  Yuuri scrunches up his face, feeling a little sick. Is this the way Viktor saw him last year? He thinks about what Viktor said about his past, and when he told him sex was the only thing I understood.

“You don’t have to do this,” Yuuri says, not pulling away completely but not letting Vitya pull him onto the bed. “If you want me to stay with you, you only have to ask.”

Vitya just squints at him again. “I do want to. I want you to stay.”

 “I told you that love and sex aren’t the same thing,” Yuuri repeats, watching as Vitya levels him a look that says he thinks Yuuri’s an idiot. “Can I show you the ways I tell my husband that I love him?”

Surprisingly, Vitya settles back against the bed, looking a bit out of depth. Yuuri takes that as a yes, and says, “Be right back,” before ducking out of the room. When he comes back a handful of minutes later with two cups of tea, Vitya is settled uncomfortably on the bed, feet tucked under him.

Yuuri puts the mugs on the nightstand; grabbing the blanket at the foot of the bed and sitting close next to Vitya. They settle into a mirror image of the way Yuuri and Viktor sit, Vitya’s head on Yuuri’s shoulder and the blanket draped over them. Yuuri grabs the remote for the TV, and flips on a movie.

“This is one of our favorites. Tell me if you want anything, okay?”

“Okay,” Vitya mumbles, tensed as if he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yuuri just wraps an arm around his shoulders and settles back to watch the movie.


By the time the movie was about an hour in both empty mugs were on the nightstand again, and Vitya’s head had found its way into Yuuri’s lap. Yuuri had been letting his fingers card gently through Vitya’s long hair for a little while before he felt Vitya start to shudder. He turns his head against Yuuri’s thigh so that Yuuri can’t see his face from behind the hair, and Yuuri doesn’t say anything until he starts to hear little sniffles.

“Are you okay, darling?”

Vitya doesn’t say anything, and he doesn’t once look away from the movie. Yuuri spends a little while floundering on what to do, and he just continues to pet Vitya’s hair and listening to him as he tries to stifle sobs.

Viktor always cries like he’s almost forgotten how, letting it wash over him as if he’s not living in his own body. It should be no surprise that Vitya does the same, but Yuuri still hates it. Vitya is so different from his Viktor, and he spends a while wondering what would make this Viktor happy as well.

By the time he comes to any kind of conclusion Vitya’s calming down, small sniffles the only evidence remaining. The movie’s not finished, but neither of them is really paying attention.

“I’m going to take a bath, if you want to come with?” Yuuri wishes that he was still at the onsen, but their bath is plenty big here. Vitya just laughs wetly, shaking his head in disbelief. He tucks his face against Yuuri’s leg for a moment.

“Sure,” he says, still a little stuffy from the tears, and he sits up when Yuuri nudges him out of the way. He just stays there, looking out of place on the bed, and Yuuri goes to get things ready. It only takes him a few minutes, but as Yuuri’s pulling out two towels Vitya slips into the bathroom. He’s gathered himself somewhat, eyes slightly red but he’s leaning against the door frame, twirling a strand of his hair. He seems unsure of what to do, just watching Yuuri and despite the fact he’s trying very hard not to, he looks nervous.

“My family owns an onsen,” Yuuri says quietly, to give Vitya to focus on. He blinks at Yuuri, almost as if he’s startled out of deep thought. “A house bath doesn’t compare to the hot springs. I wish I could’ve shown you, because when Viktor came to Japan the first time he adored them.”

“In Moscow there are banya, uh--” Vitya scrunches up his nose, “Bathhouses? They make regular baths pretty boring, too.”

“Oh,” Yuuri says, surprised. “Viktor’s never mentioned anything like that before.”

“It’s tons of fun. I know for a fact that you can have sex with four people in a bath, so surely two people will be no problem,” Vitya smiles again, aloof again, “Y’know, for future travel plans.”

Yuuri purses his lips, fighting back a sigh. Oh. Of course. That would explain why Viktor never said anything. “Well,” Yuuri says, “Usually Viktor and I bathe to relax, but I guess that works too.”

“Usually,” Vitya says slyly, with that half lidded stare he keeps leveling Yuuri with. On some level Yuuri knows that he’s doing this because he’s uncomfortable, but he has to stop himself from rolling his eyes. It reminds him so much of the Viktor that showed up at the onsen unannounced. Dramatic. Obscene. Ridiculous.

