When Yuri tells Otabek to get snapchat, he doesn't realise just how much of a mistake he's making.
To be fair, he's out with Victor and Yuuri, and he's too busy being disgusted by their incredibly protracted honeymoon phase to really put much thought into anything else. So he sends Otabek a message, telling him that he should download snapchat. When Otabek sends a message back to ask why, Yuri simply replies with,
do it, along with his username.
Without offering any further resistance, Otabek indulges Yuri, adding him just a minute later.
Adding him back, Yuri lifts his phone up to take a photo of himself and more importantly, of Victor and Yuuri behind him, where they're sharing a scarf and the two-person mittens he gifted them as a joke. He pulls his most disgusted face and captions it with,
Otabek, the traitor, sends him a message that reads,
I'm glad they're happy.
Yuri wrinkles his nose at his phone. Easy for Otabek to say, when he isn't the one who has had to deal with the happy couple for a good year now, with no end to their public displays of affection. Yuri is not the most patient person in the world. Victor and Yuuri are exhausting reserves that he didn't even know he had.
Makkachin barks, alerting Yuri to the fact that he's fallen behind while glaring at Otabek through his phone. It's been long enough that his phone screen has turned itself off, so he can't even see the message. Not that it matters, when the insult still feels fresh. He glares at his phone some more, just for good measure, before putting it into his pocket and walking again. Makkachin, standing to the side of the footpath and waiting for him to catch up, wags his tail as Yuri approaches.
"Yeah, yeah, let's go," Yuri mutters, but lets some of the fondness seep into his tone. It's not like the dog's going to call him out on it.
He sends Otabek another snap a bit later. It's a video this time, of him scowling over his takeaway cup of hot chocolate as Victor and Yuuri order coffee for each other.
It continues in the same vein for the rest of the night. Yuri notices that Otabek opens each snap almost immediately, even if he doesn't often reply. If he does, it's via message, and he never once asks why Yuri is out with them in the first place, if he's just going to complain the entire time. Yuri is grateful for it because he doesn't have an answer ready, beyond a whole lot of frustrated yelling.
At the very least, it gives him an excuse to look at his phone instead of looking at Victor and Yuuri doing their gross couple thing. With all of the layers that he's wearing, the cold air is more refreshing than uncomfortable. It's not as bad as Yuri's complaining makes it out to be, but he has a feeling that Otabek knows that already.
At about eight o'clock, Otabek sends him a good night text, the way that he sometimes does before he goes to bed. Yuri smiles for the first time all night, sending one in return. The three hour difference between St. Petersburg and Almaty means that Yuri is left to his own devices when it gets late. Not having Otabek to keep him company, however intermittently through their phones, makes Yuri grow bored of walking much quicker than before.
"Hey," he yells at Victor and Yuuri, who are using their shared scarf as an excuse to stand there with their heads resting against each other. "I'm heading home."
They walk him most of the way despite his protests, and he's exhausted by the time he gets home. Lilia and Yakov, both sitting on the couch and studiously ignoring each other, both look up at him as he enters.
"Disgusting," he says, and neither of them even have to ask for context. Yakov nods in understanding, and Yuri thinks that he sees the corners of Lilia's lips twitch upwards. He goes to his room, lying down in bed and checking his phone even though he knows that Otabek is asleep.
He sighs loudly, opening snapchat and letting his thumb hover over Otabek's name. He doesn't even know what he would send, but the thought of leaving something for Otabek to wake up to fills him with a funny kind of warmth. He tosses his phone onto the mattress, a little out of reach before he can do anything he'll regret later.
Otabek is special, in a way that makes Yuri embarrassed when he thinks on it for too long. Yuri can no longer say that Otabek is his only friend, but they're still closer than everyone else. Yuri knows that there are several skaters that Otabek is on good terms with, but he still prefers to spend his time with Yuri alone. Yuri, for all the people he would spend time with otherwise, would drop them all without a moment's hesitation for Otabek instead. There's no one else he would do that for.
With a soft meow, his cat Sofiya enters his room and leaps on his bed. He strokes his fingers through her fur idly until she settles down against his side. He stares at the ceiling and sighs again. He finds that he's been doing that a lot whenever he thinks of Otabek lately. He's pretty sure that he knows why, but it's something that he doesn't want to think too hard about. The truth of his feelings lurks at the edges of his mind, but he's happy for it to stay there. If he ends up admitting it to himself, that means that he'll have to figure out what he wants to do about it. He isn't ready for that.
