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Let the Tears Flow Freely

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“I want you to try the combination again,” Viktor shouted across the ice rink, “but this time go with a triple axel-triple toe loop. Go ahead with the step sequence that goes before it, and focus on your speed. You can do this, Yuuri. Just speed up a little.”

Yuuri only nodded in reply, already skating around the rink to start his sequence. He knew he could land the combination and could feel Viktor’s frustrated stare from where he stood in his corner of the rink, arms crossed over his chest as he shifted on his skates.

Yuuri would vehemently deny that he stopped paying attention to his skating so he could think about his soulmate. He had given up on that venture years ago. Sure, he had cried many times throughout his life, but he had never experienced someone crying the exact same way he did at the exact same time. Those were the requirements, right? Your soulmate will match your feelings, and match your tears when they fall at the same time, with the same strength –

The lights seemed to move farther away as he spun through his triple axel, realizing that he had taken Viktor’s advice too well. Yuuri had no time to panic as he completed the jump and felt his skate touch down harshly, tilting to the side. He couldn’t slow down, couldn’t maintain his balance.

He tumbled out of his landing, rolling across the ice and coming to a stop on his back.

He vaguely heard Viktor’s panicked yell.

It took Yuuri a few seconds to realize that instead of the overhead lights spinning as he finished his combination jump, they stayed stationary. He didn’t understand why his shoulder burned. He didn’t understand why his head pounded. He didn’t understand why the world seemed to shrink even as he watched Viktor frantically skate toward him.

He didn’t understand why cold tears ran down the sides of his face. Did I do that? Most importantly, his tired brain whispered, he didn’t understand the look on Viktor’s face. Full of concern and panic? He could understand that. Full of shock and, possibly, maybe, hope? I don’t understand…

As the blurry world faded to nothing, Yuuri didn’t want to understand.

---

Yuuri didn’t know when he woke up, but he only wanted to return to his dreams.

After the horrible fall, Viktor rushed his student to a nearby hospital. Two days had passed as nurses drilled Yuuri on any subject they thought up.

“What were you doing before you fell, Katsuki-san?” asked the blonde nurse. Yuuri couldn’t remember all their names.

“W-well, I was practicing for the next skating competition.” Yuuri knew all the answers that the nurses searched for, but he just wanted to be left alone. Apparently, Yuuri demanded too much.  

“And that is…?”

“It’s the, um, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu Championship.”

“Alright, that’s enough for now,” the nurse said, filling out more of Yuuri’s patient forms and turning her back on him as she reiterated the usual speech. “If you need assistance with anything, please press the button above your head.” Yuuri closed his eyes, not caring about the hospital’s policies.

“Visiting hours begin in another hour, so please make yourself comfortable.” She exited the small room, making sure to close the door behind her. Yuuri hadn’t been allowed visitors since he woke up earlier that day, so he hoped that his family would visit at some point.

He laid in bed for over an hour, flipping through channels aimlessly. He needed a distraction from his more dangerous thoughts, all of which circled around his injuries.

He knew he had fallen rather forcefully because of his speed, and his shoulder had been dislocated, which would require a sling for a week or two. He figured he’d still be able to do some light skating with a sling, but he stopped listening when the doctor told him he had sustained a nasty concussion that would put him off the ice for about a month.

The next competition starts in just over a month, Yuuri panicked, not even paying attention as the doctor lectured him about the importance of staying off the ice. I don’t have time to take a month break!

Yuuri hadn’t realized the tears streaming lightly down his face as he remembered the instructions for his recovery. He touched his cheek, feeling rather defeated and now confused. He didn’t feel like crying, so why did his tears continue to fall? And why did his tears feel full of…relief? He wasn’t relieved at all! If anything, he felt angry at himself for failing his jump and now maybe he wouldn’t compete at all and –

The overly white door to Yuuri’s room flung open, interrupting his thoughts. He looked over and saw an incredibly upset Viktor. One look told Yuuri just how worried his coach had been. Even in emergencies Viktor always appeared relatively put-together and tried to keep up his usually spotless appearance. But with his unkempt silver hair, bloodshot eyes and messy workout clothes, Viktor looked like he hadn’t slept for days.