Yuuri turns the bath off, and almost immediately Vitya sways closer, looking down at Yuuri who’s still perched on the lip of the tub. Yuuri can already tell where this is going and he gently grabs Vitya’s hand which has already gone to the edge of his shirt.

“That’s really not what this is about,” Yuuri says gently. “If this makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to, but…” Vitya does that squint again, but doesn’t pull his hand away.  Feeling inspired, Yuuri takes Vitya’s hand and kisses his knuckles the way Viktor always does to him. “I want you to feel comfortable, okay?”

Vitya’s expression wobbles momentarily, and Yuuri remembers feeling that way the first couple times Viktor did something so touchingly romantic to him. When Yuuri lets his hand go and moves to tug Vitya’s shirt off, he lets him without another word. Yuuri throws his clothes in the hamper and gently tugs Vitya into the bath. He’s clearly nervous, watching Yuuri warily like he’s wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Yuuri just kisses the back of Vitya’s neck delicately after they’ve settled in the water.

“Are you comfortable?” Yuuri’s sitting directly behind him, his knees bracketing Vitya’s hips. He can see how tense Vitya’s shoulders are. He runs his hand down Vitya’s side with gentle fingers and a shudder travels down his spine.

“Yes,” Vitya says, surprisingly softly.

“Can I wash your hair?” Yuuri tucks some of the strands over Vitya’s ear, tugging what he can over his shoulder. It’s long enough that a good portion of it touches the water, and Yuuri trails his fingers through the silver strands. The water is hot enough to make Vitya’s skin flush pink, and he’s ducking his head away so that Yuuri can’t see his face.

“Yes,” Vitya says again, even softer this time.

“Are you sure you’re okay? We don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with.” He presses a gentle kiss against Vitya’s tense shoulder. Vitya gasps a little bit.

“Yes,” Vitya says, pointedly not turning his head at all. “Please do it.”

Yuuri has to swallow against the slow wave of emotion he feels. “Okay,” he says just as softly, grabbing the cup near on the ledge to scoop water up. He feels sad and mournful and most of all protective of this young, damaged version of the man he loves so much. He doesn’t know if it works like this, but Yuuri hopes desperately that he’ll remember tonight after he leaves in the morning. “Close your eyes,” Yuuri says, waiting for Vitya to do so before pouring the water over his head. It takes a couple more tries since Vitya has so much more hair than either Viktor or Yuuri.

It takes a long time to wash Vitya’s hair, and Yuuri takes his time. He spends a while just scratching his fingers along Vitya’s scalp, watching carefully at each little shudder that he makes. Yuuri noticed how Vitya’s eyes had fluttered shut, but judging by the little soft pleased noises that he keeps making it’s not a bad thing. Gentle hands make their way down Vitya’s long hair, delicately working out little knots within it until Yuuri makes it to the end of his hair. He repeats his request for Vitya to close his eyes and starts the process over again.

By the time he’s done the water has cooled a little bit, and Yuuri quickly washes his own hair. He’s a little bit grateful he never tried to grow out his hair as long as Vitya’s, even though he had wanted to at one point. It was much more work than he would’ve ever been able to take care of.

Yuuri grabs one of the sponges and the soap again, watching as Vitya’s eyes flick to them. “Is this okay, too? It’s okay to say no, Vitya.” Yuuri watches in interest as Vitya’s face flushes slowly. All the quips and smart remarks have apparently dried up, and Vitya looks surprisingly small now.

“No,” Vitya says again, “It’s… it’s okay. Please. Please do.”

So he does. He goes through what he normally does for Viktor, all gentle touches down the planes of his back, letting hot water and the push of his fingers ease away the tension. Viktor and Yuuri usually spend a long time in the bath, just to touch and to be touched and to feel loved. Though, by the time Yuuri is done washing Vitya’s back he’s looking fragile, so Yuuri just presses gentle kisses to the edge of his jaw.

“Hey,” Yuuri murmurs against Vitya’s neck, putting the sponge and soap down to move his hands along Vitya’s arms to grab his hands. His fists are clenched tight against his knees, peaking over the edge of the water. “Tell me what you want, okay? Can you do that?”

