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Gold vs You

Chapter Text

There’s not a real beginning and an ending to this story, a lot of chapters are still yet to be written in the life of these two characters, so let us start this tale by its middle…or is it the end? Because…real life doesn’t really follow a straight line does it? So why should we?

 

Somewhere in Time 

 

When Javier received a frantic phone call in the middle of the night from his coach, he didn’t think he was going to end up almost sleep walking in the middle of Toronto’s streets at freaking midnight.

 

Maybe he was calling him because his training session was going to be cancelled, maybe he was going to tell him some important news about some changes on the skating book, he definitely didn’t think that his already sore body was going to be put through the trouble of getting up, get dressed and walk to the same rink he trained at every single day, again. Brian wasn’t very specific at what the issue was, he simply told him that “he was needed urgently at the rink”, he couldn’t fathom why on earth he could be needed at the rink at this hour, but since the very beginning he learned to blindly trust the older man and just do as he was told. If Brian Orser told you to get up and go somewhere, you did exactly that.

Getting up wasn’t a problem, he wouldn’t be able to sleep even if he tried, but his tired muscles told another story. Thinking once again that after 7 years his coach had never given him a reason to doubt him, he just resigned himself and started to get dressed. Even Effie woke up and stared at him a sympathetic look. “Don’t patronize me” he said to the, already used to the constant craziness, cat. “I’m fully functional, it’s only midnight, this used to be pretty early for me I’ll have you know”. Effie just stared at his accusing finger and decided to just leave his owner to his problems yet again, it wasn’t worth it to lose her sleep over.

Looking himself at the mirror and finding that everything looked decent for a midnight walk down the streets to the Cricket Club, for reasons that not even he, was aware of, Javier walked out the apartment and followed his usual path to his everyday destination.

When he got to the familiar entrance he expected to just find the door locked as usual and was preparing himself to call his coach, to warn him about the obvious outcome, but just in case Brian had actually thought about that detail, he tried to open the cursed door and surprisingly it opened.

Everything inside was dark and shut down as it should be after opening hours, yet the light from the ice rink could still be seen through the corridor. Willing to just get whatever this was about finished, he walked faster to the open saloon, yet as if this night could get any weirder, there was no one there.

Where on earth was the Canadian old man that so urgently bothered him to get there as soon as he could? Once again, he found himself searching for his phone, when he noticed that in the middle of the ice stood a lonely blanket of sorts.

Why would anyone put a damn blanket on the middle of the rink? And more importantly, who?

The fact that it stood in the geometrical center of the rink, should have given away the author of such charade, Javier’s curiosity won over and instead of listening to common sense, he just jumped into the ice and, trying not break any essential bones, he strutted in the blankets direction, feeling like something was missing by walking without his skates on the cool surface.

Once he got there a note simple stated “Sit down and enjoy”.

Now was the moment he knew he had two choices, one of them was to just drop the note and leave (like a normal human being deprived of sleep as he was) or just stay and see what his idiotic training partner was planning. Yes, only his rink mate would ever manage to make Brian go to this lengths for him and keep the whole club open at this ungodly hour, only him would be able to somehow convince the administration that he need the club open for some reason. Because, when your ice buddy is Yuzuru Hanyu, there’s little that can’t be done. He should have figured it out the moment he entered the club, but sleep and exhaustion were clouding his mind more than any rational thoughts at the moment.

He resigned himself another sleepless night since the happenings of the last few days, and just sat himself down as instructed, willing himself not to wince at the cold beneath his bottom, the Japanese skater was a genius on the ice and very attentive to every detail, but right now the Spaniard was doubting the younger one’s brilliance. He could only hope he wouldn’t be stuck there for longer than necessary.

Suddenly all the lights except the ones overviewing the ice shut down. And a song started to play.

 

There goes my heart beating

Cause you are the reason  

 

From somewhere (Javier wasn’t in the mood to question exactly where), Yuzuru came out onto the ice wearing his favorite outfit, the so praised swan costume, honestly it was the Spaniard’s favorite costume too, but maybe for very different reasons.

 

And you are the reason 

That I'm still breathing

I'm hopeless now

 

The little shit was not oblivious to the effect that the damn costume had on him, and Javier knew it, but until now he was kind of lost at the meaning of all this big seemingly romantic gesture. 

He watched on as Yuzuru dropped a single Flip there, a spin on his left side, a single Salchow in front of him. At every jump he tried not to cringe on his seat…who on their right mind would skate on this condition…oh right, his boyfriend was pretty much a maniac.

 

And I'd climb every mountain

And swim every ocean

Just to be with you

And fix what I've broken

Oh, 'cause I need you to see

That you are the reason, oh

 

And now everything made sense, and Javier couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. His boyfriend flair for the dramatics was getting out of hand, but that was one of the reasons he fell in love with him to begin with.

As more jumps and spins appeared all around him, he prayed his partner to be safe through all of them, sometimes he believed he suffered more through the younger’s injuries than the skater himself.

 

I don't wanna fight no more

I don't wanna hurt no more

I don't wanna cry no more 

(Come back, I need you to hold me closer now)

 

Dancing through the song like one more of his programs, Yuzuru managed to capture his boyfriend full attention, making him not only see but feel the details and the emotion that he poured into every movement.

He couldn’t deny that having Javier watch him skate gave him a different kind of energy than the one he loved to receive from the audience.

This was their moment, there was no one else around them, and he found out that this was his favorite way of performing, in front of the only person he’d ever loved until this day.

 

I'd climb every mountain

And swim every ocean

Just to be with you

And fix what I've broken

'Cause I need you to see

That you are the reason

 

As he finished his “program” meticulous choreographed no doubt, he skated over to his boyfriend half wheezing and trying not to show how exactly tired and spent he was, more on the mental side than the physical this time. Skating for a gold medal was one thing, skating for forgiveness was another.

As Yuzuru came closer to him, he could notice the wrecked state that his small partner had yet again managed to put himself in.

“You liked?” the ever so assured of himself skater asked him, but unlike most times his head wasn’t proudly held up, he looked at his skates instead, bashful and uncertain.

“Oh, I liked it very much, but I think I didn’t get the point…what did all this mean again?”, Javier teased the boy, taking this rare chance to be the one with the upper hand.

“Serious?”, Yuzuru’s face was becoming an embarrassing shade of red, “I skate while I hurt and so late and you mock me?”

“Hey, you are the one that decided to be this dramatic, I would be happy with a single ‘I’m sorry’ card”, Javier said trying to reason with the younger, “and what on earth were you thinking? Skating with your injured foot?”

“I wanted to do special and romantic!”, he was very close to stomping his feet on the ice as a spoiled child but given the south direction this whole night was taking he opted to at least keep his dignity, “And I only did simple jumps, not even doubles or triples!” 

“Special and romantic can’t mean dragging someone at midnight to an ice rink, after a grueling training session, and making my old bones sit in the freezing floor”, he wasn’t even mad, to be honest, but Yuzuru’s dramatics were going to be the end of him someday, “and I swear to God that if I saw you attempt a double jump in your condition I would throw my shoe at your face and give you a reason to get your ass on the ice, like how mine has been for the last two hours!”

“I wanted rink to be without people and the music lasts five minutes! I counted!”

“Of course, you did…and the club closes at eight o’clock every day you pumpkin head”, watching his boyfriend get increasingly miserable he relented and pulled the smaller to him, putting his arms around his waist in some kind of comfort, “thank you Yuzu, I loved it”.

“Really?” Yuzuru, quite close to sniffing like a wounded puppy just hid his head on the taller’s neck and wait for reassurance, maybe this night wouldn’t be a total waste.

“Yes, really”, he was glad that they were alone, for he knew that the Japanese despised the idea of showing a speck of vulnerability in front of everyone but him, and somehow that made Javier feel some kind of relief over the fact that he was perhaps a tiny bit as important to Yuzuru as he was to him, “nobody ever skated for me you know, and now you’ve done it…twice”.

That observation only made his boyfriend make himself smaller on his arms as if trying to forget the past episode, which led to some serious confrontations and lot of distress to both sides.

“Hey, it’s okay I loved both, even though this time, I kind of enjoyed the fact that I could understand the lyrics, so that’s a plus for you”.

Nothing about the incident had been joyful, but Javier believed that in order for them to move forward, things just needed to be talked over and over again, and somehow made into something less important, so that it won’t come back as matter to be fearfull of, or capable of destroying something they worked together to build.

Which led him to something he had hoped to postpone for the next few months, years even if his body would allow him.

But alas…life is not always fair and all you have left is the opportunity to try and make things work, while trying to get yourself unscathed at the end which usually results in someone loosing far too much while the other tries to fix what has already been broken since the beginning.

Maybe they were too blind to the novelty of it all, maybe they thought it wouldn’t matter in the long run as nobody knew exactly how long these things last.

They were far too old to believe in happily ever after’s, but just this time, they both wished that it would last forever.

“Yuzuru?”, Javier was the first to break the silence, trying to be the brave one this relationship for the first time.

“Yes?”, Yuzuru knew that they needed to talk, they needed to sort this once and for all, but that didn’t make this any easier.

“You know that we need to talk right? Like, really talk?” he led the younger away from the cold rink, to avoid major consequences the next day and Brian having their heads.

They found an old wood bench, where their coaches tend to sit while watching their students during training sessions, it always seemed like the most uncomfortable thing in the world, but now neither of them cared much about it.

“You know what’s going to happen after the Olympics, right?” Javier started again, since his partner was becoming more and more silent after the forced reality check.

“Yes, Javi retires and goes back to Spain, we talked about that, why talk again?” as expected, Yuzuru was trying to postpone this matter once again. But time was literally running out, they had no time left for wishful thinking and blind courses of action, they needed a plan, a meticulous crafted one at best, so they didn’t lose more than they were willing to.

“I will indeed retire, try to make something out of life back home, but I don’t want to do it alone”

“You know I can’t leave everything and go with Javi”, Yuzuru’s voice was edging a begging tone, and it was making Javier’s decision to start this conversation at all, start to crumble.

“I know and that’s not what I’m asking, you know that I would never demand such thing of you”, and it was the truth, he knew it wasn’t a possibility, maybe a dream for later but not now and not in the near future for sure.

“Then what are you asking me…?”, the Japanese skater was growing more and more confused, this was a subject they normally avoided, why ruin everything and bring it to life again.

“It’s something quite simple, because I’ve asked that question to myself and the answer was quite easy, because I know where you stand with me, but I never know where I stand with you”

“You know my feelings for you, you want me to say more?”, compared to Javier’s very explicit and outward demonstrations of affection, Yuzuru knew his own lacked the same passion and sometimes even seemed nonexistent, but if that was an issue he wouldn’t mind changing himself, and he was not far from pleading with Javier to just end this conversation and go back to where they were.

“No Yuzuru, I don’t want that”, as the older skater looked at expectant dark eyes, he prayed for strength for what he was about to do.

“Then what is it Javi? What do you want from me?”, he dreaded what his boyfriend could possibly want for him, would he be able to compromise? Would it be possible for them? Was Javier tired of playing pretend on a relationship with no future? Would they able to go back to what they were after tonight?

“Like I said, it’s quite simple, Yuzuru" he breathed in and just prayed that this wasn't the last time he would look into those eyes he loved so much and just get lost in them.

"Would you give up a gold medal for me?”

Chapter Text

 

 

People say that life is short. That’s why you should always chase your dreams, be it a house full of children around you or a house full of trophies and medals that will forever remind you of your hard work and success. People say that the path you’ll take in life can’t be wrong or right. That’s because your path will be the aftermath of all your choices and you’ll have to live to face the consequences. People say that if you repeat something too many times, it will lose its meaning. Maybe that’s because you never knew what it meant to begin with.

 

The past - Fantasy on Ice 

 

“Go”

“No”

“Go”

“Nope”

“Do it”

“Not a chance”

“I hate you”

“No, you don’t”

“Fuck me…”

“You don’t want me to actually…”

“Shut the fuck up before I beat you to death with that freaking yellow bear of yours.”

Shoma was a patient person, he really was. Not so much when his Japanese friend was involved, but still a very unruffled and quiet long-suffering person. But as he waited with his two comrades for another never-ending Fantasy On Ice rehearsal, he was very close to losing it.

“You wouldn’t…” seeing the scared look on Yuzuru’s face, he felt a little proud of himself, the taller needed to learn what a damn filter was.

“Try me”

“Ok ok!”, Satoko was getting more and more tired, this conversation was getting longer than the choreographer’s speech about the lack of manners of the foreign skaters and the importance of a great 2000 B.C. invention called a clock, “Guys, we’re getting a bit off-topic here, don’t you think? Let’s get focused on the task at hand”, she was trying really hard not to intervene and smack some sense into her senior’s head, so in the end, she just trusted Shoma’s ways of persuasion and gave up altogether.

“You’re absolutely right Satoko”, the skater said in his sweetest tone “that reminds me…Go be a man Yuzuru!”

“What on earth is your problem? What are you getting out of this? Humiliating me? Seriously?” Yuzuru was very close to reconsidering his life choices, more specifically his friend selection.

“Dude, there’s not many things in this life that I can be proud of besides my skating, but one those few things is the fact that I’m not friends with a freaking chicken.”

“I’m Hanyu Yuzuru, you’re seriously calling me of all people, a chicken?” he tried his best to sound offended, but failed, as usual whenever he was insulted by the shorter, after years of verbal abuse he learned not to be bothered by the casual litany of insults.

“You may have a point there, let me think that one over for a moment”, pausing for a typical Yuzuru dramatic effect, he actually pretended to mull over the thought, “Yeah I am!”

“And you actually consider me a friend?”, the older one asked with an incredulous gasp.

“I swear to god, one of these days Yuzuru…”

Since he wasn’t getting through to his friend the old-fashioned way (some insults and a few jabs along the way) he opted for the softest way, trying to reach him through some honest opinions of his, that he knew the other couldn’t refute.

“Look let’s get real”, that somehow got the elder’s attention immediately,” let’s suppose you don’t do it…in a few years he’s going to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, god only knows what he prefers nowadays, and you're going to regret being a wuss and missing your chance for sure”

Detecting a small change on the other skater’s face, he continued, "I know you Yuzuru, you are not a coward and you never were, you do the impossible and screw the consequences, I’ve seen you do it over and over again, so what’s stopping you now?”

Shoma’s own face looked redder than before, exhausted and looking like the words actually cost him some physical strength. That alone moved something inside Yuzuru, making him consider his friend’s words this time.

“You are right, but in this case, I can actually calculate the risks and I have no idea if I’m not going to be publicly humiliated. Just look around us Shoma” he said as he circled around and gestured to the skaters around them, “Literally everyone is here, can you imagine the shame?”, he looked genuinely terrified as if the whole scene was unfolding in his mind, probably the worst-case scenario, as always. “And if the press catches any of it? I’d have to explain since when I’ve started liking boys and what exactly is happening between us since we’ve been training together for so long, can you imagine the nightmare that would be?”

The truth was, no. Shoma couldn’t imagine the consequences that a small confession gone wrong could have on the elder’s career or on his personal life.
Because he wasn’t Yuzuru Hanyu in the end.

Not many times in his life had Shoma seen Yuzuru look so unsure of something, this was a new side to his friend, and somehow, he wished he hadn’t seen it. Yuzuru was his idol, a symbol of strength and an example of perseverance through the most extreme hardships life could throw at someone.
Hell, he survived an earthquake and got himself out of the collapsing ice rink somehow, in his freaking skates and knees. You simply did not underestimate Yuzuru Hanyu, under no circumstances, ever.

But Shoma was fairly certain that Yuzuru shouldn’t even be considering the possibility of rejection at this point. His teammate’s object of affection would never turn him down, he was even more obvious about his feeling than the Japanese skater. Everyone on his closest friend’s circle teased him constantly about it, it was only a matter of time before the older one confessed and they lived the happy love story on which they were all, at this point, far too invested in his opinion.

And since the Spaniard hadn’t made the first move, they took it upon themselves to try and get their friend to do something about it before it was too late. It was only a matter of time before the older one found a new love interest, thinking that Yuzuru was indifferent to him or just retired and left for his home country.

Taking into consideration Yuzuru’s well-considered fears, he still tried to ease his worries.
“I guess that’s something to consider, but I don’t think that Javier would ever publicly humiliate you like that…? I mean…laugh at your face? Maybe…”

“Shoma! Not helping!”

Shoma almost forgot she was still standing there at all, looking more and more tired and done with this conversation as it went on, “As I was saying, he would never hurt you intentionally and you know it. You’ve been his training mate and ‘kinda’ friend for some time now, do you actually believe he would do something like that? He knows how important discretion is to you”.

“Well, you’re right Javi’s too kind to ever put me on the spot in front of everyone.”

“There you go”, the shorter said, glad to have finally made some progress with his hard-headed friend.

 


 

The Spanish skater although oblivious to their conversation, was beginning to stare at the Japanese trio with some suspicion, nothing good ever came about, when those three stuck together.

They were probably making fun of some poor soul, probably speaking in their own language and ignoring every rule of courtesy, because it just was what they did.

Same old same old.

Yuzuru looked troubled though, like Shoma was making him uncomfortable and he had half the mind to just skate over and make him, whatever it was that the midget was doing, stop.

 


  

“You really think I stand a chance?”, Yuzuru questioned with a very unlike meek tone.

“Yes, I truly do and if you value me as your friend, you would make your move quickly”, Yuzuru didn’t miss the slightly scared look on the shorter’s face, “before he kills me”.

“What, why…?”, he looked over to where the Spanish skater stood and true to his word, Javier was openly glaring at Shoma from across the rink.

“You think…Is this really okay Shoma...?"

For a moment Shoma’s face showed only confusion over his friend’s words. Why was Yuzuru so hesitant? Why would Yuzuru ask him something like this? He was the older one, he was the one who was supposed to tell him what was okay and what it wasn’t.

More than once, it was Shoma that had gone to him in tears or just plainly pissed about something, demanding answers and in the end, some much-needed comfort.
But then he understood. What the older meant was actually something more heartbreaking.

Is this really okay Shoma? Can I really be selfish for once and fight for my own happiness? Can I really have something to call my own? Despite what everyone may think?

They were both from different worlds despite being born in the same country. They had different expectations to meet, different obligations and a whole different set of rules on which to play by.

Never had Shoma felt any envy for Yuzuru’s life. He had decided long ago that this, this was not going to be his life when he became a full adult. He wouldn’t sacrifice his life, his family, his friends and whatever else that made life bearable, for this sport.
Like his friend had done for so long.

So long, that he didn’t even believe that at this point he knew what was like to just…live, to have something more than cold days spent on the ice, enough medals to cover his apartment and bruises on almost every inch of his body as proof of all the glory that he had so desperately pursued. There was no time for selfishness. No time for love.

“Yes Yuzuru, it’s okay”, was his final answer, through which he hoped his friend would get the real meaning.

Yes, Yuzuru it’s okay. It’s not too late. Before you lose yourself and everyone that could ever matter to you. Yes, you can be selfish. Yes, you can still be happy.

“Well, I guess this is it then”, the other skater said, looking a bit more cheerful and ready to fight to get his new goal.

“Oh my god! Really?”

Once again, they had forgotten the poor girl was still part of the current conversation. The prospect of getting Yuzuru to actually talk with Javier, sparing them the pain of his unrequited love story every time they managed to get some time together, was enough to make Satoko bounce on her feet out of excitement, she could already picture them. They would make an adorable couple for sure. They would be the envy of everyone.

“Yeah, I’m gonna do this, I’m freaking Yuzuru Hanyu you peasants”, his lack of confidence and uncertainness long gone

“He’s back!”

“Let’s hope I don’t regret bringing the monster back though”, Shoma could already predict the headache that would follow once his teammate found himself full of confidence and the mock superior attitude was back in place.

“Just suck it up, cause I’m gonna go get myself a boyfriend”, and without further ado, he threw himself onto the ice, “and Shoma?” he asked before turning around and be set on his way.

“What?”

“Thank you.”

Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that I can have more than this.

 


 

With a fresh resolution on his mind, he skated to the farthest side of the rink, where Javier was leaning on the side boards his eyes now focusing on him. He waved and smiled at him like always, that Javi smile that was just for him, that Javi smile that made rumors and gossip spread like wildfire around them, but neither of them had ever paid any mind. Because this was them. Because this was theirs.

He slowed down himself a bit, trying to come up with his best speech. He was used to giving eloquent speeches of any type since he was 14, he was not going to mess this up so help him God.

He was Yuzuru Hanyu.

 


 

“I hope it all goes well, they deserve it”, she was already picturing them with ten mini Yuzus and Javiers running all around, the best skaters the world ever saw, obviously coached by two proud parents and skating champions.

“Yeah, I guess they do”, Shoma couldn’t help himself and feel happy for his Japanese longtime companion, he truly deserved the world.

“Oh my god, what have we done…” he put his hands on his head, making his best impression of a desperate man regretting everything he had done since he was born, “they’re gonna be one of those disgusting couples that can’t take their hands of each other, won’t they? Ew…ew…”

“Shoma calm down, after today we’ll barely see them”

“Freaking hell Satoko, you’re making it worse!”

Realizing the possible double meaning of her words, she hastily corrected herself, “I meant that they train in Toronto! Remember that detail?”

“Oh, yeah yeah you’re right”, Shoma’s distressed breathing went down to a normal rate at that small detail, “they’re Brian’s problem now”, he added with a knowing smirk.

“Hey, folks! How you’re doing?” Out of nowhere, the seemingly forever hyperactive Labrador in human form approached them, without much ceremony, since they all knew each other, but in Shoma’s mind that idiotic habit of his of jumping out of the blue was getting on his nerves. America had a lot of skaters anyway, would they miss an annoying one?

“Pretty well, but then you arrived”, was the only dry response the American received.

“Damn that hurt”, he replied in his best Japanese. Another thing that annoyed the Japanese skater to no end. They could never talk in private in front of Jason freaking Brown. And that meant they couldn’t make fun of him in public. Even though that was actually how normal people behaved in social gatherings, but normal was overrated or so he had learned within a short time of meeting Yuzuru.

“Ya think we can finally start rehearsals? Damn, girls always take forever to get ready, no offense Satoko… I guess they do have to look a lot prettier than the guys…”

“Who’s missing?”, Satoko asked, cutting his rant short, as she surveyed the rink, almost everyone appeared to be accounted for and ready for practice. On one corner the Russian skaters all huddled together and laughing at Evgenia antics, Alina almost rolling on the floor. On the stands the rest of the Japanese skaters stood passively observing everyone, judging every single one of them, just out of boredom of course. And over the loud music, the boisterous laughter of the American and Canadian skaters could be heard, trying to do a fun sketch for some vlog or probably just being annoying as a natural purpose. Yup, everything looked good to go.

“Miki, but I’m sure she’s on her…yeah there she is”, the three of them turned and looked at the far end of the rink, watching as beautiful Japanese skater made her entrance and went straight to somewhere behind the boards, her guards still on, “I wonder if we’ll have to put up with her and her new boyfriend’s mushiness”

“Oh, Miki got a boyfriend? I’m so happy for her!”

“I guess…wonder how they’ll manage the distance though, Japan is still way too far from Spain”

Shoma tried really hard to stay out of gossip talk, but he felt himself almost stop breathing.

“Said that again?”

“I said…Miki got a boyfriend …”, slightly scared at his short friend’s outburst.

“You moron, the part about Spain?”

“I said that Spain it’s too far from Japan? Cause Javier is gonna be in Spain, or Toronto or whatever and she’s still gonna be in Japan and...”

Shoma stopped listening after that.

“Are you sure about this? Like swearing on your mother’s and cat’s life on it, sure?”

“I don’t even own a….”, he started but with Shoma’s eyes burning through him like fire waiting for a direct answer he quickly finished, “Yes, I’m sure, they made it official yesterday, here look…they put a photo on Instagram already.”

It was real. Javier and Miki. Together. A real happy couple, smiling in the very real picture in front of him. Oblivious to the pain they would inevitably cause.

Throwing a horror-stricken look at Satoko, they turned around and at looked over at the furthest side of the rink, Miki approached Javier and with a discreet nod they acknowledged each other but behind the boards, it was obvious that their hands were intertwined once they were within reach.

Yuzuru was still on his way slowly reaching them, blind to it all while he practiced something over and over on his head seemingly talking to himself while he skated leisurely towards the couple.

“Shit shit shit”

“Guys..what did I miss? What’s going on?”

All it took was another quick glance between them and a solemn nod, and they jumped into the ice.

They prayed to whatever was above them that they would be on time.

What have we done?

 


 

“Hey there!”

“Hi Javi”

“I missed you on this side of the rink”, the Spanish skater said with a flirtatious wink.

Maybe Shoma was right, with a new perspective he could easily imagine that Javier actually meant it, maybe he really missed him as much as he did the elder.

“What were you guys doing? Making fun of someone again? Is it me this time? I swear to god that I had nothing to with my wardrobe today.”

“Silly Javi, we just catching up, long time no see. Please don’t be mean to clothes person, they mean well”, he chastised him as he looked to his own sparkly costume that belonged in the next trash can he could find after the show, “probably”.

They both laughed at their light exchange when the person next to Javier decided to finally make herself known, “Oh lord what if it was about me?”

He was so focused on how his next conversation would follow that he didn’t even notice the Japanese girl close to Javier on the other side of the boards next to him.

“Oh no no we didn’t really talk bad about people, Javi is just being mean to me as usual”, he quickly explained, trying to salvage the situation while trying to not seem too hasty on getting Javier alone, “Javi can we talk? I need to tell something important”.

“Oh, can it wait like two minutes though? I have something important to tell you too”

Javier seemed so excited, could it be that…? Were they having the same thought on this exact same moment?

His nervousness at the thought of Javier making the first move disappeared. He didn’t need to make a speech, he only needed to say yes and start planning their first date. He would show him all his favorite places around the city, Javier would love his country as much as him once they were done.

“Of course, you go first, you oldest”

At that comment, Javier made a face at the younger with his usual depreciative growl at the prospect of being called old yet again.

“I don’t want to make assumptions but, you two perhaps know each other?”, Javier asked gesturing between Miki and him.

“No, I mean of course I know Miki, she’s legend skater here, but not meet officially”, he answered quite confused as to why the Spaniard had not yet suggested that they should find a private place for them to talk, and instead had introduced his apparent new friend into the conversation.

“Well then, what a better occasion than this then”, his excited tone confusing the youngest skater, even more, he gestured for Miki to come closer and with the proudest smile he announced to his rink mate, “Yuzuru, meet Miki Ando, my girlfriend”.

Everything was silent for a moment.

Everything was muted around him.

For a second.

Maybe two.

Two crashes on the boards.

Someone didn’t watch their speed. They really should. They could get hurt.

Did they need help?

He heard someone scream his name.

Yuzuru!

That’s right.

He was Yuzuru Hanyu, but in the end, what does that mean?

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Worse than watching someone close to you be in pain, is knowing that somehow you were the cause of it. Worse than being the cause of it, is not knowing what you can do to help them, in order to fix it. Being powerless before your dear one’s misery is a feeling that I would not wish upon anyone, for even though you are not capable of erasing the pain you’ll find yourself wanting to take their suffering upon you and end it all. That’s the true nature of humanity, the wish to sooth somehow the other’s pain, and that’s what keep us from completely losing faith in a better tomorrow.

 

 

The past - Fantasy On Ice

 

“Yuzuru!”

A scream resonated from somewhere around him.

But from where exactly? Someone needed him?

“Yuzuru!”

They were calling his name. I didn’t imagine it after all.

Was that Shoma on his right? Satoko…? When did they get here?

Everything around him seemed to fall back to focus, and he could hear the worried calls of his teammates, both looking at him with an anxious face, waiting for him to answer them.

He looked in from of him and Javier was sporting a similarly concerned expression as well, calling his name in a frantic way and even Miki looked confused at his sudden complete stillness and unresponsive behavior. He was just standing in front of them and the next minute he had completely stopped reacting like something had been shut off.

Exactly how long had he been standing here?

 


 

Shoma was the first one to just grab his arm and turn his body towards him, without any ceremony and shook him lightly like he wanted him to just come back to reality, “Yuzu?” he called again, before the matter at hand got even worse, and more explanations were demanded by the couple in from of them, still on the other side of the boards that separated them.

Javier looked almost decided to jump the barrier himself and make sure the other was, in fact, okay, and started questioning his friend, “Yuzu, por Diós, are you okay? Did you strain yourself again? What did I tell you last time you? Do you feel like fainting? Just sit down please…”

 


 

Am I okay? Why was he making Javi worry? Why did he look so sad? Javi didn’t deserve to be sad. It didn’t suit him.

He tried to answer him, he wanted that expression off his face, it looked unbearably sad and that hurt him more, now that he knew that it didn’t mean what he wanted it to.

Is this really my life? I can turn everything I touch into gold, but I’ll never achieve happiness? Is this some kind of punishment for everything that I’ve won?

He smiled, Javier didn’t.

How many gold medals must I win, for me to be worthy of being loved?

 


 

Shoma was looking at the Spaniard like he was the last person on earth with the right to keep asking questions, if they kept just standing there he was sure this wasn’t going to end well for any of them. So, he came up with the best excuse he could before it got out of hand.

“I think Yuzu is really just tired, we’ve been up rehearsing since 6 a.m.”

Thinking of something to add to their story, after some quick thinking Satoko quickly continued Shoma’s line, “And apart from that he had to take those allergy meds to avoid getting an asthma attack randomly on this time of the year, Spring is always a dangerous season for him”, she explained with her best as a matter-of-fact tone. Making sure no one could contest her reasoning.

“You know how those pills make you sleepy, so if you add lack of sleep on top of it I guess this is what you get, a zombie Yuzu.”, she made her tone light and dismissing and the same time, pulled her best knowledge on the allergy department from the back of her mind, thanking Waka mentally for her lectures on how Spring could actually kill people and a lot of other nonsense she always paid half mind to.

 


 

Javier looked half convinced since most of this was actually true, training with the Japanese boy after so many years, had taught him that. So many times, had Yuzuru come to the rink half asleep because of his medication, scaring the TCC coaches and making Brian have a heart attack every time he attempted a jump in an almost comatose state.

But his friend had come to him to tell him something important, hadn’t he? Determined to know what Yuzuru had come to confide in him so urgently, he stopped the two young skaters from dragging the still mute Yuzuru to wherever they were planning on running off to.

“Wait, he had something important to tell me.” He reached for his hand gently, like many time before, trying to coax some type of reaction from him, rubbing his soft skin with his thumb as a what he hoped to be, a relaxing gesture to the obviously spent young man “Yuzu what was it?”.

 


 

Trying his best to remain calm, Shoma gave Yuzuru a few seconds to decide if he wanted to answer, when he saw his friend start to slightly shake and no response left his lips, he had enough of waiting around and pulled the older to him, away from Javier’s grip. And away from a possible scene that would make that fix they were desperately trying to find, to this disastrous outcome, impossible.

“I’m sure it can wait,” he said in his best casual tone, trying not to seem dismissive “don’t you see he looks dead on his feet”.

Sensing that Javier wasn’t letting go of the matter that easily she tried to add, “And we also need to go through a few details of our Team Japan performance, again anyway”, it seemed plausible and since the Spanish knew how much of a workaholic his rink mate was it sounded believable “so we’re going to sit him down somewhere before he screws up and falls on his face”.

"I'll go with you"

“Don’t”, Shoma shot back immediately, within his eyes, a clear warning. He was tired of this conversation and he needed to somehow get his friend away from here. The Spanish skater had done enough on his part.

“Shoma”, the older skater started.

“Goodbye Javier”, this time it didn’t sound as a warning but the finality on his tone was not misunderstood, as Javier relented and stayed back where he was, making no intention to follow them again.

Glad that their point was made, and no further questions were asked, both Satoko and Shoma, grabbed Yuzuru by his arms yet again and dragged him across the ice to somewhere they could talk in private and try to access the damage of what just happened, while trying to keep appearances normal and out of suspicious eyes, they couldn’t afford a scandal at this point.

 


 

Javier’s gaze followed them as they skated over to the rink exit, dragging an almost lifeless Yuzuru with them. He had seen Yuzuru tired, exhausted, completely spent. But he had never seen him unresponsive like that.

Was he having some issue with his health again? Was his asthma acting up somehow?

Did he bring his inhaler

Most of his attacks were random, maybe Shoma and Satoko were afraid he’d have one in front of everyone after such a hard morning. Damn the Japanese and their hectic working habits. If something happened to Yuzuru...

“I wonder what’s wrong with him”, Miki said, startling him out of his thoughts.

“Yeah, I’m worried it’s something more serious than what they’re letting on” he’s soft tone was not lost to Miki, just like every time he spoke of the Japanese boy.

“Well, whatever it is I guess it’s worth lying for”.

That made Javier’s attention go back to his partner. Why would they lie?

“What do you mean? Why would Shoma lie? Hide something yes maybe, but lie?

“Javier”, Miki interrupted him with a very patient look on her face, as if he didn’t quite catch the obvious issue amidst their whole interchange with the Japanese skaters.

“What?”

“Don’t you think I’d know if there was a Team Japan performance at all?”

 


 

They opened the furthest door that they found on the backstage corridor and prayed that it was empty somehow.

It was indeed void of any staff or skater, just a normal meeting room but it would do.

They sat Yuzuru on some chair and the apologies flew out from their lips, whatever they tried to say, it seemed that it wasn’t enough and in their own ears, it seemed to fall short of what they really felt.

“We are so sorry Yuzu”.

“This is all our fault”.

“We didn’t know until now when Jason told us”.

“They made it official last night and posted some picture on social media.”

“Please forgive us, we never meant for this to happen, we were so sure…”

“Yuzuru are you listening?”, Shoma interrupted when he noticed the still detached look on his best friend face.

“Yuzu?”, Satoko called for what seemed the hundredth time that day, hoping to get some reaction from the elder.

If Shoma had been worried before, he was beyond terrified now, Yuzuru was a suffer-in-silence type of guy, but this was not his normal brooding or pissed off face. This was something much worse, and neither of his friends knew how to handle it, he sat like a statue, looking at the floor in front of him.

This was not good. This was going south pretty fast and when Yuzuru started shaking again and still no sound came from him, Shoma jumped from his kneeling position and mentioned Satoko to come with him.

“I need you to trust me and do something for me, for him.” Satoko looked surprised but otherwise nodded her consent, “I need you to watch that door, and under no circumstances you let someone come in here okay? Do you understand? I don’t care if someone dies, I don’t care if the show has gone to hell without us, no one can enter this room. Understood?”

The girl looked over Yuzuru making sure he was still seated where they left him and as expected he hadn’t moved an inch, she knew that their best option, at the moment, was to Shoma to try and make him come back to normal somehow. Between the three of them, those two always shared a deeper bond, since she only joined the pair a few years later after the two met. With a firm nod, she left the room, giving the two men some space hoping that Shoma was somehow able to help their friend.

 


 

Making sure the room was now empty and the door closed, Shoma resumed his position on his knees in front of Yuzuru’s legs and pleaded, “Yuzu please talk to me or yell at me, if you want” he just needed the other boy to react in some way or he was going to lose his mind at any moment ”tell me how badly I screwed up but please don’t scare me like this”.

A single tear fell on his cheek and Shoma felt his breath catch, he was beginning to realize that he had no idea how to help in this situation, normally their positions would be reversed. Yuzuru was the one with the answers and the comforting touches, not him.

Instead of the full-blown out sobs he expected to come, Yuzuru lifted his fist and bit down on it, muffling his cries, more tears appeared on his porcelain skin, and Shoma’s heart broke at the sight, this was all his fault, he has done this to him.

Would Yuzuru hate him for this? But more importantly, would Yuzuru be okay? And how could he help him?

When he saw his bloodied hand something in him snapped him to reality

“Hey hey, please stop!” he begged him, he knew his friend didn’t know how to deal with this in the presence of someone else besides himself, and tried to somehow reason with him, “Don’t do this, just let it all out…nobody can hear you, I promise you”, he carefully pulled his hand from his teeth and tried to sooth his now scarred hand, thin lines of blood pouring from the small incisions “please don’t hurt yourself, please…for me?”.

“Shoma", the younger had never been more relieved to hear his own name, even though on a very shaky voice, Shoma was glad that Yuzuru could at least recognize him and make some sense of his surroundings.

“Yes, I’m here”, he himself was getting very close to tears, but he had to control himself, this was not about him.

