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How Many Ways Can We Say the Word 'Fuck'?

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Fuck!” Yuri yells as he drops his phone against the hard, tiled airport floor. The case splinters in two; the force of the fall sends each part ricocheting across the room. By the time he bends down to pick it up, he’s met with multiple glares from awaiting passengers.

The screen is cracked; white lines visibly distorting the LED screen. “Fuck.” He sighs again, quieter this time.

He slings his backpack around his shoulder and makes a beeline for the nearest available seat. He’s just about to sit in it when some guy runs across the lobby and dives in to it, along with the cheek to stare at Yuri.

“Fucking prick!” Yuri glares at the stranger, but after the disaster of this year’s Internationaux de France, he has little fight left in him.

He’d barely qualified, barely gotten any time with Otabek, now he was barely holding it together. Yuri scans for another seat, and thankfully finds one not too far away.

He thumbs his broken phone as he slumps dejectedly on the uncomfortable metal bench. The screen flickers on and off, as if it’s taunting him.He turns it off and slumps further in his seat as he waits for it to reboot, hoping that the simple action will make it hold up until he gets back home.

It does, thankfully, seem to regain enough life to allow him to use the phone; albeit tinged a greenish yellow. It’s enough to see a text from Otabek though:

 See you at NHK?

 He hates travelling alone, and the simple text is enough to remind him of that.

 “Ahh, shit.” Yuri sighs to himself. A quick glance at the departure board reveals that his gate is ready, so he begrudgingly grabs his stuff and makes his way across the airport.

 He twirls his phone around in his pocket, already sick of this sinking feeling in his stomach and dreading landing back in St. Petersburg to what is bound to be a tirade of lectures from Yakov and Lilia.

An air-mile purchased, first-class upgrade means that he boards as soon as he arrives at the gate. He’s thankful for the distraction the low hum of the airplane gives him, and for the window seat. Another text pings through on his phone, again; it’s from Otabek:

 Yura? You did well to pull back from your short programme. You’ll do fine next time, okay?

 He can’t find it in him to reply before the flight attendant asks him to switch off his phone. By the time they’re in the air, he finds himself grabbing the hot towel to wipe away the tears falling down his cheeks. Fucking Hell, he thinks, as he struggles to stop his emotions showing.

 He asks for a glass of vodka, then another, and another. He’s on his fourth glass when the flight attendant raises her eyebrow, and he figures her silent judgement means it’s time to kick back and fall asleep.

 He’s only awoken by the announcement that they’ll be landing soon and finds that he still has the heavy, sinking feeling of failure still burning a hole in his stomach.

 

--

 

 Less than a week goes by before Otabek is proven right - he does just fine at the NHK, where they’ve luckily been placed together once more. A silver medal, next to Otabek’s Gold, secures him a spot at the Grand Prix and their schedules have finally allowed for them to spend some time together before they both trudge back home to prepare for the finale.

 They’re too exhausted to spend the night doing anything but demolishing take-out and drinking in their hotel room. It’s no surprise that Otabek has showered and changed first. He goes to flop down on Yuri’s bed while he’s still combing his hair.

 “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” He groans as he hits the sheets.

 “What?” Yuri calls back from the bathroom.

 “My coach has moved up my flight. Apparently I need to be back for some kind of press release? I leave first thing.”

 It’s Yuri’s turn to groan now as he emerges from the bathroom. “Are you serious? When?”

 “Gotta leave here around five-thirty.”

 Yuri groans again. “That fucking sucks.” He falls down on the bed next to Otabek.

 They both lay there for a little while, clearly dejected at the sudden loss of time. The sun begins to set before either of them speak again.

 “Wanna pig out on room service and get drunk?” Otabek finally asks.

 Yuri rolls over to look at him; eyebrow raised and teasing smirk already in place. “My, my, Beka. Are you finally letting your inhibitions go? Alcohol with an early flight?” Yuri’s grinning by the time he reaches the end of his sentence.

 Otabek laughs. “Oh, fuck off!” He teases as he grabs the room service menu off the nightstand and uses it to playfully whack Yuri’s arm.

 Yuri laughs back, snatching the menu as he rolls back over so they’re both face up, looking at their dinner choices.

 The evening consists of giggles and drinking. Yuri, despite Otabek’s protests, orders a gargantuan amount of food - mostly from the dessert menu. The TV is in a language that neither of them understand so they resort to playing silly drinking games with a pack of cards Otabek produces from his backpack.

 Midnight rolls around sooner than either of them like and they’re left in a room illuminated by the moon. Bellies full and minds buzzed. They’re talking barely above a whisper, even though no one is around to hear them. Otabek begins to fall asleep and even though the room is a twin, Yuri chooses to let himself drift off next to him.

 He wakes to an empty bed and a note underneath his phone.

 Last night was fun, I’ve missed doing that. You looked too cute to wake, so I took a photo and left :P Catch you at the GPF x

 He laughs at his friend’s joke, even though he’s a little saddened to find Otabek gone. He rolls over and decides to sleep until it’s time for his own flight.

 It’s not until he’s waiting to board his flight that he finds the aforementioned photo waiting for him on Snapchat, kitty-face filter and all.

 

--

 

They were among the first to qualify, and busy timetables and preparations mean they have little time to even text until the Grand Prix finale rolls round nearly three weeks later.

 They're saying goodbye to JJ and Bella in the hotel lobby the evening after both the competition and exhibitions have finished when Otabek does it. It happens so quickly that Yuri barely has time to react before Otabek moves his hand further up his back, thumb pressing against his spine in a way that’s somehow far too sexual.

 Yuri struggles to keep a straight face the entire time. He blushes hard enough for Bella to lean forward and place her hand on his forehead.

 “He’s just not feeling well.” Otabek quickly offers. “You guys better get on if you want to catch that flight - if you still can.”

