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we were together; i forget the rest

Chapter Text

It hasn’t been long since they slipped pretty golden rings onto each other’s fingers, but it already feels like an extension of himself -precious metal fused to his skin and his bones, like it’s always been there, like it’s always been part of him. It hasn’t been long but it’s made its home there, resting delicately above his third knuckle on skin not yet made shiny with wear.

 

It’s a small and comfortable weight, and he treats it gently and with respect because it’s the thing Yuuri chose for him, the thing that symbolizes the uncomplicated, visceral feeling that lies between them.

 

The fact that Yuuri bought this ring for him -that he spent hours looking for something just right, and the look on his face when he realized he’d found it…

 

It makes Viktor feel loved, and safe, and cherished in ways he hadn’t realized he’d been seeking. The love and adoration he’d received from his skating career, and from his friends and found family had been enough. But he’d known, the night that he’d felt Yuuri’s hand on his waist and his warm, damp breath on the back of his neck. He’d wanted more than that, and he’d found it in a boy who used his body as the most graceful weapon.

 

So the ring is new, and in some ways Yuuri is new but in others the idea of him is so old and sure that it feels ingrained into the joints and ligaments of Viktor’s body. Sometimes he manages to forget that it’s there, in the way that he doesn’t think consciously about his fingernails or his elbows. But it just means that there are quiet, stolen moments when he gets to rediscover the band on his finger, and the way his breath catches in his own throat because the rediscovery is just as beautiful.

 

It’s in the moments between sleeping and waking, when he becomes conscious of Yuuri in his bed and in his arms -soft moments just before sunrise when he can hold out his hand and admire the way the gold creates shadows on his skin. It’s in the moments they share at the ice rink, when he touches Yuuri’s hand and hears the gold clink and sees the way Yuuri smiles automatically at the sound. It’s in the moments their bodies are slick with sweat and Yuuri’s fingers are in his mouth, and all he can taste is metal.


It’s a strange juxtaposition -the knowing and the forgetting. But Viktor doesn’t mind getting used to it so long as he gets to keep rediscovering the weight and feel of it beneath the benefaction of Yuuri’s sweet and knowing smile.

Chapter Text

 

There are a lot of things Yuuri is scared of.



He’s scared of heights and failure and of letting people get too close; he’s scared of that numbing white noise that fills his mind from edge to edge before the kind of anxiety that renders him still and useless as the world moves on around him; he’s scared of the panic and that vast, blank vacuity that clung to him like wet clothes for months and months after last year’s disastrous losses.



Sometimes he’s scared of the ice, too. The feeling beneath his blades is something that he knows; it’s the one constant, the one thing he can always count on even when his own traitorous mind and body fail him. Sometimes when he dreams about melted water or icicles sharp enough to stab he wakes in a cold sweat and wonders whether dedicating his life to something so easily taken away had been a mistake. The ice is the thing that plastered his broken pieces back together after he returned home to Hasetsu, when he had nothing in his pockets except lint and a crumpled up plane ticket and a handful of disappointments, but –



Plaster isn’t permanent, plaster can be broken and cracked and rendered useless under too much pressure, and he had been prepared to divorce himself from the only thing that kept him afloat in order to preserve his twisted sense of security.



The purpose –the entire point of keeping the people and things he loves at arm’s length is to make sure the only thing you can be disappointed by is yourself.

 

But it had backfired. Viktor had come into his life –a warm, living, breathing, feeling person with aspirations and expectations and ambitions –and that safety net he’d built for himself, warped as it was, had been stripped away, leaving him vulnerable to more than just his own faithless thoughts.



It had backfired , and now his mind plays host to a whole new slew of fears –that this year’s Grand Prix Finals will echo last year’s, that all of Viktor’s hard work and sacrifice will be for naught. He’s scared that the repercussions of his failures will be too grave to fix. He’s scared that Viktor will leave when this is all over, and even more scared that he will stay.



Most of all he’s scared that he won’t be able to look Viktor in the face and tell him that he skated the routines he likes best, because that’s all Viktor had asked of him and in this –at least in the short program –he knows he failed.



The weight of the pressure on his shoulders had forced him to his knees earlier, and he’d let his forehead kiss the ice and he’d breathed through the onslaught of disappointment and relief and exhaustion. His short program –his last chance –had been brimming with calculations and strategy and devoid of the feeling that Viktor had helped cultivate inside of him.



But then he’d looked up and he’d seen the way Viktor was so proud of him despite his weakness –or, perhaps, because of it –and he’d realized.



Because the thing is, now he’s got someone to share that load with –someone who can help him find his mettle when he feels weak, someone who can hold him up when the world around him feels shaky and dark. He makes himself vulnerable and defenseless, but the payoff is Viktor-shaped unconditional love and support.

 

As he watches JJ’s routine collapse into something irreparable, he thinks no one has the right to mock the challenge they’ve taken on.



Not even himself.



Viktor’s knee presses against his, and even though their bodies are separated by an armrest the warmth of him seeps through the chill, and the lights wink and reflect off of the surface of their matching gold rings.



