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Cartography of a Heart

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Dawn breaks over the city, it slides over the streets he knows so well, St Petersburg stretching like a cat in the golden light.

Yuuri is certainly still asleep, buried under the covers, maybe dreaming. The more this thing between them progresses, the more Victor would like to know what the other man is dreaming of. There's this constant craving underlining every thought and every moment, the need to discover more, to own more of Yuuri. If anything, to make sure that he won't leave him one day.

Victor blinks in the chill of the ice rink, a shiver swirling down his spine. Inhale and exhale, he orders to himself. The comfortable harshness of instructions steadies him. This is something he knows, something familiar. Back when he was just a kid he had clung to Yakov's commands as though they were a lifeline. And even afterwards, when win after win he built enough confidence to follow his own instinct, it was the rigid routines that he had set for himself that managed to remove him from that jumble of uncertainties he felt he had to discard.

He shakes his shoulders, flexes his arms and then is off, blades lightly scraping the ice. The very sound sets on him like a woolen cover on a winter night. This is where he is free to be strong and proud. This is where he has carved a space for his dreams, somewhere safe.

He has just landed a triple loop when Victor realizes that he has been skating Yuuri's free program. He allows himself a small smile. They arrived only a couple of days ago, to train here before heading to Moscow. Yuuri is still nervous but it seems that something has shifted after the Cup of China - something has solidified at his core, Victor thinks, something luminous that he can't help noticing in every twist of Yuuri's body.

Fame came quickly to Victor, he was barely 13 when he had begun to win big time, when gold medals started to pile up and everything else stopped to matter. By 16 he was alone at the top.  How could anything be more important than the only thing that had given a sense to his life? It had carved a way for him, a path that stretched on and on, far over the horizon of winter nights spent in the dormitories at the academia.

But after all, isn’t life what you make of it? It cannot be otherwise; if it had been a matter of fate, Victor wouldn’t have been here - five World Championships under his belt, considered a genius, the most astonishing promise the ice has ever seen. He took his history and reshaped it, made it anew.

That is why he keeps going, Victor thinks as he bends his spine in an Ina Bauer. That is why nothing truly reaches him; he is in control and it is easy this way - breathing, spinning into a triple axel, the cold air slapping his face and dilating his lungs.

Then came Yuuri - effortlessly slipping in the controlled vacuum Victor had surrounded himself with. It was simply a project at first, to see if he could still inspire people, if he could take another person and shape him, whip him into form. He hadn’t considered the matter Yuuri Katsuki was made of.

Victor is slipping into the final combination they have come up for his student’s programme when he spots him. Yuuri’s hands are gripping the handrail, next to the entrance. Victor twists into a triple Salchow and when he lands he tries to gauge Yuuri’s reaction. Is he in awe as he was when they first met? Is he worried, is he angry? Asking all these questions is not like him, Victor thinks as he goes still. He is used to get what he wants, without second thoughts - he hasn’t worked so hard on his skating, but mostly on himself, to end up feeling uncertain in front of anyone, let alone his student. Then again, if he has to be honest with himself, Yuuri is so much more than that.

“Good morning, Yuuri.” He exclaims, his tone light, his voice carrying across the 5 am morning air.

“H-hi. Couldn’t you sleep? I was worried when I woke up and you weren’t at home.”

Victor tilts his head to the side. He still isn’t used to someone worrying, to someone wanting him there. They are not sleeping together, not yet. The kiss they shared at the Cup of China is still too cumbersome  -  a crossroad that confuses the both of them, Victor has reason to think.

It wasn’t their first kiss per se. Back in September, once they got back to Hasetsu after Yuuri’s victory, there had been an evening when the onsen had been quiet around them, the clock’s hands inching towards 3 am. They had been chatting and joking and drinking all night. And then the moonlight had stumbled past the clouds and splashed on Yuuri’s face. Something had contracted right behind Victor’s sternum and he had had to lean forward and lightly press his lips to Yuuri’s. They never properly discussed it afterwards, but the intimacy between them became easier, deeper. Yuuri wouldn’t shy away from his hugs, they would sometimes end up holding hands, as they crossed the rink after practice.

But what happened at the Cup of China was different. Victor felt that the discussion they had in the parking lot had laid bare corners of his heart which he had forgotten. There was no way he could take them back under the surface now.

“Can I join you?”, Yuuri asks and Victor snaps out of his thoughts.

“Of course, you are the one who needs training, aren’t you?”

He appreciates the faint blush on Yuuri’s cheeks. The truth is that Yuuri is blossoming. Soon enough he will not need Victor anymore.