“It hurts”, never in the years he had known the older one, had he ever heard him say these words, he had seen him suffer through so many injuries that by now he had almost lost count, and not even in the worst-case scenario possible had he heard him say this. For Yuzuru, to acknowledge pain is to acknowledge your weakness.

“I know Yuzu…I know”.

“It hurts so much”, he struggled to speak between his tears and every word seemed to hurt him, “please make it stop”.

His heart broke for his friend, he didn’t deserve to go through this, and he wanted to blame the Spanish skater for his friend’s misery, but in reality, he wasn’t at fault.

He had never pushed Yuzuru to confront his feelings.

He had never brushed away Yuzuru’s fears in order for him to comply with his reasonings.

He had never convinced him of something that he had no proof of.

Shoma did.

He did this.

And now his friend, the only person outside his family that he found himself loving dearly, was paying the price.

Even after years of torment, he’d never meant this happen under no circumstance, even after everything.

“Listen to me Yuzu” he raised his friends chin and cupping his face on his palms on each side of his head he stared deep into his eyes, “I know it hurts, I know how you feel, I’ve been through it and you know what?” he wiped his tears the best as he could, he needed him to understand, “I got over it and so can you, because you’re stronger than I’ll ever be and you’re Yuzuru Hanyu. Nothing can throw you down, because you are unbeatable, you are undefeatable, trust that much if you don’t believe anything else right now”

Even though he seemed to understand his words, he just let himself fall to the floor like he was unable to hold himself upright any longer and Shoma tried his best to hold him before he hurt himself even more, together they stood on their knees, the taller completely supported by his smaller body, but after all of this he couldn’t care less, if his best friend needed him he was sure as hell, he would stay on that position all day.

He would do anything to make the pain go away. Even if he hurt himself in the process.

 


 

Satoko, tired as she was by now and with some bruised ribs for sure, after that nasty impact on the boards on their desperate attempt to get to Yuzuru in time, just wanted to get this day to have never happened in the first place.

What began as playful and lighthearted teasing and encouragement for their friend to find happiness, ended as heartbreak and disappointed hopes.

She couldn’t exactly imagine what he was going through, she was too young and never had been in love. To watch her senior, break down like that, made her think if it was worth it at all. She couldn’t imagine herself going through something as painful as this.

What if the same thing happened to her? She could fall for someone that might never return her affections. She had seen the older skater and the Spaniard’s interactions for years now, and she was completely convinced, as half of the skating community was by now, that their feelings were mutual. How could they all, be so wrong?

So many years of pining, of dreams and setbacks only to be destroyed in one single moment. For how long had Yuzuru waited for the right time to make his feeling known, to just end up like this.

Was it really worth it?

Through the door, she heard something hit the floor and hushed whispers, no doubt Shoma trying to soothe his friend in any way he could. She thanked the heavens that Shoma was here, there was no way she would’ve dealt with this outcome in such a peaceful manner as her teammate had done. Her quick thinking would only get her so far.

And then the sobbing stopped, and the heart-wrenching screams started.

She slid down the door, and sat herself on the floor, schooling her expression, not showing how much she wanted to run somewhere far from her current place outside the room, but she wouldn’t leave her friends now, she had as much responsibility on what happened as the other young skater inside and she would do her part until the end.

People walked by her on the dim-lighted corridor and looked at her with a funny expression. They stood their distance, not wanting to interrupt her seemingly resting location of choice.

She remembers someone asking her.

One of the sweet old ladies from the Japanese organization, she thinks.

“Why are you sitting on the floor sweetheart?”

Because there’s honestly nothing else I can do.

Together the three friends of almost a lifetime sat on the cold floor and wept.

One in pain.

Another in regret.

And the last one in fear, of what was to come.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Sometimes all we need is to take a step back. Think things over. We might find a new meaning behind words or actions that surround us. Maybe not. Who knows really? Life wasn’t designed for us to understand it, to study it. Life is supposed to be lived, with no regrets whatsoever.

But alas, humans are not that fearless, and we keep avoiding doing the things that can make us truly happy. Only to later discover what we lost, what could have been and what happiness we could have known. Love is an example of something that should never be taken for granted, for it doesn’t wait around every corner for you. You need to chase it. You need to conquer it. You need to make it yours. And you need to never let go of it.

Before it’s too late.

 

The past - Fantasy On Ice

 

Yumi Hanyu was used to many things when it came to Yuzuru. She was used to her son throwing tantrums, she was used to that spoiled bratty attitude that her child sometimes showcased once he was out of the spotlight, she was used to sometimes having to raise her voice when things got out of control even for her dramatic son’s standards.

She had lived with her youngest child for as many years as he was alive, not daring to let him be by himself in a foreign country, no matter how many people surrounded him since he became a star. A foreign country with a foreign language that neither of them had yet mastered to this day, was a place she didn’t want her son to be alone with strangers dictating his every move.

It always had been a constant in her life: to guide her son through life as he did his best and tried to make his dreams come true, even if she would have to pay the price with her sacrifices. That was as much as she loved her children.

So yes, Yumi had been around her son time enough to know something was wrong, very wrong.

It didn’t make sense to her, Yuzuru didn’t just take days off to rest, he would rather fall unconscious in the middle of a rink than rest at home like a normal human being. This, being the cause of most of their arguments, her role was not just of an agent or counselor (she barely managed her son’s appointments or contracts anymore), she was above all, his mother. And when things got too much, she was the one that had to put her foot down and do the devil’s work. Still, she regretted nothing, she would do anything within her power to put her son’s health above all, skating be damned.

Whatever happened, it must have been serious, but she knew better than prod her son with questions. Whenever he was ready he would tell her, and she would be ready to do her best to help him, as she’d always done.

Surely it was not something that couldn’t be fixed? She liked to think that the only thing that you couldn’t remedy in this life was death.

As she watched his son lay on the couch silently looking at the television, on some random channel, not uttering a word while she called the front desk to order them some food, she was beginning to wonder if her better option was to just call young Shoma and ask him what on earth happened on those rehearsals.

She didn’t have the chance to question the boy when he brought Yuzuru back just a few hours after he had left for the rink. Once she saw them, Shoma slightly ruffled and concern written all over his face and Yuzuru pale and silent just staring at nothing in particular, she had automatically assumed the worst.

Another injury.

But once she guided her son to the nearest couch, she realized nothing physically was wrong with him, and the only explanation Shoma had provided was that her son was exhausted from all the shows he had been doing for the last months and it must have finally gotten to him.

It seemed plausible and even Yuzuru wasn’t made of steel, or so she liked to believe.

But it had been two days, and between mumbled answers and silent behavior, Yumi had gotten nowhere with her son. Yes, Shoma was her best option.

She was mid-way to reach her phone and discreetly send a text message to the skater when the ringing of the doorbell resonated through the apartment.

She wasn’t expecting anyone, but maybe someone had come to check on Yuzuru?

Maybe Satoko, that girl seemed like the newest addition to her son’s very small circle of friends, and she was thankful that she had appeared in his life. The young girl was always lively and with a smile on the ready, it contrasted with Shoma’s always somber demeanor and it fitted Yuzuru’s own eccentric and hyperactive behavior.

Secretly, she believed Shoma was as grateful to her presence as much as she was since he no longer had to suffer through Yuzuru’s antics alone anymore.

She was very level headed as well and in Yuzuru’s daily life, that was something to treasure.

As she made her way to the door, she noticed how Yuzuru hadn’t even moved or reacted to the bell, he didn’t even seem to care.

She quickened her pace and opened the door without further ado.

On the other side stood someone completely unexpected.

 


 

It had been exactly two days since he last saw Yuzuru being dragged by his teammates on some stupid rehearsal.

He had accepted the logic that the boy was exhausted and had probably reached his limit, being the star of every freaking ice show could do that to you, he guesses. But when he tried to reach him through text messages, just to know if he was doing better or if he needed something, he got nothing back.

He resorted to straight up calling him. He never picked up and he knew the Japanese’s voicemail by heart now.

He did try to talk to the other Japanese skaters, but they always claimed to know nothing about their friend’s condition, something that he doubted was the actual truth. Satoko and Shoma would never be completely clueless about Yuzuru, not after what he had witnessed the day before. But after being kept in the dark for so long, he started to suspect that it must have been something he had done, right?

But then again, when he really thought about it, their last conversation was when he had introduced Miki, he didn’t say anything out of the ordinary? And there was no way he could have been bothered by his new girlfriend.

He might have some doubts before, but not after that day.

The day I realized that it was all in my head and none of it was real.

The day I realized everything I was the only one hoping for something more.

The day I thought I was going to die because of the pain you caused me, while being oblivious to it all.

They didn’t text much, being used to seeing each other every day without fail. But if he was at home resting, there was no reason why he couldn’t reach his phone and pick it up? What if something more serious had happened? What if he really was somewhere he couldn’t reach his phone? Like the hospital?

That would make sense, his two Japanese friends would be too afraid to tell him something in case it spread around the news and all sense of privacy would be gone in an instant.

It hurt a bit, that even after all these years they didn’t trust him with something like that. He trained with Yuzuru daily for God’s sake, if he ever wanted to hurt him he had plenty of opportunities to do so.

But after what he witnessed yesterday, that look of hatred on Shoma’s face, made him understand that maybe Shoma never actually considered him as a friend. He had been completely mistaken from the beginning. But this wouldn’t be the first time he would get confused about a Japanese skater’s feelings so he just accepted the fact that he would never truly get them.

I can’t go back to that moment again. It’s in the past like everything that ever happened between us, because there will never be a future.

Every day he was astounded at how his relationship with Miki even worked at all, but he knew she was different, they were different and that was what kept them away from all the usual couple’s drama. Some relationships were born from different circumstances and theirs was not an exception. He owed Miki so much, after she saved his life, almost literally.

I almost lost everything if it weren’t for her, how could I ever repay this debt?

After sulking around the ice and later at his shared room, his girlfriend told him to just head over his friend’s current hotel room and ask for some explanation, it would be better than just keep wondering about it. Driving himself and others around him almost mad. And they were scheduled to leave to the next city tomorrow, so it was now or never.

Miki was right, he should just go to him.

But…where was he staying? He had no idea where the Japanese skater was staying with his mother. And who would give him that information? Not even Brian could help him this time.

 


 

“Hey, I have an idea, stop thinking so hard, I can hear you from across the room” Miki shouted from her place on the bed, looking over to her boyfriend who was deep in thought and almost digging a hole on the floor, her patience was running out, fast.

“You know where he might be staying? Maybe Shoma or Satoko will tell you?” his anxious face reminded her of a lost boy with no idea of what to do without his parents, but after all this was Javier. The man who had survived almost his entire life all by himself, without any support or parents to watch over his every step. Much unlike some Japanese skater holed up in some hotel room, making his friend worry about him after disappearing without an explanation or a second thought about others around him.

She never imagined Yuzuru to be this kind of person, but she guesses you can’t really judge people by what media showed you. Sometimes you get disappointed.

He needs to be more aware of his surroundings and other people’s feelings.

“Shut up, calm down and listen to me” she called him over and mentioned him to sit next to her, “they would never tell me anything because they know I might share something with you, but there’s always a way of knowing things”.

“Miki just tell me” she could see his boyfriend’s real distress, so she just laid out her plan.

“Well, if you can’t find out information by yourself, then you must ask someone who can and give them something in exchange”

“And who would that be?”

“Brown”.

“Who?”

“Jason Brown? Like the best gossip, comes from him, I mean I got some connections but that guy is something else,” at her boyfriend’s complete clueless look she continued, “seriously Javier…everyone knows Jason, he’s actually a sweetheart once you get to know him, and thanks to my amazing observation skills, we have something to use in exchange for the information that we want”.

“Okay, you are slightly terrifying me, but go on”.

“Jason has a massive crush on Shoma”.

“You’re kidding…Shoma?” by looking at her face he realized she was indeed very serious about all of this, “Por Díos Miki, I’m not going to blackmail the guy…”

“You idiot, of course not”, she smiled at her boyfriend’s natural dislike for anything that could harm others even if he was the one in need of something desperately, that was one of the Spaniard’s qualities that made her fall for him in the first place, “you’re going to offer him Shoma’s phone number for Yuzuru’s hotel name and room”.

“I don’t even have his phone number and there’s no way I’m going to cheat him like that”.

“We’re cheating no one”, Miki smirked, glad that sometimes her stellar former career and connections sometimes gave her the upper hand “I’m still Miki Ando remember?”

 


 

“Javier?”

She didn’t expect him of all people to show up, but in a way it made sense.

Back in Canada she remembered that he’s been her son’s only companion on and off the ice, sometimes helping Yuzuru through some hardships like the constant pressure always present on their sport or sometimes even with trivial problems like moving apartments between seasons, the Spanish boy had taken a liking to her son almost immediately since they arrived and he took it upon himself to look after him even though they were still destined to be rivals in any competition.

When she heard, that the Spaniard had decided to come to Japan and perform on the ice shows along with her son she was beyond happy. That meant Yuzuru would have his older friend with him all the time, especially since she was going home once her son left for the next city on the schedule. Yuzuru had insisted that she should take some time for herself and spend it with the rest of the family until they needed to go back to Toronto at least.

The world worshipped their friendship, but they would never treasure it more than herself.

So, in the end, knowing that Javier would keep an eye on him like always, calmed her motherly worries a little bit more.

Honestly, that boy had been a godsend, not that she didn’t trust Shoma or Satoko but the always composed older skater, gave her a feeling of trust that she could not understand. She knew he would never hurt Yuzuru, and that was enough for her.

“Hello Mrs. Hanyu, I’m sorry to bother you this late, but may I talk with your son?”

The boy looked nervous and tired, probably from all the shows and maybe even from worrying about Yuzuru’s idiotic antics, Yumi was now pretty sure he had forgotten to tell him about his sudden “resting time out”. Making people worry about him once again with no reason whatsoever. Javier didn’t deserve her son’s silent treatment for sure.

“Of course, come in please”, she mentioned for him to follow her to the couch where she had last seen Yuzuru,” he’s right over there…?”, he was nowhere in sight.

Did he just run away from Javier?

“I’m sorry, I didn’t notice but maybe he went to sleep while I was making a few phone calls”, she hated to lie but in order to do some damage control and not expose Yuzuru’s apparent lack of manners, small sacrifices were needed.

“I’m going to see if he’s still awake, please sit here darling”.

 


 

As soon as the doorbell rang, he knew who would be on the other side of the door.

It was an easy guess.

He had already texted Shoma and Satoko, so there was only one person left that could possibly care about his sudden time out. The same person who had been calling him and texting him nonstop for two days. He pretended to not care about the possible visitor and once his mother turned her back on him, he jumped from the couch and into his room, thank God they had gotten an apartment this time there was no way he could have hidden himself in a normal hotel room. Laying down on his bed he did his best to pretend he was sleeping and prayed that his mother took the hint and just left him alone.

Talking to Javier was the last thing on his mind at the moment, he just needed to be away from it all and get some rest before he had to once again rejoin the group and complete the show’s tour.

He didn’t need a reminder of what happened. He just needed time.

Maybe I can forget, even if just for a second.

Maybe I can heal.

 


 

“Yuzuru Hanyu…I’ll give you 5 minutes to explain why you are behaving like this”, Yumi always tried the patient approach on the matters regarding her son, but she felt that the time for tiptoeing around the matter was long gone, this was too much.

“I’m just trying to sleep can’t you see?”, was the reply she got from somewhere under covers.

“I’ll tell you what I see”, she schooled her expression at her son’s unusual rude tone and pulled the blankets from the bed, pulling an end to Yuzuru’s hiding place, ”I see a spoiled brat that I apparently raised without any manners, that likes to throw tantrums and hide like a coward for some mysterious reason”.

That seemed to do the trick, Yuzuru wasn’t used to being scolded, those years were well past him. He had always been a mature child and only his stubbornness had followed into his adult years, so being reprimanded like this by his mother made him snap out of his self-inflicted state of numbness.

“This isn’t you Yuzuru”, she continued sensing that she had made some progress to somehow reach him” I know my son, and this isn’t you”.

She was correct, he instantly got up and threw himself into her arms, seeking for the comfort he knew only she could provide, no matter what the situation he found himself in.

“I’m sorry mama, I just…”, he seemed so lost in his own head that Yumi decided not to push forward but she needed to make sure Yuzuru understood that things could not keep going like this.

“I understand if it’s hard to explain or even if it’s something you’re not ready to tell me, but please, help me understand?” she pleaded.

“Yes, I’ll tell you everything”, he seemed defeated and just nodded his agreement, “I guess I do need to talk to Javi first, it’s not fair to keep him waiting”.

At the mention of the Spanish boy, she remembered his actions after the elder had knocked on their door, “Yuzuru why did you ran away from Javier? Did something happen between you two?”

Suddenly he seemed like he was going to get back to his shell, but he only bit his lip and nodded.

“Did he hurt you?”

“He would never hurt me intentionally, you know that”, he said honestly. Yumi immediately detected that something had gone wrong between them.

“Yes, but I’m sure you two can work it out and you should make him stop worrying so much, I swear that boy will have a panic attack at this point”, she said trying to lighten the mood.

They both laughed, knowing that this was true, the Spaniard tended to care too much for the people he loved and sometimes even went to extreme lengths for them, a trait that often associated with a naïve child, but nonetheless admirable.

Having made some notable progress with her son, she pulled from their tight hug and walked towards the door intending to tell the Spaniard to come in, when she heard Yuzuru’s soft voice behind her, ”I just didn’t want you to hate me”.

The unusual vulnerability in her child’s voice broke something inside her.

Did she fail to notice her son’s struggles between papers and long hours of meaningless endeavors?

“How could I ever hate you? You’re my son no matter what” she gave him a last glance before turning to the door once more, “Always remember that”.

 


 

“Yuzu?”, Javier called out as he knocked on his door and opened it.

 On the other side Yuzuru sat on his bed, probably getting ready to sleep, he almost felt bad for stopping him, but things needed to be said first.

“Hey, how are you?” the Japanese asked him mentioning for him to come closer and sit next to him.

Javier refused, he would deal with this…standing.

“I should be the one asking you that”, he didn’t sound angry, but he made sure that Yuzuru didn’t misunderstand the annoyance in his voice, “I considered just calling the hospitals instead of actually coming here”.

“What why?”, at his friend’s confused tone, his irritation escalated, but he still had time to get there, so he just kept it as playful banter like their normal exchanges.

 Can we really pretend everything is okay just for a while?

“If you couldn’t text or even pick up your phone I just assumed you were dead, or worse”

“First of all, I’m not easy to kill, second what exactly is worse?” he seemed to catch on to the jest but still refused to address the real matter.

“In your case, being injured and bedridden I guess”.

Yuzuru laughed like it was just a usual joke from his Spanish friend. Like a normal anecdote, they shared so often on their shared rink and that many times had worked as a way to level down the ever-present stress.

“Now that I know you’re alive, why haven’t you been answering my calls?”

This is it.

“I just needed break”.

Javier was getting tired of being told the same thing over and over again, when he perfectly knew he was being lied to, his patience was thinning.

"Yes, that’s what everyone keeps saying but I don’t believe it, you never- “

“Is it that hard to believe that I need some rest?!  You all sound like I’m some kind of God, instead of a fucking human being that needs to fucking rest”.

Javier was surprised at how articulated Yuzuru could be when angry, but the swearing was definitely something new for him to witness.

So, he was right, Yuzuru was really mad at something. At someone.

“Yuzu we’ve known each other for years, you need to understand that you suddenly disappearing, means something is wrong almost every single time”, which was true, and he knew the Japanese skater could not possibly deny it, he couldn’t blame him for worrying.

“No, you are the one that needs understand that if I need to fucking disappear then I have the right to do it and owe no one an explanation.” Yuzuru shot back.

That hurt, but I came here for a reason.

“I see, well is it something that I’ve done? Did I really hurt you somehow so that you can completely disregard my worries and not even bother to somehow tell me you were okay?”

“You’ve done nothing, I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone, that’s all” he sounded tired but in no way regretful of what he just said, “Like I told, I needed time”.

“That’s understandable I guess if you hadn’t talked to everyone else, but me”.

“What do you mean?”, he sounded honestly clueless, and Javier wondered how long he could keep pretending like he had nothing wrong. As if the way he acted was perfectly normal.

Is he laughing at me?

“I mean exactly that Yuzuru”, he took a breath to calm himself down, this conversation was far from over, “ Shoma and Satoko knew perfectly well where you were but refused to tell me, they knew how you were but denied it over and over again, so please spare me that talk when we both know that your problem is with me”

“I have no problem with you”, the younger one denied.

“Then I’m just that dispensable? And apparently so far down on your list of priorities that I’m not even worth your attention”, he knew his words would leave an impact, but he needed to say them and finally try to get some closure, “I’m not even surprised at this point, I guess I still had hope I meant something to you besides your rink mate and occasional personal clown”

“You are my friend, my important friend, I’m telling true”, he seemed more agitated while trying to put words together and making sure Javier understood him.

Like always you can’t stand the thought of someone being mad at you. Is your need to be adored by everyone that strong?

“No, you’re not and I desperately hoped you were, despite everything”, he knew he was starting to sound desperate himself, but at this point, he didn’t care.

“I’m sorry Javi, I didn’t do on purpose, I didn’t think…”

Javier laughed dryly, “Of course, you didn’t, don’t worry I’m used to it already”

“What does that mean?”, Yuzuru rose up from his bed and somehow looked like he was daring him to explain.

“It means nothing, but I guess it also means everything”, his part here was done, and he had gotten his answer “I should go, it’s getting late and I’ve kept you up long enough”.

“Wait Javi, please explain-”, the smaller asked grabbing the Spaniard’s hand on his own, begging for something that neither of them seemed to know what it was.

Please don’t look at me with those eyes. I can’t go back and put myself through this all over again.

I’m doing this for me, for both of us.

“There’s nothing to explain”, with the strength he had left in him he took his hand out of Yuzuru’s smaller one, hating every second his hands left the so craved warmth, “I guess I just needed to realize that, the truth is that we’ve never been anything than rink mates and sometimes I get to play the part of your friend when I’m needed”, saying it out loud somehow didn’t feel as good as he had hoped, “but I guess it’s time for us to stop and just spare ourselves more misunderstandings”.

Once was enough to bring me to my knees, I can’t do it again. Forgive me.

“I’m really really sorry, please don’t do this and let me make up to you?”, Yuzuru looked close to tears, and Javier could feel his resolve breaking by the second, he knew that if stayed a moment longer he would give in and be thrown back into the misery that life besides Yuzuru would inevitable be.

You don’t know how bad I want to just kiss your tears away.

“It’s okay Yuzu, there’s no need for that" he opened the door and faced him for the last time, "after all, like you said, you owe me nothing”, and for the second time that night, Yuzuru was left alone.

 


 

This conversation was taking too long.

She knew something had happened between the two, so maybe Yuzuru had decided to finally fix it?

That lifted some of the weight on her chest, it’s was good to know her son had finally come to terms with his friend. She was very proud that Yuzuru had managed to overcome it and had faced the problem head-on.

As she rose from the living room’s couch to prepare herself for bed and trusting Javier to let himself out, the Spanish boy made his appearance suddenly opening Yuzuru’s bedroom door, startling her a bit out of her reverie.

“I’m sorry, it’s getting late so I better get going back to my hotel”, he sounded even more tired and his voice strained, noticing her concerned expression, quickly justified, “I still have a lot of packing to do”.

Yumi smiled fondly at the boy’s tendency to always pack at the last minute possible, she remembers Yuzuru’s constant lectures on the horror that was packing with Javier Fernández.

“Oh right, Yuzuru is already done with that, as usual”.

“He’s coming with us to Niigata?” he sounded genuinely surprised.

Yuzuru didn’t tell him? What exactly happened in that room?

“Yes, he’s going with the group while I go back home for some days”, something wasn’t right, so she asked, “didn’t he tell you?”

“I must have forgotten, I’m sorry it’s been a long day for me and sorry again for showing up at this hour Mrs. Hanyu”. He clearly sounded exhausted, so she let it go for now.

“I really need to go back, I hope you have a safe trip to Sendai”.

He was halfway through the door when Yumi thanked him with a smile, “Thank you, dear, I’ll see you back in Toronto in no time”.

She saw him leave and noticed how he didn’t smile back.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

When things get hard and there seems to be no escape, no option left, nothing worth fighting for...we can seek comfort on those around us. Anyone that cares enough for us in order to sooth our anguish and despair. We all seek refugee on the touch or words, loved ones can cast upon us in our worst moments in life. But not all of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by goodness and light. Some of us still don't know how that can feel like. So cry. Scream. Let all of your anger and sadness come out of your body and mind so we can maybe appease our souls.

Tomorrow will still come. And we will rise again.

 

The past –  Before Niigata - Fantasy On Ice

 

“And that’s all, I guess...”

After she had led Javier to the door and said their goodbyes, Yumi knew that something was wrong. Both her son and the Spaniard were not acting like their usual selves and for a moment she wondered if this could even affect their training, later when they went back to Canada. Would they keep this unresolved till then?

She was sure he was more than capable of keeping his personal problems separated from his professional life, but would this work in the long run?

This could become a distraction and more often than not, distractions tended to end badly on the ice. She couldn't go home and be at rest without trying to understand what on earth was happening to her son.

There was no use to keep wondering, after two days of this odd behavior, enough was enough.

She marched to her son's room. He had said he would tell everything, well now was the time for the truth.

 

 


 

Shoma was bone dead tired, he just needed to sleep and get some rest, until next month. Actually, a whole year vacation would be nice by now.

Why was he doing these ice shows in the first place? He’s sure he must have had a reason before but couldn't actually recall it now. The pay certainly didn’t make up for this whole shit show.

This whole thing was so not worth it.

These last couple of days were kind of lonely without Yuzuru there, to either take over the show or cover up their mistakes by somehow getting all the attention to himself.

Yes, people thought of him as an attention seeker prima donna, but most of the time he did it to save everyone's behinds. (And obviously avoiding looking bad too in the process).

But at the end of the day…who cared?

Not that he would ever admit any of this to the older skater, he had too big of an ego already, no need to boost it even more.

He had texted him through all his free periods and between performances, he was not that naive to believe that Yuzuru would just stay put and let everything happen without him. He eased his worries the best that he could and told him that the show was going fine, no one had burned it to the ground and audience seemed happy with all the performances. For goodness sake, this wasn't even his show, to begin with.

Still, he couldn't make himself get mad at his friend, he had been through enough and if he could do something to keep him from thinking of other much more painful problems, so be it.

He didn't need to know about everything though.

He just might have concealed the small fact that a very worried and moronic Spaniard had constantly bothered Satoko and him for the last two days seeking information like a damn hound around his prey.

At this point, he was really proud of himself.

He hadn't broken someone's nose until now. That must count for something.

He'd asked Satoko to do the same in case she texted yuzu (who would no doubt be double-checking if everything that Shoma said was actually true), and together they agreed to tell the exact same story to their control freak friend.

He wished Yuzuru was there with them.

He missed him terribly.

Please get better Yuzu and come back to us.

Yes, I'm that selfish…old friend.

 


 

“Well…I can't say I was expecting this”, his mother said looking more surprised than shocked at the revelations, "I only supposed you had a dumb fight or something".

“Are you…disappointed?”, Yuzuru asked her, feeling his courage disappear little by little. He had somehow managed to summon some strength and tell everything to his mother once and for all, but right now he was feeling more and more afraid of the actual reaction. Would he be really able to live with her disappointment?

“Why would I?”, this surprised him without a doubt.

“Because you know…this all started because…I like men”, it was the first time Yuzuru had said it out loud and even to his own ears, it sounded strange and unsettling. So many years living in fear could do that to you.

“Yuzuru the only thing that surprised me, in this whole conversation, was the fact that Javier actually got a girlfriend”, she seemed so calm and collected through all of this that he wasn't very sure if she actually understood what he had just admitted to her. Where was the hatred? The disappointment?

“Well, he’s free to date whoever he wants”, and it was true, he owed him nothing. They were nothing to each other and after this night he doubted that even their friendship could survive.

“Yes, but I was so sure he was going to confess to you one day”, Yumi said with a confused expression. like she had actually pondered about it and this development had been utterly unexpected.

“You what?”

“His actions were so obvious”, she explained as if it were very clear, “both of you actually" she grabbed his son's hand as if trying to convey her feeling through her gentle touch "I was truly happy that someone like him would one day be my son’s partner”.

“So...you knew about all of this and never said anything to me?”, for how long had his mother known while he drove himself crazy about it for years?

“I figured you would tell me when you were ready”, was her simple answer, the young skater truly felt relieved, this was not what he expected. At all.

“This definitely wasn't the reaction I was waiting for or more like dreading…I feared this moment for so long…”

“Yuzuru you are my son, I love you and everything that you are" she caressed his hair taking the stubborn hair that had fallen on his eyes, "and even after you decided that skating with your eyes closed, back in Sendai, was a good idea, I still loved you”, that earned a choked laugh from her son “so if you like boys, I guess the only thing I need to worry about is my son’s happiness and that he finds a perfect a match for him".

 


 

“I already did mama”, tears flowed from his eyes and Yumi couldn't lie. Seeing her child in such a state scared her, he had never gone through such a thing as heartbreak in his young life and even though it was inevitable, she never thought it would be this painful. She was lost. “I already did mama, and because of my stupidity, I lost him”

More tears kept coming and she tried to wipe them the best that she could, trying her best not to fall into the same state herself, “How's any of this your fault love?”

“I should have confessed a long time ago, I should have made my intentions clear I should have done so many things…” he was upsetting himself further as this could get even worse given her son's health condition. There was no way he could cry and breath at the same time if he kept this up for much longer.

“Listen to me", she cupped his face and forced him to look into her eyes, "there’s no way you could have foreseen this, this is not your fault".

He took a moment to breathe, he seemed to understand that he could collapse at any minute if his lungs kept being abused like this for much longer.

“At least it seems like everyone was wrong, so I guess don't feel as dumb”, he tried to smile, every bit of it forced out of him, when he realized the possible implications though, a panicked expression took over his tear-stricken face, “Oh god I’m going to become the punchline of all their jokes aren’t I?”

"Yuzuru who knows about this?"

"Only Satoko and Shoma”. 

There's still hope in the middle of all of this mess then. Not everything's lost.

“Then you have nothing to worry about, you know those two would never hurt you", she tried her best to calm him down but, in the end  she couldn't help but add “Somehow I also feel responsible for some of this mess.”

At Yuzuru's confused look she explained, "He seemed like a great man, I trusted him...I guess I was wrong too”.

"He's still a great man mama", Yuzuru could feel the tears coming back up and willed himself to push them back, Yumi shook her head.

"Don't", she pulled him to her, holding him tight and rubbing his back a gesture so familiar between them, as he let his sobs free.

To the world, Yuzuru was a legend, a God, but right now she was his little boy.

Like he would always be.

"He's still a great man mama, just not mine".

 


 

Finally laying flat on his face on a horizontal surface, also known as a bed, Shoma thought back to their last competition together.

Did I miss something?

Everything had been as normal as it could be:

Javier getting the gold, checked;

Shoma not getting on the podium checked;

ISU representatives taking 3 hours to give them their medals and flowers, checked;

Boring pointless gala routines that no one gave a damn about, checked;

Javier and Yuzuru grabbing each other through all of the above, checked.

He couldn't think of what could have possibly gone wrong between those two since then. Heck, he even asked Javier when he was going to grow a pair and make a move.

And surprisingly, because every time someone asked him about this matter he would just avoid the subject, he answered "soon".

"Soon", he said, with a lovestruck smile and in that moment Shoma understood.

This was game over, but also a start.

His friend deserved this, and how could he wish nothing but happiness for him? That's all that mattered to him from the beginning.

He expected Javier to do something about it after the gala or on the first Ice Shows, but things dragged on and he was taking too long to his liking. And if he couldn't push the Spanish one, he would get Yuzuru to man up.

Yes, that would work just as nicely, they were being dumb and wasting precious time.

Shoma deserved a spot in Heaven or at least a reigning position in Hell. He wasn't picky.

But how exactly had they gone wrong? Yuzuru couldn't have done anything to completely throw Javier off. right?

Had something happened between them when he wasn't around?

But Yuzuru seemed so sure that day...

He could still recall their conversation clearly.

Predicting a major headache in the works, he closed his eyes and forced himself to revisit the memory that started all this and now seemed so far away.

He watched Zhenya and Satoko walk away like nothing happened, and after making sure they were a safe distance from hearing them, he turned to Yuzuru, "Why lie to Zhenya?", he looked genuinely confused at his senior's actions, "I thought we trusted her?"

"I do trust her", he quickly answered, not wanting to be misunderstood.

"Then why all of this?"

"You know why".

" I honestly don’t", or he wouldn't be asking, he wanted to add but refrained from throwing a snarky remark, that would get him nowhere with Yuzuru.

"I love Zhenya to death but something like this can't get out", Yuzuru said a bit frantic over the simple thought of someone somehow getting this information, "ever".

"But she’s our friend, she would never-"

"Shoma" Yuzuru called as if wanting his friends to pay his full attention to him, "there are only two people I trust with this matter and that’s you and Satoko, period".

"I think that ship sailed", it actually had, he didn’t understand the point of hiding anymore, "everyone that stays around you two for more than 5 minutes has already figured it out by now".

"As long as they don't hear it from me, it doesn’t matter"

"Yuzu…", he needed his friend to remember something despite all this, "you know it would be okay right? People would keep your secret, everyone loves you or at least respects you that much".

"We don’t know that for sure, a lot of people hate and you know it", Yuzuru started taking his towels and clean clothes out of his sports bag to apparently get ready for his shower, "so I’ll just deal with this when the time comes”.

"And when will that be? Once he retires and you are left alone in Toronto?"

"Who knows...." he almost seemed nonchalant about all of this, “Maybe when I'm completely sure I won't make a fool out of myself?"

"You still doubt his feeling? Seriously?", how hard-headed could this idiot be?

"He still hasn't said anything, so nothing is certain"

"Maybe because he's scared shitless of ruining this weird friendship of yours? Or because he’s an idiot like you?", he wouldn’t even be surprised if it were the case.

"Let's see what happens, I’ve got a lot of shit to think about at the moment besides my love life". He said in his better ‘I’m larger than life’ tone. "And so do you, actually when have you become so invested in my romantic issues?"

"When you started drooling on my shoulder, that one time when you thought it was a good idea to hide behind me while Fernández skated his Black Betty program", Shoma still cringed at the memory.

"I did not-"

"You did, and I still have nightmares, so it needs to stop, even if I must throw you at him or lock you in a janitor's closet", he was so close to losing it sometimes that it was becoming more of a plan that a thought.

"How original Shoma", he threw his dirty towel at the shorter's face earning himself a disgusted whine

"Ew ew", this actually reminded him that he had left his own somewhere” I just remembered that I left my stupid towel at the fucking boards, be right back", he threw Yuzuru his towel back and slid open the changing room’s door.

On the other side of it, he spotted some blood-red spots on the ground.

Had the girls lost some part of their costumes? It happened all the time with Yuzu and his thousand layers of fabric. He should leave it there in case someone noticed the damage.

But curiosity won over and he went closer to inspect it, as he bent down he could now see that it wasn't actual cloth, it was...

How?

Did someone lose some coming back from the rink? It was possible, but he hadn’t seen any of those on anyone’s hands. He was sure of it. It would be hard to miss it. And this was placed right in front of the door, nobody could lose so much of it just like that.

What on earth was going on?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Nothing lasts forever. It’s hard for us to acknowledge it, but that’s the Universal truth. Each day could be our last, but that doesn’t mean we should live in fear. It means we should make it count. Take risks. Take chances. Have no regrets. Live life.

And maybe, just maybe, leave this life with a smile.

They say an artist’s dream is to die on stage, for example.

So, in the end, if one has had a full life, what’s so bad about going away doing what we love?

 

The future – World Championship

 

It had been so long since his last worlds. Everything looked so different yet the same.

Skaters rushing around, frantic coaches trying to get ahold of their students, the technical team trying their best to boss around everyone.

The serious faces and the hopeful ones.

There was still a long way to go, this was the first day of the competition and everyone knew that a clean short program today could guarantee them a relaxed free in two days.

The pressure could be felt, and Javier felt at home. This is where he belonged.

Even though he would not be the one putting his skates on today.

It had been a few years since he left his competitive career for good, age was not kind when it came to this sport, and you had to be smart. It was better to retire when you were at the top than just disappear into the shadows after an embarrassing end, it was kind of a universal law.

