They leave the banquet early.
The party is still raging on when they say their goodbyes and return to their hotel in silence. It’s a beautiful night, the air crisp and the sky clear, and even the bright lights of the city can’t block out all the stars.
But all of that pales in comparison to Yuuri, who glows with the brightest light at Victor’s side, quiet but content. Their fingers are tangled together inside the pocket of Victor’s coat; their arms are pressed together, brushing as they walk.
Every time Victor feels the ghost of the gentle caress of Yuuri’s fingers on his cheek, the warmth in his chest blossoms into pure, white light. It must be leaking through his ribs; he must be glowing, too.
Maybe it was always meant to be like this—the two of them, pouring their souls out onto the ice and into each other’s hands, baring the tenderness between them to the entire world without the need for any words. Skating is the language they’re both most fluent in, after all. It’s only fitting that it should happen like this.
Victor remembers the day he brought up the gala routine, after Cup of China, when it became obvious that the exhibition program from last year would no longer do for who Yuuri was becoming as a skater—just an off-hand comment at the end of a successful practice, where Yuuri landed more quads than he stepped out on and was beaming up at Victor, exhausted but happy.
He remembers the way Yuuri blushed all over, the flush going all the way down to his collarbones, before saying, “I was thinking— I was thinking about your free skate from last season. And I’ve been wondering—” another pause, “I’ve been wondering if you’d like to skate it with me, if I go all the way to the Grand Prix Final.”
It felt like having air punched out of his lungs.
“Victor, we’re here,” Yuuri says, squeezing the tips of Victor’s fingers inside the pocket of his coat. They’re standing in front of the main entrance to their hotel.
Victor shakes it off with a smile. “Sorry, I’ve been…distracted.”
“With what?” Yuuri looks up at him, then absentmindedly licks his lips, slightly chapped from the cold. Victor wants to kiss him all over, the way he deserves to be kissed.
He doesn’t know how to respond to that: how to encompass the multitude of feelings that Yuuri brings out in him with a few words, how to express the way just being near him makes Victor feel at peace.
“Thank you,” is what he settles for in the end, turning to face Yuuri and lifting his hands to his lips. “For letting me share this with you tonight. That moment on the ice. All of it.”
Slowly, he presses a gentle kiss to Yuuri’s knuckles, then lets go, watching the way Yuuri’s face flushes with more than just the cold.
The glimmer of gold on their fingers still makes his heart beat faster—a testament to the journey they have embarked on together all those months ago, and where it has ultimately led them. They will one day soon make good on the promise made with those rings, but before that, they will skate their hearts out, together as equals.
It’s hard for Victor to regret the decision to come back, if that’s what’s waiting for him on the other side.
They eventually go up to their room, leaning against the back wall of the elevator, with all the exhaustion of the last few days finally catching up to them. Victor’s arm is wrapped loosely around Yuuri’s waist, supporting his weight against Victor’s chest. It’s quiet. Peaceful.
Slowly, Yuuri shifts slightly in Victor’s arms and reaches up to gently stroke the side of Victor’s neck. It’s such a small, comforting gesture, a reminder of how they laid their feelings bare for the entire world to see only a few hours ago, surrounded by people but completely lost in each other. The routine that brought them together, skated the way it was meant to be skated from the very beginning.
The first time they tried it, Yuuri didn’t stop blushing the entire time, but his eyes remained fixed firmly on Victor as they went through the choreography, their faces almost touching.
The unspoken thing between them was still so new back then, so tentative, after that first kiss in China, but when they slipped on the lift and Victor went down, laughing, he pulled Yuuri down with him. The momentum pushed Yuuri on top of Victor and knocked the wind out of their lungs, and in the next breath, Victor surged up to kiss Yuuri, who laughed against his mouth and kissed back, despite himself.
“You’re my coach,” he said then, pushing Victor down to the ice and lifting himself up until he was straddling his lap. “We’re supposed to be practicing.”
Victor tried to follow him, but Yuuri kept the hand firmly on his chest, pinning him in place. He was still blushing. Victor wanted nothing more than to press his lips to the place where Yuuri’s jaw met his neck.