Propping himself up with an elbow, he reaches for his phone and opens snapchat before he can stop himself. He takes a photo of Sofiya curled up comfortably into a ball and sends it to Otabek with a simple,
There, he thinks as he flops back down. Sofiya mewls in protest at the movement but quickly resettles. He plugs his phone into his charger and resolves not to check it for the rest of the night.
Otabek's probably asleep anyway.
Yuri wakes to find a text from Otabek. It reads,
Cute. Good morning.
"Beka says you're cute," Yuri informs Sofiya, who is lying under the covers with him. He tells himself that it's ridiculous to feel jealous of his cat, then firmly tells himself that he has no reason to feel jealous anyway.
Sofiya, for her part, is completely unimpressed. She stays in bed even after he gets up. Lilia and Yakov are already out, following their own routines. Yuri follows his. He starts the day with ballet lessons alongside Lilia's more advanced students. He's out of his depth, but not as much as he was a year ago. He's learned since then that he thrives at this level of challenge. It only pushes him to be better, to continue growing. He can't afford to slow down with Victor back in the competition and Yuuri determined to show the world what he's capable of.
He sends Otabek another snap of the view from the window and captions it with,
They continue the same pattern from yesterday. Yuri is too busy and too exhausted to think about anything other than ballet when he's with Lilia but when he gets to the ice rink later, he rolls his eyes as he immediately sees Victor and Yuuri on the ice while everyone else is taking a break, going over their quadruple flips together.
Update: still gross, he informs Otabek with a video of them both doing flip that's almost synchronised.
It takes a while for Otabek to open the snap or to reply. He's probably busy with practice himself, but Yuri's phone lights up with a text just before he's about to get out onto the ice.
Yuri is tempted to call Mila over and get her to record a video of him doing one of his quads too, but then he'll have to explain why he's sending it to someone, and might even have to explain that it's Otabek. He settles for just lifting his foot up onto the board in front of him, bending into it. He's retained his flexibility even as his body has begun growing, thanks to the ballet lessons and Lilia's strict practice regime. If anything, it's only improved even further. Yuri tilts his phone for the best angle to show off just how much he's bending, then sends it to Otabek.
I'm improving too.
He puts his phone away, getting onto the ice before Yakov can yell at him, or worse, Victor or Yuuri notice what he's doing.
As much as he likes to complain about Yuuri being in St. Petersburg and how much that changes things, he knows that he's been a lot more driven at practice because of it. Having two of his biggest rivals so close to him is a good push for him. Knowing that Otabek is improving somewhere that Yuri can't see pushes him even further.
When he gets back to his phone, over an hour later, Otabek has sent back a message.
Yuri snorts quietly and barely resists the urge to send back another snap of him stretching even further. He doesn't get the chance to anyway, because Victor and Yuuri descend upon him, telling him to eat with them. It's pointless, when all the skaters eat with each other anyway, but pointing this out to them doesn't seem to make a difference.
At the very least, it gives him the chance to send Otabek yet another snap of him pulling a face at Victor and Yuuri's antics. He doesn't even bother with a caption this time.
Have a good lunch, Otabek sends. If it were anyone else, Yuri would roll his eyes. He tries not to think about why Otabek is the exception, tries not to think about Otabek being particularly exceptional at all.
"Are we embarrassing you, Yurio?" Victor asks, sounding delighted rather than apologetic.
Yuri thinks that he's doing a decent job of it on his own, at the moment. He doesn't deign to answer, turning his attention to his food. He tries not to think of Otabek while he eats, to limited success.
It gets worse later on in the evening, when he's roped into dinner with Victor and Yuuri, then another walk. This time, he sends a snap to Otabek immediately, of him looking at the camera over his shoulder, walking behind the two of them. He doesn't pull a face this time, settling for a light frown.
Not this again.
Otabek views the snap almost immediately, judging from the way the snap icon changes. He's probably at home now, maybe an hour from going to sleep. Yuri thought that a three hour difference wouldn't be so bad, compared to the six hours between here and Hasetsu, but he's wrong. With both of them leading such busy lives, they barely have the time to talk.
Yuri nearly drops his phone in surprise when Otabek sends him a snap in reply. He holds his thumb down on the screen, watching as his screen fills with a photo of a park. It's dark and he can only barely make out anything with the distant light of street lamps. Otabek's caption, white text stark against the dark photo, reads:
I'm out for a walk as well.
It's dark in St. Petersburg too, but Yuri waits until he gets to the next street lamp, then stops to take a selfie.
You need better lighting, Beka.