But he couldn't deny that he missed them. He missed the young skaters that made fun of his old age back in the day, he remembered young Boyang telling him to retire already so he could actually win something. And he did. Two times world champion and an Olympic medalist, he was everything he had ever dreamed of and more, he knew the Chinese skater's heart, and no one deserved it more. In him, he saw a young version of himself, ambitious and hardworking, ready to face the world for his spot in the sun.

And to think he had shared a podium with that kid.

He made his way to the locker room, going through all the maze-like corridors he once knew so well. He would never forget Helsinki.

How could he?

He found the room empty. That was odd, he was supposed to meet him here.

Well, time to search the rink, and give someone a lecture. They were wasting time.

It took him a while to adjust to the brilliant lights reflected on the white ice of the rink. It looked spectacular as ever. The Union seemed to demand more and more each year out of the host countries. He hoped Spain could someday try and bring some competition home once again.

Very doubtful, but a guy could dream.

He tried not to remember those two Grand Prix Finals, where everything was easy, and feelings didn't matter.

It was all a game at the time.

A game that lasted for far too long and broke more people in the end, that it should have.

But they had been too afraid to lose even the slight piece of each other that they could have.

Even if it killed them, they held on.

But was the past and all that remained from those times were just good memories worth a few laughs between breaks and casual meet-ups with Brian.

How had things got to this point?

His phone ringed once, he looked at it and had half the thought to just decline it, he had to keep focused on other things, there was time for this later when he got home.

The phone ringed twice and he knew he couldn't do this to her, he couldn't just ignore her like that.

"Good morning, or should I say good evening?", he heard her laugh and instantly felt better, he loved her laugh. Just like he loved to be the reason for her happiness.

"Why did you take so long to pick up the phone?”, she asked slightly concerned, but decided to tease him and added, “Were you distracted?"

"Are you for real? You know I value my head way too much to be distracted", it was true, he would never get distracted because he had no need to.

"Well, who told you to be in a relationship? It was your choice Javi, so suck it up".

"Oh, please as if I had a choice, you practically forced me into it"

"I did not!", she shot back indignantly, "I might just have given you a few clues...some very obvious clues of what your next step should be".

"And I rest my case", she never failed to put a smile on his face, and her voice seemed to sooth some of his nerves.

"Seriously, is everything okay over there?", she asked almost like she could feel it all the way from Helsinki.

"Yes, I'm used to this remember? Famous skater over here?"

"Yeah yeah sometimes I forget", she joked but not without adding, "You’re scared out of your wits because of that boy right?"

"Well...I do have a reputation to maintain you know?" and he would really like to keep some of it after today, "It would be ridiculous if he throws all that hard work into a half-assed performance you know?”

"He won't”, she assured him “if he's half as smart as you told me”.

"I still have to find him and possibly kill him, so I have to go for now”, he hated to cut this short, he missed her terribly, but he had responsibilities and this time he couldn’t be selfish.

"Okay, please don't be too harsh on him", she said, her tone lowering, "I miss you over here".

"I'm going home soon so I'll see you in no time you'll see", he couldn’t wait, it had been an exhausting week and far too long since he had laid eyes on her that wasn’t through a computer screen.

"Okay, be safe, I love you".

"I love you too".

Her calls always put a smile on his face and he mentally calculated how long he had to stay in this frozen city if he immediately left, after sending the kid home and catching his own plane back to his city.

On the side of the rink, he immediately spotted Brian, forever giving instructions and jumping up and down whenever his students managed to land their quads on the ice, even though it was practice time at the moment.

Besides him, Tracy patted his arm to call him down once the skater on their line of sight decided to try to jump three quads in combination out of nowhere.

As expected it ended with a fall and a mess of limbs everywhere. It looked painful, but if it was, the Japanese skater didn't show, deciding to just laugh and look pitiful as always.

And beautiful as ever while doing it all.

There were some things Javier was certain that would fade with time, but not the beauty of Yuzuru Hanyu.

Even after all these years.

"Brian! Tracy!" he called. His old coaches had not an aged a day it seemed, he was the one that had.

"Hey, Javi!", both greeted back.

"How's the kid holding up?" Tracy questioned him, knowing that maybe the coach was more nervous than the actual trainee but asking nonetheless.

"Terrified out of his mind", honestly the kid had been scared shitless once he realized who he had to go up against, “he thinks I can somehow help him win against Yuzuru as if he hadn't kicked my own ass enough time in the past".

"Oh please, you two were always equals", Tracy told him, smoothing his forever curly hair and checking his suit and tie like the mother she had always been to him from day one.

"We both know that's a lie, but I appreciate it", from the very first moment back when Yuzuru had joined him at the TCC, their coaches had never treated them differently, no matter their results or backgrounds. They had the same spot on the ice and later, on their hearts, it was inevitable for them to become some sort of dysfunctional family after everything. And he firmly believed that was what had made a difference, that was what made the club a different place from the rest of them all. The TCC had become home for them, and that's part of what had made champions out of them both. 

"I'm going to check on him, to see if he broke something this time", Tracy said, still worried that her not-so-young-anymore student could actually have thrown his world title to the wind with his usual reckless behavior.

"He's screwing around like old times, isn't he?", it was painfully obvious, but he wanted to avoid other topics than the competition at hand, and for that, he needed to make the conversation flow in a different direction.

"I’m not sure he ever stopped, but now he likes to be a sad clown before competitions too", Brian patted his own head, like he had forgotten his hair was actually almost all gone by now, the gray still showing on the sides, "he no longer keeps it to practice sessions only, he decided to make my life miserable in every event too".

"Same old same old", he wasn't even surprised.

"It's a shame you don't watch him skate very often, you could be amazed at his level of creativity when it comes to new ways of eating ice on his falls without breaking his teeth", Javier laughed, he missed watching him compete live for sure but he had other people to be concerned about, someone much younger and in need of his attention at this exact moment.

"I would like to actually see him skate without the whole pressure of the mythic rivalry, but most of the time I just catch him on television", he said looking at his old rival across the rink, “It’s easier you know".

Brian hummed in understanding, "Would you consider exchanging students? Or just babysitting him on the ice before competitions?" he could see the laughter in his old coach's eyes, but his expression was serious as ever, "I swear he got worse with the years and without you in there, it's like he's constantly recruiting new idiots to join him on his circus acts".

He could imagine it, Yuzuru Hanyu was a star, shining so bright that people couldn't help themselves but be drawn to him. He had witnessed his power first hand over himself and over so many poor souls along the years that he felt bad for whoever he chose to be his partner in mischief this time.

Didn't he once, somehow convince a pair of ice dancers to do some axels? He could have sworn he had.

"Sorry coach but I'm happy with what I have", his answer was immediate, he had to put up with Yuzuru's antics for far too long, now he deserved his rest, "Better luck next time!".

"I swear to God I'm making the administration change some things, there are more coaches at TCC besides me and I've had my share of this punishment already", he felt bad for Brian but at the same time, he knew that the old coach would never leave his now favorite trainee.

It didn't even make sense for Yuzuru Hanyu to train with someone else that wasn’t Brian Orser.

"Well, I have to check on my amazingly well-behaved student", Javier smirked at him, "Who's probably hiding somewhere on this giant ass arena, so wish me luck, and I'll see you later".

They bid they momentarily goodbyes and the young Spanish coach made a list of possible places his trainee could be hiding it.

After searching for a few rooms and coming empty-handed, he remembered the garden behind the sports complex and made his way quickly there. Time was running out.

 


 

“There you are!" he could see his student flinch at the sudden calling, but Javier was slightly relieved that the skater was surprisingly ready to jump into the ice, already dressed in his costume and skates with his guards on.

Maybe not all was lost.

He just to figure out a way to get him to the actual ice

"What's wrong buddy?", the boy looked more sad than scared now and maybe he could somehow help with that, the biggest skater in history once told people that Javier could cheer him up through rough times so, he guesses he can actually do some good on that department.

"What do you think?" he almost looked defeated, “I know that I have no chance of getting that gold now, and it makes me feel pathetic, like all of this is not worth it, even though I worked my ass off for it".

"Okay, first of all, we don't know what's going to happen, Yuzuru isn't unbeatable and you know it", he had managed to win over the younger skater a few times in the past, and the world knew that you could never guarantee your position in figure skating.

Today you can have a fabulous short program, but in two days you might have to skate with a sore neck or mild flu and fall all over the place. bad days happened, and, in this sport, that could cost you a medal.

"Okay fine it's true, but still...I can't stop myself from wondering if I just wasted so much effort to end up in second again".

So, this was the real issue. Not winning a medal. But winning the gold.

"Kid you need stop thinking like that, and most importantly remember your humility, because you don’t know if you're even going to end up in the podium", Javier was a bit put off at the young skater’s certain thoughts that a medal was already his, before even competing, "so stop worrying about the gold and worry about putting your best performance out there, think of all the work you've done until now and show the rest of the world exactly that".

"And if you win the gold, win it because you deserve it", he could still remember his ex-coach’s words clear as water, "not because you've beaten Yuzuru Hanyu but because you were good enough to get that medal".

It seemed to do the trick because the skater’s face seemed to relax slightly and now all that was left were the usual nerves. But unfortunately, those were something that only age and experience could be of help in the near future.

"Let's do this"

 


 

"Hey, we’re back”, Javier noticed Brian instructing Yuzuru to get off the ice, no doubt annoyed at something that the Japanese skater had done.

"Hello Nam!", Tracy greeted the boy beside the Spaniard, "are you ready sweetheart?"

"Yes ma’am, coach Javi gave me a really nice talk out there".

"Spanish guys have their way with words alright".

He could recognize that voice anywhere, Yuzuru Hanyu decided that it was time to make his presence known and while he watched him put on his guards, he prayed that Nam would keep his cool and not just run for the hills.

"Haven't seen you step on a rink for a competition in ages", taking his time walking up to them, he joined the four of them and as always, expected to be immediately integrated into the conversation.

"I've been in plenty of them, it’s not my fault Nam is never assigned to same competitions as you".

The shorter seemed to ponder his words, and he could see the gears working inside that devious head of his.

"Until now, that is”, his smirk didn’t go unnoticed by Javier, and it unnerved him to no end.

What happened to the ever friendly Yuzuru I used to know before competitions?

"Stop that", he warned him. Nam was already spoked enough as it is.

"Why?", he pouted and Javier reminded himself to calm down,"You are no fun".

"I'm just going to...make something useful out of the time I still have left on the ice", Javier’s student quickly made an exit, avoiding the possible shit show about to start between the older skaters. This was the worst time possible for drama. Why did he trust these people to teach him again?

"Yeah you go do that sweetheart", the Japanese current World Champion used his sweetest tone and smile, making Nam walk faster towards the ice and Javier’s skin crawl.

"Is it just me or did you get meaner to your competition?", he said to the coaches. He was starting to pity Brian, favorite student or not, he wondered how on earth he put up with him in practice.

"Meaner and dumber", Brian simple stated, like he was already used to it.

"Hey, you should defend me", the young coach almost swore he saw him stomp his boot on the ground.

"Yuzuru you know that by now I would sell you for like three mojitos and a piña colada if the competition asked, right?"

"You wound me", he grabbed his chest and feigned a non-existent major wound to his chest.

"I'm going to wound you even more if you don't wear your fucking gloves already, the warm-up time is almost over and you're the first one in line", this time the coach didn’t seem to want to play around and the desperation was becoming quite real.

"I told you those gloves don't fit".

"They would if you got the damn rings off!"

"I already told you that they are not coming off!"

“Hey, I’m sure we can work something out okay?” Tracy seemed as desperate as Brian but tried to keep it rational, and somehow fix the mess.

Brian just looked over at Javi with an exasperated sigh, silently asking for some help. Oh no. He knew that look.

I'm sorry to put you in this position but please help.

"Yuzuru what’s going on?", he tried to ask nicely and avoid getting some crappy retort.

"It’s the glove…the damn gloves won't fit because of my engagement ring and Brian wants me to take it off", he lowered his head and for once he seemed somewhat ashamed of his predicament.

Oh. The ring.

The ring that signaled game over and yet a new beginning for the Japanese skater.

Javi tried not to think much about that. It normally didn’t end well.

He had to focus on this competition, for his own sake and his student’s.

He reached for smaller’s hand and appreciated the ring, or in this case, rings.

Three rings of gold were on his ring finger, each one of them a different type of metal:  white gold, rose gold and common gold.

Like the three colors of the thing, Yuzuru Hanyu treasured the most in this world.

Medals. It made sense.

A single loop brought the three rings together like a single piece. It was beautiful. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship in an even more exquisite being.

It belonged in that hand, and Javi couldn't find himself to blame the Japanese for not wanting to take it off. But given the problem this could cause if he kept being stubborn with the matter, it seemed a bit ridiculous that he just didn’t want to take it off for a few minutes.

"Hum well, why don't you skate without the gloves?", along the years, he had witnessed Yuzuru skate without gloves perfectly fine, "like how you've done before?"

"It’s because of the new rules, and skating with a ring that big can be dangerous, imagine if it interferes with his components where he needs to grab the blades", Brian had obviously made a mental list of possible worst-case scenarios, since this was Yuzuru, nothing was impossible.

Yuzuru still looking at his rings, like they could be taken from him suddenly added, "And I could even damage it when I do the hydroblade at the end”.

That earned him a comforting pat from Tracy, but Brian wasn't so amused, apparently, the damage the ring could suffer, was the last thing on his mind.

“Don’t worry Yuzu, we’ll find a solution somehow, maybe we should ask someone if they can borrow us a pair of gloves? You’re lucky your hands are smaller than most and it doesn’t have to fit perfectly…”

Javier just wanted to get out of this weird conversation already (this was so not the time to have a jewelry crisis) so he mentioned for Nam to come over to the boards.

"Hey, do you have an extra pair of gloves?".

 


 

Watching the skaters perform from this side of the rink was something Javier would never get used to. It was like something was off and he was in the wrong place, he could feel the urge to go and get his skates and put them on. But he couldn't. His time and gone.

That ache would probably never go away, but Brian had told him that it would eventually get easier.

He was still young he said.

On the ice, Yuzuru made his usual bows to the audience, taking his time.

His grace and flare never wavering throughout the years. Wherever the Japanese skater went, a show was sure to follow, and the spectators knew it.

He was certain he shouldn’t be by the boards at the moment, but Brian would never kick him out, so took the opportunity to finally watch his rink mate as something other as a rival.

But he needed to go and check if Nam wasn't spiraling into one of his panic attacks again.

He would go in a moment.

There would be no harm in staying for a few seconds, right?

The music started and as expected a flawless performance alongside it.

He shouldn't even be surprised anymore.

But he was. Every single time.

The younger still managed to steal his breath with every movement even though his jumps were landed with a little bit less of ease, due to the obvious strain his body had already been a victim to, along the years.

 


 

Getting his head back into the game he turned his back to the rink as the cheers blew up around the arena. The Pooh's flying everywhere and sure enough, he had to dodge a few, trying to get to the backstage. So many years competing but his fan's dedication never strayed.

But then the screams stopped.

Only silence and gasps could be heard on the arena.

What on earth…?

He turned around to face the ice once more.

The sight was something that would haunt him for years.

In the middle of it, Yuzuru Hanyu had fallen onto his knees. Hard.

Boneless, like a puppet without strings.

From where he was standing he could see his face.

Yuzuru Hanyu wouldn't be rising from his place on the ground anytime soon.

But with a satisfied smile, he closed his eyes as if accepting his fate and collapsed into the unforgiving ice.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Only you can know how to cope in any situation. Feelings should not be kept inside our hearts or minds. Feeling were made to be shown. The consequences will dictate our future or even past? But the outcome will always be better than not knowing what would have happened. Feelings can be hard to comprehend but no one will understand them better than yourself. So, take your time. Make the best choices for yourself, and sometimes be selfish. And protect yourself above all else.

 

The past – Niigata Day 1 - Fantasy On Ice

 

This could be worse. Way worse

He had expected a miserable and lonely day in Niigata, he was sure he would end up skating around the massive rink avoiding three Japanese skaters till his next life. Knowing Yuzuru would come back to join the rest of the group in order to finish the tour, made him breathe out of relief.

Whatever it was that had made him step out of the shows it was seemingly no longer an issue.

In the end, their first rehearsal in Niigata went very smoothly, no confrontations or angry glares from Yuzuru or any of the other two Japanese skaters. The Olympic champion had come back from his temporary resting break and everyone had jumped him on the spot, each of them sported equal anxious faces and presented him worried inquiries.

If Yuzuru Hanyu took a break due to exhaustion, it sure was something to be worried about. It still seemed unbelievable that the skater even knew the notion of exhaustion.

But that's what most people thought. But Javier knew him.

He knew that he was human and like all of them he had his breaking point, no matter how high, and he would like to believe the story.

It would so much easier than to follow some more drastic or horrifying fantasies that would sometimes creep into his mind.

Could his asthma have gotten worse? Did he injure himself again and we didn't notice it?

God knew he hid all of these with a perfect smile plastered on his face and some good humor to just drag himself through the day and avoid any type of fussing over him.

Well that ship sailed.

Javier thought as he surveyed Yuzuru being practically mobbed by the whole cast of skaters, they were past the usual questions and now just seemed to linger around him in order to access the situation and be sure he wouldn't faint on the spot.

Fools. He would rather die than faint in front of someone, friends or not.

He wanted to laugh as he could hear some of the older skaters started giving him some actual pieces of advice to fight the inevitable stress.

As if he didn't know all of those from experience...no one in this room knows a fraction of the pressure this man has on top of his shoulders every single day.

We will never understand, and we shouldn't pretend to.

But he knew that deep down they all meant well, everyone loved Yuzuru dearly and they took this chance to somehow help the champion on a more mundane matter than skating.

Since most of us are still light years away from you...especially me.

As he saw Yuzuru trying to demonstrate that he was indeed fine by doing a simple Axel and falling on his butt, he corrected himself.

Okay, maybe not that far.

He could hear everyone's booming laughter when Alex suggested he would actually give him a foot massage after the show, the size of Yuzuru's eyes at the prospect indicated that maybe it wasn't a very good idea. The American skater looked disappointed but gave way to the next one in line.

One of the weirdest things at the moment was seeing Johnny clinging to the younger's skater side through it all, no one asked him why he was hanging onto him but to be honest most of them stopped questioning Johnny Weir's train of thoughts a long time ago.

Javier looked at Yuzuru’s expression and tried to check if the younger looked the tiniest bit uncomfortable with all the attention and the present koala on his side.

He knew he didn't like to be swallowed up by the crowds.

He liked to be in the center of them, but at the correct distance.

The exact distance from the center of the rink to the stands, that's where Yuzuru Hanyu belonged.

Within grasping distance, but forever unreachable.

Surprisingly he showed no signs of weariness or aversion to the current interrogation or physical contact, so he just let it be. Besides Shoma and Satoko were right behind him like some kind of bodyguards and that made him somewhat nervous.

Why on earth were they all acting like this?

It's none of your business.

Nobody was in the mood to practice the routines again since they were the same from the last cities and he might even be a little sure that it was very similar to the ones from last year.

But who cared really.

To pass the time, he just lazed around with Jason (his apparently best friend at the present time). He admitted he owed the guy, but once he kept his end of the deal, Javier hadn't expected him to just be around him every chance he could.

Which meant every single moment since they arrived at the new show location.

Even Miki had abandoned him once she heard the younger’s constant whines and excited fanboying over "how thick his crush's thighs were" for the fifth time that day.

This worked for the Spanish skater though, this meant he didn’t have to avoid someone because Jason was perfectly happy staring at Shoma from afar.

Does Shoma even notice him?

Perhaps he knows and doesn't care, Jason doesn't have that many gold medals...so I guess it makes sense?

For all he knew Shoma might even like to keep him around just for the fun of it. The short skater had a wicked sense of humor, that was for sure.

He couldn’t forget it.

Hey, don’t you think it’s time to grow a pair already?”

He must have laughed so much at his expense that day.

In the end, Yuzuru didn't seem to notice him and Javier pretended to do the same.

Who am I even fooling at this point?

He could hear the coach’s voices yelling for them to start getting ready and make their last preparations for each of their performances.  He got up from his place on the ice and apparently, that must have been too quick for his brain to adjust.

He stumbled a bit and held on to the boards, Javier could feel Jason's hand on his shoulder almost immediately, "Are you, okay man?"

"I'm fine, just had a rough night that's all".

He cursed the damned dreams that plagued his once quiet sleep. The whole confrontation the night before didn't help either. Yet he was beginning to get used to some sleepless nights, so he just took a deep breath and kept walking. He could deal with the dizziness.

This had been a good day so far.

He sure as well wouldn’t let it all go to waste.

 


 

"Hum, Johnny everything is okay?" Yuzuru asked him in his adorable English. How he adored this boy. Well, a man now.

"Yes Yuzu, why?" the younger skater seemed worried about him and this was not the time for that.

"Well you were holding all this time, so I think something wrong"

"Darling, the only person you need to worry about now is yourself", he answered him expecting to get his point across.

But this was Yuzuru and sometimes subtleties weren't the best way to go, "What do you mean?"

He knew the Japanese wasn't trying to dodge the question at hand, the adorable young man even tilted his head in his typical confused expression trademark.

"I'm talking about your resting time", he inched even closer to him, so that no sound could reach foreign ears, he gestured to other side of the rink where a Spanish skater sat on the ice looking bored as hell while listening to Jackson or whatever his name was, "you need to take it easy but at the same time you need to focus on your skating to keep the pain at bay, this is not the time to worry about others, you only have to take care of yourself".

Trying to be better understood, he took the young man's hand in his and with their hands clasped he guided them to Yuzuru's chest, "You need to make sure that the pain here", he lifted them now to his temple, "doesn't become everything there".

The Japanese now seemed to understand the full implication, "Wait how you know this?", he asked almost on the verge of panicking, "Shoma and Satoko told?"

Johnny almost laughed, how he wished the boy's heart to remain forever unbroken, he didn't deserve the pain that came alongside with a one-sided love.

"No Yuzu don't worry, nobody told me, I just guessed...since you used to be together all the time and now you're so distant from each other, at least for these last few months that I’ve seen you two”, Yuzuru seemed to relax at that, "and I was standing there after your little exchange by the boards, so it all made sense".

And I can recognize the signs of true heartbreak all too well.

"I just...I don't know what to do...how to act around him"

"Just act like you normally would...don't let this take away your friendship"

"But I need to get this anger...this sadness out", he could see how the younger struggled to explain his side, "I'm tired of crying, tired of being bother to others...I just want to let everything go somehow".

"I see, I think that what you need is some closure...you need to find something that can help you put an end to this story", Johnny pondered for a few seconds, "you know, our old friend was always what kept me from losing my mind by allowing me to express myself and just be me through all these years"

"What friend?"

Johnny laughed at this innocence "The ice, you silly bear".

 


 

Performances came and went, everything was perfect and with Yuzuru back with them it seemed that everyone had their energy back.

Javier paid special attention to the younger's performances just to make sure he wasn't really injured and as usual, hiding it behind the flare and spotlights.

He found nothing wrong. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Stop caring.

I can't.

Even if the other did...a long time ago.

He took this chance, given the fact that the two bodyguards were currently on their dressing rooms, to catch Yuzuru alone returning from screaming his usual goodbye at the of the show. Screw the avoiding plan.

I need to know.

"Hey!", he yelled out running after him making it impossible for the younger to somehow dodge him.

He saw the Japanese’s posture go rigid as if he was surprised that he had actually called him out.

"Hey, Javi", he said almost tentatively, afraid.

He was still Javi...

"I saw your performances, you were really good out there", he tried his best to sound friendly and somewhat casual, just to remind the younger one that he was still his rink mate no matter what and as such he hoped that he could still comment on his skating without sounding too desperate.

Even though that's all I'm ever going to be.

"You expect me to fall on my face?"

Well, that didn't work out very well.

"God no Yuzuru, I meant that I'm happy that you're better".

Once again Yuzuru showed some surprise at the Spaniard's actions, "Better? Was I bad before?"

This time it was Javier's turn to be confused, "Yuzuru you took two days off to rest...?"

Something flashed in the Japanese's eyes, something akin to realization and panic, the younger quickly composed himself, "Right right...I see, well thank you Javi...I must go now, people waiting for me"

Once again, the Spaniard's suspicions were confirmed.

He's hiding something. He's lying to my face yet again.

Yuzuru not waiting for a response turned around and quickly tried to make way to his changing room. He didn't expect for Javier to grab his wrist and pull him back.

"Yuzuru...despite everything, do you trust me?"

Yuzuru looked undecided on what to do first, take his hand back and run or just answer him so he could leave.

"You know I do".

At least he got that much.

"Then why do you keep lying to me?", he needed to know the truth, it was killing him and as the days went by he was going crazy with worry. He wasn't supposed to care.

What was the point?

"I not lie and I need to go", he was getting defensive and Javier could see this was a lost battle.

He let go of his hand and reached to cup the side of his face instead, another gesture so familiar to them, "I can understand that you needed a break from all of this and just took those days for yourself", he swallowed and urged himself to continue, “I can forgive the fact that you ignored me and basically implied that I'm not important enough to know how you were doing but...you would tell me if something was wrong with you, right?

He searched his eyes again, daring him to lie again.

"I trust Javi", and just like that the younger's eyes seemed to fill with tears, yet he blinked and pushed them back, how Javier hated that sight, "but not with this".

Not with this.

Why did he keep expecting a different outcome?

He knew where he stood with Yuzuru, but somehow, he always found himself hoping...hoping for something that would never be.

Yuzuru seemed to understand the Spanish skater's sudden change in his demeanor and when he felt Javier's hand slip from his face and fall back into his side he quickly tried to reach out.

"Javi I'm sorry please-"

"It's okay" he interrupted him, he didn't want to hear more forced explanations and vague apologies.

I really need to stop doing this to myself.

"You need to go, and I need to leave as well", he suddenly remembered he had promised someone some dinner, "Miki is waiting for me".

"Javi..."

"It's okay, everything’s okay don't worry", he made his way around him and turned back one last time to assure the younger, "I'll see you around tomorrow".

Before going back to his way towards the exit, he turned around once more, and he could see that Yuzuru had hidden his face and for a second, he could swear he could see something glistening on his porcelain skin.

Was he crying? Why?

Javier's heart urged him to just go to him and find out somehow, so he could make it all go away.

He doesn't care, so why should you?

This time he was the one to turn his back to him and leave, choosing to somehow protect himself this time.

 


 

"Yuzu?", staring at the exit door and tear marks all over his cheeks was how Shoma found Yuzuru after he had changed and packed all of his things, ready to go home. He looked over the older one and he was still on his skates and costume.

Oh shit.

How long had he been standing here?

"Yuzuru!"

That got him to literally jump on his place and face his shorter friend, surprised at his not so sudden appearance, "Sorry, I was...distracted..."

"What the hell happened? How long have you been standing here? And why are you crying?"

"Calm down, nothing happened-"

"Nothing happened my ass, I never saw you cry before all this shitshow went down, so I'm guessing Fernández has something to with it, just tell me so I can kill him", if Javier had done something to his best friend...

"We just talked really", he used his sleeves and tried his best to wipe his face and make himself presentable again, "I need to go home."

"Fine, if you don't want to tell me it's okay", he gestured to the costume he was still wearing, "now get out of that thing quickly, Satoko already left and I need to sleep, like...quickly".

"You don't need to wait for me, just go ahead-"

"Go fucking change before I do it myself", he made his best intimidating face, but it was late, and he just wanted to get some sleep before he went unconscious right there, "I'm taking you home so shut it and get inside that dressing room, so we can leave".

"Oh...you want to take me home Shoma? I didn't think you had it in you...", Yuzuru teased him as always, but Shoma was really in no mood for this.

How did he manage to go from a pathetic mess to making shameless innuendos?

"I'm going to give you 5 minutes and after that, I'll drag you by that thing you call hair and-"

"Fine fine, I'm going I'm going", he made his way through the room’s door, but suddenly his head peeked from inside, "Oh and Shoma?"

"Oh, for the love of...What?", he was very close to losing it.

"I love you", he simples said as if stating that the sky was blue.

Yuzuru gave him his best smile and disappeared into the changing room, oblivious to the way those words stabbed the younger's heart.

How he wished they would mean something more.

But this was enough.

Like it always had been.

 


 

 

Okay, Fernandez time to man up.

It was now or never.

The competition was over, they had gotten their medals and gone through the usual gala, he was exhausted, and he only wanted to crawl into his bed and sleep till next week. But he couldn’t. He had a goal. He was far more scared for this than for any other competition in his life.

And that was saying something.

He felt like a teenager all over again. He felt young. He felt in love.

It had been a long time since he saw himself in this position.

Just don’t fuck this up.

He breathed deeply for what seemed like the thousandth time and prepared his sort of speech in his head. He couldn’t risk some misunderstanding and end up having to explain everything again. He could only take so much today.

He knew the Japanese star had a private changing room, being back in your own country after winning the Olympics had its perks.  And the Japanese federation wasted no resources to show the skater their appreciation for his work and dedication.

Javier was jealous but Yuzuru deserved it.

Besides, the younger had refused to use the room by himself and almost dragged Satoko and Shoma with him inside, only relenting when Satoko told him there was no way she was going to change clothes with both of them.

That seemed to click something inside Yuzuru’s head and he blushed like an embarrassed kid and apologized profoundly, apparently forgetting that his friend was actually a girl.

It was endearing to some extent, but also idiotic.

The same idiotic kid I fell in love with, I guess.

As he rounded the corner he spotted the Japanese trio enter the assigned changing room.

Now he just needed to somehow ask them politely to leave and give them some privacy, Shoma would help for sure. He was always pushing him to just confess up and be done with it, even today.

Everything seemed so real suddenly, so he just backed up a bit making sure nobody saw him.

Okay just breathe and say what you were going to say.

He feels the same, everyone knows it, his best friend knows it, so just trust your gut.

Don’t switch to Spanish when the nerves hit you and keep calm.

And breath.

Okay, he was ready. As he was coming out of his hiding place, Evgenia ran past him so fast that he didn’t even have the time to be offended at her lack of manners.

Seriously, kids these days don’t even respect their elders.

Stopping by the so dreaded door she noticed his current state and asked him, “Nervous much?”

 


 

"Javier!"

"What...", he looked around him in a daze and only saw Miki on his side looking at him with a worried expression, she had clearly been trying to wake him up for some time. It was becoming a common task every night.

"You were tossing around and scared the crap out of me", she looked slightly disheveled and somewhat annoyed by being woken up randomly, "is it still the same one again?"

 "Yeah...sorry", he couldn't help but wonder how after everything she still didn’t think of him as a weakling, like some little kid unable to stop himself from having a stupid nightmare and relieving his worst memories.

At least tonight she had stopped him in the middle of the whole madness.

She put her arms around him and kissed his forehead, "It's okay”, how he desperately wanted to believe her, "we'll be okay".

 


 

Yuzuru brushed the feathers with his fingertips, forever careful so that none of them fell out of place. This was something very dear to him, so many good memories were created with this costume.

But not tomorrow.

Tomorrow would be different.

The swan outfit would be kept on his suitcase and a new one would take its place.

Tomorrow he would make a difference, making his feelings known no matter what the consequences might be.

He needed to let it all out, badly. He needed to put an end to this, things needed to go back to what they used to be, he couldn't afford distractions once the season started and this whole situation had already taken a big toll on him.

If this was the end then so be it.

He was doing it for him but also for himself.

He needed to skate to this song once more.

Would he get what I'm saying? Perhaps not.

What other choice do I have? I have nothing to lose.

Not anymore.

Yuzuru glanced over at the costume hanging on his closet out of its confinement and ready to be worn at a moment’s notice.

The pink decorations cheered his mood for a little bit, reminding him that this song didn't mean an end but the beginning of a new chapter for them.

Hopefully, a simpler and easier one, without the pain.

He looked at it one last time and prayed, the same thing spilling from his lips until oblivion took over.

Please let my message be heard.

Just let it all end.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

People say patience is a virtue. That might be true, but it doesn’t make the wait any less painful and the lingering hope any less bearable. Because even though we deny it, we will always wait for the ones we love putting our own heart at risk, neglecting our own suffering just for the slight sliver of hope. What if we might have a chance? Will we lose it due to our inability to wait? To persevere? We are optimistic creatures by nature, we like to believe in the best outcome possible, not what the price we’ll pay in the end.

 

The past – Niigata Day 2 - Fantasy On Ice

 

Miki was getting tired. So tired.

Things had been going well until Javier accepted the offer to perform on all the Fantasy on Ice shows, it had been so sudden she didn't even get to ask why he changed his mind so quickly.

She believed that it wasn’t even worth it for him to waste such precious time since the pay could barely cover his expenses in the country, and he could use some extra training time in Toronto.

Miki had told him that. More than once.

But the Spaniard had told her that it would be nice for them to spend time together, and she had believed him.

Maybe she had made some progress?

She had been so naïve. She felt ashamed of herself.

How she would like to believe it even after everything that had happened. Time was running out and she had lost. She could feel it, she had never considered it a game but in the end, that’s what all of this had been.

In truth, she had no one else to blame but herself, she had been the one who had made an open proposal with no endgame whatsoever, no rules, no strings attached. Just a chance for her to try to see where this would lead and for him to heal and have someone by his side that could keep the nightmares away at night.

But she had failed to do so, Javier wasn’t less attached to his last love and she had realized that they had no chance of ever moving forward. It didn't take long for them both to realize it.

They wanted different things in life: he wanted to have more children, she already had a daughter and didn’t want another child, he wanted to go back to Spain, she would never leave her country even when she retired, and these were only some of the obstacles they had encountered until now.

And even if they managed to find some middle ground between them, a loveless relationship and perhaps marriage would be a cruel fate for both of them. At least she had tried, they both had. One had tried her best to love and the other to forget.

They hadn’t discussed it yet, but it was clear that their arrangement wouldn’t last the summer. She would suggest to him to just end it after they went their separate ways after the shows and just say it was the distance’s fault. It would be believable and that’s what mattered.

Still, it didn’t make it easier for her, she realized that even though he couldn’t love her the way she wanted, she couldn’t stop caring for him. The Spanish skater had grown to be a precious person to her and that made her somehow resent everyone that dared to wrong the kindest soul she had ever met. Javier Fernández was a rare human being and he deserved to be cherished.

Miki had known Yuzuru Hanyu for a very long time: a legend in the making, the one that would make Japan known to the world in the Figure Skating category.

He would put Japan on the map.

Very much like she had when she had been the first Japanese woman to land a quadruple jump in competition. But things get old really fast and eventually forgotten. She might be considered a legend now, but the older skater can’t help but wonder sometimes if the younger generation even knew why. 

She wasn’t jealous per say, but the attention the younger had gotten for last few years made her somehow bitter.

Why couldn’t the female skaters get the same time on the spotlight?

Sometimes it made her wonder if all of it was even the worth it.

Men and women alike went through the same sacrifices and the same injuries, they just had different limits. And that automatically meant less importance.

How in the world could that be fair?

But all these thoughts were swept away when she had seen the actual boy speak to the press on a mere accident. Miki had believed that no normal teenager wouldn’t be affected by all the fame and attention, but Yuzuru had proven her wrong.

She had been mindless zapping through her television channels when she stumbled into a Japanese press conference held by their Federation in which Yuzuru would announce his future plans for the next season. Everyone had heard rumors, but she was actually curious if the gangly teen had the guts to go forward with his decision.

I gotta respect the kid if he decides to do it after all.

Miki had been surprised, Yuzuru Hanyu might have looked like a lost kid around adults, but he didn’t speak like one. Far from it.

He was kind, respectful, intelligent in every answer and everything else you didn’t expect from a boy thrown into the claws of fame like he had been.

He had a strong spirit and she could see that even though he had a tame demeanor, he wouldn't let anyone stand in his way. She remembered clearly how the conference room was filled with gasps when the young skater announced he would leave the country and try his luck with a Canadian coach in Toronto. The star would be leaving home, and in his eyes, she could see that fierce determination that promised great things in his future. Nobody would be able to stop him, that much was clear.

That made her respect the boy, his courage, his personality, and determination to stop at nothing for his own improvement, even if that meant leaving the comfort of his own country and people. But Miki had no doubt that he would thrive, and after some time she wished so badly he would. Through the years she had witnessed the teenager blossom from a headstrong young boy to a respectful young man, worth the admiration of his thousands of fans.

And that’s why it was so hard to hate him.

After what had happened she had tried so bad to find an excuse for his actions. She couldn’t find one.