Now, with Yuuri still pressed against him as he fishes the key card out of his pocket, Victor can’t wait to get behind closed doors, where he can kiss him breathless in the privacy of their own room.
As soon as the door closes behind them, Victor flips the light switch, bathing the room in low, warm light. When he finally turns back to face Yuuri, he’s looking up at Victor with a soft smile on his face; his hand, warm and gentle, comes to rest against Victor’s cheek, and Victor leans into the touch, closing his eyes for a second.
“I wanted to thank you, too. For everything,” Yuuri says quietly, and this time, it’s not a goodbye.
Instead of answering, Victor leans in for a kiss, but he lets Yuuri close the distance this time, waiting, with his lips slightly parted, for the familiar pressure of Yuuri’s mouth on his. When it finally comes, Victor inhales deeply, breathing in Yuuri’s scent, warm and familiar. He lets it go to his head this time, lets himself throw all caution and pretence to the wind as he cups Yuuri’s face in his hands and kisses him until they’re both breathless with it, their lips red and tender to the touch.
Victor expects them to move closer to the bed, but Yuuri keeps crowding him against the door, pressing his chest against Victor’s chest, like he wants to be as close to him as possible. There are still clothes in the way—Victor’s coat, and Yuuri’s jacket, their scarves that they need to keep pushing away to kiss—but it doesn’t seem to matter to Yuuri, who keeps pushing and pushing, until Victor’s back hits the door.
It’s hard to tell what’s going on in Yuuri’s head sometimes, when he gets too wrapped up in himself to communicate any of it to the outside world. Now, though, he seems equally elated and frantic, happy to just be here with Victor, but also desperate in the way he kisses, like he can’t even believe Victor is still right next to him, close enough to touch.
The thing is, Victor has always intended to stay. It’s a new feeling for him, to put down roots, but he’d spent so much time rootless and alone that now he wants to never leave Yuuri’s side for as long as he lives. There’s also something that he has come to understand over these past few days that eluded him until now: for him, home is not a place. It’s Yuuri. That’s why it doesn’t matter if, over the next year, they remain in Hasetsu or relocate to Saint Petersburg, because the only thing Victor needs to do to be at home is stay.
He loves Yuuri. That’s simple and easy, and clear. The rest they can figure out, together.
When they finally break apart to catch a breath, their foreheads touching, Victor reaches for the buttons of his coat and unwinds his scarf. Then he does the same to Yuuri, unbuttoning his jacket and unwrapping the scarf from around his neck, as Yuuri goes to push Victor’s coat off his shoulders. Victor lets it fall to the floor along with his Hermès scarf, soon to be forgotten in a heap by the door.
Yuuri laughs quietly when Victor pulls on his tie—the one he’d lent him before the banquet, deep charcoal instead of the light blue that plagued his dreams for months after Sochi—and retaliates, tugging on Victor’s tie in return and bending backwards until Victor needs to catch him before he topples to the ground. Their faces are less than an inch apart. Only a few hours earlier, it took everything in Victor not to close that same distance right in the middle of the ice, in front of everyone.
He used to do that in practice, sometimes. He would dip Yuuri gently, his hand supporting the graceful curve of his spine, their faces so close it was almost too easy to incline his head the slightest bit and press his mouth against Yuuri’s.
“Victor, you’re a distraction,” Yuuri said the first time it happened, trying but failing to sound stern.
Victor just smiled, his lips brushing against Yuuri’s as he said in a low voice, “Then let’s be distracted for a while.”
Now, Victor dips his head to kiss the corner of Yuuri’s mouth, the curve of his jaw, the slope of his neck, and Yuuri lets him. A quiet sound escapes his lips as Victor presses his mouth to the strong tendons hiding under the softest skin.
“Come on,” Victor says, pulling Yuuri up and towards the bed.
They don’t fall into it together. Rather, Victor gently pushes Yuuri down until he sits on the edge of the mattress, then falls to his knees in front of him. He can hear the little gasp that Yuuri fails to keep in.