 They agree, and wish Yuri well before making their final goodbyes. Otabek removes his hand before anyone notices, and after one last bone-crushing hug from Bella, they head towards the elevator.

 He does it again in their hotel room. After all the routines have been skated and the medals have been handed out and the exhibition has come and gone. The busy hallways have dwindled to an exhausted silence as most of the competitors and coaches have found their way home; glorious or crestfallen - it’s of little consequence to them now.

 An out-of-season tropical storm has left them the last to leave. A ‘cyclone’ the locals call it, with a promise that it sounds scarier than it actually is. Yuri raises an eyebrow at the comment as the wind howls and sends palm trees beating against the window.

 Otabek shrugs it off with a smile, though. They figure that it makes sense to share a hotel room, and a bed. It’s not like they haven’t done it countless times before; hidden beneath makeshift blanket forts, loading up on room-service and binging Netflix.

 It’s normal for them - natural, even.

 Yuri’s far too busy munching away on some chocolate… thing, and laughing at some show when it happens. It’s barely even noticeable; the way Otabek delicately dances his fingers along Yuri’s stomach until they settle on his hip.

 It manages to make Yuri’s breath catch in his throat though, and he releases a whispered ‘Fuck’ when he exhales.

 “Hm?” Otabek questions. Yuri isn’t sure at first whether he’s fucking serious but the look in his eyes screams innocent.

 “Oh…” He trails off, hurriedly trying to think of some excuse. “I just… uh, trying to think of where I know that actor from.”

 “Ah. Which one?”

 “The blond one.”

 Otabek lifts his head slightly. “Huh… no idea, sorry.” He lets his head fall on to Yuri’s chest and his fingers grace the top of his jeans.

 Yuri bites his lip that time. So the ‘fuck’ is kept purely to himself.

 Otabek continues to lay in the same way as they continue to watch the movie, he eventually starts moving his thumb in circular motions on Yuri’s hip.

 It sends shivers up his spine. But he likes it, so he doesn’t stop it. It eventually leads to him turning closer towards Otabek; until their positions practically reverse and he’s lying on his chest. He falls asleep to Otabek gently rubbing the small of his back.

 

--

 

It’s far later into the night when Yuri stirs, not knowing when he had fallen asleep. A quick check of his phone lets him know that it should be nearing daybreak, but judging by the still howling wind and the darkness of the sky, they still weren’t leaving today.

 He can’t say he isn’t grateful for the stolen time; nor the distraction from competition. Otabek is still slumbering; with a heavy arm wrapped around Yuri’s waist.

 He closes his eyes, and let’s the sound of the wind and Otabek’s soft breathing lull him back to sleep.

 

--

 

Later the same day, while they’re both still attempting to rub the tension of the competition from their temples, the cyclone warning is lifted.

 It’s with heavy hearts that they both ring their respective airlines to book flights home, deciding that they may as well stay another night to avoid what must now be a very busy, bustling airport.

 They don’t leave the room apart from Otabek sneaking out on to the balcony for the occasional cigarette. It feels solemn; the storm has blown over but the sky remains grey and filled with bursting rain clouds.

 It drizzles sporadically throughout the day, and as Yuri is pondering about the city and its sights, Otabek seems to read his mind.

 “It’s a shame.” He sighs.

 “Hm?” Yuri snaps towards him, suddenly drawn from his thoughts.

 “Another city, another eight-hour flight from home, and we don’t even get to see any of it.”

 Yuri shrugs. “You could always come back in the off-season?”

 “Between new routines and picking music and costume fittings and the one-hundred other things to do?”

 Yuri shifts uncomfortably at Otabek’s sudden change in tone. “Well… It doesn’t matter that much, does it?” He asks, innocently.

 “Seeing the world doesn’t matter to you?”

 “Well, no… It’s just…” Yuri sighs. “There’s plenty of time for that stuff, y’know?”

 “You don’t find it ridiculous? All the way to Japan - for the second time this month - and we haven’t even seen any of it.”

 “I’ve seen Japan. Well, some of it.”

 “Well I haven’t!” Otabek snaps. “It’s completely fucked up. I’ve been to all these places across the world and I’ve hardly seen any of them. It’s fucking ridiculous.”

 “Mm.” Yuri says teasingly. “I think you’re fucking ridiculous.” He says it with a smile; a harmless comment only meant in jest.

 But Otabek doesn’t take it that way.

 “Aw get fucked, Yuri.” Otabek mumbles under his breath.

 “Woah! I was only saying-”

 “-that you don’t care about the world around you? That you’ll happily go about living your life from the inside of a hotel room?” Otabek raises his voice as his tone becomes accusatory.

 “I don’t do that! I just understand that there’s plenty of time to see it. I’m young - we’re young, Beka. It’s the only time we can compete.”

 “Because that’s all you care about?”

 “No! I-”

 “-yeap-”

 “-Beka-”

 “-like I said, Yuri. Get fucked.”

 Yuri is left dumbfounded by the sudden argument as Otabek grabs his bag and slams the hotel door behind him. He sits in place until his footsteps have long since faded down the hallway and the elevator doors have pinged.

 He packs his bag; ready to leave come the morning. Otabek does not return until well after dark, as he feigns sleep in the previously unused bed.

 

--

 

Yuri struggles to sleep that night, and he blames the loss of warmth. Otabek seems to be much the same; every time he peeks over at his bed, he can see the bright light from his phone illuminating him.

 “Beka?” He whispers in to the silent room.

 “Hm?”

 “You’ll still fly over for my birthday?”

 The reply doesn’t come until Otabek switches off his phone and slides in to bed next to Yuri, wrapping one arm around him and the other under his pillow.

 “Course I am. And I’m sorry.”

 “Better fucking be.” Yuri sleepily mumbles.

 The vague notion of tension in the room immediately dissipates and they both fall asleep within seconds. Only the alarm brings them back to life. They are sombre as they make their way back to the airport, and hug goodbye.

