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Lessons in Love

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“Yuuri Katsuki?”

Yuuri’s mind blanks out. He’s in a small park behind a skating rink larger than any he’s ever visited, wondering how he ended up there in the first place.

And now, a foreigner is approaching him.

Maybe if he closes his eyes and pretends he’s a statue, the man will ignore him.

“You are the figure skater Yuuri Katsuki, right?”

The man smiles at him when Yuuri peeks through his lashes, tall and pale and oh god, he’s gorgeous.

Yuuri is nineteen, by some miracle debuting internationally at the Four Continents (he placed third at Nationals, how even), does not know how to deal with having fans, and now this beautiful foreigner is trying to talk to him when all Yuuri wants to do is wallow in shaky nerves alone.

Maybe don’t pick a public spot next time, he berates himself.

“Y-yes,” he forces out, stumbling over even such simple English.

“Fantastic!” The man beams at him, his mouth a pretty heart-shaped phenomenon that Yuuri can’t look at for longer than the second it takes for his heart rate to triple. “My son is a huge fan of yours! His name’s Yuri too, so he was really happy when he found out you were competing! Oh, let me show you a picture!”

Blinking in surprise, Yuuri dutifully looks at the pictures on the phone screen, trying (and failing) not to notice how close the man is. Has he never heard of personal space? Maybe it’s a European thing (is he European? Yuuri is too afraid to ask but the accent hints at it).

The child is beautiful too, of course.

“He’s seven, so he hasn’t really started competing yet, but it’s his dream to win the Olympics!” The man laughs fondly, his eyes sparkling as he continues to talk about his son. “He’s so determined, my Yuri. Watched all the competitors and already decided that you’ll win!”

Me?” Yuuri can’t help the shocked question, immediately pressing his hands over his mouth in embarrassment.

“Oh, you know how kids are. He even made a sign so he can cheer for you! But it’s your debut, right? Good luck!”

While Yuuri isn’t the most proficient in English, a year spent in Detroit convinces him he isn’t misunderstanding things. There really is a beautiful man with a beautiful son hell bent on cheering for him – he thinks he feels a little faint.

“I almost forgot!” The man claps his hands together, excitement shining on his face. “We noticed you didn’t have a proper napkin holder when you competed in Japan, and we were going to throw it to you on the ice after your short program, but if you don’t mind?”

Yuuri can only stare dumbly as the man (god, Yuuri wants to know his name so badly now) rummages through a messenger bag before producing a fluffy toy poodle.

“You don’t have to use it or anything, but Yuri would be so happy if you’d accept it! It looks just like our dog Makkachin, and he always brings good luck so I hope this one will do the same for you!”

Almost trembling, Yuuri slowly reaches out to hold the fluffy thing in his hands. There’s a tissue box inside already, which is handy because he might just start crying. For days he’s been thinking that he doesn’t belong here, that he was picked on a fluke and took someone else’s rightful spot. Even though he’s been working hard for this, has moved abroad and found a real coach and didn’t see his family for months, Yuuri couldn’t quite accept that he deserved this.

“Thank you,” he breathes, flushing fire truck red when he receives a bright smile again.

“We’ll cheer for you, so do your best out there!”                                                                                  

 He wants to say something more, but the man winks at him and Yuuri dies. Is he a celebrity? He should be, with that presence and face. When the man leaves, Yuuri’s throat clogs up and he clutches the poodle to his chest, sure he made a terrible impression. And yet, something about the carefree and casual way the man hoists his bag higher up his shoulder gives Yuuri the courage needed to finally ask.

“Wait, what’s your name?”

Pausing, the man turns to him with eyes wide in surprise. Then they soften in a smile, and Yuuri has to clutch the poodle a little tighter.

“Oh, it’s Viktor. Viktor Nikiforov. Nice to meet you!”

 Viktor, Yuuri thinks in awe, waving in response to the man’s – Viktor’s – raised hand. He watches him go, waits until he’s disappeared behind a corner. Glancing down at Makkachin, Yuuri heaves a sigh and feels some of the tension leave his body. There is a least one person here who wants to see him skate, someone who even bought him a gift in advance. Maybe he can actually do this?

In the end he finishes in the lower half of the scoreboard, messing up half of his jumps, but it’s not bad for a debut according to his coach. Yuuri isn’t sure he agrees, but when he leaves the rink after watching the price ceremony he spots two familiar faces through the crowd of fans waiting for the winners. He doesn’t think he’ll ever forget Viktor’s face, to be honest, but little Yuri is perched on his shoulders, blond hair tucked into the hood of a leopard print onesie.

