Victor has never wanted anything more in his life.
"Yuuri, go out with me."
He had not expected it, coming in. Admittedly, Victor had thrown himself on to the whole coaching thing with little to no premeditation, booking the plane ticket to Japan in the same hour and on the same couch upon which he watched Yuuri Katsuki skate his program.
It was the most impulsive thing he has ever done - but ultimately, also the most rewarding. Victor never lacked for detractors, people telling him left and right what a stupid decision it was to throw away a career as the world's top skater to coach a nobody. But watching Yuuri Katsuki step out of the shadows - and in, and out again periodically like a person with some neurotic complex - is an experience in and of itself, and it's ridiculous how hooked Victor has become.
It took a while, but eventually he did admit to himself that he looked at his student too fondly for it to be mere... what is it, like a late quarter-life crisis? The angst of an athlete nearing retirement, vicariously reliving the rise to fame again with a promising (not so) young skater? It cannot be, for then he could have just stayed in Russia and trained the younger ones, like Yuri Plisetsky.
Yuuri Katsuki, though... Victor hasn't seen anyone like him. He skated to Victor's program in a way that Victor never would have thought to skate. It had not been flawless, but somehow it also pulled you to look beyond the technical aspects of the program and to just feel, to go along with him and let the music and the story flow through you like warm water from a gentle spring, a balm to the soul the likes of which Victor had never known.
Flying to Japan was the start, training and winning competitions together the journey, and now... now they are back to training again in Hasetsu. This, it seems, is now Victor's life. People have told Victor that he will soon grow tired of it, but even now, that has yet to happen. Each day with Yuuri still holds its own surprise that Victor still finds himself waking up each morning excited for what the day will bring. This, out of anything, gives him the energy to jump out of bed, cross the old and comfortable hallways of the Katsuki residence and knock excitedly at Yuuri's door, waking him for their usual early morning run. Day in and day out, always, always there is a reason to wake up; he had almost forgotten what that felt like.
Once Victor realized his affection for Yuuri, though, he also soon realized that he never had it quite this difficult either. In the past, he only had to smile a certain way, sometimes even just wink at someone, and they would immediately be on board. Victor never lacked for lovers because of this, although never really relationships, as skating had always come first. That did not mean that the line of hopefuls had not been long, and once or twice Victor even had to change numbers to be rid of a persistent lover who wanted more from him.
How ironic that now that he has the time for it, and now that he is actually interested, the object of his affection is a socially awkward non-believer in good things like genuine affectionate gestures and love confessions. Sure, once or twice, Yuuri would do something that would give Victor that surprised hitch to his breath - skating Eros to him (what the hell), attempting Victor's signature quad flip in competition when he never even landed it in practice just to send a personal message - but then Yuuri is weirdly unpredictable and maybe a bit crazy, and sometimes Victor wonders if he means these gestures the way Victor reads them. But more often than not, whenever Victor says something affectionate, Yuuri does not seem to know what to do with himself, and somehow the younger man just manages to slip away.
"Victor, get off me already," Yuuri's whining protest comes now even as he weakly pushes against Victor's advances. But Victor forgives him like he always does, because Yuuri says these things with the most adorable blush that makes Victor want to cling to him even tighter.
"Yuuri, you're so cute. Just stay still so I can hug you properly."
"Come on, Victor, you drank too much again." This time, Yuuri pushes at Victor's numb cheeks, though he still struggles with the arms around him. "What is with that? I thought Russians can hold their alcohol."
Yeah, okay, so maybe Victor isn't at his most sober at the moment. It doesn't matter, because Yuuri will take him home anyway, and he will sweetly tuck Victor in and make sure he wakes up comfortable. Besides, somehow holding Yuuri feels better like this, when everything is all warm and Yuuri is just more wonderful than usual. He yelps in that cute way, too, when Victor buries his face against Yuuri's neck. All in all, he is just too precious, and Victor does not want to let him go.
