The sound was the worst. Halfway between a pop and a crack, it signaled something wrong, something that Viktor did not want . He tried to ignore it, to skate through the pain, looking away when Yakov turned a glare on him. But when his leg locked up and he fell to the ice, his face screwed up in agony, Yakov dragged him out of the rink in short order.
Now in the doctor’s office, he had a chance to take stock of the injury. The swelling was bad -- not the worst that Viktor had ever seen and even experienced, but never during the season. He was always so very careful during the season--
Viktor woke, sweating, the sound of that “pop” still ringing in his ears. Wrapping his arms around Makkachin, he buried his face in her fur. What was he going to do if he couldn’t skate?
VIKTOR! You’re injured?! Why am I finding out from the newspaper?
Please talk to me?
I’m worried. I got the details from Lyosha. He had to call Yakov
Yakov told him you aren’t talking to anyone
Does that include me?
I’m going to call, you better answer.
Viktor stared at the ringing cell phone before turning his head away. Makkachin jumped up onto the couch and rested her head on Viktor’s thigh. Absentmindedly, he let his hand fall into her curls and stroked the dog’s head.
It’s a bad tear to your meniscus; luckily, it’s to the outside edge with a good blood supply, so it’s likely it will heal itself. This is a fairly common injury for figure skaters. The extent of the damage is right on the line, though. If the healing is too slow, you might have to undergo surgery, which would lengthen recovery time. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Regardless, you won’t be competing for at least two months.
Two months. He couldn’t even go onto the ice for most of that time, and when did visit the rink, it was only to see the physical therapy specialist who had his office there. Seeing all of his rinkmates -- at least the ones that weren’t in South Korea at the Grand Prix Finals -- training hard made the sting all the worse.
He’d miss Nationals.
He’d miss Europeans.
Would he miss Worlds? Would Russia even send him if he didn’t compete in Nationals?
What about the Olympics? Worlds was the qualifier for the Olympics. How many spots Russia would get would be determined by how well the skaters sent to Worlds would do. Georgi was good. Well, all right. He was certainly better than he had been, but between the three skaters, could they keep their total placements low enough to guarantee them the three spots? Even two spots?
Yuuri closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He needed to focus on his skating.
“Just like you did at Junior Nationals, Yuu-kun.” Alexei’s hands were on his shoulders. The gentle pressure was meant to help him relax, but there was so much tension that he couldn’t. At Junior Nationals, he wasn't thinking about an injured friend.
Finally, he stepped on to the ice, skating a bit away from the entrance before turning back to return to Alexei.
He turned and looked to his left. The call had come from the stands set aside for competitors; Yuuri caught sight of Katya and Yakov standing against the railing. Katya was waving at him, but Yakov had his arms crossed against his chest, face set in its usual dour expression. Yuuri lifted his hand in acknowledgement and smiled.
“Impressive. Usually Yakov doesn’t come out to watch when he doesn’t have a student competing in the level.”
Yuuri turned to look at his coach. “Well, I’m a former student.”
Alexei nodded. “You are. But it’s more than that. You’re going to prove to everyone here why you belong at the JGPF.” He held out his fist and Yuuri bumped it with his own.
Yes, he was.
“That was beautiful, Yuuri.” Katya wrapped her arms around Yuuri and hugged him tight. “Oh, I’m so glad that they’re hosting the Junior and Senior Grand Prix at the same time! You’ve been missed at the rink. Milochka wants you to come back.”
Yuuri smiled. In all honesty, he wanted to go back to Russia as well. He wasn’t nearly as homesick for it as he had been for Japan, but he definitely missed the rink and his former rinkmates. The ice had been so much fun. “The JSF has picked up part of my training expenses now that I’m training in Japan.”
“And you’re just a Junior! That’s amazing, Yuuri!”
Yakov nodded next to her.
“Give me your phone.” Yuuri handed over his small phone and Katya immediately started inputting things. “Now that Viktor has turned into a complete diva and has locked himself away from the world, Mila isn’t getting her updates anymore. She still doesn’t have a phone, but here -- you can text me or email me, and I’ll pass them on. You know I’d like to hear from you, too.”
Yuuri took his phone back and squeezed it in his fist. “Is he…” Yuuri sighed.