The child waves, Yuuri’s heart positively melting. He holds up Makkachin, smiles as wide as he can, unable to stop for a chat in order to make it to his flight. His coach Celestino is already pulling ahead, but Yuuri lingers for a moment longer. Both son and dad give him thumbs up, and Yuuri thinks to himself, so this is what it’s like to have fans?

Cheeks warm, Yuuri heads for Detroit with newfound determination.

♡♡♡

“Ready, Yurochka? Grandpa will be so happy when he sees you can do such a cool spin already!”

Viktor leans his elbows on the side of the rink, steadying his phone as Yuri makes himself ready. At nine, Yuri is more hardworking than ever. Skating classes just aren’t enough – he insists that Viktor takes him for extra practice as often as he can. While his coach, a nice woman in her mid-forties who doesn’t mind that Viktor tags along every time, has forbidden him from practicing any types of jumps on his own, Yuri has spent most of the time lately working on this spin.

Yuri nods at him, and Viktor presses the recording button. The kid starts by going backwards in a half circle, using backwards crossovers to gain a bit of speed before stepping into the spin on his left foot. His right leg stretches out at first, then bends as he goes faster, arms folded against his chest. Viktor may not be a skater himself, but he’s danced enough in his life to know that his little Yurochka has talent.

“Perfect!” he shouts, clapping his hands as Yuri glides along the ice again. “Your hard work’s been paying off, Papa is so proud!”

“Ugh, you’re so embarrassing,” Yuri hisses as he skates past, but can’t entirely hide the pleased look on his face.

“Why don’t you cool down a bit and then we’ll go home,” he replies, ignoring the comment.

He probably spoils him because when Yuri turns his puppy eyes on him, he’s forced to agree to another ten minutes. It’s hard not to, when figure skating is the one thing in the world that seems to make him truly happy.

“I’m not tired yet,” Yuri whines when he finally forces him off the ice, pouting as Viktor unlaces his skates.

“You promised to watch that movie with me, remember? Besides, you have school tomorrow.”

“I want to quit school and skate every day like Yuuri!”

Ruffling the boy’s hair, Viktor clicks his tongue at him.

“Yuuri goes to school in America, you know. And last time he told you to study hard, didn’t he?”

Yuri mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like a curse, but Viktor can’t find it in him to get mad. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s already been five years since both of their lives were turned upside down, with Yuri’s mother practically dumping him on Viktor’s doorstep. He knows he only has himself to blame – caring more about himself and his career than his child. Yuri had arrived like a belated birthday present when Viktor was nineteen, an inconvenient surprise. But he had money, and figured that would be enough to continue his life like nothing had happened. She was only a passing fling after all, another dancer from the same city. He didn’t have time to contemplate being a father, not with all the practice, shows, competitions, travelling…

It was like a bucket of cold water to the head when she declared that she was done being a mom. While Viktor doesn’t understand in hindsight how anyone could leave Yuri (who was always a sweet child, better than Viktor deserved) he does understand her wish to ruin his dream career like he had ruined hers. The first few weeks had been hell, with Viktor trying to figure out his life from then on and the four-year-old Yuri understandably inconsolable.

He’ll never stop being grateful to figure skating for catching Yuri’s eyes, giving him something to focus on. It acted like a bridge between the two of them, and with the help of Yuri’s maternal grandfather, Viktor slowly managed to make up for his past mistakes. And yes, maybe Viktor is overdoing it – bringing Yuri to international events, making sure he got a good coach early on, spending large amounts of time and money – but as long as Yuri is happy he’ll continue.

It helps that he has the Japanese Yuuri to look up to as well. The man is so sweet and patient, always taking time out of his schedule to talk to them at events. There’s a big poster of him in their living room, and several more in Yuri’s. Viktor is not ashamed to admit that his phone background is a picture of the three of them, taken shortly before Yuri’s last birthday.

(He may or may not find Yuuri beautiful, captivating, and a whole bunch of other adjectives. It doesn’t matter. He’s only a fan, an overly enthusiastic skater dad. He should feel lucky Yuuri even knows his name.)

“Oh, Yuuri updated.”

