Chapter 8 - And Love You Just a Little More
Yuuri wasn't sure how much later it was when he heard someone knock on the door to his room. Thinking that Celestino must have forgotten his room key, he dragged himself out of bed and went to open the door. But, instead of his coach, in the open doorway was Victor Nikiforov.
"Yuuri! I wanted to ask you out to dinner, only I forgot to get your phone number!" Victor said brightly, then his eyes narrowed in concern. "You've been crying. What's wrong?"
For a moment Yuuri was tempted to slam the door in Victor's face, but he knew it wouldn't help - if Victor had been able to hunt down his room number, he wouldn't be easy to brush off. Besides, he owed the other man the truth. He should know just what a bad person Yuuri was. Leaving the door open so that Victor could come in, he stepped away and turned his back.
"I'm a horrible person," he said, not able to look at Victor as he added, "and a horrible dog owner. I haven't been home to see Vicchan, or my family, in over 4 years. I was here skating, while he was…" His voice trailed off, tears choking him.
"Yuuri?" Hands gently grasped his shoulders. "Your doggie?"
Yuuri nodded, unable to say anything. Victor didn't say anything either, just turned Yuuri around and gently folded him into his arms. And Yuuri hated to be coddled, hated to be treated like he was weak, but it didn't feel like Victor was saying that at all. He was just someone who loved dogs and was sharing his grief. Yuuri allowed himself to slump into Victor's arms and cried against his shoulder until he was drained and shaking with exhaustion.
Victor made him sit down and fetched a bottle of water, then made him drink it with some aspirin, knowing without asking that crying had given him a headache. Then he coaxed him into lying down on the bed, joining him and once more wrapping him in his arms. Yuuri pressed his face against Victor's chest, relishing the warmth and the way it blocked out the light on his tear-bruised eyes.
"Makkachin spends more time with his sitters than with me," Victor said solemnly. "I worry because Makka is getting old, and I am not spending enough time with him. And when he is gone…." He pressed a kiss against Yuuri's hair.
"Makka knows you love him," Yuuri said lowly. "Vicchan - I left him."
"With your family, who must have loved him very much." Victor replied. "I am sure he knew you loved him, too."
Yuuri wasn't so sure but he didn't feel like talking about that right now.
"What will you do now?" Victor asked. "I don't know Japanese customs. In St. Petersburg there is a cemetery for pets. I'm sorry - you probably don't want to talk about it - "
Yuuri halted his apology with a finger on his lips. "No, it's all right. He'll be cremated - then the urn placed on the family shrine so everyone can - can say goodbye…"
Tears came again because he probably wouldn't have a chance to do that before the final ritual, wouldn't help choose Vicchan's final resting place. By the time he got back home, all of that would be done.
"You are going home for this?"
Yuuri blinked. "What? No - we're flying back to Detroit on Monday."
Victor frowned a little. "Then flying back to Japan in two weeks for your Nationals?"
"Couldn't you just go home for those two weeks? See your family, say good-bye to your Vicchan…oh, you are in school - you have tests?"
"No, we're on break," Yuuri said, then frowned. "Huh. I hadn't thought… Celestino probably needs to get back to Detroit but…"
He decided he'd talk to Celestino about it when his coach got back. There would be the cost to change tickets, but maybe it would be offset by fact that he wouldn't need to fly from Detroit back to Japan. And he had some prize money coming in now, for his Bronze.
"You should visit Hasetsu, after I return home next spring," he said. "You could stay at my family's onsen - we could skate together and I could show you the sights."
Victor smiled and brushed the hair back out of his eyes. "I'd like that."
Yuuri yawned, suddenly exhausted by the emotional upset of the day coming on top of his exertions in the rink. "Sorry," he said to Victor. "You wanted to get something to eat?"
"Maybe later," VIctor said, snuggling closer. "This is comfortable and I could use a short nap." He pressed another kiss against Yuuri's forehead. "Rest, dorogoi."
Yuuri was a little tired and Victor was warm and comfortable. He allowed his eyes to drift closed, just for a little bit of a rest.
Within minutes, both he and Victor were sound asleep.
Celestino quietly opened the door to his room, hoping that Yuuri might have fallen asleep although he was worried about what emotional damage this might cause the boy. Yuuri had such a glass heart, and while his Bronze medal was surely a boost to his confidence, the loss of his beloved pet coming so close after that might knock him down further. Which wouldn't bode well for the All-Japan competition in two weeks. He just hoped that Phichit would be able to cheer him up once they got home, and he considered whether it might be a good idea to bring the Thai skater along for Yuuri's Nationals.
He shut the door and turned to the room, then paused and stared at his student's bed in surprise. There, curled up on top of the covers with Yuuri, was the legend of figure skating, Victor Nikiforov. There was nothing sexual about the embrace; Nikiforov looked to be protecting and comforting Yuuri while they both slept. He wondered just what had happened in that elevator, and the romantic Latin side of him thought it just might be Fate pushing two lonely souls together.
In any case, it was clear that he wasn't needed at the moment. Fortunately, the hotel bar was well stocked and there were many other coaches to drink with. He had a feeling that he would become a lot better acquainted with Yakov Feltsman over the next year.
Pulling out a spare blanket from the closet, he draped it over the two young men. Then he turned out the light and closed the door behind him.
Two days later, Yuuri boarded a plane to Fukuoka alongside his coach, homeward bound for the two weeks before All-Japan. Plenty of time to mourn Vicchan, to see his family, and to prepare for Nationals in the comfort of his old home rink.
As he pulled out his phone to switch it off, a text message came through, from the brand-new contact in his address book. He read it with a smile, then sent a message of his own in reply (although with significantly less emojis).
See you next level, Vitya!