"Just a peek, kobuta-chan!"
"Stop calling me that!"
"No - "
"Stop, you're going to wake up the whole house!"
"It's been months, just let me take a look."
"Why do you even - No!"
"What are you hiding in there?"
"If you don't stop calling me that, I will - "
"I'll - I will - " Yuuri swallowed, felt his throat swell as Victor's breath fanned his face. He was so close Yuuri could spot the cluster of freckles on the tip of his nose, the flush underneath.
He held his breath, bit his cheek so hard his teeth met.
"You'll what…" Victor huffed. Slender fingers coming up to clutch his chin. The back of Yuuri's head hitting the bedroom door. Hands damp. Toes curled. "Yuuri."
Abort. Fucking abort, abort, abort.
Yuuri snapped his head to the side, hating how weak he was, how easily Victor could make him go soft. And he knew it. Victor knew it - because he stooped towards the door knob in the midst of Yuuri's internal-self-deprecation monologue and slinked past him.
Straight into Yuuri's bedroom: the biggest Nikiforov shrine on earth.
Yuuri's knees buckled at the click of the light switch and Victor's little 'Oh'. The kind of 'Oh' you blurted when you found out how sausages were made. Or walked in on your parents doing it on the living room floor.
"That is a terrible angle. They never seem to get it right." He heard Victor mumble, not sure if it was meant for anybody but himself.
Yuuri prayed the ground would crack and guzzle him down. Past purgatory. Straight to hell, please.
"I don't even remember posing for half of these," Victor said, louder this time, like he was trying to make this moment a little less…terrible.
Yuuri peered into his bedroom, dozens of two-dimensional Victors staring right at him, and the real one, the warm, breathing one, standing in the middle of it all. Alive and grinning.
If thirteen-year-old Yuuri were here to witness this, he would've had a brain aneurysm. Followed by a heart attack. He'd scream too. And laugh. And cry. And twenty-three-year old Yuuri felt like that was all about to happen. Just one big freak out combo.
"This one's my favourite." Victor leaned over the cluttered desk in the corner, his finger pressed against the black button nose of Makkachin.
It was Yuuri's favourite too. Long-haired Victor grinning into the camera, arms wrapped around his puff of a poodle. Victor was younger there, bright and blooming, the first day of Spring. Alive, alive, alive.
Victor snorted when he spotted the heart-shaped collage of him pinned against the cork board next to it.
"That was a - Yeah, that was a…gift." Yuuri shuffled his feet, his cheeks going blotchy.
He could still remember tiny, pig-tailed Yuko-san sprawled across the locker room floor of the skating rink, hands caked with glitter and glue, little cut-outs of Victor scattered across chopped magazines and grainy prints.
'It's for you, Yuuuuuri! For your birthday!' she'd chirped, her pig-tails buzzing like propellers.
Most of the posters in his room were from Yuko-san. It wasn't Yuuri's fault, really. She'd just kept coming at him with Victor in his leotards, Victor on the ice, Victor with his long hair and his short hair and his Neptune-eyes slicing through his fringe, Victor and his this and thats, Victor and his everything else.
Sometimes it was hard for Yuuri to separate his idea of Victor from the real one. The one who was standing in his room, picking at a poster peeling off the wall and mumbling something about the size of his nostrils. The one who annoyed him to the point of wanting to tear his own hair out. The one who laughed like a giggle strapped to a roller coaster. The one who chased him across the ice and pushed him to his breaking point, made him mean and fast and sharp, made him twist, dive, fly. The one who drank like a cracked fire hydrant in reverse and karaoke-battled Minako-sensei until everyone's ears exploded. The one who could be so full of himself Yuuri wanted to slap him in the face and kiss it all better. The one who was stupidly sweet and stupidly charming, and insane, really, really loony-bin-insane, and sometimes so scary Yuuri felt like running away but also standing his ground and being scary right back. The one who was sad in secret, in the back of a locker room, the corner of a train, the one who made Yuuri want to stand between him and the rest of the world.