They’re in the car, Yuri scrolling through Viktor’s instagram feed. He’s too young to have his own, so Viktor made one just for figure skating. He didn’t expect Yuuri to follow it – didn’t expect followers at all, but he supposes Yuri is just that adorable – but the pure awe on Yuri’s face whenever his idol likes a post makes Viktor lowkey want to marry him.

“What does it say?”

Yuri frowns, mouthing through the words in English. Viktor’s been teaching him so that he can talk to Yuuri, but reading is still a bit of a struggle for him.

“I think he has a new rink mate, but I don’t know how to say his name.”

“We can check when we get home,” Viktor promises, smiling as Yuri continues to scroll. The frown is still there though, and Viktor’s smile widens into a grin. “Jealous?”

“No!” Yuri protests, crossing his arms. “ Because Yuuri’s going to be my coach.”

Viktor blinks, stopping the car at a red light.

“Your coach?”

A violent blush blooms on Yuri’s face, and Viktor wishes he could take a picture. Of course, Yuri is always cute, but sometimes it’s just heart-clenching.

“When I’m older,” his son mumbles, and Viktor is forced to tear his eyes away as the light turns green. “I don’t want him to stop competing.”

“Mm,” Viktor hums, thinking of the plane tickets he’d booked as soon as Yuuri’s assignments for the Grand Prix had been revealed. “I don’t want him to stop, either.”

♡♡♡

“What are you watching?”

Yuuri startles, computer falling off his lap as Phichit jumps onto the bed next to him.

“Oh it’s nothing, really, I was just-“

“Ballet? Are you looking for inspiration?”

“Kind of, I mean I just stumbled over the video so I-“

“Yuuri! Is that him? The hot dad you talk to at every event? It is, isn’t it?”

Please,” Yuuri begs, trying to take his computer back from Phichit’s clutches. “Please don’t call him that.”

“So it is him,” Phichit muses, holding the computer in a death grip as he stares at the video. “You never told me he’s a ballet dancer!”

“He’s not, I mean he was, but this video is years old.”

Cheeks burning with shame, Yuuri squirms as Phichit lets out a low whistle. Yuuri had found out rather early on that Viktor used to be a professional dancer, and sometimes when he’s feeling a bit down he watches old videos of him. There’s quite a few, since he seems to have been popular. And successful, of course.  

“Wow Yuuri, you sure know how to pick ‘em.”

“We’re not-! I didn’t-! Phichit!”

Phichit laughs, teasingly bumping his shoulder.

“I’m just messing with you. How old is he, anyway?”

“I’m not sure…”

“Yuuri.” Phichit’s look is stern, and Yuuri blushes at being caught with the lie.

“Fine, he’s twenty-nine. His son turned ten a couple months ago.”

Phichit whistles again, and finally returns the computer.

“So it’s just an eight year difference, huh? Still, you could do better. I mean, a ten-year-old kid? You’d be a stepmom.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the kid,” Yuuri protests, only realizing what the protest makes it look like when Phichit’s grin turns triumphant. “I didn’t mean it like that! And I’m not looking for a relationship, anyway.”

“True,” Phichit sighs theatrically, throwing himself down on Yuuri’s bed. “You don’t even notice when people flirt with you, it’s depressing. You could get so much action if you wanted to!”

The glare Yuuri sends him is ignored.

Unless, you’re saving yourself for a hot Russian dad who-“

Yuuri clamps his hands over Phichit’s mouth. Sure, he loves his friend, but he can’t just sit there and do nothing as he spews lies and slander.

Never mind that Yuuri has thought about it.

Never mind that Yuuri follows Viktor religiously on instagram, showcasing true restraint by not liking and commenting on every post.

Never mind that he also follows Yuri’s account, meaning that he technically doesn’t need to follow Viktor’s anymore.

“Ooh, I’m right, aren’t I?”

Phichit has somehow managed to remove Yuuri’s hands, face all smug as he pokes him in the side.

“No,” Yuuri denies stubbornly. “I just really appreciate his support, and watching him dance is helping inspire me for next season’s programs.”

Even so, Phichit gives him a knowing look.

“If you say so, Yuuri. So does that mean you’re free on Friday night? You barely ever leave the house if it’s not for practice, you don’t even need to physically go to school since you’re doing long distance studies! As your best friend I just can’t forgive myself for letting you live a lonely bachelor’s life!”

“I’m twenty-one, Phichit, I don’t need a relationship.”

