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A Safe Place To Fall

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“Yuuri, what did you say in your press conference?”

Yuuri chokes on the bite of pork cutlet he has in his mouth, hurriedly reaching for the glass of water to his right and gulping it down. Viktor doesn’t flinch, face tilted and resting on his propped up arm. It’s only when Yuuri stops his coughing fit that Viktor moves, dropping his hands into his lap and pouting childishly at Yuuri.

“I mean, I’ve already talked about my theme with you, so you basically already know…” Except Viktor doesn’t, because nowhere in his explanation of his theme months prior to the domestic competition had Yuuri said anything about Viktor specifically. He’d clumped him in with his friends and family, clumped him in as a support system; he definitely hadn’t given Viktor his own group like he had a few days ago.

“But you were so excited! And you said so much. I deserve to know as your coach, don’t I?” Viktor presses, and Yuuri turns his head and pretends to find the grain of rice on the ground very interesting. He knows that one look into Viktor’s pleading eyes will make the words he’s embarrassed to say jump out of his throat against his will.

“I… Can’t you ask someone else? Wasn’t Minako-sensei in the room? Why didn’t you ask her then?”

“Mm,” Viktor muses, tapping his lips lightly with his index finger. Yuuri tries not to let his gaze linger there for more than it should. “I considered it. But I thought it wouldn’t be as special if I didn’t hear it from you.” Viktor tilts his head and winks, a smile spreading across his face. “I want you to tell me.”

Yuuri scrambles his head for a way out of this one and lets out a small whine when he can’t think of anything.

Viktor’s smile noticeably drops for less than a second, eyes losing their shine, but he’s so quick to breathe out a small chuckle and stretch an even bigger smile across his face that Yuuri can’t linger on how upset Viktor had looked in that second. “You don’t have to tell me. I’m sure it is what we’ve talked about before.” He then reaches forward and grabs a bite of rice from Yuuri’s bowl, placing it in his mouth and chewing. “Is your food yummy?”

“Viktor…” Yuuri hates that the older man can mask emotions effortlessly. He wonders how many times in his life he’s had to do that. “I’ll tell you.”

Viktor shakes his head and places his chopsticks on Yuuri’s lips as a way to tell him not to speak. Any other time, Yuuri would blush, but now, he takes a hold of Viktor’s wrist and pulls it back, freeing his lips. “I want to tell you.”

And he does, in some sense. It’s not that he wants or expects his words to stay a secret forever. He just doesn’t know what Viktor will take them as. But Viktor had so obviously held back on asking in that very moment what he had said just to hear it straight from his mouth, so how could he deny him that?

Viktor slowly pulls his hand back and rests his chopsticks next to him, giving Yuuri his full attention.

Yuuri takes a deep breath. “Pretty much everything I said, you’ve heard. About you becoming my coach, and uh, the abstract feelings and all that…” Viktor nods and looks like he wants to laugh, no doubt because of the way Minako’s been parading around the streets muttering Abstract? I’m abstract? every chance she gets. “What’s different is what I said at the end.”

Viktor nods, leaning closer. Yuuri plays with the hem of his shirt but doesn’t break eye contact. “You’re the first person I’ve ever wanted to hold onto,” Yuuri recites perfectly, because if he’s been repeating these words in his head ever since he’d gotten back from the conference, it’d be pretty embarrassing to forget them. “And I don’t really have a name for that emotion, but I’ve decided to call it ‘love’.”

Yuuri immediately holds his breath after the last word escapes, awaiting Viktor’s reaction. The Russian blinks owlishly at him, tilts his head, and stares likes he’s processing something. A storm of emotions is flashing across his eyes that Yuuri can’t pick apart even if he tries to.

“Yuuri,” Viktor finally says, and Yuuri braces for the punch. “You’re adorable.”

What?

“What?”

“You were scared to tell me that?”

Well, yeah?

“Well, yeah?”

“Adorable,” Viktor repeats, gently taking a hold of Yuuri’s chin and holding him in place. “Thank you for telling me.”

“You’re welcome,” Yuuri mumbles, eyes wide.

“No one’s ever said something like that to me, you know,” Viktor continues. “That they want to hold onto me, let alone call it ‘love.’” Yuuri’s face may very well be the color of lava right now. “But I want you to know that I feel the same way. Maybe even more so.”

Yuuri nods absentmindedly, but as he processes Viktor’s words, his heart is enveloped in a lightness he didn’t think possible. He can’t believe how calm Viktor can make him feel about something as stressful to him as this. He can’t believe Viktor can make him forget every fear he has regarding telling him in the first place.

He can’t believe but is grateful that Viktor is Viktor.

“Now, finish your food then go to bed. We’re getting up an hour early tomorrow to train and burn off all of this,” Viktor says, motioning towards the giant bowl in front of Yuuri. “No ifs, ands, or buts. I won’t wake you up. Set your alarm or we’re going to stay at the rink a lot longer than usual,” he sing songs, getting up and almost skipping towards his room.

Yuuri’s face drops.

Viktor is Viktor, alright.

 

*****

 

Viktor loves to tease Yuuri, and after finding out what he’d said at his speech, he now really loves to tease Yuuri.

Yuuri’s actually going to die.

“I wonder what kind of ‘love’ it is that you have for me,” Viktor hums, and Yuuri lightly punches Viktor’s arm. Viktor lets out a small whine. “Ow, Yuuri.”