Otabek sends another selfie, with better lighting this time. He's not quite smiling in it, but there's his expression is relaxed enough that makes something warm bloom in Yuri's chest. He vaguely registers the people milling about in the background of the photo as he stares at Otabek's face until the seven seconds are up and it disappears, and even as Yuri tucks his phone into his pocket, he feels a sudden surge of intense jealousy for everyone sharing the same space as Otabek without realising how lucky they are for it.
They send photos back and forth as they walk, sharing scenery from their respective parks, using the flash when the lighting is too poor. It has Yuri smiling at his phone for the entire walk, until Otabek reluctantly heads home so he can go to bed. Yuri sighs once they've exchanged good night messages, tucking his phone back into his pocket.
He looks up to find Victor and Yuuri watching him with identical smiles.
"What?" he asks, belatedly realising that he's been so distracted for the entire walk that he's somehow forgotten to be annoyed at their displays of affection.
"I'm glad you're having a good time, Yurio," Victor says with a wink.
With a growl of frustration, Yuri turns around and goes straight home.
To Yuri's utter delight, Otabek continues sending him snaps the next day too. He knows that Otabek isn't one for social media. He barely posts on his Instagram and from Yuri has heard from other skaters, Otabek isn't one to reply to messages promptly, if at all. The rest of the skating community, while friendly enough with him, don't expect him to spend time with them, or really acknowledge them outside of competitions themselves.
Yuri is clearly just as much of an exception as Otabek is to him. He doesn't know what to do with this information, so he mostly tucks it away into the back of his mind where he can ignore it.
They exchange so many snaps that Yuri quickly runs out of interesting things to take photos. He ends up taking photos of the streets of St. Petersburg just so he can continue their conversation without switching purely to text. Otabek does the same, sending him shots of Almaty, too random for Yuri to piece a bigger picture together, but they're enjoyable anyway. They afford little glimpses into Otabek's life that Yuri wouldn't otherwise get, and he takes all of it in eagerly, reading Otabek's message quickly and then spending the rest of his time looking at the photo before it disappears.
"You're always distracted by your phone these days," Mila mentions when she catches him checking snapchat during their break. "Do you have a girlfriend all of a sudden?"
"You wish, so you could gossip," Yuri mutters, glad that she didn't catch him looking at an actual photo. Not that Otabek has been taking very many of himself during their exchange. Yuri is holding out hope that this will eventually change, but he can't say that he's been doing any different either.
Humming in thought, Yuri sits on the floor by the window. Stretching one leg out in front of him, he lifts the other over his shoulder. He grins into the camera, taking a photo.
Bet you can't do this, he types. Yuri remembers Otabek protesting the last time he showed off his flexibility. Maybe this will bait him into replying with a photo of himself.
"Yuri!" Yakov calls out.
"Coming," Yuri replies, putting his phone down with the rest of his things, disappointed that he can't even check if Otabek's opened it yet.
He pushes it out of his mind as he glides onto the ice. Today's practice is dedicated to working on his quads. He might not have the stamina that Yuuri does, but he's been working on that, building it up since last year. His routines, while still demanding, don't leave him quite as winded any more. It's a sign of improvement, but Yuri isn't satisfied with just that. He wants more. He wants to push himself past his breaking point and then continue forward. Just like the ballerinas he practices with, like Victor and Yuuri do when they're together, like Otabek who is determined to carve his own path.
They're all growing, in different directions, in different ways. It's what makes ice skating so interesting, Yuri thinks. There's no one true path to victory, and it leads him right back to thinking of Otabek. He has an impressive presence on the ice, the kind that makes it impossible to look away. Yuri knows that it's not just him.
Yuri doesn't care about the records that he's already broken. He wants to continue breaking them. He still has years ahead of him and he has no intention of wasting them, or growing complacent. He wants to reach further heights and he'll get there one day at a time, pouring his entire being into recreating himself, as many times as he needs to in order to keep evolving.
He's satisfied with the quads he's landed in practice, putting him in a good mood as he gets off the ice and picks up his phone. He smiles when he sees that he has a snap from Otabek waiting for him. He puts his bottle down so he can open the snap.
Yuri nearly drops his phone.
It's a photo that Otabek has clearly asked someone else to take for him. He's wearing a sleeveless tank and he's standing in a gym, lifting what Yuri thinks might add up to more than how much he weighs. It's captioned,
Bet you can't do THIS. Yuri scrambles to take a screenshot before he runs out of time, because he needs this photo.
