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Souls bond, hearts follow

Chapter Text

Soulmates: individuals connected on a spiritual level, able to communicate with variable degrees of empathy or telepathy.

Soulmates, especially the strongest ones, were the stuff of legends. Some of the best known love stories were about soulmates. In reality, they were rare. When they existed, the connection was often so weak that it was negligible. It tended to fluctuate: depending on the life path you were on, your affinity could grow or diminish. It wasn’t set in stone. Furthermore, since it depended on an individual’s spiritual abilities, it was unequal: a soulmate could sometimes communicate easily with the other and not receive much in exchange. It tended to put a strain on the relationship.

All in all, soulmates weren’t exactly what fairytales advertised.

To realize you had one was unexpected. To realize it was your idol was mindblowing.

 

It started progressively, when Yuuri was around ten.

He felt strange mood swings. Usually, he was feeling sad, anxious or nervous and suddenly it was replaced by different degrees of elation, mischievousness, passion or even love. It lasted a few minutes, took his breath away and suddenly he was back to normal. It was really strange and it became worse and worse as time passed by.

Some mood swings startled him so badly that he burst into tears as soon as they ended. The backlash was terrible and those who witnessed it often thought him weird for it. Apart from Yuuko’s support and comfort, it just brought him insults and jeers.

At thirteen, it distracted him and disturbed his daily life so much that he finally mentioned it to his parents. They immediately went to the doctor’s.

“That sounds a little like a bipolar disorder,” the old man commented, “but it’s rare before puberty and your episodes are too short to fit… I’ll send you to a specialist.”

The psychiatrist listened and asked a lot of questions about Yuuri’s life in general, and school in particular when he finally mentioned the light bullying he was used to. It was extremely uncomfortable, but she was patient and understanding.

When she asked his mother to come back inside, she explained calmly: “I believe these mood swings are due to a high level of empathy. However, since we ascertain together that those moods didn’t correspond to anyone in his immediate vicinity at those times, it’s possible — and I say this with all the appropriate caution — that those moods swings are due to a soulbond.”

“I… I thought those weren’t real,” Yuuri stammered.

“Oh, they’re perfectly real. Rare but real. It’s estimated that one person out of ten will feel at least one soulbond at some point in their life. It’s not much spoken about because most of those people will lose the connection rather quickly afterwards.”

“So, it will go away?” Yuuri’s mother asked tentatively.

The psychiatrist shook her head slightly. “I can’t say for sure. It’s rare for a bond to develop so early in life — apart from siblings — and, from what Yuuri said, it’s at least a few years old. It sounds to me like it might continue. Nothing is ever certain about soulbonds. They’re as fickle as two lives woven together can be.”

She recommended meditation to help him control his empathy. There was nothing else to do.

Yuuri kept this secret. If he lost the connection, he didn’t want anyone else than his family to know and pity him.

He sometimes daydreamed about his soulmate. Who were they? Clearly, they seemed like a cheerful person for all the positive feelings they made him feel. What made them so happy? What did they like to do? They were supposed to have something in common for the bond to form despite the fact they had never met. Did they skate maybe? or dance ballet? Did they like good food, like him?

Yuuri was curious. The mood swings didn’t feel scary anymore. They were a blessing. He learned to take them in stride, to let them brighten his mood rather than make him feel abnormal. He wasn’t as jittery anymore. The people around him reacted accordingly. He was bullied less. Takeshi stopped looking at him like he was weird and behaved more like a friend.

His skating felt the effects: he breezed through the national competitions and even tried his hand at the international. He didn’t go far, but still.

His fourteenth year was good for him.

 

oOo

 

At sixteen, he had the revelation.

Watching Viktor Nikiforov had always been a great pleasure. To see him perform live was an experience he could never get tired of. He even stayed up late or woke up early to watch if he had to. The performance moved him so much more when it was live. He could literally taste it, as if he was right there by Viktor’s side, or as if he was the one skating those incredible routines. It was an indescribable feeling.

When he was sixteen, the World Championship happened in Europe. Viktor’s Free Skate was scheduled in the middle of the afternoon. It was midnight in Japan. Yuuri watched it on the family’s laptop, lying in bed on his stomach, hidden under a blanket. Vicchan was already sleeping by his side.

At twenty, Viktor was the favorite. He had won silver last year in this competition, but he had won gold at the Grand Prix Final a few months earlier. Commentators liked to say that he was at the peak of his career.

He was ranked first after his Short Program, and Yuuri was extremely excited to see him perform. He already knew his routine by heart. He had seen it at the Grand Prix and at the European Championship. He had watched it again and again after that.

Viktor took his starting pose and the first notes of music sounded out. Yuuri watched with half-closed eyes the sensual dance.

As a theme, Viktor had opted for a declaration of love to the ice. This was about his passion. This was a love story for his trade, about giving it all, a sheer gift of oneself, an absolute abandon. To express it, he had prepared the most difficult program of his career. He had three quads planned, including a quad flip.

Yuuri could feel all those emotions as if they were his. It enthralled him. It was overwhelming. All he could do was to go with it, to let the emotions flow through him, to accept them and to embrace them.

He was there, by Viktor’s side, and he went through the familiar motions he had worked on at the ice rink, when he was all alone. He hadn’t managed the quads but who cared? He was flying over the ice, carried by the intensity of Viktor’s performance and passion. His arms were curving perfectly, to the slightest move of the fingers. He was spinning and spiraling. He was right there, flowing over the ice for the step sequence in perfect timing. He imagined himself managing the incredible jumps Viktor was able to perform. Until the very end. Until the final pose, kneeling on the ice. His beloved mistress, hard to master but oh! how so rewarding!

Yuuri opened his eyes, breathless, his face squashed against the pillow. He straightened his head and adjusted his glasses on his nose, staring at the screen. There was a loud silence coming from his earphones. Where they unplugged? No, no, they seemed alright…

“I have no words,” the commentator said suddenly. “The whole ice rink has no words to express what just happened here.”

The camera was showing Viktor panting, still kneeling on the ice, looking dazed. Then it turned to the public who started applauding slowly. The applause increased and the audience stood up. There were no shouts, no screams, just a standing ovation.

“Look at this. God, look at this. Everything has stopped around the ice for a few minutes. The other competitors are here. Do you see them? This is Christophe Giacometti right here, applauding with the public and I think… yes, he’s crying. Well, to tell you the truth, I am too. I have never seen anything like this.”

The screen parted between the reactions of the public and a replay of the best moments of Viktor’s performance. At least, that’s what they were supposed to do, but they ended up playing most of the second half of the routine.

That’s when Yuuri understood what this was all about. Right here, hovering a few centimeters above Viktor, there was a glowing silhouette following his every move, like a shadow… no… like a double, like how Yuuri saw the world that time when his glasses were broken.

It was blurred, but it was shining. The longer Viktor skated and the stronger it looked, until, at the very end, he seemed wrapped in a shimmery aura.

“There is a rumor going around here, in the commentators booth,” the Japanese commentator was saying, “that this was an astral projection. Do you know what it means? I think you do. Ladies and gentlemen, we witnessed something exceptional here tonight. Viktor didn’t only perform his best and most incredible routine to date, no... he also performed it in perfect combination with his soulmate ! The astral projection of his soulmate was right there with him, with us!”

On screen, Viktor was shown slowly standing up. He looked around him, as if only remembering where he was, and it took him a few seconds before his lips stretched in a blinding grin. He raised his hands to the ceiling, and the crowd finally erupted in deafening cheers and screams, as if they hadn’t dare interrupt his contemplation before being sure he was fully back with them. A veritable shower of flowers and gifts were thrown at him. Viktor spun around and waved with a brilliant smile for everyone, his long hair wiping around excitedly.

Yuuri watched absent-mindedly, as his idol left the ice rink with an armful of roses and threw himself in his coach’s arms. It took them a minute of hugging and talking excitedly before they went to the kiss and cry.

Instead of sitting still to wait for his score, Viktor stepped forward to better be seen of the camera and made a heart shape with his hands, right over his chest, before bringing the tip of his fingers to his lips and blowing a kiss to the camera.