Yuuri smiles into his scarf. Him and Viktor are walking outside, bundled up in large coats as snow falls over their heads. It’s still pretty early for snow and Yuuri can’t remember the last time it came this early, but it’s beautiful nonetheless and Viktor had insisted that they take some time off of skating to enjoy the scenery.

“I remember it was snowing when I first came here.” Viktor smiles fondly. “And now it’s back.”

“Back too early,” Yuuri says. “You must’ve dragged some over from Russia.”

Viktor laughs and Yuuri’s smile widens at the sound. “Very funny, Yuuri.”

“I can be when I want to.”

“Why don’t you show me this side of you more often?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m modest and don’t show more sides of myself than I need to,” Yuuri says, quirking a brow. He’s referring to the countless times Viktor has worn less than the normal amount of clothing. Or none at all.

Viktor claps a hand to his chest with a gasp, a white cloud of air puffing from his mouth dramatically. “I’m so hurt that I think I’m dying.”

Yuuri rolls his eyes playfully. “Sure.”

“And you don’t even care!”

“I thought you were dying?”

“I’m at Death’s Door now.”

“Say hi to the Grim Reaper for me.”

Viktor scowls in mock anger and crosses his arms. “Where has my sweet Yuuri run off to?” he sighs dramatically. “The Yuuri that feels some sort of love for me?”

“Viktor!” Yuuri squeaks, flushing. “That’s not true! Well, yes, it is, but…! I’m not sure what it is yet. Well maybe I know what kind but not exactly?” Yuuri realizes he’s saying much more than he needs to, especially in response to a small little joke of Viktor’s. He yells internally at himself to stop but the words keep gushing out. “I know that I want to be closer to you, in a way I’m not close to Yuuko-chan or Minako-sensei, or…” Viktor’s eyes widen at the words and Yuuri groans loudly, burying his face into his gloves. “Where’s the Grim Reaper when you need him?”

Yuuri hears the crunching of snow below their feet stop, and raises his head to see that Viktor’s stopped walking. He looks at him in confusion and Viktor’s just smiling, nose and cheeks flushed red with the cold and hair swinging gently in the breeze.

“Viktor?”

“You’re one-of-a-kind, Yuuri. Never fail to surprise me,” he says, and before Yuuri can ask what he means, Viktor starts walking again. This time, he wraps an around around Yuuri and pulls him into his side. “How much closer do you want to be? This much?” he teases.

Yuuri grumbles. “I guess this is nice…” He tilts his head back to look at Viktor and there he is, smiling again like he’s just found a great treasure.

“Mm.” And that’s all that Viktor says.

They buy hot cocoa thirty minutes into their walk because Viktor insists that you can’t have a good snow day without it. They only have enough money for one cup (or at least that’s what Viktor claims) so they continuously pass off the cup to the other person and take sips. Yuuri makes sure to use the other side of the rim when it’s his turn to drink, and Viktor laughs.

“Adorable,” he says.

And Yuuri’s not sure how it happens, but somehow, him and Viktor end up holding hands. Yuuri’s right hand is warm and snug in Viktor’s left, and Viktor makes an effort to hold the cup up to Yuuri’s lips when he wants a sip of the drink. He doesn’t bother turning the cup around.

It’s quiet. All they can hear is the soft crunch of snow and an occasional car in the distance.

“Yuuri.”

Brown eyes meet blue as Yuuri turns his head. “Yeah?”

“We should do this more often.”

Yuuri blinks, then smiles. “We should.”

Viktor lets out a chuckle and squeezes Yuuri’s hand, but doesn’t look forward again. He keeps his eyes trained on Yuuri’s, and Yuuri finds it hard to look away. He doesn’t want to look away, not from Viktor’s soft facial features or gleaming smile.

And it’s a mistake that they both don’t look away, because Yuuri trips on a small bump on the sidewalk, and he only has enough time to crush Viktor’s hand in a death grip before he falls on his back onto the ground, Viktor toppling on top of him.

The cup Viktor’s holding lands right next to Yuuri’s head, and he mutters a quick prayer at the sky that it’s empty and not scalding his head. He’s not sure how or why he’s even worrying about that, though, when there’s a very real and sort of heavy Viktor on top of his chest right now.

“I’m sorry,” is all he thinks to say, and he watches as Viktor raises his face off of Yuuri’s chest, blinking in surprise. “Are you okay?”

Viktor nods, looking around as if trying to reorient himself, then lets his eyes on fall on Yuuri. He shakes his head in amused disbelief, hair ruffled and cheeks pink. “I had a nice pillow to fall onto.” Yuuri blushes and Viktor moves his hand to Yuuri’s head, feeling around for injuries. “Are you okay?”

“I'm fine. I had a nice blanket of snow to fall onto,” Yuuri says.

Viktor laughs again and Yuuri’s glad he’s on the floor because he would’ve fallen down just hearing it, probably. Viktor doesn’t stop laughing for some reason, and it’s so contagious that Yuuri giggles, and then those giggles manifest into loud laughter that pairs with that around him. He can feel his cheeks getting colder as the breeze blows onto the tears falling from his eyes, but he doesn’t care, and neither does Viktor.

That is, until they hear a small crunch above them, and they both look up in time to see a small pile of snow fall from a branch above them and onto Yuuri’s face.