 “Only a couple more months.” Otabek promises.

 “I know.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Just drink the fucking shot, Beka!” Yuri shouts; voice raised and hoarse from a night spent singing and trying to speak louder than the heavy bass that pumps through the club. A little over three months have gone by since the last time they saw each other.

Yuri tips the shot glass to his lips; thumb pressed against his throat. Then he takes the next shot for himself; it tingles on his lips and tongue and burns his throat. It pools, deep in his stomach where he realises he needs more.

He’s pulling on Otabek’s collar when the older man leans down and whispers in his ear; “Happy Birthday, Yura.” The sudden velvety depth of his voice and his lips pressed against his neck sends a shiver down his spine.

Yuri grabs Otabek’s hand and pulls, quickly deciding that they’ve been at this game for five years far too long and his twenty-first birthday marks a perfect occasion to stop playing. There’s a dark look in his eyes as they move through the club.

The drunken blowjob is sloppy; happening before Otabek even has the chance to think about objecting. They’re squished in a dingy, filthy nightclub bathroom. Otabek barely has the time to shut the toilet seat before Yuri is on him.

 Fuck, I shouldn’t have worn these pants. He thinks as Yuri tugs down the elastic waistband. He plunges his hand in to his underwear and grabs his already half-hard cock.

Then it’s in his mouth, quickly working to be fully erect as Yuri takes him whole. The metal ball of his tongue piercing drags down his length in such a way that he bites the collar of his jacket to keep from crying out.

 It isn’t much help though, anyone who walked in could instantly detect the gasps and whimpers coming from the end stall. Otabek balls his hands in Yuri’s hair; grabbing and pushing and pulling as Yuri pushes his cock further down his throat.

 He comes; hot and sweet and covers Yuri’s lips. The blond smirks as he licks them. Yuri swallows then stands. He pulls up Otabek’s slacks and tugs at the drawstrings; still smirking as he nibbles on his bottom lip.

 He leans forward to kiss him; Otabek can taste himself on his tongue.

 “Gonna go dance, okay?” Yuri breathes against his lips.

 Then he whips around; silk slip kimono billowing behind him, leaving Otabek in a stunned euphoria.

 “Fuck.” The curse echoes around the empty stall.

 

--

 

Fuck.” Yuri moans as soon as he breaks from the bathroom entryway. Suddenly, the world is spinning and he can barely stand on his feet.

 He falls back, only to be caught by familiar arms. Then Otabek is pressed against his back, whispering in his ear.

 “Home. Now.”

 Yuri wastes no time grinding his ass up against Otabek’s already hardening cock before dragging him out of the club. They stumble out into the street, hailing the nearest taxi. Yuri moans his address to the driver through the sloppy, drunken kisses making their way down his neck.

 When they arrive, he hands the driver double the fare and they drag each other up the apartment steps, loosening each other’s clothing as they go.

 They’re rambatious, and Yuri’s pushed forward up against his front door. It’s a good thing he doesn’t like his neighbours, he figures.

 “Beka.” He moans, arching his back and driving his arse in to Otabek’s groin once more.

 The sensation is enough for him to return the moan. He reaches forward to un-do Yuri’s belt.

 Yuri manages to turn the key in the lock - or maybe he just forgot to lock it. Either way, he doesn’t care as they stumble in to the apartment. Hungry, horny and desperate for each other.

 Otabek spins Yuri around to face him as they both remove their jackets, then hastily wrapped scarves are the next to meet the floor -  they find them in the morning, and both of them are surprised they even remembered to grab them.

 Yuri’s belt is already undone and lies lost somewhere around the third floor, Otabek pulls down his skinny jeans so quick that the button pops.

 They’re still standing in the entryway and Yuri is trying to kick off his boots when Otabek simultaneously grabs his cock and bites his tongue. He is forceful, and rough. Yuri loves it.

 The rest of their clothing litters the hallway as they make their way to Yuri’s bedroom. Otabek all but throws Yuri on the bed and starts kissing his neck as Yuri wraps his legs around him.

 Otabek begins to trail his kisses southward, as Yuri reaches out a hand to awkwardly fumble in the bedside drawer.

 “What’re you looking for?” Otabek asks, voice muffled as he leaves throbbing love bites on the insides of Yuri’s thigh.

 “Lube.”

 “Ah, okay - fuck, where is it?”

 He manages to find it moments later, and hands it over to Otabek. He’s quick to flip the lid and squirt a healthy amount over his fingers. He drags them up and down Yuri; teasing his asshole. Yuri responds by pulling at his hair and gasping.

 “Mm, Beka!” He moans.

 Otabek gently squeezes a finger inside; which quickly turns to two. He’s debating a third when Yuri grinds upwards, using his body to beg for more, so he gives it to him. He pushes another finger inside as he takes the head of his cock in his mouth.

 Yuri quivers, “Fuck!”

 He moves his hips to steadily rock in Otabek’s mouth while Otabek uses his free hand to squeeze his ass cheek - he pulls Yuri slightly over on to his side, then slaps it.

 “Ah! Fucking Hell!” Comes the shocked response.

 “You don’t like it?”

 Yuri ponders for a moment, then his expression changes to a devilish grin. “Nah, do it again.”

 So Otabek does, again and again until his ass cheek begins to bruise pink and purple. He removes his mouth and fingers with a duel ‘pop’.

 “Knees.” The grunt is firm and demanding; Yuri complies and rolls on to his stomach. He props himself up and sticks his ass in the air. He closes his eyes and waits for Otabek to enter him.

 He doesn’t; and instead crouches down on to his knees himself, then he circles his tongue across the rim of Yuri’s asshole.

 “Fu-uu-ck.” Yuri stutters, barely able to contain himself and he bends forward and his legs begin to shake. “Ah-ah!

 Otabek hums against him before sticking his tongue inside; earning a wide range of expletives from Yuri. He begins to rock against Otabek’s mouth.