The Victor on the posters was just some thirteen-year-old's imagination, his wishes and dreams. The real Victor made Yuuri want to punch him and pet him at the same time. The real Victor drove him mad. The bad kind of mad, the good kind of mad, the kind of mad that made Yuuri want to slam his head into a wall but also jerk off until his hand fell off. Yuuri hated him too much and liked him too much, and he never knew if he wanted to kill the bastard or just kiss him so hard he forgot his name.
Victor Nikiforov was a terrible, marvelous thing.
"What happened to…this one?"
Yuuri snapped out of it, brain rebooting. Victor stood in front of his closet pointing at a shredded poster, his face distorted by big black Xs. Yuuri had practically attacked the poster with a Sharpie after a rough day on the ice.
He'd wanted Yuuri to stick a clean triple axel, and he'd kept pushing and pushing, mean, unyielding. Up to that point, Yuuri hadn't known what it meant to be trained by Victor. You had to be better than you ever thought you could be, awake and willing, ready for everything, bruises and air. Every second on the ice had to count more than the last. Or he'd break you. Yuuri had cried in the bathroom for so long his mother had knocked, asking if he'd needed some laxatives.
They hadn't talked about it since then. But Yuuri had made sure to stick every axel when Victor's eyes were on him. In the rink, things between them were different. In the rink, it was all or nothing, and Yuuri wouldn't have it any other way.
"It was a…an accident," Yuuri blurted, and Victor flashed an amused smile. He almost looked pleased.
It wouldn't surprise him. Victor liked it when Yuuri got mad. He said it made him a little sharper, made him want more. Emotion in the rink gave you that little kick you needed to reach the back rows. And further, further, further.
He said you could be seen from the moon.
Victor's eyes flicked to the ceiling, zeroing in on the constellation of posters above the bed. Yuuri gulped.
"So I'm the first and last person you see every day?" He flopped onto the bed, springs creaking. "How flattering." And his face did this thing where it turned all the lights on. 100-mega-watt-smile. It hit you like a wind tunnel. Yuuri's head cracked. And it just kept cracking the longer Victor patted the sheets, burying his face into the pillows, sighing.
Victor Nikiforov, the living legend, winner of five consecutive World Championships and five straight Grand Prix Finals - was in Yuuri's bed. Yuuri's bumpy, squeaky bed, with the Pokémon stickers peeling off the frame and the unwashed sheets.
"Smells like you," he mumbled, careful and coy.
Yuuri was on the verge of passing out. Hard.
What the hell did he smell like? Miso-soup? Pickles?
Victor rolled onto his stomach, hands fisting the sheets, half of his face in the pillows. All flushed and drowsy, probably too tired to care after a day's worth of coaching - shouting at Yuuri, chasing Yuuri around the rink with a newspaper, making Yuuri do pushups while smiling like the devil because Yuuri was thinking about food, and he knew when Yuuri thought about food because he was an evil Russian space alien who'd bugged Yuuri's brain.
Yuuri didn't know what time it was. It felt too late and too early at the same time. Usually, they were never up past ten, but Victor had gone on and on about what hair products he used, and a very drunk Minako-sensei had been all too keen on being an active audience member during his monologue. Yuuri had had to make sure she didn't end up doing something she'd regret. Which happened a lot when he wasn't around. She could drink Victor under the table and that was a true achievement.
Yuuri switched on the desk lamp and hit the lights, hoping it was enough to signalize he wanted to call it a night. Meaning he wanted to sleep. Meaning Victor had to get out of his bed before his drowsy brain got any dumb ideas.
Like joining him.
Yuuri felt like slamming his head into a wall. Victor was rolling around his bed, purring and sighing, and Yuuri was so, so close to grabbing his leg and hurling him out the nearest window.
He shuffled towards the bed and kicked the frame softly. He was done with trying to be subtle. With his hands in his pockets and his head dangling low, he tried a careful, "Victor…"
Nothing. The bastard's eyes were closed. Yuuri nudged the mattress this time.
"Victor." A little louder.
"Hmm…" He sighed, grumbly, rough. It made Yuuri's spine twitch.
Yuuri's chest puffed.