How wrong had she been all these years? It didn’t make any sense and it hurt that a person she once admired and respected had turned out to be anything like the image she had built in her own mind.

Appearances could be deceiving and unfortunately, Javier had learned it the hard way.

She owed Yuzuru the chance to start a relationship with someone she had admired for years, in a totally different way from her countryman: the young boy was a star that shined brightly and meant hope for the next generation of skaters, Javier was fire that lit everything that his Spanish blood touched, and that meant hearts as well.

They had started their relationship under the worst situation possible, yet they agreed to try. She didn’t regret anything, but she never wished Javier to be hurt like that in the first place, he didn’t deserve it. Just like Yuzuru didn’t deserve to hold the Spaniard’s heart in his greedy hands.

As she looked over to her side, she tried to commit his face to her mind while he slept. The nightmares would begin soon. She had but a few moments before the sobs started and she had to step in. It hurt, but she knew what she had signed up for. He stirred in his sleep and it was time.

Miki sighed.

Perhaps in another lifetime, we would have stood a chance.

 


 

Stopping by the so dreaded door she noticed his current state and asked him, “Nervous much?”

"You have no idea”, he tried to look at least a little bit composed, and failed, “I feel like I’m going to mess it all up."

"You going to be fine Javi!", she looked almost annoyed hearing such nonsense coming from him like he was missing something obvious.

"I think I'm going to throw up...you think Yuzu would still accept me after that?"

"Well, Yuzu hasn't run after that Superman program, so I guess?"

"Hey!", he chastised her, but relenting "Okay fair enough..."

"Seriously, you have nothing to worry about", Evgenia almost bounced on her feet, an apparent idea coming to her mind, "would some reassurance help you a bit?”

“Reassurance?”

What on earth am I agreeing to?

“You will see, I will get you some peace of mind”, with a wink she knocked on the door and immediately a smiling Satoko opened it, getting herself an armful of a Russian skater like they hadn’t seen each other in years when in reality he was pretty sure it had been like 10 minutes. He stepped back again keeping himself out of view.

He had no choice but to wait this out.

What had she meant with some reassurance?

 


 

“You ready, ducky?”, Shoma asked the older, already predicting the excitement of the crowd over Yuzuru’s Notte Stellata performance, or how he liked to call it: the duck performance.

“You need to stop that...but yeah I am”, surprisingly Yuzuru didn't throw a tirade at him about the obvious differences between ducks and swans, ending in an almost Geographic Channel documentary that Shoma liked to ignore every single time.

“Good”, his friend looked tense though, so he added another jab trying to some reaction out of him, “On a serious note…I honestly don’t know how you can stand going around looking like a freaking duck”.

That made the older skater turn to him, looking a bit murderous and the younger congratulated himself in his mind, “I do not look like a duck”, he looked Shoma over “you, on the other hand, look like a tiny version of whatever is going on with that costume”.

“Oh, but you do, your song’s name is the swan is it not?” he answered back.

“Exactly, the swan! Not the freaking duck…you know what? I give up", he looked more defeated than offended by this point.

Shoma looked over to the taller, his jacket still on.

Weird, he’s next. Why isn’t he ready to go?

“Fine fine...but don’t you think it’s time to take off the jacket? You’re next.”

“Yeah, you’re right", he said, and it was obvious he was out of it at the moment.

What's troubling you?

The younger skater’s eyes doubled in size, the swan costume was gone, in its place, Yuzuru wore a turquoise and white costume with black pants, a golden belt on his waist.

What on earth?

“What the…did you change the duck costume?”, he decided to just ask the obvious, but at the moment he had no idea why the older would change the performance like that.

“It’s not a…I didn’t just change the costume, I changed the program”.

“Out of the blue? What are you doing Yuzuru?”

“I don’t feel like skating to the swan”, he simply answered with a shrug, “so I changed the program”.

“I know you have a thirst for the dramatics”, Shoma dreaded what he could possibly be thinking to actually get to the point of changing his program, Yuzuru was a perfectionist, he didn’t just wing things like that, “please...don’t do anything stupid”.

“You know me, without feeling…skating is nothing”, that much he knew and almost every song the older skater performed to, had a different meaning hidden or could even show his current state of mind even thought to the audience that didn't matter, as long as they got a well-executed performance at the end of the day, “and right now this music represents everything that I need to say, especially to myself.”

“What do you mean? , Yuzuru seemed certain of what he was about to do and he didn’t appear to have finally lost his last marbles, but he couldn’t help but worry, "Are you sure about this?”

“It will be okay”, he answered, but once he saw his friend’s worried frown he tried to somewhat reassure his junior, “Shoma he can’t understand Japanese for God’s sake.”

“Yeah, but his girlfriend can.”

“She doesn’t suspect anything, only you, Satoko and mom know…so there’s nothing to worry about”, he seemed unworried and completely at ease, and somehow that made Shoma’s nerves tingle. Yuzuru was never calm before skating.

Trying to distract his short companion, the taller patted his head in an affectionate gesture, “You my friend, worry too much”.

Swatting his hand away he asked, “After everything how can I not?”

“Shoma, for the thousandth time, it wasn’t your fault”, Shoma could hear him say this over and over again but the truth would always remain the same “everything will be okay you will see.”

These were his last words before his name was called and he advanced towards the ice.

What are you doing Yuzuru?

 


 

Gasps were heard all over the stadium.

He could see everyone running to the curtains, trying to see what happened.

Wasn’t Yuzuru supposed to be skating his swan program now?

He joined the others and peeked between the cloth. Yuzuru would be not skating to Notte Stellata tonight, in its place the music for Hana ni Nare started to play

 


 

The first notes began to play, and he could feel the thrill in his bones that usually sat in before a performance. This time he wouldn’t be skating for scores, but the stakes were as high. He needed to let everything out once and for all.

Anata wa ima waraetemasu ka

Are you smiling right now?

He looked over to the other end of the rink, almost the whole cast of skaters had scurried to the chairs that the staff placed next to band, after his performance and the final bows, a group photo was the final tradition. They were all here to watch him. Even Javier had taken a seat, on his side, Miki sat as well. Everyone had a confused expression but that was soon replaced by a curious one. Most of them had never witnessed him perform this song and they all wondered what could come out of this surprise performance.

They all came to see me.

You came to see me…will you always smile like that every time you watch me skate? Can you promise me that?

Donna iki wo shitemasu ka

How are you breathing?

I often wonder how it would be like to smile again, to just breath without hurting. To be able to express everything out in the open and fight for what I want.
Could we really throw caution and responsibilities into the wind like that?

Hitogomi ni tsuyogari nagara

While acting strong in front of crowds of people

But I can’t, for this is my fate and this is what I fought for. I will never be able to go back and be a normal person again, but fame has a price I will have to pay.

I wish we could have met under different circumstances, where everything could be easier…like breathing.

But even that has become hard.

 


 

Javier was more confused than ever. What on earth was Yuzuru planning by changing the program like that?

Everyone was expectant, and as they all flocked together to the chairs next to the stage, he found himself walking there as well. Miki had locked eyes with him and with a nod she joined him as well. She too was curious what the ruckus was all about.

Makenai you ni to

I wonder if you are walking

Aruite irun darou

Because you say that “I won’t lose”

He knew this program. Heck, he knew all of Yuzuru’s programs.

Yet Hana ni Nare had always been different almost like a piece of art like Notte, and he couldn’t hide his disappointment after his rink mate had stopped performing it at exhibitions.

The emotion put behind every movement was always moving, but today it was just heartbreaking, he couldn’t understand anything but a few loose words and couldn’t grasp the meaning of the lyrics but whatever it was, Yuzuru was a doing a splendid job at portraying the sadness behind it all.

 


 

Ashimoto no sono hana de sae

As long as I have that flower under my feet

Ikiru koto wo

I won’t be lost

Mayoi wa shinai

in continuing to live

Tired of being left out, he asked Miki to translate some of it to him. As he expected, the song was as sad as it could be.

Nonetheless, he kept watching the sorrowful dance before him…not even the occasional dazzling spin could light up the routine and Javier wondered what had changed.

What happened to you Yuzuru?

 


 

Akiramenaide

Don’t give up

Donna ashita mo kurushii hodo

The more painful that tomorrow is

Sono inochi wa tsuyoku kagayaku

The stronger that a life shines

That’s right…he wouldn’t give up, not to the unforgiving sadness that threatened to swallow him whole day after day. This was no way of living.

Kami-sama please help me to overcome tomorrow, let me be free.

He skated closer to the end of the rink where his friends were watching his performance and looked into Javier’s eyes, somehow trying to make him see.

Trying to make him understand.

Kaze ni tatsu ichirin

That single blooming flower stands in the wind

Bokutachi mo hana ni nareru

We can become flowers too

Can we go back to what we were?

It would never be enough for me, but I will do it for us both.

 


 

Anata wa ima kizuite imasu ka

Have you noticed now?

Ooki na chikara wa sono te ni aru koto

That a great deal of strength is within those hands

For the first time since the beginning of the performance, he managed to lock eyes with the Japanese, but he somehow wished he hadn’t.

Your eyes are so sad. Tell me why you are hurting, and I’ll make it all go away.

Except that…he couldn’t.

Once again he couldn't help but recall the reason why the same memory that would haunt his dreams without fail.

He got closer to the room’s door and raised his hand to knock since he couldn't ask for the three other skaters to leave now, he might as well whisk Yuzuru away to somewhere private.

Ok, this is it.

Knuckles midway to the wooden door, he stopped.

Did I just hear my name? Wait are they talking about me?

He could notice that the Japanese skaters had changed to English and included Evgenia in their conversation.

The language change didn't alter the volume of their booming voices, over the years he sometimes noticed that Yuzuru kind of raised his voice in certain moments as if completely unaware of his surroundings, a very different trait from the soft-spoken Shoma who more than once threatened the older one with physical pain to keep him from laughing like a hyena every time the Japan team was put together in some event.

“So... how’s Javi?”, that was unmistakably Evgenia.

What was she doing?

That made him perk his ears and he somehow justified his eavesdropping with the fact that they were indeed talking about him.

I have the right to know, right? Was this what she meant with getting some reassurance?

“How should we know?”, answered Shoma.

“Not you Shooms, but Yuzu here must know for sure”

“What? Why?”, Yuzuru sounded surprised at her assumption, that was weird..everyone knew they trained together he shouldn’t be so on guard after such a normal question.

“Because you two are attached to the hip?”, he could hear her giggling, no doubt excited at the prospect of some new information.

“We are not attached to…anything”, Javier could imagine Yuzuru blushing to the root of his hair.

His adorable idiot, a legend on the ice that blushed as easily as a young maiden. Because only he knew how easy it was to turn the younger skater into a mumbling blushing mess and he enjoyed every minute of it.

“Oh, c’mon Yuzu”, Zhenya whined, the Spaniard could almost see her stomping her feet on the ground like she always did when Yuzuru annoyed her with his vague answers, he suspected he did it on purpose sometimes just to spite her.

“What?”, Yuzuru sounded defensive, something he never was around the Russian skater.

What is going on?

“For God's sake...you know…everyone knows you two are going to end up together sooner or later”, Javier almost laughed out loud, Evgenia had balls to just throw it like that to her Japanese friend.

Maybe I should just knock and put him out of his misery?

"Me and Javi have nothing between us".

Well not yet at least Yuzu...not yet…

"Yes, but I’m sure one of these days Javi will come out and confess to you", her squeals were so loud he was sure the other skaters could hear her, that girl was no doubt a sucker for romance, “oh my god it will be so romantic, I mean he’s Spanish so he’ll probably bring you roses and...”

"That’s Javi problem", was the Japanese’s curt reply.

What?"

"I said that is Javi problem, not mine".

Wait, what?

"Yuzu, what do you mean it’s his problem?"

"Like I say before, he is nothing to me, so if he has feelings for me he needs to deal with that, I have nothing to do with it”, his tone was cold, detached.

"Yuzuru you kind of flirted with him since I met you two, so having nothing to do with it it’s kind of a lie", Evgenia insisted.

"Me and Javi are rink mates and have fun in ice, we are nothing outside and never will be”.

Maybe he’s having problems expressing himself in English...he didn't mean it like that right?

“Fine, you can keep lying…I understand if you don’t want to talk about it".

" I’m not lying and there’s nothing to talk", he once again deadpanned.

“Okay okay, I should go...There’s someone waiting for-“

"Actually, do a favor for me?"

"Yuzu let's just end this here", her tone was pleading, and Javier understood that she was trying to end the conversation, so he could talk to him as soon as possible, this conversation didn’t turn out as she expected, "I don't think it's a good ide-"

Just please tell everyone else that still likes to spread rumor about me and Javi the truth", he calmly asked, "I know about how you like to pair us together".

"Yuzuru please-“

“But that is not true so they need to stop. It can damage my career and my image.”

The sound of a skate hitting the ground.

Then another.

He could almost imagine him sitting on the other side of the door calmly untying his boots.

“And you know I care a lot about that.”

Have I been wrong about you all this time Yuzu? Do you care about your perfect image that much that you would even lie to one of your best friends?

" I don’t understand…” Evgenia sounded as confused as Javier by now.

“You don’t understand because you don’t listen, I don’t like Javi and I never did, you all made that up in your head.”

So, if I asked you to be mine, we would have to hide even from our closest friends? Would that be our lives from now on?

“But Yuzu-“

“Zhenya, there's nothing else to talk”, his tone was cold, unforgiving “it’s time to stop gossip before it’s too late”.

Is gossip about us that bad?

“Besides if you want to pair me with someone, at least choose someone that can really be at my level and worthy of my time, I have no interest in old men that have nothing to offer me".

Oh.

"I mean...he couldn't even win GPF on his own country, can you imagine the shame? And the only reason he still wins Europeans is because Russia has no good skaters lately, you know that Zhenya"

The sound of a bone-chilling laugh.

Javier shook his head, this was not the time to remember. If anything, it was the time to forget.

 


 

Makenaide

Don’t lose faith

Kizutsuite iin da

It’s okay to be damaged

Machigatte iin da

It’s okay to be mistaken

Nando mo tachiagareba ii

You just have to stand up time and time again

Miki listened to the lyrics as the gaze between the Japanese skater and the young man on her side locked somehow. The Japanese movements to the flow of the song left no doubt on its meaning. What on earth was Yuzuru trying to accomplish with this?

Was once not enough for him? Why try to give him hope after everything?

 


 

 

Butsukatte iin da

It’s okay to be conflicted

Naitatte iin da

It’s okay to cry

Kanarazu kotae wa aru kara

There is surely an answer somewhere to be found

He couldn’t hold his tears anymore, he discreetly wiped them as he prepared for his next choreographed loop, but they just fell unashamed. He had accomplished his goal.

Javier had listened to him, even though he would never understand a word of what had been said. He looked over to him one last time and as Miki whispered something into his ear and he smiled, Yuzuru felt like everything fell into place and shattered at the same time.

This is my life from now on so I will just do my best and move forward.

For me.

For you.

For us.

Kaze ni tatsu ichirin

That single blooming flower stands in the wind

Bokutachi mo hana ni nareru

We can become flowers too

Yuzuru breathed heavily as he kneeled on the ice, barely listening to the thunderous applause around him, people were on their feet.

A standing ovation. How ironic. Would you still clap if you knew why I am skating to this song?

Nothing would be okay after that performance, but that’s something that no one could have seen coming.

 


 

The performance was over, and so was the spell that linked them both. After today they would part ways until it was time to return to their training city.

How would things go back to normal he had no idea.

How am I going to face you every day from now on?

He watched as Yuzuru dropped to his knees and struggled to breathe after such performance, he looked around him and saw Shoma and Satoko observing their friends prostrated posture, he was instantly relieved that they would be able to step in, in case it got out of hand.

Help him while I’m unable to do so.

Next to him, Miki mentioned for him to start walking towards the backstage from where all of them had come out. Her face pensive and somehow more severe than usual, it reminded him that it was also time for them to talk. Their time was up, and he had a feeling they both knew it. There was no need to delay it.

She must be stressed out about it for sure, that’s why she seems so upset.

He still felt forever indebted to her after everything she had done for him.

He would never forget it.

 


 

“Javier!”, Miki’s worried face suddenly appeared on the Spanish skater's line of sight, “Javier, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing”, was all he could manage to get out, his voice sounded weird even to his own ears.

"Nothing my ass", she crouched next to him and scanned Javier’s figure trying to check if there was something wrong with him, " You are so cold”, she said after checking his temperature with her hand on his forehead, “Are you sure you are not feeling weak or something?”

“I just need to go”, he tried to move but only found himself stumbling along the wall.

“You’re going to collapse somewhere and-“, she only had a few seconds to react before he almost fell on her, “Javier!”

“Hey, talk to me”, she put her around him and helped him back to his previous sitting position, “please”.

He could feel her hand helping him to sit against a wall when she noticed his fist still tightly closed around something, small red lines cascading from his closed hand-

“Javier open your hand please”, she carefully pried his fist open and took what he had been holding for the past few minutes.

It was not salvageable in any way, so she just threw it away, not caring who found it later. She examined his hand and sure enough, she found the expected damage.

"What happened Javier?"

"I..can't right now", even his English was failing him by now.

She looked behind her, she knew this dressing room. It was assigned to the golden star of the Japanese team. 

Had Javier tried to...?

She couldn't really figure out the details at the moment but they needed to leave and avoid a scene, people were coming out of the locker rooms at any moment.

“I think I get it but we need to get the hell out of here or you going to have to explain to people why you are seated on the floor looking like a mess.”

“I don’t care.”

“You might not care right now”, she kneeled in front of him and grabbed his face in her palms, “but tomorrow when the press has pictures of the world champion crying on the floor like a baby, you can bet you’re going to care”.

“Why do you?”, was his simple question.

“It doesn’t matter”, she got up from the floor and extended her hand to him, waiting for him to take it and stand alongside her, “Let’s go home and you can tell me everything”.

Javier tried his best to wipe his tears and took the helping hand, he stood and nodded.

“Let’s go home”.

As they were almost out of the corridors, she looked behind them as two girls left the room where she had found the Spaniard sitting in front of.

They didn’t seem to notice as their guarded skates stomped over the delicate gift and spread it along the floor. She paid it no further mind as they left the arena.

A single battered rose was left on the hard ground, lonely as the soul who left it there.

 


 

Everything had gone as predicted, he skated well, no falls and even his chest felt lighter not mattering the fact his breath was still somewhat labored. Skating did truly free one’s spirits. How he wished he could express his feelings in a language everyone could understand, but alas, he could only do so much.

He couldn’t wait and find Shoma and tell him how right he was. Everything would be okay as he predicted. The Japanese was finishing taking off his boots when he heard a knock on the door.

Maybe Shoma or Satoko?

On the other side of the door stood a Japanese skater indeed.

“Hello Yuzuru, I think we need to talk”.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Cherish the happy times, for you don’t know how long they’ll last. You’ll never know when they’ll come again. Never take them for granted. Hold on to them. And in the darkest times they will give you hope. They will comfort you. And somehow that may be enough to keep you afloat in the midst of terror and anguish.

 

Somewhere In Time

 

He looked around his apartment, everything looked in order, no dirty dishes, no surface left to clean and the laundry had been taken care of, his mother would have been proud.

I can survive on my own after all, who would have thought?

This meant that all he had left to deal with today, was currently lazing around on his lounge sofa.

"Take dirty paws off my couch", Yuzuru's tone left no doubts on its seriousness, still the Spaniard seemed to decide to fight for his imaginary rights.

"Seriously?", he asked almost looking offended.

I should be the one asking that. But fine, I’ll play.

"Take dirty paws off my couch, please?"

"I already changed from my street shoes to your house shoes, are these dirty too?", Yuzuru almost wanted to slap him when he made the stupid air-quotes after the street shoes and house shoes part.

Spanish people must live like savages. I'm pretty sure of it.

"My house, my rules", he knew Javier couldn't contradict him now, still he tossed him a way out, "if you unhappy you can leave", the words sounded harsh to his own ears and he silently prayed that his boyfriend had caught on with the joking before he got up and left for real.

I’m going to be disappointed if he actually thinks I’m serious though. He knows me better than that.

"Why would I ever want to leave?", was Javier's only honest answer, and Yuzuru would be lying if he didn't feel the usual cliché butterflies on his stomach, that was unexpected.

This cheesy idiot is going to be the death of me.

Still, he had some dignity left to save, Yuzuru Hanyu didn’t blush so easily with some stupid comment, so he got up from the couch and went around it in order to somehow reach the kitchen without exposing his very red face from the sprawled Spaniard on his living room.

He almost thought he had managed to succeed when Javier added, "I mean, you have an amazing cable TV deal, why do you even have so many sports channels if you don't watch any of them? Well I guess it's a win for me", his smirk was infuriating, he knew what he was doing to him.

"You jackass", a humiliated Yuzuru was a dangerous one, so he grabbed the nearest dangerous object he could find and threw a pillow at his still laughing boyfriend's face with all his strength.

The older one caught it easily and the Japanese skater wished he was stronger, so he could have at least knocked him off the couch and make him fall on his dumb face.

A slim figure is an advantage my ass.

"Hey at least I don't try to kick my poor boyfriend out of my house", that much was true, Javier was always more than welcoming, making it really difficult for him to leave when he ended up with a whining 5.7 ft tall Spanish skater hanging onto him like a koala begging him to stay for a bit longer.

Do you promise to hang onto me like that forever?

"That's because my boyfriend rarely invites me over, even when I tell him that I miss Effie", it had been a while since he had stepped foot in Javier's own apartment, deciding to just stay in his since it was closer to the rink, and the Spaniard as always could never say no to Yuzuru's reasoning.

Even if sometimes it didn't even make sense at all.

He recalled how once he had made his boyfriend spend the night at his place because he wanted to sleep in his own pajamas and had forgotten to pack some. They had been on a date at the coffee shop next to Javier's flat. He didn’t even notice the ridiculousness of it all till his boyfriend had to leave in the morning at the crack of down in order to manage to get back to his apartment get dressed with fresh clothes and go back to the TCC in time for their training session.

That’s how whipped Javier Fernández was.

"So that's the real reason you want to come over, huh?", he pouted and batted his eyelashes, Yuzuru wondered if he still thought he looked cute with this kind of antics, "just to see my cat?"

"Maybe? She doesn't complain much compared to you."

"Great, then you should ask her to open the door for you next time you show up in the middle of the night in need of cuddles", Javier answered picking the same pillow that had been thrown at his face and launched it at his partner's head. He expected him to dodge it, considering where he was standing, so far from him. He expected him to whine and complain about how throwing it back was a childish move.

He didn't expect him to fall to the ground with a pained yell.

"Ow!", was what he heard before a loud thud, unmistakably the sound Yuzuru’s body hitting the ground, it was enough to make him jump over the couch in panic.

"Yuzuru!", looking down he could see that the Japanese was now crouching on the floor while holding his face in his palms, "Yuzu are you okay?"

All he got in reply were some soft sobs, and Javier's mind started to race through all the options.

Did I really hurt him? But I didn't throw it that hard? Maybe I did? Oh, God.

"Yuzu let me see your face please", his voice started to waver with worry, seeing Yuzuru in pain wasn't an easy feat for him to endure, no matter how many times he had witnessed it over the years, "what hurts? Cariño please answer me."

His own hands were frantic and with some struggle, he managed to pry the younger’s hands from his face to try to access the damage, when the Japanese relented and parted his palms, the Spaniard didn't find actual tears of pain...but tears of laughter.

"Payback".

"You little shit, you scared the hell out of me", he wanted to murder him by now, he could still hear his own racing heartbeat at the prospect of a hurt Yuzuru, at his own hand nonetheless.

Yuzuru thanked his dramatic skills for a very convincing performance, even though seeing Javier in such distress made him feel all warm inside it made him feel guilty as well.

What did I ever do to deserve you?

"You made fun of me, so now even", he stated as all of this was a simple matter that he had somehow settled. He mentioned to push himself off the ground to avoid the glare Javier was now directing at him when the Spaniard lounged forward and trapped him on the floor between his arms and beneath his body.

This wasn't how I pictured this to end like.

"Oh no, scaring me like that it's not going to make this even, not even close", Javier used his most serious voice, like he was scolding him about a very grave matter but in his eyes, he could find that mischievous glint that he searched for.

Okay, this turned out so much better than how I had pictured it.

"What should I do then?", he teased and threw his arms around his boyfriend's neck, feigning his best innocent tone, his back was starting to hurt from the cold hard floor, but he had no issue with staying like this all night. So, he refrained from commenting on it known Javier would instantly get him off the floor and thus breaking the moment.

"Don't know...what should you do?", with each word, Javier closed the distance between them when suddenly a soft meow was heard right next to Yuzuru's head. Effie was looking between the two skaters with her head tilted to the side as if trying to decipher what on earth was going on with her two favorite people. One laying on the ground and her master on top of him.

I swear that Effie has been hanging out with Yuzuru for so long that she learned his trademark gesture. How can they be so alike?

"Is Effie judging us right now?", the Japanese asked, looking at the curious cat beside him, disappointed to have been interrupted in such a promising predicament.

"I believe judging people is Effie's default state of mind" shooing the cat away from them, he turned his attention away from his pet and cradled his partner's face in his hands with the usual tenderness that always made the younger weak for this man. He could almost feel his breath and against Yuzuru's very inviting plush lips he whispered, “now, where were we?"

"Remind me?”

Chapter Text

 

Nothing is as it seems. Trust no one. Not even yourself. For even you can lie to your heart.

 

The past – Niigata Day 2 - Fantasy On Ice

 

“Saya?”

“Missed me, little brother?”

She only had to wait a few seconds before Yuzuru jumped into her open arms, holding onto her so tightly she could feel her breath getting knocked out of her.

It had been too long.

“I always miss you”, the younger said, his voice muffled into his sister's hair, her familiar perfume almost brought tears to his eyes, she smelled like home, like the family he had to leave behind in order to be here, “I miss you all the time”.

“Oh please, don’t you start crying on me", she pulled him back and cupped his face in order to see his face clearly, trying to wipe the tears that managed to somehow escape, all the while trying to stop hers from falling, "mama will be able to tell when I get home”.

He narrowed his eyes at her, he wasn't surprised in the least that this surprise visit had been orchestrated by no one else but his mother.

I love her…but she needs to stop getting other people to babysit me.

“She sent you, didn’t she?”, he still questioned.

As they both sat down, Saya smirked at him as if she didn't regret being caught at all, “You really thought she would just sit at home?” she laughed at her own question, “but I would have come regardless, you’re finally skating at home so I couldn’t just pass it up."

“I’ve been in Japan for weeks now, though", Yuzuru shot back without any malice, he knew how almost next to impossible it was for her to leave everything behind and come to him.

If anything, it was easier for him to find some time to visit her, and since he arrived he had yet to do it.

She didn't seem hurt by the remark but still felt the necessity to reassure her brother that there was no one in the world that would ever be his biggest fan, no one would love him more or cherish his success in every single one of his endeavors.

She so desperately wished to be by his side, it was especially hard to see those gruesome falls through the images shown on television and to know that she was powerless to help her little brother.

Sometimes I wonder how my mother stands it.

Saya kept herself sane after long nights of worrying and calling her mother to check on his condition, by the fact that despite all of the hardships and brutal physical and mental demands this sport entailed...her brother was happy.

This is the life he chose for himself.

People always wondered if she was jealous of the younger's success even after all these years when figure skating was something that belonged to a different time of her life.

It was so long ago that it started to sound more of a dream than actual reality, so many things had happened since then.

So many things changed, our life changed...We are no longer children with high hopes and unattainable dreams.

We made our choices.

And I don't regret them for a second.

Jealousy though was something that had never crossed her mind, and every day she was glad she had made the decision to quit the sport in order for her brother to carry on. Her brother's success had been the cause of unending happiness for all of the Hanyu family, so she couldn't ask for anything else.

She realized she had made the correct choice by simply watching the utter chaos Yuzuru's life had become. All that pressure and expectations would never have worked out well for Saya. This wasn't a life she would want for herself.

And ultimately, I don't wish it for you either, but in the end, this turned out to be everything for you...so what right do I have to stop you?

When her family called her and asked her if she wanted to go watch her brother, instead of their mother, she didn't think twice and took some needed days off immediately, work be damned.

She needed to see her little brother, and this was a golden opportunity.

“You know I’ll always cheer for you the, most right?”, he could see the foggy look in her eyes, no doubt caused by the tears she was holding back, and he cursed that this was the only way their lives would ever work out until his future retirement.

One that seemed yet so far away, these were the moments that made him question if everything was indeed worth it.

“I know”, he smiled sadly at her, both understanding the hidden feelings, they may not see each other for long periods of time, but their bond would never waver, “I know”.

Determined to make the most out of their time together and change the sudden heavy atmosphere in the room, she quickly reminded him of the purpose of her visit, “Well since I’m here, let’s talk about the good stuff”, when she had entered the room she had noticed how his face was completely red all over, from exhaustion probably, but now almost all his face seemed to go back to normal except for his left cheek, “Yuzuru did you hit your face somewhere?”

“What?”

“Your cheek it looks so red, I thought it was from all the strain but it’s actually getting redder by the second”

“It’s nothing”, he scooted away and tried to hide it somehow, being obviously unsuccessful.

“Yuzuru what exactly was that whole performance of Hana ni Nare?”

Her brother’s eyes were immediately on the floor between them.

So, it really wasn't just another performance.

“Don’t even try to lie to me, I know you and that wasn’t your usual dramatic self."

“It was nothing really, I just needed to let some stuff out”, he fidgeted with his hands and Saya could immediately confirm that there was more to this than he was letting on.

The red mark on his face was now very distinguishable, it looked clearly like a hand, a small hand like a woman’s.

“I see, well I got a lot of time, so you can start telling me all about it.”

 


 

“Hello”, Yuzuru didn’t know how to actually act around his senior, like he had told his rink-mate, he knew who she was but never had the opportunity to meet her, so he opted to just bow respectfully and pretend he didn’t feel as awkward as ever.

Miki seemed to understand this and saved Yuzuru from having to start the conversation both seemed wary of, “Let’s leave the pleasantries aside”, she pointed towards the interior of the changing room, “and save us some time with this whole thing”.

He quickly stepped aside and let her in, could she know about something? She knew what the song meant, but surely, she couldn't exactly connect everything together...could she? Still, he didn't act upon his feelings in any way that could undermine their relationship.

“I'm sorry but I really don’t understand...”, it was the truth, he was lost as to why Miki would come to him. Shoma had warned him about the danger of Javier’s girlfriend understanding the possible meaning of his performance, but so could every other Japanese in the stadium.

“Please Yuzu, don’t play dumb with me, there’s no need”

“I’m not, that would be disrespectful so please tell me what it is you wish to speak with me?”

“I want to talk about the fact that after all this time you still keep torturing Javier”

What on earth…?

“Miki, I didn’t- “

“Yes, you did Yuzuru, I saw you perform…we all did but I know what you meant and that’s either cruel or pathetic after all of this”

Pathetic? Does she know about my feelings for Javier?

“So... you know how I feel about…him?

“Yes”.

“But how…?”

Had he been that obvious?

“Simple, Javier told me”.

No…this couldn’t be happening. He tried to hide it so well and for so long that he forgot that Javier could already have figured it all out, and apparently, he had told his girlfriend about it.  

Had Javier been so disgusted by him that he told Miki how bothered he was all the time by his presence, his clinginess…she probably told him the meaning of the song and he figured that Yuzuru was once again throwing his feeling in front of his face.

Everything made sense now…the way Javier acted towards him, the sudden coldness. He had had enough of him.

“I’m sorry Miki but I didn’t mean to hurt either of you, please believe me”, he pleaded, “I never wanted to impose my feelings at all”.

“It’s too late for that Yuzuru, I always knew you were different from all of us, but I never thought you were this cruel”, she looked truly disappointed at the prospect of losing whatever it was left of her respect for him and that made him wonder how badly he had screwed up and if he would ever be able to win it back.

“I won’t ever do such a thing again, I swear…I’ll keep my distance”, he had nothing to give her as proof of his commitment, so he prayed his word would be enough.

“I don’t think I can believe you, how can I after the way you just tried to mess with Javier’s mind all over again like that?”

He was many things…but never a liar, the truth was something he cherished above all else, and in all his years of life, he had never come short out of an oath.

“What do you want me to do? I already told you that I didn’t mean any harm to your relationship consciously, and everyone knows that I’m anything but a liar.”

Yuzuru was slowly losing his patience with this whole conversation, he might be at fault, but he had apologized and promised the only thing he could offer: distance, even if it killed him inside.

“Are you really not a liar Yuzuru? After all this time leading people to believe in one thing and then completely disregarding it?”

He felt his blood boil. He might have led Javier into thinking he was only a friend to him and then showing his romantic feeling now, but Javier had never been shy on physical contact or any other actions that only fueled his love for him.

“Tell me, Miki, are you really angry because I have feelings for Javier or because your boyfriend’s eyes were more focused on me than on you?”

He didn’t see it coming. He only felt the sting it left when his left ear stopped ringing and he realized what just happened.

He deserved it. He had really crossed a line.

“I hope you realize that after all the gold is gone, you have nothing left around you and it’s all your fault”.

He didn’t have time to answer, as he was left alone to think about the encounter alone in the locker room, the slam of the door echoing and making it all suddenly set in.

 


 

“I’m going to find that girl and-“

“Please just let it go Saya”, Yuzuru stopped her from fully devising a very threatening plan that she would no doubt execute somehow, “She was right, I overstepped the boundaries and I deserved it”.

“Yuzu listen to me”, Saya grabbed her brother’s hand in hers, “you did nothing wrong, you didn’t seduce the blind idiot and you certainly didn’t do anything on purpose to cause their relationship any harm”.

“Yes, but I still-”

“It’s not your fault if the guy’s eyes strayed from his girlfriend, from what you told me before, he wasn’t exactly discouraging”, despite his sister’s words, he still couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the feeling of guilt that threatened to take over his whole mind.

“You know what? This place is actually a skating rink all year, round right?”, her question seemed so sudden that he almost feared he had misunderstood her.

He numbly nodded, “Yes they have skating classes for kids and all…but why?"

“It’s late, but surely they would make an exception for Yuzuru Hanyu and his sister right?”

 


 

Javier was almost done packing his things but somehow wished he could just lay down on the locker room bench and fall asleep right there.

The show was over, but he still had so much to do before he could actually go home, go to his family, go to Spain.

Tomorrow he had agreed to meet Miki and settle whatever was left of their agreement and part ways amicably, they had no bad blood between them, if something, they would leave with some good memories and a different kind of affection for the other, that until this day they hadn't discovered.

They were both sure they would remain friends for the years to come.

They both had tried their best with full knowledge of what was at stake, but it simply didn't work, so why resent the other for any of it?

It doesn't mean that I'm anticipating any of it though.

I just want to go home and pretend all of this didn't happen, actually, I just want to forget everything since Worlds to be precise.

He just wanted to go back and somehow stop himself from ever having the magnificent idea to find the Japanese skater that day.

He would have never talked to Zhenya.

She would have never asked Yuzuru about him.

He wouldn't know the truth of what his rink-mate thought of him all this time.

Would that be a good thing though? To be ignorant to all that?

He guessed not if anything he appreciated the truth above all else. Things couldn't just go back to what they were.

Would Yuzuru expect him to just join him in his stupid games? To extend him his hand every time he fell and acted all cute so that Javier would come over and lift him?

No, there would be no longer easy gestures or conniving smiles, enough was enough.

And Javier was done being the star's personal fool.

He took his bags and left the room, his body aching and expectant of a much-awaited hot bath. As he closed the door though, he spotted a familiar mop of hair coming towards him from across the hall, closing his own door behind him.

Why is he still here?

He didn't know what to do so he just waited for the younger to reach him, noticing how he had changed to his training gear but still kept his skates.

How odd.

Unexpectedly, the Japanese smiled at him, he certainly seemed more cheerful than the miserable figure he had watched skate to the saddest song he had ever heard.

"Javi still here?"

"Yes, I'm leaving now"

"I see...", the younger replied and he noticed how he kept patting his cheek, he seemed nervous? Before the conversation could get even more uncomfortable he decided to just make the usual pleasant comments.

"That was a good performance today, you really surprised everyone"

He could have sworn his eyes lit up at the compliment.

Stop imagining shit and keep it together.

"You liked?", his excitement grew by the second and his hand slipped from the side of his face as he clasped both of his palms in front of his chest.