“But you could get laid,” Phichit whispers conspiratorially, eyebrows furiously wiggling at him. “I’m the best wingman in the world!”

“I don’t need a wingman,” Yuuri sighs, but he knows it’s a hopeless case.

It would have been easier if Viktor wasn’t single. It would have been much easier if he didn’t make Yuuri feel like a flustered teenager every time they met, with his handsome looks and excited smiles and all the walking through rooms like he owns them.

They talk, sometimes. Just short messages, not even proper conversations, but it’s enough to keep Yuuri from ever fully pushing him out of his head. A week before the Olympics, Viktor sent him a video of himself and Yuri dancing Yuuri’s short program together, wishing him good luck. If he had it bad before, he was at least able to deny it to himself.

Now, he can at least deny it to Phichit.

“Of course, I don’t know if I can promise any hot dads since it’ll mostly be college boys, but-“

“Phichit! You’re not even old enough to drink in the US!”

“So you don’t deny it?” Phichit looks way too happy and Yuuri buries his face in his hands, not even caring that his glasses press uncomfortably into the bridge of his nose. “You should ask him out next time you meet. I’ll even babysit for you!”

“No thank you.”

“And besides,” Phichit adds, “we can just head over to Canada to drink!”

All Yuuri does is groan.

♡♡♡

“There he is, dad! See?”

Viktor follows Yuri’s pointer finger, patting his head when it is indeed Yuuri entering the airport lobby.

“Let’s keep it short, okay? He’s probably tired after his flight.”

Yuri nods sagely, but tugs impatiently at his hand. They’re noticed quickly, almost as if Yuuri’s been expecting them (and maybe that’s not so strange, considering he’s in Moscow for the Rostelecom Cup). He smiles when they reach him, pulling off his face mask.

“Viktor, Yuri, it’s been a while.”

“It’s great to see you again, Yuuri~”

When Yuuri blushes at his words, eyes darting to the floor before shyly meeting his again, Viktor can’t help how his heart skips a beat. Oh, no. He’d almost managed to forget the impact Yuuri has on him during the off-season months, but of course half a year of waiting has only managed to make Yuuri even prettier.

“Yuuri! I can do sit spins now, and lots of jumps!”

For a moment, Viktor almost forgot his son was there with them. Yuuri turns his attention towards Yuri, smiling encouragingly.

“That’s great! I couldn’t do sit spins until I was twelve!”

“Really?!”

Yuri’s eyes go big in wonder, and Viktor can tell he’ll be hearing a repeat of this for weeks to come.

“It’s true. You must have trained super hard!”

“Almost every day!”

For a few minutes Yuri’s mouth is an unstoppable force, informing Yuuri of precisely everything he’s been doing the past months. Viktor sends him an apologetic smile, but Yuuri doesn’t look bothered at all. He ooh’s and aah’s in all the right places, grinning cheekily at Viktor when he’s told the story of how he attempted (and failed at) ice skating.

“I only fell once,” he mutters, and Yuuri lets out a snort of laughter.

It does things to Viktor’s stomach. Things past a line he shouldn’t cross.

(He really wants to cross it.)

“And he had to sit on a soft pillow for a week!”

The only reason Viktor forgives Yuri is because he looks positively ecstatic retelling the story to Yuuri, mindless of his father’s embarrassment. At least Viktor can be proud of how quickly he’s picked up English, no longer nervous to speak with Yuuri in another language.

“I hope you were extra nice to him that week,” Yuuri says, but of course his son shakes his head with a suspicious amount of pride.

“No way! It’s his own fault for trying to show off when he can’t even skate!”

Viktor huffs, but Yuuri laughs again so what’s a little embarrassment if he gets to see him laugh with his son?

(He might be in deeper than he thought.)

“I think we’ve kept Yuuri long enough, Yura,” he says instead, noticing Yuuri’s coach waiting from the corner of his eye.

“I don’t mind,” Yuuri says, sweeter than the sweetest of angels. “But I think my coach is getting a little impatient, though.”

“Oh, okay.” Yuri looks disappointed, biting at his lower lip.

“You’ll come tell me good luck before the short program, right?”

It’s like flicking a switch, Yuri lighting up instantly.

“Yes! I made you a super huge sign!”

“R-really? That’s very nice.” Yuuri looks flustered for a moment, glancing over at his coach before kneeling down and opening his hand luggage. “I, um, I brought something for you.”

