“Finally, you persuaded him to stay at home.”
This was the comment which started everything. Yuuri stared at Yakov uncomprehendingly, as the old coach told him that theoretically Viktor shouldn’t have been on the ice for two weeks now and that gave him the creeps.
So this was the reason why Viktor recently preferred the late night practices although he went to sleep early, and that lately he was never seen without a roll bandage on his knees and ankle. Yuuri didn’t want to assume things because if he would have thought about it more seriously, he would have done exactly that, and that never ended up good. Now he felt guilty and angry that he repressed his divinations that something is wrong with Viktor’s smiles, that he is unusually angry if he fails at a jump, or that he hissed more from the pain. If Yuuri asked, he always waved it away that nothing was wrong, everything was alright.
So that was the reason why he spoke on the phone so much lately. With Yakov, with the doctor… with everyone, and Yuuri listened every time anxiously to the conversation which was in Russian and which was too fast for him to follow.
And Viktor probably spoke like that so Yuuri wouldn’t understand it.
Suddenly, Yuuri didn’t even know if he should feel angry or betrayed when Yakov copied him Viktor’s medical papers, from which he didn’t understand anything, but at least he had something to wave before Viktor’s nose when he confronted him that he had been caught. That he is practically banned even from running if he doesn’t want to walk with a halt for the rest of his life. If he wants to use his legs like they’re supposed to.
Yuuri went home with a bitter taste in his mouth, chewing on his lips as he opened the door but Viktor wasn’t home – just like Makkachin. The poodle didn’t greet him anymore on the doorstep because she has been put to sleep a year ago when her illness turned out to be incurable. The loss of her shattered them both and although Yuuri brought up carefully that they could adopt a dog from a dog shelter, Viktor kept aloof from the idea. Yuuri hadn't pushed the issue since because it was hard for him to get used to Makkachin’s presence after Vicchan too. But it also would be good for Viktor if they would have someone to take care of beside themselves, not to mention that Viktor wasn’t able to hand over Makkachin’s old toys and beds. During a cleaning session, Yuuri even found an expired canned dog food which he threw out and didn’t even mention to Viktor.
Theoretically, Viktor went in to the gym that day, but Yuuri had already guessed that was a lie. Last week he stated that he had spent a whole day there when he tumbled into the rink grouchily and now it made sense that he was probably rushing from examination to examination.
Yuuri didn’t understand it. They made an oath to be at each other’s side in health and in sickness. Why had Viktor kept such a thing in secret and why does he want to carry such a weight alone? It happened a lot that Viktor took care of Yuuri when he splayed or strained his ankle. Why doesn’t Viktor allow him to do the same for him?
He looked up at the Latin phrases in Viktor’s clinical evidence but they didn’t make him worry less. It was true that in their sport everybody’s fate was that their joints and cartilage will be ruined from the exertion, but Yuuri didn’t understand why Viktor hid this from him. Yuuri’s knees weren’t the same anymore either and Yuuri did take care of them if they hurt.
Neither of them had the habit to rummage in the other’s belongings – except if the other asked – but Yuuri broke this unspoken promise as he went to Viktor’s side in the bedroom.
As he suspected: all the medicine and roll bandages were in Viktor’s nightstand and Yuuri pulled out the drawer with such a force that it came out from its place and he couldn’t put it back, hands shaking from nerves.
The key clattered in its lock. Yuuri froze, then took a deep breath.
Nothing is wrong, he hasn't done anything wrong, he just needed to make sure about it…
He heard as Viktor rustled with the bags in the kitchen, and Yuuri smoothed a mop of hair behind his ear which had escaped from the ponytail, and got up from the floor.
“Yuuri, dear, where are you?” he heard Viktor’s voice.
As Yuuri stepped into the room, Viktor packed the groceries in the fridge. At least he went to the store. Viktor quietly hummed a melody which Yuuri recognized as the music they chose for their duet last season and his heart sank even more. Viktor’s whole existence brightened when he saw the Japanese man, and he opened his arms for a hug but Yuuri held up one of the medicines. The smile froze on Viktor’s face, his eyes rounding.
“When did you want to tell me about this?” he asked in a sharper voice than he planned.
Viktor opened his mouth to speak, then his eyes fell on the table, noticing the copied pages of the clinical evidence Yuuri left there beneath his scarf when he got home, throwing it off in a hurry. “Where did you get that from?” he whispered instead of an answer.
“Yakov told me a really interesting story today,” Yuuri continued with awakening anger. “He said he’s glad I made you to stay at home. Why do you think that is?”