“Ah!” Yuuri squeaks, quickly rubbing at his face. It’s cold and had it not been for his glasses, he’s sure it would’ve gone in his eyes. As he turns his head every which way to try and dust off the snow, he can hear Viktor break into howls of laughter, and can feel Viktor’s body shaking heavily on top of his.

Yuuri wipes at his now-watery glasses to see what’s going on, and Viktor’s face is as red as he’s ever seen it, his fists clenched around the folds of Yuuri’s jacket and his teeth biting at his tongue, trying so hard (but failing) to keep his laughter at bay. Viktor finally gets enough willpower to look at Yuuri and, when he does, Yuuri blinks owlishly at him, and Viktor lets out another bark of laughter.

“Viktor,” Yuuri interrupts. “Is something funny?”

“Your face,” Viktor wheezes out between breaths.

“My face?”

“When the snow fell,” Viktor tries to get out. “It was the best.” He laughs again, but this time a snort comes out and Viktor quickly brings his hand to his mouth, eyes widening.

Yuuri blinks, then smirks mischievously. “Who’s the piggy now?”

He has to admit that he never thought he’d say something like that. Viktor apparently isn’t expecting it either because he goes quiet, fixated on Yuuri.

Then they both break into wild fits of laughter and nothing can be more perfect.

“You’ve got an attitude today,” Viktor points out, booping the tip of Yuuri’s nose. “And it’s getting worse and worse.”

Yuuri huffs. “Can you blame me? My face feels like it’s about to fall off.”

“Mm.” Viktor raises his gloved hands to Yuuri’s cheeks and starts rubbing at his cheeks, going faster and faster every second. “I’ll warm you up.”

“Viktor!” Yuuri tries to turn his head but Viktor pinches his cheeks, keeping him in place. Yuuri tries to grab at Viktor’s hands to stop him, but he’s laughing too hard to have the strength to do it. He doesn’t remember the last time he’s laughed this hard.

“Does that feel better?” Viktor teases, then moves his fingers down to Yuuri’s mouth and swipes at his bottom lip.

Yuuri inhales a large chunk of air to calm himself down, and then opens his eyes. “Mm, mhm, yeah,” Yuuri says, smiling. “Much better.”

“I’m glad,” Viktor hums, but doesn’t move to pull his hand away. He continues gently swiping his finger across Yuuri’s lip, slightly tugging at it every few swipes. Yuuri lets him, his breath coming out in slow, soft pants, relishing in the way he feels under Viktor’s body.

“Can I…?”

Viktor’s voice breaks Yuuri out of his trance and he focuses on Viktor, waiting for the words to come out. But Viktor doesn’t say anything more, eyes flickering between Yuuri’s eyes and mouth, and then his finger stops moving and he pulls it back.

He looks like he has more he wants to say, but doesn’t.

Yuuri’s not stupid. He can almost bet on knowing what Viktor wants to ask, but his mind is quickly becoming fuzzy at the idea and he doesn’t know what to do. Instead, he shifts underneath Viktor and bites the inside of his cheek. “My back is cold.”

Viktor blinks suddenly, as if remembering that they’re on the ground, then quickly gets off of Yuuri and offers him his hand. Yuuri takes it and pulls himself up, dusting the snow off of his pants and hair.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Yuuri readjusts his glasses. “Should we go back?”

“Yeah,” Viktor says, and turns around to head back towards the inn. As Yuuri watches him go, a wave of confidence washes over him and he grabs Viktor’s hand before he can think, curling his fingers around the others’ and walking as if he hasn’t just done something weird. Viktor says nothing, continuing down the sidewalk, but Yuuri allows himself a quick peek to his left.

Viktor’s smiling.

 

*****

 

They’ve been at it for hours.

Yuuri’s legs are burning and his clothes are drenched in sweat. His breaths are coming out in large pants and his bottom lip is going to be chewed away pretty soon, but he can’t stop. He has so much energy and so much confidence, and with a quick intake of breath, he crouches slightly and jumps off the ice, spinning.

He lands right back onto it and extends his arms to keep his balance, spinning around in a circle before pushing off again. His heart is hammering in his chest and his cheeks hurt with the smile that’s spreading across his face.

Finally, he’s landed a quadruple Salchow.

“Yuuri!” comes a voice from right behind him, and Yuuri turns to see Viktor’s arms extended, the brightest grin on his face. “Yuuri!”

As if on instinct, Yuuri skates to Viktor and extends his arms, too, falling right onto Viktor’s chest. Viktor squeezes the life out of him and laughs happily in his ear. “You did it, Yuuri!”

“Viktor,” he says, out of breath from the many hours of trial and error. “How’d it look?”

Beautiful ,” Viktor breathes, pulling back to look Yuuri in the eyes. “Oh, Yuuri, it was amazing. I couldn’t have done it any better.”

“Yeah right,” Yuuri laughs. “But I appreciate it.”

“Really, Yuuri.” Viktor takes a hold of his hands and squeezes them. “You’re in the final stages of piecing this program together. I can feel it. Your emotion, your skill, your passion… I can’t look away when you’re skating.” He leans forward so that his face is centimeters from Yuuri’s, and both can feel the others’ breath. “I want you to believe me when I say that, Yuuri.”

Yuuri feels like he can float away. “I believe you, Viktor.”