“Do you want to start with Eros?”, he asks, as Yuuri glides his way towards him.

“Sure.”

Yuuri’s eyes look hooded, and the protective side of Victor - a side mostly unknown to him until now - stirs.

“Are you okay, Yuuri? Feeling homesick?”

Yuuri shakes his head, hands clasped nervously in front of him.

“Then what’s the matter? You can’t lie to your coach.”

Sometimes Victor finds this easier, joking and defusing this tension that keeps pulling at the two of them, even more so after their trip to China.

“I was just thinking...maybe we could skate it together for once?”

Yuuri looks so young, so hopeful, and yet so strong in his feelings, that Victor finds himself taken aback once more. Yuuri is like an ever changing kaleidoscope, his colours pure and brilliant, irresistible. It scares Victor, how easily he can see himself falling. How fast he is falling already.

And, well, he has been fantasizing about it, about skating with Yuuri, letting the music pull them closer still. But what if he makes another mistake like the one in that damn parking lot? What if he shatters something beyond repair this time?

He clears his throat, the weight of Yuuri’s gaze almost too much to bear.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Let’s focus on you. Yuri is not going to go easy this time.”

Without a backward glance he skates up to the stereo. By now, he has learnt that he is not strong enough around Yuuri, if he wants to stay on track he cannot look at him now.

If Yuuri’s performance lacks a bit of verve, Victor doesn’t point it out. He simply takes in Yuuri’s grace, the lines of his body, the way it touches the music.

*

Victor closes the door behind his back. The warmth of the flat is welcome after the chilly wind outside.

“You did well today, Yuuri. Why don’t you take a shower and then we can order something to eat. I won’t force my cooking on you, I promise.”

Yuuri has been awfully quiet all day long and by now Victor is starting to feel on edge.

“Yuuri, look…”

“Can you...would you kiss me again?”

Victor blinks. He wasn’t expecting this. True, they haven’t kissed again after their exploit on the ice, but Yuuri seems comfortable enough with this arrangement. Victor, on the other hand, has wanted to kiss him again, of course he has. But he also knows that another kiss will mean sending a message and he is not sure that is the right thing. Wouldn’t it be selfish to tie Yuuri down now that he is blossoming into the man Victor knows he will be?

“Are…do you want me to?”

Yuuri’s eyebrows knot. “Are you really asking me that, Victor? You kissed me in front of all those people and now…”

Victor’s heart shrinks, another mistake, another wound. He is so used to shielding his heart to keep his head straight and continue to march on, that he has never learnt how to discern other people’s needs.

“Talk to me.” Yuuri is closer now; his palms open on Victor’s chest. Can he feel my heart beating?

But what can Victor say? I don’t know how to speak these words, I am sorry. But please let me hold you.

“I know you like me, I know, but…what are you so scared about?”

Victor’s traitorous heart stutters against his ribcage at Yuuri’s words. Once more Yuuri is proving to be the braver of the two, baring his heart for Victor to take. And how is that even fair?

He allows himself to close the distance, his lips brushing against Yuuri’s as he speaks. “I am afraid of wanting you too much, of…ruining you.”

Yuuri’s fingers sink into his hair, pulling him into a firm kiss.

“Don’t ever say that, never again, Victor.”

*

Yuuri’s skin is damp with perspiration, fragrant, as he moves on the sheets. The soft moans tumbling past his lips crash over Victor like waves.

“God, you are unbelievable”, he mutters, the desire to worship the young man beneath him filling him to the brim.

Yuuri looks up at him, eyelids half lidded, lips red, and smiles. Small and perfect.

“Then show me that you believe in this.”

Victor blinks as Yuuri’s fingers close around his length, pumping him leisurely.

“I want to feel real to you, Victor. With you.”

Yuuri’s eyes are dark and serious and once more Victor finds himself dumbfounded in front of this young man, faced with the steel clearness of his heart. He kisses Yuuri hard and deep, hoping that he will understand what Victor wishes he could be brave enough to put into words one day. You are more real than the whole world to me. You are the only one who has made me want to care.

Yuuri shifts underneath him, his toned legs spreading wider, his hips pushing up, seeking friction, and Victor gets the hint.

“Let me make this good for you”, he whispers against the warm shell of Yuuri’s ear. Only when he feels the other man nodding, he pulls away.

“What do you want, Yuuri? Tell me.”

Victor knows what he is willing to give, but he has to make sure that Yuuri is comfortable with it. From the hints his student has dropped over the past months, Victor is fairly sure that Yuuri is a virgin, which means he might need some time to wrap his mind around which position would be more fitting.

“I want you, Victor.”