There are a lot of things Yuuri is scared of, but being scared and being brave aren’t mutually exclusive, and he’s not skating alone anymore.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Viktor wakes slowly, brought into a drowsy sort of awareness by the late-morning light streaming in through the curtains and the dip of the mattress as Yuuri shifts next to him. It’s a new feeling waking softly like this, without the incessant ringing of an alarm or the relentless, driving obligation to practice until perfect. He’s spent his whole life answering the call of the ice and the podium, conditioned to keep going even through the doubt and the confusion and the boredom and wondering if the next gold would bring the fullness he craved.



But there is no alarm clock today, nothing to disturb the tranquility and contentedness that suffuses all the muscles and ligaments in his body. He is warm and comfortable in the best way he knows, so he allows himself the luxury of waking slowly, of taking careful stock of his senses. There’s the crispness of the sheets at his hips and the heavy weight of Yuuri’s arm draped just beneath them, and the faint silver glow of the winter sunlight seeping in through his closed eyelids, and the clean, simple scent of Yuuri’s body wash. ‘Trapped’ as he is in the circle of Yuuri’s arm and beneath one of his legs he’s never felt freer, happier now than all the times he’s received gold and flowers and recognition.

 

Viktor’s right hand is pressed against Yuuri’s chest, curled in toward his own body with the back of it resting against Yuuri’s heart, like maybe Yuuri had held it there against his chest but in sleep had decided that Viktor’s hand wasn’t enough, that he’d needed to feel more of him. Viktor turns it around, charts light, wandering patterns over his skin like clefts left behind in the ice. The engagement ring winks at him in the feeble sunlight and fills his chest with warmth.



It’s not that he was unhappy with his career, not that he didn’t treasure every medal and every fan –he could never hate it, since it brought him to Yuuri. It’s just that now his career and his happiness hold equal importance, and Yuuri is there at the confluence.

 

Now he doesn’t have to feel like putting on his skates each day is a rote practice, doesn’t have to feel guilty about taking time off -because, no matter what, Yuuri is next to him. He gets to wake up in the mornings knowing that Yuuri will be with him at the rink, and knowing he gets to come home with Yuuri too. He thinks of seeing Yuuri there in his apartment, sitting on their couch cleaning his glasses, or playing with Makkachin, or standing over a steaming pot with fogged up glasses. His heart flutters just as much at those tender moments as it does when Yuuri’s fingers tangle with his right there on the podium for all the fans and the cameras to see, and the fact that Yuuri is such a fixture in his life -not something fleeting or uncertain but there always - gives him a strength and a peace he hadn’t known before.

 

Yuuri shifts again, and this time there’s no pretense of slumber -he’s awake, and his body is rolling right up into Viktor’s, closing the negative space that lingers between them like their bodies were made to fit. He’s all heat and smooth, hard lines and soft lips puffing damp breath against the ridge of Viktor’s collarbone, and that alone is enough to set his Viktor’s blood pumping a little faster beneath his skin. He wonders if he will ever get used to this -to having Yuuri in his space, to going to bed with him at night and waking up with him in the morning, to having someone who loves him so fully.

 

God, he hopes not.

 

“Morning,” Yuuri murmurs. His hand slips tighter around Viktor’s waist and he presses himself up for a lingering kiss that leaves Viktor a little breathless.

 

His morning greeting is whispered against Yuuri’s soft, warm mouth, because he can’t seem to stop kissing him once he’s started.

 

He knows how the world sees him, and how it sees Yuuri; he knows that everyone sees him as the heartbreaker, and Yuuri as the one who is distant, cautious, reserved -maybe even a little cold, except in those few minutes when his blades touch the ice and he transforms himself into something so beautiful and expressive that it’d been impossible to look away. It’d been hard for him to reconcile those two parallels of the man he’d come to coach, but it hadn’t taken long for him to learn that Yuuri is complex -not black and white but swirls of bright color all mixing together like watercolor. Yuuri is heat and ice and soft pastel blushes and hard lines and incandescence; he is fervor and grace and artless tenderness; he is sweetness and fullness and elegance and sultriness; he is the thief who stole Viktor from the world and stole Viktor’s heart from his chest.

 

Sometimes Viktor is full of words for Katsuki Yuuri. Maybe there are too many to list. Maybe Yuuri is a little bit of everything, so it’d be pointless to try to come up with a consummate list of everything that Yuuri is to him. Viktor’s heart is full, his life is full, his head and mouth and eyes and fingertips are all full of Yuuri already.

 

Most of his life he’d been reaching for the podium thinking that the transient euphoria of winning was it, but now he has something more enduring. Now the only gold he needs is the ring on his finger and the taste of Yuuri on his tongue.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

i.

 

Yuuri is five the first time he sets foot on the ice.

 

It’s slippery beneath his tiny skates, the surface pocked from blades and toe picks. He spends most of his time out clinging to the wall and crying while Nishigori laughs at him. It’s scary, it’s terrifying. Most children are carefree but Yuuri feels trapped by the anxiety like molasses in his mind –slow-moving, weighty, sticky. He’s afraid to fall and hurt himself, afraid to worry his mother, who is watching him from the sidelines with a small, knowing smile. Afraid to look bad in front of Yuuko-chan, his new friend two years his senior who is really pretty and smart and kind.