“Good.” Viktor pulls away, and tilts his head to the side, eyes narrowing. Yuuri knows this look like the back of his hand. “Though, if I did have to offer one critique…” Yuuri groans. “Hey! As beautiful as it was, love, it wasn’t perfect.” Yuuri’s heart jumps into his throat at love but Viktor either doesn’t notice his use of the word or doesn’t care. “Your turns at the beginning should be a little wider. Like you’re on the edge of falling.”

Yuuri definitely notices that when he’s doing his spins. He gulps. “I’m just afraid I’ll do you one better and actually fall.”

“Believe in yourself, Yuuri! Did you see that Salchow you just landed?”

The corner of Yuuri’s lips tugs up. “Sorry, I was too preoccupied trying to do it.”

“Attitude,” Viktor warns lightheartedly. He then bends down and takes the guards off of his own skates, pulling Yuuri onto the ice with him. “I know you’re tired, but I’m going to ask for you to skate for just a while longer.”

Viktor positions them in the middle of the ice, the moonlight streaming through the windows and hitting them straight on. He grabs both of Yuuri’s hands and slowly starts spinning them in circles, increasing his speed as he does. Yuuri follows, and the arc that they make gets bigger and bigger as they go.

“You know those trust falls that people like to do?” Viktor asks. “This is kind of like that. If we hold onto each other well enough, we can get pretty close to the ice without falling.”

Just the thought of attempting this is already causing Yuuri’s hands to become sweaty, and he fears that he’ll let go and give Viktor a one way ticket to the hospital.

Viktor notices his nervousness and hums. “I’d say we’ve built enough trust to do this on the first go, don’t you think?”

“You… have way too much trust in me.”

“You’re a great person to trust, Yuuri.” Viktor cocks his head. “Do you trust me?”

“I do,” Yuuri says, maybe a little too quickly and too loudly, but it makes Viktor beam. “I have no reason not to.”

“Oh, the pressure’s on now,” Viktor jokes, but his hands grip Yuuri’s tighter. “Just relax and keep extending your body outwards. Look, we’re already halfway down.”

Yuuri takes his eyes off of Viktor to notice that, yeah, they’re making quick progress. He’s excited at the thought.

“If I had to put it into words…” Viktor starts, “I’d say that this represents how close you were to giving up. You were spiraling down. But,” and Viktor slows down his spinning considerably, causing Yuuri to almost slam into him, but Viktor comes to a quick stand and pushes off to his right, bending backwards as he transitions into the next move of Yuuri’s program, “I think that this part would represent you getting the strength to move again.”

The words hit a little too close to him, but well, this is a program about his skating career. All Yuuri can do is nod, breathless.

“You see? You have to really arc downwards. You can’t rise back up if you haven’t fallen, right?”

Yuuri nods again, hands gripping at Viktor’s a little tighter.

“Well, I suppose it’s different if you’re talking about falling in love,” Viktor hums. “But that part of your program has you soaring. The realization is light and soft.”

Viktor’s doing a hell of a job summing up his program for him, because when asked, Yuuri can’t do anything but wave his arms wildly and try to put his emotions into words. He feels like an idiot when he does that, but Viktor always offers him encouraging words, telling him that if it’s easier for him to express it through his skating, then that’s the way he’s to do it.

Yuuri wonders, though, if he’s expressed the love part as good as he wants to.

“Yuuri?”

Yuuri blinks out of his thoughts and turns to Viktor. “What is it?”

“You seem distracted.” Viktor slowly pulls him along the edge of the rink, skates lightly scraping at the ice beneath them. “What’s going through your head?”

“I was just thinking about my theme…” Viktor stares at him curiously. “I don’t think I’m portraying it well enough.”

“Why do you think so?” Viktor spins them in a small circle before pushing off again, and Yuuri effortlessly follows.

“I… don’t know.” He bites the inside of his cheek. “What do you think when you see it, Viktor? The realization of love part?”

“As a coach or as a person?” he asks, and Yuuri quirks a brow. He really doesn’t want more critiques today. “Okay, okay, as a person. Well, let me think. I can see that you’re passionate. I can see that you’re opening a new door. I can see that you’re giving yourself into it and allowing it to shape you.”

“But can you see what kind of love it is?”

Viktor smiles and pulls Yuuri close, the two of them now skating almost chest-to-chest. “I can’t see something in your routine that you yourself haven’t put in there, Yuuri.”

Yuuri nods and gets the nagging feeling that Viktor knows where he’s going with this. He’s not sure if he welcomes it or not.

“Do you know what kind of love you’re feeling, Yuuri?”

There it is.

And Yuuri has no idea how to answer, so he doesn’t.

Viktor doesn’t prod. He smiles, skates his way around Yuuri, presses his chest flush into Yuuri’s back, and starts guiding them across the ice.

All Yuuri can hear is the scraping of ice and Viktor’s soft breaths behind him. When he feels a slight pull to his left, he skates in that direction. When he feels a slight pull back, he relaxes against Viktor’s chest and glides across the ice with him. He’s not sure how long they go for, but he wishes it won’t end.

Yuuri jumps a little when he feels Viktor’s chin rest on his shoulder, and he looks to his left, their cheeks practically touching. Viktor looks at ease, eyes blue and electrifying, and his arms close around Yuuri’s waist. Yuuri hums in approval and places his hands on top of Viktor’s, lazily moving their bodies around the rink.

