“Dinner’s ready,” Yuuri said, poking his head into the living room and smiling at Victor. “I made katsudon!”
He smiled back, even as his insides clenched in dread. “My favorite! I’ll be right there!”
He waited until Yuuri nodded and went to dish up the food before dropping his head in his hands.
Yuuri was actually quite adept in the kitchen, no doubt from helping his parents at Yu-topia as he grew up, and Victor normally enjoyed when it was his turn to cook.
The thing was, though …
Victor took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
The thing was that he maybe … sort of … a little bit … didn’t like katsudon.
But, but, but! It was just, it was really heavy! And greasy. And he wasn’t a huge fan of fried food with the exception of pirozhki, and even for those, he prefered them baked.
It didn’t help that Victor might have had … feelings about katsudon. Not on purpose! He hadn’t even known what it was before Yuuri.
But that was the problem really.
Sochi had been … it’d been wonderful. Yuuri had been so bright and beautiful as he’d danced, smiling, always smiling at Victor, his hands sure and strong as they touched him. Victor hadn’t been able to remember the last time he’d had that much fun, his heart pumping madly, feeling like he couldn’t catch his breath, even long after they’d stopped dancing.
They hadn’t exchanged numbers, because Yuuri’s coach had banned him from bringing his phone to the banquet, and Victor had been … well, he’d been stupid.
He’d just been so certain that Yuuri would contact him. He was used to people pursuing him, and of course Yuuri would message him somehow, especially after his request for Victor to become his coach. It wasn’t as if it weren’t ways to get ahold Victor, what with his huge social media presence.
Except a day had gone by, and he hadn’t heard from Yuuri. Then a week. A month.
Not that Victor had been waiting! Not that his rinkmates had teased him mercilessly about dancing with Yuuri and the way he’d talked about him after they’d gotten back to St. Petersburg … only for the teasing to gradually turn into confused looks that eventually became awkward glances as they stopped talking about it altogether.
And then Victor had gone to Japan after Yuuri had finally—finally!—reached out to him, just to have Yuuri be shocked he was there, even though he’d been the one to invite him in the first place. On top of that, Victor had seen just how physically unprepared Yuuri was for the season. As if Yuuri’s request hadn’t meant anything to him. As if he’d planned on abandoning skating, abandoning Victor before they’d even—
It’d been a slap to the face.
So Victor had said things. Some … not nice things. And while, of course, he would’ve eaten any food that Yuuri’s mother made for him, no matter his personal preference, he’d ended up eating more bowls of Yuuri’s favorite dish than he’d intended, right in front of him, exclaiming over its deliciousness, with pettiness adding a truly wonderful piquancy to the dish.
That would’ve probably been the end of it, except Yuuri then revealed that his eros was katsudon as well, and so, what else was Victor supposed to do except eat even more in order to, to, to inspire Yuuri?
(Also because he was a spiteful, horrible person, and if Yuuri wasn’t going to gaze longingly at him, then he could at least gaze longingly at the food in his hands.)
Of course, everything was explained eventually, but by that point, it was too late to admit he’d been … not lying exactly … but maybe over-exaggerating how much he liked katsudon, so Victor hadn’t said anything.
And then Yuuri started winning gold.
Not all the time, not with Yuri and Victor himself competing (he hadn’t trained this hard in years), but enough that it wasn’t ideal for Victor’s stomach. Still, it brought Yuuri so much joy, and it wasn’t as if katsudon were horrible or anything. Just … not that good. Victor could force himself to eat a few bowls over the course of several months. It was a tiny sacrifice all in all.
Or at least, it had been until Yuuri decided he wanted to perfect his mother’s recipe so he could cook his favorite food at home instead of going to a restaurant after his wins. Apparently, he’d specifically avoided mastering it when he was younger out of fear that he’d constantly make it for himself when he was stressed.
So. Okay. That made sense with how well Yuuri was doing and how widely the quality of the dish varied depending on which country they were in and which restaurant they went to.
The problem now, however, was that since it was during the season, he wanted Victor to be his taste-taster, because Victor (damn his lean genetics) could get away with cheating much more frequently than Yuuri could.
