What Takeshi and his family said got him thinking about the fact that this is the first year that Victor was not competing. What if Yuuri was holding Victor back? That thought was stuck in his mind like glue for the next few days. Even ice skating, Yuuri's go-to catharsis, didn't help much. And as much as he tried to hide it, other people were starting to notice it. Other people like Victor. For several class sessions, Yuuri was extra withdrawn, unable to stop thinking about how selfish he was to take Victor away from competing. He made more mistakes, flopping on even his favorite part of the routine, which only worsened his mood. He wasn't even good enough to be taught by Victor.
This entire time, Victor hadn't criticized Yuuri too harshly because he wanted to let the boy work through the emotional state himself. But now, a week later, there was no signs of improvement and he was sick and tired of Yuuri's constant moping.
Five minutes into practice Victor abruptly stopped the music. Yuuri stopped skating to pivot towards him, a confused expression on his face. "Did the CD player stop working?"
Victor shook his head. "I turned it off myself. I can see that you aren't in the right mindset to be skating to this song. Let me take you on a field trip!"
Yuuri just stared at him for a second. "Wait what?"
Victor pulled him along. "Onwards to the park, to the park!" He chanted.
Before Yuuri could comprehend what was happening, Victor was sitting with him on the grass in the nearby park facing the sea. The Russian was searching through his bag for some sandwiches and tea. While they ate, Victor asked, "I don't want to pry, but can you tell me what's bothering you?"
Yuuri's brows furrowed and he took another bite of his food to avoid answering. Victor just smiled reassuringly and continued staring out at the ocean, his blue-green eyes serene.
They say in silence for a few minutes, just eating and basking in the sunlight, before Yuuri finally broke the silence. "Did I ruin your career?"
Victor turned to him, puzzled. "What?"
"Did I ruin your career? You shouldn't have gone off to Japan to teach someone like me. It would be better for you to be competing. And I bet your fans are so disappointed that they won't get to see you this season."
"You think my career is ruined?" Victor teased. "How rude of you to say that. I feel like it just began."
The flustered look he was looking for did not spread on Yuuri's face. "I'm serious though. Am I holding you back? You're still young and you could do so much and I'm just being selfish by making you teach me."
Victor just smiled softly, the gentlest one Yuuri had seen him make yet. “Oh silly Yuuri. Was that what you were thinking about all this time? I’m 27 now. I’m a grown man and I can make my own decisions. So believe me when I say that if I didn’t want to spend every moment here, coaching you, I wouldn’t be.”
Yuuri nodded hesitantly. “But—“
“No buts, Yuuri. “ Victor scolded gently. “I thank you for caring about me and my career, but I’m smarter than that okay? I can see your potential, and all we have to do is bring it out. And remember, I was the one to come here to you. I'm the one doing the decision making here. You're stuck with me."
“Why though?” Yuuri asked in a frustrated tone. “Why me?”
"Cuz I like you." Victor stated bluntly. "I like the way you love your family, the way you truly enjoy figure skating, the way you blush when you get attention. Plain and simple, I like you. I mean, it's not like I came here because of that, at that point i needed a change in pace and I just thought you could really do something with your talent. But yeah, I stayed because of who you are."
Yuuri's face was bright red from Victor's confession. “I— I also”
Victor put a finger to Yuuri’s lips. “I know. I want you to tell me when you are ready, so I can wait. Tell me when you feel confident and can look me in the eye. ”
Yuuri breathed a small sigh of relief and stuffed the sandwich wrapped in his pocket before leaning forward and kissing Victor on the cheek. "I'm working on it, so just wait for me okay?"
Victor grinned softly, his entire face softening. "Don't keep me waiting for too long okay?"