It only occurs to him afterwards that Otabek will get a notification of his screenshot. Yuri pales, but there's nothing he can do to reverse it now. He's never even wanted to take a screenshot before, so it's never mattered to him that the other person would get notified. He's close to throwing his phone across the room and finding a target to let out of embarrassment, but his phone buzzes with a message.
Um, is all Otabek's message reads. He's never been the type to waste words in all the time Yuri has known him and it's worked out fine for them but right now, Yuri is cursing him for it.
SHUT UP, he replies, hoping that it gets Otabek to drop the matter.
It works. Otabek doesn't reply. Yuri tries to think of it as a good thing. When Yuuri invites him for dinner, Yuri yells at him, then yells some more when he realises that none of it is actually affecting Yuuri at all.
"Victor and I are eating at home tonight," Yuuri tells him with a smile. "You're welcome to join us, whenever you want."
"I have better things to do," Yuri mutters, shoving his phone into his pocket and turning his back on Yuuri, not even looking in Victor's direction just for good measure.
Yuri ends up roaming the same park they were in last night. It looks different with the sun still in the sky and he's tempted to take some photos to send to Otabek, but just thinking about it makes him feel uneasy, which in turn makes him angry.
Stopping in the middle of the park, he opens his photo album and actually looks at the screenshot that he's taken for the first time. He exhales softly, feeling his cheeks grow warm. Otabek is bigger than Yuri remembers from the last time they saw each other, at the Worlds. He isn't much taller, but he's broader. The results of working out, Yuri supposes, just like he's doing in this picture. His commanding aura suddenly makes a little more sense.
Biting his lip, Yuri sets the picture as his lock screen, positioning it carefully so that Otabek isn't covered by any of the text on his screen. He confirms it and then immediately checks his lock screen.
He stares at it, thumb hovering over the home button to actually unlock his phone. He isn't entirely sure that he wants to, when he could just stare at Otabek instead. He loses track of just how long he stands there, gaze fixed on his lock screen, but the people walking around him lose their patience with him, jostling him as they walk past. Yuri blinks, feeling like he's come out of a stupor, and tucks his phone into his pocket before he turns around, walking the familiar route to Victor and Yuuri's apartment.
It's getting increasingly difficult to ignore the way he feels for Otabek, beyond their friendship. Yuri shakes his head firmly, trying to get rid of the thought. He doesn't want to deal with that right now.
Victor answers the door, not even the slightest bit surprised to see him, and ushers him inside with a smile before disappearing back into the kitchen where he's cooking with Yuuri. Because apparently they're gross enough that they do this sort of thing together. He thinks to complain about it to Otabek, but he gets as far as taking his phone out of his pocket before he gets caught up staring at his lock screen again.
Besides, he thinks, feeling the tips of his ears burning, they haven't spoken since Yuri took the screenshot. Continuing on as normal isn't going to feel right. It's only going to make Yuri feel more agitated than he already does. It isn't going to pleasant for either of them.
He's still staring at his lock screen when Yuuri walks into the room, and he's too slow to hide it. His heart sinks as Yuuri raises an eyebrow, clearly recognising the subject of the photo.
He sits down beside Yuri, his lips curved into a small, fond, smile. "You know, I used to have a photo of Victor as my lock screen too."
"Really? More gross couple bullsh—"
"No," Yuuri interrupts, just as calm as before. "Before I ever met him. Long before I qualified for the Grand Prix at all. I was just a fan, nothing more, but… I remember it. Those times I would change it to a new photo, and it would be so distracting that I couldn't get anything done because I'd completely forget what I was getting my phone out for in the first place. I'd just look at the picture, until I got too embarrassed and put my phone away."
"That's not—" Yuri can feel his face burning. "I'm not doing that. Stop projecting on me."
"You were looking at your phone the entire time we were walking last night," Yuuri points out. "We're not that unobservant, you know."
"It has nothing to do with you," Yuri snaps, raising his voice enough that Yuuri at least leans backward, conceding. "Anyway, isn't Victor going to burn the place down if you leave him in the kitchen without supervision, or something?"
It's not even remotely true and they both know it, but Yuuri smiles and gets up anyway, patting Yuri's shoulder on his way past.
This time, Yuri unlocks his phone out of pure determination not to get distracted. It makes him want to go back and look, but he ignores the urge.
He's already opening snapchat by habit. He hesitates for a moment, swiping to the left just to check if Otabek has posted a snap story. He hasn't; there's no sign of activity since the screenshot notification, and Yuri tries not to look at it, because it only makes him feel angrier at himself for getting them into this entire situation.