“May I?” he asks, bringing his hands to rest on Yuuri’s thighs. He can feel the strong muscle there, shifting under his touch.
Yuuri nods. That’s all the encouragement Victor needs.
Slowly, he reaches to unbuckle Yuuri’s belt and pulls the dress shirt out of his slacks, undoing a few buttons on the bottom. It’s just enough to press his lips to the bare skin of Yuuri’s abdomen, lean and strong. Above him, Yuuri unbuttons the shirt the rest of the way and shrugs it off his shoulders, pausing to take out the cufflinks when he gets stuck at the wrists.
Victor pops the button on Yuuri’s pants open and pulls the zipper down. He has his head bowed, his eyes fixed on Yuuri’s lap and lips tingling already in anticipation, but Yuuri hooks two fingers under Victor’s chin and tilts his head up.
“Before you do that,” Yuuri says, flushed but determined, “I want you to kiss me.”
Victor obliges with a hand on the nape of Yuuri’s neck, pulling him closer, and he tips his face further up to meet Yuuri’s mouth, still tender and red from kissing. For a few moments, the room is filled only with the quiet sounds of the wet slide of lips on lips. Under the palm of his hand, Victor can feel the way Yuuri’s heart is pounding in his chest.
He gives Yuuri one last, lingering kiss, then pulls away, his heart stumbling out of rhythm at the soft sound Yuuri makes in the back of his throat. When Victor looks up for a second, Yuuri’s eyes are still closed, his lips slightly parted.
With swift, practiced movements, Victor unbuttons and takes off his shirt, followed by his belt, unbuckled and tossed to the side. The expensive dark grey slacks are getting creased as he continues to kneel at Yuuri’s feet, but he can’t bring himself to care.
He watches as Yuuri slowly pushes his pants past his hips, leaving him in just his underwear, and Victor looks on, enraptured by the loveliness of him, the faint blush that goes all the way down to his chest, the almost shy look on his face. Even after all this time, just looking at Yuuri is still enough to steal his breath away. Years from now, it will still be enough.
For a moment, nothing happens, as Victor continues to stare up at Yuuri, transfixed by the way his mouth looks in the low light, red and thoroughly kissed. Then Yuuri reaches with his right hand to cup Victor’s cheek, and Victor turns his face into the touch until he can kiss the palm of Yuuri’s hand. His lips touch the ring.
Yuuri gasps when Victor finally presses his mouth against the outline of his cock, already half-hard and straining against the fabric of his underwear. He gives the head a light kiss and brushes his lips along the length of it before sucking gently at the tip. The heady scent of arousal lingering in the air between them is overwhelming, and Yuuri keeps making soft, breathy sounds above Victor, like it’s already too much before it even really started.
When he reaches for the elastic of the boxer-briefs to pull them down, Yuuri lifts his hips without a word, turning his head to the side like he can’t bear to look at Victor right now. Victor can see him swallow, follows the rise and fall of his Adam’s apple with his eyes.
“Yuuri,” he says in a quiet, steady voice before pressing a kiss to the inside of his thigh. Then another one. “Please, look at me.”
Their eyes are locked when Victor finally takes Yuuri into his mouth, the weight of him at the same time strange and familiar on his tongue. It’s been a while for Victor, and so he takes his time getting used to the stretch of his mouth around Yuuri’s cock, but even this—his lips closed tightly around the head, completely still—makes Yuuri let out a strangled moan. When Victor looks up, his eyes are wide, mortified as he brings his hand up to cover his mouth.
Until now, Yuuri has always been so, so quiet whenever they kissed or did anything else, enveloped in darkness and silence. Now, the sounds just keep spilling out.
It’s sloppy and messy, all enthusiasm instead of the usual finesse that Victor is too impatient to muster up and too far gone to care about. With Yuuri, he feels overwhelmed in a way he hasn’t been in bed in a long, long time. His lips are tingling, sore and slick with spit, and his jaw starts to ache after a while, but the quiet, choked-off sounds Yuuri keeps making whenever Victor presses the flat of his tongue to the underside of his cock run in shivers down his spine.