 

But the chill in the air is nice on his skin, and the smell is clean, almost metallic. Even while his anxiety hurls doubts and worries at him, he feels his shoulders start to relax. Before he knows it, he’s off, pushing away from the wall, pushing away from his mother, and the breeze he creates with his body, the exhilaration of movement supported by nothing but thin blades and the balance of his tiny body…

 

He falls. His toe pick gets caught on a groove in the ice and sends him sprawling. His palms slap the ice, his knees following. He falls, but.

 

It feels – it feels like –

 

Freedom.

 

 

ii.

 

“Yuuri! Come on, it’s time!” Yuuko-chan’s voice echoes through the rink, disrupting his compulsory figures.

 

Yuuri grins and flies toward her, stumbling into his blade covers as they hobble into the locker room – the only place in the entire rink with a television that gets the good channels. Nishigori is already there, fiddling with the set until he finds the channel with the Junior Grand Prix Final airing. This year it’s live from Sofia, Bulgaria.

 

Time passes them by idly as they watch skaters cycle through their routines. It’s good to watch, nice to see what Yuuri’s strengths and weaknesses look like on other people, and how they deal with them. It’s sort of like his English teacher always says – “Watch English TV, immerse yourself in the experience, and soon you’ll realize you’ve learned things you didn’t even know you were absorbing.”

 

It’s all pretty standard, as far as skating goes – no major screw-ups, but nothing that stands out – until…

 

The most beautiful boy Yuuri’s ever seen is out on the rink, his hair trailing behind him like a sheet of pure silver. He moves like he was born to the ice, all fluidity and grace and artless emotion as he paints a story for the audience. Warmth creeps up Yuuri’s chest, and he clutches tightly at the fabric of his hoodie, just over his heart, eyes wide as he watches. This is what skating can be.

 

It’s so much more than he ever thought.

 

“Yuuko-chan,” he breathes. “Who is that?”

 

Yuuko-chan grins at him. “Viktor Nikiforov! He’s Russian, fourteen years old. They say he’s going to move up to seniors next year but I think he –”

 

Viktor Nikiforov. Viktor Nikiforov. Viktor Nikiforov.

 

He goes home, eats dinner, goes to sleep, dreams about pretty Russian figure skaters and podiums.

 

 

iii.

 

“I hope I can see you compete on the same ice someday soon!”

 

 

iv.

 

He gets his first silver at sixteen.

 

Standing on the podium is supposed to give him a sense of satisfaction, like all of his hard work has paid off. It does, in a way. Looking out at the spectators, seeing his parents and Minako-sensei in the stands with proud smiles on their faces, looking down and seeing the silver on his chest – he feels pretty good, for a moment.

 

But then the moment passes, and he’s left with this feeling of not enough.

 

He knows he’s not particularly talented. He works – hard, diligently, continuously. He learns new elements by imitating his idol and hoping for good results. He feels suffocated by his anxiety sometimes, and he knows that his dream of skating on the same ice as Viktor is probably just that – a dream.

 

But there’s a small, quiet part of him that says, so what?

 

So what?

 

He keeps working.

 

It’s all he can do.

 

 

v.

 

Yuuri outgrows his coach when he turns eighteen.

 

Not in the sense that his talent has grown, or that he’s become more successful – no, mostly because coaches tend to specialize in certain age demographics. Juniors and Seniors have different requirements, different pressures, different contracts. She recommends a new local coach to him, hesitates a moment, and then recommends another – a man named Celestino – all the way out in Detroit, in the United States.

 

“It’s a big move,” she says, “but I honestly think you have the skills to keep going in competitive figure skating. And Coach Cialdini is a good coach, a good man, I know you could do well under him.”

 

She’s overestimating him. All he has to his name are a few medals – none gold – and little competition experience. The thought of leaving the familiarity of Ice Castle – of leaving the Nishigoris, of leaving Minako-sensei, of leaving his parents – to chase down something that feels so unobtainable is absolutely terrifying.

 

(But still, he wants.)

 

Half a year later he’s pulling up to his new home. He has nothing here but a pair of suitcases and his skating bag – no friends, no family. The city of Detroit is a hulking monolith of concrete and glass. He feels alone and small –

 

(But he didn’t move thousands of miles away just to back down.)

 

So he steps out of a taxi in Detroit and into the warm handshake of his new coach.

 

 

vi.

 

It doesn’t quite sink in until Phichit-kun tells him, later that night, that he’s made it into the Grand Prix Final.

 

“Yuuri,” he says, eyes wide and a little wet, “you did it. You’re going to skate on the same ice as Viktor!”

 

Yuuri opens his mouth –

 

– and a sickening flood of elation and anxiety pour in, coating his mind and suffusing into his bones.

 

“This is what you’ve been working for!” Phichit-kun says, throwing his arms around Yuuri like he’s proud.

 

And it is, it is, but god

 

 

vii.

 

He failed.

