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Toronto

Mid-September 2019

 

"Shoma, stop it," Yuzu grouses. 

Shoma, a bit groggy, interprets Yuzu's mood as good humored and continues buffeting Yuzu with one of his many Poohs. 

Contrary to popular perception, Yuzu does keep Poohs. Not all of them, obviously, but one from a competition, one from another, and so on, until he has a box of Poohs at the foot of his bed. Shoma rummages through this box each time he visits. Even tonight, though jetlagged from his Madrid trip to see Javi. 

They wait on Yuzu's bed while his mother makes dinner. The smell of beef frying simmers through the air from downstairs. 

Shoma straddles Yuzu's lap and waves one of Pooh's paws at him.

Yuzu swats the Pooh out of Shoma's hands.

"I said stop!" he snaps. 

Shoma rolls off his lap, stricken. Yuzu so rarely displays any sort of temper.

"I'm sorry," Yuzu says.

"What's wrong?" Shoma asks. 

Yuzu hesitates. 

"It's going to seem silly."

Shoma looks at the golden bear on the floor.

"Sillier than hitting a Pooh?"

Yuzu rolls his eyes.

"You've been in the air," he mutters. "You haven't heard yet."

"Heard what ?" Shoma says, frustrated. 

"The JSF won't allow plushies to be thrown during Nationals."

"So no Poohs," Shoma says.

Yuzu nods.

Silence.

"It's not necessarily because of you --"

Shoma realizes too late that this is exactly what Yuzu doesn't want to hear.

"That's not the point," Yuzu curls in a ball.

It's quiet for a few minutes.

"What is the point?" Shoma inquires, exasperated.

Yuzu is so often kind, conscientious, but distant. It is like reaching for the moon. Until all Shoma has of him is a silver dot, small and far away.

Yuzu's voice is so tiny that Shoma has to lean in to hear him.

"I just want to skate," Yuzu is saying. "Taking away Pooh is just . . . trying to take things from me. Like some part of my skating. Some part of me. "

Shoma lays down and holds him. He wishes he knew what to say.

"I know it's silly," Yuzu continues. "I don't need all those Pooh. It's more what it means. And what it means when they take it away."

Shoma sighs. 

"You will die skating."

Yuzu laughs. 

"Can you imagine that? Old tottering Yuzuru Hanyu, falling over dead on his skates."

"Yuzu," Shoma says.

"What?"

"You are more than your skating. You are that great mind and heart. You are smart and sweet and good and thoughtful. They can take Poohs but they can't take any of that. And anyways, they can't take your skating from you, either."

From downstairs, Yuzu's mother calls. 

Shoma scrambles to his feet, but Yuzu snags him by the waistband of his jeans. 

"Thank you," Yuzu says.

"Of course. Now let me go. Your mother's cooking is the best!"

"Hmmm," Yuzu agrees.

As he stands, he takes Shoma's hand, lacing their fingers together.