Yuuri couldn’t make a single noise before Viktor flew himself at his student. Yuuri just laid there and awkwardly patted Viktor’s back as his coach leaned over him and buried his face in Yuuri’s neck. Viktor’s tears made new paths across Yuuri’s neck and shoulder, and it took Yuuri a second to realize that he too was crying. And even then, his tears flowed as freely and strongly as Viktor’s! His brain whispered something that sounded like soulmates, but he didn’t have time to understand as Viktor spoke into his neck.

“Y-y-you k-know, Y-y-yuuri…” Viktor paused to take a steadying breath, his voice shaking as he continued. “When I saw h-how fast you entered that jump, I-I knew you would fall. A-a-and I couldn’t stop it! I-I-I couldn’t stop you from f-f-falling!” A new wave of tears wracked Viktor, and Yuuri vaguely wondered why his tears flowed as fast and furious as his coach’s when he only felt guilt for making Viktor worry.

“Hey,” Yuuri whispered, resting his head against Viktor’s and closing his eyes. He blamed the fluorescent lights. He waited until he felt Viktor sniffle against his neck and take another deep breath. “It wasn’t your fault. I wasn’t paying attention to the ice, to myself, to anything really. I lost myself in my thoughts and messed up my jump.” Yuuri sighed, heart beating frantically in remembrance. “This was completely my fault and I understand if you suggest I withdraw from the compe–”

Yuuri felt the anger before Viktor’s head whipped up and displayed his feelings. He watched the first heated tear fall from Viktor’s eye and felt it mirrored on his own face.

Viktor didn’t have to speak. Yuuri understood.

As more tears rolled down their faces, Viktor joined Yuuri on the bed, careful not to jostle his bad shoulder. Viktor buried his head at the base of Yuuri’s neck, earning him a shaky laugh from Yuuri.

They laid like that for only a few minutes, calming their feelings and enjoying their new shared space. Yuuri’s hands rested on Viktor’s head and back, soothing his coach.

Neither said anything until Yuuri remembered the Sochi Grand Prix Final. He thought back to how lonely and defeated he felt, ready to give up his skating career. The questions burned a hole in his brain, and he opened his eyes.

“Viktor?”

“Hmm?”

“How long have you known?”

Viktor finally looked up at Yuuri, slowly sliding himself to the edge of the bed so he could sit. Yuuri waited for a proper answer, feeling his coach’s guilt.

“I found out after last year’s Grand Prix…I didn’t want to force you into anything, so I kept it to myself.”

“But…how? How did you know?” Yuuri didn’t understand, was sick of not understanding.

“W-well, Yurio actually put it together…Hey, hey, don’t look like that! Don’t be embarrassed, lyubov moya! If he hadn’t seen you, then found me in the same state, we would have just found out, right?”

“I-I guess…but why didn’t you tell me? You’ve been here for months…” Viktor couldn’t stand the self-doubt that he felt from Yuuri.

“I did it because I knew you weren’t looking for your soulmate. Every time a reporter asked you about your soulmate, you stopped. Completely. I…didn’t think you wanted your soulmate.”

Yuuri had to admit that Viktor had reasonable assumptions, but he didn’t know how to console the man. Viktor had switched to staring at a chip in the smooth tile under his feet, his expression unreadable.

“W-well, I never a-actually felt that way. U-um, if you want, we could –”

Viktor interrupted Yuuri with an enthusiastic hug, apologizing profusely when Yuuri hissed in pain.

Grabbing Yuuri’s hands, Viktor replied, “As your soulmate, you should already feel my response.”

The overwhelming happiness was unmistakable. Yuuri understood perfectly.