 

He failed, and he can’t look Celestino in the face, can hardly bear to listen to his mother tell him she’s proud of him.

 

(When Viktor asks him if he wants a commemorative photo, he burns –with embarrassment, with anger, with yearning –)

 

He walks away.

 

Can’t bear to look at Viktor, either.

 

 

viii.

 

He comes home after he graduates, because there’s no point in staying there any longer. He doesn’t have a coach or an education to keep him in Detroit. Gone are his excuses to stay tucked away.

 

He’s kind of sick of staying tucked away, anyway.

 

He skates for Yuuko-chan, pours every last bit of him into Viktor’s routine until there’s nothing left but ashes, hoping that it’s enough.

 

Enough of what, he isn’t sure.

 

But he knows three things: one, he’s tired of feeling depressed about his failure, tired of feeling sorry for himself; two, skating Viktor’s routines with Yuuko-chan had been the birth of his identity as a figure skater; and three, Yuuri still wants.

 

(It’s the most free he’s felt on the ice in years.)

 

 

ix.

Viktor shows up in his life a month later, saying he’s quit skating to coach Yuuri.

 

It takes a while to muddle through the shock, the denial, the awkwardness, and, perhaps most surprising, the anger, but he does. Eventually they become something more than just student and coach.

 

(Something like friends.)

 

(Something more than that, even.)

 

Viktor is real. He makes mistakes, he’s sometimes completely incompetent at being a coach. He makes Yuuri mad, makes him anxious. Makes him want to pull his hair out. He works Yuuri to the bone and forgets that Yuuri won’t say anything about being tired or sore because Yuuri doesn’t want to upset him. He can’t deal with Yuuri’s anxiety, and has no idea what to do when Yuuri cries in front of him. Viktor is real, the most real thing Yuuri has ever held, has ever touched. So much more than the magazine articles he saved or the posters stuffed hastily underneath his bed. So much more than his skating.

 

He helps Yuuri become something real, too.

 

(It’s beautiful.)

 

 

x.


Yuuri is twenty-four when he slides a ring onto Viktor’s finger.

 

Viktor is looking at him like he’s everything, his face soft and his gaze so incredibly gentle and loving. He loves him. He loves him.

 

When Yuuri counts the steps that lead him to this moment –all of the triumphs, all of the falls – he realizes that he’s grateful for everything, that he wouldn’t change a single thing if it means getting to belong to Viktor Nikiforov, and having Viktor belong to him in return.

 

And that feels like freedom, too.

 

Chapter Text

 

Viktor has always been uncomfortable in hospitals.

 


To him they are liminal spaces -- strange yet familiar. He remembers coming often as a child, visiting his mother as she battled through cancer and infections, her young body ravaged by things beyond her control. He remembers listening to the tinkling of newborn announcements over the PA system as his mother moaned and coughed and rattled deep in her lungs, remembers the pervading cloud of sickness and death that mingled so easily with the scent of bleach and fresh flowers. Hospitals are long dark hallways and crash carts at two in the morning and the sound of laughter drifting in from the nurse's station and the soft rustle of curtains being pulled.

 


Hospitals are listening to your mother's monitors falling out of rhythm, and then silent and still, and watching her doctor joking with a nurse in the break room like Viktor's world shattering down around his ankles is nothing.

 


Yakov had known all of this. He'd been there to pick up the pieces afterward, had been there to take care of Viktor after his father started leaving on more and more business trips. He'd seen the aftermath, he'd known, but he'd still bundled Viktor into a taxi and sent him on his way. It'll be good for you, he'd said. Good for your charity. Viktor had gone because he can't refuse Yakov, and Yakov is right -- cancer research is something he cares deeply about, something he wants to raise more awareness of.

 

 

Cancer is the monster under the bed that he wants to save other kids from, if he can. Somehow, some way.

 


His past is public knowledge, as are the charities he supports. Being in the spotlight like that affords little privacy. He'd expected, someday, to have to face this.

 

He just never expected this.

 

The hospital is brightly-colored, with naked windows streaming in bright morning sunlight. The staff milling around are dressed just as brightly, their smiles just as sunny. There are toys scattered about, and on the nurse's desk there are a flock of paper cranes, folded perfectly with prettily-patterned paper. Viktor glances around, his eyes catch on a sign hanging from the ceiling.

 

Pediatric Oncology.

 

He feels vaguely ill, but the sound of laughter drifts from a room to his right, and it's bell-like, beautiful. He follows it before he realizes his feet are moving, and when he sticks his head in his breath gets caught in his chest and he can't help but stare.

 

There's a child sitting on the floor, his back to the wall and his knees flat, a sketch book balanced precariously between them. He's scowling down at his drawing, smudged by the edge of his cheetah-print hoodie sleeve. He's a pretty child, maybe ten years old, with a shock of chin-length blond hair and the clearest blue-green eyes that remind Viktor of lapping waves. The man next to him is the source of the laughter, and god he's — he's —

 

Oh.

 

He's gorgeous. Fluffy black hair that's just a little too long, big-framed glasses that sit on chubby cheeks, sweet, open-mouthed smile that puts even Viktor's press smiles to shame.