"Please, just stop calling me that!" He sounded like some angry child in the time-out corner. "I don't like it when you - "
But the rest of the words stayed stuck in his throat when a hand wrapped around his wrist and pulled him down. Yuuri floundered onto the bed, glasses askew, breath tight. Victor above. Hands around his wrists.
He had him pinned to the mattress.
"What about lapochka?" he hummed, inching closer, their noses almost bumping. "Or pirozhok?" His breath hot. "Sladkij?" Yuri was sinking. Capsized. "Moy kotenok?" he whispered. "Prelyest…"
Shit. He could be listing types of sandwiches and Yuuri wouldn't know the difference. And he couldn't care less. Victor was close, too close, and Yuuri didn't know what was about to happen to his chest. Cave in? Explode? Both?
Victor grabbed his chin, thumb sliding against his bottom lip.
He quivered, toes curling, his hands limp fists. He didn't know where to look, what to think, what to say.
He hated every time Victor did this, every time he crossed the line just to watch him dangle. Cornering him in the locker room, breathing down his neck on the train, grazing his thigh under the table, changing in front of him like it was nothing - flashing him these little looks like he might pin him against the nearest wall and breathe straight out of his mouth.
Victor had him wrapped around all of his pretty fingers, and he knew it. Yuuri knew he knew it. And Yuuri knew he liked it. Toying with him, stringing him on, like some big cat playing with its prey. Yuuri was far too easy. One big, soft target.
His heart was a lightweight.
He didn't know what this meant to Victor, if he just did it to get a rise out of him, or if he did it because…because…
Yuuri didn't like to think about the other option. It made his gut heavy. It made him feel things that could get him into trouble. Like he might just let himself slip away. Tip over. Give in.
His heart was a lightweight.
Victor's thumb tugged at his bottom lip, a gesture so careful it was barely there. Yuuri swallowed, closed his eyes at the feeling of warm breath tiptoeing across his skin. He trembled.
It hit him in the chest.
"How many times have you…been kissed?"
Not enough, he thought, stupidly. Not enough at all.
Yuuri's chest quivered up, all of him shaken awake, wanting. What if this was just a game to Victor, having him like this, leaving him once he got him to cave. Maybe this time when he was done and finally satisfied, he'd leave Yuuri completely, thoroughly lovesick.
"Vic - " He cleared his throat. "Victor." Nothing but a croak. He was so easy it was sad. "Stop."
With his free hand, he pressed against Victor's chest, felt the beat in there. He wanted him off. If this was just a game, he wanted him off.
"Please, stop." He sounded so pathetic, helpless. And it made him remember that night he'd been trying so hard to forget. The sickly color of the fluorescent lights. People hushing his name behind his back. And Victor, all fanciful and faultless, smiling at him from across the room.
'A commemorative photo?'
He'd turned his back. He'd bolted off like some stray dog hit by a car.
"Yuuri." Victor's eyebrows knitted. He almost looked hurt, the way his smile wavered, all of him sinking into itself.
It did things to Yuuri. Heart-shrivel things. Bottom-lip-quiver things.
He fisted Victor's sweater, fingers shaking like they didn't know if they wanted to push him off or yank him closer. Those gentle hands cradled his head, thumbs sliding against his jaw, his cheeks, brushing, nails grazing. And he looked at Yuuri like he was cracking him open and crawling in - until he was curled up in the middle of it all, shoulder to shoulder with Yuuri's secrets and wishes.
He looked at Yuuri like he knew.
His grip loosened, fingers brushing along the back of Yuuri's head so carefully, so quietly it felt sad. Victor touched him the way no one ever bothered to.
And he couldn't help himself. He was on the verge of giving in without a fight.
Maybe just this once, he thought. Just this once, I'll let him.
"How many," Victor whispered. "How many, Yuuri?"
Such a stupid, stupid question. Yuuri didn't want to take it seriously. Maybe because he could count the number of times on one hand. Maybe because he was twenty-three and people his age were out there getting kissed too much to even bother counting.
His eyes roamed the face above, the gentle crease between those eyebrows, the flush on those cheeks. Victor like this, was just quiet quivers and breath, something you had to look at with your eyes closed. Yuuri wanted to read every inch of him like braille.
