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The junior division is boring and Yuri wants to be fifteen so he can debut already.

He wants to skate with the real skaters not a bunch of babies in the junior division who still screw up basic jumps and spins. There's no real competition and Yuri practically brings home gold every time he competes.

Victor laughs when he says this, ruffling his air, an amused smile on his face.

Yuri yells at him, fighting off the lightning bolts rattling down his spine and Victor skates off, still laughing, before casually launching himself into a triple loop. The rink is silent for a moment, awe for a living legend, before resuming practice. There's a slightly frenetic air to everyone's movements before Yakov or one of the junior coaches yells at them for being stupid.

“Don't feel bad,” Mila says, wrapping her arms around him. Yuri freezes and hisses at her. She giggles, but leans away. “Everyone is like that around Victor,” she murmurs, “He inspires you reach higher and higher...” her voice trails off as she watches him practice.

Yuri wants everything from Victor. Wants to make everything his own.

Plus Victor's already twenty five. Practically ancient. No one can keep on skating forever.

Not even Victor Nikiforov.

 


 

Yuri is thirteen when he first sees Yuuri Katsuki skate.

It isn't the Grand Prix or Worlds and Yuri only vaguely remembers why he was there.

Yuri's watching in the stands, a few other Russian skaters, around him. His phone is out, but the Wi-Fi is shit so he's mostly just flicking apps open and then quickly shutting them.

Yakov said it's important to watch other skaters but Yuri is just bored. He's seen nothing that excites him. Nothing that makes him think of Victor.

When Yuuri Katsuki skates onto the ice, hair slicked back, Yuri's only watching with one eye.

He flubs a jump in the first half and Yuri almost turns away – what use is someone who can't even land a triple lutz to him – but he stays, because Yakov will just want him to study in his hotel room. And Yuri doesn't mind practicing, forcing his body to his will, until he's skating harder, faster, jumping higher, until he reaches a new level. But studying is boring. Yuri can't wait until he's old enough to say no to ridiculous schoolwork.

But then Yuuri brings his hands together, the music moving, subtly changing and Yuri looks back over the ice, ignoring what Mila's talking about. Just because she's now debuted in the senior division is no reason to make a big fuss about it.

Yuuri Katsuki's step sequence is spectacular.

Beauty, grace and every pretty poetic word Yuri can think of. He watches carefully, phone up, video on because he wants to remember this.

Yuuri comes third.

Later Yuri watches the video. He's sharing a room with another skater, so he has a sound off, blanket over his head as he watches the video again and again.

Jumps are important. Yuri doesn't care what Yakov says, he needs to know how to jump a quad if he wants to make a splash in the senior division. He can't get ahead, he can't win gold with doubles and triples.

But he can't win gold on jumps alone.

He needs the best presentation score possible. He needs to skate as beautifully as possible.

Yuri spends half the night watching Yuuri Katsuki videos on YouTube. He's annoyed by how few videos there are, isn't Katsuki one of the best skaters in Japan? As he's consumed with frustration, the video ends and a new one loads. He can't read the title because it is written in Japanese and -

It is written in Japanese.

He puzzles together Yuuri's Japanese name and falls asleep to Yuuri's Japanese Nationals performance from two years ago.

 


 

Yuri's step sequences seem clumsy and inelegant in comparison. Childish.

He's practically growling as he skates off the rink. He can't believe someone who hasn't even placed at Worlds or the Grand Prix could move so beautiful across the ice.

And the guy has his name.

Yuri doesn't want anything untalented associated with his name. If there are going to be two Yuris then the other Yuuri needs to up his game. Stop messing up his jumps. Presentation scores are important but if Yuuri keeps on fucking up, landing on the ice in an inelegant sprawl, bruises that will last weeks, he'll never place and no one will remember him.

Off the ice, skates off, leopard print shoes on, Yuri whips out his phone and scowls.

Yuuri Katsuki is one of the top skaters in Japan but he has a scant social media presence. Yuri rolls his eyes. Yuuri isn't that old. He should know better. Using social media is essential to getting the best endorsements.

It is the only reason why Yuri tolerates the nascent Yuri's Angels. Even if some of the comments they leave on his Instagram are… disturbing.

Victor posts whatever he likes but he's Victor. Even Yakov seems to have given up on making him do anything, merely pointing him in the suggested direction. But they're not Victor Nikiforov, they can't act like him.

He mostly posts artsy stuff, snapshots of his rink mates, of his training. After competitions, if Yuuri loses, there's silence for weeks and weeks sometimes. And then he posts something, no remarks about his absence. Yuuri is also terrible at replying to comments.

Yuri breaths through his teeth in frustration, absentmindedly watching the rink. Georgi looks like he's crying again. Yuri rolls his eyes. He'll never be that guy, crying over some lost love, which is basically every week for Georgi.

And most of all he never wants to be Georgi.

He's not a bad skater, but whenever people actually say something about it, it is always in comparison to Victor. As if their reputations are already decided. The thought makes Yuri's skin crawl.