Yuuri was suddenly overwhelmed by a love so deep and pure that a stream of tears slid down his cheeks. He was helpless to stop it, he could only bury his face in a tissue and stare at the screen despite the blur it had become.

He heard distantly the results. Viktor had just blown every world record, hands down. There were still two skaters to go, but the gold was undoubtedly spoken for.

Yuuri didn’t watch the rest. He removed the earphones, closed the laptop, rolled in the sheets and stared at the ceiling.

Viktor Nikiforov was his soulmate.

Yuuri had just performed an astral projection — the highest, hardest form of telepathy and manifestation of a soulbond.

That had happened.

Here and now.

He had done that.

Wow.

Alright…

He’ll process that later. Like, tomorrow.

Right now… oh, wow, Viktor was really really happy, and full of love, and glee, and delight… How could one human being feel so much, so strongly?!

Yuuri stifled his smile and a giggle in his blanket then he promptly burst into happy tears once again.

He might need a few more tissues.

Or not, because Vicchan woke up and licked his tears with a questioning whine.

 

oOo

 

Viktor had never been shy about his soulbond. He had talked about it since his Senior debut, admitting that he always felt like the bond was at its strongest when he was on ice.

Yuuri knew this like he knew everything public about Viktor.

He had never imagined this was about him.

In the days following the World Championship, Viktor’s performance and the astral projection of his soulmate created a huge buzz. Even those who weren’t interested in figure skating heard about it. It was worthy of a fairytale story. People loved those.

Journalists and specialists speculate about Viktor’s soulbond. How strong was it?  How extraordinary this event had been? Who was his soulmate?

It was extremely embarrassing to listen to their theories but, considering he had kept his revelation quiet, he didn’t have much choice: Yuuko absolutely wanted to talk about it with him.

“They say that his soulmate is probably a figure skater too, to be able to perform the same choreography as Viktor! A really talented one, with a training in empathy and telepathy to be able to do the astral projection,” she said excitedly.

Yuuri wasn’t trained. He meditated and read a few books on the subject, nothing more. He wasn’t a very talented skater either.

“She’s probably older than him, to do so well!”

Oh, yeah, and he wasn’t older or a girl either (even if he regretted that some days).

At that, he couldn’t help but point out to Yuuko (only because she was his friend, he wouldn’t have dared to do it with anyone else choosing the heteronormative option): “What makes you think it’s a girl?”

She hesitated and raised a hand to her chin. “You’re right, it could be a man. There are all kind of soulmates after all. It’s not necessarily romantic.”

“And if it is?” He asked in a small voice. He didn’t even consider that detail. The discovery was still too new to wonder what kind of relationship they would develop if they ever met.

“Well… If it is, I’m sure they’ll make a really cute couple!” Yuuko stated with a cheerful clap of her hands.

Yuuri relaxed slightly and smiled at his friend. He was tempted to tell her everything but, really, he was still doubting himself a little too much to talk about it with anyone.

He tried to avoid most discussions about Viktor’s soulbond, because it tended to make him even more insecure, but Yuuko backed him in a corner when she showed him an interview of Viktor:

“Viktor, we know what we saw when you performed, but what did you feel at that moment?” The reporter asked.

“Loved. Understood. Like I was baring my soul to the world and someone answered with a protective embrace. It was the most beautiful thing I ever felt,” Viktor replied with a soft smile and tender eyes.

Yuuri’s heart beat in his ears as he watched Viktor’s expression. He looked radiant and at peace.

“What kind of person do you think your soulmate is?”

Viktor gave a lopsided smile to the camera. “Someone I’d love with all my heart.”

No speculations. No theories. Just acceptance.

Yuuri pulled his collar higher to hide the light flush spreading over his cheeks.

“Is there a message you’d like to send him?”

“I’m impatient to meet you, zolotse,” (N/A: 'my gold') Viktor said to the camera, kissing his golden medal as he pronounced the last word. “This is yours as much as mine. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience.” And he winked.

Yuuri could have combusted.

“Isn’t he cute?” Yuuko squealed, hugging Yuuri tightly.

He only managed to squeak in reply.

His soulmate was the most wonderful figure skater and his idol. How did you deal with that?

You didn’t.

 

oOo

 

Ignoring the problem was a perfectly valid method.

What was he supposed to do anyway? Go to Russia, look for Viktor and say: “hi, you don’t know me but I’m your soulmate” ?

Nope. Not gonna happen.

Everyone was convinced that Viktor’s soulmate was a really good figure skater, or maybe a dancer. That was Yuuri’s goal before even thinking of approaching his soulmate: reaching a decent level, to be at least half the figure skater Viktor was.

To do so, Yuuri left Japan at eighteen years old and went to train in Detroit with Celestino Cialdini.

When he reached twenty, the same age that Viktor had been when he shook the world with what was now called “The Soulful Performance”, fate decided to play with him.

Viktor was sent to the NHK Trophy by the drawing lots.

Yuuri was invited by the Japanese Skating Federation.

They were going to compete for the first time, on Yuuri’s home turf.

He might die of a panic attack before that happened.

He hadn’t planned for these circumstances at all !

He wasn’t ready yet!

 

That’s what he was still thinking about ten minutes before the warm-up for the Short Program.

He knew that Yuuko, his mother and Minako-sensei had all made the trip to Osaka to cheer him on and meet him afterwards.

A lot of people were also counting on him to honor their country, since he was currently the highest ranking Japanese skater.

And then there was Viktor…

Yuuri had already caught a few glimpses of him, always from afar. In fact, right now he was stretching against a wall, a dozen meters away from Yuuri, who was supposed to be doing the same.

Something wasn’t right.

This was the closest they had ever been. Yuuri could feel the difference it made for his empathy. When before he only felt Viktor’s strongest moods, right now he was a constant sensation at the back of his mind. And he didn’t feel right. He felt almost… apathetic.

“So, you noticed it too, uh?”

Yuuri jumped and glanced over his shoulder to his other side.

Christophe Giacometti was leaning against the wall behind him, with his arms crossed, and he was staring at Viktor, looking upset. “He’s not in the right mindset today. He’ll screw up for sure if he goes on the ice like that. It’s only the start of the season but still, it’s unusual for him.”

Yuuri stared at Viktor’s impassive face, feeling uneasy. “Why do you think he’s like that?”

Chris sighed and shook his head. “It has been four years.”

Yuuri glanced at him with a raised eyebrow, confused.

“Four years since The Soulful Performance, and he hasn’t meet his soulmate yet,” Chris explained. “No more astral visits either.”

Yuuri hadn’t been able to do it again. Not because he didn’t want to, but because the circumstances didn’t allow him to. Firstly, he hadn’t been able to watch every show. Secondly, he had rarely been alone when he could. Thirdly, he needed to be in a safe place and in a good mindset to even try.

“Y-you think that’s the problem?”

“Oh, yeah. We talked about it once, when he was drunk. I won’t share, but believe me, that’s the problem. It’s only getting worse as time passed by.” Chris shook his head and sighed. “What a pity… Well, I suppose it’s an opportunity for everyone else. Good luck, Yuuri. Show your country what you’re made of.” He left with a pat on the shoulder.

Viktor and Yuuri weren’t in the same warm-up group. A draw had put Yuuri in the second position to skate while Viktor was second from the last.

Yuuri had no idea what to do.

Viktor’s sluggish mood was catching.

Slowly, as he warmed up on the ice, Yuuri’s nerves had disappeared, replaced by an absence of feelings that wasn’t much better. Yes, it might spare him from messing up his jumps, but how was he supposed to skate without emotions? His routine and his whole style relied on it. He might not be technically perfect, but he was expressive. That was supposed to be his forte and Viktor was messing it up!

When he left the ice to leave the first skater to perform, Yuuri was annoyed… but not annoyed at himself, like he was familiar with, annoyed at Viktor, which was a first. So, what did he do? He went to sit down on the ground in a corner, with a perfect view on Viktor and his coach a few meters away, told Celestino that he was going to meditate (his coach was familiar with the process and was the guardian of his space), closed his eyes, focused on his own feelings, and threw them at Viktor through their bond.