 “You need more?” Otabek questions; his voice dripping with lust.

 Yuri nods his head. His whole body joins his shaking legs as Otabek positions himself. Then he’s inside him. It’s hot and searing and so goddamn fucking good. Yuri is too euphoric to cry out in either pain or pleasure; too lost until another slap on his ass cheek reminds him.

 Otabek thrusts harder and deeper. Yuri continues to cry out and beg for more. He completely loses track of himself as electric pulses begin to ricochet off every nerve ending in his body. Otabek’s thrusting becomes shuddered and harsh and Yuri comes hard and quick. It’s practically blinding.

 He’s still trying to remember his name when Otabek moans it and collapses on top of him. They both pant to catch their breath. A small age passes before Otabek finds the energy to move off him and prop himself up on the pillows.

 Yuri rolls over on to his back. “I’m fucked.”

 Otabek simply laughs and rolls over to wrap an arm around his waist.

 “Mm. Same.” The word is barely distinguishable as they both drift into a dreamless slumber.

 

--

 

Again, Yuri wakes while Otabek is still fast asleep. Spring seems to have forgotten St. Petersburg and snow blusters outside his bedroom window. Potya has found her way to the end of the bed, and she resembles one of the rumbling snow clouds as she purrs, curled up in a ball.

He reaches for a bottle of water left on his bedside table and revolts at the stale taste. It’s been there far too long but his mouth is dry and the world is still spinning.

 He watches the snow, and counts the flakes as he falls back to sleep.

 

~ ~ ~

 “Fuck off. You’re not retiring.”

 Otabek is sat across from him, sighing in to his bowl of noodles. It’s a little after two the next afternoon, and they’d barely been able to drag themselves from bed less than an hour ago to make the five minute walk for lunch.

 “Not retiring. Taking a break.”

 “People don’t just ‘take a break’ from international figure skating, Beka.” Yuri says as he plays with his chopsticks. “They retire. They don’t come back.”

 “Victor did.”

 Yuri raises an eyebrow. “Out of sheer pettiness! He was pissed I beat his world record and wanted to try and win it back. Ended up finishing his career with a broken foot. You know this.”

 Otabek tenses, and rubs his eyes with his forefinger and thumb. He isn’t sure whether it’s last night's drinking or the conversation he’s dreading that’s giving him a headache. “Yura.” He says. “I need a break.”

 Yuri stirs his food again, unsure of what to say in the uneasy silence. He decides on a simple question. “When?”

 “After Nationals.”

 “Ah.”

 They sit in the quiet for a small while after, both them unable to do more than pick at their suddenly-unwanted food.

 “What’ch’ya gonna do?” Yuri asks with a forced mouthful of food.

 Otabek eyes him before he answers. And for the first time in a long time, he can’t seem to make out the expression on his face.

 “Not sure, yet. Travel a bit, maybe?”

 “Travel?” Yuri scoffs. “We get to travel all the time, what’s retiring got to do with that?” He seems to pick his appetite back up, and continues munching away on his food.

 “I’ll keep saying it - I’m not retiring. Plus, I’m sick of seeing the world from the inside of a hotel room.”

 It’s Yuri’s turn to sigh as he replies. “This again?”

 “I’m not arguing with you again, Yura.” His voice is firm.

 He lazily nibbles on his food; his sudden burst in appetite now gone completely. They sit in silence - both too stubborn to be the one to break it - and they watch the busy St. Petersburg street bustle with life from the comfort of their booth.

 Yuri, impatient as ever, is the one to speak first. He tuts, loudly. Whatever he’s been mulling over in his mind has caused him to lose his temper.

 “I still think you’re fucking ridiculous.” He’s not teasing this time.

 “What?”

 “Well, you’re basically giving up your career to what? Go and see things that will still be there in a few years time?”

 “You’re missing the point, Yura.” Otabek groans.

 “Then what is the point?”

 “I don’t know!” He huffs, clearly growing exasperated. “To do something more than skate? Fucking hell, Yuri.”

 “What?”

 “Well, I just didn’t think that this conversation would be such a hardship. I really thought you’d understand.”

 “Well I don’t,.” Yuri snaps as he folds his arms.

 “Why not? It’s just a year.”

 Yuri doesn’t reply, and instead he turns his attention back to the window. They’re still in an uncomfortable silence for a while longer. The waitress removes their bowls and brings the bill.

 “It’s just a year, Yura.” Otabek repeats, the usual softness in his voice seems to have returned.

 Again, Yuri is silent. Instead, he takes another pair of chopsticks from the pot on the table and starts rolling them together. He doesn’t reply until he puts one chopstick down and begins to bend the two ends of the other.

 “You’re not going back to Almaty, are you?” Yuri realises.

 “No.”

 “Where, then?”

 Otabek shifts uncomfortably. “Canada first. JJ’s lending me his family camper.”

 Yuri scoffs as he snaps one of his chopsticks.  “Unbelievable.” He says as he shakes his head.

 “No, Yuri. You’re the one being unbelievable right now. I’ve told you I need to take a break, why can’t you support that?”

 “I’m not going to support you throwing away your career, Otabek.”

 “I’m not! I just need -”

 “- a break. Yeah. You said.” Yuri shakes his head as he rummages through his pockets.

 “Do me a favour, Otabek,” Yuri stands up and throws some bills on the table. “Just don’t fucking speak to me.”

 

--

 

So he doesn’t. Yuri drags himself out for some expensive ‘comfort shopping’ and by the time he saunters home; Otabek’s belongings have long since been cleared from his apartment. Potya mewls from the sofa; her nap disturbed.

 Yuri dumps his shopping bags in frustration when he sees that Otabek’s leather jacket is no longer hanging by the door. The bedroom reveals an empty bed and empty bottom drawer.

 It’s late by now; the kitchen is only illuminated by the streetlights. Potya comes to twist between his feet. He pulls out his phone for the first time since he stormed out on Otabek. It flickers to life.

