It happened, surprisingly, not in front of Christophe, or Phichit, or any of the other skaters that were normally around them. No, this particular incident happened back at the hotel, after the flashing of lights and sound at the rink.
They were standing at the front desk, Victor trying to work out a problem with the room. (Apparently someone else had checked in with a similar name and the rooms were mixed up in the system. Yuuri wasn't sure how the hell that was possible) Lazy in a jacket and black sweatpants, wishing he was in bed right now, Yuuri leaned against the desk with eyes half-shut. God knew he'd been tired before he'd even gotten out onto the ice. Now that he was off of it, he was utterly exhausted. The sooner he could get to a bed, the better.
The voice was from behind him and Yuuri glanced back. He wasn't used to people randomly talking to him. So it was a surprise to come face-to-face with a stranger. A stranger who was actually fairly attractive, brown hair soft around hazel eyes and a smile on his face. "You're Katsuki Yuuri, right?" he asked, excitement evident in how he shuffled a little on his feet.
"Uh, yeah," Yuuri answered.
"I saw you skate, on TV," the boy replied excitedly. His smile widened, eyes sparkling. "You were great!"
Yuuri felt warm inside at the praise and rubbed at the back of his neck. "Oh, thanks. I'm happy you liked it."
The boy leaned forward, bringing himself into the circle of Yuuri's space. "I'm Jack, by the way. All of your performances have been really great so far," he commented warmly. "How do you pull it off every time?"
"Well, it's not just me," Yuuri answered, shoulders lifting in a shrug. "Victor helps with a lot of it." He cast a glance at Victor beside him, still talking with the woman behind the desk. It was natural for the attention to immediately switch to him once he was mentioned. It happened every other time.
But not this time.
"Yeah, but you're the one skating," Jack pointed out. There was a soft coloring of pink in his face when he spoke and his gaze never left Yuuri. "You're um, you're really amazing." Not once did he glance Victor's way. Not once.
What the hell was happening here? "Oh, uh, thanks," Yuuri stammered, unused to such compliments.
Yuuri nearly jumped, not expecting Victor to join the conversation. Luckily, he held back the squeak that threatened to come out of him too. Victor had this odd, curious expression on his face, blue eyes shifting from Jack and then to Yuuri again. "Who's this?"
"Jack," Yuuri answered, puzzled. He gestured to the other boy, who was smiling a little sheepishly under Victor's gaze. "He said he watched all the performances and really liked them." Yuuri smiled as he said it; it was impossible not to be flattered by such words. "Isn't that cool?"
"Mmhm," Victor hummed noncommittally, propping his chin on his hand and turning back to the impatient employee. There was something strange in his face, something vaguely disapproving but that Yuuri had never seen before. It was the shortest and most unenthusiastic answer Yuuri had ever heard from him.
His lips parted slightly in shock. That was kinda rude, actually. Was Victor not feeling well? "Uh—"
"So, um," Jack spoke up suddenly, "I know that this might be weird, but my little sister really likes you too." Yuuri tore his gaze from Victor, then blinked when he saw the notebook being offered to him. Jack gazed up at him through questioning, hopeful eyes. "Could you maybe autograph this for her? Her name's Destiny."
Yuuri could feel a blush creeping up into his face at the words. He'd never been asked to give an autograph before. Is this how Victor feels all the time? he thought, as pleased butterflies swirled around in his stomach. Or is he just used to it by now? "Yeah, sure," he said happily, accepting the notebook. Their fingertips grazed as he did and he thought he saw Jack turn a shade redder in the face. Brushing it off, he lifted the notebook up to write and then realized stupidly that he didn't have a pen. "Do you have a pen?"
"Hey, Yuuri?" Victor said suddenly, pulling Yuuri's attention away for the second time that night. He still had that funny tone to his voice and his eyes kept sneaking over to Jack. Then he nodded toward the notebook in Yuuri's grasp. "What're you doing?"
"Oh, Jack's sister really wanted an autograph," Yuuri explained. "But I need something to write with..."
"Hold on." Shifting a step toward Yuuri, Victor fished around in the pocket of his coat for a pen.
"Sir," the hotel employee piped up from behind the counter, slightly irritated. "I think you'll have to wait a bit while I search for your name in the system."
Victor glanced up at her, jaw dropping. "I thought that's what you were doing the whole time," he protested, voice ending on an almost-whine.
"Sir, if your name is too similar to someone else's, it's hard to search for you in the system without some form of ID," she told him matter-of-factly. "And I haven't gotten any yet, so..." She trailed off, a look in her grey eyes that hinted that this wasn't the first time she'd had trouble with their computer system.
"You need my ID?"
"Yes, sir. Unfortunately, you claiming to be Victor Nikiforov is not enough."
