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Fuel to My Fire

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It was unseasonably cool when Viktor arrived in Hasetsu. Stepping off the train with suitcases and large brown poodle in tow made him even more conspicuous than usual, if that were possible. The several locals who approached him to see if he needed help finding his way were happy to point him in the direction of Yu-topia, all the while commenting on the strange weather.

 

“It snowed last week!”

 

It had melted slowly over the last couple of days, but even Viktor, used to the bite of Russian winters, had to admit that the temperature didn’t seem quite right for April.

 

The weather-focused scrutiny continued when he arrived at the inn. The man at the front counter—Viktor guessed that he was Yuuri’s father—seemed simultaneously delighted and dismayed by his appearance.

 

“Finally we meet some of Yuuri’s friends, but the weather is not good. It’s too bad.”

 

Papa Katsuki (he insisted Viktor call him that) quickly took his bags and the leash, cooing happily at Makkachin when the poodle licked his hand.

 

“Yuuri will be back from ballet soon. Please enjoy the onsen with the other good-looking foreigner.”

 

Viktor was confused as he made his way to the hot springs at the back of the inn. At least the Katsukis were friendly—he had been mildly concerned that showing up unannounced would be unwelcome, but he had already been on the plane when this had occurred to him. His decision to come to Hasetsu had been... less than rational, he had to admit.

 

But apparently he was not Yuuri’s only visitor, which put a bit of a damper on Viktor’s plans. At least Yuuri was still training, assuming that that was why he was at a ballet studio this evening. It had been an article speculating about Yuuri’s retirement that had sent Viktor running to Japan. The silence out of Detroit and Hasetsu regarding Yuuri’s training combined with his “embarrassing” defeat at the Grand Prix Finals and Nationals had prompted concerns among Yuuri’s fans for weeks now. The article was the last straw for Viktor. He needed to know the truth for himself and do whatever he could to keep Yuuri on the ice.

 

When Viktor eventually made his way outside, he finally laid eyes on “the other good-looking foreigner,” as Papa Katsuki had described him. He was leaning against the wall of the pool with his arms spread to either side and head back, a cloth covering his face, but Viktor recognized him all the same.

 

“Chris?!”

 

His friend slowly reached up to remove the cloth from his face, then smiled at Viktor as if he had been expecting him.

 

“Viktor, how nice of you to join us in Hasetsu!”

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

He hadn’t meant to be rude, but Christophe just grinned anyway.

 

“Some weather we’re having, hm? It’s all anyone can talk about. It snowed the day I arrived!”

 

Viktor crossed his arms. He didn’t appreciate being ignored.

 

“I was here first, Viktor. I should be the one asking why you’ve shown up,” Christophe pointed out, before raising his arm and waving Viktor over. “But don’t just stand there in all your naked glory, although it is glorious. Get in the bath, you’re going to love it.”

 

Viktor conceded, stepping into the pool and settling next to Christophe against the far edge. Chris was right, the steaming water provided an immediately heady feeling of relaxation. It felt incredible after many long hours of travel.

 

“Where’s Yuuri?” he asked.

 

“Aha! So you’re here for him, too!” Chris crowed triumphantly. “And here I thought you might be here for your dear old friend Christophe.”

 

“I didn’t know you were here,” Viktor said, starting to feel a little defeated. “I don’t mean to get in your way. So when did it start, anyway? Before Sochi? That would explain the pole dancing.” And why he never texted me, he didn’t add.

 

Chris sighed. “I’m afraid I’m as far from that goal as you are, my friend. In fact, you may have arrived just in time. I pushed Yuuri too far today, to see if we might move our relationship forward… and he ran off to Minako’s studio. His sister says that’s where he goes when he’s freaking out.”

 

“I’m sorry, Chris,” Viktor said, turning toward his friend. “What now, then?”

 

“Well, we’ve been working on the choreography for my short program, but we haven’t gotten around to his yet, so I don’t want to leave until I’ve held up my end of the bargain,” Chris explained. “After the Sochi banquet, I thought it would be a great idea to choreograph together, to maximize the sex appeal of our programs. But Yuuri still hasn’t chosen his music, and I have to go back to Switzerland soon, before my coach comes here to fetch me himself.”

 

No matter how many times Christophe ended up with a silver medal, he always smiled proudly and looked forward to the next competition. Now though, he was staring forlornly into the water, looking more defeated than Viktor had ever seen him. Viktor tentatively reached out and cupped his cheek, and their eyes met.

 

“I’m starting to worry that Yuuri doesn’t want to make a program at all,” Chris went on. “I’m afraid he’s thinking about retirement, and I wish I could help him, but I put my own feelings first today and now I’ve gone and ruined my shot at helping.”

 

“Maybe there’s something that I can do,” Viktor suggested, rubbing his thumb against Chris’s stubbly cheek in what he hoped was a soothing gesture. “Maybe we can help him together.”

 

Chris placed his own hand over Viktor’s on his cheek and leaned into it, closing his eyes and sighing deeply.

 

“HUH?!”

 

They both jumped and turned to see Yuuri standing at the other end of the pool, gaping at them in shock. Viktor squeezed Chris’s hand before plastering on his biggest smile and rising from the water in a way that he hoped seemed graceful and enticing.


“Yuuri, starting today, I’m your coach. You’re going to beat Chris and win the Grand Prix Final!”

 

“What?!” Yuuri and Chris shouted simultaneously.

 

Yuuri’s eyes darted back and forth between Viktor and Christophe before he crambled back inside, leaving Viktor hanging as he stood naked and dripping.

 

“You’re going to coach him?” Chris tugged on Viktor’s hand until he joined him again in the water. “No offense, but even you aren’t good enough to be able to coach and compete at the same time.”

 

“Good thing I won’t be competing, then,” Viktor said, frowning at the still surface of the water.

 

Christophe lapsed into a shocked silence. Viktor could feel Chris’s wide green eyes staring at him intently but couldn’t bring himself to meet them.

 

He saw the water ripple away in small concentric waves before he felt Chris’s arms encircle him, chest pressed to Viktor’s shoulder.

 

“Why didn’t you talk to me?” Christophe asked, his voice slightly muffled against Viktor’s skin.

 

“I don’t know,” Viktor whispered. He willed his voice not to crack. “I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone until I figured it out. And now if Yuuri turns me away, I don’t know what I’ll do. Back to square one.”

 

“Then let’s go talk to him and work it out together.”

 

Chris only managed to get a few centimeters away before Viktor was pulling him back and crushing their lips together. He hadn’t meant to do it—he’d imagined on the trip from Russia that he’d be kissing Yuuri like this by now—but he felt himself moving against Chris in that natural way they’d always had together.

 

After a minute, Chris pushed at his chest and their eyes met again, soft and a bit wary. “We can’t do this here.”

 

Suddenly Viktor felt exhausted, his limbs weighing him down.

 

“Come on, let’s go find Yuuri,” Chris suggested.