Early June, Detroit
Yuuri leaned against the rink wall, marking adjustments in the notebook he used to choreograph his routines. He mentally added the base points before nodding in satisfaction. His technical scores should be solid, even if they weren’t the highest on the ice. He’d always preferred to focus on the performance aspects in his programs and there was no sense in changing that, even if it was getting close to an Olympic qualifying year. He stretched carefully, grimacing as he felt a slight twinge in his left ankle. He’d be 30 by the time the Beijing Olympics rolled around, easily the oldest in the competitive field. Of course, that was if he made it through the next couple of seasons. He was lucky he still hadn’t had any major injuries during his career, but he had to admit that his time on the ice was likely drawing to a close. And when he could no longer skate… what then? His phone vibrated, drawing the skater out of his reverie.
Unlocking the screen, he was surprised by the number of notifications he’d received from his social media apps. Probably Phichit posting another surprise photo, he pondered, more amused than irritated. He began to replace the phone, when a text popped up.
Peach: Stay off of Instagram.
Peach: And Twitter.
Peach: Also the entire internet.
Yuuri felt a familiar ball of anxiety settle into his stomach. Phichit constantly berated him for how little he checked his pages. The last time Phichit had tried to ban him from the internet had been after World’s last year, when he had appeared without…
Oh. Oh no. It was something to do with Victor. He hesitated, torn between wanting to turn away and continue practicing and needing to know what had his best friend in a panic. Knowing he’d likely regret the decision, he pulled up the list of notifications from Instagram. He’d been tagged in hundreds of posts, many of which held the same link. Yuuri set the phone down and snagged his blade guards, putting them on with shaking hands. Stepping off the ice, he settled onto a nearby bench before hesitantly clicking the link, which led him to an article on a particularly gossipy sports blog. A large, slightly blurry photo showed his one-time coach in a close embrace, forehead to forehead with a recognizable mop of curly, blond hair. Something ugly began to blossom in his gut.
-Russia’s Ice Legend in Steamy Romance with Former Rival
Russian Coach Victor Nikiforov was spotted having a rather intimate conversation with Swiss Commentator/Retired Skater Christophe Giacometti. As seen in the above image, the two were spotted offering each other a variety of affectionate gestures. Suspicions were first raised when friendly ‘selfies’ of the pair hit Giacometti’s Instagram a week ago, but witnesses claim that the pair were a lot steamier off camera! Says a source: “I wouldn’t say they were exactly making out, but they were definitely together. Whispering in each other’s ears, hugging, touching each other’s thighs…”-
Yuuri clicked off the phone, his vision starting to swirl. He breathed deeply, trying to push down the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. Victor wasn’t his anymore. He didn’t have the right to feel jealous, he’d chosen to walk away, chosen to let him go. Just because they hadn’t dealt with the paperwork didn’t mean Victor wasn’t free to do as he pleased. His hand clenched around the phone. They hadn’t even talked in nearly a year. They were basically strangers, right? But Chris… he’d thought they were friends. They’d just talked a few weeks ago and he'd mentioned nothing. If you were friends, you didn’t go after the other’s exes, that was the rule, right? Angry tears filled his eyes. Screw them. Screw both of them. They deserved each other.
His phone vibrated in his hand and he glanced at the screen. Phichit. He clicked ‘ignore’. Chest still heaving, he began to yank off his skates with frantic, jerky movements.
“Yuuri?” came a concerned voice. Shit. Celestino had noticed. He’d been off the ice too long, practice was supposed to last another hour and he was half out of his skates.
“S-sorry Coach,” he stammered. “I h-have to go. Something came up. I’ll make up the time tomorrow, I promise.”
“Don’t worry about it, your programs are coming along nicely. An hour won’t undo the work you’ve already put in. We have months to practice before the Grand Prix Series kicks off!”
Celestino took a harder look at his prize student. “Yuuri… are you alright? I… I saw that article. If you need to take a few days…”
“It’s fine Celestino, just… I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?” Yuuri needed to get away from his coach’s knowing gaze. Too knowing. Shit, had everybody known? How long had they known? His head spun with the questions. They’d probably been expecting it all along. After all, Chris was tall and attractive and confident… he had everything that Yuuri lacked. They looked good together, the match made sense. Victor was probably relieved that Yuuri had taken himself out of the picture, had probably just been waiting for the media furor to die down before making a move.
Yuuri blinked. Somehow, he had managed to make it outside to his car, his hands shaking as he pulled his keys out of his pocket. A hand touched his shoulder and he jumped, dropping the keys.