He takes a selfie anyway, scowling into the camera. It might not feel right to pretend that everything is fine, but it's better than nothing. Yuri knows that will only make him even more agitated.
Just had to listen to Katsudon telling me all about his old crush on a certain five time world champion.
Yuri blinks with surprise when Otabek opens it almost immediately. He doesn't reply as quickly though, and it leaves Yuri agitated, bouncing his leg against the couch as he waits.
It's a selfie as well, and Otabek is smiling in it. He looks a little embarrassed, ducking his head a little, one corner of his mouth pulled up more than the other.
My rink mates are lucky they don't have to listen to me talk about my crush on a certain first time world champion.
"Oh," Yuri breathes at his phone. He flounders a bit, trying to let Otabek's words sink in. He's sure that his face is too red for him to take a proper selfie, but he doesn't want to leave Otabek waiting for a reply.
He ends up taking a photo of his tiger-striped socks, for lack of a better idea. He writes,
I think about you a lot.
So do I, Otabek replies, and an incredulous laugh bubbles out of Yuri. He's really confessing his feelings for Otabek over snapchat, of all things. He isn't even going to have a record of this, to prove to himself that it's real.
"Yurio! Are you ready for dinner?" Victor asks, carrying their food out to the dining table.
"No," Yuri snaps, holding his phone a little closer. He tries to frown at Victor but find that he can't, when he's smiling this much.
"Did something good happen?" Yuuri asks, sounding far too knowing.
"M-Mind your own business," Yuri replies, aware than his cheeks are burning again. "It has nothing to do with you."
"I'm just happy that you're happy," Yuuri replies, smiling in his sweet, disarming way that always makes Yuri feel warm. "We'll leave enough for you, for whenever you're ready to eat."
"Yeah," Yuri mutters, putting his phone down and walking over to the table to join them. "Thanks."
Yuri and Otabek don't discuss their feelings very much beyond acknowledging that they exist. Yuri doesn't really know what to do about it and when Otabek types out,
we'll work it out, that's enough for him. He trusts Otabek enough to be satisfied with that.
Mostly, he's just happy to have actually put words to the feeling that makes his chest clench up whenever he thinks about Otabek for too long.
Two days later, they have a day off from practice and Yuri is lounging on Victor and Yuuri's couch, taking refuge from the argument that Lilia and Yakov are currently in the middle of. He's brought Sofiya with him and she's curled up with Makkachin and Yuri's sprawled across a three-seater while Victor and Yuuri share a single-seater, watching a movie together in Japanese. Victor's Japanese has improved enough that he can follow what's happening, when he isn't getting distracted by Yuuri.
It's easy enough to ignore them, as Yuri pokes through the forums on his phone, sifting through the gossip on his competitors to get an idea of what he should be ready for.
He's about to start reading a thread about how he's going to decisively crush JJ in their next competition, when he gets a snap from Otabek.
"What?" he gasps, sitting up as he opens it.
There's a photo of a familiar door—the one to Victor and Yuuri's apartment—without a caption. Yuri looks over at them, realising that they've stopped watching their movie and are grinning at him.
"What," he repeats, putting Sofiya aside so he can get to his feet, rushing to the door.
Otabek is standing there, a suitcase behind him, and his expression is a little pinched. He's nervous, Yuri realises, but more importantly, he's here.
"Beka," Yuri breathes.
"Victor invited me for a week of intensive training," Otabek explains, his hands in his pockets.
"Starting tomorrow!" Victor calls out from the lounge room. "You still have the rest of the day off. It was Yuuri's idea, isn't he a genius?"
"Katsudon?" Yuri asks under his breath.
"He contacted me," Otabek explains. "He… asked if I would like to visit. If I'd like to see you. I wanted to. After everything we've said recently, I wanted to say it to your face too."
Yuri crosses the short distance between them, throwing his arms around Otabek. With a quiet chuckle, Otabek holds him in return, resting their heads together.
"What does Yurio usually say when he's complaining?" Victor asks from behind them, a smile in his voice. "Gross?"
With one hand, Yuri sticks his middle finger up at Victor and with the other, he pulls Otabek into a kiss. He smiles at the way Otabek kisses him back, until he forgets about Victor and Yuuri being right there behind him.
When they pull apart, Yuri loses himself in Otabek's gentle smile. He smiles back, touching their foreheads together, and he thinks he might understand how Victor and Yuuri can so often get caught up in their own world when they're together.
Not that Yuri would ever admit it to either of them. He kisses Otabek again, just for good measure, before leading him into the apartment.
He already knows that this is going to be the best week he could ever hope for.