Then Viktor’s skating back to his front, almost knocking Yuuri onto his butt, and he grins widely and starts spinning them quickly in a sort of frantic Waltz. Yuuri’s dumbfounded at first, wondering where the sudden change in mood came from, but then he loosens up and skates just as fast as Viktor, tugging on him as much as he’s been tugged.

Small giggles fill the rink, along with an uncharacteristic shriek from Viktor when Yuuri goes just a little too close and nearly knocks him down.

Yuuri’s legs are still burning, his clothes are still drenched in sweat, his pants are still heavy and his lip is still being chewed away, but he’s just as excited as before, if not more so.

Yuuri’s not exactly sure what love’s supposed to feel like, but he’s sure it’s something close to this.

The both of them come to a stop suddenly, and Viktor braces himself against his knees, taking needed breaths. Yuuri looks down at him and almost laughs, but stops short when Viktor wipes at his forehead and stands straight.

“That was fun,” he laughs breathlessly, pushing his hair out of his eyes. Yuuri hums in agreement and Viktor skates a little closer. “Thank you for this dance.”

“Of course,” says Yuuri, and he swallows because the atmosphere’s changed around them, but it’s not a bad thing at all. It’s like his mind is screaming with thoughts, but they’re all about the same thing, and it’s overwhelming but calming all at once.

Yuuri catches Viktor’s gaze darting to his lips, staring at them for a full few seconds. He then locks eyes with him and there’s an unspoken question in them, one that Yuuri’s sure he’s seen before.

Can I…?

Yuuri’s tongue darts out to swipe at his bottom lip, and then he’s pushing off backwards, face buried in heat. He wants so badly to respond, but he’s not sure he knows how to yet. There’s still a piece that has yet to appear, and he’s praying for it to come soon. “Is practice over?”

“I think we’ve done enough for today,” Viktor answers, following Yuuri to the edge of the rink. They both take off their skates and pack them away, bundling up in their jackets before heading out into the cool night air. Yuuri closes the door to the rink behind him and stuffs the keys into his pocket, making a mental note to give them back to Yuuko later.

“Viktor?”

“Hm?”

Yuuri boops Viktor’s nose with his finger, laughing as the older man goes cross eyed trying to look at it. “Let’s do that again sometime.”

And Viktor smiles.

 

*****

 

“Wow! This hotel is amazing!”

Yuuri presses his fingers to his lips in an attempt to get Viktor to quiet down, but Viktor waves him off and flops onto one of the beds like a child. “The walls are thick, no one can hear me.”

“That’s what you think,” Yuuri murmurs, because he remembers getting this exact same retort back in Hasetsu when Viktor insisted that he help Yuuri stretch in his room. It hadn’t even been a minute before his mom had come bursting through the door at Yuuri’s painful cries.

Yuuri sits down on the other bed, taking off his shoes, and Viktor flips onto his side and rests his head on his hand. “Can you believe we’re here?”

Yuuri smiles with a shake of his head. “I can’t.”

“Well, I can,” Viktor says matter-of-factly. “I’m not surprised at all, not with the way you’ve been skating.”

“You can’t tell me that you always knew this was going to happen,” Yuuri laughs, but his heart beats quicker at the praise. He’s seen a noticeable difference in his skating, and he’s proud of it. Really, really proud of it.

Yuuri,” Viktor whines. “Are you saying that I flew all the way from Russia to Japan months and months ago without being sure that my student would make his way to the Grand Prix Final?”

“Yeah, I think that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“I’m not that irresponsible,” Viktor gasps, fluttering his eyes closed dramatically. “Unless, of course, I was completely blown away by someone’s beauty, by someone’s ability to create music with their body, and decided to take a chance and risk it all just so I could get a chance to know the person whose copy of my routine spoke more to me than my own rendition of it ever could.” Viktor cracks open an eye and winks in Yuuri’s direction.

“You’re unbelievable,” Yuuri groans, burying his reddening face in his hands. He can’t believe that it’s been almost a year and Viktor can still turn him into a permanent tomato.

He hears a chuckle, low and warm. “I’m beginning to believe that my primary role here has been to make you generate enough heat to melt a rink,” Viktor grins.

Well, Yuuri thinks, that explains why he feels like he wants to drown every time he catches Viktor’s gaze during a spin.

Yuuri jumps a little when Viktor lets out a loud moan, face reddening because there’s no way the walls can block that. “These beds are so comfortable. It’s a crime.”

“Viktor,” Yuuri hisses. “You’re too loud.”

Viktor quirks a brow, then lets his head fall back onto the pillow. “ Yuuri ,” he moans especially loud. “These beds are—”

“Viktor!” Yuuri pleads, jumping onto his bed faster than he thinks possible. He clamps a hand over Viktor’s mouth, maybe a bit too hard since a resounding smack echoes around the room, and his chest rises and falls unevenly with his frantic breathing.

Viktor remains motionless, amusement lighting up his eyes. Yuuri slowly removes his hand and takes a breath of relief when Viktor doesn’t belt out a moan again.

“Kinky.”

Yuuri wants to die.

“Don’t let yourself be tense today, Yuuri,” Viktor says. “The competition’s tomorrow. It’s not good if you’re fretting all the way up to it.”

“Easy for you to say,” Yuuri groans. “You’ve been in this situation, what, eleven times?”

“Twelve, but who’s counting?”

“Haha,” Yuuri deadpans.

“But this isn’t your first time, either,” Viktor reminds him. “You were here last year. Well, not here , but at this stage.”