“Shit, Yuuri, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you!” Phichit blurted. “When you didn’t answer my texts, I drove over. I told you to stay off the internet… you read that awful article, didn’t you?”
Yuuri swiped his keys off the ground, leveling a glare at his roommate. “Did you know?” Phichit backed up at the venom in his voice. “Did everyone know?” Phichit shook his head frantically.
“Whoa, whoa Yuuri. It’s a shitty gossip site. They make up trashy articles about athletes all the time!”
“A picture’s worth a thousand words Phichit. I don’t think they made that up!” Yuuri held his phone screen towards the Thai skater, the damning image drew a grimace from the smaller man. “And I don’t care if they date. I’ve got no claim on Victor, he’s a free man. I’ve moved on, I’m fine.”
“Yuuri, I love you dearly, but… that is such a load of shit!”
“No. I will not let you do this to yourself. You are going to listen to me. Victor and Chris aren’t dating. And you sure as hell are not ‘fine’ if Victor dates Chris, or anyone else for that matter!” Phichit placed his hands on the Japanese skater’s shoulders, trying to force him to listen.
“I. AM. FINE.” Yuuri spat. For a moment he held Phichit’s eyes and then…
“Shit! Yuuri!” Phichit gasped as Yuuri collapsed on the pavement, breath heaving and sobbing in a familiar pattern. “Okay Yuuri, you’re okay. Breathe with me, please? Nice and slow. H̄āycı! Yuuri! H̄āycı!” Phichit forced himself to breathe in long slow breaths, encouraging Yuuri to follow suit. After what felt like an eternity, the older man’s shoulders began to move in less frantic patterns and Phichit heaved a sigh of relief. “You’re okay Yuuri. Just keep breathing, alright? I’ve got you.”
Watery, brown eyes peered up through bedraggled raven hair. “I… I’m so sorry Phichit. I haven’t… like that… not in a while…” he stuttered. The exhausted man clutched his younger friend. “Thank you, god, I’m sorry I’m such a disaster, Peach!”
“Oh Yuuri, you know I love you, no matter what! But please, don’t buy into trashy internet gossip? I promise you, I know for a fact that it’s not true, okay?”
At this, Yuuri squinted suspiciously. “Do I want to know WHY you know it’s not true Peach? Who, exactly, have you been talking to? Behind my back, I might add!”
Phichit coughed nervously, surreptitiously locking his phone. “Ummmm, well, have you talked to Chris lately?” He steeled himself. “Maybe… maybe you should talk to Chris. Or Yurio… or maybe you should talk to…”
Yuuri cut him off with a vicious shake of his head. “Don’t try to play matchmaker Chulanont. I know you too well.”
Phichit shook his head sadly. “Yuuri, if it makes me a bad friend to want to see you happy, then… I’ll be a bad friend. You deserve happiness and you deserve love and dammit Yuuri you deserve success and friendship and all the wonderful things in the world. How do I convince you of that? Hmmm?”
The older man shook his head slowly. “Love, friendship, success, happiness… I don’t think I get to keep all of them at once. I think I’m pretty lucky to have success, and for some reason you refuse to let me get out of friendship, so… two out of four isn’t bad?” He gave a half-hearted grin towards his roommate.
The Thai skater peered intently at the shaky figure in front of him. “Yuuri. Answer me one question and I will drop this for now. I mean, honestly answer me one question.” At his unexpectedly solemn words, Yuuri nodded tentatively. “Are you still in love with Victor Nikiforov?” A gulp. A pause. Then, quietly…
Early June, St. Petersburg
Yuri pinched the bridge of his nose, glaring balefully at the message indicator on his phone. He did not have time to deal with annoying people and yet they kept forcing themselves on him. Rolling his eyes, he finally opened the message.
phichit+chu: Hiiiii! I need help! :D
phichit+chu: Well, I mean, I need help helping someone else!
phichit+chu: Someone we both want to help!!!
phichit+chu: Uh, someones plural! That we both want to help!
Yuri sighed. Yep. It was definitely too goddamned early for annoyingly chipper Thai skaters. He closed the messages, vowing to drink a very large amount of coffee before attempting to wade through whatever scheme the man wanted to drag him into. His phone vibrated in his hand and Yuri rolled his eyes before glancing down at the screen.
otabek-altin: Have you talked to Chulanont lately?
Yuri groaned. Perfect. If that hamster loving nutjob had somehow talked Beka into whatever he was scheming, he was doomed.