 

"Yurio, I told you to roll your sleeves up," he's saying. Yurio — the little boy — is glaring at him, and if looks could kill Viktor would be fearing for Gorgeous's life. "Oh come on, don't be like that! It was a very good drawing, before — "

 

"Shut up, pig," the kid growls, but Gorgeous just laughs again, and Viktor puts a hand to his chest and breathes through it, because god, he's perfect.

 

Viktor wonders what he can do, personally, to ensure that this man keeps smiling, everyday, always, for the rest of his life.

 

"Oh, Yurio, it's almost time for your appointment," Gorgeous says, surprised, like he's lost track of time.

 

(Liminal, liminal.)

 

Viktor realizes too late that he's in the doorway, and he ends up chest-to-face with Yurio's ferocious glare.

 

"Um, sorry," he says, hand on the back of his neck. "I just..."

 

"Oh," Gorgeous says, and oh, oh, he blushes prettily too, and his eyes are the prettiest brown, like silky honey. "Are you, um. Are you lost?"

 

He's not, not really.

 

“Yes,” he hears himself saying. “I’m lost in your eyes.”

 

There’s silence in the room and then –

 

Gorgeous snorts, and it turns into a laugh that starts small but gets bigger until it fills the room, until he’s doubled over with tears in his eyes. Yurio is looking at him like he’s suddenly sprouted another head, and Viktor feels his stomach drop through his shoes and into the basement. His spirit is leaving his body.

 

“Oh my god,” Gorgeous chokes.

 

Oh my god. ” Viktor moans in agreement and covers his face with his hands and prays for death, because he cannot believe he just said that to the most beautiful creature in the universe, cannot believe he’s being laughed at, cannot —

 

“That was the worst pick-up line I’ve ever been fed,” Gorgeous says once he’s recovered. His eyes are sparkling though, so Viktor doesn’t think he’s messed up too bad. So he does what he always does and goes for broke.

 

“Are you my appendix? Because I think I need to take you out. I think I need to be admitted because I’ve fallen for you and I can’t get up. I need an AED because —”

 

Gorgeous presses his palm to Viktor’s mouth. “I will take you where you need to go if you just stop talking.”

 

“Deal,” Viktor says. Gorgeous blushes and wipes his hand on his sweats. “I’m Viktor by the way, Viktor —”

 

“Viktor Nikiforov, I know,” Gorgeous says, and then immediately snaps his mouth shut as Yurio howls.

 

“You’re his favorite figure skater. You should see his room —”

 

“U-UM. You can, uh, follow me if you want to? I’m just going to make sure Yurio gets to his appointment and then I can take you to, um. Where —?”

 

“Oh, the pediatric oncology unit! I’m here to spend the morning with the kids. But I wouldn’t mind spending the evening with you ,” he says, winking. “Though, I think you have me at a disadvantage, since you know my name but I don’t know yours.”

 

“Oh, um. Katsuki Yuuri.”

 

"Yuuri," Viktor murmurs. Yuuri blushes — again, and it paints his pretty tan skin like watercolor on canvas -- and gently nudges Yurio out of the room. He glances back to make sure Viktor is following him — as if Viktor could even look away from Yuuri's form; as if Yuuri is anything other than the North on Viktor's compass — and the smile he offers is small but genuine.

 

(He takes Yuuri's hand just to see what will happen and is surprised when all he gets is a squeeze.)

 

“Adults are gross,” Yurio says.

 

They drop Yurio off at his room just in time, if the annoyed looks the nurses are shooting them are any indication — and doesn’t that suck, that Yurio is even here in the first place — and then it’s just Yuuri and Viktor alone in the hallway. Yuuri fidgets, fingers curled in the hem of his hoodie, bottom lip between his teeth, eyes darting between Viktor’s face and the floor.

 

He’s a fan, probably — Yurio had said so — but he’s not like any other fan Viktor has encountered. Yuuri is different, quiet, reserved. Shy. He’d laughed at Viktor’s horrible pick-up line — not with him, but at him, the little prick. He made Viktor feel embarrassed, but not in a mortified kind of way — more like in a human kind of way. He doesn’t fawn, or fall at Viktor’s feet, or tell him he wants to sleep with him.

 

He also looks kind of familiar, now that Viktor is thinking about it, like Viktor can almost see him sweeping along the ice, arms graceful, blades shining in the light —

 

Viktor opens his mouth to ask, but pauses as a shadow of something – apprehension? fear? — flickers through Yuuri’s gaze. His heart beats loudly in his chest for one beat, two, three

 

“Mr Nikiforov?”

 

They both jump, and Viktor automatically turns toward the noise. It’s a nurse, a stocky man with a kind smile. His scrubs are covered in cartoon-style puppies.

 

“Hi, I’m a nurse on the peds floor,” he says. “Come with me, I’ll get you hooked up with a mask and show you how to wash your hands. Kids with chemo and radiation need extra precautions when it comes to their vulnerable immune systems.”