“For me?” Yuri is gaping so wide that Viktor has to reach over and close his mouth with a finger under his chin.

“I visited Thailand with my friend during summer, and I know you like tigers so when I saw this I just had to buy it… It’s not much, but thank you very much for supporting me!”

Yuuri holds out a beautifully painted ceramic tiger, and Viktor doesn’t think he’s ever pulled his phone as fast from his pocket.

“Wow,” Yuri whispers, looking like a dream just came true. “It’s so cool!”

“And what do we say to Yuuri, Yurochka?”

It’s a testament to how happy Yuri is that he doesn’t even snap at Viktor.

“Thank you, Yuuri.”

Oh, yes, this photo is definitely going into Viktor’s ‘Best Expressions of Yurochka’ album.

“What about me, Yuuri? Don’t I get anything?”

He’s teasing, but Yuuri blushes a fantastic red and fumbles through his bag again. When he stretches his hand up at Viktor his heart almost stops.

“I was only joking,” he laughs nervously, because if Yuuri actually got him something he might just confess his love on the spot.

“No, I got it for you,” Yuuri mumbles, dropping the small package in Viktor’s hand. “I felt weird only buying something for Yuri…”

“Open it, dad!”

Inside is a bottle of massage oil, and Yuuri’s face seems to literally catch fire.

“My friend Phichit recommended it, I thought since you spend so much time at the ice rink just watching you might get cold and sore, and well…” he trails off, looking anywhere but Viktor, and he has to wonder what exactly is going through Yuuri’s mind to make him so embarrassed.

“My present is much better,” Yuri proclaims, turning his nose up at the small bottle.

“Well, it’s a good thing we both got things we enjoy then!” Viktor says with a wink, almost choking as he realizes the innuendo slipping past his traitorous lips.

“You only like it because you’re old and get back pains,” Yuri taunts, and just like that Viktor is saved.

“Ah, haha, I suppose you’re right,” he forces out, clearing his throat and looking at Yuuri who seems ready to melt. “The charm of old age.”

“You’re barely thirty,” Yuuri protests mildly, pushing some hair out of his face and glancing up at Viktor.

(There he goes again, sending Viktor’s heart into overdrive.)

“Yuuri~ You’re so kind to me! Not like this little brat!”

“I’m not a brat, you’re just old!”

“Yurochka, you’re making Papa cry.”

Yuri rolls his eyes, and Viktor wonders what he did to make his son enter his teenage rebellious state at age ten and a half.

“Ah, looks like I have to go,” Yuuri says, and Viktor feels his heart sink a little lower than is probably healthy.

“See you soon, Yuuri!”

Yuuri smiles at them, knocking his fist against Yuri’s before hurrying over to his coach. Viktor watches him go, trying not to think about his body’s reactions to seeing the skater again. He doesn’t walk with nearly the confidence he should have, being as amazing as he is. In fact, his posture slumps when his coach tells him off for lingering too long, and the ballet teacher in Viktor wants to yell at him to straighten up.

But he doesn’t, turning to his son instead.

“We have about an hour before Yakov and the others arrive, want to have lunch? We’ll have dinner with grandpa early, so we probably shouldn’t eat too much.”

Yuri nods, clutching his gifted tiger against his chest.

Oh, if only Yuuri knew the impact he holds on their little family!

(But they are only fans, and Yuuri is much too kind already.)

(Viktor certainly never cared about his fans on a personal level.)

♡♡♡

Yuuri does well in the Grand Prix. He does well, but – he feels unsatisfied. Like there’s something missing from his routines, from his life.

Ballet is as close as he gets to find it.

He dances Viktor’s performances, nowhere near as perfect, nowhere near as graceful, but he dances until his body aches. There’s Worlds to prepare for, and he needs to polish his programs, but maybe Phichit is right. Maybe he needs to go out more, see something else. It’s the end of his fourth year in Detroit, at what is most likely the height of his skating career, and his social life pretty much consists of watching movies with Phichit and having coffee with the other skaters after practice.

He tries going out more.

It doesn’t help.

The skating season ends with decent results and the thought that once he retires from skating, he won’t have a reason to see Viktor and Yuri again.

♡♡♡

“Yakov.”

Viktor tries being polite first, but the coach seems fully intent on ignoring him in order to focus on Georgi’s skating instead.

“Yaaakoooov.”

“Vitya.”