"Of cour-", he stopped his line of thought when he spotted the obvious remark on his cheek.

Was he hiding this all this time?

"Yuzuru what the hell happened? Did someone do this to you?"

If someone had touched him...

"Oh, I run into door", he laughed and even though he sounded nervous and ready to bolt, he was putting up his best act, "all fine tomorrow".

He's lying through his teeth.

Again.

Unless doors leave hand-shaped prints.

"Right", before all of this he would have pressed for answers, but now? He was not sure he could allow himself to care and come out the other side unscathed, "well, be careful I guess".

"I will!" he suddenly seemed to remember something and started to run back to his original destination, but not before shouting to him, "I must go now, but see you in few weeks?"

"Of course", he shouted back.

Yuzuru was heading towards the rink again.

Why?

 


 

Shoma had managed to end his stream of endless interviews for the day.

He really should have sent them over to Yuzuru's changing room, but to his luck, his sister had come to the show today, so he figured he shouldn't cut the much-needed family time short.

He owes me now.

I'm just going to swing by his apartment later and make him feed me.

He was about to leave the stadium and give the huge bag of fan gifts to the staff waiting for him when he spotted Javier's back retreating into the rink.

Yuzuru was still inside right? Miki had just left with Satoko and the other girls to their hotel.

Was he going to mess with Yuzuru yet again?

Over my dead body.

 


 

The Spaniard had managed to convince himself that he didn’t care for about 15 minutes.

That was the time that his taxi took to pick him up to his hotel and it was certainly enough time to realize that there was no way he could sleep tonight without knowing what happened to Yuzuru.

Why do you keep doing this to yourself?

Ignoring the voice of reason one more time, he apologized to the driver and sent him on his way. Heading towards the rink again he figured that as a concerned friend he still could afford to feel concerned right?

Right?

 


 

The Japanese skater spotted the older skater right away, leaning against the stands that towered around the rink, soft laughter could be heard from where they both stood.

On the ice, Yuzuru skated gleefully hand in hand with a small girl that had no doubt some experience in figure skating, letting himself be spin around by the taller male, her confidence was obvious to anyone and the trust on her partner seemed absolute.

He looked to his side and observed the Spaniard’s face morph into something akin to confusion or maybe jealousy?

Javier didn’t even need to look at the shorter to know who was beside him, “He looks happy doesn’t he?”

Shoma almost told him about Saya, when he realized that the other didn’t know her identity.

You don’t deserve to know.

“Yes, she knows how to make him smile”.

He noticed how he flinched at the comment.

Why do you even pretend to be bothered?

“I’m glad.”

Are you?

“He deserves someone who can make him happy.”

“He does”, he watched as Javier picked up his bags and turned towards the exit but not before adding, “I guess it’s time to go home.”

Shoma hummed his agreement as he saw the Spanish skater turn to him once again, “Will you ever tell me what I did to you?”

The Japanese skater was so confused that he thought he had heard it wrong.

What?

“I have no idea what you’re talking about”

Javier seemed to accept the answer as if it made all the sense in the world, “I’ll see you around Shoma, take care…especially him”.

He finally left the stadium and Shoma was more confused than ever.

What did just happen?

 


 

Skating with his sister had always been something he has treasured from his early years. She had been the one to teach him the basic skating skills he possessed and therefore owed her everything that he knew now.

Skating with his sister reminded him of how fun skating could be without the pressure of the jumps, the spins, the components….and the whole audience.

Skating with his sister reminded him of why he skated in the first place.

 


 

Of all the ways Shoma thought he would spend the night, waiting on the outside of Yuzuru's door after the exhausting show was not one of them. Yet he had texted his friend and had been promised a full meal in exchange for his sacrifice earlier that day.

He raised his fist to knock on the hotel door once again when he was met by a half-naked Yuzuru still with a towel around his waist and water dripping everywhere, all the while he held an oversized towel over his head trying to somehow get the excess of water out of his hair.

He couldn't see his face and, on that moment, Shoma couldn't be more grateful, as his eyes fell on the damned defined waist he instantly averted his gaze, looking at anything but the Japanese in front of him.

This is more to my own good than to yours.

"Is this how you open the fucking door? What if next time it's someone from the press, you lunatic?" he chastised the older reckless antics, shutting the door behind him.

"Shoma.”

"What?"

"There's this thing on the door, that lets you see who's on the outside", Yuzuru calmly pointed to the peephole on the wooden surface.

"Well...still", he had been caught, how much more embarrassing could this get?

Once again, he was glad for the towel covering half the elder’s head so he couldn’t suffer the humiliation of being caught blushing almost the color of a bright tomato.

Okay, this is not good.

"Just get dressed so I don't have to feel disgusted while talking to you", he urged him, "please".

The older rolled his eyes in annoyance at the remark, and went back to the bathroom, leaving his self-invited guest to laze around his suite.

This room is ridiculous, and he spent what? Two days here?

He was shaking his head at the monstrous bed that could be seen from the living room when he heard the other skater shout from what it seemed the other end of the hotel.

Jesus Christ how big exactly is this place?

"I asked you if you wanted to tell me anything, you said something about it on the phone", Yuzuru repeated waiting for an answer from his junior.

"No, I just wanted to have dinner with you and say goodbye before leaving tomorrow morning", he shouted back.

Suddenly a still wet bundle of hair peeked from the bathroom door and with it a pair of inquisitive eyes.

He looks surprised that I would check on him?

"You're leaving first thing in the morning?", Yuzuru asked.

"Yeah.”

"Why so soon?"

"Well, we need to get back to training Yuzu", he explained as if the elder didn’t know already, "this whole circus is over now, we need to get back to real life.”

"If only all of this hadn't been real", the other said wistfully, "I would really give anything for it not to be", the way he spoke was so uncharacteristically of Yuzuru, and Shoma supposed that it was only for the best if everyone left to their normal routines.

There was no longer time to play games, their full concentration should go back to their original goals.

"But yes, I think you're right", Yuzuru answered him coming into his line of sight, time completely clothed, he could finally see his full face and he immediately lost his serious face upon what he saw.

"What the hell happened to your face? You ran into a wall again didn't you? Oh my god was it a door this time?", he couldn't stop laughing as he imagined his dumb friend trying to run through some glass wall or forgetting the existence of some door and heading face-first into it.

Wait, it's his cheek, and that looks like a fucking handprint.

Are those fingers?

He noticed how quiet the other Japanese skater had become, he didn't try to defend himself, as usual, he just decided to take it.

Is he actually trying to brush this off?

"Yuzuru?", his head rose at that and Shoma understood that there was definitely something more to this, "What on earth happened?"

“I guess there’s no use going around it, give me one second and I’ll tell you on the way to the restaurant.”

Shoma’s mind was instantly conjuring possible scenarios.

Who could have possibly done this to him?

Doesn’t matter, I will inflict worse on them for sure.

He resigned himself to wait for his friend back on the living room and decided to focus on something else other than the mystery at hand, clutching a table to stop himself from shaking on his feet, the Japanese clumsily toppled over a fold of documents and cursed his sudden lack of control over his limbs, but to be honest he wasn’t sure he felt most of them.

Shoma quickly went down on his knees, ignoring the sting that it caused him all the way through his spine, and picked up the stack of papers all over the floor.

Involuntarily his eyes couldn’t avert the words written in front of him, Shoma’s mind couldn’t process all of the things he saw in the papers that he held in hands.

When did this happen? And why?

“Shoma?”

The younger skater turned around, the documents shaking along with him.

For how long had he hid this from him? For everyone?

“Yuzuru”, was all he said, no question was asked but the older one understood it nonetheless. Shoma was waiting for an answer and he owed his teammate that much.

“Explain”, the Japanese threw the documents in front of Yuzuru, both watching as the thin papers flew into an ominous pile into the coffee table between them.

 

ANA

Contract Termination

 

We regret to inform you that (…)

 

 

Lotte

Contract Termination

 

To Mr. Yuzuru Hanyu (…)

 

 

Ghana

Promotional Activities Suspension

 

We are sorry to communicate that (…)

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Never underestimate true desperation, it can show you who you really are.

 

The past – After Niigata

 

7h55

 

Díos, I’m so sick of airports.

After the never-ending tour of Fantasy, all Javier wanted was to just crash on his bed back at home in Madrid and just stay there until it was time to go back to Toronto.

He wondered if his mother would agree to his plan.

He was a simple man with simple wishes.

The tickets had already been purchased, and since his Spanish manager had actually come with him to watch the last show he had somehow convinced Javier to ask the airport staff to give him access to the VIP waiting room.

He had never thought about asking for such a thing, but after seeing the number of fans waiting outside the airport entrance, he considered his friend’s request. Getting to his flight through the usual route would be a nightmare.

Jorge came back looking quite disappointed and irked with whatever had happened after his conversation with the staff, the Spanish skater could only guess it hadn’t gone so well.

“They said that the room is already occupied and has already been reserved for some celebrity later”, he said, making a sour face at the celebrity part, like it didn’t make sense that some Japanese idol could have priority over a veteran athlete like Javier Fernandez.

“And you didn’t ask them if they were willing to share?”, he asked teasingly. The look on Jorge’s face was enough of an answer.

“It’s not a big deal, I already told you that I don’t mind.”

Much.

“If something happens to you on the way to the freaking waiting room I’m going to sue them, watch me.”

Javier laughed as he got out of the car and followed along one of his oldest friends from Spain, glad to be able to be in the presence of someone as familiar as his own real family with him. It grounded him in a very inexplicable way.

He was grateful, so very grateful when Jorge Serradilla had come to him many years ago, and proposed an easy partnership, easing his responsibilities back in Spain and the opportunity to deliver them to someone he could trust. In the end, he had found a good manager, but above all else, he could count on him as a friend.

And that was something that no amount of money could ever buy.

Even if some people had more managers working for them than actual pairs of toe socks.

Surprisingly none of the girls at the entrance seemed to notice him as he walked around them carefully, a few of them smiled at Javier and waved, recognizing the skater, but most of them were concentrated on their phones. He couldn’t understand their chatter but thanked the gods above that he had managed to get through with the minimum fuss.

Well, this wasn’t so bad.

“I’ll take care of the rest, just sit down and I’ll be back in a few minutes”.

Javier only remembers getting to the closest plastic chair and dropping his body onto it, resting his head against the cool wall behind him and then everything went black.

 


 

8h00

 

Shoma was glad for the quiet atmosphere on the waiting room, he hadn’t told the staff to forbid access to other people, but he had been lucky, and no other celebrity had requested to use the room, he once had shared it with some American idol and he only wished for the sweet release of death 35 five times that day. He couldn’t understand the constant need to chatter of the American people.

He tried his best not to fall asleep, he was all alone, so he couldn’t trust someone to wake him up when they called for his flight.

Looking at his clock the skater sighed.

Only one hour and fifteen minutes left.

It had been hours, but he still couldn’t get over his friend’s story and how much respect he had earned from him after everything he had learned. He had always been proud of Yuzuru, but never actually thought that he would stand up to their higher-ups and basically tell them to shove it.

With Yuzuru, everything had always been about skating, everything else was secondary. The fact that the elder had changed everything around him, was something that still seemed unbelievable.

He closed his eyes and recalled their conversation from the day before.

“Shoma it’s not what you think it is.”

“Oh, these are not papers saying that all your sponsors somehow fired you?”, Shoma almost wanted to laugh, this whole situation was ridiculous.

“Yes but-“

“Yuzuru, how the hell did this happen?”

“It’s not like that, this was all from before Worlds”, the taller said and pointed to the dates on the top of each of the letters.

Shoma bent down and took one of them, it was indeed dated back before the competition.

“So, you’ve been going on without them since then?”

“No…I mean…”, Yuzuru seemed lost as to how to begin to explain it all and he took some pity on him. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what exactly had gone down for it to get to this point.

“Start from the beginning”, he helped sitting down on the sofa across the table between them, gesturing to the elder to do the same.

“Okay, so…before worlds things might have gotten a little bit out of hand.”

“That’s like saying the Titanic suffered a mild hit to its hull but go on”, leave it to Yuzuru to try and tone down something he clearly had fucked up.

“Basically, the federation warned me about these rumors that the media had helped spread about me and Javi.”

That was kind of expected by now. Even I warned you once about a thing called discretion. He opted to leave it for now though.

“Ok…?”

“I denied them of course”, he said and added, “it was the truth, there was never any relationship between us.”

“It’s still kind of weird for the federation to go after some rumors”, had they really stepped so low?

“I mean, they are used to our media’s antics by now”, God knew the media like to pair them with almost anyone.

“That’s what I thought at first”, Yuzuru answered softly, “I didn’t really pay any mind to it until I got those letters.”

Okay, now it made sense.

“The sponsors were hiding behind the federation’s back and pressing this matter, weren’t they?”

“Yes, the higher ranks started to get…worried.”

“But this is insane!” Shoma couldn’t contain his anger at the stupidity of it all, “How can they just do something like this out of the blue?”

“Shoma, these companies are run by old men that still think gay people are going to hell”, he patiently explained, like he was used to these things happening every day, “I’m not honestly surprised by any of this”

“Okay, so they sent you this scary as hell letters”, the younger pointed at the stack of paper between them, “what are you going to do about it? They can’t really dismiss you just because of some rumors, you can get a lawyer and sue them for-“

“Shoma, I already handled it.” The calm tone on Yuzuru’s voice was unnerving and Shoma figured that this couldn’t mean a good outcome.

“What do you mean?”

“I was truly scared when I received those,” Yuzuru pointed at the documents, “so I told the Federation, and of course they already expected something like this to happen.”

“They helped you then?” Shoma was truly surprised, he didn’t expect the Japanese Federation to ever step in such matters and risk their own image, one that they had taken years to build.

How much of it was real or fake, he still didn’t know.

For every favor or grace was never without a catch. He hated it, but in this world, they had no other choice. You simply didn’t leave one of the greatest skating federations in the world and hoped to come out unscathed on the other side.

“In a way yes,” the older pressed his lips thin, he was no doubt revisiting an unpleasant memory, “they gave me an easy way out.”

The older skater breathed deeply as he recalled whatever price the higher-ups had decided to throw at him.

Once again, he had been forced to make a choice between his life and his passion.

His happiness or his undoing.

Shoma felt so powerless.

When will this end? Do we really need to give up our lives for this sport? Our blood and sweat is no longer enough?

“They somehow negotiated with the board of directors of each company and they all came to an agreement.”

Shoma swallowed, his throat dry, he couldn’t fathom what they could have possibly demanded from the older, “What did they want from you Yuzuru?”

“They would take me back if-“, words seemed hard to get through his lips as if repeating it made it sound real and somehow still looming over his head, a still invisible but very present threat, “if I held a press conference and denied everything publicly.”

Well, that seemed easy enough.

“The rumors? But that would be fine right?”

“They…they wanted me to deny the rumors and announce to the whole world that I would indeed never have a relationship with a man”, he explained and with his eyes urged his friend to understand what that would mean, “ever”.

Yuzuru didn’t elaborate further, but the younger understood perfectly what he meant.

They wanted him to deny his sexuality, in order for them to have the guarantee that no scandal would ever come to pass.

They knew Yuzuru would never back out on his word, for everything that he was, he was an honorable man, and the sponsors would trust that much.

“That’s…Yuzuru what did you do?”

“Shoma if I agreed, that would mean I would have to spend the rest of my days lying to everyone, always hiding, I would never be free to live my life” he looked at his trembling hands, as if he was still afraid of the possible outcome, Shoma couldn’t blame him, “I couldn’t do it.”

Shoma started breathing again.

“Everyone said it would be for the best you know”, his voice had taken a bitter tone now, and it made the younger mad at everything and everyone that had dared to put his best friend through such a pointless ordeal, “but how would they know? They are not me!”

The shorter skater almost jumped from his seat as Yuzuru threw the pile of documents into the air and papers flew around them. He had never witnessed an angry Yuzuru like this. It was as scary as heartbreaking.

“All of them didn’t think for one second that I could want more than this damned life.”

“I suppose they…didn’t take it well?”, Shoma tried.

“They were mostly surprised when I told them I wouldn’t do it”, he laughed wryly “like they somehow hoped I wouldn’t actually turn out to be gay or something.”

“They are a bunch of dinosaurs Yuzu, we can’t expect them to change out of the blue.”

“But that’s the thing…why can’t we? I refuse to be their perfect poster boy any longer.”

“Okay now you’re scaring me, what did you do?”

"I told them I would leave Japan and skate for Canada.”

He was insane.

“Are you for real? You told them that you would leave the federation?”

“Yes, I had a lawyer from Canada do the research for me, it’s pretty simple given my current status and it would only make lose a year in International competitions.”

“That’s brilliant, how did they react?”

“After I told them that I also show them possible sponsors from all around the world that were more than willing to support me in this sport, they needed to understand that I don’t work for them, they work for me and I give them the results.”

To hear Yuzuru saying these things and standing up to those old bats like that, reminded him of why he had fallen for him in the first place.

He was indeed Yuzuru Hanyu.

Okay, not the time, stupid brain.

“So, they just let it go?”

“They asked some time to consider it, but after a while, they called me and said they had settled everything with the companies, the only thing they asked of me was discretion and not to make any public announcements. But this isn’t even about Javi…this is about my life and I’m just happy I won this battle even if I still need to face a bigger war.”

“Well, that’s still something, coming from them…”

“Yeah…that’s why I finally made up my mind during the Fantasy tour, I can’t believe I actually wanted to confess to Javi just like that.”

“That was after they told you their answer…so that means that back at Worlds when you said those things to Zhenya…”

“I was scared shitless, I was so angry at everything, at myself at the world that I even messed up my program and ended up losing to Javi…I thought that the tiniest mistake was going to end everything that I had worked so hard for, I was even considering to accept their first offer…so I lashed out at poor Zhenya, I’ll explain everything to her when I meet her again”.

"She deserves to know the truth, what are your plans now?"

"Well, I have a week off and then I need to go back to the TCC ."

"One week? The season only starts in September,  just get some rest ."

"Oh they need me for the summer camp", Yuzuru explained with an almost suspicious grin. Shoma had received the invitation from the Canadian club a few months ago and quickly dismissed it. 

Apparently, they had come with some different type of skating camp and now they decided to invite skaters of all categories to both teach and learn. The idea sounded nice enough but the thought of having to socialize not only with kids but other colleagues was a bit too much. 

Yuzuru would love the adoration of everyone who decided to attend, children and skaters alike but it would mean that he had to give some kind of lessons too,  and that didn't seem very likely to happen in the near future. 

Patience was not Yuzuru's best feature. 

"Yuzuru you have never cared about those things,  why exactly are you volunteering this time? "

"Well, Brian said that he needed me and Javi to set up some sort of choreography for a collaboration between us , can't really blame him for wanting to show off his best students. "

"Brian wants you two to skate together?  And you agreed?  Yuzuru you never stepped a foot in a skating camp so drop the bullshit. "

"Fine. Brian also said that if I stuck around and made this effort for him,  then he would let me practice any jump that I want."

"Why would...wait are you serious?"

Like always,  he had somehow wrapped his coach around his little finger. 

"Yup, are you sure you don't want to come ?"

"I need rest and that means not dealing with people for at least a few months, also, are you sure this is worth it? To just get a chance at breaking your neck sooner than expected?"

"I'll have to learn to deal with it,  I can't avoid Javier forever. "

He was suddenly brought back from memory lane when he heard the door click and a person made her way to the chair next to him.

Such a coincidence.

“Evgenia?”

 


 

8h03

 

“Have you finished packing?”, she asked, even though she already knew the answer, there was no way Yuzuru wouldn’t have packed already the night before.

“Have you met me?” he answered back cheekily as ever. Saya wondered how on earth he could be all smiles and funny jokes so early in the morning.

Yuzuru Hanyu was a mystery even to his own sister sometimes.

“Well let’s get going then, if you leave your flight mom will have a migraine.”

“Let’s go.”

Saya looked over the room one last time, checking for anything that could have been left behind, finding nothing she closed the door behind her, watching her brother’s back making his way down the hallway, she let out a silent prayer:

Please let him leave all of the bad memories behind so he can somehow move forward.

 


 

8h12

 

“Good morning!”, the Russian skater greeted him and Shoma couldn’t help but feel envious of her natural smile even at this ungodly hour.

Reminds me of a certain idiot.

“Good morning”, he suddenly remembered that through all the tour they hadn’t exchanged many words and it suddenly made the encounter a bit awkward. He didn’t know how to proceed from here, so he just resigned himself to some small talk, and maybe he could find out what was going on.

Things with Zhenya never used to be awkward. What happened to us?

“When is your flight?”, he started.

“Oh, it leaves at nine for Moscow.”

“I see, mine is a bit after yours, at a quarter past nine”.

Great Shoma. Your small talk skills are something out of legends.

What da fuck do we talk about now?

“How have you been?”, she suddenly asked, “It feels like it’s been forever.”

That means she noticed, at least.

“Yes, it’s so weird, even though we were always in the same place.”

“Well it happens, sometimes you are so overwhelmed and surrounded by people that…I guess it’s normal”, the younger was obviously trying to excuse their unusual estrangement yet Shoma knew there was something more than she was letting on. So, he just went for the honest way.

“Did we do something that made you uncomfortable?”

I always told Yuzuru that our shit show would get us in troub-

“What? No…I just, couldn’t exactly pretend to be happy around Yuzuru and Javier at the same time you know?”, he really didn’t know but he restrained himself from asking more questions.

This is taking an unexpected turn.

“Yeah those two can be a lot to put up with”, she seemed confused at his words before he added, “Brian will probably lose the hair he has left at the TCC summer camp”.

“How so?”

“They have to somehow come up with a routine to show off to the guests and attendees”, Shoma really hoped both skaters managed to act at least normally around each other, for their sake and the poor kids attending the Canadian camp lessons as well as the other skaters, “and I hope the damn Spaniard doesn’t play around with Yuzu’s head yet again.”

“Hey, why are you suddenly hating on Javi?”

“What do you mean?”

Shit, had his dislike for the Spaniard really come out that strongly?

“Well you never spoke of him like that before”, she noted, “even if you never expressed great joy at the mention of his name, you always admired him to some degree.”

You’re right. I did.

“Well he hurt my best friend’s feelings”, he tried his best to stay away from the subject, but it was getting hard to avoid it forever, “Javier tricked him into thinking that he had feelings for him, hell…he tricked all of us”

“Wait are you talking about Yuzuru?”

Shoma nodded at her assumption.

At least I didn’t tell her directly.

“But Yuzuru doesn’t even care anyway, so why should you?”

Wait what?

“What do you mean?”

“Shoma you were there.” The Japanese skater still kept a confused expression, trying to somehow seem that he had forgotten about that whole event.

“Last Worlds? In the changing room? Even Satoko was there”, she looked at him as if he was missing something important, and Shoma knew he couldn’t pretend forever.

“Oh yes, I remember…”, he knew that Evgenia wouldn’t stop looking for an explanation of some kind.

His anger towards the Spaniard wouldn’t make any sense if his friend couldn’t care less about the elder’s feelings like he so vehemently proclaimed that day.

I guess Yuzuru won’t mind, plus he said he would explain it to her when he had the chance.

“So…”, Evgenia urged on.

“Zhenya I’m going to tell you something”, she instantly sobered up and got closer to the shorter, “but you need to promise me that you won’t tell anyone else, no Jason Brown and no other Japanese skater even.”

“Of course, you have my word”.

“Those things he said on that day…forget about them, he said them out of pure frustration, he was in a bad situation and one bad move could have ended his career in a matter of hours”, he wished he was being dramatic, but that had been the reality of the situation.

“I don’t understand…”

There we go.

“A few days before, Yuzuru received some notifications from his sponsors…and I mean his biggest, most important sponsors, and it was bad…like really bad”, he tried his best to show her how serious the whole issue had been.

“But what on earth happened?”, she seemed as confused as ever, so the Japanese skater carried on.

“Due to some… content shown by the media they just decided to just stop sponsoring him, afraid that their image would be stained by Yuzuru’s…preferences.” Shoma was sure she would get the point without the actual words.

“You mean stuff about him and Javier?” he nodded at her in response, “That’s insane!”

“I know, and apparently the federation reached out to him to offer him a solution, a quick one at that.”

“What? Leave Canada?”, she seemed so angry at the whole thing that he was afraid for the people who dared to wrong her or her loved ones. She had such a fire inside her, he hoped it would be extinguished.

“No, they are not that dumb, they know what the TCC has done for Yuzuru…that’s another grudge of theirs against him, they’re still but hurt that some Canadian coach has done so much more for him than any Japanese teacher back home ever did.”

“Then what?”

“They asked him to give a press conference and deny everything, both what’s going on at the moment and make some kind of promise that he would never date someone of the same gender in the future.”

“That’s horrible…and cruel!” she was yelling by now and he urged her to calm down, they couldn’t afford to make a scene about such a thing.

“Yes…I’m not saying what he did was right, talking about Javier like that wasn’t his best moment, since most stuff that he said doesn’t even make sense”, he trying his best to salvage the whole point of this story, “but please understand his side, he was stuck on an impossible situation, to be honest I don’t know how I would have dealt with something like that.”

“He managed to fix the situation, but at that point, his desperation to not let anything be known, in pure fear of more retaliation took over him”, she seemed to have calmed down and had sat down back again.

“In the middle of all of this, how come Javier is somehow the bad guy?”

Why does she seem oddly defensive of that guy?

“Well, as we all suspected Yuzuru does have feelings for him, so after all this mess was properly dealt with, and he was finally free to act upon his feelings…”

Evgenia’s face was getting whiter by the second yet Shoma kept going, he needed his friend to understand what really happened in order to avoid further miscommunications.

Yuzuru couldn’t afford any bad publicity at this point. One bad move and it could be game over. He might have taunted the possibility of leaving one federation for the other but deep down he knew that such a thing would kill him.

“I never regretted something as much as that whole day, we were pushing Yuzuru to make a move and spill his heart out to just get it over with”, Shoma shook his head, it was the truth, because of him his precious friend had gotten hurt just because they had had enough of his pining, “we were fools.”

“By then Javier and Miki were already together”, the Russian skater was no longer looking at Shoma, but at the floor like in some kind of daze.

“Yes, so basically that’s why I hate him, he made us think that he actually cared and yet he acted the exact opposite way!” he knew he sounded angrier than he probably should but the time for pretending was long gone, “Can you believe that at Worlds he told me he was going to confess to Yuzuru soon? What a joke, he must have laughed at all of us behind our backs”

“That’s because he was really going to.” She had spoken the words so softly that he almost didn’t catch it.

“What?”

“Shoma...I screwed things up so bad”, now that Shoma was really looking at her, he could see that Evgenia’s eyes seemed to be full of tears that threatened to spill over her porcelain cheeks, he was getting concerned as her breath started to become labored almost like a beginning of a panic attack.

What the hell?

“Calm down, tell me what’s wrong? What did you do?”

“He’s going to hate me, he won’t forgive”, between her sobs Shoma couldn’t make out much more than these sentences in some kind of loop, her own English becoming more and more nonsensical. Opting to just hold her and rub her back, in an almost awkward hug, trying to get her somehow to breathe and calm down he couldn’t fathom what could have possibly have happened to put the Russian girl on that state.

What did you do?

 


 

Javier paced the hallway for the thousandth time that day.

What was that idiot thinking? Was he trying to give everyone a heart attack?

Was he trying to give me a heart attack?

Brian said he was on his way to the apartment, so the Spaniard had decided to just wait for him, so he could check the younger skater with his own eyes.

He could hear the steps from the elevator and let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. He could finally see Yuzuru and make sure he was really okay.

The surprised expression on his face when he spotted Javi slouched against his door was something Javier swore he would treasure for the rest of his life.

Yuzuru’s typical smile made his eyes turn into perfect crescents and not even the bandage around his head could diminish his beauty in the elder’s eyes.

He had seen him skate on live television, yet the reality seemed to finally sink in, how desperately he wanted to just grab him and wrap him around with soft blankets and keep him near him at all times, so he would never be harmed again.

He opted to wait for the other to come closer to him before speaking his mind, as Yuzuru finally reached him, he greeted him with his usual enthusiasm, yet he could still notice the slight drowsy state he was in due to painkillers.

"Habiii”, his pronunciation had gotten even more adorable, if it was even possible, “You come to see me?”

"No, I just came to meet a friend of mine that lives down the hall”, he couldn’t help but laugh at the shorter one's offended expression.

“Why else would I be here you idiot?”, he couldn’t wait any longer and pulled him into his arms like always Yuzuru didn’t put up any resistance.

“Habi can only come here to see me, not other friend” if Yuzuru knew the impact that his words had in Javier’s heart he didn’t seem to notice.

He’s probably so high he doesn’t even know what he’s saying.

“You’re a spoiled brat”, he chastised as the Japanese snuggles even further into him and for a moment he half expected him to start purring, “speaking of which, where is your mother?”

“Out, bring more pain medicine”

He figured it would be for the best if he brought him inside, he asked for the keys and half dragged the other skater into the apartment.

They reached the bedroom and Javier managed somehow to lay him on the bed and took off his shoes.

“You should sleep now”, he was turning to make his way to the living room to wait till his mother came back, there would be other chances to talk and he could still get more real information from Yumi than from him given his state. Yuzuru would also never tell him how bad his injuries were anyway.

“No, Habi here so no sleep.”

“Yuzu you are almost unconscious, just close your eyes”, as soon as the words left his lips a hand had grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the bed, he didn’t even have time to resist.

At least he managed to not fall on top of the smaller and somehow avoiding to hurt him even more.

“Would you at least be careful? You already look like a mummy, try not to get worse.”

“Don’t be mean to me, I hurt”, Javier almost cooed at him but settled by finding a comfortable position on the small bed and laying on his side, facing the other.

Yuzuru instantly cuddled up to him, putting his head under his chin and Javier prayed that he couldn’t listen to his racing heartbeat. A sleepy Yuzuru was a cuddle monster and there was no way he was complaining about it.

Without much effort on his part, he threw his arms around him and let himself relax at the feeling of having Yuzuru in his arms.

He could pretend this was a normal routine.

Holding Yuzuru after a bad day.

Sleeping next to Yuzuru every day.

Waking up beside Yuzuru every morning.

He took advantage of the fact that the younger was still somewhat awake to tell him what he was supposed to in the first place.

“Do you realize how worried we were? Why did you skate in this condition?”

He felt him hum into his chest in some sort of a reply before he could make out actual words, “I need to win.”

“You moron, you could have injured yourself further and what then?”

“Doesn’t matter, I need make people proud”

This was something that scared Javier to no end. This obsession of his to meet people’s expectations above all else was a subject over which they would fight many times in the years ahead, for sure. But for now, Javier chose to forget and just seize this moment.

Tomorrow things would go back to normal.

But perhaps it was time for things to change.

 


 

 

8h24

 

“Javier was going to confess to Yuzu that day, he even had like…like…flowers and …oh my god”

What the fuck.

“I don’t understand, how do you know this and what happened?”

“At the end of the day, I went to meet Satoko in that room but…at the door Javier was panicking and had like this bouquet of red roses, I can still remember the color”, she seemed better as she told him the whole incident, but the tears still remained dropping one after another, “I told him that I could help, so I got in the room and asked Yuzu about Javier.”

Oh shit.

Those damn petals I found outside the door.

Please tell me this is not going to end how I think it’s going to.

“And then Yuzu said those things…but Javier was listening on the other side so…”, she started sobbing yet again and Shoma didn’t know if he should actually join her. How had things gotten this fucked up? Everything that happened from then on seemed to click in his mind and all because people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Fate must really hate those two. This is the type of stuff that we see on Tv…how can this be real life?

“Flight 271 to Moscow is now boarding”

Shit.

“Zhenya, Zhenya it’s your flight”, he pulled her out of his embrace and with his sleeves he did his best to wipe her tears without ruining her make up even more, “you still have some time, so go to the bathroom and do your best to pretend everything is okay, there’s a shitload of people out there that might recognize you”.

“But, Yuzuru and…I need to tell them Shoma.

“I will handle it okay?” he didn’t know exactly what he was going to do but right now he needed her to get herself together and go back home like nothing had ever happened, he would think of something.

“Promise me you’ll tell them I’m sorry?” Shoma almost cried at the poor girl’s anguish, but he understood her, he had felt his fair share of guilt these last few weeks and knew how important someone’s forgiveness could become.

“I will, I promise now go”, he hugged her and sent her on her way, watching as she rushed through the door.

What the hell did just happened?

So, Javier actually had feelings for Yuzuru.

Yuzuru gets threatened by his sponsors.

Javier decided to confess, but Yuzuru went on a full rant about how he despised the idea of him and Javier together.

Javier knows about it.

Javier decides to date Miki out of the blue.

Yuzuru tries to confess but it’s too late.

This was surreal, but most importantly, what the hell was he going to do fix this?

I can tell Yuzuru but what would change? Javier’s in a relationship, right?

Is telling them the truth really worth it?

“Flight 743 to Nagoya is now boarding”

Great, I don’t have much time.

He had only some minutes to make a decision. So, he picked up his phone and as he walked out of the room he dialed a number that he knew by heart.

“Hello? It’s me Shoma, yes everything’s fine…do you still have that invitation we received from the TCC?”

 


 

8h30

 

Yuzuru walked almost aimlessly through the airport, his sister by his side sometimes nudging him to remind him of an obstacle on his way or to just ask him if everything was alright with him. A bunch of journalists was already on him as soon as they spotted the unusual bodyguards escort, but thankfully the VIP waiting room allowed him to evade some of the press and once he went through the check-in they had finally some peace. They almost reached their pre-reserved room when they when Yuzuru had accidentally barreled into some old man. He clearly hadn’t been looking ahead of him and somehow had distanced himself from his escort.

Yuzuru was about to apologize when the man said in a very familiar language, “Perdón…I mean I’m sorry.”

That was Spanish right?

How sad that even here fate chose to remind him of him. He had been so lost in thought that he forgot to actually apologize or answer the man as he quickly went around him and on his way to the common waiting room.

I loved it when Javi spoke Spanish to me…I want to hear it again.

 


 

8h35

 

“Javi…Javier!”, the Spaniard almost fell off his seat at the sudden shouting, he was confused at the sudden change of scenery.

Where the heck…

“You fell asleep Javi, it’s time to go”, he helped him pick up his bags and it all fell back into place.

Another dream…another memory.

At least they’re different now.

Less painful yet crueler.

“Sorry, I was…tired.”

“I know, I came back and found you asleep so I didn’t wake you until they called for our flight”, his friend said, and Javier thanked him for the small gesture, he needed more sleep to be able to function, “and you won’t guess who I’ve stumbled into.”

“Who? Casillas?”, at the skater’s question, the manager looked at him as if he had really lost his mind this time.

“We are in Japan, that would be quite hard but, I managed to run into the Idol that made us camp on these stupid chairs for so long.”

“I see…who was it?”

“No idea, but so rude, I apologized, and he just kept staring at me with some creepy face. He’s probably some singer with a bad attitude.”

Javier laughed, he didn’t know any Japanese singers, but it was true that some of the idols in the industry weren’t the nicest people on earth. He also reminded himself that Jorge wasn’t used to the calm and sometimes nerve-wracking Japanese demeanor. You needed to get used to it.  And given the warm personalities of the Spaniards, he was sure such personalities would clash in no time as inevitable misunderstandings would surely occur.

Countries weren’t better than others. They were just…different.

They were almost on their way to their boarding gate when the screams could be heard all around the place, the check-in area wasn’t too far way given the small area of the airport, but still, it was impressive.

“He must be an idol indeed”.

Javier looked around him but all he could see was bodyguards on their way to the VIP room on the other side of the floor.

“I guess he must be.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning?

Do you see regret in your own eyes?

Do you think you made all the right choices till now?

How many people have you left behind to get where you are now?

Did you hurt someone today? Yesterday? Was it worth it?

Most importantly.

Could you have done it differently?

Can you answer these questions truthfully? No?

That’s okay, none of us can.

 

 

Somewhere In Time

 

Yuzuru checked his watch for the hundredth time.

15h30

Right on time.

He parked his car in the nearest spot he could find to the school’s main entrance, they would come out anytime now.

Maybe she won’t be after my ass again if she realizes I can actually do this.

He allowed himself to rest his eyes for a few minutes, laying back into the comfortable seat. The last time he managed to close his eyes seemed a lifetime ago.

I should have never complained about these expensive leather seats.

His thoughts were interrupted by the shrilling sound of his ringtone.

I don’t even know why I expected to get ten minutes alone.

