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Ways To Say Love

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St. Petersburg’s early morning sunlight shines through the open curtains of Yuuri’s room. It was too early. I mean, it was probably seven or eight but he prefered to wake up at noon. He was not a morning person. He pulls the covers over his head and sinks into his pillows, grumbling at the stinging rays. “Otabekkkkkk!” Yuri whines from under the blankets, “Can you please close the blinds?” He waits a few seconds. No response. “Beka!!” He calls a bit louder this time. Still, no answer. He was probably out somewhere running. Groaning, Yuri crawls out of their bed and angrily tugs the curtains shut.

Most of the furniture in their apartment had been bought second hand or from Ikea, then, poorly assembled. If they wanted to be near the rink and training facilities, they needed an apartment in the city. Yuri was pissed that he had to sacrifice the quiet, quaint house he grew up in for a loud, polluted, disgusting city. Just for skating. But it did mean all the shops were within walking distance. He loved dragging Otabek to the market places and spend the whole day finding anything they could that was related to cats. Seriously, their apartment looked like it belonged to a senile 80 year old cat lady. Otabek’s love of reading and knitting did not help.

Their couch was a dismal green, the fabric ripped from the strays Yuri insisted relentlessly on bringing in. They used to have a dining table but a certain...activity...led to its demise. Now they just ate in their room or on the sofa. The giant mahogany bookshelf was the one first hand item not purchased from Ikea. It was overflowing with novels, plays, poetry, and cat figurines. Yuri would read them while Otabek laid on the ugly sofa, playing with his hair. Their TV was probably older than Yuri himself, and you had to mess with the antenna for fifteen minutes to get a signal. Originally, they moved here as friends, Beka sleeping in what Yuri later turned into a walk in closet, and Yuri sleeping in the cheap, half put together bed. Yes, it was dingy, and yes, they had killed a few rats (Otabek had, and Yuri hid in the corner screaming) but, cliche as it was, it was home.

He traces his fingers over the couch’s rough chartreuse fabric. Yuri hates it but Otabek insists it’s “homey” so they keep it. He’d jump in front of a bus to keep Beka happy. He hated it. Yuri was repulsed by the icky gushy lovey dovey bullshit. But when he came home from a killer day of training to find that Otabek had made (or tried at least. He wasn’t an amazing cook) pirozhki, he couldn’t help but blush bright red. The little kisses along his jawline and nose and forehead to wake him up made his heart flutter without fail. One day, after severely fucking up a quad salchow, Otabek ran them a bath and washed his hair. A smile crossed his lips and he hated himself for it. Emotions were not his forte.

Everything in their apartment had some memory to Yuri. The couch, for example, their first kiss. Under the doorway was where they said “I love you” for the first time. The winter weather was harsh, Yuri had rushed off to the market late at night planning to make a surprise breakfast, but had gotten stuck in traffic, his phone dying on hi before he could call. Otabek was worried sick. He cried, something he hadn’t done in God knows how long. He was worried out of his mind. When Yuri finally staggered into the apartment, shivering from the cold, face cherry red, knees weak, Otabek ran over to the door and wrapped Yuri in his arms as they collapsed to the floor. Amidsts mumblings of “Never do that again” and “I was so worried” he made out a subtle “I love you”. Yuri pressed his lips softly into Otabek’s, sweet and simple. “I love you to Beka.” Yuri whispered into the crook of his neck.

Since then, they hadn’t conventionally said “I love you”. It was the way Otabek let Yuri have all the covers he wanted, Beka’s sad attempts at making breakfast for his boyfriend, Yuri understanding when he Otabek had been around people for too long with a simple glance, cutting each other hair, Yuri giving Otabek his sweaters to lounge around in, letting the other win their races during morning training, stealing each other's food, the candid photos. Everything was their own way of saying “I love you”.

“Morning Yuri.” Otabek speaks softly, his voice scratchy. On the table was actually edible looking food.
“Did you sell your soul for the ability to cook.” Yuri jokes. He glances over at the syrniki. Otabek overcooked them a bit but he tried. Yuri feels his body warm up. “It’s perfect Beka.” He places a kiss on Otabek’s forehead, enjoying the fact he was now taller. “You smell like me.”
“I was out of my body wash so I used yours. We need bandaids too. I cut my finger slicing strawberries.”
Yuri stifles a laugh, then grabs his plate and plops down on the rank couch. Otabek joins him, laying across his lap and playing with the ends of his boyfriend’s hair. They eat in silence, like usual. “You wanna nap?” Yuri questions.
“Babe it’s only eight thirty.”
“So?” He replies, brushing a strand of hair off of Otabek’s face. “You’re so fucking pretty.” Yuri whispers standing up, wrapping his fingers around Beka’s hands, pulling him off the couch, dragging him to their room. They lazily fall down onto the bed, laughing softly, morning light still peeking through the drab curtains, arms and legs tangled together, Otabek giggling like a kid in a candy shop as he shifted on top of Yuri, peppering kisses all over him, just like he loved. “Bekaaaa, you’re cold.” He groused, squirming under the cool touch of his hand under his shirt.
“And you’re hot. And warmer than me.” Otabek smiled into another kiss, more heated now, biting down on Yuri’s lower lip.
“You cheesy fuckin hallmark card bastard. I’m not fucking you when you’re the same temperature of a corpse.”
“Well I don’t wanna fuck someone who calls me a corpse.” He grinned, slumping onto his side of the bed. Yuri insisted he had the side further from the windows, but Beka always woke him up when he went to go train. “C’mere Yuratchka.” He purred out the nickname, making a soft flush cross Yuri’s cheeks. Otabek wrapped his arms around the taller man, Yuri’s hair obscuring his vision. “You need to get a haircut.”
“Shut up.” Yuri grumbled, shifting to press closer into Otabek.
“Love you too.”
Moments later, Yuri was out cold. Between sleepy breaths, he muttered “я люблю тебя.”
Everything they did was their own way of showing each other love. The stupid pet names, the teasing, pushing each other at training, trying to make palatable food, sharing blankets, Beka putting up with Yuri’s cat obsession, Yuri putting up with Beka’s ridiculous training hours. Everything they did for each other was out of love.