“Why won’t you train Yuri?”

Yakov sighs, pushing his hat further down his forehead as if it would shield him from Viktor’s insistence.

“Because he’s eleven years old, we’ve been through this already.”

“But his current coach won’t let him do anything more difficult than he can already do, he’s so frustrated.”

“So do something else with him, go have fun, he doesn’t need to train with professional skaters at his age.”

I trained with professionals at his age,” Viktor protests, and Yakov finally spares him a look.

“Vitya, don’t tell me you’re taking a leaf out of your parents’ book all of a sudden. You’re doing great with Yuri, but just because you want the best for him it doesn’t mean he has to be trained by the best right now.”

“So modest, Yakov,” Viktor mumbles, ignoring the first part and leaning against the side of the rink with a pout. “And here I train all your skaters because Lilia is too busy, and you won’t even teach Yurochka…”

“Take a break, Vitya. There’s more to life than figure skating, you know. And come over for dinner.”

“Oh, so you two are talking again?”

Viktor smiles innocently when Yakov glares at him, deciding his mission has failed for the time being and making his retreat soon after. He picks up Yuri from school, the kid looking sullen and barely replying to questions.

“Ready for practice?” he tries, mustering up as much cheer as he can.

“What’s the point, we’re just doing the same things over and over again. I hate being eleven.”

Worrying his lip between his teeth, Viktor racks his brain for something that could make Yuri feel inspired again. Ever since Yuuri’s season ended and Yuri’s teacher told him he couldn’t join the older kids’ practices instead (though to be fair, he was already practicing with twelve-year-olds), he’d entered some kind of slump.

“Maybe we should focus on dancing for a while,” he suggests, to which Yuri sighs. “We could, um, we could choreograph? Think up some skating programs together? Even if you can’t skate them yet, it might be fun?”

He holds his breath as Yuri contemplates this, playing with the zipper to his leopard printed (always leopard prints, Viktor’s fashion sense cries so often) sweater.

“We could…” Yuri pulls his zipper up and turns his head to stare out the window, seemingly struggling with what he wants to say. “We could make something for Yuuri. Maybe he would like it.”

Viktor breathes a sigh of relief.

“Oh, I’m sure he would.”

(He’ll bet on Yuuri’s kind heart for this one.)

“Okay,” Yuri says, and by some miracle stops complaining about skating practice being boring.

Viktor ends up choreographing the short programs for two of Yakov’s skaters, and summer passes in a blur.

♡♡♡

When Yuuri finds out that Viktor choreographed for one of his competitors, he’s not sure what to feel. He shouldn’t feel anything, really, but he can’t help it. He’s possibly jealous.

Phichit seems to pick up on this, staying silent the whole time they watch Georgi Popovich perform his short program at Skate America. It’s a good program, Yuuri thinks, much too flashy for himself but fitting the Russian who always seemed rather emotional. It’s also different from what Yuuri expected, but then again, figure skating is different from ballet.

(He can’t help but think, if Viktor had choreographed for him, would he give him something that felt more like Viktor’s dancing?)

“He’s good,” Phichit says tentatively after the scores are announced, “but not as good as you.”

I could skate this better, a vindictive part of Yuuri thinks, but he shakes it off with a smile that is everything but genuine.

“It’s a new season,” he answers instead, busying himself with cleaning his glasses as the next skater prepares to start. “Nothing is certain.”

“Oh please, you’ll wipe the floor with him. Your program’s perfect!”

(It’s ill-fitting, doesn’t feel like dancing, and the music makes him depressed.)

“It’s alright.”

“Yuuri,” Phichit complains, “you can’t say that. It has two quads! I’ll be lucky if I even nail my only quad in the free!”

“Sorry Phichit, you’re right…”

His friend narrows his eyes in concern, but Yuuri doesn’t feel like talking about it. Luckily Phichit drops the subject, leaving Yuuri to his thoughts. Will Viktor and Yuri wait for him at the airport this year as well? Maybe Yuri is more interested in the Russian skaters now that his dad has worked with them. Either way Yuuri has to stop wondering why Viktor didn’t ask to choreograph for him, because just like the commentator said, it makes sense that Viktor would step up to the task as Lilia Baranovskaya’s prized former student when she was otherwise occupied.

(Viktor really is amazing.)

He’s contemplating typing up a message to congratulate him on creating such a good routine as Georgi places third after the short programs are over, but his plans are interrupted when Yuri tags him in a post.