Yuuri has his fingers tangled in Victor’s hair, and Victor wishes he would pull a little.
The heat in his abdomen is almost too much, and he presses the heel of his palm to his own cock, hoping to ease the tension. Instead, he just makes it worse. He lets out a throaty moan around Yuuri’s cock and hears the sharp intake of breath above him, and it’s almost over right then and there.
He pulls away, trying desperately to compose himself; he takes deep, slow breaths with his eyes tightly shut, closes his hands into fists at his sides.
“Victor?” Yuuri’s voice has gone all quiet and husky, and it lands a clean hit straight to the center of Victor’s chest.
“I’m fine, I just…need a moment,” he says, then looks up at Yuuri.
Yuuri looks back, flushed and disheveled, his eyes dark and big, and presses the pad of his thumb against Victor’s lower lip. Victor curls his tongue around it, but before he can suck it into his mouth, Yuuri withdraws slightly, replaces his thumb with his lips.
Victor unzips his slacks and pushes them down, along with his underwear, past his hips, just enough to wrap a hand around himself. His desperate moan is muffled by Yuuri’s lips on his.
Yuuri is still gazing down at him when Victor closes his lips around the head of his cock, tongue teasing along the frenulum, eyes locked with Yuuri. All Victor can feel and smell now is Yuuri, and it goes to his head, makes him almost dizzy with it, desperate as he keeps sinking lower and lower, until his nose is buried in the sparse hair below Yuuri’s navel. He swallows, once, twice, his cheeks hollowed out, the weight of Yuuri’s cock on his tongue welcome but overwhelming.
It takes him a moment to realize he’s shaking all over.
He works with his lips and his throat, hands resting on Yuuri’s trembling thighs as he tries not to let himself fall apart before Yuuri has even touched him. He can feel the strain in the muscle there, the way Yuuri tries to keep himself still even though Victor wishes he wouldn’t.
When one of Yuuri’s hands comes to rest on the nape of Victor’s neck, he hopes it will keep him in place, pushing a little, but Yuuri just rests his palm against Victor’s skin like he’s trying to ground him.
He can tell that Yuuri is close, by the sounds he keeps making, the involuntary jerks of his hips, and Victor is ready to swallow him down, but before he can do that, Yuuri pulls him off and up onto the bed. Victor follows, because that’s what he’s always done where Yuuri was concerned.
Yuuri kisses him, and Victor’s mouth is a mess, sore and red, and wet. He doesn’t even let him catch a breath; instead, he pushes Victor down onto the mattress and straddles him before wrapping a hand around both of them, the grip slick from spit and arousal. He comes a moment later, with his face pressed into the crook of Victor’s neck, breathing heavily, and Victor can do nothing but follow, again, and again, and again.
They stay like this for a moment, touching all over, breathless and happy.
It’s that kind of euphoria that comes after a successful skate, the second the music stops, and you’re left on center ice, heaving breaths and ecstatic joy coursing through your veins. It’s the kind of euphoria Victor felt just a few hours ago, the palm of his hand resting gently against Yuuri’s cheek as the crowd went wild, and then wilder still when Victor leaned in for a kiss and Yuuri met him more than half the way, eager and waiting.
Later, in the privacy of the locker room, Victor slowly, deliberately brought Yuuri’s hand up to his lips and kissed his knuckles, his eyes never leaving Yuuri’s face.
“It’s a promise,” he said.
Yuuri smiled, gentle and soft. “I know.”
The truth is, in a few weeks, their lives will change again, but they will change for the better.
In a few weeks, they will pack up their things and move to Saint Petersburg, and they will make a home out of Victor’s perfect, sterile apartment that never felt like a home to begin with. They will drink coffee and walk Makkachin early in the morning, hand in hand, just to come back to the grey light of the dawn seeping into the rooms through the big, open windows; they will fill those open, cold spaces with warmth and life, and love, and they will learn what it means to stay.