“Yeah, and it was a disaster ,” Yuuri whispers, mortified. “You didn’t even know I was a competitor.”

“And I hit myself for that everyday.” Viktor reaches up to slip Yuuri’s glasses off his face, folding them and placing them on the nightstand. “I bet I would’ve been stunned speechless had I watched.”

“At how bad I was.”

“Yuuri.” Viktor narrows his eyes in disappointment and his tone becomes rigid. “I don’t like when you switch my compliments up to something negative, you know.” Yuuri bites his lip in guilt, apologizing with his eyes. Viktor lets out a sigh and places his hand on Yuuri’s knee, giving it a squeeze. “It was rude of me not to watch your performance. It’s all on me.”

Yuuri hums and begins drawing patterns on the back of Viktor’s hand. It’s after a minute or so that he realizes he’s doing it and stops with a jolt, eyes locking with Viktor’s.

Viktor smiles lazily. “It felt nice.”

“Oh. I’m glad.”

Viktor chuckles. “So? We’re in Marseille, city in the most romantic country on Earth! And we’re going to spend our night in a hotel room?”

“I thought we agreed to leave the partying for after the competition,” Yuuri says with a raised brow.

“But the night is young,” Viktor whines, pouting up at Yuuri. “It’s only 10 PM.”

“I can’t believe you,” Yuuri sighs, taking after Viktor and flopping dramatically onto the bed. He shifts onto his side so he’s facing his coach and flicks his forehead. “You can go party without me. I’m gonna go to bed.”

“But Yuuri .” Viktor drapes his arm over Yuuri’s side. “What’s the point of living the romantic atmosphere if you’re not by my side?”

“That’s—!” Yuuri splutters. He quickly turns his body the other way and buries his face into the pillow.

“Yuu-ri ,” Viktor calls again, draping himself over Yuuri’s back. The weight pushes Yuuri’s face further into the pillow. “Don’t you love me?”

“...Ovkursh.”

“Huh?” Viktor places his ear to the back of Yuuri’s head. “Come again?”

“Ovkursh.”

Viktor frowns. “You didn’t tell me you could speak 3 languages.”

Yuuri slams his palms on the mattress and hoists himself up, doing the most hardcore pushup of his life. “I said,” he begins, arms shaking as he tries to support both his and Viktor’s weight, “I do.”

Viktor blinks, then smiles deviously. “Do you now?” he purrs.

“I told you this already! I love you, and Yuuko-chan, and Minako-sensei, and my family… You’re all important to me.”

“Hmm.” Viktor tumbles off of Yuuri’s back and Yuuri collapses onto his stomach, letting out a breath. “Have you figured out what your love is?”

Yuuri feels a warmth coil in his chest. “What do you mean?”

“For your program,” Viktor clarifies. “Your realization of love. Do you know what it is?”

Yuuri swallows. He’s been thinking about this for the last two months, maybe even more, and he finally knows what it is. It’s been eating at him in all the right ways. It’s been a warmth at his side and a flutter in his chest. It’s only amplified when Viktor looks as though he’s staring right into Yuuri’s soul, analyzing and overturning every fragment of his emotions.

Yuuri nods. He’s finally been able to piece together his entire program, and the reason for it doesn’t even know it yet. “I do.”

Viktor smiles happily, eyes lighting up. “Excellent! I can’t wait to see you perform it, then. I’m looking forward to finding out what it is.”

Oh, you will, is all that Yuuri can think.

“And Yuuri.” Viktor rests his hand on Yuuri’s face. “I want you to know that no matter what happens, I’m proud of you.” Yuuri’s breath hitches and his eyes glass over with tears. “I want you to skate your heart out. Whether you win or lose, that’s up to the judges to decide, but whether you convey the message that you want… no one can take that away from you.”

Yuuri nods wordlessly, and Viktor pulls him into a hug, hands carding through dark hair. “Regardless of what you decide to do after this season, I don’t want you to have any regrets.”

Yuuri nods again, more frantically, hands tightening around Viktor’s arms. “What are you going to do?”

“After the Grand Prix?”

Yuuri nods.

Viktor thinks it over. “I might go back to St. Petersburg. I’m sure my apartment’s getting dusty,” he muses, and Yuuri nods but can’t stop the painful sting in his chest that accompanies those words. “Oh, that reminds me. I need to ask everyone what souvenirs they want.”

“Our inn sells some. I don’t know what your friends back in Russia like, but I’m sure there’s—”

“What?”

Yuuri lifts his head. “What?”

“Friends back in Russia?”

Yuuri blinks. “Family then? I don’t know.”

Viktor blinks too, then laughs. “Yuuri. I mean Russian souvenirs for your family and friends.”

Yuuri’s not sure what’s going on, but to say he feels stupid is an understatement. “Aren’t you going back to Russia?”

“For a few days, maybe, but I’ll come right back,” he says. He teasingly winks. “I’ve grown too attached to you, you know.”

Yuuri’s jaw drops. “Huh?”

“I’m your coach, aren’t I? I can’t just leave you.”

“But… what if I stop skating after this?”

“Hmm. That is a good point.” Viktor taps at his lips with his finger, then throws it up in an Aha! as if he’s a genius who’s just uncovered a master plan. “Then I’ll be your something .”

“Viktor,” Yuuri breathes, confused, but his lips are curling up into a smile anyway. “You don’t make any sense.”