And maybe Victor would have argued against it more, except Yuuri really, really liked katsudon, and he’d watch Victor put bites into his mouth with glazed eyes, barely remembering to eat his own carefully balanced meal, and afterwards, he’d forego cleaning, sweeping Victor into his arms and kissing him like he intended to chase every last hint of the taste out of his mouth.
Victor quite enjoyed the sweeping. And the kissing. And everything that came with the kissing. (Namely him.) And all of it just added to the weird bundle of feelings he had about katsudon, because he was both repelled and maybe somewhat starting to become a little aroused by it.
It was very confusing.
But that was the way things were, so Victor sighed quietly and stood, heading towards the kitchen.
“Mmm, Yuuri,” he said, sliding his arms around his husband to hug him from behind. “Thank you for making dinner. It looks amazing!”
And it did, visually, everything arranged just so in one of the beautiful glazed bowls they’d brought from Japan. He just … didn’t want to eat it.
He pressed a quick kiss to Yuuri’s cheek and then began setting the table before finally sitting in front of his meal.
“Itadakimasu!” he said and taking a deep breath, took the first bite, fat starting to swirl around in his mouth.
Instead of eating his own dinner—Victor had never been been jealous of someone eating baked chicken before, but there was a first for everything—Yuuri watched him, his head tilted. Victor had been expecting him to, but it wasn’t in the typical sexy way, like he was planning to shove everything on the ground and ravish Victor on the table. He couldn’t help but be disappointed, because that was the only reason he liked katsudon nights.
“Mmm, Yuuri, this is the best one yet!”
“You say that every time,” Yuuri said, shaking his head, his cheeks turning pink.
“That’s because your cooking gets better every time I taste it,” he said, loading up his chopsticks with just some of the egg and rice. He’d found if he alternated bites, it made it easier to get the whole thing down.
He winked at Yuuri before eating it, humming quietly in what he hoped Yuuri would take as pleasure.
He felt guilty for all the subterfuge, but what else could he do?
Victor knew that he could be … difficult. He’d spent the majority of his life doing everything he could to keep people’s eyes on him, winning competitions, carefully choosing his sponsors and advertisements to craft the right image, wooing fans through always stopping to talk to them when he could and with social media, and so much more. He’d made his living by being larger than life. It was second nature to him now.
Which made it hard to be just Victor sometimes, to remember that Yuuri didn’t expect or need a performance from him.
On top of that, he’d gotten used to getting what he wanted, to people catering to him, fawning over him, and letting him get away with almost anything, simply because of who he was. He enjoyed the attention, when people told him how talented and gorgeous he was, when they gazed at him with adoration in their eyes and couldn’t bear to look away. He expected it.
He wanted Yuuri’s attention most of all, of course, and wonder of wonders, Yuuri liked giving it to him, but—
It all added up to the fact that he wasn’t easy to be with.
Yuuri loved him despite all of that, didn’t seem to mind that when Victor wanted his attention, he wanted it right now, that he felt the need to put their private lives on the internet, that he liked to go shopping and to salons but never alone …
Victor knew he was incredibly demanding, but Yuuri just smiled and went along with him, and Victor loved that. Loved him.
So he couldn’t disappoint Yuuri, couldn’t tell him he’d lied or that he was actually petty and deceptive, and if that meant eating katsudon for the rest of his life, then Victor would do it, because the momentary discomfort was nothing compared to the happiness Yuuri brought to his life.
Yuuri was still watching him as he took another bite of pork, no indication that he was barely holding himself back from licking the sauce from Victor’s lips (he felt cheated), and for some reason, this time it took forever to chew, forever and ever, the faintest hint of a frown starting to appear on Yuuri’s face as Victor finally forced himself to swallow.
He took a large drink of water and tried to deflect Yuuri’s focus away from him. “Aren’t you hungry, Yuuri? You haven’t touched your food yet.”
Yuuri blinked and then picked up his fork, spearing a piece of broccoli. “Sorry, I was just distracted.”
They were both quiet for a while, and then Yuuri said, “Vitya,” right after Victor had eaten another scoop of rice. “You don’t actually like katsudon, do you.”
It wasn’t a question.
Victor choked, coughing madly and spraying rice everywhere.