“Yuuri, it’s nothing. I’ve had this problem for years, you don’t need to…”
“Maybe I don’t understand what is written here but I’ve heard that Yakov and the doctor banned you from doing sports for indefinite time.”
Viktor pressed his lips together stubbornly, his face getting colder from this gesture. Yuuri never thought before that his beloved would ever seem this frigid before him and something squeezed his throat. If he would have known that wishing Viktor back on the ice would cause such consequences, he would have hold his tongue. And although he didn’t win that much anymore – because Yuuri was serious about becoming a five time world champion and he only needed one yet – lately it seemed like Viktor had fun competing.
“Viktor,” he began, seeing the other man wincing because he rarely used his whole first name anymore. “This is not a game. Do you want to continue this until you are physically unable to skate?”
“You wanted me to come back.”
“But I didn’t want to make you hurt yourself!” He raised his voice without noticing, so the worry didn't come completely over him. “You never know where your limit is.”
“I thought you liked to compete against me!”
“Not if your health is the price! I can’t believe I have such an irresponsible coach.”
“It has nothing to do with me being your coach,” Viktor’s voice was sharp, and Yuuri had only heard that before when he had a fight with Yakov or somebody else from the Russian team. But he never used this voice on him. “This is my own business.”
Yuuri’s lips were shaking as he held up his hand with the golden ring. “I’m your husband and your health is my business too. I won’t watch you ruin yourself with your stubbornness.”
“What, you’ll ban me from the ice too?” Viktor asked and Yuuri saw already the parallel with a cheeky immature teenager Yakov always said Viktor took after. Especially when Viktor crumpled the copy and throw it into the dumpster with precise aiming.
“I don’t think you would take me more seriously than Yakov or the doctor if you didn’t even give a fuck to tell me.”
Viktor inhaled sharply. They weren’t used to speaking with each other like that. “I would have told you!”
“When? When you can’t even walk without help?”
“Yuuri, let’s end this. Now.”
“Fine!” Both his voice and lips shaking, he pushed Viktor out of the way, snatched up his bag from the floor, yanked off a light jacket from the hook, and jumped in his shoes, treading down their heels. “I can’t even talk to you.”
Yuuri didn’t hear anything Viktor said after that from the blood thrumming in his ears, and he slammed the door on Viktor when he tried to reach for him. He raced down the stairs and he trustworthily held back the tears until he reached the gate to the street. In the fresh and much cooler air, the tears began to roll down on his face and he ran so he could be far away from the fighting and from how they spoke with each other.
Finally, he ended up at one of the Neva’s canals when he was out of breath after crying and running at the same time. He was so stuck in his own head because of the fight that he didn’t even realize the concerned stares of the passers’. He collapsed on a bench, his mind still wondering where he should go for the night. At the moment, he didn’t even want to see his husband and he was sure Viktor felt the same too. When they were fighting, it usually took a couple of hours till they calmed down but Yuuri didn’t want to beat around the bush in the apartment till it happened.
He considered his chances. He could go to a hotel but he wasn’t sure that he could take the cold loneliness of the room. He got so angry he still gasped for air just like when he was having a panic attack. As he watched his surroundings more closely, he noticed a subway and it crossed his mind that Yurio’s apartment was just five stations from here. Yuuri knew that no matter how grumpy the boy was, he would take pity on him because Yuri spent a lot of nights at their place in the past when he was still living with Yakov and Lilia, when he was sick of their fighting. Yes, he will grumble about why Yuuri hadn't said it earlier but he will take him in. Maybe if Yuuri could call him now…
He dug into his bag and as he pulled out his phone, he remembered that the battery was low already in the middle of day. No problem, at least Viktor won’t call him when he calmed down. He should know too how it feels like to be worried about someone you love.
He got himself together so that he wouldn’t take the subway while crying. He was able to let himself in the house where Yurio lived with the code he memorized when they helped him move in. Then he climbed the three floors and rang the bell but nobody answered. Suddenly, Yuuri felt the urge to bang on the wood, kick into something, and make a scene.
Yuri and Otabek had a day off tomorrow which usually meant they went out. How big was the chance that they will be back before dawn and they will be sober?
Despite it being summer, it was chilly in the hallway so Yuuri pulled on the jacket he grabbed at home. It was one of Viktor’s that he started to wear in the autumn weather. It even had a scarf in the arm which he stuck into his bag because he could smell Viktor’s scent on the jacket because of it. He sat down on the stairs and waited, his new thoughts chewing on his insides.