Yuuri fought the urge to roll his eyes. It looked like it was going to be a long night. Gaze drifting away from the woman, he spotted a pen sitting on the desktop. "Never mind, Victor, I found one," he said, plucking it from its place next to the stack of hotel business cards. Clicking it open, he set to writing his name across a clean sheet of notebook paper. Should I add a message or something? I've never done this before...
"Thank you so much," Jack gushed cheerfully. "She's gonna love this." He watched Yuuri write with something akin to adoration.
Victor shot him a glance, then looked back at Yuuri. "Er, Yuuri—"
"Sir, can you please give me your ID?" the woman cut in. How many freaking times was she going to call him sir?!
"Are you sure you need it?" Victor asked, disbelieving and evidently in denial over his woman's disregard for his obvious and very famous identity.
She heaved a very long, very exasperated sigh. "Yes, I am sure I need it. I can't make any exceptions."
Victor leaned an arm on the desk and gave her his sweetest, world-champion smile. "Not even for—?"
"No," she deadpanned.
Victor dropped his head onto his folded arms, sighing in despair. Then he dug grudgingly reached into his pocket to retrieve his ID.
Meanwhile, Yuuri had finished signing the notebook (with an added, Destiny, I'll skate my hardest for you! Thank you for the support!) and was now studying Victor with head cocked. There was definitely something off about him tonight. It was pretty normal for him to try grabbing Yuuri's attention every other minute, but not when he was talking to someone. And he never treated anyone the way he was treating Jack, who was just being nice, even if he was kinda fawning over—
Oh. Oh. The idea prickled in the back of Yuuri's mind and he glanced sharply at Victor again. Was he...Could he be....? The idea was soon followed by another, one much more devious and Yuuri brought a hand to his mouth to hide a half-smile. Well, there was only one way to find out.
"Here you go," he said, holding the notebook out to Jack again. He made sure to flash his brightest smile. As Jack reached for it, Yuuri pulled it back teasingly with a gleam in his brown eyes. "Unless you want me to write something for you too?"
Jack's eyes widened a fraction, but the blush that spread across his face said it all. "Y—yeah, that'd be awesome! Thank you."
Now, how did he do this? Just act like Victor. "No problem!" Flipping to a new sheet of paper, Yuuri brought his pen up again. As he did, he sent a playful glance Jack's way and winked.
The poor guy looked as though his heart stopped and Victor made a strange noise in the back of his throat. Yuuri slanted a look up at him, noting the dark expression on Victor's face when he saw Jack's excitement at the flirting. Then those sky-colored eyes landed on Yuuri's. Yuuri arched a brow as though to say, what's the matter? Jaw tightening, Victor's shoulders lifted in a tiny shrug: nothing at all. Then he looked away again and watched as the woman typed his ID into the computer.
Yuuri most certainly wasn't buying it. Not after the way Victor was ruffled by Yuuri's attention being directed somewhere else. Not after every performance with Victor's eyes on him the entire time. Not after the last performance, with Victor running to meet him halfway there, on the ice. Not after...
Yuuri's heartbeat stuttered and he almost had to drop the act at the flood of emotion that hit him then. He couldn't think about what had happened out in the rink today. It never stopped stealing the breath from his lungs all over again.
And he was supposed to be acting confident right now.
"Here you go," he said cheerfully, having signed the notebook again and holding it back out to Jack. As he handed it over, he made sure to let their fingertips brush again. "Hey, if you ever come to one of my performances, I'll look for you. Don't be shy, okay?" He rested a hand briefly on Jack's shoulder.
"O—okay, sure," Jack stammered. He held the notebook close to him, looking as though Yuuri had just made his day. "Thanks again, this means a lot."
"You're welcome." Yuuri stuck his hands into his jacket pockets and smiled. He wondered for a moment if this little show of his was still affecting Victor at all.
As if on cue, the woman behind the counter spoke up at last. "Well, Mr. Nikiforov, it looks like you're in Room 328. Does that sound right?"
"Yes," Victor exhaled, eager to be done with this entire mixup.
"All right, let me get your room keys then." Turning away, she snagged two keys from somewhere behind the desk and then passed those over to him with his ID. Brow furrowing suspiciously, she added, "and you're only getting one room?"
"For the two of you."
There was a long minute of silence as she studied him. The customer-service politeness dropped from her voice for a second. "Are you aware that there is only one bed in—?"
The confidence was washed completely away by that one sentence. "Okay, Victor, I think we should go now!" Yuuri broke in, spinning away from Jack with face burning. The woman raised her eyebrows at him.
But Victor only shot her another thousand-watt grin as he accepted their room keys and slung an arm over Yuuri's shoulders. "Thank you!" he chirped, as he started to lead a sputtering Yuuri away. "You've been a lot of help!"
"But, wait are you guys, like...?"
"Ya ne ponimayu tebya."
"I don't understand Russian!"
"Ya lyublyu pudeley."
"I KNOW THAT YOU SPEAK ENGLISH."