Yuuri is like a dog, an eternal puppy - which is ridiculous, because no man in his mid-20's with the figure of an ice skater should still be so baby-faced and endearing.
"My, my, how nice you look now, Yuuri. Still too thin, but I guess that is figure skaters for you."
Victor fondly watches the now familiar scene. Mrs. Yamagata is one of their neighbors and a distant relative of Yuuri's. She and Yuuri go a good way back. The best thing though is that she speaks English well, so Victor can listen to her stories without having to ask her to speak slowly because his Japanese is still bad.
"Good morning, Victor," she greets pleasantly. "Out training again?"
Victor smiles at her and nods. "It is good exercise and warm-up for later," he tells her. "Yuuri needs it to keep up with his routine."
Mrs. Yamagata smiles in that warm way that makes her eyes crinkle and nearly disappear in their folds. "You take such good care of our Yuuri, it really makes me happy. He is such a shy boy, you know? We used to worry so much when he was young, but he seems to have picked himself up nicely these days. He even has a handsome Russian coach now looking after him, how lovely."
"Obaachan, stop saying those things. We have to go now anyway." Yuuri scratches his head, bowing before Mrs. Yamagata before pulling at Victor's sleeves to get them going.
It is so like Yuuri, thinks Victor as he waves back at the nice old lady, to be so polite still even when he is embarrassed, or put on the spot, or given most other emotions and situations, really. It is why every time he isn't polite is a surprise, when he scolds Victor for going out of line ("You don't have to say anything, just stay close to me!") or when he does whatever the hell he wants because he does not agree with his coach. This last one is still a problem between them these days, and sometimes it makes them argue, but even that is a novelty because Yuuri hardly argues with anybody else. It is one of those things that Victor (stupidly) treasures, things he considers his and his alone.
Watching Yuuri skate is a wonder, a surreal experience - still, and after all this time.
Victor has heard the same things said about himself before, but he wonders if it is the same thing he is feeling now. He wonders if others have ever felt this way watching him skate; if they did, that would explain so much of the weird things he had endured from crazed fans in his skating years. Girls had climbed on to the roof of his rented car, sometimes even full-on streaked at an airport on a 4 a.m. arrival and screaming, "Victor, have my babies!" (It was in Dutch, and someone had had to translate for Victor.)
It is not that he feels like doing the same things for Yuuri now, but... yeah, yeah it is not a far off thing either. The way his heartbeat quickens at a gracefully executed step sequence, the way it skips altogether at a fluid jump, the way he feels utterly seduced by how Yuuri moves with the music... ah, but did they make Victor want to shed his clothes and jump Yuuri on the ice?
Yeah, actually, better not even think about it, even as a mental joke.
Victor wonders if it is because Yuuri had ballet training. His movements are different from Victor's, the strength of his body more subtle, graceful and less masculine. Yet he is no woman, of that one can be sure. His beauty is a bit difficult to define, not necessarily androgynous because Yuuri looks every bit a man, but when he moves - God, just have mercy.
Watching Yuuri improve on Eros, in particular, is both rewarding and downright torture. Today is one of those days, too - "Eros Days" as Victor's mind has come to call them, because one has to have a name for the kinds of enemies one has to brace for, after all - days on which Yuuri would use the old routine to practice his coordination and his jumps. Eros is good practice with its complex music, complicated steps and challenging jumps, and so it makes sense to keep it in Yuuri's repertoire.
But yes - days like this are trying days for Victor.
Yuuri keeps looking at Victor, too, smiling that smile and looking those looks-- that whatever the hell they are that Victor certainly didn't teach him. It is as though Yuuri uses him still as a prop, a target, for this routine. Knowing Yuuri, this is most likely the case, for why would he stop doing something that has worked so well in the past? It used to be funny and exciting, Yuuri's utter lack of sexual focus that he had to use the nearest target he could find - namely, his coach (aah, but now that Victor thinks about it, Yakov would go ballistic if one of his students ever did that to him) - to channel the kind of energy needed for a program like Eros.