Viktor said let's end this. He couldn’t have meant it like their marriage, could he? Yes, they were talking to each other really roughly but it was to be expected that the honeymoon phase would be over and someday the other’s stubbornness would be really nerve-wrecking. They had had fights before and they always made up afterwards. And anyway, Yuuri was right, Viktor shouldn’t have kept this a secret. Then Yuuri told him that it was impossible to talk with him and slapped the door in his face. What if he accidentally hit Viktor with it? Yuuri couldn’t hold back the new tears from gushing out.
He must have dozed off in the self-loathing because he was woken up with loud laughter which echoed in the staircase. He could recognize Yuri’s uproarious voice and Otabek’s bass calming him so he wouldn’t be too loud and wake the neighbours up, because neither of them wanted to get a complaint for being too noisy.
Yuuri just raised his head from his knees as the pair arrived at the flight of stairs. Yuri being a head taller than the other, clung onto Otabek’s shoulder who held his awkwardly tall-grown body. Going by the scene, they had had a few beers, especially Yuri. However, Yuri finished the loud laughing only when he had noticed Yuuri huddling up on the stairs.
“Katsudon, what the fuck are you doing here?”
Yuuri gulped. He expected this. “Can I sleep at your place, please?” After four years knowing each other, it was easier to ask and not that Yuuri had so many choices. He wouldn't go to Mila and her parents.
“We wanted to fuck,” Yuri blurted out with his usual honesty. Otabek let him go, supporting him on the wall when he was sure he wouldn’t roll down the stairs and went to open the door.
“How long have you been waiting here?”
Yuuri tried to remember as he couldn’t see his watch in the dark. Otabek began to jump up and down to turn on the automatic lighting.
“I have no idea.”
Yuuri’s limbs were numb from sitting on the floor for hours, his head throbbing with pain from the sudden movement. Otabek let him in first, then went to recollect Yuri who slapped his hand away, wobbling in to the apartment on his own.
“What happened?” Otabek asked, closing the door and filling each of them a glass of water. Yuri drank his right away then he looked in the fridge for anything edible. Yuuri didn’t dare to drink it because he feared the tears would have supply again.
“You look like shit,” Yuri stated what he already knew. Maybe Yuuri could scare himself too if he would look into the mirror.
“I had a fight with Viktor.”
Yuri snorted. “You can do that?”
Yuuri gave him a dark gaze.
“Don’t be an ass, Yura.”
“He was banned from the ice for undefined time and he didn’t tell me a word about it. He just came to train with me in the evenings when Yakov wasn’t there anymore.”
“Did you know about it?” Yuuri suddenly blinked up from his glass but the boys were shaking their heads.
“No, but it’s not like he hasn't done anything like that before.”
“Great,” Yuuri groaned, pulling his bag into his lap.
“Do you have any clothes to change into?” Otabek asked.
He shook his head. “I have only my training clothes.”
“Fuck you, we have to do the laundry because of you!”
“Yura,” said Otabek softly. Yuri vanished into the bathroom (and judging by the curses, he was packing into the washing machine), while Otabek got him a grey t-shirt and pants so Yuuri had something to sleep in. Yuuri thanked the fates that he wasn't the same size as Yuri anymore because he hadn't got bored of the leopard-print and cat-ears yet despite already being nineteen.
From behind the couch, Potya snuck out meowing at Yuuri before she jumped in his lap. Yuuri automatically stroked her soft, light fur and the cat burst out in loud purring. Yuri said that Potya was gratuitously fond of the Japanese skater, and she betrayed him as soon as Yuuri set foot in the apartment.
So, if he is lucky, Potya would be his sleeping partner for today. Yuuri already missed Viktor’s warm embrace and for a moment he wanted to hit himself for being angry before he talked with him about the situation and that he couldn’t handle it normally.
Soon, Yuri yelled that he was done and Yuuri could come put his clothes in the machine and take a shower. Yuuri was glad that he could finally get away from Otabek’s searching look. Yuuri liked Otabek, but he didn’t want to talk about their problems because his gaze always felt like he could read anybody’s mind, and that’s why it was really hard to lie to him.
The hot water refreshed him a bit and he forbade himself to think about Viktor because when he looked into the mirror, he could see a red eyed Yuuri Nikiforov-Katsuki, who he hadn't seen for a long time. He mustn’t get angry again, he didn't need the sobering Yuri yelling at him for how pathetic they were.
He was wiping his hair when he heard Yuri shouting in the living room.
“Fuck, Katsudon, Viktor called me at least ten times already. Why can’t you just pick up your phone?!”
Yuuri inhaled sharply. “I don’t want to speak with him yet.”
“I won’t be your postman!”
Yuuri’s lips shook as he answered. “My phone’s battery was low.”
