The boy creates music with his body, and Victor has never seen anything like it.
He doesn’t mean to watch the juniors skate at Worlds, it just sort of… happens. And what a happy accident.
He can barely contain himself as the boy gets off the ice and receives his scores—so close to his own junior record. When that boy moves up to Seniors, Victor will finally have a challenge. He should maybe be afraid, wary even, but instead something warm buzzes inside him, through his veins.
With barely a thought he runs down to the rink, using winks and smiles and his badge to get by even while he’s not skating, running right up to the kid that the scoreboards announced as Yuuri Katsuki.
He yells, waving at the younger skater who turns with eyes wide and brown and precious. He can’t help the words rambling out of his mouth, eagerness taking the wheel and driving him forward, determined to get… something from him. His autograph? Yes, perfect. He gets close enough to stop shouting, and asks for his autograph.
And then… Yuuri turns and flees through the crowd, his coach yelling after him.
Victor’s hand drops to his side, grin turning from honest to the plastered version he’s been starting to wear far too often lately.
“It’ll be boring without you!” Katsuki smiles at Chris, a polite quirk of the lips that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
Chris knows it’s the jitters that Katsuki normally gets around competitions—and sometimes after competitions for some reason—but it makes him no less determined. “Well, I am the life of the party.” He gives Katsuki a wink.
The kid laughs, a sound just as fragile as his smile. “No one would argue with that. I’m sure you’ll be that way in Seniors, too.”
“Oh, don’t you know it.” He grins while he gives himself a moment to choose his next words carefully. “Say, why don’t you give me something to remember you by?”
Katsuki blinks, large eyes wide. “But… you’ll see me again if I make it to Seniors.”
“Yes, well, a year is just such a long time.” It’s a bit of a stretch, sure. But if Victor Nikiforov can’t get an autograph and he can? The bragging rights alone… “What if you sign something for me?”
For a second, Katsuki just stares, face blank. Then a guffaw breaks through, quickly bitten back to small giggles. “You’re funny, Chris. See you around!” And he turns and leaves.
It’s tempting to run after him, but demanding will probably scare him off more than anything. With a sigh, he files the idea away for later. Someday he’ll get that signature.
“You’re my roommate?” Phichit nearly gasps, nearly collapses on the floor, nearly ascends to heaven or hell or whatever force allowed this miracle to happen.
Yuuri adjusts his large glasses, eyes wide and a flush of pink spreading across his cheeks. “Um, yeah? I, uh, live here. While I’m studying.”
Phichit inhales sharply, reminding himself to breathe, dammit. “CanIhaveyourautograph?”
“What?” Yuuri blinks, going stiff as a board.
Oh no, he’s going to scare him off and Phichit hasn’t even gotten all of his stuff inside yet. “Your autograph? Could you sign something for me?”
Yuuri’s cheeks go from pink to full-on blazing red. “Oh. That’s funny.” He chuckles without humor. “You don’t, um, have to pretend I’m a good skater, I didn’t qualify for… well, anything this year and…” He’s quiet for a moment while Phichit’s thoughts scramble, having no idea what to say. “H-here, let me help you bring in your stuff.” And he slinks past Phichit into the hall to bury himself behind the boxes.
Tears prick sharp at Phichit’s eyes, and he’s not even sure why. He’s been following Katsuki Yuuri’s career practically since it started, and now he’s living with him? A dream come true. But he doesn’t see himself as anything?
Well then, Phichit’ll just have to work on that. Through many, many movie nights involving The King and The Skater. And all its sequels.
“Mari!” Yuuri’s voice is a little crackly on the other end of the phone, hiding the subtle tones and lifts that Mari’s used to hearing and using to pick apart Yuuri’s moods. “Is everything okay?”
“What, I can’t call my little brother without a reason?” She takes a drag from her cigarette, letting out a slow exhale and letting the smoke drift lazily in the humid air.
The silence is telling enough.
“Well… Mom and Dad are asking for posters. Of you.”
“Mari, stop joking,” Yuuri huffs, and she can almost see him scowling over in the States. “It’s not funny. No one’s coming to Hasetsu because of me.”
“I’m just passing along the request, don’t take it out on me.” She shrugs, taking another drag. “They say it would be nice if you could sign them, too. We could sell them at the onsen.”
“I’m not autographing posters. I don’t even have any.”
She rolls her eyes. “Like I said, I’m just—”
“If you don’t stop, I’m going to hang up.”