He took a deep breath. This was stupid - stupid, but he was just going to say it. Stupid. It wasn't like it was some big secret. You just had to look at him to know.
"Once," he said in an exhale, stumbling over his thoughts and adding, "Okay, twice…but that was just - It was, well, you know, it was a…a game. Like a drinking game. And I don't drink - that much. But it was the first year of college, and I - You know? I don't, I don't think that actually counted, but it was just, like, really, really quick, and I - yeah. Once. Twice. Yeah, I - Yeah…" He sucked in a puff of breath, waiting, hoping for something to happen.
"Hm…" Victor's face scrunched the way it did when he had trouble understanding things, like when Yuuri's dad had told him about Hadaka Matsuri and Mr. Kanso's Canned Food Restaurant.
Victor drew swirls into the back of Yuuri's neck, looking down at him like he was trying to find something in his face.
"What?" Yuuri felt like smacking his hands over his eyes and closing them so tight his head combusted. He might as well have had VIRGIN stamped across his forehead. He carried it around like a stink. Some weird cocktail of anxiety and sexual frustration.
"Nothing…" he mumbled, letting his fingers trail down Yuuri's naked neck, the outline of his collarbone through his sweater. Yuuri's breath hitched. He hated how loud it was. How obvious.
"Just - " Victor cocked his head to the side like he needed a better angle to scrutinize him with. "Surprised."
Something in that face softened, almost a crumble, and his thumb was back to brushing along Yuuri's bottom lip.
"By now…you should've been kissed too many times to count, Yuuri Katsuki."
It was awful. The way Victor could get away with saying something so ridiculous and make it sound like the truth.
Yuuri coughed up a laugh, terribly, horribly. He was back to hoping the bed might cave and the ground might crack to let him disappear.
"Well, that's - " He tried to swallow a snort. "Stupid."
Victor huffed a quiet laugh, letting it feed his smile as he shook his head.
"If only you knew," he whispered, plucking Yuuri's glasses from his nose and laying them aside.
Yuuri swallowed. "Knew…what?"
Victor's face a soft blur. Moon-like. But he didn't answer, just let that smile shrink into a quiet spark in the left corner of his mouth. Yuuri stared at it until his eyes stung. He wanted to grab it and keep it, stow it away at the bottom of his pocket. Take it out later and taste it in secret.
His hand, still tangled in Victor's sweater, toughened, and he pulled. Just a little. He could get away with just a little. Their foreheads rolled against each other. He crinkled his nose at the feeling of all that smooth hair tickling his face. He'd imagined brushing his fingers through it every time it fell into those blue eyes, every time the wind made it spill. Yuuri wondered what it looked like in the rain.
Maybe it was too late to turn back. He was letting himself slip away. And the more Victor's breath pooled in his dips and creases, the more he felt himself go the littlest bit insane.
Just a little. I can get away with just a little.
Victor's hands cupped his jaw, the pressure enough to make his head hum. Thoughts going comatose.
"Lubov moya." A murmur, soft and full, and Yuuri didn't care what it meant. The way Victor said it made his heart swell, made it so heavy it beat the air out of his lungs. He wanted.
He wanted and he wanted and he wanted.
Mouths inching closer, noses bumping. Yuuri's hands fisted his sweater so hard his fingers cracked. But he wouldn't let go. Not now. Not for the life of him.
When Victor kissed him, it was every second on the ice at light speed. It was the cool hitting his cheeks, the slice of his blades. The music rolling over him in one heavy tide. Body in the air, tight and strong and soaring. He was more than himself. A heartbeat of a hundred.
And just as sudden as it had happened - it stopped. Victor inching away, taking the ice with him, the feeling of moving without a doubt. Yuuri whimpered at the loss, his hands yanking Victor's sweater so hard he was afraid it might tear.
"Three times," Victor mumbled, mouth a little puffy, and it took a while for Yuuri to understand what he'd meant. He felt like he'd just drunk on an empty stomach.
Victor grabbed his chin, pulling him up and letting their lips brush.