Oddly, Yuri didn’t have any rude answer to that. Maybe Otabek told him not to pick at him. When he emerged from the bathroom in his temporary pyjamas, the boys had already made the couch for him and they were munching chips, leaning on the sink. They offered him some snacks too but Yuuri didn’t have any appetite. After the shower, he felt the tiredness of the day hitting him with full force, especially after the training, the fighting and sitting on the cold stairs for hours.
Without a word, he laid under the blanket so he wouldn't be so noticeable then soon after Yuri and Otabek wished him good night. Otabek encouraged him to make tea or eat if he found something he likes in the fridge.
Yuuri closed his eyes tightly but he couldn’t fall asleep immediately. In the silence of the night, he heard his hosts talking about them behind the closed door. That Viktor got what he deserved and he is lucky that Yuuri tolerates him and doesn’t constantly recount his mistakes to him. These words hurt because he doesn’t just tolerate Viktor – he loves him even if he behaves like a big child sometimes. Otabek thought one could understand Viktor’s point of view too. Even if it wasn’t correct what he did, Otabek didn’t doubt that they could make up with each other. Yuuri pulled a pillow on his head and pressed it on his ears so he wouldn’t hear anything except his own breathing and the thrumming of his heart. Potya, who was shut out of the bedroom, laid down next to him, nudging his elbow with her rosy nose and laying on his arm as she began to purr. Yuuri dozed off to this sound.
Those same words Yuuri said in Barcelona once, the words that had made Viktor cry too and the words that almost ruined their relationship.
Knowing Yuuri, he was at the edge of crying as he dashed out and as much as Viktor wanted to go after him to make it up to him, he didn’t do anything. He knew they needed some time to calm down their heads, so they’ll could talk with each other like normal grown-ups. If he would have gone after him now, there would have been more fighting.
Viktor collapsed on the couch and buried his face in his hands. They might have had some disagreements but this wasn’t like those. They simply never spoke with each other in that tone. Yuuri yelled when he was angry but that stiff sternness in which he pulled him up was completely new. Just like he caught himself being arrogant with him.
Yuuri was right but Viktor didn’t want him to worry about him. His husband tended to overthink everything, and Viktor didn’t want to put his own problems on his shoulders too.
But without a doubt, he did more harm than good with hiding it. He walked into Yuuri’s heart with not telling him, smilingly denying when his legs hurt. Maybe he blames himself now that Viktor’s condition worsened because he let him skate without knowing about it.
Viktor knew he was harming himself, but he didn’t want to refuse the ice that drew him together with the love of his life. Yuuri wouldn’t even let him close to the rink if he saw his clinical evidences from the beginning because he knew Viktor exactly. That he couldn’t have withstood to skate. Even when he was just Yuuri’s coach, he was more on the ice with him than an average coach and together they ran over the elements till Viktor could keep Yuuri’s pace.
And that was part of the problem too. Viktor had to admit no matter how awful it is but he wasn’t twenty anymore and his stamina wasn’t so good like Yuuri’s or the other young skaters’, not to mention the fresh seniors who had still all their chances to develop, they had dreams and fresh joints not worn out from quadruple flips yet. Yuri constantly barked at him, calling him an old man who should already retire and Viktor had the feeling it wasn’t just mocking anymore. Yakov hadn't bothered anymore even saying there was still a season in him. Instead of that, he gave Viktor tips for various carrier chances. After Yuuri’s several successes, Yakov would have taken him as an assistant although Viktor still didn’t have the official qualification for that.
Of course, it would have been such an accomplishment to be a coach with Yakov’s recommendation but Viktor was terrified that if he is done with competing for good, nothing would be the same anymore. That he would be forgotten as a competitor; the retired Chris wasn’t invited out by the active skaters that much either…
He was terrified that Yuuri would come down from the clouds and realize that Viktor wasn't able to tell him stories and miracles carved in ice anymore. Because Yuuri fell in love with his skating first.
Something might be lost from their relationship if he wasn't competing anymore.
He gave Yuuri two hours to calm down then tried to call him but his phone was shut off. This was usually not something he would worry about but it was already ten in the evening and although it was still bright, he didn’t want Yuuri to walk around in Saint Petersburg alone so late.
His next idea was Yuri but when he called, he didn’t answer it no matter how many times Viktor called him. Next, he called Yakov, who lectured him for bothering him so late and said that he deserved what he got. He asked Georgi, Mila and some ice-dancers they were on good terms with if they knew where Yuuri was but they couldn’t help him either.
He was just about to slide into the deepest pit of despair when his phone beeped after midnight.
He is here, loser, Yuri wrote. And then: you’re an asshole.
For once, Viktor agreed with Yuri.