Now, though, when Yuuri has near perfected it, it is just... maybe too exciting. It makes the heat pool in the pit of Victor's stomach, made his skin tingle with want, and while he was never one to loathe pleasure when it comes, there is only so much arousal one can hide in public. Not to mention, biting one's lip behind one's fingers while watching one's student practice is most likely at the top of the list of things coaches should not be doing.
The routine ends soon enough, and Yuuri makes rounds on the ice again. He is like this, doing his own thing until the time is up, and over time Victor has learned to keep note of his feedback up to the very end, when Yuuri is ready to listen to them.
Yuuri eventually stops on the ice in front of Victor, panting in that quiet, almost polite way of his. Victor never even knew there is a polite way of breathing, but leave it again to Yuuri to prove to him that such things exist. Yuuri also always gets that thoughtful look on his face, staring at something in the distance that by now Victor understands as Yuuri looking inward. The younger skater critiques himself without Victor's help, so that most of the time, the lesson for Victor is actually recognizing when Yuuri is doing too much criticizing when what he actually needs are words of encouragement and motivation. It is such a Yuuri thing to do, though, that the sight of it - the heavy-lidded gaze, the half-relaxed, half-serious set of facial muscles in that gently handsome face - never fails to put a smile on Victor's face.
"Shall we call it a day?"
It is almost a ritual for them, every evening. Yuuri dictates when they are done. He is not like those atheletes who beg for breaks when they are tired; if anything, Yuuri is hardly ever tired enough. More often than not, Victor has to convince him not to overexert himself. Yuuri truly has amazing stamina - but again, more on things Victor should not think so much about when his mind is still not yet fully out of the gutter.
Yuuri blinks, eyes focusing for a minute as though he needs a moment to return to himself. He then looks at Victor - and shakes his head.
Victor watches him skate away, gliding across the ice. He always looks so good doing it, too, that Victor cannot help but wonder how different things would be if they actually were dating. Maybe by then, Eros Days won't be so bad. Most likely, they would even be his favorite days, and maybe finally, they could even put that infamous stamina to the test.
Victor is not always so great and patient, and actually, apart from that time in China (when he got too excited that he just up and jumped Yuuri on the ice), there was this one other time when he kissed Yuuri. Victor supposes it can be like, their thing - surprise kisses, that is - but looking back, he probably should just count himself lucky that Yuuri did not jump up screaming "sexual harassment" on Victor's ass.
"Um, surprise?" was all Victor was able to come up with then when he pulled back to find Yuuri blinking up at him and blushing furiously.
"W-W-Why did you--"
It was late, and they had finished practice much later than usual. They were seated on a ledge overlooking the sea, the remains of the dinner they picked up from a 24/7 conbini neatly packed and stashed beside them. They were alone because the hour was so late, and the stars were out, the moon was high up, and Yuuri was ridiculously attractive under the faint light.
"Yuuri." And really, what were they doing? They had nearly done everything but make things official. "Go out with me."
"W-What are you saying now?"
"I like you."
"You're saying embarrassing things again." It's uncanny, how quickly Yuuri jumped off that ledge, and even while running away he remembered to take their trash and throw it in a nearby bin. Honestly, these Japanese people...
Aah, but Yuuri's gone, and Victor was left seated there wondering what the hell happened again. Was he alone thinking it, that it had been a good day, that it had been a good month, and whether it was possible to spend each and everyday together the way they just did? Had he been reading Yuuri wrong all this time?
Well, it was useless thinking all that alone with Yuuri gone. Victor sighed and hopped off the ledge himself, now distracted by the more practical question of how he would get back home, because this place was not in their usual path and he had forgotten which direction he was supposed to turn.
Fortunately, he later found Yuuri twiddling his fingers under a street lamp. He jumped when he saw Victor, but then said, "I thought... you might not be able to find your way back, so I..."