 

The nurse leads him away, but before he gets too far he turns back to Yuuri and winks. “Nice to meet you, Katsuki Yuuri.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Viktor,” Yuuri says quietly. His eyes are sparkling again; whatever had happened before the nurse interrupted gone like it had never been there in the first place. “Try not to get lost this time.”

 

Maybe it's Viktor's wishful thinking, but he almost hears don't get lost with anyone else.

 

 


 

 

Viktor comes back each week following that spectacular first visit, armed with more pick-up lines.

 

"Are you a pulmonary embolism, Yuuri? Because I can't breathe when I'm around you."

 

"..."

 

"Hey Yuuri, can I take your temperature? You're looking hot today."

 

"Viktor, stop."

 

"I'm no organ donor, but I'd be happy to give you my heart!"

 

"That's... Okay, that one is kind of cute."

 

He asks Yuuri questions too — questions about his friends, questions about where he grew up. At first he doesn't answer, preferring to wave Viktor off instead, but as the weeks pass by he opens up more. He laughs easier, smiles brighter, thinks less. And Viktor…

 

Viktor can feel himself opening up too — hadn't even realized he'd been so closed off to begin with. But being with Yuuri was a kind of freedom that he never expected to find — freedom from the ice, freedom from the persona he's only just now learning to peel off, just…freedom.

 

When he asks Yuuri about what he wants to do in the future, Yuuri becomes pensive. "I guess I wanted — I want… I don't really know, to be honest. I don't know what my future holds."

 

Viktor hums.

 

"What about you, Viktor? What's in your future?"

 

"I guess… I keep skating. I've been struggling lately with inspiration. I'm…bored." Admitting that makes him feel simultaneously guilty and relieved. Yuuri's eyes are on him, prompting him to continue. "I'm twenty-two, Yuuri. I've been skating for fifteen years, and I've been good at it, I've been winning . But it's getting harder to surprise the audience, and gold has started to feel a little lonely."

 

He feels Yuuri's eyes bore into the side of his face, but he can't meet that gaze.

 

This part is even more difficult to admit. "I've been thinking about retirement."

 

 

Yuuri is sitting so close to him that he feels the sharp intake of breath rather than hears it. He expects — he doesn’t know, exactly. Anger, disappointment, sadness?

 

 

What he gets instead is a few moments of silence, and then — understanding.

 

 

“Mm. Kind of like writer’s block. I think though that instead of retirement you should try to rediscover why you wanted to skate in the first place. And if you can’t, find something new to inspire you.”

 

 

And even though this is Yuuri — Yuuri , who he’s come to cherish, whose smile lights up the small warm thing that glows in his chest, who handles Yurio’s bark and bluster with soft eyes and tender words — Viktor is still surprised.

 

 

(Viktor loves being surprised.)

 

 

From the smile that curves Yuuri’s mouth, he knows it too.

 

 


 

 

To: Christ

chris i think im in love =(

 

From: Christ

oh? do tell.

 

To: Christ

hes beautiful

he has black hair and glasses

his laughter is so good and pure

and his smile could rival the sun

 

From: Christ

wow

sounds like youve got it bad

when did you meet? whens the wedding?

 

To: Christ

i accidentally said something stupid and he laughed??

oh um. rmbr when i said i was goin to hang out w some kids at the hospital

thats when

 

From: Christ

...the pediatric cancer ward, right?

 

To: Christ

yeah?

 

From: Christ

what did u say his name was?

 

To: Christ

katsuki yuuri

 

From: Christ

viktor. you need to talk to him.

viktor?

 

 


 

 

Is This Katsuki’s Last Season?

Japan’s Up-And-Coming Ace Holds Press Conference to Discuss Mysterious Illness

By Hisashi Mooroka, Translation by Cassandra Setterdahl

 

 

Katsuki Yuuri, the future of Japan’s men’s figure skating singles, is known for keeping his life outside of the competitive figure skating circuit private. However, today he has called a rare press conference to discuss something we have all been worried about — his apparent illness.

 

The whispers began about three months ago, when a fan snapped a photo of him going into the emergency room entrance looking a little rough around the edges, and only increased as time went on and Katsuki began to look more and more ill. Unconfirmed reports flooded in not long after that — mostly photos of a blurry Katsuki at the hospital looking pale and tired (and this reporter says ‘shame on you’ for the invasion of privacy!) and rumors of a reduced practice schedule. There was no official word, however, until last month when his coach confirmed that she pulled him from some of the smaller competitions due to health problems.

 

All of that came to a head at this year’s Junior Grand Prix Final, which took place last week. After a shaky performance of his free skate, Katsuki flubbed his last jump — a triple flip — and didn’t get up.

 

For those who saw it happen live, it was an incredibly harrowing experience.

 

Katsuki was treated at the local hospital and released four days ago, and almost immediately upon his release his coach called for a press conference. As the press waited, Katsuki was wheeled out onto the makeshift stage in a wheelchair, and his appearance was even more worrisome — he looked exhausted, worn down. He took his place on the stage but it was his coach who spoke on his behalf, and the announcement she made shook us all to our cores.