“He’s fine. Just overreacting. Athletes have injuries, it happens. His therapy is going well and when I get back, we’ll find out how his healing is going.” Yakov paused and looked at Yuuri, brow furrowed. “He’s not talking to you?”
Shaking his head, Yuuri took a deep breath. “He hasn’t replied to a single text or picked up a single phone call since it happened.”
Yakov sighed. “Don’t let him affect your free skate. Katya and I will be watching.”
“Mila wants so many pictures!”
I’m in fourth after the short program…
Yuuri closed his eyes as he skated to the center of the ice. There was something about skating exhibition programs that he loved more than anything, and this one was fun. He’d choreographed it with Alexei over the summer, and Viktor had even put in his (unasked for) two cents when he was in Osaka.
A silver was not gold, but it was something that he was proud of.
He zigzagged across the ice to the beat, turning back and forth as he did. His jumps were mostly doubles -- decided on after a charley horse earlier in the day-- but when the chorus kicked in he jumped into a triple flip. He twizzled across the ice before gliding into a spread eagle -- first an outside and then an inside -- cutting an ‘S’ into the ice. Gaining speed, he leaped into a sit spin then transitioned to a layback spin, catching the blade of his skate in one hand. And when he came out of it, he raced across the ice, sliding into a large circle as he hydrobladed.
His last jump was a triple axel-double toe loop combo followed by another quick series of steps before going into his final spin, an illusion spin. He skated toward the far side of the rink, throwing himself to the ice and sliding across it on his back, staring up at the lights of the arena with one hand lifted up as the music faded out.
I got silver, by the way. I don’t even know if you’re reading these.
You’re an ass.
To Katya (and Mila)
Do me a favor and throw Viktor’s birthday present at his head for me when it arrives.
Katya (and Mila)
Mila says that won’t be a problem because Viktor is a whiny baby. And that she loved your exhibition skate. Thanks for reminding us about the YouTube channel.
To Katya (and Mila)
I’d actually prefer whining to nothing. Just don’t tell me when you watch things, please!!!
Katya (and Mila)
Now I’ll have to tell you exactly what I loved about all your routines! -M
The MRI results were good. The tear is mending itself. If you keep up with the physical therapy, you should be able to get onto the ice in February, so you’ll be fine for next season.
“If I get on the ice in February, will they let me go to Worlds in March?” Viktor stared at Yakov expectantly.
Yakov sighed. “Vitya, you shouldn’t worry about that--”
“I want to be on the ice again! Will they or won’t they, Yakov?”
Shaking his head, Yakov tugged his coat on. “They might. If they think you’re in good enough condition to place high enough, the RSF can make an exception based on your standing instead of a win at Nationals, if we petition for it. If it wasn’t the Olympic qualifier year, though, they probably wouldn’t even consider it.”
Viktor nodded. “I can do it. I will do it.”
“Is there any point in telling you not to?”
Viktor didn’t bother answering as he watched Yakov leave his apartment. He took a deep breath and waited, and when he knew that Yakov had gotten in his car and left for good, Viktor grabbed his keys and made his way out of the building, pausing only to make sure the knee brace was in place. He hadn’t actually locked himself up; he’d just been avoiding anything skating-related, and was using the doctor’s orders to rest, ice, compress and elevate his leg as an excuse to not deal with people.
He didn’t want to pretend that things were fine. He wanted to be churlish and petulant, rain down scathing retorts, and hurl a skate or two, but that wasn’t good for anyone. So instead he just stayed away.
It’s not like anyone would understand anyway.
His heart clenched. Maybe Yu-- someone… no. No one would understand not being allowed on the ice, and what it was doing to him.
Something had to give, to change. And maybe it was him. He pushed through the door of the shop he’d hobbled his way to. The young woman who’d been sweeping the floor looked up. “Can I help you?”
“I want you to cut it all off.”
Yuuri took a deep breath, leaning over with his palms pressed to his knees. He was never going to get used to dancing like this. Ever.
“Yuuri-kun, keep an eye on your levels and make sure that you keep your center low.”
“はい!” He sighed as the teacher turned away and went to grab her water.
“Stay in plié.”
He turned his head to look at the petite girl next to him. Like almost everybody else in the class, Noda Haruka was from the music side of the school -- in her case, a modestly popular girl group, LOVE-LY. “What?”