 No new messages.

 

~ ~ ~

 

A whole year and a whole new skating season passes before they see each other again. Nationals have come and gone, this time, and Victor has convinced Yuri to spend what’s left of Spring in Hatetsu.

 He’s traipsing through the airport, trying to find the correct route to the exit, struggling to make out the signs in his limited Japanese when -

 “No. Fucking. Way.”

 He can only see the back of him; titled forward by the information desk, passport in one hand and suitcase in the other. But he’s still sure it’s him and before he can even think to stop himself, he’s dragging his case across the room to meet him.

 “Beka.” His name falls from Yuri’s lips like fresh snow.

 Otabek turns around to meet the source of his name.

 “Yura.” He says, and Yuri wonders how his own name can sound as delicate.

 They embrace; easily as they have ever done. As if they haven’t spent a year apart and not talking.

 “You’re here.” Yuri mumbles into Otabek’s jacket. “You’re here.” He repeats as he tightens the hug.

 They stay like that for a short while before - “You’re here.” Yuri repeats for a third time, as if it’s a sudden realisation. “Why are you here?”

 “I… wanted to see Japan a little. Plus, Yuuri offered to help choreograph a routine for next season.”

 “He did?”

 “Yes.”

 “So you’re coming back?”

 “Yes.”

 “But you retired?”

 Otabek laughs, “How many times do I have to tell you? Taking a break is not retiring.”

 “Hm. Basically is.” Yuri mumbles. But he isn’t serious, and all previous animosity between them seems to evaporate. “I rented a car, you’re driving.”

 “Fucking hell, Yuri.” He says playfully.

 "What?” Yuri says, eyes wide and full of false innocence.

 He laughs. “Fine, I thought I was gonna have to catch the train anyway.”

 They manage to stumble their way through the signage and out to the car rental pick-up. Otabek drives the whole stretch to Hatetsu. They make light conversation; catching each other up on the last year of their lives.

 It hurts, Yuri realises, more than he expected it to have done. He’d busied himself; and quickly learns that Otabek has done the same, in order not to spend too much time thinking about him, and their fight.

 They’re showered with happy greetings and hugs as soon as they arrive at the hot springs. Yuri manages to get in a jab about their ‘chance’ meeting being a setup; both Yuuri and Victor claim that they simply ‘forgot’ they were both due to stay at the same time. Yuri catches a knowing look between the two, however, and a part of him can’t help but be thankful.

 An unspoken agreement settles between Yuri and Otabek; they don’t talk about their argument. Instead, they skate. They demolish Mari’s homemade katsudon and wash it down with sake and soak in the hot springs nearly every evening. On Sundays, Yuri asks her for places to see and he takes Otabek to a new place every weekend.

 Yuri barely dares to touch him. But every time they brush up against each other in practice, or he steps in to the onsen just that little bit too close to him; he finds flutters in his heart and his stomach swells.

 Yuri climbs in to the springs late one night; after most of the onsen’s inhabitants and patrons are long since tucked up in their beds. He winces as he dips his feet in; bruised and battered after more than a fortnight of brutal practice. He sinks in slowly; letting his body fall into the water inch by inch. He closes his eyes and relaxes in to the healing sensation.

 The water ripples next to him. A peek reveals Otabek sliding in.

 “Hey.” He greets.

 Yuri smiles and closes his eyes once more. Another ripple runs through the water as Otabek inches closer.

 “You okay?” He asks.

 Yuri opens his eyes. “Yeah, just exhausted.”

 “Yeah,” He chuckles. “Victor really likes to work you, doesn’t he?”

 “Yeah, what the fuck was he doing to you today?” Yuri smiles.

 “Oh fucking Hell, he decided I wasn’t ‘limber’ enough.” He groans and stretches his arms.

 Yuri laughs, “Yeah, even Yuuri was like ‘What the fuck?’”

 “I’ll bet.” Otabek’s voice drops as he inches close enough that their thighs touch.

 A shiver passes over Yuri and despite the heated water, he can feel the goosebumps settle over his skin. Otabek lifts his hand, and lets it softly trail over the top of his leg. He can feel himself getting harder.

 “Beka.” Yuri can’t stop himself from moaning.

 “What?” Again, his voice is low; and filthy. His hand moves closer to his crotch; until he’s delicately teasing his finger over Yuri’s cock. “Want me to stop?”

 Yuri is bright red and chewing on his bottom lip. He shakes his head as he buries his face in the crook of Otabek’s neck, “No -”

 Otabek grips him firmly as he wraps his other arm around Yuri’s shoulders.

 “-ah!” Yuri cries out at the sudden sensation.

 It only spurs Otabek on; he turns to pick up a faster rhythm as Yuri brings his hands up to bury them in his hair. The heat of the water seems to make him more sensitive because it feels like only moments later that his head starts to spin and his toes start to curl.

 “Beka - ah! Fuck!”  

 Yuri throws his head back over the side and sinks lower in to the pool as Otabek repositions himself once more. He’s directly facing Yuri now; his knee perched on the seat between Yuri’s thighs.

 “Ah-! Mm!” Yuri’s steady pants are becoming more frequent. He wraps his legs around Otabek as he speeds up the thrusting motions.

 “Ah, fuck!” He cries out as he climaxes, the sound echoes.

 He covers his mouth with his hand as he climbs down. Still shaking, he removes his legs and tries to catch his breath.

 “I can’t believe you just gave me a fucking handjob in the hot spring.” Yuri groans in to his hand.

 Otabek chuckles as he steps out of the water and wraps a towel loosely around his waist. Yuri clocks that he’s hard; he’s moments away from offering to do something about it when -

 “-see you in the morning.” Otabek says with a wink as he walks inside, dripping wet and visibly erect.