 


 

Grandpa has all his medals and ribbons and trophies from when he was a kid. He polishes the trophies and medals every Saturday, brushing the ribbons clean of any dust. Yuri peers at them, the competitions lost in a blur behind him.

“They look better than when I got them,” Yuri says, picking up one ribbon and then putting it down dismissively. Now that he's in the junior division and so close to the senior division – stupid age rules – they seem like worthless trinkets.

But his grandpa just beams at him, ruffling his his hair. Yuri finds himself smiling. They sit down and watch a stupid movie, with lots of explosions, his grandpa's arm across his shoulders and if Yuri turns his face away, blushing, when the couple kiss, well.

It is foolish.

No one he knows has any real relationships. Georgi has pointless love affairs, Mila has flings that end after a few kisses. Even Yakov is alone, though Yuri has heard rumors of an ex-wife.

But they have figure skating.

The glory of a perfect performance, the higher jumps, the faster spins, the more elaborate step sequences, breaking every record.

Which is so much more than a stupid kiss.

 


 

He's been idly following Yuuri Katsuki's career.

Next season Yuri will debut in the senior division and he'll need to know his competition. It isn't anything personal.

He even has a look at that fool JJ's Instagram but after gagging a few times, Yuri kills the app, and hasn't been able to look at JJ's profile again. So many tasteless tattoos, so many selfies.

This has probably been one of Yuuri's best seasons ever so it isn't stupid of him to take an interest. His technical scores are still below average, but his presentation scores are better than most.

And he's going to be performing at the Grand Prix.

They're going to be at the same rink again. They're going to perform on the same ice.

Yuri tamps down his excitement, toes curling in his shoes. Yuuri isn't going to be watching him perform. He isn't even allowed to perform quads in his routines even though he can.

Yakov says he has to take care of his developing body.

Yuri stretches out legs, critically eyeing his thighs, his calves. He's short for his age but he's never cared about that before when his body was always enough for his needs.

He hasn't hit his final growth spurt but already he's been told to keep stretching, keep bending, keep moving. If he loses his flexibility now, Yakov says he probably won't get back. That sends shivers down his spine. He's seen skaters ruined by puberty, bodies too long, too wide, too much, everything wasted.

And Yuri wants the impossible.

He wants to make his senior debut next year and take gold at the Grand Prix.

No one had ever done it before. Not even Victor.

He stretches, legs moving under his control, for now, until he's in a full split. It is easy now, but Yuri wonders if he'll be able to do this in a year or two. Sweat prickles on the back of his neck, his breathing short. It has nothing to do with what he's doing. He holds the position for thirty seconds and then moves into a different position.

Yuri isn't going to let go yet.

 


 

Yuuri loses.

Badly.

It feels like an insult.

The music starts and Yuuri is still for a moment too long and when he finally starts skating, every movement is off, the music a step ahead.

He misses his jumps, falls, the ice unforgiving.

Even his presentation, his step sequences are poor. It has none of the beauty and grace, the sheer excitement of an excellent skater at the top of his game performing, that Yuri wants to see.

Yuuri has seen better performances in the junior division.

It isn't worthy of the Grand Prix. It isn't something, someone, Yuri wants to skate against. He wants to skate against the best and this Yuuri has failed him utterly.

And Yuuri knows it.

He finishes his skate, hands high, the music trailing off. And across the ice, Yuri can see his expression, twisted in self hatred for a second, before he smiles for the judges, for the crowds.

Everything isn't over yet.

He skates over to the kiss and cry, dread written in every line of his body. His coach embraces him, an over excited man with long fluffy hair. Yuri knows him, watching him through narrow slits, he's a perennial on the skating scene. He's done things for other skaters.

Yuuri's scores come in and they're terrible.

Yuri feels a curdle of rage surge through him.

Up on the giant screens, Yuuri's face is stricken with disappointment. The commentators are saying something, but Yuri isn't listening.

Yuuri is twenty three. He probably only has another season or two before he injures himself beyond recovery or he just can't perform anymore.

They're not all Victor Nikiforov, skating past a normal retirement age.

And Yuuri didn't perform well today.

Yuri flips his phone back and forth, faster and faster. He watches the other performances, Chris as gross as usual, that JJ loser verging on Chris levels of disgusting. When the rink is filled with dozens yelling JJ's name, Yuri rolls his eyes.

Pathetic. He's not going to win.

Victor is the last to perform. He usually is.

He skates and everyone is spellbound, the commentators barely getting out his jumps, they're so impressed. When he finishes, perfection on ice, the stadium roars.

Dozens of roses are thrown, his signature of ten years, until the ice is thick with them. He skates through them, grace and strength in every line of his body. And Yuri's been training, well, if not with him then at least adjacent for a while now.

Victor is something else.

He gets to his feet, hoodie low on his head, clapping along with the rest of Victor's fans.

Victor skates to the kiss and cry, victory all but assured. Yakov greets him with a nod.

And of course Victor wins.

No one seems that surprised he's broken another world record.

Yuri doesn't stick around forever, there's nothing new about Victor getting another gold medal.

He wants to see Yuuri Katsuki skate again.