Mari sighs. If she could change anything in the world, very high on the list of things she would alter would easily be giving Yuuri more confidence. The boy would be unstoppable, and part of her would probably rue the monster it would create, but for the most part she wouldn’t regret a thing. He deserves to see the accomplishments he’s earned for what they are. She doesn’t know that much about ice skating, but she knows that Yuuri’s achievements aren’t small; he’s hardly average. They call him Japan’s Ace for a reason.
A bark sounds behind Mari, and she glances back to see the tiny toy poodle with his thin lead hanging out of his jaw. Time for his walk already. She grins. “Vicchan says hi.”
“Tell him I say hi back.” Yuuri laughs. “I’ve gotta head off, but thanks for calling, Mari. Bye!”
And he hangs up.
Shaking her head, Mari turns around to focus on the dog yipping and prancing around her feet as well as his elderly legs let him.
He doesn’t know if it’s physically possible to vibrate out of his skin, but if anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be Minami. His idol just went into the locker room, alone, and he can finally corner Katsuki Yuuri into giving him his autograph.
Most of him still can’t wrap his head around the fact that he just beat him in nationals. It must be some sort of injury. There’ll probably be a press conference about it later, but now? Now Minami gets a chance to talk to Yuuri one on one.
What will he say? What will he do? Maybe they’ll talk about skating, maybe he’ll give Minami a critique of his skate, maybe he’ll want to coach him—
No, no, no, Yuuri has to keep skating no matter what. But maybe they can talk and become friends and maybe they’ll start hanging out and texting and—
Minami scowls. None of that will happen if he doesn’t even open the stupid door to the locker room.
With a deep breath, he pushes the door open, and then… pauses.
There’s an odd sound. Like sniffing.
It takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dark room, to see where Yuuri’s bent in half on one of the benches, face in his hands as his body shakes. As Minami’s eyes adjust to the lighting, he can make out the wetness seeping through Yuuri’s fingers and dripping in large drops onto the floor.
He stares for too long, he knows. He should do something. Go and hug him, or get help, or something. But he can’t look away, can’t help the way that something in his chest hurts more and more with each soft plop of tears hitting the ground.
Yuuri lets out a sob, soft yet deafening in the empty room.
Minami jumps, limbs unfrozen, and he softly lets the door close and heads back to where he knows his coach is waiting.
He… he’ll get his autograph another day.
Victor clutches the package to his chest as he bursts into his—their—apartment, shedding his shoes and coat as fast as he can and nearly skipping to the couch.
“Okaeri.” Yuuri’s smile is brilliant as he shuffles into the living room with Makkachin, rubbing sleepy eyes, obviously having taken Victor’s offer of a nap on their day off.
“Tadaima.” Victor smiles back, playing with the packing tape. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Yuuri shakes his head as he settles next to Victor, snuggling close. He just looks so right here, among all of Victor’s things here in St. Petersburg, a puzzle piece that was always missing. “What’s that?”
Victor’s grin grows. “Well…” He works off the tape, opening it up, and spreading out the contents for Yuuri so see.
He groans into Victor’s shoulder. “Is this revenge for all the posters of you I had up in my room?”
“Hmm, no, you know I loved that.” Victor kisses the top of Yuuri’s head, reaching into his pocket where he’d put a marker earlier—he was more than prepared to corner and persuade. “These posters are for you to autograph, since you owe me—and a few other people—one after avoiding us.”
Yuuri pulls back, looking at Victor with wide eyes. “But I… You’ve never asked for my autograph before.”
“Yes, I did.” Victor sighs. Of course he forgot. “You were in Juniors.”
For a moment Yuuri’s brow is furrowed. Then his cheeks ever so slowly grow pink. “Oh no. I… I ran away, didn’t I?”
“Yep. And then you turned down Chris—“
“What?” Yuuri goes beet red.
“Not to mention Phichit told me a story about when he first moved in with you, and Mari told me about how she used to beg on the phone, and—“
“No, stop! Those were just… jokes. Right?”
Victor stares. “Yuuri, we’ve talked about this.”
Yuuri sighs, probably already hearing the start of the do you think I would have flown all the way to Japan to coach some terrible dime-a-dozen skater lecture. “Fine, I’ll sign the dumb posters.”
Victor hands over the marker, preening as Yuuri glares at him before turning toward the posters.
And Victor’s not ashamed to say he squeals a little bit each time that Yuuri writes his name.