The result reminded him of a pinball.

Yuuri opened one eye, just enough to glance at Viktor.

The Russian had jumped on his feet and looked around, wide-eyed, ignoring the questions of his startled coach. Gone was the apathy, suddenly he was surprise, bewilderment, elation and giddiness personified. He grinned and looked around once again before grabbing his coach by the shoulders and saying something excitedly in his native language followed by “They’re here!” in English.

Yuuri tilted his head down to hide a smile.

To have been able to elicit such a response with so little… He suddenly felt powerful, so powerful.  

When his coach warned him his time had come, Yuuri stood up confidently. He could do this.

And he did.

His choreographies this season were on the theme of improvement, of reaching higher, doing better, challenging oneself. Yuuri had chosen it to motivate himself towards his goal of being a decent soulmate for Viktor.

He hadn’t imagined that the first time he skated it in a competition, it would be more valid than ever.

And he aced it.

“You beat your personal record, Yuuri!” Celestino exclaimed as they left the kiss and cry. “I didn’t think that performing in Japan would give you such a boost!”

The public had cheered him on a lot, which was something new to Yuuri, and it had helped in keeping him in the right mindset of feeling better, stronger. He didn’t think it would work this way either. Usually, expectations just made him nervous.

The interviews took more time than usual too, and he repeated himself a lot about his gratefulness for the support he had been given.

By the time he was done, it was nearly Viktor’s time.

In the lounge room where most of the skaters who were finished waited for the results, Yuuri watched as Viktor took position in the middle of the ice.

Yuuri closed his eyes and focused on his soulmate’s feelings. He seemed calm, determined, maybe a little melancholic, but from what Yuuri knew, that fit with his theme: Viktor had chosen to express the loneliness and longing of a man waiting for the lover he was separated from. It was obviously inspired from his own experience, a message to his soulmate in a way.

Viktor started his Short Program and Yuuri watched, partly by staring at the TV, and partly by following his soulmate’s feelings.

The performance took shape after its first half. Yuuri felt it, that moment where Viktor perfectly represented his story, and it showed on screen.

With a soft smile, Yuuri sent a wave of pride and pleasure through their bond once Viktor was done. A minute later, in the kiss and cry, Viktor formed a heart with his fingers over his chest. He radiated satisfaction and affection.

“Not one of his best, but better than what I was afraid of,” Chris pointed out when he sat down on Yuuri’s left after finishing his own interviews. “Still, he’ll need to do better in the Free Skate to beat me.”

In the SP ranking, Chris was first and Yuuri second… No, rectification, Viktor’s results appeared on screen: Viktor was second and Yuuri third.

Even when he wasn’t at his best, Viktor was still better than him. That wasn’t really a surprise.

“Well done by the way, Yuuri,” Chris said while squeezing his shoulder. “That’s the best I’ve seen you skate.”

Yuuri smiled softly at his friend. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

 

oOo

 

Tomorrow brought trouble.

For the Free Skate, their order of passage depended on the results of the SP. As such, this time, Chris, Yuuri and Viktor were all in the last warm-up group. While they waited to be sent on the rink, Chris made it his mission to introduce them.

At first they were simply speaking together and everything was fine.

“Do you have your head in the game, today, Viktor?” Chris asked.

“Of course!” Viktor replied cheerfully. “My soulmate is around, I can feel it. I have to show them my best!”

“Uhuh,” Chris hummed, “and you’re not obsessing about meeting them?” He laughed at the face Viktor made in answer. “That’s what I thought! Here, you need a distraction. Did you meet the local favorite yet?”

Yuuri had tried to stay away while eavesdropping, but he was grabbed by the neck and turned around to face Viktor.

“Viktor, this is Yuuri Katsuki. Yuuri, you already knows who this is, say hi.”

Yuuri squeaked, blushed and waved. Even if Chris wasn’t squeezing him so tightly, he’d have difficulties to remember the most basic English words.

Viktor chuckled. “Hello. Is Chris giving you a hard time?”

“What? Excuse me,” Chris protested, “I’m just trying to be a good friend to both of you!”

“Are you sure you aren’t trying to get rid of me? You’re choking me,” Yuuri managed to reply, amused.

Chris immediately adjusted his grip to his shoulders instead of his neck, leaning against Yuuri’s back. “My point was: you have some competition this year, Viktor. Yuuri is only two points behind you, and the Free Skate is one of his strengths. He has more stamina than you would believe hidden in his small stature!”

Yuuri grabbed the wandering hand poking at his waist and going lower, strangely used to the bad habits of his friend. It didn’t stop him from blushing at the compliment though.

“You can’t blame me for wanting to meet my soulmate, Chris. It has been more than four years,” Viktor whined (there was no other appropriate word, that was definitely a whine).

“Four years compared to the long relationship everyone promises you seem quite short,” Yuuri couldn’t help but reply, “especially when your soulmate is with you in thoughts at each competition.”

It’s only when Viktor and Chris stared at him with surprise that Yuuri realized how bold he had been.

He blushed and stammered. “I-I mean… I have always read that a soulbond is like any other relationship. There is a time and a rhythm for it. A time to learn about each other, to meet each other… you know? Maybe the right time for a meeting hasn’t come yet. It doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from it in another way… I think.” That was certainly what he was doing as far as Yuuri was concerned. He was still too intimidated to introduce himself properly to Viktor, but he was talking to him, right now, wasn’t he? He was learning about him, about who he was outside of the ice, in his daily life. Viktor was doing the same without knowing it.

It was time for the warm-up. The three other skaters stepped on the rink.

Viktor was staring at him like he had given him the solution to the universe. “That… is a very interesting way of thinking...”

“I didn’t know you were interested in soulbonds, Yuuri,” Christophe added.

Yuuri cleared his throat. “Mh… Isn’t everyone? Excuse me, we should go,” he said quickly before making his escape.

As he left, he heard Viktor asking Chris: “What did you say his name was again? … Ah. I thought I had imagined it. One of my team’s juniors has the same name.”

Wondering how he should take it, Yuuri was a little too distracted during the warm-up; he nearly collided with another skater.

A few minutes later, when they were leaving the rink except for the man ranked in sixth position, Viktor caught Yuuri by the elbow and whispered: “Thanks for what you said earlier.”

Yuuri glanced at him with a raised eyebrow.

“It got me thinking… that you are right. The time isn’t right, not with the programs I planned… but by the end of this season, for sure, I’ll know.” Viktor smiled confidently.

Yuuri looked down and bit his lower lip lightly. The end of the season, uh? … He could agree to that. “I’m sure you will,” he replied with a little smile.

Viktor won silver, 0.4 points behind Christophe. Yuuri won bronze. Standing on the same podium as his idol and soulmate was an amazing experience. Their feelings were so similar that it was heady.

Christophe made them climb up on his step for a round of pictures. Yuuri’s eye caught Viktor’s. They exchanged a smile and then a laugh when Chris grabbed them around the shoulders and made a joke.

“I’ll see you at the Final, Yuuri,” Viktor said before they separated.

“Yes,” Yuuri agreed confidently. Nothing and no-one would stop him from living this once more and from hearing his name coming from Viktor’s lips again.

Chapter Text

Yuuri won silver in Skate Canada, and then bronze again at the Grand Prix Final. This time Chris was second and Viktor first.

“Looks like we’re the winning combination this year!” Chris observed cheerfully. “Although Jean-Jacques gave you some trouble in Canada from what I heard, Yuuri?”

Yuuri hummed. “Give him a few more years and I think he’ll reach your level, Chris.”

JJ had ranked fourth at the Final, barely two points behind Yuuri. For someone who just started as a Senior, it was impressive. On his home turf, he was unstoppable.

“Aww, such a high compliment!”

Yuuri patiently bore the tight hug Chris gave him, glancing at Viktor when he chuckled at their friend’s antics.