“Stay in plié. You keep straightening your legs and that’s wrong.” She brushed her short hair behind her ear. “Like this.” Noda bent her knees and got into the starting position. Yuuri rolled his shoulders and matched her. “Yeah.” She did the first couple of moves, twisting her knee in and then back out before doing a quick kick and turn.
Yuuri copied her, trying to remember to keep his supporting knee bent when he kicked. It still felt wrong. Then he felt the weight of a hand on his shoulder.
“That’s it.” Yuri glanced up. Tatsuno Shuji was another one of the school’s musical talents, from a boy band that leaned a little more to the rock side, called EXCITE. “That’s a lot better, Yuuri-kun. Here.” Yuuri took a step back and watched as Shuji rolled his right shoulder in, then sharply snapped his elbow back out before stepping forward and twisting his foot just a little. With a flourish, he slid his feet back, almost like he was walking in place.
Yuuri mimicked him and was about to go on to the next eight-count when Noda-chan laughed. “No, right there, when you’re crossing back, you straighten those legs again.”
He did it again, chanting keep your knees bent in his head.
“So much better.” Shuji smiled, brushing back his bangs -- dyed, like most of the idols were. “How much ballet experience do you have that it makes this hard for you?”
“Thirteen years’ worth.” He ran his hands through his hair. Minako and Lilia would probably be horrified at the sight of his lines being destroyed. “Thank you, though.”
“It’s not a problem. We’re all in this together. I was surprised that they put this class together, but I guess if they have enough students to make hiring the teacher worthwhile…” Noda-chan trailed off. “Don’t you have another big competition coming up? You were in Nationals at Christmas, right? My mom said something about you skating; she’s really into that sort of thing.”
Yuuri nodded and grabbed his water and took a long drink. “Since I’m technically old enough to compete in the Senior Division and I won gold at Junior Nationals, I was expected to skate in Nationals. I didn’t last year, even though I was invited to.”
“I didn’t realize that you were the gold medalist.”
“In Juniors. In Seniors, I just barely made the top ten.” Yuuri smiled. “Takagi-senpai in Year Two competed in both as well. After a bronze finish in Juniors, she placed somewhere in the middle in Seniors.”
Noda-chan dove into her bag, glancing over to make sure the teacher’s attention was distracted before pulling out her phone. She flipped it open and started typing fast. “Sixth isn’t barely in the top ten, by the way. Almost in the top five would be more accurate.” She handed her phone over to Shuji. “Found a video.”
Yuuri’s eyes widened; he clenched his hands into fists at his sides, trying to fight the temptation to just grab the phone for himself. Shuji’s expression didn’t give anything away when he handed the phone back. “Cool.” He slid his hand through his long bangs, smoothing them out and back into place so they were perfect.
Noda-chan rolled her eyes. “Shuji-kun, you should compliment him when he deserves it.”
“He said it wasn’t a big deal, so I’m not going to treat it like it is.” He winked at Yuuri, and Yuuri flushed. He can’t remember if he’d ever been winked at before. Maybe Viktor had once as a joke, but no, he’d never been winked at. How was he even supposed to respond to that? Wink back? He coughed, and shifted back a bit. Noda-chan started laughing.
“Haruka-chan, put the phone away or I’ll have to confiscate it. You know the school policy.”
Noda-chan sighed, but did as the teacher instructed, sliding the phone back into her bag. “So where is the next competition you’re in? I’m hoping Hokkaido. I’ve always wanted to go up there, but we haven’t booked any tours in Sapporo or anything.”
“Sapporo is nice. I did a show there over the summer.” Yuuri paused. “My next competition is World Juniors at the end of the month. It was supposed to be in the Czech Republic, but they moved it to Bulgaria again.”
Shuji finished retying his laces and looked at Yuuri. “Wait, so when you were doing all those competitions in the fall, they weren’t in Japan?”
Yuuri shook his head. “None of them were. My qualifiers were in the Czech Republic and South Africa, and the Finals were in South Korea. Japan gets one of the qualifiers for seniors every year and that’s a much bigger deal, so usually the Junior Grand Prix doesn’t have a qualifier here. Last year I went to Romania and the UK.”