 

@yuri-plisetsky

I guess 87 points isn’t so bad with dad’s program, but @yuri_katsuki would have done it better!

#skateamerica #yuuridoesitbetter

 

Oh, Yuuri thinks, swallowing around the lump in his throat, unable to keep a bubble of laughter from escaping him. This child really is too precious.

♡♡♡

“Dad.”

Yuri looks troubled, following Yuuri with his eyes as he enters the rink for his free skate.

“Yes?”

“Don’t you think Yuuri looks a bit sad?”

Silently, Viktor agrees. Even Yuuri’s theme this year is a little sad.

“Why do you think that?”

“Well…” Yuri is holding up the sign as Yuuri skates past their side of the rink before taking his spot in the middle, brows knitted together. “He didn’t seem very happy with his score for the short, and I mean, he hugged me earlier.”

“You’re very huggable though,” Viktor teases, faking hurt when Yuri slaps his leg.

“Dad, this is important,” he insists, and Viktor can’t pretend anymore that he isn’t worried too.

“I know, Yurochka. Maybe he has a cold?”

“Maybe he doesn’t like skating anymore,” Yuri mumbles, and Viktor inhales sharply.

“I really don’t think that’s it,” he tries to reassure him, but isn’t sure he can even reassure himself.

They’re in Canada for Yuuri’s first event, and he’s currently in second place after the short program. It’s obvious that something is off, though. Yuuri looked troubled at the warm-up, and his skating is more subdued than usual. He’s still beautiful on the ice, but the emotions aren’t quite there.

He flubs his final combination, Viktor and Yuri wincing at how many points that’s going to cost him. Not enough to push him off the podium, but coupled with the lackluster step sequence in the middle it only earns him a bronze medal.

“Do you think he’ll want to talk to us?” Yuri asks after the ceremony, looking torn between dejection and being happy that Yuuri still has a chance to reach the final.

“We can at least give him the flowers,” Viktor promises, combing a hand through Yuri’s hair. “Even if he’s upset, I’m sure he’ll cheer up more by seeing you than not seeing you.”

Yuri nods, determined now. As soon as Yuuri appears, he stalks over to him and thrusts the flowers in his face.

“Your programs are too sad. Cheer up!”

Ah well, Yuri was never very good at reassuring people, much like his father.

“I, um, thank you,” Yuuri replies, flustered and glancing quickly at Viktor. “I can’t really do anything about the theme, though…”

When Viktor reaches them Yuuri stares down at the flowers, the most colorful bunch they’d seen in the flower shop.

“The flowers are really pretty,” he says, smiling at Yuri. “Are you coming to Japan as well?”

“Of course! I want to see you beat Georgi!”

Yuuri laughs at that, and it’s like watching sunshine break through rainclouds.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he says, glancing at Viktor again, and oh, he wishes they were alone so he could ask what’s wrong.

The thought is so sudden that Viktor’s breath catches in his throat, chest clenching as Yuuri makes an excuse that he needs to hurry back to the hotel. He promises to talk to them before the exhibition gala the next day, but Viktor can tell that Yuri isn’t satisfied with that.

“Dad, I told you we should have sent him that choreography we did.”

“Yuri, you can’t just send people choreography,” he sighs, gently pushing his son towards the exit. “Besides, we didn’t have permission to use the songs.”

“We didn’t send them because you didn’t think they were perfect enough.”

“Well,” Viktor admits, “that’s another reason.”

“What about the songs he’s using now? You could make better routines for them.”

“Yuri!” Viktor stops, staring at his son. “Yuuri worked hard on those, don’t you think it’s a little disrespectful?”

“If you don’t do it, I won’t talk to you for a whole month and you’re also not getting any birthday presents.”

Yuri,” Viktor squeaks, “you can’t just blackmail me like that!”

“Well?” Yuri looks about as intimidating as any eleven-year-old, but Viktor still slumps in resignation.

“Fine, but we’re not showing them to him. Promise!”

Yuri shrugs, appeased for now. He can probably see through Viktor’s façade – he wants nothing more than to forget Yuuri’s current routines exist at all. They don’t show his full potential, his beauty, and whoever made them for him should feel lucky that Viktor doesn’t know who they are.

As soon as Yuri falls asleep at the hotel, he gets to work.

(If only he could make Yuuri happy, too.)