The directedness of the statement melts something right under Victor’s heart, the forgotten space where he hasn’t ventured since he was a kid, the place where longing had been locked away all those years ago.

He takes a deep breath, his fingers over Yuuri’s ones, still loosely wrapped around him.

“Would you…I want you inside me, Yuuri.”

He watches as Yuuri’s eyes widen, pupils blown out; he can’t tell if out of lust or fear.

“Are…are you sure?”

Victor leans down then, pressing a chase kiss to Yuuri’s lips.

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

He keeps his gaze trained on Yuuri’s face as he reaches for the lube in his nightstand drawer and coats one of his fingers in it. It is always a bit uncomfortable when he has to stretch himself like this, but he wants to be good for Yuuri.

Underneath him his student, his friend, his lover, is panting, his cock hard against the inside of Victor’s thigh.

As he adds a second finger, Victor snaps his eyes shut against the burning feeling spreading through him. It has been a while.

Yuuri’s fingers close around the wrist of his free hand and Victor opens his eyes. Has he done something wrong? Yuuri shakes his head and for a foolish instant Victor wonders how on Earth he has managed to read his thoughts.

“Keep your eyes on me while you do it. Always keep your eyes on me.”

Surprise bursts inside Victor, as Yuuri’s hoarse voice travels straight to his cock.

“Your wish is my command”, he manages to get out, even though all he wants to do is moan shamelessly.

Soon enough he slips in a second finger, focusing on stretching himself to make this comfortable for Yuuri. Now that he is opening himself up, the realization of how much he wants this hits Victor like a punch in the stomach – the need to be one with Yuuri, the closeness that comes from someone you care about getting so close to your core. He doesn’t have the strength to explain himself in words – the past, the tears, the efforts – but he knows that by giving himself to Yuuri they will speak the same language.

“Are you ready, love?” The endearment comes unbidden and Victor likes the sound of it on his tongue.

Yuuri nods, his hands coming up to rest on Victor’s hips.

“Then, let me add the finishing touches.” He enjoys Yuuri’s moan as he coats him in lube and shifts on his knees so that his hole is lined up.

“Victor…”

“Yes?”

“I…I love you.”

Victor smiles and then drops down, love and pleasure bursting through him as Yuuri’s cock gets buried inside him in one swift motion. He takes in Yuuri’s eyes, blown wide, his cheeks flushed; his lips curved into a perfect “o” shape.

“How does it feel, love?”

“I…You…you feel…ah…amazing.”

Victor smiles freely now, his fingers tracing the curve of Yuuri’s cheek.

“And you haven’t felt anything yet.”

He begins to move, slowly at first, enjoying the way Yuuri’s cock twitches and tenses inside of him, the way his nails dig into his hips. And then faster, his heart thudding unknown rhythms against his ribcage as Yuuri whispers his name like a prayer.

Please, listen closely to what I’m saying, Yuuri. To what my body is showing you.

*

His legs feel heavy, the satisfied weight of exertion, as he stretches. It is morning once again, the ice glossy and still. When he left, Yuuri was still asleep in his bed, legs tangled in the sheet, snoring lightly. There is something so achingly beautiful in the unguarded moments of sleep, Victor finds. But Yuuri already wears his heart on the sleeve as Victor has never managed to do. That’s not how things work for him. And yet he is fascinated by the openness, the willingness that Yuuri has to make himself known.

Victor is aware of the fact that Yuuri opens up this way especially for him. It’s an honour, and a constant call to become a better man.

Music floods the space suddenly, like a tidal wave. Victor would recognize the opening notes among millions - Stay Close to Me. How hard he had looked for the right song back then. And yet, if he were to think about it, how little he had shown of himself, how closed off his performance had been. He doesn’t need to turn to know that Yuuri is gliding towards him.

Yuuri’s fingers are cold, but firm, easily sliding between his. It feels right, in a way Victor has rarely felt in his life.

“Can I have the honour?” Yuuri whispers, his breath hitching a bit. And Victor knows he will keep falling in love with this man, bit by bit, with every surprise and every weakness and strength that Yuuri will allow him to see. He nods, not trusting his words.

Victor has never been the right kind of person for pair skating. He has always been the star, the soloist, alone on the rink, detached, untouchable. Now, though, he lets Yuuri take the lead, spinning him around, a laugh spilling past his pretty lips. Victor finds that his hands belong on Yuuri’s hips, his arms, as their muscles move in unison.

They last notes swirl around them and Yuuri’s eyes are so deep and full of affection, that Victor knows it is his turn to be brave.

“You know…I love you, Yuuri”

Yuuri’s lips are all that he needs, the light that finally illuminates the map of his heart.