Whistling, Shuji shook his head. “I should have done figure skating instead of becoming an idol. I could be travelling the world!”
“Say that after you have to nurse a bruise that covers your entire thigh, or have to bandage your feet because your skates have rubbed them raw,” Yuuri sighed.
Viktor opened the window and tugged his heavy sweater down before heading to the couch and calling Makkachin over. Ten minutes would air the living room out and give him enough time to look through all the messages that he’d missed since he let his phone die. He wanted Yakov to think that he was doing better than great, and a fresh-smelling apartment was the first step. He could deal with the cold that long. He was Russian .
Daily text: Happy Birthday. I told Katya to throw your gift at your head. BTW I am competing in Senior Nationals.
Viktor sighed and snuggled closer to Makkachin. That explained why that gift went whizzing past his head. Katya had only smiled and shrugged when he’d turned and asked her what the hell she was doing.
Daily text: Came in 6th. I flubbed a lot of my jumps in my free skate. Too nervous. Felt like everyone was staring at me and had expectations.
Daily text: You should have seen the sign Minako-sensei made @ Nationals. So embarrassing!
There were days missing. Yuuri must have been annoyed at him, and Viktor couldn’t blame him.
Daily text: How’s Makkachin? I miss her.
Did he miss Viktor, or just his dog? He scratched behind Makkachin’s ears and whispered “Yuuri misses you. I bet you miss him, too.”
Daily text: Katya says that your PT is going well… Would have been nice to hear that from you.
Probably just his dog, then. Viktor swore he could hear Yuuri’s annoyed tone of voice as he read the messages.
Daily text: Finally starting to get the hang of hip-hop. I think. My classmates are helping.
Daily text: I’m super annoyed that you’re still ignoring me.
Daily text: お前最低だな。
Viktor decided he probably didn’t want to get that translated, though Alexei would probably do it with glee. It really didn’t surprise Viktor that the next text was over a week later.
Daily text: One of my classmates got caught in a relationship with a third year. They made them break up.
Daily text: Yuuko wants to put a video of me dancing hip-hop up on her channel.
He’d have to check to see if Yuuri had let her record him. He skimmed over the rest. More days missing than not. The last two were from the day before. Valentine’s Day.
Daily text: Are Valentine’s chocolates a thing in Russia because they are here. I didn’t think I’d get any, but I did. So v. awkward! What am I going to (1/2)
do for White Day?(2/2)
So Yuuri was dating someone. Viktor wondered if it was that boy from the ice show, or that girl skater. Though what White Day was, Viktor had no idea. He didn’t remember it from any anime he’d seen... He’d have to look it up after he got back from his doctor.
After he got permission to start skating again.
Then he could call Yuuri and… He’d think about that later, because Yuuri was going to be mad and Viktor didn’t know how he was going to deal with that. He shouldn’t have left things for as long as he had. Yakov had accused him of sulking, but Viktor didn’t see it as sulking. His World Champion title was on the line! Besides, Yuuri would forgive him. He was still sending the daily texts, after all.
At least some of the time, anyway.
When his phone rang, Viktor answered it without thinking. “Алло.”
“Mr. Nikiforov?” English. Definitely not Yakov. This was his private number; he shouldn’t be getting calls from people he didn’t know.
“How did you get this number?”
“I’m with Figure Skating Monthly , and I just wanted to ask you some questions.”
Viktor squeezed the phone tightly in his hand. “All interview requests are supposed to go through my coach, Yakov Feltsman.”
“Yes, well, he’s been giving everyone a flat ‘no’.”
“Well, there’s your answer, then.”
There was a sigh on the line, then a cough. “I just wanted to ask you how you’re feeling about missing most of this season. It was supposed to be a really promising season for you, but instead it seems like the Czech skater Dušan Blažek will be sweeping the gold medals after that stunning upset at the Grand Prix Final. How long will you need to recuperate? There are rumors that you’ll be out even for the Olympics next year.”
“Like I said,” Viktor kept his voice calm and inserted a little laugh, even though he didn’t feel like it. “All interview requests need to go through my coach, Yakov Feltsman. Пока!” He ended the call, squeezing the phone even tighter before throwing it at the wall and missing. He could only watch, horrified, as it flew out the window onto the road below.