They were eating together to celebrate, at a restaurant not far from their hotels, and the two older men had already drank enough to be tipsy. They were both affectionate drunks and apparently they firmly believed that Yuuri was a teddy bear, their teddy bear. Viktor had been sitting opposite Chris at some point, but he had bypassed the table to come sit on Yuuri’s other side and they now formed a sandwich, a bit too tight for Yuuri’s preferences.

Yuuri had wisely refused to drink any alcohol (especially the kind that the others had favored: it wasn’t wine) despite the other two’s insistence. Thankfully they hadn’t been too pushy, or rather Viktor hadn’t been, changing the subject when he realized that Yuuri was truly uncomfortable with so much peer pressure.

When they started to squabble over his head about which was better, vodka or whisky, Yuuri sighed and decided to be the responsible one.

“Alright, give me your phones, both of you. I’m calling your coaches so that they can come and take you back to your rooms. You have planes to catch tomorrow, right?”

“Aww,” they whined together. “No. A little more time, Yuuri!”

Yuuri stared at them, dumbfounded. “Are you sure you’re not soulmates?” He blurted out. They certainly seemed on the same wavelength right now, whereas, despite the fact that Viktor was stuck to his side, Yuuri only felt a faint buzz of inebriation from him.

They laughed at the idea but stared at each other and quieted down before slowly leaning towards each other.

Blushing strongly, Yuuri repeated: “Phones!”

He had gathered from their discussion tonight that the two had already slept together at least once, but he didn’t need to be caught in the middle of it. In such a close proximity, he dreaded to learn what it will do to him to feel Viktor sleeping with someone. Surely, it would be torture. He didn’t begrudge Viktor’s right to sleep with whoever he wanted considering they weren’t in a relationship, but to feel it would be too much.

“Come on, either call your coaches yourselves or let me do it,” he demanded. His (false) confidence was fueled by sheer need and the backbone he had to develop when the younger skaters in Detroit were messing up while Celestino was away (unfortunately, Phichit wasn't here to back him up: he had gone to eat with other Junior skaters after their own final, where he had also ranked third — Yuuri and Phichit were the bronze pair).

“Aww, so bossy,” Chris sighed as he rubbed his head against Yuuri’s shoulder.

“I like it,” Viktor said with eyes sparkling of mischief.

Chris hummed and straightened somewhat to stare at Yuuri. “It’s kinda hot,” he admitted.

Yuuri’s lap was suddenly covered by two hands going up his thighs. He grabbed them with a squeak. “No, no, no! No more touching! If you like it, you do as I say, and that’s it!” He insisted with a high-pitched voice.

They laughed at him but finally complied.

As they waited for their minders coaches to arrive, Viktor mellowed somewhat and stretched out over the table with his head between his crossed arms. “My soulmate was here tonight too,” he said.

Chris hummed to show he was listening and Yuuri stared, surprised by the sudden change of subject.

“I wonder what they thought.”

“What do you think they thought?” Yuuri asked self-consciously. When Viktor stared at him without answering, he explained: “The soulbond, it’s supposed to go both way. Maybe not as much, but still. If you know they were here, what else did you feel?”

Viktor closed his eyes and pressed a hand over his face as he thought it through. “They were… pleased, I think.”

Well, he certainly was. It was the first time that Yuuri had made it to the Final and he had won bronze. For the second time, he had been on the same podium as his soulmate. It was no small feat. It was his goal for the season come true. Still, it was a meager observation. “What else?”

“When I skated, I felt them with me, I felt longing, and during the podium there was pride.”

“Aww, your soulmate is proud of you. Cute,” Chris commented.

Yuuri cleared his throat, self-conscious of the fact that his pride had been a little more selfish than that.

He was glad to see the coaches of his friends coming toward them. Although they weren’t pleased to have to get their pupils, they both thanked Yuuri for warning them and stopping their students from imbibing even more and making fools of themselves by leaving the restaurant alone.

“See you at the World Championships, Yuuri!” Chris shouted before leaving.

He was immediately mimicked by Viktor who added: “Don’t let anyone bully you at the Four Continents! Without us here, you got this!”

“Yeah!” Chris agreed. “Show Jean-Jacques what you’re made of! He’s far too young to get a big head!”

Their confidence, especially Viktor’s, warmed up Yuuri’s heart and cheeks. He was glad that they were already too far to see him blushing like a tomato. He probably should have returned the favor by encouraging them for the European Championships, but he was unable to say a word.

Could he win the Four Continents, really?

His soulmate thought so.

He refused to disappoint him.

 

oOo

 

Too much pressure. Yuuri had put himself under way too much pressure and he was freaking out.

Here he was, at the Four Continents Championships, stepping into the rink for the Free Skate. He was the last to perform, considering he had ranked first after the Short Program (which had never ever happened to him), and he was a mess, a bundle of nerves who was going to crash on the ice as soon as he started. He had seen the scores of his competitors and they were good, close to each other too. A fall and Yuuri’s dream of fulfilling the expectations of his soulmate might escape him entirely.

He shook his hands nervously before taking position. Meditating while the others skated had helped him avoid a panic attack, but he still didn’t feel ready. He continued the breathing techniques he had learned, to calm himself and focus. Deep breath in, hold, deep breath out. The music started. He moved, pushed by muscles memory alone. His mind still wasn’t completely on task.

He needed to focus on the story of a man harnessing his power, his strengths… a man becoming better despite all his flaws, so he became worthy of his love… of his soulmate.

Suddenly, he was here, watching him, supporting him. Yuuri felt him like he was by the side of the rink. Viktor was watching him… and he believed in him.

Yuuri got ready for a triple axel, triple loop combination. Breath in. The panic was gone, replaced by a calm and self-confidence entirely borrowed from his soulbond. He jumped and landed perfectly, gaining a round of applause that settled the rest of his worry. He straightened his stance and reached toward the ceiling.

Pride and satisfaction rippled through the bond. Viktor was rooting for him.

Yuuri refused to disappoint him. Never.

As his routine progressed, his skating gained a confident edge that he had never quite managed despite the fact that his choreography called for it. It was heady, this sensation of being at the top of his form, of exceeding everyone’s expectations, even his own.

He stopped right in front of the judges, staring at them directly (which he had never been able to do), his arms spread toward the ceiling. He was panting after managing to land a quad toeloop right at the end of his choreography.  

The rink erupted in a thunder of applause and flowers and plushes were thrown at him. There were just as many as when he performed in Japan. For a reason he couldn’t quite explain, South Korea seemed to love him.

Yuuri beamed at them, still on cloud nine. He grabbed a bouquet of blue flowers that reminded him of Viktor and a dog plushie (not a poodle but still cute) that he squeezed against his heart.

As soon as he stepped out of the ice, Celestino embraced him tightly. “Absolutely wonderful, Yuuri! That was amazing! I was fearing the worst considering your nerves and then… absolutely incredible!” He repeated, accompanying him to the kiss and cry. “I can’t believe you pushed back the quad to the very end and landed it so perfectly. Your stamina is truly a thing of beauty! Go on, then, wave at the camera.”

Yuuri’s cheeks were hurting as his smile refused to leave. Despite usually feeling awkward when he was directly in front of a camera, he cheerfully waved at it and put on a show for it: kissing his plushy happily. Somewhere, Viktor was watching him. This was for him.

The results appeared and Celestino hugged him before Yuuri could see anything more than the “1” beside his name. He needed a second more to read his score and his eyes widened.

“You beat your personal record again!” Celestino pointed out happily. “This is definitely your best season so far!”

He did it. He lived up to Viktor’s expectations.

Yuuri smiled to the camera and to everyone for an hour afterwards, still in a daze. His face ached more than his body. His tympans nearly burst when he called back home and received screams of congratulations.

He did it.

World Championships, here he came…

 

oOo

 

“Hello, Yuuri.”

Startled out of his thoughts, Yuuri turned around to find Viktor grinning at him, looking as handsome as ever. “H-hello.”

“Yuuri, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“Y-yes?” He stammered, unable to get a grip when Viktor was standing so close and giving him his whole attention.