He really was too nice and too cute, so that whatever else Victor had flying around in his head, a fond smile did spread on his face all the same. "How thoughtful of you, Yuuri."
They walked home together after that. Yuuri was quiet all throughout, his shoulders hunched and fingers nervously playing together still. There was also a blush to his ears that even the dim light of night could not hide.
Victor sighed, watching him, and his breath just formed clouds in the air.
He is this close to just begging Yuuri to date him. Sometimes, he is even ready to beg to God, to the devil, to the spirits in the rocks and the trees or whatever other deity Japan has, to anyone and anything because Yuuri can also be way too dense... or shy, whatever. He just never lets Victor get far enough to progress.
Every time Victor broaches the subject, Yuuri just blushes - furiously and adorably and dear God, who even has the right to be this cute at that age - before telling Victor to quit joking. He never says no, though, so what does that even mean? Plus, somehow, too, Yuuri finds a way to excuse himself and run off. It is downright maddening.
"Don't you like it?" Yuuri asks from across the table, peering at Victor's bowl of oyakodon.
Well, okay, at least they have this. It is even almost like dating. They spend every moment together (as coach and student), they share meals just the two of them (because practice makes them take meals at weird hours), and they have been through enough together for things to already be comfortable and easy.
"I like it," Victor tells him with a lazy smile, though he still does not pick up his chopsticks. He watches Yuuri take a careful bite from his own meal, but the younger skater is now watching Victor in turn with a slowly growing look of suspicion on his face, which only serves to widen the smile on Victor's face. "How is yours? Is it good?"
"Nn," Yuuri mumbles with a nod and a small smile. They are so cute, all his Japanese responses and mannerisms.
"May I try?"
Yuuri nods again and pushes his bowl of whatever it is towards Victor. Victor eyes the bowl and just shakes his head at Yuuri, still not taking his chopsticks and just playfully points at his own open mouth.
Because why not? Why not flirt with your incredibly cute, incredibly dense and stubborn object of affection? Victor has learned that subtler modes of flirtation work better on Yuuri, mostly because Yuuri is just so dense that those kinds of things just fly past his precious dark head. Victor always has to drag the good things out of him, although he supposes that at least he has them and they can be dragged out from Yuuri at all, so that Victor gets treated to good things every once in a while.
This is not to say, though, that Victor always gets what he expects.
Yuuri sighs, but he does lift the bowl up to a little below Victor's chin. He even uses his own chopsticks, Victor notes with a mentally raised eyebrow, though he keeps his face neutral as he opens his mouth to the bite Yuuri gives him.
But dear gods, Yuuri does not stop there, because he lightly brushes a thumb against one side of Victor's bottom lip where a stray grain of rice had stuck itself. He then brings that thumb back to his own mouth and licks it off, face still set on that earlier look of exasperation, as if he had not just successfully blown Victor's mind from across the table.
Sometimes, really just-- just what the fuck.
"Well?" Yuuri asks, all innocent and evil incarnate. What is with this guy?
"I like it," Victor says, forcing a smile. Fortunately (pitifully), it has become easy doing so these past few days. "I will get it next time."
Yuuri smiles, and Victor feels torn between just kissing him and banging his own head on the table between them.
It really, really is almost like dating. Almost.
They turn around at the same time to see two girls - high school, if their uniforms are to go by - huddled together with shy grins on their faces. Their smart phones are held up.
One girl seems to find the courage faster than the other and she speaks to Yuuri in Japanese too quick and excited for Victor's beginner's ear to catch and understand. She nearly bounces in place though, and if she smiles any wider her face would crack. It inevitably puts a smile on Victor's face, as it is always nice, this kind of fans, and even Yuuri seems flattered, scratching his cheek shyly with a finger, eyes down and cheeks blushing. He then peeks over at Victor, and smiles when he finds Victor just watching them.