Flashes of ice, the sound of a crowd, his weight on the blades.
"Four," he breathed, mouths barely touching. Yuuri quirked up into another kiss, breathing into the damp and the soft, the prick of Victor's barely-there stubble. "Five." A shaky breath. "Six." Tongues touching. "Seven." The tang of toothpaste. "Eight…Nine…" Soft sounds. "Ten…Eleven…Twelve…"
Just one more time, and that's it, I'll stop, just one more.
But Yuuri knew he was a terrible, terrible liar. His hands weren't listening, digging into Victor's hair, getting lost in it. His head gone and his heart one painful pulse. He didn't care. He had Victor for this glitch in time. This was for him to have. This little, common thing that felt far greater than it ought to be. How did people go through life knowing someone could kiss them at any moment and just…make them pulverize? How did you not go insane? How could you not end up walking around with duct tape on your mouth, because if this was what it felt like every damn time - you'd be done for. Victor's mouth was the closest Yuuri had ever been to a heart attack, a mental breakdown. Complete chemical chaos.
They were a terrible thing, teeth bumping, hands on necks and jaws, tangled in hair. And all Yuuri wanted was more. His legs hooked around Victor's hips, needing contact, friction, all his for the taking. They were crossing lines, going further and faster. Victor's hips grinding down. Yuuri's hands under his sweater. The heat of them, the need pooling low. He couldn't help himself. He'd been reduced to the throb between his legs.
He whimpered when Victor's fingers tugged at his track pants, cupping the front. A deep buzz in his gut. Yuuri moaned against another sloppy kiss, feeling the stretch of Victor's lips. He was smiling. It tasted so much better than it looked.
"Shhh...You'll wake them all up," he whispered, scattering his mouth across Yuuri's face, his cheeks and nose, his forehead, soothing things like the cherry blossoms brushing you on a Spring-time run. Yuuri wanted that mouth on the rest of him, every inch of his whole untouched-ness. Victor's hands crawled under his sweater, his track pants, every part of Yuuri coming undone. He was too caught up in this to care about his stomach or his thighs or the sounds he made. He was giving himself over with his hands tied and his eyes closed. It felt so good being wanted this much, being wanted at all.
He didn't know what would happen after all this. Yuuri, with his clumsy mouth and his chubby hands, his lightweight heart. He didn't know what was too much, or where he should draw the line. He'd never had to before. Yuuri, always safe, always comfortable.
This was the first glide into the rink, not knowing what might happen next, a fall or a triumph, all of him out in the open with nowhere to hide. Sometimes Yuuri wished he could be as daring in life as he was on the ice. He wanted to trust Victor with this just as much as he trusted him with every spin, twist, flip.
What if he just let himself be stupid for once? Go in without a backup plan? What if he just kept kissing and wanting and giving?
What if he let Victor ruin him for anyone else?
"Victor." Yuuri said his name over and over again, a shock-prayer between kisses and beats, against his neck, his jaw, burying it into his cheeks.
"I'm here." Victor pressed their foreheads together. "I'm right here."
His hand wrapped tightly around the heat between their legs, tugging, pumping, slick and so good it hurt. Yuuri pressed his face into the crook of Victor's neck, his skin there, faint and smooth. His tongue on him, teeth scraping. Victor wouldn't stop wincing his name. Yuuri had never heard it like that, thick with something more.
"Nnngh." Yuuri was panting now, his open-mouthed kisses going sloppy, saliva stringing.
"Christ, look at you," Victor mumbled, grunting when Yuuri's hips started snapping against his, uncontrolled like hiccups. He was going hazy. The heat between his legs a constant drool. Wet. Wanting.
"So good for me." Victor pressed it against his mouth. Again and again. Again, again, again. He was getting drunk on it. "So…so good for me…"
Good for you.
They were stuck in a rhythm, hips jerking, mouths biting. Bodies out of order. No system. No patience. Just scattered need and hands wanting to be everywhere at once but not knowing where to start. Complete calamities.
Yuuri hadn't known there could be something better than skating on early-morning-untouched ice, than the sound of a toe pick or sticking every jump, feeling the air slice your cheeks during a glide.