“Ah, sorry!” Yuuri squeaked, getting up and pounding Victor’s back forcefully, even though he hadn’t been in any danger of choking to death. He swatted Yuuri’s hands away. “Sorry, I’m sorry!”
“Of course I like katsudon!” Victor said later, much later, when he could finally talk. He knew it would just make him look guiltier, but he couldn’t prevent himself from bouncing his knee up and down, needing to work off some nervous energy. “Why would you even say something like that?”
Yuuri looked at him with sad eyes, and it was all Victor could do not to cringe.
“Vitya. Victor. You don’t have to lie to me.”
His life was crumbling all around him.
“No! Yuuri, I—” He reached across the table and grabbed Yuuri’s hand, clutching it in both of his. ”I’m sorry, I’ll be better! I didn’t mean to not like it! I just—I haven’t eaten it enough! I can have some every day until—”
“What? No, Vitya, it’s okay!” Yuuri said, standing and pulling him up as well to wrap his arms around him. “Why do you look so worried? I’m not mad that you don’t like it,” he said, and it felt like Victor’s heart was trying to beat its way out of his chest.
“I mean, I wish you would’ve told me sooner, so I didn’t accidentally torture you by making you eat it, but everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. Even if your opinion is wrong,” he said, trying to tease as he smiled crookedly at Victor.
Victor somehow managed to smile hesitantly back.
“It really doesn’t bother you that I don’t like it?” Victor asked, and it wasn’t the whole problem, it didn’t cover that he’d been lying to Yuuri since the beginning of their relationship, but he needed a second to sneak up on the truth.
“Of course not. I like it enough for both of us,” Yuuri said, hand coming up to cup his cheek. “I told you, I don’t want you to feel like you have be anyone other than yourself, and if that means you don’t like katsudon, then that’s one more thing that I know about you now.”
Victor didn’t think he could talk around the sudden lump in his throat, so he simply nodded slowly.
“Just tell me in the future if something like this happens again. You don’t need to go to these kind of lengths to keep from hurting my feelings.”
For a second, for one horrible second, Victor was tempted let Yuuri believe he was that good, that he’d done it out of some sort of nobleness on Yuuri’s behalf.
But he didn’t want to lie anymore, especially not when they were standing in each other’s arms and Yuuri had just forgiven him, had acted as if there were nothing to forgive and was looking at him so sweetly and fondly. So Victor winced instead and looked away.
“It … wasn’t to keep from hurting my feelings?”
He swallowed, steeling himself before admitting quietly, “At first, I was, I was upset because you hadn't called, and then I got angry that you seemed to like katsudon more than me—"
"So I—I started eating it to make you jealous.”
“Jealous?” Yuuri said, his voice lilting up like he didn’t understand what the word meant, and Victor’s shoulders hunched, but he kept going.
“And by the time I stopped being angry, it was too late to tell you the truth, except then you started winning so frequently, like I knew you would, my Yuuri, but that meant eating it more, and I didn’t want to disappoint you, even though katsudon is so greasy and sits like a stone in your stomach. A delicious stone!” he said, backpedaling furiously as he realized what he was saying, which, fuck, crap. “I mean, not a stone, just um, it’s very warm. And filling. I can see why you like it! It’s just a bit too filling. For me. But not for other people. Obviously. And I really didn’t mind sharing it with you, but then you wanted to learn your mother’s recipe, and you started making it all the time—”
Yuuri had been blinking at him during his explanation, but at that, he looked down, his shoulders starting to shake minutely, and Victor ducked his head to look at him, wondering for a panicked second if he’d gone too far and made Yuuri—
“Are you … laughing?” Victor asked incredulously.
“No! No, I’m crying,” Yuuri gasped, hiding his face.
“Why are you laughing?” he demanded, smacking Yuuri’s shoulder, which just made Yuuri laugh harder, tears shining at the corner of his eyes. “Yuuriiiii,” Victor whined, overly dramatic, because he could, because Yuuri was laughing, which meant everything was going to be okay.
“I’m sorry!” Yuuri gasped, lowering his forehead to Victor’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, you’re just—too cute, I can’t—”
Too cute? “Yuuri?” Victor said, wondering if he’d heard wrong.