"They want to take a picture of us," he tells Victor with an embarrassed scratch now to the back of his head.
Victor smiles, because he has already guessed as much. "Of course."
He thought that he has long grown used to this, being approached in the streets and asked for pictures and autographs. He never really minded them before, and he has been known to be nice to fans, but he cannot remember the last time that he actually enjoyed them.
Watching Yuuri with his fans though, experiencing it all with him, brings Victor back to his younger days when having fans was a novelty still. It is therefore natural to smile at Yuuri and put an arm around his shoulders, to turn him towards the giggling girls and even playfully press their heads together for that photo.
"What about both of you with Yuuri?" he later offers them graciously, which rewards him with two excited squeals.
The girls immediately crowd over to Yuuri, who is squished between them. He is still not used to the attention, Victor can see that; the silly thing still hunches down shyly as though he is trying to occupy the smallest of spaces. Victor therefore tries to catch Yuuri's eyes over the camera, and once he has him, winks at him. It makes the girls giggle again, but Yuuri laughs, too, and when he looks at the camera his smile is easier, with his cheeks and ears pink even as an added bonus.
He is too adorable, Victor thinks as he taps the screen to take the photo. He taps it a few more times to make sure Yuuri gets a good shot, before handing the phone back to the girls.
"Ah," says one of them, and she begins to stammer in broken English, "Y-You, too, Victor-san? Onegaishimasu!" She bows her head low in front of Victor, who looks up from this to see Yuuri chuckling from where he stands.
"Here, I'll take your photo," says the younger skater as he gestures to the girls to go to Victor.
The girls stand beside Victor the same way they did with Yuuri, clutching at his arms excitedly with matching smiles. Victor shifts his gaze back to Yuuri, who is momentarily distracted, looking as though he is figuring out the best angle from which to take the photo. It's cute, how seriously he does these things for people he does not even know.
"Do I look good, Yuuri?" Victor asks him playfully.
Yuuri looks up briefly from the screen, and rolls his eyes at Victor's grin. "You already know the answer to that," he says as he gives his attention back to taking the photo. There is a flush that grows on his face again though, which is exactly what Victor is after, so he cannot help his smile even if he wanted to.
Later, the girls posted two versions of that photo: one with Victor smiling at the camera, and another one with him smiling at something beyond the frame. There is a long caption to the second photo that he of course does not understand, but it is suspiciously full of hearts and a dancing happy face. Curious, Victor copies the text to Google Translate.
"♡♡♡ It is true! They are so cute together~!!! Victor-san was very supportive of Yuuri-san and it was even his idea that we take a photo with Yuuri-san. (We asked him later if we can take one with him, too! Didn't it prove to be a good idea!?!?) He keeps teasing Yuuri-san the whole time, but look! Does he not look so smitten in this photo himself~~??
It is really too funny how many of Yuuri's fans are into the whole idea of him and Victor dating. Of course, nothing has ever been confirmed - and how can it, when there is nothing to confirm! - but the whole thing definitely has a following, especially online.
Victor taps his cheek in thought, reading through the caption again.
A grin spreads slowly on his face. He posts the link on Twitter with the caption, "who wouldn't be, when the photographer is so cute? ;D"
He then types out Yuuri's name and tags him.
Victor puts down his phone beside his pillow just as he thinks that Yuuri is going to yell at him again in the morning.
And Yuuri does yell, and blush, and does everything Victor told himself Yuuri would do. Victor's ears ring at the volume of Yuuri's complaints, but it is glorious, too, the way Yuuri reacts, and Victor also likes him like this anyway.
(Never mind that Victor's mind keeps insisting that it would have been nice if Yuuri just flirted back... but aah, one can keep on dreaming.)
So really, months later, when the day came that Yuuri kisses him, Yuuri has already set him with such low expectations that all Victor could do was blink in shock because none of it computed in his fizzled brain.