“It would mean a lot to me if you could watch me skate from the side of the rink, today.” He leaned even closer, so close that Yuuri could feel his breath on his cheek. “Can you do that for me?”

“Y-yes.” That mean he will have to rush through the interviews, but it was doable:  Yuuri was ranked fifth after the Short Program while Viktor was first.

“Wonderful! Good luck then!”

“You too,” Yuuri replied belatedly at Viktor’s back. A little bewildered, he glanced at Celestino who shrugged.

“That man and his fancies…” he replied distractedly. “Focus on your own routine. Are you sure you can manage two quads in the second half?”

“I’ll need them to climb up ranks.”

“True. Alright then, I trust your judgement. You have been doing great this season, Yuuri. Whatever happens today, I’m proud of you for how much you progressed.”

“Thank you coach.”

Yuuri felt unexpectedly calm. It didn’t come from his soulbond either, Viktor was more excited and eager than calm. No, it was all his. He had come this far, he had done this well. This last competition was the end of the season and whatever it brought… he had the certitude that he was ready for it.

His performance was the reflect of this, and Viktor’s enthusiasm only added to Yuuri’s passion. He went through each quad with steady limbs and a mind perfectly focused. He stood tall in front of the whole world, and he reached toward the high ceiling with the certitude that he had finally earned his place as Viktor’s soulmate.

As he left the ice, he met Viktor’s eyes and the Russian gave him a thumbs up and a wink. Yuuri blushed and hid behind the tomato plushie he had grabbed.

He had managed a score nearly as high as the one in South Korea, but his Short Program hadn’t been so good (he hadn’t slept well). He wouldn’t get silver or gold. Bronze, maybe.

To be honest, he didn’t care very much. He was focused on what Viktor had told him at the start of the season: he would want to know who was his soulmate now. It was only fair that Yuuri told him. Nothing held him back after such a good season.

The prospect of sharing the truth nearly made him more nervous than skating at such an important competition did. This was his most tightly kept secret. No-one knew. No-one.

When he came by the side of the rink, a minute before Viktor’s performance, just like he had been asked, he was distracted.

Viktor stepped onto the ice, caught his eye and continued to stare until he was in position in the middle of the rink.

The soulbond sang with recognition and tenderness.

Yuuri recoiled and blanched. “He knows.”

“Yuuri? What are you talking about? He knows what?” Celestino asked, bewildered.

The music started and Viktor looked away, a small smile lifting his lips.

“... that I’m his soulmate. He knows that I’m his soulmate. He must have guessed at the Four Continents… I can’t believe,” Yuuri babbled, shifting in Japanese at the end.

Celestino looked from his pupil to the most famous figure skater and known half of a soulbond, once, twice, three times. His eyebrows went up and he admitted: “Somehow… that makes sense.”

Yuuri stared at him. He hadn’t been expecting that easy acceptance.

“Well?” Celestino prompted. “Are you going to do something about it?”

Yuuri looked back at Viktor, just in time to see him perform a jump so high that he looked like he was flying. “I… Yes,” he decided suddenly. “I need to lie down and…”

“... not be disturbed? Let me handle that, Yuuri. I’m getting the hang of guarding you during your meditations,” Celestino said cheerfully. He asked a friend of his to leave them a bench and Yuuri lie down on his back.

He had never managed an astral projection on command. It necessitated a certain mindset. However, somehow, being so close to Viktor and hearing the music directly helped him to focus.

Focus on Viktor and the usual longing he felt during those routines, but this time the sadness was replaced by hope and confidence. They had met, he knew they did, he knew who his soulmate was and soon they would truly be united for the first time. Waiting had come to an end. Their souls called to each other and yearned for each other but soon…

Yuuri knew Viktor’s routine like he always knew all his routines by the end of a season. They were as familiar as his own. Yuuri danced through them with the abandon of someone who didn’t even need to care about trivial details such as landing correctly because his feet never touched the ice. In this form, he could perform whichever quad Viktor liked: Salchow or flip, they were Viktor’s specialities and so they became Yuuri’s.

It was easy like breathing. It was transcending and liberating.

It ended too soon, in a deafening silence.

When Yuuri opened his eyes, it was to the dazed face of Celestino.

“Who else than you…” He whispered with a thoughtful face and a lopsided smile. “Go on then. I think Viktor will be looking for you.”

Slowly, Yuuri stood up. His legs were like jelly, but he had barely a few steps to take to reach the barrier.  

Viktor was coming around too and, like that time five years ago for The Soulful Performance, the public was giving him a standing ovation.

The difference this time is that Viktor didn’t even pay attention to them. As soon as his eyes were sharp enough, he looked for Yuuri and, when their eyes caught each other, Viktor threw himself forward, skating quickly through the rink. He barely slowed enough with a sharp turn to avoid a crash but, when he threw himself at Yuuri, there was a loud thud as his legs hit the low wall.

Viktor didn’t care, he squeezed Yuuri’s shoulders tightly and buried his face against his soulmate’s neck. “Yuuri,” he breathed. “You’ve kept me waiting for so long…” He nuzzled Yuuri’s jaw before pulling away slightly to say with a bright smile: “You’re even worse than Aeroflot!”

Yuuri laughed nervously. “Ah… Sorry?” Despite the fact that he was perfectly happy letting Viktor cuddle him, he was extremely self-aware of all the flashes and cameras pointed toward them, as well as the fact that they were still in the middle of an international competition. “Hm… you should… go to the kiss and cry. We can speak later?”

“No, no, no. That won’t do. I’m not letting you go anywhere without me for a long time,” Viktor replied with a shake of his head. “And this was as much my performance as it was yours anyway. Come with me.”

“You might as well, kiddo,” the Russian coach said as he approached. “He won’t go without you, and the officials will get twitchy soon if we don’t move. He has already neglected the salutes to the public, which is not done,” he pointed out, insisting on those last words with an exasperated glare to his pupil.

“Oops,” Viktor said sheepishly but not regretfully. He just waved at the public to compensate, turning around to send them a kiss and form a heart over his chest. All his fans knew what it meant: soulmate. Just in case anyone wondered why he had hugged one of his competitors.

“Go ahead, Yuuri,” Celestino said quietly. “Just roll with it for now, I’ll be there as soon as you’re out of the kiss and cry.”

He didn’t have much choice, did he?

Yuuri let Viktor hold his hand as they walked/skated toward the closest gate. As soon as Viktor had stepped out of the ice and put on his guards, he threw himself once again at Yuuri’s neck, murmuring something tender in Russian.  

They slowly walked toward the kiss and cry with the full attention of the crowd and the cameras. Yuuri tilted his head to hide his lips as he asked: “Since when do you know?”

Viktor’s hand went down to his hip and squeezed gently. “I had a doubt since the NHK Trophy, but I was sure after the Four Continents. I felt you that time, on the ice and on the podium. I knew.”

They looked at each other with sideway glances as they stepped inside the kiss and cry.

“And… are you… fine with… who I am?”

Viktor froze before he could sit and stared at Yuuri like he had blasphemed. His gloved hands went up and tenderly touched Yuuri’s cheeks as he leaned forward and kissed the tip of his nose, right in front of the camera. “More than fine. Yuuri… you’re everything I could hope for in a soulmate.”

Yuuri felt so warm that surely he had turned bright red! He had definitely lost the ability to form words.

It wasn’t the case of the public, who shouted their approbation, whistled and applauded loudly.

Yuuri might combust.

“Viktor. Stop embarrassing your soulmate on international TV and sit down,” Yakov growled with his arms crossed.

Viktor laughed and gently pushed Yuuri to sit down on his other side. “Sorry, sorry!”

Flustered, Yuuri kept his eyes lowered.

Viktor grabbed his hand and squeezed it gently. Yuuri squeezed back and finally looked up. He couldn’t help but smile softly in response to Viktor’s grin.

There was some agitation and they looked up to see the results. Without surprise, Viktor was first, but he was beating a new record with his Free Skate.

“Congratulations,” Yuuri said quietly.

Viktor hugged him tightly with one arm and kissed his cheek. “It’s thanks to you, kotyonok (A/N: “kitten”) . You give me wings.”