“It’s just, I forget sometimes about your temper,” Yuuri said, obviously trying to control himself but still chuckling. “And how vengeful you are.”
“I’m not vengeful!” he protested at the unfair accusation, and Yuuri let out a giggle snort that was ridiculous and impossibly adorable, and Victor didn’t know how his heart was supposed to recover. It didn’t stop him from pouting the whole time it took Yuuri to calm down, though.
Yuuri wiped at his eyes as he lifted his head. “You never yell. You just make sure people know how you feel about something. Very clearly. It’s one of the things I admire about you, that you don’t keep everything bottled up. The fact that eating katsudon was revenge, even though you disliked it …”
He snickered, his shoulders hitching.
“I mean, I wish you liked it, so I could share my favorite food with my favorite person, but like I already said, I like katsudon enough for the both of us, but I love you more than anything else in the world.”
And how was Victor supposed to respond? The fact that Yuuri could talk about one of his failings so affectionately was honestly a little overwhelming, and then for Yuuri to say that …
It was all he could do not to tear up, and Yuuri must have seen, because he kissed Victor softly, again and again, until the fluttering in his breast finally settled.
It was only after they’d been holding each other for almost a full minute that Victor thought to ask, “How did you even know I didn’t like katsudon?”
“Ah, Vitya, I’ve watched you every chance I could get for years,” Yuuri said, pulling back slightly. “Why would that change, just because we moved in together?”
Victor could feel the pleased flush spread across his cheeks, even as he demanded, “So you knew this whole time?”
“Well, no,” Yuuri said, his smile turning embarrassed. “I’m apparently not as observant as I thought, because I didn’t realize you didn’t like it until the last time I made it. I saw you feed most of it to Makkachin when I stepped out to answer my phone.”
“So why didn’t you say anything?” Victor asked, frowning, ignoring how unfair the question was considering he’d never said anything either, and just like he’d known he would, Yuuri moved impossibly closer at the sign of his distress and nuzzled Victor’s cheek.
“I wasn’t actually sure at first! I thought maybe you were just spoiling Makkachin, because I remembered you eating bowl after bowl in Japan!”
Victor’s eyes skittered to the side. Those had been the times he’d been annoyed with Yuuri for one reason or another.
“And you’ve always been willing to eat with me whenever I won a medal, so I just thought maybe I’d made a bad batch, and you didn’t want to tell me.” Yuuri shrugged sheepishly. “So I tried it again, and this time, I paid you the attention you deserve. I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner.”
“No, Yuuri, it was my fault. I-I should have told you sooner and not lied about it,” he said, and Yuuri just shook his head.
Victor’s chest ached, and he couldn’t understand how Yuuri could take the blame, as if he hadn’t loved Victor enough, when Victor had been the one hiding the truth in the first place, when Yuuri loved Victor more than he’d ever dared to hope for himself.
“Do you want to order in?” Yuuri asked, giving him one last kiss to his cheek before pulling away.
“You went to so much trouble, though. We could switch dinners?” he suggested, hating the idea of throwing away all of Yuuri’s hard work, especially when he knew how happy it’d make Yuuri to eat even a few bites.
“Or split them! Half and half. I know it’s not on your diet,” he said, and maybe he was being a bad coach in this instance, but he needed to be a good husband, “but you could—”
“No, really, I should—”
“I want my table ravishings, Yuuri! I ate katsudon; I’ve earned it!” he said, slapping his hand down on the wood, even though it had nothing to do with getting Yuuri to eat his favorite food and just kind of burst from Victor’s mouth without any input from his brain.
It made Yuuri squint in confusion at first and then start laughing helplessly again as he realized what Victor was referring to, a blush racing across his cheeks.
“Ah, Vitya. You’re right, you have,” Yuuri said, obviously humoring him, and Victor knew he'd sounded ridiculous, but that was fine because it meant Yuuri let himself be led to his chair, let Victor try to take care of him even half as well as Yuuri took care of him.
Rather than move their plates around, Victor picked up his chopsticks and selected a piece of pork to offer to Yuuri, who accepted it, his face glowing and pink.
Leaning in for a kiss, Victor decided the taste of katsudon wasn’t so bad when he was sampling it from Yuuri’s lips.