 

--

 

Three days later they’re packed and ready to leave; true to form, their flights are meer hours away and they’re both still wide awake, sat on the floor and chatting by dim firelight. The sake has warmed their bellies and they’re sat closely to each other.

 “I never meant it, y’know.” Yuri confesses. “I wanted you to speak to me.”

 “I… I know. And I’m sorry.”

 “What for? It wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have kicked off like that.”

 “And I shouldn’t have stormed off and gotten on a plane without sorting it out.” Otabek nudges Yuri’s shoulder. “You can’t just blame yourself, it was my fault too.”

 Yuri inches a closer. “Yeah?”

 “Yeah.” Otabek returns the gesture.

 Yuri bites his lip. “I was just upset that you didn’t tell me. Like, before you decided. By the time we talked you’d already made your plans and I wasn’t going to see you for a year.”

 “I figured that had something to do with it. But I…” Otabek shifts. “I never planned to not see you, but after…” He trails off and looks at Yuri, who is trying to subtly wipe the tears from his eyes.

 “Just no more fighting, okay?” He mumbles, moving closer again.

 “No more fighting.” Otabek replies; their lips are almost touching now and they can feel each other's’ breath.

 Yuri is the one that relents and unites the kiss. It progresses; deeper and deeper until they’re pulling at each others clothes.

 Yuri’s sweatpants and underwear are already off when Otabek asks “Bed or sofa?” in between kisses.

 Yuri is far too distracted to answer.

 “Sofa it is.” Then Otabek effortlessly picks him up and sets him down sitting on the arm of the sofa. They both manage to lose their t-shirts before they tumble backwards. Yuri kicks Otabek’s jeans and underwear off before wrapping his legs around his waist.

 Their tongues fight their teeth as they grind together and –

 “Fuck!” Yuri cries out as Otabek teases his asshole with unlubricated fingers. An involuntary shake takes over him as he pushes inside.

 They settle into a steady rhythm; Yuri gasps and moans and pulls against Otabek’s hair as he pounds him with his fingers and paints his neck purple with his tongue and teeth.

 “More.” Yuri breathes in his ear as he pulls at Otabek’s t-shirt.

 Otabek grunts into his neck, picking up the speed and adding a second finger. Yuri arches his back and cries out.

 “No! More!”

 Otabek takes his fingers out and shoves them in to Yuri’s mouth; he obediently sucks. He shakes with desperation at the sight of him; pink faced and grinding his hips upward.

 He returns his fingers; Yuri is moaning and desperate and demanding –

 "More!”

 So Otabek gives it to him; enters with little warning as Yuri’s back arches up off the sofa cushions.

 “F… fuck.” They stutter in unison, as if this is all they’ve wanted since finding each other in the arrival lounge three weeks ago.

 Their rhythm settles; quick and easy, they grind in to one another and their surroundings are eclipsed by their climax.

 They spend the minutes to midnight buried in each other on the sofa. It’s only when the light of the fire dies out, and the realisation of their impending flights come, that they manage to drag each other to bed.

 Yuri wakes a little into the night; as he always seems to do after they fuck. It’s the cold that does it this time; but another blanket thrown on top of them, and wrapping himself around Otabek, seems to do the trick. He falls back to sleep effortlessly, and finds himself at ease for the first time in a year.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Three weeks in Japan seems to reset their friendship to before their fight at the noodle bar. They emerge the next morning, both blasé about their missed flights. It doesn’t last long though; and teary goodbyes come rescheduled for the same evening. But they pick up texting and Skyping and flirting again.

 It’s never more than a few hours until Yuri gets to hear Otabek’s voice; they occupy themselves in the time in between with skating. He pours himself into it completely; more than he has ever done before. Lilia and Yakov are full of praise in return. Both Mila and Georgi eye him suspiciously after each practice. Yuuri and Victor visit in the late summer, and simply smile.

 He doesn’t really care much for their compliments, though, with his mind firmly on Otabek.

 

--

 

Autumn has just begun to settle when Otabek turns up at his door four months after they made their goodbyes in Hatetsu. Yuri answers; not even registering that it’s nearly midnight. Wordlessly, he lets him in to the apartment and closes the door behind him.

 They face one another in the barely lit entryway; breathless for seemingly no reason. They haven’t even touched. Haven’t even spoken. Then, suddenly, it’s not a question of who’s on who; they’re tearing the rest of each other’s clothes off while their tongues search for untouched skin.

 Yuri isn’t sure of the exact moment that his heart forgets to beat and his lungs forget to breathe. Their tongues are trapped between their teeth until they find their way trailing down cheeks and necks and chests and –

 “Ah!” Yuri’s voice is breathy and thick as Otabek moves down his body and mouths his jeans over his hardening cock. Yuri moves to take them off but Otabek starts trailing kisses up his chest.

 He wants this to be slow; it’s rare for them. They’re usually moving so fast and touching so fast and stripping so fast that his cock is inside Yuri before he can even grasp the situation,

But now, illuminated by nothing but the starlight from the open window, he wants this to be slow.

 It’s Yuri that sets the pace; soft, slow, deliberate.

 They abandon their clothes; piece by piece, in the hallway. Otabek lifts him on to the bed, and he diligently wraps his legs around him. Otabek still has his underwear on, but it only takes moments after his back settles against the mattress for Yuri to kick them off.

 Otabek keeps peppering kisses along his skin; along his cheeks and neck, across his collar bone, down in between his thighs. He knows where the lube is this time, and Yuri doesn’t have to ask him for more.

 He teases him with his fingers; slow and gentle. Yuri whimpers, arching his back off the bed.

 “You ready?” Otabek whispers as he nibbles on his ear lobe.

 A breathy “Yeah.” follows.

 He enters him; slow and steady, as if this is the first time either of them have done this. But it isn’t. So Yuri brings up his legs to wrap them around Otabek as he starts rocking inside him. He knots his fingers in his hair as Otabek lifts him just enough to plant his hands on his back.