It only clicks much later, when Yuuri looks like he is having a full-blown panic attack. But of course, Victor thinks with a growing grin, he really should have known.
They were working on a new choreography, and so Victor had offered to show Yuuri the full routine for reference. It has been a while since he last skated a full program though, so Victor lost himself for a moment in the music. Now, because of everything, it seems that he has somehow forgotten that Yuuri used to be a huge fan of his, and that watching Victor skate never failed to get at least a dazed look out of the younger skater's face.
What the hell. Skating was all it took? He could have seduced Yuuri with skating months ago.
"I... sorry, sorry!" Yuuri now stammers, waving both hands in a violently defensive gesture that Victor actually has to pull his head back lest he gets slapped. "I just... that was so beautiful and I have not seen you skate in such a long time. Forget it, just forget it, I--"
"Eto piz`dets," Victor curses under his breath as he watches Yuuri backing off again. His brain probably short-circuits in frustration, too, because he next finds himself grabbing Yuuri's hands, forcing them down; he then grabs Yuuri's head, and kisses him.
Seriously, this is ridiculous. It is ridiculous how shy Yuuri is, how he is always touch and go, how skittish he is, how easy to impress, how beautiful when he blushes and panics and does all these crazy expressive mannerisms when he is feeling nervous. It is ridiculous, too, how heart-stoppingly soft his lips are, how Victor can easily imagine himself growing addicted to these things - to Yuuri's lips pressed against his, to Yuuri filling his arms almost as much as he fills Victor's head.
"I am getting tired of getting you to agree to this that I don't even want to ask anymore," he says against Yuuri's lips, voice deceptively low and rough, because the truth is that he can feel his own hands shaking. He never wanted anything more in his life - not winning gold, not the titles he later earned. Never had anything seemed nearer and yet out of reach; never had something been more enjoyable and excruciating at the same time. Yuuri is everything he never thought he would ever want, and so many things now seem so different and altogether new. He cannot believe how everything around Yuuri just feels so amazing.
He eventually relents though, because once again Yuuri has grown stiff in Victor's arms. Victor honest to God does not know how much more of this he can take, but each time he looks at Yuuri's tearful face, Victor just outright melts, and he inadvertently throws himself back into their sickly vicious cycle all over again.
And so, once again this time, he slowly releases Yuuri. He sighs. "But of course, I do not want to push you, and so I will keep on asking until you say yes."
Victor's eyes widen though when this time, it is Yuuri who makes a grab for him. Yuuri brings their faces closer again and presses their foreheads together, not unlike another time when he has done so before skating to center ice. Yuuri does so a little bit shyly and more uncertainly now, and Victor is struck suddenly when he realizes that the younger man's fingers are trembling against his cheeks.
"I just... I don't know how to..." Yuuri stammers, his eyes not meeting Victor's, but his fingers tighten around Victor's head as he presses them even closer. "I just don't know how to say yes, so maybe just stop asking, Victor."
He then kisses Victor again, and Victor's mind promptly blows up that everything save for that kiss is lost to him in that moment. Seriously, is this finally even happening-- God, but to be able to kiss Yuuri, to finally kiss long enough to coax the other's mouth open, to finally taste that tongue against his and hear Yuuri's pleasured gasp. It is even better than Eros Days, and the world around them just dissolves completely in Victor's mind.
And so, much later, when they find the photo of them kissing posted online (surprise, surprise - from Yuuko's account), Victor cannot remember when anyone could have entered the rink, pretty sure as he had been that they had been alone. Well, that's hardly important now, because now Yuuri is busily hyperventilating across from Victor, and Victor cannot help but laugh as he pulls Yuuri in his embrace and showers his head with kisses. Aah, he can finally do such things now.
Later though, before bed (still alone, because wow, Yuuri is a seriously slow guy), Victor goes back to the photo. He then retweets it with the caption, "Yeah, it's pretty mind-blowing for me, too."