“Can… can we get out? I want… can you just-- hold me?” Vitya’s voice cracks badly at the end and Yuuri tries to squeeze his hand reassuringly. “Please. Can you—please.”

“Of course,” Yuuri says, pressing another light kiss to the base of Vitya’s neck.

Oh, Yuuri recognizes this. Though it’s been happening less and less frequently, Yuuri’s familiar enough with how Viktor gets tangled up in all the want and how he doesn’t know how to ask. Luckily, Yuuri’s getting better at figuring out what to do.

So Yuuri just guides Vitya out of the bath, drains the water and wraps him in the fluffiest towel he can find. Yuuri grabs one of Viktor’s brushes from one of the drawers and sits Vitya in front of him on the bed. Vitya’s got so much hair that Yuuri takes a while just using another towel to dry his hair as much as he can. Vitya goes easily, letting Yuuri maneuver him and pamper him. The only time he moves is when his eyes flick to the brush on the bed, and he gives a little laugh.

“That’s mine,” Vitya says. “I have the same one.”

“Well… yes,” Yuuri says, “It’s my husbands. I usually just use a comb, so…” Yuuri gestures weakly to his still wet hair.

“You really are my husband in the future,” Vitya says quietly. Yuuri’s hands hesitate in Vitya’s hair for a moment, not really sure what to say to that.

“Yes…” Yuuri says, “Did you not believe me?”

“No—I don’t know,” Vitya says. He’s very small like this. It’s like all his feelings drained out in the bath. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.”

Yuuri wonders if he’s going to remember this after the day is over. He wants to ask but he’s pretty sure that’s a question he’s not going to get an answer to. He just patiently brushes Vitya’s hair, looking for something to say.

“Last year was the first year that I wrote my own choreography,” Vitya says, like a confession. “I didn’t win.”

Yuuri remembers that. He remembers it very clearly because Yuuri was impressed. It had taken Yuuri much, much longer than that to be brave enough to choreograph his own performances.

“Were you disappointed?” Vitya asks, even quieter. “If you’re a fan, then…. You saw me fail.”

Fifteen year old Yuuri didn’t know how to be disappointed in Viktor Nikiforov, but that’s not the point. “I thought it was brave,” Yuuri says, trying to think of the right words for the kind of stubbornness that resides in this Viktor. It kind of reminds Yuuri of himself, though. “You didn’t win but you shone like a star, Vitya. I was so excited to see what you’d do next.”

There’s a pause, then, “I don’t believe you. Don’t tell me what I want to hear.”

Yuuri kisses the back of Vitya’s head, hair still damp. “Why would I lie to you?”

“Because you pity me.”

“No,” Yuuri says, “I love you. I’ve adored you since the moment I saw you skate for the first time.”

Vitya swallows hard, but doesn’t say anything else. He doesn’t speak again until after Yuuri’s done patiently brushing his hair. His hair is still damp, despite the thorough care. Yuuri wants to do something with it so it doesn’t get tangled when they lay down, but Vitya’s hauling him down before he has the chance to say anything. When he does mention it he gets a derisive snort in response.

“It doesn’t matter,” Vitya says, “It’s not like I’m going to wake up here anyway.”

Yuuri has to bite back the impulse to apologize. Vitya’s trying to sound flippant about that, but…

“Roll over,” Yuuri says, nudging Vitya the way he wants him. He goes easily, and Yuuri wraps an arm around him, pulling him close to his chest. In this position, everything smells like Vitya’s shampoo. He can’t complain, though. “What do you need from me?”

“Stay.” Vitya says, then another pause. Yuuri can almost hear Vitya mull over his words before—“Tell me a story about you and I.” His voice cracks again, but he just swallows. “If you can’t tell me how we meet, fine, just—just tell me something. Tell me what you’re going to do with your husband when you wake up tomorrow.”

So Yuuri does. He talks about how tomorrow is their day off and they plan to go to the park with Makkachin, and then go to dinner with their rinkmates.  He tells Vitya about their daily routine, the daily walks with Makkachin, how when they get home they sit on the couch and watch a movie before bed. Most nights, one of them falls asleep half way through.

“He gets this every night?” Yuuri thinks that this is referring to the way he’s curled around Vitya, his hand making slow paths along Vitya’s scalp.