 

“Katsuki Yuuri was diagnosed with cancer in September. He asked me not to disclose the type or the stage, but wants me to inform you that he will be taking time off from figure skating for the foreseeable future so he can get the treatment and rest that he needs. He and his family have asked for peace and privacy as they navigate the rough waters of the unknown together.”

 

Leaving personal feelings out of this article is difficult, since I have been following Katsuki’s career since he was a Novice, so please allow this reporter to say, from the bottom of my heart, I wish Katsuki-kun a speedy recovery. If there is anyone who deserves to live a long, healthy life, it’s him.

 

 


 

 

Viktor’s first thought is: God, no wonder he’d looked familiar.

 

 

His second: This has to be a mistake. Has to be.

 

 

(His third: I can’t imagine my life without him.)

 

 

He goes to the rink so he doesn’t have to think anymore, skates til his legs go shaky with exhaustion.

 

 


 

 

To: Christ

fuck chris

 

From: Christ

im so sorry viktor

are you okay?

 

To: Christ

no

i think i fell in love with him

what do i do

 

From: Christ

go see him

 

 


 

 

“Viktor? What are you doing here, it’s not your usual day to visit. Are you okay?”

 

 

Yuuri stares at him from down the hall, not even bothering to pick up the armful of toys he just dropped. Even like this he’s beautiful — all messy hair and baggy clothes and mouth opened in shock.

 

 

“Yuuri, are you ? I — I read —”

 

 

“Ah.”

 

 

Yuuri’s never tried to hide who he is. He wears his emotions on his sleeve for anyone to see, and he’s not ashamed of it.

 

 

(Viktor just never thought to ask.)

 

 

He doesn’t hide it now, either.

 

 

“I’m so sorry.” His voice wobbles, breaking, and Viktor’s heart breaks with him.

 

 


 

 

“Next up is twenty-two year old Viktor Nikiforov in his third showing at the Grand Prix Finals!”

 

 

“He did well in his short program two days ago, scoring almost high enough to break the world record. His newly-debuted quad flip is sure to become his signature move.”

 

 

“Oh, definitely!”

 

 

“So let’s talk about his free skate program. Like many others, this program is dedicated to the late Katsuki Yuuri.”

 

 

“For those who don’t know, Katsuki Yuuri was an eighteen year-old men’s singles skater from Japan. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago and succumbed to the disease back in July.”

 

 

“According to Nikiforov’s interview back at the beginning of the GP circuit, he met Katsuki while visiting a pediatric oncology unit for charity, and they became nearly inseparable. It was a devastating blow for Nikiforov when he found out about the diagnosis.”

 

 

“That’s right. This is unconfirmed, but I heard Nikiforov was among the Katsuki family in the hospital room with Katsuki the day he passed.”

 

 

“That’s — oh, he’s starting.”

 

 

“This is Viktor Nikiforov, twenty-two, of Russia, skating to Yuri!!! on ICE.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Viktor is born in the Soviet Union but grows up in Russia, which is -- strange. He doesn't remember anything from those early years, barely remembers the dissolution. The only memories he has are of his mother's soft singing and his father's voice rumbling in his chest as he holds Viktor close.

 


He does remember the 1992 Winter Games, and watching Viktor Petrenko skating under the Unified Team flag. His routine is mesmerizing enough that Viktor asks for skating lessons, and that, as they say, is that.

 


So he starts out young and inspired. The smell of feel of the ice beneath his blades grabs hold of him almost instantly, and soon enough he's skittering across the ice, his palms and knees sore and bruised from falling but his smile bright and wide. Weekly lessons become twice weekly, and then before he knows it he's dedicating all of his free time to developing his skills on the ice.

 


(It will be a while yet before he realizes just how insatiable the world of figure skating truly is — how it takes everything and gives back only the illusion of satisfaction.)

 


(It takes and takes — parents mortgaging houses to afford coaching and ice time, children exchanging college educations for costumes and choreography.)

 


(Blood-stained socks and purple watercolor bruises and knees ruined for life.)

 


(Standing alone at the top of the world where there's only room for flower bouquets and cold, cold medals.)

 


(But Viktor doesn't know that bitter taste of the fruits of his labors yet. Yet.)

 


He begins competing, debuting at the age of fourteen on the juniors circuit, then at the age of nineteen in the seniors — regionals, sectionals, nationals. Internationals. Grand Prix. Worlds.

 


Olympics.

 


And then he's twenty-seven and Yuuri is there, and he fits so warmly into Viktor's empty life, and suddenly there's more than ice and blades and medals. When he looks back on his life before Yuuri it's perfect on the surface — he's an Olympic champion, a world champion, a national champion; he has more gold medals and world records than he knows what to do with. It should feel satisfying, but all he really feels is the wide expanse of loneliness with bright, and he wonders just when he'd let that happen.

 

It feels like a life that happened to him.

 

But watching Yuuri skate is like watching Petrenko all those years ago. It opens his eyes to everything that skating can be. But he doesn't want to go back to it — instead he wants to watch Yuuri always, to keep his eyes only on him. He wants to watch Yuuri succeed, wants to admire the lines of his body and know that no one else knows so intimately the hard work and effort that Yuuri puts into every graceful arch of his back and every powerful sweep of his legs.