He jumped up -- displacing Makkachin, who leaped down with a disgruntled yelp -- and raced to the window, clutching the sill as he leaned out. He made it just in time to watch an electric blue Zaporozhets run his phone over.
Maybe it was all right. It was only a Zaporozhets, after all, some old beater that should have gone out with Communism. How much damage could it do? Viktor grabbed his keys from next to the door and ran down the stairs.
It was not all right. Damn it!
Daily text: Wish me luck in Bulgaria.
вызываемый абонент недоступен или находится вне зоны действия сети
“Viktor, get off the ice, Yura is about to skate!” Mila screamed at him from the side of the barrier.
Panting, Viktor skated to the edge and grabbed his guards. He only had a couple more weeks to get back into shape and re-perfect his program. Provisionally, he’d be going to Worlds, but no official announcement had been made and wouldn’t be until the first of March -- the day of the Exhibition for World Juniors.
“Coming, Milochka. Don’t tell Yakov that I went upstairs in skates, he’ll kill me.”
She just shook her head and ran ahead of him.
A couple of people raised their eyebrows at the fact he was still on his blades -- Viktor always took ridiculously good care of his skates, after all -- but he didn’t care. He’d take them off when he sat down. He was not going to miss Yuuri skating.
On the screen Yuuri was nodding as Alexei talked to him, their heads close together. Riku was standing just to the side and whispered something. Yuuri looked up at her, and the camera caught his smile. He said something else to Alexei, and then, as had become their tradition, gave Alexei a fist bump before pushing off the side and skating to the middle.
Yuuri had changed his costume from the Junior Grand Prix. He was wearing a black jacket that stopped right at the waist, with silver embroidery that ran along the cuffs and arms as well as at the bottom of the back. This was over a deep blue undershirt -- most likely a skating leotard -- and black skating pants that had the same sort of embroidery going down the side of the leg. He’d also slicked back his hair for the first time. Viktor swallowed. He didn’t look like the Yuuri he remembered.
“He looks good, doesn’t he?” Katya sounded approving. “I like it better than the costume he wore at the Grand Prix.”
Viktor just nodded.
Then the music started, and Yuuri threw his whole body into the routine. From the very beginning, his edges were deep and clean, and when he threw himself into a butterfly entry for his camel spin, bending his leg and turning upwards -- it was utterly beautiful. His step sequence was exquisite and flawless as usual, and Viktor knew that there was no way that it would get marked lower than a Level 4.
All three of his jumps had been moved into the end of program. Alexei must have lost his mind to do that, but no, if Viktor remembered right, Minako-sensei and Riku had choreographed the program. Which would be why it looked so delicate and fragile, like it could shatter into a thousand pieces, but Viktor could tell that it was damned difficult; taking everything that Yuuri had and then some. The spiral into a triple axel was immaculate. And his triple lutz-triple toe loop combination was the most perfect that Viktor had seen him do all season.
He spared just a second to glance over at Katya and Mila. Katya had her bottom lip caught between her teeth and Mila was leaning as far forward as she could over the table.
Viktor barely spared a thought for the perfectly landed triple loop as Yuuri moved into his final combination spin. He was riveted, and didn’t even realize that he was holding his breath until the music ended and he gasped loudly as Yuuri finally broke his pose and collapsed to his knees on the ice.
“You three just saw history. I guarantee you that Viktor just lost one of his World Records.” Viktor glanced back and saw Yakov standing in the door to the break room. “I told Riku that moving all those jumps was ridiculous, but she insisted that Yuuri could do it.”
Viktor returned his attention to the screen. By now, Yuuri had left the ice and was sitting in the Kiss & Cry with Alexei and Riku, flushed but smiling. He was clutching some sort of plushie in his arms, but Viktor couldn’t tell what it was. Yuuri was obviously nervous, his leg bouncing up and down as he stared at the screen where his score would be displayed with his eyes squinted.
Because of Yakov’s comment, Viktor wasn’t surprised when the score was announced and was proclaimed a World Record, though Yuuri and Alexei certainly were. Alexei dove for Yuuri and physically lifted him up in a bear hug; his wife just sat back and smiled.
Viktor had never been so glad to lose a record in his life. He shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out his still-shiny new iPhone, scrolling through his contacts so he could send a congratulatory text. Next to him, Katya was obviously doing the same thing.