As promised, Celestino was waiting for them when they left the kiss and cry and they stopped in a quieter hallway, far from any camera or spectator.

“I suppose it’s not such a bad thing you only placed fourth,” Celestino said after a glance at Yuuri. “You look ready to combust if you had to go anywhere in public again.”

“I am,” Yuuri confirmed faintly.

“You are?” Viktor asked worriedly.

“I told you to give him a break, Viktor,” Yakov sighed. “You always have to make a show of everything, but the poor boy clearly hasn’t your personality.”

“I’m sorry, Yuuri!” Viktor said with a new hug. “You’re so cute, I can’t help it!”

Yuuri’s blush was immediately back in full force.  

“I’ll handle the reporters alone then. I wanted to show you off, but we can do that later!” Viktor said cheerfully with a wide grin.

Yuuri squeaked in fright at the mere idea and wobbled on his feet.

Viktor kept him upright with a firm grip on his vest and waved his free hand. “Kidding! I’m only kidding!” He chortled.

“Please, don’t,” Yuuri breathed.

“We should probably leave for the hotel while most of the reporters are waiting to speak to you, Viktor. There will be less people to avoid this way,” Celestino suggested.

Viktor pouted but nodded. “Alright, if that’s what’s best for Yuuri. I’ll come to your room later,” he said to his soulmate while squeezing his hand. “I made sure to book the same hotel as you.”

Chapter Text

They managed to leave the ice rink and reach his hotel room without too much difficulties, but Yuuri’s phone just wouldn’t stop ringing. Texts, emails, calls… everyone wanted to talk to him, somehow.

Yuuri felt strangely calm as he stared at the list of missed calls. “I suppose that’s what I get for keeping it secret.”

He should probably at least talk to his family and Yuuko, but he really wasn’t looking forward to it. Instead, he went through the application he used to stay updated about figure skating news. The first headline was posted a few minutes ago: “Viktor Nikiforov confirms that Yuuri Katsuki is his soulmate.”

A shiver went down Yuuri’s spine, and he quickly closed the app, choosing to read his texts instead.

 

Chris - I didn’t see that one coming. You sly little fox! Tell Viktor to go easy on you tonight, I expect you in good form for the gala!

Mari - Fair warning, little bro: it’s crazy at Yu-topia rn. Don’t call. Seriously. Btw, mom and dad say they’re happy for u. Congrats on snaring a good catch.

Yuuko - I can’t believe you never told me! I’m so happy for you!!!!

Phichit - °o° !!!! O.o ?!?! =D !!! ♥♥♥ !!!

There were a lot of variations of the same things. Phichit wasn’t the only one left unable to use words and feeling obliged to use a rainbow of emoticons. Minako-sensei actually sent him a text entirely composed of exclamation points.

Yuuri was torn between amusement, guilt and gratefulness for all the positive messages he received.

A second later, he received a text from Celestino telling him that he had already received many calls asking for exclusive interviews and that several journalists were hanging around the hotel. Yuuri winced and pushed away his phone. Hiding his face in his pillow and whining was much more productive anyway.

He daydreamed about what would his life become now that Viktor knew the truth. The easy acceptance and affection that his soulmate had shown were his greatest hopes a few hours ago. He couldn’t imagine anything better than that. His imagination was failing him on what the future could have in store for him.

Half an hour later, an insistent knock at the door was followed by a wave of giddiness through the soulbond.

Yuuri opened the door and immediately fell victim to a tight hug.

“Alone, finally,” Viktor whispered in his ear.

The giddiness transformed into contentment. Moved by this detail, Yuuri patted Viktor’s back and tried to pull him in.

Viktor barely glanced inside before offering: “Let’s go to my room instead. It’s bigger, and we’ll order diner from room service, it will go on my tab.”

Yuuri hesitated. “I can pay—”

“Let me,” Viktor insisted, taking Yuuri’s hand and raising it to his lips for a light kiss on his knuckles. “Please.”

Considering the intense look he was given, saying no was impossible.

Knowing he had won, Viktor grinned. “Take anything you need for tonight. We’re having a sleepover!”

Resistance was futile.

 

oOo

 

“So you made me wait for five years because you wanted to prove that you… deserve me?” Viktor asked, sushi mid-way to his mouth.

Yuuri nodded shyly.

“Aww… that’s cute! … and silly!” At Yuuri’s flinch, Viktor waved his hand. “No matter your ranking, you’re perfect anyway, Yuuri! As long as my soulmate loves figure skating, that’s all that matter!”

Yuuri hunched his shoulders and admitted: “But I wanted everyone to… to… I mean... They were all speculating about who your soulmate could be, and I just wanted to be up to it.”

Viktor cooed and threw himself at Yuuri to hug him.

Yuuri was getting used to it: that was the reason they were sitting on the bed and not at the table, because it had hurt when they had fallen off the chair the first time. He patted Viktor’s back distractedly and flushed just a bit when Viktor nuzzled his neck.

“Yuuri,” he breathed in his ear, “you’re perfect.”

A wave of love came through their bond, and the only thing Yuuri could do was sending back just as much as he was given.

“You’re so talented at this telepathy and empathy thing,” Viktor sighed, closing his eyes as he basked in the feeling. “It frustrated me to no end that I couldn’t give you back as much as you gave me, you know? Best figure skater I might be, but I’m a lousy soulmate. ”

“Don’t say that!” Yuuri protested immediately. “You helped me so much at the Four Continents. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Yeah?”

Yuuri nodded and for the first time initiated contact by softly kissing Viktor’s cheek. “Thank you.”

Viktor smiled tenderly before admitting: “I thought that’s why you hadn’t come to me after all these years… because I didn’t give you enough back.”

“No, no, never!” Yuuri quickly replied, feeling guilty to have led his soulmate to doubt himself. “You don’t really need the bond to make me feel anything…”

“I don’t?”

Yuuri blushed and looked away but admitted: “I have admired you since I was a kid and, watching you skate, I felt like I knew and shared everything you could feel.”

Viktor hummed. “I’m glad. I’ll skate as much as you want, zvezda moya (A/N: ‘my star’) . Anytime. Just for you.”

 

oOo

 

Despite what Chris thought, nothing happened that night. Nothing more than a lot of talking, about everything and anything… like dogs. There had been a significant part of the evening dedicated to sharing pictures of their poodles, followed by anecdotes and embarrassing details… like the fact that Vicchan was named after Viktor. That got him a kiss on the cheek and a hug, one of the many tender touches they had exchanged. Their intimacy didn’t go any further.

It was late when Yuuri reminded his soulmate that they still had the gala to go through tomorrow.

Viktor’s room having a double bed, Yuuri felt a little awkward sleeping next to his soulmate without anything between them. It was worse when Viktor fell asleep first and, after ten minutes, rolled around to curl up next to Yuuri with an arm thrown over his waist. That didn’t help him at all in finding sleep, not until he focused on the drowsy feeling coming from the link and allowed it to lull him to sleep.

In the morning, they were awoken by their coaches knocking at the door. When Yuuri opened the door sleepily, twin stares settled on him and he froze like a deer in the headlights. He wasn’t worried about Celestino but Yakov was a little scary…

“Yaaakov,” Viktor sang from the bed where he was basking in the warmth left by Yuuri. “Stop scaring my soulmate!”

Yakov huffed and crossed his arms. “You said you would be in his room, Viktor. We were looking for you. There are reporters everywhere. We need to move early or they’ll make us late for the gala’s preparation.”

Yuuri was immediately a bundle of nerves. Attention was something he had difficulties to deal with, but attention from complete strangers wanting to know everything about his private life and share it with the rest of the world? Even worse!

When they had to go through the crowds, helped by their coaches and security agents from the hotel or the ice rink, Viktor angled his body to take most of the attention on him, keeping an arm around Yuuri’s waist, a half-step in front of him, his shoulders angled towards Yuuri and keeping the others away. He was smiling calmly despite the questions shouted at them and the flashes.