“In some variation, yes,” Yuuri says, “Unless I fall asleep. Then it’s the other way around.”

“Okay,” Vitya says. Yuuri feels like he's suffocating in an emotion he can’t quite name. “Continue. Please.”

So he does. He talks about their wedding and their honeymoon and all the stupid antics that happen in the rink on a daily basis. He talks until he thinks Vitya is asleep, but as soon as he stops Vitya starts to stir.

“Don’t stop,” Vitya says.

“You can sleep,” Yuuri says, letting his fingertips trail over Vitya’s jaw. Vitya’s eyes had fluttered shut a while ago, though he still makes a noise of protest when Yuuri doesn’t continue talking.

“I don’t want to sleep,” Vitya says stubbornly, though he sounds a bit like he wants to cry. “If I sleep this is over. Don’t stop.” He makes a wounded noise when Yuuri doesn’t reply right away. “Please.” He’s been saying that a lot today.

“Okay,” Yuuri says.

“Thank you,” Vitya says, almost too quietly to be heard. He squeezes the hand that Yuuri has tucked near his stomach. He entwines their fingers together and holds tight.

And then Yuuri tells every story he can think of. He talks until his voice goes hoarse, and his mouth goes dry, but Vitya’s warm and comforting in his arms. Vitya does fall asleep eventually, right as the edges of the sky were turning pink with an incoming dawn. Yuuri stops talking and seemingly without his consent, he’s falling asleep, too. In what must have only been a few minutes later, dawn coloring the sky beyond the window, Yuuri wakes up again in an empty bed.

Yuuri feels a bit raw. It almost seems like the space in bed next to him is filled with lingering warmth. The palm of his hand tingles slightly.

He sits up. The room is quiet and empty, bathed in a growing soft, warm light. Yuuri thinks of Vitya waking up alone in St. Petersburg nine years ago and, and… he doesn’t know what to do with that. So he throws the covers off himself and walks out the now empty bedroom.

He peaks in the guest bedroom where Viktor was staying the night. He’s curled up in bed, arms tucked close to himself. He briefly wonders if he saw his mom like he wanted to last year. It’s far too early for him to wake up by himself, but Yuuri sneaks in anyway, closing the door behind him to keep Makkachin out.

Despite Yuuri’s efforts at being quiet, Viktor stirs awake when Yuuri tries to slip into bed.

“Yuuri?” There’s a moment of bleary confusion, and then Viktor’s hazy blue eyes blink into focus. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” Yuuri says, tucking himself behind Viktor and burying his face in his neck. Yuuri is exhausted. He feels blown out and he can’t remember when the last time he stayed up this late was. Probably when he was still in college.

“Yuuri?” Viktor sounds concerned now, and that won’t do. Yuuri swallows hard, just wanting to hold Viktor and sleep. Briefly, Yuuri’s eyes prickle and he’s worried he might cry.

“I was visited by your younger self, like the way you were last year. He was twenty,” Yuuri says.

“Oh,” Viktor says, and seems to understand completely. He doesn’t push any more, and settles back down so that Yuuri can hold him.

“I didn’t have sex with him,” Yuuri manages a little laugh.

“I wasn’t worried,” Viktor says softly. He finds Yuuri’s hand and entwines their fingers. Yuuri squeezes so tight he’s worried it might hurt.

“I’m sorry—I’m sorry you felt that way. Then.”

“It’s okay,” Viktor says. “I have you now.” They’ve had this conversation several times before, and every time Viktor feels his heart in his throat. Yuuri’s hand is clenched tight against his, and Viktor squeezes back.

“I wonder why it keeps happening like this. Why now.”

“Maybe to show you that I’m not perfect,” Viktor says softly, “Or maybe to show you how much I need you.”

“Maybe it’s just to show us how much has changed.” Viktor thinks about that for a moment.

“For the better,” he settles on.

“For the better,” Yuuri agrees. He kisses the back of Viktor’s neck delicately, holding him close. “I love you so much, Vitya.”

“I love you too, solnyshko,” Viktor says, “Now go to sleep. You must be tired.”

Obligingly, Yuuri snuggles into bed and it feels like seconds before he feels sleep tug at him. Viktor’s warm against him and he’s real. He’s real.

When he falls asleep the last thought in his mind is I have no idea how I—we—got so lucky.