Except there was no “Yuuri Katsuki” in his contacts. “Дерьмо!” His old phone had been so damaged that he couldn’t carry over his contacts, and he’d completely forgotten to get Yuuri’s number from someone. He looked at Katya. “Katya--”
“You don’t even know--”
“If you had remembered to ask me when you were inputting all your contacts last week, maybe I would have given you Yuuri’s number, but...” She looked at him, and Viktor knew it was a losing battle. She was obviously more mad at him for ignoring Yuuri than she’d been that he ignored her.
He then turned to Yakov, only to find that his coach had disappeared again.
After a moment’s searching, he dug up Alexei’s number from his email and sent off a text. His phone’s message notification went off a minute later.
I’ll tell him. And no, I won’t give out my student’s
phone number. Besides, don’t you already have it?
It’s a new phone! I lost all my contacts
when a Zaporozhets ran over my phone
Busy celebrating that my student broke your
record! No time to listen to you whine!
Don’t leave your phone in the road. Dangerous!
Yuuri’s free skate was not nearly as good as his short program. The fire that they had seen the night before was missing, and a Spanish skater took advantage of the opportunity to take gold out from under him. On the podium, however, Yuuri didn’t seem upset as he accepted his silver medal. The Italian who won bronze, Crispino, seemed much more put out, glaring around the first place winner directly at him.
vnikiforov d sk8madonna please tell me that I guessed right and you are Yuuko.
sk8madonna d vnikiforov why? Does this have to do with KY?
vnikiforov d sk8madonna yes. I lost his number.
sk8madonna d vnikiforov He already knows that. He’s really mad at you.
vnikiforov d sk8madonna I know. I need to apologize, but I can’t reach him. Please help.
sk8madonna d vnikiforov I can’t give you his number or email, but I can tell you that he has a twitter, but he doesn’t use it much.
vnikiforov d sk8madonna He’s on twitter?! And he doesn’t follow me?! I’m going to have to figure it out myself, aren’t I?
sk8madonna d vnikiforov There are things in life that are worth working for, aren’t there? Is Yuuri’s friendship one of them?
vnikiforov d sk8madonna Always.
sk8madonna d vnikiforov His SP was amazing, wasn’t it? I couldn’t believe it when I saw his new costume, and he broke your record!
vnikiforov d sk8madonna More than. I loved it.
ykatsuki: this page does not exist
ykastusudon: this page does not exist
yuurikatsuki: [exists but there are no tweets]
katsudonyuuri: this user has chosen to keep their tweets private
vnikiforov d sk8madonna can I have a hint?
sk8madonna d vnikiforov it’s not hard.
vnikiforov d sk8madonna is it protected?
sk8madonna d vnikiforov yes.
vnikiforov d sk8madonna is it katsudonyuuri?
vnikiforov d sk8madonna I’ll take your silence as a yes.
katsudonyuuri ヴィっちゃんはコーチの晩御飯を盗んだ。アレクセイは悲しそうな顔をした。posted 2 weeks ago via mobile web
katsudonyuuri ヴィクトルはフォローリクエストをした。 @sk8madonna ゆうちゃん教えてくれたの？ Posted 3d ago via mobile web
katsudonyuuri @butterflyswimNS うん，前に会ったスケーターだ。 posted 2d ago via mobile web
katsudonyuuri @lovelyharuka コマーシャルまだ見ていない。でもきっとよかったですよ。 posted 1d ago via mobile web
katsudonyuuri @lovelyharuka ごめん、学校で機嫌が悪かった。明日修司君に謝ります。 posted 2h ago via mobile web
katsudonyuuri @sk8madonna また話せるかも。世界選手権の間にうちにいる。 posted 2h ago via mobile web
vnikiforov d katsudonyuuri I can’t read your twitter
vnikiforov d katsudonyuuri I am an ass and I’m sorry.
vnikiforov d katsudonyuuri Forgive me?
katsudonyuuri d vnikiforov not changing to English for you.
katsudonyuuri d vnikiforov I better get a DM every day from you. EVERY DAY.
vnikiforov d katsudonyuuri will you reply?
katsudonyuuri d vnikiforov maybe
vnikiforov d katsudonyuuri I’ll take it.