“I don’t have to make any sense. Besides, Makkachin has grown way too attached to the hot springs. I fear her little heart won’t take it if I strip her away from it.”

“I think you’re the one who’s grown too attached.”

“Ah! Guilty as charged,” he sing songs.

Yuuri rolls his eyes and grabs a pillow from above him, promptly slamming it right into Viktor’s face. Viktor splutters in shock, and when Yuuri removes the pillow, he’s staring bewilderedly at Yuuri. The sight of it is too cute.

“You’re so mean to me. Maybe I should stay in Russia,” Viktor huffs. He wraps his arms around a laughing Yuuri and brings him closer until Yuuri’s resting on his arm, hair falling slightly over his eyes.

And there’s that look again. It sends a shiver up Yuuri’s spine, his breath catching in his throat as Viktor’s eyes ask that unspoken question.

Can I kiss you?

Yuuri’s not sure his heart can handle this. He’s sure he’s going to die on the spot, never to compete in the Grand Prix and ultimately disappointing everyone he’s ever known. He wants this, is absolutely sure of it, but the words that come out of his mouth are, “We should sleep soon.”

Viktor turns his head to look at the clock and sighs. “But I’m not even tired.”

“You can keep talking, then. Tell me a bedtime story or something.” Yuuri lifts the blanket on Viktor’s bed and shimmies under it, much to Viktor’s surprise. He closes his eyes and inhales. “Tell me about your life in Russia.”

“You’re curious?”

Yuuri cracks an eye open. “Of course I am. I’m curious about everything about you.”

Viktor beams, throwing himself under the covers and nuzzling against Yuuri. “Okay, but! I’ll only do it on the condition that you tell me stories about your life, too.”

“Deal.”

“Great! Ah, where do I start? Oh! I’ll tell you about the time I almost burned my hair cooking something. Ah, my mother was so angry…”

Yuuri sleepily laughs, slipping in and out of consciousness, and then he finally succumbs to sleep. The last thing he feels is an embrace of warmth.

 

***** 

 

It’s over.

The music for Yuuri’s free skate comes to a close and Yuuri does his final pose, completely out of breath. It’s silent for a split second and then there’s a roar from the audience, and all he can see as he bows are small plushies of dogs being thrown onto the ice.

He looks to the front row on the right side of the rink and sees his friends and family cheering. Minako is bawling her eyes out as Yuuko tries to calm her down, and the triplets are flashing away photos. His parents don’t seem like they know what’s going on but they must know it’s good because they clap eagerly, Yuuri’s mom jumping up and down in place.

Yuuri skates around the ice for a few seconds, grabbing everything he can fit into his arms, and then heads towards the exit where Viktor waits for him.

The look on Viktor’s face says it all, and Yuuri skates a little faster to reach him a little sooner, almost dropping everything he’s picked up.

“Yuuri.” Viktor wraps his arms around the skater as soon as he can reach him, and Yuuri does the same, high on adrenaline. “That was beautiful Yuuri. The best I’ve ever seen you at.”

Yuuri nods, out of breath, and holds onto Viktor just a little tighter. His performance was for so many things: it was for his family, his friends, his fans, for himself. He had wanted to prove that he can do anything, that he is an ice skater that’s competitive worldwide, and now he’s done just that. But the performance was also for Viktor, and Yuuri’s eyes shimmer as he buries his face in the crook of Viktor’s neck, hoping that his message had carried through.

He hopes that his love is obvious.

If it was his choice, he’d stand in Viktor’s arms forever, but he’s quickly being ushered into the Kiss and Cry booth by a few people as they await their scores. Yuuri’s routine is the last, so the results of the Grand Prix all ride on what he scores.

Viktor flashes a peace sign at the camera in front of them and Yuuri shyly waves, not knowing what else to do. His legs are bouncing up and down and Viktor has to place a hand on his knee to calm him, and it works, but barely.

“No matter what happens, Yuuri, I want you to be proud of that performance,” Viktor tells him, and Yuuri nods, because he feels like he gave it everything he had. He had laid everything he felt out onto the ice, had made his feelings open and known, and that’s all he wanted.

“Viktor, did you…?” Yuuri trails off, hoping Viktor can finish his question for him.

Viktor’s lips turn up into a smile and he squeezes Yuuri’s knee. “I paid close attention,” he says, and Yuuri nods wordlessly, mouth going dry. He blinks at the sound of an intercom and Viktor tenses at his side.

“The scores, please, for Katsuki Yuuri of Japan. His free skating score: 184.12. Total score of: 294.14. 1st place.”

Before Yuuri can even react, he’s being tackled onto the bench he’s sitting on by Viktor, who’s shaking him and grinning like a kid on Christmas Day.

“Yuuri! You won!” he yells, laughing, and Yuuri feels like the wind has been knocked out of him.

Shakily, he gets to his feet and bows, the roars of the audience deafening him. His entire body is shaking and he stands there for minutes, taking in the cheers of the crowd, the cries of his family and friends, and the jumping right to his side by his very, very excited coach.

Just a year ago, he thought that he’d never skate professionally again. Now, he’s the champion of the Grand Prix Final.

Yuuri has no words.

“You have thirty minutes before the award ceremony starts,” Yuuri hears a female voice say, and then he sees Viktor nod before taking Yuuri’s hand and pulling him towards the back rooms. Yuuri follows wordlessly, feeling light on his feet despite skating his energy away just a few moments ago.