Yuuri hunched his shoulders until they were past the worse. Then he wobbled in relief. Viktor squeezed him gently against his side.

Since they were a little early, the coordinator of the gala show used this opportunity to talk to them privately:

“So, mh… I understand that you might be a little overwhelmed by all the attention,” she told them kindly with a glance at Yuuri’s pale face, “but the gala is supposed to honor the whole Championships and, well, your… relationship is now a big highlight of the event, so I was thinking of giving you two a special place.”

Yuuri froze, expecting the worst. Viktor squeezed his shoulder and smiled to the woman politely. “What did you have in mind?”

“Not much!” She immediately clarified. “Just a small show with the two of you in the middle of the men’s show? Anything you would be comfortable doing, like a step sequence together… One or two minutes dedicated to you, to satisfy the public, that’s it.”

Yuuri relaxed somewhat. That didn’t sound so bad. Even if he was anxious, Viktor would be there on the ice with him. Surely, that would be enough of a motivator to avoid embarrassing them both. He looked up to Viktor, who was waiting for his decision with an encouraging smile. Yuuri nodded. “We could do that.”

“Wonderful! Well, here is the music we were thinking of using but if you don’t like it, we still can change it, just tell us. And, of course, you can use the ice to train as much as you want until our rehearsal.”

They didn’t need to be told that twice. They were on the ice five minutes later, warming up at first then showing off (without surprise, Viktor started it). Music came on in the rink. They glanced at each other with the same challenging smirks.

“Are you thinking about what I’m thinking, Yuuri?” Viktor teased.

“You know I am,” Yuuri replied. Their bond was always strongest on the ice, that was a fact.  

On two different sides of the ice, they skated in a circle, gaining speed and jumping at the same time. One, two, three, four rotations. They landed perfectly and simultaneously. Skating a little more, they reached each other and exchanged a high-five.

“Well, well, well,” Viktor drawled with a pleased smirk. “I think we’re going to ace this little show.”

“If I don’t panic,” Yuuri mumbled self-consciously, staring down at his skates.

Viktor hugged him gently. “I’ll be there, kotyonok (A/N: “kitten”). I’ll give you my strength if you need it.”

Yuuri leaned into the embrace, closing his eyes and breathing carefully to settle his nerves. “Thank you.”

“Any time,” Viktor promised, moving slowly in rhythm with the music who had slowed down.

Yuuri let his soulmate’s thoughts guided him into an improvised dance, the tango spin coming to them naturally.

“What’s this?” Someone shouted from the side of the ice. “The wedding dance rehearsal? Why was I not invited?!” Chris launched himself into the ice, beaming mischievously. He threw himself on one knee, sliding and stopping a meter away from the two soulmates. “Vitya, my friend, will you grant me the second dance with your beloved?

Despite blushing, Yuuri couldn’t help but laugh at the theatrics.

“Do you think you can handle the attention, Chris?” Viktor replied with a lopsided smile. “Not sure the public will approve.”

Chris stood up with a cheeky smile. “You know me, Viktor. I love to play the heartbreaker. The coordinator told us you’ll have your minutes of glory. Please, please, tell me I can come in and sweep Yuuri off his feet.”

“You’re a glutton for punishment.”

“That, I am,” Chris agreed and turned to Yuuri. “I have also seen what you just did, and I’m curious to know if you can do something like this with someone else than your soulmate, Yuuri. Everyone says you’re supposed to be a strong empath.”

Yuuri fidgeted, uncomfortable with the expectation, and Viktor stepped in: “I thought you weren’t interested in soulmates.”

“I am not,” Chris confirmed. “But what you’re able to do on the ice thanks to this bond? Hell yes, I’m interested in that! Those Soulful Performances of yours are the most beautiful things I have ever seen, Viktor,” he said very seriously. “And being able to skate in perfect timing with another without training… well, I might not be in pair skating, but I’m definitely jealous of that … so you can imagine how popular you’ll be with the pairs.”

Yuuri blanched a little and glanced at the side of the rink, where several other competitors, from the ladies to the men including the pairs, were staring at them intently as they put on their skates to warm up.

“I’m not saying that to pressure you, Yuuri,” Chris said more kindly. “Just, if you ever want to try it with someone else than Viktor… I hope I’ll be the first one you’ll consider.”

“I…” Yuuri glanced at Viktor, who smiled at him calmly and encouragingly, supportive of him either way. “I would be willing to try, but I can’t promise you anything…”

“Of course!” Chris squeezed his shoulder with a warm smile. “And I got ahead of myself! You two were so gorgeous out there that I couldn’t stop myself but, damn, I had a big speech planned before that! I was supposed to whine at you for keeping me out of the loop, Yuuri. There are so many details coming to mind retrospectively but damn.. you certainly took the world by storm, uh?” Chris grinned and clapped his hands. “Well done!”

“I didn’t really do it on purpose,” Yuuri mumbled, embarrassed.

Viktor chuckled and threw his arm around his soulmate’s shoulders. “Yuuri wanted to prove himself before sharing the truth with anyone.”

Chris rested his chin over his fist thoughtfully. “Cute… and totally Yuuri. Yeah, I can see it.”

Skaters started to join them on the ice and the music stopped to let the coordinator be heard as she explained what was expected of them for the gala.

There wasn’t much more time to speak as they had less than two hours to prepare.

 

oOo

 

“That’s the Yuuri I remember, yeah,” Chris noted cheerfully.

Viktor and he were standing over Yuuri’s hunched form.

The gala was going to start any minute now. Yuuri had taken a look at the crowd and was shocked to discover many banners with variants of “Viktor ♥ Yuuri” and “Viktuuri soulmates forever”. He had panicked right away.

Sitting on a bench with his hands over his head, he was trying to calm his breathing.

Viktor sat on his left and embraced him gently. “It’s alright, Yuuri,” he tried to comfort him.

“It-it’s not! They’re all expecting… a big deal… and I’m just… me.”

“Yeah, you are,” Chris agreed as he sat down on the right but didn’t try to touch him. “You’re Yuuri who did the most famous and successful astral projections known in recent years…”

“The Yuuri who won gold in Four Continents...” Viktor continued.

“... Bronze in the Grand Prix Final…”

“... Also bronze and silver before that…”

“... The Yuuri able to reproduce Viktor’s routine like it was no big deal…”

“That Yuuri…”

“... seems pretty good to us and everyone else out there.” Chris patted Yuuri’s knee. “So, stop panicking, Big Deal. This is just a gala. We have your back. And if anyone says shit about you, who care?”

“Not us,” Viktor concluded.

Yuuri glanced left then right (distantly wondering again how those two weren't soulmates) and a wave of gratefulness and affection escaped him to rush through the soulbond.

Viktor hugged him tighter in reply and nuzzled his hair. “We’ll do great.”

“A-alright.”

The music had started in the rink. Skaters from the host country would do a show first before the World Championship competitors would have to appear.

Yuuri stood up with Chris and Viktor’s help. “Chris?”

“Yes?”

“Give me your hand please.”

Once his friend complied, Yuuri stared at the hand he was holding and focused intently on their feelings. They  might not be soulmates, but they were bonded nonetheless, by their love of skating.

He sent him a wave of gratefulness and let Chris’ excitement came back to him.

Chris shivered and swore in French. “Alright, now I’m getting jealous of that soulmate business,” he admitted.

Viktor threw his arms around Yuuri, draping himself over his back and grinning at Chris mischievously. “Too baaad!”

“Lucky little Russian,” Chris grumbled with a smile, just for show.

They stepped onto the ice together a few minutes later. Some screams but mostly applause welcomed them.

They played their part of the show like everyone else, waving toward the ladies when they came in, clearing the path for the pairs with a few fancy steps, showing off their own skill, just like for any other gala.

Until the part where the lively music slowed down to something more romantic and the skaters all stuck to the side of the ice rink. Everyone except for Viktor, who threw himself in a quadruple flip, his speciality. The crowd applauded as Viktor continued to show off, but it was nothing compared to the moment Yuuri stepped in and reproduced Viktor’s actions in perfect synchronization. They started from opposite side of the rink and met in the middle of the ice, where they gravitated around each other, their eyes meeting and only leaving each other for seconds before they found each other again.