Before answering he didn’t even need to check the caller’s id on his phone.

To be fair, he was surprised she hadn’t called until now, they had talked about this earlier this morning, yet apparently, his reassurances weren’t enough to take the worries out of her mind.

Without delaying the expected exchange, he answered after the fifth ring.

There would be hell to pay after that.

“Yes?”, he answered in his most monotone and bored voice.

This is getting ridiculous.

“Are you there yet?”, she seemed nonchalant, but he knew better.

“No, I’m still in the middle of the forest chasing Pooh”, she wouldn’t appreciate his attempt at a joke, but he couldn’t help himself, “he said we should go on an adventure.”

“You know that doesn’t really help your case, right? For all I know you could be doing exactly that.”

He gasped, “Hey, that’s offensive, I’m a grown man for god’s sake.”

A perfectly functional and responsible one at that.

“I saw you talking to that damned tissue case the other day”, she sighed and didn’t seem to have the will to keep the argument going,” but that’s beside the point, are you there or not?”

"Okay, that’s true. But I can’t help it, we have been through a lot together. He’s my oldest friend.

Yuzuru closed his eyes for a second, the pain sharp as ever. He took a deep breath and answered her still pending question.

Don’t think about it or she’ll notice, and questions are sure to follow. Just put in the back of your mind and it’ll go away.

You hid it for so long, don’t falter now.

“Yes, I’m here”, he could feel a headache coming for him, he just wanted to go home quickly, “right in front of the main gate, there’s no way I can miss her.”

“Good job.”

Did she really think I would forget about her?

“Thank you for the recognition,” he made sure to convey his sarcastic tone, “but if I’m responsible enough to feed her, I think I’m okay with the whole picking her up on time, you know.”

“Yuzuru you never picked Nana up from school,” she remembered him, but this time not unkindly, “that was my job remember?”

Once again, that was true. But he never had the time to do it himself before.

I can finally catch up on everything I missed until now.

“Well, I never got this much free time before,” Yuzuru reasoned, “so now I get to spend more time with both of you so just put some trust in me.”

“You can’t blame a mother for worrying about her child so just don’t fuck this up.”

“Honest-,” he stopped himself midway as soon as he saw a car park in front of his, and a man stepped out of it in a hurry, “I think I heard the bell, got to go.”

He hated to cut her off like that, but he had to make sure his mind was not playing a cruel trick on him.

Did I just…?

“Okay, be safe, love you”, he heard from the other side of the line.

“Love you too, we’ll see you soon”, it sounded like a mechanical answer even to his own ears, but it didn’t matter. He needed to focus on the individual right in front of him, going around the car to open the trunk and pulling a small bag from inside.

Please no. It can’t be.

As the young turned around again, there was no doubt about his identity.

No.

It really is him.

What is he doing here? Of all places?

He didn’t know how to act, should he get out and greet him like a normal person? Take it as a happy coincidence? Or a sad one in this case?

He opted for the easiest one, he brought the sun visor down and prayed it would be enough to hide his face.

Yuzuru kept watching him, lost in thought as he was reaching now to get something from the backseat.

This man looked exactly the same as in the day he had said goodbye, yet some changes were still there.

His hair is longer now. I always thought it fitted him well.

It was like time hadn’t gone by and they were still two naive boys in search of their happy ending all those years ago, he could still remember their last conversation on the side of the rink.

One had made an ultimatum, the other had made a choice.

One I still think about every day.

Seeing him here brought back everything he had hoped to bury, everything he hoped would never come back to haunt him.

It all had been his fault in the end.

If only I hadn’t been selfish from the beginning.

Yuzuru fought with all his might the will to just get out of the car and ask him a million things, it had been so long.

What are you doing here?

Can we talk?

Is it too late to mend whatever is left between us?

He seemed to stress about something that he was now holding in his arms. Yuzuru now remembered their location.

Did he come to pick up someone? A friend’s kid? That seemed unlikely.

The Japanese prayed that the bell wouldn’t ring anytime soon. That would mean a much overdue confrontation. One he wasn’t ready for in any way.

When the man finally closed the car’s door and turned around, he looked at the bundle in his arms and everything became clear.

On the man’s arms, a small boy was reaching for his father’s face in an attempt to call for his attention to whatever he was pointing at.

A child? But…

How much have I missed?  

He could the tears pooling in his eyes and with his palm, he tried to cover his mouth to stop the sobs from escaping and somehow calling attention to himself. He needed to control himself fast before it got out of hand.

How could I not know about this?

Both father and son walked the path back to the school’s entrance after locking the car and making sure everything was left in place.

He’s here to enroll his son perhaps? Can fate be this cruel?

As he walked past his own car, he cowered away and looked to the other side in some attempt to hide his face. This was not the time. 

This was not the time to bring back old ghosts.

Let it all stay in the past. We cannot undo what has been done.

Till this day he regrets how their last talk had ended, both saying stupid things that they didn’t mean but were too late to take back.

Why didn’t he tell me they were here?

Well, after what I’ve done…what did I expect?

Back then he didn’t think he had a better choice. But whatever he did, he did it for other’s happiness alone. He cared too much to let his selfish needs destroy both their lives.

Yes. It was for the best.

But if I could do it again…?

Would it really have been different? Would he watch him destroy himself? Forever wanting more of him than what he was willing to give?

Nothing except yourself. The voices in his head weren't as merciful.

He rested his forehead on the steering wheel, the time and the reason why he was there was now a distant thought in the back of his mind.

Could this be a chance to make it right?

They must be happy together.

He moved on.

And so have I.

So, what’s stopping us from fixing this?

He didn’t know why he was still crying but tears didn’t seem to stop falling. He willed himself to be strong, this had been what he had wanted for both of them.

He had wished for them to be happy and build their lives. Apart.

The truth was still there though, he missed him.

Terribly.

And the reason why he left him behind seemed so ridiculous now.

This time the bell rang for real, and he automatically jumped from his seat, finally catching up to reality. He needed to pull himself together.

Searching for something to fix his face, he only found some tissues. It would have to do, he could explain his red eyes to Nana somehow.

Yet leaving the car meant he would probably have to face said person.

You are such a genius. You hid like a coward but there’s no way for you to hide now.

His phoned ringed for the second time that afternoon, this time it signaled a single message.

“After you pick up Nana, can you get some tuna cans from the grocery store?”

He laughed at the text and after writing an affirmative answer he took another deep breath. Looking at the ring in his finger and made a decision.

What I did, I did save us both. You from a life of misery and me from eternal regret.

He got out of the car and maybe between the kids running around, now free from the evil claws of school, and the growing number of parents, he would be able to scoop Nana in his arms and go home without any confrontations.

His plan seemed to work, the man was nowhere in sight, a few more minutes and he would be able to leave the school grounds as swiftly as he had entered them.

There would be a time for them to talk, it was inevitable. Now that fate had decided it was time for them to meet again.

But not today.

Nana was faster than him and immediately spotted him by the gate. Looking adorable in her huge winter coat she wobbly ran on her tiny legs to reach him, surprised at his sudden appearance. It really wasn’t a common thing for him to fetch her after school, but after seeing her smile, he vowed this would be a more frequent occurrence from now on.

Grabbing her small hand in his, after a much-needed hug and an apology for being away for so long, they agreed to quickly make their way to his car and get warmed up by the pleasant hot temperature the heater would provide.

She didn’t seem to notice his red eyes and he didn’t remember the reason for them.

Except someone did notice the pair.

“Yuzuru? Is that you?”

Oh no.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 I hold it true, whate'er befall;

I feel it when I sorrow most;

'Tis better to lost

Than never to have loved at all.

Is it ever true though?

 

The past – Week Before Summer Camp

 

Day 1

 

I'm right over here, why can't you see me, oh oh oh

And I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the guy you're taking home, ooh

I keep dancing on my own

 

He was going to kill Laura.

That much he was certain of. Her love for this song had gotten out of hand, he heard it everywhere, the streets, the radio, the television...it was maddening. His sister had shown it to him back in Spain and since then it became unavoidable.

It was everywhere.

Apparently, she had gone from the basic level of "annoying your brother at all costs" to "change your brother's alarm ringtone", in a span of only a few days.

To put it simply, it became a joke between them since the sad lyrics somehow reminded her of her brother's pitiful love life. And by joke between them, he meant Laura teased him relentlessly about the unfortunate outcome due to his own stupidity.

It had been funny.

Now? Not so much.

He had tried to avoid his sister's prying questions about how his confession had gone, for a few days, but Javier eventually cracked. The moment he stepped foot on the Madrilenian airport, Laura had hugged him and congratulated on his new world title, but instead of asking to see the medal like usual, she had jumped directly to business.

 


 

"What the hell happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know perfectly well what I’m talking about", she even looked offended at his blatant display of fake innocence, "stop playing dumb, what happened to your plan?"

It was worth a try.

Javier had stopped hiding things from his sister a long time ago, yet he cursed the day he had told her about his intentions. He always ended up forgiving her noisy side every time, for he knew she only wished the best for her little brother.

Not so little anymore.

It only took her a very short time to understand that her proud and mature younger sibling, was a pathetic lovesick fool because of Yuzuru Hanyu. So, he decided it was pointless to keep his feeling a secret around her. Sometimes it scared him how she was able to read into things quicker than himself.

If only I could have talked to her sooner maybe things wouldn't have gotten out of hand in the first place.

Only a few months after he had come to terms with his own feelings, the older sibling had come to him and barreled him with questions about their real relationship. All he could do was to assure his sister that no, he wasn't dating the younger and no, he wasn't hiding it from her. He just had taken some time to get to a definitive conclusion.

And a lovesick fool he was.

That was all it took for the older Fernandéz to urge Javier into making a move, that allied with some assurance from his friends, had been the reason that pushed Javier over the wall of uncertainty he had built around himself.

If only I had known.

"We'll talk about that some other time", he told her, looking around and spotting their parents on the way through the airport crowd.

She seemed to get the message, yet he was no fool to believe that it would at that.

"Fine, but you're going to tell me everything."

 


 

Javier smiled at the memory, it had been only a few hours since they had parted, yet he missed her so much he wished he could somehow stretch their time together.

It's getting harder and harder to say goodbye.

Maybe I won't need to, soon.

He was surrounded by people that he could, fortunately, call family, from his coach to some staff members back in the TCC, but there were moments when you just needed a hug from your older sister or a comforting hand from your mother to make it all go away. He guessed some people weren't as family dependent as he was, but that's just the way he had been raised: there was more to family than the shared blood, family was there for you to share your problems as well and overcome the obstacles that life threw at you. Together you could find a solution to almost anything.

Except for heartbreak.

 


 

"Spill hermano, or I swear to God I'll tell mom and she'll make you eat paellas till you go back to Toronto."

When did I ever think this was a good idea?

"That's not even a threat", his sister pointed look told him that he wasn't getting out of this anytime soon, "fine sit down and be quiet."

He was alone in his room with Laura, yet he still checked if the door was locked, he would someday share all of this with his parents, yet this was not the right time nor place. He would be leaving in a few days.

When I come back this won't even matter, someday this will all be just a funny story to tell around the table on a family dinner.

Through all his tale of the recent events, he paid close attention to his sister's ever-changing expression, from excitement to sadness, from pity to resignation.

Still, he was careful enough to avoid telling his side in an unfavorable manner to the Japanese skater.

It's not his fault that he feels the way he does.

That or I'm just the same fool that can't even speak badly of the guy who crushed his heart.

He wished he could swear at him, insult him, blame him for all the pain and heartbreak. Yet he couldn't bring himself to.

The sad smile on Laura's face told him that she too had caught up on that fact. He looked her in the eyes as he finished and prepared himself for a very thorough interrogation.

The only thing he got was a handful of a tiny body, hugging his own. He could hear her muffled sniffles on his shoulder, and he willed himself to push back the moisture on his own eyes.

"Hey, I'm supposed to be the one crying here". He tried to lighten the sudden mood around them, yet the older one only pulled away from the embrace and caressed her younger brother's face.

"It's because of moments like these that I wish I could be there with you, instead of here and worrying every second about my little brother," he knew she meant every word, he wished for the same reality, "yet I guess we are not destined to do so, I wish I could have been there so badly."

She tried her best to wipe her face with her sleeves, making Javier laugh at her still childlike antics, "Don't worry so much, I did have someone there for me."

"Javi...I don't know exactly if trying to forget someone, by hooking up with another is actually a healthy way to heal any kind of pain."

"Hey," he admonished, "I didn't hook up with Miki, we both knew what were doing and made some sort of agreement, we would try and if it didn't work then we would go on our separate ways."

"But she has a child-"

"Yes, Hima," he smiled fondly at the mention of the sweetest baby he had ever met, "I met her, but we were careful to not act as more than friends around her just in case things didn't work."

"You made a freaking announcement on Instagram! When people find out that you two are not together anymore, they going to ask questions as to why would you announce a relationship just to end it a few weeks later, can you imagine how confused the poor child is going to feel?"

"It won't-"

"I can already imagine it: 'Javier Fernández, tricks the whole family and then leaves them after a few weeks'" she was depicting an extreme scenario yet the previous scandal had already taken some part of him that he couldn't get back even after two long years trying to bury whatever was left of it and make the people see the true Javier, "Don't forget that if they screwed you over once they will do it again."

"We had to, there was no other way," he slightly raised his tone and urged her to understand, "Miki will make sure that none of this reaches Hima and we'll announce the break up when it's no longer suspicious."

"What exactly do you mean with 'we had to'?"

 


 

Javier groaned at the prospect of having to leave his warm bed, he loved Canada but God, this city was a freezing nightmare, he flopped back onto the mattress and pulled the sheets over his head.

And it’s technically summer.

God, why.

The Spanish skater had been mentally preparing himself for this, the cold wasn’t the worst thing he would have to face today, he knew he wasn’t ready to face everyone at the rink after being away for so long.

And by so long he actually meant a couple of months, between the season, where he almost died after performing in every ice show possible.

Nothing new.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

And I’m only 25.

He couldn’t say he didn’t miss Brian or Tracy, he missed all of the staff waiting for him at the TCC. But going back also meant meeting everyone he had hoped to avoid till the next century.

Yuzuru Hanyu was at the top of that list.

Things had been so weird between them during Fantasy, he still couldn’t understand how everything had gone downhill.

Will I ever know?

In the end, wasn’t he the one with a solid reason to stay away from the Japanese skater? Wasn’t he the one who had been mocked by him and his friends?

All this time I thought you actually cared, but after all, you didn’t even take me seriously as your rival.

Sucks to be me, I guess.

His gut told him that something didn’t match up. They had trained together for so long, had gone through so much, had trusted each other with secrets, so many times hushed whispers had been traded before competitions…about fears, possible outcomes and above all else: about encouragement.

And suddenly none of that mattered anymore?

I don’t buy it.

Yet he was getting tired of trying. Tired of chasing after him for answers and begging for something he didn’t even understand.

He had tried during the whole Fantasy tours and in the end, he got nothing but even more questions.

The Spaniard jumped out of bed, deciding that either he got into the shower fast or he wouldn’t leave his comfortable cocoon any time soon. He could already imagine Brian’s disapproving scowl on his mind and rushed into the bathroom.

He didn’t need his coach angry at him as well.

At least with Brian, I would know exactly how I fucked up.

The hot water worked wonders on his sore body due to the flight from last night, he should have caught an earlier one but decided to stretch his time with his family, as much as he could.

Whatever time I get them, is always worth it. Every second.

Since he was only asked to get to the rink by eleven, to have a talk with the coaches about the upcoming schedule, he chose some random clothes and made his way to the club. Braving the still cold weather he hadn't missed for a second.

What exactly is Brian even planning with this whole exhibition at the end of the camp?

He could have chosen someone else, maybe even Jun. Yet the old man had insisted he needed his both star-pupils to put on a show at the very end.

“Do it for the kids”, he said

Well, I really hope they enjoy it after all of this.

To be honest, he didn’t even know how he had roped Yuzuru into doing this, the other skater had never shown any interest in summer camps. Javier was pretty sure he also had a low tolerance for small children, so having him agree to such a thing must have taken some kind of bargain, for sure.

Poor Brian, what did he have to this time?

 


 

Control yourself.

You can do this.

He's almost here.

"You okay there, Yuzu?"

"I'm fine."

The Japanese smiled, and Brian didn't seem to catch on his inner turmoil. He was probably used to him spacing out at the most random of times by now.

Being an actor is part of my charm after all.

"Well then, sit down, I have something to tell you."

"What is it?"

 


 

When he finally went through the lounge’s large glass doors, he could already hear the screams coming from inside the room.

I lost sleep because of this.

This better be worth it.

“This is not fair!”  Javier immediately spotted Yuzuru stomping his feet on the carpeted floor, “you said I help!”

He looked around but thankfully they seemed to be completely alone. Not that Yuzuru would ever put a show in public anyway. His rink mate was a drama queen but not stupid.

Here we go.

“Yes, Yuzu and you will”, Brian didn’t seem annoyed at the tantrum and the Spanish skater decided to just stand by the entrance and wait till it was over, he wanted no part in this oncoming headache.

“No, you promised I would have say in music too!”

“Yes, and I was promised a young, well-mannered skating prodigy all those years back, yet I got a tall clown that has some skating skills and behaves like a man-child when he doesn’t get his way.”

Javier almost rolled on the floor with laughter. Stifling the sound by covering his mouth with his hands.

Okay, maybe this was worth it.

It wasn't enough because Yuzuru instantly turned around and faced the other skater with his most betrayed look, he didn’t even greet him or asked why he was just standing there, “Don’t laugh! I got short end of deal!”

“No, you didn’t”, Brian added, “I did, because this is temporary for you, but for me? I can’t get rid of you unless you want to go back to Japan, because there’s no way I can’t back out of a deal with one of the biggest skating federations in the world!”

The Spaniard didn’t even try to hide his screaming laughter as he tried to stay upright against the wall.

Once again, Yuzuru turned around and if looks could kill, the Spaniard would be nothing but a smoking pile of ash, “Shut up!”

Opting to finally acknowledge his other pupil, Brian mentioned for him to come forward and join them at the couches behind the glass panels, the Japanese skater still on his feet sporting an unrelenting frown.

Javier dodged his rink-mate and just sat down beside their coach.

“How was Spain?”

“Busy, but it’s home so…” he left it at that, and he was sure the old coach understood perfectly.

“I see, I’m glad you had a good time.” His warm smile always lifted the younger skater spirits and he remembered that this, over the years, had also become home.

“Yeah,” looking over to Yuzuru, currently glaring at the skaters on the ice, on the other side of the glass, he guessed this was a good time as any to ask what on earth was going on, “what did I miss?”

“Not much, Yuzu here being a baby, nothing new," he shrugged off.

That was enough to bring the fuming Japanese back into the conversation.

“I not baby, I keep my part and you didn’t!”

Noticing the Spaniard’s completely lost expression, Brian decided to finally explain, “I promised Yuzu that he would get a say in the program for the last day of the camp, but now he wants to choose the music too. And let’s say I need to leave that to Shae-Lynn or we’ll end up with Chopin 12.0”

Javier grimaced at the incoming protests, that would surely come from his training mate.

The coach was really pushing his luck with Yuzuru today, it seemed.

"I would not use Chopin! I don't want Javi to punch me!"

Wait, what?

It was Brian's turn to double over in laughter on his seat as the Olympic gold medalist stared at both of them, still keeping his most serious expression as if waiting for someone to tell him what was so funny.

"Yes, because Javi is actually just waiting for an opportunity to punch you since day one," he turned to Javier and threw him a slight wink, "remember that day?"

It all seemed to fall into place, he smiled as he recalled that day like it was yesterday.

It had been fours years since then.

 


 

Practice was not going well.

He could count with his fingers the number of landed jumps in the last two hours, and the spins that he had managed to get to a decent level.

Everything seems to fail him. His legs weighted as much as lead at this point, and even his lungs couldn’t get him enough air.

He was tired and wanted nothing more than to go home.

Tired is an understatement by now.

He was about to get off the rink and call it a day when something crashed into his side and sent him falling back first into the ice.

He groaned at the contact, he had spent an incredible amount of time laying on the ice today already. He didn't exactly appreciate being pushed back onto it so soon.

Still, he willed himself to get up and check on what or who had collided with his now aching side.

This day is getting better and better.

A few feet away, still laying on the ice, was the new kid.

Yuzuru?

Once the teen got up from the floor into a sitting position, Javier confirmed that it was indeed the new Japanese skater that had pushed him. This was his first day at the club and even though Brian had warned him that he would start training today, he couldn't say that he had actually talked to him yet or presented himself.

Again.

They had met five months ago, and competing against him in Russia led him to realize two things:

He was good.

And he was a superstar back home.

It would be a lie if he said that he wasn't a bit wary of the idea of having him train with him in Toronto, yet his first impression of the young skater hadn't been the worst one, and he still didn't know much about him anyway. So, when Brian had come up to him and asked his opinion on the matter, he could only say that it would be a good idea, he would finally have a companion on the ice and maybe a new friend outside of it.

Worst case scenario he would only get a rival and maybe keep a respectful yet cold relationship, but even then, improvement always happened when you pushed yourself to beat your opponent on a daily basis.

I'm looking forward to where this can lead us.

Still looking at his new rink-mate, now on his feet, he wondered if perhaps he was used to skating alone back in Japan.

Maybe he has a private rink?

What would I know anyway, we are from very different realities.

Noticing how the other skated to the benches near the edge of the ice, Javier quickly rushed to him in order to check if he was hurt or injured somehow.

Poor kid.

"Fernandéz!"

The Spaniard halted instantly and looked behind him and sure enough, his coach was skating as fast as he could in his direction, immediately putting himself between him and Yuzuru.

Did something happen?

"Yes?"

Brian seemed out of breath and Javier almost laughed at his reddened face, whatever happened must have been serious.

"Please be patient and forgive him just this once?"

What?

"What do you mean, forgive him?"

"He probably isn't used to skating with so many people, I didn't think of asking him, but he's so timid that he wouldn't even say anything about it."

Does he think I'm mad?

"I'm just on my way to check if he's hurt or something, stuff like this happens all the time."

"Oh."

" Why did you think I was mad in the first place?"

" Well, your training wasn't exactly the best, so I thought him crashing into you might, not be the best thing to happen to you today,” the coach was avoiding his face and Javier knew there was more to it.

"What did you think I was going to do? Punch him for getting in my way accidentally?" he said, laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Yet Brian's face didn't exactly look as amused as his.

What the hell.

"Brian!"

"Look you never had to share your ice time with someone like him before, so I didn’t really know how you would react."

The skater looked at the other side of the rink and spotted the Japanese unlacing his boots completely concentrated and ignoring them both.

Thank God, at least he didn't hear us.

"I might not have shared the ice with a lot of folks here, but back in Spain or Russia I really didn't have much of a choice", he remembered him, "also how can you think that I would punch a kid?"

"He's not a kid, he's seventeen-"

"That's beside the point!"

His coach seemed to finally understand how ridiculous his assumption had been and stepped away from him, "Well then at least go and give him some welcoming words, I don't really know how to deal with him yet, he seems to know every technical term but anything besides that is still a struggle."

"How do you expect me to even talk to him, then?"

"I don't know, but good luck."

He watched as he skated away and cursed his luck.

Díos, I must have been a horrible person in my past life.

He dragged himself to where Yuzuru now stood with his bag in hand ready to leave, to try and maybe present himself to the teenager before he went home for the day.

After today I don't even know if he'll come back at all. Maybe the Japanese federation will sue us for making him fall?

"Hey!"

Yuzuru jumped at his shout and Javier regretted it instantly.

Nice way to start.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he approached him carefully and he felt like he was trying to interact with a wild creature that would bolt at any moment, he spoke as slowly as he could, "I just wanted to say hello and welcome."

The other skater just looked at him completely confused.

Great, he didn't get a word.

"You didn't understand," he tried again, "I said-"

"I understand."

Oh.

"You did...?"

The smaller looked down, admiring the beauty of his sneakers apparently.

"I...surprise you talk to me."

Why would he...?

"What why? We met before remember?"

"Yes, but I here for less than a day," he stopped and seemed to ponder on his next words, Javier understood his struggle better than most, and patiently waited for him, "and I do bad to you."

Seriously?

"Yuzuru that was an accident, it happens."

"You," he adorably pointed at him and then at himself, "not mad at me?"

"No, you did nothing wrong. And you  don't need to be so afraid of people here," he gestured back at Brian, "he thinks you don't understand a word he says."

They both laughed, and Yuzuru looked as embarrassed as ever, "I understand, just no speak."

"That's fine, we can live with that," he seemed to make progress with his new rink mate, he even seemed friendly, who would have thought, "and Brian won't mind at all if you just listen and don't disagree with him."

The Japanese eyes grew so wide that Javier thought he had finally said something that had been over the line.

Oh shit.

"I would never disagree with coach!"

He seemed so panicked that Javier almost wanted to laugh, this boy was precious. He wondered if he would ever change.

"Okay then," better to just get on with the welcoming talk, "I just realized that we've never talked outside the competition, so since we are going to be training-mates, I'm going to introduce myself. I'm Javier and I hope we can help each other out and become friends."

He finished his short speech and extended him his hand, proud of himself. yet Yuzuru looked at him and at his hand with a hesitant expression.

Shit, did I talk too fast?

"You and me, friends?" if he didn't seem completely confused at the notion, Javier would have thought he was mocking him for even suggesting such a thing.

Why wouldn't I be his friend?

"Yes? What's so weird about it?" poor kid, due to his popularity and schedule he probably had no friends back home, well Javier planned to change that.

"Because I came here to steal?"

He what, now?

"I'm sorry you came here for what?"

"Brian did not tell?"

Catching on the Spanish skater's clueless face he grabbed his bag again and with and started walking towards the locker room. Javier was getting more confused by the second when Yuzuru looked behind him and gestured for him to come with him, "No people".

This guy is starting to give me the creeps.

What if he's here to murder me.

Maybe he meant that he's here to steal my soul?

Just keep it together you wimp, he's like a stick figure and half your size.

Despite everything he grabbed his guards and followed him off the ice and into the back of the rink, once they reached Yuzuru's desired destination, he entered the room and waited for Javier to come in as well, closing the door behind them.

They will never find my body here.

"I came to here," Javier was slowly losing his relaxed attitude at the whole turn this conversation was taking, "to steal your Salchow."

Is he real?

"Let me get this straight, you came here to steal my Salchow? You came here because of me?"

"How do you even know who I am? You just saw my performance in Russia and decided it was-"

"I see all competitions, and I want your Salchow."

The way Yuzuru said these things with a completely serious face made it hard for the Spaniard to himself together, he mentally patted himself on the back for the fact that one of the best skaters in Japan actually knew who he was. Damn, he changed coaches because of him, that was some high expectations that he wasn't sure he could ever meet.

"Well, if you want my Salchow you can have it, I like to share," he tried to lighten the mood. The shorter's face though still didn't sport a friendly countenance.

"What's wrong now? Something else you came to steal?"

"You not like I imagine."

Nice, Fernandéz, the kid changes countries because of you and manage to disappoint him on your first try.

"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint..."

"You not like rival."

"I'm not like a rival?" a nod was all he got in return, "well, what did you expect, for me to be rude to you and get ourselves in a Yagudin/Plushenko-like mess?"

"Yes." He stated simply as if it was obvious.

Tough luck then.

"One thing I can assure you, is that you won't find such thing here," he hated to bring back unwanted memories but he wanted things to be crystal clear between them, the sooner the better, "I've been put in a very similar situation like the one those two had to live with and let me tell you, Brian is nothing like their coach or like the one I myself had before him."

Yuzuru's face finally seemed to morph into something else than contempt and Javier wondered if he had finally made him see that this was not going to be a fighting ring, he wouldn't allow himself to reach that point, not when he knew how it would feel like.

"You need to know that Brian, is not only an amazing coach but an amazing person being as well, not many can say the same. He would never, ever, show a preference between us two and risk having us going at each other’s throat every day. That's just not the kind of person that he is. Do you understand?"

The other seemed overwhelmed, but the way he let out a breath told him that he was somewhat relieved at the new information he had just gathered.

"I see, things not like I expect."

Don't worry, I'll help you understand that there's more to this sport than what you are probably used to.

"So, let's start again?" Yuzuru laughed but nodded nonetheless.

Javier stretched his hand in front of him for the second time that day.

"My name is Javier, you can call me Javi and I hope we can become friends."

He half expected him to refuse it again and reveal another secret agenda. But the smaller just smiled, this time freely. His crescent eyes disappearing, and Javier thought that he wouldn't hate seeing that smile more often around the rink.

I'm not letting us become like them, I swear to you.

The Spaniard almost jumped at the feeling of the other's hand in his but kept himself still in order to avoid embarrassing himself further.

"My name is Yuzuru Hanyu. You can call me Yuzu. Nice to meet you Habi."

 


 

"Javi!"

"Jaaaavi!"

That was weird, his rink-mate had been staring into nothing out since Brian had started giving them some schedule pointers, and now he barely seemed to notice he was there.

"Are you okay? What Brian mean with you punching me?"

"Just spaced out for a second, don't worry about it it was just Brian making one of his old jokes.” Javier didn’t seem like he was going elaborate it further, so he let it go and provided some of the information their coach had given them in the meantime.

"Okay, so Brian says Shae-Lynn is arriving tomorrow, so we can have lunch and then we have to learn schedule. I think we have 4 days till Friday to practice our performance and then the camp starts next Monday."

"Let’s just eat something quick then."

“Oh, and did you know that Brian and Tracy invite dancers and pairs too? They teach things to the children in classes all week.”

At least, if they teach, we don't need to do it ourselves.

“Yuzu, that’s how a camp is supposed to work, skaters teach people things.” The Japanese pouted, he couldn’t honestly say he knew how any of this worked.

Why are skaters teaching things? Isn’t that the coaches’ work?

“I see, I never been in one.” But he knew that Javier had been in many, he had heard stories, throughout the years about his time spent on summer camps back in Spain, where he tried to learn everything despite his limitations. It had been in a summer camp that he had met his first coach.

He clenched his fist discreetly, he could still remember what Javier had told him about his time with the Russian.

Nobody should suffer like that, especially him. What would have happened if he never moved here?

We would have never met.

It would also mean less pain for me.

He laughed, he wouldn’t trade anything for the chance of meeting Javier.

Nothing.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” the other said, surprising Yuzuru out of his thoughts,” did they say who would be coming, though?”

“Yes, Scott and Tessa to teach dance, Ondrej and Val for pairs, Jason Brown is invited too…he said we didn’t need to babysit, or teach like he likes to call it,” he scrunched his nose at the prospect of dealing with kids, small cute kids, he could tolerate, but these were probably middle school and high school students. They didn't obey as easily. Nor were they as cute.

But thankfully he would just assist some class and make the final performance look pretty, that had been Brian’s almost literal words, well the part that mattered anyway, “But I think we must join some classes, to motivate the children…at least that’s what I understand.”

“Well, I don’t mind at all.”

Sweet Javi.

So patient with children, I wish I shared the same gift.

“It’s going to be bad.”

“What class are we supposed to join?” the look on Javier’s face quickly changed from excitement to somewhat pained, “please don’t say- “

“It’s dance.”

The Spaniard groaned, and he could share the sentiment. Dancing classes were always a nightmare since he was little. People might think he would be graceful and flawless in everything dance-related. They would be so shocked if they knew that Yuzuru Hanyu, had two left feet and couldn’t do any of the classic dances to save his life.

“Javi, I hate it," he whined at his rink-mate.

“You have dance classes and the tango is a very fun dance, not everything is that bad.”

Yes, dance classes where I dance to songs from this century.

“Hip-hop classes, I hate boring dance.”

Javier seemed almost incredulous at the new discovery, and the younger wanted to laugh. Just because people like classical music, it didn’t mean they liked to dance to classic songs.

“You have the most bor-”, the taller stopped himself, but Yuzuru knew exactly what he was about to say, and it was the truth. In things related to his profession, he adored skating to pieces like Chopin. Off the ice? It was a whole other matter, “let’s just wait to see what exactly Brian wants us to do, okay?”

Javier got up from the couch and headed to the door, he knew he had a short period of time before they were no longer alone. He would have to wait until the end of the camp. It just wouldn't do.

He had to take the chance.

I have to do this before I lose my chance.

If we don’t talk about it now, it would get worse in the future.

Javi would never be mad at me for something like this though, right? He would tolerate it and just brush it off. Still, I must apologize and make sure we can continue like how we used to be.

If anything, I need to have his friendship at least.

The time following the Fantasy hadn’t been easy, still, he made sure that he has set his priorities back straight. He knew he couldn’t keep moping around and crying about a one-sided love. It was time to put an end to it all and start again if needed.

It hurt. It hurt more than any injury he had suffered through in all his career.

It wasn’t easy. It was harder than any medal he had ever fought for, since he had first put his boots on, all those years back.

But he knew life taught you many things, he was still young.

He had learned how to master pain of the physical kind. Now it was only a matter of time before he could bend his emotions back into place.

I can’t let this ruin my career, I can’t avoid him so the best I can do is make sure he won’t avoid me.

Honesty is the best policy, right?

“Yuzuru? Now you are the one spacing out on me?” Yuzuru looked up to his rink-mate's eyes, he hadn’t left yet and seemed to be waiting for him to move, “Want to go grab something to eat?”

It was now or never.

"Javi?"

"Yes?"

God, give me strength.

 


 

"About last months,” Javier had no idea what exactly the smaller was getting at but he nodded, signaling for him to continue, “I have to apologize".

Wait, apologize for what exactly?

Basically, insulting my whole career?

Faking every single compliment, you have thrown at me for the last four years?

Leading me on?

Making your Japanese friends hate me somehow?

Disappearing and not even bothering to answer my calls or texts, after I was dead worried about you?

"I'm sorry for being bad friend", that wasn’t exactly what he hoped for, but he guessed it was a start, "I talk with Miki and-"

"You what?"

"Miki talk with me and told me you knew about...how I..." Yuzuru seemed to have some difficulty going through his words, and Javier decided to take some pity on him.

Miki talked to him? When did this happen?

"Is this about your ‘thoughts’ on me?" By the look on the other skater’s face and the way his whole face became red with embarrassment, he knew he was right.

Finally.

"Yes," it was so very rare to see the Japanese with his eyes cast down and an unsure stance, that Javier decided to just let him gather his thoughts without interrupting, "I wanted to talk to you about it soon but I just...it was hard."

It was harder for me.

"Well, I'm all ears.”

The other looked around to somehow make sure they were alone, before continuing, "I'm sorry", he said as he slightly bowed his head before him, "I should never have that kind of feelings and it was wrong to think that way about you, especially since Javi is such good friend to me."

So, he’s apologizing for thinking like that? Not that he didn’t actually mean them?

"Basically, you meant what you feel about me, but feel sorry that you feel that way?"

He only received a weak nod in return.

This is insane.

When did I think that getting an explanation would make any of this less confusing?

Fernandéz you have such a weird taste in love interests, not only you chose a man that will probably never feel the same way but a guy who also thinks you are nothing but dirt beneath his feet.

“Sorry, I can't explain better."

Yuzuru did look resentful and somehow pained like all of this cost him something. He instantly wanted to put his arms around him and push the sadness in his eyes away. But this time he knew better.

Keep yourself together.

“I see,” he didn’t even know how to respond to that, he had expected many explanations, but this wasn’t one of them, “well, can I ask why you feel that way about me? Everything that I’ve done until now hasn’t proven anything to you? And if you felt that way, you could have at least told it to my face, it was the least you could do.”

Are those tears? I’m either going insane or none of this makes sense.

“I don’t know why I feel this way and know I act wrong, you always friend to me but I really could not tell, because I was scared you hate me.”

Wouldn’t you hate me too if the situation was reversed?

“Telling our common friends about it wasn’t exactly the best way to go, Yuzuru.”

“Yes, but they were the only ones I trust,” he finally raised his head and wiped his face, “I just want us to go back to how we are before...all this.”

Can we really go back? Do you think it’s that easy?

“So, we go back and pretend that you never said those things about me? Just like that?”

“I promise I will never talk of that again”, his voice took a pleading tone and Javier could feel the desperation through it, “I can make thoughts go away, I still think you are precious friend and I never wanted Javi to be hurt.”

Well, that’s very thoughtful of you.

Should have thought of that before.

"I also promised Miki that I would never speak of it again, I’m so sorry,” besides the absurdity of it all, he looked sincere and absolutely distressed, “I really don’t know why I feel those things, when I know perfectly well that I shouldn’t.”