Once they’re out of the view of the audience, of the world, Viktor wraps his arms around Yuuri again and really gives it to him. Yuuri laughs, or at least does so with the air that Viktor hasn’t squeezed out of him yet. He doesn’t have the heart nor the desire to tell Viktor to let go, and instead wraps his own around the other man, pressing his face into his chest happily.

Yuuri feels wetness on his shoulders and realizes that Viktor’s crying, snuggling his face further and further into Yuuri’s neck as his sobs get louder and louder. At any other moment, Yuuri would be wide-eyed in response because he’s never seen Viktor this emotional. For now, he chooses to run his fingers through Viktor’s hair, breathing out small puffs of laughter.

“Viktor, you’re getting my costume wet,” he scolds, though his tone holds no hint of anything but warmth. Viktor just grumbles unapologetically in response, then gives a loud sniff for emphasis. “It’s just the Grand Prix, Viktor.”

That shakes Viktor out of his crying fest pretty quickly because he puts his hands on Yuuri’s shoulders and gently pushes him back, watery blue eyes locking with gentle brown ones. Viktor pouts and blows his lengthening hair out of his eyes. “Yuuri,” he begins, “I don’t want to hear this just nonsense. You won the Grand Prix.”

“Because of you,” Yuuri says, breathless as he takes in all the raw emotion on Viktor’s face that had been buried into his neck just seconds ago.

“It was all you,” Viktor sighs, booping the tip of Yuuri’s nose with his finger. “All I did was show you how amazing you are. How absolutely beautiful you are, how breathless you leave me, how hypnotizing your skating is, how much your passion for it runs. It was all you, Yuuri.”

Yuuri feels his throat tighten and his bottom lip begins to tremble violently. Finally the emotions are catching up to him, the realization that he — no, that he and Viktor — had just won the Grand Prix, and he tilts his head to the side and smiles as wide as he can. “You’ve never cried after your own wins, have you?”

“I’ve never been as happy after my own wins,” Viktor confirms, then raises his hand up to Yuuri’s face to swipe away a falling tear with his thumb. “I’m proud of you, Yuuri.”

Yuuri slowly raises his hand and covers Viktor’s with it, leaning into his palm and saying nothing. Viktor doesn’t push him and doesn’t move, instead tracing his thumb in small circles across Yuuri’s cheek, giving him a smile that could melt icebergs.

Yuuri’s heart flutters rapidly, dangerously close to stopping altogether, and this moment isn’t at all what he’s thought it would be. It’s not the loud yelling and cheering, or the big spinning hugs, or the hoisting onto Viktor’s shoulders that he imagined. But it’s so, so much better.

And he’s so, so in love.

“Hey, Viktor,” Yuuri murmurs.

“Hm?” Viktor tilts his head, waiting, and Yuuri’s cheeks redden considerably. Viktor notices this and quirks a brow. “Is everything okay?”

“I—” Yuuri licks his lips, then looks to the floor, then back up at Viktor, then to his shaking hand, then back up at Viktor. “I have a request.”

Viktor blinks, and somehow moves his already too-close face even closer, pursing his lips and staring deeply into Yuuri’s eyes as if he wants to figure out what the request is before Yuuri can even voice it. “Anything you want.”

Yuuri fumbles with his words, head getting light and knees getting weak as he has an internal war with his brain to please, please say it, please don’t let this moment go to waste. His breath comes out in little spurts and he can’t believe he’s malfunctioning even with the adrenaline of victory coursing through him.

Viktor presses their foreheads together and snakes his arms around Yuuri’s waist, pulling him closer, a soft smile tugging at his lips. “What is it, love?”

And just like that, the worry and nerves in Yuuri vanish, and he’s no longer scared. He’s warm, enveloped in Viktor’s arms. He’s happy, sharing a moment like this with the man he loves in every sense of the word. He knows that Viktor knows, knows that Viktor’s just waiting for him to come forward. He’s excited, and a smile of his own lights up his face.

Viktor looks absolutely starstruck at Yuuri’s new, radiant expression, and only blinks out of it when Yuuri squeezes his hand between their faces to take his glasses off because this moment has to be perfect, dammit and he’s going to make sure it is. Viktor blinks in confusion, then his jaw drops as Yuuri carelessly throws his glasses on the floor.

“Yuu—”

“I know what to call it now, Viktor.” The words escape him effortlessly, as if he’s rehearsed this a thousand times instead of blurting his thoughts out on the spot. “What I feel for you.” Viktor’s breath hitches, but before he can say anything, Yuuri places his hands on both sides of Viktor’s face. “Ask me one more time.”

The transition of expressions across Viktor’s face in a 3-second span is adorable, Yuuri thinks, and he commits it to memory for life. Viktor flashes between confusion, brows scrunched and lips pursed, then goes to shock, blue eyes widening slightly and lips parting in an Oh , then all his facial features relax and the corner of his mouth lifts, almost as if he wants to laugh.

“Can I kiss you, Yuuri?”

And Yuuri’s lips, pressing against Viktor’s with a gentle urgency that accompany his feelings of love and desire, that are pressing hard enough to feel every curve of Viktor’s lips yet soft enough that he can feel the other smile against them, that let giggles erupt past them as Viktor unceremoniously dips him and deepens the contact, are all the answer that any of them need.