 

It's a beautiful thing, falling in love with the ice all over again through someone else's eyes.

 

And then, blink-or-you'll-miss-it quick, Viktor is thirty-four and Yuuri is retired.

 

And then it's all over.

 

 

Except…

 

 

The ice doesn’t leave, and neither does Yuuri. Instead of 5am practices and five kilometer runs there is laughter floating out of a kitchen covered in flour and the glow of sunlight in soft black hair; there are the sounds of small blades cutting figures into fresh ice and the peal of childish laughter. For the first time in his life the future isn’t empty and cold and full of boredom — instead it’s filled with color, with happiness and warm, lazy kisses.

 

 

They don’t leave.

 

 

They don’t leave.

 

 

(They don’t leave.)

 

 

The years pass and they don’t leave and every day Viktor wakes up to the miracle of Yuuri in his bed and in his life, and sometimes the miracle of blades on fresh ice, and wonders how could I have ever been afraid of this?

 

 

He’s broken out of his thoughts by the sound of a body hitting the ice, followed by squealing and laughter. His lover’s voice, tempered by the passage of time.

 

 

“Oh, are you okay? Here, let me help you up. Wow you’re so good! Will you show me your spins?”

 

 

The little girl who fell smiles up at Yuuri with adoration. Viktor understands.

 

 

He watches his lover interact with a gaggle of children, watches him kneel on creaky knees so he can look them in the eye when he gives them praise and advice. Viktor is fifty-two. He’d grown up knowing that nothing is permanent — not countries, not careers, not records. Not even people.

 

 

Yuuri smiles up at him over his shoulder, and he’s forty-eight but that smile and that sparkle in his eye are the same, and Viktor knows.

 

 

He has more to look forward to now than he ever has before.


Chapter Text

 

Viktor wakes up alone, sheets empty and pillow cold. He panics for a moment – just a moment – before he manages to calm the wild beating of his heart.

 

 

Yuuri must be at the rink again.

 

 

It’s an old habit for him. When he was anxious in Hasetsu he had Minako-sensei’s studio to take shelter in. In Detroit, he’d confided one day, he’d gone out for long walks, sometimes wandering until the sunlight seeped over the horizon. St Petersberg offers him limited options; he can’t wander or he’d risk becoming lost, and Lilia would never consider giving any of her students free reign of her studio. But Yuuri knows the way to the ice rink well enough, knows where Viktor keeps his set of keys for after-hours practicing.

 

 

Viktor groans and rolls over, looking at the clock.

 

 

04:27.

 

 

Viktor groans louder, but shuffles out of the bed anyway, fingers numbly pulling on clothing in the darkness of their bedroom. If Yuuri is going to skate, Viktor might as well be with him just in case, as his coach.

 

 

He leaves Makkachin at home, letting the old poodle sleep in her bed, and sets out for the rink.

 

 

When he pushes the doors open and hears the soft sound of metal on ice he relaxes, tension he hadn’t even know he was carrying bleeding out of his shoulders. He’s not sure how long Yuuri’s been here, if he should stop him or let him continue – after all, they still have practice later today. But the figure on the ice doesn’t seem especially tired, doesn’t seem to be doing much beyond skating the compulsory figures he likes when he’s anxious. So, Viktor sits, legs pulled up to his chest, watching.

 

 

He’s thought this before, many times and in many ways, but Yuuri is honestly incredible. An incredible skater, an incredible person. He thinks himself weak, especially when he’s caught up in his own head like this, but Viktor knows the truth – that Yuuri is one of the strongest people he knows. He doesn’t talk much about that first disastrous 2015 season, but Viktor knows that he’d been contemplating retirement after his perceived failures. Knows he struggled, fighting his own inner demons, fighting the harsh condemnations of the press. He could have easily crumpled underneath that weight, and if he had both he and Viktor would be leading very different lives. Yuuri would’ve disappeared quietly into the background, and Viktor, well. He had nowhere to go but down, really, could have spiraled professionally or personally. Or both.

 

 

But Yuuri is strong –so, so strong, so bright, so brave.

 

 

He’d gotten the story from Yuuko, about how Yuuri had refused to be depressed, about how he’d pulled himself up by the bootstraps after months of darkness. And he’d seen for himself, hadn’t he, how hard Yuuri worked, how much he pushed himself every day to be better. How much Yuuri wanted.

 

 

How much he still wants.

 

 

Yuuri finally notices him then, skating toward the barrier and sending him a small, nervous smile. “I hope I didn’t wake you,” he says.

 

 

There’s no apology hidden anywhere in his voice.

 

 

(It had taken a long time for Yuuri to stop apologizing – for his anxiety, for his feelings, for his failures.)

 

 

Viktor makes his way to meet him, smiling as Yuuri slides his fingers between his.

 

 

I’m so proud of you, he wants to say. You’ve come so far. I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

 

But he knows Yuuri finds words are hard to believe sometimes, so instead he squeezes Yuuri’s hand in his and presses his lips to Yuuri’s forehead in silent support.

 

 

The smile that blooms on Yuuri’s face is blinding.