I feel like I’m entering the twilight zone.

“Well, at least you admit those feelings were wrong,” in the smaller’s dark eyes he could spot something akin to hope, “so I guess we can try.”

That’s something at least.

"I would really like to understand what changed then."

Stop this. You won't get anything but more pain and heartbreak out of this.

"I don't know, but I'm sure it wasn't Javi's fault", he looked so ashamed that Javier found no other option than to believe he truly regretted it at least, "It's my head, it's bad and sometimes it makes me think bad things."

How did I end up pitying you at the end of this conversation?

Suddenly a small hand was extended in front of him, waiting to be taken by his. A gesture so familiar.

“So, start again?”

He looked into his eyes again and wondered when exactly he had been capable of saying no to him. He could be hurt by the younger a thousand times and yet forgive him another thousand more.

“Sure.”

He took his hand, shaking it in some humorless parody of a deal.

But the only thing Javier could think about, in that moment, was that the small hand was as warm and soft as it had been that day, four years ago.

Start again?

 

 

Chapter Text

 

We owe it to ourselves to move on. Who amongst us hasn’t loved before? Who amongst us hasn’t tried to find a way to make it all go away?

They say Life is cruel.

But Love knows no mercy.

 

The past – Week Before Summer Camp

 

Day 2

 

"So, I was thinking maybe we could use some Chop-"

"No.”

“What do you mean no? You love Chopin.”

“Yes, but if we do classic music, Javi will punch me and-”

Seriously?

“Look, you need to stop saying that,” he didn’t need unnecessary rumors to spread about their relationship as rink mates who smiled way too much in front of cameras and probably tried to kill each other behind them.

He didn't like to talk about their friendship much, but he liked people to know that they were more than rivals and together each of them had accomplished so much that sometimes it seemed unbelievable.

It was unheard of and it seemed like a well-constructed tale to sell their friendship and get some good publicity out of it.

Hell, even Brian had come up to him one day and asked them if the whole spectacle they put up outside the rink was some kind of strategic move.

He still remembered Yuzuru's completely lost face and the time he took to explain to the Japanese skater that no, he wasn't nice to him because of good publicity and yes, he still meant what he said to him on his first day on the Cricket Club.

If Javier were to be honest, he didn't expect them to end up being so close and friendly with each other within months of their first meeting. But noticing how the younger one was so playful with other skaters in general, he quickly dismissed the idea of being just a prop to the most popular skater the sport had known for the last century.

That didn't mean he didn't have doubts. Because he did.

For the last four years, he still had questions about their relationship. As rink-mates, as friends, as rivals...as something more?

That's the kind of thought that screwed me over though.

It had been precisely due to those doubts that he had almost ruined everything they. Thankfully he had avoided making a fool out of himself and learned some new things in the process.

Some very confusing things.

Learning that your supposedly friend and rival thought of you as nothing else but dust beneath their feet…was not pleasant. Still, Javier couldn’t will himself to be mad, to be angry, to lash out at the younger and shove all his accomplishments in his face and ask him if he remembered what happened back in April.

Apparently winning two world championships didn’t matter to him.

It just didn’t make sense.

That guy moved countries because of me. Well because of my salchow but still…

Javier just gave up asking questions to which he dreaded the answer. He had tried.

If the press ever got wind of this…they would have a field trip.

The Spaniard knew the media were thirsty for some scandal to break out, something that indicated that the two competitors actually despised one another.

They simply weren't like that.

There hadn't been a phase where they had hated each other and slowly evolved to a solid friendship. No.

They had been slightly shy around each other but once they started talking about the most random of things they just clicked together.

Javier couldn't just pinpoint the moment their friendship began. When did they start to be more than just acquaintances? He didn't remember.

One day he was showing the new kid around and on the next, they were discussing video games and planning hangouts.

Maybe that was the whole problem? Maybe we moved too fast?  

In the end, despite how things had ended up, despite what Yuzuru might think of him or how their relationship changed, he would and couldn't hate the other.

No matter what he did to him.

And that's how I realized how screwed I am.

I can’t really blame him for not sharing my feelings, now can I? That’s my burden to bear.

Shae-Lynn looked between the two, “You lost me at punching.”

“He’s joking,” he looked at Yuzuru with a pointed look, “but it’s not funny anymore.”

The choreographer didn't even question it further and sighing decided to just ask them directly and get this over with quickly, “Okay, so what do you want to skate to?”

“How about something recent, Enrique Iglesias has a new song right?”

“No.”

“What’s wrong this time?” Yuzuru hadn't even explained his reasons, and Javier was getting tired of just standing on the ice trying to find a damn song to skate to. He didn't drag himself out of bed yet again, for this.

“I don’t like him.”

Well, that's new.

“Do you even know who Enrique Iglesias is?”

“Yes, I heard song of him once," seeing the other skater's doubtful expression he decided to clarify, "after you talked to me about him and it was bad song.”

A bad song?

He still remembered how a skinny kid with barely understandable English had approached him one day and demanded to know what he was listening to. That had been a precious moment he still liked to revisit in his mind every now and then.

 


 

“Hey!"

Javier stopped in his tracks and looked behind him.

Is he talking to me?

The new kid just tilted his head to the side and looked at him as if waiting for something.

Shit, he is talking to me.

"Humn, do you need something Yuzu?"

The smaller one pointed to his headphones and asked, "What music?"

Now that's random.

“It's Enrique Iglesias' new song."

He seemed to ponder on that information and tried to repeat the name, the Spaniard had to stop himself from laughing at the cuteness of it all and just nodded.

"Don't know him."

"Well me neither." That earned a laugh from Yuzuru and Javier noticed how he had never actually seen him laugh. At all.

 His whole face seemed to just change in a second, his eyes completely disappeared into crescents as he hid his mouth behind his hand. Keeping himself somewhat composed.

Javier found himself wanting to see all of him. Nothing hidden.

"My biggest dream is to become the best skater ever and get to meet him in person."

More laughter exploded from the Japanese skater almost scaring Javier at how loud the other one could be. He never saw him be so...unguarded.

He had dropped his hand and he could see what he had meant to hide from him, Yuzuru Hanyu may skate gracefully as a swan but he laughed like a hyena. he could swear his jaw seemed to become almost unhinged.

He decided he liked it.

He liked it very much.

"Joke right?" He asked the taller one, once he regained his breath.

I should feel offended that he considered me to be serious about this.

But he wasn't.

"Yes, I'm joking," he thought about something funny enough he could say to the other to hear him laugh again.

But was interrupted by their coach.

"If you two are done discussing the implications of the climate change, could you do us the honor of getting changed and into the ice?"

Yuzuru blushed and ducked his head, Javier figured this must have been the first time he had been scolded and gestured towards the changing room, stopping him from breaking his back due to the endless bows of apology in Brian's direction "Let's go?"

"Yes," he gave a final bow and followed the older one, "You show me after?"

"Show you what?"

"Music."

I guess he changed his mind about the whole rivalry thing.

"Of course."

To this day he couldn't forget the smile on Yuzuru's face.

Maybe that could be considered the very beginning of their friendship?

 


 

“Yuzuru what song did you listen to, anyway?”

The way his whole face turned to an embarrassing shade of red, told Javier everything he needed to know.

“Oh”, of all the songs he could have listened to, he didn’t expect him to find that one, he mockingly patted his head, “you poor thing.”

“Stop it!” Yuzuru was taking no sympathetic gestures and slapped his hand away.

“Guys!”

“Sorry." Yuzuru looked completely ashamed and bowed almost immediately muttering apologies. Shae-Lynn only shook her head in disbelief.

Some things never change, do they?

“We just need to choose a song, it's not rocket science, kids."

Everything is rocket science when Yuzuru is involved.

“There’s new songs from Justin Bieber!”

Oh hell no.

“There’s no way in hell I’m skating to a Bieber song.”

“Why?” The Japanese skater looked clearly offended. Javier just glared at him as if he had lost his mind.

Is he for real? I thought his obsession had stopped with that ridiculous exhibition five years ago.

Still, he stopped himself from angering him further.

 


 

“Because I have dignity.”

“You hear that man’s songs!”

“Not every Enrique Iglesias song is like that!”

“Well, there’s also new music from New Direction.”

“First of all, the name is One Direction, and second, why do you have the music taste of a 15-year-old girl?”

Both skaters were now face to face and Shae-Lynn wondered if her pay was even worth it.

She wondered what the story behind the whole punching thing was, and if Javier had actually hurt the smaller. Because at this point she was pretty sure she was going to end up to step in the middle of the two kids to stop them from killing each other.

I’m seriously regretting my life choices so bad.

“Hey! I’m not a- “

“Okay! Okay! I chose the song since you two can’t behave like two freaking adults.” They both stepped away from each other and the older skater could finally breathe more easily.

Disaster avoided.

“Fine, but I am not skating to boybands or teenager’s love songs.”

She spotted Yuzuru sticking his tongue out at him and wondered how on earth was the skating phenomenon almost twenty-two and an icon to the sport.

The choreographer cleared her throat and turned to the Japanese skater, “Very well, Yuzuru, anything to add?”

“I don’t care, as long as we don’t skate to…to…that guy’s songs.”

“There’s something seriously wrong with you…” Javier replied.

“It’s decided!” she almost yelled, glad to have reached an agreement of sorts, “We are working on a favorite song of mine, by an amazing new singer, you ‘ll love it! It has the soft side and the dramatics!”

“What is it?” Yuzuru asked. Javier just looked slightly terrified and Shae-Lynn decided to stop the stalling.

“Dancing on own by Calum Scott.”

The Japanese skater just nodded dumbly, having no clue who the artist was or what the song was about, but she heard Javier say something under his breath that almost made her lose all her composure.

“Fuck my life.”

 


 

“Well played.”

“Thank you,” she left the ice and joined him on the gallery that surrounded the rink, “They are not very smart, are they?”

“As long as they’re smart on the ice, I don’t really care.”

“True.” In front of them, two figures played catch with each other, like kids taking the opportunity to goof around once the teacher put a foot outside the classroom. Their laughter could be heard from across the rink and most students had just given up on their lesson in order to make way for the two skaters.

“But seriously,” she was glad they were helping them, but there was still something in the back of her mind that bothered her enough to just make sure that this was the only way, “are you sure we’re doing the right thing?”

Should we even be meddling like this?

“Not really.” He looked over to his students, shaking his head at their antics. Seeming half tempted to just skate over and smack them both over their heads, “But it’s better than letting them be miserable forever.”

“Five minutes ago, Javier seemed almost ready to kill Yuzu…”

He looked at her and smiled patiently, almost as if explaining something very obvious and simple.

“Javier would rather break both his ankles than let Yuzuru get hurt,” Shae-Lynn turned to him, slightly concerned.

“It’s true, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” That wasn’t enough to convince her and so he decided to tell her something that seemed so far back in their past. Still, it was something that had, in a way, started it all.

The day he realized nothing would be the same.

 


 

It was just another day, another training session.

Yet not quite.

They would be training crossovers, edges, and other 'boring elements' how his Japanese student liked to point out.

Nothing out of ordinary.

Their latest acquisition, Jun-Hwan had much more interesting exercises with Ghislain, given that this season he would make his junior international debut. From where he stood, leaning on one of the columns surrounding the rink, he could spot Yuzuru was almost pouting at every jump that the Korean managed to land.

"Yuzu, quit it with the puppy face," he quickly composed himself as if nothing had happened and skated back to where his rink-mate was already warming up.

Javier had even arrived on time, maybe he finally learned how to set an alarm clock, or he had just fallen off the bed that day. Brian didn't care. He just needed him to be on time for once in his life.

The coach could hear the applause from Ghislain and Tracy, and as he looked over to other end of the rink he figured the young skater had finally managed to land his triple axel flawlessly, yet again.

That kid is very promising.

"Okay, now to wrap it up let's do a run-through." His long-time coaching partner instructed, it had been a very productive day for them.

If only all the kids were as obedient and well-mannered as Jun-Hwan.

Javier and Yuzuru were back at fooling around and instead of finishing warm up, they decided that it was funny to check who could jump simple axels higher.

Why do I even try-

“Watch out!” Tracy’s scream echoed through the whole rink and everything seemed to stop. Yet to Brian, things had only slowed down as he saw Jun-Hwan jump and completely go off his axis, he had clearly come way too far down the rink and hadn’t even noticed.

Neither did Yuzuru.

The Japanese skater was facing the other side of the rink and completely unaware of what was about to happen.

Brian could see how it would come down. The Korean would undoubtedly fall and with him, he would drag down the older one, but at that height, he would probably hit him with one of his skates before they hit the ground.

His first thought had been of skating towards them, but he knew he was too far away to make it on time. He looked over at Tracy, someone, that could have been closer and able to help.

When he looked back to the colliding pair it all seemed to happen at once.

Tracy’s screams and Ghislain’s shouts were everywhere and even the staff seemed to have rushed to the side of the rink to check what was going on. But Brian only stood there looking…confused.

On the ground, Javier was already getting up and helping Jun-Hwan to his feet.

The coaches were surrounding them both and checking for possible injuries.

Where is…?

Behind the Spaniard a slightly startled Yuzuru sat on in the ice, looking pale as ever and not daring to move an inch.

What on earth just happened.

“I’m so sorry Javier.”

The poor teenager was bowing endlessly, and the Spaniard tried to assure him that everything was fine. Nobody had gotten hurt.

This was only his second season at the club, but apparently, he still hadn’t become used to skate with more people around him, it was normal for skaters to get used to new distances as well. Mistakes could happen.

Ghislain in the meantime had skated around them and picked Yuzuru from the ground, asking him if he had gotten scared and fell on the process.

Still doesn’t explain how Javier ended up under Jun-Hwan.

“I think it’s better to clear the ice while you guys finish his run-through, a few minutes won’t make a difference for us.”

The other two coaches seemed to agree, and they quickly left the ice, the Japanese skater excusing himself to get his water bottle and Javier sat down on one of the benches near the lounge.

Was I dreaming? Am I going insane?

As he pondered over possible scenarios he noticed how the Spanish skater started to unlace his boots and was on his way to tell him that a four-and-a-half-minute break wasn’t worth the trouble.

That is, before he noticed the reddening bruise on the other’s left leg.

“Javier?”

Following the coach’s eyes, the skater pointed to his leg and said, completely nonchalantly, “It’s nothing, I’ve had worse.”

“Am I going crazy or you switched places with Yuzuru back there?”

“I didn’t, I just didn’t see Jun, I shouldn’t be so distracted.” His smile was forced. He was lying.

“Take off your boots and come with me.”

Thankfully Javier followed him without demanding further explanations.

Once he made sure the door to his office was closed, he wasted no time.

“You switched places with him, Yuzuru had his back turned to others and you saw Jun coming towards him.”

The younger opened his mouth to deny it again, but the coach was faster, “Don’t even try, I saw it.”

“Fine, I pushed him out of the way, so what?”

“You got hurt that’s what!”

“I didn’t mean to get hurt, I was just too late to dodge him.”

“I get that you wanted to help your friend, but to do something like this…”

Had Tracy been right all along?

“Javier I will only ask once …why did you do this?”

“Because if I hadn’t then Yuzuru would have gotten hurt.” There was no hesitation in his eyes. No lie.

“You do realize that most people, even friends, would not just let themselves get hurt instead of others? Your whole career is based on how many injuries you are able to avoid in one season!”

He almost regretted shouting at the boy in front of him, he looked defeated.

“I couldn’t let Yuzuru get hurt,” his voice soft as if he had nothing else to give him, “I just couldn’t, and I don’t care if you don’t understand that.”

Good Lord.

He slowly put a hand on his shoulder and gently pushed him one more time, “Then make me understand.”

“I care about him.”

Still not enough.

“We all do.” He challenged him.

“Why are you doing this?” This time he lifted his eyes, the emptiness in his voice, seemed to be replaced by pain.

I don’t know.

“I need to know what exactly is going on inside that head of yours, so I don’t end up with one student less or some sort of high school drama in my rink.”

“You don’t need to worry about that.”

“And why is that?”

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about him,” he noticed how the Spaniard’s hands curled into fists, his knuckles white, “I don’t intend on telling him and I doubt he feels the same.”

So, it was true. She had been right.

“You know, Tracy had already warned me about this, but I told her she was just imagining things.”

“She knows about…this?”

“Apparently she picked it up,” Javier looked more terrified by the second, so he decided to assure him, “Don’t worry she only talked with me about it.”

“Right, am I…that obvious?”

“I never gave it much thought but, seeing this from a whole new perspective…maybe you are.”

“Do you think he knows?”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure he’s as dense as you.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Tracy didn’t just say that you cared for Yuzuru, she said you tow actually cared for each other far more than friends should.”

And for the first time, he saw something burn inside the Spanish skater’s eyes: hope.

“You think-”

“I think nothing, this is all Tracy’s guessing.”

Watching how the boy’s head fell once again, he decided to amend, “But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and ask him if that’s what you want.”

“I do,” once again there was not a missed beat in his answer, “I never wanted someone so much in my life.”

How did things get so complicated?

“Then you fight for it.”

Javier smiled, and Brian let out a breath he hadn’t noticed he had been holding, “Maybe at Worlds, after all the craziness is gone.”

The coach nodded, “Good plan.”

Outside the door, a soft knock was heard and Ghislain poked his head inside the room, to tell them the rink was clear.

“We should go.”

“Yes.”

“Oh, and Javi?”

The skater turned to his coach once more.

“Please be careful”, his next words were not common, but he still felt like he should say them nonetheless, “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“It doesn’t depend solely on me now.”

“I know.”

And that’s what scares me.

 


 

To love someone so unconditionally and to be rivals at such a high level in a sport. It could be dangerous.

“But…” she just needed to be sure, “Isn’t Javier in a relationship with a Japanese skater?”

“Miki Ando?”

“Yes.”

Brian sighed and turned to her, his expression tired and looking older since the last time she had seen him a few months ago. Despite stating once, that he didn’t get attached to his students, she knew how much he cared and how much sleep he actually lost due to his two troublemakers, “Whatever you heard, don’t believe in any of it.”

On the ice, Javier seemed to finally catch Yuzuru and was currently holding his rink-mate by his narrow waist against his own chest, tickling his sides. Apparently, he knew exactly which spots to touch, what made the other crazy with laughter.

The choreographer noticed how despite their innocent exchange, the Spanish skater was always careful enough to let the smaller one breathe between his touches, always gentle and conscious of the other’s limits.

You have chosen a difficult path.

“Okay then.”

 


 

Brian had a rule.

If his phone ringed after 3 am he would never to pick it up. His family knew that and so did his friends. And until he got two new students at the Cricket Club he could proudly say, his rule had remained unbroken for years.

They say rules are meant to be broken but I seriously hoped I could at least keep my sleeping schedule in check. I already sacrificed my hair.

People could die at more reasonable hours for fuck’s sake.

Giving up on ignoring the annoying ringtone, he blindly searched for his phone on his bedside table. Once he caught it, he noticed how the caller id was stated as unknown.

Uh-oh.

That’s weird.

He was tempted to just pick it up, yell at whoever was calling him at such hour and hang up on their face. But after considering the pros and cons of possibly angering the biggest skating federation in the world, he decided against it.

There’s only a fifty percent chance of being Javi on the other side, still, If they expect me to answer a call at this hour, they better expect one hell of a scolding.

Better yet, a few extra laps around the rink once they got back. Now with a smile on his lips, he mustered his most cheerful tone.

“Hello, Brian Orser speaking, please tell me what’s wrong with you so we can all go back to sleep and forget this conversation happened.”

“Brian…”

Oh shit.

This was not Yuzuru’s voice for sure. Still, he wished it was. Yuzuru's problems were easy to fix and even quicker to dismiss. But this was not good.

“Javi? What’s wrong?”

“Brian, estoy jodido…”

His voice was wavering, and he could immediately understand he was crying even if thousands of miles separated them. The coach was getting anxious by the second, a crying Javier was not a good sign.

Last time I heard him crying didn’t end up well.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes he sat up on his bed and pushed the other to explain the situation further. If something serious had happened, they needed to fix it now.

"Yes, the weather here in Toronto is amazing as well, thank you for asking," He needed Javier to keep his mind in the game, there was no time to lose, “Drop the Spanish Javi and focus, tell me everything.”

“I just”, he stopped for a second to catch his breath, “I just wanted to let go, Brian…I just needed for all of it to stop, even if only for a while...but they…they…”

The Spaniard was the one crying yet Brian was the one that almost stopped breathing.

“Javier whatever it is, we will fix it okay? There’s nothing that can’t be solved, and you are certainly too lazy to murder a person,” the sobs seemed to stop thankfully, “unless you killed Yuzuru, in that case, I’ll help you hide the body.”

The skater produced something akin to laughter, from what he could make out from the muffled sound and he was glad that the younger one had finally stopped crying. For both their sakes.

He would never admit it. But seeing either of his boys cry was one of his weaknesses.

“Brian…I can’t go through this again.”

Again?

“Explain Javier.”

“I might be in a relationship with Miki…”

What the…

“Might be? How…?”

“We decided to try this out after worlds and-”

“Wait weren’t you going to talk to him at worlds?”

How did things get so messed up?

“Yes, but it didn’t go as expected and Miki found me.”

“Are we talking about Miki Ando here?”

Out of all the people...

“Javi I’m completely lost.”

“My plan didn’t exactly work out,” Brian could tell that words were not coming easily to him and wanted to spare him the effort it apparently took to retell the story but on the other hand, he needed to know, “I  overheard him talk with his friends after the competition and, let’s just say he doesn’t feel the same…he never did.”

But…they had been so sure?

“I wish I had never planned this to begin with.”

And I wish we’d never encouraged you.

“Okay, now tell me what’s wrong and why is Ando involved.”

“She found me after...that…and we made a deal to make each other forget and try to see where it would lead us…”

Brian knew those type of relationships way too well. They never ended up in good terms and only brought misery on both parts.

“I see, doesn’t she have a daughter though?”

“Yes, and she’s the cutest thing-”

“Javier, you are in a...complicated relationship with a girl…that has a daughter? Do you realize how serious that is?”

“Yes…I mean no…” once again he struggled with words, to try and make him understand, “Brian we know, and even though I’ve met her daughter, she thinks we are just friends.”

“Okay then,” at least they had been responsible, “What’s the problem?”

“They found out.”

“Who’s they Javi?”

“Journalists…Japanese? Spanish? I don’t know but someone told Miki and now…my life will be over and it’s like Sochi all over again-”

How did that boy manage to get targeted in every single continent? Why would the media even care about his business in Japan? 

He had expected a scandal about Yuzuru maybe, given the fact that cameras followed him since he was like five years old. But Javi?

“Listen, we can try and find a way out, tell me exactly what they are going to do.”

“They…they took a picture of me, leaving her house at four in the morning,” trust Javier to skate at ungodly hours and still fool around till before sunrise, “and they are going to publish it on the news…and you know how the Japanese media works...they might even say I’m Hima’s father or something like that...Brian, Hima is going to be so confused and it’s all my fault.”

By Hima he figured he was talking about Miki’s child, “Hey hey Javier don’t you give out on me now,” it was getting harder to get the younger one to listen as more sobs seemed to muffle his every word, “we can a find a way, we’ll get through this again.”

“My career is over.”

Not if I can help it. Those bastards won’t have the upper hand this time.

“Listen to me Javier, we can do this,” he wasn’t sure of the consequences but at that moment, he didn’t care, he just needed to fix this quickly, “I have an idea.”

Only later would he realize that the skater hadn’t called his publicist, his agent or his parents. He had called him, out of all people.

“What do I do?”

“When you get back from Japan you are going to get the lecture of your lifetime, but for now, you need to call your publicist,” he prayed to every God that he knew, that this would work somehow, “and beat them at their own game.”

“How?”

“They want to publish a scandal, very well then, I guess it’s time for an announcement first.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

If you haven’t read everything before this, then please go back! This will spoil everything!

 

Hello there! So sorry to post something that isn’t a chapter, but I think this will be really useful for those of you that managed to get here but still get somewhat confused! Worry not, I wrote this simple guide just to make sure you guys understand or understood every flashback and chapter until now! :P

Let’s get started then!

 

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Chapter 1

This is the first chapter that tells us something from the future, and also what made me write this whole story in the first place.

We know Javier and Yuzuru are together but not how.

We know something went wrong but not what.

And that’s the whole point of the story, to tell you what happened in the past, so we come to understand what has come to pass. Through the tale of their past, we will get to every single future snippet, that we will see further ahead in this fic.

 

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Chapter 2

This is the first chapter of the past and what we will call the normal timeline. This timeline will tell us what happened to make our characters get to the situation in Chapter 1.

There are no flashbacks, simply the start of the story on the Fantasy On Ice tour after Worlds 2016 (this year is understood later by the flow of the fic since Javier won 2 World Championships).

 

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Chapter 3

The second chapter of our normal timeline with more story to the past, still on Fantasy on Ice and no flashbacks or memories.

 

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Chapter 4

The third chapter of our normal timeline, still on Fantasy but no flashbacks. Only certain implications are made like in every chapter, but we still don’t know what happened.

 

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Chapter 5

The fourth chapter of our normal timeline, still on Fantasy, but this time the action is not during the show itself but before the Niigata stop of the tour.

We have a flashback of Yuzuru’s memories. He’s talking to Shoma after Worlds, and Shoma asks him why he said such rude things about Javi to Zhenya since they are all friends and Yuzuru was obviously lying and didn’t mean anything he said.

We don’t know what he said. Or why.

On another flashback we see Shoma getting out of the dressing room, after the talk with Yuzuru, and finding a flower on the floor. We don’t know where it comes from.

 

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Chapter 6

This time we are not on our normal timeline, we go to the future and explore a simple moment of their lives together.

Where does it fit?

We don’t know.

 

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Chapter 7

Niigata Day 1

The fifth chapter of our normal timeline, we go back to telling the story like always. This is the first day of the Fantasy On Ice show in Niigata.

Between the normal narrative, you can see him remembering Shoma to tell him to find some courage. He's pushing him to confess to Yuzuru.

Javier has a flashback in his dreams about Worlds, we see the moment where he was trying to man up and confess to Yuzuru, Zhenya show up and asks him if he’s nervous.

Javier wakes up.

 

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Chapter 8

Niigata Day 2

The sixth chapter of our normal timeline, this is the second day of the Fantasy On Ice Show in Niigata.

Another flashback that continues Javier’s dream where Zhenya reassures him about Yuzuru’s feelings.

Yuzuru performs Hana Ni Nare and Javier remembers what happened at Worlds and we finally see the whole memory and what happens with his attempt at confessing, we see Zhenya enter the dressing room and Yuzuru says some horrible things about Javier, who listens outside the door.

We see another flashback where we find out how Miki found Javier on that day, she takes him away but not before seeing how he hurt himself on the rose he was holding. He leaves it behind.

It’s the same rose Shoma finds later.

 

-

 

Chapter 9

We see another part of their future.

Where does it fit?

We don’t know.

 

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Chapter 10

Niigata Day 2

The seventh chapter of our normal timeline, back to our story of the past.

There's a flashback to what Miki said to Yuzuru since it was her that knocked on his door by the end of the previous chapter. She thinks he's trying to seduce Javier even after talking about him in such a cruel manner and playing with his feelings all this time.

 

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Chapter 11

The eighth chapter of our normal timeline, everyone is going home after the tour and somehow, they are all on the same place but never meet.

Except for Zhenya and Shoma.

We have a flashback of Yuzu explaining to Shoma the reason behind the contract terminations from the previous chapter. Also, we get why he was so freaked out at Worlds and said those things to Zhenya about  Javier. Especially out of the blue. The pressure seemed to affect him and pushed him to do it.

We also see Javier’s memory from 2014 when Yuzuru came back after the Cup of China Incident.

Zhenya tells Shoma everything and Shoma connects the dots, solving the misunderstanding.

It’s still not known why Javier suddenly announced he had a girlfriend on the first chapters out of nowhere. When it's always stated that his relationship with Miki was a tentative one.

 

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Chapter 12

Another future chapter.

We still don’t know how it fits. We just know it will happen at some point.

 

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Chapter 13

Day 1

The ninth chapter of our normal timeline. They came back to Toronto after their short vacations and start preparing for the TCC’s Summer Camp.

Javier has a flashback about his short time with his family, after the Show tour, and his conversation with Laura.

Javier remembers meeting Yuzuru for the first time.

Yuzuru apologizes to Javier thinking that he knows about his feelings. Let’s remember that Miki told him that Javier knew how he felt. She was obviously referring to the insults he heard outside the door, not what he said about being in love with him.

 

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Chapter 14

Day 2

The tenth chapter of our normal timeline. Second day at the TCC before the Summer Camp.

We see some memories from the beginning of their friendship.

Also, a flashback to when Brian found out about Javier’s feelings and makes him explain. We see Javier saying he will try at Worlds to confess. (We know how that one ended up). Once again people encourage him to make a move.

By the end, Brian tells Shae-Lynn not to believe the whole story of Javier getting a girlfriend. And we see another memory of Javi calling the coach and telling him that the media took some pictures of him and would try to destroy his reputation and twist it somehow like before. (Sochi). He panics. It would be very messy for Hima if suddenly the whole country saw news of her possible father and their shameful secret, something very likely to happen given the present way of the Japanese media. We end the chapter with Brian telling him that it would be best to make a normal announcement first and completely discredit any attempt at rumors.

Hence why Javi suddenly announces his relationship at the beginning of the story, so suddenly.

It was never their intention, to begin with.

 

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I hope I explained myself decently :P If there are any more doubts please tell me! I will post explanations about the chapters here, in case someone has something to add! 😊

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Sometimes you know that your efforts will be in vain. Yet you try and try again. You don’t give up. Sometimes you love someone to the point of risking a hard fall, but you are going to try again. Sometimes their happiness is what matters above all else. Sometimes you don’t think of consequences. For your heart and your whole being is not your own anymore.

 

The past – Week Before Summer Camp

 

Day 3

 

"Why is he star-fishing like that?"

"I don't know."

On the rink, some of their guests could be easily spotted, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue were some of the star skaters the TCC had managed to invite. Given their hectic schedules and personal lives, Brian still wasn't sure how they got them on board with the whole initiative. They would participate in the week-long summer camp and share some of their secrets and experience from their long careers on the field.

Jason Brown had arrived that morning as well, but the ever-smiling puppy-like skater had not yet shown any of his contagious smiles since his arrival.

Brian thought that maybe he should ask him if everything was okay if he liked the club...maybe he didn’t like something about the rink? Could it be the food?

He probably never saw a rink without boards…is it the boards?

He mentally scheduled a much-needed talk with the skater, he needed this week to go as smoothly as possible.

As it ever could be when you coached Yuzuru Hanyu.

It certainly didn't help when his best student was currently laying on the frozen surface without a care in the world.

Brian wondered if it would look suspicious if Tessa accidentally landed on top of him.

"I don't know what’s wrong and honestly, Scott already avoided skating over him once," he ran his hands through his hair, something he really doubted he would keep intact by the end of this whole thing, "I'm not sure he's going to avoid him twice."

"What are we talking about?"

Both Brian and Shae-Lynn nearly jumped out of their skins, as a teenager came up behind them and surprised them out of their usual Yuzuru-watching. A common activity around the club, since everyone cherished self-preservation, they tended to watch Yuzuru before acting.

Today was just one of those days. The coach gestured towards the body in the middle of the rink.

"Is he dead?", Jun-Hwan asked. Laying like that on the floor didn't seem like a very safe option. But this was Yuzuru, so, he stopped himself from questioning further.

Actually, he had stopped asking questions a long time ago.

The coach squinted at the figure laying flat on the ice, "I don't think so," he concluded, "I mean, he looks like he's breathing?"

"Someone should check, though?"

Shae-Lynn paled at the idea, "No way, you go,” she seemed to have forgotten someone and looked around the rink, one Spaniard seemed to be missing, “Where’s Javier?”

“He's going to be late, or later than usual anyway,” the choreographer didn’t seem amused at that, so the coach tried to explain, “he got a call from Spain, there are some issues he needed to settle.”

Without the Spanish skater to appease Yuzuru, they weren't left with many options, so Brian turned around and grabbed the unsuspecting younger skater, "Cha! As the newest addition to the club, you go."

"I've been here for over a-"

"How many laps around the ice do you fancy today, maybe some extra cardio time?"

"Fine." It’s not like Brian’s cardio exercises were much better than dying by Yuzuru’s hand. He sighed and cursed his luck, maybe someday he would get the respect he deserved.

Just not today.

 


 

He didn’t even need to touch him or call out his name.

"What do you want Cha?"

The way the older one could sense his presence even with his eyes closed, still creeped Ju-Hwan out, every single time.

"Hum", the Korean skater mumbled, just because Yuzuru hadn’t gotten up or moved at all, didn’t mean he was out of the danger zone, so he chose his next words very carefully, "they asked me to check on you."

Yuzuru opened one eye and slightly raised his head to look at the pair watching them from the other side of the rink.

"Well, tell them that this is how bored I am with the choreography."

Jun-Hwan didn't even know what that meant, but one look at the Japanese boy laying on the ice, and he decided to just go back to the other two and pray the answer would satisfy them.

Not my problem. They wanted an answer. Now they have one.

Before skating back he listened to the song still playing around them, he was going crazy having to hear that damned thing on repeat since morning.

Those two need to just get this performance over with before I go insane and get even more depressed than I already am.

 

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her

And I'm right over here, why can't you see me?

And I'm givin' it my all

But I'm not the guy you're takin' home

And I keep dancin' on my own

 

Okay, these lyrics were definitely more depressing than the usual classic numbers Yuzuru chose for himself but still, it was none of his business.

There was no way he was going back to ask for clarifications.

"He said he’s bored with the choreography, can I go now?" he hoped his best puppy face would work on Brian, it always worked back home.

He might be Canadian but I’m still cute in both countries.

Thankfully he quickly dismissed him, even though by the look on his face, things were about to get ugly, "Yes, thank you Jun-Hwan."

Once again, none of my business.

 


 

Brian watched the Korean skater glide away back to his session with Tracy and the other young students and pondered how on earth he ended up saying yes all those years back, in that hotel meeting in Japan.

If only I had known to what exactly I was agreeing with.

He apologized to the choreographer for the tenth time that day and made his way towards Yuzuru, he didn’t even know what he was trying to accomplish but he needed him to get up.

Now.

I don’t even care about the embarrassment at this point, at least the world can see what I deal with on a daily basis.

"C’mon get up,” he said, kicking his student’s leg with his toe pick as gently as possible, he was not going to lie, it took a lot of effort, "Yuzuru."

"That’s me.”

There goes my theory of an easy talk.

"Listen, I know that you wanted to add jumps to the routine, but I’m not risking you getting injured again, or making the one you are already healing from, even worse.”

"Kids like jumps."

Yes and some, even like to star-fish on the ice.

"I bet they do, but you are still not completely recovered, and the season is about to start so let's not risk it?" Perhaps recalling the reality of his condition would somehow help?

"The dancers are showing off, why can't I too?

It took him a minute to realize what he meant by that, but then he looked over where Tessa and Scott were still going over the exhibition program they were going to perform on their last day there, and then he understood.

There we go again, I knew he wasn’t just worried about putting on a good show for the children.

"One, because I'm not their coach? And two, because a performance is not only about jumps and you know that, better than anyone."

“But the song is so sad, and I’m sad and then everything is even more sad.”

Great, it all backfired and now I have a depressed seal in the middle of my rink.

You wouldn’t be sad if you opened your eyes, Yuzuru.

“Oh, but why exactly are you sad Yuzuru?”

That immediately made the younger one look away but not before Brian could spot the change in his eyes, a temporary shift from all the funny and witty demeanor he had been witnessing until now.

How much longer will it take?

“Is it something to do with the club? Something happened?”

“No, nothing…” he looked like he wanted to say something more, but trust Yuzuru to reign in his true feelings and quickly dismiss them, “It’s something private, don’t worry. Something I need to fix with time.”

I just wish you could trust me, Yuzu.

“I see, well you haven’t even seen the whole choreography with Javi yet, from what Shae-Lynn told me it’s really amazing to watch from the audience perspective,” maybe mentioning Javier would somehow remind him that this whole performance wasn’t supposed to be a one-man show, “I guess it’s one of the perks of you two training for a few years now, you guys synchronization is no joke and I’m sure it will look-”

That seemed to spark something within his mysterious brain as he sat up and looked slightly pensive, his expression morphed to something between a pout and ugly demon face.

