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Across the Water

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Katsuki Yuuri.


The name is imperfect on Viktor’s Russian tongue. He can’t remember the first time it entered his mind, just another in a list of competitors he was confident he would crush. The idea of such disinterest seems laughable, now. How could he have ever glossed over Katsuki Yuuri?


It rolls deliciously in his mouth. Curls around his tongue. Feels warm through his lips.


There’s somehow a different feeling to it, to each precious syllable, despite them being identical to that of Viktor’s Russian junior. Maybe it’s the context that does it: said less in teasing and mild condescension, and more in praise and and adoration.


Most recently, in pleasure.


He’s so aware of it every time it passes through his mouth. He mustn’t say it too often, he thinks. Mustn’t be frivolous. Must savour it. Viktor gets greedy with Yuuri, he’s well aware. As much as he wants to show him off for the world to see, there are certain things that he keeps to himself.


Yuuri’s name is one of them. It’s reserved for their moments alone, for gasps between kisses, to be mumbled against bare skin, whispered so, so preciously as he watches his lover’s eyelids droop once he and Viktor are panting and satisfied.


He resents it dearly when he has to give it up to reporters and microphones.


There are other pronunciations, of course, ones that are less whispered delight, and more pain and longing.


There are the times he finds Yuuri at the rink late into the night, long after he directed the skater’s warm-down. There’s the love and care warped into frustration at Yuuri doing this again, after Viktor told him not to. There’s the plea of it against his lips once Yuuri goes on and on about needing to keep going, to keep being better, about not being good enough for Viktor. There’s anger to it as they exchange screams, and the ache but also the hope as they collapse on the floor and hold each other in the aftermath.


Yuuri, it goes, Yuuri, I’m so sorry.


There’s the last time he says it before a flight home to Russia, unable to bring Yuuri with him this time. It’s so quiet, solely intended for the other man amongst a sea of journalists that stalk them to Viktor’s terminal. There’s the gasp of it a few nights after he lands, muffled into his pillow, hands too preoccupied to properly cover his mouth and keep it from escaping. There’s happiness mixed with longing as he says it into his phone, bridging the distance between them just a little.


It’s loudest in his return, when he finally catches sight of Yuuri waiting to patiently outside his flight’s gate.


Sometimes Viktor wonders if he’s as in love with Yuuri’s name as he is with the man himself. He carries the name with him as delicately as if he really were. It manages to feel stark on his tongue no matter what: in Russian, in Japanese, in the occasional English interview. When he speaks to his family. When he gives it up for official comments. When Yuuri’s mouth proves as talented as the rest of his body and reduces Viktor to his mother tongue.


But maybe it goes both ways.


There’s just as much care in Yuuri’s pronunciation of Viktor’s name, such trepidation in ensuring its slightly awkward place amongst the rest of his Japanese speech. It’s as imperfect as the rest of him, but its tone distracts Viktor from all else.


Admiration. Affection. A little intimidation. Love.


And in their moments together, when they’re gasping and clutching and exchanging breathless promises, maybe that’s all they need. No language. No compromise of dialects.


Just each other.