They smiled, a current of love going steadily through their bond. Love for their craft. Love for each other.

They twirled around and suddenly they were like a pair, skating in unison, perfectly parallel to each other. They completed a step sequence that was so perfectly identical that the public cheered in delight.

And suddenly the music sped up. Chris swooped in, just like he wanted, grabbed Yuuri and ran away with him. Viktor chased after them, and the rest of the skaters followed in a mock hunt that quickly dissolved in a cheerful mess.

It was once again a group show where they had fun dancing things they didn’t have the opportunity to do in competition. Their version of the Thriller Dance was certainly a thing to see and more than a few of them laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Viktor was very enthusiastic in his interpretation, in good part to make Yuuri laugh and help him relax once and for all.

At the end of the gala, after they had all saluted the public and as they were leaving the ice, a chorus of “Viktuuri!” suddenly grew and repeated itself, like an encore.

Yuuri looked at Viktor, wide-eyed. Viktor glanced at the coordinator.

She spread her hands. “We can put on music again if you want or stop it right there… Maybe you can just waved at them...”

Viktor looked back to Yuuri in a silent question. His desire to perform again was easy to feel through the bond, but he would respect Yuuri’s wish without regret. That, Yuuri figured it out without needing to feel it. His soulmate was just wonderful like that.

Yuuri made his decision and asked the manager: “Do you have History Maker?”

“I think so. Do you want it?”

“Please.”

Viktor watched him curiously. “I’ve skated to this years ago.”

“For your Senior debut. I know. A very ambitious choice. Think you can pull it off again?” Yuuri asked with a falsely innocent face.

Viktor grinned excitedly. “Oh, you’re on.”

The public erupted in screams and cheers as soon as they stepped once again on the ice.

It was on fire when they were done.

Making history, indeed.

 

oOo

 

After the gala show, there was the gala dinner later that day, dedicated to skaters, coaches, ISU officials and a few selected people.

Yuuri spent most of the evening with his soulmate and their friends. Few people dared to disturb them with questions but several came to congratulate the soulmates for finding each other. Viktor handled most of the talking.

They had settled in a comfortable routine together. Yuuri had never thought it would be so… easy and natural. Viktor understood him, accepted his flaws and compensated for them without seeming to be bothered by it.

“It just seems a little unequal, you see,” Yuuri admitted to Chris when they were alone. “What do I give him that he hasn’t?”

“Yuuri. You made a perfect save twice in half an hour after Viktor insulted someone without realizing it,” Chris pointed out, waving around his glass of champagne. “Seriously, I thought Michele was going to strangle him for talking to his sister like that and then you jumped into the fray and smooth all the ruffled feathers. Too bad. I’d have loved to see the screaming match.”

“Well, yeah, but that’s…”

“... that’s exactly what Viktor needs. Someone to compensate for his bad habits. Just like you. Stop getting worked up over it, Yuuri. You’re perfect for each other, it’s all fairytale worthy,” Chris said, leaning against the wall.

Yuuri finished his own drink in an effort to stop worrying like suggested. “Are you still jealous?”

Chris grumbled in French, which Yuuri took as a confirmation.

“Come on.”

“Mh?”

“Dance off, right now.”

Chris perked up as Yuuri grabbed his wrist and a wave of mischievousness came through. “Hell yes!”

 

Viktor left his coach and the Russians officials he was busy talking to when a wave of joy and amusement came through the bond. The background music had become louder and he knew as soon as he noticed a crowd had formed that he would find his soulmate in the middle.

Indeed, they were cheering for Yuuri and Chris as they danced in unison. They both had removed their suit jacket and looked like they were having the best time of their lives.

“We have to do this on the ice!” Chris laughed.

Yuuri caught sight of Viktor and stopped just long enough to grab his soulmate’s wrist. “Viktor! Dance with us!”

Who was he to refuse? Especially with that wave of giddiness coming through their bond.

Videos of the three of them dancing and having a lot of fun while at it would soon leaked on the internet with a caption claiming: “the best boys band you’ll ever see”.

They regretted nothing.

 

oOo

 

The next day, just before the lunch Viktor and Yuuri had planned to take together to agree on what they would do next, Viktor had a video conference with Russians officials.

He looked concerned when he arrived to the restaurant where Yuuri was already waiting. The soulbond was mostly closed, but Yuuri could feel that he was displeased.

“What’s wrong?”

Viktor smiled distractedly. “Let’s order first,” he said.

Once the waiter had left, giving them time and space, Viktor leaned forward and reached for Yuuri’s hand, stroking his fingers distractedly.

“Yuuri, I need to know… What do you expect from our relationship? Do you wish to keep it platonic or do you want more?” He asked extremely seriously.

Yuuri fidgeted. “I… I want anything you’d give me.” Blood rushed to his cheeks but he didn’t look away, not even for a second. That was the big question, wasn’t it: platonic or romantic bond? Many people were wondering. Yuuri, and apparently Viktor, too.

Viktor immediately brightened and intertwined their hands. “I’m glad! It’s decided then! I’m staying in Japan with you!” He brought one of Yuuri’s hands to his lips and kissed his knuckles.

“W-what?” Yuuri stuttered.

He had expected anything but that! What kind of leap of logic was that?! They were precisely supposed to discuss their future together today, and Yuuri had expected to be asked to come train in Russia rather than the opposite. He had been fully prepared to agree (reading and speaking Russian daily would be difficult, but he started to learn the language when he understood who his soulmate was, he would manage).

“But… what coach will we have? Do you already have a Japanese coach in mind?” There were some great ones, of course. Japan was a great nation in figure skating. Nonetheless, that was all a bit sudden. “In which town is he or she based?” It would be great to live in Japan once again though, whether they were in Tokyo, Osaka or any big city, he would be able to see his family so much more often…

“Oh, no,” Viktor replied with a shake of his head and a dismissive wave of his hand. “I meant that I’ll become your coach in your hometown!” he announced with a wide grin.

To his great embarrassment, Yuuri squeaked a high-pitched “WHAT?!” that got the attention of most of the restaurant.

Once they had apologized to the other customers and got back their privacy, Viktor refused to explain his motivations to quit the competition and become coach.

The medias did it for him in the following days:

 

- Viktor Nikiforov, forced to choose between his country and his soulmate!

- V. Nikiforov asked to keep his soulbond platonic, walks out of Russia's skating team

- Nikiforov quits skating rather than conforming to Russia’s homophobic expectations!

- V. Nikiforov will coach his soulmate Y. Katsuki in Japan!

- Figure Skating Federation of Russia accused of discrimination and chantage

- Japanese sports minister welcomes soulmates Nikiforov and Katsuki at the airport

- The ISU officially disapproves of sexual orientation discrimination

- FFKKR’s president resigns after discrimination scandal

 

A couple of months after the World Championship, Yuuri looked away from his smartphone, where the latest headline mentioned the impact that Viktor's action had had on the latent homophobia in figure skating. “You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”

“What?” Viktor asked innocently from his place under the kotatsu.

“Making a big fuss about it.”

“Don’t you know, lyubov moya (A/N: “my love”) ? I’m a flamboyant man, often excessive, always spectacular.”

“Yes… and you’re subtly vindictive.”

“That too!” Viktor admitted gleefully before embracing his soulmate tightly. “No-one will ever threaten to separate us ever again, my little piggy, I promise!”

“Stop calling me that.”

“But you’re so cute when you get chubby and eat katsudon!”

“That’s your fault! Stop asking mum to make it every day!”

“But it’s so goood!”

“Not everyone can gorge themselves without putting on weight!”

“I’ll help you lose all these nasty kilos, my little piggy! I’m your new coach after all!”

“Vitya! Stop! It tickles!”

“Ahah! I know just how much you enjoy it! ... Ah, no! Using the bond for this is cheating! Come back here! Makkachin! Vicchan! Catch him!”

Their laughter and the dogs' barks broke the quiet of Yu-topia. No-one really minded.