He sometimes did that when he pondered about a possible tragic occurrence.

Like forgetting his Winnie The Pooh tissue case that day.

"Fine, but we can do something interesting, that is not jump?"

Just when I thought I was making progress.

"I suppose."

"You agree on anything I say if not jump?"

Now that instantly set off the alarming bells inside Brian’s head. To agree with such statements never ended up well for anyone.

Just ask my younger self when he decided to take in this kid was a good idea.

"Yes, if it keeps you away from laying dead on the ground like a giant beached whale." Yuzuru didn’t even flinch or looked offended at the witty remark and somehow, that seemed suspicious.

The Japanese skater simply smiled, "Great!" He quickly jumped onto his feet and skated around Brian, when the coach looked behind his back he saw that Javier had just arrived, completely unsuspecting of the incoming body that looked like it would be jumping on him within seconds," Javi we can do lifts!"

On the other hand, he didn't look exactly surprised at the whole committee standing by the side of the rink admiring the daily show.

"Wait, what?"

Lift? Is he seriously considering…?

"Lift!" Deciding to ignore the question, he just threw his arms in the air in front of Javier, who still held onto his coffee and prayed that he didn't have to be a part of today's entertainment.

"Yuzuru what the hell are you thinking about?" he tried to reason with the younger one as he pushed him into the gallery and made him stop jumping up and down, in front of the goddamn club, "I rather have you jump than have Javi lift you and break his back and your twig-like neck." 

"But Javi can lift!"

"Maybe he can but-"

"We've done it before." Javier’s voice cut through the conversation for the first time since he had arrived, and Brian prayed he had heard wrong.

"You did what?"

"At the banquet after Worlds."

Do I even want to know?

Wait a second, wasn’t he completely devastated after the medal ceremony anyway? What on earth happened?

"Explain."

 


 

Scott and Tessa had stopped caring about their routine a long time ago. What was happening right in front of them was way more interesting.

They had no idea that actually coming to the TCC could be this entertaining. Watching Yuzuru Hanyu lay on the ice, arms and legs all spread out around him had been hilarious. Tessa had immediately warned Scott about the body laying flat on their way and he had somehow managed to skate past him.

Killing Yuzuru Hanyu would not be a fun moment for either of them.

Still, she understood his frustration, news of his injury had reached everyone within the sport and it seemed pretty bad even in their opinion. It made him stay off the ice for a while and avoid any jumps at all costs. That alone must have driven him insane, but it was understandable.

Everyone respected the Japanese skater's strength to still compete at the world championships and not just withdraw. From what they heard, not even Brian knew the full extent of his injury till after the season was over. It was so very like him to hide such a thing from the public, by now every single skater knew how his mind worked so surprise was not something any of them could really feel, once the news broke out.

In the end, mixing a frustrated skater with the most depressing song in existence also didn’t help.

 

And I'm givin' it my all

But I'm not the guy you're takin' home

And I keep dancin' on my own

And oh, nah

 

As she focused on the lyrics, she agreed that it was a fantastic song for a program. It would probably make the judges bawl their eyes out for sure.

But damn it was getting to her nerves to listen to it on a loop.

On the other side of the ice, she spotted Jason Brown, the lanky skater from the United States. She recalled meeting him a few times and how he always seemed to light up any room with his laughter and his good-natured sense of humor.

Today even he, seemed gloomy. He had greeted them at the locker room but hadn’t talked to anybody after that, focusing on his routine and nothing more.

She stopped middle way into a twizzle and called for Scott, she looked over to where Yuzuru once stood and noticed that Javier had arrived and how they apparently decided to talk off the ice, she took it as her cue, “Hey, I’m going to talk to Jason, he seems lonely.”

Her partner simply nodded, and she made her way towards the American skater, who stopped on his tracks as soon as he noticed her.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” he simply answered, but quickly realized how rude he might have come off, “not that I don’t appreciate you asking but, why?”

“We just took a break to watch Brian drag Yuzuru’s dead body across the rink and noticed how you looked slightly down.”

That made Jason laugh, and Tessa wondered what could have possibly made this human sunshine sad, he was so precious she just wanted to make everything right for him. His golden hair was all pushed up into a ponytail making him even younger than he actually was.

Besides his bright spirits, Tessa had a special spot for him and his skating. It was so different from everything they were used to in the singles category. A boy without any quads, and still so magnificently beautiful in every aspect of his programs.

She wished his talent could stop being overlooked in favor of the whole quad revolution that seemed to take over the world of figure skating these days.

The tall skater looked over where Brian and his two students seemed to argue about something and just shook his head, “Nothing is wrong, really.”

“Okay then, join us for lunch later? We can show you some of our favorite restaurants around here.”

“Sure thing,” she was about to get back to Scott when Jason made her a question, his voice so low she didn’t quite catch it.

She turned back to him and he was now looking down, almost like…embarrassed?

Such a precious boy.

“I asked if you knew…if Shoma is actually coming to the camp?”

I see, so the rumors are somewhat accurate.

“I honestly don’t know…but surely Yuzu knows? They are best friends, so he must know for sure.”

Jason looked back to the trio, she could have sworn his gaze had shifted somewhat. The Canadian was about to ask about it when he suddenly turned his attention back to her.

“You are right,” his smile was back in place and Tessa wondered if she had imagined the whole thing, “I see you at lunch then?”

He didn’t wait for an answer.

This is not going to end well. For any of them.

 

So far away, but still so near  

The lights come on, the music dies

But you don't see me, standing here

I just came to say goodbye

 

Okay, that’s it. I need to talk to Brian.

 


 

"Look I might have drunk a little bit too much, I don't even remember half of that night and I only know it happened because of the pictures that ended up on the internet."

The way Brian’s face was changing to a concerning shade of red, told him that the drinking part of his statement wasn’t helping his case.

"You lifted him while drunk?"

Oh shit.

"It apparently worked out in the end."

Somehow I didn’t drop him. Well, he does weight as much as a ten-year-old kid…

"I left you alone for like...5 minutes?"

"I know it was irresponsible, but I really don’t remember much about that night.”

At least I wish I didn’t.

"Off the ice, both of you," he grabbed both their arms and pushed them into the gym room’s direction, "there's no way you are trying this on the ice without me making sure Javi can hold up your weight on the ground."

"I can, he doesn’t weight that much. It was really easy- "

"I thought you were too drunk to remember?"

I thought I was.

“Wait, where did this lifting idea come from in the first place?”

Nice, Javi. Try to change the conversation, so subtle.

“Your rink-mate here thinks the routine is too plain and I’m trying to find some middle ground before he wants to start adding jumps to the damn choreography.”

Same old, same old.

“And by middle-ground you mean lifts?” It could be worse, he looked around the rink and once he spotted the ice dancers, he guesses he could have wanted him to throw him.

Small mercies.

“I guess it’s better than having him lay on the ice for twenty minutes pondering the meaning of life or jumping quads without Ghislain here.”

“You know I stand here, right?” Javier looked at Yuzuru and realized that both he and Brian had forgotten about him for a while, despite him being the cause of all of this mess.

“Shae please get Yuzuru to the gym room, God knows we need all the cushions we can get and please have him started on some warm-up?”

The smile she shared with Brian didn’t go unnoticed by the Spaniard. The choreographer didn’t look angry or out of patience with all of this. That was weird.

What exactly am I missing here?

Once they were alone, the coach wasted no time questioning him, “What were you thinking Javi?”

“That’s the thing, Brian, I wasn’t thinking at all.”

I tried really hard not to.

That didn’t seem to amuse the older one, “Look, I can count on Yuzu being a clown every now and then but now I have to worry about you too?”

“I honestly don’t know why I did it, I just wanted to…” he trailed off and he pushed back the feelings that had moved him that day, on that moment. It was a hazy memory but it all felt so real. “I just wanted to make him happy, what else is new?”

The self-deprecating tone softened Brian’s eyes, he no longer looked angry or disappointed. Only worry seemed to fill them, “Wasn’t that the same night when you heard him…?”

Javier laughed, lately, it seemed that everything leads to the same point of their lives. A turning point, but never less painful. He wondered when exactly he would be able to move on and not think about the past like something he should avoid at all cost, when would it stop hurting so bad that on some days it even made breathing difficult.

It made living difficult.

“Yes, that was before the banquet, why do you think I decided to drink so much, to begin with?”

I drank to forget.

Even if just for a little while.

 


 

"Yuzuru I think I kind of drunk the whole champagne bottle, I really think this is not a good idea and Brian would kill us if…" Javier looked around him, how had they even gotten there in the first place was a mystery to him, "Wait why are we doing this again?"

"Shoma said it could be fun!"  

Shoma?

"Have you thought about the possibility that maybe Shoma wants you dead?"

Okay maybe not literally but...close.

"Nonsense, he loves me."

Now he was stretching it.

"How sure are you exactly?"

"Like five percent?”

Somehow, in his brain at that moment, that made sense. He didn’t know why, but the rush of actually lifting Yuzuru took over his rational side for a moment.

I don’t even remember who won today so fuck it.

"Good enough for me."

Javier took his hands and searched Yuzuru's face for any kind of hesitation.

He found none.

"Are you sure about this? You can still back out.” He might be completely drunk and borderline delirious but the fear of hurting Yuzuru still weighted more than anything on his current hazed mind.

"I'm sure."

How can you be so fearless?

"Because it's Javi,” Yuzuru's giggles were doing uncomfortable things to Javi's heart, "It's Javi so I trust, always."

This was dangerous, so very dangerous.

I don't care.

He suddenly felt like he could do anything, just so the younger one could be happy, "Up we go then."

Yuzuru’s loud laughter was everything he needed to hear once more to forget everything.

I can pretend.

Just to hear your laugh.

Just to make you happy.

 


 

"Okay, I think it's good," Javier had lost count of how many times he had lifted the younger one for the last two hours, his arms hurt, and his back was not in a better shape, "but don't think I won't find a way to make you pay for this little stunt."

“Told you we could do it,” Yuzuru smirked at Brian and Javier prayed it wouldn’t lead to another lecture, for both of them. He just wanted this to end.

“Well let’s see if you can do it on the ice,” Shae-Lyn said, and the coach gestured towards the rink, a clear indication for everyone to move. Fast.

The first thing the Spaniard noticed was how empty the whole place was, “Where’s everyone?”

Brian snorted as he sat down and started lacing his boots once again, “Busy being normal human beings and having lunch.”

“Right.”

At least if I drop Yuzuru there won’t be much of an audience.

“Bright side is that it means less embarrassment for all of us”, the coach said, voicing Javier's exact thoughts. He didn’t seem very confident on the whole ordeal.

“C’mon let’s do it, I’m starving.”

Everyone including their choreographer was now on the ice surrounding them, in some kind of attempt of making sure they could catch Yuzuru if he fell, the Spanish skater was pretty sure it was kind of pointless. 

They wouldn’t be quick enough.

Before his thoughts could start conjuring horrific scenarios, he stopped himself and clasped his hands with his rink-mate's smaller ones, "Are you ready?"

Just like the last time, Yuzuru’s eyes betrayed nothing like fear. Only trust. Complete and utter trust in him.

"Of course."

"Then up we go then."

He saw how Yuzuru recognized the familiar words, and that was enough to know that the distraction would cost them both.

He imagined many scenarios. Different kind of ways Yuzuru could fall. Or how he could slip and make the two of them break their necks.

The moment he felt his feet slide from under him, he knew one of his predictions had come true. It only took him a moment to realize he was falling backward and the younger one was no longer suspended in the air, supported by his arms.

Javier felt the air leave his lungs as his back hit the ice and a thin body landed like dead weight on his chest.

He might be light, but my ribs would like to disagree.

“Oh God,” he looked up and instantly felt relieved that the Japanese had fallen completely on top of him, avoiding any contact with the hard surface, "you okay?"

"I'm fine," well, he didn’t look in pain at least, “I fell on top of Javi, I hurt you?”

I’m still not sure If I won’t lose a lung but besides that, I’m just peachy.

“No, I’m okay,” was it him or Yuzuru’s face was getting closer to his by the second?

Why is he taking so long to get off me? Why isn’t Brian fretting?

He could move his head, turn his face to the other side. Yet, as he stared into Yuzuru’s eyes that option didn’t seem as appealing as waiting for the other skater’s next move. He was so close that he could feel his breath on his lips, somehow his hands had found a place on the smaller one's waist. 

What am I doing?

Screw this, I need to know how it feels like. Even if just once. Even if it means nothing in the end.

Are his lips as soft as they look?

He decided to meet the younger skater halfway when everything seemed to get back into focus.

"Javier!"

Tracy’s voice boomed all the way from the other side of the gallery and was enough to make them both separate and sit back on the frozen floor, each avoiding the other one’s face, "What?"

"A call for you," she explained, her tone didn’t give him much hope for good news, "it's from Spain, again."

 


 

What the hell did I just do?

He had climbed off Javier as soon as Tracy’s voice cut through the silence that had settled around them. To be honest Yuzuru had completely lost the notion of time and space for a second there.

Maybe two.

He was playing a dangerous game. Such mistakes could end up with even worse consequences than losing Javier’s friendship and somewhat tentative trust.

I need to get myself together.

Don’t make him hate you even more.

“Hey, don’t look so sad, we can try again after lunch,” Brian tried to appease him, apparently mistaking his expression for frustration at the whole lifting practice scene. He didn't even look concerned at the obvious failure and Yuzuru found it slightly unsettling but decided to ignore it for now. “Yuzu?” 

I couldn’t care less about the lifts.

“Is something's wrong with Javi and family?"

Is he hiding something from me?

Would make sense given what happened.

"That's something you should ask him."

Would he tell me, at all?

“I don’t think that would work,” he stood up from the place he was still sitting on and tried his best to shake the ice off his clothes. He was about to leave when he felt a hand grab his forearm, stopping him from leaving.

“Just, try?”

Why? I know the end result.

“Brian, he won’t talk.”

“Are you sure?”

Yes, things are not the same anymore.

“Yuzuru, something happened?”

Yes, I destroyed our friendship due to my careless feelings and now there’s no way to take it back and make it right.

“I messed up,” he figured there was no point on trying to hide it anymore, “I messed up and I don’t know how to fix.”

“What do you mean? What did you do?”

“It’s complicated.”

Both had gotten off the ice for the second time that day and sat side by side while they unlaced their boots.

“It’s only as complicated as you want it to be, Yuzu.”

If only that were true.

Yuzuru stretched his legs and just threw his head back against the wall, closing his eyes he pondered what Brian’s reaction would be if he told him the truth. He had known the man for some years now. There was no way he would ever judge him.

Would things change in the club though?

I’m sick of hiding.

“Javi found out about my feelings.”

He opened his eyes to gauge the older one’s reaction, yet he found neither anger or confusion. Only surprise.

Did he…?

“Oh, finally.”

Wait, what?

“You knew?”

Brian laughed and rested his arm around his shoulders, a gesture not common between them. Still, he didn’t mind at all. He blamed his shock at the whole outcome.

“Yuzu, I’ve been around you two long enough to realize a few things, and maybe, I also know far too much than I should to put two and two together.”

“Then…more people know?”

This can’t be happening, not like this.

“Well, Tracy is suspicious…but you have nothing to worry about, not with us.”

The Japanese skater was trying to figure out if he should cry in relief or out of pure embarrassment.

“Still, I don’t understand, Javier found out about your feelings and what exactly went wrong with that?”

Does he think Javi feels the same way?

Can’t blame him, we all thought the same.

“He didn’t like it,” like it was an understatement but at the moment he couldn’t even find a better in English, “he feels disgust.”

“Did he tell you that?”

He didn’t need to.

“No, but I know.”

Brian sighed and looked at Yuzuru like something was definitely wrong with the whole story like he didn’t believe him.

Does he think I’m lying?

“I’m not sure what’s going on with Javi but please, Yuzu, talk to him? Please don’t give up on him.”

 

In the night

Sit down I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her

And I'm right over here, why can't you see me?

And I'm givin' it my all

But I'm not the guy you're takin' home

And I keep dancin' on my own

I keep dancin' on my own

 

He listened to the song that Shae-Lynn had chosen for them and laughed at himself, wiping the tears from his eyes before they had a chance to spill over.

Maybe that’s how we’ll end up, you and I.

Me looking at you and never being seen.

Always here for you yet not the right one to stand by your side.

 


 

“Do you think this will all work out in the end?”

“I don’t know…” he watched the Japanese skater’s back as he disappeared into the corridors that lead him to the dressing rooms.

“He still hasn’t talked to you?”

“He did and I’m more confused than ever.”

“What happened?”

Brian sighed and rubbed his tired face on his palms, this was going to be a long day. He could feel it, “He said Javi found out about how he felt.”

“Wait he did?”

“Yes but listen to this: he didn’t take it so well and apparently and now Yuzu isn’t sure they are even friends anymore.”

Tracy looked at her friend like they had either all lost their minds, or something was definitely wrong with their students, “Brian that makes no sense whatsoever.”

“I know, and I’m completely lost.”

“I just wish there was a quick and easy fix for all of this," Tracy looked more reluctant to interfere by the second, “Still, we can’t just play matchmaker, especially since nothing seems to make sense anymore.”

“I’m not playing with them, the camp was not my idea, it was the club’s board that suggested it”, to be fair, Brian wasn’t very keen on summer camps, they could get tiring and without a bigger number of coaches he was sure to get a headache at the end of each day. Hence why the club understood the decision to keep it short due to being shorthanded on staff, “I just hinted that a program with both of them would be a nice addition to the performances at the end of the week.”

“I just don’t want them to suffer anymore.”

“I know”, he of all people, was aware of how all of this was taking a toll on his two favorite students, the two kids he loved like they were his own. Call him over-protective but he was sure he would fight anything for those two. Only, in this case, they were the ones responsible for hurting each other, “I know.”

 


 

It had been at least half an hour since Javier had left to get the call, so Yuzuru assumed he had already left to get some lunch. Leaving the locker room completely empty for him to use.

His hopes were cut short when right at the other end of the room, Javier still sat, fully clothed and his skates still on. What called his attention was the fact that his head was held between his hands.

Something did happen after all.

"Everything okay?"

He sat beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. He felt the Spaniard flinch slightly at the contact and quickly retrieved it.

“Nothing for you to worry about.”

His tone wasn’t harsh, yet the implication was clear.

You lost the right to worry a while ago when you crossed the line.

“I see.”

Javier seemed to rethink his words and without facing his rink-mate he tried to amend, “I’m just having some issues with the sponsors.”

“Sponsors?”

“Yes, winning two world championship in a row is apparently not enough. At least not good enough as an Olympic medal would be."

“But you defeated the Olympic gold medalist...”

“Well, they don’t see it that way and honestly…” he trailed off and Yuzuru desperately wanted to make the pain in his voice go away. The fact that the Spanish federation still caused more trouble than it was worth, made him want to ask Javier to change federations and forsake his home country.

Even if that would cost him a year, he would get the unconditional support of the Japanese federation for sure. Yuzuru still found himself amazed at the love the Japanese people seemed to have for the Spanish skater.

He pushed the silly thoughts away from his mind and focused on the current task at hand, comforting Javier in the best way he could, “What?”

“It’s nothing, forget it.”

“Please tell, Javi you can still trust me,” he knew that he was begging by now, he didn’t find it in himself to care, “even after everything.”

The Spaniard lifted his head to look at him and Yuzuru could finally see his full face, his eyes looked defeated and it scared him to his core, “Yuzu, I’m just tired you know? Tired of having to prove myself every single day. I left home when I was seventeen and I didn’t have exactly a picture-perfect life up until now, I had to fight for a spot in all of this when everyone knew I was just a poor kid from Spain. A country that nobody cares about or worries in this freaking sport,” he stopped to take a breath and wipe his eyes that seemed to hold more tears as he continued to let it all out, “but I made it, I won medals after medals even if I needed up sacrifice so much to get here and earn my place in the highest podiums in the world.”

“Everyone knows, Javi, we know.”

I know, love. I know.

“Yes, but you know what it got me? A lifetime of constant dismissal from about everyone, and the need to prove myself over and over again. I’m the world champion, again, and sponsors still tell me it’s not enough, when will all of this stop? When will I able to just skate without this constant fear above my head?”

I wish I could make it all go away.

You don’t deserve this.

Not you of all people.

Still, he couldn’t do anything but sit silently by him and listen to his every word, no matter what he threw at him, he would listen.

“My will to go on is fading Yuzuru, with every single and day this just keeps getting harder.”

Please no.

“Javi, maybe the sponsors do not understand what you did but please don’t give up, never give up.”

Don’t let them tear down everything that you have built, for you and this sport.

For all of us.

“Why shouldn’t I?” Javier looked beyond lost in his own sea of pain, and Yuzuru could only imagine what it was to go on like that your entire skating career.

It would drive anyone insane.

“Well, because you are one of the best skaters in the world and people, don’t forget people.”

“What do you mean people?”

“The ones that support Javi all this time, the people that sacrifice things along with Javi. You might left home when seventeen, but you were not really alone were you? Think of family and think of friends and people in Spain that are rooting for you.”

If you can’t rely on me, at least rely on those who still have your back.

“I’m not exactly a celebrity back home, Yuzuru.”

“Maybe not, but some still support you.”

Javier laughed and the sarcastic sound of it made Yuzuru’s skin crawl, “You know that’s easy to say when you have your whole country cheering you on and treating you like you are royalty.”

“That does not mean it’s not hard for me too.”

“Oh please, your people love you and would do anything for you, I can’t rely on such a thing back home.”

At least you could rely on them not hating you once they find out who you choose to love.

“Many people say they support me but it’s not simple, to please everyone I need to sacrifice many things too.”

My happiness being one of them.

“Sacrifices? Do you mean privacy? Because I would throw that out of the window, just to have the blind trust your federation has on you.”

What they easily give me, they can take away just as easily.

He narrowed his eyes and moved away from the older skater, things were getting out of hand, he might take whatever he threw at him but now he was basically attacking him blindly, “Things are not given to me Javier, I have support but in exchange I have bigger pressure than you, every time.”

“Bigger pressure than me? Really? Do you even know what’s like to live counting pennies to make it all work? To pray that each letter you receive it’s not just warning from some sponsor telling you that it’s over?”

I do know what it’s like.

He couldn’t hold back his own anger anymore, he knew that they would both regret what they said to each other in a few minutes but still, neither seemed to back down.

Frustration. Disappointment. Anger.

Emotions could cloud your judgment, even when you are staring into the eyes of the person you love.

“My life was not always perfect and you know.”

“Still, you never had to almost get on your knees to beg for help in your life.”

It only took Javier half a second to realize he had said.

It was still half a second too late.

Yuzuru got up and said something that almost sounded like a whisper, yet his rink-mate caught it perfectly. It was enough to make him freeze where he stood.

The reality of what had just happened started to sink in.

“You are right, in my life I only knew how to crawl on my knees in order to keep it.”

Javier opened his mouth to perhaps utter an apology.

Yuzuru never heard it.

He was gone.

 


 

“Should we check on them? They have been in there for a long time now, I think I just heard a door slam?”

“No, let them talk.”

“You are right,” Tracy grabbed the papers piled up nicely on her desk and counting the sheets, she asked him, “have you check the permits for the press?”

“No, but I’ll trust you on whatever you decide.”

“Okay, then. More than half of them are for the Japanese media anyway.”

“Are we even surprised by now?”

 


 

What the hell did I just do?

Yuzuru had just been trying to help him and he just pushed him away like an idiot.

He knew how painful Yuzuru’s past had been. What he had to face. How he barely made it out of his hometown rink with his life.

Still, in a blink of an eye, he had forgotten all about it. He had wanted to hurt someone else and had successfully managed to do so.

But he forgot one very important thing, hurting the person you love will bring you nothing but pain in return.

 


 

“What’s with the Poohs?”

“Sorry?”

Javier gestured towards the giant pile of plushies in front of them, waiting to be separated into bags so they could get them to the hotel, “Why do people throw these bears for you? I mean it’s cute but the number of plushies…it’s kind of insane.”

They had been training together for quite a while now, yet Javier had never remembered to ask him about the whole Pooh hurricane that surrounded him after his performances. To skate after him was a known nightmare within the skating community.

“Less talking and more packing Fernández,” Brian yelled at him, he too almost buried in plushies and helping Yuzuru and his mom pack them into the plastic bags.

“Sorry," Yuzuru apologized again. He insisted he could it alone but none of them actually believed him nor wanted to stay all night waiting for him, so they all agreed to help in the end.

“It’s okay, I have nothing better to do anyway.”

Except go to my hotel room and fall asleep till the next century.

“It’s a symbol," Yuzuru said, between two Winnie the Poohs and a large stuffed bear that appeared to be larger than him.

Javier almost laughed, the whole picture was adorable, the younger one heard him and stuck out his tongue at him.

“Of what exactly?”

“Support…Love?” Yuzuru shrugged and rubbed his back. Both of them were dead tired, but he knew how important this task was for him so he just sucked it up and started packing the stuffed toys quicker.

“You lost me there.”

“People know that I love Pooh-san so they give me more bears.”

“Okay but they must know you are not actually keeping them all.” Unless he had some kind of shrine back in Japan. He wouldn't put it past him.

“They know I donate to children.”

“Oh, I see."

The whole conversation had distracted them somewhat and when Javier looked back at the pile had stood there, it was gone. They could finally go home.

“But…they know you like that bear because of the tissue case you carry around everywhere.”

“No, I like the bears before that.”

Yuzuru didn’t elaborate further so Javier stopped trying to dig into the matter any further.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then”

He was about to leave and somehow find a taxi to get home but a small hand pulled on his sleeve, “How are you going home?”

“I’ll call a taxi.”

Javier's answer didn't seem to please him, “Come with us, we have same hotel.”

That was extremely kind of him, still, the Spanish skater didn't wish to impose, “It’s fine really.”

“Javier we have an empty seat, please come with us."

He had almost forgotten about Mrs. Hanyu and her tone didn't leave him an opportunity to refuse. She must be scary when angered for sure.

Poor Yuzu.

“Okay then, thank you.”

The ride home turned out to be the most comfortable one he had in years, everything was comfortable, the leather seats the silence inside the car and especially the warm temperature inside. It had nothing to do with the fact that he had Yuzuru squished between him and his mother.

Absolutely nothing.

He was about to lose his battle to fight off sleep with suddenly the other skater asked him something out of nowhere.

“Don’t you have a mascot?”

He had to turn to his side to make sure he had heard him, “A what?”

“A mascot for luck?”

“I don’t believe in such things, Yuzu.”

The younger one nodded and looked down, he looked sad?

“But hey, I like Mickey!”

Why am I trying to make him smile?

His confession seemed to make Yuzuru laugh, breaking the silent atmosphere and even Brian looked back at them from the front seats.

God, he looks so ugly when he laughs.

His mother simply swatted his shoulder and told him something in Japanese that had him shut up immediately.

“I always liked Winnie The Pooh but there’s reason for me to have that Pooh-san case with me all the time,” he seemed to have calmed down, and yawned at the same time he shook his head like trying to shake sleep off, it was endearing, “someday I tell.”

“I knew there was a reason,” he joked, poking his ribs, “is that bear actually your last rival that you turned into a tissue case?”

“No,” his eyes were almost closed, and Javier couldn't blame him, he had put up a hell of a fight today, “but that’s an idea for the future.”

“Great, I know my fate then, some of the bears we just put into the bags are actually really cute, don’t you keep any of them?”

Yuzuru seemed to completely forget that Javier wasn't actually his pillow and decided to just drop his head on his shoulder and cuddle up against his side, turning his back to Yumi. The Spaniard wasn't sure how to react so he just let the poor boy rest.

“If I try to choose I end up wanting all, then I would need the other half of my prize to send them home.”

What does that mean?

“The other half? What are you going to do with the other one?” he looked down to the face that was shoved almost on the crook of his neck, Yuzuru's eyes were completely closed and his breathing, even, "Yuzu?”

Is one of his eyes open?

“He will send it to Sendai,” his mother answered him instead, “he will send it home.”

“Oh, you mean famil-"

“No, not that kind of family. Yuzuru always sends part of his prize money to the fund that helps people rebuild their lives after the earthquake.”

The earthquake. He didn't need to ask to know what she was talking about. Everyone knew of the tragedy had befallen Japan in 2011. Javier also knew that the Hanyu family had somehow been in the middle of it, the media liked to talk about that. Yet, it was something so...personal? Delicate? That he had decided to not pry on it through the tabloids.

“That’s very generous of him, I heard that your family was affected by the disaster, I never asked Yuzu about it before but…”

“We’re all okay don’t worry,” she quickly assured him, “the media knows what happened but I guess they will never get the full reality of the horror we all went through.”

“You don’t have to speak about it, I didn't mean to..."

She shook his head and grabbed his hand on hers, carefully without waking Yuzuru up. Yumi too turned to her side and began to tell her side of the story, “I was at home, with my husband and daughter when everything began to shake,” her words were clear like she was telling something that had happened just the day before.

Javier regretted asking for more than he should have.

“Everything fell around us and when we managed to get out of the house safely...I saw how everything seemed to have fallen to the ground within minutes, everything was gone”, she drove her attention to the sleeping boy between them and began to caress his hair lovingly, it made him almost turn away from such an intimate gesture, “I only prayed that my son would be safe too. That I would be able to see him again.”

“I’m so sorry…”

She only smiled at him gratefully, “For a moment I thought he would be safe at school, they would keep him safe there, yet he was not supposed to be at school but at the rink. I tried to get my car and get there as fast as I could but...I just remember people telling me it wasn’t safe and that we should follow them to a shelter."

Javier tried to imagine it. He failed.

“I just needed to get to my son…and they wouldn’t let me…why was I allowed to live and not my boy? Why didn’t they let me get to my child? Those were the only thoughts that went through my mind at the time.”

“On the way to the shelter I started thinking about silly things, I guess that what happens when you are desperate enough,” she laughed softly at herself, without any real humor under it, “I’ve always considered myself a good Christian, a good person with honorable values yet I hadn’t prayed in a very long time. Could it be, that my son was going to pay for it? I thought...I should have prayed more...I should have done more...I thought that if anything happened to Yuzuru it would be my fault. Looking at the scenery that surrounded us, it really looked like God had left us.

God wouldn’t be that cruel. Would he?

“I forgot for a moment any kind of reason,” she shook her head and smiled almost apologetically at Javier, “I’m sorry if all of this sounds absurd to you but as a mother...sometimes you just lose…any kind of rational perspective.”

“I understand,” he really didn’t, and he feared he never would. Still, Javier knew from his experience how his mother’s eyes instantly lost all their shine every time they had to part ways at the airport. It hurt him to leave every single time, yet that was one of the many sacrifices that his family had to go through since he decided what his life would be. It was selfish, perhaps, but it had been his only choice all those years back. It hadn't been easy. It still wasn't.  “I hope everyone was alright?”

“Oh yes, once we got to that shelter, which turned out to be a gymnasium of sorts, we found Yuzuru a few hours later,” she looked at Javier’s face and apparently understood the unspoken question, “he was okay, some scraped knees and hands from crawling out of the rink.”

Javier almost choked on air. Crawling?

Once again she answered him before he could ask it out loud, “He somehow managed to get off the ice when it started to crack all around him, the pipes beneath it didn’t hold on as they were supposed to. The whole place started collapsing but he got out before he could be trapped inside. Still on his skates.”

He watched Yuzuru sleep soundly, still cuddled on his side, his head on his shoulder.

How can you be so strong?

Javier didn't exactly where it came from but he felt suddenly protective of that boy. Like he wanted to keep him safe like this. For as long as he could.

“He never told me how exactly he got out of the arena though, and I never pressed for answers. I was just glad he was in my arms, safe.”

The skater closed his eyes and for the first time in years, he conjured some kind of prayer in his mind.

You know I don’t pray as often as I should but thank you, thank you for keeping him safe.

“After that, he had no rink he could train at so he did his best and accepted to skate in over sixty ice shows, it was the only way he could keep himself in shape. I wondered if he should have just given up and focused on school, but if you know my son you realize that standing on the way of his dreams is impossible.”

This definitely changed things. He could no longer look at the Japanese skater the same way he did before. This young man was not just a brilliant skater and his highest rival.

No, this was a man that had literally fought to keep his dream alive and pushed through.

This was a man that had somehow fought to be alive.

“The tissue case I can’t explain to you, because he never told me about that either,” now that was something that Javier was incredibly curious of, “he told me that it was a gift, and didn’t let go of it since then. I decided to leave it at that.”

Yuzuru and all of his mysteries.

“Thank you for telling me all of this Mrs. Hanyu.”

“Please call me Yumi, I have a feeling that we will see each other quite often once we get to Toronto.”

I really hope so. I really do.

 


 

I’m an idiot.

I need to fix this. Despite everything, he didn’t deserve my words.

This can't be our lives from now on. Forever hurting each other like this.

He ran out of the locker room and into the gallery surrounding the rink, he almost tripped due to his unlaced boots but he didn’t care, he needed to apologize.

Yuzuru was bending down collecting his bags and shoving his skates on his backpack when he spotted him, his reaction was immediate, “Let’s stop for today Javi.” His eyes were red and swollen, his face pink from the effort to breathe through his tears no doubt.

What have I done?

He had caused this. he just desperately needed to fix it.

"Yuzuru please listen to me, I didn't mean that..."

The other skated simply scoffed at that, "Which part?"

I need to make him understand. Screw caution. I can just tell him how I feel. How I would never hurt him like that.

He might hate me but I just need him to know that I care, that I would never hurt him on purpose.

He already hates me anyway.

"All of it, I didn't mean to hurt you."

Still, that wasn't enough to convince Yuzuru of his sincerity, "Yeah well, I don't believe."

"How can I hurt you when I-"

“Hey there.”

Javier almost jumped into the ice, whoever that was, they had been scarily quiet to sneak up on them like that.

He recognized that voice though.

What the...

When he turned around he knew exactly who to expect, yet he still found himself baffled at the sudden appearance.

Out of all the people that Brian could have invited...

Yuzuru's eyes widened at the figure that stood a few meters from them and ran to him, almost knocking into Javier in the process, "You are here!"

His rink-mate as expected pounced on the smaller one, pulling him into a hug of sorts, his back to Javier, while the guest looked straight at the Spaniard's eyes, over Yuzuru’s shoulder. His smirk, unnerving.

“Missed me?”

 

So far away, but still so near

The lights come on, the music dies

But you don't see me, standing here

 

He had lost his chance.

God may be merciful, but fate...was not.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 Somewhere In Time

 


 

 

Happy Birthday,

 

This is something that I got for your birthday many months ago, before everything.

I chose something simple, yet that conveyed everything that I ever wished for you, no matter what.

For days now, I’ve wondered if I should even give you these, but as they sat quietly on the floor of my closet, I realized that I couldn’t throw them away. You would hate that.

I made sure that they would look just like the common ones, I erased every single trace of what made them special. Burdensome words now, even though I still mean every single one of them.

Despite all of this, I hope they can be of use to you.

Any other person should now end this letter and wish you good luck for your future endeavors, I shouldn’t write words that will probably make you hate me even more.

But, there are so many things that I would say to you if we ever met again.

I would tell you that I will love you forever, but I guess that would be a lie.

Forever is not enough for me, and even though I won't be a part of your future anymore, there will never be an after you, for me.

I will love you forever and even after that. 

It's funny how despite all of my plans, that's the only certain thing in my life.

I wish for many things during the night, you know? When you are not beside me anymore, when I’m all alone and only my thoughts keep me company. The nightmares are gone and my mother is no longer scared to death every time I wake up screaming for you. Instead, I lie awake and imagine our future together in my head. I treasure these moments of silence and nostalgia more than everything. When I'm alone in my bed, the world can't touch me, can't touch both of us. Our memories are safe and they can't take that away from me, even if they take everything else. Sometimes, in my fantasies, we are not alone, and all around us we can hear tiny footsteps and laughter, those are the times where I imagine you happier than ever, almost like you had accomplished everything in life. Like everything that you ever desired was right there, beside you.

I wished that God had given us more time.

But most of all I wish for a life that will never be.

I hope that you get that happy ending that you always dreamed about.

Even if it’s not by my side.

We knew that this moment would come, we knew that our time together had numbered days and an expiration date. Yet, we didn’t notice any of it as it slipped through our fingers and we focused on just…living. On being free to just love each other.

I will never regret it, never. And I hope that you won’t as well, for everything that I did was to love you the best that I could.

Even if it wasn’t enough in the end.

Please live, happily, for the both of us.

Forever Yours.