Yuuri hadn't known that 'too much to count' could feel like this.
It was out of place, letting Victor play with his hair while humming some silly Russian nursery rhyme he sang to Makkachin every night. It was out of place letting him do something so chaste after having been too close for comfort. He didn't know how long they'd been lying across from each other, just being still, not breathing too loud, careful touches…accidental grazes…
Yuuri crept a little closer, let their knees bump, let his fingers trace the smile growing on the face only inches away. There was something tragic about Victor Nikiforov. The way he wore his face like a mask, always hiding behind a smile. But he was blurred at the edges, and if you tugged at them and peeled it off - he was this. Every feeling carved into the corners of his mouth, the arch of his eyebrows, his cheeks, his eyes…those deep, disquieting things.
When you saw him like this, you knew it was intentional. He was giving you his permission, letting you in like he was telling you a secret. You were there to witness something you shouldn't.
It broke your heart a little.
His face, it broke your heart.
Yuuri swallowed, eyes flicking from Victor's eyes to his nose, his mouth, his chin, his chest. They stayed there, locked on the ink stain blotched across the collar of his T-Shirt. It was weird seeing Victor in Yuuri's clothes. And not just any clothes. Yuuri's high school clothes, these stretched out, flabby abominations he used to wear to hide his chub during exam weeks. When he attacked the fridge the most and his desk drawers were purged for candy bars.
Victor in Yuuri's clothes turned his cheeks into heat bulbs. He liked it. Victor in his clothes...
Yuuri pawed at the sheets between them, clearing his throat, not knowing what might come out of his mouth if he opened it. Maybe he just shouldn't say anything at all. But he couldn't not say anything. Not after his stuff having touched his stuff. Not with their sweaters spunk-stained and on the floor. Not after having breathed straight out of that mouth. Not after Yuuri still wanting to. Breathe straight out of that mouth, that is. That really, really soft mouth.
Victor chuckled. Yuuri snapped out of it. He'd been staring. He swallowed. He decided to just look at his own fingers instead. Everything about Victor made his chest throw a fit.
"I…" He cleared his throat. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes like he was preparing for an impact that would never come. "I understand if this…or, you know, that is not supposed to...happen again."
He cracked an eye, blinked, watched the smile on Victor's face fizz and fade. Yuuri wanted to lurch forward and tug it back into place. Victor was made for smiles too big for his face, too big for this town, for earth and the whole entire Milky Way Galaxy.
Victor's eyebrows scrunched, cheeks losing color. He rolled closer, gripped Yuuri by his jaw and tugged. Yuuri couldn't help but close his eyes, revel in the way Victor's breath fanned his face, tickled his eyelashes, the way he felt like he might fall apart while being held together. He didn't know if he'd ever have this again. He wanted to make it last for as long as he could. Until Victor shrugged him off. Until Yuuri was holding onto his ankles, and he had to kick to make him let go.
Their foreheads bumped. His chest hiccuped.
This time, when their lips touched, it was a soft and quiet affair.
Yuuri remembered the first time his mother had taught him about origami, the patience you needed, the gentle touches. Every nick had its place. Every edge met another. All of it there to make a whole.
"I don't think I'd ever have that kind of restraint," Victor said, still so close, their lips meeting every few words.
No one had told Yuuri good things could break your heart too.
"Me neither," he whispered, inching closer until Victor pulled Yuuri into him, faces buried in the crooks of their necks. "Me neither," he said again, pressing it into the gentle curve of Victor's shoulder, the arms around him tightening until his chest stung. It was almost silly, clutching and gripping like they wanted to crawl into each other. Victor pressed his mouth into the top of his head. Kissing right through. Yuuri could feel it all the way down to his fingertips, his toes. One perfect tremble.
And he didn't know what would happen next, when it would start hurting and when it would stop. But he didn't think they had to know. They didn't have to figure it out. Not today. Not tomorrow.
For now, it was just the two of them, spinning circles around the ice and making up the moves as they went.
Yuuri hoped they reached the back rows. And further, further, further. He hoped they could be seen from the moon.