 They grunt and moan and cling to each other as if it’s the last thing either of them will do. They orgasm almost simultaneously; Yuri arches once more, driving Otabek’s cock further inside him. Otabek cries out and bites Yuri’s collar bone.

 They both collapse completely, thankful for the cool autumn breeze making its way through the open window.

 Yuri strokes the back of Otabek’s neck until he falls asleep, settled on his chest. He falls asleep almost immediately, Yuri, on the other hand, gets distracted by the night sky.

 It’s clear, to begin with, and bright. He can make out a thousand individual stars from his place on the bed. The moon is nowhere to be seen, only giving them more vividality.

 “Huh.” He says aloud, as he watches the auroras faintly dance atop the mountainscape in the distance.

 The season begins to show itself, though, as the clouds rolls through from the seaside. They bring a harder breeze, and heavy rain begins to litter the streets. The melancholic sound sends Yuri to sleep.  

 

--

 

Yuri, once more, awakes while Otabek is still sound asleep.  Still basking in the dreamy haze left over from their night of passion, he squints to make out the time on his phone.

 He groans, realising that it’s creeping closer to five in the morning and he’ll have to get up for practice soon. The day is breaking beneath the heavy cloud coverage, and Potya is in her usual spot at the foot of his bed.

 He turns over; carefully and slowly as to not disturb Otabek. He’s unaware of how much time passes, despite the lightening room, until his six o’clock alarm beeps from the nightstand.

 Otabek stirs and opens his eyes.  He spots Yuri turning off the alarm and pulls him in closer. He nuzzles in to his neck and Yuri responds by wrapping his arm around him. It takes Otabek only moments to fall back to sleep.

 Yuri misses morning practice that day.

 

--

 

They spend the next week tangled in each other’s arms, barely leaving the bedroom despite both of their coaches angrily messaging and calling, desperate to know their whereabouts this close to the season starting.

 They can’t seem to find the time to care.

 But they must, Nationals are looming ever closer as there’s routines to be perfected and costumes to be fitted.

 They spend their last night together talking - and fucking - anything that keeps them awake. It must be well in to the early hours when they finally succumb to a restless sleep. It doesn’t last long.

 “Ah, fuck.” Otabek sighs as he rolls over and checks his beeping phone on the nightstand.

 “Hmm?” Yuri questions, still barely on the verge of being awake.

 “My flight.” Otabek sighs again as he drags himself from the comfort of the warm bed.

 Yuri follows him into the shower and back out again. Then he follows him around the house as he collects his things. They hardly speak, but Yuri clings to him at every opportunity.

 “So?” Yuri asks as he stands by the door, allowing himself to clutch Otabek’s shirt in some kind of pathetic, half-subconscious attempt to make him stay. He’s already pulled his boots and jacket on; adamant on walking him down to the garage.

 “So?” He echoes.

 “When am I gonna see you again?”

 A sudden shift in the atmosphere has Yuri pulling his hand away, he fiddles with the cuff of his jumper, waiting for an answer. Otabek stiffens, and remains silent.

 “Well?” Yuri pushes.

 Otabek turns his gaze away, and runs a his hand through his hair. He bites his bottom lip before answering. “Do you…” He trails off, eyes flickering to Yuri and away again. “Do you really think this a good idea?”

 Each word sounds strained, as if he’s taking a knife to Yuri’s chest with each syllable.

 Yuri’s answer is careful. “What do you mean?” He asks as tears well in his eyes.

 Otabek shifts on his feet. “This?” He motions down the hall to the bedroom. “Us?” He motions to the space between them.

 A simple “Oh.” is all Yuri manages.

 “I mean…” Otabek trails off again, clearly uncomfortable. “We have fun but it’s silly, right?”

 Silly, Yuri thinks, what the fuck does he mean by ‘silly’?

 “We just need to…” Closing his eyes, he takes a deep intake of breath. “We just need to let this go, right?”

 He’s looking at him now; mouth pressed into thin line. Yuri forgets to breathe as he stares up at him.

 He speaks again, in a half kind of laugh that Yuri can’t help but read as bitter. “I mean, we have our careers to think about, right? Like you said - this is fucking nuts, right, Yuri?”

Two more questions. Yuri isn’t quite sure whether or not he should answer them. He’s still holding his breath. His chest has begun to ache and his head has started spinning but he’s not sure whether it’s from the lack of oxygen or the words coming from Otabek’s mouth.

 “I’m fucking ridiculous, right?”

 Well, that one is definitely bitter.

 Yuri’s lungs finally force him to breathe; it’s been so long since he last did and the sharp, forced intake has him clutching the door frame for support. He doesn’t break eye contact with Otabek, however.

 “So, it’s best to stop all this, right? We should be done - like this, I mean - right?” He asks once more.

 Yuri forces a laugh and stutters over the word “Right.” It’s barely above a whisper as he echoes Otabek’s questions with the same word for the answer.

 Otabek moves forward and hugs him. It’s awkward, and Yuri only responds with one arm around his shoulder, still relying on the door for support. Fake promises of talking soon follow Otabek’s footsteps down the hall and into the elevator.

 Potya emerges from her sleeping place and twirls in and out of his feet in a figure eight, begging for an extra late night feed. He watches her for a small while, unable to move, unable to respond to her.

 His heart seems to be skipping every other beat. His mind races; confused, lost, hurt. Then something in him snaps.

 “What am I fucking doing?” Yuri asks to no one but himself. Potya, still twirling around his feet, mews in response.

 His feet finally find the strength to move and he rushes out, leaving Potya, disgruntled, with promises that he’d feed her soon. He rushes to the elevator, and finds it still descending, so he runs for the stairs, taking them two at a time.

 It’s raining. Fucking typical, Yuri thinks as he bursts outside his apartment building. Otabek seems to be gone already; lost in a blur of water and fluorescent lighting. Yuri zips up his jacket and throws his hood on as he moves on to the pavement. It does little to help, and he’s soaking within seconds, desperate to find Otabek.

 Then he hears the familiar roar of his motorbike. Before he can stop himself, he’s darting toward the garage entrance. He runs out in to the middle of the road and Otabek barely has time to skid to a stop in the rain.

 “Yuri!” He bellows. “What the fuck are you doing?”

 “I…” He stutters. “I have no fucking idea.” All the fight has fallen from his voice.

 He runs his hands through his soaking wet hair, the short burst down the stairs from his apartment having unusually winded him.

 “I just…” He takes another breath, Otabek pushes down the kickstand on his bike. “I have no fucking idea.

 “I just know that I can’t let you go. I can’t let you go back to Almaty, or Canada or wherever the fuck it is that you go these days. I can’t just let you get on another plane and-” He cuts himself off with a choked sob.

 Otabek removes his helmet, shaking his hair in the pouring down rain.

 “Yura-”

 “-no! I need to say this so please just let me, okay?”

 Otabek turns off the ignition. They’re blocking the entrance to the garage but it’s late enough for neither of them to care.

 “You are fucking ridiculous - “

 “Yu-”

 “Beka!” He shouts, stopping Otabek midway through his name. “Please just let me fucking speak!”

 Neither of them say anything for a moment, the rain gets heavier.

 “Go on then!” Otabek pleads above the sound of the raindrops smashing against the tarmac.

 Yuri takes a deep breath. “You are fucking ridiculous. Running off for a year was fucking ridiculous. Not speaking to me all that time was fucking ridiculous. And you can get fucked if you think I’m gonna let that happen again, okay? I’m not letting you get on that plane until…”

 He takes a shaky breath, a sob catches in his throat.

 “Until you admit that you goddamn fucking love me. Because I know that you do. And you know that I love you so I’m done with this fucking game, okay? I’m done with pretending it’s not true and I’m done with not saying it. And I’m so fucking done with spending every waking moment pining after you. But I’m not fucking done with you. I’m not done with us and you know what?”

 His voice grows louder the longer his rambled love confession goes. The thought crosses his mind that he’s thankful for the pouring rain that hides the tears freely tumbling down his cheeks.

 “You don’t get to say that we’re done, Beka. We’re not done.” His words barely make it out of his mouth as anything more than a broken sob.

 “I love you, Beka. I love you so much. So we can’t be done.” Yuri breaks down completely; he struggles to stand straight, and bends his knees and brings his hands up to cover his face.

 “You pined for me?” Otabek’s voice is soft, and teasing.

 “Oh my fucking God.” Yuri groans, immediately turning red; his tears forget to fall for a moment.

 “Like, what kind of pining? Reading romance novels and writing poetry or like, subtly stalk my instagram everyday kind of pining?” He says it with a smile, even though tears begin to well.

 “This is what I mean by fucking ridiculous, by the way.” Yuri says as he walks closer toward him.

 They’re touching when Otabek says “Oh yeah?”

 “Yeah.”

 Then their lips meet. The rain lightens and the clouds allow the first light of day to peek through. An age seems to pass before they pull apart.

 “Yura?” Otabek whispers.

 Yuri hums against his mouth.

 “I’m sorry.”

 “S’okay.” He sniffles. “Just promise that we’re not done.”

 “We’re not done, Yura. We’ll never be done.”

 The rain eases off completely as they pull apart.

 “Oh. My flight.” The thought crosses Otabek’s mind.

 Yuri takes his helmet from him. “Fuck off, catch another one.” He says as he starts to walk back into the garage.

 Otabek smiles as he follows, wheeling the motorcycle beside him. “This was all very romance novel of you, by the way.”

 “You know what? Fine, go catch your fucking flight.” Yuri jokes as he gently nudges him and speeds up to walk ahead.

 “Aw, Yura!” Otabek calls, laughing.

 “Nope! I know Potya will always love me and, damn -”

 “What?”

 “I promised to feed her again and she only had food an hour ago.”

 Otabek laughs again as he catches up to match his stride with Yuri’s. “So? Just don’t feed her.”

 Yuri looks shocked. “But I promised!”

 “Who’s fucking ridiculous now?” Otabek teases as he wheels the bike back into its parking space and places it on the kickstand.

 “Beka.” Yuri’s voice is stern. “Don’t make me choose between you and Potya.”

 Otabek just laughs as Yuri walks towards the elevator. “Yura-”

 He whips around, and in that moment Otabek swears for years to come that the temperature dropped a few degrees colder.

 “You won’t win.” He deadpans.

 Otabek takes a moment to compose himself before he breaks out in another fit of laughter. Yuri’s already holding the elevator doors open by the time he catches up; the solid expression on his face keeps him grinning.

 “Yura.” He says.

 "What?”

 “I love you too.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

Yet another year comes and goes. Unlike Victor, Otabek’s come back is strong. He takes home silver in Skate Canada, then again at the Cup of China. Yuri cracks jokes that he could have taken the gold from him had he not left from atop the podium at the Grand Prix Finale. So he floors Yuri by swiping the gold from his fingertips at Worlds.

 They move in together by the New Year; Yuri finds that he no longer wakes in the dead of night. They decide to spend each skating season in St. Petersburg and summers in Almaty. They agree to spend a fortnight in one new place each year; but it’s back in Hasetsu one Spring where Otabek proposes.

 They’re lazing on the beach; wrapped in the same blanket and tending to a small fire in an effort to keep out the late evening chill. Yuri claims that the stars are the brightest here; even though Otabek thinks that they’re better back on JJ’s family farm in the Quebec countryside, about an hour outside of Montreal.

 It doesn’t really matter though, considering he’s not actually looking at them.

 “We should get married.”

 Yuri snaps his gaze from the stars to Otabek’s face. The shock is quickly replaced with a wide, cheeky grin.

 “Fuck yeah.”